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    State of Minnesota

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    Minnesota is a state in the upper Midwestern United States. It is the 12th largest U.S. state in area and the 22nd most populous, with over 5.7 million residents. More than half of Minnesotans live in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area, known as the "Twin Cities", which is the main political, economic, and cultural hub. The Twin Cities are among the 20 largest metropolises in the U.S. Other Minnesota metropolitan areas include Duluth, Mankato, Moorhead, Rochester and St. Cloud. Minnesota's geography is highly diverse, consisting of western prairies, now given over to intensive agriculture; deciduous forests in the southeast, now partially cleared, farmed, and settled; and the less populated North Woods, used for mining, forestry, and recreation. Roughly a third of the state is forested, and it is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" for having over 14,000 bodies of fresh water that are at least ten acres.

    Minnesota has been inhabited by various indigenous peoples since the Woodland period of the 11th century BCE. Between roughly 200 and 500 CE, two areas of the indigenous Hopewell tradition emerged: the Laural Complex in the north, and Tremplau Hopewell in the Mississippi River Valley. The subsequent Upper Mississippian culture, consisting of the Oneota people and other Siouan speakers, lasted through the arrival of Europeans in the 17th century. French explorers and missionaries were the earliest Europeans to enter the region, encountering the Dakota, Ojibwe, and various Anishinaabe tribes. Much of what is now Minnesota formed part of the vast French holding of Louisiana, which the United States purchased in 1803. After several territorial reorganizations, the Minnesota Territory was admitted to the Union as the 32nd state in 1858. Minnesota's official motto, L'Étoile du Nord, is the only state motto in French; meaning "The Star of the North", it was adopted shortly after statehood and reflects the state's French origins and its position as the northernmost state in the contiguous U.S.

    As part of the American frontier, Minnesota attracted settlers and homesteaders from across the country, with its growth initially centered on timber, agriculture, and railroads. Into the early 20th century, European immigrants arrived in significant numbers, particularly from Scandinavia, Germany, and Central Europe; many were linked to the failed revolutions of 1848, and partly influenced the state's emergence as a major center of labor and social activism. Minnesota's rapid industrialization and urbanization precipitated major social, economic, and political changes during the American Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; the state was at the forefront of labor rights, women's suffrage, and political reform. Minnesotan politics, culture, and identity are reflective of this history and remain highly progressive by national standards.

    Since the late 20th century, Minnesota's economy has diversified significantly, shifting from traditional industries such as agriculture and resource extraction to services, finance, and healthcare. The state remains a center of Scandinavian, German, and Czech culture, but in recent decades has become increasingly multicultural amid greater domestic migration and immigration from Latin America, Asia, the Horn of Africa, and the Middle East. Minnesota's standard of living index is among the highest in the nation, and the state is among the best-educated in the nation. It is ranked among the best states in metrics such as employment, median income, safety, and governance.

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    Nisswa, Minnesota - Coolest Small Towns 2022:

    Nisswa, in central Minnesota, offers a true small town experience — the pace is leisurely, the people are friendly, and visitors can “choose their own adventure,” at whatever pace they like. In summer, turtle races are all the rage here. For real. If you prefer something more active, the Paul Bunyan Bike Trail beckons, and the region is defined by its many lakes, offering an array of watersports, boating, fishing, and more. On the other end of the seasonal spectrum, winter in Nisswa means skiing (downhill and cross-country), ice fishing, snowmobiling, and even dog sledding. Downtown is characterized by cozy shops and eateries serving up comfort food and artisanal candies, and it’s also a good place to purchase hearty winter outerwear. Up here, folks know how to dress for the cold! More about Nisswa Nisswa, MN Nisswa, Minnesota, nestled in the heart of the lakes area. Has been a destination for visitors for more than a century. Generation after generation comes to the area that many call their second home. Keep Reading... Meet Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Towns for 2022: Content presented by Have Fun Do Good Have Fun Do Good (HFDG) is on a mission to provide adventure seekers with a unique experience that allows them to travel while giving back to the community through volunteering. Learn more at https://havefundogood.co/

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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.

    Inspiration

    10 beautiful livestreams to brighten your day

    Enter the live stream. These videos provide a real time glimpse into a destination. And while they may not be a perfect cure for wanderlust, they do provide an instant portal to somewhere new and exciting – all without costing a penny or requiring a quarantine period! Ahead, ten live streams to enjoy while you daydream about packing your bags for real. Jackson Hole, Wyoming Visit skiers paradise from the comfort of home. Watch as visitors snap pictures under one of Jackson Town Square’s famed elk antler arches and pop in and out of shops like Jackson Trading Company. Ready to explore even more of the region? See Jackson Hole has over 50 streams featuring an elk refuge, ski slopes, an alpine slide, and more. Deerfield Beach, Florida Tranquility is transmitted via WiFi thanks to this stream of Deerfield Beach. While the view rotates among scenes of the beach, boardwalk, and skyline, the vibe captured is mostly sunny and always soothing. Listening to ocean sounds as birds call in the distance is so peaceful, it doesn’t take much imagination to convince yourself you’re actually in Florida. It is a bit like having a mini vacation in your pocket at all times. Brooks Falls, Alaska Need a boost of excitement? Try the Brooks Falls stream. You’ll be gasping at your screen as brown bears in Katmai National Park swipe their next meal out of the water. And with some bears consuming upwards of 30 fish per day, the action is endless. This stream isn’t always live, but even in the off-season, it plays highlights from past broadcasts that are well worth the watch. For your best chance to catch the action as it happens, tune in during the summer months when bears hunt from the large groups of salmon heading upstream. Banzai Pipeline, Hawaii Don’t let the sound of waves breaking on the shore fool you; this isn’t your grandma’s sound machine! The Pipeline Cam shows adrenaline-seeking surfers hanging ten on some of O’ahu’s best – and gnarliest – waves (some towering up to 30 feet!) The Pipeline’s Ehukai Beach also hosts some of the world’s most prestigious surfing competitions including the Billabong Pipe Masters. New York City It may be awhile before you get your hands on your next Levain chocolate chip walnut cookie or feel fully comfortable exploring the city by subway, but that doesn’t have to mean foregoing the excitement of New York City completely. This broadcast from St. George Tower captures The Big Apple’s iconic skyline between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Need even more NYC? This Times Square stream delivers the hustle and bustle straight to your screen – no dodging of those photo-loving mascots required. Duluth, Minnesota You don’t need to be a maritime enthusiast to appreciate this live stream, but stick around long enough and you just might become one. There’s something inexplicably magical about watching massive freighters – often loaded with coal and iron ore – pass through the Duluth Ship Canal as they traverse Lake Superior, serenading spectators with their horns as they go. (And shocking online viewers out of a midday slump!) Redondo Beach, California Next time you’re California dreamin,’ start streaming the City of Redondo Beach Pier camera. The view of the Pacific and lucky beachgoers will no doubt add a bit of sunshine to your day. For a different view of the town, check out the City of Redondo Beach Harbor Camera which often captures a glimpse of recreationists hitting the water by paddle board, kayak and boat. Las Vegas, Nevada Nowhere in the United States delivers on that promise of excitement (and excellent people watching!) quite like the Las Vegas Strip. This camera swivels up and down the street from its perch at the American Eagle storefront providing a birds-eye-view of the action. You’ll catch glimpses of Vegas hotels including Excalibur with its colorful medieval facade, New York-New York and its on-site roller coaster, and Paris Las Vegas with its replica Eiffel Tower. Leavenworth, Washington With panoramic mountains and charming Bavarian-inspired architecture, Leavenworth not only looks like it is in Europe, it looks straight out of a storybook! During the day, shoppers fill the streets, and in the winter, sledders fly down the hill at Front Street Park. Tune in between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day to catch a glimpse of the town all lit up for the holidays – the scene is almost as breathtaking as those mountain views. Yellowstone Gone are the days of loading up the minivan, hitting the road, paying an entrance fee, and hoping you make it to a viewing area at just the right time to see Old Faithful erupt. Now all it takes is a few clicks. Watch Old Faithful and a dozen other geysers in Yellowstone’s Upper Geyser Basin area in real time on the National Park Service website. The site also provides a handy estimate of when Old Faithful is set to erupt next so you never miss the excitement. Another perk? The park’s yummy sulfur smell can’t be transferred over WiFi... yet!

