Travel stories, tips and suggestions from the United States of America

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A Guide To Visiting Brooklyn

Brooklyn Travel Guide

brooklyn bridgeImage via Flickr by Spiros Vathis

The distinct culture, deep-rooted history and magnetic energy of Brooklyn make it one of the most beloved and revered destinations in America. Celebrated around the world for its big-city excitement and unique brand of authenticity, this buzzing New York City borough–the city’s most populous–constantly attracts visitors from around the globe, and you’ll find amazing hotels in Brooklyn to fit your travel needs.

Things to See in Brooklyn

You should have no problem finding things to do in Brooklyn, an iconic destination that has inspired many of the world’s most famous citizens. As soon as you cross the East River on the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, you’ll immediately know you’ve arrived in one of the world’s great cultural epicenters. This National Historic Landmark connects Brooklyn to Manhattan, and has been heralded in film, television and literature for generations. Visit the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park for great Manhattan skyline views, public art installations, athletic fields and playgrounds for children and adults alike, and even a restored 1920s-era merry-go-round called “Jane’s Carousel.” For local history, see the four-story Brooklyn Historical Society building, where you can peruse archives of photography, newspapers and a large library of research from borough’s past. Other museums and family-friendly places to put on your must-see list include Prospect Park Zoo, New York Transit Museum, Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and the Coney Island Cyclone historic wooden roller coaster.

Ride an East River Ferry to get off your feet for awhile and see the city from the water. Or, head to Brighton Beach for a day in the sun and the chance to walk along the picturesque boardwalk. Nearby, Russian restaurants and bakeries serve up delicacies you’ll savor to the last bite. More delicious eats can be found on Smith Street, a hotspot for foodies and grumbling stomachs across the city.

Coney Island is another beach destination you won’t want to miss; it’s the widest beach in the area and boasts amusement rides and entertainment that will bring smiles to the young and the young at heart. Hear the soaring chorus of voices at the famous Brooklyn Tabernacle. Stroll the rolling hills of Green-Wood Cemetery, where you’ll find monuments and tombstones of a surprising number of famous figures.

For a full day of outdoor and cultural activity, head to Prospect Park where the Zoo, Museum of Art and Botanical Gardens all offer great ways to spend a few hours. The Brooklyn Museum is the second largest in New York and features artifacts that stretch from ancient Egyptians to modern day, while the Transit Museum, housed in a 1930’s subway station, has interesting displays all its own.

Brooklyn is also a hotspot for new residents of New York City. The neighborhood of Williamsburg has attracted an impressive array of new restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining, and varying in cultural diversity. There are also many bars, lounges and performance venues where you can make unique discoveries to make your visit unforgettable.

Find the Best Hotels in Brooklyn

Your choices for Brooklyn Hotels range from rooms between culturally rich and trending neighborhoods to business-friendly establishments that put you close to downtown Manhattan, and many of the area’s central locations for business and government. You can expect around-the-clock amenities and services at many Brooklyn hotels, including 24-hour restaurants and room service, as well as all-day business center access.

Where To Stay in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Heights, the area’s oldest neighborhood, and downtown Brooklyn are usually preferred locations for business travelers looking to stay near Manhattan. Diverse neighborhoods like Fort Greene offer amazing architecture, reputable cafes, arts, entertainment and cultural experiences that put New York City’s reputation as a cultural melting pot on display.

The neighborhoods of Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights both offer boutiques and cafes, while Cobble Hill is worth walking through for the houses and neighborhood buzz alone. Williamsburg is the city’s creative hub, home to some of the best restaurants and most talented live entertainment. The nightlife here needs no introduction and party-goers won’t have to look far to find a cold drink and a bumping bass line.

How to Get to Brooklyn

The New York City metropolitan area is served by three key airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.  JFK, at just 11 miles distance, is the closest airport to Brooklyn. It offers convenient service to Clinton Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Bushwick via Air Train, with less than an hour of travel time. LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is 16 miles away from central Brooklyn. Taxi or private transportation services are advised to and from LaGuardia, as there is no direct public transportation into Brooklyn. Newark Liberty is 21 miles from Brooklyn, with arrival times usually within an hour using the Air Train, then the Path train or NJ Transit to either Penn Station, the World Trade Center or Manhattan’s 33rd Street. Another option is the Airport Express Bus which goes to subway-connected Manhattan locations like Grand Central Station, Bryant Park and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

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Amazing Picturesque Spots in Salt Lake City

Skiing is one of Salt Lake City’s main tourist draws. Beyond the slopes and snowy peaks, however, there’s an abundance of scenic spots that you should experience no matter your reason for visiting. If you’re planning a trip to the city, find yourself a hotel near the major attractions of Salt Lake City and go outside to explore the cultural, historic, and natural sites of the area.

One thing you’ll notice immediately is the seemingly limitless natural beauty. To help narrow down your choices, here are five of the most picturesque spots to see while in Salt Lake City.

Ensign Peak

Picturesque Spots in Salt Lake City

Image via Flickr by Edgar Zuniga Jr.

If you’re looking for a stunning view of the city, Ensign Peak is the perfect place to go in the foothills by downtown. Though there are a few steep areas, it’s a relatively easy hike in comparison to many of the mountain climbs nearby. Head up for sunset and see the city by daylight and after dark when the city lights brighten the night sky.

Donut Falls

Take an early morning walk and make your way to Donut Falls, a truly unique site. Though the hike is for those of all skill levels, there are more strenuous areas when approaching the falls. The view is breathtaking as the sun and water flow through a donut-like hole overhead in the mountainside. Even if you visit in the winter, you can snowshoe your way there and witness the frozen falls and shimmering snow around it.

Mount Olympus

Probably one of the most recognizable mountains of Salt Lake City is Mount Olympus. While you’ll be able to enjoy the view of the mountain itself from pretty much anywhere in the city, the views from the summit are mind-blowing. The hike to the top is well worth it. Take the steeper parts slowly, and you’ll find the views along the trail to be beautiful and motivating each step of the way.

The Great Salt Lake

The largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, The Great Salt Lake offers some of the most picturesque scenes you’ll find in the area. This large body of water offers island and mountain views, white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and wildlife sightings. Whether you head there in the summer or winter, you’ll find beauty staring back at you. For a truly spectacular sight, stick around for sunset, and watch the vibrant colours of the sky reflected on the lake.

Alpine Loop

From spring to fall, you can find an entire circuit of scenic views along the Alpine Loop. If you take the approximately 45-minute drive around the paved road of the loop, you’ll wind your way around the stunning scenes of mountains, canyons, and forests. Along this route, you’ll get an incredible look at Mount Timpanogos, the Uinta National Forest, and Provo Canyon, as well as many other natural highlights of the area. If you’re there in the fall, the colours of the leaves create a breathtaking sight all on their own.

 

There’s really no missing the beauty of Salt Lake City, no matter your reason for visiting. While you may need to narrow down your list, you’ll want to make your way to as many of these top picturesque spots as possible!

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5 Perfect Weekend Destinations in The USA

One of the toughest things about being an adult is living by a work schedule. But just because you have limited vacation days doesn’t mean you can’t use the occasional weekend to get out of town, unwind, have a great time and come back to your work life refreshed.

To get you inspired for your next weekend trip, here are five cities across the United States that you might visit, along with activities you could do to get the most out of your two-day adventure.

Enjoy Short Weekend Travels at These 5 Locations

You probably won’t be able to do everything listed for each city over the course of two days, but the ideas provided should help you get started on planning a kickass weekend trip.

San Francisco

san francisco

San Francisco isn’t a small town. Whether you’re drawn to historical sites, beautiful natural scenery or just some really good wine, this is the place to spend your weekend trip. Here are a few ideas to get you started on the planning:

  • Set up a picnic by San Francisco Bay — and enjoy a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Tour Alcatraz Island
  • Explore Muir Woods and marvel at the breathtaking giant redwoods
  • Go wine tasting — California is home to a lot of amazing wineries
  • See giant sequoias, the Yosemite Falls and other natural wonders at Yosemite National Park
  • Watch the amazing street performers of the city

Since San Francisco is such a large city, you’ll want to plan your vacation geographically. That is, if you’re interested in activities that take place on either side of the Golden Gate Bridge, you don’t want to keep driving back and forth across it. Not only is the bridge about 1.7 miles long, but it also has a toll that you won’t want to pay repeatedly if possible.

St. Louis

St. Louis is a large but modest, hard-working city. Manufacturing is vital to the city’s economy, and so it offers a lot of unique sites — and some really good beer. Here’s how to take advantage of your weekend trip:

  • See the St. Louis Arch — inside and out
  • Enjoy a tour of St. Louis’s fine breweries — the Anheuser-Busch Brewery being the most well-known
  • Watch a Cardinals baseball game or a Blues hockey match
  • Spend a long afternoon touring the St. Louis Zoo
  • Explore the city’s unique structures, like the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the City Museum or the Missouri Botanical Garden

If a sports event is on your bucket list in St. Louis, make sure to plan ahead. Pick a weekend with a home game you’d like to see, then structure the rest of your trip around the scheduled event.

Panama City

panama city florida

To many, Panama City isn’t as glamorous as some of the other locations on this list. But it has a quaint, small city charm to it. Not to mention the greatest attraction of all — the beach!

On that front, here are a few ways you can get the most out of a sunny two-day trip to Panama City:

  • Take a boat trip out to Shell Island
  • Play sand volleyball, beach soccer or simply beach bumming
  • Go snorkeling or, if you’re certified, SCUBA diving
  • Try every water sport the calm water has to offer — paddle boarding, windsurfing, parasailing, water skiing and/or whatever else appeals to your adventurous side

Of course, even Panama City has its rainy days, and if your trip happens to fall on a less-than-ideal weekend weather-wise, you can still have a great time exploring the city’s other attractions. For instance, you can:

  • Visit the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum
  • Walk around the Pier Park shopping district
  • Assert your wit at a local escape room
  • Sit in at a dueling piano bar

No matter what time of year you visit, Panama City always has fun activities to offer. But to really get the most out of your trip, try to pick a nice, warm, sunny weekend!

Washington, D.C.

As the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. is of course going to have its own unique set of attractions. If you’re a history buff, this is definitely a worthwhile weekend destination. Here are a few things you could do there:

  • Visit the most iconic U.S. government buildings — the Capitol, the White House, the Supreme Court and the Lincoln Memorial
  • See a performance at the Kennedy Center
  • Tour amazing museums, like the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History
  • Explore the Smithsonian Institute Building
  • Walk through D.C.’s areas of interest, like the Tidal Basin, the National Mall and Georgetown

Since D.C. is so large, and since it’s rated as the U.S.’s number one most stressful city to drive in, the best way to get the most out of your trip is to put aside the anxiety of fighting the traffic and let a bus tour guide handle the details for you.

After all, the local professionals know their history, which sites to visit and how best to get around the city. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the incredible sites the capital has to offer.

Yellowstone National Park

yellowstone national park

Most of Yellowstone National Park is located in northwestern Wyoming, but it does bleed into Montana and Idaho as well. That gives you a lot of site-seeing options to choose from. At the park itself, you can do this and much more:

  • Watch Old Faithful and other park geysers erupt
  • Look in awe at colorful hot springs and Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon
  • Wander through the park’s versatile landscape of mountain, forest and lakes to witness wildlife activity
  • Camp on park grounds overnight

Outside the park — depending on which states’ attractions appeal to you most — you can:

If you’re an avid outdoors-person, you could easily spend the whole weekend at Yellowstone National Park. If, on the other hand, you want to see more of the surrounding area as well, it may be wise to spend one day at the park and another day exploring elsewhere.

Make Your Weekends Count

Adulting has its stresses, but it’s important not to take life too seriously. Your work and your responsibilities are important, but they shouldn’t consume your entire life.

So take a breather. Plan the occasional weekend out of town, and leave your adult life behind when you go.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


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Explore Outside Disney and Discover Orlando

Most people who visit Orlando make a beeline for Walt Disney World. While it’s a great place to spend a vacation, it won’t give you much insight into the city of Orlando itself. You’ll find that spending some time outside the kingdom of Mickey ears and beloved cartoon characters can be just as magical. It may even offer you exactly what you’re looking for in a vacation.

