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Love Golf? Here are the 10 Best Cities for Golf

April 14, 2022
I Stock 481358874 - golfer
IStock - sturti
With the completion this past weekend of one of professional golfs' most famous events .. The Masters , we wanted to know where are the best 10 cities to play golf.

There are many ways to enjoy the game of golf. Sprawling country club courses. Popular urban courses. Curses at vacation resorts with various themes. Courses on the shore and courses in the desert, old courses and new. You can play yourself or watch the tour professionals take their swings. Golf is a game for young and old, for the wealthy golf tourist and the local course hackers. And courses are found in every corner of the nation and in nearly every city, seasonal and year-round.

But of all of these, which are the best cities for golf in the nation? For every city that offers golfers a first tee and a 19th hole, apartmentguide.com counted every public course and cross-referenced each with Golf Digest's list of the top 100 public courses in the U.S. (2017-2018 ). These 10 spots are the best for golf.

10. Bend, OR

What goes better together than golf and beer? Not much. The central Oregon town of Bend has plenty of both. The city of nearly 100,000 features just 13 public courses, fewer than many other cities on this list. But three of those are ranked among Golf Digest's 70 best public courses.

9. Pinehurst, NC

Pinehurst is a small village in North Carolina between Charlotte and Fayetteville. The population is just 13,000. But this unassuming town in a relatively mundane forested inland region is home to one of the nation's most renowned golf resort complexes.

8. Hilton Head Island, SC

Golf Green with Lake-Hilton Head, SC - Credit: IStock
Golf Green with Lake-Hilton Head, SC - Credit: IStock - William Reagan

Just north of Savannah, GA, is the swampy South Carolina island of Hilton Head. The Low Country destination features a dozen miles of Atlantic beach and an abundance of natural wetlands, preserves and inlets filled with wildlife. The island is home to many species of alligators, sea turtles, dolphins and manatees.

7. Monterey, CA

Tucked into the gentle cove at the south end of Monterey Bay, at the tip of the Monterey Peninsula, is beautiful Monterey, CA. Protected from the ocean by Point Pinos, ocean breezes and lagoon tides create pristine beaches, agreeable surf and placid weather.

6. Palm Desert, CA

The city of Palm Desert, CA, is rather accurately named. It's a gateway between the San Jacintos' sunny green forest and the Joshua Tree desert. Its position at the heart of Coachella Valley along I-10 makes its weather perfect for outdoor recreation. Particularly golf.

5. Myrtle Beach, SC

Myrtle Beach golf course in South Carolina
Myrtle Beach golf course in South Carolina - Credit: IStock - andykazie

Beautiful Myrtle Beach, SC, is a sandy, oceanside resort city attractive to beachgoers, outdoor enthusiasts, spring breakers, club hoppers and retirees alike. The jewel of the Grand Strand attracts 20 million visitors yearly to its nearly 2,000 restaurants, 425 hotels, dozen theaters and top-ranked boardwalk. Little wonder it is continuously one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country.

4. Kohler, WI

When you think of golf paradises, Sheboygan, WI, isn't usually the spot that comes to mind. Even less likely, take a short four-mile jog to the west and you wind up in the village of Kohler. Kohler is a small company town — home to the well-known plumbing corporation — with a population of just 2,100. And this company town has just two public golf complexes, with two courses each.

3. Scottsdale, AZ

The most public golf courses of any city in the west belong to the desert city of Scottsdale, AZ. The fifth-largest city in the state features 133 public golf courses. Some are traditional green fairway courses lined with sod or non-native grass, and some feature acres of tricky dirt and sand as rough. Many feature unique designs built into the Sonoran Desert and McDowell Mountains landscape.

2. Naples, FL

If it's a variety you're looking for, look no further than Naples, FL. The name of the game in this gulf coast city is volume. For a population of just 20,000, the city offers 155 courses, the most for any city overall. It's no wonder that Naples bills itself as the “Golf Capital of the World."

1. Bandon, OR

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort - Credit: IStock - Matt De Sautel

Looking for the No. 1 golf destination in the country? The hole-in-one city for golf is the Oregon coastal town of Bandon. The isolated town lies about a half-hour south of Coos Bay and 90 miles north of the California border along the 101.


