Fodor’s Go List 2022: After a year of dreaming, we’re putting plans into action.

  • After a year of dreaming, we’re putting plans into action.

    If there’s one thing 2021 brought to the travel industry, it’s the return of obsessive, unbridled wanderlust. While the pandemic closed borders, forced lockdowns, and complicated travel planning, it gave us plenty of time to imagine all the wonderful places we’d like to visit after the plague recedes.

    But the singular question remains: Will 2022 be the year that we can safely venture to all corners of this weird and wonderful world? Who knows? We’re out of crystal balls, tea leaves, and Tarot cards. So, this year we’re being a little more practical.

    That’s why we’ve kept our recommendations domestic. But don’t let the home-grown suggestions give you pause. This is a list unlike any other you’ve ever seen–one that takes you to the hidden corners and secret gems of this country, from Maine to the Northern Mariana Islands. We’re highlighting the best, brightest, weirdest, most unusual, and most worthwhile travel destinations in the U.S. for your consideration.

    But like many of you, we’re still jonesing for international travel. And traveling abroad may still be in the cards for the intrepid. For anyone looking to ease back into the bigger world, start by checking out our wide range of incredible worldwide accommodations in our 2022 Fodor’s Finest Hotel List, which takes into account that these days, a hotel is often the destination. Or, take a gander at our last Go List, published two years ago, stuffed full of gorgeous cities that have mostly been off-limits to visitors.

    If you can travel there safely and responsibly, do it–go anywhere in the world. That’s why we’re not publishing our annual No List–we’re relying on you, our loyal readers, to consider your own, personal risk assessment and how that impacts your travel decisions and your travel needs, as well as the needs and safety of the communities you visit.

    So whether you’re already in the car or still perusing lists for wanderlust-fodder, we’ve got loads of suggestions and ways to make it work. In 2022, let’s keep dreaming–and start making dreams reality, too.

    Edited by Stacey Lastoe. Additional editing by Rachael Levitt, Eva Morreale, Nikki Vargas, and Jeremy Tarr. Photo editing by Viviane Teles, Rebecca Rimmer, and Eddie Aldrete.

    Elena_Suvorova/Shutterstock

  • National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa

    Wild, pristine, and remote, escape to the tropical paradise that is the National Park of American Samoa.

    Why it's wonderful:

    America’s most far-flung national park is a sight to behold. With a dramatic landscape fringed by mountain ridges, volcanic boulders, white sand beaches, and clear-as-glass turquoise waters, it’s America’s most stunning national park, and yet, few know about it. Attracting just shy of 60,000 visitors in 2019, the spectacular beauty of this U.S. territory is spread across Tutuila (the main island), Ta’u, and Ofu Island, arguably the most scenic spot of the park with its soft pink sand and rich coral reefs. 

    American Samoa is how Mother Earth intended nature to be: unspoiled, formed by nature, and filled with unusual wildlife like the endangered flying fox with a three-foot wingspan. With 9,000 acres of rainforest to hike and explore (traverse the rugged 7-mile Mt. ‘Alava trail in Pago Pago that goes through banana and coconut plantations with a 360-view of the northwest part of the island) and 4,000 acres of unspoiled coral reefs (make plans to dive Big Momma Coral Head in Fagatele Bay) where snorkeling alongside blue devils and neon damselfish with the odd dolphin or shark sighting isn’t uncommon–you will leave renewed and spoilt for life. 

    On land, while it is technically part of America, its people hold strong to Fa’asamoa (known as the Samoan way) proudly celebrating their customs and culture through language ( talofa is “hello”, fa’afetai is “thank you” ), daily practices, and even how they dress, with both men and women donning the lavalava (sarong). 

    Location: -14.259592, -170.687446

    Where to stay:

    Accommodations on the island are comfortable but simple, and really, you won’t be indoors much. On Tutuila, the rooms at the Tradewinds Hotel are decorated in a charming Polynesian style. On Ofu, the Coconuts Beach Club has Samoa’s only over-water fales (hut) and offers the opportunity to fall asleep to the sound of lapping waves. There’s also a homestay program where visitors can experience Samoan culture first hand, s leeping in a fale (Samoan house) and getting acquainted with their host family in a village setting. 

    When to go:

    Lying 14 degrees south of the equator, brace yourself to deal with a warm, humid climate. Avoid the hottest months of December and January, instead plan your trip to coincide with the cool, dry dry months of June through September. To spot humpback whales, September and October are the peak months.   

    Insider tip:

    As a form of respect, ask a nearby home if you’re welcome to use the beach, as they are often located on customary land. On occasion, a small fee or donation may be expected/appreciated, so have cash handy. While locals dress modestly at the beach, it’s not expected of visitors, although do cover up if you’re passing through the village.

    What to READ:

    Coconut Milk by Dan Taulapapa McMullin

    What to listen to:

    Fonuea – Song of the Shark and Turtle by Choir of the American Samoa Arts Council

    Visit Fodor's American Samoa Guide

    Guidebook

    Eddydegroot/Dreamstime

  • Orocovis Municipality, Puerto Rico

    Get to the core of Puerto Rico in Orocovis, where you can get in touch with nature or your inner foodie.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Puerto Rico has long been known as a convenient vacation destination for Americans, but Orocovis, lovingly dubbed “the heart of Puerto Rico,” is an under-the-radar area with plenty to offer. Less than a two-hour drive from the island’s main airport, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, the center of Puerto Rico is both secluded and accessible. 

    Outdoor hiking enthusiasts will enjoy the breathtaking views of Toro Negro State Park , with a 3.9-mile loop to Cerro Doña Juan, the highest peak in Orocovis. Thrill-seekers can take flight on North America’s longest zipline at Toro Verde Adventure Park , where multiple Guinness World Records have been broken, or test their limits on the world’s longest cable bike circuit. 

    Those who prefer less moving and more eating will certainly appreciate the region’s route dedicated to the local delicacy, the longaniza sausage. With more than a dozen participating restaurants, you can make like a local and take a chinchorreo tour (restaurant and bar tour) such as La Chiva , and stop by as many of the restaurants as your stomach can handle.

    Location: 18.214910, -66.433970

    Where to stay:

    Orocovis is away from the main tourism hubs of Puerto Rico, and there aren’t many hotels in the region. Canyon Boutique is a hotel not far that has both modern-day essentials: wi-fi and air conditioning. Airbnb options range from rustic wood cabins to more unconventional stays such as glamping tents and repurposed shipping containers .

    When to go:

    To best take advantage of all the outdoor adventures in Orocovis (and avoid torrential hurricane season), visit between December and June.

    Insider tip:

    After a moderate hike up El Bosque Toro Negro, stop by local restaurant and community cornerstone Las Cabañas Doña Juana  for a refuel meal, and don’t miss their famous slow-cooked ribs.

    What to WATCH:

    Landfall, directed by Cecilia Aldarondo

    What to listen to:

    Calma by Pedro Capó

    Visit Fodor's Puerto Rico Guide

    Guidebook

    DaPaCon/Alamy

  • St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

    "Little Mermaid" meets "Finding Nemo" meets Apple Pie. Old World Danish architect, ultimate wall dives, and the American flag everywhere gives St. Croix a fun and funky vibe.

    Why it's wonderful:

    A trip to St. Croix gives travelers a transcendental break. You are still in the U.S., but definitely not in Kansas anymore. Step back and relax in a place where 18 th -century Danish-style architecture meets the slow pace of “island time.” Restaurants tucked into brick-laid alleyways and toes-in-the-sand beachfronts serve everything from Michelin-worthy fare to low-key backyard barbecue plates, a fact that’s recently put St. Croix on the global culinary map.

    Most importantly, St. Croix can be a place to cast away your cares. Sip bush (the local lingo for herb) tea on the Robinson Crusoe-like beach at the Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge . Hike to Hamm’s Bluff Lighthouse, on the edge of the vast Caribbean Sea. Drive to Point Udall, where the Millennium Monument stands like a pin in a map to point out the easternmost point in the U.S. Become one with nature, especially as part of a yoga class, at the Eden-esque George Village Botanical Garden .

    Location: 17.766090, -64.754890

    Where to stay:

    From homey Airbnb to full-scale extravagance, accommodations are as varied as visitors. Looking for an experience dripping in luxury? Check out the Buccaneer Hotel , a four-star property where the likes of actor Kirk Douglas, tennis great Arthur Ash, and presidents Carter and Biden have all slept. Cozier yet no less indulgent is Carringtons Inn , a Bed & Breakfast that ranks as a  Fodor’s Choice for its sea views, four-post mahogany beds, and personal service from the namesake owner.

    When to go:

    Wintertime temperatures don’t drop lower than a balmy 70, making it cool enough for a hike and warm enough for a swim. The island fires on all cylinders from November to June, with everything open, yet prices are highest at this peak of the season. Summertime temperatures rarely budge above the 90s, yet it’s when prices drop up to 30 percent on accommodations. The chance of hurricanes in the summer and early fall keeps hordes away but makes for a have-it-to-yourself heyday.

    Insider tip:

    Start any conversation with the greeting Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or Good Night, and doors will open as locals become friends.

    What to READ:

    Monster in the Middle by Tiphanie Yanique

    What to listen to:

    Most High by Dezarie 

    Visit Fodor's St. Croix Guide

    Guidebook

    Chris Allan/Shutterstock

  • Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

    Get your fill of World War II battle sites, scenic golf courses, and hidden wreck dives in the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands

    Why it's wonderful:

    Next to Guam, sitting on the Western Pacific ocean is Saipan. Formed from an underwater eruption, the small island is popular with military-history enthusiasts, golfers, beachcombers (the white sands of Managaha Island are not to be missed), and avid divers keen to explore its rich coral reef with colorful tropical fish, mushroom corals, and spotted eagle rays. 

    Unique spots like The Grotto make Saipan a must-see. A stalactite cave emanating deep blue rays that reach 70 feet at its deepest point, it’s a dive and snorkeling spot that’s worth more than one visit. For the history buff, Saipan is a treasure trove of WWII memorabilia, and the American Memorial Park has a museum that details that historic period in time.  

    For adrenaline junkies, windsurfing and kitesurfing is an all-year sport (Micro Beach is where the action is) in Saipan but the months of November through to April see the best conditions. A strategic location used to launch American B29 Superfortress bombers to Japan, popular sites to visit include the Banzai Cliffs where Japanese soldiers and civilians jumped to their death, and the airfield on Tinian Island, where the same atomic bomb loading pits used to launch the attack on Nagasaki have been preserved. 

    Location: 15.208510, 145.750336

    Where to stay:

    Lodging options on Saipan veer more towards budget-friendly, comfortable stays. If you want full-service resort amenities, there is the Hyatt Regency Saipan , conveniently located a 7-minute walk from Micro Beach, just be warned that the rooms need an update. A smaller property to check out is the 21-room Surfrider Resort Hotel that’s been newly re-modeled, although you should still ask for one that faces the ocean. 

    When to go:

    While Saipan enjoys warm weather all year round, the months of May through July are its hottest. Peak tourist season is from December to March, where rainfall is at its lowest. Time your visit to coincide with the Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival in April which showcases the best Northern Mariana Islands dance troupes, musicians, visual artists, and food vendors.

    Insider tip:

    It is possible to hike down to the beach at Bird Island Sanctuary but time it for a non-rainy day and when the tide is calm. As it’s a marine protected area, take care not to step on the coral, hunt or fish, and stay on the shore side of the island. 

    What to READ:

    40 Thieves on Saipan: The Elite Marine Scout-Snipers in One of WWII’s Bloodiest Battles by Joseph Tachovsky 

    What to listen to:

    Saipan by Kc Deleon Guerrero

    Visit Fodor's Guam Guide

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    Naima Niemand/Shutterstock

  • Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska

    Dreamy waterways, jagged peaks topped with meringue-like snow, and cotton-candy blue glaciers await in this out-of-the-way national park.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Spanning 3.3 million acres, Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve encompasses seven actively calving tidewater glaciers, rugged coastlines, sheltered fjords, wildlife ranging from humpback whales to mountain goats, and so many peaks that many are still unnamed.

    It’s an area that is remote, unspoiled, and dynamic. While other national parks within the United States have experienced unprecedented visitorship in the last two years, Glacier Bay has remained quiet and pristine. That’s largely due to the fact that it’s only possible to get there by boat or plane. Those willing and able to make the journey are rewarded with a trip of a lifetime and a true Alaska adventure. Here you can hike through rainforests, kayak among icebergs, and commune with wildlife, all in the same day. 

    Location: 58.453380, -135.882280

    Where to stay:

    The accommodations in this area are unique, but limited and rarely within the national park itself. The one exception (not counting camping) is Glacier Bay Lodge . The self-contained lodge has 55 rooms, as well as rustically beautiful common areas. Each night you can expect presentations, ranger talks, and movies about the park. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive experience, Gustavus Inn is a solid choice. The lodge is located on a family homestead, so it gives the true Alaska experience, but it doesn’t compromise on luxury. Other options include guest houses like Annie Mae Lodge and Aimee’s Guest House , as well as camping sites like Bartlett Cove Campground .

    When to go:

    Alaska’s summer season really only goes from mid-May to mid-September. Few, if any, tour operators run during the other months, so unless you have your own boat, visiting outside of summer likely isn’t an option. If you go near the beginning or the end of the season, there will likely be fewer people, but it will be cold enough that you’ll need a winter jacket. 

    Insider tip:

    Even by Alaska standards, visiting Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve is expensive (it’s pretty far-flung, so it’s an issue of accessibility). The easiest way to visit is by cruise, but you likely won’t be able to get off the ship. The most affordable option involves taking the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to Gustavus and hiring a water taxi to take you into Bartlett Cove.

    What to READ:

    Coming Into The Country  by John McPhee 

    What to listen to:

    Bubble Gum (Version A)  by Pamyua

    Visit Fodor's Glacier Bay Guide

    Guidebook

    Maridav/Shutterstock

  • Honolulu's Kaka'ako, Oahu, Hawaii

    Colorful street murals, hip brewhouses, and Honolulu’s most underrated stretch of beach define this town in Oahu.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Don’t make the mistake of going to Hawaii and spending time solely in Waikiki, with the odd trip to Haleiwa or Kailua for token inclusion. A short Uber ride takes you to Kaka’ako, where you’ll find the best of Honolulu minus the stretch limos and drunk bachelor/bachelorette parties. 

    What was once an area of salt flats and fishponds has transitioned into a walkable neighborhood where facets of its rich past (look for the Kawaiaha‘o Church, built in 1842 on King and Punchbowl Streets, and the red brick Royal Brewery from 1899) mingle with indie art spaces, hip boutiques (drop in at Kahala for a proper Hawaiian print shirt), and streets filled with evocative murals by local artists (find a  UGC map here ). The buzzy area hosts a weekly Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and is home to some of the island’s best eateries like Sunset Texas Barbecue , culinary/cocktail space Bar. Maze, and the third generation owned Highway Inn Kaka’ako famed for their loco moco and kalua pork. 

    Another plus is the handful of breweries, all located within a walking distance of each other. Do your own beer crawl—plot in Village Bottle Shop & Tasting Room , Honolulu Beerworks, and Aloha Beer Co. in your GPS. And while Waikiki Beach, with its soft golden sand and swaying coconut trees, is hardly a dump, the three-mile Ala Moana Beach Park close to Kaka’ako, beats it hands down. With calm clear waters, resident honu s (turtles), and nightly fiery sunsets, it remains a mystery how this beach is so under the radar. 

    Location: 21.297691, -157.859601

    Where to stay:

    While most hotels and Airbnb’s are concentrated along the Waikiki stretch, the upscale Prince Waikiki overlooking the Ala ​​Wai Harbor is the closest to Kaka’ako. All rooms come with floor-to-ceiling windows and oceanfront views of the harbor and Ala Moana Beach, which is a nice perk in place of the beach, which is a 10-minute walk away. If being able to wake and roll out onto the beach is a non-negotiable, the newly revamped Halekulani Hotel with its culture-focused Inspired Living program and white-hued rooms (they’ve used seven shades of white) with views of the majestic Diamond Head crater and Waikiki Beach is hard to beat.

