Boost Your Mood with Native Birdsong at These Scenic Destinations

By Mower / Benchmark Resorts & Hotels
September 7, 2023
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Puffins gather on rocks along the Atlantic Ocean by Ray Hennessy - Unsplash

For those in search of simple ways to practice self-scare and boost their mental wellbeing, birdsong may be the answer. According to recent studies, seeing or hearing birds can provide a myriad of mood-boosting benefits. Below are seven scenic resort properties surrounded by natural beauty and filled with birdsong—sure to help lift visitors’ spirits.

The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa (Manchester Village, Vermont)

A Northern cardinal perches on a branch in the snow by Ray Hennessy - Unsplash

This elegant New England property is steeped in history and sheltered amongst the tranquil beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains. As they wander the property’s landscaped grounds and outdoor trails within the Equinox Preserve, explorers will hear the healing songs of Northeastern birds including Northern cardinals, Eastern bluebirds and American robins.

Hawks Cay Resort (Duck Key, Florida)

Brown pelicans in Florida by The Tampa Bay Estuary Program - Unsplash

Centrally located between Miami and Key West, yet tucked away on the secluded island of Duck Key, Hawks Cay Resort is a Floridian paradise – boasting clear turquoise waters, endless sunshine and a relaxing, tropical atmosphere. While they soak in the sun, travelers will hear the distant calls of aquatic and wading birds such as seagulls, pelicans and herons.

La Cantera Resort & Spa (San Antonio, Texas)

Positioned just minutes outside of San Antonio, La Cantera Resort & Spa is situated on a tranquil 550-acre oasis. As visitors explore the property’s scenic trails winding across the rolling slopes and lush landscape of Texas Hill Country, they may be able to hear the calls of the native black-capped vireo and golden-cheeked warbler.

Sanderling Resort (Duck, North Carolina)

A father and daughter walk along the beach in Duck, North Carolina by Emotionary App - Unsplash

This quintessential beachfront escape is ideally located in the Outer Banks – a string of islands commonly recognized as one of the best birding locations on the East Coast. While they stroll along the sand, bird enthusiasts can look for native waterfowl and listen for the cheerful songs of mainland birds such as the purple martin.

Spruce Point Inn Resort & Spa (Boothbay Harbor, Maine)

Perfectly poised on 55 acres of scenic shoreline, woodlands, gardens and trails, this picturesque oceanfront destination offers an iconic costal Maine experience. Here, visitors can soak in the soothing sounds of seabirds such as the Atlantic puffin, black guillemot and common eider.

Stonewall Resort (Roanoke, West Virginia)

Situated on 1,900 acres of park grounds, Stonewall Resort offers immaculate views of West Virginia’s rolling Blue Ridge Mountains and tranquil lake waters. As they relax at this lakeside resort, guests can listen for a variety of local songbirds including the Northern mockingjay and hooded warbler.

The Wigwam (Litchfield Park, Arizona)

A roadrunner in the desert brush by Carrie Borden - Unsplash

A lush, 440-acre oasis, The Wigwam is located just 20 miles west of Phoenix. Here, guests can enjoy the stunning Sonoran Desert landscape and listen to the sounds of native birds such as roadrunners, wrens and woodpeckers.

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3 Ways to Savor the End of Summer in Florida

Labor Day has come and gone, and fall is on its way. For most this means cooler temperatures are just around the corner, if not already here, but those in Florida have sunshine and warm days for the foreseeable future. Vacation crowds have begun to dwindle as most people settle into the new academic year, but there is still plenty of fun to be had for those that want to keep the summer rolling. Here are three ways to enjoy September in this tropical state. Explore this new Martin County eco-trail Pelicans in Jensen Beach, Florida by David Morgan - Unsplash Earlier this year, the Martin County Office of Tourism & Marketing launched their award-winning ecotourism program, Explore Natural Martin. Developed in official partnership with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, the program focuses on promoting environmental stewardship and responsible tourism through free, educational eco-tours and activities. Now, there's a new way to explore Martin County, Florida's beautiful natural areas and attractions. This free, self-guided eco-trail includes beautiful outdoor areas, world-class attractions, and eco-friendly certified hotels. This mobile-exclusive trail is a new, interactive component of the ecotourism program and highlights more than 20 outdoor wonders and points of interest, including state and local parks, beaches, nature preserves, museums, and more. The mobile pass is also GPS-enabled, so participants can “check-in” and earn points at each stop along the trail which can be redeemed for three tiers of unique prizes, including branded bandanas, five-liter dry bags, solar-powered waterproof lanterns, sun protection shirts, and limited edition eco-themed stickers. Pass-holders will earn the highest allotment of points for attending official Explore Natural Martin programs (advance registration required) and visitors can even earn bonus points for overnight stays at one the Florida Green Lodging Program-certified properties. “Martin County is an undeniably special place, home to stunning natural areas, incredibly biodiverse ecosystems, and countless wildlife species,” says Ian Centrone, Martin County Tourism Program Manager. “We hope visitors and residents alike use the Explore Natural Martin EcoTrail to discover the incredible sites in our own backyard while also learning how we can all better protect our paradise for generations to come.” Encounter natural beauty in Fort Lauderdale A bird at the Flamingo Gardens in Davie, Florida by Keila Diaz - Unsplash The summer isn't over (yet) in Fort Lauderdale, which has been running a "101 Days of Summer" campaign featuring 101 ways to experience the area's best offerings. Map out your summer staycation with the help of this curated list, which is chock-full of local unforgettable experiences. Visitors and residents can also take advantage of discounts with the South Florida Adventure Pass (good through September 30th) which offers unlimited entry to four major attractions in the area. These passes are $55 for adults and $45 for ages 3-12, and existing Adventure Pass subscribers can renew at a discounted rate of $45 for adults and $35 for children. The passes include access to: Sawgrass Recreation Park in Weston, which features majestic airboat rides in the Everglades;Flamingo Gardens in Davie, with botanical gardens and a wildlife sanctuary;the interactive exhibits and outdoor science park of the Museum of Discovery & Science in Fort Lauderdale; and,Explore Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, with aviaries that are filled with 20,000 exotic butterflies and tropical birds! Attend concerts all month long in St. Augustine Pier on St. Augustine Beach, Florida by Kristin Wilson - Unsplash Introduced in 2016, Sing Out Loud Festival is an annual celebration of live music throughout Florida's Historic Coast. The multi-weekend festival features various artists at locales throughout St. Augustine and St. Johns County, Florida. This year, the festival welcomes headliners The Black Keys, Mumford & Sons, Lord Huron, Maggie Rogers, Yola, War Hippies, Elle King, Amos Lee, S.G. Goodman, Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth, Keller & Keels, and many other great performances. The festival also features free "Local Showcases" throughout the month featuring performers that are based locally. On Saturday, September 16, the festival's newest event, Lincolnville Porch Fest, celebrates the unique history of one of St. Augustine's most historically and culturally significant neighborhoods. Featuring twenty-five local musical acts performing on five porches against the backdrop of the Lincolnville neighborhood, Porch Fest takes place from noon to 5 pm, culminating with a finale at Colonial Oak Music Park later in the evening. Tuesday, September 19, artisan shopping and live music take center stage at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre Night Market. This free event takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. and features live music, handmade arts, crafts and goods, and local food trucks. The Sing Out Loud Festival main event, The Francis Field Showcase, takes place Friday, September 22 and Saturday, September 23 at Francis Field in downtown St. Augustine. Two-day tickets include General Admission for $235 each, General Admission+ for $395 each, and Platinum for $760 each. One-day tickets can be purchased at $125 for Friday and $155 for Saturday. Tickets are available online only. Following the main event, music lovers can expand their collections at the St. Augustine Record Fair. This free event takes place on Sunday, September 24 at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and is one of the area's largest fairs featuring limited-edition vinyl, 90's tour posters, vintage rock t-shirts, and even cassette tapes and record players. Finally, on Friday, September 29 through Sunday, October 1, the St. Augustine Songwriters Festival celebrates the craft of songwriting. Top-notch country songwriters will perform their hits throughout the St. Augustine's historic city, accented with the stories and anecdotes behind the hits. These free concerts occur at the Colonial Oak Music Park, Trade Winds Lounge, Prohibition Kitchen, and the St. Augustine Distillery.


Beyond Music City: 10 Unique Outdoor Music Venues in Tennessee

Nashville draws tourists from all over the country to experience the country music history, culture, and vibrant nightlife that makes up Music City—but it isn't the only town in the state with great venues. Tennessee, renowned for its rich musical heritage, is now stepping beyond traditional concert halls and indoor arenas to embrace the open air. Whether you're a country music lover, a blues aficionado or simply someone seeking an unparalleled musical experience, Tennessee's outdoor venues promise to captivate hearts and ears alike. Plan a trip to one of the venues below just in time to enjoy some of the best fall weather. The Caverns Located in Pelham in Grundy County, and nestled underground within a captivating cave system, The Caverns transform into an acoustic wonderland that hosts a diverse range of artists. Experience music amidst awe-inspiring rock formations that create a natural amphitheater, enhancing the sound experience. Upcoming performances include The Glitch Mob, 100 Gecs and Darrel Scott. Arrington Vineyards Arrington Vineyards offer concerts with its series Music in the Vines. Jazz, bluegrass and country rise into the air at Arrington Vineyards. This Middle Tennessee vineyard, started by Kix Brooks of the country duo Brooks & Dunn, hosts the music series every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from April through November. Guests can enjoy the vineyard grounds, award-winning wines and music from local, rising stars. Brushy Mountain Step into a unique blend of music, history and intrigue at the Brushy Mountain Concert Series, hosted within the confines of Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. Situated in Petros, this concert series offers an unparalleled experience that unites the power of live music with the mystique of a former prison setting. As the sun sets behind the rugged hills, the stage comes alive with performances that resonate through the cells and corridors, creating an atmosphere that's both captivating and hauntingly memorable. Greenway Farms The waterfront in Chattanooga by David Sager - Unsplash Located in Chattanooga, Greenway Farms hosts Fireside, a free outdoor concert series that takes place every Thursday from 7-9 PM in October. Guests are invited to bring blankets and chairs, marshmallow roasting sticks and dancing shoes. Attendees are also encouraged to bring a picnic. Performances this year include Lou Wamp & the Bluetastics, The New Quintet, Randy Steele and the Stringer's Ridge Band. Ascend Amphitheater Ascend Amphitheater is an open-air venue located on the Cumberland River in Nashville. The venue provides a beautiful view of the city skyline. It seats 2,300 people in fixed seating and 4,500 on the lawn. Upcoming concerts include Jordan Davis, Arctic Monkeys, Odeza, Hozier, Darius Rucker and Hozier. World's Fair Park Aerial view of the Knoxville skyline by Stephen Ellis - Unsplash Knoxville brings music and entertainment throughout the year to World's Fair Park. The iconic area is known for the Sunsphere, but also has an amphitheater open for concerts, special events and theatrical performances. It was constructed for the 1982 World's Fair and renovated in 2007. There's also a performance lawn and a festival lawn that hosts concerts and festivals. FirstBank Amphitheater This venue is located at the back of 150 acres in a reclaimed rock quarry rich in local history in Franklin. From all nearby roads you won't see an amphitheater. What you will see are abundant green spaces including ponds, trees, fields and wildlife – essentially all the natural beauty of outdoor Tennessee. Upcoming concerts include the Goo Goo Dolls, 5 Seconds of Summer and Smashing Pumpkins. Overton Park Shell Beginning every March, Overton Park Shell hosts more than 50 concerts, providing free music to their diverse audiences. From jazz to rock, soul and blues, the concerts emulate the "Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee." Located in the heart of Memphis, visitors are invited to bring a chair or blanket to enjoy the open-air facility. Dogs on a leash are welcome in the designated Puppy Bar, a brand-new dog-friendly social spot. Century Farm Winery The Century Farm Wineryy's outdoor venue provides an idyllic backdrop for music enthusiasts and wine connoisseurs alike in Jackson. From now through October, they host Voices in the Vineyards, a free outdoor concert series. The rolling vineyards, sprawling greenery and charming rustic architecture create an atmosphere that is both inviting and captivating. As the sun sets and the stars emerge, the winery's stage becomes a platform for artists to engage with their audience in a uniquely intimate setting. Amphitheater at the Market In the heart of Jackson, the Amphitheater at the Market is an outdoor facility that hosts a range of music events. The venue connects locals and travelers alike to Memphis' Beale Street and Nashville's Honky Tonk Highway by providing an amazing concert experience. The 2023 AMP Concert Series runs from April through September. Bring a picnic, blankets and lawn chairs for nights filled with music. Upcoming shows include Tyler Goodson and Bryan Moffitt.

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Hike Bucket-list Destinations on These Unique Women-Only Trips

Backroads recently announced the launch of Women's Adventures, a new offer exclusively for women travelers. Set in some of the world's most beautiful places, these new vacations feature some of the company's most popular Walking & Hiking itineraries in bucket-list destinations. While the all-women trips will naturally have a different dynamic than other Backroads' trips, they will offer the same commitment to excellence, flexible itineraries and exceptional Trip Leaders for which the company is known. "As part of the Hale family business, I've been lucky enough to take many Backroads trips, several of them with women only to destinations like Argentina, Vietnam/Cambodia and the California Wine Country," said Liz Hale, Backroads' Director of Community Partnerships. "There's nothing like traveling with a group of women. The shared experience on and off the trail, the sense of adventure, the deep connections and conversations, easy laughter and the joy of sisterhood that forms and strengthens as we create new lifelong memories.” Women seeking outdoor and cultural travel experiences in combination with stylish creature comforts—whether traveling solo or with female friends or family members—has been a growing trend over the years. Backroads has seen an increase in select travel dates becoming all-women trips, often as Private Trips. These Walking & Hiking tours are crafted to offer travelers an unfiltered and genuine connection to the culture, landscapes, people and natural beauty of the region they are exploring. With over 30 years of experience designing and leading Walking & Hiking trips across the globe, launching Women's Adventures that feature some of the company's top hiking itineraries is an exciting evolution of the Backroads trip collection. “There's a special magic and connection that often happens when women gather,” said Backroads Executive Vice President, Avery Hale Smith. “I've experienced this firsthand on the girls trips I've participated in over the years, and we've heard it repeatedly from guests who have traveled privately on all-women Backroads trips. We're excited to offer women the opportunity to connect, learn and be immersed in the local culture and community while discovering these amazing destinations together.” While the trips include locations from all over the world, there are several North American-based itineraries, including the selected trips below, that are more accessible and budget-friendly when adding in the costs of flights or other transportation. Banff to Yoho (Alberta, Canada) A 6-day getaway to the soaring peaks and emerald lakes of Banff, Lake Louise & Yoho National Park. Book here. Hike scenic trails in three Canadian national parks with dramatic vistas, beautiful lakes and lush landscapesWalk through evergreen forests and flowering meadows to sensational glaciers, magnificent waterfalls and towering peaksAdmire mountain reflections on Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, then hike to famous Plain of Six Glaciers TeahouseLook for mountain goats, pikas and marmots—perhaps come face-to-face with one of them! Palm Springs & Joshua Tree (California) Desert vegetation in Joshua Tree, California by Ben Karpinski - Unsplash A 4-day trip to this national park wonderland of rocks and desert oases. Book here. Hike Joshua Tree National Park's remarkable landscape strewn with gigantic boulders and shady palm oases Marvel at the desert's distinctive beauty—from Joshua trees to unique wildlife like roadrunners and desert bighorn sheep Admire the mid-century architecture and old Hollywood glamour of Palm Springs’ Las Palmas neighborhoodHike a section of the famous Pacific Crest Trail, taking in impressive views of San Gorgonio Mountain Yosemite (California) A waterfall in Yosemite National Park by Mick Haupt - Unsplash A 6-day excursion to explore this iconic national park's dramatic half dome and waterfalls. Book here. Experience spectacular hikes to alpine meadows, waterfalls and jaw-dropping panoramas Gaze skyward on a walk through a grove of giant sequoias, Yosemite's ancient trees Explore the endless trails of Tuolumne Meadows, a glacier-carved area over two miles long Discover the impressive rock formations for which Yosemite is known, including world-famous Half Dome Crate Lake & Cascades (Oregon) Crater Lake by Steven Coffey - Unsplash A 6-day adventure in the Pacific Northwest. Book here. Delight in Oregon's varied geology as you adventure on foot to the edge of the world-famous Crater LakeExplore the vibrant city of Bend, Oregon's lively and picturesque hub of outdoor adventure and craft brewingHike amid the grandeur of Oregon's Central Cascades, including a section of the famed Pacific Crest TrailAdmire Crater Lake's breathtakingly clear sapphire waters from some of the very best vantage points Sedona (Arizona) The red rocks of Sedona, Arizona by Edmundo Mendez, Jr - Unsplash A 4-day getaway to explore the red rocks and desert magic of Arizona. Book here. Hike among jagged peaks and vast canyons, and along trails blossoming with cacti, manzanita and agave plantsMarvel at the ever-changing colors of the landscape as the sun passes through the day, leaving behind a dazzling indigo sky full of starsWander in and out of art galleries and shops filled with jewelry and crafts made by local artists at Sedona’s Tlaquepaque villageRelish Southwestern cuisine and luxuriate in our quiet abode surrounded by red mesas and rugged cliffs Yellowstone & Tetons (Wyoming) Sunlight illuminates the peaks of the Teton mountain range by Toan Chu - Unsplash A 6-day trip to discover the geology, wildlife and peaks of these national parks. Book here. Observe the famous bubbling and churning geologic features of Yellowstone—including Old Faithful, of course Hike through gorgeous valley landscapes while gazing up to catch sight of the spectacular Teton peaks Photograph the wondrous Yellowstone wildlife you're bound to encounter—from elk to eagles and bison to bears Raft the Snake River with expert river runners, enjoying the views and abundant wildlife sightings —For more Women's Walking & Hiking trip itineraries, head to Backroads Women's Adventures.


