ADVERTISEMENT
  • Ice Cavern
LeftLeft

    Porter,

    Indiana

    Kenneth Keifer / iStock

    Save up to 50% on Hotels

    Porter County is a county in the U.S. state of Indiana. As of 2010, the population was 164,343. The county seat is Valparaiso. The county is part of Northwest Indiana, as well as the Chicago metropolitan area. Porter County is the site of much of the Indiana Dunes, an area of ecological significance. The Hour Glass Museum in Ogden Dunes documents the region's ecological significance.
    logoFind more things to do, itinerary ideas, updated news and events, and plan your perfect trip to Porter
    ADVERTISEMENT

    Porter Articles

    Inspiration

    Explore Nashville’s musical (and non-musical) murals

    Nashville is known as Music City, but the truth is that the city is home to all sorts of artists. There’s no better way to get up close and personal with the artists of Nashville than the beautiful murals that can be found all across the city. Music City is home to dozens of murals featuring everything from Dolly Parton to dragons. Here’s where to find our favorites!Find your wings Lining up to have your photo taken with the giant wings in Nashville’s Gulch neighborhood is a rite of passage for any bachelorette party. Posing for a photo with this iconic Kelsey Montague mural is such a popular activity that it often has a line. It can be found in The Gulch at 302 11th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203I believe in Nashville After floods inundated the city in 2010, “I believe in Nashville” became the city’s slogan for rebuilding. Find variations of this mural (including a Nashville Predators-themed “I believe in SMASHVILLE”) across the city. The original lies in the 12 South neighborhood at 2700 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37204. Find the Smashville version on Broadway at 501 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203. A third variation, this one with the slogan “I believe in East Nashville,” popped up after tornadoes tore through the neighborhood in March 2020. Find it at 919 Gallatin Avenue, Nashville, TN 37206I believe in Nashville. Photo by Laura Brown Dolly Parton Nobody is more popular in Tennessee than “Saint” Dolly Parton, whose many achievements include sending over 1.3 million books each month to children across the USA through her Imagination Library. You can find a flowery mural with her portrait in East Nashville at 1006 Forrest Avenue, Nashville, TN 37206Tomatoes! East Nashville is known for its summer obsession with tomatoes. Every August, this quirky pocket of Nashville has an entire festival for tomatoes, including freshly painted tomatoes on the streets and tomato-themed gardens across town. Find the biggest tomato mural in East Nashville at 701 Porter Road, Nashville, TN 37206It’s gonna be okay Looking for your next inspiring Instagram shot? Look no further than West End, where “It’s gonna be O.K.” by artist Sarah Tate can be found. The exact location is at 3020 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN 37209. Nashville looks good on you! Nashville looks good on everybody (okay, maybe not as much in the middle of a humid August day, but still!) Show off your Nashville glam look in 12 South at 2509 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37204 The Silo What to do with an old, derelict grain silo? Turn it into art, of course! This amazing mural by Guido Van Helten features a realistic portrait of an older man looking towards the sky. It’s best appreciated when viewed in person and can be found in The Nations at 1407 51st Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37209The Silo in the Nations neighborhood of Nashville has transformed an abandoned silo into a noted landmark. Photo by Laura Brown Guitars everywhere Nashville is built on music, which is the lifeblood of the artist community here. See a celebration of the different kinds of music that have roots here with the guitar mural that can be found downtown at 213 3rd Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37201The Athens of the South Nashville is known as the Athens of the South, thanks to its many universities and the replica of the Parthenon. The beautiful mural by Beau Stanton of a Greek god pouring out a colorful chalice is an homage to this nickname. Find it downtown at 144 5th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37219. Celebrate the legends Pay tribute to the legends of Nashville with a visit to this mural painted on Legend’s Corner on Lower Broadway. The stars depicted change frequently - most recently, Taylor Swift was replaced by Brad Paisley. Can you identify each of the legends on the mural? Find out for yourself at the corner of Broadway and Rep John Lewis Way downtown.The legends mural on Broadway highlight's Nashville's history of producing great musicians. Photo by Laura Brown Spread Love (the Nashville way) Nashville’s artist community is big on love, peace, and inclusion. Nashville also has incredible sunsets. See both married together in the “Spread Love” mural by Anthony Billups, featuring a beautifully painted Nashville skyline at sunset. This mural can be found at 1015 Nelson Merry Street, Nashville, TN 37203. Slay the dragons If you’ve ever needed some motivation to stand up with your sword and slay the dragons that stand in your way, look no further! That’s precisely what this Kim Radford mural is inspiring people to do. Find this mural in East Nashville at 1224 Meridian St, Nashville, TN 37207Little Kurdistan Nashville has the largest Kurdish population in the United States. This gorgeous community mural celebrates the rich and colorful culture of Kurds that have landed in Nashville. You can find the mural (and explore other parts of Kurdish culture) at 364 Elysian Fields Ct.