    When to go:

    There’s never a bad time to spend a few days in The Big Pineapple. However, if you want to avoid the crowds, jacked-up car rental prices, and nab a same-day restaurant reservation, steer clear of the summer months and the week leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Anytime between April and June or September through mid-December sees a little more breathing room on the island and a lot more Aloha spirit being felt all around. While the winter months bring big swells up North, the beaches on the south and west side of the island remain swimmable for non-surfers.

    Insider tip:

    Local body surfers have a not-so-secret spot at Point Panic, right in the heart of Kaka’ako Waterfront Park. There, a staircase (look for the red, gold, and green “Kanaka Maoli” flag) gives access to an exclusive body surfing area (no boards are allowed, technically) on the western side of the Kewalo Basin marina where the waves break into a channel, all with the majestic Diamond Head in the background.

    What to READ:

    A Ricepaper Airplane by Gary Pak

    What to listen to:

    White Sandy Beach of Hawaiʻi by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole

    Visit Fodor's Honolulu Guide

    Guidebook

    Allen.G/Shutterstock

  • Paia, Maui, Hawaii

    Don’t just drive by on the way to Hana, stop to explore the boho town of Paia.

    Why it's wonderful:

    You’ll be excused for zipping past this one-stoplight town en route to navigate the twists and turns of the Road to Hana, but you’ll still risk missing out on experiencing what Maui used to be like before the big resorts rolled into town. Reminiscent of a 1960s California beach town, this former plantation town has replaced its sugar cane fields and sugar mills with hip clothing shops (we like Nuage Bleu ), art galleries, and destination eateries like Mama’s Fish House , where the daily menu lists names of fishermen and where the fish was caught. 

    Paia’s eccentric vibe extends predictably to a hodgepodge of organic food stores (make a beeline for Mana Foods ), muumuu shops, yoga studios, and curiously, a 27-foot-high Paia Stupa at the Maui Dharma Center complete with a large Mani prayer wheel and elaborately painted mural. Still, Paia is very much all about the beach. World-class wind/kite surfers and surfers hit Hookipa in hopes of conquering monster surf break Jaws, known to climb 70 feet high. For non-surfers, the long sandy beach at Baldwin Beach Park or Baby Beach beckons to laze the day away, otherwise, the picturesque Twin Falls is a short 20-minute drive away. 

    Location: 20.902910, -156.375480

    Where to stay:

    If you manage to snag a reservation at the six-room Mangolani Inn , you’re in luck. Situated less than a mile from the stunning white sand Baldwin Beach, book the Ocean View Mango Treehouse that’s built in an actual mango tree and kitted out with a king-sized bed. A more budget option is the flashpacker-style Aloha Surf Hostel , walking distance from Paia Bay. 

    There’s the option of private or dorm rooms but a big draw is the daily complimentary tours, which include a Road to Hana and Iao Valley tour. While the sleepy town of Paia doesn’t have too many hotels, there are VRBO and Airbnb options and most come with kitchen and laundry facilities.

    When to go:

    Maui is a year-round destination and the best time to visit will largely depend on what you’re planning on doing: surfing, whale watching, hiking. Summer months can get unbearably hot (and overly crowded), so April through May and September through November is recommended. To do some whale watching, plan to visit during the winter months starting from October (February and March is peak season) but probably not over Christmas week as the island will be jammed packed, and extra expensive then. 

    Insider tip:

    Keep your eyes peeled for celeb sightings: Willie Nelson is said to be a resident of Paia and could be found hanging out at the now-closed Charley’s. Also, KISS frontman Gene Simmons and Woody Harrelson are said to have homes in/near Paia. 

    What to READ:

    This is Paradise: Stories by Kristiana Kahakauwila

    What to listen to:

    Pālehua by Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom and William Kahaiali’i

    Visit Fodor's Maui Guide

    Guidebook

    Pierre Leclerc/Shutterstock

  • Petersburg, Alaska

    For intrepid travelers, this tiny, Nordic-inspired fishing town in southeast Alaska has a lot to offer.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Founded in 1897 by a Norwegian immigrant, Petersburg still flies its Nordic flag high. Quite literally—you’ll find the Norwegian flag flown (often next to the Stars and Stripes) all over town. Apart from its Scandinavian charm, Petersburg is also known for its fishing industry—there are several canneries near the harbor and many captains that have operations large and small. 

    Because the water is too shallow for large-scale cruise ships, Petersburg doesn’t get hit with the barrage of tourists that other southeast Alaska communities do in the summer. It’s a blessing for those looking for a quieter, but more adventurous experience in the 49th state. Here you can hike on little-used trails lined with moss-draped trees and surrounded by muskeg, or trek along the coast; go on kayaking and whale-watching trips; and dine on the seafood that is the lifeblood of the community.

    Location: 56.811111, -132.957367

    Where to stay:

    The accommodations in this part of Alaska are pretty limited, but there are a few options that are worthwhile. Majestic Eagle Lodge has private cabins for guests and assigns each party their own boat at check-in, which is important if you’re there to fish. Another comfortable option is Hammer Slough House —an Airbnb with a private entrance, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a full kitchen that overlooks the main street and the cove where kayakers often paddle. Other options for hotels are Scandia House and Tides Inn ; both are pretty modest and centrally located. Alternatively, it’s possible to camp at Frog’s RV and The Trees RV Park & General Store .

    When to go:

    Because the town relies so heavily on the seafood industry, Petersburg is most vibrant during the fishing season, largely mid-May to October. In the off-season you may run into problems finding accommodations. 

    Insider tip:

    Be sure to book lodging and excursions well ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Most of the accommodations and tours are led by small, local companies so it’s often not possible to tell if something is sold out until you contact them. 

    What to READ:

    Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

    What to listen to:

    What’s Simple Is True by Jewel

    Visit Fodor's Petersburg Guide

    Guidebook

    Jnjphotos/Shutterstock

  • Whittier, Alaska

    Stroll through history or explore the Alaskan wilderness in this strange and isolated former WWII military base.

    Why it's wonderful:

    A visit to Whittier is a fully immersive experience in what feels like an abandoned movie set. Accessible only by a 2.5-mile one-way tunnel through the Chugach Mountains, it’s a place for those seeking a unique type of adventure. A visit to the small and quirky single-room Museum of Local History , located in the historic Anchor Inn , provides a good overview of the military (and desertion) background. Local stories you won’t find anywhere else are also on deck, like how a single apartment complex ended up housing 180 of the fewer than 200 year-round residents. 

    For prime ghost town eeriness, the abandoned Buckner Building is a must-see, ideally post-museum, to fully appreciate what it represents. Then wander the docks (occasionally home to cruise ships) or grab a hotdog or seafood meal at one of the many stands. And of course, among this bizarre history, you can enjoy everything quintessentially Alaskan. From fishing trips to kayaking and glacier excursions to hiking, there’s plenty to do in Whittier.

    Location: 60.775070, -148.680862

    Where to stay:

    Accommodation options are unique in Whittier, as there isn’t much in the actual town, but most of what is available is set to reopen (or already has) in 2021/2022 after pandemic closures. For those wanting a splurge, the nearby Alyeska Resort is a lovely choice. A decadent mountain chateau in the heart of the Chugach Mountains, the luxury is perfect for skiers, outdoor enthusiasts, and spa lovers alike. The resort makes a nice stopover on the way to Whittier–make sure to ride the aerial tram for amazing views. For something in the actual town, try The Inn at Whittier , where most rooms boast a spectacular view of Prince William Sound, all for a reasonable price. The hotel can also help arrange excursions.

    When to go:

    May through September ensures the most desirable weather (particularly for outdoor activities), but requires bookings in advance. Note that Alaskan summers are on the cooler side, often rainy, and can see frosts as early as August. Winter can be brutal and isn’t recommended.

    Insider tip:

    The one-way tunnel into Whittier only swaps directions every 45 minutes, so check the schedule to avoid a long wait. Also note it closes for the night at either 10:45 p.m. or 11:15 pm (depending on the season), no exceptions!

    What to READ:

    The Strangest Town in Alaska  by Alan Taylor

    What to listen to:

    Perfect Mistake by Silver Jackson and Iska Dhaaf

    Visit Fodor's Whittier Guide

    Guidebook

    Chance Horner/Shutterstock

  • Bend, Oregon

    Try every outdoors activity under the sun in this dreamy Pacific Northwest mountain town.

    Why it's wonderful:

    A trip to Bend is a must for any nature-loving traveler, and the quaint yet lively atmosphere strikes the perfect balance between relaxation without the boredom of other small towns. Enjoy numerous festivals , craft breweries, and coffee shops, including the famous Deschutes Brewery . Most of these spots are pet-friendly, allowing Bend, dubbed “Dogtown USA,” to live up to its endearing nickname and giving visitors and their pups a chance to get away together. 

    The adorable, close-knit America-meets-mountain-lodge vibe is the perfect place to relax after a long day in the mountains, which is the entire reason any traveler comes to Bend. No one visits to stay inside (we’ve done enough of that the past two years), and the area boasts an average of 300 sunny days a year, the most in the state, and a feat for a PNW city! This makes it the perfect destination for skiing (downhill or cross-country), hiking, biking, horseback riding, anything that requires getting out in nature. Highlights include the Deschutes National Forest and River, Mount Bachelor, and Cascade Lake Scenic Byway.

    Location: 44.058174, -121.315308

    Where to stay:

    The lodging options are wide-ranging for this small mountain city. Looking to relax in luxury after all that time in the great outdoors? Don’t miss The Oxford Hotel , set right in historic downtown, where mountain chic meets environmentally friendly. Looking for something a bit more budget-friendly? You can’t go wrong with the Waypoint Hotel , located in the lovely Orchard District (just 15 minutes from Downtown), a modern twist on a mountain lodge (and it comes with complimentary breakfast). Airbnb and VRBO are always a great option, as well, particularly if planning a group trip or if you require specific amenities such as a yard, pool, or a pet-friendly space.

    When to go:

    Bend is a year-round destination, depending on your weather tolerance and activity preferences (don’t go in summer if you want to ski or the reverse if you want to hike). Its high elevation means chilly nights are a reality no matter the season, so pack accordingly.

    Insider tip:

    If you plan to hike and/or visit the many parks, make sure to buy parking passes ahead of time. A Sno-Park Pass allows parking at most trailheads in Central Oregon and a Northwest Forest Pass for national forests in Washington and Oregon.

    What to READ:

    The Wilding  by Benjamin Percy

    What to listen to:

    Sow ‘Em on the Mountain by Foghorn Stringband

    Visit Fodor's Bend Guide

    Guidebook

    Mike Albright Photography/Shutterstock

  • Big Sky, Montana

    This northern Rocky Mountain community isn’t so under-the-radar anymore, but it’s still ripe for discovery.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Technically, it’s all right there in the name: Big Sky. But as the inky midnight sky peppered with twinkling stars is really one of those magical things you need to see for yourself, it’s easy enough to articulate the areas’ other wonders, beginning with the vast landscape. Most travelers fly into Bozeman and are treated to an hour-plus of majestic surrounding landscape on the way to Big Sky. Cell service cuts out at some point along the mountainous roads, but all the better for taking in the magnificent sights of this rugged country.

    Skiers and snowboarders won’t find any flaws in Big Sky skiing, where, even during the high season around Christmas and New Year’s, the mountain never feels crowded. There’s plenty to keep non-skiers in the group happy too, thanks to mountainside properties boasting aprés ski and outdoor hot tubs. 

    Outside of the ski season, fly fishing, horse-back riding, and visits to Yellowstone National Park are popular activities. Not everyone will get to see a moose, but have your camera ready just in case.

    Location: 45.264629, -111.253258

    Where to stay:

    Beginning December 15, high rollers can get a taste of Big Sky’s first luxury property thanks to the addition of Montage Big Sky . But if descriptions that boil down to remote beauty are more your jam, then a stay in one of Lone Mountain Ranch’s cabin in the woods is mandatory. Dinner at Horn & Cantle , the property’s on-site restaurant, should be enjoyed even if you stay elsewhere.

    When to go:

    For fans of winter’s most popular sport, the only answer is winter, although technically Big Sky’s season is so long that a late fall or early spring visit could mean plenty of swooshing. Summer is gorgeous and a sleeper hit for reasons pertaining to Mother Nature.

    Insider tip:

    Even though the mountain is large enough that it never feels too hectic, if you can swing a weekday visit outside of the festive season, all the better. This goes for securing dinner reservations too.

    What to READ:

    The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

    What to listen to:

    In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)  by David Lynch

    Visit Fodor's Big Sky Guide

    Guidebook

    Andypottter/Dreamstime

  • Burning Man, Black Rock City, Nevada

    Leave your expectations in the dust and spend a mind-opening week among doers, artists, creatives, engineers, and dreamers.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Ask anyone who’s attended, and they’ll tell you Burning Man is as magical as it is challenging. With an unforgiving landscape, the weather varies from oppressive heat in the afternoons to near-freezing temps at night. Desert dust makes its way into every orifice. Breaking down into tears is inevitable for almost anyone who attends, whether it’s from dehydration or the touching notes and mementos left to burn in the Temple .

    But Burning Man is like no other place on earth. Different from a music festival, this week-long event involves the building and breaking down of a temporary city filled with art, educational classes, music, and more. Having shifted to a virtual event for both 2020 and 2021, veteran Burners and newbies alike have their eyes set on Black Rock City, the name for this metropolis in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The theme for 2022 is Waking Dreams—and after a period of time that has felt so much like a living nightmare, it couldn’t be more fitting. Burning Man is a week of wonder co-created by every individual who attends, and this wild and wacky city can feel pretty dreamlike. So go and climb larger-than-life art pieces resembling jellyfish and robots, attend workshops on anything from poetry to geology, and dance beneath the desert sky until the sun trades places with the stars.

    Location: 33.726830, -112.254669

    Where to stay:

    While you’re there, lodging in Black Rock City is entirely up to you—but don’t be surprised if crusty Burners who have attended for decades grumble when you roll up in a crisp, clean RV. A tent or yurt and a shade structure will do just fine, man, and you (and all of your belongings) will be covered in dust by the end of the week anyway.

    Reno makes an excellent pit stop before or after Burning Man. The Aloft Reno-Tahoe International Airport has everything for that last, restful sleep before a week in the desert, plus its airport location suits those arriving by plane. For a more luxe transition back to reality, the Grand Sierra Resort , a 4-star casino and resort complete with a spa and an After-Burn Party (don’t worry, everyone is required to wash off all that dust before getting into the pool).

    When to go:

    Burning Man always takes place the week before Labor Day, culminating with the burning of The Man effigy on Saturday night. Regional Burns take place throughout the year, though, all around the globe, and they can help scratch that Black Rock City itch with the same crowd but at a different time and place.

    Insider tip:

    It’s never too soon to get involved in the Burning Man community. Besides getting familiar with the 10 Principles of Burning Man , research what camps have members based in your area or what art projects can use your precious volunteer time. Becoming familiar with the community now makes the experience in Black Rock City even more worthwhile–and helping to build and bring something exciting to the desert is what makes the city run.

    What to WATCH:

    Oh! The Places You’ll Go at Burning Man

    What to listen to:

    Awake by Tycho

    Visit Fodor's Nevada Guide

    Guidebook

    Lukas Bischoff/Dreamstime

  • Craters of the Moon, Idaho

    Shoot for the moon with this extraterrestrial excursion to a unique and otherworldly National Monument.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve traces lava flows on an active volcanic rift. Here, travelers have access to unearthly terrains we’ve only glimpsed through telescopes. Lava sands, artistically-warped pines, volcanic cones, bat-ridden caves, and—of course—craterous lava fields mirror the moon’s surface to the extent NASA researchers and astronauts have used this rocky, black topography for training and data collection.

