Avoid Busy Summer Beaches at These Hidden Gems
Once spring rolls around, beach lovers everywhere are eager to get to the coast and enjoy sun and sand. For many, the ocean breeze, warm water, and rejuvenating sun are the perfect getaway—however, crowded shores with rowdy visitors can put a damper even the most idyllic setting. Head to these under-the-radar beaches to ensure you don't miss out on the tranquility of a coastal getaway.
Kauapea Beach, Hawaii
This secret beach on the North Shore of Kauai past the town of Kilauea is only accessible by a steep, somewhat slippery hike. The golden sands and red rocks make this a beautiful beach, and in one area a "natural shower" even flows from the coastline cliff overhangs. Be prepared, though: the far side of the beach is "clothing optional."
Sandbridge Beach, Virginia
While not exactly a "secret" beach to local Virginians, the beach in Sandbridge is much more secluded than it is 25 miles north in Virginia Beach. Technically, it's part of the northern tip of the Outer Banks, and the beach boasts beautiful sunsets. While there isn't much to do in Sandbridge, that's part of the appeal; it's just a peaceful little coast town near the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Cumberland Island, Georgia
Take a 45-minute ride by ferry from St. Marys, Georgia to Cumberland Island, and you'll find secluded beaches and abundant wildlife. The island is mostly uninhabited and the land is protected as part of the Cumberland Island National Seashore, which means that animals like wild horses and loggerhead turtles flourish in the area. Bird-watchers will find peregrine falcons and warblers, and fishing opportunities are plentiful. Aside from hiking, biking, and kayaking, though, the best way to enjoy the shoreline is by soaking up the sun on its 18-mile stretch of shoreline.
Carova Beach, North Carolina
North Carolina beaches stay popular all season long. Carova Beach, however, misses out on the crowds thanks to the fact that it is only accessible by 4x4 vehicles on non-paved roads. This Outer Banks beach is also where legendary Corolla wild horses roam free.Despite the isolation, visitors still have access to great restaurants, ice cream shops, lessons for kiteboarding and hang gliding, fishing charters, and kayak rentals to explore the Currituck Sound.
Ship Island, Mississippi
Coastal Mississippi isn't always known for having the clear gulf coast waters that nearby Alabama and Florida beaches boast—but if you're willing to take a ferry ride out of Gulfport, you'll be met with the most gorgeous turquoise waters along the shores of Ship Island. While there are no overnight accommodations on the little island and camping isn't allowed, its beauty and seclusion make up for it. The only thing to do other than swim and relax is take a tour of the historic Fort Massachusetts, commissioned during the 1850s to protect the coast of Mississippi.
Enderts Beach, California
Within the Redwood National Park along the northern California coast is the shimmering pebble-lined Enderts Beach. The beach is only accessible via a 3/4 mile hike from the Last Chance Section of the California Coastal Trail, although the Nickel Creek Campground is close by for overnight accommodations. While the colder waters don't make this the best swimming beach, it is the perfect place to read or explore the coastline, full of sea caves and tidal pools.
Dry Tortugas, Florida
This beach is located nearly 70 miles west of Key West, on the remote Dry Tortugas National Park and is accessible only by boat or seaplane—making it strikingly less crowded than the rest of Florida's beaches. In addition to swimming in the clear waters and relaxing along its powdery beach shores, visitors can spot all kinds of marine life and an assortment of birds. Tour Fort Jefferson, dive to a shipwreck, snorkel and view coral reefs, or even camp overnight.
Roque Bluffs, Maine
Amidst the 274-acre Roque Bluffs State Park are both a freshwater and a saltwater beach, plus miles of hiking trails. This area is very rural, so even on the hottest summer days, the beaches have no crowds. Depending on the time of year, visitors will want to make a stop at Welch Farm, a family-owned blueberry farm where you can learn about the history of blueberry farming in Maine and pick up some fresh grown berries.
