California's vast desert region is a land of hidden oases and canyons, towering snow-capped mountains, and sweeping panoramas that conjure visions of early California and the Old West. Unlike anywhere else in the world, the California Deserts feel like one giant natural theme park—connected by scenic open roads and a network of character-rich lodging properties. From colorful, otherworldly rock formations, expansive dunes, and natural mineral hot springs to old mines, hidden ghost towns, and outdoor art installations, the desert has no shortage of sights to behold. Travel from elevations that are thousands of feet high to lower depths of 280 feet/85 m below sea level. Discover a region that is vibrant yet remote, colorful and camouflaged, and rustic but luxurious. Whether you power through in a week's time or linger longer in each destination, this itinerary promises to be unforgettable and truly inspiring. Leg 1: LAX to Ridgecrest Road in Ridgecrest, California by Brian Wangenheim - Unsplash Driving Distance & Time: 163 miles/262 km (3.5 hours) Stops & Attractions: Red Rock Canyon State Park, Lone Ridge Trail, Petroglyph Park Dining & Drinking: Ale's Steakhouse, Bangkok House, Tokyo House Accommodations: SpringHill Suites by Marriott Ridgecrest Fresh off a flight, you'll want to use this first leg of the trip to position yourself closer to Death Valley, while keeping the driving time manageable. Nestled at the crossroads of three major highways and less than three hours from several of Southern California's major attractions, Ridgecrest is the perfect base camp to start a desert adventure. The surrounding California high desert is popular for off-roading, rock climbing, and hiking. With the largest concentration of Native American petroglyphs in the western hemisphere, a living ghost town, and several geological attractions, it's no surprise that Ridgecrest has also captured Hollywood's attention as a desirable filming location. Leg 2: Ridgecrest to Death Valley National Park Viewpoint off Echo Canyon Road in Death Valley National Park by Gilberto Parada - Unsplash Driving Distance & Time: 72 miles/115 km (1.5 hours to enter the National Park, which is 100 miles/160 km long) Stops & Attractions: Trona Pinnacles, Panamint Springs, Mosaic Canyon, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Badwater Basin, Devil's Golf Course, Zabriskie Point, The Racetrack, Artist's Palette, Dante's View Dining & Drinking: Desert Brew, Toll Road Restaurant, Last Kind Words Saloon & Steakhouse, Accommodations: Cottages at Death Valley The largest national park south of Alaska at 3.73 million acres, Death Valley is defined by extremes. It's North America's driest and hottest spot, with fewer than two inches/five cm of rainfall annually and a record high of 134°F (56°C). It also boasts the lowest elevation on the continent at Badwater Basin, which sits 282 feet/86 m below sea level. You could easily spend a few days exploring all sides of the expansive park, which abounds with hiking opportunities, fascinating landscapes, and dark night skies. Given the sheer size, it's best to plan your journey around three or five main stops a day. It's also well worth rising early to capture the sunrise from a scenic lookout such as Zabriskie Point. Leg 3: Death Valley to Joshua Tree via Baker Joshua Tree by Nicole Herrero - Unsplash Driving Distance & Time: 246 miles/396 km (4 hours) Stops & Attractions: World's Tallest Thermometer, Mojave National Preserve, Roy's Motel & Café, Amboy Crater Dining & Drinking: The Ranch 1849 Restaurant, Los Dos Toritos, Kitchen in the Desert Accommodations: AutoCamp Joshua Tree This longer day of driving features many photogenic stops, starting with the quirky town of Baker, home to the World's Largest Thermometer and funky shops. After lunch and filling your gas tank in Baker, carry on driving through to Mojave National Preserve where the sea of yucca trees calls for photo ops. You'll get on historic Route 66 to arrive in Amboy, home to its own quirky roadside sites including the midcentury relic, Roy's Motel & Café. The town of Joshua Tree will be one hour's drive from Amboy. After dinner in Twentynine Palms, leave room for s'mores by the fire back at AutoCamp. Leg 4: Joshua Tree to Anza Borrego The sun rising at Fonts Point in Anza Borrego by John Ko - Unsplash Driving Distance & Time: 100+ miles/160 km (2.5 hours) Stops & Attractions: Hidden Valley Trail, Key's View, Skull Rock Trail, Arch Rock, Cholla Cactus Garden, Anza Borrego State Park, Badlands Adventure with California Overland Desert Excursions Dining & Drinking: AutoCamp Joshua Tree, TKB Bakery & Deli, Arches Restaurant, The Fox Bistro Accommodations: Borrego Springs Resort & Spa, La Casa Del Zorro Resort & Spa With nearly 800,000 acres of mystical beauty, Joshua Tree National Park is undoubtedly one of the world's most incredible natural desert treasures. Sweeping, grand in scale, and populated by granite monoliths and voluptuous rock and boulder formations, the park offers wonder to eco-travelers, outdoor adventurists, and naturalists. Evidence of many diverse forms of plant life from creosote and ocotillo are found everywhere, but none as unique or prevalent as the park's namesake: the Joshua tree, standing majestically across the vast topography. Plan your route to enter the park from the town of Joshua Tree's West Entrance and exit from Cottonwood Entrance, dropping you onto the interstate. Stop in Indio for lunch and then head to Anza Borrego State Park for a tour of the famed Badlands. Leg 5: Anza Borrego to Palm Springs Wind turbines near Palm Springs, California by Karsten Winegeart - Unsplash Driving Distance & Time: 66 miles/106 km (1.5 hours) Stops & Attractions: Anza Borrego Metal Sculptures, Salton Sea, Desert Adventures Red Jeep Tours, Downtown Palm Springs Public Art, Uptown Design District Dining & Drinking: Kendall's Café, EIGHT4NINE Restaurant, Workshop Kitchen+Bar, Ernest Coffee, Norma'sAccommodations: Azure Sky Hotel, Hilton Palm Springs, Sparrow's Lodge Start the day in Anza Borrego exploring the charming downtown and walking among the giant metal sculptures created by Ricardo Breceda. Stop to see the Salton Sea en route to Indio, where you can stop for a pre-booked guided naturalist jeep tour of the San Andreas Fault and learn more about the plants, animals, geology, seismology, and history of the California desert. End the day in Palm Springs, where you can check into a resort and relax for a few days of sunbathing, art and architecture, shopping, and fine dining. After all that hiking and adventuring on the open road, you'll have earned a spa treatment or two!
If you've got plans to make a long drive across the States for an upcoming vacation, you might find yourself driving by some of the quirkiest attractions of the US. Since you need to stop for breaks anyways, why not schedule in a little extra time at one of these fun roadside attractions? Google Maps might give you the fastest route to your destination, but that doesn't mean it's the most fun. Plus, any bored and impatient younger passengers that may be along for the ride will appreciate the extra breaks along the way. Carhenge Location: Along Highway 87, north of Alliance, Nebraska Nebraska's "reply to Stonehenge." Here, a replica of the famous English alignment of stones has been made with 39 cars. Sculptor Jim Reinders made the attraction, after studying the real Stonehenge in England and as a memorial to his father, who lived where the cars now stand. Additional car sculptures have been erected at the site known as well, known as the Car Art Reserve, and in 2007, a visitor center, "The Pit Stop," opened up. Cabazon Dinosaurs "Mr. Rex" of Cabazon Dinosaurs by Chris Long - Unsplash Location: Off I-10 in Cabazon, California These beloved roadside dinos gained popularity after being featured in Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure and The Wizard. Mr. Rex, Dinny, and more than 70 other dinosaurs can be found along this attraction's dinosaur walk, complete with a dino dig and fossil panning activities.South of the Border Location: Off I-95 at the North Carolina/South Carolina border South of the Border is a classic roadside attraction, begun in 1949 by Alan Schafer with the building of the Border Beer Depot. Business boomed, and years later a grill, gas station, and motel were added. Mexican trinkets and souvenirs were made available as the name was shortened from "South of the (South Carolina) Border" to "South of the Border." Today, visitors can spend the day at Pedroland amusement park, see the largest indoor reptile display at reptile lagoon, climb up to the top of the Sombrero Observation Tower, and dine in at several restaurants. Corn Palace Driving through the Badlands in South Dakota by Matan Levanon - Unsplash Location: Off I-90 in Mitchell, South Dakota Like corn? Well, then, this is the place for you. In 1892, the World's Only Corn Palace was established on the Mitchell's Main Street as a gathering place where residents and their rural neighbors could enjoy a fall festival and celebrate the crop-growing season and harvest. While the palace has been rebuilt over the years (each one bigger than the original) the Corn Palace Festival is still held annually in August. But the Corn Palace is more than just a festival gathering place. Today, it hosts stage shows, industrial exhibits, meetings, school graduations, and even basketball tournaments. The Palace is also redecorated each year with naturally-colored corn and other grains and native grasses; these murals are created to reflect a unique theme chosen for that year. Dinosaur Kingdom II Location: Natural Bridge, Virginia Not far off of I-81 is a truly unique attraction built by artist Mark Cline. The roadside museum consists of several statues depicting an alt-history version of the Civil War where the Union Army has lost to... dinosaurs. The trouble for the Yankees begins when a mad scientist travels back in time to give Stonewall Jackson a robotic arm, and cannon blasts awaken hibernating dinosaurs in the nearby Natural Bridge caverns. Visitors make their way through several statues along with signs detailing the curious tale of dinos-as-weapons-of-mass-destruction. Truly, there's nothing else like it. Hole N' The Rock Moab, Utah by Nate Foong - Unsplash Location: Along Highway 191 in Moab, Utah Carved into a huge rock in Canyonlands County, Utah, Hole N' The Rock is a 5,000 square foot historic home complete with an exotic animals zoo and Lyle Nichols sculpture exhibit. In the mid 20th century over a 12 year period, Albert Christensen excavated 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone from the rock after originally intending to just build a "small alcove" for the Christensen boys to sleep in at night. After Albert's death, his wife Gladys continued to develop the property. The house features a fireplace with a 65-foot chimney, 14 rooms arranged around huge pillars, a deep bathtub built into the rock, original paintings by Albert’s paintings (such as "Sermon on the Mount"), his wife Gladys’s doll collection, and many of the tools used to create this home.Lucy the Elephant Location: On Atlantic Avenue in Margate, New Jersey Known as "The World's Greatest Elephant," this iconic waterfront landmark was built in 1881 as Elephant Bazaar, a spectacle meant to attract potential real estate investors to the area. Over the course of Lucy's life, she's been a tavern, a residence, and now a