Small Towns To Visit this Summer

Bright lights and big cities get all the press, but the often-overlooked prized jewels that are the small towns of the United States are where many are finding their next summer vacationing spot, according to an article from Country Living.  While the complete list details thirty total provincial villages, towns, and boroughs, the following are two particular hidden gems that you should absolutely consider making your summer getaway in the coming months.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Contemplate spending a week in the summer hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains and staying in the nearby mountain resort city of Gatlinburg, TN. Located southeast of Knoxville, this outdoor adventurer’s paradise is the ideal “home base” for those looking to partake in horseback riding, hiking, fishing, and rafting due to the fact that Gatlinburg is located at the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Take a 340 ft. elevator ride upward and observe the breathtaking majesty of the Smokies from atop theGatlinburg Space Needle or take a leisurely ride above the treetops from one of the gondolas, chairlifts, or aerial tram cars that the area has to offer. Once at the top of the town, you and your travel companions can take in a day observing underwater wonders at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the arcades, escape rooms, and mini-golf courses of the Gatlin Fun Center.

One key attraction that is essential to the Gatlinburg experience besides the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or the massive amusement park is an area known as the Village Shops. Filled with floral arrangements, gardens, and landscaping marvels, this collection of small businesses, eateries, and lodgings is perfect for those wanting to get a scaled-down version of the commercialization found up the mountain. One bite into a barbecue sandwich at Tennessee Jed’s will have you forgetting about ever wanting to conquer that advanced-level hiking trail you saw earlier that day. Whether you partake in a Gatlinburg experience outdoors or indoors, it’s safe to say that hidden among the expansive range that is the Great Smoky Mountains is a town with plenty to offer travelers of all types.

Nashville, Indiana

Located only 90 minutes away from Louisville, KY, this might not be the Nashville you’re familiar with, but it is certainly the Nashville that will win your heart. This quaint town is the county seat of Brown County, and it’s home to dozens of locally-owned restaurants and small businesses that will win you and your family over. One particular shop, the Brown County Rock Shop, sells fossils and rocks, but it also has a station where you can pan for gems right outside the front doors.

The most notable destination inside the city limits of Nashville, IN is assuredly the Zoo’Opolis Exotic Petting Zoo and Bird Park. The petting zoo element of Zoo’Opolisis one of its biggest draws, as it has three levels of tickets that can be purchased for participants to interact with the animals. At the beginner ($15) and advanced ($45) levels, zoo visitors can feed fawns, goats, ostrich chicks, and zebu calves; pet wallaby, muntjac deer, and tortoises; and interact with leopard Bengal kittens, hedgehogs, chinchillas, snakes, and iguana. It’s the ambassador ticket level ($85) that has tourists visiting this small town from all over the eastern United States, as this level allows for a more interactive approach with participants observing and sometimes entering the animal enclosures of timber wolves, red foxes, raccoons, coatimundi, zebras, and lemurs.

Ideally, this town is visited in the autumn as the changing colors of the leaves is the type of picturesque iconography that’s present across the town’s tourism pamphlets. The scenery can be best observed along Main Street (Van Buren Street) within the courtyard of the Iris Garden Cottage and Suites, or in the forests of Brown County State Park. So, pack up the car and become better acquainted with a town that is one of the more unforgettable treasures of Indiana, the not-as-famous but just-as-musical, Nashville.

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Southern Day Trips to Take in Summer 2021

If you live in the American South, then you’re familiar with the majesty of the surrounding area, and due to the close proximity of the interesting attractions, you might not always feel inclined to spend multiple nights or days visiting what’s practically in your backyard. If that is true, then consider taking a southern day trip to a spectacular, nearby state, and it’s easy thanks to Southern Living’s list of suggested day trips to take in the Southern United States.

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park; Gatlinburg, Tennessee

While this park isn’t for the faint of heart, it is for those who are unafraid of incredible heights and breath-taking sights. Located in the heart of Gatlinburg, Tennessee is the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park that gives you the perfect vantage point from which to see the majesty of the expansive Smoky Mountains. Whether you’re looking down at Crockett Mountainfrom 500 ft. above, taking a breather at the SkyDeck atop the mountain, or braving a stroll down SkyBridge, the longest suspension bridge in the United States, your adventurous side will no doubt be satisfied. After taking the SkyLift to the top of Crockett Mountain or walking down the 680 ft. SkyBridge, you can stop by the SkyCenter to check out the gift shop, grab your professionally-taken photo of you atop the Skylift, or just relax with delicious concessions while looking at the greatest view imaginable.

