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  • First Sunset at Saguaro National Park near Tucson Arizona.
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    Tucson,

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    Save up to 50% on Hotels

    Tucson (; Spanish: Tucsón; O'odham: Cuk-Ṣon; Navajo: Tó Oostsʼąʼ) is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States, and is home to the University of Arizona. It is the second largest city in Arizona, with a population of 542,629 in the 2020 United States Census, while the population of the entire Tucson metropolitan statistical area (MSA) is 1,043,433. The Tucson MSA forms part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area (CSA). Tucson is the second most-populated city in Arizona behind Phoenix, both of which anchor the Arizona Sun Corridor. The city is 108 miles (174 km) southeast of Phoenix and 60 mi (97 km) north of the U.S.–Mexico border. Tucson is the 33rd largest city and the 58th largest metropolitan area in the United States (2014). Major incorporated suburbs of Tucson include Oro Valley and Marana northwest of the city, Sahuarita south of the city, and South Tucson in an enclave south of downtown. Communities in the vicinity of Tucson (some within or overlapping the city limits) include Casas Adobes, Catalina Foothills, Flowing Wells, Midvale Park, Tanque Verde, Tortolita, and Vail. Towns outside the Tucson metro area include Benson to the southeast, Catalina and Oracle to the north, and Green Valley to the south. Tucson was founded as a military fort by the Spanish when Hugo O'Conor authorized the construction of Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón in 1775. It was included in the state of Sonora after Mexico gained independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821. In 1853, the United States acquired a 29,670 square miles (76,840 km2) region of present-day southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico from Mexico under the Gadsden Purchase. Tucson served as the capital of the Arizona Territory from 1867 to 1877. Tucson was Arizona's largest city by population during the territorial period and early statehood, until it was surpassed by Phoenix by 1920. Nevertheless, population growth remained strong during the late 20th century. In 2017, Tucson was the first American city to be designated a "City of Gastronomy" by UNESCO.The Spanish name of the city, Tucsón [tukˈson], is derived from the O'odham Cuk Ṣon [tʃʊk ʂɔːn], meaning "(at the) base of the black [hill]", a reference to a basalt-covered hill now known as Sentinel Peak. Tucson is sometimes referred to as "The Old Pueblo".
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    Black Friday's best travel deals from around the web

    Whether you’re planning a staycation closer to home or an epic adventure in Mexico or the Caribbean, these Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel deals will help you do it for less, with rates starting under $250 per night and most travel dates extending into or through 2022. Note that blackout dates apply, most properties have flexible cancellation policies and some links won’t be active until November 26, 2021. Click here to join Budget Travel's free membership program for access to incredible deals year-round. Vacation Packages, Guided Tours and Cruises Apple Vacations & FunJet: Book November 24–December 4 to save up to $175 on mainland U.S. vacation packages and up to $500 on trips to Hawaii, Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Beach Bound: Book your beach break November 26–30 to save up to $175 on trips to Florida and $500 on trips to Hawaii. Deals to Mexico and the Caribbean are also available, with $250 off stays of five or more nights with promo code BB250 and $500 off stays of seven or more nights with promo code BB500. Cheap Caribbean: This year’s specials include all-inclusive resorts from $49 per person per night, $250 off stays of five or more nights (with promo code CYBER250) and $500 off stays of seven or more nights (with promo code CYBER500) when you book November 25–30. G Adventures: Now through December 3, you can save up to 30% on over 500 guided tours around the world operating through March 31, 2022, and up to 20% on select tours through October 31, 2022, as part of G Adventures’ Cyber Sale. Go City: A great staycation option, you’ll get 15% off Go City passes in San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York City, Miami, Orlando, Hawaii (Oahu), as well as Cancun and London, by purchasing them November 23–30. Passes are valid for up to two years so you can always wait until you’re ready to travel again before activating them. City Cruises: Celebrate the season with 20% discounts on dining cruises in various cities around the U.S., Canada and the U.K. when you use promo code CYBER20 to book November 23-29 and set sail in December 2021. Priceline: Its biggest sale EVER. Sales unlock throughout the day for deep discounts on hotels, rental cars, flights, cruises, and more. Email rewards members can be on the lookout for a mystery coupon offering up to 99% off on hotel bookings. Virgin Voyages: Those ready to get back into cruising can save 20% and score a $100 bonus bar tab (when purchasing a $300 bar tab) as part of Virgin Voyages’ sale. Book November 15–29 to save on Scarlet Lady sailings from December 1, 2021, to March 27, 2022, and Valiant Lady sailings from March 18, 2022, to May 22, 2022. Hotels in the U.S. Hyatt: You can save up to 15% at over 850 participating Hyatt hotels and resorts by booking now through December 21 and staying by April 30, 2022. Arlo Hotels: Book November 26–29 to save 40% on rates at Arlo Hotels’ Miami and New York City properties when you stay now through April 30, 2022. Caesars: Caesars’ Atlantic City and Las Vegas hotels are offering 25% off stays booked November 22–28 with promo code CYBER21 and 30% off rates booked on November 29 with promo code CYBERM and November 30 with promo code CYBERT. All stays must be completed by October 31, 2022. Lark Hotels and Bluebird by Lark: Save 25% at Lark’s properties in the Northeastern U.S. and California when you use promo code CYBER2021, book November 26–29 and stay by May 12, 2022. Westgate Resorts: Use promo code FRIDAY to save up to 50% off at one of Westgate Resorts’ 27 U.S. properties when you book November 26–30. Florida Thesis Hotel Miami: Save 40% on rates at this chic Coral Gables hotel when you book November 22–29 and stay November 22 through September 5, 2022. Shelborne South Beach: Book between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to receive discounts of up to 60% on stays through 2022. The Balflour Hotel: Reserve four or more nights now through November 30 to save 25% on stays through April 30, 2022. You’ll also receive a nifty $50 food and beverage credit to use while you’re there. Plunge Beach Resort: In Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Plunge Beach Resort is offering 50% off weekday bookings made November 23–30. Use promo code Sale50 and stay for at least three nights by December 22, 2022. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort: This popular panhandle resort is offering discounts of up to 40% when you book November 29–December 2 and travel by March 11, 2022. Tennessee Hu. Hotel: Use promo code CYBER to save 25% on rates at this newly redesigned Memphis property when you book November 26 to December 3 and travel from December 5, 2021, to February 24, 2022. Bode: With two properties in Nashville and Chattanooga to choose from, Bode is offering discounts of 25% on its apartment-style rooms when you book a stay of at least two nights between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and stay November 26, 2021, to February 28, 2022. Virginia The Alexandrian and Morrison House: Just a 20-minute drive from Washington, D.C. in Old Town Alexandria, these two luxury hotels are offering 20% off stays December 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, when you book November 23–29. Colonial Williamsburg Resorts: Save 50% when you book November 23–29 and stay at least two nights between December 12, 2021, and March 31, 2022. Blue Ridge Parkway in Fall. Credit: Pgiam, Getty Images Rhode Island Hammett’s Hotel: Save up to 65% on your next trip to Newport, with weekday rates from $85 per night and weekend rates from $125 per night. Book November 26–30 and stay now through March 31, 2022, to take advantage of this offer. Pennsylvania $109 Poconos Ski Season Retreat: Includes Breakfast for two. Fully Refundable - Waking up to charming views of snowdrifts over Lake Wallenpaupack at Silver Birches in Hawley, PA, before days spent hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing through the Poconos. Philadelphia 4-star resort in city center: Flexible Deal - Hyatt Centric (Center City Philadelphia, PA) was so popular it sold out in under a week. In case you missed it last time, now's your chance to nab an upgraded room with killer views of Center City for just $149 per night through March. Massachusetts Those looking for a Berkshires getaway can save at the following properties when you book at least two nights November 26–30 and stay by May 26, 2022. Red Lion Inn: Save 65% at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, where prices start at $100 per night during the week and $150 per night on weekends. Briarcliff Motel: In Great Barrington, rates start at $50 per night during the week and $110 on weekends. The Seven Hills Inn: This Lenox property has weekday rates from $79 per night and weekend rates from $99 per night, reflecting a savings of 45%. Porches Inn: Save 45% on rates at this popular North Adams property, which has weekday prices from $100 per night and weekend prices from $200 per night. New Jersey Wave Resort: In Long Branch, Wave Resort is offering 40% off rooms booked as part of its Black Friday / Cyber Monday deal, valid on stays now through April 2022 when you book by November 29. The Asbury: Celebrate Black Friday at The Asbury with 35% off rates (use promo code JUSTBOOKTHEROOM) and Cyber Monday with 40% off stays of at least three nights (use promo code YOUDESERVEIT) when you stay by April 30, 2022. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa: Save 20% on rooms and 10% on suites at this fabulous Atlantic City resort when you book with promo code CYBER12 by December 2 and stay by April 30, 2022. Ocean Casino Resort: Save with king rooms from $59 per night and double rooms from $69 per night (each with a $20 food and beverage credit on Monday–Thursday stays November 28, 2021, to February 17, 2022) studio suites from $139 and one-bedroom suites from $239 on Sunday–Thursday stays within the same timeframe. Discounts to onsite shows and nightlife (valid November 22–29), and beauty services at the salon (valid November 22–December 6) are also available. Illinois Viceroy Chicago: Not only will you save 35% on bookings made now through December 6, you’ll also snag 30% discounts on dining when you use promo code CYBER2021 and stay by December 30, 2022. Sofitel Chicago, Swissotel Chicago and Fairmont Chicago: Three Accor hotels are offering 30% off stays November 22, 2021, to March 31, 2022, when you book November 22–29. Members of Accor’s loyalty program can also save an extra 10%. Gale Chicago: Save 60% during this Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale, with rates from $99 per night when you book November 26–29. Texas Hotel Granduca Austin: Save 20% on rates by booking November 29–December 3 and staying by May 31, 2022. As part of the deal, you’ll receive a $50 food and beverage credit and a $10 donation will be made to the Central Texas Food Bank when you use promo code CYBER21. Arizona Lodge on the Desert: In Tucson, guests who book November 26–29 with promo code BFCM21 and stay between January 1 and April 30, 2022, will receive 50% off rates and enjoy complimentary margaritas, chips and salsa. Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort: This popular Tucson resort is offering 40% off rates on select dates from December 2021 through August 2022 when you book November 26–29 online or by calling (520) 299-1501.. Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend tour from $299: Fully refundable with 24 hours before experience cancellation. Explore this beautiful iconic canyon with the people of your choice.. Experience the West Rim of the Grand Canyon from $95: Free cancelation up to 24 hours in advance. This flexible West Rim coach tour offers optional activities to enhance your experience. California $249 Posh Sonoma Wine Country Resort. Fully Refundable - Retreat to Sonoma (Santa Rosa, CA) and stay on 92 acres of vineyards at the always popular Vintners Resort. The deal highlights the best of the resort and features everything you'd need for a relaxing, romantic wine country getaway — a plush room, farm-to-table dining, plus complimentary wine tasting for two people. The Meritage Resort & Spa and Vista Collina Resort: Both Napa Valley resorts are offering 30% discounts and $30 resort credits when you book November 24–30 and visit by March 31, 2022. As part of the deal, a $10 donation will also be made to The First Responders Children’s Foundation. Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa: This deal saves you 21% on rates, throws in a $21 daily food and beverage credit and donates $21 to Just In Time, an organization supporting foster youth, when you book by December 1 and stay by April 30, 2022. Newport Beach 4-star Hyatt stay from $159: Fully Refundable - Whether you're looking for a restful retreat or an action-packed adventure, The Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, CA has you covered. Hop on a beach cruiser and ride along the coast, soak up the SoCal sunshine by the pool or head to the nearby amusement parks through the end of the year. Hotels in the Caribbean and Mexico $569 Cabo beach resort for 3 nights w/ perks: Fully Refundable - Villa La Estancia – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - This 4-star hotel sits on Medano Beach, one of the best beaches for swimming in Cabo, and it's only a five-minute drive from the happenings of the buzzing downtown area. St. Maarten All-inclusive beach vacation for 2: Kick back and relax on 10 acres of beachfront in the heart of Maho Village at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino St. Maarten, which is filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment lounges. This deal covers 4-star digs, plus all your meals and drinks, for just over $100 per person, per night over peak winter season dates. All-inclusive Puerto Vallarta resort 3-night stay for 2 from $899: This luxe all-inclusive Hilton Vallarta Riviera in the heart of Puerto Vallarta Mexico first opened its doors in August. Be among the first to stay while nabbing a room with a private balcony overlooking the Pacific, with this deal for travel through 2022. Atlantis Paradise Island: In Nassau, Bahamas, Atlantis Paradise Island is offering 20% discounts when you book at least five nights November 25–29 and stay between November 28, 2021, and November 30, 2022. You’ll also receive two free Covid-19 antigen tests (for travel back to the U.S.) and a $50 daily resort credit — or a $100 daily resort credit if you sign up for early access November 22–24. Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan: This fabulous Grand Bahama resort is offering rates from $93 per person per night on bookings made November 23–30 for travel November 25, 2021–January 31, 2022. Rates include all taxes, fees, daily continental breakfast and unlimited greens fees at the onsite golf course. ​​Curaçao: ​​Celebrate Black Friday and Cyber Monday with deals at 13 hot hotels, including 45% off at Acoya Curaçao Resort, Villas & Spa; 20% off at Papagayo Beach Hotel and Papagayo Beach Resort; up to 50% off at Sunscape Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino and Dreams Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino; and perks like complimentary tours and breakfast, among other deals and discounts. Saint Lucia: Choose from more than 30 travel deals among Saint Lucia’s many hotels, resorts, tours and attractions, all part of the island’s Cyber Monday sale. Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa: In St. Maarten, save 50% on stays of at least three nights at this all-inclusive resort when you use promo code BFSALE. Book now through November 28 and visit by December 23, 2022. Karisma Hotels & Resorts: Save 60% at Karisma’s all-inclusive hotels and resorts throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, including Azul Beach Resorts, El Dorado Spa Resorts, Margaritaville Island Reserve brands and Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts when you book now through December 6 and stay by December 23, 2022. Iberostar Grand Bávaro, Coral Level at Iberostar Selection Cancún and Iberostar Grand Rose Hall: These fabulous five-star all-inclusive resorts — located in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Jamaica, respectively — are each offering 60% off stays booked November 19–30. Las Brisas Hotel Collection: Score 40% discounts as well as 20% off food, drinks and spa treatments at Las Brisas properties in Mexico when you book November 22–29 and stay November 22, 2021–December 21, 2022. Call 1-866-221-2961 or email info@brisas.com.mx to book. Meliá Hotels International: This popular brand is offering two sales, each letting you save up to 50% at its U.S., Mexico and Caribbean properties. Now through November 28, use this link to book the Black Friday sale, then check this link for the Cyber Monday sale, available to book November 29–30.

    Budget Travel Lists

    The 12 best day trips in the US Southwest

    Rugged. Beautiful. And fun. The Southwest is the ultimate playground, luring adventurers with red-rock canyons, Wild West legends and the kicky delights of green chile stew. Day trips in this region conjure up visions of vast desert landscapes, rodeos, and lake adventures. Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice. Best day trips from Austin FredericksburgWith a wealth of events, wineries and in-town attractions, it’s often hard to decide how to best spend a day in Fredericksburg. It was settled by some of Texas’ first German immigrant families, and the European frontier ethos shines through in the architecture and history of the town itself. Further afield, vineyard tours are a hit with groups on weekend trips from Austin. 1hr 30min by car. Fall foliage on the river at Guadalupe State Park ©Richard A McMillin/ShutterstockGuadalupe RiverThere’s no better respite from the Central Texas summer than jumping in the water, and few places could beat the Guadalupe River; specifically, drifting down its course on an inner tube. Head to Guadalupe River State Park for a family friendly float (plus campsites and hiking), or look for local private operators that offer a more party-focused experience on the river. 1hr 30min by car. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, FredericksburgThe 425ft high pink granite dome of Enchanted Rock towers over the surrounding Central Texas hills. The popular Summit Hike tracks past vernal pools and rock fissures to panoramic views from the top. Queues form at the State Park gate as early as 8am on busy weekends, but campers with confirmed reservations cruise straight on through and into the park. 1hr 40min by car. Best day trips from Dallas The daily Texas longhorn cattledrive through the Stockyard streets ©typhoonski/Getty ImagesFort WorthFamous as being "Where the West Begins," Fort Worth still has the cowboy feel. It first rose to prominence during the great open-range cattle drives of the late 19th century. These days, the legendary Stockyards are the prime visitor destination, hosting twice-daily mini-cattle drives and rodeos every weekend. Downtown is bursting with restaurants and bars, while the Cultural District boasts three amazing art museums. 40min by car. Waco, TexasIn this college town, Magnolia Market at the Silos draws more visitors than the Alamo. Once you’ve shopped, played and eaten at ‘Fixer-Upper’ duo Chip and Joanna Gaines’ biggest renovation project, stroll Baylor’s 1000-acre campus or stand-up paddle straight through town on the Brazos River. 1hr 30min by car. Caddo Lake State ParkCaddo Lake State Park is a good place to start your lake adventure. Take an interpretive hike through the cypress forest on the lake’s western edge. Or, in summer, rent a canoe. The park has some great little cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the riverside tent sites are pretty sweet. 2hr 30min by car. Best day trips from Phoenix Saguaro National ParkSaguaros are icons of the American Southwest, and an entire cactus army of these majestic, ribbed sentinels is protected in this desert playground. Saguaro National Park is divided into east and west units, separated by 30 miles and Tucson itself. Both sections – the Rincon Mountain District in the east and Tucson Mountain District in the west – are filled with trails and desert flora; if you only visit one, make it the spectacular western half. 1hr 40min by car. Watch the desert sunset in Sedona ©aaronj9/ShutterstockSedonaNestled amid striking red sandstone formations, Sedona's truly spectacular landscape has long attracted spiritual seekers, artists and healers. Outdoorsy adventurers have begun to see the light as well: there are some inimitable thrills to be had hiking, mountain biking and climbing amid these desert spires. Red Rock State Park has 5 miles of well-marked, interconnecting trails in gorgeous red-rock country. 2hr by car. Historic train station in Flagstaff at sunset ©Nick Fox/ShutterstockFlagstaffThe laid-back charms of Flagstaff, the home of Northern Arizona University, are many; from a pedestrian-friendly historic downtown, bedecked with vintage neon, to hiking and skiing in the country’s largest ponderosa pine forest. 2hr 30min by car. Best day trips from Las Vegas Desert landscape at sunset at the Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area ©Dean Pennalad/500pxRed Rock CanyonRed Rock's dramatic vistas are revered by Las Vegas locals and adored by visitors from around the world. Formed by extreme tectonic forces, it's thought the canyon, whose 3000ft red rock escarpment rises sharply from the valley floor, was formed around 65 million years ago. A 13-mile, one-way scenic loop drive offers mesmerizing vistas of the canyon's most striking features. Hiking trails and rock-climbing routes radiate from roadside parking areas. 30min by car. Valley of Fire State ParkA masterpiece of Southwest desert scenery, the Valley of Fire State Park contains 40,000 acres of red Aztec sandstone, petrified trees and ancient Native American petroglyphs (at Atlatl Rock). Dedicated in 1935, this was Nevada's first designated state park. Its psychedelic landscape has been carved by wind and water over thousands of years. 50min by car. Lost City MuseumWander away from the big city to unearth some of the best art, culture and history on the continent in the most unexpected places. At the Lost City Museum, learn about the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans through reconstructed homes and the artifacts that were saved as this desert land developed. 1hr by car.

    News

    Allegiant Airlines adds new budget routes for summer 2020

    Allegiant Airlines has announced an expanded list of low-cost flights beginning in summer 2020. We've rounded up all the information you need about these routes! Planning a trip to any of these destinations? Let us know in the comments! Flight days, times and the lowest fares can be found only at Allegiant.com. The new seasonal routes to Las Vegas via McCarran International Airport (LAS) include: San Diego, California via San Diego International Airport (SAN) – beginning June 3, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $43.* Fort Wayne, Indiana via Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA) – beginning June 4, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $69.* Tucson, Arizona via Tucson International Airport (TUS) – beginning June 5, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $49.* The new seasonal routes to San Diego via San Diego International Airport (SAN) include: Las Vegas, Nevada via McCarran International Airport (LAS) – beginning June 3, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $43.* Tulsa, Oklahoma via Tulsa International Airport (TUL) – beginning June 3, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $69.* Billings, Montana via Billings Logan International Airport (BIL) – beginning June 4, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $59.* Medford, Oregon via Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (MFR) – beginning June 4, 2020 with fares as low as $59.* Sioux Falls, South Dakota via Sioux Falls Regional Airport (FSD) – beginning June 5, 2020 with fares as low as $69.* Idaho Falls, Idaho via Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) – beginning June 5, 2020 with fares as low as $59.* The new seasonal route to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) from Central Illinois Regional Airport at Bloomington-Normal (BMI) begins June 4, 2020 with fares as low as $49.* The new seasonal routes to Nashville International Airport (BNA) include: Bozeman, Montana via Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) – beginning May 21, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $66.* Sioux Falls, South Dakota via Sioux Falls Regional Airport (FSD) – beginning May 21, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Norfolk, Virginia via Norfolk International Airport (ORF) – beginning May 22, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $44.* Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania via Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* Peoria, Illinois via General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport (PIA) – beginning June 4, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* Tulsa, Oklahoma via Tulsa International Airport (TUL) – beginning June 4, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* Fargo, North Dakota via Fargo International Airport (FAR) – beginning June 4, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Flint, Michigan via Bishop International Airport (FNT) – beginning June 5, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Greensboro, North Carolina via Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO) – beginning June 5, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $44.* The new seasonal routes to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) include: Grand Rapids, Michigan via Gerald R. Ford Airport (GRR) – beginning May 7, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Asheville, North Carolina via Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) – beginning May 8, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Knoxville, Tennessee via McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) – beginning May 8, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Destin / Ft. Walton Beach, Florida via Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) – beginning May 14, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* The new seasonal routes from Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) include: Allentown, Pennsylvania via Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE) – beginning May 14, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Des Moines, Iowa via Des Moines International Airport (DSM) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Savannah, Georgia via Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Asheville, North Carolina via Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Knoxville, Tennessee via McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Destin / Ft. Walton Beach, Florida via Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) – beginning June 5, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* The new seasonal routes to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) include: Des Moines, Iowa via Des Moines International Airport (DSM) – beginning May 21, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Asheville, North Carolina via Asheville International Airport (AVL) – beginning May 22, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Knoxville, Tennessee via McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Grand Rapids, Michigan via Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) – beginning May 22, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes from Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) include: Boston, Massachusetts via Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) – beginning May 8, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Chicago, Illinois via Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Houston, Texas via William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Austin, Texas via Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes from Des Moines International Airport (DSM) include: Chicago, Illinois via Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Memphis, Tennessee via Memphis International Airport (MEM) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Austin, Texas via Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes from Gerald R. Ford Airport (GRR) include: Los Angeles, California via Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – beginning June 5, 2020 with fares as low as $66.* Boston, Massachusetts via Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) – beginning May 7, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Austin, Texas via Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes from McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) include: Boston, Massachusetts via Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) – beginning May 8, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Houston, Texas via William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Chicago, Illinois via Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Austin, Texas via Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Myrtle Beach, South Carolina via Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) – beginning June 6, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* The new seasonal routes from William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) include: Knoxville, Tennessee via McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Asheville, North Carolina via Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Savannah, Georgia via Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) – beginning May 28, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Destin / Fort Walton Beach, Florida via Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) – beginning June 5, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* The new seasonal routes to Savannah International Airport (SAV) include: Belleville, Illinois via MidAmerica St. Louis Airport (BLV) – beginning June 6, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Houston, Texas via William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) – beginning May 28, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $33.* Chicago, Illinois via Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) – beginning May 21, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $33.* Punta Gorda, Florida via Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) – beginning June 6, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* Newburgh, New York via New York Stewart International Airport (SWF) – beginning May 20, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes to Norfolk International Airport (ORF) include: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania via Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* Columbus, Ohio via Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK) – beginning May 22, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $44.* Nashville, Tennessee Via Nashville International Airport (BNA) – beginning May 22, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $44.* The new seasonal routes to Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) include: Nashville, Tennessee via Nashville International Airport (BNA) – beginning May 22, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $44.* Norfolk, Virginia via Norfolk International Airport (ORF) – beginning May 21, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $44.* Memphis, Tennessee via Memphis International Airport (MEM) – beginning May 21, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) include: Boston, Massachusetts via Logan International Airport (BOS) – beginning May 14, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $33.* Dayton, Ohio via Dayton International Airport (DAY) – beginning May 14, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Houston, Texas via William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) – beginning June 5, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $33.* Chicago, Illinois via Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) – beginning June 5, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $33.* Newburgh, New York via New York Stewart International Airport (SWF) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes from Memphis International Airport (MEM) include: Des Moines, Iowa via Des Moines International Airport (DSM) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Palm Beach, Florida via Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania via Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Cincinnati, Ohio via Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes from Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) include: Providence, Rhode Island via T.F. Green Airport (PVD) – beginning June 5, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Knoxville, Tennessee via McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) – beginning June 6, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* Elmira, New York via Elmira Corning Regional Airport (ELM) – beginning June 6, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal route from Louisville International Airport (SDF) to Charleston International Airport (CHS) begins May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal route from Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) to Albuquerque International Airport (ABQ) begins June 4, 2020 with fares as low as $66.* Flight days, times and the lowest fares can be found only at Allegiant.com. *About the introductory one-way fares: Seats and dates are limited and fares are not available on all flights. Flights must be purchased by Feb. 12, 2020 for travel by Aug. 15-17, 2020, depending on route. Price displayed includes taxes, carrier charges & -government fees. Fare rules, routes and schedules are subject to change without notice. Optional baggage charges and additional restrictions may apply. For more details, optional services and baggage fees, please visit Allegiant.com.

