One of the greatest parts of our national heritage is diversity: of people, places and cultures. With international travel becoming easier and the popularity of luxury vacations the family road trip has lost popularity. With the nation park system celebrating its centennial birthday, this is the perfect time to help our young people experience and connect with the beautiful and varied landscapes all over our country.
Travelers might also consider Lonely Planet’s top ten must-see destinations in the United States. As one will see, this list suggests cities and regions that will provide very different experiences for travelers.
Lonely Planet’s Best in the United States for 2016
1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2. Natchez, Mississippi
3. Yellowstone National Park (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho)
4. Birmingham, Alabama
6. Somerville, Massachusetts
7. Northwest Arkansas
8. San Antonio, Texas
9. Southern New Mexico
10. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
If there is any place in the world that knows how to make winter about fun, excitement and warmth it is Boulder, Colorado. And there is no better place to make you comfortable on a Boulder vacation than the Boulderado.
The Hotel Boulderado’s unusual name came from combining Boulder and Colorado, which captures the inviting and invigorating spirit of the hotel’s host city and state. The mountain hotel is located in the hip historic district downtown, which is often referred to as feeling “small-town chic”.
The Boulderado first opened on New Year’s Day 1909 and was an instant hit. When you step under the green awning and enter the five-story Italianate brick building and stand under the lobby’s glittering stained-glass ceiling you’ll understand why. Follow the cantilevered cherry staircase from the lobby to any historic room and discover elegant antique and reproduction-style furnishings throughout—but don’t let the facade fool you into thinking the amenities are equally antiquated; every room has flat-screen televisions and high-speed wireless Internet access, and two expansions in the ‘80s brought the number of guest rooms to 160, along with over 10,000 square feet of meeting rooms and historic wedding venue space.
Spruce Farm & Fish offers impeccable contemporary American cuisine, and The Corner Bar’s inviting outside patio and legendary martinis draw locals and travelers alike. License No.1 was styled after a 1920’s speakeasy and offers classic cocktails with live entertainment and light fare. The downtown Pearl Street Pedestrian Mall is one block away, multiplying your dining and shopping choices. But no one will fault you if you stick to your room, intoxicated by the views of the Rocky Mountains from your window.
If you are looking to squeeze in one last burst of summer fun – we’ve only got about 27 days left of the season – Anastasia State Park in Florida might be an calm, easy last minute vacation spot. Rated as one of America’s “prettiest beach campsites” by CNN Travel, the park offers many activities for all ages and is located just minutes from downtown St. Augustine which has even more to offer vacationers.
Jody Victor‘s Crew found that Anastasia State Park has 1,6000 acres of vibrant ecosystems which house all kinds of wildlife. There are approximately four miles of beach to explore and visitors can experience a panorama view of sea, sand and a 19th century lighthouse from the dunes—this spot is highly recommend for romantic sunset viewing.
There is also an estuarine tidal marsh, home to much of the parks plant and animal life. For the adventurous there is a self-guided nature hike that leads visitors through the maritime hammock and eventually on to ancient sand dunes. Historians will appreciate a visit to the Coquina Quarry, an archaeological site where coquina rock was mined to construct the nearby Castillo de San Marcos National Monument—this site is in the National Register of Historic Places.
Beyond beach-bumming and swimming, visitors can also bird watch and beachcomb. The park also has bicycles, paddle-boards, kayaks, canoes and sail boats for rent. The campground offers modern amenities and start at 28 dollars a night.
Thinking of experiencing the celebration of our nation’s independence away from home this year? Here are a few suggestions on fantastic destinations and what kind of star spangled surprises they have to offer.
An important city steeped in patriotic history, Boston, MA hosts over 200 separate events on or around July 4th. Many of the events are free and range from fireworks, concerts, children’s days, cruises, tours and more. Particularly famous is the Boston Harborfest. This year’s Harborfest runs from July 2nd to July 6th with a large schedule of daily events. More information available here: http://www.bostonharborfest.com/index.html
Lake Tahoe, CA
Lake Tahoe hosts “Lights on the Lake,” which is known as the largest pyrotechnics show in the West. The Today Show calls it as one of the country’s top 4th of July celebrations. The American Pyrotechnic Association has this display on their top 5 list. The display can be seen all over town, but for some tips on sweet spots to watch from: http://tahoesouth.com/events/details/6196/lights_on_tahoe_south_fireworks
San Francisco, CA
The City of San Francisco will host a 4th of July Celebration at its famous Pier 39 on July 4th. Entertainment includes Mobility of the USAF Band of the Golden West and Tainted Love (an 80s pop music cover band). The fireworks display boasts the exploding of 10,000 fireworks. More information here: http://www.pier39.com/home/events/fourth-of-july-celebration-at-the-pier/
New Orleans , LA
The Crescent City area of New Orleans, concentrated in the French Quarter has a fantastic Independence Day celebration that spans Jul 3rd to July 6th. Local shops including art galleries, specialty boutiques, antique shops and other small business “roll out the red carpet” to celebrate independence day. The height of the festivities is of course the fireworks display. Other activities include boat cruises and discounted rates at the Audubon Institute. More information here: http://www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/seasonal/fourthofjuly.html
Whether or not you believe in ghosts, Jody‘s crew thinks the mythology behind historical buildings and locations can be fascinating. Visiting America’s “haunted history” can be a great way to spice up any vacation and is probably easier than you think. Most locations steeped in history have ghost stories.
Here is a list of some of the more famous locations to get you started:
St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans: The St. Louis Cemetery is probably immediately recognizable and is rumored to be haunted by a variety of ghosts, most notoriously the ghost of Voodoo Queen Mary Laveau.
Winchester Mansion: The home of Sarah Winchester, widow of William Wirt Winchester (son of famed rifle maker). This mansion is most famous for its long hallways, stair cases to nowhere, mirror tricks and doors that open to reveal brick walls. After the death of her husband and daughter a medium told Sarah the family was cursed for the deaths their rifle-building lineage had caused. To appease these dead Sarah was required to build them a house for the dead and never stop building. The construction went on nearly no stop for 38 years.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum: Constructed in 1858 this building is the largest hand-cut stone building in North America. The asylum stopped treating patients in 1994. Guided tours are available and it is rumored that the ghosts of Civil War soldiers and patients roam the two miles of hallways.
Stepp Cemetery, Illinois: Several gruesome myths, from cults to grieving mothers unburying their dead children, surround this famous cemetery in which less than two dozen disintegrating graves still stand.
Moundsville Penitentiary, West Virginia: This Gothic style prison is said to house many ghosts, but is most famous for its resident, the Shadow Man. The Shadow Man was supposedly a maintenance man who was stabbed to death by inmates for snitching to guards about inmate activity. Sunset tours available.
Gettysburg Battle Field, Pennsylvania: During the infamous Civil War battle more than 50,000 soldiers were killed. Today it is said their ghosts still roam the fields, hills and forests. Groans, moans, cannon and gunfire supposedly can be heard all over the grounds; however, The Devil’s Den, where dozens of limbs and bodies were discovered after the war, is a favorite ghost hunting site.
Other spots to visit include the Stanley Hotel, probably made most famous as the set for The Shining, the St. Augustine Lighthouse , The Myrtles Plantation and The Bell Witch Cave.
More info about all these locations can be found in the original article.