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8 Scenic hikes to do on your next trip to Washington County, Maryland

You really can’t go wrong when it comes to choosing a beautiful place to go hiking in Washington County, Maryland, home to five national parks, eight state parks, and two resource management areas. Each comes with its own set of scenic trails, offering plenty of options whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing stroll through the woods or up for something more strenuous as long as it leads to a phenomenal view. Here’s a look at some of the best places to go hiking on your next trip to Western Maryland. Maryland’s Portion of the Appalachian Trail Washington Monument on Appalachian Trail in Boonsboro - Credit: MJ Clingan Did you know the majority of the 40-mile section of the Appalachian Trail that crosses Maryland actually passes through Washington County? This particular portion of the A.T. is relatively easy compared with others, with fewer steep climbs and elevation changes of just 1,650 feet. While you could thru-hike the entire stretch in four or five days, most visitors opt to do day hikes where the trail runs through Greenbrier State Park (Annapolis Rock and Black Rock Cliff), Gathland State Park (Weverton Cliffs), and Washington Monument State Park, home of the first monument ever created in George Washington’s honor. The A.T. also allows access to the Maryland Heights overlook at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, which we’ll get into later. C&O Canal National Historic Park Hikers on C&O Canal towpath - Credit: Canal Trust Constructed in 1828 and declared a National Monument in 1961, the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal is a vast 184.5-mile waterway that connects Georgetown in Washington, D.C. with Cumberland in Maryland. The C&O Canal Towpath — the dirt and stone trail that runs alongside it and was once used by mules to tow boats down the canal — serves as a recreational space for hikers and cyclists, with 78 miles of it passing through Washington County. The canal is also part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and is a popular place for birding. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, turkey vultures, egrets, great blue herons, wood ducks, and more than 120 other species of birds as you make your way along the Potomac. The Western Maryland Rail Trail Western MD Rail Trail in Hancock 1st Maryland Trail Town -Credit: John Canan For those who prefer paved paths, the Western Maryland Rail Trail, formerly the site of the Western Maryland Railway, runs alongside a 28-mile section of the C&O Canal Towpath from Big Pool (near Fort Frederick State Park) up to Little Orleans. With beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and the nearby Potomac River, it’s a beautiful place to visit year-round, especially in the fall when the leaves change color. The entire path is wheelchair and stroller accessible and relatively flat, making it a great place to go for a relaxing walk, energizing run, or scenic bike ride. Fort Frederick State Park While most people visit Fort Frederick State Park to learn about the unique stone fort, which was constructed in 1756 and used to defend Maryland during the French and Indian War, it’s also home to two scenic trails perfect for hikers of all ages and abilities. Stroll along Beaver Pond Trail, where you can view white-tailed deer, turtles, birds, and other wetland wildlife along the 0.3-mile path, or take the 1.1-mile Plantation Nature Trail through the forest, where trees were harvested in the 1930s — the C&O Canal Towpath also winds its way through here along the Potomac River. Nearby, the Woodmont Natural Resource Management Area’s Wildlife Heritage Trail offers pathways through rolling mountain landscapes, oak forests, and places to pick wild berries. Antietam National Battlefield Antietam Burnside Bridge - Credit: Scanter Halfway between Hagerstown, Maryland, and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Antietam National Battlefield was the site of the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, where 23,000 soldiers were killed that fateful day on September 17, 1862. Today, it’s home to 10 historic hiking trails where visitors can walk along 0.3- to 1.8-mile pathways and read markers indicating the historic events that happened here. Visit in springtime when birds returning from their winter trips south can be seen in the trees around the Sherrick Farm and Snavely Ford trails. The battlefield is also home to 77 species of birds including northern cardinals, red-tailed hawks, and eastern bluebirds, among others. The Maryland Heights Trail at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Harpers Ferry National Historical Park spans three states (Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia) and its Maryland Heights Trail is a major highlight, offering incredible views of the C&O Canal, Harpers Ferry, and the place where the Potomac River and Shenandoah River meet. It also connects with the Appalachian Trail at the Maryland Heights overlook and lets you check out artillery batteries dating back to the Civil War era — the Stone Fort Loop Trail, which adds about two more miles to your hike, is also worth a look. Park at the Visitor Center and take the free shuttle or hike down the 1.6-mile path to begin the 4.5-mile semi-strenuous trail in Lower Town. South Mountain Recreation Area Greenbrier State Park (South Mountain Recreation Area) - Credit: Scott Cantner South Mountain State Park, Greenbrier State Park, Gathland State Park, and Washington Monument State Park make up the South Mountain Recreation Area, home to hiking trails and excellent bird-watching areas. While parts of the Appalachian Trail pass through Greenbrier State Park, there are 11 miles of trails ranging from moderate to difficult due to the steep, rocky landscape — whichever you choose, leave time to cool off in the scenic 42-acre lake. The A.T. also crosses South Mountain State Battlefield, where you can learn how the Battle of South Mountain helped turn the tide of the Civil War in 1862, and Washington Monument State Park, home to a stone tower that was built in 1827 to honor our first president. Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area In Western Washington County, the 3,100-acre Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area offers hikers a chance to discover the area’s geology. Stop by the Visitor’s Center to learn how the region’s ancient Devonian-age black shale, which dates back to more than 350 million years ago, and ancient Hampshire and Chemung sandstone support the unique wildlife and endangered plants that live here. Watch for songbirds, black bears, grouse, wild turkeys, and white-tailed deer. Most trails here once served as logging roads or were built to support the C&O Canal, and are now used by hikers and hunters during hunting season. CARD WIDGET HERE

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Travel Tips on Getting to (and Around) Martha's Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts that has become the preferred summer destination to hundreds of families for decades. For those of you visiting us for the first time, you might be a little confused as to how to get to the island and eventually, how to get around island during your visit. We’re here to tackle all your questions, concerns, and overall comments - so here are our top travel tips to getting to (and around) Martha’s Vineyard: 1.There are only TWO ways to get to Martha’s Vineyard: you can fly into the MVY Airport or take one of the many ferries from the mainland. Check out Vineyard Ferries for details on all the ferries you can take to Martha’s Vineyard. If you’re flying, carrier options include Cape Air, JetBlue, Delta, and American Airlines - more details on getting to MV by plane. 2. If you want to bring your car on island, you must take the Steamship Authority ferry from Woods Hole on Cape Cod. The good news is that the Steamship Authority ferry operates many times a day, every day of the year. The bad news is that, while you can walk onto any of their ferries without a reservations, all car reservations must be made in advance, and space on ferries in July and August can fill up quickly. 3. If you still want to fly in and need a car, there are many car rental businesses on island ready to rent you a car, SUV, Jeep, or van. Car renting is common for visitors spending a few weeks on island at a time!​ 4. Rent a bicycle! There are so many locally owned bicycle shops on island and you can’t go wrong with any of them! Renting a bike will cost you between $25-45 a day - check out bike rental rates and ride safely! The island has more than 35 miles of paved, off-road bike paths, so it’s the perfect way to explore.​5. Don’t want to rent a bicycle? Buy a Vineyard Transit Authority Bus Pass! The VTA public buses are a clean, safe and reliable way to travel around the Vineyard. The daily bus pass cost is $8, on/off as much as you like. Children under 6 ride for free, and seniors 65+ get a reduced rate of $5. Bus passes can be bought at the Steamship Authority terminal, and, if you have exact change in cash, right from the bus driver. 6. Don’t want to ride the bus? Walk/run! There are great walking trails and running paths in every town, and it’s a great way to work up an appetite for lobster rolls and ice cream cones! 7. Take a tour of the island! Whether you're here for the day or for the season, don't miss anything Martha's Vineyard has to offer and take a tour. From tour buses and vans, walking tours, food tours, lighthouse tours, and on-the-water tours, there's a tour for all guests.8. Don’t want to do any of the above? You’re in luck, because ride share, such as Uber and Lift are both available, as are local taxi companies. CARD WIDGET HERE

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Where to stay on Martha's Vineyard on any budget

Martha’s Vineyard has a reputation for its beautiful beaches, traditional New England architecture, and for being a summer vacation destination for the rich and powerful. The island is known for being a vacation destination for ex-presidents, as well as being the filming location for Jaws over 40 years ago. You would be forgiven for assuming that Martha’s Vineyard is a destination too expensive for those of us that travel without the means of the wealthy. But you would be wrong. The secret to Martha’s Vineyard is that it has quite a few hotels, campgrounds, and hostels that provide reasonable budget accommodations. There are two tricks for getting these deals: book early, 6-12 months in advance, and book during shoulder-season, which are the months just before and after summer. We’ve assembled a list of our favorite options of stays on the island. $ - Under $100/night Tisbury - Martha's Vineyard Family Campground campmv.com Open May - October With several cottages, also offers space for tents and RVs. Clean, very safe, family friendly campground. Expect to pay $54-60 per campground per night. West Tisbury - Hosteling International Martha's Vineyard capecodhostels.org Open April - October Private and dorm rooms available, Families and non-members welcome. Rates range from $40-150 per night. Oak Bluffs - The Madison Inn madisoninnmv.com Open May - October, this 14 room property is located in the heart of the town center, close to all the fun, the beaches and the food! Rates as low as $79. $$ - Under $200/night Edgartown - Ashley Inn ashleyinn.net 1860 Whaling Captain's home is open year round and is an easy stroll to the town center, beaches and attractions. A charming stay for couples, friends and families. Rates as low as $125/night in the off-season. Edgartown - The Edgar Hotel edgarhotelmv.com Open year-round and recently renovated with all the modern comforts you need, a relaxed Island atmosphere you'd expect and a popular on-site bar and restaurant. Rates as low as $153/night. Oak Bluffs - The Narragansett House narragansetthouse.com This 13 room property is located in the heart if the town center, steps from food, beaches, shopping and fun. Rates from $144/night. Tisbury - Vineyard Harbor Motel vineyardharbormotel.us Open year-round and located on the harbor, each of the 40 rooms is an efficiency unit. Rates from $159/night. Tisbury- The Driftwood of Martha's Vineyard thedriftwoodmv.com Year-round B&B with farm-to-table options, quiet area close to town center. Rates from $150 during off-season and $300 during peak. Tisbury - Look Inn lookinnmv.com Comfortable old farmhouse located in historic district close to shops, restaurants and beaches. Rates from $175-200 per night. $$$ - Over $200/night Aquinnah - The Duck Inn duckinnonmv.com Cozy, year-round, 5-room property is perfect for a true getaway. Located in the western most side of the Island, visitors will enjoy amazing views, easy walk to the beach, fireplaces and divine hospitality. The Duck Inn is pet friendly, but contact them for specifics. Rates as low as $145 but go up to $335/night. Edgartown - The Edgartown Commons edgartowncommons.com Located steps from downtown this budget friendly property has 34 units are apartments (studios, one and two bedrooms) with kitchens, to make it easy for an extra long getaway. Open May - October. Rates from $215/night. Tisbury - The 1720 House 1720house.com Open year-round this 6-room was named one of Yankee Magazine's best small New England Inns. Steps from the beach and town center. Rates from $150 in the off-season and $250 in peak. Oak Bluffs - The Pequot Hotel pequothotel.com Open May - October A Charming small hotel is one block top beaches and a short stroll to shopping and dining. Rates from $200/night. CARD WIDGET HERE

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Visiting Martha’s Vineyard on a budget? Yes it’s possible

Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful place that happily welcomes and accommodates visitors from all walks of life. While it is known as a destination for the affluent and has a reputation as being a pricey place to visit, it is home to a diverse population and it can definitely be enjoyed on a tight budget. Like any popular destination there are endless choices to pick from so knowing the most affordable options is the best way to plan a budget friendly trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Here’s our top tips for enjoying your time on Martha’s Vineyard without having to break the bank. ​ Getting here and getting aroundThe cheapest way to travel on to the Island is to take the Steamship Authority (SSA) ferry which departs from Woods Hole in Falmouth multiple times a day. It’s the residents’ year-round lifeline to ‘America’ and it’s $19 for a roundtrip passenger ticket which includes a free shuttle bus ride in Falmouth from the SSA’s designated parking lots. There is a cost for parking which ranges from $10-20/day depending on the seasons, rates available here.Once you arrive on the Island the most cost efficient way to get around is via the Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) bus line which travels through all six Martha’s Vineyard towns daily. A one day pass is only $10 and the bus makes frequent stops including in the busy downtowns of Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, and Oak Bluffs, as well as the popular fishing village Menemsha and the iconic, and majestic Aquinnah Cliffs. Plan to spend the day exploring Martha’s Vineyard’s most popular points of interest and attractions, most of which can be seen for free, including many of our beautiful beaches! Kids love to stop off at the ‘JAWS’ bridge in Edgartown to take a leap into the water, another popular stop along the VTA bus.