One of my favorite pastimes is exploring roads and sights less traveled. Don’t get me wrong, there are iconic places like the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls that absolutely must be seen (again and again, if possible). However, there are plenty of other stunning vistas in the United States to explore. Here are five of my favorite less-well-known gorges in the U.S.
As most people know, the National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, which has shined the spotlight especially brightly on the best known parks in our country. Yet, while Yellowstone, Acadia, the Great Smoky Mountains and a handful of other perennially popular parks get the most attention, what isn’t widely known is that the National Park Service actually manages over 400 national parks, national monuments and historic sites. I’ve had the great fortune to visit many of them in my travels, which led me to compile the following list of recommendations.
As much as I enjoy traveling the country on four wheels, there are times I like to park my Westfalia for a few days to really explore a city on foot or on a bicycle. I used to bring my bike with me, but these days, I’ve found it easier to simply rent one.
In the last several years the number of dedicated places to ride has increased substantially. Many cities have built bike paths or rail trails. Many more have improved conditions for riding in general by demarcating bike lanes on city streets. As always, it’s a good idea to research the possibilities before you leave home.
I love history. For many years, I acquainted myself with cities by reading about their past, then exploring them by myself (mostly on foot). But in recent years, I’ve started taking advantage of more structured walking tours as part of my experience. Here are a few things I’ve learned about walking tours that I always keep in mind:
1. Take the tour as early in your visit as possible. This helps you quickly learn the city’s layout. In addition, your tour guide will help point out places you’ll want to try to see (or revisit) before you leave town.
2. Show up a few minutes early. Most guides are excellent at ensuring everyone hears the scripted parts of the tour. Nonetheless, you stand a better chance of learning more about places in between stops if you are walking closest to the guide and can banter a bit.
I’ve picked out three cities to feature in this blog. For each city I provide a “Top Choice” an “Honorable Mention” and a “Runner Up.” I hope you get a chance to explore these beautiful and historic cities with the benefit of a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide.