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Posts Tagged ‘Kansas’

This Map Shows the Ultimate U.S. Road Trip

Bryce Canyon

The concept of a road trip is as American as apple pie, and yet, devising the “best” U.S. driving route is a bit of a head scratcher. Much depends on time parameters, personal preference, and frankly, how long you want to spend behind the wheel.

Tracy Staedter at Discovery News decided to take on that challenge, enlisting Randy Olson—Michigan State University doctoral student and the man behind the famed (and super helpful) Where’s Waldo algorithm—to devise what you might call the platonic ideal of the United States road trip. The parameters were: It had to hit all of the 48 continental states, every stop had to be a National Natural Landmark, a National Historic Site, a National Park, or a National Monument, and of course, had to be confined to car travel and within U.S. borders.

With a stop in Washington D.C. and two in California, the result is 50 points of all American awesomenesss.

Here are the destinations:

1. Grand Canyon, AZ
2. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
3. Craters of the Moon, ID
4. Yellowstone National Park, WY
5. Pikes Peak, CO
6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
7. The Alamo, TX
8. The Platt Historic District, OK
9. Toltec Mounds, AR
10. Elvis Presley’s Graceland, TN
11. Vicksburg National Military Park, MS
12. French Quarter, LA
13. USS Alabama, AL
14. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL
15. Okefenokee Swamp Park, GA
16. Fort Sumter National Monument, SC
17. Lost World Caverns, WV
18. Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, NC
19. Mount Vernon, VA
20. White House, Washington, D.C.
21. Colonial Annapolis Historic District, MD
22. New Castle Historic District, DE
23. Cape May Historic District, NJ
24. Liberty Bell, PA
25. Statue of Liberty, NY
26. The Mark Twain House & Museum, CT
27. The Breakers, RI
28. USS Constitution, MA
29. Acadia National Park, ME
30. Mount Washington Hotel, NH
31. Shelburne Farms, VT
32. Fox Theater, MI
33. Spring Grove Cemetery, OH
34. Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
35. West Baden Springs Hotel, IN
36. Abraham Lincoln’s Home, IL
37. Gateway Arch, MO
38. C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, KS
39. Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, IA
40. Taliesin, WI
41. Fort Snelling, MN
42. Ashfall Fossil Bed, NE
43. Mount Rushmore, SD
44. Fort Union Trading Post, ND
45. Glacier National Park, MT
46. Hanford Site, WA
47. Columbia River Highway, OR
48. San Francisco Cable Cars, CA
49. San Andreas Fault, CA
50. Hoover Dam, NV

That list starts with the Grand Canyon, but you could theoretically begin anywhere as long as you drive in sequence after that. Staedter guesses it would take a little over nine days of driving straight through, but more realistically is a two- or three-month trip.

For the nitty gritty on how he came up with the route, check out Olson’s blog. After determining the stops, the main goal of the algorithm was to find the shortest distance between points.

Olson wrote to Staedter: “Instead of exhaustively looking at every possible solution, genetic algorithms start with a handful of random solutions and continually tinker with these solutions — always trying something slightly different from the current solution and keeping the best one — until they can’t find a better solution any more.”

And whether or not you understand the specifics of how it was created, the map is truly a marvel and the kind of itinerary you’ll probably spend all winter dreaming about. See the full, interactive map here, and for additional #travelgoals, check out Olson’s road trip maps for U.S. cities and Europe.

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The Best Places To Travel Alone In The USA

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AnneLise Sorensen

12/9/2018

Traveling alone isn’t just empowering – it’s also, say many, more enriching. Without the buffer of a travel companion, there’s a heightened immediacy to experiencing new lands and cultures.

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In the US, take your pick of the solo adventures: you can trek through wilderness, eat your way around the world at gourmet international restaurants, and then ease into the night over jazz – sometimes all in the same 24-hour span.

From cities to national parks to arty enclaves, here are our pick of the best places to travel alone in the USA.

Calling all solo adventurists: Boulder is the perfect spot to park your hiking boots. Sitting in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, this is an outdoor town with plenty of year-round activities that you can take on solo, from skiing to cycling.

After dark, the fun continues, with a buzzing nightlife – check out the brew pubs of Pearl Street – and a diverse array of cheap international restaurants, where you can comfortably (and inexpensively) wine and dine alone.

