10 Top Places to See Fall Foliage in 2022

Love leaf-peeping?

Summer’s end signals the last days of warm weather in most areas. But it also means the return of fall’s dazzling colors in full display as trees begin to turn for the season. You can plan entire trips around leaf peeping whether it’s heading to a national park for unimpeded foliage or planning a drive to take in the dazzling orange, red, and yellow hues that dominate the landscape.

And while the pastime is popular enough to drive crowds to well-known viewing destinations, there are still plenty of under-the-radar options fbluor getting your fix. Read on to see which secret places in the U.S. are the best to see fall foliage.

Shenandoah National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

While Shenandoah National Park is only a 75-mile drive from America’s capital, it’s a world away from the Washington, D.C. metropolis. The Virginia national park is filled with over 100 expansive miles of countryside. And as autumn approaches, the foliage across the landscape turns into stunning red, orange, and yellow hues. The best time to see the stunning sight is from September through October. This national park also has a fall color webcam that shows the changing leaves virtually on a week-to-week basis through the peak of the season.

Stowe Community Church © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stowe, Vermont

One of my favorite places in Green Mountain State is the town of Stowe. If you’re driving to Stowe from I-89 you will exit off the Interstate and pass through Waterbury and Waterbury Center. Don’t miss Ben & Jerry’s along the way. A little further up the road in Waterbury Center is the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. You should plan a stop at Cold Hollow for some fresh apple cider and freshly made delicious cider donuts.

Trapp Family Lodge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stowe’s Main Street features several small stores, restaurants, and of course the subject of many scenic photos and artwork—the Stowe Community Church.

Make a trip up the Mountain Road to the Trapp Family Lodge, a unique mountain resort featuring Austrian-inspired architecture and European-style accommodations. The Lodge offers stunning mountain views along with activities for every season.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway, North Carolina and Tennessee

The Skyway offers the cultural heritage of the Cherokees and early settlers in a grand forest environment in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Enjoy mile-high vistas and brilliant fall foliage as well as great hiking opportunities and picnic spots in magnificent and seldom-seen portions of the southern Appalachian National Forests. Popular stops along and near the Skyway include Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, Santeetlah Lake, and many Cherokee sites. This byway in particular is known for its fall colors.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The leaves begin changing color as early as late September in the higher elevations and continue through mid-November in lower elevations. The dogwoods, poplars, and sourwoods are some of the first to transform. The red oaks, hickories, and white oaks change later and often hold their leaves until late fall. 

Fredericksburg © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fredericksburg, Texas

In the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is aglow with gold, green, auburn, and scarlet shades come autumn. Peruse the local boutiques lining Main Street before attending seasonal festivals such as the 42nd Annual Oktoberfest from September 30-October 2, 2022, or the 32nd Fredericksburg Food & Wine Fest on October 22. For prime gold, red, green, and copper maple leaf-viewing, visit Lost Maples State Natural Area, about an hour-and-a-half drive southwest of Fredericksburg. After soaking in the scenery, kick back at one of the Hill Country’s RV parks and campgrounds.

Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boston, Massachusetts

Not all fall foliage escapes require getting out into nature—leaf peepers can also head to Boston for a city getaway. The city experiences its peak foliage throughout October with its best colors appearing around Halloween. Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to where they can see the changing seasons including Boston Common, Back Bay Fens, and tree-lined neighborhoods like the North End and Beacon Hill.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fish Lake Scenic Byway, Utah

Fish Lake Scenic Byway (SR-25) bookends Fishlake National Forest, an often-missed oasis featuring three mountain ranges broken up by desert canyons. Fishlake National Forest is a paradise known for its beautiful aspen forests, scenic drives, trails, elk hunting, and mackinaw and rainbow trout fishing. Fish Lake, Utah’s largest natural mountain lake lies in a down-faulted valley (technically known as a graben) at an elevation of 8,843 feet. The 5.5-mile-long lake is one of the most popular fishing resorts in the state attracting as many as 7,000 visitors on summer weekends.

Wolfeboro © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lakes Region of New Hampshire

If you’re looking for a fall RV vacation destination that might have slightly fewer visitors in September and October, consider the Lakes Region. This area in the central part of the state is home to Lake Winnepesaukee, New Hampshire’s largest body of water. Here you’ll also find scenic Squam Lakes where On Golden Pond was filmed. Whether you’re driving around the lakes, strolling through small towns like Meredith or Wolfeboro, seeking out covered bridges, taking a scenic boat cruise, or hiking in the area’s mountains, you’ll likely be able to enjoy pretty changing leaves.

Heritage Driving Tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Heritage Driving Tour, Indiana

The 90-mile Heritage Trail Driving Tour winds through Amish Country taking you down rural highways, country lanes, and charming main streets. Stop in Shipshewana to stroll the shop-lined streets where you’ll find handcrafted items, baked goods, and the Midwest’s largest flea market. Enjoy a delightful Amish meal at Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury or Amish Acres in Nappanee.

Ocean Drive, Newport © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Newport, Rhode Island

There’s no wrong time to visit Newport. But perhaps the best time is those magical few weeks at the end of October when the leaves change colors and the Newport Mansions put on their spookiest Halloween shows. While visiting, drive down Ocean Drive, a glorious coastal stretch that will leave you in awe.

Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia

When you think of places to see fall foliage, New England destinations probably come to mind but southern parts of the country have colors that are just as beautiful. A road trip through Georgia’s the Blue Ridge Mountains offers stunning foliage without the cold weather you’d find up north.

Brasstown Bald © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Start at the Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway in the northern part of the state which takes you through the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Chattahoochee River. Stop in Helen, a mountain town modeled after a quaint Bavarian village, and at Brasstown Bald, the highest natural point in Georgia and the ultimate foliage viewing vantage point.

Brasstown Bald © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make a pit stop in Clayto, an old mountain town with antique shops, galleries, and restaurants. Take a hike in the nearby Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest or visit wineries and vineyards in Georgia Wine Country. Then head east to the Tallulah Gorge State Park where you can explore a 1,000-foot chasm carved over millions of years by the Tallulah River.

Worth Pondering…

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.

—Emily Brontë, Fall, Leaves, Fall

9 Beautiful Places to Escape the Summer Heat

It’s hotter than blue blazes!

It’s been a long, hot summer—and it’s likely to just keep getting hotter. That jug of fresh iced tea isn’t meant to be sipped inside with the shades drawn and that blow-up kiddie pool you’ve outgrown doesn’t have to be your only means of summer heat relief. Because I have good news! There are quite a few places you can go to escape the heat—and none of them involve jetting to the Southern Hemisphere.

Lassen Volcanic National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Historical weather data shows the five coolest summer states also happen to be filled with excellent RV camping destinations, too. The five best places to stay cool in summer are Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, and Alaska. These cool summer states are geographically immense. Each state gives you tons of camping choices from busy national parks to remote coastal and mountain destinations.

RV owners like us are lucky. Finding the coolest camping destinations in the summer is pretty easy. With a full tank of fuel and one turn of the key, our homes on wheels carry everything we need for a summer escape away from hot spots to a cool river, mountaintop, or breezy beach. Most of us will put in a few hours of driving to reach the coolest place to camp in August.

Glacial Skywalk, Jasper National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cool off with a trip to the mountains, the water, or up north. I’ve hand-selected nine places where you can beat the heat this summer while avoiding airport woes such as lost luggage, canceled flights, tarmac delays, and labor shortages—you know, all of the fun things people are dealing with right now not to mention the heightened cost of air travel.

Mountains

Higher elevations provide sweet relief from the sweltering heat and humidity of summer. Here are three wonderful mountainous locales where you can escape the heat.

On the road to Mount Lemmon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mount Lemmon, Arizona 

Mount Lemmon, an oasis in the middle of the desert, is 20 degrees cooler than Tucson on average. Driving up the mountain, the plants slowly change from cactus and shrubs to oak and ponderosa pines. The area offers hiking, camping, and fishing. While you are up there, consider stopping by the Mount Lemmon Cookie Cabin for cookies, pizza, chili, and sandwiches. While you’re at 9,000 feet, check out the Arizona stars at the Mount Lemmon Skycenter.

Get more tips for visiting Mount Lemmon

Lassen Volcanic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, California and Oregon

For truly unusual and spectacular views, pack up the RV and head for the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway connecting California’s Lassen National Park with Crater Lake in Oregon. The north-to-south route covers about 500 miles tracing along geological formations created by volcanic activity of the Cascade Mountain Range.

The drive ventures through the majestic Shasta Valley and offers unobstructed vistas of Mount Shasta, the second tallest volcano in the country. There are countless things to see and do during a visit, but don’t miss Petroglyph Point, one of the country’s largest and most accessible panels of Native American rock art.

Get more tips for visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park

Stowe Community Church © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is a Vermont Ski town that is lovely to visit in summer thanks to an Alpine setting that doesn’t get too hot and lots of outdoor activities. For fun summer hiking, choose trails that lead to waterfalls like the easy Bingham Falls Trail in Smugglers Notch State Park or Moss Glen Falls trail in nearby Putnam State Park.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you want a lazy day, head out of town and stop by Cold Hollow Cider Mill for a good picnic— sandwiches with Vermont cheddar cheese and hard and soft cider. Take your lunch to nearby Waterbury Center State Park on the Waterbury Reservoir. 

Trapp Family Lodge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visit the Trapp Family Lodge (yes, those Von Trapps). In addition to its hiking and mountain biking trails, the Alpine resort offers tennis, rock-wall climbing, swimming pools, and more. They brew their excellent Austrian-style beer in their bierhall where you can dine without staying at the lodge.

Get more tips for visiting Vermont

Near Water

When it’s hot outside we all want to be near a lake, river, or ocean destination. Here are three fabulous destinations to beat the heat near the water.

Cumberland Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cumberland Island, Georgia

Are you ready to hit the beach without the crowds? Where you can find a piece of the coast to call your own? Cumberland Island is Georgia’s southernmost island and a place where you can truly get away from the modern world. With no bridge to come to Cumberland Island travelers have to use a ferry or private boat to get to this beautiful place which is managed by the national park service. 

Cumberland Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Although Georgia’s Atlantic coastline is only about 100 miles long, the Peach State is home to 30 percent of the barrier islands along the Atlantic Seaboard. And Cumberland is the largest and fairest of them all with the longest expanse of the pristine seashore—18 glorious miles of deserted sand. Truly, this is a bucket list destination.

Get more tips for visiting Cumberland Island

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire

Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire located in the Lakes Region. It is approximately 21 miles long (northwest-southeast) and from 1 to 9 miles wide (northeast-southwest) covering 69 square miles—71 square miles when Paugus Bay is included—with a maximum depth of 180 feet. The center area of the lake is called The Broads.

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The lake contains at least 264 islands, half of which are less than a quarter-acre in size, and is indented by several peninsulas yielding a total shoreline of approximately 288 miles. The driving distance around the lake is 63 miles. It is 504 feet above sea level. Winnipesaukee is the third-largest lake in New England after Lake Champlain and Moosehead Lake. Outflow is regulated by the Lakeport Dam in Lakeport, New Hampshire, on the Winnipesaukee River.

Experience the beauty of Lake Winnipesaukee during a narrated scenic tour aboard the historic M/S Mount Washington. Learn about the history of the region and local folklore surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in New England.

Get more tips for visiting Lake Winnipesaukee

La Conner © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

La Conner, Washington

La Conner is one of those places that people love to visit—time and time again. The reasons are many but one that stands out is that there are so many things to do in—and around—La Conner. A waterfront village in northwestern Washington, La Conner is nestled beside the Swinomish Channel near the mouth of the Skagit River. La Conner is a unique combination of a fishing village, artists’ colony, eclectic shops, historic buildings, and tourist destination. Relax by the water, enjoy fine restaurants, and browse through unique shops and art galleries.

Get more tips for visiting La Conner

Northern States and Canada

When the going gets hot, the hot head up north! Here are three great northern destinations that put plenty of space between you and the equator.

Jacksonville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jacksonville, Oregon

Jacksonville is nestled in the Siskyou Mountain foothills along the Rogue River Valley and is easy to fall in love with. The little town is at the Heart of Rogue Valley wine country which includes the Applegate Valley Wine Trail. Though sometimes busy the small-town ambiance (population 2,860), gorgeous setting, and beautifully preserved late 1800s architecture combines to make a very attractive town. The little gem of a town is highly walkable and has at least one of everything—except chain stores. Everything from wine to cheese to chocolate, art, and fine dining.

Get more tips for visiting Jacksonville

Banff National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Banff and Jasper National Parks, Alberta

If you Google “Canada nature,” you’ll see pictures of Banff National Park in the Rockies—and for good reason. Canada’s oldest and most popular national park is Mother Nature’s best. Anywhere you look, there are jagged peaks sprinkled with fluffy powder, bluer than blue glacial lakes, and majestic wildlife.

Icefields Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After visiting Banff, take the Icefields Parkway—one of the world’s most scenic drives with more than 100 ancient glaciers—north to Jasper. One of Canada’s prettiest and wildest national parks, Jasper is massive at 4,247 square miles, making it the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. And it’s a great place to spot wildlife including black and grizzly bears, elk and moose, and big horn sheep and Rocky Mountain goats.

Get more tips for visiting Canada’s Mountain Parks

Wells Gray Provincial Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wells Gray, British Columbia

Wells Gray is not as highly acclaimed as Mount Robson or the national parks in the Canadian Rockies. And having been there, I have no idea why. I mean… this place is awesome!