​ Another affordable way to get around the Island is to bring your bike over on the ferry (an extra $8 fee round trip) and take advantage of the more than 35 miles of paved bike paths on Martha’s Vineyard. You can also rent a bike once you arrive, as there are several bike rental locations within walking distance from the ferry terminals in both Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. Staying hereThe most cost efficient way to experience Martha’s Vineyard is to enjoy a day trip and avoid the cost of lodging, but it if you want to stay longer (which we always recommend!) there are some very reasonable options available. One of the most affordable is the Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground, located just one and a half miles from the Vineyard Haven Steamship Authority ferry terminal and easily accessible via a VTA bus. The Campground offers spacious wooded sites, complete with picnic tables, fireplaces, and hookups to accommodate tents or RVs. They also offer a number of new camping cabin rentals, as well as restrooms showers, laundromat, store, recreation hall and playground. The Campground is open seasonally May to October and rates begin at $59/night. Another reasonably priced option is the HI Martha’s Vineyard Hostel located in West Tisbury and also easily accessible via the VTA bus. The hostel boasts free Wi-Fi; free continental breakfast; a fully equipped, shared guest kitchen; easy access to public transit and bike trails; and a large lawn with sand volleyball, grill, tables and chairs. The hostel is open seasonally from May to October with rates starting at just $38/night.​Martha’s Vineyard is also home to dozens of hotels, inns, and beds & breakfast, many of which offer discounted rates in the fall, winter and spring. You can browse our list of accommodations here, and find last minute lodging specials here. Many homeowners also rent their homes with local real estate companies and on online marketplaces that specialize in home rentals. ​ Where to eatThere’s no shortage of restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard but many of them can get pricey if you’re not careful. For starters we’d recommend packing your own reusable bottle of water and granola bars, fruit, or snacks to keep you fueled throughout the day so you don’t find yourself having to spending more in a pinch.​Morning coffee is a must for many of us and the cheapest coffee on the go you’ll get is at Cumberland Farms, 99 cents for the biggest size they have, hot or iced. It’s one of the few chain businesses on Martha’s Vineyard and is located within walking distance to the Vineyard Haven SSA ferry terminal, and directly across the street from the Chamber of Commerce offices – where you can stock up on free maps and info on getting around and making the most of your stay.​When your morning hunger strikes head to Black Dog Bakery in Vineyard Haven for a reasonably priced breakfast sandwich, Linda Jean’s in Oak Bluffs or Dock Street Diner in Edgartown for some of the lowest cost breakfast plates around. Each of them offer a casual, local vibe, and are the type of ‘hidden gems’ we all long to discover on vacation wherever we may go.​Lunch can easily be skipped given the portions you’ll get at the spots above but if you get hungry midday from all of your exploring you can still dine on a dime, or close to it. The Barn, Bowl & Bistro in Oak Bluffs often offers a $9.99 lunch special most days of the week, plus if you’re up for a game of bowling they also offer affordable bowling packages too. If you’re hungry for a burger, Giordano's in Oak Bluffs offers a buy one, get one half off special. You can also score discounted deals on Asian inspired lunch specials, including Chinese and Japanese cuisine at Copper Wok in Vineyard Haven or Thai food at Bangkok Thailand in Oak Bluffs.Alternatively, the cheapest option may be grabbing a salad or sandwich at a local market like Tony’s or Reliable Market in Oak Bluffs, or Stop n’ Shop (conveniently located in Vineyard Haven or Edgartown) and enjoying it outside in the park or on the beach.Dinner is often the priciest meal of the day so be careful where you sit down. Sharky’s Cantina in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown is a local tex-mex favorite known for its big portions