Pair Unforgettable Experiences with Aurora Viewing in Alaska

As the nights grow longer and the temperatures begin to cool, the aurora borealis returns to the skies above Fairbanks, Alaska. While aurora activity occurs each day throughout the year, August ushers in the darkness needed for northern lights viewing. The onset of the Aurora Season, which spans August 21 through April 21, means eight months ahead of spectacular opportunities to see the northern lights. Aurora viewing on its own is a remarkable experience, but what if it could be elevated by combining it with a thrilling or rejuvenating activity? Explore some of the ways to make a northern lights excursion that much more unforgettable. Capture the curtains of lights Aurora borealis over Fairbanks, Alaska by Tommy Tang - Unsplash Many local businesses have skilled photographers and guides who are eager to assist you in setting up your camera to capture photographs of the northern lights. If you'd rather step in front of the camera, a variety of tour operators and aurora businesses will take your picture against the stunning backdrop of the aurora borealis giving you the chance to take home a once-in-a-lifetime keepsake. Find the best photo ops with: Alaska-Wildlife-Guide, Alaska Aurora Adventures, Aurora Bear - Aurora & Wildlife Photography, Steven Miley Photography Enjoy serenity and solitude while ice fishing Connect with a knowledgeable guide to help you drill through the ice that can reach up to four feet in thickness. As you patiently wait for the aurora to appear overhead, drop your line to catch chinook or coho salmon, Arctic char, or rainbow trout. Some outfitters will prepare your freshly caught fish in a warm and comfy hut right on the spot. Ice fish with: Rod's Alaskan Guide Service, Alaska Aurora Adventures, Alaska Fishing and Raft Adventures Have an adventure with furry companions The swirling aurora in the night sky serves as the perfect backdrop for taking a quick 30-minute ride in the basket of a dog sled. For the more adventurous, learn to mush your own team on a multi-day excursion into the Alaskan wilderness. Whether you opt for a quick jaunt or embark on an extended adventure, Alaska's high-energy and adorable sled dogs will steal your heart. Book dog sledding with: Firewalker Alaska Malamutes, Last Frontier Mushing Co-op, Rod's Alaskan Guide Service, Alaska Aurora Adventures, A+ Dog Sled Excursions and Tours Relax in the hot springs Aurora borealis over Chena Hot Springs by Jo San Diego - Unsplash Easily accessible from Fairbanks, take a dip in a natural hot spring pool while the northern lights dance above you. Imagine yourself floating in the warmth despite the crisp air around you. Enjoy the rejuvenating mineral-rich springs to relax your body and warm your soul at the end of an adventure-filled day. Relax with: 1st Alaska Tours, Alaska Aurora Adventures, Chena Hot Springs Resort Ride through snowy trails Experience the rush of snowmobiling under the northern lights. Snowmachines – as they are most often called in Alaska – are one of the easiest ways to get into the incredible snowy areas that surround Fairbanks. With the assistance of a knowledgeable guide, you'll receive the necessary equipment, expert guidance, and an invigorating journey through the backcountry, all while the aurora swirls above. Snowmobile with: Rod's Alaskan Guide Service, Alaska Aurora Adventures Seek out magical wildlife A full moon glows over the mountains in Alaska by Jonathan Wheeler - Unsplash Envision a truly enchanting evening combining the beauty of the northern lights and the fun, playful energy of reindeer. These whimsical, domesticated cousins of caribou make engaging and entertaining companions to stroll alongside and visit with. Let the magic of the reindeer and aurora borealis forever leave a mark on your heart. Find guides from: Alaska Aurora Adventures, Aurora Bear - Aurora & Wildlife Photography, Murphy Dome Yurt Journey to the Arctic Circle Travel north from Fairbanks to discover a landscape like no other. While it's not recommended to traverse the Dalton Highway yourself, especially in winter, it's easy to connect with a guide or tour company to fly or drive you to the Arctic Circle and beyond. Whether you opt for a single-day trip or an unforgettable overnight one, scanning the skies for the aurora above the Arctic Circle certainly is an opportunity not to be overlooked. Book with: 1st Alaska Tours, Alaska Aurora Adventures, Alaska Safari Sultan Tours