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7 Most Amazing Under-the-Radar Road Trips in the U.S.
This article was written by Jimmy Im and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel. According to AAA, one in four Americans take a road trip every year, and with good reason. It's cost effective (especially with falling gas prices), enriching, and utterly nostalgic, and just plain fun. While plenty of iconic routes snake across our nation (like the Pacific Coast Highway and Route 66) we rounded up under-the-radar routes that should definitely be on your bucket list. They're just that amazing. So get your favorite driving playlists ready and check out these hidden-gem road-tripping adventures. 1. The Route: Boston to Rockport, Massachusetts The Vibe: The Massachusetts coast is alluring, dotted with historic fishing towns. Along the Way: Start by taking in Boston's best sights, from shopping on Newbury Street, to a Red Sox game in Fenway Park, to The Freedom Trail, to Faneuil Hall Market Place, to eating in the North End. Then head to Salem on MA-1A North. Salem is steeped with history: It's home to the infamous Salem witch hunts but it's also quaint and beautiful. Be sure to check out the Peabody Essex Museum, The House of the Seven Gables, and Old Burying Point Cemetery. Just outside of Salem, you'll also want to visit Marblehead, a charming, coastal village with roads and buildings dating back to the 18th century and a harbor filled with yachts. Wander the streets and visit Old Burial Hill, Castle Rock Park, and the Marblehead Lighthouse to stretch your legs. Drive north on I-127 to Gloucester, a fishing town home of the book and movie The Perfect Storm about the doomed Andrea Gale (and, incidentally, where the concept of frozen food was born; it was developed there in America's oldest working fishing port!). Good Harbor Beach and the Fisherman's Memorial are worth seeing, and you can also go whale-watching. End up in Rockport, a boho art colony where artists are inspired by, Motif #1, a 150-year-old red fishing shack on Bradley Wharf. Or check out Halibut Point State Park. Related: Smackdown: Boston vs. Seattle 2. The Route: Kohala Coast to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii The Vibe: Think of it as an alternative to Maui's Road to Hana ride, except on this one is on the Big Island, known for its exciting outdoor adventures. Perfect for nature lovers. Along the way: Start at Kohala Coast, home to the island's best resorts like Four Seasons Hualalai and The Fairmont Orchid. First, take a dip at Maniniowali Beach, known to locals as Kua Bay, one of the most pristine beaches on the island. People also love to bodyboard there, but be careful and check to see that the waves are small enough to be manageable. Next head south on Highway 19, taking in the natural environments, from the coast to rain forests (there are actually 11 of the world's 13 climate zones on this one island). At Highway 11, after mile marker 108, stop at Coffee Shack, a beatnik cafe on the edge of a cliff, sporting breathtaking views of the coast. Have a strong cup of locally produced Kona coffee, then continue on to the 180-acre Puuhonua O Honaunau National Park, home to a well-preserved, ancient Hawaiian royal residence. It's a beautiful drive along old lava fields and tropical forestry for about 40 miles. Stop in the town of Naalehu for Punalu'u Bake Shop, the southernmost bakery in the United States, famous for their doughnuts. Hop back in to the car until you reach Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which made headlines last year with several eruptions. There are lava caves to explore, and visit the Kilauea Visitor Center and learn how to safely view the active lava flows in the park. 3. The Route: Reno Loop, Nevada The Vibe: If you've conquered Route 66 or just want something a little different, try the Reno Loop, with tons of activities for sporty and adventurous types. Along the way: Kick off the drive with rock climbing at Whitney Peak Hotel, a new property sporting the largest artificial rock-climbing wall in the world. You can't miss it - the wall is on the side of the hotel. Next, take Nevada State Route 431 to Incline Village on the shore of Lake Tahoe. Stop and get in a hike (or go skiing in the winter), play some tennis, or go sailing. For those feeling more frisky, there's an unofficial nude beach just south of the area. Jump back in the car and take Nevada State Route 28 to Stateline, where Heavenly Mountain Resort's activity center at the top of the gondola includes a zipline and rope courses. From there, head to the town of Genoa from State Route 207 to Route 206. The tiny town is home to Genoa Bar, one of the oldest in the state, where an iron safe is filled with a collection of decades-old bras. Continuing to U.S. 395 through Carson City until U.S. 50, take State Route 341 (which turns into 342) to Virginia City. Mark Twain once lived here as a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise newspaper. The 19th-century mining town still retains wooden boardwalks and Victorian-era buildings - hop on a rail tour to get the full retro effect. Virginia City is also chockfull of ghosts, so check out haunted sites like The Washoe Club Haunted Museum, Piper's Opera House, or the Silver Queen Hotel. 4. The Route: Napa Valley to Mendocino, California The Vibe: The famed Pacific Coast Highway is the most visited route for road trippers (from families to honeymooners), but Northern California touts an amazing drive, too. Just sober up before you get back in the car after all the wine tasting! Along the way: Hit a few wine tastings and tours in Napa Valley, like Beaulieu Vineyard, one of the oldest in the area; family-owned Buehler Vineyards for great value; or Cade Estate for especially awe-inspiring views. From Napa, take the 101 to 128. During the drive you'll stop in several towns with breathtaking landscapes, like Sonoma and Healdsburg. In Sonoma, of course there are more wine tastings, and Francis Ford Coppola's winery is equipped with an outdoor pool and exciting gift shop with film memorabilia. You can also check out the Boyes Hot Springs at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. In hipster-laden Healdsburg, you can stop to soak up some of the wine with fresh, crafted cupcakes at Moustache Baked Goods, which uses simple, organic ingredients for their sweet treats. But make sure you're sober for the drive, because this part of the trips is all about embracing the beauty of the region, and take the windy, two-street roads slow and easy. Through small towns, tree-lined streets, and plenty of open sky, you'll end up on Highway 1 along the rugged coast, until you reach the rustic town of Mendocino. It's embellished with Cyprus forests and scenic cliff sides, many that overlook blowholes and sea caves. Check into Elk Cove Inn, a hidden gem that's just as rustic as the region. There are only 16 rooms, all of which tout breathtaking views of the coast. Related: Making the Most of a Wine-Soaked Weekend in Sonoma 5. The Route: From Austin to Marfa, Texas The Vibe: While we love the classic Texas BBQ and Hill Country Hideaways, a new emerging route is a hipster favorite: the road to Marfa. Along the Way: From Austin, take U.S. 290 to I-10. This stretch is more of a meditative drive; there's not much along the way. But about an hour and a half from Austin, the small town of Fredericksburg woos tourists for its quaint, small-town feel with family-run shops on Main Street. It's also known for Enchanted Rock, a former spiritual holy ground for Native Americans favored by hikers. After six hours, travelers will arrive at Marfa, a quirky, trippy town run by an artist colony. It's wildly famous for it's stand-alone Prada store that's more of an art concept. Famous movies like Giant in 1956 were filmed in Marfa, and retro legends Liz Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson all stayed at the famed El Paisano Hotel. Keep your eyes out for mysterious lights in the town, floating glowing balls of white, yellow, and red light, spotted since 1883 and, to this day, remain a mystery. There's even a viewing area located nine miles east of town on Highway 90. 6. The Route: Denver to Telluride, Colorado The Vibe: There's nothing like slope hopping out west, but spring/summer is the best time to see the small towns of Southwest Colorado; they're culturists' dream destinations. Along the way: The drive from Denver to Ouray on I-70 West is through some breathtaking landscape in the mountains and national forests. Ouray is a famous ghost town that's quirky and well preserved - it looks like a film set for a Western. If you're driving during cold weather, the claim-to-fame in Ouray is the ice climbing at Ouray Ice Park. As the largest ice park in the world with 200 climbing routes, it's one of the best places in the U.S. for this recreation. Take US-550 South to Durango, a charming town that's home to cute cafes and old-school saloons. You can also take in the great views with an old-timey train ride from Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum or at San Jaun National Forest. From here, via CO-145 North, it's only two hours to Telluride, which is home to Butch Cassidy's first bank robbery. Travelers can visit the original safe in what's now a sunglass store. Nearby highlights also include Ridgway, where True Grit was filmed; Sawpit, the smallest town in Colorado with a gas station and one street lamp (Oprah Winfrey and Tom Cruise own homes here), and the protrusion of Wilson Peak, the iconic mountain on every Coors Light beer can. 7. The Route: Zion National Park Loop, Utah The Vibe: Most discerning travelers/road trippers have seen the Grand Canyon. In the same region, Southwest Utah is getting more interest with its scenic drives embellished with red rocks, unspoiled landscapes, and a whole 'lotta sky. It's like landscape porn. Along the way: Start at Zion National Park, Utah's oldest national park with 69 types of wild animals living here (including mountain lions). A two-hour scenic drive takes road trippers to Lake Powell, a manmade reservoir surrounded by sandstone walls (water sports, like paddleboard yoga, are offered here). Lake Powell is a stone's throw from Amangiri, one of the most luxurious resorts in the U.S. Have lunch on the outdoor terrace and you may spot a celebrity or two. Go onward to the beautiful Highway 12 (Utah's "All American Road") to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, home to million-year-old canyons for canyoneering, then Bryce Canyon National Park where you can pitch a tent for some major overnight stargazing. Nearby Boulder is known for Hell's Backbone Grill's pumpkin enchiladas and other farm fresh produce in the middle of scenic nowhere. From here, you can take on a three-hour drive to Canyonlands National Park to experience more surreal, natural scenery. Related: This Amazing Utah Canyon Hike Comes With a Rescue Dog