Secret Beach, Oregon
Yes, it is really called Secret Beach. While its name may imply that it has given away its allure, the beach itself is easy to miss—which may explain why it remains to be so secluded. Visitors first have to make their way to the Secret Beach Trailhead on the Oregon Coast Highway (Highway 101). From there, two trails take you to the same beach: the first trail is a 200 yard hike, while the second is a bit more wooded and meandering. The beach features a stunning chiseled rocky coastline. Try to visit during low tide, when sea caves, coves, and tide pools can be explored best.
Quirky Roadside Attractions to Add to Your Next Roadtrip
If you've got plans to make a long drive across the States for an upcoming vacation, you might find yourself driving by some of the quirkiest attractions of the US. Since you need to stop for breaks anyways, why not schedule in a little extra time at one of these fun roadside attractions? Google Maps might give you the fastest route to your destination, but that doesn't mean it's the most fun. Plus, any bored and impatient younger passengers that may be along for the ride will appreciate the extra breaks along the way. Carhenge Location: Along Highway 87, north of Alliance, Nebraska Nebraska's "reply to Stonehenge." Here, a replica of the famous English alignment of stones has been made with 39 cars. Sculptor Jim Reinders made the attraction, after studying the real Stonehenge in England and as a memorial to his father, who lived where the cars now stand. Additional car sculptures have been erected at the site known as well, known as the Car Art Reserve, and in 2007, a visitor center, "The Pit Stop," opened up. Cabazon Dinosaurs "Mr. Rex" of Cabazon Dinosaurs by Chris Long - Unsplash Location: Off I-10 in Cabazon, California These beloved roadside dinos gained popularity after being featured in Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure and The Wizard. Mr. Rex, Dinny, and more than 70 other dinosaurs can be found along this attraction's dinosaur walk, complete with a dino dig and fossil panning activities.South of the Border Location: Off I-95 at the North Carolina/South Carolina border South of the Border is a classic roadside attraction, begun in 1949 by Alan Schafer with the building of the Border Beer Depot. Business boomed, and years later a grill, gas station, and motel were added. Mexican trinkets and souvenirs were made available as the name was shortened from "South of the (South Carolina) Border" to "South of the Border." Today, visitors can spend the day at Pedroland amusement park, see the largest indoor reptile display at reptile lagoon, climb up to the top of the Sombrero Observation Tower, and dine in at several restaurants. Corn Palace Driving through the Badlands in South Dakota by Matan Levanon - Unsplash Location: Off I-90 in Mitchell, South Dakota Like corn? Well, then, this is the place for you. In 1892, the World's Only Corn Palace was established on the Mitchell's Main Street as a gathering place where residents and their rural neighbors could enjoy a fall festival and celebrate the crop-growing season and harvest. While the palace has been rebuilt over the years (each one bigger than the original) the Corn Palace Festival is still held annually in August. But the Corn Palace is more than just a festival gathering place. Today, it hosts stage shows, industrial exhibits, meetings, school graduations, and even basketball tournaments. The Palace is also redecorated each year with naturally-colored corn and other grains and native grasses; these murals are created to reflect a unique theme chosen for that year. Dinosaur Kingdom II Location: Natural Bridge, Virginia Not far off of I-81 is a truly unique attraction built by artist Mark Cline. The roadside museum consists of several statues depicting an alt-history version of the Civil War where the Union Army has lost to... dinosaurs. The trouble for the Yankees begins when a mad scientist travels back in time to give Stonewall Jackson a robotic arm, and cannon blasts awaken hibernating dinosaurs in the nearby Natural Bridge caverns. Visitors make their way through several statues along with signs detailing the curious tale of dinos-as-weapons-of-mass-destruction. Truly, there's nothing else like it. Hole N' The Rock Moab, Utah by Nate Foong - Unsplash Location: Along Highway 191 in Moab, Utah Carved into a huge rock in Canyonlands County, Utah, Hole N' The Rock is a 5,000 square foot historic home complete with an exotic animals zoo and Lyle Nichols sculpture exhibit. In the mid 20th century over a 12 year period, Albert Christensen excavated 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone from the rock after originally intending to just build a "small alcove" for the Christensen boys to sleep in at night. After Albert's death, his wife Gladys continued to develop the property. The house features a fireplace with a 65-foot chimney, 14 rooms arranged around huge pillars, a deep bathtub built into the rock, original paintings by