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    Highlands,

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    Highlands is an incorporated town in Macon County in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Located on a plateau in the southern Appalachian Mountains, within the Nantahala National Forest, it lies mostly in southeastern Macon County and slightly in southwestern Jackson County, in the Highlands and Cashiers Townships, respectively. The permanent population was 1,014 at the 2020 census.
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    Inspiration

    15 travel movies to get you through quarantine

    To get through the COVID-19 quarantine crisis, we polled our readers for some of their favorite travel movies. Here is a list of 15 movie recommendations to scratch your travel itch while you're stuck at home: Eat Pray Love (rent on Amazon for $2.99) Liz Gilbert had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having -- a husband, a house, a successful career -- yet like so many others, she found herself lost, confused, and searching for what she really wanted in life. Newly divorced and at a crossroads, Gilbert steps out of her comfort zone, risking everything to change her life, embarking on a journey around the world that becomes a quest for self-discovery. In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy; the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali. Under the Tuscan Sun (Hulu) Frances Mayes is a 35-year-old San Francisco writer whose perfect life has just taken an unexpected detour. Her recent divorce has left her with terminal writer's block and extremely depressed. Her best friend, Patti, is beginning to think that she might never recover. "Dr. Patti's" prescription: 10 days in Tuscany. It's there, on a whim, that Frances purchases a villa named Bramasole--literally, "something that yearns for the sun." The home needs much restoration, but what better place for a new beginning than the home of the Renaissance? As she flings herself into her new life at the villa in the lush Italian countryside, Frances makes new friends among her neighbors; but in the quiet moments, she is fearful that her ambitions for her new life--and new family--may not be realized, until a chance encounter in Rome throws Frances into the arms of an intriguing Portobello antiques dealer named Marcello. Even as she stumbles forward on her uncertain journey, one thing becomes clear: in life, there are second chances. Secret Life of Walter Mitty (FX Now) (Rent on Amazon for $3.99) Ben Stiller directs and stars in THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, James Thurber's classic story of a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker (Kristen Wiig) are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. Lost in Translation (Starz, rent on Amazon for $3.99) After making a striking directorial debut with her screen adaptation of The Virgin Suicides, Sofia Coppola offers a story of love and friendship blooming under unlikely circumstances in this comedy drama. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is a well-known American actor whose career has gone into a tailspin; needing work, he takes a very large fee to appear in a commercial for Japanese whiskey to be shot in Tokyo. Feeling no small degree of culture shock in Japan, Bob spends most of his non-working hours at his hotel, where he meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) at the bar. Twentysomething Charlotte is married to John (Giovanni Ribisi), a successful photographer who is in Tokyo on an assignment, leaving her to while away her time while he works. Beyond their shared bemusement and confusion with the sights and sounds of contemporary Tokyo, Bob and Charlotte share a similar dissatisfaction with their lives; the spark has gone out of Bob's marriage, and he's become disillusioned with his career. Meanwhile, Charlotte is puzzled with how much John has changed in their two years of marriage, while she's been unable to launch a creative career of her own. Bob and Charlotte become fast friends, and as they explore Tokyo, they begin to wonder if their sudden friendship might be growing into something more. Midnight in Paris (Showtime, rent on Amazon for $3.99) This is a romantic comedy set in Paris about a family that goes there because of business, and two young people who are engaged to be married in the fall have experiences there that change their lives. It's about a young man's great love for a city, Paris, and the illusion people have that a life different from theirs would be much better. Into the Wild (Showtime, rent on Amazon for $2.99) Freshly graduated from college with a promising future ahead, 22 