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Key West isn’t just different from Florida – it’s different from the entire country. The southernmost point in the US, Key West is as famous for its sunny shores as for its offbeat, anything-goes, wild and playful side.

Solo travelers are enthusiastically welcome here, with all sorts of inclusive events, from open-air concerts to impromptu parades to dive beach bars where, after a few drinks, everyone knows your name.

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The San Francisco spirit can be summed up in two words: be yourself. This is a city that embraces solo travelers, with free summer concerts and festivals – dance on the grass at the lively Stern Grove Festival – to Bay Area Bike Share, which makes it easy and cheap to pedal around the city.

Plus, many of San Francisco’s restaurants have inviting bar seating for one. And, of course, there are the cable cars: hop on, hang on, and see the city with the wind in your hair.

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4. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Leave Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon to the hordes of summer family travelers. Instead, trek through America’s lesser-known pockets of wilderness like Hot Springs National Park, which is one of the smallest and oldest national parks in the US.

Make your base in the town of Hot Springs, which forms part of the park, and once you’ve hiked the trails, soak in a traditional bath at Buckstaff Baths.

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Looking up at Sedona’s famous red rocks as they glow under the setting sun is a memorable experience – and even more so when you’re alone. The area’s magnificent stillness is best enjoyed without any companion chatter.

When you’re ready to join others, there are plenty of ways to do so, such as the First Friday Art Walk (first Friday of the month), which circulates through the top galleries in town.

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Where better to travel solo than in one of the most famous singles’ cities in the country? Atlanta’s thriving nightlife includes many solo-friendly options, from trivia nights at the bars of East Atlanta to singles’ meet-and-greet events at the cocktail lounges of glitzy Buckhead. The city’s sights are also made for solo-exploring, including Piedmont Park and the High Museum of Art.

7. The college towns

Cheap, friendly, and festive: America’s student-thronged college towns – from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Lawrence, Kansas – are a gift for solo travelers. Time your visit with a game day – cheering along with thousands of face-painted fans at a college home football game is the ultimate slice of Americana. As is consuming beer, hot dogs, and more beer.

A perfect American itinerary? Travel from one coast to the other, stopping at college towns along the way – kick off the trip in leafy Cambridge, Massachusetts (Harvard University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and end in colorful Berkeley, California (University of California at Berkeley).

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Sometimes, the best solo experiences aren’t in America’s big cities, but in its small towns, like Beaufort, South Carolina (population circa 4000). This is a charming microcosm of the South – a vine-draped historic district, moody antebellum mansions, and a breezy seaside perch on Port Royal Island. Amiable and safe, Beaufort is ideal for solo meanderings, followed by a mint julep (or three) on a breezy porch.

In some cities, festivals are a special occasion. In Austin, they’re a way of life. The capital of Texas is a music town, with one of the greatest concert calendars in the country. The city’s tunes are matched by its BBQ – and its great outdoors, with a wide array of solo-friendly activities, from strolling sun-speckled parks to splashing in local swimming holes, like Barton Springs.

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If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. That famous quip about New York especially applies to solo travel in the city. Yes, New York is loud and bewildering, but it’s also where you’ll likely have the most memorable solo experiences in the country, whether walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, or curling up with a book under a tree in Central Park. Enjoy roaming the great halls of the Metropolitan Museum and sipping a cocktails under the stars on a rooftop bar.

11. The hiking trails

The famous naturalist John Muir once said: “in every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” And this is particularly true for solo hikers, where your only companion is nature itself, and any chatter comes from the birds. America is a boon for solo hikers, with well-maintained trails that fan out across the country.

Trek a section of the Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, which extends from Maine to Georgia; embark on the 37-mile Teton Crest Trail in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park; or, follow in the footsteps of John Muir, on the John Muir Trail through the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. For solo-hiking safety tips, check the National Park Service.

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12. The open road

When it comes to solo travel, there’s nothing quite like taking the wheel and cruising the open road while singing as loudly (and badly) as you want. The USA is the quintessential road trip nation, with vast highways and freeways crisscrossing every state.

Try the famous Route 1 that traverses the length of California – don’t miss stunning Big Sur – to the mountain-flanked Seward Highway in Alaska to Highway 16 through Texas Hill Country, where you can refuel in towns like Bandera, the self-proclaimed “Cowboy Capital of the World.”