and reasonable prices, not to mention their delicious nachos! If you’re looking for an authentic Martha’s Vineyard dining experience you’ll want to try our seafood and Coop de Ville on the Oak Bluffs waterfront has a fantastic view, as well as regular seafood specials including their Tuesday night Lobster Fest. For additional nightly dinner specials browse other options here and be sure to check out local menus before opting to sit down so you know what kind of prices you can expect. So there you have it! Martha’s Vineyard is not made for millionaires, and there’s ample options for the budget-conscious traveler. Good luck discovering the Island and challenge yourself to stay within whatever cost parameters you may have, after all the landscape of the Island is the best feature we have and looking around is absolutely free. CARD WIDGET HERE

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5 Reasons you should add Martha's Vineyard to your bucket list

There’s truly something for everyone on Martha’s Vineyard, whether you’re in town for a family vacation, planning a romantic getaway with your loved one, or seeing the world solo. Once you arrive on the Island, either by taking The Steamship Authority (SSA) ferry from Woods Hole in Falmouth or by air into Martha’s Vineyard Airport, you’ll find plenty of beaches, lighthouses, museums, restaurants, bars, and historical attractions to keep any traveler busy. Best of all, you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money to have a great trip, thanks to an abundance of alternative accommodations like campgrounds, hostels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and lots of free and affordable things to do. Here are five reasons why Martha’s Vineyard definitely deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. There’s plenty to see and do outdoors From beautiful beaches and scenic hiking trails to fishing, golf, yoga, and wildlife-viewing, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities in Martha’s Vineyard. Start by visiting two of the Island’s most popular outdoor hangouts: Menemsha Public Beach in Chilmark, a great spot for families to spend a day on the water, and Aquinnah Cliffs, home to hiking trails and views of the unique red and orange clay cliffside and Aquinnah Lighthouse. For a memorable outdoor yoga experience, head to Island Alpaca Company of Martha’s Vineyard in Oak Bluffs, where you can get your stretch on alongside these fascinating creatures in the middle of their pasture. Animal lovers should also visit Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown for the chance to learn more about the Island’s unique habitats and try your hand at birding. Golf enthusiasts can hit the links at public or semi-private courses on the Island, including Mink Meadows Golf Club in Vineyard Haven, Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, or Royal and Ancient Chappaquiddick Links in Edgartown. Those who enjoy fishing can get local tips from tackle shops or hire fishing charters and try catching bluefish, tuna, sea bass, fluke, and squid. The island has a fascinating history To fully understand the history of the Island, start with a trip to the Aquinnah Circle Cultural District, home to the stunning Aquinnah Cliffs, Aquinnah lighthouse, and Aquinnah Cultural Center, where you can learn all about Martha’s Vineyard’s original inhabitants, the Wampanoag, and visit shops owned by local Indigenous people. For a look at the Island’s diverse heritage and maritime background, visit the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Vineyard Haven to see stories of the many cultures and people who have come to call the area home, learn how lighthouses helped through the ages, and explore the Thomas Cooke House, formerly the home of Martha’s Vineyard’s earliest attorneys during the 18th century. The Museum also happens to be the steward of the Edgartown and East Chop Lighthouses, which are also worth checking out, as is the Aquinnah Lighthouse, formerly known as Gay Head Light. History buffs should also make time for a historical walking tour through Edgartown, run by the Vineyard Preservation Trust, which takes guests past the Vincent House (built in 1672), the Village Green, the John Coffin House, the Old Whaling Church, and the Dr. Daniel Fisher House & Gardens, among other historic sites throughout the area. Keep an eye out for famous people and places Not only is Martha’s Vineyard home to the world’s oldest operating platform carousel—The Flying Horses Carousel, built in 1876 and entertaining guests at its current location in Oak Bluffs since 1884—it’s also been known to appear in movies and TV shows from time to time. Fans of the Jaws film franchise will recognize “Amity Island” as none other than Martha’s Vineyard, with famous scenes filmed along Vineyard Haven Harbor, Cow Bay Beach in Edgartown, East Chop, Menemsha, Harbor, Gay Head Light in Aquinnah. Perhaps the most popular filming location is the American Legion Memorial Bridge, now