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Georgia’s Golden Isles

By Linda Tancs

The Golden Isles are a group of islands in Georgia between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida. The area comprises the port city of Brunswick and the barrier islands St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Jekyll Island and Sea Island. They’re known for their marshes and beaches, a favorite not only with tourists but also with the area’s mascot, the sea turtle. You can learn all about them at Jekyll Island’s Georgia Sea Turtle Center. You can spot them from May through August, when bales of sea turtles flock to the shores of the Golden Isles for nesting season. During the day, it’s very common to see sea turtle tracks leading from the ocean to the dry patch of sand where their nest has been constructed. If you want to get close to their nests safely, then take a guided evening tour offered in June or July by sea turtle experts from the Turtle Center.

The Pig Trail

By Linda Tancs

Arkansas boasts over 600 native wildflowers. Spring is a good time to watch them explode, especially along scenic byways like the Pig Trail. It’s a 19-mile stretch of State Highway 23 that passes through Ozark National Forest. The Pig Trail takes its name from fans of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, who traditionally used it as a shortcut through the mountains to “Hogs” games in Fayetteville. The razorback (feral hog) is not only the university’s mascot but also a wild animal found throughout the state.

Natural Wonders in Anchorage

By Linda Tancs

It goes without saying that there’s no shortage of natural wonders in Alaska, even just minutes from downtown Anchorage. That’s where you’ll meet the westernmost boundary of Chugach State Park. Located mostly within the Municipality of Anchorage, it’s one of the largest state parks in the United States. Named after the indigenous people of the Upper Cook Inlet region, it’s a must-see for shutterbugs and day hikers alike. One of the most popular trailheads is Glen Alps on the Anchorage Hillside. You’ll be rewarded with a three-volcano view, a profile of Denali and the Anchorage skyline, among many other things.

Wyoming’s Scenic Byway

By Linda Tancs

The Cody area of Wyoming boasts six federally-designated scenic byways. One of those routes is the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway. It follows the North Fork of the Shoshone River through Wapiti Valley and ends at Sylvan Pass, a mountain pass providing access to Yellowstone National Park from the east entrance. Sylvan’s sweeping mountain views (at an elevation of 8,530 feet) are just part of the journey’s charms. A stop in Buffalo Bill’s town of Cody is likewise irresistible. It boasts the Irma Hotel, built by Buffalo Bill in 1902 and featuring an intricately carved cherrywood bar gifted to Bill by Queen Victoria, a fan of his Wild West show. Another charm in the city is the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Comprising five museums under one roof, it has earned the nickname “the Smithsonian of the West.” The route also features the Buffalo Bill Dam, a prototype for world-famous Hoover Dam. Its massive concrete wall boasts a structural height of 350 feet, and you can take a breathtaking walk along the top. No wonder this trek was called “the most scenic 50 miles in the world” by Teddy Roosevelt.

The Heart and Lungs of a City

By Linda Tancs

Griffith Park has been called “the heart and lungs of Los Angeles.” Covering over 4,500 acres, it’s one of the largest municipal parks in North America and is the largest historic landmark in Los Angeles, California. It’s also the go-to park for a hike to the Hollywood Sign. The easier trek is the Mt. Hollywood Trail, which has two starting points of different lengths in the park (6 miles or 3 miles). A more challenging route is the Brush Canyon Trail (also part of the park), which offers a side trip to the Bronson Caves, more popularly known as the Bat Cave from the Batman TV show of the 1960s. The journey ends behind the Hollywood Sign with panoramic views of the city.

Oasis on the Hudson

By Linda Tancs

New York City’s latest public park provides visitors with an urban oasis on the Hudson River. Known as Little Island, it’s a part of Hudson River Park designed to merge nature with art. In addition to seasonal performance art, the topography of the park is marked by undulating piles along the remains of the wooden piles of Pier 54 together with a maritime botanic garden with 35 species of trees, 65 species of shrubs and 270 varieties of grasses, perennials, vines and bulbs. The park is located in the Hudson River off of the West Side Highway with entrances at West 13th and 14th streets.

America’s First Scenic Byway

By Linda Tancs

Columbia River Highway is America’s first scenic byway and a National Historic Landmark. Dubbed the “King of Roads,” the 70-mile route extends between Troutdale and The Dalles. It was built through the Columbia River Gorge between 1913 and 1922 and offers scenes ranging from waterfalls galore to clifftop views above the river. Beginning at the city of Troutdale and traveling east, you’ll find Oregon’s most visited waterfall, Multnomah Falls. To travel the byway, follow the keystone signs from Troutdale east to Dodson and from Mosier east to The Dalles. Spring through fall is the best time to drive. Start now; during the spring, the gorge area erupts into magnificent wildflower displays, including many plants that only exist there.

A Famed Park in the Finger Lakes

By Linda Tancs

Watkins Glen State Park is arguably the most famous state park in New York’s Finger Lakes region. It’s prized for the Gorge Trail, a path nearly 2 miles long that boasts 19 waterfalls and over 800 stone steps. Proper footwear is essential, as is a camera. The park is located right on Main Street in Watkins Glen; metered parking is located opposite the entrance.

An Electrifying Home in Northumberland

By Linda Tancs

Surrounded by one of Europe’s largest rock gardens, Cragside is a Victorian country house near the town of Rothbury in Northumberland, England. Built in 1863 by Lord Armstrong (a civil and mechanical engineer), it was the first house in the world to be lit using hydroelectricity, harnessing lakes on the estate to generate electricity through a turbine. You can take a walk around two of those lakes, one of many waymarked trails among the estate’s 1,000 acres.

A Jewel in Central Park

By Linda Tancs

Located in the heart of New York’s Central Park, Bethesda Terrace is an architectural jewel and one of the first structures built in the iconic park. Its layout includes two staircases flanking an extraordinary interior walkway that links the tree-lined promenade known as the Mall to Bethesda Fountain and Central Park Lake. Known as Bethesda Terrace Arcade, its ceiling is the show-stopper, the only one in the world featuring encaustic or inlaid tiles which were more typically used as flooring. Manufactured by Britain’s Minton & Co. in the 1860s, 16,000 tiles are set in 49 panels to create a colorful, geometric pattern.

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