Ultimate Arkansas Road Trip
Road trip season is on its way, and we can’t think of a better way to enjoy the open road than to head to Arkansas, within driving distance from much of America’s heartland and boasting endless opportunities to savor American history, culture, food, and natural wonders. Here, some of the highlights of the ultimate road trip from the capital, Little Rock, to the wild beauty of the Ozark Mountains.
Culture & Food in Little Rock
Little Rock is one of America’s affordable gems, a bustling metropolis packed with natural beauty, culture, and great food. Hit the River Market District to sample classic southern comfort food, distinctive regional fare, and imaginative culinary fusion from local chefs—and you can get to the River Market District via METRO Streetcar. History buffs will want to spend some time getting to know the Clinton Presidential Center & Park, beautifully designed with an eye toward limiting environmental impact. Many visitors to Little Rock are surprised to find nature at every turn, and the Central Arkansas Nature Center and Clinton Presidential Park Wetlands allow for wildlife viewing and quiet moments right in the middle of town. Every well-traveled kid should see the Museum of Discovery with its hands-on learning activities for all ages.
The Delights of Eureka Springs
Visitors to Arkansas will savor a stop in Eureka Springs, a town truly like no other. Here, classic Victorian homes are situated along winding mountainside streets; downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places and boasts award-winning restaurants and exceptional shopping featuring unique, local items at boutiques, art galleries and studios, and craft shops. (Public art is also on display all around town, spotlighting the community’s commitment to creativity.) But Eureka Springs’s charms don’t end in town—situated in the heart of the Ozarks, there are ample opportunities for fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and much more. And those looking for a relaxing spa experience will find a number of local hotels that offer access to soothing springs.
History & Art in Bentonville
Here in the foothills of the Ozarks, the town of Bentonville may be best known as the headquarters of Walmart (you can even visit the original Walmart 5&10 from 1950), but the relatively small community packs much more into a tidy package. Don’t miss the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, covering five centuries of American art from colonial days to the present. Art fans will want to continue exploring Bentonville at 21c Museum and Hotel, which combines more than 12,000 square feet of art galleries with an adjacent 100+ room boutique hotel. Kids of all ages will relish an afternoon at Scott Family Amazeum, where you’ll never hear the words “don’t touch”—it’s all about playing and learning. And you mustn’t depart Bentonville without immersing yourself in one of the south’s most significant collections of Native American artifacts at the Museum of Native American History.
Folk Music & Crafts in the Ozarks
We love that music can be heard just about everywhere you go in Mountain View. Here, locals join visiting musicians to entertain crowds—and one another—with traditional mountain music in the town square during the warm months (which, here in Mountain View, go from mid-April through late November). Founded in the 1870s, Mountain View has become a major center of traditional Ozark culture and music. The epicenter of folk music and crafts here is the Ozark Folk Center, where you’ll experience demonstrations of a range of crafts such as pottery-making and blacksmithing, not to mention traditional music—you can get lessons on a classic mountain instrument such as the autoharp or dulcimer, and even learn to dance a jig.
Easy Outdoor Adventures in St. Francis National Forest
Quick: Where’s the only National Forest that includes Mississippi River shoreline? It’s Arkansas’s own St. Francis National Forest, on the east central region of the state. Covering more than 20,000 acres, the hardwood forest is a mecca for wildlife observers. Here, the woods are teeming with turkey, rabbit, whitetail deer, and a plethora of waterfowl. Abundant game fishing includes striped and largemouth bass and, of course, catfish. St. Francis National Forest is a place to enjoy low-impact, low-stress outdoor adventures. Bear Creek Lake offers opportunities for swimming, boating, and camping. More adventurous visitors may enjoy four-season pursuits in the St. Francis and Ozark National Forests, where cycling, canoeing, horseback riding, and even ATV rides are popular. The Ozark and St. Francis National Forests offer such an abundance of natural beauty, in fact, that they are crossed by six U.S. Scenic Byways.
Don’t Miss These Natural Wonders
There’s a reason that Arkansas is nicknamed The Natural State. Here, an array of parks, forests, mountains, and more attract road trippers from across the U.S. Some don’t-miss natural highlights include lakes and rivers situated in more than 20 state parks. As mentioned above, the Ozark and St. Francis National Forests boast a number of lakes just waiting for vacationers. Natural springs abound in Hot Springs, Eureka Springs, and other “hotspots.” And be sure to have your camera or smartphone at the ready for the Instagrammable mountain ranges, waterfalls, natural bridges, flowers, and wildlife you’ll encounter along the route of your ultimate road trip!
To learn more and plan your road trip, visit arkansas.com.
If you’re planning to take a family vacation in 2019, you’re in good company: A recent AAA survey predicts that nearly 100 million Americans (that’s about 4 in 10 adults) are planning to do the same. With that data in mind, AAA shared some stats, know-how, and trip inspiration that every Budget Traveler should know. By the Numbers According to AAA’s survey, two-thirds of family travelers will take a summer getaway, with more than half of them planning to make that getaway a road trip. One factor that’s inspiring travelers to plan road trips and scenic drives is the lower cost of gas, down about one quarter compared with last year. Gas prices are expected to rise, but remain lower this summer than last. AAA reports that a third of Americans surveyed said they would add another road trip to their summer plans if gas prices stay down, Planning Your Route “To make the most of their vacations, AAA recommends families plan and research as far ahead as possible to avoid missing out on popular activities and fun,” says Stacey Barber, executive director, AAA Travel Information & Content. Budget Travel has been covering great American road trips for more than 20 years, and offers a wealth of itineraries and advice. It turns out, AAA’s top routes for summer travel (according to AAA member road trip routing data) align very much with some of Budget Travel’s all-time favorite U.S. road trips, including the National Parks of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast Highway, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the mountains of New England. READ: 5 Perfect U.S. Road Trips Tips for a Successful Family Road Trip We also echo AAA’s common-sense road trip tips, which you can start implementing as early as, well, right now, to ensure a smooth summer excursion: Pack smart. Bring books, games, and music, information on your destination, and healthy snack. Stay safe. Stop every 100 miles, or every two hours, to help stay alert. Make sure all passengers are safely wearing seatbelts or sitting in child safety seats. Be patient. Be prepared to hit traffic, and reduce your chance of delays by hitting the road earlier or later than most drivers, especially on holiday weekends. Map out your route. Sure, GPS is awesome, but it’s always best to map out your route in advance, including reliable lodging, restaurants, and gas stations, especially if you’re traveling a relatively remote area where you may lose cellular service for a time. Get your car ready. Have your car inspected and tuned up, carry a flashlight, extra batteries, flares or reflective triangle, jumper cables, a first-aid kit, and plenty of water.
Travel News: Rent an RV From $10/Day, Travel the World for Free, and Were You Exposed to Radiation at the Grand Canyon?
From a very cool way to save big money on your next RV adventure to some tips for traipsing around the world for free (yes, free), plus a heads-up about years of uranium exposure at the Grand Canyon, this week’s travel news is all about getting you the inside scoop to make you a smarter globetrotter. Rent an RV From $10/Day We’ve been getting to know RVShare, the first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace (translation: it’s like Airbnb for RV rentals), and we want to put it on the radar of Budget Travelers as they plan their 2019 adventures. If you’re looking to explore, say, the national parks of the American west this summer but don’t especially feel the need to own an RV year-round, RVShare offers rentals from as low as $10/day. If you already happen to own an RV but don’t use it on a regular basis (and 93 percent of RV owners use their vehicles for only about five weeks each year), RVShare offers the opportunity to make some money along with the more than 60,000 other RV owners who currently participate. RVShare also offers one-way rentals starting this spring, and has just launched the Historic Route 66 Road Trip Sweepstakes, which will deliver a 10-day RV trip from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, to Las Vegas. Visit RVShare.com to learn more. Travel the World for Free The word free always gets our attention, and when our friends at the financial comparison site MyBankTracker.com compiled a list of options for seeing the world for nothing, it caught our eye. Some hacks you should consider: Swap houses with someone in your vacation destination. Volunteer for a worthwhile cause via Idealist or Workaway, or volunteer on a farm via World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms in exchange for food, lodging, and training. SIgn up for a cultural exchange program like GlobalFreeloaders or BeWelcome. Apply for scholarships or fellowships.Crowd-fund a travel project you feel passionate about via platforms such as Indiegogo. Offer freelance work or barter in exchange for accommodations.And MyBankTracker.com suggests opening an online banking account before you travel abroad to enjoy lower fees or no fees at all when you use partner ATMs for cash.Were You Exposed to Radiation at the Grand Canyon? Well, not all travel news is good news. CNN has reported that uranium stored at Grand Canyon National Park’s museum caused elevated levels of radiation exposure for visitors and employees for more than 18 years, according to Grand Canyon’s safety, health, and wellness manager. Elston Stephenson told CNN that he began asking questions last year and in early February he emailed Grand Canyon park staff warning that workers and visitors who were in the park’s Museum Collections Building between the year 2000 and June 18, 2018, were exposed to uranium according to the definition of exposure used by OSHA. The good news is the exposure levels were not high enough to be considered dangerous, just high enough to warrant a heads-up.