Since there are lots of choices for great IHG hotels near downtown Orlando, finding accommodations throughout the city won’t be a hard task. What will be difficult is narrowing down exactly what to do in a city filled with sights, sounds, food, and excitement. Here are some suggestions to help you see the real Orlando outside of Disney World.

Experience the City

orlando florida parkImage via Flickr by Joe Shlabotnik

There is so much to do in Orlando with something for almost anyone. A ride on the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye will give you incredible views of the city with a bird’s-eye view of beautiful landscapes and landmarks.

Since any visit to Florida introduces thoughts of alligators, it would only make sense to check out Gatorland. Not only will you get to see the creatures up close, but you can also ride the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line over the marshes and habitats where they live!

You may not head to the Magic Kingdom, but you can cap off your trip with the Chocolate Kingdom Factory Adventure Tour. Here, you can surround yourself with sweet goodness as you learn about the process of making chocolate.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Orlando is home to many natural landscapes and plenty of outdoor activities. Even in the heart of the city, you’ll find beautiful sights like Lake Eola Park. It’s a beautiful place to take a walk, watch swans swim by, or jump on a paddleboat and have some fun. You may want to try to get there on a Sunday, when the Orlando Farmers Market sells local produce, baked goods, and artwork.

If you’re looking for something more private, you can head to Harry P. Leu Gardens. Here, you can spend time walking along the winding paths of the 50 acres of gardens surrounded by flowers and plants from around the world.

A trip to Orlando wouldn’t be complete without exploring the outdoors. If you want to get a good look at all the natural beauty of the area, a hot air balloon ride would definitely give you a unique outdoor experience.

Embrace the Food Culture

Orlando has been building its reputation as a culinary destination. With so many great restaurants to choose from, it’s easy to see why. One of the more memorable restaurants is the Red Mug Diner. Great for any meal and open 24 hours a day, this spot offers some tasty classic Southern comfort foods, like fried chicken and waffles, along with regular diner fare.

Food and art often have blurred lines, and dining at Café Tu Tu Tango offers the experience of both. You’ll find some delicious small plates to share as local artists paint and display their works while you dine.

Another restaurant that’s worth fitting into your schedule is Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar. The Florida location is great for a late-night meal before you lose yourself in Orlando nightlife.

 

Planning a trip to Orlando allows you to explore a city full of wonderful attractions, natural beauty, and incredible food. You don’t need to venture to Walt Disney World to capture excitement and adventure, but you’ll probably want to book another trip to the city since you’ll find that one trip to Orlando only scratches the surface.

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Finding Adventure While Exploring Arlington, Texas

Arlington might not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of visiting Texas, but with its growing popularity, it’s a city that you should know. However long of a visit you’re planning, there are fantastic IHG hotels near Six Flags Over Texas and other Arlington attractions, along with plenty to see and do.

You can explore Arlington through a large variety of experiences, but one of the most exciting ways to get to know the city is through a bit of adventure. If you’re looking for some fun in Arlington, Texas, here are some of the city’s most adventurous attractions.

Adrenaline Rush At Six Flags

six flags over texasImage via Flickr by Clintus McGintus

Arlington is home to both Six Flags Over Texas, the first of the Six Flags theme parks, and Six Flags Hurricane Park, one of a group of water parks. The rides and slides offer adrenaline and exhilaration, while the shows and restaurants boast plenty of entertainment. Combined, the parks have everything you’ll need for a thrilling time and some fun in the city.

Leisurely Day at River Legacy Park

When you visit River Legacy Park, you’ll find a quieter sort of adventure. Here, 1,300 acres of nature offer hiking and biking trails as well as green space for outdoor activities and picnics. It’s a favorite place for locals to enjoy the day, and it’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area, whether you want to take it slow or increase your pace.

Urban Adventure With Segway Tours

When you visit Arlington, you’ll notice that it’s a rather large city with its fair share of natural landscapes and green space. One of the best ways to explore it is by signing up for some urban adventure like a Segway tour. You’ll find yourself gliding around to various attractions, seeing the city in a completely new way and at a faster pace.

Sports and Nature on Golf Courses

If there’s one thing that Arlington isn’t lacking, it’s golf courses. You’ll find gorgeous greens across Arlington, and these offer ample space for sports and leisure. With award-winning courses that combine the stunning nature with varying levels of golfing difficulty, you’re sure to find some adventure while you swing away.

Indoor Excitement With Ice Skating

When you visit the Parks Mall at Arlington you’ll find some fun waiting for you right inside. Ice at the Parks is an indoor ice skating rink and just one of the city’s great attractions. You can head over and have some fun before or after you shop or even join in on one of the many year-round events.

Whether you choose adrenaline-pumping excitement on a rollercoaster or some leisure time outdoors at River Legacy Park, Arlington has something for all adventure lovers. From indoors to outdoors, and from city streets to natural landscapes, there are tons of attractions to choose from in the city. All it takes is a bit of an adventurous spirit, and you’ll be sure to have some fun!

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Unique Things to Do in Honolulu You Won’t Want to Miss!

The capital of Hawaii is a mecca for tourists looking to enjoy sun, sand, and outdoor activities. Known for its famous coastal neighbourhood of Waikiki, Honolulu is a popular city on the island of Oahu, with a sprawling cityscape, great food, and stunning beaches. One key to enjoying the perfect blend of attractions and activities in Honolulu is finding the right accommodations. With so many hotels in Honolulu, you’ll want to pick one that gives you great access to the city but also allows opportunities to venture outside of the city.

After you’ve picked where to stay, it’s simply a matter of getting out and exploring. You may think you’re destined to visit Honolulu’s amazing attractions like Waikiki, Hanauma Bay, and Manoa Falls with hordes of other people, but a trip to the city gives you the chance to see and do so much. Here’s a list of five unique things to do in Honolulu if you truly want to get off the beaten path and away from the crowds.

