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    Fairfield,

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    Fairfield is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. It borders the city of Bridgeport and towns of Trumbull, Easton, Weston, and Westport along the Gold Coast of Connecticut. As of 2017 the town had a population of 62,105. In September 2014, Money magazine ranked Fairfield the 44th best place to live in the United States and the best place to live in Connecticut.
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    Inspiration

    The best books to read in every state in America

    As soon as coronavirus arrived in New York City last winter, my brain became a tangle of anxious thoughts, pounding down on my already overtaxed amygdala. I had one salvation: a three-by-two map of America hanging in my living room. While most of my friends set their sights on the Balis and Bermudas of the world, my only travel goal has long been to visit every state in America. Ostensibly, this map’s point was to be the canvas for a smattering of pins until I created a multi-hued distribution upon all 50 sates. In actuality, the point was to accomplish something, to wrangle up America into a palm of pastel thumbtacks, to live a life full of stories. Stories from a life of zigzagging our great terrain this past year, it turned out, would not be in the cards as travel restrictions and lockdowns made all too clear from the outset of this mess. But as I squinted once again at the pin-less sweep of real estate on my wall somewhere between Minnesota and Oregon early last spring, I realized I could still get to work on these travels, if I got a little creative. Thus, my 50 states book project was born, where I embarked on a challenge to read a tome set in every state in the union. I still met people and places and things and disasters and triumphs, but I didn’t rent a car, or hop on a plane, or even scour the internet high and low for Clorox wipes to sanitize my hotel room. Instead, I let William Least Heat-Moon, Bill Bryson, and Paul Theroux lead me on road trips, I hung out with that guy who walked across America, Peter Jenkins, I chased redbirds in Kentucky with Sharon Creech, listened to crawdads singing in North Carolina, and I went on one hell of a bender with Hunter S. Thompson in Vegas. I spent a grand total of $233.96 buying used books on Amazon—less than an average one-night hotel stay in Chicago, mind you. I read classic texts and obscure novels, fiction and nonfiction, humorous and heartbreaking, and it completely changed the way I think about travel. For one thing, given the titles I read, I can now unequivocally say the best adventures are the outdoors ones. My nationwide literary adventure had me walking around my own little nook of a park, Sutton Place Park in Midtown Manhattan, like I was a Thoreauvian naturalist (I’m not sure how he’d feel about the giant neon Pepsi Cola sign across the East River). In lockdowns, these books gave me inspiration to find meaning in the toughest of days knowing that This Too Shall Pass, and the road awaited me. It even helped me feel a little less pissed when my well-intentioned best friend would send me gorgeous mountain-y snapshots from her quarantine castle in the Hudson Valley. After all, I had just gotten back from a whirlwind stint in Iowa. Perhaps counterintuitively, surveying a book from every state in America blurred the lines of my much-loved pushpin map. Alaska was Alabama was Kentucky was Kansas. On page 18 of my Michigan selection, The Deer Camp: A Memoir of a Father, A Family, and the Land That Healed Them by Dean Kuipers, I came across this passage: “The great American anarchist Edward Abbey is probably not a terrific role model for mature relatedness—by all reports, he had prickly relationships with other people and, like Henry David Thoreau, needed the solitude he so extolled. But in Desert Solitaire Abbey addressed that need to confront our position vis-à-vis the nonhuman world…” In a quick swoop of the pen, my Michigan author had referenced my Maine essayist and my Utah wordsmith. We’re all independent, yet linked. Separate, yet dependent. Alone in the woods, yet with your friends on the forest floor. Alaska is Alabama is Kentucky is Kansas. Alabama Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep Cep does a deep dive into Harper Lee’s true-crime book about reverend Willie Maxwell, an alleged serial murderer that never was finished and published. Her portrait of To Kill a Mockingbird’s scribe, Harper Lee, is just as fascinating as the unreal story of Maxwell. Alaska Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer There’s hardly a stretch of 10 pages in this book without creased corners and underlining, in this enthralling account of a renegade college grad who abandons the conventions of traditional life on Alaska’s harsh frontiers. Arizona Arizona Then and Now: People and Places by Karl Mondon By the time I got to my Arizona selection, my eyes had glazed over from so. much. text. Thankfully, this assortment of archival photos from the Jeremy Rowe Collection juxtaposed with modern-day photography from Mondon was exactly what I needed. Nothing will beat the heavenly Grand Canyon, but the main street photos of towns like Bisbee and Winslow really made me nostalgic for wandering a new teeny town’s downtown for the first time. Arkansas Hipbillies: Deep Revolution in the Arkansas Ozarks by Jared M. Phillips Hippies of the Haight-Ashbury variety + backwoods hillbillies = “Hipbillies.” A fascinating perspective on this Southern counterculture from the 1960s and ‘70s, I was intrigued to learn about these back-to-the-landers’ incredible impact on the future of the Ozarks. California The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan Head to San Francisco in this award-winning gem from Tan that also brings you along to China in stories of immigrant Americans, the lives and pain they left behind, and the chapters they’ve built anew. Colorado The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese A journalist uncovers a heck of a world after receiving an anonymous letter from a peeping Tom who owns a hotel in Aurora and spies on unknowing guests. It’s creepy, it’s can’t-put-down, and it will definitely have you look around extra carefully after you check into a hotel room. Honorable mention: Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson by Juan Thompson Connecticut The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin Well, guess I need to see the 2004 movie starring Nicole Kidman now. Because, wow, what a book: When Joanna arrives in Fairfield County with her husband and kiddos from New York City an American horror classic ensues, from the same author as Rosemary’s Baby. Delaware And Never Let Her Go: Thomas Capano: The Deadly Seducer by Ann Rule This book has something for every kind of reader, true crime, politics, superb research, psychological nuances...the list goes on and on. You’ll stay up way past your bedtime finishing this one. Florida Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh Woman decamps from her busy life and heads to Captiva Island, off the coast of Fort Myers. Woman picks up various seashells and uses them as metaphors to reflect on life: work, relationships, struggles, joys. Turns out said woman is married to a Nazi (see: New Jersey), which ruins this poetic, rhythmic philosophical missive for me. Georgia Between Georgia Torn between two families, a husband and a best friend love interest, the tension is palpable in this Southern Drama with a capital D. As one reader referenced in the Amazon reviews, the saying "We don't hide crazy in this family. We sit it down on the front porch and give it a cocktail” was just made for this book. Hawaii The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings You know a book is that good, when the George Clooney movie version doesn’t even hold a candle to it. There’s a wife in a coma and her extramarital affair, a husband forced to reckon with raising his two daughters alone and being heir to a ton of primo real estate, and so much more that will leave you unable to think about anything else for a couple of days. Idaho Idaho by Emily Ruskovich I’ll be the first to admit I picked this book up for the eye-catching floral design on the cover, but I couldn’t put it down for the pathos bleeding through every page. When a mother kills her child, so much more crumbles and is lost, but the beauty here is in all that is found, practically, philosophically, and otherwise. Illinois Searching for John Hughes by Jason Diamond When I was an editor at Men’s Journal in 2016, I sat in the cubicle next to Mr. Diamond (remember these things called offices) and this book encpatures so much of who he is: wise, writerly, idiosyncratic, and a touch grumpy. Enjoy the ride as he commences a quest for the filmmaker behind Home Alone, Sixteen Candles, and National Lampoon’s Vacation. Indiana The Fault In Our Stars by John Green I’m still crying, but to be fair, how could you not be crying after reading this novel about two kids who love like there are thousands of tomorrows despite the terminal cancer diagnoses with which they’re both reckoning. Iowa The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson 1950s-era Iowa is brought to life in this oft humorous memoir from the beloved travel writer. It really made this New York City kid feel like she was missing out on a quintessential childhood experience by never having attended a county fair. Kansas In Cold Blood by Truman Capote A true crime classic that revolves around the brutal slaying of four family members in a small town in Western Kansas and the detective work that ensues. The book was praised for utilizing novelistic techniques to describe the characters and their feelings, a trailblazer for the nonfiction genre. Kentucky Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech Lockdowns have had me returning to tween books (don’t judge me), and I don’t regret the walk down memory lane in the least, especially in the company of the protagonist Zinny. The industrious youngster sets out into the woods and grapples with grief, blossoming love interests, and frustrating family dynamics along the way. Don’t we all? Louisiana Magic City by Yusef Komunyakaa Step inside 1950s Louisiana in Komunyakaa’s hometown of rural Bogalusa in this harrowing collection of poems. Within, the talented poet tackles racism, sexuality, and economic inequalities with a swift, vivid hand. Maine The Maine Woods by Henry Thoreau What I would give to escape this city jungle and take a walk in the Maine woods right about now. Thankfully, Thoreau’s quintessential naturalist account of three trips into the rugged woods with philosophical musings intertwined with the detailed physical descriptions of all that Thoreau witnesses. Pretty foreboding for the mid1800s: “the mission of men there seems to be, like so many busy demons, to drive the forest out of the country.” Maryland Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler Admittedly, I picked up this book because there was a tantalizing slice of pie on the cover. But I’m glad I did: Follow along for all that unfolds as one grieving Baltimore family learn about long-hidden truths and struggles to cope. Massachusetts Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom I mean, what can I say about Tuesdays with Morrie? In this blockbuster memoir-cum-biography, a journalist visits his beloved former college professor at home as he dies of ALS. A five-star book (albeit, with some four-star writing). A beautiful biography of a life well lived, and a workaholic writer who’s outlook is changed because of his inspiring teacher’s example. Michigan The Deer Camp: A Memoir of a Father, A Family, and the Land That Healed Them by Dean Kuipers It was easy to fall in love with Kuipers’ elegant prose in a story about an estranged father and his three sons and what happens when said absent dad tries to make amends after buying 100 acres of hunting property in middle-of-nowhere Michigan. It’s a memoir I know I’ll be recommending for years to come. Minnesota Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich I had picked this book up because I was supposed to gather with a crowd of hundreds to see Erdrich speak at the 92nd Street Y this past month. Needless to say, that blessed packed auditorium never came to fruition, but I’m glad I still devoured this spooky, powerful account of a pregnant woman in a world where expecting mothers are held captive in hospitals. Honorable mentions: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen; The Good Girl by Mary Kubica Mississippi The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner I did it. I read a full Faulkner book. And while I probably would have understood more about this Deep South family and Dilsey, their black servant, had I read the SparkNotes, if only for the occasional heart-stopping quote like “Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.” Missouri The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States by Walter Johnson This Missouri native and now Harvard professor captures the oft overlooked history of St. Louis, tracing the city from Lewis and Clark’s 1804 expedition to modern times, with moving examples in each chapter. It’s a tough look at racism in our country from centuries past to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014, but a look well worth taking. Montana A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean So far, I’ve lost one friend to Big Sky Country since lockdowns commenced, and I can now totally appreciate why. Penned by a retired English professor who commenced his fiction career at 70, this novella and accompanying short stories will have you eager to fly-cast and play cribbage amidst a backdrop of trout streams, drunkards, and whores (maybe not the whores). Nebraska The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert Venture to the 1898 Omaha World's Fair – filled with sinners and saints – as one ventriloquist stumbles upon a new love. The book has burlesque dancers, snake oil salesmen, and plenty of wild west drama and romance. In these strange times, what more could you want? Nevada Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson Like The Plot Against America (see: New Jersey) I didn’t think this stream of conscious book would be for me, so I was amazed that I polished it off in three evening reading sessions. Vegas is wild, life is wild, and it’s all gravy baby in this fast-paced (psychedelic) trip. New Hampshire Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving If this doesn’t make you want to traipse around New Hampshire (minus an accidental murder and an unfortunate sheriff), I don’t know what will. The inventive novel takes detours to Iowa, Vermont, and more, as you get to know three generations of men and a rotating cast of women and feel particularly drawn to say goodbye to your smartphone for a while and retreat to 1950s Coos County, New Hampshire. New Jersey The Plot Against America by Phillip Roth In this lengthy novel, Roth reimagines a world in which Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh is President, creating fantasized historical fiction that has striking parallels to today’s dystopian America. The book focuses on Philip’s upbringing in Newark in the 1940s in a tight-knit Jewish community, with a brother desperate to leave and a cousin returning home from World War II missing a leg. Overall, this book a nice reminder for me that reading beyond your typical wheelhouse pays dividends. Check out the miniseries on HBO Max after you’re done. Honorable mention: Shore Stories: An Anthology Of The Jersey Shore by Richard Youmans (Editor) New Mexico House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday After I told a friend in California about my little project, I was touched when this book arrived in my mailbox a few days later. This Pulitzer Prize novel by esteemed Kiowa journalist moved me in all the right ways during such a time of turmoil with the unforgettable Abel, a Native American man who returns to his reservation after fighting in World War II. New York The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger In a time when it was easy to forget New York City’s boisterous splendor, it was comfort food to cavort around famed landmarks and reconvene with old Phoebs, Holden, and even pimply Ackley. As for “those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South,” I’m pleased to report they appear to be COVID-free and frolicking about even as hell and temperatures freeze over. Honorable mentions: A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin; Here Is New York by E.B. White; Manhattan’45 by Jan Morris; An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena; The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America by Russell Shorto North Carolina Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens A haunting murder story with unforgettable characters, a moving love story, and evocative descriptions of nature’s wonders, all set in the marshlands of the Old North State. North Dakota The New Wild West: Black Gold, Fracking, and Life in a North Dakota Boomtown by Blaire Briody Part culture analysis, part travelogue, this book about the oil biz delivers on the premise of its title — especially on the wild front. Ohio Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance From page one to the end, try putting this book down as it simply yet poignantly captures the realities of growing up in a family riddled with addiction and drama. P.S. If you watched the stekkar new Netflix flick, you’ll definitely appreciate reading the original memoir. Oklahoma A Map of Tulsa by Benjamin Lytal Dubbed “a love letter to a classic American city,” this love story in a Tulsa that straddles the line between dusty and sparkling is unlike any other you’ve ever read. Oregon Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed Okay, so it also covers California and Washington, but since the author lives in Portland, we’ll give this unique, achingly beautiful memoir to her stomping grounds. Chronicling one woman’s quest to hike the PCT in the cradle of grief, this memoir will change your outlook on everything from nature to family. P.S. Reese Witherspoon stars in the 2014 movie adaptation. Pennsylvania Rabbit, Run by John Updike This was the first Updike book I read, but it won’t be the last. I think one Goodreads reviewer nailed it: “Have you ever seen something noted because it is a representation of a specific thing? For example, a building might be marked with a plaque as a perfect representation of a type of architecture. Well, this book should be marked with a plaque as a perfect prose example of America in the late 50s/early 60s.” It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t progressive in its treatment of women, but man was it enthralling. Rhode Island The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore Get to know Anthony, Joy, and Lu, three strangers whose lives become intertwined on Little Rhody’s picturesque Block Island. They may call it a summer beach read, but I call it cozy quarantine perfection. South Carolina The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank Set in Georgia and South Carolina, its a low-country love story that will leave you feeling Hallmark movie good. Also, the descriptions of towering trees, Sullivan’s Island, and Charleston restaurants, will help you indulge the armchair traveling spirit we all need right now. South Dakota Deadwood by Pete Dexter When the going gets tough, the tough head to Deadwood...at least in the 1870s if you’re Wild Bill Hickok or Calamity Jane. Expect searing grit. Booze, sex, betrayal, and murder in an action-packed work of fiction you won’t soon forget. Tennessee Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver A searing fictional narrative that grapples with the effects of climate change and draws you into the world of a young woman living on a farm in an isolated sliver of Tennessee. If you’re a lover of the mystical monarch butterflies, this is definitely for you. Texas God Save Texas: A Journey Into the Soul of the Lone Star State by Lawrence Wright Diverse chapters covering everything from hurricanes and guns to music and Texan heroes, get a taste of this big, beautiful, and oft contradictory state. (Which, by the way, is so much more than Austin) Utah Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey This best-seller reminded me of the understated, almost eerie grandeur of Utah (I once took a SUP yoga class in thermal waters within the Homestead Crater, a 10,000-year-old crater, about a half-hour outside of Park City, if that’s not enough trendy activities rolled int one) — and had me itching to return. Through Abbey’s elegiac prose, sourced from journals and reflections of his time spent as a ranger at Arches National Park outside Moab, you’ll yearn for the day when you can visit all of the natural wonders he describes for yourself, and with new eyes. Vermont Stranger in the Kingdom by Frank Mosher It’s a real treat to get lost in fictional Kingdom County, Vermont, in this tale that centers around a small town, a murder, and life in New England. Dealing with difficult themes like racism, Mosher manages to weave in humor and moral lessons without being preachy. Virginia The Jezebel Remedy by Martin Clark What happens when a married couple who are partners in law in a small Virginia town encounter a mysterious death of their most eccentric clients will leave you surprised at each twist and turn. One of my first quarantine reads last spring, it’s a veritable page-turner and welcome distraction from the relentless news cycle. Washington Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (Spoiler alert!) The last line of this courtroom drama regarding a case of a drowned fisherman on remote San Piedro Island was well worth slogging through the entire book for me: “Accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart.” West Virginia Last Mountain Dancer: Hard-Earned Lessons in Love, Loss, and Honky-Tonk Outlaw Life by Chuck Kinder This Goodreads review just about summed it up: “At turns uproariously funny and break-my-goddamn-heart sad, Last Mountain Dancer started off good and ended even better, set in a world where Hank Williams occupies the same spiritual space as the ubiquitous Jaaaaaysus.” Suffice to say, I’m looking forward to the day when I get to visit these country roads for myself. Wisconsin Population: 485 — Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time by Michael Perry I’ve visited my fair share small towns in Wisconsin like outdoorsy Door County’s fly-speck gem, Sister Bay, and Elkhorn to see the Dave Matthews Band play the much-hyped amphitheater that is Alpine Valley, but I’ve never ventured to one quite like Perry’s hometown of New Auburn, rendered beautifully in this unforgettable memoir. Wyoming Wrapped and Strapped by Lorelei James I like Harlequin romance novels, so shoot me. Hippie vegetarian meets hunky cattle farmer in a raunchy stint at the ole Split Rock Ranch and Resort in this “Blacktop Cowboys” series mass market paperback hit. Now I definitely want to visit Wyoming for the, um, scenery.