Wells Gray Provincial Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wells Gray has something to offer every outdoor interest: lush alpine meadows, excellent birding and wildlife viewing opportunities, hiking, boating, canoeing, and kayaking. Guiding businesses offer horseback riding, canoeing, whitewater rafting, fishing, and hiking. The history enthusiast can learn about the early homesteaders, trappers, and prospectors or about the natural forces that produced Wells Gray’s many volcanoes, waterfalls, mineral springs, and glaciers.

Many people head to Wells Gray for the lakes but there are also over 40 named waterfalls in the park. Many of them are in remote corners of the park but eight of them are easy to reach from Clearwater Valley Road.

Get more tips for visiting Wells Gray

Your summer vacation does not have to be hiding indoors in front of the air conditioner trying to stay cool from high temperatures or unbearable humidity. There are lots of places where you can enjoy beautiful pleasant temperatures while spending time outside. Whether you prefer cities, towns, or national or state parks, mild summer weather is available in many spectacular destinations.

Worth Pondering…

It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.

—Walter Winchell

10 Amazing Places to RV in August 2022

If you’re dreaming of where to travel to experience it all, here are my picks for the best places to RV in August

Learning never exhausts the mind.

—Leonardo da Vinci

Italian painter and polymath Leonardo da Vinci was a luminary of the Renaissance era—he not only painted such famed works as the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper, ” but was also an architect, inventor, and military engineer. In his lifetime, he sketched concepts resembling the modern-day bicycle and a flying machine and drew some of the first anatomical charts on human record. His words and life’s work remind us that broadening our horizons is healthy: Exploring new fields and skills will only create a richer life.

This August, I’ll not lament the fleeting days of summer. No, I will embrace it: There is still much to see and do—and places to travel in an RV. August is a time for lazy exploration and taking advantage of the last drops of the season while recharging for the months ahead. There are routes to be taken, mountains to climb, seafood to be eaten, and lakes to discover. Get out there and make the most of it.

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in June and July. Also, check out my recommendations for August 2021 and September 2021.

On the road to Mount Lemmon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Climb a Mountain 

Mount Lemmon, an oasis in the middle of the desert, is 20 degrees cooler than Tucson on average. Driving up the mountain, the plants slowly change from cactus and shrubs to oak and ponderosa pines. The area offers hiking, camping, and fishing. While you are up there, consider stopping by the Mount Lemmon Cookie Cabin for cookies, pizza, chili, and sandwiches. While you’re at 9,000 feet, check out the Arizona stars at the Mount Lemmon Sky center.

Guadalupe River © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tube down the Guadalupe River

Tubing down Guadalupe River is about as Texan as it gets, and this state park welcomes you with four miles of river frontage. Just one hour from San Antonio and two hours from Austin, Guadalupe River State Park is also one of the more popular camping destinations in the state, particularly during the summertime when swimming in its cool waters is extra appealing for families and kids. When you’re not tubing, paddling, or taking a dip, embark on its hiking and biking trails. 

Related: The Best Stops for a Summer Road Trip

Cathedral Rock, Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Admire Breathtaking Red Rock in Sedona

Due to its distinctive culture, Sedona is truly a place unlike any other. Visitors can navigate remote canyons, rejuvenate at an energy vortex site, and experience the ancient culture of the Sinagua people. Throughout the red rock are multitudes of secluded viewpoints, cliff dwellings, and well-preserved petroglyphs. In downtown Sedona, you’ll find a vibrant art community dense with unique shops and galleries. Hikers and adventurous-types will enjoy the various trails in Red Rock State Park and the renowned Pink Jeep off-road adventure tours.

Deep sea red shrimp © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

70th Annual Delcambre Shrimp Festival

The Town of Delcambre, Louisiana, located about 20 miles southwest of Lafayette is home to one of the area’s most productive shrimp fleets. The town devotes an entire weekend to honoring this economic lifeblood.

The Delcambre Shrimp Festival (70th annual; August 17-21, 2022) is home to one of the best 5-day festivals in South Louisiana. The festival has gained its popularity by providing a variety of delicious dishes and top-notch entertainment including National Recording Artists. Enjoy signature shrimp dishes like boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, shrimp sauce piquante, shrimp salad, and many more. Every shrimp dish consumed at the festival is prepared by volunteer members of the festival association. If you’re not in the mood for shrimp, the festival also offers a variety of other “festival” foods, cold beer, cold drinks, and water. Souvenirs, t-shirts, hats, posters, etc…

Jasper National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hit all seven of Canada’s Rocky Mountain Parks

Renowned for their scenic splendor, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are comprised of Banff, Jasper, and Waterton Lakes national parks in Alberta, Kootenay and Yoho national parks in British Columbia, and Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine, and Hamber provincial parks in British Columbia. The seven parks of the Canadian Rockies form a striking mountain landscape. With rugged mountain peaks, icefields and glaciers, alpine meadows, lakes, waterfalls, extensive karst cave systems, and deeply carved canyons, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks possess an exceptional natural beauty that attracts millions of visitors annually.

Related: Summer 2022: 18 Best Things to Do in America

Blue Bell Ice Cream © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take a Taste Bud Tour at Blue Bell Creameries

Learn what all fuss is about at one of the most iconic creameries in America. Can’t decide which flavor is for you? Try them all because, hey, it’s only $1 a scoop! Since 1907, Blue Bell Ice Cream has won a special place in the heart of Texans. Many would say it’s the best ice cream in the US. For anyone caring to dispute that claim, you can’t know until you try it for yourself and there is no better place to do that than straight at the source. See how the scrumptious stuff is made and learn about the history of the iconic brand before treating yourself to a sample at Blue Bell’s ice cream parlor. At just $1 a scoop, it’s one of the best things to do in the US to beat the heat this summer! 

Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Walk your Way to 17 Historic Sites

The Freedom Trail is a red (mostly brick) path through downtown Boston that leads to 17 significant historic sites. It is a 2.5-mile walk from Boston Common to USS Constitution in Charlestown. Simple ground markers explaining events, graveyards, notable churches, other buildings, and a historic naval frigate are stops along the way.

Most sites are free; Old South Meeting House, Old State House, and Paul Revere House have small admission fees; still others suggest donations. The Freedom Trail is a unit of Boston National Historical Park and is overseen by The Freedom Trail Foundation and the City of Boston’s Freedom Trail Commission.

Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The trail was originally conceived by local journalist William Schofield who since 1951 had promoted the idea of a pedestrian trail to link together important local landmarks. Mayor John Hynes put Schofield’s idea into action. By 1953, 40,000 people annually were enjoying the sites and history on the Freedom Trail.

In 1974, Boston National Historical Park was established. The National Park Service opened a Visitor Center on State Street where they give free maps of the Freedom Trail and other historic sites as well as sell books about Boston and US history. Today, people walk on the red path of the Freedom Trail to learn about important events that led to independence from Great Britain.

USS Constitution © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

History nerd that I am, I can’t get over how much has happened in such a small area. I love that you can take your time walking it. Traveling on the Freedom Trail shows you how small historical Boston was. The trail is free, and clearly marked and you can walk at your own pace. Be sure to wear your comfy shoes as you’re in for an awesome hike.

