Where to Stay in Charmingly Rustic North Carolina

When the autumn season is upon us, many people tend to flock to the East Coast, particularly to the Highlands-Cashiers region of North Carolina. These travelers are known to do this to experience the breathtaking fall foliage and cascading waterfalls of the region. So, if you’re also looking to partake in these unforgettable fall treasures, then this article from Travel + Leisure will help you find the perfectly charming luxury hotels to rest in after a long day in North Carolina.

North Carolina tourism often cites the city of Asheville as the most popular and most-visited spot in the state, but the Highlands-Cashiers plateau is the region’s hidden gem that’s home to comfort, beauty, and spectacle. This region is generally compared to the East Coast’s equivalent to Aspen, Colorado. This is mostly because it’s the perfect location in Appalachia for those wishing to partake in the outdoors activity or the quaint, cultured outing. Though your cell reception and internet service may dip in and out because of the elevation, you’ll always be around something exciting and inviting, so take a look at the following accommodations for the next time your need to book a trip to North Carolina’s highlands-cashiers plateau, where your can unwind, unplug, and relax.

High Hampton

This is a masterful, recently-renovated lodge that is utterly perfect for those large reunions, get-togethers, and/or family gatherings. Located just two miles away from the town center of Cashiers, North Carolina, this massive woodland lodge is perfectly situated near the Nantahala National Forest, and it’s quite honestly the perfect resort for your next big trip. While large and spacious, High Hampton is often heralded by reviewers for how it retains an atmosphere of coziness despite the ample space found inside. The welcoming resort makes it the ideal ”home base” for a variety of outdoor excursions that you make scheduled such as swimming, boating, golfing, and so much more. Stop by after a hearty day of outdoor adventure with a meal around the grand, main dining room that holds an atmosphere, not unlike a year-round, charming Thanksgiving dinner.

The design team behind the award-winning Blackberry Farm are the ones responsible for High House’s 2020 renovation. They were successful in not only bringing new, rustic life into the hallowed halls and suites of the resort lodge, but they also took genuine care to properly maintain and secure the property’s storied past. Book a stay in this literal autumnal lodge straight out of a storybook and allow yourself to take part in a long-standing tradition of travelers wanting to escape in style. In fact, you can read about the previous guests’ stays by perusing their hand-written accounts in the cataloged ledgers found lining the literal walls of the main inn in the form of storytelling wallpaper. This location is truly magical and must be seen to be believed.

Highlander Mountain House

If your traveling party is lighter than that of the above residence, then take a look at this boutique hotel located in Highlands, North Carolina, just in the past two years. Opening up as recently as 2019, the Highlander Mountain House, or HMH, is a perfect pairing of Appalachian comfort and accommodations akin to the English countryside. Quaint, charming, and warm are adjectives that attempt to accurately describe the sensation that you’ll breathe in once you’re rocking along in the porch’s Adirondack chair while enjoying a dawn-laden cup of chicory coffee. This hotel is truly a welcomed salve to your mental health as it’s slow-paced as any proper trip in the Carolinas should be. The majestic view of the Western North Carolina Mountains that are viewable from the porch and rooms of the property’s Mountain House and Bunk House are just the confirmation you’ll need to know that you made the right choice. You’ll find five district room types that each offer a different vibe or atmosphere to your stay, but it’s the conversations that you’ll find yourself partaking in once setting foot in the communal commons area that will stay with you long after you pack your bags.

Other suggested stays in the area include: the Southern-inspired Skyline Lodge, gorgeous Half Mile Farm, and the relaxing Old Edwards Inn & Spa.

For more travel-related news and information, click here.

Top “Hidden” Florida Day Trips

When it comes to Florida, residents and tourists alike agree that theme parks, heat waves, and big cities get all the acclaim. Thanks to the summer heat dying down and this handy article from SouthernLiving for the “must-visit,” secretive places in the panhandle state, there’s never been a better time to visit! Planning Florida day trips have never been easier.