tourist attraction after years of restoration. It's free to visit Lucy, but those wishing for a tour inside the building can buy tickets for $8.50 apiece (kids aged 3-12 are only $4). Enchanted Forest "Welcome to Oregon" roadside sign by Everett McIntire - Unsplash Location: Off I-5 in Turner, Oregon The Enchanted Forest is a theme park built and operated by Tofte family in a beautiful forest setting in Oregon. The park is open seasonally from late March to the end of September. The park includes a Western town, old European village, and Storybook Lane, the park's original section that focuses on bringing nursery rhymes to life. Visitors can also pan for gems, catch a water-light show, or see a comedy or music show. Wall Drug Location: Off I-90 in Wall, South Dakota You're guaranteed to see the famous hand-painted signs for this South Dakota drugstore hundreds of miles before you get anywhere near the place (or maybe further... the signs were taken all over the world by soldiers during World War II). Take a break at the 530-seat Western Art Gallery Restaurant and enjoy famous buffalo burgers, homemade donuts, or just grab a 5-cent coffee. Then stroll around the largest privately-owned Western and illustration art collections in the country, with more than 300 original oil paintings. In the backyard area, there's a Jumping Jets Water Show, a panning and mining experience, the Shooting Gallery Arcade, the Little Britches Toy Emporium, photo opportunities with the 6-foot rabbit, the mini-Mount Rushmore, the buckin’ bronc, the life-size robot T-Rex, and, of course, the ever-popular Giant Jackalope.
North Lake Tahoe, CATahoe City Octoberfest - Courtesy of gotahoenorth.com Tahoe City is holding its Oktoberfest on Sept. 24. The free family-friendly event includes craft beer, live music, food, Bavarian-themed games and a craft village. Kids will be able to paint a free pumpkin, while supplies last. The event goes from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Made in Tahoe Festival is Oct. 8-9 at The Village at Palisades featuring all local artists. The festival will go from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and is free to attend. The Kentruckee Derby is Oct. 22 at the Truckee Community Recreation Center from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The event is $100 and raises money for Truckee non-profits. The Tahoe Chocolate and Wine Festival is Nov. 6 at the Lone Eagle Grille at the Hyatt Regency from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $175.Orlando, FloridaDark Arts at Universal Orlando - Courtesy of Universal Orlando DARK ARTS AT HOGWARTS CASTLE -The darker side of magic comes to life this fall in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal Orlando Resort with the return of Death Eaters and the breathtaking experience “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” – a sinister spectacle of state-of-the-art projection mapping, special effects, lighting and more that brings awe-inspiring moments and creatures from the Harry Potter films to life on the majestic Hogwarts castle. “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” will run select nights September 16 through October 31 from dusk until park close in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.Aurora, Colorado - DALÍ ALIVEDalí Alive © 2022 by The Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc. St. Petersburg, FL and Grande Experiences. Worldwide rights ©Salvador Dalí, Fundacio Gala-Salvador Dalí. Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, CO is the permanent location of its second U.S. digital art gallery and fourth worldwide, dubbed LUME Colorado. For the grand opening of LUME Colorado, Grande Experiences will present DALÍ ALIVE, an immersive, multi-sensory look into the artist’s life and work, in partnership with The Dalí Museum. The immersive experience will open on October 21, and tickets are available now. In addition to the new LUME Colorado and the world premiere DALÍ ALIVE show, Stanley Marketplace is a collective of 50+ independent, local restaurants, boutique shops, bars and more. To enhance the DALÍ ALIVE experience, many of the businesses will also present Dalí-inspired activations, from cocktails to menu items to books, gifts and more. Maine to Tennessee - Fall Color TrailCourtesy of Spacious Skies Campground Spacious Skies campground has created a 13 stop Fall Color Trail from Maine to Tennessee. They have created a new way for travelers to celebrate the East's famous fall foliage with a campground to campground route called the Fall Color Trail. The Trail showcases where to stay ansd when to move on to follow the months-long progression of fall color. Campers who make a reservation and stay at two or more Spacious Skies Campgrounds just need to refer to the promo code FALL13 to receive the discount.