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Discover USA: Bloomington, Indiana

Join Budget Travel as we continue our new series Discover USA. Discover USA explores states, counties, cities, and everything in between. Each week we will explore a new US destination to help you find things to do, itinerary ideas, and plan where to go next. This week, we invite you to Discover what Bloomington, Indiana has to offer. Bloomington a well-known college town, home to the prestigious Indiana University, and a mecca for great restaurants. However, this charming Midwestern city has a whole lot more to offer. Culinary Bloomington is a mecca for global cuisine. Turkish, Tibetan, Venezuelan, Burmese, Italian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, French, Japanese—if you can find it on a globe, you can find it in Bloomington. Bloomington boasts 350+ restaurants where diners can find everything from gourmet hotdogs in an underground dive bar filled with pinball machines and traditional mo-mo’s at the Midwest’s best Tibetan restaurant to ethically sourced coffee shops and all-vegan bakeries. Family-owned & operated by a Tibetan refugee and former monk, Anyetsang’s Little Tibet is one of 4th Street’s most popular restaurants — the Dalai Lama himself once dined there during a visit to Bloomington. Prayer flags adorn the restaurant’s patio and interior, along with many photos, artwork, and other mementos celebrating Tibetan culture. Irish Lion - Courtesy visitbloomington.com Originally designed as an inn and pub in 1882, The Irish Lion is one of the oldest buildings in Bloomington — several architectural features, including the double doors and surrounding woodwork at the entrance, are original to the building. Its 1800s-style mahogany bar, ornate copper ceiling, and welcoming tavern ambiance offer what feels like an authentic Irish pub experience right here in B-Town. Upland Brewing Company is an accumulation of all the best things about Bloomington: progressive ideas, community, imagination, innovation, and bold flavors, all of which are evident in their beer, food, and brewery atmosphere. One of B-Town’s O.G. brewpubs, Upland is now a nationally-revered beer brand and beloved food destination at its many locations across the state. Here are some more of Bloomington's most iconic restaurants. Arts and Culture Musical Arts Center - Courtesy visitbloomington Bloomington's culture is comprised of a wonderfully eclectic mix of Midwestern values, international influences, intellectual pursuits, and spiritual exploration. Those elements are represented across the city and campus at places like the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center, Lilly Library, Monroe County History Center, 4th Street, and more. Perhaps because of the unique, blended culture, or in conjunction with it, Bloomington has also developed into an artistic haven. There's a high concentration of artists and an even higher concentration of people who appreciate & support the arts. That’s why you’ll find live music nearly every night of the year, public art painting the streets in vibrant colors, world-class theater & dance performances at some of the nation's leading venues, and galleries filled with work by local & national artists. Explore the country's only Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center with self-guided walking tours, meditation classes, stay in an on-sight Yurt (no TVs, electronics). Then enjoy the only restaurant in the U.S. dedicated to Tibetan food in the U.S. (Founded by Dalai Lama's brother in 1970s, Dali Lama has private apartment there). Courtesy visitbloomington.com Little 500, a big event. Indiana University's Little 500 is the largest collegiate bike race in the United States, widely known as "The World's Greatest College Weekend" — more than 25,000 people travel to Bloomington each year to watch the race and participate in the week's festivities. In the past, Lance Armstrong, former Bachelor & IU alum Ben Higgins, and former President Barack Obama have attended the race. The Little 500 has even gotten recognition on the silver screen: Breaking Away (1979) is an Academy Award-winning film about the race. It's a truly iconic event. This year’s event takes place April 22 & 23. Cream & Crimson – spend a day at the famous Indiana University, one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country full of experiences that are open (and many free) to guests such as the Lilly Library which holds millions of cultural & literary artifacts that document some of humanity's highest achievements including a New Testament of the Gutenberg Bible, the First Folio of Shakespeare's works, over 30,000 comics donated by Batman producer, Michael Uslan, the first printed edition of The Canterbury Tales, George Washington's letter accepting the presidency of the United States, typescripts from many of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, four of John Ford's Oscars, Thomas Jefferson's personal copy of the Bill of Rights, 94 of Sylvia Plath's poems, and so much more. Reach more about Bloomington’s Arts & Culture scene here. Explore the Outdoors Nature preserves, lakes, trails, caves, and more. While there's an abundance of adventure to be had in the city, Bloomington's nature offerings provide a different sort of wanderlust fulfillment that's just as worthy of your attention. Courtesy visitbloomington.com Become a water bug for the day at Monroe Lake — Indiana’s largest land-bound body of water and offers camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, boating and beaching. Rent a pontoon and laze under the sun, paddle around the perimeter of the lake in a kayak, or dip your toes in at the beach. Cast your fishing line from the shores of Griffy Lake, or see what you can catch as you float along in a canoe. Lace up your hiking boots and venture the rolling hills & abundance of trails at Morgan-Monroe State Forest and Yellowwood State Forest. If mountain biking is more your speed, head out to Wapehani Mountain Bike Park to tear up some dirt on two wheels. For a more challenging & thrilling ride, try some of the rugged trails at the Hoosier National Forest. Take the family to any of our fantastic outdoor parks for a day full of fun. Bryan Park is a favorite during the summer months due to its outdoor pool & waterslides, and the fully-accessible playground at Lower Cascades Park is a must for every child. Regardless of the outdoor adventure you choose, Bloomington's natural beauty is sure to impress and leave you coming back for more. Just 30 minutes from downtown Bloomington and the Indiana University campus resides Indiana's only national forest. Comprised of over 200,000 acres, tens-of-thousands of which are found in Monroe County, and Indiana’s only wilderness area, the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, the Hoosier National Forest offers a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of life, as well as a slew of nature activities to enjoy during any season. CARD WIDGET HERE