    Road Trips

    The ultimate New England fall foliage road trip

    Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice. Trip length: 5–7 days; 424 miles (682km)Best time to go: Late September to mid-OctoberEssential photo: Kent Falls set against a backdrop of autumnal colorsTop experience: Ziplining through the tree canopy in Bretton Woods The brilliance of fall in New England is legendary. Scarlet and sugar maples, ash, birch, beech, dogwood, tulip tree, oak and sassafras all contribute to the carnival of autumn color. But this trip is about much more than just flora and fauna: the harvest spirit makes for family outings to pick-your-own farms, leisurely walks along dappled trails, and tables groaning beneath delicious seasonal produce. Lake Candlewood is the perfect place to start a New England fall foliage road trip © Alan Copson / Getty Images1. Lake Candlewood With a surface area of 8.4 sq miles, Candlewood is the largest lake in Connecticut. On the western shore, the Squantz Pond State Park is popular with leaf-peepers, who come to amble the pretty shoreline. In Brookfield and Sherman, quiet vineyards with acres of gnarled grapevines line the hillsides. Visitors can tour the award-winning DiGrazia Vineyards or opt for something more intimate at White Silo Farm Winery, where the focus is on specialty wines made from farm-grown fruit. For the ultimate bird’s eye view of the foliage, consider a late-afternoon hot-air-balloon ride with GONE Ballooning in nearby Southbury. The drive: From Danbury, at the southern tip of the lake, you have a choice of heading north via US 7, taking in Brookfield and New Milford (or trailing the scenic eastern shoreline along Candlewood Lake Rd S); or heading north along CT 37 and CT 39 via New Fairfield, Squantz Pond and Sherman, before reconnecting with US 7 to Kent. The Litchfield Hills of Connecticut have possibly the best fall colors in the world © DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images2. Kent Kent has previously been voted the spot in all of New England (yes, even beating Vermont) for fall foliage viewing. Situated prettily in the Litchfield Hills on the banks of the Housatonic River, it is surrounded by dense woodlands. For a sweeping view of them, hike up Cobble Mountain in Macedonia Brook State Park, a wooded oasis 2 miles north of town. The steep climb to the rocky ridge affords panoramic views of the foliage against a backdrop of the Taconic and Catskill mountain ranges. The 2175-mile Georgiato-Maine Appalachian National Scenic Trail also runs through Kent and up to Salisbury on the Massachusetts border. Unlike much of the trail, the Kent section offers a mostly flat 5-mile river walk alongside the Housatonic, the longest river walk along the entire length of the trail. The trailhead is accessed on River Rd, off CT 341. The drive: The 15-mile drive from Kent to Housatonic Meadows State Park along US 7 is one of the most scenic drives in Connecticut. The single-lane road dips and weaves between thick forests, past Kent Falls State Park (currently closed due to COVID-19) with its tumbling waterfall (visible from the road), and through West Cornwall’s picturesque covered bridge, which spans the Housatonic River. The picturesque covered bridge in West Cornwall, Connecticut © Jeff Hunter / Getty Images3. Housatonic Meadows State Park During the spring thaw, the churning waters of the Housatonic challenge kayakers and canoeists. By summer, the scenic waterway transforms into a lazy, flat river perfect for fly-fishing. In the Housatonic Meadows State Park, campers vie for a spot on the banks of the river while hikers take to the hills on the Appalachian Trail. Housatonic River Outfitters runs guided fishing trips with gourmet picnics. Popular with artists and photographers, one of the most photographed fall scenes is the Cornwall Bridge (West Cornwall), an antique covered bridge that stretches across the broad river, framed by vibrantly colored foliage. In the nearby town of Goshen is Nodine’s Smokehouse, a major supplier of smoked meats to New York gourmet food stores. The drive: Continue north along US 7 toward the Massachusetts border and Great Barrington. After a few miles you leave the forested slopes of the park behind you and enter expansive rolling countryside dotted with large red-and-white barns. Look out for hand-painted signs advertising farm produce and consider stopping overnight in Falls Village, which has an excellent B&B. The Berkshires turn crimson and gold, making for a spectacular fall, in the hills of Massacusetts © DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images4. Berkshires Blanketing the westernmost part of Massachusetts, the rounded mountains of the Berkshires turn crimson and gold as early as mid-September. The effective capital of the Berkshires is Great Barrington, a formerly industrial town whose streets are now lined with art galleries and upscale restaurants. It’s the perfect place to pack your picnic or rest your legs before or after a hike in nearby Beartown State Forest. Crisscrossing some 12,000 acres, hiking trails yield spectacular views of wooded hillsides and pretty Benedict Pond, Further north, October Mountain State Forest is the state’s largest tract of green space (16,127 acres), also interwoven with hiking trails. The name – attributed to Herman Melville – gives a good indication of when this park is at its loveliest, with its multicolored tapestry of hemlocks, birches and oaks. The drive: Drive north on US 7, the spine of the Berkshires, cruising through Great Barrington and Stockbridge. In Lee, the highway merges with scenic US 20, from where you can access October Mountain. Continue 16 miles north through Lenox and Pittsfield to Lanesborough. Turn right on N Main St and follow the signs to the park entrance. Driving to the summit of Mt Greylock in autumn is a sensory overload © PM 10 / Getty Images5. Mt Greylock State Forest Massachusetts’ highest peak is not so high, at 3491ft, but a climb up the 92ft-high War Veterans Memorial Tower rewards you with a forested panorama stretching up to 100 miles, across the Taconic, Housatonic and Catskill ranges, and over five states. Even if the weather seems drab from the foot, driving up to the summit may well lift you above the gray blanket, and the view with a layer of cloud floating between tree line and sky is simply magical. Mt Greylock State Reservation has some 45 miles of hiking trails, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Frequent trail pull-offs on the road up – including some that lead to waterfalls – make it easy to get at least a little hike in before reaching the top of Mt Greylock. The drive: Return to US 7 and continue north through the quintessential college town of Williamstown. Cross the Vermont border and continue north through the historic village of Bennington. Just north of Bennington, turn left on Rte 7A and continue north to Manchester. Manchester's architecture looks even better shrouded in fall colors © DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images6. Manchester Stylish Manchester is known for its magnificent New England architecture. For fall foliage views, head south of the center to 3828ft-high Mt Equinox, the highest mountain accessible by car in the Taconic Range. Wind up the 5.2 miles – with gasp-inducing scenery at every hairpin turn – seemingly to the top of the world, where the 360-degree panorama unfolds, offering views of the Adirondacks, the lush Battenkill Valley and Montréal’s Mt Royal. If early snow makes Mt Equinox inaccessible, visit 412-acre Hildene, a Georgian Revival mansion that was once home to the Lincoln family. It’s filled with presidential memorabilia and sits nestled at the edge of the Green Mountains, with access to 8 miles of wooded walking trails. The drive: Take US 7 north to Burlington. Three miles past Middlebury in New Haven, stop off at Lincoln Peak Vineyard for wine tasting or a picnic lunch on the wraparound porch. Go out on Lake Champlain for a leaf-peeping adventure and you might run into a mythical sea creature © Larry Gerbrandt / Getty Images7. Lake Champlain With a surface area of 490 sq miles, straddling New York, Vermont and Quebec, Lake Champlain is the largest freshwater lake in the US after the Great Lakes. On its northeastern side, Burlington is a gorgeous base to enjoy the lake. Explore it by foot on our walking tour. Then scoot down to the wooden promenade, take a swing on the fourperson rocking benches and consider a bike ride along the 7.5-mile lakeside bike path. For the best off-shore foliage views we love the Friend Ship sailboat at Whistling Man Schooner Company, a 43ft sloop that accommodates a mere 13 passengers. Next door, ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center explores the history and ecosystem of the lake, including a famous snapshot of Champ, Lake Champlain’s mythical sea creature. The drive: Take I-89 southeast to Montpelier passing Camels Hump State Park and CC Putnam State Forest. At Montpelier, pick up US2 heading east to St Johnsbury, where you can hop on I-91 south to I-93 south. Just after Littleton, take US 302 east to Bretton Woods. The Bretton Woods have leaf-peeping as well as high adventure just waiting to be explored © thrmylens / Getty Images8. Bretton Woods Unbuckle your seat belts and step away from the car. You’re not just peeping at leaves today, you’re swooping past them on zip lines that drop 1000ft at 30mph. The four-season Bretton Woods Canopy Tour includes a hike through the woods, a stroll over sky bridges and a swoosh down 10 cables to tree platforms. If this leaves you craving even higher views, cross US 302 and drive 6 miles on Base Rd to the coal-burning, steam-powered Mount Washington Cog Railway at the western base of Mt Washington, the highest peak in New England. This historic railway has been hauling sightseers to the mountain’s 6288ft summit since 1869. The drive: Continue driving east on US 302, a route that parallels the Saco River and the Conway Scenic Railroad, traversing Crawford Notch State Park. At the junction of NH 16 and US 302, continue east on US 302 into North Conway. Wrap up your fall foliage road trip in North Conway, a scenic finale © Nils Winkelmann / EyeEm / Getty Images9. North Conway Many of the best restaurants, pubs and inns in North Conway come with expansive views of the nearby mountains, making it an ideal place to wrap up a fall foliage road trip. If you’re traveling with kids or you skipped the cog railway ride up Mt Washington, consider an excursion on the antique Valley Train with the Conway Scenic Railroad; it’s a short but sweet roundtrip ride through the Mt Washington Valley from North Conway to Conway, 11 miles south. The Moat Mountains and the Saco River will be your scenic backdrop. First-class seats are usually in a restored Pullman observation car.