The United States Naval Academy; Annapolis, Maryland

Since 1845 the United States Naval Academy has been rigorously training officers for the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps in Annapolis Maryland, and the campus is available for public visitation. Once you’re at the academy, there’s plenty of history to uncover about the prestigious entity that is the nation’s Naval and Marine forces. Visitors stopping by on a day trip might be attending a raucous sporting event at the Brigade Sports Complex or the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, where recruits are often engaged in a Navy game of football, lacrosse, or hockey. Those more inclined to learn about the history of the United States Navy or its academy might want to take in an exhibit at the Naval Academy Museum, see what academy life is like for a midshipman by booking a guided tour, or pay resorts at the crypt of naval hero John Paul Jones. The Naval Academy is located on the northeastern coast of Annapolis, Maryland, and while many residents have grown up with training officers jogging or marching down the streets of the city’s downtown area, many go their whole lives without visiting the Naval Academy, so book a day trip and learn about the history of the famed branch of the U.S military.

Everglades National Park; Florida Everglades

It’s not every day that you can visit a near-mythological landscape that emcompasses 1.5 million acrees of wetlands.Book a day trip to Southern Florida and see the truly unforgettable sights of Everglades National Park, where anything is possible. One popular entry point to the Everglades is located deep in the heart of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, and it has a 2.1 mile-long boardwalk from which you can see the towering sights of the cyprus trees above. Not only are some of the trees 135 ft. in height, but the Sanctuary is the single-largest stand of old-growth cypress trees in the world. While visiting, you can also check out the hundreds of alligators that line the canal banks of the 720,000-acre Big Cypress National Preserve. Many want to experience the Everglades first-hand and fast-paced, so if that sounds like you, then you’d be well-off booking an airboat adventure ride at the Sawgrass Recreation Park. Once aboard, you’ll be able to hear authentic, Florida-specific stories and see over 100 mammals and reptiles that have been adopted and rescued over the past few decades.

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Unforgettable Southern Lakes

The ideal southerner loves iced tea, preferably a little sweet and sipped on the dock of a gorgeous summer lake, spending full days barefoot unless dinner calls for flip-flops, and they happily live life at a slower pace. Collected by Southern Living Magazine, here are a handful of can’t-miss southern lake visits to brighten up your year. Whether you crave the speed of water sports, prefer the solitude of a mountain lake, or count down the moments to the daily floating hour, you’ll find a place to dive right into some of summer’s greatest pleasures.

Lady Bird Lake, Texas

Located downstream from the large homes and powerboats of Lake Austin is the quieter, more memorable southern lake named Lady Bird Lake, which allows only non-motorized boats. Imagines as a reflection to this music-loving town, Lady Bird boasts its own venue at Auditorium Shores, a wide riverbank slope that hosts concerts. Discover Lady Bird’s hidden local secret: a side trip on the lake’s famous tributary, Barton Creek. Rent a kayak from Rowing Dock and discover the small dam that holds Barton Springs Pool.

Stonewall Jackson Lake, West Virginia

There’s not enough hours in a single day to contain the amount of fun had at this luxurious state resort set  in the middle of 2,000-acre Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park. Book a room at the lodge on the lake’s shore, cruise the waters of Stonewall Jackson Lake on a pontoon boat, or tee it up on an Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course.

Missouri’s Table Rock Lake at Big Cedar Lodge

Started by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, this heavenly lodge property is located on a nearly 60,000-acre lake just outside Branson, Missouri.Big Cedar Lodge’s gentle call of the wild fills all 81 cabins, 3 lodges, 4 restaurants, and 100 boat slips. Guests can choose between cottages, cabins, and handsome hotel rooms in one of three ridge-side lodges. Access is incredibly easy―the brand-new $140-million Branson airport is just 10 miles from the lodge.

Lake Guntersville, Alabama

This quintessential southern lake experience is known as one of Alabama’s prettiest patches of fresh water―Lake Guntersville. But the small city holds a few shopping and dining surprises that could have easily been plucked from much more urban areas such as Birmingham and Huntsville. Though, you’re here for the lake and its calming qualities will ease you through this relaxing weekend.