    Here the living meets the dead as lush fern and wildflowers miraculously emerge from dense, solid lava rock. Unique and varied flora, fauna, and rare geologic encounters abound throughout the reserve’s 7-mile scenic driving loop. Explore the cosmic trail spurs and viewpoints including a steep (but worth it!) hike up Inferno Cone. In addition, the 3.5-mile North Crater trail weaves up to views of Spatter Cones and beyond via Big Craters’ breath-taking rim as the Pioneer Mountains frame the distant horizon.

    And when the sun sets, the Craters of the Moon party begins. Think full-moon guided hikes and Star Parties where you can catch Milky Way vistas through a lava tube and scope satellites with the naked eye in this recently designated “International Dark Sky Park.”

    Need more volcanic action? Black Magic Canyon is like Zion’s shadowside, with darker volcanic rock forming waves to hike through and explore. Don’t miss Idaho’s wackier side en route with a stop by the Potato Museum and the demonic, nuclear Submarine in the Desert .

    Location: 43.475660, -113.577160

    Where to stay:

    This otherworldly attraction is a can’t-miss accommodation itself. Pitch your tent among moon-like rocks under dazzling skies at the Lava Flow Campground ( complete with flush toilets from April-September) or grab your pack and venture into the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve wilderness with a backcountry permit. The nearby VRBO/Airbnb scene offers a level-up glamping experience—check out Champagne Yurts for uniquely-themed domes—just don’t count on cell service.

    When to go:

    Summers blister as black rocks amplify heat with no shade in sight; snow piles up for icy Idaho winters, causing road closures limiting trail access. Early fall is the sweet spot! Shoot for September and October, where temps average in the 40s and 50s. Either way, prepare for gusts of wind.

    Insider tip:

    Snag a permit for cave entry during summer months. BYO flashlight! And make sure to follow rules and regulations in place to protect bats from lethal white fungus, carried by humans.

    What to READ:

    Educated by Tara Westover

    What to listen to:

    Idaho by Gorillaz

    Visit Fodor's Idaho Guide

    Guidebook

    Kwiktor /Dreamstime

  • Crested Butte, Colorado

    Aspen is chic, but Crested Butte is funkalicious cool—home to 800 miles of mountain biking trails, an uncrowded ski resort, and a wildly colorful, historic miners’ town.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Nestled centrally in the Colorado Rockies, Crested Butte has been a hidden gem for a reason–it was hard to reach. With a 50% increase in flight capacity from Denver, Dallas, and Houston to nearby Gunnison (GUC) airport for the 2021-2022 ski season, Crested Butte is more accessible than ever for outdoor enthusiasts seeking high-altitude adventure. 

    By day, the Crested Butte Mountain Resort —which turns 60 this season with a full schedule of festivities —beckons extreme skiers and snowboarders with the steepest lift-serviced tree-cut run in the U.S. Beginners are welcome too, of course, with the new upgraded bunny hill and Peachtree lift. For non-downhill skiers, explore 30 miles of pristine trails with a nordic ski lesson at the Nordic Center or catch a show at the Center for Arts .

    By night, Elk Street, the town’s main street, transforms from a tranquil site-seeing stroll to a party promenade. Bars—like the nearly century-old saloon Wooden Nickel , the craft-cocktail den Dogwood , or Montanya Rum distillery —fill with thirsty locals and visitors alike for celebratory apres-ski drinks. For dinner, check out the gourmet 5-course meal in a yurt at Magic Meadows or Sunflower where the innovative, farm-to-table menu changes nightly; reservations required.

    Location: 38.870682, -106.980942

    Where to stay:

    West Wall Lodge —with a stellar outdoor heated pool and hot tub—or the more budget-friendly Elevation Hotel are your best picks for ski-in, ski-out stays. If you like being in the heart of the action in town, Scarp Ridge Lodge —a converted saloon that offers backcountry skiing via snowcat—is like the exclamation point on your Crested Butte vacation.

    When to go:

    Unlike most ski resort towns, Crested Butte’s summers are peak season for wildflower peeping, hiking, and biking. As one of the least crowded ski mountains in Colorado, if you want to maximize your time shredding snow instead of waiting in lift lines, go in the wintertime—especially on off-holiday times, like the end of January or early February.

    Insider tip:

    Use the free shuttle, Mountain Express , from the ski resort into town so you don’t have to fight for parking. Shuttles run every 15 minutes during the summer and winter seasons.

    What to WATCH:

    Born From Junk , directed by Mike Horn and Galin Foley

    What to listen to:

    Paint the Moon by The Czars

    Visit Fodor's Crested Butte Guide

    Guidebook

    John De Bord/Shutterstock

  • Estes Park, Colorado

    This town is considered the base camp of the Rocky Mountains and is home to herds of wild elk.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Considered the base camp of the Rocky Mountains, Estes Park is a small town about an hour and a half drive away from downtown Denver and a short drive from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park . Flanked by mountains and alpine lakes, Estes Park is perhaps best known for its herds of wild elk, which descend on the town every fall. Come September and October, thousands of wild elk–including a resident herd of 30–venture from higher elevations to take over the town of Estes Park for their mating or “rut” season. Everywhere you look, you’ll see elk lounging by the waters of Lake Estes, munching leaves on the front lawns of residential homes, and stubbornly holding up traffic as they amble across the street. Like, say, pigeons to New York City, the residents of Estes Park seemingly live in harmony with their antler-touting visitors. In fact, every October, the town hosts an Elk Fest , featuring a line-up of music, Native American dancing and storytelling, and a bugling contest. 

    Location: 40.376129, -105.523651

    Where to stay:

    If you’re headed to Estes Park for Elk Fest, book a stay at the Estes Park Resort . This resort has great views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains and is located right on Lake Estes, which happens to be a popular hangout for the resident elk. With its outdoor fire pits, you can roast marshmallows in full view of the snow-peaked Rockies and wandering elk. The resort was recently remodeled and offers a range of family-friendly hotel rooms and suites that have all of the expected amenities with some added perks like private balconies. On-site, the resort serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner from its Dunraven Restaurant , which also sits lakeside and serves up an Italian menu in a funky space filled with Mona Lisa-inspired artwork. If traveling with a large group, you can rent one of the private Mountain Village Cabins. These gorgeous two-story cabins feature floor-to-ceiling windows and fireplace mantels created from recycled Colorado wood. 

    When to go:

    Come to Estes Park between mid-September and mid-October when the town welcomes wild elk. 

    Insider tip:

    Hop on the Estes Tram (due to reopen Memorial Day 2022). The tram whisks you away to the top of Prospect Mountain, where you can enjoy an aerial view of Estes Park and its natural surroundings without the uphill hike. 

    What to WATCH:

    Dumb and Dumber  with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels

    What to listen to:

    Queen of Colorado by Leon Joseph Littlebird & Will Clipman

    Visit Fodor's Estes Park Guide

    Guidebook

    Virrage Images/Shutterstock

  • Leavenworth, Washington

    Spirits are bright in this Bavarian-themed village with Christmas cookies and gingerbread lattes for sale year-round.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Last year’s holiday season was incredibly depressing. Amid the peak of the pandemic, families weren’t able to travel and be together. Christmas felt empty, like stale, generic-brand cereal. But now that we’re able to travel safely, it’s time to make up for all that lost Christmas magic. And in Leavenworth, Washington, it’s dialed up to 11. The Bavarian-themed town in Washington’s Cascade Mountains is like stepping into a snow globe that’s on the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie. Every building has that adorable, made-in-Santa’s-workshop aesthetic. Even the gas station. It’s a literal winter wonderland, from meeting lady reindeer at an endangered reindeer farm to sampling tasty local craft brews such as a black forest cake stout from Icicle Brewing Company . And you have to make time for the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum and its collection of more than 7,000 nutcrackers.

    Location: 47.592789, -120.667648

    Where to stay:

    There’s a definite fairy-tale vibe to Leavenworth. And if you’re visiting with kiddos, you can stay in your own little Bavarian-inspired cottage at the Leavenworth Tiny House Village . Each of the five homes is decorated in a Franco-German provincial style, but for extra Christmas vibes, book the bright red Rudolph .

    There’s fairy-tale style for the 18+ crowd, too, but it’s much more sophisticated. Located along the Wenatchee River right off Leavenworth’s main Front Street, Posthotel looks like Snow White had an unlimited line of credit at Restoration Hardware. The staff dress like 19th-century milkmaids, but that’s where the playful Anthropologie kitsch ends. Because Posthotel is the ultimate relaxation haven. Guests are encouraged to wear plush robes and slippers 24/7 as this European-style hotel is also a European-style wellness retreat. Access to the spa’s hydrotherapy suites of steam rooms, saunas, pools, and whirlpools is complimentary and so is the health-focused, European-inspired breakfast and lunch. There’s also a full-service spa with massage and facial treatments, but nothing beats a nap in the quiet lounge’s chaise waterbeds. 

    When to go:

    Leavenworth is fun year-round, but the snow brings the fun, from Victorian sleigh rides to sunset snowmobile tours . And the nightly (and free!) Christmas lights are something you have to see. From Thanksgiving through February, Leavenworth becomes a  Village of Lights with more than 500,000 twinkling lights on display.

    Insider tip:

    Check out is at 11 a.m., but Posthotel allows guests to stay on the property until 2 p.m. for one last swim, soak, or steam. 

    What to WATCH:

    Switchmas, directed by Sue Corcoran

    What to listen to:

    Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit by Bernhard Dietrich

    Visit Fodor's Leavenworth Guide

    Guidebook

    Checubus/Shutterstock

  • Long Beach, California

    Long Beach is wholly itself and weirdly wonderful; a treasure that is often hidden in the shadow of Los Angeles.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Long Beach may be well-known for its stunning landscapes, cutting-edge restaurants, and welcoming vibe, but spend a little time here and you’ll quickly understand why locals don’t want to leave. Perhaps best known for its waterfront attractions like the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific , there is another side to Long Beach that must be experienced to be understood.

    Take a walk down Second Street in Belmont Shore and indulge in the restaurants and bars along the way. Order a kebab plate at Open Sesame , and venture a little further down to Shannon’s Bayshore , an Irish pub that has become known for its Shoot the Root shot, a Long Beach rite of passage. Head over to the 4th Street corridor and go shopping on Retro Row, where you can hit up places like The Hangout , a collective of small businesses that includes a small bookshop. Ride your beach cruiser along the Shoreline Bike Path, take a gondola ride through the canals of Naples, or hop on a ferry to Catalina Island for the day. The city thrives with its arts, culture, and music, and it is also home to a diverse LGBTQIA+ scene. With its own public airport, a park dedicated to Harvey Milk, and donation-based yoga on the bluff, it’s no wonder that Long Beach is finally having its moment.

    Location: 33.771709, -118.181313

    Where to stay:

    There are a variety of accommodation options in Long Beach to suit every type of traveler. Looking for a charming boutique hotel that is just steps from the beach? Stay at the Belmont Shore Inn , which is just a short walk from the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier and the Belmont Brewing Company. The Hyatt Regency is a landmark upon itself, towering over the harbor in the heart of downtown. 

    When to go:

    There is never truly a bad time to visit Long Beach—with an average of 345 days of sunshine every year, the weather makes it a great year-round destination. Because of its coastal location, summers may have a bit of the marine layer that is often referred to as “June Gloom.” Visiting in the spring and fall are your best bets for soaking in the sun.

    Insider tip:

    Long Beach’s Aqualink water taxi is an inexpensive way to beat the traffic, especially during the summer months. For only $5 each way, you can enjoy the cool sea breeze on the 40-minute ride between Alamitos Bay and the downtown harbor at Shoreline Village, both worth exploring for their restaurants and bars.

    What to READ:

    The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers

    What to listen to:

    I’m From Long Beach by Snoop Dogg

    Visit Fodor's Long Beach Guide

    Guidebook

    Kirk Wester/Shutterstock

  • Mono Lake, California

    Spectacular (and super salty) out-of-this-world sights to be seen at Mono Lake.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Mono Lake is located near Lee Vining, California, in Mono County . One of the most ancient and hauntingly beautiful lakes in North America, it’s roughly 70 square miles in size—and almost three times saltier than the ocean. There’s no fish in this lake. Instead, it’s home to trillions of tiny brine shrimp and the alkali fly, which provide a nutritious “all you can eat” buffet for the 300-plus species of millions of migratory and resident birds. And those otherworldly, unique limestone formations seen towering out of the water and along the shoreline? They’re called “tufa.” They’re formed underwater as the calcium-rich freshwater springs bubble up from the lake bottom and combine with the carbonates of the water. Visitors can make a visit to the South Tufa State Natural Reserve located off SR 120 East.

    This lake access point showcases the most prolific tufa towers, as well as a boardwalk self-interpretive guided tour. The especially adventurous can embark on a kayak trip; rentals are available through Caldera Kayaks and Mono Lake Kayaks . Plan to kayak in the early morning when the water is calmest as afternoon winds can make paddling difficult and dangerous.

    Location: 37.292850, -120.430320

    Where to stay:

    For those seeking a more luxurious outdoor experience, opt for Double Eagle Resort & Spa . This property is nestled into the wild next to the whooshing waters of nearby streams, towering pines and sits at the base of 11,000-foot Carson Peak. There are four alpine lakes within eight miles of the property, hosting a plethora of additional outdoor adventures to be had after a day exploring Mono Lake. There’s also Lakeview Lodge which is open year-round and hosts offering cozy cabins and cottages at an affordable price point.

    When to go:

    Mono Lake can be enjoyed all throughout the year, but in the fall when the leaves are changing, the colors are a spectacular sight of crimson and gold. It’s an extra special experience. Spring and summer weather bring warm temperatures and the chance to swim or kayak on the lake. And for those who want to visit in the winter, make sure to face snowy, icy conditions and prepare accordingly for a winter wonderland. 

    Insider tip:

    About 45 minutes north of Mono Lake is Bodie State Historic Park , the largest unrestored ghost town in the West, with 200-plus abandoned buildings standing in a state of “arrested decay.” There’s also Tioga Pass and the east entrance to Yosemite National Park for an add-on day trip excursion nearby. Finally, be sure to drive the June Lake Loop (SR 158) which is a gorgeous 15-mile horseshoe detour from US 395 featuring lakes, waterfalls, and the charming village of June Lake. 

    What to WATCH:

    The Neverending Story, directed by Wolfgang Petersen

    What to listen to:

    Some Place Else by MorMor

    Visit Fodor's Southern Sierra Guide

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    beboy/Shutterstock

  • New Cuyama, California

    This random, remote desert hideaway is the perfect road trip escape from Los Angeles.

    Why it's wonderful:

    New Cuyama was founded in 1951 by Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) and the company town has struggled since the oil empire left in the late 1970s. Pistachios, fruits, and vegetables are grown in the surrounding farms for companies like Bolthouse Farms , but the small community of fewer than 600 in the high desert of Santa Barbara County was never a tourist destination until 21-room boutique hotel Cuyama Buckhorn opened last year, bringing new jobs and a new industry to celebrate the previously desolate but beautiful location.

    Visit community development organization Blue Sky Center next door and see how they’re fostering rural revitalization and supporting small businesses like Cuyama Beverage Co . You’ll definitely want to try their local mead, flavored with jujubes and sage honey.

    Nearby, you can hike or bike in Los Padres National Forest, keep your eyes peeled for condors at Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge and go off-roading in Ballinger Canyon.

    Location: 34.965320, -119.847820

    Where to stay:

    Cuyama Buckhorn is the only game in town, and it looks like a simple truck stop and diner, but the mid-century modern meets rustic Western design is retro-chic, with outdoor fire pits, billiards, and a professional-grade crushed oyster shell bocce ball court. There’s no spa, but the heated pool and barrel sauna offer excellent sunset mountain views. Chef Daniel Horn worked at Aman Resorts for 12 years, and his Santa Maria-style red-oak smoked tri-tip is out of this world. There are plenty of vegan options too, from veggie tacos to Tehachapi Grain Project red fife grain bowls with sweet potato and BBQ-spiced mushrooms.

    When to go:

    Spring, specifically end of March through early May when the wildflowers are in full bloom, is the prettiest time of year.

    Insider tip:

    Motorcycle clubs often breeze through on weekends, stopping for breakfast and coffee at the general store. Avoid the crowd, or join the fun for people-watching. Don’t forget to grab some of Horn’s homemade sauces, jams, and bottled cocktails to take home.

    What to READ:

    In This Country: A Chronicle of The Cuyama Valley by Jane Slama

    What to listen to:

    I’ve Been Everywhere by Johnny Cash

    Visit Fodor's Central Coast Guide

    Guidebook

    Stepahnie Russo

  • Walla Walla, Washington

    Relax amid small-town charm with an award-winning glass of wine in hand in delightful Walla Walla.

    Why it's wonderful:

    A trip to Walla Walla provides travelers an opportunity to enjoy America’s best winery district (two years running!), at the intersection of Eastern Washington’s past and very upscale present. Enjoy a ride on an antique trolley through the beautifully maintained historic downtown followed by a glass of award-winning wine or cup of locally roasted coffee at one of the many outdoor patios. There’s plenty to browse at the numerous eclectic boutiques and antique shops, not to mention the Walla Walla General Store , a neighborhood favorite.

    Walla Walla is where country Eastern Washington meets the bougie wino crowd, so no matter where travelers identify on the spectrum, they’re sure to feel right at home. Whether it be a romantic getaway, solo adventure, or friends trip, the golden hills covered in cascading vines and some of the best sunsets out west provide the perfect backdrop. The Blue Mountains are close enough for travelers that feel the call of the outdoors (or just want to burn off a glass or two too many of adult grape juice).

    Location: 46.065552, -118.333641

    Where to stay:

    The Inn at Abeja is the stuff of dreams, located on a large estate of rolling fields, immaculate gardens and vineyards, it’s the perfect place to indulge in a weekend in Walla Walla. The unique room choices range from a carriage house to a re-done barn tower, with an upscale French Country design any HGTV makeover show would envy. Better yet, you’ll be able to taste regional favorites at the onsight winery, restaurant, and in-house breakfast.

    A more affordable yet cute option is the Inn at Blackberry Creek , a restored vintage farmhouse that is cute, cozy, and boasts some of the best locally sourced breakfasts in the state. Each room is named for a famous French artist and decorated accordingly. Please note no children under age 12.

    When to go:

    Late spring to early summer boasts lovely weather and is when most wineries release that year’s vintage. If traveling in July-August, check the wildfire alerts . Fall is a nice, less weather-extreme alternative and provides additional activities such as apple picking.

    Insider tip:

    There are six winery regions in Walla Walla, with some, particularly the East Side, difficult to get into. Thus a tour is often the best way to ensure entrance (and avoids the need for a DD). Check out options here .

    What to READ:

    The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery

    What to listen to:

    Tiger Mountain Peasant Song by Fleet Foxes

    Visit Fodor's Walla Walla Guide

    Guidebook

    Danita Delimont/Shutterstock

  • Bandera, Texas

    The "Cowboy Capital of the World" is a real-life step onto a classic western movie set.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Once an offbeat playground for neighboring San Antonians, today Bandera’s dude ranches, boot boutiques, and BBQ draw in crowds seeking to channel their inner John Wayne. As one could expect from a cowboy capital, folk here are mad about the cow; there’s none too rare an occasion to sport leathers from year-round rodeo to a jolly at Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar Saloon , the oldest continuously operating honky-tonk in Texas. When it comes to the chow-down, Keese’s smoked brisket finished with creamy Blue Bell at the Bandera General Store ’s soda fountain is the way to do it. 

    Y’all know that the cowboy fun doesn’t end there. Discover over 30,000 artifacts dedicated to America’s West at the legendary Frontier Times Museum , which opened in 1933. After that, saddle up and explore the Hill Country on horseback. There are thousands of acres of trails looping through canyons and scenic vistas, and a slew of ranches holding the horsepower to tackle them.

    Location: 29.721581, -99.071060

    Where to stay:

    In Bandera, the rule is ranch. Dixie Dude Ranch has 20 cabins and lodges, offering both an authentic experience and excellent value; stays are neatly packaged with meals, fishing, horse-riding, and campfire sing-a-longs. Meanwhile, Outdoorsy renters can park RVs at Twin Elm Guest Ranch , which provides them with similar ranch amenities.

    When to go:

    Summers in south-central Texas regularly see brutal triple-digit temperatures, so for optimal cowboy hat meets tank-top conditions, visit between late fall and winter. The beginning of each year marks peak allergy season. Sufferers should avoid January to March when cedar pollen counts here are the highest of any plants, anywhere in the world.

    Insider tip:

    Planning a visit to coincide with the twice-yearly Biker Rallies of Texas festivals means a chance to spectate leather in black, too. Bandera is packed each March and October with motorcycle enthusiasts statewide who come together on wheels for bike shows, live music, tattoo contests, games, and of course, barbecue. 

    What to WATCH:

    From Dusk Till Dawn , directed by Robert Rodriguez

    What to listen to:

    Bandera  by Willie Nelson

    Visit Fodor's Bandera Guide

    Guidebook

    Filedimage/Dreamstime

  • Bisbee, Arizona

    Ditch the heat, add the quirk, and discover why locals refer to Bisbee as Mayberry on acid.

    Why it's wonderful:

    With the Grand Canyon, Prescott, and a smattering of other parks and destinations, Arizona is no stranger to visitors, but curious types will find far more quirk and beauty under some of the state’s less turned-over stones, like Bisbee. Tucked 200 miles away from Phoenix in the southeastern corner of the state, this town is a destination most travelers don’t happen upon by accident or plan an entire trip around. The picturesque mountain town feels equal parts Santa Fe, Colorado ski-town, wild west, high on just a drop of LSD, perhaps. 

    The beauty of the town is that it’s off the beaten path. It thins out the RV camper and snowbird herd, helping it remain quaint and picturesque. A stone’s throw from Tombstone and yet a world away, there’s an almost hippie vibe rushing through the off-the-beaten-path town like a free-spirited river. The windy roads twist through the town, holding back secrets until the last moment as you wind around the next bend. There’s the converted historical bank and post office, which you’ll swear you saw robbed in any number of Western movies. The Bisbee Coffee Shop occupies its own corner, giving you an optimal people-watching seat, or if you’d rather toast to the high altitude and the funky mural you discovered painted on the side of the mountain, The Old Bisbee Brewery is the town’s only brewery, and within walking distance of the Bisbee Grand Hotel.

    From window shopping for local clothing brands to sipping a freshly made cocktail after a tour through the Copper Queen Mine , there’s something for anyone and everyone in this out-of-the-way gem.

    Location: 31.441830, -109.914940

    Where to stay:

    Because the town is cut right into a mountainside, there isn’t much room for chain restaurants, shops, or hotels to pop up. You won’t find any Urban Outfitters for hundreds of miles, and you better catch the first stagecoach out of town if you want a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Thinking about busting out your Hilton Rewards card? Forget about that too. But this isn’t the kind of town you’d want to stay at a chain hotel anyway. Much of the charm is booking a local hotel. 

    The Copper Queen Hotel first opened in 1902 and is said to be haunted, while the Bisbee Grand Hotel (which is also said to be haunted) gives you easy access to everything downtown. The Gadsden Hotel has been running since 1907 and has, for over 100 years, been a Bisbee staple.

    Most of the hotels here have an old-world charm, adding to the Bisbee experience. 

    When to go:

    Many avoid Arizona in the summer because of the scorching triple-digit temps, but thanks to the higher elevation, Bisbee is in the mid to low 80s (and as it’s a dry heat, it’s even more comfortable). But for sweater weather? Shoot for a winter holiday in Bisbee. 

    Insider tip:

    Book your hotels early on. The temperatures are milder here during the summer, and yet still comfortable during the winter, so while there isn’t a “peak” tourist season, the small selection of hotels do fill up, so don’t wait until the last minute. Make sure to fill up on gas before getting to Bisbee, because gas prices will jump, and you’ll have fewer options in town. Thankfully, most of the town is so walkable you’ll be able to trade in your driving shoes for walking shoes for much of the stay. 

    What to READ:

    Going Back to Bisbee by Richard Shelton

    What to listen to:

    Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and Dolly Parton

    Visit Fodor's Bisbee Guide

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  • Jemez Valley, New Mexico

    Like stepping through the wardrobe to Narnia, Jemez Springs’ otherworldly vibe offers transcendence with its soaring red rock mountainscapes, abundant geothermal springs, pristine hiking trails, and ancestral Puebloan sites.

    Why it's wonderful:

    A hour drive from Albuquerque (ABQ) airport, Jemez Springs , and the surrounding Jemez (pronounced HAY-mess ) Valley, is like Arizona’s Sedona of 50 years ago–spiritually charged, visually stunning. The town itself has only a few hundred residents, one salty saloon, a top-notch bakery, and several art galleries. But what it lacks in big city amenities, it more than makes up for with a plethora of natural beauty to, quite literally, soak in.  

    The nation’s only town within a national park, Santa Fe National Forest , camping sites and trails abound, over 1,000 miles in fact—many with great payoffs like hot springs or waterfalls. Locals recommend the San Antonio Hot Springs trail (Required: high ground clearance vehicle to access) for the clearest pools and McCauley Warm Spring for one of the easiest to reach. 

    For day trips, there are several stunners. Take Highway 4, a surreal scenic drive just outside of town, to Gilman tunnels —an eerie but impressive defunct railroad passage through sheer boulders. Don’t miss the roadside waterfall. In the other direction, Mother Nature’s powerful artistry is on display at Valles Caldera . Formed by a volcanic eruption long ago, it’s a gigantic meadow ideal for wildlife watching, like elk and golden eagles, fishing, and horseback riding. 

    For history buffs, Jemez Valley is teeming with intriguing narrative. Visit the Jemez Historic Landmark to tour 700-year-old Pueblo Indian ruins and a 17th-century Catholic church established by Spanish missionaries.

    Location: 35.770850, -106.690840

    Where to stay:

    Roger, the mayor of Jemez Springs, and his wife Linda, a sculpture artist , have the most luxurious outfit in town. Located along the Jemez River among a wonderland of soaring trees and verdant, flowering landscaping, Casa Blanca has two private guest houses—a cool, 1800s adobe home and a hobbit-style cottage with a modern spin. Both are tastefully decorated in a rustic-chic Spanish fashion with antiquities from around the world; kitchens are outfitted with Linda’s ceramic creations. Another more austere option, but equally unique, is bunking with Buddhist monks at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center . Access to their on-property hot springs and zen meditation sessions are included with either a dorm-style or private room stay.  

    When to go:

    Early fall is ideal. Like a Van Gogh painting, the valley is dotted with frenetic splashes of golden and amber hues as the leaves turn. Plus, temperatures drop a bit so you won’t get as sweaty on the trails and that dip in a hot spring feels that much more divine. (Hot tip: Plan your visit in early October to hit Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta , too.) Late spring, like April or May, when most trails open again and the mountains are bursting with wildflowers is pretty dreamy too. 

    Insider tip:

    Do not miss a mineral soak at the 150-year-old Bath House with private tubs in which you control the temperature and fill as you wish. Double down on the #treatyoself experience and bring self-care items, like a sheet mask, deep conditioning hair mask, essential oils, and even a razor for an amazing shave.

    P.S. If you opt for the post-soak herbal wrap (and you should), ask for Perriann; she’s like your very own magical, fairy godmother. 

    What to READ:

    House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

    What to listen to:

    Steeeam by Shelly

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  • Marfa, Texas

    Renowned as a minimalist/installation artist hub in the desert, Marfa offers mystery, majesty, and merriment all under the desert sun.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Marfa is an unassuming reward for the labor it takes to get there. The art scene and community are inviting, interesting, and genuine–an unexpected scene, considering the most famous work on display is Prada Marfa , the installation sculpture of the brand’s storefront. Gallery shows and visiting artists change up flavors and colors while the resident creatives and iconic landmarks (like Donald Judd’s freestanding concrete structures ) give the town an ephemeral vibrancy combined with a long-standing authenticity. The restaurant and bar scene follows suit, and 2022 brings Marfa’s first distillery and tasting room, The Marfa Spirit Co . Their Chihuahuan Desert Sotol, a locally produced spirit made from desert spoon shrubs, aims to make sotol the next mezcal of the liquor industry. 

    And of course, there’s the Marfa Mystery Lights, visible most clear nights when looking toward the Chianti Mountains between Marfa and Paisano Pass. The lights, which have mesmerized us for a century, mysteriously flash with color, flit about the sky, pulse, and melt away, among other unexplainable visual perceptions. This is the sort of mystifying spectacle that makes for a most satisfying transcendental experience. And while the Marfa Lights steal the show, the night sky over Marfa isn’t anything to shake a stick at. Those stars at night. So big and bright. 

    Location: 30.309450, -104.020638

    Where to stay:

    Choosing a place to stay in Marfa is an absolute delight because the options are completely unique and cowboy-chic but without sacrificing service, luxury, or whatever amenities you can’t live without. Hotel Paisano , made famous by James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor’s classic movie Giant , is an iconic Marfa stay. Designed in 1929 by famed architect Henry Trost, the hotel is constructed to be “the most elegant hotel between El Paso and San Antonio,” while El Cosmico represents the other end of the spectrum showcasing retro trailers, stylish tents, and teepee- and yurt-style accommodations (don’t be fooled by the “rusticity” of the digs–Beyonce stayed her on her trip to Marfa). Airbnbs, campgrounds, and RV parks abound, but for those willing to do a bit more driving, the Cibolo Creek Ranch 30 miles south offers rooms and suites in an authentic Texas dude ranch and hacienda fort-style, or head a little further out still into the Chihuahuan Desert to the Chianti Hot Springs cabins, which include soaking tubs in every casita. 

    When to go:

    Look, Marfa is seriously desert. If you don’t like hot, sunny sun, you’re going to want to aim for shoulder seasons. Winters, though short, can be quite cold and even snowy. 

    Insider tip:

    Marfa’s known for its art, but don’t sleep on its food scene–everything from laid-back fine-ish dining ( Cochineal ) with remarkably locally sourced ingredients, to gourmet food trucks (mesquite-smoked brisket, ribs, sausage and chicken at DB’s Rustic Iron BBQ and beef hotdogs or veggie fritters from CowDog ), and even home cooking (at Marfa Burrito , “the burrito queen of Marfa” Ramona Tejada has turned her personal kitchen into a renowned taqueria).

    What to READ:

    Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

    What to listen to:

    Stare at the Sun by Ringo Deathstarr

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  • Tulsa, Oklahoma

    Indigenous art and culture, the best tacos in the state, and underground tunnels?

    Why it's wonderful:

    The state of Oklahoma was literally carved out by the U.S. government to house, for lack of a better term, its “ Indian problem .” Old maps have the entire state blotted out because it was not considered a state, only “ Indian territory .” As a result of its rich cultural heritage, today Oklahoma is one of the best places in the U.S. to find Indigenous peoples’ art, culture, and cuisine—yes, cuisine. Chef Nico Albert, owner of Burning Cedar Indigenous Foods, a catering company also offering educational events, is on a mission to introduce traditional recipes and dishes like fried yuca croquettes and bison meatballs to the community in Tulsa. Get a taste of Albert’s culinary delights over at Duet , a restaurant and jazz joint, where Native cuisine is at the forefront.

    Also, just outside of downtown Tulsa, is the recently-revitalized Kendall-Whittier and Brookside neighborhoods. Boasting delicious eats, drinks, and a booming nightlife, it’s easy to spend an eventful weekend here. But save some energy for daytime exploration of Tulsa’s network of tunnels, once used by early oil and gas barons. The tunnels are still in use and open to the public, and they are especially useful during inclement weather. Tulsa Tours offers a  90-minute tunnel exploration , or, if you prefer to stay aboveground, the two-hour downtown tour will introduce you to the Deco, Arts, and Blue Dome districts, offer a history lesson on Black Wall Street and the 1921 Race Massacre, and share visions for the future of this great American city.

    Location: 36.153980, -95.992775

    Where to stay:

    Be sure to hit up the Hardrock Hotel and Casino (owned by the Cherokee Nation) for its entertainment and its clear homage to rock ‘n’ roll. Also, River Spirit Casino Resort , owned by the Muscogee Nation, is a definite go-to for gambling, delicious food, and live concerts. The Osage Nation just revamped their entire casino, and they even launched their own brewery. The local suds are best enjoyed by the pool.

    When to go:

    You’ll want to arrive in the spring because from July through September it’s oppressively hot and humid. For weather in 70s and 80s, with low humidity and beautiful greenery, pay a visit anywhere from May to June.

    Insider tip:

    Hands down, drop into Tacos Don Francisco . They’re a family-owned business located across the street from the University of Tulsa, and they’ve been there since the 1960s. Also, if you visit in the spring or summer, you’ll hear tornado sirens (three whole minutes of sound) at noon every Wednesday, rain or shine. Another tip: Gilcrease Museum has the largest collection of Native and Western art in the U.S.

    What to WATCH:

    Reservation Dogs on FX

    What to listen to:

    After Midnight by JJ Cale

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  • Chicago's North Shore, Illinois

    Quiet, charming, fancy, and the perfect mini-escape from the bustle of Chicago.

    Why it's wonderful:

    These affluent suburbs that border Lake Michigan consist of tranquil gardens, upscale restaurants, and gorgeous architectural gems, many of which are rich in both art and history. The chilly fall and winter temps are the perfect time to bundle up and check out a Northwestern football game or take the kids on a trip to the Kohl Children’s Museum . The museums’ interactive learning exhibits and activities are sure to keep the little ones entertained for hours.

    Serenity is just one of the many perks that can be enjoyed on the North Shore and the award-winning Rosewood Beach . Renovated in 2015 with a new boardwalk design, beautiful landscaping, and ecological improvements, Rosewood has locals coming from near and far to grab their slice of peace by the water. The Baha’i House of Worship is another location that is not only an architectural masterpiece known for its Gothic, Renaissance, Romanesque, and Islamic elements, but a place for spiritual solace (even if you aren’t of the Baha’i faith). Finally, the Chicago Botanic Garden is a place where wellness enthusiasts and plant lovers meet for Tai Chi, yoga, and horticultural classes.

    The area has no shortage of great places to dine, but The Homestead Room is the newest restaurant. Located inside the Graduate Hotel , this spot prepares American comfort food and John Hughes-inspired cocktails like the “Wet Bandits”—an ode to his classic film Home Alone, which was shot in the North Shore. For a more high-end dining experience, check out The Summer Inn –the mixture of indoor and outdoor seating, which includes a wrap-around patio with fire pits and a marble bar, makes it a perfect date night visit.

    Location: 42.003030, -87.697950

    Where to stay:

    The accommodations along the North Shore have price points for every budget. For a quaint stay close to the Northwestern campus in Evanston, the historic Margarita European Inn is a great choice. This 46-room bed and breakfast has a wood-burning fireplace and unique French doors that make guests feel like they’ve been transported to the early 19th century. A more elaborate option is the Westin Chicago North Shore in Wheeling. The facility provides gorgeous views along the Des Plaines river, five restaurants, a fitness studio with an indoor heated pool, and is in close proximity to shopping, the summer Ravinia music festival, and Six Flags. 

    When to go:

    The winters in Chicagoland can be brutal. And although the North Shore has plenty to do even when it’s cold, the summer is the best time to maximize your visitor experience. From music festivals to outdoor gardens and alfresco dining, the warm temps make it easier to see more of the North Shore’s beauty.

    Insider tip:

    Signing up for the Chicago’s North Shore newsletter gives a monthly inside scoop on new restaurant openings, tours, hotel deals, and a host of other important happenings in the area.

    What to WATCH:

    Home Alone , directed by Chris Columbus

    What to listen to:

    Dreams by Grace Slick

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  • Cincinnati, Ohio

    This rapidly growing Midwest city becomes alive in the summer, with something for everyone at an affordable price.

    Why it's wonderful:

    The pandemic did not slow the creative and economic growth of this city. Tucked in a small valley on the border of Kentucky and Ohio houses the arts and culture hub of Ohio: Cincinnati. With new restaurants, hotels, and plenty of small businesses popping up, there is always something new to do within the metropolitan area.

    Locals love to attend the festivals throughout the year, with some of the favorites being Oktoberfest Zinzinnati and Taste of Cincinnati . The arts scene is what truly makes this city so notable. For contemporary art lovers, galleries such as Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) showcase immersive experiences for all ages. For historical art and literature, don’t miss the Mercantile Library , a serene library located Downtown that honors the history of the city and boasts some of the best views of the skyscrapers and the Ohio River. While walking through Cincinnati’s many neighborhoods, there are breathtaking murals around each corner, making the art alone a top reason to visit.

    Location: 39.103119, -84.512016

    Where to stay:

    Picking a place to stay in Cincinnati can be difficult because of all the unique hotels throughout the city and the surrounding neighborhoods that are always worth a visit. For something different, stay at the 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati , the hotel above the CAC that features a luxury spa. For a more affordable stay, look at Homewood Suites By Hilton Cincinnati Midtown , which is close to the breweries in Oakley and not far from the second oldest zoo in the country, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden .

    When to go:

    The lack of humidity and long, sunny days make summer and fall the best times to go. The lush parks outside of Downtown that overlook the city are filled with people enjoying the views of each season. 

    Insider tip:

    The Cincinnati Bell Connector, or the city’s streetcar system, is now permanently fare-free. Travel on the 3.6-mile loop to explore The Banks, Downtown, and Over-The-Rhine.

    What to READ:

    Beloved by Toni Morrison

    What to listen to:

    Elevate by Drake

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  • Door County, Wisconsin

    Watery sunrises and sunsets, novel food traditions, and Scandinavian heritage combine to make Door County an all-season, vacationland throwback.

    Why it's wonderful:

    As an index-finger shaped peninsula jutting north from “mainland” Wisconsin, Door County has the distinction of being one of the few places in the country where you can easily enjoy both a sunrise and sunset over water–on the same day and without leaving the county…or traveling very far. This throwback of a vacationland destination pointing upward into Green Bay and Lake Michigan is, at its widest, only 18 miles from shore to shore (two miles wide at its skinniest). 

    It’s also a unique four-season getaway offering dramatic naturalistic adventures including snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the dead of winter, peeping autumn’s colorful leaves while cave kayaking in the fall, and chillaxing during the heat of a summer day on your very own patch of any of the 300 miles of shoreline wrapping around the peninsula. 

    Whether it’s your 50th or first time here, Door County feels like old times, welcoming and friendly, a place where the sands of time seem to drip a little bit slower from the hourglass; it’s an escape from the grind of your everyday routines. After the last two years we’ve endured, who doesn’t need some of that?

    Location: 45.157108, -87.172127

    Where to stay:

    You can go as bougie or down-home with your accommodation choice as you wish here. The sleek and thoroughly Scandinavian Dörr Hotel in Sister Bay is the county’s newest hotel, having opened in May ’21. Like a fancy Ikea you can actually spend the night in, each of the property’s 47 rooms has a balcony and is styled in a fashion that pays homage to the region’s Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian heritage. Just ten miles south in Fish Creek sits the The White Gull Inn , spiritual birthplace of the famed Door County fish boil . In addition to hosting one of the most entertaining dinner parties in America, the Inn offers up rooms and cottages papered in floral patterns, and stocked with canopy beds, dark wood furniture, and cozy fireplaces.

    When to go:

    Door Country is at its most delicious in mid-July, when the famous local cherries are ripe for pickin’ and the requisite cherry margaritas are ready for drinkin’. But slices of pie are still being dished out in fall, and fish boil flames are still touching the sky during summer’s shoulder season. An early autumn visit also means occupancy rates (and prices) at area hotels will have begun to drop with the leaves, meaning you can enjoy water sports, hiking trails, and going back in time on this idyllic peninsula sans summertime crowds.

    Insider tip:

    Even if you’re stuffed to the gills after dining on fish boils, fried cheese curds, and half-pound pecan rolls from Grandma’s Swedish Bakery in Ellison Bay, you must get an ice cream cone from Wilson’s in Ephraim , but not only that, you must then get to the bottom of your dessert. Scooping up sweets for locals and visitors alike since 1906, this landmark drops a little surprise into each cone before your Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream and Door Country cherry topping is piled on top. Reaching this extra treat is all part of the local experience.

    What to READ:

    Death Stalks Door County (The Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries) by Patricia Skalka

    What to listen to:

    El Cumbanchero by Liberace

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  • Fort Wayne's The Landing, Indiana

    What's old is new again in this friendly Midwest town.

    Why it's wonderful:

    The Landing is a one-block neighborhood in the heart of Downtown Fort Wayne and one of the oldest commercial districts in Indiana, home to the city’s first hotel, post office, theater, and railway station, all built in the 19th century. Today, it’s the epicenter of a riverfront revitalization project incorporating public art, shops, a coffee roaster, brewery, and a half dozen new restaurants. There’s a young, new energy and plenty to eat and drink in what’s become Fort Wayne’s new food district. Start your day with a cup of Utopian Coffee , a local roaster dedicated to equity in the coffee supply chain, then choose between Asian, Mexican, or wood-fired pizza for lunch after getting HGTV-level design inspiration for your home at House to Home . Summer weekends are especially busy, with First Fridays live musical performances and regular pop-up vendors.

    Location: 41.081240, -85.140950

    Where to stay:

    The Bradley , designed in partnership with Vera Bradley, opened last summer, and the art and décor are as colorful and creative as the entrepreneurial designer’s quilted bags and paisley prints. This is Provenance Hotels’ first hotel in the Midwest, and rooftop bar Birdie’s offers a great birds-eye view of The Landing and downtown Fort Wayne paired with Midwestern favorites like deviled eggs, crispy mac n’ cheese, and pretzel hot dogs.

    When to go:

    Visit during summer and pair a canal boat tour or kayak trip with a walk around Promenade Park. The Landing is only a block away from the action-packed riverfront.

    Insider tip:

    You can walk the 5.5 mile Wabash & Erie Canal Towpath Trail that leads to The Landing in Downtown Fort Wayne. The asphalt trail follows the canal route where boats used to be pulled along.

    What to READ:

    A Girl in the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

    What to listen to:

    Foxtrot  by James and the Drifters

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  • Marquette, Michigan

    From sailing to skiing, get outdoors in this vibrant, remote, four-season climate—home to a university and where off-beat creativity thrives.

    Why it's wonderful:

    A trip to what Midwesterners call “the U.P.” (short for Upper Peninsula, divided from Lower Michigan by Mackinac Island and where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet) is a step into Ernest Hemingway’s beloved wild and rugged landscape, whether on a hike, mountain bike, Nordic-ski trails, or kayaking in Lake Superior. But fortunately, thanks to Northern Michigan University ’s college-cool culture, sweet coffee shops and cutting-edge chefs and microbrewers buffer the remoteness in a town of 20,000 residents where the nearest airport (Sawyer International Airport) has only been flying in passengers since 1999. 

    Nearby national, state, and county parks are true gems and natural wonders, from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to Isle Royale National Park , and Presque Isle Park . Cultural attractions range from touring Marquette Harbor Lighthouse , a cherry-red beacon that dates back to 1853, and its sibling, Marquette Maritime Museum .

    Location: 46.543911, -87.397552

    Where to stay:

    You won’t find a Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons and that’s precisely the point: Authenticity and individuality thrive here. Steer clear from cookie-cutter, mid-priced chains in favor of the 66-room Landmark Inn downtown, dating back to the 1930s and snug on the waterfront. Next door to NMU, the 39-room Superior Stay Hotel opened in 2020. Check into your own cabin at Rippling River Resort , along the Carp River and at the base of Marquette Mountain. There’s always Airbnb or VRBO–bonus if it’s on the water or near a cross-country ski area or park, of which there are many options.

    When to go:

    Opt for when Marquette’s weather is its most extreme—chilly winter (ever stepped into a snowglobe?) or hot summer (temps rarely soar higher than 70° Fahrenheit ). Spring can be damp and cool and, outside of early autumn’s colorful foliage, naked trees and dark days come fall. The Northern Lights is a huge draw in March, April, October, and November.

    Insider tip:

    Flights are limited, which every Yooper (term for locals) knows, with the only options to or from Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul (on Delta) or Chicago’s O’Hare (on American). Except for Chicago, consider using that last leg as a road trip for the full U.P. experience.

    What to WATCH:

    Brown Dog, by Jim Harrison

    What to listen to:

    The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot

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  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Classic breweries, an evolving cultural food scene, and creative local communities entice Milwaukee visitors with its down-to-earth Midwest charm.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Often overlooked for the iconic Chicago skyline, Milwaukee blends its bustling beer community with a cultural food and arts scene that showcases the eccentricity of local talent and diversity in the city. 

    In the historic Bronzeville neighborhood, grab a bite at Tostada by Maranta , the newest food truck run by the Black and Brown-owned Maranta Plant Shop , then shop down the street for clothing, art prints, handmade jewelry, and herbal body products at the Bronzeville Collective . At Zócalo , Milwaukee’s first and only food truck park, eat at any of the 10 small businesses including Mazorca Tacos , Ruby’s Bagels , and Modern Maki sushi-ramen. Opt for indoor dining at Black-owned businesses in the Sherman Phoenix , or hop on an official food tour with Milwaukee Food Tours

    If the foodie and shopping life isn’t for you, get creative at the Milwaukee Art Museum , make candles and drink cocktails at the new Glassnote Candle Bar , or head to The Space MKE for special events of live music, poetry, and other local artistry. Motorcycle aficionados can rejoice at the Harley Davidson Museum and history buffs can appreciate America’s Black Holocaust Museum, making a comeback in 2022. Another new addition is the new 3rd St. Market Hall which is bringing local food and fun games such as shuffleboard and top golf to Downtown. With new openings buzzing, Milwaukee is certainly a city to watch next year and beyond. And yes, it’s always possible to indulge in beer culture at Lakefront Brewery or dabble in distillery delights at Central Standard Crafthouse & Kitchen with a rooftop for extra ambiance that just launched in summer 2021.

    Location: 43.038902, -87.906471

    Where to stay:

    The accommodations are as creative yet laid back as the city itself. Boutique hotel lovers will love Dubbel Dutch , Milwaukee’s latest addition to the hotel scene. Dubbel Dutch marries history and modernity in this renovated 1898 double mansion with an English Renaissance flair. A luxury yet vibrantly artsy choice is Saint Kate Arts Hotel , or uncover Milwaukee’s German roots at the Schuster Mansion Bed & Breakfast . If you want to truly embrace your inner traveler— urban garden glamping , anyone?— Airbnb and VRBO options can be found in many of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods.

    When to go:

    Summertime, weekends in particular, is when Milwaukee comes alive with festivals and events. Concertgoers indulge in over 800 musical acts at Summerfest, while culture enthusiasts enjoy Black Arts Fest , Mexican Fiesta , German Fest , Asia Fest , and more. Farmer’s markets such as Shorewood Farmer’s Market and the new Deer District Market pop up throughout the city highlighting farmers, artisans, and more. For outdoor adventurers, choose from more than 50 trails such as the Hank Aaron State Trail or Oak Leaf Trail connecting biking and walking routes towards the Lakefront. But don’t forget to have a beach day at Bradford Beach on the Lakefront too!