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Seattle named the most fun place to visit in America in a new study!

Fun-loving Americans can forget New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles after experts revealed the most fun city in America to visit is Seattle. To help Americans find the cities with the greatest number, and variety, of fun yet cost-effective activities, Cycling Frog, compiled a list of the top 60 populated most U.S. cities in 2022. They then cross-referenced these cities with quality of life, cost of living, and weather metrics to reveal a top 20 leaderboard. From there, researchers at Cycling Frog analyzed these top 20 cities and compared a variety of lifestyle factors. Specifically, they researched the scale and quality of local attractions, the number of events to attend in each city, the average cost of an overnight stay, and the number of bars and pubs to choose from. What makes a city fun can be subjective and personal, but they do have a few things in common: affordable, a vibrant culture, great places to relax and drink, spectacular sights, and a variety of attractions. These metrics were then ranked relative to their population and size to reveal a top 20 leaderboard highlighting fun and affordable cities to visit this year. The study conducted in April 2022 reveals Seattle, WA, as the most fun place to live or visit in America when it comes to quality of life, reasonable cost of living, pleasant weather, highly rated local attractions, and more. Washington DC Washington DC was ranked in second place, whilst San Francisco came in third position. Cycling Frog’s expert findings also show a shift in trends with typical list-toppers such as New York and Los Angeles, ranking outside the top ten and some way down the list. Their research proves and highlights that there are some amazingly fun cities to visit outside of the usual tourist ‘hot spots’, such as Columbus, Charlotte, and Austin which all feature in the top ten. New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago all perform strongly on the total number of four and five-star attractions on Tripadvisor, however, when we look at other cities and compare the number of attractions relative to their size, they don’t perform as well as smaller and arguably more fun cities. When looking at the number of events a city has to choose from, Philadelphia boasts 152 events over a weekend which actually rivals New York, which edges ahead with 153, for the most organized events on a given weekend. Philadelphia These events offer something for everyone, and there is a choice of sightseeing tours, museums, cultural events, club nights, drag events, and more. According to the research, New York again leads on the total number of pubs and bars, but taking population and size into account, Chicago actually has the most bars and pubs per population. The cost of living and quality of life in New York means the big apple doesn't feature in the top ten. But overall, looking at and taking into account all the factors studied, Seattle performed strongly in all areas. Known as the Emerald City, Seattle is a flourishing metropolis set against the stunning backdrop of the Olympic Mountains. Within the city, there is an abundance of things to do - according to our research, there are 870 four- and five-star rated attractions to visit (that’s a lot!). So, no matter what you’re into, you’ll never be bored! Seattle is also home to more than 100 annual festivals, and one of our favorites is Hempfest - a two-day event that takes place in August 2022. For the full ranking of the most fun American cities to visit please visit: https://cyclingfrog.com/blogs/news/fun-us-cities-to-visit