    Budget Travel Lists

    10 Delicious Food Factory Tours

    You probably spotted Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Snyder's Pretzels, and Tabasco Sauce on your last stroll through a supermarket. They're universally available products, but did you know that in most cases, each is made in one single production facility? From Connecticut to California, iconic food companies offer tours of their factories to give you an up-close look at how they're made. 1. Ben & Jerry's: Waterbury, Vermont For ice-cream fiends and casual consumers alike, a visit to the Ben & Jerry’s production facility in Vermont is a veritable pilgrimage. The factory typically cranks out its dairy delights on a daily basis, but guided tours run regardless of whether or not ice cream is being made—and yes, you’ll get to sample the wares either way. Afterwards, stop by the gift shop for some swag, order a full-size cone at the scoop shop, and pay your respects to pints of yesteryear at the Flavor Graveyard. If that’s not enough, go for the VIP Flavor Fanatic Experience, a hands-on affair that includes a tour, time in the lab where you’ll help create a flavor, and a tie-dyed lab coat of your very own. 30-minute guided factory tours run seven days a week, with varied hours depending on the season and tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis. Adults ages 13-59, $4; seniors 60 and up, $3; kids under 12, free. Flavor Fanatic Experience, $175 per person. benjerry.com 2: Snyder Pretzels: Hanover, Pennsylvania German and Swiss German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania in the 18th century, and their culinary traditions still remain. There’s the Yuengling brewery, for one, the oldest brewery in the country. And then there are pretzels. Pennsylvania produces about 80% of pretzels sold in America and perhaps no company is better known than Snyder’s of Hanover, which opened in 1909 and still uses some of the original recipes. In addition to a crash course in the early commerce of Pennsylvania, a visit to the factory provides a peek at how the pretzels are made, with at look at the raw materials, the historic ovens where they bake massive amounts of the twists each day, and the elaborate packing system. Head off with a free bag of the snack and you’ll never look at a vending machine the same way again. Free 30 minutes tours offered at 10:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:00p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; reservations required. snydersofhanover.com. 3. Jelly Belly: Fairfield, California From birthday cake to dirty dishwater, toasted marshmallow to stinkbug, Jelly Belly is known for its out-there flavors, and if you’ve ever wondered how those mind-boggling combinations came to be, a visit to Fairfield is in order. Self-guided tours overlooking the factory are available every day, but to see it in full swing, visit on a weekday, when the quarter-mile floor is in operation. High-def videos, interactive games and exhibits, and free samples round out the experience; there’s even a jelly-bean art gallery on the premises, and a café serving bean-shaped pizzas and burgers. For a more in-depth look at the candy-making experience, enroll in Jelly Belly University, which will get you down on the factory floor for a guided tour. The factory runs Monday through Friday, but free self-guided tours are available every day from 9:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. JBU tour, $59 per person; reservations required. jellybelly.com 4. PEZ: Orange, Connecticut This iconic sweet started in 1927 as a small peppermint-candy operation in Austria (“PEZ” is actually an abbreviation of “pffefferminz,” the German word for peppermint), and it's become a global phenomenon that continues to intrigue. Fun fact: In 1993, the first pop-culture auction at Christie’s featured old dispensers. Trivia like that abounds at the PEZ factory’s visitor center in Orange, Connecticut. There are interactive exhibits and, of course, the largest collection of Pez dispensers on Earth, including many vintage items. The museum-like display overlooks the packaging production area, and “in-depth candy demonstrations” wrap up with samples of freshly made sweets. Visitors Center open 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Adults $4; $3 kids 3-6; free under 3. Demos are offered daily at 1:15 PM, 2:15PM, 2:45PM, and 3:15PM and cost $3. us.pez.com 5. Tabasco Sauce: Avery Island, Louisiana On bucolic Avery Island, about 140 miles west of New Orleans, there are vast expanses of sustainable hot-pepper fields, an oak-tree jungle, and the fifth-generation family-run factory that annually turns out enough "Cajun ketchup" to reap $200 million in worldwide sales. A visit here offers more than a look at the production facility. The 10-stop self-guided tour gets you access to the museum, which tells the story of the iconic condiment, beginning in 1868 when Edmund McIlhenny created a pepper sauce to jazz up the lackluster fare of the Reconstruction South, as well as the greenhouse, the mash house (where you’re offered a face mask because of the stinging pepper heat in the air), the blending and production facility, the barrel warehouse, a conservatory, and more. Wrap up the day with dinner at Tabasco Restaurant 1868 and a shopping spree at the country store. Self-guided tours offered daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tickets $5.50. tabasco.com/visit-avery-island/ 6. Celestial Seasonings: Boulder, Colorado The Celestial Seasonings production plant in Boulder is situated on Sleepytime Drive, but a visit here is nothing less than invigorating. Free, daily 45-minute tours give you a close-up look at the process of tea making—cleaning, cutting, sifting, blending, and packaging the herbs, spices, and tea leaves that are shipped all over the world to make 1.6 billion (yes, billion) cups of tea each year. You’ll also visit the sampling bar, where the list includes 100 kinds of tea. Should you need fortification before you get on your way, check out the Celestial Café, which offers an extensive salad bar and lots of grilled items. It’s adorned with original paintings of the images you'll recognize from the packaging, some of which you’ll also find on the memorabilia in the adorable shop. Free tours run every hour on the hour from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. celestialseasonings.com/visit-us 7. Taza Chocolate: Somerville, Massachusetts The hand-carved granite millstone takes center stage at the tour of the Taza Chocolate factory, a small but mighty facility just outside Boston. You'll learn that the primitive-looking contraption grounds the cacao beans to make the brand's signature chocolate discs, a uniquely gritty, tasty treat that pays tribute to the way chocolate was originally made. Expert guides will explain the fair-trade philosophies that dictate how ingredients are sourced, and needless to say, the tour includes a tasting. The chocolate-grinding room is on view from the shop. As to be expected from a chocolate factory, a visit here is particularly kid-friendly, with activities like Cacoa Scouts Bingo and Chocolate Story Time offered on the weekends. All that's missing is Charlie, Grandpa Joe, and Willie Wonka. Intro to Stone Ground Chocolate tour runs Tuesday through Sunday at 2:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. $8 per person; reservations required. Cacao Scouts Bingo is $6; Story Time is free. tazachocolate.com 8. Holualoa Kona Coffee Company: Holualoa, Hawaii What's not to love about fresh roasted coffee and beautiful island environs? At the heart of the Big Island’s Kona coffee belt is the Holualoa Kona Coffee Company, perched on a hilltop overlooking the coast and producing organically farmed java, milled and roasted on site. Tours are self-guided, so caffeine connoisseurs can wander through the orchards at their own pace (no herbicides or pesticides are used on the grounds, and only organic fertilizers, so you can linger without any chemical concerns). Be sure to check out the mill, then visit the packing room and gift shop to sip a free cup of joe and pick up a bag or two of beans to take home as a souvenir. Free self-guided tours run Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. konalea.com 9. Tillamook Creamery: Tillamook, Oregon Tillamook, Oregon's largest tourist attraction, makes cheese, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream, and butter for a daily audience of 10,000-some visitors annually. Now, after a major architectural upgrade, the main production facility boasts sleek wood-and-steel digs sprawling across 42,800 square feet, a dining area with outdoor seating, a new menu created by Portland chef Sarah Schafer, an augmented ice cream counter serving up Tillamook flavors, a new coffee and yogurt bar, a shop, and most importantly, an upgraded perspective on the production and packaging operations. Take a look at how the cheese gets made, spend a little time with the farm exhibit and learn about the cows (and technology) behind the dairy-making magic, and taste as many samples as you can handle. Try the cheese curds before you leave—this is the only place you’ll find ‘em. The creamery is open daily for free self-guided from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., early November to mid-June, and 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. the rest of the year. tillamook.com 10. The Great American Popcorn Company, Galena, Illinois The family-owned Great American Popcorn company produces over 150 flavors of popcorn, from sweet options like caramel pecan and cinnamon toast, to savory flavors like jalapeno pepper and zesty ranch, all made with non-GMO corn. As you’d imagine, the facility, a simple storefront located downtown Galena, a quaint small town about 160 miles west of Chicago, is a far cry from the movie theater concession counter. Sensory overload awaits as you at the compact shop, where you can watch the makers at work at the cooking and coating machines then fill wood barrel after wood barrel of the stuff. And yes, they'll give you fresh, warm samples of whatever flavor they're making. A visit here also provides a history lesson in the snack food and a scientific tutorial in how it pops. Don’t leave before you gather some treats to bring home. About 30 flavors are sold at the gift shop on any given day. The popcorn is made in the store, which is open 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. greatpopcorn.com

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    South Dakota: Presidents, Tumbleweeds, and Brontoburgers