    Road Trips

    6 road trips stops along the underrated Gulf Coast

    On a recent road trip with my family from Pensacola, Florida, west along Interstate-10 through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, I got a taste of all I’ve been missing out on in the Gulf Coast. I’m pretty sure this stretch of Interstate-10 and the backroads branching off make for the the most underrated road trip in the South. Read on for a six great stops to make during a road trip along the surprising Gulf Coast. ALABAMA Meet sloths and lemurs at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo There is so much to love at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, Alabama, it’s hard to know where to start. Dubbed “The little zoo that could” for how it’s survived three major hurricanes (and now the pandemic, too), this beautiful and largely open-air facility offers phenomenal animal encounters you hardly find everywhere, including the chance to hand-feed sloths for just $19.95 per person (in addition to zoo admission, which is $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for kids ages 3 to 12). Whatever you do, don’t miss the zoo’s butterfly exhibit, featuring a jaw-dropping collection donated by a local resident that’s housed inside a room designed to look like a field research tent. Hundreds of incredible butterflies and moths (some with patterns on their wings that look just like snake heads, to scare off predators) are the stuff of pure wonder. Even if you’re not visiting the zoo itself, you can still have lunch on a spacious deck overlooking the grounds at The Safari Club (no zoo admission required), where a menu of delicious wood-fired pizzas, Gulf Coast seafood and more awaits. For a bike ride through Gulf State Park, Alabama Home to bobcats, bald eagles, alligators, owls and many more animals, Gulf State Park (free admission) has 28 miles of paved trails and boardwalks that are a blast to explore by bicycle. The park even has a free bike share program you can access with your smartphone. And you can rent tandem bikes and trailers for pulling kids along the trails, too, through Beach Bike Rentals in Orange Beach, Alabama (all rentals come with helmet and locks, starting from $25 for the day). When you’re not paddling through the coastal habitats, make time to relax at Gulf State Park’s two miles of white sand beaches and check out the Gulf State Park Campground, one of the best places to put up a tent or pull in with an RV in the state. Shrimp boats at sunset. Credit: Coastal Mississippi. MISSISSIPPI Hang out in the adorable town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi Continuing west along Interstate-10 into Mississippi, plan to spend a night or longer in the adorable coastal town of Ocean Springs, where a stay at the new-in-2020 Beatnik hotel (rooms from $157 per night) is nothing short of revelatory. The property has just four cabins decorated in mid-century boho style, each with a private patio complete an outdoor shower and hammock. There’s a communal plunge pool and fire pit, too, where guess gather for socially-distanced drinks at sunset. Stroll along Front Beach, the town’s small sandy beach, or visit the many outdoor galleries and cafes in Ocean Springs’ compact downtown. The best spot for a delicious and budget-minded breakfast is undoubtedly The Greenhouse on Porter, right next to the Beatnik, with heavenly housemade biscuits slathered with honey butter. Mississippi Aquarium Brand new in August 2020, the Mississippi Aquarium (admission $29.95 per person, $24.95 for kids ages 3 to 12) in Gulfport houses over 200 species of animals and native plants within indoor and outdoor exhibition areas overlooking the Mississippi Sound in downtown Gulfport. Among the many interesting animals you can see here are bottlenose dolphins, cow nose rays, American crocodiles and green-winged doves. Visitors age 10 and older can even get into the water with SeaTREK ($79.95 per person), a two-hour experience during which you don a helmet and enter one of the aquarium’s habitats to see fish, sharks and rays upclose from a perspective that’s similar to a scuba diver’s vantage point. LOUISIANA Go deep into Honey Island Swamp on a bayou tour with Cajun Encounters in Slidell, Louisiana This Florida girl got an education on the difference between the Everglades and freshwater bayou habitats during a fascinating tour by boat into Honey Island Swamp in Louisiana’s St. Tammany Parish with Cajun Encounters (from $57.50 per person, $37.50 for kids ages 3 to 12). We spotted wild boars sloshing around the bald cypress tree-filled bayou (essentially a flooded forest, as the guide explained it), learned all about the mythical bayou swamp monster called Letiche and even visited a floating village that looked like something straight from a Swamp People episode. Private and group tours are available. Take a family-friendly hike with Canoe and Trail Adventures in Covington, Louisiana Prefer to stay on dry land when exploring the bayou? A Louisiana Master Naturalist is your guide during hikes that can be as easy or adventurous as you like with Canoe and Trail Adventures in Covington, Louisiana (the company also offers paddling tours and canoe and kayak rentals). I loved exploring trails maintained by local Boy Scouts troops at Northlake Nature Center with our guide, Chad Almquist, who showed my kids how to scoop up crawfish and tiny minnows using nets in the shallow bayou waters. Our hike led us along boardwalks and trails through wetlands and hardwood forests where we scouted for salamanders under rocks and spotted native birds (private tours from $49 per person).

