South Florida & the Keys
It’s hard not to fall for South Florida, with its sun-kissed beaches, alluring islands and wildlife-rich wetlands. The Keys to Quirk America’s eccentricities (and quite a few eccentrics) coalesce in the southeast corner that is South Florida. And the truly unconventional are found in the sun-dappled islands of the Florida Keys.
Chicago dominates the state with its sky-high architecture and superlative museums, restaurants and music clubs. But venturing further afield reveals Hemingway's mannerly hometown, scattered shrines to local hero Abe Lincoln, and a trail of corn dogs, pies and drive-in movie theaters down Route 66.
Welcome to nature's most perfect playground. From red-rock mesas to skinny slot canyons, powder-bound slopes and slick rock trails, Utah's diverse terrain will stun you. The biking, hiking and skiing are world-class. And with more than 65% of the state lands public, including 13 national parks and monuments, the access is simply superb.
Louisiana runs deep: a French colony turned Spanish protectorate turned reluctant American purchase; a southern fringe of swampland, bayou and alligators dissolving into the Gulf of Mexico; a northern patchwork prairie of heartland farm country; and everywhere, a population tied together by a deep, unshakable appreciation for the good things in life: food and music.
To drive southwest Florida's Gulf Coast is to enter an impressionistic watercolor painting: first, there is the dazzling white quartz sand of its barrier-island beaches, whose turquoise waters darken to silver-mantled indigo as the fiery sun lowers to the horizon. Later, seen from the causeways, those same islands become a phosphorescent smear beneath the inky black night sky.
The largest state east of the Mississippi River is a labyrinth of geographic and cultural extremes: right-leaning Republican politics in the countryside rubs against liberal idealism in Atlanta and Savannah; small, conservative towns merge with sprawling, progressive, financially flush cities; northern mountains rise to the clouds and produce roaring rivers; and coastal marsh.
Sun-kissed beaches and art-deco beauties make an alluring backdrop to Miami’s other charms – a burgeoning arts scene, creative cuisine and blazing nightlife. Architectural Jewel Box Even if there was no beach, Miami would still have undeniable allure. The gorgeous 1930s hotels lining Ocean Dr are part of the world’s greatest collection of art-deco buildings.
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island
Fashioned by the mighty Atlantic, these open-armed Canadian provinces beckon you for chats, chowder and the chance to see whales breach in the distance. A Foot-Tapping Good Time Here's a culture defined by fiddle playing and wearing out the dancing shoes.
A horse and buggy trundles through the Lancaster fog before it is overtaken by a Philadelphia-bound sports car driven by a young tech entrepreneur. In Pittsburgh, children of immigrants who work as nurses in the city's burgeoning hospitals start breaking into experimental contemporary art. In Gettysburg, descendants of Union soldiers proudly fly Confederate flags.
Southwest Gulf Coast
People who prefer Florida's Gulf side over its Atlantic one generally fall in love with this stretch of sun-kissed coastline from Sarasota to Naples. These two affluent, cultured towns set the tone for the whole region, where visits sway between soporific beach days and art-museum meanders, fine dining and designer cocktails.
Central Florida is like a matryoshka, the Russian doll that encases similar dolls of diminishing size. The region features pretty state parks, gardens and rivers, all ideal for leisurely exploration. One layer down, Central Florida then embraces Kissimmee, Celebration and the vast, sprawling area of Greater Orlando.
Banff, Jasper & Glacier National Parks
Sit atop a mountain, hike through the forest, feel the spray of a waterfall: Banff, Jasper and Glacier offer outdoor experiences at their simplest and best. Accessibility for All One of the advantages of the Rocky Mountain parks is their accessibility. Nature pulsates in these wild lofty domains, but you don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to enjoy it.