    Inspiration

    Look up tonight! Northern Lights expected in Northern USA

    The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has put out a geomagnetic storm watch for December 9-11, 2020. The storm should make the Northern Lights viewable across a large swath of the Northern United States. The forecast is the largest Coronary Mass Ejection (CME) of 2020. States that will likely be able to see the Northern Lights are Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. For the best viewing, find a dark, clear night and turn off all lights. According to the SWPC: "Geomagnetic Storm Watches are in effect from December 9th - 11th, 2020 due to anticipated CME effects. The CME occurred on December 7th, and was associated with a C7 flare from Region 2790. Analysis suggests CME arrival possible late on 9 December, initially resulting in G1 (Minor) storm levels. As CME effects continue, activity is likely to increase, especially if the magnetic field carried with the CME connects well with Earth's magnetosphere. Therefore, the potential for strong storm levels exists and a G3 (Strong) Watch is in effect for December 10th. CME-related disturbances are forecast to continue into 11 December, likely resulting in G2 (Moderate) storm levels - and another Watch has been issued accordingly. While SWPC forecasters are fairly confident in CME arrival at Earth, timing and geomagnetic storm intensity are less certain. Continue to monitor our SWPC webpage for the latest conditions and forecast."

    News

    What countries can US travelers visit right now?

    Editor's Note: This list was updated on October 20, 2020. Please check specific country sites for the most updated information before booking travel. In August, the department returned to its previous system of "country-specific levels of travel advice", which means it's back to rating individual countries from levels 1-4 based on their current health and security situations. The decision was made in line with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and advisories are updated regularly as situations evolve quickly. But despite the removal of the sweeping travel ban, the department warns: "we continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic." Canada and much of Europe, Asia and Oceania are pretty much off-limits to US travelers. But in recent weeks some countries have begun to relax their border restrictions and are now allowing US citizens to enter provided they follow the public health guidelines of the local authorities. Travelers are also encouraged to download the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive travel and emergency alerts. If you do plan to travel, below is a list of where you can go now. But it's important to note this is not a complete list and rules are quickly changing. Albania US travelers can visit Albania without the need to quarantine or prevent a negative COVID-19 test result, but they will be required to submit to health screening at the airport. "Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice," the state department warns. Anguilla Travelers must pre-register their visit on the country's tourism board website and present proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken no more than five days before travel. The British Overseas Territory is currently accepting online applications for visitors who would like to work remotely with new visa programs. See more here. Antigua and Barbuda US travelers must "present a negative Covid-19-RT-PCR (real time polymerase chain reaction) test result, taken within seven days of their flight." See more here. Armenia Armenia is open to US travelers who take a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival or self-isolate for 14 days. Aruba Aruba is open to US travelers but they must be tested at the airport and provide requisite insurance coverage. Starting from September 24, travelers from Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Virginia, states deemed high-risk, will be required to present a negative COVID-19 result from a test taken between 12 and 72 hours before flying. The list of states who have to undergo enhanced testing is updated regularly. Aruba has also introduced the "One Happy Workation" program, which allows visitors to stay for a maximum of 90 days, and offers a series of deals and discounted rates at local accommodations. The Bahamas US visitors must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. They also must adhere to the country's safety protocols which include presenting a "COVID-19-PCR Negative (Swab) Test" taken no more than 10 days prior to the date of arrival. See more here. Bangladesh Bangladesh is open to US travelers but they must present a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 72 hours before travel and self-isolate for 14 days, even with a negative test result. Coast of the Carribean Sea in Bridgetown ©Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock Barbados See Barbados' requirements here. Belarus Despite widespread mass demonstrations, US citizens can visit Belarus without any restrictions. Health screenings are in place at airports. Bermuda See Bermuda's requirements here. Cambodia Cambodia is open to visitors provided they pay a $3000 deposit by cash or credit card for “COVID-19 service charges” at the airport upon arrival, and have $50,000 of travel insurance cover. Colombia International flights between Colombia and the US resumed on Monday with incoming passengers required to present a negative COVID-19 test result. Costa Rica Costa Rica initially opened to residents from just eight US states in September but will increase that to all US residents by Novmber. Tourists must present a negative PCR COVID-19 test result, taken no more than 72 hours before their trip. See full requirements here. Croatia is one of the few countries in Europe that is open to US travelers ©Marcin Krzyzak/Shutterstock Croatia US travelers can visit Croatia, provided they they hold evidence of paid accommodation in the country. Travelers must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 48 hours of arriving in Croatia. If they don't have that, they must undergo a mandatory quarantine/self-isolation period of 14 days upon arrival in the country. Curaçao Th Dutch Caribbean island will open to residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from November, with more states to follow. Tourists from these states must present their driver's licence or state ID at the borders as proof of residence and present a negative PCR COVID-19 test result. See full requirements here. Dominica See Dominica's requirements here. Dominican Republic In August, the Dominican Republic introduced free COVID-19 insurance for travelers, including US citizens, and dropped mass testing at the borders. See more here. Ecuador US travelers must present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 10 days ahead of travel, or get tested upon arrival and quarantine while awaiting results. If traveling on to the The Galápagos Islands, travelers must take another COVID-19 test taken within 96 hours of arriving into Ecuador. Egypt Travelers must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no later than 72 hours before arrival. Travelers must present paper copies of the test result, digital copies will