To celebrate the two towns that tied for first place in Budget Travel's annual Coolest Small Towns contest, Will McGough (the editor of Wake and Wander) took the Coolest Road Trip from Beaufort, N.C., to Hammondsport, N.Y. Here are his highlights (including stops in runners–up Damascus, Va., and Cape May, N.J.).
Coolest Accommodations: Damascus Cabins, where a riverside cabin and campfire provided just the right kind of nightlife after a long drive.
Coolest Restaurant: Cape May’s Mad Batter, for its crab Benedict brunch with mimosas.
Coolest Activity: Hot–air ballooning in Hammondsport, where McGough marveled at the simplicity of the balloon—not much more than a basket attached to a parachute, he notes, driven only by the power of the wind.
Coolest Bar: Beaufort’s Rhum Bar at the Front Street Grill at Stillwater for happy hour. Here, an “island vibe” makes for a memorable afternoon. (The signature Rhum Bar Punch is a potent mix of rum, pineapple, orange juice, and grenadine.)
Coolest History: The legend of Blackbeard. The infamous pirate lived in Beaufort before he was captured and hanged.
Coolest Souvenir: A bottle of Hammondsport wine. While not every location on your own personal road trip will have quite the terroir of the Finger Lakes (Hammondsport wines have been served at the White House, after all), McGough humbly suggests that a good regional wine will always top a trinket in his book.
Ready to take your next road trip? Visit the App Store to download the Budget Travel Ultimate Road Trips mobile app (Android version coming shortly)—it’s free and features 70 of the most inspiring drives in the country!
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