According to research, more than half (54%) of American travelers plan on taking their pets with them when they travel. If you’re having a “ruff” time finding a vacation spot that’s fun for you and your furry friends look no further than Columbus, Ohio. Columbus is one of the country’s best destinations for all visitors, whether you’re traveling on two legs or four legs. BARK, the world-renowned brand responsible for the toy and treat boxes that make our dogs jump for joy each month, has a dog-friendly office in Columbus, and the city is full of dog-friendly restaurants, lodging, shopping and attractions to help you and your pets get the R&R you deserve. In time for National Dog Day (August 26), here are some fun ways you can spoil your pooch Columbus-style: Dog-friendly hotels: BrewDog DogTap Columbus - Photo courtesy Experience Columbus BrewDog USA offers the world’s first craft beer hotel, Doghouse Columbus. In addition to being attached to one of the city's most popular breweries and a 6,000-square-foot interactive craft beer museum, each of the hotel’s 32 beer-themed rooms features beer on tap and even a shower beer fridge. As the name implies, the hotel is entirely dog-friendly, with an on-site dog park and dog beds and treats in every room. They even offer the world’s first craft beer for dogs, the Subwoofer IPA. In addition to Doghouse Columbus, the city is home to several other dog-friendly hotels. The Graduate Columbus even has an in-house greeter Scarlett, a bulldog who loves the Buckeyes. Dog festival: WAG Festival - Courtesy WAG Festival Every dog has its day, and in Columbus, that day is August 27, when thousands of pet owners and their dogs gather for the annual WAG! festival. The free event takes place in the city’s Metro Parks and features product samples from established vendors and live entertainment in the form of agility and disc demonstrations from Southern Ohio Flying K9s and Sky Dogs. Plus, WAG! is the biggest event in Ohio for helping dogs in need and brings dog-serving rescue groups and organizations together with thousands of donors and potential adopters. Dog-friendly breweries: Land-Grant Brewing Company - Photo by Fred Bender Columbus is a craft beer destination, and pups are welcome on many of our brewery’s patios and in our beer gardens. In addition to BrewDog USA’s DogTap Columbus and BrewDog Franklinton locations, other popular spots include Seventh Son Brewing and Land-Grant Brewing Company. When you’re ready to fetch a drink or a bite, or go shopping with your furry companion, just make sure to look for the "Dogs Welcome Here" window decal while you're out exploring Columbus. About National Dog Day Founded in 2004 by Animal Welfare Advocate and Pet Lifestyle Expert, Colleen Paige, National Dog Day celebrates all breeds, mixed and pure and serves to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year, either from public shelters, rescues and pure breed rescues.National Dog Day honors family dogs and dogs that work selflessly to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort. Dogs put their lives on the line every day - protecting our families and homes, for their law enforcement partner, for their blind companion, for the disabled, for our freedom and safety by detecting bombs and drugs and helping to locate and rescue victims of accidents and tragedy.
Five Last-Minute Weekend Road Trips
If you haven’t taken a summer vacation, there is still time to seize the stay! We have gathered from Whimstay, the industry leader in last-minute vacation rental property deals, five inspirational ideas for three-day road trips around the country. Now’s the perfect season for spontaneous adventure. Pack the car with snacks and load your new favorite playlist, so you are ready to enjoy all the awesome stops on these three-day road trip ideas. San Francisco to San Simeon, California Approximate driving time: 4 hours 15 minutesFour Sisters Ranch - Courtesy of Four Sisters Ranch Four Sisters Ranch Vineyards and Brewery - San Miguel, California: Munch on local salami and cheese with gourmet pickles as you sip award-winning wines such as cabernet, petite Syrah, and grenache rosé. Buy a bottle to enjoy when you’re done driving for the day! Tacos La Potranca de Jalisco - King City, California: Order the vegetarian burrito and wash it down with your favorite flavor of Jarritos. San Juan Bautista State Historical Park - San Juan Bautista, California: Stretch your legs wandering among a jail, blacksmith shop, and a historic cabin built in the 1800s. Austin to Fredericksburg, Texas Approximate driving time: 1 hour 45 minutesTexas Honey Bee Farm - Courtesy of Texas Honey Bee Farm Texas Honey Bee Farm - Austin, Texas: Are you bee-curious? Tour this honeybee farm with an expert who will tell you about bee families, hives, and how to make honey! Buy a jar or two on your way out to pair with oatmeal, tea, and tasty cocktails later! Texas Hill Country Olive Company - Dripping Springs, Texas: Take an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tour at this stunning orchard! You’ll learn about pressing and fermenting while trying flavors paired with small bites.Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site - Stonewall, Texas: Picnic in the grass or swim in the river! You might even spot bison or longhorns along the 1.2 miles of trails. Stop by the Sauer-Beckmann living history farm to see how people lived without electricity. Boston to Portland, Maine Approximate driving time: 2 hours The Witch House - Courtesy of thewitchhouse.org Witch House - Salem, Massachusetts: Learn all about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 as you tour the only remaining building connected to the famous fervor. Buy tickets online ahead of time, or you might not be able to get in - especially in October!The Music Hall - Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Take in a concert, musical, or movie at this once-Vaudeville theater built in 1878.Kennebunk Dog Park - Kennebunk, Maine: Is your pup ready to run? Visit this large sandy and forested area where your canine pal can make friends off-leash. It’ll be easy to grab dinner or go out later when you know your pup is ready to snooze after a big day! Seattle to San Juan Islands, Washington Approximate driving time: 2 hours + 1-hour ferryChuckanut Brewery - Courtesy of Chuckanutbrewery.com Lynnwood Ice Center - Lynnwood, Washington: Visit this sports complex during public ice hours to lace up some skates and try your turn on the rink! Rent figure or hockey skates and jam to the surround sound.Hibulb Cultural Center - Marysville, Washington: Learn about local Tulalip Tribes while perusing this large museum and natural history preserve. Exhibits include interactive displays in English and Lushootseed, the language of area Salish Tribes, and cover, artwork, canoe building, archaeological finds, and life before colonization.Chuckanut Brewery and Tap Room - Burlington, Washington: Enjoy a beer on tap at one of the first craft breweries in the region. Check out their award-winning lagers, bock, and German-style pilsners before heading to the ferry to cross to the islands! Whimstay has exclusive partnerships with most of the largest property management companies in North America and offers the best deals on last-minute, vacation rental properties that might otherwise go unrented. Whimstay even offers a best-price guarantee; if a traveler can find a lower advertised price on any major vacation rental site, Whimstay pays for their trip.