Gordon River Greenway in Naples, Florida

Longtime Florida residents can agree that the state has become more and more developed over the past decade. Metropolises and commercialization are on the rise across the panhandle, but in Naples, Florida, there’s a spot that is known as one of the “last unspoiled areas in the region” by the locals. The Gordon River Greenway is a breathtakingly gorgeous nature trail that is elevated, and its paved pathways weave and meander throughout the mangroves, lead to kayak and canoe launches, and provide scenic overlooks for all sorts of wildlife viewing. The best part of all is to use this location as an opportunity to not only go on a pleasant, pedestrian hike but also a jumping-off point to brighter adventures. This is because the Greenway itself leads to a hidden entrance to both the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the Naples Zoo, making it a truly spectacular find! It’s one Flordida day trip you don’t want to miss.

The Banyan Tree in Islamorada, Florida

For another interesting Florida day trip, step into mystical, tropical gardens that are brimming with expansive and unforgettable plant life like orchids, succulents, and (of course), the titular, towering Banyan Tree. Located in Islamorada, Florida, you’ll be at peace with Florida’s often overlooked foliage and fauna as you wander through a magical garden, pursue the local wares of nearby shops, or even rediscover a lost talent by taking up an art class. As expected, most events and shops are plant-inspired such as various boutiques and gardens selling floral outfits, clothing accessories, home décor, jewelry, and so much more. Last, but not least, you should make it a dedicated point to attend Creative Plant Night, which is held every second Thursday of the month, so that you can design your own terrariums and flower arrangements with and for friends.

Historic Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs, Florida

If you’re particularly nautical-minded and a fan of Greek culture, then try heading north of Clearwater, Florida to check out Tarpon Springs and their rich, luscious history of sponge harvesting. The sponge harvesting industry is best seen by visiting and truly taking in the legacy of Tarpon Springs’ Historic Sponge Docks, as their tale dates back over a century. Besides a rich tapestry of sponge, sweat, and tears, these docks are also home to some of the most authentic Greek cuisine in the Southern United States. Stop into the Spongeroma’s Sponge Factory for an impressively large selection of natural sea sponges, boat tours, and a museum that’s sure to teach you a thing or two about absorbent, underappreciated sea life.

Shiny Fish Emporium in Anna Maria Island

When it comes to a Floridian beach trip, it’s widely expected that shells, sand dollars, or some artifact that was found in the sand is being brought back home with you. To round out our list of fun Florida day trips, why not lean into that impulse by turning necessity into art at Anna Maria Island’s Shiny Fish Emporium. Owners Rebecca and Dan have cultivated the perfect space to allow patrons to embrace creativity and decorate their own sand dollars so that they look souvenir-shop quality. This activity serves as part artisan safe space and tropical boutique as you can also browse the various wares of the shop to not only make your own gift for those back home but to also buy the perfect Floridian kimono or musical instrument that’s decorated in tropical fashion.

For more travel-related news and information, click here.

Fall Travel Destinations to Consider

The weather gets brisker, the leaves change color, and the crowds get thinner; that’s right, there’s generally no better time to travel than the autumnal months of October and November and with this expertly researched and curated article from Travel + Leisure, you can take the guesswork out of your next end-of-the-year trip. Keep reading for some great fall travel ideas.

Boston, Massachusetts

For some, New England is the end-all-be-all of the fall season, so what better place to travel than Boston. If visiting this pinnacle of American history in October or November, you luckily miss the cold, biting winter winds that are just around the corner, leaving you with more time to spend in the vibrant and rich community of Massachusetts’ finest.