8 Things You Can Only Do in Edinburgh
This article was written by Zoe Smith on behalf of Viator.com. Whether you’re exploring the sights along the famous Royal Mile or taking in the views from the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, you’ll never be short of things to see and do in Edinburgh. But like many of Europe’s great cities, there’s much more to the Scottish capital than most tourists get to discover, so once you’ve checked off the must-see attractions, spice up your itinerary by enjoying some of the things you can only do in Edinburgh. 1. Attend the world’s biggest arts festival The mammoth Edinburgh International Festival and the coinciding Edinburgh Fringe Festival need little introduction and those visiting Edinburgh in August will never be short of entertainment. Held each year since 1947, the festival features an entire month of theatre, dance, music and comedy events, including thousands of free shows, street entertainment and a huge fireworks, pyrotechnic and music show on the final night. 2. Climb seven hills in one day Famously ‘built on seven hills’ like Rome, Edinburgh has an abundance of scenic lookout points and climbing all seven peaks is a popular challenge for both locals and tourists. If you’re not brave enough (or fit enough) to join the annual Seven Hills of Edinburgh Race, it’s still possible to walk to the top of all seven hills in one day—a 14.2 mile walk taking in the highest peak of Arthur’s Seat at 251 meters, Edinburgh Castle atop Castle rock and the iconic Calton Hill, alongside Corstorphine Hill, Braid Hill, Blackford Hill and Craiglockhart Hill. 3. Travel back to the 17th century Among Edinburgh’s most unique attractions is Mary King’s Close, a 17th-century street that was buried beneath the city’s hills in the mid-18th-century and reopened as a tourist attraction in 2003. The remarkably preserved street offers an authentic glimpse into the city’s past, but enter at your own risk—Mary King’s Close is notoriously haunted and so popular among ghost-hunters that it hosts the annual Mary King’s Ghost Fest. 4. Visit the birthplace of Harry Potter Prodigious Harry Potter writer J. K. Rowling is among Edinburgh’s most famous former residents and the author famously began writing the hit books at the Elephant Café on George Street. A number of fictional locations in the books were also inspired by real-life sights, like Greyfriars Kirkyard, where Tom Riddle’s grave resides, and George Heriot’s School, which inspired the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 5. Join in an ancient pagan fire ritual With fire-twirling dancers, marching drummers and a gigantic bonfire blazing at the top of Calton Hill, the annual Beltane Fire Festival is one of Edinburgh’s most mesmorizing events, drawing up to 12,000 revelers to the hilltop party. It’s not just about drinking and dancing though—the festival also forms an important part of the city’s pagan heritage, based on an ancient Celtic fertility festival and marking the start of spring. 6. Pay tribute to Greyfriars Bobby One of Edinburgh’s most beloved former residents was a little Skye terrier called Bobby, who became famous in the 19th-century when he stood guard over his owners grave for 14 years. Today, a statue and gravestone commemorate the loyal hound at the Greyfriars Kirkyard cemetery, where visitors can pay their respects to ‘Greyfriars Bobby’—proof that dogs really are a man’s best friend. 7. Check out the world’s first cloned mammal Forget the towering dinosaur skeletons and ancient Egyptians—the star attraction of the National Museum of Scotland is a stuffed sheep, named Dolly after country icon Dolly Parton. Of course, Dolly the Sheep isn’t just any old ewe—she made history back in 1996, as the first ever mammal to be cloned from an adult cell and remains one of the world’s most significant scientific breakthroughs. 8. Spend 4 days celebrating the New Year Nowhere on earth celebrates the New Year like Edinburgh and the city’s time-honoured Hogmanay festivities last for an exhausting 4 days! Join the fun by participating in the torchlight procession on December 29th, partying the night away at the huge open-air Ceilidh on the 30th, watching the gigantic fireworks display on New Year’s Eve, then braving the icy waters of Loony Dock for a New Year’s Day swim.
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