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33 Safe Summer Vacations You Can Still Take During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Summer vacations look much different in the coronavirus crisis. Many countries are closed off to Americans due to the high rates of COVID-19 in the United States, and many states require quarantines. If you still want to take a trip—we get it. You’ve been in the house for months, the weather’s good and you want a break before getting back into gear for work and school.

While many are opting for staycations or destinations within driving distance, if you still plan on flying, know the risks. Cabin air isn’t as much of a concern as just being in close proximity to other people, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, especially in security lines and terminals. “Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes,” the CDC advises. “However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19. Also consider how you get to and from the airport, as public transportation and ridesharing can increase your chances of being exposed to the virus.”

That said, it’s super important to not only be safe, but to follow local, state and national protocols and mandates wherever you travel. The following are relatively safe vacations during coronavirus that you can take, but remember: If you’re cavalier about masks, hand washing or social distancing, lockdowns will last a lot longer, and no vacation is worth anyone’s health or life.

Safe Vacations During Coronavirus

1. Staycations!

Staycations will always be an option! Explore your own town like a tourist, or camp out in your backyard.

Related: Airline Face Mask Rules

2. Camping

Going camping is generally safe if you’re socially distanced from anyone not in your household. To be safe, wear masks while hiking and traversing trails, as well as in any common areas you may share with other campers at your site.

3. Renting an Airbnb

Staying in an Airbnb while social distancing is a safe choice, but you may want to take extra precautions: Consider bringing your own silverware, bedding and linens, and bring some disinfectant sprays or wipes to sanitize and disinfect surfaces before settling in and getting comfortable.

Related: 90 Best Staycation Ideas

4. Hit the Beach

The beach is generally a safe option for a summer vacation if and only if you maintain social distancing and avoid crowded areas. You may want to exercise extra caution in areas like boardwalks, restrooms and eateries.

5. Renting an RV

Traveling in an RV allows you to have lodging and wheel at the same time, so you don’t have to worry about staying in a hotel or other lodging arrangements you may not be comfortable with amid the pandemic. Like renting an Airbnb though, you’ll want to disinfect surfaces and bring your own linens and utensils.

Related: Why Millennials Are Embracing RV Travel

6. Local Parks

Your neighborhood parks are likely underused and underrated gems: Many have lakes for swimming, playgrounds for kids (if open—bring hand sanitizer!) and plenty of grass for playing and picnicking.

7. State Parks

If you’re within driving distance of a state park, enjoy the scenery!

Related: 125 Ideas to Keep Kids Entertained During the Coronavirus Crisis

8. Stay at a Hotel in a Remote Place

Social distance at a hotel. Check around to examine cleaning procedures and what amenities are available and avoid certain hotspots, like hotel bars. If it’s just a change of scenery you want (without having to do a ton of laundry), this may be just the ticket for you.

9. Find an Uncrowded Outdoor Pool

As long as they aren’t crowded, outdoor pools may be a safe option due to their use of chlorine in the water—something the beach doesn’t have. Be sure to bring your own towels, sunscreen, goggles, pool toys, flotation devices and anything else you may need.

10. Go on a Social Distancing Road Trip

Pack everyone in the car (if you already live with them, that is) and hit the road together. As long as you’re maintaining a safe social distance from others, feel free to take photos in front of any tourist landmarks you find, but keep masks on as long as you’re outside the car—and try to limit rest stop use (and when you do make a pit stop, make sure no one touches anything more than absolutely necessary).

11. See Loved Ones Safely

If you take a trip to visit family and friends, you all need to use proper precautions. Quarantine for two weeks beforehand, and try to stay six feet from one another and wear masks when you can’t. Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces frequently and if anyone in your party or your pals’ is high risk, do not go.

12. Dine Outside in a New Place

Have dinner at an outdoor restaurant. Bonus points if it’s foreign cuisine you’ve never tried before!

13. Rent a Boat

If you’re traveling with just family and your immediate household (which are all the people you should be traveling with!), a small boat (think a fishing charter) is a good option. Be careful to keep a safe distance from other boaters and to disinfect surfaces of the boat just like you would anywhere else on land. Also do not tie boats together to socialize, as this can increase the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

14. Consider a Houseboat

Eliminate the need for separate lodging (and having to traverse through a lobby or communal areas).