    Insider tip:

    Going to a beer garden is a budget-friendly outdoor activity in the city. Order (or bring) a beer and head to Estabrook Beer Garden in Estabrook Park or South Shore Terrace Kitchen & Beer Garden by South Shore Beach for a relaxing day near Lake Michigan.

    What to WATCH:

    The Heartland , directed by Marquis Mays

    What to listen to:

    So(u)lange  by Von Alexander

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    JMKE Photography

  • Minneapolis, Minnesota

    This cool Midwestern capital is ready for the spotlight. Get funky, get outdoors, get creative, and get down to some serious fun in diverse Minneapolis.

    Why it's wonderful:

    A slew of recently developed offerings ushers in a new era for Minnesota’s largest metro, especially in its vaunted food and beverage space. On the riverfront, Minneapolis’ original neighborhood, Owamni by The Sioux Chef has opened to much fanfare as one of the few U.S. eateries solely dedicated to Indigenous cuisine. The Prospect Park neighborhood has bloomed with additions like O’Shaughnessy Distilling Co. , an inspiring whiskey operation headed by a former Jameson Master Distiller, and the Market at Malcolm Yards , a diverse food hall featuring multiple locally-owned eateries. Sooki & Mimi , the newest spot from James Beard Award winner Ann Kim, is a welcome addition to Uptown. Downtown, the Dayton’s Project aims to elevate local talent with its forthcoming Minnesota Maker’s Market. 

    Stalwart cultural institutions like the Guthrie Theater and the contemporary Walker Art Center , with the most extensive urban sculpture garden globally, remain beacons of this creative community, while the 50th anniversary of Twin Cities Pride is set to be the biggest LGBTQIA+ celebration yet.

    Location: 44.977753, -93.265015

    Where to stay:

    A milestone for Minneapolis accommodations is happening in 2022, with the debut of the city’s first-ever five-star property, the Four Seasons Hotel & Residences . This luxury experience is set to open in the summer. Another upscale offering is the four-star favorite Hewing Hotel , located in the North Loop, a.k.a. the hip, converted warehouse district; be sure to schedule some sauna time at this Nordic-inspired haunt. Plus, don’t miss the new-ish Rand Tower Hotel , an Art Deco dream complete with a rooftop restaurant and an approachable mid-level price point. Tons of Airbnb and VRBO rentals round out the Minneapolis overnight options, sure to welcome travelers with pets, families, and more. 

    When to go:

    Although summertime best shows off the City of Lakes’ abundant natural beauty, it’s unsurprisingly high tourism season so crowds can be a factor. Fall is another lovely time of year, as the leaf-peeping in and around Minnesota’s largest city offers an alternative to New England’s autumnal reign. Lower prices and a hardy Scandi spirit make winter an option as well, while spring awakens the metro with the return of America’s pastime (and rising temps). 

    Insider tip:

    Don’t be intimidated by a winter trip—Minnesotans embrace both hygge and outdoor recreation during the colder months. Think snowshoeing in a city park followed by spiked hot cocoa. Hotel prices are far lower in this quieter season, and special programming like festivals helps The Cities shine in the wintertime. 

    What to READ:

    The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

    What to listen to:

    Uptown by Prince

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  • Birmingham's Theater District, Alabama

    This mid-sized, Southern city is home to multiple, century-old, restored theaters––showcasing everything from nationally touring bands to classic films to America’s unique Jazz heritage.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Birmingham, Alabama, was founded as a steel town. Downtown retains a beautiful, gritty visual, in the original train tracks crisscrossing between restored brick warehouses, incredible Terracotta façade architecture, and historic churches . However, modern public and private efforts have also resulted in stunning, sleek hotels, an impressive food hall , a state-of-the-art baseball stadium, several craft breweries, and a linear, 19-acre greenspace. Railroad Park features 600 trees, waterscapes, walking paths, and a dining car and has won numerous national awards.

    One of Birmingham’s biggest draws is history, and there’s no better place to delve into the past than in the town’s Theater District. There were 27 theaters here at the turn of the century, all located in a five-block radius right in the center of downtown.

    Today, three major ones remain. The Alabama is the anchor, opened in 1927, with seating for roughly 3,000. It features ornate, gilded trappings, from heavy velvet curtains to the famous Wurlitzer organ. The massive, neon marquee outside is an emblem for the entire state, and the theater screens movies, as well as theater performances and live music.

    The adjacent Lyric Theater opened in 1914, and acts at this vaudeville house originally included The Marx Brothers, Mae West, and Milton Berle. It was also the only theater in the South that showed performances to both Black and white audiences, at the same time for the same price, during the era of Segregation. The Lyric fell into disrepair and neglect until 2013. After a painstaking restoration, largely privately funded, it reopened as a live act and music venue and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It joins the third major theater restoration downtown–The Carver Theater for the Performing Arts. 

    The Carver dates to 1935 and was originally opened to screen first-run movies to Black audiences. It remains dedicated to the story of African-Americans in the performing arts and is now home to The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. The Carver is a live performance space, as well as an educational center and a museum, hosting acclaimed performances by acts like the Magic City Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and Diana Krall.

    Location: 33.514801, -86.809128

    Where to stay:

    For a chic, affordable, Downtown experience, check into the Redmont Hotel, opened in 1925 and recently reimagined by Hilton’s Curio Collection. Mere steps from the Theater District and Railroad Park, this property features amenities like in-room spa treatments and the state’s highest rooftop bar. The Elyton , also in Downtown, is a step up in price point and panache, housed in one of the city’s famous terracotta-clad, classic buildings––the Empire. The 111 rooms and six suites feature bold pops of color against neutral palettes, and the fitness center, the 4,000-square-feet meeting space, and the rooftop lounge make The Elyton everything you’d expect from Autograph Collection’s group of luxury properties.

    When to go:

    Vermont gets a run for its money when it comes to fall foliage in Birmingham, where views from the top of Red Mountain showcase a dappled tapestry of orange, red, green, and yellow. The color change peaks in October and early November. Spring is another excellent season, with temperatures warm enough to swim by early May. May also showcases Do Dah Day––the city’s adorable dog festival, founded in 1979. It comes complete with a float-filled parade, pup costume contests, and proceeds that benefit local animal rescues.

    Insider tip:

    Birmingham has one of the largest concentrations of barbecue restaurants in America, several of which have been honored with James Beard Awards . Front runners include Jim ‘N Nick’s, Demetri’s BBQ, Dreamland BBQ, and the newer Rodney Scott’s , but dozens of delicious options abound.

    What to READ:

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    What to listen to:

    Stay High by Brittany Howard

    Visit Fodor's Birmingham Guide

    Guidebook

    Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

  • Cassadaga, Florida

    Psychic, spiritualist, or medium? Take your pick. You just might find answers to your pressing questions in this quirky town.

    Why it's wonderful:

    With 20+ months of pandemic fatigue, who isn’t a bit bleary-eyed? You’ve had time to ask yourself questions that you’re searching for answers to. In this upside-down world, you may be seeking help from places you wouldn’t normally go. Cassadaga could be it. After all, it’s the unofficial psychic capital of the world. If they don’t know stuff, who does? This tiny stretch of spirituality halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach has beckoned those seeking enlightenment since the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association —“The Camp”—was formed in 1894 by spiritualist George Colby. You’ll find mediums, psychics, and healers at the 57-acre camp.

    This is no ordinary town and it’s not just because of the things that let you know you’re not in Kansas anymore, like the street sign that tells you that you’re at the intersection of “Mediumship Way” and “Spiritualist Street.” In 1991, the Camp was designated a Historic District and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Know too that Cassadaga is a natural vortex (a point of concentrated psychic energy on the planet) and has smaller vortices like Seneca Park and the Fairy Trail. Seminars, historical tours, and spiritual teachings take place among the cobblestone streets and meditation gardens. There are Reiki healing circles and Sunday church services. Any day of the week you can get a reading—tarot, palm, or psychic—or opt for a lie-down at the Cassadaga Psychic Shop. Crystal healing beds impact your chakras, the energy centers of the body.

    The best first stop in Cassadaga is the Camp Bookstore , where you can browse books like The Medium’s Life or Becoming a Spiritualist, turn over crystals, and walk away with other feng shui goodies for your home and life. A wall full of literature about Cassadaga, and a small room with huge photo albums of paranormal evidence captured on film throughout the camp, invite visitors to linger awhile. This is also the place to sign up for various tours and events . For example, on Friday nights, take the After Dark—Find The Spirits Tour, where participants will join investigators to understand how spirits manifest all around us. Bring your camera, and better still, paranormal equipment.

    Location: 28.966830, -81.236830

    Where to stay:

    The only game in town is the Cassadaga Hotel . And yes, legend says it’s haunted. In 1926 the hotel’s original building burned down, leaving unsettled spirits to roam the new hallways and guest rooms. If you’re not feeling the Bates Motel vibe, five minutes away in Lake Helen are two distinct B&Bs, The Ann Stevens House and the Cabin-on-the-Lake .

    When to go:

    Central Florida in the middle of summer can be dreadfully hot. You might make your sojourn to Cassadaga any other time of year.

    Insider tip:

    As for where to eat, Sinatra’s Ristorante , is the only restaurant in town. It serves up Italian and American cuisine and is in the Cassadaga Hotel. There is a coffee bar adjacent to the restaurant. In Lake Helen, you can also find pizza and BBQ. If you want a little frivolity, see a play or musical at Lake Helen’s Shoestring Theatre .

    What to READ:

    Cassadaga: The South’s Oldest Spiritualist Community

    What to listen to:

    Casa Dega by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

    Visit Fodor's Florida Guide

    Guidebook

    Willy Volk [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]/Flickr

  • The Crystal Coast, North Carolina

    You’ve heard of the Outer Banks—the Crystal Coast is its best-kept secret.

    Why it's wonderful:

    The Southern Outer Banks (SOBX) are distinct from the rest of North Carolina’s barrier-reef Outer Banks Islands in that its southernmost island beaches are east-west oriented and face south, allowing for both killer sunrises and sets. Like its cohorts, the “Crystal Coast” of the Southern Outer Banks offers all the amenities of its more famous northern neighbors: the eponymous pristine beaches and myriad ocean sports; tidelands to hike, bike, and explore; lighthouses to climb, museums to peruse, and glorious, sumptuous seafood to eat. But the Crystal Coast isn’t just farther south–the islands are home to distinct and unique characteristics that make a visit worth the trek. 

    For one, the wild herds of feral horses on Shackleford Banks frolic on the shoreline of the Crystal Coast–a breathtaking experience for onlookers young and old. If nature’s wonder doesn’t satisfy you, explore the history of former fishing-village Portsmouth, a ghost town of former homes and buildings established in the 1750s and mostly abandoned by the 1930s. If you still aren’t satiated, hit up the annual North Carolina Seafood Festival in October, complete with oyster shucking contests, musical performances, and of course, all the freshest fruit de mer you can crack open. Don’t skip the shrimpburgers. 

    Location: 34.693017, -76.537687

    Where to stay:

    Many families opting for beach vacations on the Crystal Coast set about renting a cottage or house via abundant independent realtors or Airbnb offerings. But don’t overlook the hospitality of more traditional accommodations–there are plenty of bed and breakfasts, inns, and motel and hotel options for every traveler’s need. A few of our favorites? The beachy elegance at Beaufort Inn North Carolina is your home base for an upscale boutique hotel experience–beautifully modern decor and award-winning 34° North restaurant and bar will satisfy all your foodie cravings. A classic Southern charm fix is to be had in the Victorian home Pecan Tree Inn Bed and Breakfast . The free bicycle rental really comes in handy, and the gardens and the breakfast deserve their designations as two of the best perks of the property. 

    When to go:

    Memorial Day to Labor Day are always busy for the beach, but there are notable festivals during shoulder season: the Newport Pig Cooking Contest in March, Beaufort Music Festival in May, and North Carolina Seafood Festival in October. Off-season is extremely laid-back but no less beautiful, just cooler in temperatures. 

    Insider tip:

    The Crystal Coast may seem sleepy, but don’t sleep on the nightlife: family-friendly brewpubs like Crystal Coast Brewing Co. , posh cocktails and live music at Arendell Room , “Hoot Nites” and jam sessions at The Backstreet Pub , and beachy dives like the Tackle Box Tavern

    What to READ:

    Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

    What to listen to:

    Hit ‘Em up Style by the Carolina Chocolate Drops

    Visit Fodor's North Carolina Coast Guide

    Guidebook

    Stephen B. Goodwin/Shutterstock

  • The Eastern Shore, Maryland

    Explore the storied past of Maryland’s charming shoreline.

    Why it's wonderful:

    A trip to Eastern Shore gives visitors the opportunity to travel between two worlds: the past and the present. 2022 marks the 200th Anniversary of Eastern Shore-born Abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s birth. There’s never been a better time to head to the region and explore the vast landscapes and waterways of Maryland’s Choptank River region while experiencing the stories and places that marked Tubman’s early life. 

    Travelers wanting to explore Tubman’s story should plan a road trip along the Tubman Byway –a scenic drive that stretches from Maryland to Delaware. The Byway has over 30 storied landmarks transporting visitors back in time through the many places Tubman journeyed while leading countless enslaved people to freedom. Experience Tuckahoe Neck Meeting House, where Quakers helped sustain part of the Underground Railroad; Stewart’s Canal, a hand-dug 7-mile canal built by free and enslaved Black people; and a  roadside garden built in Harriet Tubman’s honor.

    When you’re not exploring history in Eastern Shore, tap into the magic of the waterscapes that scallop the bay’s edge. On Tilghman, a charming fisherman’s island, you can pick fresh seafood straight from the sand; on Assateague, beautiful horses roam free; and there are dozens of beaches and parks to choose from along the 3,000-plus miles of shoreline. 

    Location: 39.137710, -76.543200

    Where to stay:

    If you’re looking for a charming local stay, don’t miss the Cambridge House Bed and Breakfast , an 1840s sea captain manor located within walking distance of many shops and restaurants. For a comfortable hotel stay with a bit of luxury, the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort overlooking the heart of Cambridge’s marina offers an infinity pool, riverside hot tub, full-service spa, and an 18-hole golf course. And the area is home to many vacation homes with can’t-miss amenities like riverfront patios, private beach access, and plenty of outdoor green spaces.

    When to go:

    Summertime along the Eastern Shore is moderately hot, and many seafood favorites are in season, making it one of the best times of year to visit. For fall foliage lovers, the abundance of state parks and nature spaces makes getting outdoors a pleasurable experience. The Rock Hall Fall Fest brings the region together to celebrate the Chesapeake Bay area community with live music and lots of oysters. 

    Insider tip:

    Because of its history and small-town charm, the Eastern Shore is a haven for antique shopping. In Queenstown, the Chesapeake Antique Center features dreamy, timeless pieces (like a 17th-century marble fireplace) that will make your trip to the shore unforgettable. 

    What to WATCH:

    Harriet , s tarring Cynthia Erivo  

    What to listen to:

    Space Song  by Beach House

    Visit Fodor's Eastern Shore Guide

    Guidebook

    Ted Eytan [CC BY-SA 2.0]/Flickr

  • Greenville, South Carolina

    The South has a new game in town, and even its dedication to good-mannered hospitality can’t stop it from stealing the show from other, more established tourist destinations.

    Why it's wonderful:

    It’s not just the food, though admittedly, it is a big part of Greenville’s appeal and one that deserves recognition. For it’s in the heart of this South Carolina city, you’ll find perfect biscuits ( Tupelo Honey ), venison ravioli with a view ( Up on the Roof ), and a steamed bagel sandwich ( Sully’s Steamers —just trust). But even the sparest audit of the dining scene would be remiss without mentioning CAMP and Bobby’s BBQ . The latter is a stone’s throw from the center of the city, and a perfect opportunity to check out the area’s brand new high ropes course. It’s recommended that Flying Rabbit Adventure course completion be rewarded with a beer at ‘90s-themed Double Stamp Brewery before heading back to downtown Greenville.