Take some time for yourself and truly enrich yourself with America’s legacy, the Founding Fathers, and notable locations you’ve otherwise only heard tales of in History class textbooks and encyclopedia volumes by embarking on the notorious Freedom Trail. Though, October is famously a very busy month for the city of Boston, as the Boston Marathon, the annual Fall Pumpkin Float in the Boston Common Frog Pond, and the world’s largest two-day rowing event, the Head of the Charles Regatta all take place within weeks of each other.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay that’s equal parts quaint, luxurious, and nearby to the more popular spectacles, then you could do much worse than booking your stay at Back Bay’s Mandarin Oriental. Alternatively, you can get an excellent, once-in-a-lifetime view of both the skyline and harbor if you’re staying at The Envoy and looking off its rooftop. However, if you’re more in the mood for a boutique, then you should look into staying at Beacon Hill’s Whitney Hotel, North End’s The Boxer, Seaport’s YOTEL Boston, or Hastings Park’s The Inn. Though, no matter where you stay, there’s always planned excitement around every city block so be sure to book quickly and often this autumn season.

Maui, Hawaii

It’s not a typo; Hawaii is honestly a no-brainer in the non summer months, as the temperature is more pleasant than the rest of the United States and the crowds are less touristy as well, which is always a plus. Maui sees an influx of tourism during the summer months and holiday season, so many miss out on the warm and dry October-November season, leaving it ripe for the picking so to speak.

Check out the nightlife scene and world-class restaurants found in the historic whaling town of Lahaina if you’re staying in West Maui. Speaking of West Maui accommodations, the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is a much sought-after venue for the out-of-towner as it houses six restaurants, a luxurious spa, and two complete golf courses on its campus. Additionally, along 40 acres of Kaanapali Beach is the notorious Hyatt Regency Maui and further down the coast is the Kaanapali Beach, which is receiving guests once again, having just undergone a striking renovation.

In South Maui, many guests reportedly enjoy staying at the beachfront luxury suites from the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea or the Grand Wailea for its variety of pools, available water-based, ocean activities, and on-site waterslide. Though, if you’re seeking privacy, then look no further than the popular and new Hana-Maui Resort with oceanfront bungalows, sandy beaches, and private lanais for you and your traveling companions. Again, no matter the location, once you’re in Maui and not squeezing between families making the most out of their summer vacation, you’ll find the true meaning of happiness in the blissful, autumnal months.

Travel + Leisure’s fall travel list goes on to suggest a visit to New Orleans, Louisiana; Providence, Rhode Island; Greater Palm Springs, California; Charlottesville, Virginia; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Cooperstown, New York;  the island of Aruba; and the country of France,

For more travel-related news and information, click here.

Top US Cities to Book a Food Tour in this Fall

When you live in the same town or city year after year, it’s not uncommon to develop a routine when it comes to going out to restaurants. It starts with that list of places to eat getting progressively smaller and it ends in only a small handful of menu items being considered each time you visit. When this happens, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a vacation to engage in one of the more culinary-inspiring activities possible, the food tour, and thanks to Travel + Leisure’s collection of the country’s Top Food Tours for the 2021 Fall Season, your palette is soon to be deliciously expanded.

The typical food tour brings together the best elements of travel and cuisine because when you’re far away from home, you often are more likely to release your inhibitions and try new dishes that you never would in your hometown or own kitchen. Additionally, food and culture are oftentimes closely related, so when you book a food tour, you allowyour palette to explore new tastes and textures that you might not otherwise experience, and because you’re often being led by a food tour guide, you can safely trust that you’re in the right hands.

So whether you’re looking to book a food tour to discover a new “genre” of restaurant, favorite dish, or an intriguing new recipe to add to your cooking repertoire, be sure to consider the following food tours offered in the American cities below.

Los Angeles, California

The iconic city has attracted its fair share of press, celebrities, and notoriety over the past century, but in that time it’s also drawn in culinary artists from around the world. Experience a sampling of the best international dishes that the LA Farmers’ Market has to offer by booking a “Melting Pot Food Tour,” where you can choose from a wide selection of culinary experiences. Melting Pot offers its customers the chance to choose their own culinary destiny, as they offer experiences that examine Thai Town, East LA’s Latin cuisine, and even the historic Old Pasadena. Though, one of the stand-out experiences of their available tours is booking the opportunity to dine with the Dona Juana family as part of the La Española Meats VIP Tour. On this tour, attendees are heralded by a family that is the first and last name of all Spanish cheeses, charcuterie, small plates, drinks, and imported specialties. The best part of this tour is that it ends with a lunch on a patio where you enjoy paella, tapas, and homemade churros, thus acting as the cherry on top of a perfect culinary experience.