Albert’s paintings (such as "Sermon on the Mount"), his wife Gladys’s doll collection, and many of the tools used to create this home.Lucy the Elephant Location: On Atlantic Avenue in Margate, New Jersey Known as "The World's Greatest Elephant," this iconic waterfront landmark was built in 1881 as Elephant Bazaar, a spectacle meant to attract potential real estate investors to the area. Over the course of Lucy's life, she's been a tavern, a residence, and now a tourist attraction after years of restoration. It's free to visit Lucy, but those wishing for a tour inside the building can buy tickets for $8.50 apiece (kids aged 3-12 are only $4). Enchanted Forest "Welcome to Oregon" roadside sign by Everett McIntire - Unsplash Location: Off I-5 in Turner, Oregon The Enchanted Forest is a theme park built and operated by Tofte family in a beautiful forest setting in Oregon. The park is open seasonally from late March to the end of September. The park includes a Western town, old European village, and Storybook Lane, the park's original section that focuses on bringing nursery rhymes to life. Visitors can also pan for gems, catch a water-light show, or see a comedy or music show. Wall Drug Location: Off I-90 in Wall, South Dakota You're guaranteed to see the famous hand-painted signs for this South Dakota drugstore hundreds of miles before you get anywhere near the place (or maybe further... the signs were taken all over the world by soldiers during World War II). Take a break at the 530-seat Western Art Gallery Restaurant and enjoy famous buffalo burgers, homemade donuts, or just grab a 5-cent coffee. Then stroll around the largest privately-owned Western and illustration art collections in the country, with more than 300 original oil paintings. In the backyard area, there's a Jumping Jets Water Show, a panning and mining experience, the Shooting Gallery Arcade, the Little Britches Toy Emporium, photo opportunities with the 6-foot rabbit, the mini-Mount Rushmore, the buckin’ bronc, the life-size robot T-Rex, and, of course, the ever-popular Giant Jackalope.
Get the Best Views of America Aboard These Scenic Trains
Take in America's beautiful and varied landscapes from the comfort of a train car on one of these ten scenic railways. These relaxing rides treat passengers to some of the most incredible scenery in America: from high mountain passes and pristine coastlines, to lush forests and idyllic valleys. Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad The Durango & Silverton steam engine in Colorado - courtesy of Natalie Strong Located in Colorado, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad winds through the spectacular canyons and wilderness of the San Juan National Forest. Open year-round, visitors get to experience the adventure of traveling by a coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive on the same tracks miners, cowboys, and settlers of the Old West took over a century ago. White Pass & Yukon Route Known as "Alaska's Scenic Railway of the World," the White Pass Summit Excursion takes travelers in vintage passenger coaches along the original route to the White Pass Summit along Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point and Dead Horse Gulch. Enjoy a breathtaking panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and historic sites and see the original Klondike Trail of ‘98 worn into the rocks, a permanent tribute to the thousands of souls who passed this way in search of fortune. Grand Canyon Railway The Grand Canyon railway engine by Elizabeth Villalta - Unsplash What could be a grander way to see one of the wonders of the world? Hop aboard the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, Arizona for an incredible trip through the high desert, prairie, and pine. The lovingly restored rail cars feature entertaining musicians and the antics of cowboy characters. Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Cumbres & Toltec steam engine by Luis Flores - Unsplash Departing Chama, New Mexico, the Cumbres & Toltec take passengers on a steep climb through aspen forests, grassy hills, alpine meadows, and sheer rock walls. Passing over the Cumbres Pass at over 10,000 feat, the railroad makes the highest mountain pass via train in America. The route also passes through the Toltec Gorge, San Luis Valley, town of Sublette, and Chama Valley. Coast Starlight The Coast Starlight at sunset by Levi Meir Clancy - Unsplash On this Amtrak route between Seattle and Los Angeles, passengers are treated to incredible west coast views of the snow-covered peaks of the Cascade Range and Mount Shasta, lush forests, and stunning Pacific Ocean shoreline. Cass Scenic Railroad Located in Cass, West Virginia, a town built on the lumber business, this 11-mile-long scenic railroad takes passengers to unparalleled views at the overlook at Bald Knob. There's also The Last Run Restaurant and Soda Fountain (open daily), an artisans co-op, and the Cass Historical Theater and Historical Museum, one of America’s only authentic lumber railroading