    Road Trips

    Road trip the Southwest on a budget

    From the fun of Sin City to the jaw-dropping beauty of the national parks, this scenic route packs amazing sights and tastes into a manageable itinerary. If you’re looking for a vacation that includes warm sun, gorgeous desert landscapes, snow-covered mountains, and big-city stye, the American Southwest is a go-to option. Here, you’ll discover the 24/7 excitement, of Vegas, the otherworldly landscapes of national and state parks (think humanoid-like cacti and red rocks), and the vibrant communities and culinary scenes of Phoenix and El Paso. Here, a step-by-step affordable itinerary that includes wallet-friendly lodging, plus the best places to grab a taste of Southwestern flavors. Las Vegas, Nevada Start your engine in Las Vegas, where the legendary Strip beckons with endless neon and who-has-time-to-sleep gaming, food, and drink. Even the grandest hotels here typically offer reasonable nightly rates – rooms at Circus Circus Hotel, Casino, and Theme Park, for instance, can start as low as $25/night, but keep in mind that taxes and standard charges can add at least another $40/night to your stay. Before hitting the road, you may want to catch a concert, theater performance, or stand-up comedy, and remember that Vegas offers plenty of quirky off-the-beaten-path delights such as the Neon Museum with its incredible array of bright lights and kitschy designs, and the surprisingly riveting National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, more commonly known as the Mob Museum. Food options, from shockingly affordable buffets to $700 burgers deliver something for every culinary preference. (Take a Taste Buzz Food Tour for a taste of a little bit of everything.) Valley of Fire State Park is known for its strange "beehive" rock formations © Carol Polich / Lonely Planet Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada Less than an hour’s drive from Las Vegas along Route I-15 North, Valley of Fire State Park, in the Mojave Desert, feels like a world away. As you enter the park, you’ll stay on Valley of Fire Scenic Byway, the only main road, which runs about 11 miles, connecting the east and west entrances. Pull over for one of the park’s exceptional hikes, where you can explore the iconic red Aztec sandstone formations that give the park its name – timing your visit to include at least one sunset is as must, as the combination of golden light and deep red of the rocks creates the namesake “fire” display. In addition to its geological wonders, Valley of Fire is also home to remnants of prehistoric communities, such as roadside petroglyphs and ancient rock art. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like antelope, bobcat, coyote, and Nevada’s state animal, the desert bighorn sheep. Arrive with picnic foods and snacks and plenty of water, and pack layers of clothing: winter temperatures can veer from the mid-70s to freezing; summer temps range from more than 100 degrees in the day to much cooler at night. You can treat Valley of Fire as a day trip from Vegas, or book one of the park’s 70+ campsites for the night. Sprawling Phoenix holds many surprises © tonda / Getty Images Phoenix, Arizona From the Vegas/Valley of Fire area, you’ll want to set aside a day for the 300-mile drive along US 93 South to Phoenix, Arizona; if more than four hours in the car feels like a long trip (westerners reckon driving distances differently from those visiting from back east), plan a stop in Kingman, Arizona, where a stop at the Alpacas of the Southwest ranch will delight kids of all ages. Once in Phoenix, you’ll want to spend at least a full day discovering America’s fifth-largest city (with a population of more than 1.6 million). Hike the trails on Camelback Mountain for the best vistas; visit Papago Park with its red rock buttes, botanical garden, and zoo just minutes from downtown; and drop by architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s former winter home, Taliesin West, a Unesco World Heritage site, for its beautiful synthesis of modern design and desert-inspired rooms and gardens. Don’t miss the Heard Museum, celebrating the history and culture of Native American people with an extensive collection of art and artifacts. Fuel up at the award-winning Pizzeria Bianco, in Heritage Square, and when it’s time to rest your head, Phoenix offers an array of affordable lodging such as the stylish Cambria Hotel Downtown Phoenix. See the strange saguaro cacti in Saguaro National Park © Dmitry Vinogradov / 500px Saguaro National Park, Arizona From Phoenix, you’ll hit I-10 East for the two-hour drive to Saguaro National Park. Get ready to meet the gigantic, humanoid forms of Saguaro cacti, some as high as 50ft and as old as 200 years. Some visitors swear the cacti take on a truly human appearance and personality, which only adds to the otherworldly quality of this Southwestern road trip. The park is also home to 8000ft mountains and unique desert wildlife such as javelinas, desert tortoises, and the Mexican spotted owl. Start at one of the park’s visitor centers for maps and advice about hikes, museum exhibits, a cactus garden, and ranger-led programs. Lodging options for visiting Saguaro range from posh digs in nearby Tucson, such as the University Inn to camping in the backcountry of the Rincon Mountain District (check in with the park’s visitor center for up-to-date camping options). Blossoming El Paso is a worthy stop on your Southwestern road trip © Beau Rogers / 500px El Paso, Texas From Tucson, you’ll get back on I-10 East for a four-hour drive across New Mexico before you dip into the western corner of Texas, where El Paso awaits. This vibrant city is ready for its closeup. A construction boom in recent years has led to exceptional hotel bargains, such as comfy and reliable stays at the Doubletree or Holiday Inn Express, and a renaissance of community spirit. Catch a minor-league baseball game and cheer for the hometown Chihuahuas, sip an exceptional local craft beer, and hop a ride on the newly restored streetcar line. Set aside at least a day to get to know this important border city’s art museum and gorgeous Franklin Mountains State Park. Strange cave formations await you in Carlsbad Caverns National Park © PHOTO 24 / Getty Images Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico Hit US-62 East for the two-hour drive from El Paso to one of America’s most extraordinary national parks, Carlsbad Caverns. Aboveground, the park is home to beautiful grassland, the lovely Guadalupe Mountains, and canyons. Below, you’ll explore the unique cave system that rivals any on earth for its scale and visual impact – at 250ft high and 4000ft long, it’s truly like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Ranger-led tours of the caverns, guided hikes among the mountains and canyons, and other hands-on programs keep every member of the family engaged. Reliable lodging is available about a half-hour’s drive from the park, in Carlsbad, NM, ranging from roadside chain motels to Quality Inn & Suites. Produced by Lonely Planet for GEICO. All editorial views are those of Lonely Planet alone and reflect our policy of editorial independence and impartiality.

