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Travel by Train: 7 Awesome Routes for Seeing the U.S.A.

By Jamie Birdwell-Branson
January 12, 2022
Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Courtesy Durango
Get ready to ride the rails on America's most scenic, comfortable, and affordable train routes.

When you're not in a rush to get to your destination, there's no better way to travel than by the slow, steady pace of a train. Though often associated with a European vacation, there are plenty of scenic and adventurous rail routes that you can take right here in—and across—the United States. Train travel offers an up-close look at your very own backyard, whether you're chugging along through the mountains or unhurriedly making your way through the scenic Northeast—all for a price that's often lower than a flight.

Ready to see the country by rail? Here are seven train trips that can’t be beat.

1. Adirondack: An International Journey, With Landscape Views

Take the stress out of an international flight and climb aboard Amtrak’s Adirondack (amtrak.com/adirondack-train), which takes leaves from Manhattan’s Penn Station and arrives in Montreal less than 11 hours later. The train winds its way through the Hudson Valley’s wine country and the farms of Albany and the Adirondack Mountains. It’s an especially popular route for leaf peepers during the fall, as the already breathtaking scenery is painted in glorious shades of orange, red and brown. (For prime views, make your way up to the dome car.) And pro tip: Since this is an international route, be sure to pack your passport. One-way tickets start at $70.

2. Pacific Surfliner: California Dreaming

Surf the coast by rail on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner (pacificsurfliner.com), which takes you through 351 miles of beautiful southern California. The golden coast journey starts in San Diego and ends in San Luis Obispo, stopping in SoCal hotspots like Anaheim, Los Angeles, Carpinteria, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Juan Capistrano. The train tracks hug the Pacific coast and riders can often spot dolphins, California sea lions, and even whales—right from the comfort of their seats. The Pacific Surfliner includes a café car—with plenty of wine options—as well as a bike rack, so you can easily take your wheels and hit the trails as soon as you hop off the train. One-way tickets start at $61.25.

3. Sunset Limited: Watch the Dynamic Southwest Change Before Your Eyes

Amtrak’s southern-most route, Sunset Limited (amtrak.com/sunset-limited-train), takes riders on a 48-hour scenic journey of the American southwest, from New Orleans all the way to Los Angeles. From the bayou to the canyons of southwestern Texas to the California mountains, pass through scenery that’s largely inaccessible by car, so have your camera out and be ready to capture it from your seat. Though this route doesn’t take you to into the national parks, the train will stop at their doorsteps. As part of a partnership between the National Parks Service and Amtrak, a national parks guide will often be on board to explain the changing vistas and landscapes as you slowly make your way through, which is all part of a partnership between Amtrak and the National Parks Service. One-way tickets start at $314.

4. Grand Canyon Railway: An American Natural Wonder Awaits

Avoid the traffic of Grand Canyon National Park and ride to the iconic destination in style on the Grand Canyon Railway (thetrain.com). The round-trip train route, which takes a little over two hours, begins in Williams, Arizona, and arrives inside Grand Canyon National Park, giving riders plenty of time to explore before heading back in the afternoon. On the journey, riders are lucky enough to get magnificent views of the Ponderosa Pine Forest in Williams, the wide-open prairies, and the San Francisco peaks, all while marveling at (and feeling) the change in elevation. Travelers can also often catch glimpses of wildlife such as elk, mountain lions, and bald eagle throughout the trip. Round-trip ticket prices from $70 to $226.

5. Napa Valley Wine Train: A Toast to the Vineyards of California

Just when you think that being in Napa Valley couldn’t get more elegant, the Napa Valley Wine Train (winetrain.com)—a beautifully restored 100-year-old railcar—makes any visit to wine country even more indulgent. The train’s route is short—just 30 miles from downtown Napa to St. Helena—but it’s an unforgettable way to view the vineyards as you ride through California farmland, all while holding a glass of wine in your hand. You can choose between a three- or six-hour trip, depending on whether you want a tasting tour, or a gourmet, multi-course meal served on board during your journey. And of course, there is plenty of wine tasting to be had while you’re chugging along. Ticket packages start at around $200.

