What to see in the USA
We saw this article about hidden treasures to visit in the USA. Many of them I have visited and would not recommend. Of course your are hearing from a woman who has lived all over the USA and now won’t consider living north of the Mason Dixon (Unless, perhaps its in the lower Western States). Of the 20 or so listed on that article, I’m editing to include my own experiences. Just one Crones opinions. I have listed several I personally have not visited but know those who have and liked them. I will note those not personally visited but recommended by others who are world travelers that have….(Not Cronista Visited) will tell you it is recommended by others. There are places I do not ever need to see and I tell people…”Not without a Gun to my head”. But humans like variety and I cannot exclude those that may appeal to the more adventurous types.
Places to discover next
There are some US destinations, from New York City to La Brea Tar Pits, LA. These seem to get all the attention. But this massive continent and its territories is also rich in places that don’t get the recognition they deserve. Some because they’re harder to reach. Others because are not advertised as as much or because there are limited chamber of commerce budgets. These are the gems that are less-visited (and typically less crowded) spots around the USA. Only travel when it’s safe to do so, and be sure to check restrictions before heading to any of these destinations. Failure to check restrictions may result in loss of a lot of precious family vacation funds.
One family I know had to return home from a scheduled vacation of one of our pacific islands because the COVID Shots they had the paper work for was not the SAME one required on the Island. They were given the choice to quarantine for 14 days (at their expense) or have each family member (of 5) take their shot at $230.00 per person. Working folks cannot afford the extra time or money….so they had to get back on the plane and go home.
I have friends on that island and they say they have no freedom anymore, with all the restrictions. So, what I am saying is, for the sake of your mental well being and savings check carefully anywhere you travel anymore.
Seaside, Oregon (Not Cronista Visited)
Oregon’s coastline has long been a joyous “secret” for those who have discovered its rugged charms, and the surf town of Seaside is the gateway to exploring it. It’s the perfect blend of pure fun and natural beauty. There are hiking trails wind through Ecola State Park, where bluffs overlook the beaches.
Orcas Island, Washington (Not Cronista Visited)
Part of the San Juan Islands archipelago, tiny, forested Orcas Island might not be a household name but, for many in Washington state, it’s a favorite place to escape the crowds, get back to nature and hopefully spot some of its namesake whales. Its culinary scene is also a draw, with the island’s restaurants and bars drawing on the abundance on their doorstep (and shore-step) to serve up oysters, barbecued seafood and spirits distilled with heirloom pears.
Calistoga, California (Crone had been all over Napa; love it)
Laid-back Calistoga, at the northern tip of Napa Valley and gateway to vineyard-flanked Highway 29, has always been delightful but the area has had a bit of an upgrade in recent years thanks to revamped hotels, hip wine-tasting rooms and the region’s first Four Seasons now on the horizon. The small, walk-able downtown has cute cafés and a handful of restaurants, while spas draw on natural thermal springs and volcanic mud. The region was hit by wildfires in late 2020 but most of the area has reopened. Check the official website for updates. This describes most of California wine country. Other Recommended visits the Krug winery; oldest in US. But wine country tours and train tours are remarkable. Now need to check Covid Restrictions, of course.
Alabama Gulf Coast
Alabama has some of the whitest sand in the US, stretching over 32 bright miles (51km). And, once people have laid eyes on it they tend to keep coming back. Bars and restaurants with lots of outdoor seating line the beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, while the nearby waterways are so bio-diverse the area has been compared to the Amazon. The area was hit by Hurricane Sally in late 2020 but the beaches and most businesses have reopened. Crones have numerous friends that have bought vacation homes there.
Weaving and wiggling for 23 impossibly beautiful miles (37km), Arizona’s Highway 89A is a popular scenic drive with rugged red canyons and bluffs studded with pine trees. Ambiente Sedona, due to open in 2021, is set to add a new dose of luxury to the route. The so-called “landscape hotel”, built to complement and have minimal impact on its environment, will have cubic rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that make the most of the endless views. The Crone has a friend with a home there just like the hotel described. I sit on the deck and watch the hot air balloons drift over the red rock landmarks at sunrise, while I rock and have my coffee. Although it is now, what I call overdeveloped, one cannot deny the beauty of the rocks, the forests and streams. I’ve stayed at many of the spas as well. Many Native American legends have been written in books about Sedona. I cruise the rock and mineral shops constantly to add to my rock and mineral collection. Oh, and there are actually 2 out of approximately 8 vortex in the world. 3 of these in Sedona can be seen by the Space Shuttle. Very Sacred ground. I recommend the Airport Vortex.
Alexandria is less than 10 miles (16km) from Washington DC yet has a tangible off-duty, holiday feel. This is the kind of place where city workers loosen their ties (or perhaps remove them completely). Independent boutiques, food stores and farm-to-fork restaurants stretch down tree-shaded streets to the Potomac River, whose waterfront has been recently revitalized with parks, galleries and alfresco dining options. COVID-19 measures are in place so check the website before visiting. It has gotten a little touristy for me over the years but still enjoyable.
South Padre Island, Texas (Not Cronista Visited)
Texas is perhaps more associated with BBQ than beaches, though the Lone Star state actually has more than 300 miles (484km) of coastline. And South Padre Island, a resort town that occupies a barrier island, pretty much sums up the Texas beach scene in one skinny, compact, sandy package. Wrapped around Laguna Madre Bay and lapped by the Gulf of Mexico, it combines beaches and rich wildlife – including migrating sea turtles – with a quirky resort feel. Check the website for details on COVID-19 measures on the island.