museums. Nantahala Gorge Excursion Sunset in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park by Ivana Cajina - Unsplash Stop in Bryson City, North Carolina and take a ride along the Nantahala River and through the Nantahala Gorge, for breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains. A part of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, visitors can also opt for a scenic ride on the Tuskegee Scenic Railway, which also departs Bryson City and makes a mid-way stop in the town of Dillsboro. Cape Cod Central Railroad Coastal grasses on Cape Cod by Christopher Ryan - Unsplash The Cape Cod Central Railroad takes guests past marshes, cranberry bogs, dunes, and other places only accessible by rail via several different routes and excursions. Located at the Buzzards Bay and Hyannis train stations in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the train also hosts Polar Express excursions to meet Santa during the holiday season, with a ride set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack. Strasburg Railroad Board America's "oldest continuously operating railroad," the Strasburg Railroad's authentic steam train, for unique excursions through Amish Country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Events include Le Train Cabaret, a ride with Thomas the Tank Engine, wine and cheese rides, Christmas- and Easter-themed rides, and even an escape room on a (stationary) caboose. Pikes Peak Cog Railroad Pikes Peak Cog Railway by Pragyan Goswami - Unsplash The Pikes Peak Cog Railroad operates year round and takes passengers on an incredible nine-mile adventure, up to over 14,000 feet in altitude. The route passes through beautiful scenery and wildlife along Ruxton Creek in Englemann Canyon, Minnehaha Falls, Deer Park, and through the Mountain View siding where passengers get the first glimpse of the Summit.
Educational and Fun Family Vacations
Summer break is just around the corner, and now's the perfect time to plan a vacation that is fun for the whole family. If you're hoping to keep kids engaged throughout their days off from school, there are plenty of ways to incorporate educational activities to your family trip—without making it boring. Hands-on, in-person experiences definitely beat out boring review sheets and summer work packets; plus, adults might even learn something new, too. Below, we've rounded up the best activities to add to your summer vacation, and which ones are best suited to the specific interests that inspire your kids. For animal lovers Outside the Monterey Bay Aquarium by Manpreet Singh - UnsplashMonterey Bay Aquarium - Monterey, California. Learn about ocean habitats, animals, and conservation at "the most admired aquarium in the US." The aquarium even has an "underwater explorers" program where kids ages 8 to 13 are introduced to the underwater world through surface scuba diving. Kids are safely guided by Aquarium dive staff in the Great Tide Pool, where they'll meet amazing animals while getting a fish's-eye view of the wonders of the bay. Caretta Research Project - Wassaw Island, Georgia. Caretta Research Project is a hands-on research, conservation and education program dedicated to studying and protecting loggerhead sea turtles on Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge off the coast of Savannah, Georgia. The organization provides a unique opportunity for people to experience the ancient rituals of sea turtle nesting and hatching. Volunteers spend one week in the heart of the Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, living right alongside Sea Turtle Biologists and being involved in every facet of the project. While collecting data and protecting nests, volunteers may experience the wonder of seeing an adult turtle emerging from the ocean to lay her eggs or the joy of witnessing hatchlings "boiling" up from the sand and scurrying down the beach to the ocean.San Diego Zoo & Safari Park - San Diego, California. Regarded as one of the best zoos in the country, the San Diego Zoo has an incredible number of animals and environments to learn about, along with a Safari Park next door. For an extra special experience, families can book an "Inside Look tour," an entertaining and educational 90-minute adventure offering guided views and interesting information about how the zoo takes care of wildlife. For budding history buffs Governor's Mansion in Colonial Williamsburg by Christian Alvarez - Unsplash America's Historic Triangle - Williamsburg, Virginia. Trace the story of early America from Jamestown, through Williamsburg, and then finish in Yorktown. At the Jamestown Settlement, explore expansive gallery exhibits before heading to the outdoor history areas where historical interpreters demonstrate daily life in early Jamestown. Explore life-size recreations of a 1610-14 fort, Paspahegh Town, and the three ships that sailed from England to Virginia in 1607. At Colonial Williamsburg, the world’s largest living history museum, visitors can see iconic sites, working tradespeople, historic