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

NH’s Largest Lake

Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire located in the Lakes Region. It is approximately 21 miles long (northwest-southeast) and from 1 to 9 miles wide (northeast-southwest) covering 69 square miles—71 square miles when Paugus Bay is included—with a maximum depth of 180 feet. The center area of the lake is called The Broads.

Related: Best States for a Summer Road Trip

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The lake contains at least 264 islands, half of which are less than a quarter-acre in size, and is indented by several peninsulas yielding a total shoreline of approximately 288 miles. The driving distance around the lake is 63 miles. It is 504 feet above sea level. Winnipesaukee is the third-largest lake in New England after Lake Champlain and Moosehead Lake. Outflow is regulated by the Lakeport Dam in Lakeport, New Hampshire, on the Winnipesaukee River.

Experience the beauty of Lake Winnipesaukee during a narrated scenic tour aboard the historic M/S Mount Washington. Learn about the history of the region and local folklore surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in New England.

The Breakers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Grandest of Newport’s Summer “Cottages”

The Breakers is a Vanderbilt mansion located on Ochre Point Avenue in Newport along the Atlantic Ocean. It is a National Historic Landmark, a contributing property to the Bellevue Avenue Historic District, and is owned and operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County. The Breakers is the grandest of Newport’s summer “cottages” and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family’s social and financial preeminence in turn of the century America.  Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) established the family fortune in steamships and later in the New York Central Railroad which was a pivotal development in the industrial growth of the nation during the late 19th century.

The Breakers is the most famous of the Gilded Age Newport Mansions for good reason. It’s breathtaking in scope and scale. The design of this grand home was inspired by European palaces and every room is more lavish than the last.

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the Richest Fossil Beds in the World

People are drawn to the rugged beauty of the Badlands National Park. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here.

The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today. Located in southwestern South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires.

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Badlands were formed by the geologic forces of deposition and erosion. Deposition of sediments began 69 million years ago when an ancient sea stretched across what is now the Great Plains. After the sea retreated, successive land environments including rivers and flood plains continued to deposit sediments. Although the major period of deposition ended 28 million years ago significant erosion of the Badlands did not begin until a mere half a million years ago. Erosion continues to carve the Badlands buttes today. The rocks and fossils preserve evidence of ancient ecosystems and give scientists clues about how early mammal species lived.

Related: America’s 10 Best Scenic Byways for a Summer Road Trip

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Administered in two units, Sage Creek and Conata Basin, the area is open for backpacking and exploration. The Badlands was the filming location for both Dances with Wolves and Armageddon

Worth Pondering…

It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.

—Walter Winchell

Smile of the Great Spirit: Lake Winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee is located in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire at the foothills of the White Mountains and is the largest lake in the state at 72 square miles

Lake Winnipesaukee is New Hampshire’s summertime playground where travelers come to enjoy lake life. It’s a great family-friendly destination but also works well as a trip for just adults.

Many of the top things to do in Lake Winnipesaukee are about enjoying the lake in the summer. There are lake cruises, jet-ski rentals, and plenty of beaches to relax on. But you’ll also find plenty of museums, breweries, wineries, and shops to enjoy.

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located in the heart of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region between Manchester and the White Mountains, Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire and the third-largest lake in New England after Lake Champlain and Moosehead Lake. Surrounded by three mountain ranges, the wooded shoreline and crystal clear water of this spring-fed lake make it a popular resort and a place to rest and relax in beautiful surroundings and enjoy water sports of all sorts.

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The lake is 69 square miles altogether—21 miles long (northwest-southeast) and from one to nine miles wide (northeast-southwest). It is home to at least 264 islands, half of which are less than a quarter-acre in size, and is indented by several peninsulas yielding a total shoreline of approximately 288 miles.

In short, this lake is massive. Additionally, there are some inhabited islands like Bear Island and Governors Island.

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visitors may explore the numerous villages on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee by boat or by car. Each one offers something unique. Weirs Beach has arcades and boardwalks, waterslides, a public beach, and an activity center. Meredith is a restored mill village where you can browse through antiques, art, and craft galleries. Wolfeboro is a picture-perfect village right down to its historic Main Street. Center Harbor, Moultonborough, Tuftonboro, Alton, Gilford, and Laconia all have their special flavor. All communities have public parks and docks and feature varied activities such as fireworks displays, and band concerts throughout the year.

Related Article: The Uniqueness of the White Mountains

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Story of Lake Winnipesaukee

Many moons ago on the northern shores of this beautiful lake there lived a great chief, Wonton, renowned for his great courage in war and the beauty of this fair daughter, Mineola. She had many suitors but refused them all. One day, Adiwando, the young chief of a hostile tribe to the south hearing so much of the fair Mineola, paddled over the lake and fearlessly entered the village of his enemies. Her father happened to be away at the time and admiring Adiwando’s courage the rest of the Indians did not harm him. Before long, he and the Indian maid were desperately in love with each other.

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On his return, Wonton was exceedingly wroth to find the chief of the enemy in his camp and a suitor for the hand of his daughter; so much so, that he immediately raised his tomahawk and started to kill him.

Mineola, rushing in between them, pleaded with her father for the life of her lover and finally succeeded in reconciling them. After the wedding ceremony, the whole tribe accompanied the two lovers in their canoes halfway across the lake. When they started the sky was overcast and the waters black but just as they were about to turn and leave them the sun came out and the waters sparkled around the canoe of Mineola and Adiwando.

“This is a good omen,” said Wonton, “and hereafter these waters shall be called Winnipesaukee, or The Smile of the Great Spirit.”

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Things to Do in Lake Winnipesaukee

Whether you want a relaxing boat ride or the adrenaline rush of driving a jet-ski, want to peruse local handicrafts or dive into history, or want to spend the afternoon wine-tasting or enjoying an ice cream, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Lake Winnipesaukee.

Let’s run down some favorites.

Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Public Boat Launches

Lake Winnipesaukee is all about boating and there are numerous places to launch a boat and cruise around Lake Winnipesaukee. Launch your boat at one of the many launch sites on the Lake. If you don’t own a boat, you can rent one, charter one, or take a cruise on one of the many excursion boats on the Lake.

Laconia’s boat rental locations include East Coast Flightcraft, Irwin Marine, North Water Marine, and Winnisquam Marine. In Gilford, there is Fay’s Boatyard, Wolfeboro is home to Goodhue Boat Company, and Alton Bay has Lakeside Boat Rentals. Located in Meredith is Melvin Village Marina. Finally, in Moultonborough, there is Trexler’s Marina.

Related Article: Everything You Need for Lake Camping

If you’d rather be closer to the water, Jet Ski rentals on Lake Winnipesaukee can be found at Wolfeboro Jet Ski Rentals, Weirs Beach Jet Ski Rentals, and numerous other places.