Kukaoo Heiau Ruins: Exploring Ancient History

With its incredibly rich history, Hawaii is no stranger to ruins or artifacts. What makes the relatively unvisited Kukaoo (Kukui) Heiau ruins so unique is that they’re in the middle of an urban area and on the same property the historic Charles Montague Cooke Jr. House. You won’t find the ruins to be large or expansive, but they highlight the historical importance of Manoa Valley and the local people. The Manoa Heritage Center and the Kukaoo Heiau ruins make for a great stop to learn more about ancient life in Honolulu and see some pretty great views.

Corsair Plane Wreck Dive Site: More Than Just Surfing

honolulu hawaiiImage via Flickr by katsuhiro7110

Though Hawaii is synonymous with surfing, you can also see a lot below the surface of the water that surrounds the islands. At the Corsair Plane Wreck Dive Site, you’ll find a Vought F4 aircraft that sank after it experienced engine failure in 1948. The wreck itself is in perfect dive condition, due to the abundance of eel, octopus and puffer fish. Though the area around the wreckage is fairly flat and unencumbered, the site is for more advanced divers who can manage the currents. You’ll probably want to take some time practicing at other dive sites around the island first.

Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market: A Taste of the Island

Restaurants are always a gateway into local cuisine and culture, but you’ll miss a whole culinary world if you stick to the popular places to eat. The Kapiolani Community College (KCC) Farmers Market in Honolulu is a unique foodie destination with locally grown produce and flowers, along with meats and baked goods. It offers a taste of local life in Honolulu and a glimpse of the island’s cuisine.

San Souci Beach: Relaxation Away From the Crowds

Waikiki Beach is one of Honolulu’s most famous beaches, but it’s actually comprised of several sections that together create a long stretch of sand. You’re bound to find crowds in the more popular sections, but when you head to the eastern end, you’ll find a much quieter area. San Souci Beach is relatively peaceful and a good distance away from the tourist activity. The relatively calm waters allow for a variety of water sports and activities and make this the perfect spot to enjoy a unique beach experience in Honolulu.

Makiki Valley Loop Trail: Hiking With Scenic Views

There are many hiking trails around the city, but the Makiki Valley Loop Trail promises a unique experience, as it’s more popular among locals than it is with tourists. The loop itself is made up of three trails with varying levels of difficulty. The surrounding nature and views along the way will more than make up for the more tricky parts, though you’ll need solid hiking shoes, as the area is known to be wet more often than not.

 

Visiting Honolulu doesn’t have to mean that you’ll be stuck in the crowds. Whether your focus is on food, culture, nature, history, or a little of everything, you’ll find many things to do away from the top attractions and throngs of tourists. On land or in water, above or below the surface, all you need to find a different experience in Honolulu is to step outside your hotel room and have a sense of adventure!

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7 of the Most Beautiful Coastal Towns in Maine

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective
It’s easy to see that Maine has an incredibly beautiful coastline. It’s not as easy to decide which city along that coastline to visit. That’s because there are so many viable options where you’ll find great food, cozy inns and unforgettable scenery. It makes it difficult to choose just one of the beautiful towns in Maine.

Beautiful Towns in Maine To Visit

The following are just seven of the candidates to put on your short list before you decide where to take your next vacation.

Bar Harbor

bar harbor maine

Bar Harbor has more than just a beach. It sits at the base of Acadia National Park, which woos hikers with its granite peaks and bikers who want to ride down the old carriage roads.

The area trails can also take you to coastal overlooks, although you might want to hit up the sandy beaches, too.

Camden

Welcome to your next vacation spot, sailors. Camden, Maine, sits on Penobscot Bay, from which you and your sailing crew can take off and into the picturesque waters. It really is beautiful here: the locals even call it the “Jewel of the Coast.”

Speaking of locals, less than 5,000 people call Camden home. Clearly, that means you can expect a homey, cozy experience on your trip.

Kennebunkport

beautiful coastal towns in maine

Any presidential history buff will know that the Bush family has made Kennebunkport their go-to vacation spot: they have their very own holiday compound, which tourists sometimes go to see on their trips to the area.

Of course, a former President has to have good taste in locations for his vacations — who needs relaxation more than a former commander-in-chief? The slow-paced town will definitely ease you into a similar state of serenity, as will the quirky shops, museums and clams. If you need a bit more excitement, hop onto a lobster-trapping or dolphin-watching tour.

Cutler

Bird watching will get a whole lot cuter if you choose to book your trip to Cutler. That’s because the area is home to an adorable puffin community that takes to the water and perches on the coastline’s grey rocks. All members of your family will be charmed by the little guys, we promise.

Of course, there’s more to a holiday than just a bird-watching expedition. Cutler has its beautiful coastline and quaint lighthouse, of course, but it also comes with a promise of tourist trap-free shopping and dining. Really, there aren’t any souvenir shops in this tiny town.

Portland

portland maine beautiful towns in maine

Most coastal towns appeal to tourists in the summer, but not Portland: most locals will tell you that the best time to visit is fall, when the changing leaves paint the seaside in burnt oranges, fiery reds and golden yellows.

Of course, any season will show you the warm hospitality for which Portland is famous. The locals strive to be as friendly and welcoming to tourists as they are to each other, a vibe you won’t soon forget after you head home from your holiday.

Rockport

Here’s another of Maine’s coastal cities that’s rumored to be the most beautiful — even though it’s clearly impossible to decide. And, like many others on this list, it offers surf and turf, at least as far as activities go.

You can traipse through the Rockport Marine Park — or lie on the sandy beach there, of course. The Beech Hill Reserve offers stunning views, too. And then, there’s the bay, which is ripe for kayaking trips, which local tour companies lead.

Castine 

lighthouse in coastal maine

Castine is so beautiful that it’s been a destination for artists for decades. They come to paint a piece of that classic New England scenery — exactly what you seek on your trip, too. Along with like-a-painting views, you’ll find a bit of history at the Fort George and Fort Madison State Parks.

You can also check out a sandy-hued lighthouse, a local art gallery and, of course, an incredibly quaint Main Street.