known simply as “Jaws Bridge,” which is now a popular spot for another reason among visitors and locals: jumping off the bridge into the water 12–15 feet below. In the film, it’s where the shark famously swims into Sengekontacket Pond and goes after another innocent beachgoer. Martha’s Vineyard has also appeared in a number of movies (Sabrina, Stuck on You, Jumping the Broom, and Chappaquiddick, among others) as well as TV shows like Our Kind of People and The Vineyard. It’s also known as being a bit of a celebrity stomping ground, with big names like James Taylor, Carly Simon, David Letterman, Spike Lee, and former President Barack Obama all owning homes here, and a flurry of celebs including Larry David, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Murray, who vacation on the Island in summer. You never know who you’ll spot here, so keep your eyes peeled—but remain respectful. Enjoy locally sourced dining and vintage shopping If you’ve worked up an appetite after a long day of sightseeing, there’s a Martha’s Vineyard restaurant with your name on it. Whether you’re craving ocean-to-table seafood, farm-to-table favorites, a good old fashioned clambake, or a chill night at a neighborhood pub. Open seasonally during the summer, Chilmark Tavern, Beach Plum, and The Sweet Life café (open year round) are popular among visitors, residents, and celebrities alike. Looking for something lighter? In West Tisbury, pick up picnic-perfect fruit, veggies, meat, cheese, and snacks from the Farmer’s Market, held on Wednesday and Saturday from mid-June to late-October. When it comes to retail therapy, antiques and vintage pieces are the way to go. Start by scouring the Oak Bluffs Open Market, a vintage flea market meets crafts fair meets farmer’s market held on Sunday from late-May to mid-October, and the Chilmark Flea Market, the oldest outdoor flea market in Martha’s Vineyard, open Wednesday and Saturday from the mid-June to mid-September. Otherwise, stick to locally-owned boutiques for all your shopping needs, including popular brands like Vineyard Vines, Menemsha Blues, and The Black Dog, which all got their start here on the Island. Accommodations options are abundant The beauty of Martha’s Vineyard is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a memorable vacation. Families can save money by making it a camping adventure at Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground, which has plenty of room for tents and RVs, rustic cabins you can rent, and amenities like picnic tables, laundry areas, a recreation hall, showers, bathrooms, a playground, and a general store. Rates range from $59 to $195 a night depending on which kind of space you want to rent (tent and RV sites or one- and two-bedroom cabins) and when (it’s only open seasonally from late May to late-October). Travelers of all types should consider staying at HI Martha’s Vineyard Hostel in West Tisbury, which offers seasonal accommodation from May to October. Rates start at $38 a night for dorm-style rooms with bunk beds or $99 a night for private rooms, and all stays include perks like complimentary Wi-Fi, continental breakfast, easy access to public transportation via VTA bus, fully-stocked shared kitchen space, and a sand volleyball court to play in.Otherwise, you can find a variety of accommodations options ranging from fancy splurge-worthy hotels to homey inns and bed and breakfasts all throughout the Island. Vacation home rentals are also quite popular so check online marketplaces and local real estate companies, too. Rates are typically lower during the winter, spring, and fall seasons, so you might also luck out with an off-season deal if you’re not visiting during the summer months. CARD WIDGET HERE

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Join Budget Travel as we begin our new series Discover USA. Discover USA explores states, counties, cities, and everything in between. Each week we will explore a new US destination to help you find things to do, itinerary ideas, and plan where to go next. This week, we invite you to Discover what the State of Mississippi has to offer. The "Magnolia state" is widely known for its BBQ, magnolias, catfish, bluegrass music, and southern charm. Explore the Outdoors Image courtesy visitmississippi.org In Mississippi, visitors will find no shortage of outdoor recreational opportunities. From breathtaking views at Gulf Coast beaches, towering forests, rivers and lakes and more, all offer exhilarating and adventurous experiences. Parks: An abundance of festivals, historic sites and outdoor recreation events make Mississippi’s system of national, state and local parks a welcoming, family-oriented vacation destination. Throughout the state, travelers will find many opportunities for camping, hiking, equestrian activities, wildlife viewing and much more. Many of Mississippi’s state parks provide modern amenities for visitors to enjoy, including boating areas, fishing spots, hiking trails, disc goal courses, beaches, playgrounds