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  • Lincoln, Nebraska
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    Lincoln,

    Nebraska

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    Lincoln is the capital city of the U.S. state of Nebraska and the county seat of Lancaster County. The city covers 96.194 square miles (249.141 km2) with a population of 289,102 in 2019. It is the second-most populous city in Nebraska and the 68th-largest in the United States. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area in the southeastern part of the state called the Lincoln Metropolitan and Lincoln-Beatrice Combined Statistical Areas. The statistical area is home to 356,083 people, making it the 105th-largest combined statistical area in the United States. The city was founded in 1856 as the village of Lancaster on the wild salt marshes of what was to become Lancaster County. Renamed after President Abraham Lincoln, it became Nebraska's state capital in 1869. The Bertram G. Goodhue–designed state capitol building was completed in 1932, and is the second tallest capitol in the United States. As the city is the seat of government for the state of Nebraska, the state and the United States government are major employers. The University of Nebraska was founded in Lincoln in 1869. The university is the largest in Nebraska with 26,079 students enrolled, and is the city's third-largest employer. Other primary employers fall into the service and manufacturing industries, including a growing high-tech sector. The region makes up a part of what is known as the greater Midwest Silicon Prairie. Designated as a "refugee-friendly" city by the U.S. Department of State in the 1970s, the city was the twelfth-largest resettlement site per capita in the United States by 2000. Refugee Vietnamese, Karen (Burmese ethnic minority), Sudanese and Yazidi (Iraqi ethnic minority) people, as well as other refugees from Iraq and the Middle East, have been resettled in the city. During the 2018–2019 school year, Lincoln Public Schools provided support for approximately 3,000 students from 150 countries, who spoke 125 different languages.
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    Lincoln Articles

    Inspiration

    How 42 decaying president heads found a home in a Virginia field

    From George Washington to George W Bush, each bust is 18-20 feet high, weigh between 11,000-20,000 pounds and sit in varying states of decay. The heads were moved to the field after the failure of President's Park, an attraction that was intended for tourists to Williamsburg, but wasn't met with much success. When the park failed, the busts were scheduled to be destroyed, but Howard Hankins couldn't bear the thought, and offered to take the busts to his privately owned farm. But moving the busts proved difficult, the process broke noses off and put holes in the back of some of the heads. Abraham Lincoln's bust has a hole in the back of his head (a poignant reminder of his assassination) and Ronald Reagan's bust was struck by lightening. There was at one time a miniature head of Barack Obama, but it appears to have been stolen. The busts sit on private property that is not open to the public, but tours are offered occasionally. Photography tours are run by John Plashal. There are plans to remove the President's heads to another location, potentially for another run at a museum. Those plans appear to be on hold as of 2020.

    News

    Here's How President Biden's COVID-19 Plan Will Impact US Travel

    [Updated 02 24 2021] Within his first few days as the 46th President of the United States of America, Joe Biden implemented a new set of state-side COVID-19 travel regulations. After rescinding the ban that prevented certain individuals from entering the United States, he continued rolling out executive orders related to tourism to create stricter COVID-19 regulations. As a part of his Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce, masks are now required in National Parks and at monuments, memorials, and historic sites that are a part of the federal lands. The executive order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel requires face masks on all modes of interstate transportation within the States, including flights, buses, ships, and trains as well as in airports. While U.S. airlines have already been requiring passengers to wear masks, this is the first time there’s been a federally mandated mask policy during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the early January policy requiring negative COVID-19 tests for arriving travelers, all passengers arriving into the United States will now be required to quarantine. The administration has stated that anyone coming into the United States by air, “will need to test before they get onto that plane before they depart and quarantine when they arrive in America.” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement that "we welcome the president’s focus on policies that will encourage safe travel and help restore the millions of U.S. travel jobs that were lost last year... and we also strongly support the president’s mask mandate for interstate travel, which is in line with the industry’s health and safety guidance.” The COVID-19 travel executive order went into effect on January 26th. However, the White House has yet to release a statement regarding the length of the mandatory quarantine period for incoming visitors. The Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, and the Coast Guard are all expected to provide recommendations on the quarantine length within the next week, in addition to a plan to handle fraudulent tests and entry for passengers arriving from countries where tests aren’t easily accessible. Some medical professionals support the comprehensive plan. For instance, Bob Bacheler, a critical care flight nurse said “President Biden’s policies are merely bringing the United States closer to the rest of the world’s standards. Every country I’ve entered has required had some form of COVID-19 testing. Some were as simple as a temperature check and a document indicating travel history (Mexico) to being met at the airport by people in full PPE and receiving a Covid test at the airport (Togo). When I’d return to the US, I’d pass through customs and never speak to anyone or have anyone ask where I had been.” Cherene Saradar, a travel blogger and a nurse anesthetist who has been working with COVID-19 patients, reflected a similar sentiment saying that she’d like to see stricter requirements for those traveling domestically. Lola Méndez is a sustainable travel advocate who writes the responsible lifestyle blog Miss Filatelista.

    Budget Travel Lists

    Budget Travel guide to the Florida Keys

    If you’re looking for a road trip that combines nightlife, laid back beaches, and a little Key Lime pie, the four hour drive from Miami to Key West is the perfect adventure. The Florida Keys are a chain of islands just south of Miami that stretch 125 miles, and the most ideal time to visit is during the spring months from March to May or during the fall after hurricane season has ended on November 1st. But truly, visiting the Keys is a good idea no matter what time of year. Whether it's a family vacation, a girlfriend getaway, or a solo expedition, there’s something for everyone in the Keys. Read on for a guide to where to stay, what to do, and where to eat along the way. MIAMI If you’re flying into Miami, I recommend spending at least one night on South Beach. There’s a wide range of accommodations - the Fontainebleau Miami Beach (starting at $350) or the The Setai (starting at $530) are good places to spot A-list celebrities. But if you’re craving something a little more lowkey (this is Budget Travel, after all), book a room at Miami’s favorite hostel The Broken Shaker (starting under $30 a night for a shared room) or the Selina Miami (starting at $75) that’s tucked away in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. If you’re just driving through Miami and only have a few hours to spare, find a parking garage (street parking is notoriously hard to find), and stroll down Ocean Drive. Rent a bike, watch the bodybuilders, or snap a picture in front of one of the unique lifeguard stands For the full Miami experience, book a table at one of the many restaurants along Ocean Drive like the South Beach incon, A Fish Called Avalon ($$$). For something a little more understated, check out one of my favorite restaurants near Lincoln Road mall, Taqueria Bodega ($$). The tacos are authentic and the sodas are homemade. For a real treat, use the “secret door” in the back to enjoy a hidden after hours lounge. Big brown pelicans in the Florida Keys. ©romrodinka/Getty Images KEY LARGO Once you leave the neon lights of Miami, things slow down considerably. The keys have a laid back, hippie vibe that thumbs its nose at its northern neighbor. Located about 70 miles from Miami, Key Largo is the largest section of the keys and a gateway to the rest of the Florida Keys. You won’t find any highrises in Key Largo, but you’ll find a lot of RV campsites, kitschy souvenir shops, and billboards advertising a chance to feed alligators. Accommodations range from quiet luxury to bare bones. Check out the Playa Largo Resort and Spa (starting at $219) where you can lounge in a hammock on the white sand beach and order drinks from the poolside bar. But for something a little more off the beaten path, check into any one of the condos, airbnbs, or smaller hotels along the main highway like the Coconut Palm Inn (starting at $159). Key Largo is also home to John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park, which is great for scuba diving, snorkeling, and kayaking. Because of its small beach area, John Pennekamp is more suited for activities, so if you’re looking for a beach with a more sandy area to lay out on, try nearby Cannon Beach or Far Beach. Big Betsy the Giant Lobster is a featured roadside attraction in Islamorada. ISLAMORADA From Key Largo head south on US Highway 1 for about 17 miles to Islamorada. The area, named by Spanish explorers in the 1500s, means “Purple Isle.” And although it’s only 20 miles long, there’s still plenty to do. For a quick bite, stop by the food truck Taco Jalisco. Locals love the Mexican eatery, and you can order tacos and hang out next door in the Florida Keys Brewing Company beer garden and listen to live music. Across the street is Morada Bay, an open air restaurant directly facing the Florida bay. You can order from the more casual beach cafe side or eat the upscale Pierre’s Lounge. Either way, enjoy a stunning sunset while sipping a Key Lime Colada or Cucumber Martini. We highly recommend the Key Lime Colada - it's a must-have. Stop in Islamorada at the Rain Barrel Artist's Village for some local handmade crafts and boutiques. You'll know you've found it when you see Betsy the Giant Lobster out front. Another must see attraction in Islamorada is Robbie’s. The marina is a hub for water activities like parasailing, jet skiing, and paddle boarding, but the main attraction is feeding the tarpon. Walk through the vibrant open air marketplace to the back of the marina, and after paying the $2.25 admission, you can buy a $4.00 bucket of fish to feed the monster tarpon that can grow up to 8 feet long. After the adrenaline rush of Robbies, settled in for the 30 mile drive to Marathon. MARATHON The road between Islamorada and Marathon is lined with iconic stilt houses, nature trails, and some of the best beaches in Florida. In Marathon, get your swimsuits and cameras ready. I recommended visiting Bahia Honda State Park. There's a $8 per vehicle entry fee (plus a county surcharge), but the views are priceless. Step onto the fine white sand, and wade out into the crystalline waters or take the short hike up the beach trail and snap pictures off the Old Bahia Honda Bridge that was built in the 1900s. Other nearby beaches to check out are Sombrero or Cocoplum Beach. After splashing around, it’s time for the final stretch to Key West, just 50 miles away. Watch the sunset from Mallory Square. Photo by Laura Brown. KEY WEST One of the most spectacular views of the road trip is driving over the famous 7 mile bridge that starts in Knights Key in Marathon and ends in Little Duck Key. The commute feels like you’re driving across the ocean, and on a sunny day the sun glitters off the turquoise waters, making it hard to look away. If you need a jolt of caffeine, head over to the Cuban Coffee Queen. There are several locations, but if you want to announce your arrival to your Instagram followers with a picture in front of the “Greetings From Key West” mural, be sure to visit the Margaret street location (284 Margaret St). Once you reach Key West, head straight to the “90 miles to Cuba” buoy. The marker is a huge attraction, and lines can get long. If it’s your first time in the Keys, it’s worth getting a photo. Don’t let the long lines dissuade you - there’s always something to keep you entertained. People in Key West are talkative and friendly, and you can buy fresh coconut water or shaved ice from one of the street vendors while you wait. Besides you’re now on Key West time, which means everything is a little slower. Key West is made for walking, but there are several ways to get around town. I recommend parking in a lot for the day and then either renting a scooter or golf cart. Not ready to brave the roads? Hop onto the Duval Loop, a free public bus that will take you around downtown Key West. Make sure you catch a sunset from Mallory Square. You can also tour Ernest Hemingway's Key West house, known for its famous 6-toed cats. If it’s your first time in Key West, it’s worth it to check out some of the well known establishments like Blue Heaven restaurant or the famous Sloppy Joes and Hog’s Breath Saloon bars. But if you want something different, check out restaurants like Santiago’s Bodega, Mo’s Restaurant, El Siboney, or Bad Boy Burrito. Some lively options for bars include Tiki House, The Rum Bar. or Captain Tony’s Saloon. It’s not a trip to Key West without some Key Lime pie. While there are many places that claim to serve the best pie, you can’t go wrong with these three: The Key Lime Pie Company, Key Lime Pie Bakery, or Kermit's Key Lime Shop. My advice? At the end of a long day of exploring Key West, pick the closest one and enjoy a cool, tart slice of pie in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Explore the giant fortress at Dry Tortugas National Park. Photo by Laura Brown. DRY TORTUGAS Key West offers a launch point for people who would like to experience one of America's most remote National Parks. Dry Tortugas National Park is located 70 miles west of Key West, and can only be accessed by boat or sea plane, both of which leave from Key West and can be booked at https://www.drytortugas.com/. Those who make the trip to Dry Tortugas will get a day of exploring an old brick coastal fortress in Fort Jefferson, or snorkel the protected coral reefs. For an additional fee, you can camp overnight at Fort Jefferson, which offers some of the best stargazing options on the East Coast. You'll see several shipwrecks from old boats that hit the reefs, and get a new appreciation for the people who lived and worked in the Florida Keys.

    Inspiration

    11 cities where you can honor veterans in the United States

    Nearly 30 years after armistice was officially declared, formally ending World War I, a veteran named Raymond Weeks suggested turning the relatively new national holiday dedicated to world peace into Veterans Day to honor all US service members. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, himself a World War II veteran and five-star general, officially signed the observance of Veterans Day on November 11 into law in 1954. Veterans Day joined Memorial Day, established in 1868, and Armed Forces Day, first observed in 1950, as opportunities for Americans to honor the men and women who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and National Guard. But you don't have to wait for a national holiday to learn more about the contributions of veterans to US history – indeed, there are numerous museums, memorials, national parks, and national cemeteries around the country dedicated to telling the story of the country's military. Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice. USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor © Pung / Shutterstock Honolulu, Hawaii The US Navy has had a significant presence in Hawaii for 200 hundred years, particularly on the island of Oahu where Pearl Harbor naval base was developed in 1899. When the infamous Japanese attack on December 7, 1941 drew the United States into World War II, it cost 2,403 U.S. personnel their lives and another 1,000 were wounded. Today you can learn more about the history of the US Navy in Hawaii, and honor the casualties and veterans of Pearl Harbor at several sites throughout Honolulu, including the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum Park, the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, Battleship Missouri Memorial, and USS Oklahoma Memorial. There are also numerous tours you can take that combine several of these sites together with expertise from a local guide – and even offer line-hopping privileges so you can stay focused on the history at hand. The Navajo Code Talker monument in Window Rock Navajo Reservation © ullstein bild via Getty Images Window Rock, Arizona Native Americans enlist in the military at five times the national average, with the highest per-capital participation of any other population group in the country and a history of service that dates back to the first days of the United States' existence. Learn more about the contributions of Indigenous veterans at the Navajo Veterans Memorial Park, which honors the Dine code talkers who were the backbone of Marine Corps efforts to use Indigenous languages to create secret, uncrackable transmissions during World War I and World War II. Note: the Navajo Nation has currently closed its borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the Liberty Memorial in front of a crowd of over a hundred thousand in 1926 © Davel5957 / Getty Images Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City is home to the National World War I Museum, selected in 1921 in part because the city's rail station had proved quite the crossroads for thousands of soldiers criss-crossing the country as they prepared for, shipped out to, and returned from the front. Indeed, the handsome art deco Liberty Memorial Tower sits right across from Union Station. But it's the museum itself where you can really linger – rather than focusing only on the US troops, the museum's collection includes items from every nation which participated in World War I and is one of the largest collections of WWI artifacts in the world. Originally members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, the name Buffalo Soldiers eventually stuck to all Black regiments who served in the US military © Everett Collection Historical / Alamy Stock Photo Houston, Texas In 1866, Congress passed the Army Organization Act, allowing for the formation of four regiments of Black calvary who initially served out of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and soon spread across the western frontier. The men serving in these units soon came by the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" when they encountered Native Americans across the plains, and the name stuck to the 10th Cavalry from the Civil War through numerous other conflicts, including the Spanish American War and Philippine-American War, and on through the Korean War. Some of the most famous Buffalo Soldiers include boxing great Joe Louis and ground-breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson. Even after the traditional regiments were effectively disbanded and integrated with white troops, their legacy lived on in songs by musicians like Bob Marley, The Flamingos, and Quincy Jones. You can learn more about the proud and complex history of these tenacious troops at a museum dedicated to their achievements in Houston, Texas – the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum. Cannon at the Gettysburg Battlefield at sunset © drnadig / Getty Images Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Gettysburg remains an important touchstone for Americans even 157 years after one of the most crucial battles of the Civil War was fought here and President Abraham Lincoln's famous address on national unity. At the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, you can learn more about why it was such a significant – and bloody – campaign that cost 8,000 soldiers their lives. Take a tour of the battlefield itself, whether self-led, with a park ranger, or on a guided bus tour, and pay a visit to Dobbin House, an important stop on the Under Ground Railroad in the region and the oldest surviving home in the area. Last but certainly not least, pay your respects to the 3,500 Union soldiers who are interred at the Getysburg at the National Cemetery. While it's just an hour and a half from Washington DC to Gettysburg, you can make a day trip or a weekend of it by booking a stay at the nearby. You can actually rent abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens' log home – built in 1790 and beautifully restored as a vacation rental – which is close to numerous historic sites like the Shriver House Museum and Jennie Wade House. Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois © Ray Laskowitz / Lonely Planet Chicago, Illinois Best known as the home of the Chicago Bears, it's sometimes easy to forget that Soldier Field is a memorial to those service members who gave all in World War I. But that's not all Chicago has to offer veterans or those who want to learn more about service members' contributions. Pay a visit to the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, founded by Colonel Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG as a non-partisan institution dedicated to increasing public awareness and understanding of military history and the many individuals who played a part. You can also visit the National Veterans Art Museum, which for 35 years has collected over 2,500 artworks by those who have served in combat, not only in the US, but around the world. The powerful works in the collection range from paintings and sculptures to intermedia pieces and installations that reflect on themes from PTSD to portraiture, reentry to revolution. In 2017, the National World War II Museum received a US$370 million makeover that included several exciting new exhibits © Carol Barrington / Alamy Stock Photo New Orleans, Louisiana You might be surprised that the National World War II Museum is in New Orleans rather than, say, Washington DC. But it was Louisianan workers who designed and constructed the amphibious Higgins Boat landing craft that helped US soldiers succeed in campaigns like the famous storming of Normandy on D-Day. Today, the World War II Museum has a slew of artifacts in their collection, from preserved documents and footage to a restored watercraft, aircraft, submarines and more. If you really want to immerse yourself in history, you can book a tour that includes a ride on the PT-305 torpedo boat on Lake Pontchertrain. R2WA23 A group of Maryland Army National Guard soldiers attended the reopening of the Army Womens Museum, Fort Lee, Virginia, Nov. 2, 2018 © Alamy Stock Photo Fort Lee, Virginia While women weren't officially allowed to join the military until the Army Nurse Corps was created in 1901, countless women served served their country since the American Revolution – and some like Cathay Williams even disguised themselves as men to get into active combat. You can learn more about the long history of women in the military at the the US Army Women's Museum in Fort Lee, Virginia. This unique institution first got its start in 1955 in For McClellan, Alabama, but has since lived a few different lives in a few different locations before settling down in Fort Lee Virginia in 1999 and expanding in 2018. Today, it's home to over 1.5 million documents, as well as uniforms, photographs, and other artifacts that paint a vivid picture of the oft-overlooked heroines of the US military. The Museum of the American Revolution opened in 2017 © Jumping Rocks via Getty Images Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Go back to the beginning of US military history at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. It's one of the most popular attractions in a city already packed with history, and goes beyond what you might have read in your elementary school textbooks to include the stories of women, African-Americans and Native Americans. You can get a broad overview of the Revolution and how it unfolded, as well as more personal, in-depth look at figures like Richard St. George, who is the focus of a new exhibit called Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier. Visitor looks for a name at the the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington DC © Rick Gerharter/Lonely Planet Washington DC Last but certainly not least, the nation's capitol is, naturally, full sites honoring veterans lives and contributions. From the National World War II Memorial to the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Vietnam Women's Memorial to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, many are well-known, thoughtfully designed tributes to those who lost their lives fighting for their country. Others, like the American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial honor a different sort of sacrifice, while the United States' oldest and best-known resting place for veterans endures at Arlington National Cemetery. There are also tours that combine some of the city's most significant memorials and give you a chance to hear their stories in detail from a knowledgable guide. But there are numerous museums, too, where you can learn about US military history and the veterans who took part. The African American Civil War Museum tells the story about the men for whom military service was not just an act of patriotism, but also a path to freedom. For a particularly moving experience, opt for an African-American history city tour of DC that includes a stop at this unique museum. The National Guard Memorial Museum encompasses nearly 400 years of this unique wing of the Department of Defense – and you can even take a virtual tour, too. American Sailors are honored with their own collection, too, at the National Museum of the US Navy, though as of October of 2020, the museum is closed while a new campus is constructed outside the current location in the Washington Navy Yard, allowing improved access. And, of course, the National Air & Space Museum and National Museum of American History have much to offer those interested in military history, too.

    Inspiration

    Does Abraham Lincoln's ghost haunt The White House?

    The White House is one of the USA's most iconic buildings. Imagine how much its walls have seen since it opened in 1800. The spirits of countless scandals, wars, assassinations, and other political skullduggery are commonplace. But what if other spirits haunt the walls of The White House? As it turns out, multiple people report being haunted by one particular ghost - that of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, who was assassinated on April 14, 1865 and died just a few blocks from The White House, has been said to haunt the halls since his death. The first reported haunting of Abraham Lincoln's ghost happened in 1870. A photographer named William H. Mumler took a photo of the widowed Mary Todd Lincoln. When the photo was processed, the ghost of her husband can be seen standing behind her. Sharp minds might dismiss this as an accidental double negative, or some other type of trick with film. But, consider these other reports.Mary Todd Lincoln with the ghost of her husband. Photo by William H. Mumler (public domain) Several First Families have reported hearing footsteps pacing the hall outside the Lincoln bedroom. Eleanor Roosevelt reported that her dog, Fala, would often bark at what she presumed to be Lincoln's ghost. Harry Truman's daughter Margaret reported hearing a specter tapping on the door of the bedroom. President Truman himself reported being jolted awake in the middle of the night by taps on the Lincoln bedroom door. Other White House employees have reported seeing shadows of Abraham Lincoln sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom, or pulling on his boots. People also claim to have seen Lincoln's ghost directly. First Lady Grace Coolidge was the first person to report physically seeing the ghost - she saw Abraham Lincoln standing at a window, staring outside. On one occasion, FDR's personal valet ran screaming from The White House after he saw Lincoln's ghost. President Lyndon Johnson also reported seeing Abraham Lincoln's ghost, in times of distress. Johnson reportedly asked the ghost of Abraham Lincoln how to handle war, and reported Lincoln's response to be "don't go to the theater." The Lincoln Bedroom. Source: Library of Congress.Lincoln's presence doesn't just haunt Americans. In 1942, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands claims to have heard footsteps outside the bedroom she was staying in at The White House. She answered a knock at the door, and then found Abraham Lincoln, in his coat and top hat, standing before her. Winston Churchill reportedly met Abraham Lincoln's ghost while naked. Churchill was fresh out of a bath, where he loved to drink scotch and smoke a cigar to relax. He walked into his White House bedroom fully naked, still smoking a cigar, only to see the apparition of Abraham Lincoln standing near the fireplace. As Churchill told it later, he tapped the end of his cigar and said "Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage." Reportedly, Lincoln laughed to himself and disappeared.

    Budget Travel Lists

    California's 10 best hiking trails

    Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions due to COVID-19 or the California wildfires before planning any trip and always follow government advice. Rubicon Trail A hugely scenic trail on Lake Tahoe's western shore. It ribbons along the lakeshore for 4.5 mostly gentle miles from Vikingsholm Castle (add a mile for the downhill walk to the castle from Hwy 89) in Emerald Bay State Park, then leads past small coves perfect for taking a cooling dip, and treats you to great views along the way. Add an extra mile to loop around and visit the restored historic lighthouse, a square wood-enclosed beacon (that looks a lot like an outhouse) constructed by the Coast Guard in 1916. Poised above 6800ft, it’s the USA’s highest-elevation lighthouse. Mist Fall Hike This very enjoyable 8-mile, round-trip walk along the riverside, up a natural granite staircase and finishing at the falls, which (when the wind is right) blows refreshing water droplets at hikers on arrival, highlights the beauty of Kings Canyon. The first 2 miles are fairly exposed, so start early to avoid the midday heat on the 700ft ascent. Continuing past Mist Falls, the trail eventually connects with the John Muir/Pacific Crest Trail to form the 42-mile Rae Lakes Loop, the most popular long-distance hike in Kings Canyon National Park (a wilderness permit is required). The Coastal Trail in San Francisco is a beautiful 4-mile hike © Chris LaBasco / Getty Images / iStockphoto Coastal Trail Hit your stride on this 10.5-mile stretch, starting at Fort Funston, crossing 4 miles of sandy Ocean Beach and wrapping around the Presidio to the Golden Gate Bridge. Casual strollers can pick up the restored trail near Sutro Baths and head around the Lands End bluffs for end-of-the-world views and glimpses of shipwrecks at low tide. At Lincoln Park, duck into the Legion of Honor or descend the gloriously tiled Lincoln Park Steps (near 32nd Ave). High Sierra Trail A contender for the best trail in Sequoia National Park – it's definitely on many world's best hike lists – the High Sierra trail begins at Crescent Meadow and continues for 49 miles. From 6700ft it climbs to an altitude of 10,700ft, crossing ridges, rivers, lakes, waterfalls and offering the most jaw-dropping mountain and valley views. It also connects to junctions for the famous John Muir Trail. If you can only make one stop in Tuolumne, visit Cathedral Lake © AdonisVillanueva / Getty Images Cathedral Lakes If you can only manage one hike in Tuolumne, this should probably be it. Cathedral Lake (9588ft), the lower of the two Cathedral Lakes, sits within a mind-blowing glacial cirque, a perfect amphitheater of granite capped by the iconic spire of nearby Cathedral Peak (10,911ft). From the lake’s southwestern side, the granite drops steeply away, affording views as far as Tenaya Lake, whose blue waters shimmer in the distance. Parking for the Cathedral Lake Trailhead is along the shoulder of Tioga Rd. Due to the popularity of this hike, parking spaces fill up fast, so arrive early or take the free shuttle. Santa Monica Mountains A haven for hikers, trekkers and mountain bikers, the northwestern-most stretch of the Santa Monica Mountains is where nature gets bigger and wilder, with jaw-dropping red-rock canyons, and granite outcrops with sublime sea views. The best trails are in Pacific Palisades, Topanga and Malibu. The Backbone Trail is the longest trail in the range, linking – and accessible from – every state park. It’s 67 miles all told, running from Will Rogers to Point Mugu State Park, and can be completed in a few days. Take in all the coastal views at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve © Debbie Allen Powell / Getty Images Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Walkers and hikers explore eight miles of hillside sandy trails in a wilderness oasis of 2000 acres. Choose from routes of varying difficulties in this well-trodden coastal state park in La Jolla. The 0.7-mile Guy Fleming Trail (currently closed due to COVID-19) has panoramic sea views and paths through wildflowers, ferns and cacti. Meanwhile, the 1.4-mile Razor Point Trail (currently closed due to COVID-19) offers a good whale-spotting lookout during winter months. Flora and fauna is abundant in this protected area. During quieter times, with fewer stomping feet, quiet walkers may spot raccoons, rabbits, bobcats, skunks and foxes among plenty of other types of wildlife. You'll have to pay for parking. Tahquitz Canyon Considered historic and sacred by the Agua Caliente people, this gorgeous canyon, located in the Greater Palm Springs, can be explored via a fairly steep and rocky 1.8-mile (round-trip) hike culminating at a 60ft waterfall. An interpretive trail guide that's available at the visitor center points out rock art, viewpoints and native plant life. The center also has natural- and cultural-history exhibits and screenings of The Legend of Tahquitz video about an evil Cahuilla shaman. Bring a picnic, water and be sure to wear sturdy footwear. If you don't want to head out on your own, join a ranger-led 2½-hour hike departing four times daily (once daily July to September) from the visitor center. Don't let the name fool you, the Boy Scout Trail is a tough 8-mile one-way route © NatalieJean / Shutterstock Boy Scout Trail For an immersion into Joshua Tree flora and topography, embark on this tough 8-mile one-way trail cutting through canyons, washes and mountains along the western edge of the Wonderland of Rocks. Most hikers prefer to launch from Park Blvd near the Quail Springs picnic area and head north to Indian Cove. Arrange for pick-up at the other end or plan on camping overnight. Part of the trail is unmarked and hard to follow. Rings Loop Trail This fun 1.5-mile trail delivers close-ups of the Swiss-cheese-like cliffs of the Hole-in-the-Wall area at the Mojave National Preserve. Starting at the south end of the parking lot, it passes petroglyphs before entering an increasingly narrow canyon that you have to scramble out of using metal rings. You'll emerge at a picnic area and follow a paved road back to the parking lot. For a shorter experience (0.5 miles), use the rings to descend straight into the canyon and climb back out the same way. This piece orginally appeared on our sister site, Lonely Planet.

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