6. Vermonter: A Breathtaking Trip Along the Eastern Seaboard

Watch the New England landscape shift from big cities to beautiful pastoral scenes on Amtrak’s Vemonter train (amtrak.com/vermonter-train), which runs daily service between Washington D.C. and St. Albans, a small town in northern Vermont. The trip, which clocks in at just under 14 hours, winds through all the east coast highlights: the big metropolises of New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore and the quaint countryside of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. The Vermonter not only provides unbelievable views out your passenger window of skyscrapers, farmland, beautiful churches, and sweeping valleys, but it’s also a great source of transportation for skiers, as it provides easy access to resorts like Bolton Valley and Sugarbush. One-way tickets start at $74.

7. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: A Vintage Steam-Powered Journey Through Colorado

Step back in time and experience Colorado’s beauty on the coal-fired, steam-powered Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train (durangotrain.com), which offers service between the two mountain towns. The train trip, 3.5 hours each way, allows passengers to eat lunch and explore the former mining town for a couple of hours before heading back to Durango. Along the way, riders can glimpse canyons along the Animas River and the plentiful spruces of the San Juan National Forest as the train steadily chugs along through the changing elevation levels. Riders can also opt to be dropped off to fish and hike at secluded locations that are inaccessible by car. Round-trip tickest start at $89.

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10 Affordable Alternatives to This Summer’s Top Destinations

Summer is approaching at a rapid clip, which means vacation-planning is in full force. And when it comes to booking hotels, flights, and the rest, value-hunting is the name of the game. According to TripAdvisor’s newly released 2019 Summer Vacation Value Report, you can score excellent hotel deals in the most popular destinations in the U.S. But those serious about saving will appreciate the study’s key finding: alternative options to the summer’s hotspots. The Most Popular Destinations from Coast to Coast The top picks will come as no surprise: Orlando, Las Vegas, and Myrtle Beach nabbed the highest three spots, followed by Maui, New York City, Key West, and New Orleans. Ocean City, San Diego and Virginia Beach finished off the list. The destinations were determined by a survey of more than 3,500 travelers, conducted in May. According to a TripAdvisor spokesperson, 92% of members are planning summer trips, up 12 percent from last year. Broadly speaking, the survey revealed that 48 percent of U.S. travelers this summer will vacation as a couple and 37 percent will travel as a family. The average length of a trip is one week. Appealing Alternatives According to the survey, straying just a little—but not too much—off the crowded paths can save you up to 38 percent on hotel prices. Orlando, the number-one summer destination, has hotel rooms averaging about $216 per night, but prices in Kissimmee, located about 23 miles south, clock in around $137. Las Vegas, which boasts some of America’s lowest hotel rates at an average of $167, is bested by Reno, where rooms can be had for about $144. Myrtle Beach prices hover around $250 while rooms in Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina’s Outer Banks are a cool $200. Thinking about Maui? Try Oahu instead, where seasonal hotel prices are about $200 lower than the Hawaiian hotspot’s $533. And if New York City has your heart but your wallet calls the shots, check out Philly, where prices average $258, a great deal compared to NYC’s $329. To round out the list, Key Largo is cited as the alternative to Key West, Miami is a good second-choice to New Orleans; Nags Head, North Carolina, should be your go-to if Ocean City rates are too high; hotel prices in Mammoth Lakes top San Diego's; and Williamsburg, Virginia is more affordable in the summertime than Virginia Beach.For travel inspiration, know-how, deals, and more, sign up for Budget Travel's free e-newsletter.

Budget Travel Lists

6 Cool Pedestrian Bridges You Should Walk Across

Gatlinburg’s SkyBridge, which opened today, is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the U.S., spanning 680 feet over a valley in the Great Smoky Mountains. An impressive feat indeed, but it's not the first of its ilk—from coast to coast, the United States is full of show-stopping structures just waiting to be explored. Offering epic views of manmade skylines and natural wonders alike, here are six awesome American bridges perfect for a stroll. 1. Skylift Bridge: Gatlinburg, Tennessee (Courtesy SkyLift Park) At the top of Crockett Mountain, on the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, SkyLift Park (gatlinburgskylift.com) is home to that brand-new record-breaking suspension bridge. At its highest point, it's 140 feet off the ground, but you don’t have to make the climb on your own. Take the chairlift, an iconic Gatlinburg attraction dating to 1954, and get off at the top, where you can hang out on the deck to nurse a pint, snap the perfect selfie, and oh yes, conquer the bridge. The walking path is five feet wide, so you shouldn’t have to worry about navigating the right-of-way in tight environs (when in doubt, single file!), but don’t look down if you’re squeamish—especially in the middle, where glass panels let you see past your toes and straight into the depths below. Tickets, $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $15 for kids ages 4-11, ages 3 and under free. The lift is accessible for passengers who are able to stand up to load on and off, and wheelchairs can be rented for free at the top, but the bridge itself is not wheelchair accessible. 2. Navajo Bridge: Glen Canyon, Arizona and Utah (Amelia Takacs/Dreamstime) The first direct route between Utah and Arizona, the Navajo Bridge (nps.gov/glca) opened to cars in 1929, and for nearly 70 years, drivers on highway 89A took that route to cross the Colorado River. But the area’s transportation needs eventually overwhelmed the historic structure, and its 18-foot-wide road became too much for the heavier cars and trucks of the late 20th century. Construction began on a new bridge that would run parallel to the old one, and upon its completion in 1995, the original bridge was opened to foot traffic. Today, the steel-and-concrete trestle looms 467 feet above the river, with a visitors center and a bookstore on the west side. On the Navajo Nation side to the east, Native American craftspeople set up shop, and the Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center offers outdoor exhibits and self-guided walks across the bridge.Park entry, $30 per car or $15 per person on foot or bike. The historic bridge is wheelchair accessible. 3. BP Pedestrian Bridge: Chicago (F11photo/Dreamstime) The BP Pedestrian Bridge (millenniumparkfoundation.org), Frank Gehry’s first and, to date, only bridge, can be found in downtown Chicago, where it wends its way over Columbus Drive, connecting Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park over lane upon lane of urban traffic. Completed in 2004, the undulating overpass is covered with the famed architect’s signature sculptural stainless-steel panels and spans nearly two-tenths of a mile, providing both skyline and park views along the way. It’s also a companion piece to Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion—though the outdoor amphitheater has an impressive aerial sound system, the bridge contributes to the experience, serving as an acoustic barrier for free performances and festivals of all stripes.Free. The bridge is accessible, with gently sloping wheelchair-friendly ramps at each entrance. 4. Tilikum Crossing: Portland, Oregon (Vitpho/Dreamstime) With a Native American name symbolic of connection and friendship that nods to the region’s early people, Portland’s Tilikum Crossing (trimet.org/tilikum) opened in 2015, becoming the area's first new bridge across the Willamette River in 40-plus years. Roughly 1,700 feet long and utilizing more than three miles of cable, the cable-stayed bridge has lanes for buses and trains and separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians—no cars allowed—with a design takes its cues from the surrounding landscape. The sloping angle of the top cable mimics the slope of Mt. Hood in the distance, while the 180-foot-tall towers at the bridge's center have angled tops that blend with the tree line. Taking it to the next level, aesthetic lighting works in direct synthesis with the environment: LED lights on the cables and towers change color based on the flow of the river, with the water’s temperature affecting the shifting hues and its speed setting the pace for the colors' movement across the bridge. Free. The bridge is wheelchair-accessible, with extra-wide pullouts around the towers where visitors can pause to take in the views. 5. Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge: Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa (Courtesy VisitOmaha.com) At 3,000 feet, including its landings, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge (visitomaha.com/bob) is the longest footbridge connecting two states, stretching over the Missouri River between Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa. Since its official opening in 2008, the walkway has become so integral to the communities it links that it’s taken on a life of its own: Named for the former Nebraska governor and state senator who championed the project, it’s now known simply as Bob, an anthropomorphic structure with an active social-media presence and a few thousand followers. The cable-stayed bridge features 210-foot LED-lit pylons and a curving pathway that echoes the winding river beneath, hovering 60 feet above the Missouri at its midway point and connecting to 150 miles of nature trails and family-friendly public spaces on either side. Free. The bridge is wheelchair accessible and ADA-compliant. 6. Walkway Over the Hudson: Poughkeepsie, New York (Liz Van Steenburgh/Dreamstime) Opened in 1889 as the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge and transformed into a pedestrian trail in 2009, New York’s Walkway Over the Hudson (walkway.org) is a state park with a storied history. Originally introduced as an industrial line, the bridge was transporting passengers between major east coast cities within a year of its debut; during World War II, it was painted black to prevent against attacks, and in 1974 its tracks were destroyed by a fire likely sparked by a train’s brakes. Today, some half a million people travel the 1.28-mile footpath from Poughkeepsie to the town of Lloyd in Ulster County, soaking up gorgeous, 360-degree views of the Catskills and the Hudson Highlands from 212 feet above the river. For even more natural splendor, the linear park connects with two rail-trail networks, the Hudson Valley and the Dutchess, to offer 18 miles of walking and cycling in verdant environs.Free, except during special events. Both entrances are wheelchair accessible and ADA-compliant, and a 21-story glass elevator operates seasonally on the Poughkeepsie side. For travel inspiration, know-how, deals, and more, sign up for Budget Travel's free e-newsletter.