 

You won’t find any hustle-and-bustle along the coast of Maine. You won’t find clubs or fancy restaurants or beach cabanas where you’re served fancy cocktails.

What you will find, no matter where you go, is a wealth of natural beauty. The beaches, parks, mountains and wildlife will be just as striking. And, with your loved ones along for the trip, you’ll realize you don’t need more than what’s right in front of you in any one of these seven towns.  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. You can follow her on Twitter and Pinterest!


 

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A Guide To Highway 50 in Nevada: The Loneliest Road in America

The barren desert. Sand, rock and cacti. Mountains of dirt and sand protruding along the horizon. An unending winding road into the distance.

We left the chaos and bright lights of Las Vegas behind and headed off into the Nevada desert. With clear blue skies and the sun streaming down, we wove our way along Nevada’s Highways.

Though arid scenery first greeted us, we soon found ourselves passing a small lake, at first completely out of place in this dry and barren landscape, the greenery of the vegetation surrounding it a stark contrast and a welcome visual beyond the reds and browns around us.

We’d soon realize that various colour, even green, isn’t as unusual of a sight in Nevada as we had initially thought. In fact, when we finally made our way up to Highway 50 and started our journey across the state, we discovered that the terrain of Nevada is quite varied, quite colourful and altogether breathtaking. We also learned throughout our travels, that there are many reasons you should travel Nevada, outside of just Las Vegas!

Stops To Make On Highway 50 in Nevada

Highway 50 Nevada sign

Highway 50 is part of US Route 50 and the section that is in Nevada is coined “The Loneliest Road in America”. It is a stretch of road between the eastern and western borders of the state and is definitely not the most common road taken for traversing Nevada or getting from any of the major cities in the United States to any of the larger cities in the state. But while it’s not the preferred route for getting places quickly, like the Interstate 80 would be, it is definitely one of the best options for a road trip in Nevada and for exploring the out-of-this-world sights to be seen throughout. If you’re looking to take a road trip in Nevada, Highway 50 is definitely one of the best routes to include – whether you travel it from start to finish, or find your way somewhere along it during your journey.

To get you planning, here is the route we recently took and some of the great stops along Nevada Route 50 that you should consider to help make The Loneliest Road in America just a little less… lonely! Though there’s a lot more to this stretch than what we saw, this itinerary makes for a great road trip or romantic getaway in Nevada.

To find accommodation options along the route or if you need more information on things to do along Highway 50 (as well as what there is to do and see while you are visiting Nevada) check out the Travel Nevada site!

Ely

Northern Nevada Railway Ely Steam Engine Train

Depending on which direction you are heading, Ely may be the first or last of the cities in Nevada off of Highway 50.  One of the larger cities you’ll stop at on this route, Ely is like many in the area – an old mining town – saturated in history and charm. It is also where you’ll find your way onto the old Nevada Northern Railway with a steam engine ride along the tracks that are over a century old and were an essential part of the early mining settlements to this area.

We had such a great time on this 90 minute ride that took us past old mining areas and more isolated landscape but what really captivated us and captured our imagination was the dialogue explaining what once was. We learned about the importance of this route in the past and the amount of history accumulated in a short distance. Bringing that history into the present as we rode on the train was one railway crossing in particular, where a man named Dale comes to stand and wave as each of the trains pass . In fact, he is so reliable and dedicated to being at that crossing that it is named after him – Dale’s crossing. The significance of this passageway exists even now.

If you’ve got some time to spend in the area or are looking for a quick detour, you’ll find an interesting museum just North of Ely. Taking Highway 93 off of Route 50, sits the small town of McGill and as you drive the streets, you will most likely pass a Rexall drugstore. Be warned though, if you jump out and head on in, you won’t be finding any first aid items or pain relievers here. Well, at least none that aren’t well passed their expiry date! The McGill Drugstore Museum will transport you back in time as you step through the doors and observe a store that has been left virtually untouched from the day it closed its doors in 1979. You’ll want to contact them first to schedule an appointment to ensure it is open and to get the full story behind Ely and this time capsule that has been left there.

Ely is also the closest accessible city on Highway 50 to the Great Basin National Park, a popular destination for nature and astronomy lovers. Due to the great air quality in the park – some of the best in the USA – night brings dark, clear skies that are perfect for stargazing. In fact, there is even an annual astronomy festival that offers 3 days and nights of guided instruction and telescope viewing.

In Ely, you’ll find historic hotels and museums and many natural attractions nearby in addition to the events and activities in the city. You’ll find things like county fairs, bathtub races, and farmer’s markets as well and experience a place that straddles the city life of the present with the small-town vibes of the past.

Eureka

Eureka Courtroom Judges chair

Calling itself “The Friendliest Town on the Loneliest Road in America, you’ll find that it’s a pretty accurate description. As of the last census, there were under 1000 people in Eureka and when you walk through the “downtown” or main area of the town, you definitely feel it – it is quiet, it is peaceful and it is most definitely friendly.

The pride the town takes in their past is obvious as we visited several old buildings that have been beautifully preserved and restored. It’s definitely worth it to take a tour of the opera house, old courthouse and the old Eureka Sentinel Building. The opera house, still in use today for community events and shows, has a remarkable history that can be seen from the 1924 stage curtain that replaced the original from 1880 which burned down. The ads on the backdrop still remain, the funds from which paid for the new curtain itself. Signatures of performers that have graced the stage are scrawled backstage along the walls and staircase. These tell their own story as dates from the early 1900s can be seen alongside more recent ones, a blend of new and old.

The courthouse is fascinating as well. Heading up the original wood staircases, we reached the courtroom, kept in pristine condition and making us feel like we’d stepped on set to some crime drama – huge velvet curtains draped on either side of the judge’s bench, the flag hanging prominently beside it, one could almost imagine the witness box filled, the judge’s gavel banging, the jury sitting to the side, attentive to the courtroom antics.

Another interesting stop in Eureka is the Old Sentinel Museum where you’ll find all manner of historical items and artefacts in what was the Sentinel Newspaper Building from 1879 to 1960. From the original printing presses and newspaper equipment on the main floor to the varied exhibits of life in Eureka when the town was just beginning.

Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area

View from Hickison Petroglyph Recreation area Nevada

Nevada is no stranger to petroglyphs as the state has not only numerous amounts of them, but also the oldest known finds in North America. Though Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area near Austin may not be the most extensive of sites for seeing petroglyphs, it is a great example of prehistoric rock art and is a site that allows a self-guided tour and some fantastic views.

We took our time along the trail, looking at the rocks with petroglyphs, working our way to great lookouts with views of mountains and more desert landscape and enjoyed the beauty of the area and the incredible history that was left, carved in stone, by those who once lived in the area.

If you do stop here, be sure to take a look for brochures at the information display at the entrance to the recreation area. These will help explain what you see as you walk along the trails.

Austin

Gourmet French Toast at Union Street Lodging Austin Nevada Breakfast

Though we’d be hard pressed to choose a favourite out of the stops we made along Highway 50, Austin would definitely be a serious contender.

With some of the best backyard views, Austin boasts mountain ranges, hot springs, historic sites and tons of small town charm. Here you’ll find bike trails and camping grounds, nearby caves and petroglyphs and even a castle, though uninhabited, that stands as an iconic image as you pass through the town.

We were there just one night in Austin and have already marked, underlined and highlighted it as a place we need to return to soon. The Union Street Lodging was the B&B we stayed at and, from the moment we arrived, it felt like a haven of relaxation and serenity. Learning about Austin and its history from the owners of the B&B and just enjoying the peaceful nature of the area, we settled in. That evening we enjoyed sitting outside and listening to the night sounds, void of the city noises to which we have become so accustomed. The following morning we woke up for breakfast and were served the most gourmet french toast breakfast we’ve ever seen – a double layer of french toast with cream cheese and strawberries in between, covered in more strawberries – it was delicious and a great way to start the day.

There’s definitely so much more to do in Austin than we had the chance to experience and we’d definitely recommend spending a few nights there while travelling the Loneliest Road in America. Hot springs are always a wonderful treat no matter where you are and with so much wildlife and natural beauty to see as you drive, you’d be able to make a whole day of it just exploring the scenery the area has to offer. Of course, there are also biking and hiking trails if you’re looking to get out of the car and stretch your legs a bit.

Strolling through the town, meeting people and learning about the history of Austin is also a great way to spend some time while there and for us, we’d love to head back and visit Stokes Castle – especially at sunset!

Sand Mountain

Sand Mountain in Nevada Hwy 50

What began as an exciting view – a sand dune in the distance, growing in size as we approached – turned into a truly moving and unexpected experience. Sand Mountain is one of the spectacular views off Highway 50 in Nevada and it only gets more impressive as you get closer to it.  Signs describe the area, the sand dune itself and the fact that it is a singing sand dune – the singing being the noises made as the sand shifts and slides – something that is unique and not found with every sand dune.

The area is obviously one of recreation – considered a popular off-roading site – we saw many OHV (off-highway vehicles) making their way around and up the dune. Though this seems to be the primary use of Sand Mountain, we encourage you to take the time to contact the local native community to learn some deeper history and meaning behind Sand Mountain.

For our visit, we spoke with Donna and Melissa from the local community (as well as the Great Basin Tour Company) who were able to provide some deep insight and some moving stories behind the significance of Sand Mountain to the native peoples of the area. With the loud engines of the OHVs roaring around us, interrupting our conversation at regular intervals, we learned that Sand Mountain no longer sings… it’s sand compressed by the weight of the tires and vehicles we were watching go by at that very moment.

Though you may not hear the mountain sing you’ll definitely feel it, especially if you get the chance to speak to those to whom the sand dune means the most. It’s by far a surprising and wonderful stop along the Loneliest Road in America.

Fallon

Frey Ranch Fallon Nevada mini wine barrel

If Ely feels big compared to the rest of the towns along Highway 50 in Nevada, than Fallon is enormous! With double the population, Fallon is a bustling town with a growing arts and culture, culinary and tourism scene. A stop here means you’ll have the option of immersing yourself in much of the elements of Nevada you’ve already seen along the way – nature and history – as well as art galleries and antique shops, theatres and recreational activities (like golf, roller skating and swimming) and some pretty phenomenal dining options with a couple farmer’s markets thrown in for good measure.

We ate lunch in Fallon at The Slanted Porch and were incredibly impressed by our meal. Farm-to-table ingredients meant everything used was fresh and the care and talent put into the dishes themselves was obvious. Buying local and creating inspired menu items based on the seasonal produce available helped make the culinary journey through the dishes that much more special. We ordered a slanted porch burger (because the way they treat and use their meat is spectacular) and a lamb, meatball sandwich (a special of the day) and were left wishing we were there longer to try more of the menu

You may be surprised, as we were, to find out that Fallon, Nevada is home to a successful vineyard and distillery, Frey Ranch, a family owned operation producing some great wines, gin, vodka and whiskey. It’s an interesting place to stop and tour, check out the tasting room and grab a bottle, or more, of your favourite spirit or wine!

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe Cruise

If you’re driving along Highway 50 in Nevada, and have a chance to make your way as far west as Lake Tahoe, we highly recommend you take the time to stop and visit. Though there are lots of things to do, both in the summer and winter seasons, a boat cruise across the lake is a wonderful way to take in the scenery. We climbed aboard the MS Dixie II, part of Zephyr Cove Resort‘s fleet, and took a 90 minute cruise across the lake (to the California side and Emerald Bay). We enjoyed listening to the information provided, grabbing a meal on board as we went, and soaking up the beauty around us.

With cruises, beach activities and water equipment rentals, snowmobile rentals and skiing in the winter and other activities, like horseback riding, there’s lots to do in the area if you want to stay at an accommodation by the lake or drive yourself into the area.

A Little Extra Addition To Start, Or End, With!

Depending on where you’re coming from, making Reno or Las Vegas the start and end points of your trip is a great way to really see the diversity of the state – from big cities to small towns – and makes sense as either city are close enough to Highway 50 to make them accessible gateways.