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From stagecoach to motorcoach, a history of RVs in the USA

While not only has purchasing an RV greatly increased rentals and sharing has soared. But how did these rolling homes on wheels get their start? To answer that, you'll have to travel back to the wild west, and the rugged landscape of Wyoming. Duck into the Old West Museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming and you'll see so many chuck wagons, sleek phaetons, and sturdy stagecoaches you'll think you stumbled onto a Clint Eastwood film set. The museum, part of the broader Frontier Days rodeo complex, is home to the largest collection of of pre-automobile vehicles West of the Mississippi. It's also, somewhat unintentionally, a prologue to the sprawling RV/MH Hall of Fame in Ekhart, Indiana – the midwest manufacturing town that's turned out most of the motorhomes, travel trailers, toy haulers, and recreational vehicles you'll see on highways not only in the US, but around the world. That's because long before Winnebago was a household name, and even before companies like Ford made the automobile king of the road, the buggies, coaches, and wagons you'll see on exhibit in Cheyenne or the Plains Museum in Laramie were the original RVs that helped Americans get outside not for work, but for the sheer fun of it. Now a century later, RVs are having something of a renaissance. Not only have sales gone up in recent years, RV users are increasingly diverse. And as many in the industry predicted the COVID-19 pandemic created a major boom for motorhomes as many adopt RVing as a way to travel while practicing social distancing. But how did these rolling homes on wheels get their start? To answer that, you'll have to travel back to the wild west, and the rugged landscape of Wyoming. One of the original touring coaches used to guide visitors around Yellowstone National Park before the advent of the automobile © Meghan O'Dea The history of the first RVs One of the jewels of the Old West Museum is an original Yellowstone stagecoach in the signature bright yellow hue that's still standard for the park's current fleet of buses and snow coaches. The Tally-Ho Touring Coaches, as they were known, were manufactured by Abbot-Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire especially for the Yellowstone Park Transportation Company. The century-old paint job is flaking off the museum's example, but it's still easy to get a sense of what it would be like to tour the United States' original national park behind a team of horses after making the long journey from cities back east via the Northern Pacific Railroad. Long before major thoroughfares like the Lincoln Highway or Route 66 linked states from coast to coast and made road trips to national parks possible, visitors arrived in train cars and stayed in grand hotels built by the railroad companies themselves, often with an architectural style that blended western rustic with Old World alpine motifs – a genre that came to be known as "parksitecture." Back then, a multi-day tour through the park cost about $50 a passenger (over a $1,000 today if you account for inflation), and took you from the North Pacific Railroad's station in Cinnabar, Montana, to the hotel at Mammoth Hot Springs, which you can still visit today. Little boy sitting on bumper of early RV circa 1915. © Vintage Images / Alamy Stock Photo Soon the well-to-do tourists who went to the trouble and expense of trips out west wanted their own recreational vehicles in which to tour national parks, or the countryside closer to their homes and summer retreats. Carriage companies began to add extra features like fold-out beds, sinks and "potted toilets" to the landaus they were already manufacturing – landaus being a kind of precursor to the modern convertible, with a broad passenger seat and a fold-down top. In 1910, Pierce-Arrow debuted its new Touring Landau at the Madison Square Garden auto show. It was a swift, sporty carriage equipped with many of the comforts of home, perfect for the leisure class's recent yen for escaping the polluted, crowded city in favor of outdoor adventures. The Pierce-Arrow was not only the first RV as we know them today, it was also the ancestor of today's Type B motorhomes – part car or truck, part home on wheels. A car pulls an early caravan with tent construction in the Kaibab National Forest on the northern edge of the Grand Canyon circa 1929 © Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo / Alamy Stock Photo RVs in the age of the automobile It didn't take long for other carriage makers to roll out their own versions of the Pierce-Arrow – or for the burgeoning auto industry to get in on the small but exciting RV trend. Some of the innovative wealthy converted Packard trucks into the first ever Class C motorhomes (the mid-size RV models built on truck chassis, often with a bed in a pop-out over the cab) and in 1910, a Michigan company called Auto Kamp started rolling out the first pop-up campers much like the ones you know today, with space for sleeping, cooking, and dining. What set the Auto Kamp apart was that it was designed not to be pulled by horses like the Touring Landau, but by the brand new Model T's that rolled off Ford's Detroit factory lines just two years before. The age of the automobile had arrived, giving a broader swath of Americans access not only to Yellowstone, but the six other national parks that had been established in the decades following the United States' first national park, including Sequoia, Yosemite, Mt. Rainier, Crater Lake, Wind Cave, and Mesa Verde. An exhibit at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart Indiana shows a number of RV styles from decades past © Vespasian / Alamy Stock Photo Just three years after Pierce-Arrow introduced the first RV and five years after the Model T debuted, an instructor at Cal State invented his own model of travel trailer to tow behind his own "Tin Lizzy," as the Model T had affectionately become known. It was called the Earl after its inventor, who hired a local carriage company to build out his design, which is still on display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame. Throughout the 1920s and 30s, as automobile ownership continued to increase and slews of new national parks were designated from Grand Canyon to the Everglades to Great Smoky Mountains, new types of RVs debuted, too. It was an era of "Tin Can Tourists" as one RV enthusiasts club called itself, a reference to the gleaming silver campers of the era – a style that lives on in the perennially popular Airstream, which debuted in the early 1930s. No longer were visitors to national parks limited to the railroad's massive lodges. Now they could camp throughout Yellowstone and its descendants – and at a variety of other outdoor destinations, too, including the first proper RV parks that cropped up across the country, along with filling stations and motels along brand-new "auto-trails" like the Dixie Highway, Egyptian Trail, Evergreen National Highway, and New Santa Fe Trail. Desi Arnaz and Lucile Ball appear in the film "Long, Long Trailer" © United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo How RVs became part of American culture Though the Great Depression slowed the sale of RVs along with everything else in America, the Civilian Conservation Corps was hard at work on numerous projects in national and state parks around the country, constructing campgrounds and other outdoor recreation facilities still in use today. By the time World War II was over, the economy was roaring again and Americans were eager to explore. The age of nuclear family road trips and summer vacations had arrived, and so had a new generation of RVs that were bigger and more luxurious than ever, packed with new technology and ready to run on plenty of cheap gasoline. Sprawling Class A models (the largest size of RVs, which often resemble tour busses) rolled onto dealers' lots, along with the first RVs known as "motor homes." RVs had started to make their way into pop culture through films like 1943's What's Buzzin' Cousin? and 1953's Long Long Trailer. A decade later, a VW microbus appeared on the cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, just a year after Donna Reed took her fictional TV family on western vacation in a Dodge Travco RV. Also in 1962, an aging John Steinbeck hit the road in a camper named for Don Quixote's horse, in search of the American essence and whatever the country was becoming, perhaps unaware that his journey itself, and the means by which he traveled, typified the very questions he was trying to answer. Steinbeck's experience, recorded in the great travelogue Travels with Charlie, later inspired CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt to start filming America's back highways for a segment called On the Road, a project that ultimately lasted twenty years and six motorhomes. By the end of the 1960s there was no denying that RVs were firmly cemented in both mainstream family life and counterculture, as American as apple pie. A family packs up for a summer vacation in their travel trailer sometime in the 1960s © ClassicStock / Alamy Stock Photo Motorhomes from the midcentury to today Many of the carriage manufacturers who started the RV travel trend had been put out of business by big auto decades earlier, but a new generation of RV-builders were about to become household names. Small buses and conversion vans like the VW Type 2, Westfalia Vanagon, and conversions of Dodge and Ram commercial vehicles came to the fore in the 1950s and 60s and have stayed popular to this day. Meanwhile, Winnebago released its first model in 1966, and thanks to its iconic design and affordability, the brand quickly became genericized, the company's name synonymous with RVs in general. Competitor Jayco was founded two years later, and in 1972, a small family-run building supply company in Red Bay, Alabama, purchased an ailing RV manufacturer and turned it into Tiffin Motorhomes. That was the same year the RV/MV Hall of Fame Heritage Foundation was started in Elkhart, which later developed the Hall of Fame. Barbie got her first RV in 1970, the same year the Partridge Family hit the road in a brightly painted Chevy school bus to make their first gig at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. It was just a few years before the oil crisis put a dent in the RV industry juggernaut, slowing sales. But by the 1980s, America was still in love with RVs, giving them pride of place in popular films like Space Balls, The Blues Brothers and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, proving that travel – even in far-flung galaxies – was still very much synonymous with the all-American motorhome. RVs are gaining popularity with Latinx and African American outdoor enthusiasts in recent years © Wendy Ashton / Getty Images In recent years, new demographics have been getting in on RVs. As the outdoor industry diversifies, so have rentals and purchase of the recreational vehicles people use to access their favorite destinations. The popularity of the vanlife movement and a proliferation of RV influencers on YouTube and social media have contributed to RV's shedding their retirees-only image, as new generations of "schoolies" and "dirtbags" adopt vintage school busses and new models like the Dodge Ram ProMaster and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans as permanent rolling homes. Meanwhile, Volkswagen is putting the finishing touches on an all-electric version of its classic surfer van, ushering in a new, more sustainable era of RVing. Many of those now-classic brands like Coachmen and Fleetwood that became synonymous with motorhomes over fifty years ago are putting out new models with a host of features modern travelers demand, like USB chargers and faux-marble countertops. And there's been a crop of glampgrounds mushrooming around the world where guests can savor the style of vintage Airstreams and Shastas, from Hotel Caravana in the Hudson Valley to The Vintages Trailer Resort in Oregon wine country. The first century of RVing has been a long, strange trip. Fortunately, if you're still curious to learn more about how your contemporary adventure rig evolved, you can gas up your current model and head to the Old West Museum, Plains Museum, the RV/MH Hall of Fame, John Sisemore Traveland RV Museum, Steven Katkowsky Vintage Trailer Museum and beyond to see the original recreational vehicles for yourself, not to mention those gleaming space-age Tin Cans, canned hams, Winnies, toy-haulers, and everything in between. You might just run into a national park or two on the way, and see some of the places that inspired your favorite motorhomes all those years ago. Content Presented by RVShare, the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace with more than 100,000 RVs to rent nationwide. RVshare brings RV renters and RV owners together by providing the safest and most secure platform for booking an RV rental. Find the Perfect RV Rental at RVshare

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8 Scenic hikes to do on your next trip to Washington County, Maryland

You really can’t go wrong when it comes to choosing a beautiful place to go hiking in Washington County, Maryland, home to five national parks, eight state parks, and two resource management areas. Each comes with its own set of scenic trails, offering plenty of options whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing stroll through the woods or up for something more strenuous as long as it leads to a phenomenal view. Here’s a look at some of the best places to go hiking on your next trip to Western Maryland. Maryland’s Portion of the Appalachian Trail Washington Monument on Appalachian Trail in Boonsboro - Credit: MJ Clingan Did you know the majority of the 40-mile section of the Appalachian Trail that crosses Maryland actually passes through Washington County? This particular portion of the A.T. is relatively easy compared with others, with fewer steep climbs and elevation changes of just 1,650 feet. While you could thru-hike the entire stretch in four or five days, most visitors opt to do day hikes where the trail runs through Greenbrier State Park (Annapolis Rock and Black Rock Cliff), Gathland State Park (Weverton Cliffs), and Washington Monument State Park, home of the first monument ever created in George Washington’s honor. The A.T. also allows access to the Maryland Heights overlook at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, which we’ll get into later. C&O Canal National Historic Park Hikers on C&O Canal towpath - Credit: Canal Trust Constructed in 1828 and declared a National Monument in 1961, the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal is a vast 184.5-mile waterway that connects Georgetown in Washington, D.C. with Cumberland in Maryland. The C&O Canal Towpath — the dirt and stone trail that runs alongside it and was once used by mules to tow boats down the canal — serves as a recreational space for hikers and cyclists, with 78 miles of it passing through Washington County. The canal is also part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and is a popular place for birding. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, turkey vultures, egrets, great blue herons, wood ducks, and more than 120 other species of birds as you make your way along the Potomac. The Western Maryland Rail Trail Western MD Rail Trail in Hancock 1st Maryland Trail Town -Credit: John Canan For those who prefer paved paths, the Western Maryland Rail Trail, formerly the site of the Western Maryland Railway, runs alongside a 28-mile section of the C&O Canal Towpath from Big Pool (near Fort Frederick State Park) up to Little Orleans. With beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and the nearby Potomac River, it’s a beautiful place to visit year-round, especially in the fall when the leaves change color. The entire path is wheelchair and stroller accessible and relatively flat, making it a great place to go for a relaxing walk, energizing run, or scenic bike ride. Fort Frederick State Park While most people visit Fort Frederick State Park to learn about the unique stone fort, which was constructed in 1756 and used to defend Maryland during the French and Indian War, it’s also home to two scenic trails perfect for hikers of all ages and abilities. Stroll along Beaver Pond Trail, where you can view white-tailed deer, turtles, birds, and other wetland wildlife along the 0.3-mile path, or take the 1.1-mile Plantation Nature Trail through the forest, where trees were harvested in the 1930s — the C&O Canal Towpath also winds its way through here along the Potomac River. Nearby, the Woodmont Natural Resource Management Area’s Wildlife Heritage Trail offers pathways through rolling mountain landscapes, oak forests, and places to pick wild berries. Antietam National Battlefield Antietam Burnside Bridge - Credit: Scanter Halfway between Hagerstown, Maryland, and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Antietam National Battlefield was the site of the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, where 23,000 soldiers were killed that fateful day on September 17, 1862. Today, it’s home to 10 historic hiking trails where visitors can walk along 0.3- to 1.8-mile pathways and read markers indicating the historic events that happened here. Visit in springtime when birds returning from their winter trips south can be seen in the trees around the Sherrick Farm and Snavely Ford trails. The battlefield is also home to 77 species of birds including northern cardinals, red-tailed hawks, and eastern bluebirds, among others. The Maryland Heights Trail at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Harpers Ferry National Historical Park spans three states (Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia) and its Maryland Heights Trail is a major highlight, offering incredible views of the C&O Canal, Harpers Ferry, and the place where the Potomac River and Shenandoah River meet. It also connects with the Appalachian Trail at the Maryland Heights overlook and lets you check out artillery batteries dating back to the Civil War era — the Stone Fort Loop Trail, which adds about two more miles to your hike, is also worth a look. Park at the Visitor Center and take the free shuttle or hike down the 1.6-mile path to begin the 4.5-mile semi-strenuous trail in Lower Town. South Mountain Recreation Area Greenbrier State Park (South Mountain Recreation Area) - Credit: Scott Cantner South Mountain State Park, Greenbrier State Park, Gathland State Park, and Washington Monument State Park make up the South Mountain Recreation Area, home to hiking trails and excellent bird-watching areas. While parts of the Appalachian Trail pass through Greenbrier State Park, there are 11 miles of trails ranging from moderate to difficult due to the steep, rocky landscape — whichever you choose, leave time to cool off in the scenic 42-acre lake. The A.T. also crosses South Mountain State Battlefield, where you can learn how the Battle of South Mountain helped turn the tide of the Civil War in 1862, and Washington Monument State Park, home to a stone tower that was built in 1827 to honor our first president. Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area In Western Washington County, the 3,100-acre Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area offers hikers a chance to discover the area’s geology. Stop by the Visitor’s Center to learn how the region’s ancient Devonian-age black shale, which dates back to more than 350 million years ago, and ancient Hampshire and Chemung sandstone support the unique wildlife and endangered plants that live here. Watch for songbirds, black bears, grouse, wild turkeys, and white-tailed deer. Most trails here once served as logging roads or were built to support the C&O Canal, and are now used by hikers and hunters during hunting season. CARD WIDGET HERE

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