Join Budget Travel as we continue 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 Natchez, Mississippi has to offer. Natchez may be most famous today for its annual pilgrimage. In 1932, the tour of grand antebellum homes and their gardens became an annual event. Thousands of visitors tour Rosalie Mansion, Longwood, Stanton Hall, Melrose and other former estates in spring and fall. Culinary Many come to the South with one thing on their mind: FOOD. It’s a fact; no place on earth loves its food quite as sincerely or as indulgently as the South. Even if you’ve never enjoyed a meal below the Mason-Dixon Line, you’ve probably got a good idea of what one looks like, because in the South, each meal is an event and is cooked and served with pride. From casual to elegant, Natchez culinary offerings will offer you a dining experience you won't soon forget. Little Easy The Little Easy café, located just a block from Bluff Park on High Street in an area known as the "Gateway of the Mississippi Blues Trail," serves up signature Boozy Brunch items, delicious sandwiches and salads, signature cocktails and more, all in a cozy, inviting atmosphere. Fat Mama’s Tamales Courtesy of Fat Mama's Tamales Fat Mama's Tamales is a local favorite with an atmosphere that is as festive as the food. Fat Mama's offers an exciting selection of signature dishes, including tamales, links of boudin, fire and ice pickles, and more eclectic, flavor-packed dishes. The restaurant has a large interior dining room, but guests can dine on the outdoor deck if the weather is nice. Magnolia Grill Overlooking the mighty Mississippi at Natchez Under-the-Hill, Magnolia Grill not only has one of the best views of the river, but also a wide array of entrées to satisfy every palate from succulent steaks and seafood to highly acclaimed burgers and more. Guests can enjoy both lunch and dinner on the sun porch that offers spectacular views of the sun setting over the Mississippi. Pearl Street Pasta Pearl Street Pasta is a local favorite downtown that serves up an incredible variety of traditional and regionally inspired Italian dishes, as well as classics like the filet of beef with a rich wine sauce and sauteed mushrooms. Pearl Street Pasta also boasts a talented team of mixologists shaking up signature house specials and smooth bar favorites. Rolling River Reloaded Rolling River Reloaded offers a variety of simply southern classic dishes with a creative twist to give guests a truly "Soulful Southern Experience." Packed with flavor, each dish is prepared with care and inspired by rich, generational history. The Camp Courtesy of The Camp Like sports? Love good food? The Camp Restaurant is the best place to share a cocktail with friends and family while enjoying the best of view of the Mississippi River. The Camp makes homemade bread in-house, hand-forms burger patties and fries up French fried potatoes to deliver fresh, quality food for every plate. The Camp Restaurant also boasts the best selection of draft beer in the city. The Carriage House Located on the grounds of Stanton Hall, this elegant dining establishment specializes in southern food with famous staples including fried chicken, fresh Gulf seafood specials and buttery silver dollar-sized biscuits. The Carriage House is owned and operated by the Pilgrimage Garden Club. The Castle Restaurant and Pub The Castle Restaurant & Pub is in Dunleith's 18th-century carriage house and stable. This architectural gem, built to resemble a castle, provides an incredible dining experience. The Castle serves a range of delectable southern cuisines prepared by acclaimed chefs while also boasting the most extensive wine list of any restaurant in the state. Natchez Brewing Company The Natchez Brewing Company, the first brewery in this historic city, is run by husband-and-wife duo Lisa and Patrick Miller. England-native Lisa is the owner and founder, while Natchez-native Patrick creates the recipes for their unique, southern-inspired craft beers including the Bluff City Blonde Ale, the Natchez Light Lager and more. Their taproom also serves freshly made brick oven pizzas. The Donut Shop Courtesy of The Donut Shop The Donut Shop is a city staple serving up sugary sensations, including the Maple Bacon Donut, the Triple Chocolate Donut, cinnamon rolls and many more sweet creations that are sure to please donut lovers of all ages. Missed breakfast? Indulge in an order of succulent tamales. The Donut Shop makes their tamale shucks from scratch and is one of Natchez's best-kept secrets. The Malt Shop When asked where to find the best B.B.Q. beef sandwich, catfish plate or chili cheeseburger, many locals will cite the Malt Shop. For more than 60 years, Natchez locals and visitors alike have sat at the old picnic tables in front of this local favorite and indulged in the hearty southern food served up at the Malt Shop. With an extensive menu full of generous helpings and traditional favorites, there is something for everyone to enjoy at the Malt Shop Steampunk Coffee Steampunk Coffee is a traditional espresso bar, specialty coffee retailer and micro-coffee roaster. This beloved coffee shop also sells Papi y Papi's premium cigars and fine chocolates for an eclectic, small-town coffee shop experience like no other. Arts and Culture Kate Lee Laird art After one visit to Natchez, it is easy to see why artists such as John James Audubon were influenced by the natural beauty of the rolling Mississippi landscape. Today, you can still see the influence of the city on local artists in our downtown art galleries. You can even take a piece of art home to remember your trip to one of America’s oldest towns. Conde Contemporary Conde Contemporary is a fine art gallery established in 2013 and located in Natchez, MS. They specialize in representational works, with a concentration on narrative realism, photorealistic portraiture, and surrealism. ArtsNatchez ArtsNatchez is appropriately named as the broker for several works by