Wolfeboro on Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mailboat Cruise on the M/V Sophie C

Lake Winnipesaukee is home to a truly unique lake cruise: the M/V Sophie C, an actual working mailboat and the “oldest floating post office in the country”. The boat travels from Weirs Beach to the islands of Lake Winnipesaukee delivering mail to their residents. And passengers can join for the ride.

Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On a cruise, you’ll visit a handful of islands and drop off and pick up the mail. Passengers can also fill out postcards, write letters, and mail them with a collectible stamp during the cruise.

This cruise is one of the most unique activities in New Hampshire.

The Mailboat Cruise costs $40 a person and lasts two hours. It only runs during the summer months.

Boarding M/S Washington for Scenic Lake Winnipesaukee Tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Narrated Scenic Tours on the M/S Mount Washington

Experience the beauty of Lake Winnipesaukee during a narrated scenic tour aboard the historic M/S Mount Washington. Learn about the history of the region and local folklore surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in New England.

With daily departures from Weirs Beach and departures from Wolfeboro and Alton Bay on select days, it’s easy to fit a cruise on “the Mount” into your travel plans.

The 2½ hour cruise costs $42 (+$3.50 fuel surcharge).

Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other available cruises offered by Mount Washington Cruises include:

  • Sunset Dinner Cruise on the M/S Mount Washington
  • Sunday Brunch Cruise on the M/S Mount Washington
  • Summer Cocktail Cruise on the M/S Winnipesaukee Spirit
Castle in the Clouds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visit Castle in the Clouds

Castle in the Clouds is a 1913 mountaintop mansion in Moultonborough and one of Lake Winnipesaukee’s most popular attractions. It’s a great example of Arts and Crafts architecture in New England and has an aesthetic of living in harmony with nature. The mansion has 16 rooms and modern amenities for its time. It’s a beautiful house with gorgeous views of Lake Winnipesaukee from above.

Lake Winnipesaukee from Castle in the Clouds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And it’s way more than just a historic home to visit. There are over 5,000 acres of land with stunning views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the Ossipee Mountains, miles of hiking, and even an on-site restaurant. The estate also hosts weddings and other private events. 

Related Article: 4 Epic Places to Watch the Leaves Change

Self-guided tours of the mansion cost $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 5 to 17, and $15 for seniors ages 65+. Visitors can tour the first and second floors of the mansion.

Castle in the Clouds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Guided tours of the basement cost $25 per person and include self-guided tours of floors 1 and 2. The basement tour shows guests where the servants lived who ran the mansion and they had the most interesting stories of all.

Note: Trolleys are the only means of access to the mansion. Trolleys depart the Carriage House every 15 minutes until 4:15 pm.

Castle in the Clouds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Old Country Store in Moultonborough

The Old Country Store in Moultonborough is one of the oldest continuously operated stores in the United States and has been in business since 1781. In addition to selling goods to the community, it’s served as a hub for town meetings, a library, and a post office.

Today, the iconic yellow building serves as a vintage shopping experience for travelers in the area. You can find locally made goods, antiques, and unusual souvenirs. They even have penny candy (not quite a penny a piece anymore, but still quite reasonable prices).

The Old Country Store is around the corner from Castle in the Clouds and makes a nice stop for after your visit.

Loon Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Loon Preservation Center and Marcus Wildlife Sanctuary 

The Frederick and Paula Anna Markus Wildlife Sanctuary is comprised of 200 acres of upland forests, marshes, ponds, clear-running streams, and over 5,000 feet of pristine shoreline on Lake Winnipesaukee, one of the largest remaining areas of natural shoreline on the lake. These diverse habitats make this sanctuary home to a wide host of plant and animal species. Two walking trails wind their way through the Sanctuary.

Loon Center on Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Loon Center, located on the north shore of Lake Winnipesaukee on the Markus Wildlife Sanctuary in Moultonborough was built as the new headquarters of the Loon Preservation Committee in 1993. In addition to staff offices, public meeting rooms, and a research laboratory, the Loon Center houses exhibits, displays, and the Loon’s Feather Gift Shop. The interpretive exhibits, presentations, and nature trails give over 10,000 yearly visitors an introduction to the natural environment of New Hampshire and promote a greater understanding of loons and the natural world.

Loon Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For most people, the call of the loon is their first introduction to the species. Loon calls have a distinct, haunting quality that has enchanted humans for centuries. In popular culture, these calls have become a symbol of the wilderness. Loons are most vocal from mid-May to mid-June. They have four main calls which they use to communicate with their families and other loons. Each call has a distinct meaning and serves a unique function.

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best Time to Visit Lake Winnipesaukee

The best time to visit Lake Winnipesaukee is in the summer months from June through August. This is when the lake is busiest and at its most expensive but when else can you swim, relax on the beach, and go boating underneath the bright sunshine?

The busiest time of year is mid-June when bikers from around the country descend on the lake for Laconia Motorcycle Week. This can be a fun time to visit the lake but know that it will be very crowded with lots of motorcycles roaring.

Wolfeboro on Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fall can be another wonderful time to visit Lake Winnipesaukee with beautiful fall foliage surrounding the lake. And we enjoyed visiting Lake Winnipesaukee in late-September, a warm yet uncrowded time as most kids are back in school.

Winter is a very different trip, but hey, there’s a reason why Lake Winnipesaukee is a favorite New England winter getaways. Lake Winnipesaukee is an ice fishing mecca with competitions taking place in February. This can be a great time to enjoy bargain-basement accommodation rates—with a side of ice skating. There is also a sled dog race held in February.

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Winnipesaukee Stats

Elevation: 504 feet above sea level

Maximum depth: 180 feet

Average depth: 43 feet

Volume: 625 billion gallons

Wolfeboro on Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Length: Approximately 25 miles

Width: Approximately 15 miles at widest point

Water Surface: 72 square miles

Distance around the lake: 182 miles

Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Shoreline excluding islands: 178 miles

Islands: 244

Island shoreline: 100½ miles

Worth Pondering…

How still it is here in the woods. The trees
Stand motionless, as if they did not dare
To stir, lest it should break the spell. The air
Hangs quiet as spaces in a marble frieze.
Even this little brook, that runs at ease,
Whispering and gurgling in its knotted bed,
Seems but to deepen with its curling thread
Of sound the shadowy sun-pierced silences.

—Archibald Lampman (1861-1899)

The Best Stops for a Summer Road Trip

Whether you park for ten minutes or ten days, what destinations do you pull off the highway for?

At some point, everyone starts to think about their dream road trip. For some, it’s a jaunt to the Grand Canyon or touring the Mighty Five in a decked-out RV. For others, it’s traveling Historic Route 66 or the Blue Ridge Parkway. No matter the destination, though, everyone needs to make stops on the way. What are some of your favorites?

For my purpose, a stop is anything from a national park to a state park or a roadside attraction to a Texas BBQ joint. Anything that gets you to pull off the highway, turn off your engine, and stretch your legs a bit—whether it’s to hike a mountain trail or tour a living history museum is up to you.