Lake Santeetlah, North Carolina

Lake Santeetlah’s 76 miles of shoreline are mostly protected as national forest.Enjoy the silence via canoe, sea kayak or stand up paddleboard. Afterward, head to the lakeside bar and dock at Blue Waters Mountain Lodge. Editor’s tip: For lakeside camping with a few amenities–hot showers and flush toilets–Cheoah Point Campground has car campsites for $20 a night.

Lake Martin, Alabama

Known as a popular second-home lake to Birmingham and Montgomery residents, this southern lake, Lake Martin, holds a population of full-time lakeside dwellers. On the weekends, boats raft up at Chimney Rock, a prominent cliff-jumping spot near the dam, inviting you to partake.

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Looking Ahead to Your Summer Travel

Need something to look forward to in these trying times? Let’s get to planning a summer travel or a summer camping getaway. Once we flatten the curve and life returns to normal for us all, small businesses are going to need us more than ever.  Pack up the coolers and your favorite grilling apron, and check out these great options below, courtesy of GlampingHub.

New York State of Mind

Upstate New York has something for everyone and is the perfect getaway for summer travel 2020. There are vast opportunities to explore – cabins, safari tents, and natural landscapes (including the Hudson River and Niagara Falls), just to name a few.  If you’ve been dreaming of an escape to the wild outdoors, this is the place for you.  What better way to unwind after the last few stressful months than to take in the majestic calm of fresh mountain air in the Catskill Mountains? This is a great option for Fall 2020 too since Upstate New York is also known for its beautiful autumn leaves.

Georgia On My Mind

Looking for a southern camping experience?  Georgia is on our mind. With its gorgeous national parks including Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests and the pristine Blue Ridge Mountains (part of the Appalachian Mountain range), Georgia is the ideal place for a summer camping getaway.  A little known fact is that Georgia is also home to some amazing coastline sights and sounds.  Escape into The Peach State with a stay in a cabin or even a tree house rental.

O Canada

Due north of Seattle, Washington is Vancouver, Canada – a western coastal seaport in the lower mainland of British Columbia.  Although Vancouver is the most populous city in the province, don’t let that distract you from its abundance of gorgeous summer travel and camping opportunities. We can’t wait to check them out!  From Banff National Park with its many trails (including pet friendly options) to countless cabins in their majestic mountains and even beach rentals along their sprawling coastline, you just cannot go wrong taking a camping trip into The Great White North of Vancouver, Canada.  You deserve to treat yourself to the forests, mountains, and rivers of Vancouver this summer!

Down & Out? Let’s Go Down Under

If you’ve never visited the outback, you should know there’s more to it than the kangaroos, koalas and “throw a shrimp on the barbie” (although there are definitely plenty of grilling opportunities exploring the outdoors there). Sydney, Australia – in New South Wales – is the perfect destination for your post-quarantine getaway.  Escape the humdrum and spread your wings exploring this beautiful country. Check out all that their great outdoors have to offer, including the Blue Mountains National Park on the outskirts of the city suburbs, or lay claim to your own personal piece of paradise at one of their over 10,000 distinct beaches.  Australia is rife with natural beauty, and Aussies pride themselves in being laid back and fun people, so be sure you plan to stay a while and take in all they have to offer.  You won’t regret how many “g’days” you’ll experience down under, mate.

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Top 5 Beaches to Vacation at this Summer if Possible

Already dreaming of your days on the beach this summer once we are allowed to travel again?  So are we!  Heading for a vacation at the beach is perfect for almost anyone – family vacations, romantic getaways, a long weekend with some friends, or even a solo-vacation! You can spend your days with your toes in the sand or opt for more adventure and go snorkeling and surfing.

In honor of our upcoming summer vacations, here’s a list from Travel + Leisurethat covers the best beach vacations on a budget.

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida

We’ve all heard that Miami,Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beachare the go-to beach destinations in Florida, but this beach town is way more affordable. Plus, you’ll experience smaller crowds and experience life in an authentic beach town.

Lauderdale-by-the-sea is hidden on the east coast, sandwiched between Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach. When you’re here, make sure to visit the pier and walk through Anglin’s square, where you’ll find cafes, restaurants, and gelato shops.

Gold Beach, Oregon-Vacation 

Gold Beach is the perfect (and cheaper) alternative to the popular Oregon beach Canon Beach. You’ll find crowd-free beaches, ocean kayaking, jet boat tours, fishing, and tidepooling.