and picnic areas. Cycling: Mississippi has a wondrous wealth of paved and unpaved bike trails. But one of the greatest joys of biking in Mississippi is the opportunity to experience history, in addition to the scenic vistas, off-road detours and colorful scenery that are found along the journey. The Natchez Trace, which stretches from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee is unlike any other scenic route in the country, thanks to its historic sites and numerous markers that tell the story of the Trace's 10,000-year history. Waterways: The rivers and streams in Mississippi offer some of the most fun and most scenic outdoor adventures in the state. Adventure out on the Mississippi River with Quapaw Canoe Company, or paddle Black Creek, Mississippi’s only designated National Wild and Scenic waterway. Further South, the Gulf Coast region offers multiple opportunities for waterway adventures. There are currently seven Blueways, or water trails, that have been mapped out for recreational canoers and kayakers including the Pascagoula River Blueway, the largest free flowing waterway in the lower 48 states. The mild climate in Mississippi means the state’s waterways are ripe for fishing year-round. With 119 public lakes open and ready for action, a great day of fishing is never far away. Some of the most popular places to fish in Mississippi include: Grenada LakeArkabutla LakeEnid LakeHernando DeSoto River Park There are also plenty of opportunities to go fishing on the Gulf Coast, with options ranging from night fishing on the shore to a deep-sea, multi-day charter. Arts and Culture One of the most notable aspects of Mississippi is the rich culture that’s saturated the land for generations. Mississippi has played an integral part in shaping the history of America, as well as several artistic and cultural movements that people across the country enjoy today. The Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson is Mississippi’s largest art museum that has over 4,000 works, including the world’s largest collection by and relating to Mississippians and their diverse heritage. Many works can be seen in the permanent collection, New Symphony of Time. The Art Garden offers Wi-Fi and al fresco dining and hosts outdoor events. Since 1979, the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale has been working to conserve Mississippi’s blues legacy. As the state’s oldest music museum, this Clarksdale arts center has interpreted and cultivated an understanding of this native Mississippi art form for decades. Exhibits include collections of artifacts, memorabilia, instruments and more from some of the state’s most prolific blues musicians, like B.B. King and Muddy Waters. History and Civil Rights Image courtesy visitmississippi.org The new, interactive Mississippi Civil Rights Museum also in Jackson explores the true stories of the Civil Rights movement, and shows how those events shaped a state and changed the world. After taking in the fascinating exhibits at the museum, visitors can venture to some of the 25 sites on the Mississippi Freedom Trail to experience history at the source. Deeply intertwined in the fabric of Mississippi’s past are the legends of the blues and country music that defined the genres forever. The Mississippi Blues Trail showcases the powerful influence of Mississippi’s Black musicians on an unforgettable journey through blues history. The trail showcases the people and places that shaped the genre through notable markers, influential locations, and museums. Culinary For foodies looking for an inexpensive way to enjoy the very best BBQ on a budget-friendly getaway, the state of Mississippi is the perfect destination. A few of the many notable BBQ restaurants to visit around the state include Corky’s Ribs & BBQ in Olive Branch, The Shed BBQ in Ocean Springs and One & Only BBQ in Southhaven. Image courtesy visitmississippi.org Stop along a few locations on the Hot Tamale Trail, located throughout the Mississippi Delta region. Today, the Hot Tamale Trail in the Mississippi Delta not only celebrates the history hot tamales share with our state, but it also enables visitors and locals alike to find eateries providing them on their menus. Throughout the region, no two hot tamale recipes are alike, and along the Hot Tamale Trail, you can find variations that feature pork, beef, or turkey, corn flour instead of corn meal, and toppings like chili and cheese. See below for a few culinary focused events in Mississippi: March 19, 2022 Shaggy’s Rez Fest – Crawfish & Country Music Festival (Brandon) March 25-26, 2002 The South MS Boucherie BBQ Festival & Competition (Tylertown) April 20-24, 2022 29th Annual Crawfish Music Festival (Biloxi) April 23, 2022 18th Annual Mudbug Bash (Hernando) Other Notable Attractions: Hattiesburg Zoo (Hattiesburg)Mississippi Aquarium (Gulfport)GolfCasinos CARD WIDGET HERE

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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.