My vote for the perfect road trip stop is multifaceted and an ongoing list as I travel to new places and explore America’s scenic wonders.

Roswell UFO Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

International UFO Museum, Roswell, New Mexico

The International UFO Museum and Research Center at Roswell is the focal point of the industry that has built up around The Roswell Incident, an event that took place nearby in July 1947. What’s beyond question is that something crashed. This could have been a UFO or a military project, either way, there appears to have been some kind of cover-up. The wealth of testimonies, photographs, and other exhibits leaves you in no doubt as to what they believe here.

Roswell UFO Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Believers and skeptics alike are invited to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the famous “Roswell Incident.” Mix and mingle with UFO and space enthusiasts at the Roswell UFO Festival (July 1-3, 2022) while enjoying live entertainment, family-friendly activities, guest speakers, authors, costume contests, and maybe even an alien abduction.

Jekyll Island Club © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark District, Jekyll Island, Georgia

The Jekyll Island Club was called “the richest, most inaccessible club in the world” by Munsey’s Magazine. The Club House is now the Jekyll Island Club Hotel and the hotel and 33 other historic structures on 240 acres have been designated by the National Park Service as a Historic Landmark District. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, you can visit the museum and take a historic tour, plus visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

Jekyll Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located near Brunswick, Jekyll Island is one of the barrier islands designated as part of the Golden Isles. In addition to the historic district, recreation opportunities abound golf, biking, birding, fishing, swimming, and more. Other hotels as well as a campground with primitive and RV sites provide accommodations.

Bryce Canyon from Rim Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bryce Point, Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon, Utah

The views over Bryce Canyon are spectacular from any of the park’s 14 viewing points but Bryce Point, the last stop on the shuttle route allows you to appreciate the full scale of this natural wonder. Stand at the viewing point and the sheer breadth of colors of the hoodoos from snow white through pale rusty to brilliant orange is amazing. Bryce Point is also the starting point of the Rim Trail, a relatively easy hike that offers outstanding views of the hoodoos from above.

Bryce Canyon from the Rim Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Rim Trail passes by all the viewing points served by the shuttle (Bryce, Inspiration, Sunset, and Sunrise Points) so you can hike as much or as little of the rim as you like. Drop your car off at the shuttle parking area opposite the visitor center.

The Breakers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Newport Mansions, Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island is where America’s wealthiest families chose to build their summer “cottages” in the late 19th century. Today, known collectively as the Newport Mansions and managed by The Preservation Society of Newport County, these lavish properties offer a rare insight into the Gilded Age of American history. The Breakers, a 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palazzo, is the largest and most opulent of them all and was owned by railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt II.

Mount St. Helens from Hoffstadt Bluffs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center, Toutle, Washington

If, like most people, you approach Mount St Helens by the northern route SR 504, the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway. Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center provides one of the best panoramic views along the way. As well as looking left towards the volcano, look down into the valley and you may be lucky enough to spot members of the elk herd that has moved into the mudflow area of the Toutle River Valley. Facilities available at the center include restaurant and helicopter tours.

Powerhouse Visitor Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Powerhouse Visitor Center, Kingman, Arizona

As its name implies, this 1907 building was once the source of electrical power for the city of Kingman and remained so until 1938 when the Hoover Dam was constructed. It was such an eyesore by the 1980s that the city considered demolishing the building but fortunately, it was saved, restored, and in 1997 reopened as the Powerhouse Visitor Center. Today it is also home to the excellent Historic Route 66 Museum which tells the story of the highway from its earliest years through the 50s and 60s.

Trapp Family Lodge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont

Fans of “The Sound of Music” will love visiting the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont. Take one of the daily Von Trapp Family History tours. Pictures of the family and its history are also hung in public areas. For resort guests, there are a variety of activities for all seasons, tours, and food choices.

Trapp Family Lodge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A variety of accommodations are available. History tours are $10 for adult guests, $5 for children, and $15 for adult day visitors. Services are available in nearby Stowe.

Sylvan Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park, South Dakota

This beautiful—and extremely photogenic—the lake was created in 1881 when Theodore Reder built a dam across Sunday Gulch. Described as the “crown jewel” of Custer State Park, Sylvan Lake offers a swimming beach and boat rentals and there’s a wonderful loop trail that leads between the rock formations that make this such a distinctive site.

The Sylvan Lake campground is open from late May to the end of September (not suitable for large RVs). The upscale Sylvan Lake Lodge, built-in 1937, is also nearby.

Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mount Washington Cog Railway, Mount Washington, New Hampshire

At 6,288.2 feet, Mt. Washington is the highest peak in New Hampshire. Ride in style to the summit on a historic cog railway that has been operating since 1869. Grades average 25 percent! Keep your eye out for hikers on the Appalachian Trail, which crosses the line about three-quarters of the way up. Enjoy far-reaching panoramic views at the summit on the Observatory deck on a nice day. The visitor center has snacks, restrooms, and a post office. And, don’t miss the Mt Washington Weather Museum.

Perrine Bridge and Snake River © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perrine Bridge, Twin Falls, Idaho

The Perrine Bridge spans the majestic Snake River Canyon on the northern edge of Twin Falls. The bridge is 486 feet above the river and 1,500 feet long and offers pedestrian walkways with views of the river, lakes, and waterfalls. BASE jumpers can enjoy the Perrine Bridge year-round as the launching point for parachuting to the canyon floor below.

Snake River from Perrine Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located on the south side of the bridge is a large parking area (RV friendly) with the Twin Falls Visitor Center and access to the canyon rim trails leading to the bridge. To the east of the bridge along the south rim of the canyon the dirt ramp used by Evel Knievel when he unsuccessfully attempted to jump the canyon on his steam-powered “skycycle” in 1974 is still visible.

Mitchell Corn Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota

Certainly one of the most famous roadsides stops out there, the Corn Palace is a great place to take a short break from the road while traveling across the prairie. Located a few miles off I-90 in Mitchell, South Dakota, The Corn Palace is a big building that’s covered in the corn! Each year, artists design murals that are created using nothing but locally grown corn. Inside the building is a small museum showing the site’s history dating back to 1892 and pictures of the murals from previous years, a basketball arena, and a gift shop.

Colonial Williamsburg © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Williamsburg was once the capital of Virginia, the largest and most influential colony in the budding republic. The restored version of Colonial Williamsburg has provided the public with a detailed, vibrant re-creation of this city with the opportunity to travel back in time amid 88 rebuilt homes, taverns, restaurants, and shops.

Colonial Williamsburg © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Experience the grandeur of royal authority in Virginia just before its collapse in the Revolution. The Governor’s Palace, home to seven royal governors and the first two elected governors in Virginia, was built to impress visitors with a display of authority and wealth.

Historic Jamestowne © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Colonial Williamsburg is part of the Historic Triangle, which also includes Jamestown and Yorktown. Each of these sites has its unique features and historical significance.

Lake Winnepesaukee Cruise © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Winnipesaukee cruises, Laconia, New Hampshire

Take a narrated day cruise on New Hampshire’s largest lake, Lake Winnepesaukee. The M/S Mount Washington holds over 1200 passengers and has several ports of call. Dinner cruises are offered in the evenings plus Sunday brunch and specialty cruises. Or, ride along on the M/V Sophie C, the only U.S. Mailboat on an inland waterway, as it delivers mail to five islands.

The season begins near the end of May and runs through most of October.

Hole N’ the Rock © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hole N’ the Rock, Moab Utah

Located 12 miles South of Moab on Highway 191, ‘Hole N’ the Rock’ is a unique home and Trading post carved into a huge Rock. Take a tour through the 5,000-square-foot home with 14 rooms. Have a wander around the Gift store and keep the kids happy with a visit to the Petting Zoo and an ice cream from the General Store.

Gilroy © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gilroy, California

If you don’t already know that Gilroy is dubbed the Garlic Capital of the World, your nose might tell you as you approach the town. So will your eyes as you see not only plenty of garlic fields and numerous shops selling garlic and other produce, and garlic-related items such as garlic-flavored chocolate and garlic-flavored ice cream. The city also holds a garlic festival every year that has drawn worldwide attention. The Garlic Festival is held in late July each year (42nd annual, July 22-24, 2022). Some of the most interesting and longest-established garlic shops are located on Highway 101 on the outskirts of town.

Corning Museum of Glass © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York

The museum is just about all that remains of the original Owens-Corning Glass Factory in Corning. All but a few commercial products are now made in other parts of the world. The museum houses a fabulous collection of rare glass artifacts, a modern art/glass gallery, and several demonstration areas where visitors can watch glass being blown, heated, and worked into practical or artistic shapes. There is even an area where you can make your glass pieces.

A reasonable entrance fee covers two days which you might need to see everything. A cafe is on the premises to accommodate lunch guests. There is a massive gift shop, too, so you can purchase just about anything made in glass.

Wall Drug © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wall Drug Store, Wall, South Dakota

Love it or loathe it, you can’t ignore Wall Drug, not least because of the dozens of signs that announce its existence from miles away. The original signs were erected back in 1936 as owners Ted and Dorothy Hustead used the offer of cheap coffee and free ice water to tempt travelers to their drug store in the small town of Wall.

Wall Drug © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Today, the store is so tacky it’s brilliant with dozens of specialty stores and a collection of novelty items from fiberglass dinosaurs to animations that can be activated for a quarter. It’s not subtle but makes no pretense to be. Yes, they do still offer free ice water and coffee at 5 cents a cup.

Castle in the Clouds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Castle in the Clouds, Moultonborough, New Hampshire

Completed in 1914 as the estate of shoe tycoon Thomas Plant, Lucknow Estate, as it was called, is considered a prime example of Arts and Crafts architecture. Opened to the public in 1959, Castle in the Clouds is now a museum that preserves the opulent lifestyle of the period.

Santa Fe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is known as the City Different and within one visit you will know why. Santa Fe embodies a rich history of melding Hispanic, Anglo, and Native American cultures whose influences are apparent in everything from the architecture, the food, and the art. Santa Fe has more than 250 galleries and has been rated the second largest art market in the country, after New York City. Canyon Road is a historic pathway into the mountains and an old neighborhood that has become the city’s center for art with the highest concentration of galleries.

Palace of the Governors © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Downtown Santa Fe’s Palace of the Governors on the plaza is one of the most iconic sites in the city. The oldest continuously inhabited building in the United States, it’s perhaps best known for the Native American market beneath its portal.

Loretto Chapel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The visitor is drawn to Loretto Chapel to see the spiral staircase that leads to the choir loft. The staircase—with two 360-degree turns, no visible means of support, and without the benefit of nails—has been called the Miraculous Staircase.

Worth Pondering…

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown trail before me leading wherever I choose.

—Walt Whitman

The Uniqueness of the White Mountains

General stores, snowy peaks, and tons of maple syrup to pour on award-winning pancakes

State nicknames say a lot about a place and when it comes to New England, nature reigns supreme. Maine is the Pine Tree State, Massachusetts is the Bay State, Vermont is the Green Mountain State. Although New Hampshire’s is known as the Granite State, a lesser-known but equally as important moniker is the White Mountain State. The latter speaks to its arguably most visit-worthy area.

Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The White Mountains—home to Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the Northeast—offers up the staples that travelers come to New England for: general stores, maple syrup, rolling landscapes.

Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Head to Mount Washington for a scenic ride aboard a legendary cog railway followed by general store hopping to stock up on local cheese, fudge, and booze. Whatever you choose to do during your time in the White Mountains, you’ll always be surrounded by glorious peaks that give the region its name.

Hot tip: New Hampshire has no sales tax, so stop at the various NH Liquor and Wine Outlets hugging the highway. When in New Hampshire!

Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ride up Mount Washington

Sure, seeing the mountain with the tallest peak in the Northeast is cool, but stepping foot on it? Bragging rights granted.

Mount Washington is one of 13 mountains that makes up the Presidential Range with more than half its peaks named after US presidents. Being the tallest of them all, Mount Washington is equipped with a cog railway built in 1868 that brings passengers up the mountain. While the summit isn’t reachable in the winter due to weather conditions, a train can get you to Waumbek Station, located at an elevation of 4,000 feet (about two-thirds up the way).

Related: 10 Amazing Places to RV in August

Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you prefer to drive, Marshfield Station is a fully accessible stop that stays open to visitors all year round, situated at an elevation of 2,700 feet. You’ll still get some pretty snappable views, plus you can pop into the Cog Railway Museum for a quick history lesson and refreshing bevvy.

Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From the opposite (Pinkham Notch) side of the mountain, you can drive up the six-and-a-quarter-mile-long Mount Washington Auto Road or ride a van operated from Great Glen Trails. Climbers have the choice of several trails but should be aware of the mountain’s unpredictable and sudden weather changes.

Nothing feels better than getting to the entrance of a general store knowing that on the other side, shelves of jarred jams, homemade fudge, maple sweets, and every trinket you could imagine await you. That’s exactly what you’ll get at Zeb’s General Store in North Conway where maple syrup greets you at the door.

Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Speaking of maple syrup, Fadden’s General Store and Maple Warehouse in North Woodstock makes the good stuff in their very own backyard. Harman’s Cheese & Country Store in Sugar Hill produces their own cheese including their famous “really-aged cheddar” that, as the name suggests, has been aged for a really long time: more than two years. Locals eat this stuff up.

And remember, no *clap* sales *clap* tax.

White Mountains © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Eat award-winning pancakes, syrup, and other goodies. The syrup talk is not over, my friends (it never is when you’re in New Hampshire), especially when there’s still pancakes to discuss—and in the White Mountains, that means Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill. This spot isn’t just good: Polly’s won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2006. Go big with a fluffy stack of pancakes drizzled in maple syrup and don’t forget a dollop of their homemade maple spread.