    Day 1: Rapid City to Badlands Pre-trip research showed that the region has something for everyone, from wholesome families to thrillseeking bikers. Shawnda and I fall somewhere in between. Friends since high school, we now live on separate coasts and meet up once a year for a generally silly road trip. After arriving at the Rapid City airport, we drive 50 miles east to Wall Drug. It became well-known for the barrage of signs you pass on the approach, and now the glorified gift shop is famous because it's famous. I prefer my kitsch organic, not preprocessed; we make the best of it, posing atop a giant jackalope, laughing at the coin-operated diorama of dancing rabbits (one's arm has fallen off, another's arm is dangling by a mere thread), and watching kids get all atwitter as the animatronic T. Rex growls. Continuing east through Buffalo Gap National Grassland, we stop to admire a never-ending meadow of yellow flowers. What keeps us loitering there, though, is the deep silence. Badlands is Shawnda's kind of national park. You can hike, but you can also just pull over at a viewpoint, walk 50 yards, and snap a photo. The Badlands is my kind of national park, too, if for different reasons. It's gorgeous, but not in a standard way, with weird, desolate spires rising out of the prairie floor. The rock in the spires is composed of multicolored layers, and the colors change with the light. We check in at Cedar Pass Lodge, a collection of 22 cute, basic cabins on the park border. While Shawnda takes a nap, a thunderstorm blows in. The atmosphere turns primal. A curtain of black clouds draws across the sky, and lightning streaks on the horizon. I walk behind our cabin, dodging the tumbleweeds whizzing by. Even more tumbleweeds, driven by the wind, are forced up and over the back side of one of the spires. It looks like lava erupting from a volcano. The other research I did was to get restaurant recommendations from M.J. Adams, owner/chef of The Corn Exchange in Rapid City (which I'd read about in Gourmet). Near Badlands, she suggested Circle 10, off I-90, not far from a 15-foot prairie dog statue. We have salads with dried cherries, blue cheese, and walnuts, then BLTs on homemade English muffin bread. The people who own Circle 10 are very sweet, but Shawnda still wants to steal their pet mutt. At 10 p.m., we go on the Night Prowl. A Badlands ranger leads a group of about 30 on a 400-yard walk into the park, past some of the rocks. The goal is to look at the stars. We lie on the ground, while the ranger sermonizes about light pollution. We don't learn a whole lot, but just being outside at night, away from civilization, is a highlight of our road trip. Lodging Cedar Pass Lodge20681 Hwy. 240, Interior, 605/433-5460, cedarpasslodge.com, cabins from $65 Food Circle 10I-90, exit 131, Philip, 605/433-5451, BLT $6.50 Activities Wall Drug510 Main St., Wall, 605/279-2175, walldrug.com Badlands National Park605/433-5361, nps.gov/badl, $15 per car per week Day 2: Badlands to Custer The drive out of Badlands, along Route 44, is one of the most sublime Shawnda and I have taken. We generally rent convertibles, and we worried that it'd be too hot to go topless in July. But the weather stays bearable, and the sky is breathtaking: white at the horizon, turning bluer and bluer as you look up, until it peaks somewhere between cornflower and royal. We hightail it, as we're booked for the 1 p.m. Candlelight Tour at Wind Cave National Park. I've sworn off caves, having found them indistinguishable. But the Candlelight Tour goes to parts of Wind Cave not accessible on other tours, and you carry "candle buckets"--metal pails rigged so you hold them on their sides, with candles inside--just like 19th-century settlers did. Besides, the cave interior is 53 degrees year-round, and the day is really heating up. The 10 of us--11 if you count our guide, Michael--ride an elevator down 190 feet, then trudge single file through a lighted area. After about 15 minutes, Michael lights our candles and we head off into the dark. Candle buckets let you direct the light laterally, but not up or down, so you don't know how low the ceiling is or how bumpy the ground. I spend the two-hour tour in a perpetual stoop. There's a lot of interesting geology--grid-like formations called boxwork, nubby "popcorn," which looks like it sounds, and delicate crystals known as frostwork. We stop in a nook named Pearly Gates, and sit on ledges. Michael, who is highly earnest and from Malta, which makes for an entertaining combination, slowly scans the room. "Do you want to experience something . . . different?" he says, and Shawnda begins to giggle uncontrollably. He tells us to blow out our candles. In total darkness, your eyes try to adjust, but they can't--so you give in, and it stops mattering if your eyes are open or shut. The only food at Wind Cave is sold in vending machines, and when we surface we're starving. I'm excited to go to Flintstones Bedrock City, a campground in Custer with exhibits and photo ops, where you can actually order a Brontoburger. But the place is lame, in a word, and we head to Hill City, where we prepare to get an Old West photograph taken. The young women at Looking Back Photo (now closed) decide that I should be a "rugged cowboy" and Shawnda a "saloon girl." Let's just say that her credentials are more impressive than mine. When we call that afternoon, Sage Creek Grille, another M.J. favorite, says we don't need to reserve. But we arrive to find there's no room. We sulk our way over to Pizza Works (now closed), where we sit outside and peer up at the glowing Custer sign atop the hill. For dessert, we split a satisfying piece of blueberry pie at Reetz's, also known as the Purple Pie Place because, well, it's hard to miss. Lodging Comfort Inn & Suites301 W. Mt. Rushmore Rd., Custer, 605/673-3221, choicehotels.com, from $133 Food Sage Creek Grille611 Mt. Rushmore Rd., Custer, 605/673-2424, dinner entrées from $18 Purple Pie Place,19 Mt. Rushmore Rd., Custer, 605/673-4070, $3 Activities Wind Cave National Park605/745-4600, nps.gov/wica, Candlelight Tour $9 Flintstones Bedrock CityHwy. 16, Custer, 605/673-4079, $8 Day 3: Custer to Spearfish The Comfort Inn puts out a nice breakfast: Styrofoam cups hold single servings of waffle batter, and there are two waffle irons in the common room. But we can't pass up Chute Roosters, outside Hill City, if only because of the name. The food is forgettable, but the owner's a charmer. Roberta Wilburn, who bought the place in 1998, tells us about the ghost who haunts the building, an old dairy farm. When I try to buy a Chute Rooster mug (it's a rodeo term) she can't find the key to the vitrine, and promises to mail the mug if she ever locates the key. I fear she won't remember, however, as she's quite excited about the Elvis impersonator who'll be stopping by that evening (note: The restaurant is now under new management). And then, Rushmore. It might just be the world's greatest tourist trap--the idea for it came from state historian Doane Robinson, who in 1923 proposed that a monumental carving would draw more visitors to the Black Hills. It was a rare case of a historian actually making history. We're moved by the ambition and the artistry, but Rushmore is a bit of a yawner. Should it be seen? Absolutely. Does it take long? Not so much. We felt the same way about Crazy Horse Memorial, the Native American rejoinder to Rushmore, when we passed it yesterday. The scope is astounding, but we just didn't get much out of it--of course, we also didn't stop. Why pay $10 when we could see it from the road? M.J. raved about a burger in Rochford, a blip of a town, so we take Route 17 out of Hill City. It's unpaved part of the way, and the Black Hills are beautiful. At times, the road runs parallel to the Mickelson Trail; popular with hikers and cyclists, the trail traverses the length of the Black Hills from Edgemont to Deadwood. Moonshine Gulch Saloon, the burger place, is dingy and strange--words that can mean good things to me, but not to Shawnda. The ceiling is covered with business cards (including mine, now), baseball caps, snarky signs, all sorts of things, all coated in dust. We get a kick out of a rock next to our table. Painted on one side: PLEASE TURN ME OVER. Painted on the other: M-M-M THAT FEELS GOOD. The burger isn't bad, but the place freaks Shawnda out--particularly the photos of customers bottle-feeding a fawn next to an 8-by-10 glossy of a hunter holding antlers, the rest of the deer's corpse visible in his truck. She has to work up the nerve to go to the ladies' room. But not only is it fantastically clean, someone has written inspirational graffiti on the walls. It's perhaps the last place one would expect a quotation from Euripides. While my obsession has never been as strong as the one in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I've always longed to see Devils Tower, across the Wyoming state line. (The apostrophe got lost when the government proclaimed it a national monument, and all the bureaucrats in the world can't squeeze it back in.) Shawnda and I are heartened to hear that after climbers discovered that the tower is especially sacred to Native Americans in June, the number of climbers that month has dropped 80 percent. Scrambling over the boulder field at the base is enough climbing for us. We have a good laugh over the names given to the climbing routes ("Old Guys in Lycra"), the exhibit asking visitors to write what Devils Tower means to them ("It gives me the creeps"), and a tasteless T-shirt in a nearby gift shop ("I like it on top"). The parking lot at the Fairfield Inn in Spearfish, S.D., is full of vintage Chevy Impalas, as our visit coincides with a convention. We take our cue from them and have an evening of retro pleasures: a brownie sundae at the Bay Leaf Café and Air Hockey at an arcade, where we rock out to "Thunder Road" on the jukebox. Lodging Fairfield Inn2720 1st Ave. East, Spearfish, 605/642-3500, fairfieldinn.com, from $55 Food Chute Roosters101 Chute Rooster Dr., Hill City, 605/574-2122, breakfast $4 Moonshine Gulch Saloon22635 N. Rochford Rd., Rochford, 605/584-2743, $2.75 Bay Leaf Café126 W. Hudson, Spearfish, 605/642-5462, $5 Activities Mount Rushmore National Memorial Keystone, 605/574-2523, nps.gov/moru, $8 parking fee Crazy Horse MemorialHwy. 16/385, Crazy Horse, 605/673-4681, crazyhorse.org, $10 Devils Tower National Monument307/467-5283, nps.gov/deto, $10 per car Day 4: Spearfish to Rapid City Having spotted the Geographical Center of the U.S.A. on our map, I decide it'd make a fun photo op. We skip the Center's office in Belle Fourche, figuring all we really care about is the actual spot, and drive for 30 miles on a road that has more roadkill than we've ever seen. But there's no sign where the map has a dot, and the big empty nothingness doesn't have the same appeal as it did on Day 1. (Next time, I'll stop at the office.) On the return south, I want to check out another dot--the Government Experimental Farm. It sounds like a locale from The X-Files, and therefore worth investigating. Again, nothing there, except a lot of empty corrals. I try to convince Shawnda that federal scientists have found a way to turn animals invisible; it would certainly explain why cars keep running them over. Being neither bikers nor gamblers, we drive right through Sturgis, home of the big motorcycle rally every August, and Deadwood, an Old West town converted to a gambling destination. We stop for another burger, at Boondocks. It's full of Hollywood memorabilia, and we enjoy watching the bikers roar in. What we need is a challenge, and we find it at the Black Hills Maze. The maze is 1.2 miles of walkways, divided by wooden fences. There are four towers, and each one has an ink stamp with one of the Rushmore faces on it; the goal is to get all four stamps. We need an hour and four minutes to complete the maze, which is a huge victory if only because an hour and a half gets your name posted on the Hall of Shame. Two 9-year-olds solve it in 45 minutes. Built in 1928, Rapid City's Hotel Alex Johnson has neat old bones, though the water pressure and air-conditioning are feeble. It's a relief to be downtown, where we can walk rather than drive. There are statues of presidents on many corners, starting from both ends of American history, more or less (Washington, Bush Sr.); 25 are completed. Shawnda, obsessed with politics, can't resist chatting up the woman at The Presidents Information Center and posing with JFK, whereas I'm entranced by a Pomeranian that's been half-shaved to resemble a tiny buffalo. We've never met M.J., but by this point it feels like she's been in the back seat the whole time. In 1996, she moved from New York to Rapid City, where she opened The Corn Exchange. Her goal was to serve good food, using fresh ingredients. I'm happy to report that her restaurant is delightful. The room feels both sophisticated and homey--with a tin ceiling, hardwood floors, and exposed brick--and M.J. dotes on all her customers, including us. Shawnda and I split everything: a cheese plate, smoked trout on a white corn pancake, entrées of salmon and duck, and a bottle of pinot gris listed on the menu as Mr. Skikkels's favorite. Mr. Skikkels, M.J. informs us, is the cat who lives out back, and I should think he'd like the Belgian chocolate pot de crème even better than the wine. We certainly do. Lodging Hotel Alex Johnson523 Sixth St., Rapid City, 605/342-1210, alexjohnson.com, from $110 Food Boondocks21559 Hwy. 385, Deadwood, 605/578-1186, burger $6 The Corn Exchange727 Main St., Rapid City, 605/343-5070, entrées from $15 Activities Black Hills MazeHwy. 16, Rapid City, 605/343-5439, blackhillsmaze.com, $7 The Presidents Information Center631 Main St., Rapid City, 605/342-7272 Resources Center of the Nation415 5th Ave., Belle Fourche, 605/892-2676 Finding your way The tourist season is mid-May to mid-October, and many establishments hibernate in winter. Despite the northern latitude, summer is broiling, and August thunderstorms can be vicious. The good news: Rapid City has an efficient airport, with rental cars outside. Ours, from Thrifty, had a 150-mile-per-day restriction. We bet we wouldn't need the unlimited mileage upgrade, and were penalized $37 (148 miles over, at 25¢ a mile). We gained some of that back by using the Mt. Rushmore parking pass ($8 value) in the glove compartment. Thrifty says customers often leave theirs for the next driver.

