ADVERTISEMENT
  • Liberty Bell with Independence Hall in background
LeftLeft

    State of Pennsylvania

    dszc / iStock

    Save up to 50% on Hotels

    Pennsylvania officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern, and Appalachian regions of the United States. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east, while the Appalachian Mountains run through its middle.

    Pennsylvania is the 33rd-largest state by area, and the 5th-most populous state with a total population of 13,011,844 according to the most recent official U.S. Census count in 2020. It is the 9th-most densely populated of the 50 states. Pennsylvania's two most populous metropolitan areas are the Delaware Valley, centered around the state's largest city Philadelphia (6.25 million), and Greater Pittsburgh (2.37 million). The state capital and its 15th-largest municipality is Harrisburg. Pennsylvania has 140 miles (225 km) of waterfront along Lake Erie and the Delaware River.

    The state is one of the Thirteen original founding states of the United States; it came into being in 1681 as a result of a royal land grant to William Penn, the son of the state's namesake. Part of Pennsylvania (along the Delaware River), together with the present State of Delaware, had earlier been organized as the Colony of New Sweden. It was the second state to ratify the United States Constitution, on December 12, 1787. Independence Hall, where the United States Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution were drafted, is located in Philadelphia, the state's largest city. During the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg was fought in the south central region of the state. Valley Forge near Philadelphia was General Washington's headquarters during the bitter winter of 1777–78.

    Find more things to do, itinerary ideas, updated news and events, and plan your perfect trip to State of Pennsylvania
    ADVERTISEMENT

    State of Pennsylvania Articles

    InspirationDestinations

    Unique New Years Eve Drops

    Everyone knows that New York City is famous for its New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, but for those looking for something a little more unique and symbolic to ring in 2022, these towns are hosting slightly weird yet totally “on-brand” drops on December 31. MoonPie Drop , Mobile, Alabama Photo by Joseph Brooke / Flickr Creative Commons Mobile’s mantra is “Born to Celebrate,” which makes New Year’s Eve a pretty exciting time around here. At midnight, you can witness a 600-pound electric MoonPie drop from the sky, complete with fireworks and a laser light show. Mobile’s big claim to fame is that it’s home to America’s original Mardi Gras. In the mid-1900s, locals started tossing sticky-sweet (but still-wrapped!) MoonPies from their Mardi Gras floats. Spectators went crazy for them and today an estimated half-million pies get tossed during an average Carnival season. Since Mobile loves a good party – and consumes more MoonPies per capita than anywhere else (including the pies’ hometown of Chattanooga) – its citizens decided to create the world’s largest electric MoonPie to help them usher in each new year. Mushroom Drop, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, which is part of the Brandywine Valley, is known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World” because more than 60% of all the mushrooms in the United States are grown here. Celebrate their nickname – and their favorite crop -- by dropping a 700-pound lighted mushroom on New Year’s Eve during the annual Midnight in the Square event. The mushroom will be raised right before 9 p.m. and the drop will be live-streamed across social media at midnight. Marlin Drop, Orange Beach, Alabama Gulf Shores Reelin' in the New Year at The Wharf The Wharf, a popular dining, shopping and entertainment district in the town of Orange Beach, is hosting Reelin’ in The New Year from 5 p.m. to midnight on December 31. The highlight of this event is the Marlin Drop, a fishy nod to one of the many outdoor activities that draw visitors here year round. It’s free admission for the drop, and the whole family can come and ring in the new year Gulf Coast-style. Apple Drop, Winchester, Virginia To celebrate the arrival of the new year, a 400-pound apple is dropped more than 100 feet during the First Night Winchester event. First Night Winchester has been a tradition in the Northern Shenandoah Valley since 1987. Winchester is known as the “Apple Capital” because it’s the largest apple-producing area in all of Virginia and home to countless apple orchards. Giant Acorn Drop, Raleigh, N.C. Courtesy firstnightraleigh.com Each December 31 a giant copper acorn, the official monument commemorating the bicentennial of “the City of Oaks,” is transported from Raleigh’s Moore Square to the roof of the Civic Center where it’s dropped to celebrate the New Year - First Night Raleigh. Clam Drop, Yarmouth, Maine On December 31, Yarmouth's First Universalist Church lowers a giant clam named Steamer 25 feet from the bell tower. The Clam Drop includes music, cookies and cocoa to stay warm. Giant Potato Drop, Boise, Idaho Courtesy mrfood.com This year will be the 9th annual Idaho Potato Drop in Boise, Idaho. From 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., ring in the new year with food trucks, a beer garden, fireworks, and of course, the potato drop in front of the Idaho State Capitol.