White Mountains © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another place to get your breakfast fix: Benton’s Sugar Shack in Thornton which serves the perfect plate of face-sized pancakes and crispy bacon alongside their homemade maple syrup (so you can buy your syrup and eat it, too).

Related: 10 Amazing Places to RV in July

Mount Washington Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Switching forms of sugar, the next stop is Chutters in Littleton, home to the world’s longest candy counter of 112 feet with over 500 varieties to choose from.

And, if you’re making your way to Lincoln, pop by Moon Café & Bakery for some of their warm, gooey brownies that pair perfectly with a cup of hot cocoa.

Mount Washington Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While the Omni Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods is tucked away from the main drag, it’s almost impossible to miss it with Mount Washington hovering over like a halo. Once you walk into the lobby, you’re transported back to 1902 when the hotel first opened. It’s even rumored that the owner’s wife, Carolyn, still lives in the hotel (don’t worry, a friendly tenant), and ghost aficionados jump at the opportunity to book her old quarters in Room 314.

Mount Washington Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For unwinding, there are two heated pools (one indoor, one outdoor), hot tubs, a spa, and outdoor fire pits for s’more-making. Grab dinner at the Main Dining Room which underwent renovations last year. And when you’re starting to itch for adventure again, you can book an onsite activity like a canopy zip line.

Castle in the Clouds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Seventy miles south of Bretton Woods, Castle in the Clouds is home to Lucknow, an Arts and Crafts-style 16-room mansion built in the Ossipee Mountains in 1914. The 135-acre estate provides one of the most stunning views of Lake Winnipesauke, surrounding mountains, and over 5,500 acres of conserved land.

Castle in the Clouds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enjoy self-guided tours of the mansion and guided tours of its basement. The on-site Carriage House offers dining in its highly-acclaimed restaurant in vintage horse stalls and amidst panoramic lakeside views on the terrace. You can also spend time walking or hiking along 28 miles of trail managed by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust taking in the beauty while weaving along brooks and streams and exploring seven different waterfalls. For those that prefer horseback, Riding in the Clouds offers trail rides, carriage rides, and pony rides.

Lake Winnipesaukee Cruise © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The largest lake in New Hampshire, Lake Winnipesaukee is the focal point of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region which also includes nearby—and far less developed—Squam Lake and Newfound Lake. Winnipesaukee is a beehive of summer activity surrounded by water parks, beaches, fast food, and family-oriented attractions.

Weirs Beach © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The west side of the lake is the most developed especially around kid-friendly Weirs Beach and more trendy Meredith while the eastern resort town of Wolfeboro is quieter. Water sports are abundant with sailboats, kayaks, and motorboats vying for water space with the historic cruise boat, M/S Mount Washington.

Related: Ultimate Checklist: 20 Summer Experiences

Loon Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Loon Center and Markus Wildlife Sanctuary in Moultonborough protects breeding waters of these treasured birds and offers visitors a chance to learn about them. Nature and wildlife is also the focus of Squam Lakes Natural Science Center which operates nature cruises on this well-protected lake that was the setting for On Golden Pond.

Worth Pondering…

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

—John Burroughs

6 Lakes to Explore This Summer

Check out our list of lakes to explore this summer and plan your next road trip

There’s no better way to cool down on a warm summer day than hanging out at your local body of water. Fortunately, the US and Canada are packed with incredible, pristine lakes that offer plenty of opportunities to watch the sunset over alpine peaks, paddle along calm, glassy waters, or kick off your flip flops and go for a dip.

So, if you’re looking to kick-start your summer adventure, look no further. We’ve put together a list of six stunning lakes worthy of at least a weekend away.

Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona

Lake Powell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Powell, set dramatically against a backdrop of eroded red rock canyons and mesas, is the largest man-made lake in North America and is widely recognized by boating enthusiasts as one of the premier water-based recreation destinations in the world.

Lake Powell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Powell, formed by the impounded waters of the Colorado River above the Glen Canyon Dam, is the best known and most visited feature at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The vast landscape of Glen Canyon contains rugged water- and wind-carved canyons, buttes, mesas, rivers, seeps, springs, and hanging gardens.

Saguaro Lake, Arizona

Saguaro Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Saguaro Lake is located about 40 miles northeast of downtown Phoenix. The lake is named for its surrounding stands of Saguaro cactus. It has more than 22 miles of shoreline and is 118 feet deep at its deepest point when full and is about 10 miles long.

Saguaro Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The lake is perfect for power boating, sailing, water-skiing, jet-skiing, kayaking, and fishing. The lake is divided into two sections connected by narrows between canyon walls. The lower main portion has the greater water surface, while the more narrow east end has boat access camping.

Okanagan Lake, British Columbia

Okanagan Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Okanagan Lake, home of the legendary lake monster Ogopogo, is the largest lake in the region and located close to the center of the beautiful Okanagan Valley. Highway 97 takes you along the shoreline from Penticton to Kelowna, traveling through many communities.

Okanagan Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along the way there are numerous access spots leading to beautiful sandy beaches, resorts, and campsites. Penticton, Naramata, Summerland, Peachland, and Kelowna are all located on the shores of Okanagan Lake hosting thousands of visitors to the area.

Lackawanna Lake, Pennsylvania

Lackawanna Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 1,445-acre Lackawanna State Park is in northeastern Pennsylvania, ten miles north of Scranton. The centerpiece of the park, the 198-acre Lackawanna Lake, is surrounded by picnic areas and multi-use trails winding through forest.

Lackawanna Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boating, camping, fishing, mountain biking, and swimming are popular recreation activities. The campground is within walking distance of the lake and swimming pool, and features forested sites with electric hook-ups.

Lake George, New York

Lake George © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake George, nicknamed the “Queen of American Lakes”, is a long, narrow lake located at the southeast base of the Adirondack Mountains, in the northeastern portion of New York State. It lies within the upper region of the Great Appalachian Valley and drains northward into Lake Champlain.

Lake George © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of Lake George and the Southern Adirondacks. There’s a little something for everyone, whether you are hiking with your family, playing a round of golf with friends, or heading out for an extreme adventure.

Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest and most popular lake in New Hampshire and certainly one of the most scenic. Located at the foothills of the White Mountains and surrounded by mountain ranges, Lake Winnipesaukee contains more than 300 islands and covers 44,000 acres of crystal clear water.

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The M/S Mount Washington visits five different ports on alternating days throughout the week. Weirs Beach is the Mount Washington’s home port and offers cruises every day. All cruises are 2½ hours roundtrip.

Ready to Go?

Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The time has come for you to get your boat on, swim on, hike on, or float on. Whether you love to hike, bike, camp, backpack, paddle, surf, houseboat, or sail—one of these beautiful bodies of water will certainly fit the bill.

Worth Pondering…

Once in a lifetime, if one is lucky, one so emerges with sunshine and air and running water that whole eons might pass in a single afternoon without notice.

—Loren Eisley