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50 Best BBQ Restaurants in the U.S.

When our friends at Foursquare published their 50 top-ranked barbecue restaurants in the U.S. earlier this year, it got us thinking: Is there a better reason to explore America’s interstates, main streets, and backroads than authentic, smoky barbecue? Whether your appetite runs toward traditional brisket, ribs, and pulled pork, or toward cool new cultural fusions such as Asian-spiced chicken wings and BBQ-stuffed tacos, these 50 joints are enough to keep any gourmand busy for months or even years. Why We Love BBQ "One of the most exciting things about barbecue is that the best stuff is found in what might appear to be the unlikeliest of places," says Budget Travel’s senior editor Liza Weisstuch. When Liza ate at the original outpost of the famous Joe's Kansas City Barbecue, which is No. 1 on Foursquare’s ranked list and located in a gas station rest stop, she was surprised how many locals advised her to get there no later than 10AM, an hour before opening. She was even more surprised to find that when she got there—at 10AM, sharp—there were already more than 40 hungry people queued up outside. "The line of excited 'cue-lovers aside, the place had all the trappings of a roadside pit stop. Well, 'pit stop' indeed. The pit masters here crank out some of the most tender, swoon-worthy meats, worthy not only of the time spent on line, but a pilgrimage any carnivore should consider." Multicultural Riffs on BBQ Tradition As much as we love the BBQ traditions exemplified by joints such as Joe’s, we also love how the cuisine has evolved to include a variety of cultural influences, and one tasty example is right here in Budget Travel’s New York City backyard. “Hometown Bar-B-Que [No. 12 on Foursquare’s list] is, hands down, my favorite barbecue in New York City,” says Budget Travel associate editor Maya Stanton. “The brisket's fat-to-lean ratio is on point, so the meat basically melts in your mouth, and the smoky flavor is just out of this world. They also have these Vietnamese wings that seem overpriced until you get them—they’re the whole wing, not separated into individual flats/drumsticks, and pretty much perfect. The menu has a bunch of other fusiony options too, like jerk ribs, pulled-pork tacos, and lamb belly banh mi, so it’s a great place to try something outside of the usual regional styles.” Talk to Us: How Many of These 50 BBQ Joints Have You Tried? We’d love to hear how many of Foursquare’s top 50 BBQ joints you’ve tried so far—or tell us about your favorite BBQ that didn't make the (admittedly subjective) list: Post a comment below or share your best most alluring BBQ photos on Instagram, tagged #mybudgettravel. From down-home BBQ hot spots like Texas and Missouri to some surprises (one of the top 50 is all the way up in Vermont), these restaurants boast fantastic food and a more than a few wacky names (e.g., No. 11 is John Mull’s Meats & Road Kill, in Las Vegas; No. 46 is Meat U Anywhere, in Grapevine, TX). Where Will You Eat Next? Here, Foursquare's top 50 BBQ joints across the U.S.: Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Cue (Kansas City, MO) Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue (Tyler, TX) Eli’s BBQ (Cincinnati, OH) Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q (Atlanta, GA) Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (Rochester, NY) The Salt Lick (Driftwood, TX) Bogart’s Smokehouse (St. Louis, MO) Smoque BBQ (Chicago, IL) Q39 (Kansas City, MO) The Joint (New Orleans, LA) John Mull’s Meats & Road Kill Grill (Las Vegas, NV) Hometown Bar-B-Que (Brooklyn, NY) Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q (Austin, TX) Pappy’s Smokehouse (St. Louis, MO) Mighty Quinn’s BBQ (New York, NY) Central BBQ (Memphis, TN) Burn Co. BBQ (Tulsa, OK) Community Q BBQ (Decatur, GA) Smokin Pig BBQ (Pendleton, SC) Fette Sau (Brooklyn, NY) RayRay’s Hog Pit (Columbus, (OH) Green Street Smoked Meats (Chicago, IL) Little Miss BBQ (Phoenix, AZ) Heirloom Market BBQ (Atlanta, GA) Fat Matt’s Rib Shack (Atlanta, GA) Prohibition Pig (Waterbury, VT) Franklin Barbecue (Austin, TX) Chaps Pit Beef (Baltimore, MD) Saw’s BBQ (Homewood, AL) Slows Bar-B-Q (Detroit, MI) Andy Nelson’s Southern Pit Barbecue (Cockeysville, MD) Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House (Knoxbille, TN) Lockhart Smokehouse (Dallas, TX) La Barbecue Cuisine Texicana JR’s Barbeque (Culver City, CA) Pecan Lodge (Dallas, TX) Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse (Philadelphia) Freedmen’s (Austin, TX) Jethro’s BBQ (Des Moines, IA) Hard Eight BBQ (Coppell, TX) Southern Soul Barbeque (St. Simons Island, GA) Ace Biscuit & Barbecue (Charlottesville, VA) Alamo BBQ (Richmond, VA) 12 Bones Smokehouse (Asheville, NC) Aptos St. BBQ (Aptos, CA) Meat U Anywhere BBQ (Grapevine, TX) Midwood Smokehouse (Charlotte, NC) Phil’s BBQ (San Diego, CA) Hutchins BBQ & Brill (McKinney, TX) Blue Ribbon BBQ (Arlington, MA)