    DealsInspirationRediscover America

    Black Friday's best travel deals from around the web

    Whether you’re planning a staycation closer to home or an epic adventure in Mexico or the Caribbean, these Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel deals will help you do it for less, with rates starting under $250 per night and most travel dates extending into or through 2022. Note that blackout dates apply, most properties have flexible cancellation policies and some links won’t be active until November 26, 2021. Click here to join Budget Travel's free membership program for access to incredible deals year-round. Vacation Packages, Guided Tours and Cruises Apple Vacations & FunJet: Book November 24–December 4 to save up to $175 on mainland U.S. vacation packages and up to $500 on trips to Hawaii, Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Beach Bound: Book your beach break November 26–30 to save up to $175 on trips to Florida and $500 on trips to Hawaii. Deals to Mexico and the Caribbean are also available, with $250 off stays of five or more nights with promo code BB250 and $500 off stays of seven or more nights with promo code BB500. Cheap Caribbean: This year’s specials include all-inclusive resorts from $49 per person per night, $250 off stays of five or more nights (with promo code CYBER250) and $500 off stays of seven or more nights (with promo code CYBER500) when you book November 25–30. G Adventures: Now through December 3, you can save up to 30% on over 500 guided tours around the world operating through March 31, 2022, and up to 20% on select tours through October 31, 2022, as part of G Adventures’ Cyber Sale. Go City: A great staycation option, you’ll get 15% off Go City passes in San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York City, Miami, Orlando, Hawaii (Oahu), as well as Cancun and London, by purchasing them November 23–30. Passes are valid for up to two years so you can always wait until you’re ready to travel again before activating them. City Cruises: Celebrate the season with 20% discounts on dining cruises in various cities around the U.S., Canada and the U.K. when you use promo code CYBER20 to book November 23-29 and set sail in December 2021. Priceline: Its biggest sale EVER. Sales unlock throughout the day for deep discounts on hotels, rental cars, flights, cruises, and more. Email rewards members can be on the lookout for a mystery coupon offering up to 99% off on hotel bookings. Virgin Voyages: Those ready to get back into cruising can save 20% and score a $100 bonus bar tab (when purchasing a $300 bar tab) as part of Virgin Voyages’ sale. Book November 15–29 to save on Scarlet Lady sailings from December 1, 2021, to March 27, 2022, and Valiant Lady sailings from March 18, 2022, to May 22, 2022. Hotels in the U.S. Hyatt: You can save up to 15% at over 850 participating Hyatt hotels and resorts by booking now through December 21 and staying by April 30, 2022. Arlo Hotels: Book November 26–29 to save 40% on rates at Arlo Hotels’ Miami and New York City properties when you stay now through April 30, 2022. Caesars: Caesars’ Atlantic City and Las Vegas hotels are offering 25% off stays booked November 22–28 with promo code CYBER21 and 30% off rates booked on November 29 with promo code CYBERM and November 30 with promo code CYBERT. All stays must be completed by October 31, 2022. Lark Hotels and Bluebird by Lark: Save 25% at Lark’s properties in the Northeastern U.S. and California when you use promo code CYBER2021, book November 26–29 and stay by May 12, 2022. Westgate Resorts: Use promo code FRIDAY to save up to 50% off at one of Westgate Resorts’ 27 U.S. properties when you book November 26–30. Florida Thesis Hotel Miami: Save 40% on rates at this chic Coral Gables hotel when you book November 22–29 and stay November 22 through September 5, 2022. Shelborne South Beach: Book between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to receive discounts of up to 60% on stays through 2022. The Balflour Hotel: Reserve four or more nights now through November 30 to save 25% on stays through April 30, 2022. You’ll also receive a nifty $50 food and beverage credit to use while you’re there. Plunge Beach Resort: In Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Plunge Beach Resort is offering 50% off weekday bookings made November 23–30. Use promo code Sale50 and stay for at least three nights by December 22, 2022. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort: This popular panhandle resort is offering discounts of up to 40% when you book November 29–December 2 and travel by March 11, 2022. Tennessee Hu. Hotel: Use promo code CYBER to save 25% on rates at this newly redesigned Memphis property when you book November 26 to December 3 and travel from December 5, 2021, to February 24, 2022. Bode: With two properties in Nashville and Chattanooga to choose from, Bode is offering discounts of 25% on its apartment-style rooms when you book a stay of at least two nights between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and stay November 26, 2021, to February 28, 2022. Virginia The Alexandrian and Morrison House: Just a 20-minute drive from Washington, D.C. in Old Town Alexandria, these two luxury hotels are offering 20% off stays December 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, when you book November 23–29. Colonial Williamsburg Resorts: Save 50% when you book November 23–29 and stay at least two nights between December 12, 2021, and March 31, 2022. Blue Ridge Parkway in Fall. Credit: Pgiam, Getty Images Rhode Island Hammett’s Hotel: Save up to 65% on your next trip to Newport, with weekday rates from $85 per night and weekend rates from $125 per night. Book November 26–30 and stay now through March 31, 2022, to take advantage of this offer. Pennsylvania $109 Poconos Ski Season Retreat: Includes Breakfast for two. Fully Refundable - Waking up to charming views of snowdrifts over Lake Wallenpaupack at Silver Birches in Hawley, PA, before days spent hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing through the Poconos. Philadelphia 4-star resort in city center: Flexible Deal - Hyatt Centric (Center City Philadelphia, PA) was so popular it sold out in under a week. In case you missed it last time, now's your chance to nab an upgraded room with killer views of Center City for just $149 per night through March. Massachusetts Those looking for a Berkshires getaway can save at the following properties when you book at least two nights November 26–30 and stay by May 26, 2022. Red Lion Inn: Save 65% at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, where prices start at $100 per night during the week and $150 per night on weekends. Briarcliff Motel: In Great Barrington, rates start at $50 per night during the week and $110 on weekends. The Seven Hills Inn: This Lenox property has weekday rates from $79 per night and weekend rates from $99 per night, reflecting a savings of 45%. Porches Inn: Save 45% on rates at this popular North Adams property, which has weekday prices from $100 per night and weekend prices from $200 per night. New Jersey Wave Resort: In Long Branch, Wave Resort is offering 40% off rooms booked as part of its Black Friday / Cyber Monday deal, valid on stays now through April 2022 when you book by November 29. The Asbury: Celebrate Black Friday at The Asbury with 35% off rates (use promo code JUSTBOOKTHEROOM) and Cyber Monday with 40% off stays of at least three nights (use promo code YOUDESERVEIT) when you stay by April 30, 2022. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa: Save 20% on rooms and 10% on suites at this fabulous Atlantic City resort when you book with promo code CYBER12 by December 2 and stay by April 30, 2022. Ocean Casino Resort: Save with king rooms from $59 per night and double rooms from $69 per night (each with a $20 food and beverage credit on Monday–Thursday stays November 28, 2021, to February 17, 2022) studio suites from $139 and one-bedroom suites from $239 on Sunday–Thursday stays within the same timeframe. Discounts to onsite shows and nightlife (valid November 22–29), and beauty services at the salon (valid November 22–December 6) are also available. Illinois Viceroy Chicago: Not only will you save 35% on bookings made now through December 6, you’ll also snag 30% discounts on dining when you use promo code CYBER2021 and stay by December 30, 2022. Sofitel Chicago, Swissotel Chicago and Fairmont Chicago: Three Accor hotels are offering 30% off stays November 22, 2021, to March 31, 2022, when you book November 22–29. Members of Accor’s loyalty program can also save an extra 10%. Gale Chicago: Save 60% during this Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale, with rates from $99 per night when you book November 26–29. Texas Hotel Granduca Austin: Save 20% on rates by booking November 29–December 3 and staying by May 31, 2022. As part of the deal, you’ll receive a $50 food and beverage credit and a $10 donation will be made to the Central Texas Food Bank when you use promo code CYBER21. Arizona Lodge on the Desert: In Tucson, guests who book November 26–29 with promo code BFCM21 and stay between January 1 and April 30, 2022, will receive 50% off rates and enjoy complimentary margaritas, chips and salsa. Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort: This popular Tucson resort is offering 40% off rates on select dates from December 2021 through August 2022 when you book November 26–29 online or by calling (520) 299-1501.. Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend tour from $299: Fully refundable with 24 hours before experience cancellation. Explore this beautiful iconic canyon with the people of your choice.. Experience the West Rim of the Grand Canyon from $95: Free cancelation up to 24 hours in advance. This flexible West Rim coach tour offers optional activities to enhance your experience. California $249 Posh Sonoma Wine Country Resort. Fully Refundable - Retreat to Sonoma (Santa Rosa, CA) and stay on 92 acres of vineyards at the always popular Vintners Resort. The deal highlights the best of the resort and features everything you'd need for a relaxing, romantic wine country getaway — a plush room, farm-to-table dining, plus complimentary wine tasting for two people. The Meritage Resort & Spa and Vista Collina Resort: Both Napa Valley resorts are offering 30% discounts and $30 resort credits when you book November 24–30 and visit by March 31, 2022. As part of the deal, a $10 donation will also be made to The First Responders Children’s Foundation. Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa: This deal saves you 21% on rates, throws in a $21 daily food and beverage credit and donates $21 to Just In Time, an organization supporting foster youth, when you book by December 1 and stay by April 30, 2022. Newport Beach 4-star Hyatt stay from $159: Fully Refundable - Whether you're looking for a restful retreat or an action-packed adventure, The Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, CA has you covered. Hop on a beach cruiser and ride along the coast, soak up the SoCal sunshine by the pool or head to the nearby amusement parks through the end of the year. Hotels in the Caribbean and Mexico $569 Cabo beach resort for 3 nights w/ perks: Fully Refundable - Villa La Estancia – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - This 4-star hotel sits on Medano Beach, one of the best beaches for swimming in Cabo, and it's only a five-minute drive from the happenings of the buzzing downtown area. St. Maarten All-inclusive beach vacation for 2: Kick back and relax on 10 acres of beachfront in the heart of Maho Village at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino St. Maarten, which is filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment lounges. This deal covers 4-star digs, plus all your meals and drinks, for just over $100 per person, per night over peak winter season dates. All-inclusive Puerto Vallarta resort 3-night stay for 2 from $899: This luxe all-inclusive Hilton Vallarta Riviera in the heart of Puerto Vallarta Mexico first opened its doors in August. Be among the first to stay while nabbing a room with a private balcony overlooking the Pacific, with this deal for travel through 2022. Atlantis Paradise Island: In Nassau, Bahamas, Atlantis Paradise Island is offering 20% discounts when you book at least five nights November 25–29 and stay between November 28, 2021, and November 30, 2022. You’ll also receive two free Covid-19 antigen tests (for travel back to the U.S.) and a $50 daily resort credit — or a $100 daily resort credit if you sign up for early access November 22–24. Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan: This fabulous Grand Bahama resort is offering rates from $93 per person per night on bookings made November 23–30 for travel November 25, 2021–January 31, 2022. Rates include all taxes, fees, daily continental breakfast and unlimited greens fees at the onsite golf course. ​​Curaçao: ​​Celebrate Black Friday and Cyber Monday with deals at 13 hot hotels, including 45% off at Acoya Curaçao Resort, Villas & Spa; 20% off at Papagayo Beach Hotel and Papagayo Beach Resort; up to 50% off at Sunscape Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino and Dreams Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino; and perks like complimentary tours and breakfast, among other deals and discounts. Saint Lucia: Choose from more than 30 travel deals among Saint Lucia’s many hotels, resorts, tours and attractions, all part of the island’s Cyber Monday sale. Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa: In St. Maarten, save 50% on stays of at least three nights at this all-inclusive resort when you use promo code BFSALE. Book now through November 28 and visit by December 23, 2022. Karisma Hotels & Resorts: Save 60% at Karisma’s all-inclusive hotels and resorts throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, including Azul Beach Resorts, El Dorado Spa Resorts, Margaritaville Island Reserve brands and Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts when you book now through December 6 and stay by December 23, 2022. Iberostar Grand Bávaro, Coral Level at Iberostar Selection Cancún and Iberostar Grand Rose Hall: These fabulous five-star all-inclusive resorts — located in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Jamaica, respectively — are each offering 60% off stays booked November 19–30. Las Brisas Hotel Collection: Score 40% discounts as well as 20% off food, drinks and spa treatments at Las Brisas properties in Mexico when you book November 22–29 and stay November 22, 2021–December 21, 2022. Call 1-866-221-2961 or email info@brisas.com.mx to book. Meliá Hotels International: This popular brand is offering two sales, each letting you save up to 50% at its U.S., Mexico and Caribbean properties. Now through November 28, use this link to book the Black Friday sale, then check this link for the Cyber Monday sale, available to book November 29–30.