    Back in the beating heart of the remarkably clean city is exquisite coffee from Methodical , and during spring and summer, a greenmarket tempting with treats like the best kouign-amann you’ve ever tasted from Bossy Bakers . If you happen to be in town during Alchemy Comedy’s Improv nights , consider yourself lucky. 

    Baseball fans should not miss the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum . The museum unsurprisingly pushes the White Sox player’s innocence in the 1919 World Series scandal, but regardless of your take, it’s a good way to spend an hour. If America’s Favorite Pasttime doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps a 90-minute full-body massage at River Falls Spa , housed in the old courthouse will? 

    Location: 34.850750, -82.398956

    Where to stay:

    AC Marriott is both as hip (the property features 100 works from more than 30 local artists, each with a QR code so you can scan and learn more about the artist) and as unfussy (rooms tend to be bare bones and basic) as you’ve come to expect from this brand’s understated style. For a more refined stay and old Southern charm, choose The Westin Poinsett , where many rooms have been recently renovated.

    When to go:

    The height of summer may not be everyone’s glass of sweet tea, but spring and fall are both lovely, and while winters here are mild compared to the Northeast or Midwest, it might not be quite as much fun to bar hop in February as opposed to, say, September.

    Insider tip:

    Fall for Greenville takes place every October, and it’s a superb time to eat and drink to your heart’s content, but come for Artisphere (always Mother’s Day weekend in May) and not only will you eat well, but you may also go home with some new art—the event brings in some 250 artists, many of whom set up pop-up galleries on Main Street.

    What to WATCH:

    Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella

    What to listen to:

    Feel the Fire by Peobo Bryson

    Visit Fodor's Greenville Guide

    Guidebook

    Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock

  • The Lowcountry , South Carolina

    The South Carolina coastline and islands are home to the Gullah people who have worked to preserve their culture for decades.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Beaufort, Hilton Head, St. Helena’s, and Daufuskie Island show another side of South Carolina—one rich with greenery from the looming Spanish oak trees to the marshlands that lead out into the Atlantic Ocean. It is also here where the Gullah/Geechee community was born. In the aftermath of slavery, formerly enslaved people cultivated the unwanted land to grow produce and rejuvenate it.

    Today, it is known as a popular summer destination for its beaches and beautiful coastline where the descendants of the Gullah people still reside. Preserving their culture and building platforms to teach those outside this unique corridor about the local culture, Gullah locals share their rich history via tours like the Gullah Grab in St. Helena’s where you can enjoy some local soul food while looking at their collection of historic photos and stories that speak on the Gullah heritage. You also have the restored Mitchellville Freedom Park on Hilton Head where visitors can see the remnants of the town created by people who were formerly enslaved and who gave birth to the Gullah community.

    Location: 32.689970, -80.055910

    Where to stay:

    Anchorage 1770 Inn , located in Beaufort, is a colonial-style mansion with an intimate feel. For those who want a bit more amenities and want to stay closer to the beach, the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort offers perfect views and easy access to the beach along with requisite water activities.

    When to go:

    Late spring and early summer are the best times to go explore the islands and the beach. There are also a lot of outdoor restaurants in the area for a seafood boil.

    Insider tip:

    Rent a car to fully experience this region. Public transportation isn’t available outside of major cities and most of the attractions are spread out. Be prepared for humidity if traveling during the summer.

    What to READ:

    High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America , on Netflix

    What to listen to:

    Good Time  by Ranky Tanky

    Visit Fodor's Low Country Guide

    Guidebook

    Keith Briley Photography/Shutterstock

  • Memphis' South Main Arts District, Tennessee

    Stitching the past and the present together to create a neighborhood with its finger firmly on the pulse.

    Why it's wonderful:

    It’s no secret that Memphis is on the up, but to truly witness the city’s renaissance you need to head straight to its South Main Historic Arts District. Just a short stroll from the neon symphony of Beale Street, this one-square-mile neighborhood has risen from the ashes, transforming once derelict warehouses into locally-owned boutiques, cool coffee spots, and a new batch of very stylish hotel rooms.

    Arrive hungry, as this is the place to get your fix of Memphis’ legendary cuisine. Head to Gus’s Fried Chicken to discover why its boastings of being world-famous checks out, indulge in lip-smacking ribs at Central BBQ , or head to Rizzo’s , where chef Michael Patrick has elevated grandma’s home cooking to fine-dining standards.

    This being Memphis, the district is also infused with history, from the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, now immortalized as the must-visit National Civil Rights Museum , to the outrageously photogenic Arcade Restaurant , a mid-century gem of a diner once favored by that swivel-hipped rockabilly himself, Mr. Elvis Presley.

    Location: 35.134720, -90.057610

    Where to stay:

    Spearheading South Main Historic Arts District’s evolution has been the opening of The Central Station Memphis in a restored Amtrak station. Skillfully tapping into the local music scene, you’ll find DJs spinning tunes in the lobby and homegrown bands performing out on the railway platform—although the lonesome whistle of the passing freight trains really provides the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack to any stay here.  

    Also adding some new riffs to the area is the recent addition of the Arrive Memphis . This former art school is now a boutique hotel that’s deeply rooted in its locale, housing a bakery and shuffleboard den that has become a hit with visitors and locals alike.  

    When to go:

    Spring and fall offer pleasant climes and plenty of festivities. In May, Memphis hosts a world-famous BBQ competition alongside jazz and blues festivals, while the River Arts Fest in October shines a spotlight on the Bluff City’s creative talent.  

    Insider tip:

    On the last Friday of each month, the sidewalks spring to life with music and dance, as the neighborhood plays host to Trolley Night, Memphis’ longest-running street festival. It’s best experienced by grabbing a drink and ducking into the 50-plus participating businesses as they take your fancy. 

    What to WATCH:

    Mystery Train, written and directed by Jim Jarmusch

    What to listen to:

    Guji Freestyle  by Bartholomew Jones

    Visit Fodor's Memphis Guide

    Guidebook

    jdpphoto/Shutterstock

  • Orlando's Downtown, Florida

    Bypass the theme parks for the real Orlando, where multi-cultural downtown neighborhoods and a surprisingly awesome food scene await.

    Why it's wonderful:

    For all the visitors who descend on Orlando from around the world to visit the house of a certain mouse, most regrettably never make it roughly 16 miles northeast of Disney (and the assorted other theme parks) to Downtown Orlando itself. Here, brick streets lined with historic bungalows and lakeside parks await in stylish neighborhoods, and buzzing local communities promise more multi-culti fun than anything over at Epcot.

    The Mills50 district, on the northern edge of Downtown Orlando and formerly known as Orlando’s Little Vietnam, is a current favorite with foodies for its pan-Asian fusion fare and with the Instagram set for its art. It’s full of street murals, old-school Asian grocers, tattoo parlors, and breweries (Ten10 Brewing Company is a great one), and interesting restaurants and bars, too, including the excellent izakaya-style Tori Tori (owned by Sean “Sonny” Nguyen, whose parents immigrated from Vietnam) and Kabooki Sushi, helmed by James Beard-nominated Laos-born chef, Henry Moso. Among the many authentic Vietnamese restaurants to try in Mills50 is Z Asian Vietnamese Kitchen, known for its excellent pho, which is simmered between 10 to 12 hours to richly layered effect (the restaurant will even pack you a soup kit to go to prepare at home in your Instant Pot).

    About a mile south, in the heart of Downtown Orlando’s Thornton Park neighborhood, the setting is more pedestrian-friendly. You can stroll from the boutique and restaurant-lined Washington Street a few blocks to Lake Eola Park, which hosts a farmer’s market every Sunday (with a beer and wine garden), and proudly displays its kitsch in the form of giant swan-shaped pedal boats you can take out onto the water for a spin.

    Winter Park is a tonier enclave about six miles north, with some excellent restaurants (don’t miss Italian-inspired Prato and the gastro-pub Ravenous Pig, with its new beer garden) and a European-meets-U.S. main street vibe along upscale Park Avenue.

    Open your mind to another side of Orlando in any of these spots, and you’ll be met with many surprises.

    Location: 28.554260, -81.364780

    Where to stay:

    Downtown Orlando has a range of excellent hotels in locations where you don’t need a car to get around. New in 2021, the AC Hotel Orlando Downtown is walking distance to nightlife, restaurants, and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and has the city’s best rooftop bar, the AC Sky Bar . It’s about 10-minutes (two miles) by rideshare to Mills50, too.

    In Winter Park, right near Park Avenue, boutique property The Alfond Inn is filled with incredible artwork and has a courtyard that flickers with fire pits come nightfall (it’s 3.5 miles or a 13-minute drive from Mills50).

    When to go:

    Summertime temperatures paired with Florida’s famous humidity can be oppressive, but by October or November things are far more pleasant—and they usually stay that way into May.

    Insider tip:

    For a beloved dive bar in the Mills50 district, hit Will’s Pub for microbrews, indie tunes, and rounds of pool.

    What to READ:

    Tasty Chomps, Ricky Li’s food blog

    What to listen to:

    Dry Eyes by The Sh-Booms

    Visit Fodor's Orlando Guide

    Guidebook

    Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 20+/Alamy

  • Asbury Park, New Jersey

    Asbury Park has an unparalleled Jersey Shore energy thanks to its robust musical background and quirky events.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Asbury Park will erase your preconceived notions about the Jersey Shore, whether they’re about some old beach and fast-food image or the high-stakes drama from MTV’s reality show, Jersey Shore.

    This lively and walkable seaside town is the Jersey Shore’s de facto center for artistic, diverse scenes. After all, Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen kicked off their musical endeavors at The Stone Pony . Its outdoor venue nearby the beach, the Summer Stage , comes alive each year with many exciting concerts. Music aficionados can visit other venues too, such as The Saint (small, unpretentious shows), and the Wonder Bar (complete with a dog-oriented Yappy Hour). Keep attending the city’s events and you might just catch Springsteen on one of his random appearances. Bands and vendors come together three times a year at the Punk Rock Flea Market . Springwood Avenue has just one venue left, the Turf Club , where community members are reclaiming the neighborhood’s rich history of Black music.

    Asbury Park, its boardwalk coated with creative, colorful murals thanks to the Wooden Walls Project , has a thriving queer community with many LGBTQIA+-owned businesses. Hit the Paradise nightclub to catch drag shows. If you’d rather chill at the water, nearby Convention Hall at 5 th Avenue is a lively gay beach.

    When you need a break from the sun, peruse the specialty shops, such as the antiquities-filled Rebel Supply Co. or Patriae , which sells Central and Eastern European-sourced textiles. Grab Jerseyan pork rolls at the retro Frank’s Deli or exquisite Neapolitan pizza slices at Talula’s for shopping fuel.

    Location: 40.220379, -74.011810

    Where to stay:

    The Asbury Ocean Club , a five-star hotel by the sea that recently opened in 2019, will satisfy all your luxurious cravings with its garden and pool deck, well-lit and high-ceilinged rooms, and spa.

    A more affordable stay is the hundred-year-old Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel . Feel classy here thanks to the hotel’s Beaux-Arts architecture, Tiki bar, and pool.

    When to go:

    Unlike other Jersey Shore towns, Asbury Park is still alive in the fall after the Labor Day weekend, even without the summer crowds. Sea.Hear.Now , held every September, is a thrilling festival full of surf competitions and music. In October, pretend to be a zombie in the Zombie Walk . If you like crowds, heat, and a beach though, visit in the summertime.

    Insider tip:

    Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you’ll need a  beach pass to access the beach. Go to the Beach Office or download the Viply mobile app to buy one.

    What to WATCH:

    The Wrestler , directed by Darren Aronofsky

    What to listen to:

    It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City  by Bruce Springsteen

    Visit Fodor's Jersey Shore Guide

    Guidebook

    James Kirkikis/Shutterstock

  • Bar Harbor, Maine

    Get your hike on, then kick back, relax, and soak up the crisp air of this soul-nourishing destination.

    Why it's wonderful:

    There are no chain restaurants in Bar Harbor, one of Maine’s most quaint villages. Everything’s local. Everything’s fresh. From a freshly baked bear claw from A Slice of Eden to a lobster grilled cheese panini from The Travelin Lobster , it’s easy to eat well here. Bonus: Good eats typically come with outstanding views.

    A visit to the seaside town, however, is not just about the most amazing blueberry ice cream you’ve ever tasted from Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream but also about getting back to nature. The bonus or basis for visiting this region, depending on your interest, is Acadia National Park , dubbed the Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast. A drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain reveals the kind of views that make it feel like you’re truly standing on top of the world. 

    Back in town, historic buildings—some dating back to 1796, the time of the town’s original founding—offer a rare opportunity to shop for trinkets and beachtown souvenirs while stopping to fuel with exquisite chocolate from Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium .

    The lone brewery will make beer lovers happy, while museum-goers can stop by the Abbe Museum for a deep dive into the Native peoples in Maine, the Wabanaki Nations, which still call the area home.

    Location: 44.387611, -68.204292

    Where to stay:

    Bar Harbor Inn & Spa , which has several restaurants on-site as well as a tranquil spa, sits right on Frenchman Bay, and the views are seriously mesmerizing. A hidden-away crown jewel of a hotel is The Bayview . Each of the boutique hotel’s 26 rooms faces the ocean, and the property’s location between Acadia’s entrance and downtown Bar Harbor further adds to its appeal. 

    When to go:

    Bar Harbor fills up during the summer, and then most of the shops shut down during the winter. If you shoot for mid-fall you’ll catch not only most of the shops and restaurants, but spectacular autumn foliage, all with fewer crowds. Prices will start to slide as shoulder season begins. You might even find some deep discounts on merchandise and apparel before shops close for the off-season. 

    Insider tip:

    If you want the true nature experience, there are several campsites (both for RV and tents) located right on the water. It’s tricky to get a spot during the summer months, but a late May or early October booking is far easier, and nobody will be closer to the water than you.

    What to READ:

    The Cider House Rules by John Irving

    What to listen to:

    Coast of Main e by Kathleen Regan

    Visit Fodor's Bar Harbor Guide

    Guidebook

    birdymeo/Shutterstock

  • Boston's North End, Massachusetts

    Older than the United States, Boston's immigrant gateway fuses past and present through gastronomy, culture, and—of course—cannolis.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Centuries-old cobblestone streets sporadically snake through a labyrinth of grocery stores, cafes, and apartments, where balconies still double as underwear dryers. You might hear a wrinkled man sighing an exasperated “Che cavolo!” while losing in bocce, or catch the neighborhood clerk gossiping in her thick Abruzzese accent while ringing up groceries. No, this isn’t some remote Italian village tucked away in the Mediterranean. But it might as well be.

    Boston’s North End is the oldest neighborhood in the city, established during the colonization of the 1630s. The Freedom Trail meanders through the metropolis, connecting 16 historically significant sites, including the North End’s Colonial-era Copp’s Hill Burying Ground , one of America’s oldest cemeteries, and The Skinny House , Boston’s uncontested narrowest house at just over 10.4 feet wide.

    Though Boston has exploded with innovation and forward-thinking ideas over the last few decades, the North End has preserved its old-world flavor. And the Italian community—many of whom settled here after escaping deplorable conditions in1860s Italy—is much to thank for that.

    With over 100 Italian restaurants in just a quarter-mile vicinity, the North End is a gourmand’s fantasy. Tourists won’t find chain stores or restaurants in the neighborhood; instead, dozens of bakeries, butchers, and produce stores dot the streets, luring in customers with their whiffs alone. Try Bricco or Prezza for upscale Italian, Trattoria il Panino or Assaggio for a more traditional meal, and Mare Oyster Bar for organic seafood, with a year-round covered outdoor patio. Conclude any outing with a cannoli from either Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry , both on Hannover Street—and both in friendly competition for the past century (but, ahem, Modern takes the Limoncello cake).