year-old Christopher McCandless instead walked out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people. Was Christopher McCandless a heroic adventurer or a naïve idealist, a rebellious 1990s Thoreau or another lost American son, a fearless risk-taker or a tragic figure who wrestled with the precarious balance between man and nature? McCandless' quest took him from the wheat fields of South Dakota to a renegade trip down the Colorado River to the non-conformists' refuge of Slab City, California, and beyond. Along the way, he encountered a series of colorful characters at the very edges of American society who shaped his understanding of life and whose lives he, in turn, changed. In the end, he tested himself by heading alone into the wilds of the great North, where everything he had seen and learned and felt came to a head in ways he never could have expected. Edie (Rent on Amazon for $3.99) Following the death of her husband, Edie (Sheila Hancock) breaks free from years of his control and rebels against her daughter's wish for her to move into assisted living by embarking on an adventure she and her father had always longed for: a trip to the Scottish Highlands to climb the world famous Mt. Suilven. Along the way, she hires young camping shop owner Jonny (Kevin Guthrie) to be her guide. Despite the generational differences, Jonny encourages Edie to fulfill her dream. 7 Years in Tibet (Rent on Amazon for $2.99) Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Name of the Rose, Quest for Fire) directed this Becky Johnston adaptation of Heinrich Harrer. In 1943, an Austrian mountain climber-skier (Brad Pitt) escapes from a British internment camp in India, travels over the Himalayas, arrives in Lhasato, and becomes friends with the Dalai Lama. Filmed in Argentina, Chile, and Canada. Life of Pi (Rent on Amazon for $3.99) Director Ang Lee creates a groundbreaking movie event about a young man who survives a disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an amazing and unexpected connection with another survivor...a fearsome Bengal tiger. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Rent on Amazon for $3.99) When they turn 16, four lifelong friends are upset over the prospect of spending their first summer apart. As they scatter to different locations, their one bond is a cherished pair of jeans they've shared. Each will keep the pants for two weeks of her trip, passing them on to the next girl. Each faces serious coming-of-age problems, and somehow the pants help them through. National Lampoon’s Vacation (Hulu) The first film in the Vacation comedy franchise stars Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, an ad exec who becomes consumed with taking his family cross-country to Wally World, a California amusement park. Less a vacation than a descent into a peculiarly American kind of hell, the Griswolds suffer through an endless series of catastrophes, culminating in a run-in with the law. Up in the air (Amazon Prime, Hulu) Ryan Bingham, a corporate hatchet man who loves his life on the road, is forced to fight for his job when his company downsizes its travel budget. He is required to spend more time at home just as he is on the cusp of a goal he's worked toward for years: reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams. Cast Away (Cinemax, $3.99 Amazon) An exploration of human survival and the ability of fate to alter even the tidiest of lives with one major event, Cast Away tells the story of Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks), a Federal Express engineer who devotes most of his life to his troubleshooting job. His girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt) is often neglected by his dedication to work, and his compulsive personality suggests a conflicted man. But on Christmas Eve, Chuck proposes marriage to Kelly right before embarking on a large assignment. On the assignment, a plane crash strands Chuck on a remote island, and his fast-paced life is slowed to a crawl, as he is miles removed from any human contact. Finding solace only in a volleyball that he befriends, Chuck must now learn to endure the emotional and physical stress of his new life, unsure of when he may return to the civilization he knew before. Cast Away reunites star Hanks with director Robert Zemeckis, their first film together since 1994's Oscar-winning Forrest Gump. Mile, Mile and a Half (Netflix) Filmmakers Ric Serena and Jason Fitzpatrick follow an ever-growing group of adventurous young artists on their ambitious quest to hike all 219 miles of California's John Muir Trail. Expedition Happiness (Netflix) Two free spirits, one dog. Traveling the vast spaces of an enormous continent in search of something more.

    Family

    Explore The Neighborhoods Connected to Mr. Rogers

    While you can watch the legacy of Mister Fred Rogers on film – with a 2018 documentary and a November 2019 release starring Tom Hanks – why not make a trip to where you can learn more about the man who liked you just the way you are? Launched in 2018, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” a self-guided “Fred Rogers Trail” marks 15 stops throughout Western Pennsylvania. It connects Latrobe, where Rogers was born, to Pittsburgh, about 40 miles away and where Rogers made a great local impact. Marketed as a three-day itinerary, here are some places along the trail that teach more about the man who known for his cardigans and tennis shoes. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh Mister Rogers had been a major supporter of this north side Pittsburgh Children's museum since its inception in 1983. As a thank you to their friend and mentor, Rogers is remembered here through his show puppets and other belongings. In its Nursery exhibit, find King Friday XIII, Queen Sarah Saturday, Henrietta Pussycat, X the Owl, Lady Elaine Fairchilde, Daniel Striped Tiger and Gran Pere. A Roger’s sweater is on display outside of the MAKESHOP space, a place where children can learn how to create things. James H. Rogers Park Named for Mister Rogers’ father, this park in Latrobe has a statue of Rogers seated on a bench. The public can sit down and join him, keep him company and take a selfie with him. The park also is the site of a historical marker signifying Rogers’ connection to Latrobe and his work as a puppeteer, TV show host and an ordained minister. Senator John Heinz History Center A Smithsonian Institute affiliate, the Senator John Heinz History Center along Pittsburgh’s Strip District welcomed in the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” exhibit in its special exhibitions gallery in 2015. It has the largest collection of original set pieces from the show on public view. Select objects on display are the entryway and living room set that Rogers walked through to begin each show, along with King Friday XIII’s Castle, the Great Oak Tree and other props from “Neighborhood of Make-Believe, plus Picture Picture and Mr. McFeely’s “Speedy Delivery” tricycle. Be greeted by a life-like Mister Rogers, complete with his sweater, necktie, khakis and sneakers.Ace Hotel Pittsburgh This trendy hotel is not only a place to spend the night on your route but also another Mister Rogers’ connection. Based in a century-old building in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood, this Pittsburgh ACE Hotel location was a former YMCA where Rogers was a regular member and swimmer. “Tribute to Children” While it’s easy to say The Mister Rogers Statue, this memorial at Pittsburgh’s North Shore is officially titled “Tribute to Children.” It was designed by the late American sculptor Robert Berks (other works include the Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial and the Albert Einstein Memorial, both in Washington, D.C.). Dedicated in 2009, this 7,000-pound bronze sculpture depicts Rogers sitting down and tying on his sneakers. Placed on a Manchester Bridge pier along the Allegheny River, as a nod to Rogers’ love of swimming, the memorial has a circular walkway and an accompanying sound system playing Rogers’ musical compositions. Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning & Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College In Latrobe, this center carries out Rogers’ vocation of fostering healthy child development and houses a multimedia exhibit on its namesake. This exhibit chronicles Rogers’ life and work, from his roots in Latrobe, to his early years and subsequent decades in television, up through his vision on children’s education and growth through the century. See wall panels with photos and narratives, video screens with program and interview clips of or about Rogers, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood related articles. Have fun at a “Speedy Delivery” letter-writing station. Unity Cemetery Pay your respects to Rogers at his place of burial within this cemetery in Latrobe. Rogers lies here in a family mausoleum along with his father, James Hillis Rogers, and his mother, Nancy McFeely Rogers, among other relatives. The mausoleum sits atop a hill near the back of the cemetery, with prime panoramic views of the Chestnut Ridge of the Laurel Highlands. Idlewild & SoakZone At this amusement park in Ligonier, visitors can take a trolley ride through Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, an attraction based on the animated children’s TV program that was inspired by the original Mister Rogers program.

    FamilyBudget Travel Lists

    The 10 Best Zoos in the US

    There are plenty of fun, interesting ways to walk on the wild side all across North America, but these destination zoos lead the pack by offering some of the most memorable visitor experiences rooted in animal encounters, community outreach, conservation efforts, unique programming and special events. Lincoln Park Zoo The 35-acre Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868 on Chicago’s north side, making it one of the oldest in the country. Movie buffs might remember the Lester E. Fisher Great Ape House from its appearance in the 1999 film Return to Me; although the habitat has since transformed into the $26 million Regenstein Center for African Apes, the mighty gorillas are still a major draw. There’s also an amazing conservatory on site to check out. Best of all, the zoo stays open 365 days a year, and while you may have to pay for parking, admission is always free. San Diego Zoo Long respected for its conservation initiatives, the Balboa Park-based San Diego Zoo houses more than 3,700 animals across 650 different species, many rare or endangered. The property is massive and navigation can be a little overwhelming; double-decker bus tours make it easier to get the lay of the land. A few of the most popular animal attractions include the Australian Outback koalas, the 2.5-acre elephant habitat and the penguin-populated Africa Rocks exhibit. Hearts broke when the zoo’s beloved giant pandas were returned to their Chinese homeland in spring 2019. However, the adorable red pandas are still around to admire. Cincinnati Zoo Paired with a world-class botanical garden, the Cincinnati Zoo has been delighting Midwestern youngsters and their families since 1875 when it opened under the direction of the Zoological Society of Cincinnati. A pioneer in successful breeding efforts, the facility launched the Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife in 1986 to help propagate and preserve globally endangered species. Amid the lovingly tended collection of animal exhibits, visitors tend to gravitate toward the cheetah run, the meerkats and the lions, but the world-famous Fiona — a charming young hippo born in early 2017 — is the biggest animal celebrity in residence. Bronx Zoo A much-loved New York City fixture since 1899 and the largest city zoo in the US, the Bronx Zoo gives guests a glimpse into the world-wide animal kingdom within the beating heart of the urban jungle. With more than 260 forested acres to explore and 6,000 animals from aardvarks to zebras, this expansive attraction merits at least a full day to truly appreciate. Expect to do a lot of walking; you can always hop on the Wild Asia monorail or the seasonal Dinosaur Safari for a quick breather. The facility is also notable for having opened the very first veterinarian-staffed animal hospital back in 1916. Henry Doorly Zoo Home to the largest indoor desert habitat in the world, the Henry Doorly Zoo’s soaring glazed geodesic Desert Dome has come to be one of the most recognizable landmarks in Nebraska. Inside, a 55-foot tall central “mountain” divides the landscape into distinctive Namib, Australian and Sonoran habitats; nocturnal creatures make their home in the Kingdoms of the Night exhibits on the lower level. Elsewhere on the property, immersive Asian Highlands, Alaskan Glacier Bay and African Grasslands exhibits transport visitors around the world without ever leaving Omaha. The stunning Scott Aquarium facility showcases sea turtles, sharks and other marine life. Indianapolis Zoo Arranged in five distinctive biome areas, the Indianapolis Zoo delivers a comprehensive visitor experience for animal lovers of all ilks. The organization partners with global researchers to promote animal conservation and education, acknowledging the work of worthy recipients with the coveted Indianapolis Prize awarded annually. The ethereal Dolphin Pavilion often doubles as an event space (guests can even arrange in-water adventures to swim along), and the Simon Skojdt International Orangutan Center furthers efforts to study and support these majestic animals in the wild. Access to the lovely White River Gardens is included in the price of admission. St Louis Zoo One of several appealing attractions that populate Forest Park, the city’s verdant crown jewel, the free-to-visit St Louis Zoo receives approximately 3 million visitors each year. A leader in animal management, conservation and awareness with assistance from the Saint Louis Zoo Wildcare Institute, this friendly Midwestern facility houses and cares for more than 17,000 resident mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects on site. The zoo originated during the 1904 World’s Fair, taking shape around the original Flight Cage that still stands as part of the Cypress Swamp exhibit in the Historic Hill section. Woodland Park Zoo This Seattle-based organization enlightens visitors as to the vital roles conservation and sustainability play (particularly in the Pacific Northwest region) through field projects and interactive exhibits spanning 70 developed acres. Bioclimate zones range from tropical rainforest and Australasian to temperate forest and African savanna habitats, housing more than 1,100 animals across 300 species. African Lions and Malayan Tigers and Brown Bears — oh my! Don’t miss the Assam Rhino Reserve, a partnership project with the International Rhino Foundation that raises funds to protect these threatened animals from illegal poaching. Detroit Zoo With sections that showcase African forest and grasslands dwellers; Arctic animals; and American, Asian and Australian-hailing creatures, the 125-acre Detroit Zoo offers plenty of incentives to visit. The state-of-the-art Polk Penguin Conservation Center is currently closed until summer 2020 for repairs, but once it reopens, visitors will be able to again observe the antics of 75 resident penguins in a spectacular 25 foot-deep, 326,000-gallon aquatic facility. In the meantime, you can still enjoy the butterfly garden, the bird enclosures and a diverse variety of other animal exhibits. Sedgwick County Zoo Wildlife park meets mainstream animal attraction at this award-winning Wichita zoo, where guests can watch elephants splash, play and eat in the third largest dedicated habitat in the country. Spend some time in the Downing Gorilla Forest, then marvel at the big cats in the immersive Slawson Family Tiger Trek. Animals are grouped according to geographical origin, making it easy to beeline directly to African, Asian, North American or tropical settings. A leisurely wander through the impressive aviary caps off the adventure in fine feathered form.

    Adventure

    8 Beautiful Off-the-grid Getaways in the US

    In an ever-connected world, it can be hard to plan a fully unplugged getaway. Yet there are properties that are design to provide or at least feel remote enough to get their guests off of the grid. From not having steady wi-fi, to being far from major roads, here are cabins, lodges and campgrounds across the United States that provide some self-recharging. Glamping Getaway Goblin Valley Yurts Within Southern Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park, two heated and cooled yurts blend in with the park’s outer-space looking rock formations. For reserve year-round, the tan-colored yurts contain just a porch, living area, a single bed bunked on a double bed and a futon. Guests should pack a flashlight and candles, as the yurts lack electricity. Yet this certified dark sky park will keep visitors busy with wandering among its Valley of Goblins or canyoneering down into Goblin’s Lair. Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge Reaching this coastal Alaskan lodge on Fox Island requires a 12-mile boat ride from Seward to arrive. The eight guest cabin property and its main lodge are nestled in the woods between a pristine pebble beach and a quiet lagoon. Relying on renewable energy as a power source, but backed up by propane generators, the cabins go without electrical outlets, TVs, radios or phones (emergency communication access is available, in case of a serious issue). Guests can also hike or kayak or learn more about the area’s marine life from on-staff naturalists. Osprey Cabin in Lake Metigoshe State Park This backcountry cabin within this state park in northern North Dakota is accessible by one of two ways – a 2-mile hike or a 1.5-mile canoe ride and short portage. It’s also retro in a rural way. It sleeps up to six with two full beds and two twin beds and includes a wood burning stove, with supplied wood to fuel it, and a lantern with propane cylinders. Now here comes the hard part: along with no electricity or cell service, a vault toilet is available onsite, but water has to be packed in. Head down more than eight miles of trails open to hikers and mountain bikers and go swimming or boating within small lakes. Taos Goji Eco-Lodge At this eco-lodge that’s 15 miles outside of Taos, New Mexico, and nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, get inspired not only from forest views but also from previous guests. Their turn of the century built cabins hosted writers D.H. Lawrence and Aldous Huxley; the latter wordsmith built an outhouse that’s still intact at the property. They’re heated by wood fire stoves; wi-fi can be spotty and cellular service can be little to none. Nonetheless, the eco lodge also introduces a bit of farm living in that it cultivates organic goji berries, fruits and vegetables and raises free-range chickens, goats and alpaca. Timberlock This camp-style retreat within New York State’s Adirondacks region provides a nostalgic experience for those who fondly remember spending their summers away from home and time in the woods with their loved ones. The family-owned retreat has rustic cabins ranging in size from small to extra large, but having views of Indian Lake’s shoreline. Note that none of them have electricity. Propane both provides light and warms up the hot water heaters, and a wood stove helps out with chilly nights, but complaining about not having wi-fi or TV is little to none. Visitors are kept busy through kayaking, canoeing and other waterside activities along with ops for biking or playing tennis covered. Pioneer Cabins in Kumbrabow State Forest Situated on top of Rich Mountain, along the edge of the Allegheny Highlands, this West Virginian state park provides the opportunity to stay in one of six West Virginian pioneer cabins. These rustic gems will transport guests far back from our digital age – as in no electricity and running water -- yet they have modern-day comforts. The cabins contain gas lights and gas refrigerators, a kitchen, linens, a wood fireplace and a grill. Take this to heart – showering is at a central bathhouse and the need for a restroom is fulfilled by outside toilets. Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Built in 1920, near Yellowstone’s Tower Falls area, these rustic cabins are at a campsite once used by President Theodore Roosevelt; they give off an “Old West” sense too. The Frontier Cabins typically consiss of two double beds and a bathroom, while their counterpart Roughrider Cabins have one or two double beds and wood burning stoves plus give off a sense of roughing it where guests have to make treks to communal showers and bathrooms. For a full-on Western experience, it’s possible to also partake in horseback trail riding, go on a stagecoach ride and join fellow Westerns in a communal Old West Dinner Cookout. Appalachian Mountain Club Maine Wilderness Lodges th century, the pondside Gorman Chairback Lodge & Cabins d has four deluxe cabins with private bathrooms and eight shoreline cabins with woodstoves and gas lamps plus a bunkhouse.>span class="s2"> The Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins contains nine private cabins, with a combo of doubles and bunk beds plus a porch, a woodstove, and gas lamps; for an additional fee, dogs can camp out here. Medawisla Lodge & Cabins (meaning loon in Abenaki) has five private hilltop cabins and four waterfront cabins with electric LED lighting and a woodstove. Len Foote Hike Inn You reach this Georgian backcountry inn via a hike to Amicalola Falls State Park. Before you go, know cellphones, radios and just about any electronic device aren’t allowed; but the park’s visitor center can become an emergency contact. Its four main buildings hold 20 bedrooms with fans or heaters, bunkbeds, furnished linens and ample lighting. Within the dining hall, guests get served a family-style breakfast and dinner. After hiking, go for a soak in bathhouse or hang out and chat with others in the Sunrise Room. The inn is also a gateway to the Appalachian Trail or the moderate 9.8-loop Len Foote Hike Inn Trail.

    Travel Tips

    ​How to Plan a Whisky Tour to Scotland's Speyside Region

    In the pastoral region of Speyside in northeast Scotland, whisky is everywhere. Vast, blond fields of barley stretch under open skies. Wooden whisky barrels sit stacked behind low stone warehouses. Whisky bars and bottle shops line the streets, the signature pagoda-shaped chimneys where malt is roasted peek above the green hillsides, and the sweet smell of fermenting barley fills the air.There are more than 100 whisky distilleries operating in Scotland, and more than half of them are located in Speyside, a subregion of the Highlands. It’s the capital of single-malt whisky production in Scotland, and in fact, the world. More single malt whisky is produced here than anywhere else, and tiny towns with just 1,000-2,000 people often support at least two or three working distilleries. For whisky lovers – particularly Scotch whisky lovers – Speyside a playground for the palate. And for those who've never so much as sipped a dram, there's no better place to learn the ins and outs of whisky production and sample a wide range of styles. Here’s your primer on tasting your way around Speyside. Distillery Tours While each distillery puts its own unique spin on things, the basic processes are the same. Rather than trying to tour every distillery, focus on visiting a cross-section of distilleries, or choose brands you’re especially passionate about (they may have some distillery-exclusive bottles you can’t get anywhere else). A street in Dufftown © Katie Hammel / Budget TravelAberlour runs a very informative tour and tasting that’s great for beginners. The 90-minute tour costs £15 per person and includes a walk through the distillery, an overview of how whisky is made, and a tasting of six whiskies. Continue your education at Balvenie, which grows and harvests its own barley onsite and is the only distillery that still practices floor malting in which barley is germinated on a floor. Small-group tours are offered three times per day for £50 per person, and you can bottle your own Balvenie for an additional £30. To see the future of whisky production, head to The Macallan. One of the most modern distilleries in the region, both in design and production style, The Macallan distillery is a gleaming, glass-and-steel monument to whisky and an architectural marvel. Half of the structure is built into the hillside, sheltered under a living roof covered in grass. Underneath that grass, some 2500 individual sheets of Scandinavian spruce – held together only by pressure, with no glue, nails, or other materials – form the distillery ceiling. And, almost all (95%) of the distillery’s energy comes from renewable courses. Ninety-minute introductory tours cost £15 per person, while 2.5-hour tours that go deep into the state-of-the-art production area cost £100 per person. One of the most inexpensive options for tours is Glenfiddich, where a 90-minute tour with three tastings costs just £10 per person. And if you don’t want to spring for that, you can simply wander the bucolic grounds dotted with stone buildings, a small lake, several warehouses, a gift shop, and statues of founders Elizabeth and William Grant. You can even catch a peek at the copper stills. Or, head to the Malt Barn where you can sample by the dram along with soups, salads, and sandwiches that range from £5-8. To work off a few of those whisky calories, join the Dufftown Distilleries Walk. This 3.5-hour tour combines a leisurely stroll through woods and meadows past nine Dufftown distilleries – both active and historic, now-defunct distilleries – with up to 18 drams representative of each distillery’s style. The tour is fully outdoors and doesn’t go inside the distilleries or tasting rooms, but it’s an informative and active way to learn more about the area’s history while sampling a wide variety of whiskies. Once you’ve toured enough, continue your education at the local pub. Most pubs in Speyside boast expansive whisky collections, knowledgeable bartenders, and drams starting at around £2, so you can sample quite a bit for a small bit of cash. Head to the Seven Stills in Dufftown, The Mash Tun or The Still at the Dowans Hotel in Aberlour, or the Quaich Bar at the Craigellachie Hotel. A tasting the Balvenie with cheeses © Katie Hammel / Budget Travel How to Plan Your Day Nearly all distilleries require that you take a tour if you want to sample the goods, and most tours last 1-2 hours. Factor in lunch, and typically you can do no more than three distillery visits in one day – and honestly, that’s plenty if you want to be standing by 6pm. Most distilleries open for visitors at 10 or 11am and close by 4 or 5pm, and while not all require reservations, it’s wise to make them as tours do sell out. The most popular tours, like Balvenie, book up weeks in advance. Assume one tour in the morning, a break for lunch, and then one or two tours in the afternoon, and when possible, cluster them within one town or area to eliminate unnecessary travel time. Or, plan one of the activities listed below in the morning, before tackling the distilleries. What to Do When You're Not Drinking Whisky While there are enough distilleries that you could spend a week or more doing nothing but touring, your liver might not be up to the challenge. Thankfully, there are plenty of other things to do in the region. To learn more about whisky production, head to the Speyside Cooperage where you can watch master coopers repair the barrels used for storing whisky. You’ll learn all about the barrel-making process and can watch the lightning-fast coopers from a second-story observation window. Thirty-minute tours are offered Monday through Friday for £4. Nearby, the crumbling ruins of the 12th-century Balvenie Castle are also worth a look (closed Oct 1 to March 31, admission £6). Head to the town of Elgin to visit the Johnston’s of Elgin cashmere and wool mill. Free, daily guided tours take visitors through the entire production process from dyeing to weaving, as the famous mill creates fabrics for high-fashion companies including Burberry. Reindeer spotting in the Cairngorn Mountains © Katie Hammel / Budget Travel Speyside also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun. There are hikes both big and small, from the 65-mile Speyside Way trail (one of four official Long Distance Routes in Scotland) to a 20-minute walk behind the Aberlour distillery that leads to a lovely little waterfall. There’s canoeing on the River Spey, or you can go fishing, ATVing, or clay shooting at the House of Mulben. And, if you’re up for an hour drive, head to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre in the Cairngorm Mountains. The reindeer that used to roam these mountains vanished centuries ago, but they were reintroduced in the 1950s. Now, visitors can take a guided walk (£16) to the herd to meet the reindeer, hand-feed them, and learn more about the important part they play in the local ecosystem. How to Get around Speyside Scotland has a zero tolerance policy on drunk driving. There are strict limits for the amount of alcohol you can have in your system, and just one drink can put you over that limit. Distilleries will not allow designated drivers to sample, however most distilleries offer a driver’s tasting kit. For a few extra pounds, they’ll fill up small sample bottles with each of the tastes that were offered onsite, so you can try them all at home. If you’ll be visiting a few distilleries, bring your own; Amazon sells the sample bottles individually or as part of a whisky-tasting kit. If you’re not willing to delay gratification and want to taste onsite, you’re left with three options: public transport (bus or train), private driver, or taxi. Public transport is the cheapest, but provides the least amount of flexibility; you’ll need to limit your travels to distilleries in and around towns served by busses and trains, and forgo visits to any distilleries in the countryside. Between bus and train you can easily travel between the main towns; train fare varies and the bus is typically under £3. Traveline Scotland has an easy-to-use website for planning routes. Hiring a private driver is more costly. Speyside Whisky Experience offers full-day tours with private transport for up to six people that include three distillery visits and time for lunch for £275-£325.A taxi can be a good compromise; you have more flexibility but it’s not quite as pricey as a private driver. Taxis aren’t found in abundance so call well in advance and set a pickup time with the driver when they drop you off. Depending on the distance, the cost might be £15-40 per ride; many taxis, such as Craigellachie Cars, will also offer a single price based on a pick-up and drop-off schedule booked in advance. Where to Stay While you could base yourself an hour west in lively Inverness, to really immerse yourself in Speyside, choose one of the central towns, such as Aberlour, Dufftown, or Rothes, which are surrounded by distilleries. Rothes, a workaday town set on the River Spey, has a residential feel. While it’s home to two distilleries, a couple of pubs, and a fish and chips shop, it doesn’t offer as many tourist diversions as Aberlour and Dufftown. What it does have is the luxurious Station Hotel, a 14-room hotel housed in a 1901 stone building. It doesn’t come cheap, but the Caperdonich Suite is a stunner, with a four-poster king bed, gas fireplace, and a mezzanine level where a deep two-person tub overlooks the room. Room rates start at around £196. Four miles south, tiny Aberlour (population 972 as of the last census) offers accommodation across the budget spectrum in a quintessential Scottish village. The main street runs parallel to the River Spey and is lined with shops, including the Walkers Shortbread Bakery Shop (the factory sits on the end of town), and the Spey Larder, a great spot to load up on picnic supplies. Check into the Dowans Hotel, conveniently located right on the edge of town (rates start at £150 per night). The 18 plaid-and-velvet-adorned rooms call to mind an old Scottish country estate, and the onsite bar, dubbed The Still, houses a collection of more than 500 whiskies. On the lower end of the budget, try the Mash Tun, a pub and whisky bar with four cozy upstairs rooms starting at £120 per night. Rounding out the trio of towns, Dufftown is the Goldilocks: slightly larger and busier than Aberlour and with a bit more charm than Rothes. Home to six distilleries, it produces more whisky than any other town in Scotland and offers lots of options for dining, drinking, and shopping. The Highland Spirit Bed & Breakfast offers three sweet rooms in the heart of town starting at £139 per night including a full Scottish breakfast.

    Budget Travel Lists

    8 Last-Minute Affordable Summer Getaways

    As the end of summer nears, squeezing in one more vacation before the fall arrives sounds like a spectacular idea. With hotels, airlines and car rentals offering massive deals and incentives to book before the end of the summer, the only question you have to ask yourself really is, why not? This year, top summer hotspots are Orlando, Las Vegas, and Myrtle Beach followed by Maui, New York City, Key West, and New Orleans according to a recent study, but if you’re looking for something less crowded we’ve got you covered. Our best advice for saving money is to book these flight and hotel deals now! Bangor, Maine This offbeat alternative to Portland, Maine, is a hub for good food, great music and is home to a growing art scene. Bangor is the gateway to many outdoor activities, whether visiting Moosehead Lake or hiking through Baxter State Park. Bangor is easy to get to with the Bangor International Airport located conveniently in the center of the city. Acadia National Park is also close by and can be reached in a short one-hour drive. At the park, visitors can stop at the popular Sand Beach or explore the famous Carriage Roads. The annual Dark Sky Festival (Sep 25-29) is a starry-eyed way to wrap up the perfect summer. Read more: 25 Gorgeous American Lighthouses Cancun, Mexico Mexico is always a good idea. Just a hop, skip and a jump from the US, Cancun lies at the heart of the Mexican Caribbean. With direct airlift and easy access to the Yucatan's most amazing sights – from the ruins of Chichen Itza, to the cenotes of Tulum – Cancun is a destination ideal for a last-minute summer vacay. If shopping is more your speed, book a guided shopping tour in Playa del Carmen to find your most precious souvenir (think vibrant textiles and maybe even a hammock?) for just $19.99 through GetYourGuide. Set your out of office and book a room at the newly renovated JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, a sprawling resort with 447 ocean-facing guest rooms, all of which peer out over the palm-studded grounds. Lake Atitlán, Guatemala If you’re looking to explore a little further than Mexico, Lake Atitlán in Guatemala has your name written all over it. It’s easy to get lost in the lake’s natural beauty that has been dubbed, the “most beautiful lake in the world” for it’s breathtaking views of three volcanoes. Perched on the shore of Lake Atitlán in the Guatemalan highlands is Casa Palopó, a former home-turned-boutique hotel offering a Labor Day weekend rate of $188 per night, which includes free airport transfers. Sign us up! Joshua Tree, California Before the busy autumn season sets in, take some time to fully immerse yourself in nature at Joshua Tree, part of the Greater Palm Springs region of California. It’s home to Joshua Tree National Park and some of the best stargazing in the state. Within the national park, lives Cholla Cactus Garden (don’t forget your camera for this trail of massive succulents), a multitude of various levels of hiking trails and lookouts like Keys View that offers panoramic views of the Coachella Valley. The average nightly rate for a hotel is under $200 with a variety of last-minute deals available on Hotel Tonight. Portland, Oregon Portland is a perfect summer getaway with plenty of water adventures available on the city’s rivers and affordable eats. The city is a veritable food truck heaven, with food truck pods popping up all over the city. For more stationary eats, check out Hey Love, a popular local joint with a fresh summer menu. A 90-minute day trip gives you access to Mt. Hood National Forest, the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area, Willamette Valley Wine Country and the Oregon Coast. Hotel Monaco Portland is a home base for your P-Town escapades, offering free perks like nightly socials with complimentary local beer and wine, and free bike rentals to cruise the cycle-friendly city. And good news, little Fido got an invite because pets stay free! Check out their hotel deals page for discounts of up to 25 percent off nightly rates. Read more: 7 Exceptional American Food Halls Nassau, Bahamas Sitting beachside with a piña colada in hand in the Bahamas sounds like the definition of vacation. So why not make it happen? Beach, swim, sleep, repeat is the motto at Breezes Bahamas, an all-inclusive resort located on the powdery, white sands of legendary Cable Beach. Guests can enjoy land and water activities ranging from rock-wall climbing, tennis, beach volleyball, kayaking and windsurfing, all of which include complimentary instruction and equipment. Breezes is offering a "Summer Savings" deal with rates as low as $140 per night for bookings until August 31st. The deal includes all meals, drinks, land and water sports, daily activities, and nightly entertainment. Cleveland, Ohio Located on the shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland is a warm-weather paradise with beaches galore and waterfalls and hiking trails twenty minutes outside the heart of downtown Cleveland at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The charming lakefront town has a welcoming “come as you are” attitude and a walkable downtown area. The average hotel nightly rate is well under $200, and the city has a free trolley system throughout downtown. Other free activities include concerts, museums and more. Ljubljana, Slovenia The fairy tale–like country of Slovenia is an affordable under-the-radar destination for summer travel. Situated just 20-minutes away from Jože Pučnik Airport, the centrally located capital city of Ljubljana is the perfect place to start exploring Slovenia. In the summertime, quaint outdoor cafes, bustling food markets and lively festivals line the historic streets. From Ljubljana, most of Slovenia’s iconic sites can be reached in under an hour. Travelers can view the serene beauty of Lake Bled in the Julian Alps or experience Slovenian wine in the stunning vineyards. Cheers to that!

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