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    Where to Go in 2015!

    Research suggests that 40 percent of American don't take all their vacation days. We're here to change all that! We've rounded up 10 brag-worthy places that are affordable and having their moment in 2015—the year we hope you'll take ALL your vacation days. Not sure which of these 10 amazing destinations is right for you? Take our QUIZ to find out! 1. Northern Italy Best for: Big-city culture and natural beauty Why 2015. If you've always wanted to go to Italy, this is the year to do it. Expo Milano (expo2015.org), a World's Fair event expected to bring in more than 20 million visitors, starts May 1 and runs through Oct. 31. The theme is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life and so far more than 130 countries are participating in this global effort to promote a healthier lifestyle and sustainability worldwide. What to do. There's so much more to Milan than shopping. Stroll the easy-to-navigate streets of Milan's historic city center and visit the Duomo, one of Italy's most spectacular churches—the view from the top is well worth the $15 price of admission. Craving the countryside? Don't miss Lake Como, a beautiful natural haven home to George Clooney and hundreds of tiny picturesque towns like Gravedona, Bellagio, Brunate, and Como that are begging to be explored. For a little adventure along the Italian Riviera, try Portofino, a beautiful seaside resort town just a two-hour drive from Milan—you can also get there by taking the train from Milan to Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, or Genoa and connecting to Portofino by boat, bus, or taxi. Where to stay. Hotels in Milan can be expensive, especially when conventions are going on. For a unique, authentic Italian experience, try staying in a local neighborhood rather than a pricey chain hotel—Airbnb has a number of options all over town starting at just $75 a night for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center. In Como, stay at Hotel Barchetta Excelsior for great views of the lake, the perfect spot to serve as your base for exploring the rest of the area by boat or funicular (hotelbarchetta.it, from $159). Stay at B&B Tre Mari Portofino for beautiful views of the Piazzetta and the Ligurian Sea below (bebtremariportofino.it, from $122). 2. BALI Best for: Dreamy beaches and romance Why 2015. If you've considered this Pacific paradise off-limits financially, this may be your year. Hotel prices on the Island of the Gods—the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia—are down 12 percent, according to the Hotel Price Index. What to do. Take your pick: Relax on a distinctive black-sand beach (the color comes from iron, titanium, and other minerals deposited by Bali's once-active volcanoes), get in the water for world-class surfing and diving (if you're so inclined), explore the island's jungle interior with its volcanoes and 10,000 temples (including the popular hillside temple Pura Luhur Batukau), or just hang by a hotel pool in one of the friendliest, gentlest environments on earth. When you're ready for the Balinese version of a bustling metropolis, Ubud will delight you with its stunning royal palace and traditional market. (And you shouldn't miss a chance to hear the island's unique gamelan music, played primarily on traditional percussion instruments.) Whether you plant yourself on a beach or in the heart of Ubud, remember that you've come to Bali to be soothed into a state of perfect relaxation by the natural beauty and unique music and cultural traditions of this perfect island. Where to stay. The Indigo Tree, in Ubud, is a short distance from the major sites but feels like a comfy cocoon, with coconut trees, a pool whose turquoise hue rivals the ocean's, and lovely views of the island's jungles and rice terraces. Want home-cooked meals served poolside? Just ask (indigotreebali.com, from $70). 3. NASHVILLE Best for: Music and hip neighborhoods Why 2015. The buzz about Nashville has reached a fever pitch for 2015. No longer a sleepy country music mausoleum, the newly hip city has reported 48 straight months of growth. Go now, and you'll be visiting the town at the height of its renaissance—but before everyone else is in on the secret. What to do. Anywhere you wander in Nashville—whether you're ducking into historic Hatch Show Print letterpress shop downtown or waiting for your flight at the airport—you'll hear gorgeous live music wafting out of doorways. Free music is so prevalent in the city that there's an app for finding it: the Nashville Live Music Guide (free on iTunes, Google Play). Cello, guitar, or drum, Nashville is all about that bass: Just ask Music City resident Jack White, of The White Stripes, who built an outpost of his Third Man Records here. The Nashville Symphony wins Grammys, and the Country Music Hall of Fame isn't your grandfather's museum: Upcoming exhibit Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats spotlights the city in the late 1960s/early '70s. Food-wise, fuel up with Nashville's signature hot chicken, cayenne-slathered fried bird proffered by several joints in town. Hattie B's generously provides diners with five heat options, from "no heat" to "burn notice." Where to stay. Hotels in the heart of downtown are difficult to find for cheap, but the brand-new Fairfield Inn & Suites in the Gulch comes close (marriott.com, from $129). Plus, it's within walking distance of Party Fowl, a new chicken restaurant that pours $4 local drafts during happy hour and mixes craft cocktails like Kill the Wabbit. Up for something funky? Hotel Preston, halfway between the airport and downtown, can loan you a pet fish for the night (hotelpreston.com, from $101). 4. GREAT BARRIER REEF Best for: Diving with beautiful coral and tropical fish Why 2015. Flight prices to Cairns have dropped nearly 30 percent, and package deals are down more than 40 percent, according to Expedia. What to do. Get up close and personal with the planet's biggest coral reef system, including more than 1,000 varieties of tropical fish, plus dolphins, reef sharks (totally harmless to divers!), sea turtles, and more. The Great Barrier Reef offers more than 1,400 miles of snorkeling and scuba diving, and you don't have to be an experienced diver to drink it all in. Hop aboard a catamaran or sailing ship from the coastal city of Cairns to the reef, then get as adventurous as you wish—explore in a glass-bottom boat or try snorkeling with the help of experts. Experienced scuba divers can sleep on a boat for several nights (known as a "liveaboard" excursion in these parts) and spend most of their days in the water exploring the depths that snorkelers can't. And don't forget that the nearby Whitsunday Islands offer sugary beaches that rival the underwater spectacle! (For day trips and liveaboard trips from Cairns, visit reeftrip.com. To explore the Whitsunday Islands, including snorkeling and kayaking the reef, visit isailwhitsundays.com.) Where to stay. Cairns is the closest major city to the Great Barrier Reef, and airfares to Cairns from Cali, though always pricey, are as low as they've been in years. In between reef adventures, relax at the Hotel Cairns, which feels like a traditional Queensland plantation, with elegant rooms and some private balconies (thehotelcairns.com, from $97). 5. ISTANBUL Best for: High style and world-class shopping Why 2015. Istanbul was named the world's No. 1 travel destination by TripAdvisor, but paradoxically, hotel prices are falling because of unrest in other parts of the Middle East, according to the Hotel Price Index. What to do. Immerse yourself in the intoxicating environment of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar (a souk that includes dozens of ancient streets and thousands of shops) and you'll realize that there's a whole other level of shopping to aspire to! The city so nice they named it thrice (Constantinople, Byzantium, and now Istanbul) straddles Europe and Asia and is the world's greatest coming-together of Eastern and Western cultures, food, and music. Don't miss the Hagia Sophia, a cathedral-turned-mosque that's now a UNESCO World Heritage site; the iconic minarets of the Blue Mosque; and gorgeous Greek and Roman ruins. Take your pick of cuisines, including Asian fusion and Italian—but to truly savor Turkish food like a local we strongly recommend authentic kebabs and fresh-caught fish. And don't forget to get outside the big city, too: We love the Turkish Riviera on the country's southwestern Mediterranean coast (long popular with Eastern Europeans), and the wild, otherworldly mountains of Cappadocia—where you can hike from village to village filled with structures that were carved out of volcanic rock, or get above it all in a unique hot-air balloon ride! Where to stay. The Ascot Hotel, on Istanbul's Büyükada island, delivers affordable opulence and a resort-like vibe, with crystal chandeliers, private balconies, a beautiful pool, and a Finnish sauna, just a short ferry ride from the city's bustle (ascot.com.tr, from $118). 