    Location: 42.362170, -71.055850

    Where to stay:

    A genuine Italian penzione (boarding house), Bricco Suites , comprised of furnished studios and suites, is the North End’s only accommodation. However, The Boston Harbor Hotel , a five-star property embodying timeless elegance, is just a four-minute stroll from the action. More contemporary options in nearby Beacon Hill include The Liberty Hotel —a refurbished former prison turned upscale Luxury Collection property—and The Whitney Hotel, a refined redbrick refuge, cusping Charles Street.

    When to go:

    Summertime tends to be swarming with tourists and, surprisingly, can be a scorcher (but nothing a double-scoop gelato can’t cure, right?). July and August are awash with festivals and processions, including Saint Anthony’s Feast , dubbed “The Feast of all Feasts” by National Geographic. Mild autumn weather is optimal for touring around on foot, plus New England’s foliage provides a striking backdrop. The “slow season,” January through March, is the most economical for weekend hotel deals and watching the occasional Nor’easter drama unfold.

    Insider tip:

    Find the bespoke “Bricco Alley” sign next to Bricco Restaurant. Follow this path—and the alluring aromas—to Bricco Panetteria , an artisan bakery making fresh daily loaves for a plethora of the neighborhood’s Italian restaurants. Bring some cash for takeaway bread, and come early to try Boston’s most scrumptious muffins.

    What to READ:

    The Boston Italians: A Story of Pride, Perseverance, and Paesani, From the Years of the Great Immigration to the Present Day by Steve Puelo

    What to listen to:

    Just What I Needed by The Cars

    Visit Fodor's Boston Guide

    Guidebook

    Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/Shutterstock

  • City Island, The Bronx, New York

    Welcome to mini Cape Cod on the Long Island Sound.

    Why it's wonderful:

    The name City Island is as generic as it comes, but only in New York would a nothing-sounding place actually be a little gem of surprise. This small-town vacationland, part of the Pelham Islands, off the coast of the Bronx (sounds so fancy, right?), is a thriving community of locals who are commuters to “the city” as much as those who don’t get off all that often. It’s also synonymous with boats. Trust, you’ll see nautical themes everywhere here—for good reason. There’s even a  City Island Nautical Museum , as this place is basically a 1.5 mile-long marina with yacht clubs and fried seafood around every turn. Repeatedly referred to as the Cape Cod of New York, City Island does possess that classic New England summer feel: Ray-Bans, oysters, red-check tablecloths, and yachts—but all said with the dropped R’s of a Bronx drawl. 

    So play skipper on a sailboat in the morning, hit up Sammy’s Fishbox or Johnny’s Reef after, then stroll down City Island Avenue gawking at the gorgeous Victorians (like Samuel Pell’s House ), with a requisite stop to Lickity Split Ice Cream , and roll into the Harlem Yacht Club for cocktails, then finish with Buds at The Snug . City Island is both a place that feels instantly familiar and a bit of a hazy dream. It’s both very New York and yet a complete anomaly. That’s why here, it’s always a timeless destination.

    Location: 40.847250, -73.786490

    Where to stay:

    There isn’t any hotel or B&B on the actual island, nor any of note in the surrounding neighborhoods, so sorry, looks like you’ll have to head to Manhattan! Quelle dommage. The recently opened Henn na Hotel New York , the Japanese robot hotel -turned-urban sanctuary,  is centrally located in Midtown while also a stylish well-received accommodation at a fair price. When the Aman New York finally opens early next year in the Crown Building, its Fifth Avenue address is a perfect jumping-off point to grab the 6 train uptown (though it may be hard to peel away from the Aman’s luxury offerings).

    When to go:

    There isn’t a time to not go to City Island. Sailing to fresh daily catches to seaport marinas—that’s what New Yorkers go crazy for in City Island. So head here when it’s at full-clip in summer, though hot tip: September has fewer crowds and the whole season’s offerings.

    Insider tip:

    There are no public beaches in City Island. Most streets have gated entrances reserved for residents, but there’s a way to access the beach at Cross Street. Otherwise, try the sandy shores of the Morris Yacht Club & Marina.

    What to WATCH:

    City Island , directed by Raymond de Felitta

    What to listen to:

    Cuando Te Vea by Tito Puente

    Visit Fodor's Guide to The Bronx

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    Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock

  • Damariscotta Pumpkinfest, Maine

    Step into another world where pumpkins grow over a thousand pounds, are raced down a river, and used as canvases for infamous local artists.

    Why it's wonderful:

    If you’re looking for a quintessential fall experience where whimsy, humor, and art collide, Pumpkinfest in Damariscotta, Maine, has it all. Started in 2007, when locals raced giant pumpkins down the Damariscotta River, the festival has ballooned to include over 11 days of activities that promote horticulture, art, and the finely honed craft of having a good time. 

    From the great weigh-in (where pumpkins weigh well over 1,000 lbs) to the pumpkin drop (where the season’s bounty is dropped from a 150-foot crane into a pool of bouncing balls) to the Great Pumpkin Parade (where unicyclists, bagpipers, and rock bands parade down the main drag) to the time-honored tradition of pumpkin racing (motorized or non!), there’s an event and activity for everyone.  

    But don’t come for the festivities alone. Take a few days to explore mid-coast Maine, a hidden gem just an hour north of Portland. The bucolic region has hundreds of miles of coastline, lighthouses, nature trails, art and culture events, and a rising food scene made possible by the local community and the many artists, writers, and musicians who come from across the country to reside in this New England arcadia. 

    Location: 44.032820, -69.518920

    Where to stay:

    Damariscotta hotels are limited but being close to Main Street means that you don’t have to worry about parking. Options include the long-standing neighborhood staple the Newcastle Inn  (a B&B), a cozy apartment in the heart of the historic village or even, stay on a  boat and breakfast (the modern adaptation of a B&B) right in the river. For a more luxury experience head to Portland, Camden, or snag one of the newly built cabins in Freedom’s the Lost Kitchen (book dinner, too, but you’ll need to do so very far in advance).  

    Airbnbs and VRBOs can be found everywhere, but book in advance. This town of 2,000 people has a healthy supply of rental locations but many book up a month or two before the event. 

    When to go:

    October. In 2022, the main festivities for Pumpkinfest occur October 8-10, with several events also happening from October 1-7. Attendees can revel in the Instagram-worthy foliage and festive weather. 

    Insider tip:

    Have dinner at the Shuck Station , coffees at the Barn Door Baking Company and stop by Riverside Butchers . Visit Wildings store on Main Street to get inspired by a fashion-forward horticulturally-inclined life. And, if local sailing legend JaJa Martin is in the water, bet on her to win the big prize in the pumpkin boat races. 

    What to READ:

    Misery by Stephen King

    What to listen to:

    Pumpkin by Mount Eerie

    Visit Fodor's Maine Guide

    Guidebook

    Kate Sfeir/Shutterstock

  • The Great Wright Road Trip, New York & Pennsylvania

    Pack a weekend full of nine architectural marvels by Frank Lloyd Wright on a winding country road trip.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Of the more than 1,000 buildings designed by Wright in the United States, many are open to the public. In Western New York and Pennsylvania, there are nine Wright sites within a short distance of each other. A total of four hours and 15 minutes (about 275 miles) takes travelers from one grouping of sites to the next, and the trip can be done in as little as two days or at a more leisurely pace. Several local tourism boards in the neighboring states have designed The Great Wright Road Trip to help visitors explore these iconic buildings. 

    Starting at the Laurel Highlands near Pittsburgh, visit Kentuck Knob , Polymath Park , and the crown jewel of Wright’s career, Fallingwater (cantilevered over a waterfall). Wright was known for his organic architecture that melds design and nature, and each of the six homes in this area reflects that. Four are built by Wright himself, and two by his apprentice, Peter Berndtson. While at Polymath Park travelers can dine in a treehouse at Treetops

    Departing the Laurel Highlands, the road trip turns north towards the Great Lakes. In Erie, Pennsylvania, the tour stops at Wright’s San Francisco office, which was relocated to the Hagen Historical Society . Stop for lunch at Underdog BBQ of Discovery Channel fame. 

    In New York, explore Wright’s Filling Station at the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum, then venture over to Blue Sky Mausoleum , the Fontana Rowing Boathouse , and two homes owned by the Martin family— The Martin House and their summer home, Graycliff . Check out a host of food and beverage options along Buffalo’s Ale Trail — it’s a great region for craft beer and quality brewery fare like giant pub pretzels with homemade beer cheese or, of course, the classic Buffalo wing (invented here in Nickel City).

    Alternatively, this trip can be reversed to start in Buffalo.

    Where to stay:

    In Pennsylvania, travelers can stay in a Wright home at Polymath Park , though be sure to book your stay far in advance. For options at varied price points, check out the vacation homes at Ohiopyle Vacation Rentals . Upon arrival in New York, Parkside House is a lovely, affordable bed and breakfast just blocks from two Wright sites. Stay at Hotel at The Lafayette for an added architectural bonus.

    When to go:

    While white-capped mountains are lovely, snowfall is significant along this route, so plan a winter trip with caution. Spring is verdant, summers are mild, and the fall leaves are absolute showstoppers. 

    Insider tip:

    Fallingwater isn’t the only stunning water feature along this route, and there are several great spots to enhance your road trip experience. In the Laurel Highlands, Ohiopyle offers whitewater rafting for all skill levels. Erie features Presque Isle State Park , a breathtaking peninsula into Lake Erie, and Niagara Falls is just a short drive from the New York Wright sites. 

    What to READ:

    Frank Lloyd Wright by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer

    What to listen to:

    So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright by Simon and Garfunkel

    Visit Fodor's New York State Guide

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    Timothy Nessam [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]/ Flickr

  • Hobart, The Catskills, New York

    This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town in upstate New York is a paradise for bibliophiles.

    Why it's wonderful:

    If you love books, look no further than the Hobart Book Village, a small town tucked away in New York’s Northern Catskills. About three hours driving from NYC, Hobart is notably home to over 25 independent booksellers and over eight independent bookstores all within a few-minute walking distance of each other. Liberty Rock is the biggest bookstore in town and where you’ll find the largest selection of titles, but if you’re looking for something more unique then check out Adams’ Antiquarian Books , which has antique books dating back as far as the 1600s. According to the town’s website , the idea for a book village first started in Wales back in the 1960s when entrepreneur Richard Booth bought up a bunch of buildings and transformed them into bookstores. While there are picturesque book villages around the globe, from Japan to France, Hobart is one of the few in the United States.

    Location: 42.371500, -74.670910

    Where to stay:

    Couple Melissa and Oliver Pycroft moved from London in 2014 and sought to open a hotel-meets-British gastropub that combines the essence of New York’s Catskills with European traditions. The result is Bull & Garland , which offers charming white-washed rooms with wood furnishings and minimalist decor. 

    Being a small town, there aren’t many options for dining or accommodations in Hobart, so a stay at Bull & Garland puts you in one of the best hotels in town and within steps of the best food. What makes a stay at Bull & Garland extra special is how it is a community hangout year-round. Whether it’s the fireside dining and cocktails in the winter or the outdoor beer garden in the summer, Bull & Garland is as much an experience as it is a stay. 

    When to go:

    Like most of upstate New York, the best time to visit is during the fall when the entire region transforms into a kaleidoscope of autumnal colors. Plan your visit to Hobart during September, when the town hosts its annual Festival of Women Writers

    Insider tip:

    Bull & Garland only has five suites available, so book your stay well in advance.  

    What to WATCH:

    The Booksellers, directed by D.W. Young 

    What to listen to:

    Wrapped up in Books by Belle and Sebastian

    Visit Fodor's Catskills Guide

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    Torkil Stavdal

  • New Hope, Pennsylvania

    A town brimming with East coast charm and just the right amount of eccentricity, New Hope is a picturesque retreat.

    Why it's wonderful:

    This quirky, cozy town, just an hour outside of Philadelphia, makes the perfect weekend getaway or day trip if you happen to find yourself in the Bucks County area. Brick-paved streets and ivy-covered buildings make a stroll in New Hope feel like Diagon Alley meets a Nancy Meyers film. Once a ‘50s gay travel hub turned artist’s colony, New Hope embraces its rich past, hosting an annual May Pridefest , and boasting innumerable galleries and antique shops. Surrounded by lush forest and sitting directly on the Delaware River, outdoorsy types can embrace this destination, too. 

    Farley’s Bookstore is a favorite for both reads old and new, and be sure to step back in time at Love Saves the Day , a funky lil’ vintage shop teeming with collector’s items and fun retro memorabilia. There are amazing eats all over town, but we recommend popping over to Nektar wine bar for an intimate dinner, with its incredible patio and beautiful location right on a tranquil spot of the river. 

    Location: 40.377560, -74.960600

    Where to stay:

    Keep the warm ‘n fuzzy vibes going at The Carriage House of New Hope , a three-room B&B style option with fireplaces and original stone walls, but with modern amenities like wi-fi and Netflix. We also love the modern and boutique feel at the Logan Inn which just opened in July. The property is known for its craft cocktails, delicious bites, and funky touches, like an on-site movie theater. 

    When to go:

    Between fall foliage, Halloween celebrations, and its haunted past , autumn in New Hope is a must. (Though warm weather and the town’s Pride festivities make summer a close second.)

    Insider tip:

    If you think this sleepy town goes to bed when the sun goes down, think again. Town staples like Dubliner on the Delaware and Havana know how to get rowdy.

    What to READ:

    The Sixth Sense , directed by M. Night Shyamalan

    What to listen to:

    Ocean Man by Ween

    Visit Fodor's New Hope Guide

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  • Southern Vermont, Vermont

    The Green Mountain State’s modesty is no match for the myriad charms bursting around every bend in this southern stretch.

    Why it's wonderful:

    Laid-back, down-to-earth authenticity defines this region of Vermont. Brattleboro’s charming Downtown hosts a smattering of excellent restaurants (including the hyper-seasonal TJ Buckley’s housed in a vintage dining car for added ambiance), an owner-operated arts supply store Zephyr Designs to ignite dormant creativity, and Galanes Vermont Shop for all your local VT needs; while Wilmington’s main drag will have you stumbling upon a 19th-century bedside lamp at Chapman’s Antiques or a sumptuous wool Scottish blanket from Quaigh Designs. Southern Vermont delivers in countless ways.

    After you explore Brattleboro and Wilmington, it’s just a 10-minute drive to another darling VT town, West Dover. If the company of New England sports fans is tolerable, wings and a local IPA on draft at 1846 Tavern is in order. Post-mountain—skiing or snowboarding in the winter, and mountain biking in the summer at Mount Snow , conveniently located in West Dover—sidle up to the bar as you wait for a table at The Last Chair , or better yet, get your Skeeball game on at the adjacent arcade.

    The next morning, pick up pastries and a cappuccino from Sticky Fingers on Route 100 before more mountain time, or stay on the route going north for about 15 minutes until you see a sign for fresh eggs and an opportunity to feed some friendly goats. 

    Location: 42.845870, -72.563020

    Where to stay:

    The West Dover Inn is a dog-friendly bed and breakfast with country charm and live music on weekends at the on-site restaurant and bar. Breakfast comes with a stay at the 19th-century Wilmington Inn . Its proximity to the Valley Trail makes it a great option for outdoorsy types. 

    When to go:

    Winter is the obvious choice if you ski, snowboard, or snowshoe, but fall is peak New England foliage and just-right weather for hiking and antique hopping. 

    Insider tip:

    Best accessed by vehicle, Southern Vermont’s darling towns encourage Sunday driving with ample time built in for spontaneous stops at roadside stands and country markets along the way. 

    What to WATCH:

    Baby Boom , with Diane Keaton 

    What to listen to:

    Midnight in Vermont by Billie Holiday

    Visit Fodor's Southern Vermont Guide

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    Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

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