    Presented By
    Budget Travel Lists

    51 affordable discoveries across America

    Our mission is simple: track down outstanding destinations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico where lodging averages well under $200/night and great food and drink, natural beauty, and vibrant arts and culture share the spotlight. No pressure, right? Here’s to kicking off the new decade with an unparalleled to-do list! Alabama: Muscle Shoals It’s time for Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to take its rightful place alongside America’s major pop music destinations like Memphis, Cleveland, and Detroit. Here, in this small town in the northwestern corner of the state, some of the most popular and critically acclaimed rock and soul music – including seminal works by Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, and Lynyrd Skynyrd – was recorded at Fame Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. These days, you can enjoy a music-themed visit to the area while also savoring its first-rate comfort food and natural beauty. Tour the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, in Tuscumbia; make a pilgrimage to Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, in Sheffield; and drop by Pegasus Records, in Florence, for its Friday-night showcases of emerging musical talent. Alabama Shakes were discovered at Pegasus – who will you discover? The Kenai Peninsula brings all your Alaskan adventures within reach © CSNafzger / Shutterstock Alaska: Kenai Peninsula Alaska isn’t quite as far away as you think: an authentic Alaska experience, complete with whale watching, hiking, fishing, and ogling wildlife, is available in the Kenai Peninsula, along the state’s southern coast, south of Anchorage. Whether you approach this vacation wonderland via cruise ship or a road trip on the Seward Highway (one of America’s finest scenic drives), you’ll find enough activities to last a week or a month, including a boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park; hiking in Chugach National Forest, and viewing animals you won’t easily find in the lower 48, including orcas and puffins. And an irresistible perk of visiting this corner of Alaska is that you’ll taste the freshest, most deeply flavorful salmon anywhere in the world. Arizona: Saguaro National Park Some travelers keep a list of rare or unique sights they must see. The saguaro cactus is something every American should visit in person. Saguaro National Park, Arizona, near the always rewarding city of Tucson, is devoted to protecting and preserving a forestful of the immense succulents, which are unique to the Sonoran Desert and can grow to a height of 50 feet and live more than 200 years. In addition to these “kings of the Sonoran Desert,” you’ll also find towering pine-covered mountains alive with wild javelina, coyotes, desert tortoises, and, at higher elevations, black bear and the Mexican spotted owl. The Ozark-St Francis National Forests are great destinations anytime of year © Mark C Stevens / Moment / Getty Arkansas: Ozark-St. Francis National Forests Not one but two major national forests crossed by six US Scenic Byways? Yes, Arkansas delivers thousands of acres of four-season activities in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, in the state’s northern and eastern regions. Here, from the shores of the Mississippi River to the deep woods filled with wildlife and opportunities for water sports, visitors discover an unexpected side of Arkansas. Choose between cycling and canoeing, fishing for striped and largemouth bass and catfish, swimming in Bear Creek Lake, camping amid the hardwood trees, and hopping an ATV – or, our recommendation, try them all. California: San Pedro Think you know California? Meet San Pedro, at the southern point of the Palos Verdes Peninsula and home to the Port of Los Angeles, the largest in the US. Here in this up-and-coming must-see city, you’ll delight in packing your days with an array of pursuits: ride the free San Pedro Downtown Trolley with hop-on-hop-off stops at the incredible collection of nautical vessels at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, beautiful Cabrillo Beach, and the jaw-dropping Cabrilla Marine Aquarium, designed by Frank Gehry. History buffs and kids of all ages will want to visit the Battleship Iowa Museum, the only battleship open to the public on the West Coast, and everyone will appreciate a meal at California’s biggest seafood restaurant, the San Pedro Fish Market & Restaurant – get ready to snap a few they-won’t-believe-this-back-home pics of the immense shrimp trays. The lesser-known Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has Grand Canyon-quality vistas with fewer crowds © AlexeyKamenskiy / Getty Images Colorado: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Southwest Colorado is home to a lesser-known gem: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Located near the city of Montrose, the site is an incredible natural landscape featuring black cliffs (formed 2 billion years ago) towering 2,000 feet above the Gunnison River. Stock up on food and water in Montrose, then head for the canyon’s South Rim, where you’ll find gentle nature trails with Instagram-ready overlooks, backcountry experiences for visitors who yearn to get off the beaten path, and an array of opportunities for camping, fishing, and rock climbing. Consider participating in ranger-led programs to learn about the geology and wildlife of the area. Connecticut: Mystic Seaport For travelers in the Northeast, America’s most important collection of National Historic Landmark maritime vessels is just off I-95 in northern Connecticut. Mystic Seaport’s towering sailing ships will delight children, of course, and grownups (especially fans of the novels of Patrick O’Brien and Herman Melville) who want to step back in time to the days of wooden ships. Tour a whaleship, an active waterfront, planetarium, gardens, and hands-on experiences that help you appreciate the crafts that went into the construction and maintenance of these amazing vessels. Art lovers will savor the excellent Maritime Gallery, which hosts major exhibitions of marine art and intricately detailed miniature ship models. Big things come in small packages in Lewes, Delaware © Mdgmorris / E+ / Getty Delaware: Lewes We believe too many travelers simply pass through compact Delaware on their way somewhere else. It’s time to slow down and enjoy this welcoming mid-Atlantic state, and the charming town of Lewes, where the Atlantic Ocean meets Delaware Bay, is the perfect place to do so. The vibrant downtown is perfect for strolling and popping into unique boutiques and seafood restaurants, and the lovely beaches just minutes away. Have your camera or smartphone ready for iconic shots of Breakwater Lighthouse, cycle or walk the Lewes Canalfront, and devote some time to exploring Cape Henlopen State Park with its scenic trails, beaches, campgrounds, and pier. Florida: St Augustine If “founded in 1565” sounds unusually old for an American city, well, it sure is. St Augustine is commonly referred to as the oldest city in the US (in actuality, it is the longest continually inhabited European-founded city in the nation). Here, visitors find an experience that is decidedly different from – and a wonderful complement to – Florida’s beaches and theme parks. Immerse yourself in 400 years of history that includes an array of cultures, including Native American, Spanish, British, African American, and Greek. Must-see sights include the Castillo de San Marcos (this is the classic I’m-in-St.-Augustine image), the narrow European-style streets, an array of museums dedicated to local history and cultures, and even Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon’s legendary “Fountain of Youth.” Georgia: Alpharetta From the coast to bustling Atlanta to the mountains, Georgia offers well-known vacation charms. We want travelers to add the city of Alpharetta, in the Atlanta metro area, to that list. If you’re looking for a welcoming community with endless eating options (more than 200 restaurants), an exceptional craft brewery experience at Jekyll Brewing, and ample parkland (750 acres), including the eight-mile-long Big Creek Greenway, Alpharetta, an easy drive from downtown Atlanta, makes a great day trip or weekend escape. If all that sounds as if it ought to be topped off with an evening of fine music, head to The Velvet Note, honored by Downbeat Magazine as one of the world’s best jazz venues. Kaua'i's Waimea Canyon is known as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" © MNStudio / Shutterstock Hawaii: Waimea Canyon State Park Have you seen the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”? On the western side of the Hawaiian island of Kaua‘i, Waimea Canyon is 14 miles long, more than 3,600 deep, and boasts an array of colorful, gorges, and buttes that do, indeed, remind many visitors of Arizona’s famous canyon. And, of course, this being Hawaii, the gorgeous surroundings go beyond the canyon: Waimea Valley is home to a 45-foot waterfall and thousands of beautiful botanicals along an easy paved path. For an elegant splurge, there are 60 vintage restored cottages along the beachfront just south of the park. Idaho: Snake River Valley Another canyon that most travelers have not yet discovered awaits in Idaho, where the Snake River winds through prehistoric lava flows to create a 50-mile canyon where you’ll find photo-ready waterfalls and springs. Stroll along the 10-mile paved walking path on the south rim with access to a visitor center. Then head to the iconic Perrine Bridge, where you can stand nearly 500 feet above the river and recall the exploits of 1970s daredevil Evel Knievel, who attempted to jump the canyon here (unsuccessfully, alas). You may also see BASE jumpers taking the plunge off the bridge. Just south of the bridge, you’ll find scenic overlooks of the canyon and at the beautiful Shoshone Falls; beautiful; Centennial Waterfront Park is just west of the bridge. Route 66 contains many examples of quirky Americana, such as the The Gemini Giant sculpture at the Launching Pad restaurant © Marco Bicci / Shutterstock Illinois: Route 66 Heritage Project Sure, you know kitschy Route 66, and may have driven a stretch or two of the “Mother Road.” But exploring the 300-mile Illinois portion of the quintessential US highway may be the kitschiest stretch of all. Snap some pics at the beginning of your journey, in downtown Chicago at the “Route 66 Begin” sign on E. Jackson Boulevard. Once you’re on the road, there are many tempting places to stop: Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket has been famous or its fried chicken since the 1940s; the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum is a treasure trove of vintage artifacts; the 19-foot-high Paul Bunyan clutching an immense hot dog across the street from The Palms Grill Cafe announces its presence from a distance and delights passersby; the world’s largest covered wagon awaits not far down the road, alongside a statue of Abraham Lincoln. The road rolls on, and the kitsch rolls along with it, all the way to the Chain of Rocks Bridge across the Mississippi and into St Louis, Missouri. Indiana: Nashville Did you know there was “another” Nashville? And that it’s also a significant music destination? Here in southern Indiana, Nashville was an artists’ colony in the early 20th century, establishing a tradition of creativity complete with galleries and crafts studios. These days, the community has become a mecca for musicians, with a great schedule of performances at the Brown County Playhouse and shops like Weed Patch Music Company with its stash of custom guitars and banjos. Music pours forth from cafes and wine bars, and, of course, on the streets. Sioux City is where small-town charm meets big-city culture © BergmannD / iStock / Getty Iowa: Sioux City This little city in northwest Iowa has earned big honors for its livability, cuisine, and economic development. For travelers, that all translates into an experience that combines small-town warmth with big-city style and culture. Families will especially love the LaunchPAD Children’s Museum and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. Culture vultures must see the Art Center and hear the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra. Outdoor fun is a four-season priority here, as the city continues to develop trail connectivity and riverfront development, and a wide diversity of multicultural cuisine sets Sioux City apart from most small cities in the heartland. Kansas: Colby Start at the Prairie Museum of Art and History to get a sense of Colby’s place in the settlement of the prairie and its vibrant artistic legacy; while you’re at the museum, don’t miss its Cooper Barn, the largest barn in the state. Colby’s new 2.2-mile walking trail is a good way to get a sense of this special town, with its especially noteworthy historic courthouse. The best times to get to know Colby may be during its annual festivals: in April, you can take a taste of the Great Oasis Cookoff; in July, you’ll love the Pickin’ on the Plains Bluegrass Festival; and kids will especially appreciate a December visit to Santa City. Kentucky Wild Rivers are overflowing with adventure © Ehrlif / iStock / Getty Kentucky: Kentucky Wild Rivers Say the word Kentucky and most travelers will immediately think bourbon, bluegrass, and horses. While that’s perfectly understandable, don’t forget the wild waterways. With more than 2 million acres of national forest and more navigable rivers than any other state in the lower 48, paddlers can take their pick from more than 1000 miles of running water. Nine of them are designated Kentucky Wild Rivers, which means they are, and always will be, protected from development. Novice paddlers will find gentle waters on the Cumberland River, while experienced whitewater enthusiasts will enjoy the Class IV rapids found on the Big South Fork River; and, of course, there’s something for everyone in between. Louisiana: Cajun Country When it comes to an eye-opening, transformative trip, Louisiana’s Cajun Country may be unrivaled in the US. Here, about a four-hour drive northwest of New Orleans, a diversity of cultural traditions came together in early colonial days, with French, Spanish, African American, and Caribbean people mingling language, cuisine, and religious traditions in a way not found anywhere else in America. In and around the town of Natchitoches (pronounced nack-a-tish), you can tour winding European-style streets, see authentic Creole cottages, partake of distinctive dishes like gumbo and jambalaya, and get to know the history of plantations like Melrose and Oakland, where enslaved Africans created finely crafted artwork that combined West African religious traditions with Christian iconography. Sunset from the Appalachian Trail, Bigelow Mountain, Maine © Cavan Images / Getty Maine: High Peaks Region With Portland as your gateway city, exploring Maine’s extraordinary lakes and mountains is an unforgettable four-season opportunity that rivals the better-known “peak experiences” found out West. Located where the Appalachian Trail reaches its northernmost point, this region contains 10 of Maine’s highest peaks, with seemingly endless opportunities for camping, cycling, camping, and paddling glacial lakes and gin-clear rivers. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy a moose photo safari, or just take a memorable drive along one of three scenic byways: High Peaks, Grafton Notch, and Rangeley Lakes. Autumn brings some of the deepest reds, golds, and oranges anywhere in the US, and winter offers cozy cabin fireplaces and some of America’s finest ski resorts. Maryland: Chesapeake Bay Maryland’s star attraction may be the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the US, which manages to touch beautiful waterfront towns, wild spaces, and the state’s biggest city. With such a variety of settings, the activities for visitors are nearly infinite. For starters, be sure to experience Annapolis, the state capital and the sailing capital of America; a ferry ride to Smith Island, where residents still speak with a trade of the Elizabethan accent of the first settlers 350 years ago; Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, available for tours via a ferry from Annapolis; and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, with its great seafood, public concerts, and National Aquarium. Many travelers overlook Falmouth, Massachusetts, on their way to Cape Cod, but this coastal community is worth a stop © KenWiedemann / E+ / Getty Massachusetts: Falmouth Some New England visitors know Falmouth only as a name on a roadside sign on the way to points farther out on Cape Cod. But this charming community on the western end of the Cape offers an array of affordable lodgings and activities to satisfy even the most discerning traveler. Eight decidedly New England villages are set along more than 60 miles of shore here, with exceptional seafood, historic lodgings such as the Sea Crest on Silver Beach, and a great local theater scene that dates back to the summer stock of the early 20th century. Start at the Falmouth Village Green to get a sense of place; the bell you hear ringing each hour from the First Congregational Church was cast by Paul Revere – it doesn’t get any more New England than that! Michigan: Charlevoix Even seasoned travelers sometimes forget that the US has four coasts. The pristine beaches of Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan are found up north in Michigan, and offer a laid-back vacation experience that reminds many visitors of bygone days. First, there’s the water and all that comes with it: charted sailboats, kayaks, and paddleboards; 20 hiking trails and nature preserves, not to mention the iconic Earl Young Mushroom House and the majestic Castle Farms. In search of seclusion? Head to Beaver Island. Looking for cool boutiques, great food, and public events along Round Lake? That’s exactly what you’ll find in the town of Charlevoix. No wonder visitors become regulars, and the Charlevoix region becomes a summer family tradition. Split Rock Lighthouse on the Lake Superior shore © Gian Lorenzo Ferretti Photography / Getty Minnesota: Lake Superior State Parks Speaking of the beaches of the Great Lakes, northern Minnesota’s Lake Superior shoreline is home to eight state parks where nature lovers’ dreams come true. All reachable from the city of Duluth, some highlights include: Gooseberry Falls delivers not only Lake Superior shore but also Instagrammable waterfalls, rivers, and forest, a paved cycling trail, and excellent cross-country skiing; Split Rock Lighthouse, with a superb visitor center, exhibits, and documentary film; Temperance River offers gorges, footbridges, and waterfalls for hikers to discover; and Cascade River boasts trails that can get you up Lookout Mountain for – what else? – spectacular views. Mississippi: Gulf Coast Islands The Gulf Coast is always a good idea, and Mississippi’s Gulf Islands National Seashore is the perfect place to get up close and personal with the region’s wild side, amazing gourmet seafood, and craft beer. The six barrier islands beckon visitors with attainable adventures like exploring the bayous and marshland of Cat Island; taking a boat ride from Biloxi to the beach at Deer Island; doing some serious pelican watching (and photography) on Horn Island; and hitting up the tiny islands of Round Island and Petit Bois for a look at visiting migratory birds (they’re here for the great seafood, just like you). Missouri: Hermann Just an hour west of St Louis, in the Missouri River valley, the town of Hermann is like stepping into a wormhole to old-world Germany. Start at Historic Hermann Museum for an overview of the settlement of the area from the 1830s to the 1900s. Then be sure to pack an appetite for comfort food and good local wine as you explore local eateries and favorite sights such as: Deutschheim State Historic Site with its exhibits and galleries of artifacts from the days when German immigrants settled here; Hermann Farm with its living history exhibitions; and a variety of excellent local wineries. The mountains are never very far from Bozeman, Montana © Carol Polich / Lonely Planet Montana: Bozeman By Western standards, Bozeman is “near” both Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, though folks from back East will notice that “near” can mean a few hours in the car. But we love Bozeman not just for its proximity to amazing parkland and amazing skiing but also for the city itself, a college town with great community spirit, food that even Californians envy, and one of the finest museums in the US, the Museum of the Rockies. Set aside most of a day to take in all the museum has to offer, from its excellent planetarium to its Montana history division, natural history exhibitions with a special emphasis on the dinosaur fossils unearthed in Bozeman’s backyard at Hell Creek, and its living history pioneer cabin. In Bozeman, you’re never far from a gorgeous mountain vista or a great meal – we especially love the huge, reasonably priced sandwiches at the Pickle Barrel. Nebraska: Grand Island When it comes to friendly, historic towns, we love Grand Island. The community may be best known for its access to the epic Sandhill Crane migration here in central Nebraska, but that’s just where the fun begins. Start in the town’s historic downtown, known as the Railside District, to take in the finely restored buildings, then grab a craft beer and grub at one of the excellent downtown breweries. Then explore the city’s Stuhr Museum with its Railroad Town pioneer village and beautifully landscaped grounds, and take a dip in one of Grand Island’s public pools. Be sure to visit the gentle Platte River, an important landmark from the days when settlers from the East headed west across the prairie. Located near Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park features some of Nevada's most unique landscapes © Alexander Howard / Lonely Planet Nevada: Valley of Fire State Park How did Nevada’s Valley of Fire get its name? How about 40,000 acres of red sandstone? Here in Valley of Fire State Park you’ll come face-to-face with the ancient, including petrified trees and petroglyphs left by native people more than 2000 years ago. Hit the park’s visitor center for an overview and great exhibits devoted to prehistoric times, geology, and the history of the region – pick up maps and tips here as well. As wild as the terrain looks, the park still provides two campsites with tables and grills and running water (including RV hookups), plus miles of trails for those who want to explore this unique environment. New Hampshire: Seacoast When you mention New Hampshire’s “coast” to some people, they look at you kind of funny. Sure, New Hampshire is mostly landlocked, and better known for its mountains and forests, but it also boasts a vibrant Atlantic shoreline that’s just a few miles long but includes the cool small city of Portsmouth with its cobblestone streets, winding alleys, historic John Paul Jones House and Strawbery Banke, and quaint shops like the excellent Riverrun bookstore, plus lovely beaches and more. Take kids to the Seacoast Science Center for a hands-on deep dive into marine life, including a “please touch” tide pool and other stuff the little ones love to explore. Architectural window details in silhouette at historic old casino along the boardwalk in Asbury Park, NJ © littleny / Shutterstock New Jersey: Asbury Park Asbury Park has been dubbed one of America’s Coolest Small Towns in 2017, featured on Bruce Springsteen’s debut studio album and regularly called one of the best destinations on the Jersey Shore. Yet few people have heard of it. It’s time to visit before everybody else gets the word. Conveniently located between New York City and Philadelphia, and boasting amazing seafood, art galleries, and legendary music venues and the boardwalk that Springsteen helped put on the map back in the 1970s, Asbury Park welcomes visitors from everywhere and delivers a first-rate weekend escape. New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns National Park The jaw-droppingly beautiful Guadalupe Mountains in southeastern New Mexico, not far from the Texas border, are the site of a national park whose secret is about to get out: Carlsbad Caverns National Park offers beautiful terrain to hike, including canyons, cactus, grassland, and its namesake cave – which is a staggering 250ft high and 4000ft long. Ranger-led tours of the caverns, plus hikes and other programs at the visitor center and out in the park’s terrain are a wonderful way of getting to know this noteworthy landmark. Tucked away in America's largest state park, Blue Mountain Lake is idyllic bliss © Patty Barker / 500px New York: Blue Mountain Lake When visiting New York’s six-million-acre Adirondack State Park, it’s easy to forget you’re even in New York – the mountains and lakes make you feel transported to, say, Wyoming. Of all the communities in this, America’s largest state park, Blue Mountain Lake is an ideal place to begin your exploration of the region, thanks to its incredible namesake lake and the Adirondack Experience, an immense museum with state-of-the-art interactive exhibits devoted to the natural history, human history, and wildlife of the Adirondack Mountains. Set aside at least a full day for the museum, or visit more than once in between paddling local waterways, hiking to scenic overlooks, and enjoying great BBQ and craft beer just about everywhere you turn. Just up the road from Blue Mountain Lake, Great Camp Sagamore offers a rustic, unplugged experience you’ll never forget. North Carolina: Boone & Blowing Rock Take the Blue Ridge Parkway into North Carolina and you’ll notice that the area around the town of Boone seems to have received more than its fair share of stunning scenery. Endless hiking trails and scenic overlooks abound outside of town – you must experience the Mile High Swinging Bridge with its views of the Carolina Piedmont. In town, there’s just as fine a variety of living history like the Hickory Ridge Museum and the Daniel Boone Heritage Gardens. In nearby Blowing Rock, you’ll love the Ultimate Adventure park’s ziplines, and the town’s nice array of quaint shops and indulgent spa treatments. Dickinson is the gateway to North Dakota's iconic Badlands © Rruntsch / Getty North Dakota: Dickinson Cowboys + dinosaurs – what’s not to love about North Dakota’s star attractions? The town of Dickinson is best known as the gateway to amazing Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and it enjoys two scenic byways, the Old Red Old Ten and the Kildeer Mountain Four Bears. But the town itself is decidedly ready for its close-up. The Dickinson Museum Center exhibits life-size dinosaurs, fossils, and other reminders of ND’s prehistoric residents; an assortment of beautiful spots like Patterson Lake Recreation Area and West River Community Center for watersports; and annual festivals like Roughrider Days and the Ukrainian Festival bring the community together and are a great time to pay a visit. Ohio: Put-In Bay Ohioans know there’s a 2.5-by-5-mile island in Lake Erie that makes for a spectacular vacation. And now you know too. Put-In Bay is one of those family escapes that pack plenty of great activities and attractions into a small package. The island boasts a cave you can explore, winery tours, parasailing, jet skiing, and fishing for the area’s prized walleye. And don’t miss the chance to ride the elevator up to the observation deck atop of Perry’s International Peace Memorial for endless views of Lake Erie all the way to the Cleveland skyline when the air is clear. Oklahoma's second-largest city is still an underrated charmer © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock Oklahoma: Tulsa You don’t have to be a devotee of folk singer Woody Guthrie, composer of “This Land Is Your Land,” or of novelist S.E. Hinton, who wrote The Outsiders when she was 15 years old, to fall in love with Tulsa. But it won’t hurt. Those two pop culture iconoclasts, whose work happens to have deeply touched and even transformed lives, hailed from this Oklahoma city. That may not be a coincidence: From its unique 100-acre Gathering Place public park along the Arkansas River to the Philbrook Museum’s collection of art from the classics to the modern era in a Renaissance-style villa built by the founder of Philips Oil and donated to the city in the 1930s, Tulsa exceeds expectations. You can even