Savannah, Georgia

Two particular food tours do an outstanding job at inundating someone with the lush history and charming spectacle often associated with Savannah. First is “The First Squares” tour offered by Savannah Taste Experience in which participants stop along six different restaurants and food boutiques to enjoy gourmet dishes and learn the history of the city’s relationship to food as you visit an authentic pub, a British Pie Shop, and an award-winning honey store. Additionally, Southern Flavors Savannah offers a three-hour excursion into the world of sweets with “The Dessert Tour.” Be sure not to book this one too close to the previous, as you’ll be swept away with the ambiance and sweetness of downtown Savannah as you collect and savor various southern delicacies ranging from creamy-textured pralines to delightfully simple and rich coffee cake amid an unforgettable setting.

Other notable entries on Travel + Leisure’s list are the “Taste of New Orleans Food Tour, Tours By Locals” in New Orleans, Louisiana; “Best of New York Food Tour by Sarah Funky” in New York City, and “Little Havana Food Tours” in Miami, Florida.

For more travel-related news and information, click here.

Best Colorado Small Towns to Visit

There is one state in the United States of America that is beautiful year-round, so while many make sure to visit in the winter for its ski slopes or the summer for its hiking trails, the “Centennial State” is still worth the trip in Autumn and Spring, especially if you’re visiting a small town. These lesser-known towns of Colorado are becoming more popular (by word of mouth) due to the lack of crowds at the hot springs, top-of-the-line ski lodges, and hiking trails that are off the beaten path. So check out Travel + Leisure’s article detailing the “10 Best Small Towns in Colorado” for the next time you’re looking to reconnect with peace, quiet, and quaint experiences.

Before diving into the article, it should be advised that due to local regulations, travel restrictions, and COVID-19 surges, it is suggested that travelers properly research all local guidelines and CDC recommendations in order to keep themselves and those they care about as safe and responsible as possible in these unprecedented times.

Silverton, Colorado

Located along a rather remote portion of Colorado’s western San Juan Mountains lies the statutory town of Silverton. The town originated from mining claims made during the final years of Colorado’s Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, and ever since then, Silverton has attracted its fair share of animals, citizens, and adventures. One of the stand-out experiences to take advantage of in Silverton can be enjoyed year-round, as it’s the reason the town is a National Historic Landmark. Silverton is home to the scenic byway US 550, which has also been known as the “Million Dollar Highway” for over a century due to its breath-taking views of the San Juan Mountains that can only be seen from its roads. The Highway is a part of the larger San Juan Skyway, which is a 236-mile road that winds through the San Juan portion of the Rocky Mountains allowing visitors to connect with diverse mountain towns and major landmark attractions along the way.

Outside of the gorgeous views that can be seen from the road, Silverton offers those in the town to participate in canoeing, wildlife watching, paragliding, river rafting, touring gold mines, stargazing, mushroom hunting, and an unforgettable adventure called the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Train, and those are just the summer events! In the winter months, the town can be the perfect place to engage in snowmobiling, snowkiting, hockey, snowshoeing, ice skating, and all sorts of sledding. Consider staying in Silverton the next time you’re feeling adventurous because there are few other places in the United States where you can visit an actual 19th-century ghost town.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

With a name as charmingly warm as Steamboat Springs, you’ll feel comforted and right-at-home in the authentic mountain town that’s brimming with western hospitality. This town offers its residents and visitors authentic experiences such as relaxing in hot springs, fishing for flies or trout along the Yampa River or at Steamboat Lake, and seeing gorgeous nature sights by way of the town’s famous hiking, biking, and walking trails. There’s plenty of engaging activities to take advantage of whether you find yourself visiting in the summer or winter, but don’t rule out the fall visit, as the changing colors of the fall foliage are quite beautiful in this town, and you can view them from the best perspective of all by booking an ariel “foliage flight” from the Zephyr Helicopter Company or a hot-air-balloon ride from Wild West Balloon Adventures.