Try to visit between March and May, which is the prime time to see northbound pods of migrating gray whales as they pass through these waters.

Islamorada, Florida

Although it’s only 20 miles long, this tiny island located in the Florida Keyshas plenty to offer its visitors. Choosing a smaller, lesser-known island like this can help keep the cash in your wallet compared to the popular islands.

Here, you can explore Indian Key, an 11-acre historic state park that has the remains of an 1800’s shipwreck. You can also head to Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park to see an exposed coral reef and take a self-guided nature trail hike.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina-Vacation 

This fun beach is bursting with fun-filled activities for the whole family. Known as the mini-golf capital of the world, this beach town has more than 50 themed miniature golf courses.

Aside from mini-golf, you can explore the pier at Myrtle Beach State Park, shop at Hudson’s Surfside Flea Market, and explore the shops and restaurants in Market Common.

Tybee Island, Georgia

Only about 20 minutes from downtown Savannah, you’ll find that this beach destination has plenty to do without the price. The beach is 5 miles long, with several separate beaches. It makes for a perfect vacation spot.  Visit Savannah and Tybee Island in one great trip.

The North Beach is perfect for bird and ship watching. Head to Mid Beach if you’re looking for seashells and shark teeth, and South Beach is the place to be for volleyball and dolphin-spotting. Back River is a more secluded beach that has a fishing pier and picture perfect views of Little Tybee.

Plus, you can find plenty of free parks, playgrounds, and hiking trails. During the summer, the City of Tybee hosts free movies in the park. Just bring a blanket and some snacks, and relax!

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The Best Museums in Each State

Trying to escape the summer heat? Museums are the perfect go to for day trips or even for a whole vacation. What about a road trip that stops at the coolest ones in eachstate? The Discoverer Blog has a list of the Coolest Museum in Each State. We are here to share 8 of them!

Colorado

Located in Denver, the Denver Art Museum is one of the largest in the west. The outside alone is enough to draw visitors. However, the inside is filled with traveling collections, Western art, and contemporary pieces. The Denver Art Museum could be classified as an encyclopedia that holds many different types of artistic expression. They even have hand-dyed Native American blankets.

Georgia

World of Coca-Cola is located in Atlanta and is interactive. Not only does the museum contain the vault that holds Coke’s famous secret formula, but there is a tasting room where its visitors can try samples of Coca-Cola. Over 100 different samples! There is a 4D theatre and there is even a pop culture gallery.

Kansas

Wichita’s museum, the Museum of World Treasures, is the perfect museum to spend an entire day at. There are three floors of over 30,000 different artifacts. There is a little something for everyone. There is a Sea Creatures of the Plains exhibit that displays a giant prehistoric sea creature called the Xiphactinus fish.

Minnesota

Taking a huge leap and being the “leading exhibition of modern art”, the Walker Art Center is located in Minneapolis. This museum is also known for its architecture. The array of modern art exhibits located within the museum is amazing. The sculpture garden holds the “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture.

Montana

The Museum of the Rockies is actually a Smithsonian affiliate. Located in Bozeman, this museum is famous for its Siebel DInosaur Complex, which holds the most fossils of T. Rex in the world. If you are looking for a Museum that explores the Montana Landscape, this is the perfect stop. Learn about the history of Yellowstone and geysers.

Ohio

What about a music museum? The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, located in Cleveland, is perfect for those rock and roll lovers. Multiple exhibits display the rock legends who have helped create music to be what it is today. David Bowie, Elvis and the Beatles are just a few. Visit to see artifacts and costumes from artist who have truly made rock and roll what it is.

South Dakota

The Mammoth Site and Museum was discovered when a housing development was leveling the grounds. In 1974, a 7-foot tusk was found and the excavation began. The museum was created a year after the original find. There are 3 wooly mammoths that have been uncovered and visitors can actually watch the excavation happen. It is believed that there could still be over 1,000 bones and fragments that actually are still buried in the sink hole.

Tennessee

Located in Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum is housed in the Lorraine Motel, which was where Martin Luther KIng Jr. was shot. It includes personal accounts of people who experienced the movement and there are even exhibits that focus on Jim Crow laws. Visitors can even tour a bus, a vintage one, and listen to the interaction between Rosa Parks and a public transit worker.

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