Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Travel

From east to west, national treasures await

With the dawn of a new year of travel, I decided to reflect on some past destinations that I especially loved. And while these three places across the nation may not be the first spots on a traveler's itinerary, each is a true American gem.

Patti Nickell, TNS

Maryland: St. Michaels

It was the best wakeup call I've ever gotten. The sun rose, not timidly but blazing its way over the coastal marshes lining Chesapeake Bay. From my room at the Inn at Perry Cabin, I woke to this pyrotechnic display. Who needs an alarm clock?

Stepping onto my deck, I took a deep whiff of the salty air and wondered if people who get daily doses of this clean, fresh oxygen take it for granted. Maryland's Eastern Shore is a cornucopia of the good things life has to offer — tangy sea breezes, clear air, as many bicycles and sailboats as there are automobiles, and enough crabs, oysters and clams to make up a bountiful fisherman's platter.

The inn is a charming base for exploring St. Michaels, a town with only one fast-food outlet (Subway), no malls and no traffic light within 11 miles. It does have a first-rate Maritime Museum, where you can visit the Hooper Lighthouse, tong for oysters in the harbor or sign on as an apprentice in a boat-building class.

You also can spend a day browsing Main Street antique shops and taking a walking tour of the historic district before tucking into a mammoth platter of crabs at St. Michaels Crab and Steak House, where, as they like to say, "The only thing we overlook is the water."

Montana: Big Sky

Think A River Runs Through It, where rainbow trout practically leap onto fly fishermen's reels; pack trips through aspen-studded meadows are a daily occurrence; and more than a few High Country guides resemble a long-haired Brad Pitt.

For city dwellers starved for the great outdoors, this is paradise. For snow bunnies, Big Sky has a ski resort whose major peak, Lone Mountain, is 11,166 feet in altitude, and whose 5,800 skiable acres on three mountains and 400 inches of annual snowfall make it a winter mecca.

Still, it's a destination for all seasons due to its proximity to Yellowstone, the nation's oldest national park. Less than an hour's drive away, the 2.2 million-acre park is a sanctuary for bears (both black and grizzly), wolves, bison, moose and elk. Like most visitors, I headed directly to Old Faithful, the most famous of Yellowstone's geysers, which erupts every hour-and-a-half, spewing out thousands of gallons of boiling water.

I staked out my spot and was rewarded for my patience, not only with the geyser's angry antics, but with the appearance of a nonchalant moose, ambling along apparently unmoved by the spectacle going on behind him.

As impressive as Old Faithful is, the park has other not-to-be-missed spots such as Black Sand Basin and Emerald Pool, where minerals and algae color the mud and water, giving them the look of an Impressionist painting.

California: Marina del Rey

I love California's stunning beach communities, from the glam appeal of Santa Monica and Laguna Beach in the south to the picture-postcard charm of Carmel farther north.

More off the grid than the others, and just a 15-minute taxi ride from Los Angeles International, Marina del Rey may not be as immediately recognizable. As the name implies, it's all about the marina: the largest man-made marina in the world, with slips for 5,000 boats.

The best way to experience the marina is to get on the water. One of my favorite experiences was a Saturday night starlight dinner-dance cruise aboard the Hornblower luxury yacht, where I marveled at the waterside buildings draped in a dazzling display of twinkling lights.

Patti Nickell is a travel writer and restaurant critic in Lexington, Ky. This story appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Comments
8 ways to get on the water in Tampa Bay if you don't own a boat

8 ways to get on the water in Tampa Bay if you don't own a boat

According to the old wisdom, the two happiest days of a boater’s life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it. There’s also an argument to be made for the day when a generous friend buys one. Boating, from the sun to the bre...
Published: 05/22/18
Despite Walt Disney's wishes, you can now buy alcohol at every Magic Kingdom restaurant

Despite Walt Disney's wishes, you can now buy alcohol at every Magic Kingdom restaurant

Well, you did it millennials. As of this month, every sit-down restaurant in the Magic Kingdom now serves alcohol. It was a big deal back in 2012 when the world’s most visited theme park broke with Uncle Walt’s mandate to keep alcohol ou...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18
Philadelphia’s American Revolution Museum winning battle for tourists

Philadelphia’s American Revolution Museum winning battle for tourists

Associated PressPHILADELPHIA The Museum of the American Revolution is a year old and officials say it has landed a decisive victory in capturing tourists’ attention in a city with lots of revolutionary competition. In honor of its first birthday Apri...
Published: 05/17/18
Tired of the Smithsonian? These small, quirky D.C. museums are worth a visit

Tired of the Smithsonian? These small, quirky D.C. museums are worth a visit

WASHINGTONWashington is known for its museums. But venture beyond the Mall, which is home to four of the 20 most-visited museums in the world, and you’ll find plenty of smaller, quirkier institutions. Want to learn about great inventions, the history...
Published: 05/17/18
SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld is joining its sister park, Busch Gardens, in offering free cups of beer this summer. Guests 21 and up can receive up to two complimentary 7-ounce beers per visit at Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio in the park starting Friday through Sept. 2. T...
Published: 05/16/18
SeaWorld’s water park Aquatica opens Ray Rush slide propelled by water jets

SeaWorld’s water park Aquatica opens Ray Rush slide propelled by water jets

SeaWorld’s promise to add new rides instead of animal entertainers is building steam as a new ride has opened in the company’s Aquatica waterpark in Orlando.Ray Rush, a new slide with an open air half-pipe that resembles a manta ray, opened a day ear...
Published: 05/14/18
Updated: 05/16/18
Active itineraries: More vacation packages combine travel and fitness

Active itineraries: More vacation packages combine travel and fitness

Diane DanielIf your resolution to get in shape still hasn’t quite gelled, consider an active vacation where fitness is factored into your trip. The options are all over the map, and they’re becoming ever more energetic."The move from more passive and...
Published: 05/10/18
Disney brings back After Hours tickets for Magic Kingdom this summer

Disney brings back After Hours tickets for Magic Kingdom this summer

Walt Disney World will bring back its separate ticket event called Disney After Hours that lets visitors into the Magic Kingdom on select nights this summer. It’s a chance to enjoy lighter crowds during the busiest time of the year at the world’s bus...
Updated one month ago
Sesame Street land is coming to SeaWorld Orlando

Sesame Street land is coming to SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld is building a Sesame Street-themed land to replace Shamu’s Happy Harbor play area on the south end of the park, with an expected completion in spring 2019. This will be the first time SeaWorld Orlando will have a daily parade that features E...
Updated one month ago
Enjoy a beach day in Mahahual, minutes from the cruise port in Costa Maya, Mexico

Enjoy a beach day in Mahahual, minutes from the cruise port in Costa Maya, Mexico

A trip to the Caribbean conjures up visions of swaying palms and a watercolor palette of blues, greens and shades in between. Just 10 minutes or so from the port of Costa Maya, Mexico, a fixture on most western Caribbean cruise itineraries, lies an i...
Updated one month ago