various Natchez artists and craftsmen. The art gallery is situated in the heart of downtown Natchez on Main Street. If you spend a few minutes browsing through the local artwork, you'll know why each artist has a deep love for Natchez and expresses it in their work. They offer jewelry, paintings, sculptures, pottery, and more.Kate Lee Laird Art Studio + Gallery Kate Lee, a Natchez native, has been painting since she could hold a brush. She thrives off of the happiness her artwork brings her clients. Her bold and creative approach to life can be seen through the colorful artworks she creates. When she isn't live painting weddings and events, she is painting pet portraits, murals and large commission artwork. Magnolia Hall - Courtesy of natchezgardenclub.org Few American cities offer an in-depth look at the lives of southerners like Natchez. Walk in the footsteps of Southern belles, cotton barons, enslaved people, Civil War soldiers, and Civil Rights pioneers. Explore fascinating homes and historical landmarks for a glimpse at American history. Delve into modern museums for surprising historical tidbits about the Natchez Indians, the slave market at Forks of the Road, or daily life in pre-Civil War Natchez. Forks of the Road Slave Market Prior to the Civil War, Natchez was the most active slave trading city in Mississippi and the Forks of the Road site eclipsed all other markets in the number of slave sales. This historic site features slave chains and shackles laid in concrete and information panels discussing the slave trade in Natchez and the history of slavery in the South.Grand Village of the Natchez Indians The Grand Village is a 128-acre site featuring three prehistoric Native American mounds, a reconstructed Natchez Indian house and an on-site museum to tell the story of the Natchez Indians who inhabited these lands centuries ago. Two of these hallowed mounds, the Great Sun's Mound and the Temple Mound, have been excavated and rebuilt to their original sizes and shapes. A third mound, called the Abandoned Mound, has been only partially excavated and the remaining unexcavated areas of the site will be preserved intact, representing a "time capsule" of sorts from the Natchez Indians' past. This historic site also includes a nature trail, child-friendly activities, a visitor center and gift shop featuring Native American crafts.Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture African American related historic sites, important citizens and events are all recognized within the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum contains an exhibit on the Rhythm Nightclub fire, where over 200 African American Natchez citizens were killed as well as additional information on the Forks of the Road monument. It also features literary works from Natchez native and critically acclaimed author Richard Nathaniel Wright.The Dr. John Banks House Dr John's house - Courtesy of natchez.org The Dr. John Banks House, which is technically known as The Dr. John Bowman Banks Museum, was built around 1892 and belonged to Dr. John Banks, Natchez's first African American doctor. He graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee and received his Mississippi medical license in 1885 before relocating in 1889 to practice medicine in Natchez. Dr. Banks recruited the city's second African American doctor, Albert Woods Dumas. Dr. Banks and Dr. Dumas founded the Bluff City Savings Bank, the only African American-owned bank in the city. Booker T. Washington often stayed with Dr. Banks' family during his trips to Natchez. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the Banks House served as the headquarters for the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Tours of Longwood – Circa 1860 - Construction of this grand, octagonal edifice began in 1860 but was halted in 1861 due to rising tensions over the Civil War. While the exterior of the Villa was largely complete, the home's interior was left unfinished except for the lowest level until the twentieth century. Colloquially known as "Nutt's Folly," the property was deeded to the Pilgrimage Garden Club in 1970 by the McAdams Foundation and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971. Longwood remains the largest octagonal house in the U.S and was featured in HBO's True Blood. Tours of Magnolia Hall – Circa 1858 - Construction on Magnolia Hall is believed to have begun in 1858 and is the last great mansion built downtown before the Civil War. The name of the house was inspired by the plaster magnolia blossoms incorporated into the design of the parlor ceiling centerpieces. It was restored by the Natchez Garden Club as a house museum and is operated by the club today. Stanton Hall - Courtesy of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours Tours of Stanton Hall – Circa 1857 - This opulent Greek Revival-style mansion occupies an entire city block. The house is noted for its scale, outstanding marble mantles and large pier mirrors that give the double parlors infinite appeal. For a brief time, the house was home to Stanton College for young ladies and the name was then changed to Stanton Hall. Today the house is owned and maintained by the Pilgrimage Garden Club. Tours of Monmouth – Circa 1818 - Set on 26 acres of manicured gardens, this National Historic Landmark reflects all that is charming about the South. Rooms located in the main house or any of the seven outbuildings have period furnishings dating back to the Quitman family, the original owners of Monmouth. Outdoors The namesake for the Natchez Trace, the centuries-old, 444-mile path from Natchez to Nashville, long used by American Indians before becoming a U.S. thoroughfare. Today the Natchez Trace Parkway provides beautiful picnic areas, the rare Emerald Mound ceremonial mound, and the historic Mount Locust Inn, all just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Natchez. The Natchez Trace Parkway Natchez Trace Parkway - Courtesy of nps.gov The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway begins in Natchez and extends through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, ending in Nashville. Once used by Native Americans, European settlers and soldiers, the trace is now maintained by the National Park Service and used by many for outdoor recreational use. The route is lined with historical lookouts and trails, which are great for biking, hiking or even a scenic drive. Natchez State Park Natchez State Park is located at 40 Wickcliff Road on Hwy. 61 North, which is 10 miles north of downtown Natchez. Its amenities include cabins, boat launching, fishing, hiking/nature trail, picnic area/shelter, playground and RV and tent campgrounds with restroom/shower facilities. Whether visitors consider themselves outdoorsy or “indoorsy,” Natchez State Park is a great experience for anyone in the camping caravan.Potkopinu Trail Potkopinu trail - Courtesy of nps.gov Potkopinu (Pot-cop-i-new), the southernmost section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail, is only three miles long, but it is the longest stretch of "sunken" historic Trace remaining. It is no wonder it was named for the Natchez word meaning "little valley." This trail has some embankments over 20 feet high.Bluff Park The greatest natural attraction that Natchez has to offer is the Mississippi River, and the best vantage point from which to take in her beauty and splendor is the bluff. The best time to be on the bluff overlooking the river is at sunset and is a spectacular sight to behold.Homochitto National Forest The Homochitto National Forest was named for the Homochitto River, a Native American name for the "Big Red River." Natchez derived its name from this Native American tribe formerly located on the lower Mississippi River. There are numerous recreational activities available to pursue on the Homochitto National Forest like hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and biking. Camping facilities are also available to rent. CARD WIDGET HERE
But what are the best states to visit on a camping trip with kids? To find out, The Family Vacation Guide researched and revealed a list of all the states in the country and ranked them based on family activities, family campsites, Instagramability, and safety, to find the perfect states for a family camping adventure. With safety a top concern when traveling with kids, New Jersey has the highest safety score out of 100, of all the states in the US, at 72. California is the ideal state for families who love outdoor hiking. The state is home to 4,383 family-friendly trails, more than any other state. Florida has the most family-friendly things to do out of all states we looked at, at 4,622, providing endless opportunities to make memories as a family. Hawaii has the highest percentage of family-friendly campgrounds, with 44.4% of all campsites in the state providing the perfect time away for those with kids. TOP 5#5 Massachusetts Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground - Courtesy of campmv.com Most people know Massachusetts for its important role in American history, its sports teams, universities, delicious seafood, and, of course, Boston, dubbed the “Hub of the Universe.” But the most populous state in New England is also home to prime camping opportunities for outdoor lovers. From seaside campgrounds on Cape Cod to the scenic woodlands of the Berkshires to bustling RV parks just outside of Boston to the unique experience of camping on the Boston Harbor Islands, Massachusetts has a little something for everyone. Sleep under forest canopies in the Berkshires, or near the beach on Cape Cod. Campgrounds vary in what they offer, from showers and flush toilets to R.V. sites offering electric and water hook-ups. You can also try island camping, yurts, cabins, or a hike-in area. Spacious Skies Minute Man Campground - Littleton - Spacious Skies Minute Man Campground is a peaceful campground located in a piney forest grove in historic Littleton, Massachusetts, set between two National Historic Parks and famed Walden Pond, and just a short drive or ride on public transit into Boston. Relax by the heated pool, hang in the rec hall, send the kids to the playground, or play fetch at one of the dog runs. The camp store carries many convenience items and treats, and nearby restaurants offer both takeout and delivery. (Starting at $64 a night) Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground - Martha’s Vineyard - Camping on Martha’s Vineyard doesn’t get much better than Martha Vineyard’s Family Campground. Although the campground is geared towards RV campers with a wide range of full-hookup RV sites suitable for RVs up to 40’, tent camping and even cabin rentals are both also offered. All these campsites are located in a quiet, wooded setting with each site receiving plenty of shade during the day. This top-rated Massachusetts campground is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from everything that Martha’s Vineyard has to offer, including its world-class dining, beautiful beaches, and pocketful of adorable small towns. (Starting at $63 a night) #4 VirginiaWalnut Hills Campground and RV Park - Courtesy of Campspot There are many campgrounds in the state of VA that have all sorts of activities aimed to keep the whole family enjoying their vacation and experiencing quality family time together. From waterfront to mountaintop camping Virginia offers it all. It has one of the most varied and beautiful landscapes of any state in the U.S. Whether you’ve got your own RV camper or plan to rough it in a tent, making sure your family has a safe, clean, and comfortable place to call home-base is of utmost importance. Harpers Ferry Adventure Center - Purcellville - is all about non-stop activities, exciting challenges, and family fun. Camping options include cabins, riverside tent sites, mountaintop tent sites, and mountaintop platform camping (raised wooden platforms to put your tent