Whether or not you add Las Vegas to your itinerary, you may want to consider tagging on a visit to Great Basin National Park. We had mentioned that it is close to Ely and while not on Highway 50, it is a great place to stop before starting out on The Loneliest Highway OR a great place to end after you’ve seen Ely and have finished your drive along the stretch of Highway 50.

If Vegas is on your itinerary, you can also make Great Basin National Park a stop on your way to, or from, Ely. We stopped there and took a tour through Lehman caves – a fascinating underground world of caves and cave systems we’d not yet explored. It is well worth it to visit, take a tour of the caves and explore the beautiful scenery of the National Park.

Become A Highway 50 Survivor!

In 1986, Highway 50 in Nevada was described as a stretch of road with nothing to see or do. Life Magazine suggested survival skills were needed in order to take on The Loneliest Road in America. Well, we don’t know what it was like 30 years ago, but our time on the road was filled with things to do and places to see – though it can be a pretty quiet and, yes, lonely route. With this decades-old reputation in mind, a ‘survival guide’ was created for travellers looking to take on Highway 50…

No matter where you start or finish along The Loneliest Road in America, you’ll want to make sure you pick up a Highway 50 Survival Guide and get the passport that’s inside stamped as you stop along the route! You can find more information from the Pony Express Territory website like what the Survival Guide entails and where you can go in each town to get your guide stamped!

Once you’ve collected stamps from 5 of the 8 locations, you can mail in the passport page and you’ll get an “I Survived” certificate!

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Where To Find The Best Burgers in Las Vegas

Naturally our quest for the best burgers continues in every destination we reach and Vegas, Nevada, home to a whole slew of restaurants, including burger joints, was no exception. With its vast array of celebrity chefs opening house along the strip and an ever-increasing focus on providing incredible culinary experiences, you’re bound to find a good burger around every corner. That makes the challenge even harder.

Best Burger Joints in Las Vegas

Where then do you go in Las Vegas to find that memorable burger? That sensational patty and bun experience that transcends the rest?

We’ve narrowed down the choices to three spectacular options both on and off the strip. Each offers a different style of burger and dining experience but each one will have you walking away thinking “wow”!

Hexx Kitchen + Bar

Burger at Hexx Kitchen + Bar Nevada

Located right on the strip at Paris Hotel, Hexx Kitchen + Bar is an adventure for the taste buds and though they have an entire menu of incredibly composed dishes, their Hexx Burger stands out not only for execution but also for their unique approach to the flavour profile of the burger itself.

As Hexx is also home to Hexx Chocolate + Confexxions, a chocolate factory and shop that produces some of the tastiest chocolates we’ve ever had (and their dark chocolate is a healthy option for chocolate lovers too!), it only makes sense that they extend that chocolate goodness over to their restaurant and they do this brilliantly with their Hexx Burger.

Though you’ll find some expected condiments on the beef patty – cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomato – Hexx also adds fried onions and their own thousand island dressing and though the combination of these flavours and the perfect ratio of burger to bun and condiments makes it one tasty meal, what enhances this burger to extreme levels is the incorporation of white chocolate in the bun. The sweeter taste of the bun combined with the savoury of the rest of it creates a contrast to remember. Sweet and savoury, soft and crunchy, altogether delicious, the Hexx Burger is one of our favourite burgers and a must try if you’re on the strip in Vegas – especially as the restaurant is open 24 hours!

Bachi Burger

Shogun Burger at Bachi Burger Las Vegas

Though the current Bachi Burger locations are neither on the strip nor in downtown Las Vegas, the effort to get there from wherever you are is worth it… several times over. If Hexx is an adventure for the taste buds, Bachi Burger takes your taste buds on a fast ride through Asian flavours and sets you down gently in traditional American cuisine. The ultimate in culinary fusion, they’ve managed to create a whole list of burgers that are elevated from the classic to the brilliant with their combinations of toppings and ingredients.

Take their Shogun burger as an example. A thick Wagyu beef patty starts the collection of Japanese flavours and Asian ingredients as it is topped with grilled unagi, pan seared foie gras and miso butter. A beautifully poached Asian pear is also included which adds a layer of sweetness. The combination of it all, served between a thick and fresh bun will leave you savouring each vibrant bite.

Then there is their Bahn-Mi Burger. This time its a combination of angus beef, pork and shrimp formed into a patty that hosts a handful of Vietnamese-inspired toppings like pork pate, fresh herbs, and curry aioli with a side of pickled vegetables and nuoc mam sauce.

Though your mouth is probably watering just from the descriptions, nothing can quite do it justice until you experience the real thing and with several locations to choose from, there really is no excuse not to!

I Love Burgers

I Love Burgers The Patriot Burger Las Vegas

Sometimes classic is best and I Love Burgers is a prime example of taking a great thing and keeping it great. With two locations on either end of the strip, you’ll have the option of either one depending where you are when that burger craving hits!

Though they do have a variety of themed burgers and condiment combinations, what showcases their true talent for burger creation is their ability to make a good ol’ classic burger! The Patriot, advertised as the “All-American Burger”, is what you want to have at any BBQ or burger joint. Take that fresh bun and fill it with certified Angus beef then top that bad boy with shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, cheese, ketchup, and mustard and you got what every burger restaurant should be able to create.

Of course, they make some delicious alternatives to the standard if you’re looking to be a bit more daring. Something like their Steak Burger is bound to satisfy both a burger craving as well as any steak dinner urges you may be having with their certified Angus beef patty covered in caramelized onions, bacon, white cheddar cheese and Worcester aioli. It’s a steak dinner on a bun and it’s pretty darn good!

You Probably Won’t Want To Stop At One!

With these three options, you really will have all your burger cravings satisfied while in Las Vegas. Not only that, you’ll experience some of the best dining the city has to offer while tasting a range of culinary styles. From gourmet to fusion to “all-American”, a burger can be made a variety of ways with a selection of different toppings but there’s one thing that must ring true no matter what that patty-condiment combination is comprised of – it must have you thinking about it well after you’ve left the restaurant! Try one, or all three, of these restaurants and you definitely won’t be forgetting the burger experience any time soon!

