Discover Staunton: A Small Town with Big Character

Nestled in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Staunton beckons travelers with its rich history, vibrant arts scene, and breathtaking natural beauty, as per this travel blog post from SouthernLiving. This small town, pronounced “Stan-ten,” boasts six well-preserved historic districts, each adorned with beautifully restored buildings and Victorian-style architecture. Despite its size, Staunton offers a diverse range of attractions and activities for every type of traveler.

Staunton’s arts and culture scene is thriving, with the American Shakespeare Center and the Blackfriars Playhouse at its center. The Blackfriars Playhouse, a re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater, is considered one of the world’s most historically significant theaters. Here, you can enjoy performances of Shakespeare’s timeless classics like “Hamlet” and “Much Ado About Nothing,” as well as seasonal works like “A Christmas Carol.”

For a deeper dive into history, the Frontier Culture Museum, located on the outskirts of Staunton, is the largest open-air living history museum in the Shenandoah Valley. Costumed interpreters bring to life the stories of Native American tribes, European immigrants, and enslaved Africans who settled in Virginia. Music enthusiasts will find themselves in heaven during the Staunton Music Festival, a late-summer event that hosts over 80 renowned and emerging musical artists across more than 20 performances. Best of all, most of the concerts are free to the public. If you prefer live bands, venues like Gypsy Hill Park and Tempest Bar & Lounge regularly feature local talent.

Staunton’s walkable historic downtown area is a treasure trove of boutiques and cafes, making it a delight for leisurely strolls. The town is home to Mary Baldwin University, adding youthful energy to the mix. But it’s not just about shopping and education; Staunton has a rich historical heritage to explore. The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum is a must-visit, showcasing historic photographs, artifacts, and even the Pierce-Arrow limousine that carried President Wilson after negotiating the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. You can also explore the very house where the 28th president was born. The Camera Heritage Museum is a photographer’s dream, featuring over 7,000 cameras spanning more than 150 years of photography technology. Additionally, the museum boasts a collection of more than 2,000 vintage photographs of Staunton and Augusta County.

For those who enjoy shopping, Staunton offers a variety of options, especially along Beverley Street, the town’s main thoroughfare. Vintage shops like Billy Opal, Juniper Lane, and Eclectic Retro are perfect for unique finds. Remedy Burger is a must-visit for burger lovers, with options like the signature Remedy Burger and the veggie-centric Broccoli Burger. If you’re craving Salvadoran-style food, Gloria’s Pupuseria serves up mouth-watering pupusas, pasteles, and tamales. For a taste of nostalgia, don’t miss Wright’s Dairy-Rite, which has been serving burgers and fries since 1952. Their curb service adds a touch of old-school charm to your dining experience, and you must try the Wright’s Wheelie– a hot glazed donut topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Sweet Addie’s Waffle Shop, where liege waffles can be adorned with toppings like crushed Oreos, mini marshmallows, and more. They also offer savory waffle combinations, including fried chicken, gravy, and white cheddar mac & cheese.

When it’s time to rest, Staunton has several charming accommodations. Berkeley Place, dating back to 1896, is an elegant boutique inn steeped in history. Recently renovated, this one-time mansion now enchants guests with its historical charm. Gibson’s Warehouse, a boutique property, boasts industrial-chic guest rooms with exposed brick walls and unique design elements. Hotel 24 South combines historic charm with modern amenities, including luxurious pillow-top mattresses, an indoor pool, and the 1924 Lounge for casual dining.

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Exploring the Diverse Beauty of the United States Coast to Coast

When it comes to breathtaking natural beauty and diverse landscapes, the United States offers a cornucopia of wonders from coast to coast. While the country boasts famous landmarks like the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty, there are countless lesser-known gems waiting to be discovered. So, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or an adventurous soul ready to hit the road, here’s a journey inspired by Travel + Leisure’s article that promises to captivate your senses and awaken your wanderlust.