take a tour of a house that played a starring role in Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation of The Outsiders – the house has been meticulously restored and outfitted with artifacts and film memorabilia. Oregon: Columbia River Gorge Choosing a National Scenic Area for your next trip guarantees you’ll be surrounded by natural beauty. And the Columbia River Gorge is the largest designated scenic area in America, with vistas that rival any in the world. The Columbia River runs from its source in the Canadian Rockies down through Washington State and into Oregon, where it eventually meets the Pacific. Along the way, it has cut a majestic gorge through the Cascade Mountains, delivering dozens of waterfalls, some of which can be ogled right from the Historic Columbia River Highway. The opportunities for outdoor recreation along the way are extraordinary, including cycling the Post Canyon mountain bike network or hiking up Dog Mountain. And, this being the Pacific Northwest, you can pretty much count on great craft beer, fresh locally raised fare, and an array of pinot noir, chardonnay, and other fine wines. Pennsylvania: Alleghenies It’s time to get to know the Alleghenies, Pennsylvania’s vast south-central region between Pittsburgh and Gettysburg. You can expect a warm welcome in small towns that boast covered bridges and elegant Victorian-era homes. Elsewhere, explore miles of mountain trails on foot or on two fat tires, and dive into this important historical region with its rich Native American legacy, Revolutionary War landmarks, and reminders of the early days of the republic, when this was literally the American frontier. College sports fans will enjoy a stop in State College, home to Penn State and its loyal fans, not to mention tasty comfort food and craft beer. Puerto Rico: Culebra We’ll get this right out in the open: when your friend tells you she’s visiting Puerto Rico but refuses to give away exactly where she’s headed, she may be headed to the 10-square-mile island of Culebra, about 20 miles off PR’s Fajardo coast. Fans of Culebra, which was a US naval base until 1975, have good reason to keep it top secret. Twenty percent of the island is a designated national wildlife refuge, protecting endangered sea turtles and other wild denizens. So far, the island has been untouched by giant hotels, casinos, golf courses, and fast-food restaurants. If that sounds like heaven, get ready to explore Culebra’s “diamond-dust” beaches (the star is Flamenco Beach, but you’ll find others that are more secluded), snorkeling sites, and hiking trails. Narragansett packs Rhode Island's best qualities into an easily digestible size © Shobeir Ansari / Moment / Getty Rhode Island: Narragansett Everybody knows that Rhode Island is the smallest state geographically. What everybody also needs to know is that the small size belies a wealth of vacation opportunities. Narragansett may be Exhibit A: the town is home to four popular beaches, minutes away from affordable hotels, B&Bs, and vacation rentals via the town’s fine public transportation system. You can also opt for camping at Fishermen’s Memorial State Park, which locals prize for its “seaside village” atmosphere. Get ready to snap pics of the Point Judith Lighthouse at the entrance to Narragansett Bay, and set aside some time to explore the unique and vital exhibitions at the Pequot Museum, devoted to Native American history and culture and the natural history of the New England region from prehistoric times through the arrival of European settlers and beyond. South Carolina: Greenville If you haven’t already heard the great word-of-mouth generated by folks who have visited Greenville, take it from us: if your idea of vacation perfection is a charming Main Street packed with great art galleries, excellent local restaurants, and a cycling- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and outlook, this is a place you must see for yourself. Start in lovely Falls Park, where the 345-foot-long Liberty Bridge crosses the Reedy River (you can grab a great cup of coffee at the bridge entrance). Cyclists will want to hit the curiously named Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail (say it five times fast, or just call it “Swamp Rabbit,” as locals do), which runs more than 20 miles from Lake Conestee Nature Park to the nearby town of Travelers Rest. Tour local craft breweries, visit one of the local live theaters, hit up local galleries, studios, and public murals, and you’ll soon be one of the people spreading Greenville’s great word-of-mouth yourself. Boxwork is an rare type of rock formation that forms honeycomb-like structures in caves © Zack Frank / Shutterstock South Dakota: Wind Cave National Park What’s the oldest national park you’ve perhaps never heard of? Wind Cave, in the prairie grasslands in the southwestern corner of South Dakota, where the buffalo roam along with elk and other wildlife, was founded in 1903 and consists of lovely preserved prairie aboveground and an intricate cave system below, known for rare rock formations called boxwork. Easy hikes and ranger-led programs abound, including a 1-mile round-trip hike from Elk Mountain campground, a loop from Prairie Vista visitor center, and, of course, tours of the cave. Note that as we publish this story, the elevators at Wind Cave are closed for maintenance – please check nps.gov/wica before planning your trip. Ranger programs, including an excellent documentary film, and above-ground activities remain open daily, and access to the cave will resume when maintenance is complete. Tennessee: Franklin Psst: seventeen miles south of Nashville, the welcoming small city of Franklin beckons with history (for starters, it was founded way back in 1799 and named for Founding Father Benjamin Franklin), great dining (there are more than 500 restaurants to choose from, and we especially love the upscale versions of Southern favorites like fried chicken and oyster po’boys), and unique shopping for locally made apparel, crafts, and snacks (if you haven’t the Tennessee favorite Goo-Goo Clusters, do yourself a favor). Start on Main Street, designated a “Great American Main Street,” learn about the 1864 Battle of Franklin (and see the bullet-riddled Carter House), and spend some time on the Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs through Franklin and the village of Leiper’s Fork, where great art galleries rub elbows with fantastic BBQ ­– the Natchez Trace runs from Nashville all the way to Natchez, Mississippi, and is the eighth most-visited site in the National Park system. El Paso is a cultural melting pot with influences from the Southwestern USA and Mexico © Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock Texas: El Paso El Paso’s unique location, in the far western corner of Texas, bordering both Mexico and New Mexico, utterly defines the city’s culture. As national attention has focused on this border region, El Paso has been in the midst of a construction boom, including new hotels, the restoration of a streetcar lines, new craft breweries, and even a Minor League Baseball team, the Pacific Coast League’s Chihuahuas, part of the San Diego Padres franchise. Reasons to get to know El Paso include the beautiful El Paso Museum of Art with its collection of 12th-through-21st-century works; Franklin Mountains State Park, the largest urban park in America within city limits, with elevations reaching more than 7,000 feet above sea level; and, of course, a unique culinary tradition that blends Mexican traditions like exquisite tacos with Texas’s love of good steak, plus upscale taverns serving innovative dishes and great cocktails. Utah: Moab Sure, you want to visit Utah’s amazing national parks, but, like many travelers, you’re not sure where to start? One word: Moab. The Utah town is in close proximity to both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, providing you with a comfy home base from which to explore the incredible red rock landscape that makes some visitors feel as if they’ve landed on Mars. Here in Moab, affordable lodging, great Southwestern and gourmet food, and the Colorado River make for a beautiful stay. When you’re not hiking in one of the two national parks, be sure to set aside time to discover Dead Horse Point State Park, along the Colorado River with its seven-mile rim trail and great vistas that include some of the terrain in Canyonlands. Groton, Vermont, in the state's Northeast Kingdom region, is great in the fall © Nan Zhong / Moment Open / Getty Vermont: Northeast Kingdom As the name may suggest, Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom region, including Caledonia, Esses, and Orleans counties, is a world unto itself. You won’t find cities up here, but you’ll find plenty of elbow room, pristine lakes, and forests just waiting for you to discover them. An array of state parks serves as the best way to plan your Northeast Kingdom adventure, offering campsites, cabins, and cottages – and in some cases a lodge – from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Groton State Forest will keep you busy with more than 26,000 acres of fly fishing, swimming, and hiking. Virginia: Jamestown Settlement If you’re looking for a living history experience that dates back to the early colonial days, Virginia is the place to be. Jamestown Settlement is where the first permanent English colony was settled. Here, visitors are introduced to the settlement’s origins as a business venture, the ways in which the English arrival affected the local Powhatan Native American way of life, and the arrival of the first enslaved Africans on Virginian soil. You’ll want to spend most of a day exploring gallery exhibits, documentary films, and outdoor re-creations of a Powhatan village, a 17th-century fort, and even a replica of a sailing ship that brought the first English colonists to what they called the New World. While you’re in the Jamestown area, you can further immerse yourself in colonial history with a visit to nearby Colonial Williamsburg and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. A path through the Hoh Rain Forest is filled with old temperate trees covered in green and brown moss © Roman Khomlyak / Shutterstock Washington: Olympic National Park Yes, the American West is so packed with amazing national parks, we can forgive you if you’ve overlooked a true gem on the Washington State coast. Olympic National Park covers nearly 1 million acres that includes an exceptional variety of ecosystems, including mountains, old-growth rainforests (yes, it may be drizzling during your visit, but that’s all part of the experience), and more than 70 miles of coast. Visit the Elwha Valley, just 11 miles from the town of Port Angeles (a good place to find charming, affordable lodging), which is home to the popular Elwha River and the surrounding mountains that make for a lovely introduction to the park’s offerings. Hurricane Ridge is easily reached and the views on a (rare) clear day are incredible. Hit the Olympic Hot Springs Road and Whiskey Bend Road for access to a number of great trails like the Boulder Creek and Humes Ranch loop. West Virginia: Lewisburg If you love truly cool small towns as much as we do, you must discover Lewisburg, on the Greenbrier River, with its fabulous arts, outstanding artisanal food scene (think way beyond traditional Southern fare here, with menu items like the Middle Eastern spiced lamb burger), and eminently shoppable downtown. Don’t miss the unique Salt Cave and Spa and its indulgent treatments and unusual location within a cave system. The opulent Greenbrier Resort is worth-it splurge that delivers value, and the grounds and restaurant are worth a visit even if you’re not spending the night. Head out along the stunningly beautiful Greenbrier River Trail, a repurposed railroad route that’s part of the West Virginia state parks system, for a hike or cycling trip; you won’t run out of things to see – the trail is 70 miles long. The statue of coach Vince Lombardi outside the Historic Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers and also known as The Frozen Tundra © Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock Wisconsin: Green Bay Sure, the name Green Bay is synonymous with NFL football, but there’s a lot more to this beautiful region of Wisconsin than adorning one’s head with an immense cheese replica. The city if named for the big bay on which it stands, and you’ll find plenty of “green” in the city’s wild-ish places, like the Brown County Reforestation Camp and the Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve. Families will love the Children’s Museum of Green Bay with plenty of hands-on experiences, the National Railroad Museum, including train rides through October and a Polar Express at holiday time. For grownups, brewery tours take you behind the scenes for a taste of the fine crafting going on here. Oh, and if you absolutely must have a football-themed experience in Green Bay, the Packers Heritage Trail is a cool city walk that takes you to commemorative plaques dedicated to the creation of the Green Bay Packers franchise. Wyoming: Rockies to Tetons First of all, yes, we adore Yellowstone. But we want you to know that Wyoming offers a wealth of other outstanding outdoor adventures. One of our favorites is the Rockies-to-Tetons road trip that takes you from the Snowy Ridge, in southeast Wyoming, all the way to Grand Teton National Park. Your first step will be visiting the Snowy Ridge Range, which includes the 12,000-foot Medicine Bow Peak, via nearby Laramie. Then you’ll have to tear yourself away from all that gorgeousness on your way to Dubois, where affordable hotels and the Longhorn Ranch Resort are options (as is taking in a Friday-night rodeo in summer). From Dubois, you’ll head toward the Grand Tetons, ideally with a stop for rafting the Snake River in Jackson, then enter the beautiful national park, where you can try your hand at shooting some of the iconic peaks and landscapes made famous by photographer Ansel Adams. (And from Grand Teton National Park, you can sneak a visit to adjoining Yellowstone with no additional entry fee.) Produced by Budget Travel for GEICO. All editorial views are those of Budget Travel alone and reflect our policy of editorial independence and impartiality.