Budget Travel Lists

6 Things To Do in Tulsa, Oklahoma

If Oklahoma native son Woody Guthrie could write a song about Tulsa today, he would sing about the vibrant creativity, the enterprising entrepreneurs, and the friendly locals, an idealized portrait of the kind of America he immortalized when he sang This Land Is Your Land. From its grand art deco architecture to its trendy cafes, shops, breweries, and bars, Tulsa pulls the rug out from whatever you're expecting from a trip to cowboy territory, particularly this town once known for its place in American history as the end of the Trail of Tears. That's in no small part due to a giant ongoing investment that Tulsa native and public-school alum George Kaiser, the billionaire banker and oilman-turned-philanthropist, is making in the city. (More on that in a second.) Here are a few places to check out and things to do to that bring the city's history and newfound energy together. 1. Gather at the Gathering Place (Shane Bevel) There is really no straightforward way to describe the Gathering Place (gatheringplace.org), which sprawls across 100 acres along the Arkansas River. It's part theme park, part public park, part recreational hub. It embodies a five-acre state-of-the-art playground that feels like something out of a German fairy tale forest, a stylish lodge-like community center with a giant fireplace and free Wi-Fi, plus a skate park, sports courts, nature trails, a labyrinthine “sensory garden” for kids with interactive, multi-sensory features, two desensitization spaces designed to have a calming effect on children with autism, a water play-space with contraptions that spray water seven feet into the air, family-friendly eateries and concession stands, green spaces, and even more. The $465 million Gathering Place was developed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, making it the largest private gift to a public park in U.S. history. 2. Get Your Kicks (Liza Weisstuch) Of the many, many changes that Route 66 has undergone since it was established as one of the nation's original highways in 1926, the most recent ones have included closures of old roadside eateries and while many landmarks remain, others have disappeared over time. It’s in the name of renewal that in May, Mary Beth Babcock erected Buck Atom Space Cowboy Roadside Attraction, a 21-foot fiberglass statue of an animated astronaut, outside her store, Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios on 66 (buckatomson66.com). It’s a tribute to an era when these mighty “muffler men” kept watch on the road from Chicago to L.A. Its retro style befits her store, a treasure trove of books, figurines, and sundry gift items that evoke the atomic era. This is just one of the stops on the walk down Tulsa’s stretch of the historic road. Set off from downtown, where it's designated as 11th Street, and you’ll pass a cemetery, established in 1902, the charming modern housewares and furniture shop Jenkins & Co. (jenkinsandcotulsa.com), the iconic Meadow Gold sign, which once tempted travelers with promises of ice cream, then a cluster of stores including Buck Atom's, a used record shop, a vintage clothing spot, and a depot for furniture made with reclaimed materials. Wrap up at Soul City, a vibrant old-school bar with indoor and outdoor stages and live music every night. 3. See Where Art and History Meet (Liza Weisstuch) You can go to the Philbrook Museum to gaze at the Renaissance paintings, works by Rodin, Picasso, and Pueblo artists, and plenty other gorgeous art and ancient artifacts. You can go to wander in the sprawling, meticulously landscaped gardens. Or you could go to get a sense of the way Oklahoma oil moguls lived when Tulsa was the Saudi Arabia of the west. The Philbrook (philbrook.org), located about three miles from downtown, is set in a 72-room Italian Renaissance villa built as the home of Waite Phillips, the magnate who founded Philips Oil. In 1938, Philips and his wife donated the villa to the city as an arts center, and the building itself is as much of an attraction as the works it holds. He clearly spared no expenses in construction--teak floors, marble fireplaces, ornate ceilings, Corinthian columns. His passion for beautiful things also shines through in the downtown buildings that he funded. The Philtower and Philcade, art deco masterpieces, are grandiose office buildings that still anchor the city's skyline. 