Fall is a magical time in the United States, and while places like Vermont and Maine often steal the spotlight for their colorful foliage, a hidden gem awaits in Minnesota. Welcome to the North Shore Scenic Byway, a 154-mile stretch of road along Lake Superior’s shoreline that promises a unique autumn experience. The North Shore’s beauty lies in its double dose of fall. First, you’ll be enchanted by the fiery hues of maple trees in the mountains, followed by the golden glory of aspen and birch trees along the shore. This seasonal spectacle has earned the byway the prestigious title of an “All-American Road” by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

Begin your journey in Duluth, a city known for North America’s largest freshwater estuary, ideal for kayaking and canoeing. If you’re keen on exploring the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a major attraction of the North Shore, take a detour through Two Harbors. Continuing on the scenic byway, you’ll encounter Kelsey Beach, where you can savor a slice of pie from Betty’s, a local gem. The route then leads you through Gooseberry State Park and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, home to the iconic Split Rock Lighthouse, a must-visit spot.

Further along, Tettegouche State Park boasts some of Minnesota’s most magnificent waterfalls. You can take a leisurely hike along the cliffs or embark on the Cascade Trail to witness the awe-inspiring Cascades Waterfall. The journey continues through Caribou Falls State Wayside and Temperance River State Park before reaching Lutsen, a small town with a thriving summer and fall mountain scene. Here, you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the lake from the Summit Express gondola, try mountain biking, or experience the adrenaline rush of the alpine slide.

As you make your way to Grand Marais, a charming coastal town awaits. This community offers delectable cuisine and a vibrant art scene, including the renowned North House Folk School, where you can explore traditional northern crafts. Your journey culminates in the town of Grand Portage near the Canadian border. While it’s possible to complete the entire route in a day, savoring the North Shore’s beauty deserves a slower pace. In Duluth, consider staying at Solglimt, a charming five-room bed-and-breakfast with Lake Superior beach access, or the waterfront Fitger’s Hotel.

Midway through your adventure, The Mayhew Inn in Grand Marais beckons with expansive rooftop decks overlooking the harbor and The Gunflint Trail. For those who prefer the great outdoors, there are numerous campgrounds scattered along the route. In Grand Marais, The Fisherman’s Daughter serves up “dock-to-table fish + chips” and a mouthwatering selection of fish tacos and more. Nearby, the Angry Trout Cafe offers a unique lakefront dining experience in a converted commercial fishing shanty.

Timing is everything when it comes to experiencing the North Shore’s splendor. The best time to embark on this scenic byway adventure is in the fall when the weather cools and the landscape transforms into a kaleidoscope of colors. The maple trees in the Sawtooth Mountains typically reach their peak in mid-September, with the spectacle continuing into early October. Along the Lake Superior shoreline, where you’ll spend most of your journey, aspens and birch trees typically peak between late September and mid-October.

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Explore the Wonders of Tarpon Springs, Florida

If you’ve ever dreamt of wandering through the enchanting villages of the Greek Islands but find your plans leaning toward a more budget-friendly escapade, worry not. There exists a destination that could transport you to the allure of Mykonos, all while keeping you close to home, thanks to this travel blog article from Southern Living. Nestled on the Gulf of Mexico just north of Tampa, Tarpon Springs, Florida, is a hidden gem that can whisk you away to a Mediterranean reverie. With a history rooted in the discovery of sponge beds off its coast in the early 1900s, the town’s identity became intricately tied to Greek culture when Greek sponge divers were introduced to the area in 1905. Today, the Greek influence remains vibrant, with Tarpon Springs boasting the highest percentage of Greek Americans among all U.S. cities.

Picture this: as you drizzle fresh lemon over your chargrilled octopus and overhear the animated conversations of the table next to you in Greek, the thought of being in Florida could easily vanish from your mind. Walking along Dodecanese Boulevard, where boats adorned with Greek flags dock gracefully, you might as well be strolling through a coastal village in Greece. Remember those cinematic landscapes from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Mamma Mia!? If they captured your heart, you’ll be thrilled to know that a taste of Greek vacation dreams awaits you right here in the American South – in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

From the Historic Sponge Docks to the mesmerizing Anclote River, Tarpon Springs offers a tapestry of experiences that will leave you enchanted. Begin your journey by immersing yourself in the bustling atmosphere of the Historic Sponge Docks, once the epicenter of the town’s thriving sponge industry. While sponge boats may not arrive as frequently today, the area remains a vibrant hub, lined with Greek restaurants, souvenir shops showcasing sponges from the Gulf, and charming bakeries. Explore the 30 specialty shops at The Sponge Exchange, capture a photo with the cheerful sponge smiley outside Sponge Diver Supply, and indulge in homemade olive oil soap from Lori’s Soap & Sponge.

