Shermanstravel Blog

Road Trip

Beyond Belfast: Northern Ireland on a Budget

Steve Larese

Northern Ireland teems with castles, ancient sites, and natural beauty. After you’ve explored Belfast, set off to see the stunning landscape and history of the rest of this beautiful land. Here are just a few Northern Ireland attractions that are as inexpensive as they are impressive.

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Field Museum

Flickr / Jessica

Can’t wait for the Jurassic Park sequel, “Jurassic World,” to hit theaters in June? Have your own prehistoric adventure at one of these fun-packed dinosaur destinations.

The Field Museum, Chicago
Home to “Sue,” the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurs rex ever found, The Field Museum is a must see for budding paleontologists and adventurers. After you’ve gawked at Sue’s 42-foot long frame and 58 dagger-like teeth, explore the museum’s dinosaur collection, part of the Evolving Planet exhibit. $31 adult, $25 students, $21 children 3-11.

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Seven Mile Bridge FHWA

Federal Highway Administration

With gas prices dropping to a national average of $2.20 a gallon — and many stations across the nation advertising gas under $2 — now is the perfect time to plan a road trip. Here are five of our favorite drives.

The Florida Keys Scenic Highway
Also known as the Overseas Highway — and the Highway that Goes to Sea — the Florida Keys Scenic Highway runs more than 100 miles from Miami to the southernmost point of Key West. Along the way, it crosses a whopping 42 bridges, including the infamous Seven Mile Bridge. While the typical drive takes four hours, you could spend days taking in scenic ocean views, exploring island culture, visiting local attractions like the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, and more.

Connect: Extend your road trip by picking up the A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway in Miami and heading north.

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CopperRunDistillery

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.

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Shenandoah National Park Road Trip

Flickr/David Fulmer

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.

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Yellowstone National Park - stargazing - by National Park Service-Neal Herbert - 620

Remember when it seemed like you could reach up and touch the Milky Way, the ribbon of stars that make up our galaxy? Thanks to light pollution, it’s becoming harder and harder to see — unless you get yourself out to dark and remote locales. Here are seven stargazing sites, all recognized by the International Dark Sky Association for their inky-black nights, that offer stellar views of the heavens above.

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Grand Canyon - Tom Bricker

The Grand Circle — originally a loop to the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon national parks — covers much of northern Arizona and southern Utah as well as portions of Colorado, New Mexico, and a sliver of Nevada. Unless you have weeks to explore the area and a hefty travel budget, you can’t even begin to see it all. So how do you tackle it on a budget?

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Flickr Coast Guard News2

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:

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phantom ranch - grand canyon NPS - michael quinn - 620

Why spend a fortune for just a few hours at a fabricated haunted house when you can explore truly spooky sites for a whole day in the wild? Some of the most haunted sites in America are part of the National Park system, with varied histories from Civil War bloodshed to tragic love stories. Here are seven with spectacularly spooky reputations:

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Exterior

Captain’s Manor Inn isn’t a full-fledged hotel, but the label “bed and breakfast” hardly seems to do it justice. Don’t get us wrong — we’re huge fans of B&Bs, so we don’t mean it derisively by any means. The intimacy and character of an independent inn, after all, is something that big hotel chains are actually trying to emulate. But when’s the last time you stayed at a bed and breakfast with a dedicated housekeeping staff, with a regular afternoon tea hour in its “bistro” and rain showers in guest bathrooms?

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red mountain resort lodge utah

They say idleness is the mother of all vices – so it’s a good thing we had so much to keep us busy during a recent jaunt through rural southern Utah. Heading for St. George, a small, oft-overlooked town in the state’s bottom-left quarter that’s just under two hours from Vegas, we packed in a full three days of hiking, kayaking, outdoor yoga, and even a little art gallery browsing. And the best part: We even had time left over for some poolside lounging. Here’s how you can do it, too:

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7744786484_71410995fe_o

So you unleashed your inner Ansel Adams this summer and now have albums of hundreds of vacation photos. Sharing them with friends and family on Facebook is great — but wouldn’t winning cameras, lenses, vacations, and cash be even better? Many photo contests are open to amateurs shooters, some with very specific themes and some more general. Check out these five opportunities to score big with your best vacation photos.

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Hot Air Balloon Festival (Bill Russ - VisitNC.com)

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.

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grand teton national park - oxbow bend - D. Lehle-NPS - 620

If you want to catch our nation’s deciduous trees taking on a vibrant palette of yellows, reds, and oranges, now’s the time to plan a road trip. Naturally, some of the best drives for fall foliage wind through our beautiful national parks. Here are five trails for unbeatable views.

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autumn - pixabay - 620Blazing red and orange leaves are some of the best reasons to travel in fall, and this year we wanted to find some unexpected foliage spots. So, of course, we turned to Instagram. After all, what other platform draws users who love to take beautiful photographs in the most picturesque parts of the world? We tapped into a few avid photographers’ feeds to bring you seven places to view vibrant foliage. Get ready to charge up your smartphone and hit the road…

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