6. BARCELONA Best for: Food and art Why 2015. Americans finally seem to be flocking to a sweet spot that's long been a great vacation getaway for Europeans: Cataluña (Catalonia), a region in southern Spain that includes trendy cities like Barcelona as well as off-the-beaten-path places like Sitges, Figueres, and Montserrat. Rates are on the rise, but still more affordable here than in other parts of Europe. What to do. Get your Gaudí on by visiting La Sagrada Família, Park Güell, and La Pedrera at Casa Milà—just be sure to book your tickets online ahead of time to avoid being locked out of something you came all the way to Barcelona to see. The options are endless: Stroll La Rambla, get your fill of tapas and sangria, visit La Boqueria market, relax on the beach at Barceloneta, watch the free Magic Fountains of Montjuic light, music, and fountains show, or see a flamenco show at Tablao de Carmen. Viator offers several day trips from Barcelona for those wanting to visit nearby Montserrat Mountain, Sitges, or artist Salvador Dalí's former home in Figueres (viator.com). Where to stay. Use Barcelona as your base for exploring this part of Spain, as most places can easily be done as day trips from the city. Hotel Novotel Barcelona Cornella (novotel.com, from $87) is located midway between downtown and Barcelona-El Prat Airport, but there are lots of other Accor Hotels that offer budget-friendly options throughout the city, and the metro is really easy to navigate. 7. CAMBODIA Best for:  Exotic, spiritual sites like nowhere else Why 2015. It doesn't get more exotic than Cambodia, with its enchanting ruins and intoxicating blend of cultures. The good news is that, according to the Hotel Price Index, hotels in Siem Reap, gateway to the unforgettable Angkor Wat temple complex, are down 10 percent, while hotels in the capital Phnom Penh are down 3 percent. What to do. Angkor Wat, in northern Cambodia, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest religious monument in the world, covering nearly 500,000 acres. With archaeological relics that date back as far as the 9th century and Cambodia's distinctive Khmer architecture on display, Angkor Wat represents Cambodia's Hindu and Buddhist heritage. We suggest you set aside at least three days to take in Angkor Wat's splendor at a relaxed—and respectful—pace that leaves time for peaceful contemplation. Get there via taxi, which will run you about $25. And, yes, you can take an elephant ride around some of the structures for about $10 to $20. Cambodia offers at least two drastic contrasts to Angkor Wat: Spend a few days in Phnom Penh for the unforgettable sights and tastes of the big city, or get way, way, away from it all on Koh Rong, or "Monkey Island," said to be the site of a real-life King Kong and home to one of the most beautiful white-sand beaches in the world. Where to stay. Hanuman Alaya Boutique Residences, Siem Reap, with its traditional Khmer decor, includes an outdoor pool (perfect for a post-temple cooldown!), and on-site spa and Khmer-style restaurant (hanumanalaya.com, from $81). 8. DENVER Best for: Kicking it "Amsterdam style" Why 2015. Denver first made news back in 2013 when Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana; since then, a number of cannabis tours and "420-friendly" hotels have sprung up to accommodate the initial tourism surge. Also worth checking out are Denver's booming brewery and food scenes: Take a free behind-the-scenes tour at The Great Divide Brewing Co. or Breckenridge Brewery, or check out several neighborhood hotspots on the Denver Brews Cruise for $42 per person. Don't miss Denver Restaurant Week Feb. 20 through Mar. 1, where you can score fancy multicourse dinners from $30 per person. What to do. Art lovers can view contemporary masterpieces by Matisse, Picasso, and O'Keeffe at the Denver Art Museum free of charge the first Saturday of the month (tickets are normally $13 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, $5 for ages 6–18). Get back to nature at Denver Botanic Gardens, a beautiful place to visit in every season—be on the lookout for intricate displays by visiting artists like Dale Chihuly ($12.50 for adults, $9 for children ages 3–15). Kids will love the Denver Zoo, which has several free admission days in 2015. Admission is $13 for adults, $9 for children ages 3–11. Where to stay. The Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Denver is located just three blocks from the 16th Street Mall, a 1.5-mile-long pedestrian plaza lined with more than 350 shops, bars, and restaurants—keep an eye out for street fairs and festivals here year-round. Sports fans will love the hotel's proximity to Coors Field, the Pepsi Center, and Sports Authority at Mile High (hamptoninn.hilton.com, from $149). 9. COLOMBIA Best for: Adventure and colorful festivals Why 2015. Vibrant festivals, exotic flora, acclaimed coffee plantations, and diverse terrain from rain forests to Caribbean beaches are all authentically Colombia. Security in large cities has improved in recent years, the U.S. State Department says, and thanks to increased supply, hotel prices in Bogotá are down 11 percent. Go now and use the hashtag #colombianotcolumbia to broadcast your whereabouts: Execs dreamed it up this year to promote a country eager for visitors. What to do. Catch a glimmer of Colombia's mining tradition via pre-Hispanic artifacts at the Gold Museum in Bogotá before snapping a panoramic shot of the metropolis from Mount Monserrate's summit. Crime and cocaine have given Colombia a bad rap that tourism officials want to shake; that said, if the country's gritty history and/or TV's Entourage have piqued your curiosity, Pablo Escobar tours exist in Medellín. For a gentler experience, August's Medellín Flower Fair celebrates the "city of eternal spring" with a silleteros parade—participants carry blooms on their backs. Romance your partner amid bay views from the walled city of Cartagena, then scan its plazas for vendors selling arepas de huevo (fried cornmeal bread with an egg tucked inside). A packed itinerary calls for a swig of caffeine: Colombia's Coffee Triangle, in the rural Paisa region, has UNESCO World Heritage status. Tour a finca (coffee plantation) like Hacienda Venecia in Manizales to see beans go from plant to mug.  Where to stay. Go affordable, isolated, and eco-friendly by living on a coffee farm—Hacienda Venecia's shared-bathroom lodgings start at $35 a night; the Colombian Coffee Cultural Landscape guide has more options (rutasdelpaisajeculturalcafetero.com). In Bogotá, travelers like Hotel Augusta's central location (hotelaugusta.com.co, from $66). Five-star digs are a bargain at Cartagena's La Passion Hotel Boutique, a Spanish Colonial house with a rooftop pool (en.lapassionhotel.com, from $139). 10. EGYPT Best for: History and brag-worthy sights Why 2015. Recovering from political unrest after 2011's ousting of president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt saw its worst tourism numbers in decades in 2013, with hotel occupancy in some cities at zero percent. The country is poised for an uptick in visitors this year, and you can be a part of the recovery by taking advantage of rock-bottom hotel rates, bargains at bazaars, and short lines for legendary antiquities—as long as you take safety precautions. What to do. Float along the Nile in a traditional sailboat called a felucca for a few hours—or a few days. Ask your hotel to book one, or negotiate a rate with a tout at the docks in Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan. Now that you have practice haggling, bargain with vendors at Cairo's Khan Al-Khalili market, a souk stocked with everything from exotic perfumes to toy camels; just be prepared to get the hard sell. Reward yourself with a cup of mint tea at El Fishawy café. Marveling at the Great Pyramids of Giza is a quintessential postcard experience, but indoor exhibits deliver too: The Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo houses artifacts unearthed from King Tutankhamen's tomb, including his iconic blue-and-green-striped burial mask. Have a staring contest with its obsidian and quartz eyes...if the curse doesn't faze you. Where to stay. Major hotel chains like the Marriott, Hilton, Fairmont, Starwood, and Radisson all have outposts in Egypt, many for less than $125 a night. Want an unforgettable vista when you wake up? The American-owned Pyramids View Inn B&B looks out onto the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids (pyramidsviewinn.com, from $30). One reliable way to ensure that you have a safe trip is by booking your vacation through an operator, like Your Egypt Tours (day trips from $20, youregypttours.com). A special note on safety in Egypt: Although there is no current Travel Warning about Egypt in effect, staying alert and practicing good personal security measures is imperative, says a U.S. State Department official on background. Be vigilant in crowded tourist areas, and avoid demonstrations as well as dark isolated areas, especially if you're a woman—female tourists have reported being groped in public places and taxis. Traveling outside of the Cairo metropolitan area can be unsafe, and the northern Sinai area is dangerous. The Egyptian Tourism Authority recommends sticking to cities like Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan for cultural tourism and the beach town Hurghada for watersports. Before you go, read through the U.S. government's Traveler's Checklist (travel.state.gov).