Delve deeper into Tarpon Springs’ rich history by embarking on a sponge diving boat tour with St. Nicholas Boat Line. Cruise along the picturesque Anclote River as owner George Billiris, a Tarpon Springs native, regales you with tales of the town’s sponge diving heritage. Marvel as a live diver, clad in traditional diving gear, plunges to the ocean floor to retrieve a sponge, right before your eyes. Not far from the docks, immerse yourself further by visiting two downtown landmarks – the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum and the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Wander around Spring Bayou at Craig Park, a serene location renowned for hosting the town’s annual Greek Orthodox Epiphany Celebration and cross-diving ceremony.

Venture a few blocks from the park to downtown Tarpon Springs, a treasure trove of charm awaiting your exploration. While Greek influences may be less pronounced here, you’ll find an array of coffee shops, boutiques, and antique stores. For a dose of nostalgia, don’t miss the Replay Museum, housing a collection of vintage arcade and pinball games. Sunshine Supply Company beckons with modern home goods and local art, offering a delightful shopping experience.

If your vision of a Greek getaway involves sun-kissed sands and uninterrupted ocean views, Tarpon Springs can make it come true. Fred Howard Park, a sprawling 155-acre natural haven, awaits you with opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. Cross the mile-long causeway to reach Howard Park Beach’s pristine white sands, where you can bask in the serene waters of Saint Joseph Sound. Should the allure of the Atlantic Ocean tug at your heart, a short ride to Dunedin can lead you to a Parrotdise Express boat tour. Embark on a 4-hour adventure to a semi-private island, where you can snorkel amidst vibrant marine life, from colorful fish to majestic seahorses, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

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Exploring the Charms of Silverton, Colorado

Nestled amidst the picturesque San Juan Mountains, the small town of Silverton, Colorado, offers a remarkable getaway that seamlessly blends history, nature, and outdoor adventure, according to this travel blog post from Travel + Leisure. If you’re in search of a destination that promises captivating sights, engaging activities, and a charming atmosphere, Silverton has it all.

When it comes to accommodations, Silverton offers a variety of options that perfectly capture the town’s rich history and modern flair. The Wyman Hotel stands out as the hippest spot in town, boasting mid-century modern design, a Scozy lobby bar, and stunning mountain views from its 15 beautifully appointed rooms. The hotel’s unique feature is its setting in a 1902 landmark building, evoking the nostalgia of a bygone era while incorporating modern luxuries.

Another iconic option is the Grand Imperial Hotel, affectionately known as “The Grand.” With its Victorian decor, carved wooden furniture, and mountain views from almost every room, The Grand exudes historic charm. For a more intimate experience, the Villa Dallavalle Historic Inn beckons with its European ambiance and distinct family history.

 Silverton is a playground for adventure enthusiasts, and the options are as diverse as they are exciting. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad steals the spotlight in the summer. This historic train winds through canyons, alongside the Animas River, and over rugged Molas Pass, offering an unparalleled journey with spectacular mountain vistas. For a unique twist, disembark between the two towns and immerse yourself in the wilderness for hiking, climbing, and skiing escapades.

Kendall Mountain Ski Area offers a more relaxed yet fun-filled experience. With one chairlift, an adjacent sledding hill, and an ice rink, it’s a fantastic spot for family enjoyment. Meanwhile, the Ice Lake Trail leads intrepid hikers into the heart of the San Juan Mountains, where wildflowers dot the landscape and culminate in the awe-inspiring Ice Lake. And for thrill-seekers, Silverton Mountain promises extreme skiing and snowboarding, guided or unguided, with helicopter access to untouched powder.

 No trip to Silverton would be complete without driving the Million Dollar Highway, a breathtaking 23-mile route connecting Silverton and Ouray via the stunning Red Mountain Pass. The road’s dramatic cliffside carvings provide constant panoramic views of the natural beauty that surrounds you. As you explore Silverton, don’t miss the chance to discover its charming shops. White Eyes Gallery offers authentic Indigenous art, including pottery, paintings, and jewelry. The Silverton Train Store showcases railroad art, particularly focusing on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. And Fetch’s Mining & Mercantile provides the perfect souvenir haven, along with engaging conversations that make you feel like part of the family.

When it’s time to refuel, Silverton’s dining scene is equally inviting. Coffee Bear emerges as the morning go-to, offering coffee and breakfast burritos for early adventurers. Kendall Mountain Café, on the other hand, is a cozy spot for a diner-style breakfast and lunch, serving hearty dishes with a side of forest charm. For the best experience, plan your visit between June and October. This period offers a wealth of activities, from hiking and biking to fishing and train rides. The town’s businesses are all up and running, ensuring a vibrant atmosphere. However, if skiing and ice climbing are your passions, winter is the ideal time to explore Silverton’s snowy wonders.

From historical landmarks to outdoor adventures, Silverton, Colorado, offers a treasure trove of experiences for every traveler. Immerse yourself in the town’s rich history, relish its picturesque landscapes, and embrace the excitement of its outdoor pursuits. Whether you’re a history buff, an adrenaline junkie, or simply seeking a serene escape, Silvertonwelcomes you with open arms.

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Embrace Adventure in Tallulah Falls, Georgia

Consider taking a trip out to Tallulah Falls, Georgia’s Waterfall Capital, where natural wonders and outdoor adventures await. Nestled along the border between Georgia and South Carolina, this small town is a hidden gem that boasts breathtaking landscapes and a rich history, according to this expert travel article from Southern Living. If you’re a nature lover seeking to immerse yourself in the beauty of moving water and stunning waterfalls, then Tallulah Fallsshould be at the top of your travel list.

Hiking enthusiasts will find their paradise in Tallulah Falls, with a variety of trails to explore. The gorge floor trail is a popular choice, but remember to obtain a free permit from the Interpretive Center before embarking on your adventure. Only a limited number of permits are issued each day, so plan accordingly. The Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center is a must-visit spot where you can delve into the area’s history and learn about the protected species that call the park home.

Tallulah Gorge State Park is the crown jewel of this area, with its magnificent Tallulah Gorge stealing the show. This two-mile-long gorge drops almost 1,000 feet deep, a masterpiece carved by the Tallulah River over centuries. For the best views of this awe-inspiring gorge and the surrounding landscape, head to the Tallulah Gorge Rim Trail. Autumn, in particular, paints the scenery with vibrant foliage, creating a picturesque wonderland. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even obtain a permit to hike to the gorge floor and witness the river and waterfalls from a unique vantage point on a swaying suspension bridge.

Of course, you can’t visit Tallulah Falls without witnessing the falls that give the town its name. Along the Tallulah River, you’ll encounter a series of rushing cascades, including Hurricane Falls, Tempesta Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Oceana Falls, and L’Eau d’Or Falls. Most of these falls are visible from rim overlooks, and the hiking trails offer perfect vantage points to catch glimpses of these natural wonders.

Beyond the thrill of outdoor adventures, Tallulah Falls offers a charming small-town experience that will leave you enamored. If you’re a nature lover, consider camping in the great outdoors, or for a cozier stay, check into Lodging on the Lake, where you’ll still feel connected to nature’s embrace. The Glen-Ella Springs Inn & Restaurant, a beautifully appointed bed-and-breakfast, offers a more luxurious retreat a bit farther from town.

As you wander through Tallulah Falls, don’t miss the opportunity to explore The General Store, a delightful shop with locally made art, pottery, and unique souvenirs. Whether you’re searching for a memento of your trip or looking for a perfect gift, this store has it all.

After a day filled with exploration and adventure, it’s time to treat yourself to a hearty mountain meal. Head to Main Street Grill and BBQ for a delicious burger or catfish po’boy that will satisfy your hunger. For a refreshing beverage or a dose of caffeine, Tallulah 1882 awaits you with a menu of teas, coffees, and specialty drinks in a bright and inviting setting. If you’re in the mood for a lively atmosphere, Tallulah Adventures and The Edge Cafe and Bar are great choices, offering a variety of sandwiches, pizzas, and salads to indulge in.

Tallulah Falls, Georgia’s Waterfall Capital, beckons travelers with its natural beauty, adventure opportunities, and small-town charms. From exploring the majestic gorge to admiring the rushing waterfalls, there’s something enchanting about this Peach State treasure. Whether you seek outdoor escapades or a peaceful retreat, Tallulah Falls promises a memorable experience that will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated.

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From History to Art: The Best Experiences in Raleigh, NC

Raleigh, North Carolina, nestled in the heart of the Research Triangle, offers a unique blend of city life and Southern charm. With its tall buildings, museums, green spaces, and diverse culinary scene, Raleigh has something for everyone. Locals describe it as a close-knit community with the culture and sophistication of a bigger city, according to this travel blog post from Southern Living. If you’re considering a trip to the area, here are the best things to do in Raleigh.

To truly appreciate the city, start by exploring it on foot. One of the best views can be found while walking over Boylan Bridge. Don’t forget to stop for a quick photo opportunity. For a glimpse into Raleigh’s history, head to the Historic Oakwood neighborhood, where you can admire the 19th-century Victorian-era homes. Download the free walking tour brochure to make the most of your experience. For nature enthusiasts, the Neuse River Greenway Trail offers 27.5 miles of paved pathways for walking, running, and biking. Along the trail, you’ll encounter beautiful wetlands, suspension bridges, and agricultural fields. Historical and interpretive signs provide interesting information about the area.

To balance out the Southern cuisine, make a stop at the State Farmers Market. Open almost every day of the year, this market features 30,000 square feet of North Carolina produce stands, specialty shops, and restaurants. It’s a great place to pick up fresh and local produce. Music lovers will be delighted by Raleigh’s vibrant music scene. The city boasts more than 80 music venues and hosts several festivals throughout the year. The IBMA World of Bluegrass and Hopscotch Music Festival in September, as well as the Dreamville Festival in April, are highlights on the calendar.

Outdoor enthusiasts shouldn’t miss William B. Umstead State Park, located just a short distance from downtown Raleigh. The park offers hiking trails, campgrounds, and even horseback riding. Fishing and boating on Big Lake are popular activities, and you can rent canoes and rowboats for a leisurely day on the water. For a memorable evening, catch a show at the Red Hat Amphitheater. This outdoor venue allows you to enjoy live music while taking in one of Raleigh’s stunning sunsets. The Shimmer Wall, located nearby, adds to the magical atmosphere. The amphitheater’s lineup includes a variety of artists throughout the year.

Immerse yourself in history at the Historic Yates Mill County Park. Explore the fully restored 18th-century water-powered mill and take a guided tour to learn more about its significance. It’s a fascinating glimpse into Raleigh’s past.Art enthusiasts will appreciate the North Carolina Museum of Art, which features both indoor exhibitions spanning thousands of years and the beautiful Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park. The museum and park are free to the public, offering a perfect opportunity for a picnic or a leisurely stroll.

For contemporary art, visit the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) Raleigh. The museum showcases works from emerging and established artists. Don’t miss the North Carolina Artists Exhibition, where you can see the best of the state’s emerging talent. To delve into Raleigh’s history, tour the Pope House Museum. This museum showcases over 3,000 artifacts from the Pope family, providing insights into one of Raleigh’s most intriguing families. Admission is free, but tours are on a first-come, first-served basis. For those who enjoy shopping, both the Raleigh Market and City Market offer unique experiences. The Raleigh Market, located at the historic NC State Fairgrounds, features over 500 vendors selling a variety of items. City Market, with its cobblestoned streets, is home to boutiques, shops, art galleries, and restaurants.

With its rich history, vibrant arts scene, and diverse culinary offerings, Raleigh is a destination that promises a memorable experience. Whether you’re exploring the city’s landmarks, engaging in outdoor activities, or immersing yourself in its cultural attractions, Raleigh has something to captivate every traveler.

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