The other towns can be further explored via Travel + Leisure’s full list, which includes the following stand-outs:

  • Pagosa Springs, Colorado
  • Carbondale, Colorado
  • Estes Park, Colorado
  • Snowmass Village, Colorado
  • Manitou Springs, Colorado
  • Crested Butte, Colorado
  • Paonia, Colorado
  • Salida, Colorado

For more travel-related news and information, click here.

Small Town Fall Travel for 2021

Each year the transition from summer to fall has many looking forward to new opportunities for fall travel, chances, and experiences, and this sensation of new beginnings is often mirrored in the changing weather conditions and transformative color patterns found in the fall foliage of the country’s smaller towns. Thankfully, Travel + Leisure has published an acclaimed list of the seven best towns to visit so that you can ring in the new season in the best way and in the best places.

As always, it’s advised that you research and look to local travel guidelines and CDC recommendations prior to booking any accommodations in these unprecedented times so that you may keep yourself and those you care about as safe and responsible as possible.

Manchester, Vermont

Set between the Taconic and Green Mountain Ranges of southwestern Vermont, the town of Manchester is a quintessential destination for anyone who wants to experience fall travel by enjoying the colorful vibrancy that comes with the changing fall foliage, and according to the Vermont Foliage Forecaster, the best time to observe them in Manchester is around mid-October. The town takes pride in its offering of premier cultural events and world-class recreational activities that can be experienced in a dreamlike environment that is conducive to someone who needs to unplug, restore, and recharge. The town abounds with accommodations to best serve your autumnal vacation as there are plenty of quaint cottages, boutique hotels, and charming inns that can be booked ahead of your stay, such as the Kimpton Taconic Hotel, located in the middle of the village.

Due to the area’s close proximity to the Taconic Mountain Range, some of the best views of the fall foliage can be seen while on a rewarding hike (or drive) up Mount Equinox, the tallest mountain in not just the state of Vermont but the entire Taconic Range at an elevation of 3840 feet. Mount Equinox protectively stands watch over the idyllic village, and it can be accessed by car or on foot. If hiking the 6.8 mile (round trip) trek, it’s suggested that you are among the more intermediate or advanced hikers, but no matter the skill level, all reaching the summit agree that the views from the top can’t be beat.

In summation, there are countless activities to engage in if you are spending an autumnal escape in the town of Manchester such as a round of two of vivacious gaming at Pastime Pinball, a perusing of the shelves of the cozy, acclaimed inn-turned-independent bookstore known as the Northshire Bookstore, or discovering new aspects of presidential history while visiting the stately 1905 mansion, the Hildene, which was once the home of the only surviving son of President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd. Take the trip to Manchester, Vermont this fall and fall in love with New England, nature, and the fall season all over again in the perfect location for doing just that.

Torrey, Utah

The astoundingly small town of Torrey stands watch at 6,800 feet above sea level as the chief gateway to the Capitol Reef National Park. Especially in the autumn months (particularly November), the population of fewer than 200 residents regularly enjoy the cool temperatures while observing the astoundingly panoramic view of the Cathedral Valley, Boulder Mountain, and the Henry Mountains that is seen in the background of the quaint town.

Other than being a beneficial home-base for fall travel to those looking to explore, trek, and enjoy the offerings of the nearby National Park, the town itself has been known over the past 25 years for keeping a vibrant art scene alive and well in the area. This is most notably seen in the Torrey Chamber Music Festival, bi-monthly gallery showings by local artisans, and the Wayne County County Fair. If you’re stopping by the town before the end of the year, be sure to try and attend the highly-anticipated  Wayne County Farmers’ Market, which is held on Saturdays for the best offerings in food, commerce, and community that the town has to offer.

Be sure to check out the full published list, which can be read at Travel + Leisure, as it includes the towns ofBardstown, Kentucky; Cambria, California; Cape May, New Jersey; Cashiers, North Carolina; and Gretna, Louisiana.

For more travel-related news and information, click here.