on to keep it level and off the wet ground). The most difficult part of staying at Harpers Ferry will be choosing which activities to do as a family – there are so many choices. From whitewater tubing to zip lines and ropes courses – there is something for every age, ability, and daring level in your group. There is also an adventure day camp for kids ages 9-14 that includes activities specifically tailored to that age group. (Starting at $48 a night) Walnut Hills Campground and RV Park - Staunton - Pitch a tent, have a fire, and create a memory with your family. Camp in the shadows of 250-year-old locust and walnut trees in Virginia's beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Kids can fish in the pond, play in the game room or swim in the pool. Visit nearby attractions, such as Woodrow Wilson Birthplace, New Market Battlefield State Historical Park, Monticello, Natural Bridge, Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, Frontier Culture Museum and countless antique shops and flea markets. (Starting at $30 a night) #3 New YorkTriple R Camping Resort - Franklinville - Courtesy of Campspot The ‘Big Apple’ state is more famous for its bustling cities and tall skyscrapers than its natural areas and camping reservations, however, it is one of the best states for families planning a camping trip in the US. New York comes in third place for family-suited activities, with 1,733 family-friendly things to do throughout the state. Only 16.2% of all campgrounds in New York are family-friendly, which is fewer than in most states we looked at, however, New York has more tagged Instagram posts than any other state. New York has 1,997 family-friendly hikes, and the highest safety score out of our top three, at 61.7/100. North Pole Resorts - Wilmington - If you like to do your camping in the Adirondacks, then North Pole Resorts are for you! This family ran resort is a camper’s paradise located right on the edges of the Ausable River in the Adirondacks and also located near Lake Placid. Bring your tents, and RVs, or rent a cabin at this awesome resort. For the kids you will find two swimming pools, two playgrounds, mining experiences (both gemstones and fossils), biking, an arcade, mini golf, boat rentals, and more! (Starting at $40 a night) Triple R Camping Resort - Franklinville - Triple R sets a new standard for camping. They take pride in being the cleanest park with many amenities, beautiful views, and pet-friendly accommodations. Come have dinner on their new patio with a hot tub, tiki tables, palm trees, and splash ground called LeeKee Lagoon. Other fun activities include gem mining, corn hole, guest DJs, live music, ceramics, fireworks, and bubble ball. This is a great campground for kids. (Starting at $30 a night) #2 California Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort - Courtesy of Campspot One of the US’ most-visited states, famous for its beaches, sunshine, and for being the home of Hollywood. The coastal state is one of the US’ best locations for family camping fun, coming in second place out of all states we looked at. California is home to more family-friendly things to do than any other state we looked at except Florida, at 3,210. California is in the top five states for family-friendly campgrounds, with 34.2% of all campgrounds in the state listed as family-friendly on Tripadvisor. The second most-Instagrammed state, there are 97.8 million posts with #california on Instagram. For families who love keeping active, California has the most family-friendly hiking trails of all states, at 4,383. Lake Siskiyou Resort & Camp - Mt Shasta - This family campsite is has a true gem of a lake, a jewel set at the foot of Mount Shasta at 3,181 feet, the prettiest lake on the I-5 corridor in California. The lake level is almost always full (because it was built for recreation, not water storage) and offers a variety of quality recreation options, with great swimming, low-speed boating, and fishing. The campground complexes are huge, yet they are tucked into the forest so visitors don’t get their styles cramped. (Starting at $36 a night) Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort - Felton - 2022 Campspot Awards Winner: Top Campground in USA, Most Popular in USA. Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort is nestled in the California Redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Situated on the beautiful San Lorenzo River and backed by Henry Cowell State Park, this clean and well maintained RV Park and campground offers guests a year-round, family-oriented place to relax or explore the great outdoors. (Starting at $60 a night) #1 Florida The state, popular among vacationers, retirees and spring breakers is also the best location in the country for families looking for a camping adventure. Florida has the most family-friendly things to do out of all states. 40.9% of all campgrounds in Florida are family-friendly style sites, which is a higher percentage than any other state on our list except Hawaii. Florida is the third most-Instagrammed state on our list, with 65.8 million posts including the hashtag #florida, and Florida comes in third for the most family-friendly hiking trails, at 1,662.Camp N Water Campground - Homosassa - Camp N Water is hidden away on a tree shaded bank of the Homosassa River, its a quaint RV Campground for those who prefer the relaxed and congenial atmosphere of a natural setting. This fully equipped campground is a short drive from major and local attractions in Citrus County, Florida. (Starting at $60 a night) The St Augustine Beach KOA Holiday - St. Augustine is placed in Anastasia Island within a walk of the beach and offers a large selection of tent pitches, RV sites and deluxe cabins. All year round your child can enjoy the site’s outdoor pool and games area and there’s even a dog park available! (Starting at $60 a night) To read more about their study and see the rest of the list visit The Family Vacation Guide.