not be accepted. Temples, archaeological sites, and museums are open to tourists. Ethiopia All visitors must present a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding their flight in addition to completing a 14-day quarantine upon their arrival. French Polynesia Travellers must have a COVID-19 test 72 hours before the departure to French Polynesia, and international travel insurance is compulsory for every non-resident visitor Ghana US citizens must present a negative COVID-19 test result from a test conducted no more than 72 hours before travel. Health screenings are in place in airports, and travelers must also undergo a second COVID-19 test upon arrival at a cost of $150 per person. The fee must be paid online and passengers must present proof of payment prior to boarding, according to the US Embassy. Grenada The Spice Island is open to US tourists but has some requirements: visitors must present a recent negative COVID-19 test result; book a minimum of four-day reservation at approved accommodation for observation and quarantine, and undergo a second test after quarantine to travel the island. See more here. Great Sphinx of Giza with the Great Pyramid of Giza. ©Anton Belo/Shutterstock Haiti All international visitors to the country must declare their COVID-19 status via an incoming flight form, will get temperature screened upon arrival and are required to quarantine for 14 days. Honduras Incoming travelers must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result. Ireland US travelers can visit the country but nonessential travelers are asked to quarantine for 14 days and fill in a form indicating where they will stay for the duration of that time. The US Embassy in Ireland notes travelers should "restrict their movements" and "be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice." Due to a surge in coronavirus cases, Dublin is on Level Three of the country's five-level COVID-19 plan until October 9: restaurants and pubs are closed except for takeaway and outdoor service; museums, galleries and libraries are closed and nonessential travel is banned in the capital. The full details of the additional restrictions are available here Jamaica See Jamaica's requirements here. Kenya Travelers must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken no later than 96 hours before arrival and undergo health screening. A nightly curfew is in place from 9pm until 4am and there are restrictions on interstate travel. Water bungalows at Maldives ©haveseen/Shutterstock Maldives Incoming travelers present a with a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of arrival. Montenegro US citizens must present a negative PCR test result no older than 72 hours on arrival, or a positive antibody test result and undergo health screening at the airport. According to the US Embassy in Montenegro, travelers must not have stopped, nor transited through, countries that are not permitted to enter Montenegro within the previous 15 days. Morocco Morocco is open to travelers who have confirmed hotel reservations. Visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 test that’s no more than 48 hours old upon arrival. Heavily touristed cities, including Marrakesh, Fez, Casablanca and Tangier, are still under a strict lockdown that started at the end of July and is in place until further notice. Mexico Land crossings between the US and Mexico are closed until October 21 but visitors can arrive by plane. However, the CDC currently recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Mexico as the COVID-19 risk there remains high in places such as Colima, Nuevo León, Nayarit, Mexico City and Baja California Sur. Tourists may be subject to health screenings at airports. Namibia Namibia requires visitors to present a recent negative COVID-19 test result upon arrival, and undergo a second test five days later. Safari parks are open in Rwanda ©Goran Bogicevic/Shutterstock Rwanda Travelers must present a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate for a test taken no more than 120 hours before their initial flight. The US Embassy recommends that travelers carry a printed copy of their negative test results "during all legs of their flights to Rwanda." They must also take a second test and quarantine in a designated hotel for approximately 24 hours while awaiting their results. St Bart's See St Bart's requirements here. St Lucia See St Lucia's requirements here. St Maarten See St Maarten's requirements here. Serbia Serbia is open to US citizens but they must fill out on online health assessment before traveling and a second assessment 10 days into their trip. St Vincent and the Grenadines Travelers who arrive in the country must sign a Pre-Arrival Form. All travelers must present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within five days prior to travel. They will also need to quarantine in an approved hotel for five days and undergo a second test on the fifth day. South Korea US citizens must complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine when entering South Korea. The US Embassy advises that travelers will also experience "some combination of temperature screening, health questionnaires, and/or COVID-tests." All arriving passengers are required to download and respond to daily questions through the Self-Diagnosis Mobile App for 14 days. Tanzania Travelers must provide a negative test result for COVID-19 upon arrival and may be subject to health screening. View of Galata Tower, Galata Bridge in Karakoy quarter of Istanbul ©vovik_mar/Getty Images Turkey Travelers arriving in Turkey will be required to complete an information form and will be checked for symptoms. Anyone suspected of having COVID-19 will be transported to a hospital for examination. Curfews remain in place in some areas but these do not apply to foreign tourists though the US Embassy warns "local authorities may put in place additional COVID-19 restrictions, including curfews, with little or no advance notice." Turks and Caicos See Turks and Caicos' requirements here. Uganda Passengers must arrive with a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate for a test conducted within 72 hours prior to arrival in Uganda, and undergo a health screening upon arrival, including a temperature check and assessment for other signs or symptoms. In its commitment to keep people safe, Uganda has received the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels Global Safety & Hygiene Stamp for complying with enhanced health and safety rules. See full requirements here. United Arab Emirates In Dubai, visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result, taken within 96 hours of arrival, and have medical travel insurance to cover any illness-related expenses. While in Abu Dhabi the rules are more strict; visitors are required to quarantine for 14 days and wear an electronic wristband to ensure quarantine adherence, in addition to providing a negative test result. United Kingdom US citizens arriving into the UK are required to self-isolate for 14 days. There are fears that a second wave is incoming due to a recent surge in new daily coronavirus infections. As a result, new regional lockdown measures have been applied across the country. This article was first published on September 22 and updated on October 20, 2020.