 

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Bike Trails That Will Leave You Speechless In Scottsdale, Arizona

By Denise Nelson

Just recently I found myself in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s a beautiful city with a lot to do, enjoy and see, so of course I had to see the landscapes and what the city had to offer a cyclist like myself. I took to the roads early in the morning to ride through the old-town Scottsdale, looking at the architecture of the buildings and the unique feeling this side of town could offer. It’s not only what the city has to offer in views but also the benefits of cycling that are always a good reason to get out and on that bike!

>Scottsdale has been recognized for its biker friendliness and recognized by the League of American Bicyclists at the gold level. It’s a clean way to get around and, in a bicycle-safe community, it provides safe transportation and accommodation to bikers. If you like to cycle with a canine, Scottsdale is the place to do it. They allow pets to come along on your travels… just as long as you pick up after them!

There are many options to choose from between paved or unpaved trails and even mountain trails. They range in distance, but they also offer a variety of views as you travel through different parts of Scottsdale and experience something new.

 The Stunning Views On Scottsdale’s Bike Trails

Echo Canyon Trail head at Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona




As the sun rose higher in the sky, the weather was warming up and I decided to ride down the Scottsdale Greenbelt, which takes you down through Scottsdale to Tempe Town Lake. In total, this trip is 14.5 miles (23 km) and worth it for every bit of scenery you see along the way (especially if you stop for a small detour to see Marguerite Lake.).

There are also two paved bike trail sets to choose from, or do both: the McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails and the DC Ranch Paved Trails. I chose to do the McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails since there were more of them and offered more visual stimulation.

McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails

There are many options for mountain bikers as well. We took to Tom’s Thumb, which is part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and allows for beautiful mountain rock formations, desert landscape, plenty of desert wildlife on the trail and the vast blue sky above you.

On the mountain trail through McDowell Mountain Regional Park, you can see a variety of mountains, hills, rocks, cacti, desert plants, desert landscape, wildlife and hikers. This trail is beautiful and leaves a lasting impression on you, especially when seen at sunset. The sunset in Scottsdale is this beautiful purple-red-orange scene that paints the desert beautiful colors. The picture you see while riding your bike through this desert at sunset is absolutely gorgeous and is something that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Other Bike Trails in Scottsdale, Arizona to Cycle

Arizona desert landscape, Phoenix,Scottsdale area.

Another trail to ride on would be the Indian Bend Wash Path. It is a beautiful, lush and green 22 mile (35.5 km) expanse with parks, waterways and greenery. What is great about this trail is the fact that there are tunnels and bridges that go over and under the roadways so you don’t have to take a break from the beautiful view while you ride.

I also recommend the South Mountain Trail. It’s a 16,000-acre park and offers tough, but interesting trails for multiple levels of bikers. I went on the Desert Classic trail, which is 9 miles (14.5km) with a beautiful view of the rich greenery and mountainous landscape offered only by the desert. Here you’ll find one-of-a-kind views of the rock formations and steep cliffs.

Following South Mountain, I would also recommend the Browns Ranch Trails. It’s roughly 13 miles (21km) long. The wildlife you’ll see range from rabbits and squirrels to desert tortoises and snakes. Rock formations, natural landscaping and relaxed trails provide for an easy ride to enjoy a desert scene with a gorgeous view.

If you are more advanced in your riding you’ll want to check out Sunrise Trail. It’s a fairly new trail that is 10 miles (16km) long and very rugged and steep. The trail is very narrow so you need to watch for hikers and for your own safety as cacti grow close to the trails. It is also a single-track and has a steep elevation of 1,700 ft (518m).

Lastly for mountain biking, I would say to finish with the Whiskey Bottle Trail. It’s a short 3 mile (5km) trail that is for intermediate-advanced bike riders. The trail starts off easy but you gain a steep increase of 800 ft (244m) into a more rocky trail. There are tight curves and dangerous turns and terrain. Overall, this trail is a short, but rewarding, trail to bike on as it provides a beautiful view at the end, overlooking the vast desert with it’s beautiful rocks, scenery, and animals.

The Many Colours Of Cycling in Scottsdale

Serene iconic Arizona desert morning sunrise with enormous powerful sun on horizon line framed by Saguaro cactus - gorgeous lens flare.

Taking to the roads, there are plenty of street lanes for you to get to any place of business you’d like. Taking this route allows you to see the art on the above route of the Indian Bend Wash Path, get to bookstores, grocery stores and more, all while taking in the view of homes and the architecture styles of old and new homes built in Scottsdale.

If you don’t want to go alone, then you have the options of group rides! They welcome any type of rider, at any level, and they offer multiple time frames to fit your schedule. Each day of the week, they’ll take you on different trails, paths, and parks. This allows for a memorable experience while meeting new people with similar interests. Riding together allows for a deeper experience in a new place with the added personal connection while talking with other riders.

The amount of trails and scenery available in Scottsdale is amazing. There are so many trails and paths to explore that you could have a fantastic weeklong experience. A wonderful bonus to the trails and paths are the lakes, mountains, and parks that are available to bike riders.

If you ride early in the morning, you can see the sunrise cast its beautiful rays over colour across the vast desert. At night, the painting-like sunset casts that colour over the desert leaving it bathed in a beautiful nighttime glow.

Tips Before You Head Out On A Scottsdale Bike Trail

Overall, if you want to take on any of these trails, whether you are a beginner or an advanced biker, you need to make sure you are prepared and in shape for the trail you are planning to ride. Make sure your bike is comfortable and you have enough water and snacks to keep you safe on your ride. Always wear your helmet and dress appropriately for the weather and the trail type. Make sure to map your trail so you always stay on track and don’t get lost and make sure to take everything into consideration so you can have a great ride!

 


denise nelson profile picABOUT THE AUTHOR

Denise is a mountain biker who enjoys cross-country biking around the world. She worked as a trainer for 6 years before becoming a co-founder of a private biking lessons school to teach people how to properly train & ride bikes to prepare them for cross-country & any activities they want to indulge in. She’s also a founder of MountainBikeEZ where you can learn about mountain bikes & mountain biking.


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