4. Action! An Iconic 80s Movie Comes Alive (Liza Weisstuch) The house at 731 N. St. Louis Avenue is quite ramshackle and the yard is unkempt. It doesn’t inspire much enthusiasm. Unless, of course, you recognize the home from Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders, the 1983 movie starring a pack of young heartthrobs whose names are now cornerstones of American pop culture: Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon. It's based on the book written in 1967 by Tulsan S.E. Hinton when she was 15. It’s never gone out of print and remains on the reading list in many American public schools. According to Danny Boy O’Connor, founding member of 1990s hip-hop group House of Pain, the house is a national treasure, so when he visited Tulsa and discovered it in disrepair, he bought it and launched a Kickstarter campaign to rescue it from its scheduled date with a wrecking ball. With help from musician Jack White, he raised the money, gut-renovated the place, and painstakingly restored it to match how it looked on screen, down to stains on the wall and grime on the stove. With the support of Ms. Hinton, filled it with costumes and artifacts from the movie, including Coppola's director's chair, many editions of the books and VHS copies, and stills from the film. Tours, which involve meeting downtown for a van that will take you to tour the house and cruise around to a few of the various sites featured in the movie, (theoutsidershouse.com) 5. Dine Around: Mother Road Market Throughout America, food halls have begun to seem like the new shopping mall, not least because every city has one. Tulsa's Mother Road Market (motherroadmarket.com) makes for an exciting visit for a few reasons. First, the premise: It's a nonprofit. The Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation operates the market as well as a commercial kitchen with incubator programs that help entrepreneurs launch businesses. Check out the Kitchen 66 stall for pop-ups from the program's emerging food companies. Second, the Nashville hot chicken at Chicken and the Wolf, a local cult favorite that draws fans each day for its signature chicken--just be sure to heed the warnings that accompany the hottest menu items. There are vegan versions, too. (The owners also run a standalone hot chicken restaurant and the funky Lone Wolf Bahn Mi.) There's also an outpost of the much lauded Oklahoma Joe's BBQ, the requisite food hall taco stall (& Tacos), Nice Guys Shrimp Shack, the hard-to-resist Big Dipper Creamery and OK Cookie Monster, globally accented options at Bodhi Bowl, and, perhaps most attention-grabbing of all, Umami Fries, known for its fry options with kimchi or beef toppings. Add to that a sweet little general store with local produce, the full-service Wel Bar, sprawling covered outdoor area in the back with communal tables and a green space for kids to run around, and you can practically make a day of it. 6. Perk Up: Coffee Mania Let it be known: Tulsans love coffee. Coffee shops here, however, go far beyond the standard “third-wave” cafés, the term used to describe places that focus on single-origin beans, fair trade, and meticulous brewing techniques. Like many places around the U.S., coffee drinks at these cafes are made with the same level of craftsmanship as artisanal cocktails. Unlike many places around the U.S., Tulsa has several spots where you can hang out all day drinking top-rate java and stay in your seat when evening arrives and the cocktail menu goes into effect. Cirque Coffee (cirquecoffee.com), for instance, has stools along a long wood counter, cozy couches, colorful murals, and shelves of whiskey, gin, tequila, vodka, and rum on the wall. The sounds of an espresso machine resound through the airy warehouse-chic space all day long. Come evening, the many folks who’ve been typing on their MacBooks fold them up in favor of the beautiful hard-covered cocktail menu, which offers familiar classics and many originals, including, fittingly enough, creative coffee cocktails. (See: The Hotrod, a mix of cold brew coffee, curacao and simple syrup) Hodges Bend (hodges-bend.com), on the other hand, looks has all the trappings of a nouveau-vintage cocktail bar—exposed brick walls, dark wood furniture, pressed-tin ceiling— that also serves terrific coffee and specialty java drinks made with their own blend. Drinks here include classics, a few originals, and a thoughtfully curated wine list. A globally-accented menu ranging from duck confit tacos to veggie bibimbap round out the offerings.