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    8 Best Cycling Routes in North America

    Whether you’re looking to take a cycling-centric vacation or just include some skinny-tire time while you’re out exploring, the best routes are those that combine moderate climbs (and the blissful descents that follow) with natural beauty and an ineffable sense of wonder. With that criteria in mind, we’ve assembled some of our favorite rides—including a range of geographical regions in North America from eastern Canada down to Mexico City. These are intended for road bikes (a.k.a. the bikes with thin tires), and for cyclists with some experience—though each of these cool routes can be managed by newbies who are traveling with relatively experienced cyclists.Going-to-the-Sun Road Montana When it comes to pinch-me vistas and wildlife encounters, it’s difficult to beat the Going-to-the-Sun Road, in Montana’s Glacier National Park. Start your trek at Apgar visitor center, not far from the park’s West Glacier entrance. You’ll cover 32 miles from Apgar to the continental divide at Logan Pass, climbing around 3,000 feet over the course of the ride. Plan on several hours to reach Logan, because you’ll encounter many fine reasons to stop along the way: Avalanche Creek, the Trail of the Cedars, and many scenic overlooks where you’ll see the valley below growing smaller and smaller, snowy peaks (often even in July), and chance sightings of black bears, grizzlies, and moose. If you still have the legs for it, there’s a great hike at Logan Pass up to Hidden Lake Overlook, where you’ll almost certainly spot mountain goats. And, of course, the ride down from Logan back to Apgar is all downhill. When you arrive back at Apgar Village, celebrate with a feast at Eddie’s restaurant, and save room for a huckleberry ice cream or pie. Green Mountains Loop Vermont, New Hampshire, New York The Green Mountains, with their gentle slopes and namesake hue (which transforms into blazing reds, yellows, and oranges in autumn), define much of Vermont’s landscape. Even folks who have yet to visit will recognize the mountains as the backdrop of many of Grandma Moses’s most famous paintings. The Green Mountains Loop goes well beyond the mountains, allowing cyclists to begin in Burlington and, if they choose, end there as well, having explored not only Vermont but also portions of New Hampshire and the Lake Champlain shoreline in New York. The loop comprises more than 370 miles, and there are also alternates and offshoots worth seeing if you have time. The East Alternate, for instance, passes through the charming small town of Peacham, the kind of Platonic ideal of a New England town you might expect to see in a Norman Rockwell. Natchez Trace Parkway Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee This may be the most ancient cycling route you’ll ever attempt. The Natchez Trace Parkway essentially existed centuries before the notion of a “parkway,” as a trail through the forest used by Native Americans. These days, you’ll share the road with relatively moderate or sparse auto traffic, and you’ll savor the forestland, waterways, and waterfalls along the way. Rest your head at an array of B&Bs along the way, grab ample Southern cuisine, and choose campsites that will be populated by fellow cyclists—and some campgrounds are actually bicyclists-only. If you make the entire trip, which connects Natchez, MS, to Nashville, TN, you’ll cover 444 miles of gentle grades. Katy Trail Missouri A great route for outdoor enthusiasts and historians alike, the Katy Trail runs more than 230 miles across the state of Missouri, about half of it following the route that Lewis and Clark tpokl up the Missouri River on their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. Keep an eye out for eagles as you cycle this relatively flat trail that takes you past farms and fields and small towns. It’s the longest rails-to-trails project in the U.S., having converted the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) railroad line into prime space for hikers, runners, and cyclists. (If you’re keen on traversing the entire continential U.S. on two skinny wheels, the Katy Trail is often included in cross-country treks along the Lewis & Clark route and the American Discovery Trail. Mount Lemmon Arizona Tucson, AZ, is something of a cyclists’ mecca, with a great climate for outdoor activities snd some spectacular scenery and mountain trails. You’ll ascend the Catalina Highway to the top of Mount Lemmon—wear layers, because you’ll likely pass through a range of temperatures and weather conditions, including the possibility of snow at the Summerhaven resort at the top. You’ll enjoy coasting on the ride back down as well, but avoid the temptation to take the hairpins at top speed—you’ll want to arrive back in Tucson in one piece for dinner. Camino Cielo California For anyone who has ever visited Santa Barbara, on the southern end of California’s central coast, the Pacific Ocean vistas and the Santa Ynez Mountains behind the city can be unforgettable. But there’s at least one cool secret up those mountains: Camino Cielo (“skyway”) is a ridge road with sweeping views. Of all the routes recommended in this story, Camino Cielo is the one that will demand the most energy and attentiveness: Expect steep climbs, switchbacks, and some rough terrain on your way to the top of Gibraltor Mountain. You’ll almost certainly agree it was worth the climb. (And on your way back to SB, you can reward yourself with a visit to one of the region’s excellent wineries.) Route Verte Québec Canada’s finest cycling can be found in Québec Province, and the crown jewel is Route Verte (“greenway”), covering more than 3,000 miles (yes, you read that correctly) that includes mixed-use trails and cycling paths, and roads from the coast all the way to Montréal. As you might expect, the route offers many reasons to stop along the way, including Québec’s historic cities with their array of French food, wine, and friendly locals, and the extraordinary Parc National du Bic along the St. Lawrence Estuary, with its mountains and islands and capes. Desierto de los Leones Mexico City How many national parks can you name that are located entirely within a major city? Desierto de los Leones is all within the Federal District of Mexico City, and the park supplies everything a cyclist might crave: the Sierra de las Cruces Mountains, scenic waterways, forests, and ample trails for cyclists. If cycling in a big city seems less adventurous than you might wish, bear in mind that hitting the open road in Mexico is often not as safe for inexperienced cyclists as it might be in the U.S. or Canada. Desierto de los Leones provides natural beauty in a setting where visitors can relax and enjoy the sights. And, contrary to what the park’s name might suggest, it is neither a desert nor a haven for mountain lions.)

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