taverns, and two world-class art museums. Finally, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown tells the story of the nation’s founding, from the twilight of the colonial period to the dawn of the Constitution and beyond. Exciting indoor galleries feature period artifacts, immersive environments, and films. In the outdoor areas, visit a recreated Continental Army encampment and explore a Revolution-era farm. Bristol Renaissance Faire - Kenosha, Wisconsin. Got a kid that loves playing dress-up, loves fantastical stories with knights and dragons, or a fan of princesses? A renaissance faire might be just the place to go this summer. At The Faire, 9 glorious weekends starting in early July, each Saturday and Sunday, plus Labor Day Monday, visitors take a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England, complete with 16th-century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music and one-of-a-kind encounters with a spectacular cast of characters. High Desert Museum - Bend, Oregon. Nostalgic for the classic Oregon Trail computer game? Introduce your kids to the real deal with a visit to the High Desert Museum in Oregon. Get a close-up view of native wildlife, such as river otters, porcupines and raptors. Talk with historic characters who share tales of early Oregon homesteaders. Visit an authentic ranch and sawmill from 1904. Experience a close encounter with owls, falcons, hawks and even a vulture. Learn about Native American culture and history, and delight your children with one of many fun, hands-on programs that bring history and science to life. For inquisitive engineers Satellite in orbit by NASA - UnsplashOld Car City - Cartersville, Georgia. Explore a forest of forgotten cars at Old Car City USA, the world’s largest known classic car junkyard. Located just outside of downtown Cartersville, Georgia. Also in town is the Savoy Automobile Museum, which also hosts movie nights, highlighting films with iconic cars that are often displayed on stage by the big screen. When looking for a place to stay nearby, larger families should look no further than to Barnsley Resort, an expansive Southern retreat spanning 3,000 acres of cozy accommodations that span cottages and a three-story Inn, an array of dining choices, a spa, and outdoor activities such as horseback riding, golfing and more.US Space & Rocket Center - Huntsville, Alabama. At the Rocket Center, visitors can be space explorers for the day and take part in an Apollo 11 virtual reality experience, experience a Discover Shuttle launch simulation, learn to fly an F-18 Super Hornet, and test their limits on the Multi-Axis Trainer. For outdoor adventurists Carlsbad Caverns by Hoyt Roberson - UnsplashCarlsbad Caverns National Park - New Mexico. Got a future explorer on your hands? Explore the amazing underground network of caves at Carlsbad Caverns. High ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, flowering cactus, and desert wildlife decorate the ground in the Chihuahuan Desert, but hidden beneath the surface are more than 119 caves—formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone leaving behind caverns of all sizes. Explore the trails at your own pace, or join a ranger to explore other caves. Each evening from late-May through October, enjoy a ranger program about the Brazilian free-tailed bats that live in Carlsbad Cavern and see them emerge. Grand Canyon National Park - Arizona. Visiting the Grand Canyon is a quintessential family vacation to one of the most incredible formations on our continent. You can't go wrong with a visit here; there is something for all ages and outdoor activities and hikes for all different skill levels.Dinosaur Journey - Museums of Western Colorado - Fruita, Colorado. Dinosaur Journey is a regional paleontological and geological museum that tells the story of the history of life in western Colorado and surrounding areas with real fossils, cast skeletons, and reconstructions of dinosaurs. The hands-on, interactive museum includes over 15,000 fossil specimens in its collections, exhibits and displays featuring discoveries from the region, a viewable paleontology laboratory where dinosaur bones are prepared for display, an earthquake simulator, a dinosaur library reading, a sandbox for making your own dinosaur tracks, and a “quarry site” where kids can uncover actual Jurassic dinosaur bones. You can even be a paleontologist for a day. For sports fans and young athletes Baseballs by Lesly Juarez - UnsplashNational Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum - Cooperstown, New York. While watching a live baseball game is a classic summer family activity, little athletes with big dreams will be even more inspired by a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame. From museum tours to holding a bat from their collection to renting the sacred Plaque Gallery for a private party - the Museum offers everything for an unforgettable experience. Prefer football or basketball? There are similar museums for those fans, too.
Mountain Biking Mendocino County, California
Travel trends point to a sharp curve toward wellness and rejuvenation vacations that lend activities that bend both mind and body. Adventures in the great outdoors are top of the list, as is taking to new forms of fitness including off-road biking to tap into a higher power. Mendocino County in northern California is a biker’s paradise. From Ukiah to Willits the vast network of trails is nothing short of stunning. The groundwork is immense: a tapestry of 24 state and national parks, hundreds of dedicated trails and some of the sweetest turf known to both traditional and E-bike riders. If you’re packing the wheels, many trails are just outside of key destinations providing an easy day adventure, while others connect to the true outback, lending credence to the term “off-grid.” Add a dose of wildlife, relics from the logging days and a top-shelf trail maintenance team and a vacation atop two wheels just picked up speed. For a seaside escape Mendocino Headlands State Park - courtesy of visitmendocino.com For a day-long dreamboat ride, take the tribe and head inland from the Pacific to Mendocino Headlands State Park, offering seven trails skirting the placid Big River. Within the Headland’s boundaries, Big River State Park steps up with a moderate day ride via the 29-mile Big River Loop. The route includes 45 trails with an elevation climb of 3,126-ft., and offers a variety of single- and doubletrack options as well as old logging roads that flow with the river. Gentle hills, an abandoned quarry and a small gulch with wood ducks and blue herons set the stage. If you turn left at the fork, take advantage of Lily’s swimming hole for a dip; the loop is approximately six hours at a moderate pace. Where to stay: For the ultimate escape by the sea, you can pop out to the Pacific to The Stanford Inn by the Sea, a 41-room retreat set on 10-acres overlooking Mendocino Bay. Rustic and rejuvenating, this inn offers a variety of wellness programs as well as the popular plant-based Ravens Restaurant. Next door, you can rent bikes at Catch-A-Canoe with the added plus of a direct hit to the Big River Trail. For novice bikers The Old West Inn - courtesy of visitmendocino.com If an inland adventure is on the bucket list, along Highway 101, Willits is home to 30 dynamic trails, largely rated beginner to moderate. Novices can get a taste for the sport via a network of flat trails in the Brookline Greenbelt. The short yet sweet singletrack Jurassic or Anchorage trails can be expanded via longer connectors. Another option is the up and down, soft and flowy Swoop Logg singletrack with a slight downhill slope and optional log ride; check the Swoop Loggy Logg signage at the entrance. You can easily tie in additional routes including Miss Gnomer, a 3,274 ft., popular singletrack downhill delivering a quick five-minute thrill. Where to stay: Pack the boots and cowboy hat and high tail it to Willits and the 22-room Old West Inn, complete with themed rooms and a Tesla charging station. You can also belly up for a bountiful $5 breakfast at the Lumberjack Restaurant, offering plenty of local color.For elevated rides Sporting 11 trails of varying ability, Mendocino National Forest is the stop if you want to test drive capability. Go big or go home via the 167-mile Mendocino Backcountry Discovery Trail, which stretches north east of Covelo. Here, the 21,921-ft., climb is certain to max the muscles with an aggressive peak out at 6,443 elevation. Another option if your team has a need for speed is the shred-friendly Upper Powderhouse Trail just outside of Ukiah. Here, natural hips and berms set up a nice descent down a loose and steep trail dropping 7,000-ft. Although rated very difficult/black diamond, if you take the trail slow it turns into a moderate ride with exceptional views of the Ukiah valley and resident wildlife. A network of novice trails also exist including the Deer Valley trail which runs 4-miles with a green/easy rating on a moderate track with a modest 1,341-ft., climb. For shuttle pick-up and drop-off, the singletrack 1.5-mile Rice-a-Roni trail delivers a downhill thrill with an 802-ft., descent. Where to stay: High tail it to the Redwoods River Resort in Laytonville, with a throwback A-frame lodge, cozy cabins and tent sites. Tucked deep in the sprawling redwoods along the Eel River, this is your stop for true California, as well as pulling up a barstool at the ever-buzzing Harrison’s Pub where you can join the party for Big Foot on a nightly basis.For treks through the Redwoods Jackson State Forest - courtesy of visitmendocino.com Another top redwood romp lies in Jackson State Demonstration Forest, which offers 77 trails mostly carved for easy to moderate riders. This is big country, with 50,000 acres of woodland land and the majority of singletrack routes in Mendocino are found, linking some 80- and 100-miles of trails through pristine redwood, fir and pine forests. Built in the 1930s by the California Conservation Corps, the Boiler Trail is a moderate jaunt you can easily enjoy both ways, with a mild 154-ft., climb. Along the way, you’ll catch an antique boiler left behind from the logging era. The Condor, Blue Gum and Gunslinger trails are all solid start-ups leading to the only black diamond in the park – Jim’s Trail – a short fuse 700-ft., rapid descent with deep ruts, roots, steep sections and series of jagged turns requiring expert ability. Biker beware; wear a bell. Just a few miles east of the village of Mendocino within Jackson Forest, 11 expertly carved Mendocino Woodland Trails are the region’s crown jewels. Here, you can tap into the moderate 4.2-mile Manly Gulch Trail for a two-hour stint out and back traversing tan oak, madrone, douglas fir and ancient redwood groves. The singletracks interconnect for miles, winding through breathtaking forest backdrops. A few technical sections are peppered throughout in addition to mini bridges, spurs and meandering creeks. Sidenote: No dust factor. Where to stay: The Water Tower at the JD House offers a contemporary spin on a ship captain’s home with a fresh, sleek design and understated elegance. Set on a side street in the village of Mendocino with plenty of space for gear, the 1870s tower features an oversized bath, wood-burning fireplace, flat-screen television and iPad docking station surrounded by fragrant English gardens. For wine country wildernessLake Mendocino - courtesy of visitmendocino.com If the great outdoors is calling you, head to where redwood forests meet wine country: Lake Mendocino. The 700-acre wilderness area boasts 15 miles of biking trails and – if alfresco lodging is on the roster – 300 campsites. Just east of Ukiah, this region features 19 designated trails including the 17-mile Mendocino Lake Loop and popular 2.9-mile singletrack Shakota Trail that runs along the northside of the lake. This is big country with wide open spaces and spectacular views, wildlife is abundant and the chances of catching a natural high – 100 percent. The popular Manzanita Trail, which runs from the south end of the dam to the Eastside Trail is a 3.2-mile rollercoaster, pumping up and down the hillside along the lake. Where to stay: The Kyen Campground offers a variety of spots with great facilities (flush toilets, showers) and select grills, on a first come basis. Your site is surrounded by groves of oak, manzanita and pine and sits just off the lake for boating or fishing for bass and bluegill.