    Budget Travel Lists

    Visit the 6 most stunning Japanese gardens in America

    Those of us dreaming of traveling to Japan will have to practice the art of patience, as the country has currently barred leisure tourism from 152 nations including America. Fortunately, we can still experience the beauty of Japanese culture, architecture, and spirituality at authentic gardens located throughout the United States. America has over 200 public Japanese gardens, which are designed to evoke the feeling of an untouched mystical landscape. Many include traditional structures like a tatami-floored tea pavilion, and natural features such as koi fish ponds. In response to the pandemic, most gardens require guests to wear masks, and offer limited numbers of timed tickets per day. Spring gives us a short window to admire cherry blossom trees at a Japanese garden. Visitors can take part in hanami, the age-old tradition of picnicking under the pink flowers. In the age of COVID-19, the concept of “mono no aware”—a wistful recognition of impermanence, as represented by the falling blossoms—hits especially close to home. Spend time outdoors at America’s most spectacular Japanese gardens, and get immersed in the elegant culture of the Land of the Rising Sun. 1. Japanese Hill-and-Pond at Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn, New York Brooklyn’s 52-acre Botanic Garden is famous for its visually striking Japanese Hill-and-Pond. Designed by Takeo Shiota, the Japanese garden debuted in 1915, making it one of the oldest in America. Look for a dramatic red Shinto torii perched over the 1.5 acre pond, which was modeled after Japan’s famous Miyajima Gate. The surrounding hillside gardens are carefully arranged shizen-style to highlight natural formations. A winding path turns to reveal a five-tiered waterfall, blanked by ferns that hang “just so” for a serene effect. With details such as a curving wood bridge and a tiny Shinto shrine, every vista feels like a scene from an ancient painting. Between March and May, the Cherry Esplanade explodes into color with double rows of blossoming trees. Brooklyn’s Botanic Garden houses 27 species that bud at different times, covering the “Cherry Walk” with petals ranging from white to dark pink. Open Tuesdays-Sundays (except holidays), 990 Washington Ave, 718/623-7200, bbg.org, admission $18. 2. Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon After World War II, many American cities founded Japanese gardens as a way of rebuilding cultural understanding. In 1967, Portland transformed the former Washington Park Zoo into a green space based on Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies. Today, their Japanese Garden is considered one of most impressive in the nation. Most gardens adhere to one traditional landscaping style, but Portland’s designers decided to showcase five historical forms over 5.5 acres. The Sand and Stone Garden features swirls of gravel and minimalist boulders, which encourage the Zen contemplation of emptiness. In contrast, Kashintei Tea House sits in an otherworldly grove, prefaced by a mossy path of irregular stepping stones. The showcase extends to the present with Kengo Kuma’s LEED-certified Cultural Village, a blend of contemporary steel and glass with ancient aesthetics. Open Thursdays-Mondays, 611 SW Kingston Ave, 503/223-1321, japanesegarden.org, admission $18.95. 3. Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach, Florida South Florida has a surprising century-old connection with Japan. In the early 1900s, a group of Japanese farmers established an agricultural colony named Yamato in what is now Boca Raton. They introduced innovative crops and farming methods to stimulate the local economy, but the project failed to take off and was abandoned by the 1920s. In 1977, Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens opened to honor this local heritage. The villa has a permanent exhibit about Yamato Colony, with thousands of artifacts such as teacups and textiles. The surrounding 16 acre garden is known for its elegant strolling paths marked by stone lanterns and basins. Admire the collections of tropical plants, and don’t be surprised to see turtles, iguanas, and alligators basking in the central lake. Morikami specializes in bonsai exhibitions and classes: anyone can learn how to trim and grow a tree in the tiniest of planters. On Saturdays, witness an intricate Japanese tea ceremony at Seishin-an teahouse. Visitors can also stop by Cornell Cafe to enjoy a bento lunch on the open-air terrace. Open Tuesdays-Sundays (except holidays), 4000 Morikami Park Rd, 561/495-0233, morikami.org, admission $15. 4. Shofuso Japanese House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Since opening its doors in 1958, Shofuso’s careful attention to authenticity has reflected Philadelphia’s post-war friendship with Japan. The garden’s centerpiece is a magnificent 17th century-style house surrounded by weeping cherry trees. Designed in the shoin-style, the fully-functional home sits under a long peaked roof balanced on wood posts. Step inside rooms with tatami mats and sliding white shoji screens. In 2007, artist Hiroshi Senju installed twenty waterfall murals on mulberry paper, creating a permanent exhibit that flows with the living space. Shofuso House overlooks a koi pond and an acre of photogenic gardens. Pause to feed the fish, and contemplate the sound of a three-tiered waterfall. Look for a towering stone statue of the Buddhist bodhisattva Jizo, nestled by a wall of bamboo. (In the winter, the deity wears a bright red hat and bib for protection.) Open Wednesdays-Sundays, Lansdowne Dr & Horticultural Dr, 215/878-5097, japanphilly.org/shofuso, admission $12. 5. Seattle Japanese Garden, Seattle, Washington Seattle’s Japanese Garden was inspired by the “stroll gardens” of the Edo era. In the 17th century, Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate and samurai. The daimyo, or feudal lords, built winding paths around their castles that let guests discover scenic views at every turn. Since 1960, Seattle residents have enjoyed exploring the meandering paths around the Japanese Garden’s pond. Each bend reveals dazzling details such as a zigzagging wood bridge, or a simple teahouse from Tokyo. Landscape designer Juki Iida seeded a variety of plants native both to Japan and the Pacific Northwest. He also travelled to the Cascade Mountains and brought back 500 granite boulders, which he arranged around the waterfall. The effect is natural and harmonious, revealing vistas bit by bit as you journey along the path. Open Tuesdays-Sundays, 1075 Lake Washington Blvd E., 206/684-4725, seattlejapanesegarden.org, admission $8. 6. The Cherry Blossom Grove, Washington, DC In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City, Japan, gifted 2000 cherry blossom trees to Washington as a symbol of the growing friendship between the countries. The trees were planted around the tidal basin on the National Mall, and fill the monuments with a saturated pink every spring at peak bloom. Washington, DC, holds the annual cherry blossom festival every spring (though it is cancelled this year due to COVID), which brinngs people from near and far to see the beautiful trees. Open year-round. The National Mall, DC. Free to visit. -- La Carmina is an award-winning journalist who writes the alternative travel blog La Carmina. (http://www.lacarmina.com/blog)

    Budget Travel Lists

    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.

    Inspiration

    The best books to read in every state in America

    As soon as coronavirus arrived in New York City last winter, my brain became a tangle of anxious thoughts, pounding down on my already overtaxed amygdala. I had one salvation: a three-by-two map of America hanging in my living room. While most of my friends set their sights on the Balis and Bermudas of the world, my only travel goal has long been to visit every state in America. Ostensibly, this map’s point was to be the canvas for a smattering of pins until I created a multi-hued distribution upon all 50 sates. In actuality, the point was to accomplish something, to wrangle up America into a palm of pastel thumbtacks, to live a life full of stories. Stories from a life of zigzagging our great terrain this past year, it turned out, would not be in the cards as travel restrictions and lockdowns made all too clear from the outset of this mess. But as I squinted once again at the pin-less sweep of real estate on my wall somewhere between Minnesota and Oregon early last spring, I realized I could still get to work on these travels, if I got a little creative. Thus, my 50 states book project was born, where I embarked on a challenge to read a tome set in every state in the union. I still met people and places and things and disasters and triumphs, but I didn’t rent a car, or hop on a plane, or even scour the internet high and low for Clorox wipes to sanitize my hotel room. Instead, I let William Least Heat-Moon, Bill Bryson, and Paul Theroux lead me on road trips, I hung out with that guy who walked across America, Peter Jenkins, I chased redbirds in Kentucky with Sharon Creech, listened to crawdads singing in North Carolina, and I went on one hell of a bender with Hunter S. Thompson in Vegas. I spent a grand total of $233.96 buying used books on Amazon—less than an average one-night hotel stay in Chicago, mind you. I read classic texts and obscure novels, fiction and nonfiction, humorous and heartbreaking, and it completely changed the way I think about travel. For one thing, given the titles I read, I can now unequivocally say the best adventures are the outdoors ones. My nationwide literary adventure had me walking around my own little nook of a park, Sutton Place Park in Midtown Manhattan, like I was a Thoreauvian naturalist (I’m not sure how he’d feel about the giant neon Pepsi Cola sign across the East River). In lockdowns, these books gave me inspiration to find meaning in the toughest of days knowing that This Too Shall Pass, and the road awaited me. It even helped me feel a little less pissed when my well-intentioned best friend would send me gorgeous mountain-y snapshots from her quarantine castle in the Hudson Valley. After all, I had just gotten back from a whirlwind stint in Iowa. Perhaps counterintuitively, surveying a book from every state in America blurred the lines of my much-loved pushpin map. Alaska was Alabama was Kentucky was Kansas. On page 18 of my Michigan selection, The Deer Camp: A Memoir of a Father, A Family, and the Land That Healed Them by Dean Kuipers, I came across this passage: “The great American anarchist Edward Abbey is probably not a terrific role model for mature relatedness—by all reports, he had prickly relationships with other people and, like Henry David Thoreau, needed the solitude he so extolled. But in Desert Solitaire Abbey addressed that need to confront our position vis-à-vis the nonhuman world…” In a quick swoop of the pen, my Michigan author had referenced my Maine essayist and my Utah wordsmith. We’re all independent, yet linked. Separate, yet dependent. Alone in the woods, yet with your friends on the forest floor. Alaska is Alabama is Kentucky is Kansas. Alabama Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep Cep does a deep dive into Harper Lee’s true-crime book about reverend Willie Maxwell, an alleged serial murderer that never was finished and published. Her portrait of To Kill a Mockingbird’s scribe, Harper Lee, is just as fascinating as the unreal story of Maxwell. Alaska Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer There’s hardly a stretch of 10 pages in this book without creased corners and underlining, in this enthralling account of a renegade college grad who abandons the conventions of traditional life on Alaska’s harsh frontiers. Arizona Arizona Then and Now: People and Places by Karl Mondon By the time I got to my Arizona selection, my eyes had glazed over from so. much. text. Thankfully, this assortment of archival photos from the Jeremy Rowe Collection juxtaposed with modern-day photography from Mondon was exactly what I needed. Nothing will beat the heavenly Grand Canyon, but the main street photos of towns like Bisbee and Winslow really made me nostalgic for wandering a new teeny town’s downtown for the first time. Arkansas Hipbillies: Deep Revolution in the Arkansas Ozarks by Jared M. Phillips Hippies of the Haight-Ashbury variety + backwoods hillbillies = “Hipbillies.” A fascinating perspective on this Southern counterculture from the 1960s and ‘70s, I was intrigued to learn about these back-to-the-landers’ incredible impact on the future of the Ozarks. California The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan Head to San Francisco in this award-winning gem from Tan that also brings you along to China in stories of immigrant Americans, the lives and pain they left behind, and the chapters they’ve built anew. Colorado The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese A journalist uncovers a heck of a world after receiving an anonymous letter from a peeping Tom who owns a hotel in Aurora and spies on unknowing guests. It’s creepy, it’s can’t-put-down, and it will definitely have you look around extra carefully after you check into a hotel room. Honorable mention: Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson by Juan Thompson Connecticut The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin Well, guess I need to see the 2004 movie starring Nicole Kidman now. Because, wow, what a book: When Joanna arrives in Fairfield County with her husband and kiddos from New York City an American horror classic ensues, from the same author as Rosemary’s Baby. Delaware And Never Let Her Go: Thomas Capano: The Deadly Seducer by Ann Rule This book has something for every kind of reader, true crime, politics, superb research, psychological nuances...the list goes on and on. You’ll stay up way past your bedtime finishing this one. Florida Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh Woman decamps from her busy life and heads to Captiva Island, off the coast of Fort Myers. Woman picks up various seashells and uses them as metaphors to reflect on life: work, relationships, struggles, joys. Turns out said woman is married to a Nazi (see: New Jersey), which ruins this poetic, rhythmic philosophical missive for me. Georgia Between Georgia Torn between two families, a husband and a best friend love interest, the tension is palpable in this Southern Drama with a capital D. As one reader referenced in the Amazon reviews, the saying "We don't hide crazy in this family. We sit it down on the front porch and give it a cocktail” was just made for this book. Hawaii The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings You know a book is that good, when the George Clooney movie version doesn’t even hold a candle to it. There’s a wife in a coma and her extramarital affair, a husband forced to reckon with raising his two daughters alone and being heir to a ton of primo real estate, and so much more that will leave you unable to think about anything else for a couple of days. Idaho Idaho by Emily Ruskovich I’ll be the first to admit I picked this book up for the eye-catching floral design on the cover, but I couldn’t put it down for the pathos bleeding through every page. When a mother kills her child, so much more crumbles and is lost, but the beauty here is in all that is found, practically, philosophically, and otherwise. Illinois Searching for John Hughes by Jason Diamond When I was an editor at Men’s Journal in 2016, I sat in the cubicle next to Mr. Diamond (remember these things called offices) and this book encpatures so much of who he is: wise, writerly, idiosyncratic, and a touch grumpy. Enjoy the ride as he commences a quest for the filmmaker behind Home Alone, Sixteen Candles, and National Lampoon’s Vacation. Indiana The Fault In Our Stars by John Green I’m still crying, but to be fair, how could you not be crying after reading this novel about two kids who love like there are thousands of tomorrows despite the terminal cancer diagnoses with which they’re both reckoning. Iowa The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson 1950s-era Iowa is brought to life in this oft humorous memoir from the beloved travel writer. It really made this New York City kid feel like she was missing out on a quintessential childhood experience by never having attended a county fair. Kansas In Cold Blood by Truman Capote A true crime classic that revolves around the brutal slaying of four family members in a small town in Western Kansas and the detective work that ensues. The book was praised for utilizing novelistic techniques to describe the characters and their feelings, a trailblazer for the nonfiction genre. Kentucky Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech Lockdowns have had me returning to tween books (don’t judge me), and I don’t regret the walk down memory lane in the least, especially in the company of the protagonist Zinny. The industrious youngster sets out into the woods and grapples with grief, blossoming love interests, and frustrating family dynamics along the way. Don’t we all? Louisiana Magic City by Yusef Komunyakaa Step inside 1950s Louisiana in Komunyakaa’s hometown of rural Bogalusa in this harrowing collection of poems. Within, the talented poet tackles racism, sexuality, and economic inequalities with a swift, vivid hand. Maine The Maine Woods by Henry Thoreau What I would give to escape this city jungle and take a walk in the Maine woods right about now. Thankfully, Thoreau’s quintessential naturalist account of three trips into the rugged woods with philosophical musings intertwined with the detailed physical descriptions of all that Thoreau witnesses. Pretty foreboding for the mid1800s: “the mission of men there seems to be, like so many busy demons, to drive the forest out of the country.” Maryland Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler Admittedly, I picked up this book because there was a tantalizing slice of pie on the cover. But I’m glad I did: Follow along for all that unfolds as one grieving Baltimore family learn about long-hidden truths and struggles to cope. Massachusetts Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom I mean, what can I say about Tuesdays with Morrie? In this blockbuster memoir-cum-biography, a journalist visits his beloved former college professor at home as he dies of ALS. A five-star book (albeit, with some four-star writing). A beautiful biography of a life well lived, and a workaholic writer who’s outlook is changed because of his inspiring teacher’s example. Michigan The Deer Camp: A Memoir of a Father, A Family, and the Land That Healed Them by Dean Kuipers It was easy to fall in love with Kuipers’ elegant prose in a story about an estranged father and his three sons and what happens when said absent dad tries to make amends after buying 100 acres of hunting property in middle-of-nowhere Michigan. It’s a memoir I know I’ll be recommending for years to come. Minnesota Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich I had picked this book up because I was supposed to gather with a crowd of hundreds to see Erdrich speak at the 92nd Street Y this past month. Needless to say, that blessed packed auditorium never came to fruition, but I’m glad I still devoured this spooky, powerful account of a pregnant woman in a world where expecting mothers are held captive in hospitals. Honorable mentions: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen; The Good Girl by Mary Kubica Mississippi The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner I did it. I read a full Faulkner book. And while I probably would have understood more about this Deep South family and Dilsey, their black servant, had I read the SparkNotes, if only for the occasional heart-stopping quote like “Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.” Missouri The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States by Walter Johnson This Missouri native and now Harvard professor captures the oft overlooked history of St. Louis, tracing the city from Lewis and Clark’s 1804 expedition to modern times, with moving examples in each chapter. It’s a tough look at racism in our country from centuries past to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014, but a look well worth taking. Montana A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean So far, I’ve lost one friend to Big Sky Country since lockdowns commenced, and I can now totally appreciate why. Penned by a retired English professor who commenced his fiction career at 70, this novella and accompanying short stories will have you eager to fly-cast and play cribbage amidst a backdrop of trout streams, drunkards, and whores (maybe not the whores). Nebraska The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert Venture to the 1898 Omaha World's Fair – filled with sinners and saints – as one ventriloquist stumbles upon a new love. The book has burlesque dancers, snake oil salesmen, and plenty of wild west drama and romance. In these strange times, what more could you want? Nevada Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson Like The Plot Against America (see: New Jersey) I didn’t think this stream of conscious book would be for me, so I was amazed that I polished it off in three evening reading sessions. Vegas is wild, life is wild, and it’s all gravy baby in this fast-paced (psychedelic) trip. New Hampshire Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving If this doesn’t make you want to traipse around New Hampshire (minus an accidental murder and an unfortunate sheriff), I don’t know what will. The inventive novel takes detours to Iowa, Vermont, and more, as you get to know three generations of men and a rotating cast of women and feel particularly drawn to say goodbye to your smartphone for a while and retreat to 1950s Coos County, New Hampshire. New Jersey The Plot Against America by Phillip Roth In this lengthy novel, Roth reimagines a world in which Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh is President, creating fantasized historical fiction that has striking parallels to today’s dystopian America. The book focuses on Philip’s upbringing in Newark in the 1940s in a tight-knit Jewish community, with a brother desperate to leave and a cousin returning home from World War II missing a leg. Overall, this book a nice reminder for me that reading beyond your typical wheelhouse pays dividends. Check out the miniseries on HBO Max after you’re done. Honorable mention: Shore Stories: An Anthology Of The Jersey Shore by Richard Youmans (Editor) New Mexico House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday After I told a friend in California about my little project, I was touched when this book arrived in my mailbox a few days later. This Pulitzer Prize novel by esteemed Kiowa journalist moved me in all the right ways during such a time of turmoil with the unforgettable Abel, a Native American man who returns to his reservation after fighting in World War II. New York The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger In a time when it was easy to forget New York City’s boisterous splendor, it was comfort food to cavort around famed landmarks and reconvene with old Phoebs, Holden, and even pimply Ackley. As for “those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South,” I’m pleased to report they appear to be COVID-free and frolicking about even as hell and temperatures freeze over. Honorable mentions: A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin; Here Is New York by E.B. White; Manhattan’45 by Jan Morris; An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena; The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America by Russell Shorto North Carolina Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens A haunting murder story with unforgettable characters, a moving love story, and evocative descriptions of nature’s wonders, all set in the marshlands of the Old North State. North Dakota The New Wild West: Black Gold, Fracking, and Life in a North Dakota Boomtown by Blaire Briody Part culture analysis, part travelogue, this book about the oil biz delivers on the premise of its title — especially on the wild front. Ohio Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance From page one to the end, try putting this book down as it simply yet poignantly captures the realities of growing up in a family riddled with addiction and drama. P.S. If you watched the stekkar new Netflix flick, you’ll definitely appreciate reading the original memoir. Oklahoma A Map of Tulsa by Benjamin Lytal Dubbed “a love letter to a classic American city,” this love story in a Tulsa that straddles the line between dusty and sparkling is unlike any other you’ve ever read. Oregon Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed Okay, so it also covers California and Washington, but since the author lives in Portland, we’ll give this unique, achingly beautiful memoir to her stomping grounds. Chronicling one woman’s quest to hike the PCT in the cradle of grief, this memoir will change your outlook on everything from nature to family. P.S. Reese Witherspoon stars in the 2014 movie adaptation. Pennsylvania Rabbit, Run by John Updike This was the first Updike book I read, but it won’t be the last. I think one Goodreads reviewer nailed it: “Have you ever seen something noted because it is a representation of a specific thing? For example, a building might be marked with a plaque as a perfect representation of a type of architecture. Well, this book should be marked with a plaque as a perfect prose example of America in the late 50s/early 60s.” It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t progressive in its treatment of women, but man was it enthralling. Rhode Island The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore Get to know Anthony, Joy, and Lu, three strangers whose lives become intertwined on Little Rhody’s picturesque Block Island. They may call it a summer beach read, but I call it cozy quarantine perfection. South Carolina The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank Set in Georgia and South Carolina, its a low-country love story that will leave you feeling Hallmark movie good. Also, the descriptions of towering trees, Sullivan’s Island, and Charleston restaurants, will help you indulge the armchair traveling spirit we all need right now. South Dakota Deadwood by Pete Dexter When the going gets tough, the tough head to Deadwood...at least in the 1870s if you’re Wild Bill Hickok or Calamity Jane. Expect searing grit. Booze, sex, betrayal, and murder in an action-packed work of fiction you won’t soon forget. Tennessee Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver A searing fictional narrative that grapples with the effects of climate change and draws you into the world of a young woman living on a farm in an isolated sliver of Tennessee. If you’re a lover of the mystical monarch butterflies, this is definitely for you. Texas God Save Texas: A Journey Into the Soul of the Lone Star State by Lawrence Wright Diverse chapters covering everything from hurricanes and guns to music and Texan heroes, get a taste of this big, beautiful, and oft contradictory state. (Which, by the way, is so much more than Austin) Utah Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey This best-seller reminded me of the understated, almost eerie grandeur of Utah (I once took a SUP yoga class in thermal waters within the Homestead Crater, a 10,000-year-old crater, about a half-hour outside of Park City, if that’s not enough trendy activities rolled int one) — and had me itching to return. Through Abbey’s elegiac prose, sourced from journals and reflections of his time spent as a ranger at Arches National Park outside Moab, you’ll yearn for the day when you can visit all of the natural wonders he describes for yourself, and with new eyes. Vermont Stranger in the Kingdom by Frank Mosher It’s a real treat to get lost in fictional Kingdom County, Vermont, in this tale that centers around a small town, a murder, and life in New England. Dealing with difficult themes like racism, Mosher manages to weave in humor and moral lessons without being preachy. Virginia The Jezebel Remedy by Martin Clark What happens when a married couple who are partners in law in a small Virginia town encounter a mysterious death of their most eccentric clients will leave you surprised at each twist and turn. One of my first quarantine reads last spring, it’s a veritable page-turner and welcome distraction from the relentless news cycle. Washington Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (Spoiler alert!) The last line of this courtroom drama regarding a case of a drowned fisherman on remote San Piedro Island was well worth slogging through the entire book for me: “Accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart.” West Virginia Last Mountain Dancer: Hard-Earned Lessons in Love, Loss, and Honky-Tonk Outlaw Life by Chuck Kinder This Goodreads review just about summed it up: “At turns uproariously funny and break-my-goddamn-heart sad, Last Mountain Dancer started off good and ended even better, set in a world where Hank Williams occupies the same spiritual space as the ubiquitous Jaaaaaysus.” Suffice to say, I’m looking forward to the day when I get to visit these country roads for myself. Wisconsin Population: 485 — Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time by Michael Perry I’ve visited my fair share small towns in Wisconsin like outdoorsy Door County’s fly-speck gem, Sister Bay, and Elkhorn to see the Dave Matthews Band play the much-hyped amphitheater that is Alpine Valley, but I’ve never ventured to one quite like Perry’s hometown of New Auburn, rendered beautifully in this unforgettable memoir. Wyoming Wrapped and Strapped by Lorelei James I like Harlequin romance novels, so shoot me. Hippie vegetarian meets hunky cattle farmer in a raunchy stint at the ole Split Rock Ranch and Resort in this “Blacktop Cowboys” series mass market paperback hit. Now I definitely want to visit Wyoming for the, um, scenery.

    Inspiration

    19 Romantic Staycation Ideas for Valentine's Day Weekend

    As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, hotels and destinations around the U.S. have been doing their best to reopen safely, initiating strict health and safety protocols and updates like contactless check-in to help restore confidence in travel among visitors and keep employees safe. Valentine’s Day is happening during a long weekend this year, making it a great time to escape with your beloved to a remote cabin in the woods or try a romantic staycation closer to home. According to a recent study by vacation rental search engine HomeToGo, U.S. travelers are booking Valentine’s Day weekend vacations 48% more than they did last year, prioritizing trips to remote cabins and rural destinations over busy cities. Searches have increased the most for rentals in the Adirondack Mountains and Windham in New York, Joshua Tree National Park in California, Banner Elk in North Carolina, Captiva Island and Anna Maria Island in Florida, Aspen and Colorado Springs in Colorado, Big Sky in Montana and the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, with travelers requesting whirlpools, Wi-Fi and pet-friendly perks as top amenities. For those willing to wear a mask, practice social distancing and follow the rules in the places they visit, there are plenty of affordable romantic packages to be had. Here’s a look at 19 of our favorites, all available for under $220 a night. Maine In South Berwick, The Stage House Inn’s romance package includes a $100 credit at its onsite restaurant Dufour, a bottle of prosecco and homemade truffles to enjoy during your stay. Rates from $199 a night when you book by calling (207) 704-0516 and stay between February 11 and March 13, 2021. Rhode Island Hotel Viking in Newport wants you to celebrate the good times with a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine and breakfast for two at One Bellevue Restaurant. Rates start at $199 a night when you book through this link. Virginia Just 20 minutes from Washington, D.C, Hotel Indigo Old Town Alexandria’s Valentine’s Day package comes with locally made treats like a cocoa mask kit for two and two Bailey’s chocolate mousse cheesecakes from the Alexandria Makers Market. Rates start at $179 a night and include late 2 p.m. check-out. Northern Virginia is also a great place for day trips to local wineries, with most sporting socially distanced seating with heaters and fire pits for you and your beloved to cozy up next to as you sip locally made wine. Stop by Cana Vineyards & Winery in Middleburg, Cave Ridge Vineyard & Winery in Mount Jackson, Barren Ridge Vineyards in Fishersville, Potomac Point Winery & Vineyard in Stafford, Montifalco Vineyard in Ruckersville, Valley Road Vineyards in Afton or King Family Vineyard in Crozet — all within a 2.5-hour drive of Washington D.C. North Carolina Calling all Nicholas Sparks fans: Get ready to geek out in Beaufort — where two of his novels, A Walk to Remember and The Choice were set — with Beaufort Hotel’s A Ride to Remember package. In addition to a one-night stay, you’ll get a special keepsake and two tickets to the Ride to Remember guided bike tour of Beaufort. Use promo code PRIDE to unlock rates from $169 a night. Florida Celebrate Valentine’s Day all month long at Plunge Beach Resort, located in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea about 45 minutes north of Miami. As part of the romance package, you’ll get a free bottle of Champagne and a $30 breakfast credit to use at one of the resort’s onsite restaurants, with rates from $179 a night in February. Tennessee Bode’s Valentine’s Day promotion includes a 14% discount and a complimentary bottle of prosecco when you book a night at either of its two Tennessee properties now thru February 15, 2021. Rates start at $171 a night at Bode Nashville and $111 a night at Bode Chattanooga with promo code BEMINE. Texas In Austin, Lone Star Court’s retro-style Valentine package comes with complimentary Wi-Fi and parking, a bottle of bubbly and a special kit so you can create your own s’mores by one of the onsite fire pits. Rates from $144 per night. With rates from $149 a night, Hyatt Regency Houston’s romance package treats guests to a bottle of Champagne and chocolates upon arrival, complimentary parking and late 2 p.m. check-out. Call (713) 654-1234 or choose the romance package offer when booking this deal online. Le Meridien Houston Downtown’s Better Together package is bookable for Friday and Saturday stays only, making it the perfect excuse to plan a romantic night in. You’ll get a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine, late check-out, VIP access to the rooftop bar, Z on 23, and two house cocktails, with rates from $204 per night. The Westin Stonebriar in Frisco, about a 30-minute drive from Dallas, treats guests to sparkling wine and gourmet chocolates, late check-out and a romantic four-course dinner for two at its restaurant, Herd & Hearth, as part of its Retreat to Romance package. Rates from $209 per night for stays February 12-14, 2021. About 90 minutes from Dallas, head to East Texas for a romantic and socially distanced stroll at the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden, home to 14 acres and 35,000 rose bushes sporting over 500 varieties of roses. Afterward, drive 40 minutes south to Jacksonville for a romantic retreat at Hotel Ritual and Wellness Center, with rates from $150 a night and all-inclusive amenities like complimentary cocktails, daily gourmet breakfast, spa pools (treatments are extra), sauna access and free snacks, coffee and tea all day long. New Mexico Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a complimentary bottle of bubbly at El Rey Court in Santa Fe when you stay between February 11-15, 2021. Use promo code HEART to unlock rates from $150 per night. Missouri St. Louis is the place to be Valentine’s Day weekend, with a socially distanced jazz extravaganza at BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups on February 13 (tickets from $20) and a special Valentine’s dinner at Lemp Mansion Restaurant & Inn February 11–13. Spend a romantic — and potentially haunted — night at the Inn, with rates from $150 a night Sunday thru Thursday and from $205 a night Friday and Saturday. Wisconsin If a romantic cabin in the woods is more your style, the following are all located within a 90-minute drive of Madison, with a two-night minimum stay required. In Platteville, Walnut Ridge is home to two luxury log cabins, each with a perfectly placed whirlpool spa by the fire and rates from $150 to $170 per night. Rustic Ridge Log Cabins in Merrimac offers five upscale and spacious log cabins with Wi-Fi, fireplaces and in some, Jacuzzis so the two of you can spend some much-needed alone time in Wisconsin wilderness. Seasonal rates from $219 a night thru March 2, then from $199 a night thru May 4. In Oxford, escape to A Secret Cottage for a romantic stay in the country with a private lake, whirlpool tub, fireplace, spacious front porch, fully stocked kitchen and a skylight upstairs so you can snuggle under the stars. Rates on Friday, Saturday and holidays start at $155 a night, while they’re from $150 a night for Sunday through Thursday stays. Nebraska You really can’t get more romantic than celebrating Valentine’s Day in an actual town called Valentine. If you’re up for a drive, Heartland Elk Ranch — located about five hours from Omaha in the north-central part of the state — is home to four beautifully furnished cabins close to hiking trails and stocked fishing ponds, as well as a herd of 50-75 elk that roams the area freely. Enjoy views of the Niobrara National Scenic River, with rates from $155 a night Monday thru Thursday and from $165 a night Friday thru Sunday and on holidays. In Omaha, celebrate your love at the same hotel John and Jackie Kennedy once visited for their 5th year anniversary, the Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel, formerly known as the Blackstone Hotel. Its Love is All Around Us package gives guests a special amenity, valet parking, two tickets to redeem for free wine or tea at the Fontenelle Room and a complimentary yoga class in the Gold Coast Ballroom if you’re there on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

    ADVERTISEMENT
    ADVERTISEMENT

    More Places to go

    DESTINATION IN Pennsylvania

    Williamsport

    Williamsport is a city in, and the county seat of, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, United States. In 2019, the population was estimated at 28,186. It is the principal city of the Williamsport Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of about 114,000. Williamsport is the larger principal city of the Williamsport-Lock Haven, PA Combined Statistical Area, which includes Lycoming and Clinton Counties.The city is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Central Pennsylvania. It is 131 miles (211 km) from Philadelphia, 166 miles (267 km) from Pittsburgh and 85 miles (137 km) from Harrisburg. It is known for its sports, arts scene and food. Williamsport was settled by Americans in the late 18th century, and began to prosper due to its lumber industry. By the early 20th century, it reached the height of its prosperity. The population has since declined by about a third from its peak of around 45,000 in 1950. As county seat, Williamsport has the county courthouse, county prison, sheriff's office headquarters and federal courthouse, all downtown. It is also home to two institutions of higher learning, the Pennsylvania College of Technology and Lycoming College. Williamsport is the birthplace of Little League Baseball. South Williamsport, a town nearby, is the headquarters of Little League Baseball and annually hosts the Little League World Series in late summer. Other points of interest include the Hiawatha riverboat, Millionaires' Row, Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, the Community Arts Center, the Genetti Hotel, the Susquehanna Riverwalk and The Gallery at Penn College.