    Budget Travel Lists

    7 Things to Do in Staten Island, New York

    (Ymgerman/Dreamstime) Staten Island is commonly referred to as New York's "overlooked" borough, often drawing visitors who are primarily interested in the scenic free ferry ride, which departs every 30 minutes from the ferry terminal in lower Manhattan and provides superior photo opportunities of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. We, however, see it more as a local gem, a bastion of incredible Sri Lankan food, which is hard to come by in the other boroughs, small cultural centers and museums, and more green space than anywhere else in New York City. We rounded up a few things to do when you spend a day on this urban island. 1. A Warm Welcome (Manon Ringuette/Dreamstime) Like so many other places in New York City, St. George, the neighborhood that starts at the ferry terminal, is in the throes of a massive building boom. The core of the project is Empire Outlets, a sweeping mall with many familiar designer stores. With its direct sightline to the Financial District, the terminal area is also the site of Postcards (pictured above), a poignant 9/11 memorial that was completed in 2004. The names of 263 Staten Islanders who were killed in the 9/11 attack and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing are marked on individual profile silhouettes built into the flat white freestanding cement walls that stretch into the sky, designed to look like postcards blowing in the wind, carrying messages to loved ones. An adjacent memorial pays tribute to the 73 local first responders who died in the aftermath. The ferry terminal is an easy walk to the waterfront Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the Staten Island Yankees, the New York Yankees’ minor league team. Tickets to games where you just might spot tomorrow’s MVP start around $12, view of the Manhattan skyline included. 2. Sri Lankan Nation Marked by a mural of majestic elephants along the side of the building, Lakruwana, a Sri Lankan restaurant (lakruwana.com) about a mile from the ferry terminal (a lovely waterside walk) feels like it was transplanted from the Sri Lankan countryside. And in a way, it is. Owner and expat Lakruwana Wijesinghe went to his homeland to buy nearly everything to design the restaurant, from the bamboo-and-stone-wall panels to the ornate wood door and Buddha statues, not to mention the clay pots and water cups. Lakruwana met his wife, Jayantha, on the Staten Island ferry and they run the business together: He oversees the front of the house and she helms the kitchen, turning out dishes defined by curry paste, mustard seed, ginger, coriander, and cumin. Weekend brunch is a buffet that presents a spectrum of flavors and heat. Regardless of what day you visit, though, order the signature lampreis from the menu. This banana-leaf-wrapped mixture of curried rice, eggplant, bananas, and soft cashews is so aromatic that the smell will linger in your mind for days. Lakruwana is one of several Sri Lankan restaurants on Staten Island, which is home to about 5,000 Sri Lankans, the largest population outside the South Asian country. There are more eateries nearby, sitting alongside markets that sell coconut vinegar, banana blossoms and other imported goods. There's also the Sri Lankan Arts & Cultural Museum (srilankanmuseny.org), a compact space down the street from Lakruwana showcasing masks, furniture, statues, and more, founded and run by the Wijesinghes' daughter. The community as a whole is so distinctive that Anthony Bourdain delved into it on his show No Reservations. 3. See a Show in a Historic Theater (or Just Take a Tour) In 1929, as Herbert Hoover moved into the White House, Popeye made his comic strip debut, Ernest Hemingway published A Farewell to Arms, and Picasso and Dali were painting their masterpieces. Despite the devastating stock-market crash, it was a big year for the arts, and New York was no exception. Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art opened to the public, and further south across the water, the St. George Theatre (stgeorgetheatre.com) became a glamorous destination with an ornate interior and domed ceiling, designed by Nestor Castro, who was responsible for the interiors of many Times Square theaters. Films and live vaudeville shows drew crowds until Vaudeville fell out of fashion, but it remained a movie house through the 1970s, when it ultimately fell into disrepair. After a local initiative, however, it was restored to its over-the-top baroque glory, complete with velvet seats, a stained-glass chandelier, tiled fountains, and much more. It reopened in 2004, and today it hosts first-run movies, art films, and national touring acts. Everyone from Diana Ross to Lee Ann Womack to the Jonas Brothers have graced the stage. Tours of this architectural tour de force are available by appointment. 4. Staten Island Beer Takes the Spotlight These days it seems like it’s hard to go more than a few miles in any given urban landscape without coming across a brewery, and Staten Island is no exception. Flagship Brewing Company (flagshipbrewery.nyc), for one, offers $5 brewery tours on Saturdays,tasting flight included, and the taproom is open Tuesdays through Sundays. With barrels holding up the bar, communal tables, and a taxidermied deer watching the scene like a sentinel, its warm vibe is hard to resist. In 2017, a group of homebrewers opened Kills Boro Brewing Co. (killsboro.com) in the back of Craft House, a barbecue restaurant that was already known for its extensive craft-beer menu. Since its launch, Kills Boro has made a name for itself with creative beers, like Midnight Snack, an oatmeal porter conditioned on toasted coconut, and the Gimme Gimme Kiwi Strawberry, a sour ale with kiwi, strawberry, and vanilla beans. A broad window affords guests a view of the grand copper kettles and the brewing process in action. 5. Explore the Parks of the "Greenest Borough" (Tanyabird777/Dreamstime) Staten Island has more green space than any other borough in New York, with 9,300 acres of federal, state, and city parkland. Running and biking trails, tranquil ponds, playgrounds, promenades, meadows, beaches, and even a historic fort can be found throughout. The roster is too extensive to list, but if you only have a day, your best bet is to hit Snug Harbor Cultural Center (snug-harbor.org), which was founded in 1831 when a Manhattan hospital for aged Marines relocated here. Today, the 83-acre park is home to five landmark Greek Revival buildings that house galleries featuring modern and historical art exhibits, as well as the Staten Island Children’s Museum and the lush Staten Island Botanical Garden. As further proof of why Staten Island is referred to as the greenest borough, consider Snug Harbor’s 2.5-acre heirloom heritage farm, which supplies high-end Manhattan restaurants like Per Se and sells its bounty to locals at a weekly seasonal farm stand. 6. To the Lighthouse Before digital navigation tools were the norm, the Lighthouse Depot Administrative Building was the center of operations for American lighthouses and headquarters for equipment and supplies. The circa-1869 building, located by the St. George Ferry Terminal, is now home to the National Lighthouse Museum (lighthousemuseum.org), where displays detail the history of these architectural marvels and the key players in along the way, including George Washington, who signed an act that put lighthouses under federal control. Don’t miss the tremendous glass-egg-like light-reflective lens that lighthouse keepers needed to clean constantly. While light bulbs and LED lights play a big role in guiding boats in modern times, these feats of physics are still in use today. 7. Visit a Treasure Trove of Himalayan Art From the front, the modest house that sits at the top of Lighthouse Hill overlooking Staten Island’s north shore doesn’t look like much. There’s a stone wall that extends around the property. Its simple appearance belies the rich story of its beginnings. Jacques Marchais, an Ohio native who came to New York in the 1920s in the hopes of becoming an actress, was part-socialite, part-eccentric, and part-art-collector. She was, as the story goes, a fiery independent spirit and her home was being built in the 1930s, she would pick up the architect in her big, fancy car and drive through the island to gather stones, which were used to construct the wall. Her home which is designed like a Tibetan monastery, is the first example of Himalayan style architecture in the United States. But it only hints at her all-consuming obsession with Himalayan and Tibetan art, and while she never traveled to the far east, she accumulated one of the earliest collection of art from the region. It’s all on display at the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art (tibetanmuseum.org), which she opened as a gallery in 1938 to showcase her extensive assortment of artwork, carved wood furniture, statues, and sculptures. Today, the two-building museum is the largest collection of Himalayan art in the United States. It’s a tranquil spot and a gorgeous refuge, especially in the warmer months when you can sit outside on the monastery-style patio that Jacques designed. It overlooks a pond and a landscape dense with blossoming trees.

    Inspiration

    Live Like a Local on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

    From the incredible natural beauty of the Gulf Islands National Seashore to fun water sports on the Pascagoula River, from Gulf-fresh seafood to BBQ and craft beer, from fine art to the hottest live music, the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers a getaway for every type of traveler. We spoke with some of the locals who make the Coast tick for their favorite hotspots. WHICH ISLAND IS BEST FOR YOUR TRAVEL PERSONALITY? Each of the Gulf Islands National Seashore’s barrier islands offers opportunities for casual-to-adventurous travelers who want an authentic, wild experience (before they head back to shore to grab some gourmet seafood and world-class craft beer at sundown, that is!). Chandler Borries, a travel photographer who hails from Biloxi, says “I’m a big outdoors enthusiast, and I love a boat excursion to one of the islands and taking a nature walk through Gulf Islands National Seashore.” Each of the six barrier islands offers something unique to adventure-minded visitors. Ship Island, Borries’s favorite, is home to the historic 19th-century Fort Massachusetts, and a beach that’s perfect for swimming, hiking, or fishing. Cat Island boasts bayous and marshland that serious birders will love. Deer Island’s beach is just a short boat ride from Biloxi. Horn Island is a magnet for vacationers seeking peace, sand dunes, and pelicans. Round Island and Petit Bois Island are the smallest islands but offer glimpses of migratory birds and much more. Learn more about outdoor adventures on the Mississippi Gulf Coast here. PADDLE, CYCLE, OR HIKE THE GULF COAST Borries says, “I also love that the Gulf Coast has plenty of places to kayak and paddleboard.” From gentle paddling to downright wet & wild water adventures, the Gulf’s open Coast waters, scenic bayous, and beautiful “blueways,” make the region one of America’s best places to hit the water. You can charter a deep-sea fishing boat, sail on a historic schooner, or even try paddleboard yoga. And be sure to check out the Pascagoula River Blueway (the largest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states) for great kayaking, fishing, and wildlife-watching. Learn more about paddling the Mississippi Gulf Coast here. If you want to stay on dry land, the Coast is packed with recreational trails and walking or biking tours. Borries suggests, “One of my favorite morning activities is a bike ride down Front Beach in Ocean Springs followed by a savory biscuit and coffee from The Greenhouse on Porter.” Learn more about the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s recreational trails here. OYSTERS, SHRIMP & MORE The Mississippi Gulf Coast is justly renowned for its fresh seafood. That’s one reason why Foursquare named Darwell’s Cafe, in Long Beach, one of America’s greatest diners, citing its crawfish étouffée with seasoned shrimp on top. We asked our locals to take travelers off the beaten path to find the tastiest joints serving up seafood, BBQ, and more. Alex Perry, chef and owner of Vestige, a modern American restaurant in Ocean Springs specializing in seasonal, market-inspired dishes, including a Gulf-fresh catch of the day and jumbo lump crab croquettes, suggests, “Pop over to Eat Drink Love, in Ocean Springs, for their lunchtime salads, fresh cheeses, cured meats, and crostini. Some of my favorite hidden gems are La Nortena in Biloxi for excellent Mexican cuisine and Kien Giang in D'Iberville for Vietnamese.” Corey Christy, communications director of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, in Ocean Springs, and bassist for the 10-piece jam-funk band Blackwater Brass, says “My favorite place for lunch is Le Bakery, on Oak St. in Biloxi, where everything is extra-fresh and the prices are unbelievably affordable. My current favorite dinner spot is Patio 44, in Biloxi, with great bar service and a very diverse menu, including seafood gumbo with shrimp, oysters, and crab meat.” Borries says, “Woody’s Roadside, in Biloxi, is definitely at the top of my list.  Every time I’m home I make sure to stop by and grab one of their signature burgers. Phoenicia Gourmet Restaurant, in Ocean Springs, is another good option if you’re in the mood for local seafood like blackened shrimp, red snapper, and crab cakes.” Learn more about eating like a local on the Mississippi Gulf Coast here. CRAFT BEER From the beer snob to the party animal, the Gulf Coast has some sipping opportunities to satisfy all tastes. And Christy reminds us that his place of work, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA), in Ocean Springs, throws an annual craft beer tasting. Popular local Gulf Coast breweries include Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, in Kiln, with its refreshing Lazy Saison Belgian-style pale ale, Jefferson Stout, and hoppy Southern Hops’pitality India pale ale; Biloxi Brewing Company’s award-winning flagship Black Gold; and Chandeleur Island Brewing Company, in Gulfport, with its Surfside Wheat Ale and Freemason Golden Ale, perfect for waterfront sipping. Learn more about the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s craft breweries here. LIVE MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE No day on the Coast is complete without music, and Mississippi boasts a musical history like no other state. If you want to enjoy cool street art with your live entertainment, you can’t go wrong on Fishbone Alley, a new pedestrian walkway in Gulfport that links several music venues, bars, and eateries, allowing travelers to carry beer and cocktails in go-cups from joint to joint. Our locals chime in on their other favorite night spots. Christy says, “The Government Street Grocery, in Ocean Springs, is my fave for drinks and live music.” Borries agrees that Government Street Grocery is a must-stop. “Some of my other favorite venues are Mosaics and Murky Waters. They are all within walking distance of each other and have a relaxed laid back atmosphere.” You must also experience the Mississippi Blues Trail’s coastal sites, where historic theaters, blues joints, and other important structures help visitors trace the history of blues and jazz in communities such as Biloxi, Bay St. Louis, and Pass Christian. Learn more about the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s music and nightlife here.

    Inspiration

    A Spectacular Three-Day Weekend on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

    The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a place where visitors can explore at a pace that encourages photography, relaxation, and reconnecting with friends and loved ones in a charming, welcoming environment. With 62 miles of beautiful coastline and 14 coastal communities, there’s plenty to discover. Here, a taste of the incredible food scene, craft breweries, natural wonders, casinos, art, history, and beautiful golf courses of the region. EAT YOUR WAY ACROSS THE GULF COAST For some travelers (including myself), eating is a major part of the fun of a weekend getaway. Options range from the kind of comfort food you might expect, such as the legendary Gulf shrimp; local BBQ joints serving pulled pork, chicken, and ribs; traditional gumbo; and classic red beans and rice to exciting recipes and approaches that may be new to some visitors - get ready to try pond-raised catfish at Aunt Jenny’s Catfish, in Ocean Springs, chargrilled oysters at Bayou Caddy Oyster Bar, in Bay St. Louis, and much more. Just about anywhere you travel along the Mississippi coast, you’ll have an opportunity to indulge in the tradition of frying fresh-harvested shrimp and oysters and local BBQ recipes that evolved largely out of the Mississippi tradition of community barbecues in which huge amounts of succulent, smoky meat were cooked for hours for hungry party-goers. Perhaps most enticing of all is the fusion of the Gulf Coast’s unique culinary traditions to be found at eateries both small and large across the region: Some tasty examples you’ll want to try include shrimp and crab au gratin, at Mary Mahoney’s in Biloxi, beautifully presented sushi dishes made with fresh Gulf seafood at Ichiban Sushi and Hibachi, in Ocean Springs, and crabmeat-stuffed redfish at Front Porch Cafe, in Pass Christian. Ready to plan your eating itinerary? Learn more here. RAISE A GLASS Of course, with all that great food, visitors will want something to wash it all down. The Mississippi Gulf Coast’s craft brewery scene will reward thirsty travelers with carefully sourced grains, imaginative local brewing processes, and world-class brews on tap. Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, in Kiln, is Mississippi’s oldest and offers a wide assortment of craft brews, including the lightly refreshing Lazy Saison Belgian-style pale ale, Jefferson Stout, and the adorably named Southern Hops’pitality India pale ale. Biloxi Brewing Company’s award-winning flagship brew is Black Gold, a traditional Irish stout with a super-rich texture and flavor; the company has also introduced a Black Gold Breakfast Blend that gets its eye-catching name from its use of coffee in its unique flavor; for a lighter quaff, try the golden Biloxi Blonde or the Salty Dog, which is flavored with sea salt and coriander. Chandeleur Island Brewing Company, in Gulfport, gets its inspiration from the coast’s warm weather and sunshine; its refreshing Surfside Wheat Ale and Freemason Golden Ale are perfect for waterfront sipping; its darker Curlew’s Toasted Coconut Porter delights the palate with notes of coffee, chocolate, and toffee. Thirsty? Learn more about the Mississippi coast’s sipping options here. GET OUT IN NATURE While not all travelers are hardcore “adrenaline junkies,” there are many exciting yet totally manageable activities that get you out on the beautiful waterways of the Mississippi coast, including private boats, ferries, and kayaks, or, for enjoying the water from shore, bicycle rentals and easy walking tours. On the Coast, you’ll enjoy the opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, boating, and fishing, and, of course, there is the Gulf Islands National Seashore with its six barrier islands, which offer varying degrees of adventure, each with its own special personality. Want to relax on warm sand beside gentle surf? The string of islands are home to several gorgeous beaches, and the islands serve as a literal barrier, keeping Mississippi’s 62 miles of coastline calm and inviting. Immerse yourself in the natural history and wildlife of the Coast at the brand-new Pascagoula River Audubon Center, the “gateway” to the largest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states. Here, visitors learn about the local environment and ecology and about the extraordinary river itself, which guides can help you explore on a two-hour boat tour. In fact, nature tours abound along the Coast, with miles of recreational trails that include hiking trails, blueways, nature parks, and boardwalks. To see more on your weekend, rent bicycles or book a boat cruise (options range from historic schooners to shrimp boats to sightseeing ferries). Feeling adventurous? Try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking the waterways with an outfitter such as Paddles Up that keeps it easy and fun. Ready to get out there in nature? Learn more here. CASINOS: GAMING AND SO MUCH MORE Sure, the Gulf Coast’s 12 casinos offer 24-hour gaming and the fabulous entertainment you’d expect, but they also offer culinary creativity, shopping, and world-class spas. Centered mostly in the Gulfport-Biloxi area, with one in Bay St. Louis and one in D’Iberville, the Coast’s casinos are, for some visitors, the most convenient base of operations thanks to the range of services and attractions all under one roof. Learn more here. EXPLORE LOCAL ART & HISTORY Want to take a walking tour of a historic Coast town and drop by the folk and antique museum or the meticulously maintained classic train depot? Bay St. Louis offers that and more. Craving a vibrant art museum named for one of the Coast’s most influential artists? Head to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs for the art and the fun special events that make it a community anchor. Each one of the Gulf Coast’s 14 communities boasts an artistic legacy and heritage that will keep visitors engaged and send them home having learned something new. From the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum to the galleries lining the streets to history tours and the superb Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum, the Coast has an alluring institution just waiting for you to discover. Learn more here. HIT THE LINKS When it comes to playing golf amidst gorgeous coastal vistas, in close proximity to first-rate watering holes, and in a relaxing environment for both the casual and the serious competitor, the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers something for every taste. It often comes as a surprise to golf enthusiasts who haven’t yet visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but many of the region’s courses were designed by some of the biggest names in the sport, including Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. The area boasts well over a dozen courses with spectacular Gulf Coast views, including ample budget-minded options, with golf packages that include lodgings in local hotels, casinos, and condos starting at well under $100/night. Ready to dive into the Mississippi Gulf Coast golf scene? Learn more here. LUXE-FOR-LESS LODGING Speaking of affordable lodging, the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers lodgings that are ideal for couples, families, and groups, ranging from comfy bed-and-breakfasts and inns to luxury hotels, casinos, condo rentals, and golf and spa resorts. From charming small towns to bustling urban centers, learn more here.

    Adventure

    12 Most Beautiful Paths—No Car Required

    With all due respect to road trips, some of the world's most breathtaking routes aren't fit for four-wheel drives. And they're better off for it. After all, aren't the world's most beautiful views best absorbed at your own pace? These 12 gorgeous trails, paths, and passageways let you do just that—from the saddle of a bicycle, a pair of skis, or your own two feet—without any impatient drivers looming in your rearview mirror. You don't even have to worry about planning the trip—outfitters run road-tested tours through all of these gorgeous spots. SEE THE GORGEOUS SCENERY ALONG THESE TRAILS 1. HIKE INCA TRAIL, PERU  High in the Andes, this 26-mile journey follows in the footsteps of fifteenth-century Incans, leading past a series of ruins to the mystical royal retreat of Machu Picchu. Hundreds of species of exotic flowers (including nearly 200 types of orchids) and tropical birds (giant hummingbirds, tanagers, and Peru's national bird, the bright-red-headed cock-of-the-rock) can be seen along the way. Ancient stone stairs line the path as it leads up through cloud forests and alpine tundra, until the clouds part and the massive Puerta del Sol—Sun Gate—reveals the stunningly preserved granite city of Machu Picchu.Book a Trip: Access to the trail is limited (for preservation purposes), so it's best to reserve your trek well in advance (4-6 months in the high season of May-October). SAS Travel Peru's four-night trek includes bus transport from Cusco, all meals, tent accommodations, and porter service throughout (sastravelperu.com, four-night treks from $610/person). 2. HIKE APPALACHIAN TRAIL, U.S.A.  Cutting through 14 states on the Eastern seaboard, the 2,180-mile "A.T." is one of the longest continuously marked trails in the world, taking in a greater variety of scenery than any other path on the continent. The route starts in Georgia's rugged green Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, winds up through the vast valleys and peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Park, then crawls through bucolic New England towns before ending in Maine's incredibly isolated Hundred-Mile Wilderness, one of the most likely spots in the country for moose sightings.Book a Trip: The Appalachian Mountain Club arranges three- and four-day hikes across New Hampshire's White Mountain segment of the trail, a swath of Alpine tundra best experienced when its high-altitude wildflowers are in full bloom (mid-June through September). Trips are led by staff naturalists and include meals, seasonal activities like bird-watching, skiing, or snowshoeing, and accommodation in rustic mountain huts (outdoors.org, three-day hikes from $316). 3. HIKE ZION NARROWS, UTAH  This dramatic gorge cutting through Zion National Park claims a close second place behind the Grand Canyon for sheer, jaw-dropping canyon beauty, yet draws just over half of the more famous park's annual crowds. The path through the gorge—home to some of the world's deepest slot canyons—alternates between gaping, quarter-mile-wide stretches and narrow, 20-foot passageways, and runs directly through the Virgin River's bed—which means hikers who want to go the distance will have to ford waist-deep water from time to time. Still, Zion's fans believe it's worth the wade to stare up between the 2,000-foot-high sandstone walls, lined with lush hanging gardens, streaming with flutes of water, and bouncing with beams of red-orange light.Book a Trip: If you're not the type to wander through canyons on your own—or all that keen on waist-deep wading—the pros at Zion Rock Guides lead beginner-level full-day (dry) hikes that include a stop for lunch and ice cream at the in-park Zion Lodge (zionrockguides.com, from $90). 4. CYCLE HIAWATHA BIKE TRAIL, IDAHO AND MONTANA  The pine-forested Bitterroot Mountains (part of the Northern Rockies) supply the deep-green backdrop for one of the country's most exhilarating rails-to-trails bike-path conversions (completed in 2001). This former stretch of mountain railroad straddling the Idaho-Montana border incorporates 10 covered tunnels (including one, the Taft Tunnel, that's more than a mile and a half long), seven dizzying, canyon-spanning trestles (some as high as 230 feet), and panoramic views across both states. Bonus: The 15-mile gravel trail is mostly flat or slightly downhill, so the smooth ride is doable for most kids and families. (Just be sure that your bike has a headlight for those dark tunnels! It's not only recommended—it's required.)Book a Trip: If you prefer to go it alone, day passes cost $10 through Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area (skilookout.com); less-experienced cyclists might opt for a guided tour from Row Adventure Center, which includes a picnic lunch and transportation from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (rowadventurecenter.com, from $179). 5. HIKE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL, U.S.A.  Consider it the other great American backpacking path: The 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail spans the entire West Coast, from the Mexico border to British Columbia. Along the way, hikers pass through 25 national forests and seven national parks, taking in everything from the vivid red Vasquez Rocks near Los Angeles to the deep blue waters and snowcapped peaks of Crater Lake in Oregon. Not to mention Yosemite, Sequoia National Park and the Sierra Nevadas in between. The parallel Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route provides a path for two-wheelers.Book a Trip: Newbies can hook up with the hardcore hikers who are tackling the full trail on Next Adventure's four-day, 32-mile hike along the Oregon Section of the Pacific Crest Trail (nextadventure.net, $400). Guides lead small groups through Mt. Hood National Forest, and all gear, meals, and snacks are included. 6. HIKE TORRES DEL PAINE CIRCUIT, CHILE  This 52-mile trail loops through a section of southern Patagonian wilderness that contains some of the most otherworldly scenery on the planet. Giant blue glaciers and craggy mountain peaks are in abundance here, but the most spectacular formations in this national park are the namesake paines—10,000-foot pillars of granite that spiral up from the glacial-carved valley. The challenging hiking circuit also traverses past green lagoons and expansive ice fields—and if the landscape itself weren't enough, eagle-eyed hikers can spot exotic wildlife (llama-like guanacos, ostrich-esque rheas) roaming the grassy pampas.Book a Trip: Cascada Expediciones offers a five-day, four-night highlights trek; most nights, hikers stay in geodesic eco-domes equipped with sheepskin throws and windowed ceilings for midnight star-gazing (ecocamp.travel, from $1,313). 