    National Parks

    The best US national parks for stargazing, according to star map makers

    "Nature is soothing, and gazing at the night sky with friends and family is the perfect way to spend a relaxing break with all the hustle and bustle of the real world that's currently taking over," says Zoltan Toth-Czifra from Under Lucky Stars. "We determined the best spots for stargazing to give US citizens inspiration for their next trip to get away and experience the true beauty of the night sky above us. We took into consideration the darkest skies for people to stargaze from, whilst factoring the park's accessibility and busyness, to ensure the ultimate stargazing experience." Here are the top five parks selected, and the full list is available here. 1. Great Basin National Park, Nevada Great Basin National Park was deemed to be the best stargazing hot spot in the US. Spanning Nevada, much of Oregon and Utah, and sections of California, Idaho, and Wyoming, the Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America. With only 131,802 yearly visitors, this park is one of the best to stargaze from without being disturbed by other visitors. Great Basin National Park is the best stargazing hot spot in the US © Under Lucky Stars/ Unsplash 2. Big Bend National Park, Texas Big Bend National Park is located in southwest Texas and borders Mexico. It holds national significance as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the US. This park also includes the entire Chisos mountain range. Thanks to its vast surface area, it is one of the best parks to stargaze from as there is very little light pollution. Big Bend National Park has very little light pollution © Under Lucky Stars/ Unsplash 3. Redwood National Park, California Redwood National and State Parks lie along the coast of northern California. They consist of Redwood National Park, California's Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks. The combined parks span 139,000 acres and feature old-growth temperate rainforests. Redwood National Park scored highly with easy accessibility, very low light pollution and a yearly footfall of 504,722 visitors – a great combination to see the stars. Redwood National Park scored highly with easy accessibility © Under Lucky Stars/ Unsplash 4. North Cascades National Park, Washington The North Cascades located in Washington State is a vast terrain of wilderness. Filled with a varied species of animals and birds, the remote park is an outdoor dream. With just 38,208 yearly visitors to the vast land combined with low light pollution, the park is the perfect peaceful destination to enjoy the stars in the sky. North Cascades National Park is filled with a varied species of animals and birds © Under Lucky Stars/ Unsplash 5. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota Close to the Canadian border, Voyageurs National Park is the perfect canvas to sit and enjoy the stars. Located in northern Minnesota, the park is known for its stunning forestry and lakes, but mostly for its overall peaceful surroundings. The park welcomes 232,974 visitors annually, which combined with low light pollution lands it in the top five. Voyageurs National Park is known for its stunning forestry and lakes © Under Lucky Stars/ Unsplash

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