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24 safe budget getaways for spring
According to a recent study by vacation rental search engine HomeToGo, bookings are up by 46% compared to last year, with travelers opting to stay within 257 miles of home. Hotels and campgrounds are getting in on the action, with Hilton offering up to 20% off rates at certain properties and free night deals at Sun RV Resorts in Arizona, California and Texas when you book by March 7 and travel by March 31. If remote cabins or unique camping experiences are more your style, check Vacation Renter and RVC Outdoor Destinations for more off-the-beaten-path ideas. If you’re willing to wear a mask, practice social distancing and follow health and safety protocols, spring might be a good time to venture out, especially with hotels and destinations doing all they can to keep employees and visitors safe. Here are 24 socially distanced trips you can drive to this spring, all under $200 a night. New York Save on a Finger Lakes stay at 1795 Acorn Inn, located near Canandaigua Lake about five hours from NYC. Mention the Winter Weekend Package to unlock nightly rates from $130, daily breakfast and a free third night when you book a two-night stay Thursday through Sunday by April 25. Pennsylvania Choose from cabins, cottages, yurts, bungalows, villas, RV and tent campsites and a 52-room lodge at Lake Raystown Resort, about 3.5 hours from Philadelphia or 2.5 hours from Pittsburgh. Bike or hike the 400-acre property’s scenic trails, visit the WildRiver Waterpark or Proud Mary Showboat and dine by the water at the Marina Café. Nightly rates start at $139 for bungalows and villas, $124 for cottages, $94 for cabins, $89 for lodge accommodations and $30 for tent campsites. Washington, D.C. The Cherry Blossom package at The Ven at Embassy Row includes a cherry blossom themed amenity, hand-painted postcards designed by a local artist, a commemorative lapel pin and a $15 rideshare app credit, with rates from $154 a night when you book and stay through April 30. Virginia Head to Southwest Virginia for fewer crowds and beautiful natural surroundings roughly 2.5 hours from Charlotte or six hours from DC. Bring your bike and take on the 35-mile Virginia Creeper trail, hike to the highest point in the state at Mount Rogers or see the wild ponies in Grayson Highland State Park. At The Sessions Hotel in Bristol, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum package includes breakfast for two and admission to the museum, from $194 a night. Nearby, rates at The Bristol Hotel, which makes its home in a restored 1925 landmark building, start at $139 a night. Near Shenandoah National Park in Northern Virginia, the Vacationing on the Clock package at Massanutten Resort comes with two complimentary cups of coffee, nightly rates from $195 and your choice of lift tickets or waterpark passes when you book and stay at least two nights Thursday through Sunday in a one-bedroom condo by March 7. South Carolina Visit Myrtle Beach, home to more than 60 miles of Atlantic beaches and 50 mini-golf courses. Stop by the LW Paul Living History Farm, stroll through Brookgreen Gardens or treat yourself to a private kayak tour with Black River Outdoors to enjoy the area from the water. Stay at Island Vista, where each room has a balcony overlooking the beach (from $87) or Hotel BLUE, home to South Carolina’s first swim-up pool bar (from $75). About 30 minutes from Charleston, Wild Dunes Resort, a Hyatt property in Island of Palms, offers plenty of outdoor space, tennis courts, a fancy 36-hole championship golf course and opportunities to fish or try stand-up paddleboarding. Rates start at $160 a night this spring. History buffs will love the Olde English District, located about an hour’s drive from Charlotte or Columbia, where you can learn about the area’s African American heritage and Revolutionary War history at a living history site, enjoy the great outdoors at Goodale State Park or get a bird’s eye view by sailplane with Bermuda High Soaring. Nightly rates at the charming East Main Guest House Bed and Breakfast in Rock Hill start at $129. Florida Celebrate Tampa’s Cuban heritage with a staycation at Hotel Haya, located on 7th Avenue in the heart of Ybor City. The Grab & Go Breakfast package, available from $174 a night, includes a homemade guava pastelito, a can of traditional con leche and fresh fruit. Between Pensacola and Panama City Beach, Hotel Effie Sandestin’s location within the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and proximity to Silver Sands Premium Outlets make it a great base for those in need of a round of golf or a shopping spree, with rates from $189 a night. In the Florida Keys, you’ll save 20% on weeknight vacation rentals or motel stays of at least two nights at Pelican RV Resort & Marina in Marathon (from $165) or Riptide RV Resort & Marina in Key Largo (from $150) when you book by April 30 and stay Sunday through Thursday by May 31. Mississippi Calling all Elvis fans: Whether you’re heading to Tupelo as part of a larger road trip from Memphis or Nashville or just enjoying the city’s history, music and foodie scene in its own right, there’s a lot to see here. Tour the King’s birthplace by bike, take a scenic drive along the Natchez Trace Parkway and camp lakeside at nearby Tombigbee State Park, with cabins from $60 a night and fully equipped vacation cottages from $75 a night. Texas Try a Texas Hill Country getaway or day trip this spring to see the wildflower bloom in March and April, enjoy Barbecue Month celebrations in May or spend time wandering charming towns like Fredericksburg, which celebrates its 175th birthday this year. Aviation enthusiasts will love the Hangar Hotel in Fredericksburg, a quirky hotel built to resemble a 1940s WWII hangar (rooms from $149), while an hour away in Dripping Springs, Lucky Arrow Retreat offers luxury yurts and cabins (from $159–$199) next door to the Bell Springs Winery and Brewing Company. Families near Dallas can enjoy early access to the Hilton Anatole’s new JadeWaters waterpark, which will be open to hotel guests on weekends from April 30 to May 31 before opening fully on Memorial Day weekend. Packages offer a $50 daily credit or complimentary breakfast, from $169 a night. About 90 minutes from Dallas in East Texas, the Deer Lake Cabins Ranch Resort in Mount Vernon offers more than 800 acres of trails and lakes so you can really get back to nature. Spend your days hiking, fishing, feeding farm animals, horseback riding or cruising around on a UTV, and your nights at a cowboy cookout or on a hayride, with cottages from $189 a night. Ohio The Mohicans Treehouse Resort & Wedding Venue, roughly 90 minutes from Cleveland or Columbus, is offering discounts through March 16 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday treehouse stays. Use promo code BUDGET2021 to unlock $200 nightly rates for the Moonlight, White Oak, Little Red, Old Pine and The Nest treehouses and $250 rates for the Tin Shed, Silver Bullet, The View and El Castillo. In Columbus, check out the Chihuly collection at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, wander the historic German Village district, take on the largest free outdoor climbing wall in the country at Scioto Audubon Metropark and get some air along the 253-mile Scioto Mile. Springtime rates at Moxy Columbus Short North start at $91 a night, while the Work Anywhere Stay Pass package includes early 6 a.m. check-in, late 6 p.m. check-out, complimentary Wi-Fi and a $10 food and beverage credit. Illinois Those seeking a pet-friendly staycation should check out the Radisson Blu Chicago’s VIPup package, which includes a doggie bed, as well as a welcome toy, portable food and water bowls, gourmet treats, a food and drink mat and a waste bag dispenser, with rates from $149 a night. Wisconsin There’s plenty of outdoor fun to be had in Door County, just 45 minutes from Green Bay and two hours from Milwaukee. History buffs should head to the Heritage Village living history museum in Sturgeon Bay, which will be reopening in May, as well as the Door County Maritime Museum to learn about the area’s shipbuilding past. Stay at Eagle Harbor Inn, a charming bed and breakfast in Ephraim, with rates from $98 a night. Nearby, the Fox Cities area offers many outdoor attractions — head to High Cliff State Park near Lake Winnebago to hike one of the park’s seven historic trails or try your hand at making maple syrup in Bubolz Nature Preserve. Stay in Appleton and book the CopperLeaf Boutique Hotel & Spa’s Winter Warmer package — you’ll get complimentary hot chocolate, two handcrafted stoneware coffee mugs, two mini bottles of Dr. McGillicuddy’s liqueur and a $50 credit toward dining or spa treatments, from $174 through March 31 — or the Girls’ Night on the Town package, which includes a bottle of wine and a $20 minibar credit (from $150). South Dakota The Badlands and Black Hills are full of scenic outdoor spaces worthy of a road trip, like Badlands National Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, just to name a few. Visit Custer State Park to see the buffalo roam, then stay onsite at Custer State Park Resort, where you can save 20% and receive a $20 credit on two-night stays (or save 25% and receive a $25 credit) when you stay between April 26 and May 22 and mention the Stay and Save This Spring package. Rates for lodge and cabin rooms start at $140 a night. Colorado Those booking two weekend stays in Arrowhead, Bearclaw or Foxtail cabins at the River Run Resort in Granby will get one free weekend stay when they book and travel by March 28. Two-weekend packages start at $520 (which breaks down to $130 a night) and come with six free bowling games, plus you can add extra nights for 20% less if you want to stay longer. Back in Denver, The Curtis has a great package for groups who want to enjoy a safe getaway together. The Choose Your Adventure package lets up to 24 guests take over an entire floor — that’s 12 guest rooms at double occupancy — from $2,000 a night, which breaks down to about $166 per room or $83 per person. You’ll also get to book your choice of socially distanced adventures, like laser tag, a silent disco or murder mystery game night, among others. Washington For an epic outdoor escape with a luxury resort twist, head 90 minutes from Seattle to Suncadia Resort, a Hyatt property situated among more than 6,000 acres of beautiful mountain scenery in Cle Elum. Spend some time hiking or biking more than 40 miles of trails in Wenatchee Washington National Forest or trying your hand at archery or axe throwing, among other activities, with rates from $171 a night.