7. WALK CINQUE TERRE, ITALY  Five colorful villages carved into the cliffs of the Italian Riviera are connected by a series of fifteenth-century footpaths winding directly above the Mediterranean. With autos on these ancient roads still few and far between, this is one of the few places where hikers can still travel car-free through the heart of Old Europe. The scenic vineyards, olive groves and fruit orchards lining the steep cliffs along the trail are bested only by the historic towns themselves, each one filled with centuries-old churches, postcard-perfect homes and high stone walls that cling to the rocks above the sea.Book a Trip: Seven-day treks from UTracks make the central town of Corniglia your base—travelers stay, local-style, in rental apartments—with daily excursions to the surrounding villages and breaks for vineyard tours and swimming (utracks.com, from $860). 8. CROSS-COUNTRY SKI OR HIKE THE KING'S TRAIL, SWEDEN One of Europe's last swaths of genuinely pristine wilderness lies more than 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Here, the narrow hiking and skiing path known as the Kungsleden, or King's Trail, is the singular sign of civilization along much of the route. For wintertime skiers the 270-mile route is a snow-swept wonderland; for summer hikers the untouched birch forests come alive with multi-colored flowers blooming under the midnight sun.  Either way, you're likely to encounter herds of wild reindeer—and have  an excellent chance of seeing the Northern Lights.Book a Trip: The eight-day trip led by Nature Travels is rife with extra-special experiences—sauna stops, a boat ride across Lake Ladtjojaure, and the option to add an excursion up 6,906-foot Mt. Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest peak (naturetravels.co.uk, eight-day trips from $1,100). 9. CYCLE ROUTE DES GRANDS CRUS, FRANCE  For folks who take equal pleasure in viticulture and vélo-culture, there's no better bike path than "the road of great wines," a 40-mile route through the heart of Burgundy's famed Côte d'Or (golden slope). The road is lined by a procession of intimate, family-run wineries set along a southeast-facing limestone slope, which is the reason these vines get so much sun (and produce such great wines). The occasional castle punctuates the surrounding landscape. What's more, it's virtually impossible to get lost, thanks to the no-French-necessary road signs stamped with pictures of grapes that are planted all along the route.Book a Trip: The four-night trip offered by Detours in France includes bike rental, luggage transfers, hotel accommodations, breakfasts, two dinners, a wine-tasting meal and private tour of the Gothic Hospices de Beaune, built in 1443 (detours-in-france.com, from $857). 10. HIKE THE WHALE TRAIL, SOUTH AFRICA  If you like long walks on the beach—and we mean really long walks—South Africa's 34-mile Whale Trail is sure to float your boat. The first half, which starts in the Potberg mountains of the De Hoop Nature Reserve, winds east down the verdant green hillsides toward the water; all along the way, trekkers gaze down on the turquoise rock pools and craggy cliff formations that make up this stretch of Indian Ocean coast. Once you hit the ocean, the trail doubles back west, with 17 more miles of secluded, sandy beaches, tide pools, and sea caves. Both segments of the trail have excellent vantage points for the star attraction—abundant southern right whales that populate these waters between June and December. During those months, hikers routinely report seeing 50 or more whales at a time, and some tour operators (like Karoo, below) have a money-back guarantee if you don't spot at least one.Book a Trip: Karoo Tours' six-day hikes include transportation from Cape Town, accommodation in rustic cabins, and all meals (www.karoospirit.co.za, from $555). 11. HIKE MILFORD TRACK, NEW ZEALAND  To many folks—including, presumably, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, who filmed his trilogy there—New Zealand is the ultimate destination for dreamy, fantastic landscapes. The ecologically-diverse Milford Track, which cuts through Fiordland National Park, on the westernmost section of the South Island, is like a sampler platter of the country's most outstanding outdoor offerings. The 35-mile route swings through temperate rainforest, alongside rushing rivers and waterfalls, across wetlands vivid with ferns and moss, and over a narrow alpine pass. But the trail's primary attractions are its magnificent fjords—dramatic, V-shaped valleys carved out of the mountains by glaciers roughly 20,000 years ago.Book a Trip: Guided hikes on the Milford Track don't come cheap: Ultimate Hikes' five-day option includes all meals and snacks, accommodations in cushy lodges, and a cruise on Milford Sound, and starts at $1,488 per person (ultimatehikes.co.nz). If you'd rather strike out on your own, Hike South's self-guided option might fit the bill, with three nights' accommodation in unheated conservation huts for $276 (hikesouth.com). Just be sure to reserve your spot in advance—by several months, if possible—as access to the trail is limited to 90 new hikers per day. 12. MOTORBIKE HO CHI MINH TRAIL, VIETNAM  An elaborate network of mountain and jungle roads built by the North Vietnamese to provide support to troops down south during the Vietnam War, this legendary trail runs the length of the country, winding more than 1,000 miles from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. While segments of the road have since been reclaimed by jungle, the entire route is navigable by motorbike via secluded dirt paths that wind around vertigo-inducing mountain passes where stilted wooden houses are perched on the green mountainsides; through isolated ancient villages; and down to sandy stretches of uninhabited coastline.Book a Trip: Vietnam Adventure Tours has an 18-day, full-trail option, as well as a 3-day, all-inclusive "Taste of Ho Chi Minh" itinerary that offers homestays in Thai stilt houses and in a Muong village (activetravelvietnam.com, 3-day trips from $363). 

    ADVERTISEMENT
    ADVERTISEMENT

    More Places to go