Too long obscured by San Francisco’s stunning shadow, Oakland’s thriving art, music and food scenes are worth hopping over the bay for. The city has a hip, laid-back feel that’s all its own, while enjoying some pretty lovely views of its near-neighbour over the water, as well. Much of the action centers around waterside Square, named after the famous novelist. Cronista had been there mainly for business, in the day, but worth the visit.
Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, New Mexico and Colorado
The longest and highest railroad in the US was built in 1870 to connect Denver with the San Juan Mountains’ silver-mining towns and began operating as a scenic route a century later. Day trips and themed specials take passengers along a 64-mile route that summits at Cumbres Pass with sweeping valley views, following in the tracks of past passengers including Wyatt Earp. Check the website for details on COVID-19. The Crone has visited numerous native ruins and reservations in New Mexico. Like Arizona it has great hidden vacation treasures if you look.
North Port\Clairvoux, Michigan areas
One of the few Northern towns I’ll give a thumbs up to…cold weather winters being my Achilles heel. The city also has a growing reputation for great food, showcasing a diverse range of cuisines. It is a very arty community and great beaches on the lake. I have a friend who lives there and I love getting updates on the local art shows, music festivals and life there. The area close by boasts some great wild honey.
Also known as Mississippi Gulf Coast or, appropriately, “The Secret Coast”, this 62-mile (100km) stretch may be something of a surprise. This area has a bit of “Old South” music and BBQ that , of course, alongside beaches, casinos, and fishing piers. The Fantasy, shell-scattered Ship Island is a short ferry ride away. COVID-19 measures are in place – check the official page for updates.
Molokai Island, Hawaii
The staggering sea cliffs of Molokai – the world’s tallest – have drawn famous artists. They gather to paint their dramatic, green-blanketed beauty. It’s quieter and more rural than some of its neighbors (there isn’t a single traffic light). Yet, it’s equally beguiling from its history to its pale, palm-fringed beaches. Check the website for details of COVID-19 restrictions and entry requirements.
The riverside city of Montgomery bursts with culture, charm and history, including being the location of some key moments in Civil Rights. This is where Martin Luther King Jr launched his brief church career before becoming more involved in the movement, and where Rosa Parks sat stoically in her bus seat. The walk-able downtown area has been revitalized in recent years with galleries, independent shops and restaurants, plus several upscale hotels. Check the website for the latest on COVID-19 restrictions and what’s open.
Huntsville Alabama* https://www.spacecamp.com/
Home of Space Camp! With bookings for each age group and family. I sent my son there several times back in the day. When he got home I believe he actually could have piloted a space ship. Fun for every age group and family fantasies. Self contained for maximum enjoyment.
Home of Space Camp®
One Tranquility Base,
Huntsville, Alabama 35805
Blowing Rock, North Carolina; https://blowingrock.com/calendar/events/
A good friend use to take me there for my birthday in spring each year. His Aunt also had a birthday within days of mine and we’d celebrate together. A small arty community full of charm and leisurely Southern Charm. The shopping is great, the specialty stores are amazing and the area and scenery are out of this world…especially at sunset. We went in April for the wine and food festival. However, no matter the event, you will do yourself a favor finding this place. We always drove the Scenic route from the Knoxville, TN airport so we could view the lovely rhododendron clad hills and the wild turkeys and other wildlife dotting the landscape on the drive.
Fajardo, Puerto Rico (Not Cronista Visited)
While I have been to this amazing island I have not visited around it much. I have a friend who swears by everything Puerto Rican and he highly recommends touring about. San Juan gets most of the attention with its candy-colored buildings and coastal fortresses. But the eastern region of the island territory shut your mouth beautiful and, often, blissfully solitary. At its heart is Fajardo, home to the beaches and a biofantasy bay. There are marinas with boats cruising out to islands, reefs and coral cays. Check the website for the latest on COVID-19 restrictions and what’s open.
Grand Isle, Louisiana (Not Cronista Visited)
Louisiana is better known for swamps and spirits (the alcoholic AND the otherworldly kind) than beach life, so this barrier island – at the end of the state’s epic Highway 1 – remains something of a local secret. It’s known for fishing and birdlife, with a network of hiking trails weaving around oak trees and past salt marshes. Breezy seafood restaurants, water sports and soft beaches scattered with shells make this a gloriously chilled-out location for families.
Boise, Idaho (Not Cronista Visited)
Idaho’s charming state capital. The city packs in great art spaces, craft breweries, riverfront parks and ample open spaces for exploring safely. It’s also a great area for outdoor adventures, from the waterside trails and parks that make up the Boise River Greenbelt. Then there is the breathtakingly beautiful Boise Mountains that form a scenic backdrop to the city. My daughter once performed her comedy act there and a friend swears he enjoyed it thoroughly. I don’t get it, but OK. I’m hearing too many good things by travelers not to mention it. And one of my grand-puppies did come from there.
Painted Hills, Oregon (Not Cronista Visited)
The name speaks for itself. This area, part of the John Day Fossil Beds, hasn’t been named lightly – the gold, apricot and brick-red stripes and ripples on the clay-stone really do resemble an artist’s palette, even at touching distance. Boardwalk trails wind between the rocks to show off the hills’ beauty at every angle. Check the website for updates.
Caddo Lake, Texas and Louisiana
This swampy lake straddles both states, and it could hardly be more Southern USA in its ambiance and appearance. Spanish moss drapes elegantly from cypress trees. Then there is the bayou voodoo legends around the soupy water. Alligators can be occasionally seen basking on logs while some claim another type of beast can be spotted around the area: this is said to be prime Sasquatch or Bigfoot territory. The park is open with some restrictions in place – see the official website for updates.