Explore the Natchez Trace from Tennessee to Mississippi
Back in the 1800’s the way to travel across the southeast was to walk or ride your horse on this “trace”. Back then, if you were headed anywhere along the path between Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN, you used a worn down trail for your long days of travel. Two hundred years later, the Natchez Trace has preserved its history. Loveless Cafe Loveless Cafe was started in 1951 by Lon and Anne Loveless. They bought an old fashioned Tea Room as their home and converted the outdoor space to a restaurant, seating patrons at picnic tables. With their soon booming business, they renovated the rooms in their home, giving the restaurant a bigger menu and more accommodations. Now, you can eat fried chicken and any other sorts of southern cuisine safely at outdoor tables with masks (Due to COVID-19). Go back in time and start your day trip off with this old-fashioned nostalgic stop. With any luck, there will be live music too! Photo by: Anne Florence Brown The Natchez Trace Parkway Double Arched Bridge, mile-marker 430 This stop has the best view found on the trace. I highly recommend that if you are leaving from Nashville, pass this stop early in the day and hit it on the way back to town for a perfectly timed sunset picture. You won’t be sorry.The Gordon House, mile-marker 407 One of the best parts about the Natchez Trace Parkway is the historical aspects. Every few miles there are original historical sites that have been preserved from the 1800s. The Gordon House is one of these. Stop to read about the history behind it and then walk the secluded ten-minute nature walk to the Duck Riverside, where ferries used to make their journey through the south. Pro-tip: bring bug spray for this walk, the overgrown grass makes for an enchanted feel, but affluence of bugs!Baker Bluff Overlook, mile-marker 406 Take a mini-hike through fairy tale trees, babbling brooks, and log bridges to an overlook with a view of the valley from the old days. This hike is perfect for a timely little adventure. With the shade, any time of day is perfect for this hike through the forest.Jackson Falls, mile-marker 405 Jackson Falls is a picturesque waterfall on the trace. Walk a .75 mile trail down to the waterfall. Stop for a picnic in the water, or bring bathing suits to adventure through the Duck River. This stop is especially good for kids. ©Ed Gifford/Getty ImagesTobacco Farm, mile-marker 401 Take a stroll through time and trees to see farms from the 1800s that are still standing. Marked with signs that tell stories from times of old, this excursion is perfect for those who wondered what life was like back in history.Fall Hollow Falls, mile-marker 392 Walk Another short .3 miles to an overlook and then a downhill trek to the base of a beautiful waterfall. This place is perfect for pictures and sightseeing, but be careful. It’s not uncommon for hikers to fall down the steep trail. The safest option for children is to stop at the overlook or to keep them close to you on the trek down.Meriwether Lewis's Grave, mile-marker 378 This is the best historical stop on the trace. Take a historical nature walk through the 1800s, see the grave marker for Meriwether Lewis, who explored the American West with his partner William Clark, and even walk on the original trace that people walked hundreds of years ago. It even holds Meriwether Lewis's original home, where he died in the mid-1800s. Jacks Branch picnic spot, mile-marker 378 This spot is small but perfect for picnics. Stretch your legs, get some fresh air, and eat some lunch at the picnic tables among the trees and next to a creek at Jacks Branch.Laurel Hills Lake, mile-marker 373 Interested in a fishing excursion? Or a canoe trip? Laurel Hills Lake is a few miles off the trace but worth the trip. Perfect for the adventure goers and meanderers, the lake is an off the beaten path kind of spot. Anne Florence Brown is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a student at the University of Mississippi.
51 affordable discoveries across America
Our mission is simple: track down outstanding destinations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico where lodging averages well under $200/night and great food and drink, natural beauty, and vibrant arts and culture share the spotlight. No pressure, right? Here’s to kicking off the new decade with an unparalleled to-do list! Alabama: Muscle Shoals It’s time for Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to take its rightful place alongside America’s major pop music destinations like Memphis, Cleveland, and Detroit. Here, in this small town in the northwestern corner of the state, some of the most popular and critically acclaimed rock and soul music – including seminal works by Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, and Lynyrd Skynyrd – was recorded at Fame Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. These days, you can enjoy a music-themed visit to the area while also savoring its first-rate comfort food and natural beauty. Tour the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, in Tuscumbia; make a pilgrimage to Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, in Sheffield; and drop by Pegasus Records, in Florence, for its Friday-night showcases of emerging musical talent. Alabama Shakes were discovered at Pegasus – who will you discover? The Kenai Peninsula brings all your Alaskan adventures within reach © CSNafzger / Shutterstock Alaska: Kenai Peninsula Alaska isn’t quite as far away as you think: an authentic Alaska experience, complete with whale watching, hiking, fishing, and ogling wildlife, is available in the Kenai Peninsula, along the state’s southern coast, south of Anchorage. Whether you approach this vacation wonderland via cruise ship or a road trip on the Seward Highway (one of America’s finest scenic drives), you’ll find enough activities to last a week or a month, including a boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park; hiking in Chugach National Forest, and viewing animals you won’t easily find in the lower 48, including orcas and puffins. And an irresistible perk of visiting this corner of Alaska is that you’ll taste the freshest, most deeply flavorful salmon anywhere in the world. Arizona: Saguaro National Park Some travelers keep a list of rare or unique sights they must see. The saguaro cactus is something every American should visit in person. Saguaro National Park, Arizona, near the always rewarding city of Tucson, is devoted to protecting and preserving a forestful of the immense succulents, which are unique to the Sonoran Desert and can grow to a height of 50 feet and live more than 200 years. In addition to these “kings of the Sonoran Desert,” you’ll also find towering pine-covered mountains alive with wild javelina, coyotes, desert tortoises, and, at higher elevations, black bear and the Mexican spotted owl. The Ozark-St Francis National Forests are great destinations anytime of year © Mark C Stevens / Moment / Getty Arkansas: Ozark-St. Francis National Forests Not one but two major national forests crossed by six US Scenic Byways? Yes, Arkansas delivers thousands of acres of four-season activities in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, in the state’s northern and eastern regions. Here, from the shores of the Mississippi River to the deep woods filled with wildlife and opportunities for water sports, visitors discover an unexpected side of Arkansas. Choose between cycling and canoeing, fishing for striped and largemouth bass and catfish, swimming in Bear Creek Lake, camping amid the hardwood trees, and hopping an ATV – or, our recommendation, try them all. California: San Pedro Think you know California? Meet San Pedro, at the southern point of the Palos Verdes Peninsula and home to the Port of Los Angeles, the largest in the US. Here in this up-and-coming must-see city, you’ll delight in packing your days with an array of pursuits: ride the free San Pedro Downtown Trolley with hop-on-hop-off stops at the incredible collection of nautical vessels at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, beautiful Cabrillo Beach, and the jaw-dropping Cabrilla Marine Aquarium, designed by Frank Gehry. History buffs and kids of all ages will want to visit the Battleship Iowa Museum, the only battleship open to the public on the West Coast, and everyone will appreciate a meal at California’s biggest seafood restaurant, the San Pedro Fish Market & Restaurant – get ready to snap a few they-won’t-believe-this-back-home pics of the immense shrimp trays. The lesser-known Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has Grand Canyon-quality vistas with fewer crowds © AlexeyKamenskiy / Getty Images Colorado: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Southwest Colorado is home to a lesser-known gem: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Located near the city of Montrose, the site is an incredible natural landscape featuring black cliffs (formed 2 billion years ago) towering 2,000 feet above the Gunnison River. Stock up on food and water in Montrose, then head for the canyon’s South Rim, where you’ll find gentle nature trails with Instagram-ready overlooks, backcountry experiences for visitors who yearn to get off the beaten path, and an array of opportunities for camping, fishing, and rock climbing. Consider participating in ranger-led programs to learn about the geology and wildlife of the area. Connecticut: Mystic Seaport For travelers in the Northeast, America’s most important collection of National Historic Landmark maritime vessels is just off I-95 in northern Connecticut. Mystic Seaport’s towering sailing ships will delight children, of course, and grownups (especially fans of the novels of Patrick O’Brien and Herman Melville) who want to step back in time to the days of wooden ships. Tour a whaleship, an active waterfront, planetarium, gardens, and hands-on experiences that help you appreciate the crafts that went into the construction and maintenance of these amazing vessels. Art lovers will savor the excellent Maritime Gallery, which hosts major exhibitions of marine art and intricately detailed miniature ship models. Big things come in small packages in Lewes, Delaware © Mdgmorris / E+ / Getty Delaware: Lewes We believe too many travelers simply pass through compact Delaware on their way somewhere else. It’s time to slow down and enjoy this welcoming mid-Atlantic state, and the charming town of Lewes, where the Atlantic Ocean meets Delaware Bay, is the perfect place to do so. The vibrant downtown is perfect for strolling and popping into unique boutiques and seafood restaurants, and the lovely beaches just minutes away. Have your camera or smartphone ready for iconic shots of Breakwater Lighthouse, cycle or walk the Lewes Canalfront, and devote some time to exploring Cape Henlopen State Park with its scenic trails, beaches, campgrounds, and pier. Florida: St Augustine If “founded in 1565” sounds unusually old for an American city, well, it sure is. St Augustine is commonly referred to as the oldest city in the US (in actuality, it is the longest continually inhabited European-founded city in the nation). Here, visitors find an experience that is decidedly different from – and a wonderful complement to – Florida’s beaches and theme parks. Immerse yourself in 400 years of history that includes an array of cultures, including Native American, Spanish, British, African American, and Greek. Must-see sights include the Castillo de San Marcos (this is the classic I’m-in-St.-Augustine image), the narrow European-style streets, an array of museums dedicated to local history and cultures, and even Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon’s legendary “Fountain of Youth.” Georgia: Alpharetta From the coast to bustling Atlanta to the mountains, Georgia offers well-known vacation charms. We want travelers to add the city of Alpharetta, in the Atlanta metro area, to that list. If you’re looking for a welcoming community with endless eating options (more than 200 restaurants), an exceptional craft brewery experience at Jekyll Brewing, and ample parkland (750 acres), including the eight-mile-long Big Creek Greenway, Alpharetta, an easy drive from downtown Atlanta, makes a great day trip or weekend escape. If all that sounds as if it ought to be topped off with an evening of fine music, head to The Velvet Note, honored by Downbeat Magazine as one of the world’s best jazz venues. Kaua'i's Waimea Canyon is known as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" © MNStudio / Shutterstock Hawaii: Waimea Canyon State Park Have you seen the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”? On the western side of the Hawaiian island of Kaua‘i, Waimea Canyon is 14 miles long, more than 3,600 deep, and boasts an array of colorful, gorges, and buttes that do, indeed, remind many visitors of Arizona’s famous canyon. And, of course, this being Hawaii, the gorgeous surroundings go beyond the canyon: Waimea Valley is home to a 45-foot waterfall and thousands of beautiful botanicals along an easy paved path. For an elegant splurge, there are 60 vintage restored cottages along the beachfront just south of the park. Idaho: Snake River Valley Another canyon that most travelers have not yet discovered awaits in Idaho, where the Snake River winds through prehistoric lava flows to create a 50-mile canyon where you’ll find photo-ready waterfalls and springs. Stroll along the 10-mile paved walking path on the south rim with access to a visitor center. Then head to the iconic Perrine Bridge, where you can stand nearly 500 feet above the river and recall the exploits of 1970s daredevil Evel Knievel, who attempted to jump the canyon here (unsuccessfully, alas). You may also see BASE jumpers taking the plunge off the bridge. Just south of the bridge, you’ll find scenic overlooks of the canyon and at the beautiful Shoshone Falls; beautiful; Centennial Waterfront Park is just west of the bridge. Route 66 contains many examples of quirky Americana, such as the The Gemini Giant sculpture at the Launching Pad restaurant © Marco Bicci / Shutterstock Illinois: Route 66 Heritage Project Sure, you know kitschy Route 66, and may have driven a stretch or two of the “Mother Road.” But exploring the 300-mile Illinois portion of the quintessential US highway may be the kitschiest stretch of all. Snap some pics at the beginning of your journey, in downtown Chicago at the “Route 66 Begin” sign on E. Jackson Boulevard. Once you’re on the road, there are many tempting places to stop: Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket has been famous or its fried chicken since the 1940s; the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum is a treasure trove of vintage artifacts; the 19-foot-high Paul Bunyan clutching an immense hot dog across the street from The Palms Grill Cafe announces its presence from a distance and delights passersby; the world’s largest covered wagon awaits not far down the road, alongside a statue of Abraham Lincoln. The road rolls on, and the kitsch rolls along with it, all the way to the Chain of Rocks Bridge across the Mississippi and into St Louis, Missouri. Indiana: Nashville Did you know there was “another” Nashville? And that it’s also a significant music destination? Here in southern Indiana, Nashville was an artists’ colony in the early 20th century, establishing a tradition of creativity complete with galleries and crafts studios. These days, the community has become a mecca for musicians, with a great schedule of performances at the Brown County Playhouse and shops like Weed Patch Music Company with its stash of custom guitars and banjos. Music pours forth from cafes and wine bars, and, of course, on the streets. Sioux City is where small-town charm meets big-city culture © BergmannD / iStock / Getty Iowa: Sioux City This little city in northwest Iowa has earned big honors for its livability, cuisine, and economic development. For travelers, that all translates into an experience that combines small-town warmth with big-city style and culture. Families will especially love the LaunchPAD Children’s Museum and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. Culture vultures must see the Art Center and hear the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra. Outdoor fun is a four-season priority here, as the city continues to develop trail connectivity and riverfront development, and a wide diversity of multicultural cuisine sets Sioux City apart from most small cities in the heartland. Kansas: Colby Start at the Prairie Museum of Art and History to get a sense of Colby’s place in the settlement of the prairie and its vibrant artistic legacy; while you’re at the museum, don’t miss its Cooper Barn, the largest barn in the state. Colby’s new 2.2-mile walking trail is a good way to get a sense of this special town, with its especially noteworthy historic courthouse. The best times to get to know Colby may be during its annual festivals: in April, you can take a taste of the Great Oasis Cookoff; in July, you’ll love the Pickin’ on the Plains Bluegrass Festival; and kids will especially appreciate a December visit to Santa City. Kentucky Wild Rivers are overflowing with adventure © Ehrlif / iStock / Getty Kentucky: Kentucky Wild Rivers Say the word Kentucky and most travelers will immediately think bourbon, bluegrass, and horses. While that’s perfectly understandable, don’t forget the wild waterways. With more than 2 million acres of national forest and more navigable rivers than any other state in the lower 48, paddlers can take their pick from more than 1000 miles of running water. Nine of them are designated Kentucky Wild Rivers, which means they are, and always will be, protected from development. Novice paddlers will find gentle waters on the Cumberland River, while experienced whitewater enthusiasts will enjoy the Class IV rapids found on the Big South Fork River; and, of course, there’s something for everyone in between. Louisiana: Cajun Country When it comes to an eye-opening, transformative trip, Louisiana’s Cajun Country may be unrivaled in the US. Here, about a four-hour drive northwest of New Orleans, a diversity of cultural traditions came together in early colonial days, with French, Spanish, African American, and Caribbean people mingling language, cuisine, and religious traditions in a way not found anywhere else in America. In and around the town of Natchitoches (pronounced nack-a-tish), you can tour winding European-style streets, see authentic Creole cottages, partake of distinctive dishes like gumbo and jambalaya, and get to know the history of plantations like Melrose and Oakland, where enslaved Africans created finely crafted artwork that combined West African religious traditions with Christian iconography. Sunset from the Appalachian Trail, Bigelow Mountain, Maine © Cavan Images / Getty Maine: High Peaks Region With Portland as your gateway city, exploring Maine’s extraordinary lakes and mountains is an unforgettable four-season opportunity that rivals the better-known “peak experiences” found out West. Located where the Appalachian Trail reaches its northernmost point, this region contains 10 of Maine’s highest peaks, with seemingly endless opportunities for camping, cycling, camping, and paddling glacial lakes and gin-clear rivers. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy a moose photo safari, or just take a memorable drive along one of three scenic byways: High Peaks, Grafton Notch, and Rangeley Lakes. Autumn brings some of the deepest reds, golds, and oranges anywhere in the US, and winter offers cozy cabin fireplaces and some of America’s finest ski resorts. Maryland: Chesapeake Bay Maryland’s star attraction may be the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the US, which manages to touch beautiful waterfront towns, wild spaces, and the state’s biggest city. With such a variety of settings, the activities for visitors are nearly infinite. For starters, be sure to experience Annapolis, the state capital and the sailing capital of America; a ferry ride to Smith Island, where residents still speak with a trade of the Elizabethan accent of the first settlers 350 years ago; Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, available for tours via a ferry from Annapolis; and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, with its great seafood, public concerts, and National Aquarium. Many travelers overlook Falmouth, Massachusetts, on their way to Cape Cod, but this coastal community is worth a stop © KenWiedemann / E+ / Getty Massachusetts: Falmouth Some New England visitors know Falmouth only as a name on a roadside sign on the way to points farther out on Cape Cod. But this charming community on the western end of the Cape offers an array of affordable lodgings and activities to satisfy even the most discerning traveler. Eight decidedly New England villages are set along more than 60 miles of shore here, with exceptional seafood, historic lodgings such as the Sea Crest on Silver Beach, and a great local theater scene that dates back to the summer stock of the early 20th century. Start at the Falmouth Village Green to get a sense of place; the bell you hear ringing each hour from the First Congregational Church was cast by Paul Revere – it doesn’t get any more New England than that! Michigan: Charlevoix Even seasoned travelers sometimes forget that the US has four coasts. The pristine beaches of Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan are found up north in Michigan, and offer a laid-back vacation experience that reminds many visitors of bygone days. First, there’s the water and all that comes with it: charted sailboats, kayaks, and paddleboards; 20 hiking trails and nature preserves, not to mention the iconic Earl Young Mushroom House and the majestic Castle Farms. In search of seclusion? Head to Beaver Island. Looking for cool boutiques, great food, and public events along Round Lake? That’s exactly what you’ll find in the town of Charlevoix. No wonder visitors become regulars, and the Charlevoix region becomes a summer family tradition. Split Rock Lighthouse on the Lake Superior shore © Gian Lorenzo Ferretti Photography / Getty Minnesota: Lake Superior State Parks Speaking of the beaches of the Great Lakes, northern Minnesota’s Lake Superior shoreline is home to eight state parks where nature lovers’ dreams come true. All reachable from the city of Duluth, some highlights include: Gooseberry Falls delivers not only Lake Superior shore but also Instagrammable waterfalls, rivers, and forest, a paved cycling trail, and excellent cross-country skiing; Split Rock Lighthouse, with a superb visitor center, exhibits, and documentary film; Temperance River offers gorges, footbridges, and waterfalls for hikers to discover; and Cascade River boasts trails that can get you up Lookout Mountain for – what else? – spectacular views. Mississippi: Gulf Coast Islands The Gulf Coast is always a good idea, and Mississippi’s Gulf Islands National Seashore is the perfect place to get up close and personal with the region’s wild side, amazing gourmet seafood, and craft beer. The six barrier islands beckon visitors with attainable adventures like exploring the bayous and marshland of Cat Island; taking a boat ride from Biloxi to the beach at Deer Island; doing some serious pelican watching (and photography) on Horn Island; and hitting up the tiny islands of Round Island and Petit Bois for a look at visiting migratory birds (they’re here for the great seafood, just like you). Missouri: Hermann Just an hour west of St Louis, in the Missouri River valley, the town of Hermann is like stepping into a wormhole to old-world Germany. Start at Historic Hermann Museum for an overview of the settlement of the area from the 1830s to the 1900s. Then be sure to pack an appetite for comfort food and good local wine as you explore local eateries and favorite sights such as: Deutschheim State Historic Site with its exhibits and galleries of artifacts from the days when German immigrants settled here; Hermann Farm with its living history exhibitions; and a variety of excellent local wineries. The mountains are never very far from Bozeman, Montana © Carol Polich / Lonely Planet Montana: Bozeman By Western standards, Bozeman is “near” both Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, though folks from back East will notice that “near” can mean a few hours in the car. But we love Bozeman not just for its proximity to amazing parkland and amazing skiing but also for the city itself, a college town with great community spirit, food that even Californians envy, and one of the finest museums in the US, the Museum of the Rockies. Set aside most of a day to take in all the museum has to offer, from its excellent planetarium to its Montana history division, natural history exhibitions with a special emphasis on the dinosaur fossils unearthed in Bozeman’s backyard at Hell Creek, and its living history pioneer cabin. In Bozeman, you’re never far from a gorgeous mountain vista or a great meal – we especially love the huge, reasonably priced sandwiches at the Pickle Barrel. Nebraska: Grand Island When it comes to friendly, historic towns, we love Grand Island. The community may be best known for its access to the epic Sandhill Crane migration here in central Nebraska, but that’s just where the fun begins. Start in the town’s historic downtown, known as the Railside District, to take in the finely restored buildings, then grab a craft beer and grub at one of the excellent downtown breweries. Then explore the city’s Stuhr Museum with its Railroad Town pioneer village and beautifully landscaped grounds, and take a dip in one of Grand Island’s public pools. Be sure to visit the gentle Platte River, an important landmark from the days when settlers from the East headed west across the prairie. Located near Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park features some of Nevada's most unique landscapes © Alexander Howard / Lonely Planet Nevada: Valley of Fire State Park How did Nevada’s Valley of Fire get its name? How about 40,000 acres of red sandstone? Here in Valley of Fire State Park you’ll come face-to-face with the ancient, including petrified trees and petroglyphs left by native people more than 2000 years ago. Hit the park’s visitor center for an overview and great exhibits devoted to prehistoric times, geology, and the history of the region – pick up maps and tips here as well. As wild as the terrain looks, the park still provides two campsites with tables and grills and running water (including RV hookups), plus miles of trails for those who want to explore this unique environment. New Hampshire: Seacoast When you mention New Hampshire’s “coast” to some people, they look at you kind of funny. Sure, New Hampshire is mostly landlocked, and better known for its mountains and forests, but it also boasts a vibrant Atlantic shoreline that’s just a few miles long but includes the cool small city of Portsmouth with its cobblestone streets, winding alleys, historic John Paul Jones House and Strawbery Banke, and quaint shops like the excellent Riverrun bookstore, plus lovely beaches and more. Take kids to the Seacoast Science Center for a hands-on deep dive into marine life, including a “please touch” tide pool and other stuff the little ones love to explore. Architectural window details in silhouette at historic old casino along the boardwalk in Asbury Park, NJ © littleny / Shutterstock New Jersey: Asbury Park Asbury Park has been dubbed one of America’s Coolest Small Towns in 2017, featured on Bruce Springsteen’s debut studio album and regularly called one of the best destinations on the Jersey Shore. Yet few people have heard of it. It’s time to visit before everybody else gets the word. Conveniently located between New York City and Philadelphia, and boasting amazing seafood, art galleries, and legendary music venues and the boardwalk that Springsteen helped put on the map back in the 1970s, Asbury Park welcomes visitors from everywhere and delivers a first-rate weekend escape. New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns National Park The jaw-droppingly beautiful Guadalupe Mountains in southeastern New Mexico, not far from the Texas border, are the site of a national park whose secret is about to get out: Carlsbad Caverns National Park offers beautiful terrain to hike, including canyons, cactus, grassland, and its namesake cave – which is a staggering 250ft high and 4000ft long. Ranger-led tours of the caverns, plus hikes and other programs at the visitor center and out in the park’s terrain are a wonderful way of getting to know this noteworthy landmark. Tucked away in America's largest state park, Blue Mountain Lake is idyllic bliss © Patty Barker / 500px New York: Blue Mountain Lake When visiting New York’s six-million-acre Adirondack State Park, it’s easy to forget you’re even in New York – the mountains and lakes make you feel transported to, say, Wyoming. Of all the communities in this, America’s largest state park, Blue Mountain Lake is an ideal place to begin your exploration of the region, thanks to its incredible namesake lake and the Adirondack Experience, an immense museum with state-of-the-art interactive exhibits devoted to the natural history, human history, and wildlife of the Adirondack Mountains. Set aside at least a full day for the museum, or visit more than once in between paddling local waterways, hiking to scenic overlooks, and enjoying great BBQ and craft beer just about everywhere you turn. Just up the road from Blue Mountain Lake, Great Camp Sagamore offers a rustic, unplugged experience you’ll never forget. North Carolina: Boone & Blowing Rock Take the Blue Ridge Parkway into North Carolina and you’ll notice that the area around the town of Boone seems to have received more than its fair share of stunning scenery. Endless hiking trails and scenic overlooks abound outside of town – you must experience the Mile High Swinging Bridge with its views of the Carolina Piedmont. In town, there’s just as fine a variety of living history like the Hickory Ridge Museum and the Daniel Boone Heritage Gardens. In nearby Blowing Rock, you’ll love the Ultimate Adventure park’s ziplines, and the town’s nice array of quaint shops and indulgent spa treatments. Dickinson is the gateway to North Dakota's iconic Badlands © Rruntsch / Getty North Dakota: Dickinson Cowboys + dinosaurs – what’s not to love about North Dakota’s star attractions? The town of Dickinson is best known as the gateway to amazing Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and it enjoys two scenic byways, the Old Red Old Ten and the Kildeer Mountain Four Bears. But the town itself is decidedly ready for its close-up. The Dickinson Museum Center exhibits life-size dinosaurs, fossils, and other reminders of ND’s prehistoric residents; an assortment of beautiful spots like Patterson Lake Recreation Area and West River Community Center for watersports; and annual festivals like Roughrider Days and the Ukrainian Festival bring the community together and are a great time to pay a visit. Ohio: Put-In Bay Ohioans know there’s a 2.5-by-5-mile island in Lake Erie that makes for a spectacular vacation. And now you know too. Put-In Bay is one of those family escapes that pack plenty of great activities and attractions into a small package. The island boasts a cave you can explore, winery tours, parasailing, jet skiing, and fishing for the area’s prized walleye. And don’t miss the chance to ride the elevator up to the observation deck atop of Perry’s International Peace Memorial for endless views of Lake Erie all the way to the Cleveland skyline when the air is clear. Oklahoma's second-largest city is still an underrated charmer © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock Oklahoma: Tulsa You don’t have to be a devotee of folk singer Woody Guthrie, composer of “This Land Is Your Land,” or of novelist S.E. Hinton, who wrote The Outsiders when she was 15 years old, to fall in love with Tulsa. But it won’t hurt. Those two pop culture iconoclasts, whose work happens to have deeply touched and even transformed lives, hailed from this Oklahoma city. That may not be a coincidence: From its unique 100-acre Gathering Place public park along the Arkansas River to the Philbrook Museum’s collection of art from the classics to the modern era in a Renaissance-style villa built by the founder of Philips Oil and donated to the city in the 1930s, Tulsa exceeds expectations. You can even take a tour of a house that played a starring role in Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation of The Outsiders – the house has been meticulously restored and outfitted with artifacts and film memorabilia. Oregon: Columbia River Gorge Choosing a National Scenic Area for your next trip guarantees you’ll be surrounded by natural beauty. And the Columbia River Gorge is the largest designated scenic area in America, with vistas that rival any in the world. The Columbia River runs from its source in the Canadian Rockies down through Washington State and into Oregon, where it eventually meets the Pacific. Along the way, it has cut a majestic gorge through the Cascade Mountains, delivering dozens of waterfalls, some of which can be ogled right from the Historic Columbia River Highway. The opportunities for outdoor recreation along the way are extraordinary, including cycling the Post Canyon mountain bike network or hiking up Dog Mountain. And, this being the Pacific Northwest, you can pretty much count on great craft beer, fresh locally raised fare, and an array of pinot noir, chardonnay, and other fine wines. Pennsylvania: Alleghenies It’s time to get to know the Alleghenies, Pennsylvania’s vast south-central region between Pittsburgh and Gettysburg. You can expect a warm welcome in small towns that boast covered bridges and elegant Victorian-era homes. Elsewhere, explore miles of mountain trails on foot or on two fat tires, and dive into this important historical region with its rich Native American legacy, Revolutionary War landmarks, and reminders of the early days of the republic, when this was literally the American frontier. College sports fans will enjoy a stop in State College, home to Penn State and its loyal fans, not to mention tasty comfort food and craft beer. Puerto Rico: Culebra We’ll get this right out in the open: when your friend tells you she’s visiting Puerto Rico but refuses to give away exactly where she’s headed, she may be headed to the 10-square-mile island of Culebra, about 20 miles off PR’s Fajardo coast. Fans of Culebra, which was a US naval base until 1975, have good reason to keep it top secret. Twenty percent of the island is a designated national wildlife refuge, protecting endangered sea turtles and other wild denizens. So far, the island has been untouched by giant hotels, casinos, golf courses, and fast-food restaurants. If that sounds like heaven, get ready to explore Culebra’s “diamond-dust” beaches (the star is Flamenco Beach, but you’ll find others that are more secluded), snorkeling sites, and hiking trails. Narragansett packs Rhode Island's best qualities into an easily digestible size © Shobeir Ansari / Moment / Getty Rhode Island: Narragansett Everybody knows that Rhode Island is the smallest state geographically. What everybody also needs to know is that the small size belies a wealth of vacation opportunities. Narragansett may be Exhibit A: the town is home to four popular beaches, minutes away from affordable hotels, B&Bs, and vacation rentals via the town’s fine public transportation system. You can also opt for camping at Fishermen’s Memorial State Park, which locals prize for its “seaside village” atmosphere. Get ready to snap pics of the Point Judith Lighthouse at the entrance to Narragansett Bay, and set aside some time to explore the unique and vital exhibitions at the Pequot Museum, devoted to Native American history and culture and the natural history of the New England region from prehistoric times through the arrival of European settlers and beyond. South Carolina: Greenville If you haven’t already heard the great word-of-mouth generated by folks who have visited Greenville, take it from us: if your idea of vacation perfection is a charming Main Street packed with great art galleries, excellent local restaurants, and a cycling- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and outlook, this is a place you must see for yourself. Start in lovely Falls Park, where the 345-foot-long Liberty Bridge crosses the Reedy River (you can grab a great cup of coffee at the bridge entrance). Cyclists will want to hit the curiously named Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail (say it five times fast, or just call it “Swamp Rabbit,” as locals do), which runs more than 20 miles from Lake Conestee Nature Park to the nearby town of Travelers Rest. Tour local craft breweries, visit one of the local live theaters, hit up local galleries, studios, and public murals, and you’ll soon be one of the people spreading Greenville’s great word-of-mouth yourself. Boxwork is an rare type of rock formation that forms honeycomb-like structures in caves © Zack Frank / Shutterstock South Dakota: Wind Cave National Park What’s the oldest national park you’ve perhaps never heard of? Wind Cave, in the prairie grasslands in the southwestern corner of South Dakota, where the buffalo roam along with elk and other wildlife, was founded in 1903 and consists of lovely preserved prairie aboveground and an intricate cave system below, known for rare rock formations called boxwork. Easy hikes and ranger-led programs abound, including a 1-mile round-trip hike from Elk Mountain campground, a loop from Prairie Vista visitor center, and, of course, tours of the cave. Note that as we publish this story, the elevators at Wind Cave are closed for maintenance – please check nps.gov/wica before planning your trip. Ranger programs, including an excellent documentary film, and above-ground activities remain open daily, and access to the cave will resume when maintenance is complete. Tennessee: Franklin Psst: seventeen miles south of Nashville, the welcoming small city of Franklin beckons with history (for starters, it was founded way back in 1799 and named for Founding Father Benjamin Franklin), great dining (there are more than 500 restaurants to choose from, and we especially love the upscale versions of Southern favorites like fried chicken and oyster po’boys), and unique shopping for locally made apparel, crafts, and snacks (if you haven’t the Tennessee favorite Goo-Goo Clusters, do yourself a favor). Start on Main Street, designated a “Great American Main Street,” learn about the 1864 Battle of Franklin (and see the bullet-riddled Carter House), and spend some time on the Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs through Franklin and the village of Leiper’s Fork, where great art galleries rub elbows with fantastic BBQ – the Natchez Trace runs from Nashville all the way to Natchez, Mississippi, and is the eighth most-visited site in the National Park system. El Paso is a cultural melting pot with influences from the Southwestern USA and Mexico © Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock Texas: El Paso El Paso’s unique location, in the far western corner of Texas, bordering both Mexico and New Mexico, utterly defines the city’s culture. As national attention has focused on this border region, El Paso has been in the midst of a construction boom, including new hotels, the restoration of a streetcar lines, new craft breweries, and even a Minor League Baseball team, the Pacific Coast League’s Chihuahuas, part of the San Diego Padres franchise. Reasons to get to know El Paso include the beautiful El Paso Museum of Art with its collection of 12th-through-21st-century works; Franklin Mountains State Park, the largest urban park in America within city limits, with elevations reaching more than 7,000 feet above sea level; and, of course, a unique culinary tradition that blends Mexican traditions like exquisite tacos with Texas’s love of good steak, plus upscale taverns serving innovative dishes and great cocktails. Utah: Moab Sure, you want to visit Utah’s amazing national parks, but, like many travelers, you’re not sure where to start? One word: Moab. The Utah town is in close proximity to both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, providing you with a comfy home base from which to explore the incredible red rock landscape that makes some visitors feel as if they’ve landed on Mars. Here in Moab, affordable lodging, great Southwestern and gourmet food, and the Colorado River make for a beautiful stay. When you’re not hiking in one of the two national parks, be sure to set aside time to discover Dead Horse Point State Park, along the Colorado River with its seven-mile rim trail and great vistas that include some of the terrain in Canyonlands. Groton, Vermont, in the state's Northeast Kingdom region, is great in the fall © Nan Zhong / Moment Open / Getty Vermont: Northeast Kingdom As the name may suggest, Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom region, including Caledonia, Esses, and Orleans counties, is a world unto itself. You won’t find cities up here, but you’ll find plenty of elbow room, pristine lakes, and forests just waiting for you to discover them. An array of state parks serves as the best way to plan your Northeast Kingdom adventure, offering campsites, cabins, and cottages – and in some cases a lodge – from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Groton State Forest will keep you busy with more than 26,000 acres of fly fishing, swimming, and hiking. Virginia: Jamestown Settlement If you’re looking for a living history experience that dates back to the early colonial days, Virginia is the place to be. Jamestown Settlement is where the first permanent English colony was settled. Here, visitors are introduced to the settlement’s origins as a business venture, the ways in which the English arrival affected the local Powhatan Native American way of life, and the arrival of the first enslaved Africans on Virginian soil. You’ll want to spend most of a day exploring gallery exhibits, documentary films, and outdoor re-creations of a Powhatan village, a 17th-century fort, and even a replica of a sailing ship that brought the first English colonists to what they called the New World. While you’re in the Jamestown area, you can further immerse yourself in colonial history with a visit to nearby Colonial Williamsburg and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. A path through the Hoh Rain Forest is filled with old temperate trees covered in green and brown moss © Roman Khomlyak / Shutterstock Washington: Olympic National Park Yes, the American West is so packed with amazing national parks, we can forgive you if you’ve overlooked a true gem on the Washington State coast. Olympic National Park covers nearly 1 million acres that includes an exceptional variety of ecosystems, including mountains, old-growth rainforests (yes, it may be drizzling during your visit, but that’s all part of the experience), and more than 70 miles of coast. Visit the Elwha Valley, just 11 miles from the town of Port Angeles (a good place to find charming, affordable lodging), which is home to the popular Elwha River and the surrounding mountains that make for a lovely introduction to the park’s offerings. Hurricane Ridge is easily reached and the views on a (rare) clear day are incredible. Hit the Olympic Hot Springs Road and Whiskey Bend Road for access to a number of great trails like the Boulder Creek and Humes Ranch loop. West Virginia: Lewisburg If you love truly cool small towns as much as we do, you must discover Lewisburg, on the Greenbrier River, with its fabulous arts, outstanding artisanal food scene (think way beyond traditional Southern fare here, with menu items like the Middle Eastern spiced lamb burger), and eminently shoppable downtown. Don’t miss the unique Salt Cave and Spa and its indulgent treatments and unusual location within a cave system. The opulent Greenbrier Resort is worth-it splurge that delivers value, and the grounds and restaurant are worth a visit even if you’re not spending the night. Head out along the stunningly beautiful Greenbrier River Trail, a repurposed railroad route that’s part of the West Virginia state parks system, for a hike or cycling trip; you won’t run out of things to see – the trail is 70 miles long. The statue of coach Vince Lombardi outside the Historic Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers and also known as The Frozen Tundra © Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock Wisconsin: Green Bay Sure, the name Green Bay is synonymous with NFL football, but there’s a lot more to this beautiful region of Wisconsin than adorning one’s head with an immense cheese replica. The city if named for the big bay on which it stands, and you’ll find plenty of “green” in the city’s wild-ish places, like the Brown County Reforestation Camp and the Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve. Families will love the Children’s Museum of Green Bay with plenty of hands-on experiences, the National Railroad Museum, including train rides through October and a Polar Express at holiday time. For grownups, brewery tours take you behind the scenes for a taste of the fine crafting going on here. Oh, and if you absolutely must have a football-themed experience in Green Bay, the Packers Heritage Trail is a cool city walk that takes you to commemorative plaques dedicated to the creation of the Green Bay Packers franchise. Wyoming: Rockies to Tetons First of all, yes, we adore Yellowstone. But we want you to know that Wyoming offers a wealth of other outstanding outdoor adventures. One of our favorites is the Rockies-to-Tetons road trip that takes you from the Snowy Ridge, in southeast Wyoming, all the way to Grand Teton National Park. Your first step will be visiting the Snowy Ridge Range, which includes the 12,000-foot Medicine Bow Peak, via nearby Laramie. Then you’ll have to tear yourself away from all that gorgeousness on your way to Dubois, where affordable hotels and the Longhorn Ranch Resort are options (as is taking in a Friday-night rodeo in summer). From Dubois, you’ll head toward the Grand Tetons, ideally with a stop for rafting the Snake River in Jackson, then enter the beautiful national park, where you can try your hand at shooting some of the iconic peaks and landscapes made famous by photographer Ansel Adams. (And from Grand Teton National Park, you can sneak a visit to adjoining Yellowstone with no additional entry fee.) Produced by Budget Travel for GEICO. All editorial views are those of Budget Travel alone and reflect our policy of editorial independence and impartiality.Presented By
8 Best Cycling Routes in North America
Whether you’re looking to take a cycling-centric vacation or just include some skinny-tire time while you’re out exploring, the best routes are those that combine moderate climbs (and the blissful descents that follow) with natural beauty and an ineffable sense of wonder. With that criteria in mind, we’ve assembled some of our favorite rides—including a range of geographical regions in North America from eastern Canada down to Mexico City. These are intended for road bikes (a.k.a. the bikes with thin tires), and for cyclists with some experience—though each of these cool routes can be managed by newbies who are traveling with relatively experienced cyclists.Going-to-the-Sun Road Montana When it comes to pinch-me vistas and wildlife encounters, it’s difficult to beat the Going-to-the-Sun Road, in Montana’s Glacier National Park. Start your trek at Apgar visitor center, not far from the park’s West Glacier entrance. You’ll cover 32 miles from Apgar to the continental divide at Logan Pass, climbing around 3,000 feet over the course of the ride. Plan on several hours to reach Logan, because you’ll encounter many fine reasons to stop along the way: Avalanche Creek, the Trail of the Cedars, and many scenic overlooks where you’ll see the valley below growing smaller and smaller, snowy peaks (often even in July), and chance sightings of black bears, grizzlies, and moose. If you still have the legs for it, there’s a great hike at Logan Pass up to Hidden Lake Overlook, where you’ll almost certainly spot mountain goats. And, of course, the ride down from Logan back to Apgar is all downhill. When you arrive back at Apgar Village, celebrate with a feast at Eddie’s restaurant, and save room for a huckleberry ice cream or pie. Green Mountains Loop Vermont, New Hampshire, New York The Green Mountains, with their gentle slopes and namesake hue (which transforms into blazing reds, yellows, and oranges in autumn), define much of Vermont’s landscape. Even folks who have yet to visit will recognize the mountains as the backdrop of many of Grandma Moses’s most famous paintings. The Green Mountains Loop goes well beyond the mountains, allowing cyclists to begin in Burlington and, if they choose, end there as well, having explored not only Vermont but also portions of New Hampshire and the Lake Champlain shoreline in New York. The loop comprises more than 370 miles, and there are also alternates and offshoots worth seeing if you have time. The East Alternate, for instance, passes through the charming small town of Peacham, the kind of Platonic ideal of a New England town you might expect to see in a Norman Rockwell. Natchez Trace Parkway Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee This may be the most ancient cycling route you’ll ever attempt. The Natchez Trace Parkway essentially existed centuries before the notion of a “parkway,” as a trail through the forest used by Native Americans. These days, you’ll share the road with relatively moderate or sparse auto traffic, and you’ll savor the forestland, waterways, and waterfalls along the way. Rest your head at an array of B&Bs along the way, grab ample Southern cuisine, and choose campsites that will be populated by fellow cyclists—and some campgrounds are actually bicyclists-only. If you make the entire trip, which connects Natchez, MS, to Nashville, TN, you’ll cover 444 miles of gentle grades. Katy Trail Missouri A great route for outdoor enthusiasts and historians alike, the Katy Trail runs more than 230 miles across the state of Missouri, about half of it following the route that Lewis and Clark tpokl up the Missouri River on their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. Keep an eye out for eagles as you cycle this relatively flat trail that takes you past farms and fields and small towns. It’s the longest rails-to-trails project in the U.S., having converted the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) railroad line into prime space for hikers, runners, and cyclists. (If you’re keen on traversing the entire continential U.S. on two skinny wheels, the Katy Trail is often included in cross-country treks along the Lewis & Clark route and the American Discovery Trail. Mount Lemmon Arizona Tucson, AZ, is something of a cyclists’ mecca, with a great climate for outdoor activities snd some spectacular scenery and mountain trails. You’ll ascend the Catalina Highway to the top of Mount Lemmon—wear layers, because you’ll likely pass through a range of temperatures and weather conditions, including the possibility of snow at the Summerhaven resort at the top. You’ll enjoy coasting on the ride back down as well, but avoid the temptation to take the hairpins at top speed—you’ll want to arrive back in Tucson in one piece for dinner. Camino Cielo California For anyone who has ever visited Santa Barbara, on the southern end of California’s central coast, the Pacific Ocean vistas and the Santa Ynez Mountains behind the city can be unforgettable. But there’s at least one cool secret up those mountains: Camino Cielo (“skyway”) is a ridge road with sweeping views. Of all the routes recommended in this story, Camino Cielo is the one that will demand the most energy and attentiveness: Expect steep climbs, switchbacks, and some rough terrain on your way to the top of Gibraltor Mountain. You’ll almost certainly agree it was worth the climb. (And on your way back to SB, you can reward yourself with a visit to one of the region’s excellent wineries.) Route Verte Québec Canada’s finest cycling can be found in Québec Province, and the crown jewel is Route Verte (“greenway”), covering more than 3,000 miles (yes, you read that correctly) that includes mixed-use trails and cycling paths, and roads from the coast all the way to Montréal. As you might expect, the route offers many reasons to stop along the way, including Québec’s historic cities with their array of French food, wine, and friendly locals, and the extraordinary Parc National du Bic along the St. Lawrence Estuary, with its mountains and islands and capes. Desierto de los Leones Mexico City How many national parks can you name that are located entirely within a major city? Desierto de los Leones is all within the Federal District of Mexico City, and the park supplies everything a cyclist might crave: the Sierra de las Cruces Mountains, scenic waterways, forests, and ample trails for cyclists. If cycling in a big city seems less adventurous than you might wish, bear in mind that hitting the open road in Mexico is often not as safe for inexperienced cyclists as it might be in the U.S. or Canada. Desierto de los Leones provides natural beauty in a setting where visitors can relax and enjoy the sights. And, contrary to what the park’s name might suggest, it is neither a desert nor a haven for mountain lions.)
10 American Fall Festivals Every Traveler Should Experience
Sweater weather is finally here, time for apple picking, pumpkin carving and wandering through corn mazes — welcome to fall festival season. Here are our 10 picks for the best ones around the U.S. 1. THE GREAT JACK O’LANTERN BLAZE Croton-on-Hudson, NY September 28-November 24, 2018; $27 adults, $20 children; hudsonvalley.org More than 7,000 wickedly designed, hand-carved pumpkins light up the grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor, a historic estate just outside New York City. Stroll through a stunning maze of Insta-worthy pumpkin art: intricate spider webs, flying ghosts and creepy skeletons, and of course the Headless Horseman. This year’s festival pays tribute to Ichabod Crane’s Sleepy Hollow and features a Medieval Castle, the Pumpkin Zee Bridge and a pumpkin carousel. Make sure to grab a fall treat: Apple cider donuts, fresh popcorn and pumpkin beer are for sale. 2. FALL FEST AT LINCOLN PARK ZOO Chicago Weekends, September 28-October 28 and October 8; free admission; lpzoo.org Get wild with the animals as the Lincoln Park Zoo gets the fall treatment with activities throughout the park including a pumpkin patch, corn maze, and pumpkin carving. Kids can tackle the bouncy houses, ride the Ferris wheel and the tractor-themed carousel, or take on the giant burlap slide. Join the Halloween festivities at the Annual Spooky Zoo Spectacular on October 28 with trick or treating, a haunted house, and arts-and-crafts. 3. DIA DE LOS MUERTOS (DAY OF THE DEAD) Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles October 26-27, $25; ladayofthedead.com This fall holiday, with its traditional colorful skulls and white faces, is often confused for Mexican Halloween. Instead, it’s a celebration of friends and family who have died, with festivities held in a cemetery. This year’s gathering honors Coatlicue, the Aztec mother of the gods, with traditional Aztec blessings, ritual dancers in full costume, music, and theatrical performances. Check out more than 100 altars created by the local community on display, the art exhibition, and the arts and crafts for sale. 4. OKTOBERFEST New Orleans October 5-6, 12-13, 19-20; $8; deutscheshaus.org NOLA is a city that likes to party, so it’s no surprise that their Oktoberfest is wunderbar. Feast on traditional German food including brats, schnitzel, Bavarian pretzels, or try one of 20 German beers and schnapps. Then get your groove on with traditional Oompa music and some good old-fashioned chicken dancing. Dachshund races and a schnauzer parade and costume contest are adorable must-sees. 5. HARVEST FESTIVAL AT EL RANCHO DE LAS GOLONDRINAS 334 Los Pinos Road, Santa Fe, NM October 6-7; $8; golondrinas.org Called the “Williamsburg of the South,” this 200-acre living history museum dedicated to the history of 18th- and 19th-century New Mexico offers a hands-on fall fiesta, Southwest-style. Join villagers dressed in period clothing as you stomp grapes for wine or press apples for cider, string chile ristras and roll handmade tortillas. There’s also pumpkin picking, mule-drawn wagon rides, traditional music and dance, and a market offering New Mexican crafts. 6. SCARECROW HARVEST Milton Ave, Alpharetta, GA September 29; free admission; alpharetta.ga.us The scarecrow gets major props in this Atlanta suburb when more than 120 of the colorful, life-size strawmen line the downtown streets. Pose with your favorite bird scarer, created by local students, businesses, and families, then boogie to live country music, chow down on barbecue, and let the kids enjoy the hayrides, bouncy houses, face painting, and storytelling. 7. AUTUMN AT THE ARBORETUM Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Dallas September 22-October 21, 2018; $15; dallasarboretum.org Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere — an astounding 90,000 of them — make up the amazing Peter Pan-themed village at the Arboretum. Pumpkin-created scenes include Tinker Bell’s home, the house of the Darlings, the Lost Boys’ hideout, and Captain Hook’s pirate ship. Don’t miss the Halloween bash on October 27-28 with trick-or-treating, face painting, a petting zoo, and appearances by the Neverland characters. 8. NATIONAL APPLE HARVEST FESTIVAL Arendtsville, PA October 6-7, 13-14, 2018, $10; appleharvest.com Just outside Gettysburg is Pennsylvania apple country, where more than 35 varieties of the fruit are grown. Sample as many as you can at this sweet festival, plus cider, apple sauces, jellies, pies, pancakes, sweets, and more. Tour the orchards, then check out more than 300 crafts vendors and the antique car and steam engine collection. There’s also live music and dancing, hay rides, a petting zoo, and pony rides. 9. SNALLYGASTER BEASTLY BEER JAMBOREE Washington, D.C. October 13, 2018; $40; snallygasterdc.com Cheers to beers! Lift up your glass as 120 of the world’s best breweries serve up more than 350 small-batch craft beers and ciders, including American and international brews, cask ales and Franconian lager, locally brewed beers, and more. Bring the kids: This is a family event with live music and food trucks plus face painting, temporary tattoos, and games. Proceeds from the event help support Arcadia, a nonprofit dedicated to creating a local food system in the D.C. area. 10. THE GREAT MISSISSIPPI RIVER BALLOON RACE Natchez, MS October 19-21, 2018, $35 for the full event; natchezballoonrace.com From the grounds of a historic Antebellum home, more than 60 colorful hot air balloons take to the skies over a beautiful backdrop of the Mississippi River. Brave souls can go for a short ride, the rest of us can watch one of the daily races from the ground. Enjoy live music, Southern craft brews, carnival rides and games, arts and crafts, and German-style food.
50 States of Great American Wine!
TEXAS HILL COUNTRY Even wine production is bigger in Texas. Take Hill Country, a 14,000-square-mile expanse in the center of the state. With 32 wineries, it’s America’s second-largest AVA (American Viticultural Area, or grape-growing region with unique geological features)—and one of the nation’s fastest-growing, too. Vintners can thank the hot, dry weather, which is perfect for growing Mediterranean-style grapes such as tempranillo and syrah. Visit: One of the state’s oldest wineries, Becker Vineyards has had its bottles opened at both the Super Bowl and the White House (beckervineyards.com, tastings $10, open daily). Eat: At Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, the meat is smoked for five-plus hours over mesquite coals and sold by the pound (coopersbbq.com, pork ribs $11 per pound). Do: Grab an inner tube and hit the horseshoe-shaped Guadalupe River, where you’ll find the locals floating away their lazy summer days (shantytubes.com, four-hour tube rental $15). Stay: Fredericksburg’s Full Moon Inn plays up the town’s German roots with its breakfast menu of sweet-potato pancakes and German sausages (fullmooninn.com, from $150). Other notable wineries: Fall Creek Vineyards (fcv.com, tastings from $5, open daily). Flat Creek Estate (flatcreekestate.com, tastings from $7, open Tuesday-Sunday). Fredericksburg Winery (fbgwinery.com, up to five tastings free, open daily). Spicewood Vineyards (spicewoodvineyards.com, tastings $5, open Wednesday–Sunday). PASO ROBLES, CALIFORNIA It’s roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and 240 miles south of Napa, but “Paso,” known for its zinfandel and syrah, might as well be on another planet. It’s uncrowded, unpretentious, and, best of all, unlikely to drain your wallet. Most of its small, family-run wineries charge just $5 to $10 to taste six wines—if they charge at all. Visit: At Eberle Winery, visitors can roam the 16,000-square-foot cave where its award-winning zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon are aged (eberlewinery.com, tastings free, open daily). Eat: Farmstand 46 in Templeton embodies Paso’s agricultural bent, growing much of the produce that tops its wood-fired pizzas (farmstand46.com, pizzas from $10). Do: Tour the olive mill at Pasolivo, a local farm that’s been pressing handcrafted oils for over a decade (pasolivo.com, tours and tastings free). Stay: The just-remodeled Paso Robles Inn has a heated pool and a central downtown location (pasoroblesinn.com, from $141). Other notable wineries: Justin Vineyards & Winery (justinwine.com, tastings $10, open daily). Pipestone Vineyards (pipestonevineyards.com, tastings $10, open Thursday–Monday). Tablas Creek Vineyard (tablascreek.com, tastings $10, open daily). Tobin James Cellars (tobinjames.com, tastings free, open daily). CENTRAL VIRGINIA It’s been more than 200 years since Thomas Jefferson planted vineyards at Monticello. Now, with six AVAs and 206 wineries, Virginia is the country’s fifth-largest producer of wine—including some of the best Viognier made outside of France’s Rhône Valley. Visit: Built on the grounds of a Thomas Jefferson-designed mansion and owned by Italian winemakers, Barboursville Vineyards is one of the state’s most renowned wineries (barboursvillewine.com, tastings $5, open daily). Eat: In Charlottesville’s historic district, Brookville specializes in contemporary American food, from braised pork breast to spicy raspberry jelly doughnuts (brookvillerestaurant.com, braised pork breast $22). Do: Explore Monticello, which contains Jefferson’s furniture, art, and books (monticello.org, tour $24), and scope out the University of Virginia, which he also designed (virginia.edu, tours free). Stay: Guest rooms at Dinsmore House Inn are named after presidents (including Madison, Monroe, and, yes, Jefferson) and have hand-carved mahogany beds (dinsmorehouse.com, from $109). Other notable wineries: Blenheim Vineyards (blenheimvineyards.com, tastings $5, open daily). Chrysalis Vineyards (chrysaliswine.com, tastings from $5, open daily). Horton Vineyards (hortonwine.com, tastings free, open daily). RdV Vineyards (rdvvineyards.com, tours $40 including food, by appointment only). LEELANAU PENINSULA, MICHIGAN This low-key Michigan spot sits on the 45th parallel, which also happens to run through France’s Bordeaux region. Adding to the peninsula’s appeal: an exploding food scene (Mario Batali owns a home here) and powdery beaches. Visit: At Black Star Farms, you can pair pinot noir and merlot with fromage blanc from the on-site creamery (blackstarfarms.com, five tastings $5, open daily). Eat: The Cove serves local seafood several ways, including in pâté form and as a garnish for Bloody Marys, a Batali favorite (thecoveleland.com, Bloody Mary $12). Do: Take in the 64 miles of public beach at Sleeping Bear Dunes (sleepingbeardunes.com). Stay: The 32-room, Bavarian-style Beach Haus Resort fronts East Grand Traverse Bay (thebeachhausresort.com, from $90). Other notable wineries: Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery (fortyfivenorth.com, three tastings free, open daily). L. Mawby (lmawby.com, two tastings free, open daily). Peninsula Cellars (peninsulacellars.com, up to four tastings free, open daily). Two Lads (2lwinery.com, six tastings $5, open daily). FINGER LAKES, NEW YORK Long eclipsed by West Coast wine hubs, upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region is finally snagging some acclaim. With good reason: The country’s largest wine producer east of California, it’s also a prime travel destination, with green forests, glistening waters, and a smattering of charming small towns. Visit: Unlike many wineries, Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards harvests all the grapes for its celebrated Rieslings by hand (wiemer.com, tastings $3, open daily). Eat: The menu at Red Dove Tavern, a gastropub in Geneva, changes weekly to highlight the freshest seasonal ingredients—such as an appetizer of duck leg in rhubarb-barbecue sauce, paired with green-chile grits (reddovetavern.com, duck leg $10). Do: Go waterfall-spotting. Among the most impressive (and accessible) of the area’s cascades: the towering, 215-foot Taughannock Falls near Ithaca (taughannock.com). Stay: The wide porch at Magnolia Place B&B, in an 1830s farmhouse, overlooks Seneca Lake (magnoliawelcome.com, from $140). Other notable wineries: Bloomer Creek Vineyard (bloomercreek.com, tastings free, open Friday-Sunday). Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars (drfrankwines.com, tastings free, open daily). Heart and Hands (heartandhandswine.com, tastings free, open Saturday-Sunday). Heron Hill (heronhill.com, tastings from $3, open daily). WALLA WALLA, WASHINGTON Tucked away in remote southeastern Washington (more than 150 miles from Spokane), Walla Walla is a farm town traditionally known for wheat and onions. But its current cash crops are the ones squeezed into its excellent cabernet, merlot, and syrah. In the past two decades, the number of area wineries has shot up from six to about 125—they’re everywhere from Main Street to the local airport. Even actor (and Washington native) Kyle MacLachlan couldn’t resist: He cofounded a label (named Pursued By Bear, a Shakespeare reference) here in 2005. And thanks to a $53 million facelift, the city’s downtown is lined with cafés, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants. Visit: The family-owned L’Ecole No. 41, run out of a 1915 schoolhouse, is prized for its signature red blend Perigee (lecole.com, tastings $5, open daily). Eat: For greasy goodies, locals love the divey Green Lantern, where MacLachlan swears by the burger (509/525-6303, burger $10). For more highbrow eats (house-cured duck prosciutto, yellowfin tuna crudo), visit the tapas-style Jim German Bar in Waitsburg (jimgermanbar.com, tuna crudo $14). Note to java junkies: Get your fix at Walla Walla Roastery, where the coffee beans are roasted on-site (wallawallaroastery.com, latte $3.50). Do: Meander through mountains of the Umatilla National Forest, which offers 19 trails of varying difficulties; the scenic, 2.6-mile Jubilee Lake path is good for beginners (541/278-3716). Stay: Exposed-brick walls and loads of original art create a cozy vibe at Walla Faces, in a 1904 building on the town’s main drag (wallafaces.com, doubles from $145). Other notable wineries: Buty (butywinery.com, tastings $5, open daily). Dunham Cellars (dunhamcellars.com, tastings $5, open daily). Gramercy Cellars (gramercycellars.com, tastings free, open Saturdays). Woodward Canyon (woodwardcanyon.com, tastings $5, open daily). 44 OTHER NOTABLE WINERIES Alabama (13 wineries): Until 2002, vineyards here were limited to the “wet counties,” where alcohol sales were legal. Now vintners make sweet wine from heat- and humidity-friendly muscadine grapes grown statewide. You can pick them yourself in September, when Morgan Creek Vineyards in Harpersville hosts an I Love Lucy-style stomping party. morgancreekwinery.com, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $10–$20. Alaska (8 wineries): Grapes don’t fare well in Alaska, so Bear Creek Winery, in Homer, imports concentrate to blend with local fruit (gooseberry, black currant) for hybrid concoctions like Blu Zin, a zinfandel infused with wild blueberries. bearcreekwinery.com, open daily, bottles $18–$27. Arizona (48 wineries): Arizona’s high-desert climate is similar to that of wine mecca Mendoza, Argentina. At Caduceus Cellars in the Verde Valley, Maynard James Keenan (better known as the singer from the band Tool) cranks out robust reds such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and Sangiovese. caduceus.org, tastings $10, open daily, bottles $17–$28.Arkansas (15 wineries): Some of Arkansas’s oldest vines belong to Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, founded by a Swiss winemaker who settled in the Ozarks in 1880. The winery is even listed in the National Register of Historic Places. wiederkehrwines.com, open daily, bottles $5–$18. Colorado (107 wineries): Colorado’s wine industry is flourishing in the Grand Valley, a trio of quaint towns 250 miles southwest of Denver. Canyon Wind Cellars offers gorgeous mountain views along with its award-winning Petit Verdot. canyonwindcellars.com, open daily, bottles $13–$40. Connecticut (24 wineries): No matter where you are in Connecticut, there’s a winery within a 45-minute drive. A must-try is Hopkins Vineyard, set among scenic hills in a converted 19th century barn and known for its sweet ice wine, made when grapes—though not the sugar inside—freeze on the vine. hopkinsvineyard.com, tastings $6.50, hours vary, bottles $12–$17. Delaware (3 wineries): This tiny state isn’t big on wine production—craft beer is more its speed—but 18-year-old Nassau Valley Vineyards wins awards for its merlot, pinot grigio, and cabernet sauvignon. nassauvalley.com, open daily, bottles $13–$30. Florida (31 wineries): Florida’s muggy climate and intense rainfall plague most grapes, so vintners have started replacing them with the state’s favorite export: citrus. Florida Orange Groves Winery in St. Petersburg makes their wines from key limes, tangerines, and other tropical fruits. floridawine.com, open daily, bottles $18–$23. Georgia (30 wineries): Three Sisters Vineyards in Dahlonega is the state’s good-time winery. Come in September and October for its Swine Wine Weekends, complete with BBQ and live music. threesistersvineyards.com, tastings $5–$25, open Thursday–Sunday, bottles $10–$45. Hawaii (3 wineries): Two miles outside Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Winery is a popular post-climb spot for thirsty adventurers. The 64-acre winery uses macadamia nuts and guava in some wines, as well as muscat and Grenache Gris grapes that thrive in volcanic soil. volcanowinery.com, open daily, bottles $18–$24. Idaho (48 wineries): Most of Idaho’s wineries sit in the Snake River Valley, where blazing days and chilly nights make for well-balanced bottles. The Cinder Winery, located in a warehouse outside Boise, is known for its rosé, named Best in the Northwest in 2009. cinderwines.com, tastings $5, open Friday–Sunday, bottles $18–$27. Illinois (98 wineries): In 1979, Fred Koehler, then a country-club manager, turned a basement booze-making hobby into the state’s first wine label. His Lynfred Winery has classier digs now—a mansion with a four-suite B&B. lynfredwinery.com, tastings $9, open daily, bottles $10–$30. Indiana (63 wineries): Bloomington’s Oliver Winery specializes in strawberry, mango, and black cherry wines (many grapes can’t survive Indiana’s winters), plus Camelot Mead, made from fermented orange-blossom honey. oliverwinery.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $10–$14. Iowa (82 wineries): In the past decade, the number of Iowa wineries has jumped nearly sevenfold. Perhaps the quirkiest is the Renaissance-themed King’s Crossing Vineyard & Winery, dotted with faux medieval torture devices. kingscrossingvineyard.com, open Saturday–Sunday, bottles $13–$28. Kansas (22 wineries): Every bottle at Oz Winery is a friend of Dorothy’s—after all, this is Kansas. Best of all, you can sample wines such as Drunken Munchkin, Auntie Em’s Prairie Rose, and Yellow Brick Road for free—Kansas law prohibits tasting fees. ozwinerykansas.com, open daily, bottles $18–$30. Kentucky (61 wineries): Be warned, bourbon: Earlier this year, Lexington-based Jean Farris winery snagged a gold medal at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for its cabernet sauvignon—the highest honor for a Kentucky grape to date. jeanfarris.com, tastings $5–$12, open Tuesday–Sunday, bottles $11–$65. Louisiana (6 wineries): Sixty miles north of New Orleans, Pontchartrain Vineyards is the only Louisiana winery using exclusively European-style grapes. Bonus for foodies: Its wines pair well with spicy gumbo, crawfish, and shrimp. pontchartrainvineyards.com, tastings $5, Wednesday–Sunday, bottles $10–$20. Maine (20 wineries): In the coastal town of Gouldsboro, Bartlett Maine Estate Winery incorporates local, hand-raked blueberries into its acclaimed Blueberry Oak Dry wine. bartlettwinery.com, open Tuesday–Saturday, bottles $16–$45. Maryland (51 wineries): Maryland wineries largely depend on out-of-state grapes (California, Virginia, New York). Black Ankle Vineyards, founded in 2008, is leading the charge for homegrown fruit, producing 12 varietals on its land 35 miles from Baltimore. blackankle.com, tastings from $7, open Friday–Sunday, bottles $28–48. Massachusetts (40 wineries): Since the small, family-owned Westport Rivers opened on Massachusetts’s southeastern coast 25 years ago, its wine has been poured at both the real White House (courtesy of Bush Sr. and Clinton) and the smallscreen one (via The West Wing). westportrivers.com, tastings $8, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $20–$45. Minnesota (38 wineries): At Carlos Creek, Minnesota’s largest winery, wines are made from Frontenac grapes, developed by the University of Minnesota to withstand temperatures as low as 20 below. carloscreekwinery.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $15–$25. Mississippi (6 wineries): At the Old South Winery in Natchez, wine is made exclusively from Mississippi muscadines and not barrel-aged, which would interfere with the candy-sweet, fruit-forward taste. oldsouthwinery.com, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $8.25–$11.25. Missouri (118 wineries): Home to the country’s first Viticulture Area in 1980, Missouri has added 30 wineries in the past three years alone. The 165-year-old Stone Hill, in the German-style town of Hermann, brought home over 100 medals just last year, at competitions from New York to California. stonehillwinery.com, open daily, bottles $8–$25. Montana (8 wineries): Montana’s short growing season means its handful of wineries have to get creative with their recipes. Flathead Lake Winery—the only state winery to exclusively use native fruit–finds its preferred grape substitutes in local cherries and huckleberries. flatheadlakewinery.com, open daily, bottles $10–$20. Nebraska (25 wineries): Founded in 1997 with 100 grapevines imported from New York, James Arthur Vineyards has grown into Nebraska’s largest winery—and has one of its coziest tasting rooms, too. There, visitors can warm up by a roaring fireplace with a glass of semi-sweet Vignoles, named the best white wine at 2010’s Monterey (California) Wine Competition. jamesarthurvineyards.com, tastings from $4, open daily, bottles $10–$25. Nevada (3 wineries): Parking is never a problem at Pahrump Valley Winery–if you have a helicopter. The mom-and-pop spot, which has won more than 300 national awards, has its own landing pad for high-rollers visiting from nearby Las Vegas. pahrumpwinery.com, open daily, bottles $12–$25. New Hampshire (25 wineries): After demand shot up for LaBelle Winery’s fruit wines (like cranberry and apple), the owners traded their 1,500-square-foot barn for a facility 13 times the size; the new space opens this September. labellewinerynh.com, open Wednesday–Sunday, bottles $14–$25. New Jersey (34 wineries): At Unionville Vineyards, set on an 88-acre farm, the head winemaker is a Napa expat fond of European-style grapes like syrah, grenache, and mourvedre. One to try: The Big O, a blend of merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon. unionvillevineyards.com, tastings from $5, open daily, bottles $12–$46. New Mexico (46 wineries): New Mexico’s hot, arid climate and high elevation give a boost to its prolific wine industry (production is expanding by nearly 15 percent annually). Sparkling wine is the main draw at Albuquerque’s Gruet Winery, owned by a pair of siblings from France’s Champagne region. Gruet’s bottles, many of which retail for less than $20, have graced wine lists at restaurants in all 50 states, including many with Michelin stars. gruetwinery.com, tastings from $6, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $14–$45. North Carolina (109 wineries): The number of North Carolina wineries has more than quadrupled since 2001, but the most popular is Biltmore, on the picturesque, 8,000-acre Asheville estate of the same name. In fact, it’s the most visited winery in the country, with roughly 60,000 folks dropping in each year. The sparkling Blanc de Blanc has been served at New York’s James Beard House. biltmore.com, tastings from $49 including guided tour and access to the historic Biltmore House, open daily, bottles $10–$25. North Dakota (9 wineries): In 2009, less than half of 1 percent of the wine sold in North Dakota was made in-state. But in tiny Burlington, the owners of Pointe of View aim to change that. Their Terre Haute Rouge, a semi-sweet blush, is made entirely from local grapes. povwinery.com, open daily May–December, bottles $12–$14. Ohio (148 wineries): Ohio’s winemaking history dates to the 1820s, and the state now churns out more than 1 million gallons annually. Most Ohio wineries are in the northeast, where Lake Erie tempers the cold, but don’t miss Kinkead Ridge down south. Its Viognier-Roussanne and cabernet franc were featured in the 2011 book 1,000 Great Everyday Wines from the World’s Best Wineries. kinkeadridge.com, tastings from $3, hours vary, bottles $10–$23. Oklahoma (21 wineries): Sleek and urban, Girouard Vines in downtown Tulsa plays up the city’s Art Deco history. The labels on the five award-winning Tulsa Deco wines feature local landmarks like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Westhope residence, built in 1929 on the city’s southeast side. tulsawine.com, tastings from $10, open Thursdays, bottles $18–$25. Oregon (450 wineries): Oregon is responsible for some of America’s best wines—in particular, the pinot noirs of the Willamette Valley. Left Coast Cellars in Rickreall uses only estate-grown grapes to make theirs—in a winery partly powered by solar energy. leftcoastcellars.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $16–$55. Pennsylvania (180 wineries): Thirty years ago, Pennsylvania had 20 wineries; now, it counts 180 (plus five AVAs and 11 wine trails). About 30 miles west of Philadelphia, Chaddsford Winery’s colonial-era barn is a cozy spot to taste award-winning merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and Naked Chardonnay, which foregoes oak-barrel aging to let its citrus flavors shine. chaddsford.com, tastings for sweet wines free, dry wines $10, open Thursday–Sunday, bottles $13–$50. Rhode Island (5 wineries): Portsmouth’s Greenvale Vineyards capitalizes on southeastern New England’s coastal climate to produce subtle chardonnay and crisp Vidal Blanc. Its sprawling Victorian farm also makes a lovely setting for Saturday jazz concerts from May to November. greenvale.com, tastings from $12, open daily, bottles $15–$28. South Carolina (12 wineries): Don’t be fooled by the name: The vineyards at Victoria Valley (elev. 2,900 feet) claim some of the state’s highest turf. The altitude aids in making European-style chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. victoriavalleyvineyards.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $8–$25. South Dakota (19 wineries): The rural Strawbale Winery combines unorthodox ingredients—currants, coffee, and jalapeños—and unconventional packaging: Wine bottles can be dipped in a half-pound of gourmet chocolate around Valentine’s Day and Christmas. strawbalewinery.com, tastings $5, open Wednesday–Sunday, bottles $12–$13. Tennessee (41 wineries): Founded by country-music star Kix Brooks (of Brooks and Dunn), Arrington Vineyards, set among verdant 25 miles south of Nashville, puts a Southern spin on grapes imported from the Napa Valley. Their spicy red Antebellum, for one, is aged in Tennessee whiskey barrels. arringtonvineyards.com, open daily, bottles $18–$50. Utah (8 wineries): Tours of Moab’s Castle Creek Winery, on a working ranch 4,000 feet above the Colorado River, are enhanced by its views of rugged red-rock cliffs and swirling white-water rapids. castlecreekwinery.com, open daily, bottles $9–$13. Vermont (24 wineries): Northern Vermont’s bracing winters produce fantastic ice wine. Some of the best is made at Snow Farm, on an island in Lake Champlain: It’s wowed the critics at Wine Spectator and the judges at 2011’s Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition. snowfarm.com, tastings from $1, open daily May–December, bottles $12–$45. West Virginia (14 wineries): West Virginia makes up for its short supply of grapevines with a bounty of pears, apples, and peaches—which are made into sweet, all-local wine at the 22-year-old Forks of Cheat, in the Appalachian Mountains. wvwines.com, tastings free, open daily, weather permitting, bottles $10.50–$15.50. Wisconsin (90 wineries): Hungarian immigrant Agoston Haraszthy–often called the father of California viticulture–spent two years planting grapes in Prairie du Sac, Wisc., in the 1840s before he ever set foot in Sonoma. Today, you can imagine what the fruits of his labor might have tasted like at the family-owned Wollersheim Winery, built on his former stomping grounds; the winery has won raves for its Fumé Blanc and Riesling. wollersheim.com, open daily, bottles $6.50–$22. Wyoming (2 wineries): When University of Wyoming student Patrick Zimmerer planted grapes on his family’s farm in Huntley (population: 30) as part of a school project in 2001, he singlehandedly doubled the tally of Wyoming vineyards. Eleven years and a $10,000 business-school grant later, his Table Mountain Vineyards has graduated to making 10-14 varieties of wine. wyowine.com, open by appointment, bottles $15.
More Places to go
State of Louisiana
Louisiana or La Louisiane (/lwi.zjan/) (French) is a state in the Deep South and South Central regions of the United States. It is the 19th-smallest by area and the 25th most populous of the 50 U.S. states.
St. Francisville is a town in, and the parish seat of, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 1,765 at the 2010 U.S. census, and 1,589 at the 2020 population estimates program. It is part of the Baton Rouge metropolitan statistical area.
Avoyelles (French: Paroisse des Avoyelles) is a parish located in central eastern Louisiana on the Red River where it effectively becomes the Atchafalaya River and meets the Mississippi River. As of the 2010 census, the population was 42,073. The parish seat is Marksville. The parish was created in 1807, with the name deriving from the French name for the historic Avoyel people, one of the local Indian tribes at the time of European encounter.Today the parish is the base of the federally recognized Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe, who have a reservation there. The tribe has a land-based gambling casino on their reservation. It is located in Marksville, the parish seat, which is partly within reservation land.