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Summer — and the heat that comes with it — is just around the corner. Escape the ever-escalating temperatures with a vacation in one of these cool small towns.
Durango, Colorado: Situated along the San Juan Mountains, this railroad town offers a pleasant escape from the Southwest’s blister summer temperatures. And there’s plenty to do. Ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad north to the historic mining community of Silverton or raft the Lower Animas River through Durango. If you want to pick up the speed, head to the greened ski slopes of nearby Purgatory, where you can zipline, race down Alpine slides, and mountain bike. In town, shop the boutiques and dine at upscale restaurants and five breweries.
Eighty miles east of Raleigh, North Carolina, lies Kinston. Once a huge tobacco town, the city has started to undergo a bit of a renaissance in recent years. The area is now home to a large art collection, a craft brewery, outstanding restaurants, and a lot of history. Whether you’re on your way to North Carolina’s coast, or just looking for an affordable afternoon trip, there’s a little something in Kinston for everyone. Here’s how to spend an afternoon (or weekend) in this thriving North Carolina town.
Walk up and down King Street in Charleston and it’s easy to see that money flirts with charm. So many cobblestoned paths lead to high-end hotels, wine bars, antique stores, restaurants, and apparel boutiques. But no worries, you can still carve out a quality weekend at this Southern hotspot without blowing a lot of cash.
The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina could be America’s closest example of a real-life castle. The 250-room French Renaissance chateau is still the largest private home in the country. Built by George Vanderbilt in 1895, the current 8,000-acre estate and grounds are just a small fraction of what the Vanderbilts originally had to call their home. Thankfully, you don’t need a trust fund to be able to indulge in the high life at Biltmore Estate today, especially when you use these tips and tricks to make a visit more feasible and affordable.
My favorite time of year to visit Napa and Sonoma are the months of January, February and March. It’s not uncommon to be the only one in the tasting room (hello, library and reserve pours!) or be invited to the cellar or winemaking facility to meet the winemaker. Why? Though the weather — between the 50s and 70s during the day, down to the 40s at night — is considered quite warm for much of the country, Bay Area residents consider it too chilly to visit tasting rooms. Within this window, the golden hue of mustard cover crops in the vineyards from late January through March, and greener grass in March as rainy season begins, makes for fantastically picturesque drives. And it’s all in all cheaper, too. Airfares are lower than in summer months — from JFK to SFO, the major airports serving Napa and Sonoma aside from Oakland, round-trip fares can run as low as $365 over a long weekend; from LAX, it’s just $44 round-trip.
The same goes for wine regions in other parts of the U.S. Out in the Finger Lakes or Long Island, for example, January and February especially offer some of the best hotel rates of the year — while lower flight demand always means cheaper airfare. It’s a no-brainer as far as we’re concerned, but here are a few extra tips for maximizing the experience:
Let the adrenaline kick in as you zoom at speeds up to 30 miles per hour, just inches from the ground, and down the mountainside. Tubing has become a winter phenomenon in its own right, with resorts dedicating ample mountainside real estate to the pastime. From 1,000-foot-long runs to a custom-built snow tube jump, air time is practically guaranteed at these five thrilling snow tubing spots.
White lighting, city gin, corn liquor, or hillbilly pop. Call it what you’d like, but moonshine has deep roots when it comes to swilling booze. Moonshiners were outlaws who distilled the high-proof alcohol deep in the woods, always looking over their shoulders to avoid arrest. Today, laws have been put into place that have allowed distilleries to create products that are actually worth drinking. Here, four of our favorite moonshine distilleries across the United States — most of which are free to tour and taste.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs between Virginia and North Carolina, is one of the country’s most scenic drives. The 105-mile road was built by the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps under President Franklin D. Roosevelt — taking more than 52 years to complete and encompassing over 11,000 square miles of land. We suggest spending at least a few days driving the parkway, stopping in the small towns along the way to soak up the Appalachian Mountains’ art, culture, and music. Here are nine highlights to consider for your itinerary.
Postcard holiday scenes often involve beautiful blankets of white snow, evoking images of cozy northern towns and ski resort havens. But who would have thought that regions like California’s Newport Beach, or the southern town of Woodstock in Virginia, are teeming with holiday cheer this time of the year, too? Here, a few surprising destinations for getting into the holiday spirit.
Last month, Hilton Worldwide announced its latest foray into the lifestyle category with Canopy by Hilton, a new concept from the international hotel behemoth that will localize the guest experience. Poised to open its first set of doors in 2015, we spoke with Gary Steffen, the brand’s global head, who shared five things you should know about Canopy by Hilton.
National wildlife refuges — protected lands managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service — offer many of the same recreational opportunities as national parks at a fraction of the cost. Some are even free, unless you plan to hunt, fish, or camp. We love these (mostly) gratis activities for experiencing the wilderness in a whole new way:
North Carolina might just possibly be at its best as summer gives way to fall. In the mountains, the leaves turn brilliant colors, and the days are still warm enough for beachcombing at the coast. But that’s just the beginning. Here are four reasons why October just might be the best month to visit the Tar Heel State.
Want to come back from vacation with more money in your pocket than when you left? Vegas, thankfully, isn’t your only option. In a few mining destinations across the U.S., finders are keepers. Plan a visit around these cities where you can hunt for treasure — and take home what you find.
It’s no wonder zipline tours are more popular than ever here in the States. The sensation you get from ziplining feels like flying, and it’s a manageable way for all types of travelers (at all fitness levels) to join in an adventure activity. Some tours include guided hikes through lush landscapes before an effortless ride, while others shuttle you straight to the top. Ziplines can range from leisurely to speedy, catering to those who want to soak in the scenery, or get a rush of adrenaline.
Considering that there are currently more than 700 ziplines in the country, we’re not going to rank them all. But here’s a list of some classic rides – plus a few quirky ones to try:
Ice is melting, your heavy coats are finally put away, and that urge to get outside is starting to come back. After a brutal winter, spring has finally arrived. But instead of gently easing out of winter, we suggest diving in, head-first.
Shoulder season, that sweet spot between spring and summer, is an excellent excuse to travel, for two reasons: first, a wide array of beach destinations are already warm enough to enjoy in your bathing suit. Secondly, most travelers are waiting for the official start of summer to get away, which can lead to tremendous savings on lodging and meals for those who go now. Below, we offer ten outstanding, freshly thawed beach destinations – places where the crowds have yet to flock, and the prices have yet to hit their summer highs.
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