15. Go Backpacking

Think of it this way: The less you pack, the less you have to disinfect. Bonus? Outdoor areas are likely to be less crowded than ever this summer.

16. Try Rafting

Combine your camping with some adventures on the water. Don’t forget not just to disinfect everything, but to wear a life jacket!

17. Consider Cabins

Instead of staying at a big hotel with a bustling lobby and breakfast buffet if you go away, try a cabin or smaller lodge where you can be alone (or with significantly fewer people around).

18. If You Must Go Somewhere Far Away, Try All-Inclusive Resorts

If you insist on really going away for a summer vacation amid the COVID-19 crisis, all-inclusive resorts are an option to feel safe: You don’t have to travel elsewhere once you arrive at your destination. Still, be sure to wear a mask and practice proper social distancing, disinfecting and safety precautions, and check ahead of time to find out if your desired amenities will be available.

19. Swap Houses With a Friend

If you have friends or family who live within driving distance and whose space you’ve always coveted, consider a weekend- or week-long house swap. Like traveling to an Airbnb, bring your own linens and utensils (and like traveling anywhere else, toiletries, etc.) and enjoy a fresh set of walls, grass and a new neighborhood to explore. Of course, be sure you’ve all properly social distanced and haven’t been exposed to the virus before any of you packs up for the other’s home.

20. Greece

Greece has been largely less impacted by the coronavirus pandemic than some of its neighbors and its hospitals reportedly haven’t been overloaded. Corfu and Preveza offer spectacular beaches and plenty of private villas, as well as hospital access in case of emergencies during your trip.

Related: 50 Summer Date Ideas

21. Georgia (in Europe)

Batumi, Georgia, offers vineyards, beaches and a ton of other tourist attractions, while Tbilisi offers stunning architecture. The country’s COVID-19 rates are extremely low compared to other Western countries.

22. Croatia

Croatia, especially Cavtat, offers plenty of private lodging for tourists who want to stay safe but still get stamps on their passports. Zagreb, Croatia, offers stunning outdoor views, parks, culture and architecture.

23. Portugal

Portugal, especially the Madeira Islands and the Azores, offer beautiful beaches and have been sheltered from COVID-19 infections.

24. Romania

Romania, especially Transylvania, implemented serious precautions for COVID-19, including cleaning and sanitizing public transportation every four hours and holding special hours for retailers, resulting in a seriously low infection rate. The country offers a lot of historical charm to explore and is considered one of Europe’s safest destinations.

25. Trip to Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos requires negative COVID-19 tests within five days of travel, in addition to requiring tourists to have insurance covering medical evacuations.

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26. Serbia

Serbia requires masks indoors as well as outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible, and has a fantastic wine country area.

27. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have pretty stringent entry requirements for tourists: Visitors must fill out a pre-arrival form and everyone on their flight must test negative for COVID-19. Visitors are quarantined until all negative tests have come in.

28.  Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia has more than a dozen COVID-19 regulations for hotels, and visitors must get a negative COVID-19 test within a week of their arrival on the island.

29. Jamaica

All visitors to Jamaica must undergo a COVID-19 test upon arrival, and the island nation also has requirements for businesses and hotels, including that all lodgings have a designated coronavirus safety point person.

30. French Polynesia

If you visit the 118 French Polynesian islands, you’ll be required to test negative for coronavirus before even flying out, and you’ll have to have a travel insurance policy. Four days after arrival, you’ll have a self-sample test.

Related: The Happiest Place on Earth Is Reopening! What to Know Before You Return to Disney World During Coronavirus

31. Bermuda

The Bermudan Tourism Authority requires visitors to have a negative COVID-19 test within less than seven days before arriving, and they’ll also be tested at the airport and quarantined at their hotel or lodging until results come in upon their arrival.

32. Aruba

Travelers from the U.S. all have to fill out a self-declaration health form and test negative for COVID-19 before arriving in Aruba. Visitors specifically from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota. Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are required to upload a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their arrival.

33. Belize

If you travel to Belize, you must upload a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before your departure to the country or agree to a test upon arrival; visitors will also have a temperature check at the airport and have luggage sanitized. Guests are also required to wear masks while traveling through Belize.

Looking for romance on vacation? Here are ways to find love during coronavirus, even if you never leave your apartment.

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