3 Great Places to Take a Maple Syrup Road Trip
Ready for a unique spring road trip? Explore the short—but sweet—maple sugar season in the great north. Maple sugar season is short because there are just a few weeks each spring when sugar maple farmers—known as "sugarmakers"—get just the right weather (mid-20s at night, mid-to-high 40s and sunny during the day) for their maple trees to start producing the sweet sap that goes into maple syrup, maple sugar, and other products. Sugarmakers typically celebrate syrup season in mid-to-late March with tours of tapped trees and "sugarhouses" where maple sap is turned into syrup. Maple sugar season is sweet because, well, you will not believe the taste and aroma of pure maple syrup, sugar, and candies. Whether you're looking for a fun family outing or a romantic snugglefest, there's nothing quite like visiting a forest full of tapped trees and stopping by the "sugarhouse" to see the sap boiled and processed into syrup and sugar the way it's been done for centuries. (To produce one gallon of maple syrup, sugarmakers must boil down about 40 gallons of sap.) You might even get a sleigh ride or steam train ride around the farm, and, of course samples of syrups and candies. Some of the best places for a maple syrup road trip are: 1. VERMONT Enjoy fresh maple syrup in the region that Grandma Moses immortalized in her paintings—taking a tour of a sugar maple farm may make you feel like you've stepped inside one of her classic rural scenes. Stay at the historic 1857 Eddington House Inn (eddingtonhouseinn.com) in North Bennington, where the super-helpful staff can direct you to the best farmstands and "sugarmakers." While you're in the Bennington area, don't miss the magnificent collection of Grandma Moses paintings at the Bennington Museum, and the Robert Frost House, devoted to that great American poet's inspiring words. For a look at a local sugarmaker in action, contact Dutton's Farm Stand (duttonberryfarm.com), in nearby Manchester. 2. MONTREAL The Quebec province of Canada is where 80 percent of the world's maple syrup is produced. An hour's drive outside Montreal you'll find a wonderland of "sugar shacks," each offering tours of tapped trees and sugar-making activities. Families with kids will especially love the shacks that include a steam train or pony ride. Stay at Le Square Phillips Hotel & Suites (squarephillips.com), a 15-minute walk from the landmark Notre-Dame Basilica, with spacious guest rooms with kitchenettes from well under $200/night. To see a Canadian sugarmaker at work—and to take a steam train ride around the farm, visit Cabane a Sucre Bouvrette (bouvrette.ca), about an hour's drive outside Montreal. 3. WISCONSIN Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Big Woods" are a maple wonderland! Make downtown Milwaukee your home base for this trip, at the lovely art-deco style Ambassador Hotel from well under $200/night (ambassadormilwaukee.com) and explore hight art at the Milwaukee Art Museum (stunning Picassos and Kandinskys, among other classical and modern works) and beer & pretzels at a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game. Head out into the country for tours of sugarmakers and farmstands during their busy April season. For tours and samples, contact Inthewoods Sugar Bush (inthewoodssugarbush.com), about an hour and 20 minutes' drive north of Milwaukee.
4 Easy & Gorgeous Fall Foliage Trips From NYC
Sure, the fall colors in New York City’s Central Park, Prospect Park, and New York Botanical Garden can be absolutely beautiful. But for a taste of country-style leaf peeping and autumn festivities, city dwellers have an array of options that are within reach. Here, four of our favorite foliage getaways. 1. Harriman State Park, Rockland & Orange Counties, NY We love Harriman State Park, which stretches across Rockland and Orange counties, making it convenient for New Yorkers and New Jersey residents alike. This time of year it is hands-down one of the most gorgeous places to drink in those autumn colors, with 31 lakes and reservoirs, 200 miles of hiking trails, two beaches, two campgrounds, and a laid-back vibe that makes you feel that you have truly escaped from the city. 2. Lake Minnewaska State Park, New Paltz, NY A little farther upstate, about 90 minutes from the city, Lake Minnewaska actually makes you feel that you have taken a trip out west, with granite peaks, and stunning vistas you may not associate with upstate New York. You can take an easy hike around Lake Minnewaska, or spend most of the day hiking deeper into the park and enjoying the fall colors. But do save time for dinner in New Paltz, with its barbecue, vegan specialties, and a wide array of comfort food. 3. Adirondack State Park, NY You will have to set aside a weekend or longer to visit Adirondack State Park, a few hours’ drive upstate, but you will be rewarded with mountain peaks, pristine lakes, and endless miles of rivers and streams for paddling canoes and kayaks. It is not only New York's biggest state park (bigger than most national parks!), but it's also one of the only state parks that is home to actual communities, including the welcoming villages of Saranac lake, Lake Placid, and other cool towns with amazing food, museums, galleries, and friendly locals. 4. Western Connecticut You don’t have to travel all the way to Vermont or New Hampshire to see classic New England fall foliage. Western Connecticut is home to Litchfield Hills and charming communities such as West Cornwall with its covered bridges, gorgeous Kent Falls State Park, and small towns where traditional New England architecture rubs elbows with gorgeous autumn colors and great restaurants. Visit nearby Mohawk Mountain for stunning views and outdoor activities.