    Adventure

    10 Car-Free Fall Foliage Trips of the Northeast

    1. SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS  What to fall for: No matter what time of year you visit this historic hamlet on the harbor 16 miles north of Boston, the town will cast its spell. Yet when the leaves form a crimson canopy, the pumpkins come out, and Halloween takes hold, there is a haunting chill in the air that well serves the stories of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Soak up the bewitching colors of the season as you explore the Walking Heritage Trail, hunch over the graves of hanged victims, and ride the Tales & Tombstones Trolley (one hour, from $15 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-14, $14 for seniors over 60). Grab a bite at the newly opened Opus restaurant or locavore gastropub Naumkeag Ordinary before visiting Nathaniel Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables, situated conveniently across the street from your accommodations at the Morning Glory Bed & Breakfast, a charming 1808 Georgian Federal house with a rooftop patio (from $170). Peak Season: Mid-October How to get there: From Boston, take the Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail or the Salem Ferry (roundtrip, from $45 for adults, $41 for seniors over 65, $35 for children ages 3-11). The Morning Glory B&B offers free transportation to and from the port and train stations. SEE BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS OF FALL FOLIAGE! 2. BURLINGTON, VERMONT  What to fall for: Without knowing Burlington recently joined a tiny coterie of American cities to be 100% run on renewable energy, you can sense a "green" ethos while walking through the streets that goes beyond being pedestrian-friendly, accessible by train, and the Green Mountain State. You may be here for other hues, like orange, burgundy, and gold, but Burlington's celebration of the environment—found on plates at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill, in pint glasses at Burlington Hearth, and in guestrooms at newcomer Hotel Vermont (from $199)—makes for a more rewarding getaway. Take one of Hotel Vermont's complimentary bikes out for a scenic ride around Lake Champlain or use their suggested guided itinerary for an off the beaten path farm-to-foliage-to-table excursion on two wheels. Peak Season: Mid-October How to get there: Visit Amtrak.com to book your trip. 3. HUDSON VALLEY, NEW YORK  What to fall for: Affordable all-inclusive getaways in luxurious remote destinations don't come along often enough for car-free travelers, which is why this package from Metro-North and the Mohonk Mountain House belongs on your bucket list. Daily meals, transportation, and on-site activities-—including yoga, guided hikes, and tennis-—are part of the deal (worth a splurge from $297 per person per night for all-inclusive amenities) at this 145-year-old Victorian castle nestled on Lake Mohonk. At some point mid-stride in the Shawangunk Mountains, stop a moment to look down at the resort's red rooftops blending in with fall's dramatic backdrop. Peak Season: Mid-late October How to get there: Ride Metro-North from New York City to Poughkeepsie Station. Book your stay two weeks in advance and connect with the hotel for pick-up and drop-off via their free shuttle. 4. PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND  What to fall for: State capitals like Providence are a rare breed. Here, half way between New York City and Boston, the vibe is anything but business and politics. After a long workweek, this has become a place to forget all that. With a sizzling art scene, hip hotels, and James Beard-nominated restaurants opening up, Providence is the Northeast's new cool kid on the block. Wake up to a cup of Bolt Coffee at The Dean Hotel (from $99 for a single room or from $149 for a suite), a former brothel-turned-hotel with elegant rooms, a cocktail lounge, karaoke bar, beer, bratwurst and pretzel hall, and a locally sourced aesthetic. From The Dean, go for a 13-minute stroll past City Hall, across the river-—where WaterFire is celebrating its 20th year-—and over to the Rhode Island School of Design. From there, head up a few paces to Prospect Terrace Park for sweeping views of the city's blazing skyline. Walk east through Brown's beautiful campus, up Thayer Street, and head over to brunch at the Duck & Bunny. Wind down the day at Roger Williams Park Zoo's annual Jack O Lantern Spectacular (happening Oct 1st thru Nov 1st, featuring 5,000 creatively carved pumpkins), then settle in to a creatively carved meal at Birch. Peak Season: Late October How to get there: Take Amtrak's Acela or Northeast Regional trains. Peter Pan Bus and Megabus also service Providence. 5. BRETTON WOODS, NEW HAMPSHIRE  What to fall for: When the mountains start calling this season, bring the flannels and flasks to the Appalachian Mountain Club's Highland Center at Crawford Notch—the oldest, continually maintained hiking trail in the country. Breakfast and dinner are included in your stay, as are the naturalist programs, L.L. Bean gear, waterfalls, and breathtaking summits with panoramic views accessible right outside your door. With non-member rates from $81/pp, this is one of the best budget-friendly glamping adventures in the northeast. Peak Season: Early October How to get there: Through fall, AMC's Hiker Shuttle offers transportation to various major approach routes. The AMC shuttle also picks up in Gorham, NH. If coming from Boston, take Concord Coach Lines to Lincoln, NH, where Shuttle Connection offers van service to the Highland Center. 6. CATSKILLS, NEW YORK  What to fall for: The getaway starts before you even leave home. Where you're going you'll need one bag of groceries (don't forget the s'mores!) in addition to the usual overnight necessities. Tucked away on 70 acres in the Catskill Mountains, this upstate retreat has everything else you'll need, like peace and quiet, your own yurt, your own woods, and your own private planetarium. By day, sitting on your deck at Harmony Hill (from $125 for a yurt, $195 for a mountain chalet), looking out at the leafy spectrum of amber, citrus, and fuschia, you'll get your foliage fix all right. By night, the stars will light up the sky along with your campfire, chopped wood included. Near the yurt—a 314-square-foot heated sanctuary with a bathroom, kitchen, king size bed, four windows, and a dome skylight—there are hiking trails and meadows, and an 11-circuit labyrinth. The charcoal grill may come in handy, but it's advised to let owners Jana Batey and Chris Rosenthal arrange for dinner to be delivered to your picnic table ($50 per person with wine) from neighboring Stone & Thistle Farm. Peak Season: Mid-late October How to get there: Take the Adirondack Trailways bus to Delhi, NY. Call ahead for Harmony Hill to pick you up at the station. 7. ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, MAINE  What to fall for: For a taste of the wild outdoors without leaving civilization, plan a trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. You'll want to linger in your waterfront room at The West Street Hotel (from $129), but this place in the tippy-top corner of the country seems like it was made just for autumn. Acadia National Park will turn you into a morning person; set out onto 45 miles of car-free Carriage Trails with an Acadia Bike ($23 for a day rentals), paddle around the Porcupine Islands in Frenchman Bay with Coastal Kayaking Tours ($49 for half day rentals), and hike some of the 125 miles of trails offering panoramic views of the spectacular season. Peak Season: Mid-October How to get there: Take the Bar Harbor Shuttle ($45 per person, one way) from Bangor, ME. Visit http://exploreacadia.com for more car-free travel options to the area. 8. WASHINGTON, D.C.  What to fall for: DC makes it easy to get over summer. Especially when you're standing atop the recently reopened Washington Monument or at Arlington National Cemetery's Arlington House above the city and its government buildings that never looked so radiant. Whether roaming the capital's free attractions—be it the U.S. National Arboretum, Botanic Garden, Smithsonian's National Zoo, National Mall, Rock Creek Park, or Tidal Basin, or rolling through various neighborhoods like Georgetown and Adams Morgan on the $1 DC Circulator—you'll be thinking this is better than cherry blossoms or the 4th of July. Enjoy free bikes at Hotel Monaco (from $139) or free breakfast at American Guest House (from $184), and make sure to tap into a few autumnal events, including FotoWeekDC (Nov. 7-15) and Taste of DC (Oct. 10-11), while in town. Before turning in—or riding the rails home—be one of the first to have a nightcap at Union Social, a train station themed bar expected to open this fall in the NoMa district.     Peak Season: Mid-late October How to get there: The capital is easily accessible via plane, train, and bus. 9. SOUTHPORT, CONNECTICUT  What to fall for: The journey by train is part of the allure of this Connecticut coast escape. The trip begins without fuss, no traffic jams or getting lost, and carries you into a quaint town tinged with orange leaves and a fair amount of fun for such a small zipcode. Fairfield Restaurant Week (Oct 11-17, from $10 for lunch, $30 for dinner) is on the docket, as is a complimentary welcome bottle of champagne at Delamar Southport, which also includes breakfast for two at on-site Artisan Restaurant (from $289, weekends). After gallery hopping, a hike and picnic in the newly revitalized Southport Park, and a stroll along pristine beaches, walk over to restaurant week participant Gray Goose Café for a delicious organic meal, the only kind of refueling you'll need all weekend. Peak Season: Mid-late October thru early November. How to get there: Take Metro North's New Haven Line to Southport Station. Call the hotel directly to book the package and arrange for transfers to and from the station. 10. NEW HOPE, PENNSYLVANIA  What to fall for: It's been called a hidden gem and Pennsylvania's best kept secret, but for whatever reason Bucks County still ends up being one of those places you say you're going to visit some day but never do. In the heart of town, drop your bags at Olivia's Bridge Street Inn (from $199) and skip over to South Main Street to pick up the Delaware Canal towpath. In a setting like this, you'll feel as though you've never seen the real foliage before. If you only have a short time to explore the canal and take in the sights, rent two wheels at New Hope Cyclery ($10 per hour, lock and helmet included; $25 for a half-day or $35 for a full day rental) or enjoy a two and a half hour "Fall Foliage Train" tour on the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad ($48.95 for adults, $46.95 for children ages 2-11, $8.95 for children under 2) that whooshes across Bucks County on weekends Oct 3rd thru Nov 1st; hop on an enlightening hour rail excursion (from $19.95) in an Open Air Car. Slow things down at Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve ($6 for adults, $4 for students with a valid ID and seniors over 65, $3 for children ages 3-14), home to 800 native PA species, for a relaxing guided walk included in admission. Toast to finally making it to Bucks County over a riverfront feast at The Landing or Martine's. Peak Season: October How to get there: The Transbridge Bus (Doyleston/Frenchtown/Flemington line) goes from Penn Station to New Hope, but it might be better to get off at the Lambertville stop and walk across the bridge (approximately 10 minutes) into town.

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    DESTINATION IN New York

    Long Island

    Long Island is a densely populated island in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, contained within the New York metropolitan area. At New York Harbor, it begins approximately 0.35 miles (0.56 km) east of Manhattan Island and extends eastward over 100 miles (160 km) into the Atlantic Ocean. The island comprises four counties; Kings and Queens counties (the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, respectively) and Nassau County share the western third of the island, while Suffolk County occupies the eastern two thirds. More than half of New York City's residents live on Long Island, in Brooklyn and in Queens. However, people in the New York metropolitan area colloquially use the term Long Island (or the Island) to refer exclusively to Nassau and Suffolk counties, and conversely, employ the term the City to mean Manhattan alone. While the Nassau-plus-Suffolk definition of Long Island does not have any legal existence, it is recognized as a "region" by the state of New York.Broadly speaking, "Long Island" may refer both to the main island and the surrounding outer barrier islands. To its west, Long Island is separated from Manhattan and the Bronx by the East River tidal estuary. North of the island is Long Island Sound, across which lie Westchester County, New York and the state of Connecticut. Across the Block Island Sound to the northeast is the state of Rhode Island. Block Island—which is part of Rhode Island—and numerous smaller islands extend further into the Atlantic. To the extreme southwest, Long Island is separated from Staten Island and the state of New Jersey by Upper New York Bay, the Narrows, and Lower New York Bay. Both the longest and the largest island in the contiguous United States, Long Island extends 118 miles (190 km) eastward from New York Harbor to Montauk Point, with a maximum north-to-south distance of 23 miles (37 km) between Long Island Sound and the Atlantic coast. With a land area of 1,401 square miles (3,630 km2), Long Island is the 11th-largest island in the United States and the 149th-largest island in the world—larger than the 1,214 square miles (3,140 km2) of the smallest U.S. state, Rhode Island.With a census-estimated population of 8,036,232 residents as of the 2020 U.S. Census, constituting 40% of New York State's population, Long Island is the most populated island in any U.S. state or territory, the third-most populous island in the Americas (after only Hispaniola and Cuba), and the 18th-most populous island in the world (ahead of Ireland, Jamaica, and Hokkaidō). Its population density is 5,595.1 inhabitants per square mile (2,160.3/km2). If Long Island geographically constituted an independent metropolitan statistical area, it would rank fourth most populous in the United States; while if it were a U.S. state, Long Island would rank thirteenth in population and first in population density. Long Island is culturally and ethnically diverse, featuring some of the wealthiest and most expensive neighborhoods in the world near the shorelines as well as working-class areas in all four counties. As a hub of commercial aviation, Long Island is home to two of the New York City metropolitan area's three busiest airports, JFK International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, in addition to Islip MacArthur Airport; as well as two major air traffic control radar facilities, the New York TRACON and the New York ARTCC, with the third major airport in the city, the Newark Liberty International Airport, straddling the boundary between the cities of Newark in Essex County and Elizabeth in Union County, New Jersey. Nine bridges and thirteen tunnels (including railroad tunnels) connect Brooklyn and Queens to the three other boroughs of New York City. Ferries connect Suffolk County northward across Long Island Sound to the state of Connecticut. The Long Island Rail Road is the busiest commuter railroad in North America and operates continually. Nassau County high school students often feature prominently as winners of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and similar STEM-based academic awards. Biotechnology companies and scientific research play a significant role in Long Island's economy, including research facilities at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Stony Brook University, New York Institute of Technology, Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, the City University of New York, and Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine.