10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

With quality of life, recreation and active lifestyles on everyone’s radar in terms of where to live, work and play, we often wonder where are these pockets of health — and what factors make them so healthy? As with many best and most lists, varying criteria create different outcomes. So depending on what source you choose, different cities may pop up. The most complete and stringent set of factors are employed for the annual American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) American Fitness Index.

The Fitness Index uses strong community fitness — which is easier to gauge — as a proxy for the individual, personal fitness of residents. The top-ranked index cities have more resources that support health and fewer challenges to a healthy lifestyle. Based on the Index outcomes, following are the 10 healthiest U.S. cities.

Boise, Idaho

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Hiking, mountain biking and outdoor adventure pursuits in general keep busy Boise residents in shape — enough so for the population to comprise the country’s tenth-healthiest city. No wonder. The capital city of Idaho is home to the Boise River Greenbelt, a series of tree-shaded trails and parks hugging the banks of the Boise River. With a section of river rolling directly through downtown, the greenbelt trail is prime terrain for urban workouts. Serious trail running is also a serious pursuit in and around Boise. Picturesque, punishing runs await at the forebodingly named routes Harrison Hollow, Five-Mile Gulch and Military Reserve, all highlighted expertly on the Boise section of Rootsrated.com.

San Jose, California

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San Jose is a major Bay Area technology hub, and it happens to have the ninth-fittest population in the nation. So when they aren’t behind computer screens, residents spend quality time outdoors exercising in beautiful natural surroundings. The Visit San Jose webpage for outdoor recreation  provides great tips on the best sites, such as Alum Rock Park in town or nearby at Castle Rock State Park in neighboring Los Gatos, California. Active San Jose citizens can add Zen meditation or a calming jog to their health routine at the city’s Kelly Park Japanese Garden.

Saint Paul, Minnesota

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The state capital of Minnesota, Saint Paul is the other half of the “Twin Cities” along with neighboring Minneapolis. Both cities share a penchant for healthy living, and you’ll find Minneapolis elsewhere on this list. For its part, Saint Paul’s fit crowd enjoys utilizing the Gateway State Trail for biking, running or simply strolling in nature. The 18-mile trail takes advantage of a former rail line between Stillwater and Saint Paul, now a paved path. Generally level thanks to its railway roots, the Gateway route winds northeast through Maplewood, North St. Paul and Oakdale, then continues through Washington County before ending at Pine Point Regional Park.

Denver, Colorado

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As a base for nearby Rocky Mountain skiing, mountain biking and hiking adventures, Denver is a mecca for active lifestyle seekers. As such, it’s no surprise to find Colorado’s capital at number seven for fitness. With the Mile High city indeed sitting at 5280 feet, residents don’t have to head for the mountains for high-altitude exertion. Just consider the bike trail descriptions at Denver.org. These are no short jaunts. Instead there are miles and miles of rides on paved bikeways that let you roll from Denver to outlying towns. For example, the Cherry Creek Regional Trail starts in Confluence Park and continues beside Cherry Creek for more than 40 miles before terminating near Franktown. Similarly, the Greenway Trail is nearly 30 miles of paved bike path along the banks of the South Platte River, connecting a series of pristine parks. As a bonus, the river played such a big role in local history that the Colorado Historical Society has placed along the route some 20 signs with photos and illustrations detailing important places and events.

Seattle, Washington

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With Mt. Rainier National Park in its backyard and the waters of Puget Sound on its front porch, Seattle is a magnet for outdoors enthusiasts, earning it the number six ranking among healthy metros. While the city is surrounded by water, mountains and towering conifer forests, within its limits it contains thousands of acres of parkland. Among the best and most picturesque are 530-acre Discovery Park and the 230-acre grounds of the Washington Park Arboretum. As home to REI, of course hiking, camping, backpacking and climbing are everyday pursuits here, rain or shine. But biking is also a big deal. To that end, The Burke-Gilman Trail wends its way some 27 miles through the city’s northern neighborhoods. Seattle Cycling Tours, meanwhile, offers a 2.5-hour guided bike trek through central city landmarks and neighborhoods including Pioneer Square, South Lake Union and the Seattle Center.

Portland, Oregon

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Spread out in the shadow of snow-capped Mount Hood, Portland is known for its parks, bridges and bike lanes — and for its generally green attitude. It’s no surprise then, that the number five fittest city has myriad recreational pursuits for Portlanders. Surrounding mountains and forests offering hiking, mountain biking and climbing at every emerald-green turn of the trail. Oregon’s largest city sits directly on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, so paddling is a prime pursuit for fitness within the urban core. Another in-city outdoor highlight, Washington Park features both the city’s Japanese Garden and the Oregon Zoo.

Madison, Wisconsin

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Consider the winters in Wisconsin when noting the ingenious nature of the Sett Recreation Center at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Part of the three-story student union building, with the Sett Pub located conveniently on the lower level, perfect cold-weather activities occupy the rest of the space with live music, dancing, bowling, billiards and indoor rock-climbing. It’s not all about the indoors, of course. Madison, which lies just east of Milwaukee, is the Wisconsin state capital, and the city’s Capital City State Trail is a favorite urban exercise outlet. The picturesque paved path winds past Monona Terrace, a lakefront convention center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, providing an architectural treat along with exercise options.

Washington, D.C.

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Hemmed in by the bordering states of Maryland and Virginia and known for its imposing neoclassical monuments and government buildings, our nation’s capital at first glance doesn’t scream fitness. Yet the population of Washington, D.C., is serious about staying in shape, it seems, ranking at number three among healthy metros. The city actually helps with that, providing myriad free outdoor activities, many of which can be found at Washington.org. D.C.’s favorite outdoor exercise space is no doubt Rock Creek Park. It’s 4.4 square miles encompass multiple hiking and biking trails, plus riding stables and tennis courts. Hikers, bikers and runners also enjoy long stretches of the C&O Canal Towpath, with 180-plus miles of accessible trail along the scenic Potomac River between Georgetown and Cumberland, Maryland.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Minneapolis, the major Minnesota metro that forms the “Twin Cities” with the neighboring state capital of Saint Paul, consistently ranks among the nation’s best read cities. It’s per capita bookstores, libraries and degreed denizens help earn that title. Smarts and staying in shape apparently go hand in hand, with Minneapolis sitting at number two for healthiest cities. Bisected by the Mississippi River, the city is full of serene parks and lakes, all of which make for great outdoor recreation. For example, within city limits more than 10 miles of trails traverse famed Minnehaha Park and its environs. One popular recreation route starts beneath 53-foot Minnehaha Falls, from where hikers, bikers and runners can follow the tree-shaded trail through dense woods to bluffs overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, then loop back to the falls.

Arlington, Virginia

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Aerobics, aquatics, seated exercise classes, strength training, core strength, boxing, tai chi, yoga, pilates, walking clubs, tennis and biking are among the programs offered by Arlington Parks and Recreation. And those are just the senior activities. There’s a reason Arlington landed at number one in the nation for fit populations. Active pursuits are provided for every age and fitness level through the municipal recreation department, which also makes it easy to get involved with accomodations for income level and disabilities. At least a part of the population is getting their blood pumping with more extreme pursuits. The adrenaline crowd here is serious about mountain biking, and the Arlington Single Track Tour is an exciting, two-county ride to get in some exercise.

5 U.S. Cities With Perfect Weather in August

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 U.S. Cities With Perfect Weather in August

What U.S. cities offer the perfect weather for August? Well, it turns out there are several, and they are varied enough to offer something for everyone. The United States offers a wide array of weather patterns (some even within the same place), so if you want to beat the heat and cool off in a breezy summer vacation spot this August, the perfect destination may be closer than you think!

Before we jump in, let’s consider what “perfect weather” entails. The human body is designed to operate optimally at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. We feel most comfortable at this temperature and will not be reaching for a blanket or desperately trying to cool off. In addition, most people prefer low humidity and some sunshine on a daily basis.

With those qualities in mind, let’s take a look at which cities offer a much-needed summer reprieve from the heat while also providing pleasant surroundings throughout the month of August.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

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While many California beach towns are going to be sweltering during the late summer, that’s not the case in San Francisco. The average historical highs for the city hover between the mid-60s and low-70s throughout the month of August, and the lows are a nice, gentle 55 degrees. Visitors can also expect plenty of days of sunshine, making the city an excellent place to spend your August vacation.

San Francisco offers tourists the chance to see some iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge or Alcatraz Island, and — even though it won’t be sweltering outside — it is still summer, so stopping by the original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop is a good choice, too.

Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

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If you’d rather head for the mountains than the beach, Denver has lots to offer August vacationers. While the average highs are a little above the preferred range (sitting at around 90 degrees), the average lows are a lovely 55–59 degrees. In addition, it’s important to note that Denver has very little humidity. You may need to stock up on the ChapStick, but you’ll be able to comfortably spend hours in the sunny outdoors.

Elitch Garden offers a seasonal water park that is at its peak in August. The Museum of Nature and Science and the Downtown Aquarium also offer some fun (and educational) opportunities for families. Overall, Denver has plenty of summery activities to keep the spirit of the season alive — without baking visitors in the heat.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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With average highs in the high 70s and lows in the mid-60s, Milwaukee offers a lovely reprieve from the sweltering summer heat. It also has a lot to offer as a destination with family-friendly attractions like the Horticultural Exhibit, County Zoo, and Art Museum. The area is also well-known for its breweries and proximity to Lake Michigan. Visitors may also learn a little more about the fascinating history of the Great Lakes while they’re there.

Whether visitors are looking to spend some time outdoors, soak in some culture, or simply sit back and relax with a nice, cold beer, Milwaukee has a lot to offer. It’s an excellent destination for families, couples, or friends wanting to get together and have a true summer break on the lake.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington

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The Pacific Northwest may be known for its gloomy drizzle most of the year, but summers in the area offer an amazing break from the temperature spikes gripping much of the rest of the country. Seattle, with average highs in the mid-70s and lows in the 50s and 60s, offers a perfect August getaway. Visitors will be thrilled with a trip to the historic Pike Place Market or with a visit to the breathtaking display of the Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Seattle also might be one of the coolest vacation spots around, offering both the Space Needle and the Museum of Pop Culture. However, it should be noted that it is not, as many people mistakenly believe, the state capital (that title goes to much-smaller Olympia).

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

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Portland is another Pacific Northwest destination that promises a great summer experience with ideal weather. With a historical average high around 80 and lows in the mid-50s, Portland offers comfortable August days and cool nights. That gorgeous weather is a perfect excuse to get outdoors and see some of the great attractions Portland has to offer including the International Rose Test Garden and Portland Japanese Garden.

More adventurous and outdoorsy types will find the hiking trails at the Hoyt Arboretum or through Forest Park excellent ways to get up close and personal with the beautiful towering trees of the Pacific Northwest.

6 Greatest Roadside Attractions in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

6 Greatest Roadside Attractions in the U.S.

There’s an almost inconceivable length of paved road in the United States. With so many miles of roadways, you’re bound to end up with some unexpectedly great stuff to pull over and see on a road trip. Here are the six greatest roadside attractions in the U.S.

Clown Motel | Tonopah, Nevada

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The existence of Clown Motel has to be on the same level of creepiness as a clipped fingernail museum or an audio/visual art gallery called “I Follow People Around and Breathe on Them and Smell Their Hair Real Loud.” It’s not just us saying it, either. The first sentence of Clown Motel’s website brags about the place being named “America’s Scariest Motel.” There are more than 600 clowns in the motel’s collection. We won’t presume to speak for you, but we’re confident saying we’ve gone most days of most of our years not thinking about clowns even one time, which is working out pretty well. But, if you’re game, go book a suite and let us know how it turns out.

Cabazon Dinosaurs | Cabazon, California

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A level of playfulness is needed in any great roadside attraction. Luckily, the Cabazon Dinosaurs pack quirkiness in spades. They’re big, aging, humorously fake looking dinos. Stop and snap a few pics next time you pass by.

Enchanted Highway | Exit 72, I-94, Regent, North Dakota

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Most of the things on this list are going to have some kind of kitschy weirdness to them, exactly the quality you’d expect in roadside attractions. But the Enchanted Highway’s a little different in that there’s not much irony to its enjoyment. The highway itself is a series of metal sculptures along an unnamed stretch of road (Enchanted Highway is more the name for the sculptures than an official road designation). Each one is worth seeing in its own way, but they all share the quality of being modern art sculptures that won’t make you roll your eyes into the back of your head. They mostly follow a natural theme, with huge metal animals dotting the 32 miles of highway.

Wall Drug Store | Wall, South Dakota

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Wall Drug Store put up some handmade signs advertising ice water back in 1936 that included a quick jingle Dorothy Hustead composed. Pretty much as soon as the signs went up, there was a line outside their drug store. Since then, the drug store’s turned into something closer to a farmers market, with thousands of people visiting every day.

UFO Welcome Center | Bowman, South Carolina

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The UFO Welcome Center might be the epitome of roadside attractions. There’s absolutely nothing official about it. No government or international agencies or shady conspiracies. Jody Pendarvis just thought he’d build a decent place for aliens to take a load off. It has everything a humanoid extraterrestrial visitor might need after interplanetary travel, including a shower, television and air conditioning. It also has Jody on hot days, since he stays in the welcome center when the air conditioning in his trailer can’t keep up with the heat.

UFO Watchtower | San Luis Valley, Colorado

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It’s a toss-up between dinosaurs and UFOs for which are more stereotypically “roadside.” In fact, for this entry, let us parrot what we just said in the UFO shack’s description before it. Stuff like the UFO Watchtower is exactly how we’ll make first contact. We can develop as many different types of telescope and transmitter as we want, but it’s Judy Messoline’s metal scaffolding that’s going to prove we’re not alone in the galaxy.

6 Bridges Only the Bravest Travelers Would Cross

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

6 Bridges Only the Bravest Travelers Would Cross

Bridges can be symbols of engineering and innovation. Not every bridge is a modern marvel, however. There are places where travelers will find bridges that are downright dangerous. Take a look at the following six bridges and question whether you’d even want to take the first step to cross.

Trift Bridge, Switzerland

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This bridge allows you to see and appreciate the Trift glacier in all of its glory. Trift bridge was built in 2004, when it was no longer possible to cross from one side of the glacier to the other after the loss of ice in the region. While it was replaced by a more secure structure in 2009, the bridge is still only for the bravest of the brave.

The Trift Bridge is currently one of the longest cable suspension bridges in the world, as it runs 560 feet and sits 330 feet high above the glacier lake. Travelers who are brave enough to cross take an average of 223 steps to reach the other side. Safe or not, one wrong step and…

Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland

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While the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge is only 66 feet long, the first warning you will receive upon arrival is to make sure there are less than eight people in your group. This bridge is feeble enough that it has to restrict the amount of people crossing, so make sure you develop nerves of steel before visiting.

If you do visit this somewhat popular local attraction, try to look at the scenery around you. Even though you’ll be in Northern Ireland’s territory, you’ll be able to catch glimpses of Scotland while crossing. It’s definitely better to keep your eyes up than look down at the rocks below.

Q’eswachaka Rope Bridge, Peru

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This bridge is among the last that the Incas built. It crosses over the Apurimac Canyon, and it’s made entirely from woven grass and straw. Although the arrival of the Spaniards caused many of the bridges to be abandoned, the Q’eswachaka Rope Bridge, which is about 60 miles south of Cuzco, can be appreciated as it was 500 years ago.

If you dare, you could venture to Peru and walk the 118 feet as you look down on a ferocious river from about 60 feet above.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Canada

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This Canadian bridge is 214 feet above sea level and 460 feet long. It makes the list because it actually has some dark history. To start, back in June 2010, a 17-year-old boy fell off the Capilano Suspension Bridge and died.

That’s not all, in 2012, a 30-year-old Canadian died while trying to retrieve the debit card he had dropped on the bridge.

With these deathly stories, it’s surprising this metal bridge is still an attraction in Vancouver.

Royal Gorge Bridge, Colorado, U.S.

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Travelers describe crossing this Colorado bridge as an adrenaline-pumping adventure. It’s 1247 feet in length, so it’s definitely meant for the bravest of souls looking for a thrill. It may be tempting to look down at the Arkansas River, but perhaps you should focus on crossing to the other side.

While no accidents or deaths have come from crossing the Royal Gorge Bridge, there are enough restrictions placed to make everybody understand that this is a dangerous construction. For example, regular cars are allowed to cross, but only when it’s verified that there are no pedestrians crossing. Heavy goods vehicles are prohibited.

Hussaini Suspension Bridge, Pakistan

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At the top of the list of the most nerve-wracking bridges is the terrifying Hussaini Suspension Bridge, found in the small town of Hussaini. It’s high above the Borit Lake, and is long and poorly maintained. Travelers who have been brave enough to cross often say it’s “hanging by a thread.

The village dwellers on both sides of the Hunza region built this suspension bridge with materials from the area. Even though it’s dangerous, it is the only means the villagers have to see each other from time to time. Nobody knows how long this bridge will last, but those who have had the guts to cross do highlight the view of the beautiful Himalayan Mountains.

4 Newest U.S. National Parks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

Newest National Parks

The National Park System dates back to 1872. Since Yellowstone became the first national park, dozens of locations have been recognized as well (61 total, as of 2019, though there are 419 NPS-operated units like national monuments and historic sites). However, new parks are few and far between. The most recent four were established between 2004 and 2019 (yes, a new national park was added to the list this year!) Every now and again, the United States sees a reason to add to the list. Be sure to grab a park pass and go visit. Here are the four newest national parks.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

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Established as a national park in September 2004, the Great Sand Dunes preserve is located in Colorado. The large sand dunes tower at up to 750 feet on the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley. The park has the tallest sand dunes in North America, spanning an area of about 30 square miles. Evidence of human habitation in the sandy park and its surrounding valleys dates back about 11,000 years. The first people known to inhabit the area were the Southern Ute Tribe. Apaches and Navajo also have cultural connections to the dunes area.

Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park

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With the most national parks in the nation (and some of the oldest and best), you may have overlooked California’s most recent addition to the National Park Service inventory: Pinnacles National Park. Located mid-state toward the coast, Pinnacles protects the mountainous area east of the Salinas Valley, a prominent farming community. The national park is divided by rock formations, which are only connected by foot trails. Pinnacles has a long history as public land, despite being established as a national park by President Barack Obama in 2013. It was originally established as a national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. The most developed areas of the park are on its East side, but Pinnacles still offers mostly pristine wilderness.

Gateway Arch National Park

Gateway Arch National Park

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You may have missed it in the news, but the St. Louis Gateway Arch was designated as a national park after many years as a national memorial in 2018. The city-defining Gateway Arch is a 630-foot monument that was completed in 1965 and is known as The Gateway to the West. The memorial was initially established to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase and subsequent westward movement of American explorers and pioneers, as well as the first civil government west of the Mississippi. Today, there is a museum on the 91-acre property as well.

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Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park

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On the shores of Lake Michigan is the newest national park in the U.S., the Indiana Dunes, authorized by Congress as a national lakeshore in 1966 and upgraded to national park status on Feb. 15, 2019. Containing approximately 15,000 acres of land, the park runs for nearly 25 miles along the lake’s southern shore. It’s Indiana’s first national park, and contains a surprising amount of rare plants and animals, some of which are on the federal list of threatened and endangered species (Mead’s milkweed and Pitcher’s thistle among them). The park is more than just sand dunes, too. You’ll find wetland, prairie, river and forest ecosystems.

5 U.S. States You Didn’t Know Produce Amazing Wine

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 U.S. States You Didn’t Know Produce Amazing Wine

When you’re in the mood for a good glass of wine, which country comes to mind? Maybe you prefer a glass of Champagne from France or a great Chianti from Italy. However, there are numerous award-winning wineries right here in the United States. Of course, most people are familiar with California wine country and places like Napa or Sonoma. But you might be surprised to find that wine is produced across the country. The next time you decide to plan a wine tour while you’re out seeing America, keep these states in mind for a delicious glass of American wine.

New York

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New York often gets overlooked because people only associate the entire Empire State with the city that’s home to the Empire State Building, New York City. And while you can certainly do some wine tasting in the five boroughs, if you’re up for a scenic five hour drive north of Manhattan, you’ll find yourself in the Finger Lakes Wine Country. The region is aptly named as there are 11 long, thin lakes that run north to south below the counties bounding Lake Ontario.

Geography aside, the Finger Lakes Wine Country is known for its award-winning wineries and emphasis on white varietals such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer. There are over 100 wineries in this area, so there’s something for everyone. In addition to producing spectacular wines, this area is a major tourist destination and is especially popular for weddings.

Colorado

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Everyone knows that Colorado is the place to go for world-class skiing and other outdoor sports. But the Centennial State has also garnered a reputation over the years for its wineries. Colorado is home to nine distinct wine regions that are scattered throughout the state. Some of the most notable wineries are in regions like the Four Corners, which is a popular tourist attraction for outdoor enthusiasts and a great excursion if you get tired of hiking through the intense terrain of the national parks in this area.

Growers credit the 300 days of sunshine, moderate climate and freshwater sources as the basis for their celebrated wines. Whether you stick to the Four Corners or venture to any of the other wine regions, you’ll have over 100 commercial wineries to choose from. Create your own itinerary or select one of the popular wine trails created by Colorado Wine, the official tourism organization for growers and wineries in the state.

Pennsylvania

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You might think that Pennsylvania’s biggest claim to fame is Hershey’s and cheesesteaks, but the Keystone State is also home to so many wineries that they promise you’re never more than an hour’s drive from a premiere glass of wine. Pennsylvania has more than 200 wineries within their borders, crafts over 1 million gallons of wine per year, and is the fifth largest grower in the nation for grapes.

These impressive stats are underscored by the depth of wine portfolios you can find here. The state’s temperate climate is more in line with Europe, and as a result, there are more French-American blends being produced every year. Winemaking in Pennsylvania began in 1683 by William Penn. Since then the tradition has continued, with most of the state’s wineries still being family-owned-and-operated to this day.

Virginia

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Virginia may be for lovers, but they also make a serious bottle of wine. The Old Dominion State’s wineries proudly tell visitors that they’re equidistant between Europe and California, with a small step into the American South. That translates to unique wines that borrow on the heritage of traditional wineries but also give it a new twist as a nod to its young American roots.

Virginia wineries pride themselves on cultivating lesser-known European grapes like Cabernet Franc, Petit Manseng, Viognier, and Petit Verdot. Virginia is focused on elevating wines crafted from these grapes to the national stage and staking a claim in the wine world around these particular varieties. However, the state is best known for its red blends in the Bordeaux style.

New Jersey

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Not to be outdone, the Garden State wants to remind visitors that their New York adjacent industrial regions don’t define the entire state. New Jersey earned its Garden State nickname for a reason. Its wineries have been racking up awards since 200 years ago, when London’s Royal Society of the Arts tapped two local vintners for creating the first quality wine in the colonies from locally grown grapes.

New Jersey has 50 wineries and even offers tours and wine trails to help you create an immersive experience. You can choose from regional wine trails or try to tackle the statewide trail—although you might want to break that one up over a few days.

So, the next time you decide to plan a wine crawl or book a tasting and you want to focus on American wineries, don’t feel like you need to be limited to California. While it has a well-deserved reputation, there are plenty of premier wineries in other U.S. states that would make the perfect backdrop for your vacation.

4 iconic pop culture sites (and where to see them)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

Entertainment

4 iconic pop culture sites (and where to see them)

When you go on vacation do you stick to classic attractions like museums and castles? Or would you rather do a bit of sleuthing to find eye-catching places you saw in a movie or television show? If that’s you, this means that pop culture has played a major influence on your travel decisions. And if you’re in need of a bit more inspiration to decide where to go next, these four iconic pop culture sites should help make up your mind.

Shibuya Scramble Crossing, Tokyo

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Made famous by: Lost in Translation

If you’ve seen this award-winning flick that starred Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, you know that Lost in Translation was as much an “advertorial” for visiting Tokyo as it was about two people awkwardly trying to manage the culture shock and discomfort of adjusting to life in an entirely new country. Shibuya is a very popular district in Tokyo that’s known as a nexus of entertainment fashion, and the site of the infamous Shibuya Scramble Crossing.

This is literally an intersection right in front of one of Tokyo’s busy JR East train line stations and between massive multi-level department stores. While you can certainly enjoy the experience of doing the scramble by crossing back and forth across the three intersecting streets, you can also visit the Starbucks in the Q-Front building that overlooks the crosswalk from up high.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

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Made famous by: Game of Thrones

If you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, you probably know Dubrovnik as a gorgeous seaside town in Croatia that’s perfect for summer vacations and music festivals. That is certainly true, but if you did watch the popular HBO show, you’re well aware that Dubrovnik also serves as the filming location for the fictional King’s Landing. Pretty much any place that has been used as a backdrop in the show is now a popular tourist destination.

But Dubrovnik has doubled down on their new-found interest. If you plan on visiting here, visit the city museum that doubled as Littlefinger’s brothel, then stop by the Trsteno Arboretum, which is where Lady Olenna Tyrell stayed during her visits to King’s Landing. After all of that Game of Thrones sightseeing, just enjoy the architecture of this historic medieval town. And if you visit Dubrovnik in the summer, time it right so you can experience the nation’s largest festival, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival.

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

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Made famous by: The Shining

You may have read one (or several) of Stephen King’s many books or watched the accompanying movies. Well, it turns out that King was inspired to write The Shining after he visited this hotel. The Stanley Hotel is a turn-of-the-century establishment located in Estes Park, Colorado, near Rocky Mountain National Park. Apparently, even the literal King of horror (pun intended) was so spooked by his stay at this hotel that he wrote The Shining.

If you’ve never read the book or watched the movie directed by Stanley Kubrick, it’s the story of a man (infamously played by Jack Nicholson) who is hired to be the on-site groundskeeper/maintenance man for a hotel during the offseason. But shortly after his arrival with his family, spooky things begin to happen. And in real life, this gorgeous architectural gem that debuted in 1909 is said to be haunted. Rather than downplay this rumor, the hotel embraces it by acknowledging that The Shining renewed interest and investments in the space. If you’re up to the challenge, the Stanley Hotel even offers a night tour.

The Painted Ladies, San Francisco

Credit: MasterLu / iStock

Made famous by: Full House

San Francisco is an iconic and historic town in its own right. From the TransAmerica Building to its cable cars traveling up and down Powell Street, the city is a photographer’s dream. But if you grew up watching TGIF on ABC or you’re getting your nostalgia kicks from Netflix’s Fuller House, you’re probably familiar with this particular pop culture location. The Painted Ladies are Victorian-style homes that sit across from Alamo Square. Each of the homes is painted in three colors to help them stand out.

While this tourist attraction has continued to rise in appeal, you might be a bit bummed to realize that very little Full House filming took place in San Francisco. These iconic homes were used in the opening credits and in establishing shots of the show. In truth, only one episode, “Comet’s Excellent Adventure,”was shot in the city.

So do you have your bags packed yet? The next time you’re planning a vacation, definitely check out the “traditional” attractions. But also be sure to do a bit of Googling and find the pop culture sites that will take your trip to the next level.

4 High-Altitude Hikes to Try in Colorado

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

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4 High-Altitude Hikes to Try in Colorado

In Colorado, mountain climbing is king. The state has 53 mountains that are over 14,000 feet tall, which are known in local terms as “fourteeners” or “14ers.” These mountains range from easy to climb to almost impossible, and many hikers set a goal to climb as many of them as they can. Here are four high-altitude hikes to try in Colorado so you can experience the 14ers in person, even if you’re not a professional climber.

San Luis Peak

Credit: Patrick Poendl/Shutterstock

San Luis Peak is 14,014 feet tall and is one of the most pleasant peaks to climb. It is located in the center of the Colorado Rocky Mountains and is hidden away amongst the trees. While it has been described by avid hikers and mountain climbers as one of the most difficult routes to get to, the hike itself is actually fairly easy to manage. You don’t have to be an expert to climb the San Luis Peak, as much of the climb is flat. It is a nice, relaxing hike, complete with beaver creeks and fields of wildflowers blowing in the wind – not to mention the incredible views from the top.

Blanca Peak

Credit: Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock

At 14,345 feet, Blanca Peak is a bit taller than San Luis, and is like hiking on an entirely different planet. To reach the mountain, you first have to cross the sand dunes of Sand Dunes National Park before heading through “desert-like tundra.” From there, the climate and landscape change to something greener, and lakes and lush trees and forests seem to appear from nowhere. Finally, a rocky trail leads you to the top of the mountain so that you can look down at all the different ecosystems you passed through to get there.

Windom Peak

Credit: robert cicchetti/Shutterstock

Windom Peak is 14,082 feet tall and located in a group of three fourteeners: Windom, Sunlight and Eolus. Many people climb Sunlight and Windom on the same day, but others looking for a less-strenuous hike just stick to Windom. It is located far from the nearest town, but it is very popular with visiting hikers thanks to its ease of access. It is known as the “everyman” mountain, meaning that you don’t have to be an expert to climb it. Even getting there is fun: Most people access the mountain via a coal-powered train.

Huron Peak

Credit: oly32/Shutterstock

Last but not least on our list is Huron Peak. It barely makes it onto the fourteeners chart at 14,003 feet, but this hike is definitely worth the trip. When you look up the word “mountain” in the dictionary, you may very well see a photo of Huron Peak next to it. This mountain is every bit of what people think of when they think about mountains: It has a tall, triangular peak that reaches up into the sky and is only accessible by a rocky, craggy hike. In the lower sections, you get to hike through forests of pine and large, green meadows and in the fall you can see some incredible views as the leaves on the trees shift into their autumn shades.

Colorado shooting suspect denounced ‘all these Christians who hate gays’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Colorado shooting suspect denounced ‘all these Christians who hate gays’

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The social media posts by a suspect in the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting in Colorado included opposition to “Christians who hate gays,” criticism of President Trump, and support for the left-wing Occupy Democrats.

Devon Erickson-mug-050919
Devon Erickson
(Joe Amon/The Denver Post via AP, Pool)

On his now-deleted Facebook account, Devon Erickson, 18, posted: “You know what I hate? All these Christians who hate gays, yet in the bible, it says in Deuteronomy 17:12-13, if someone doesn’t do what their priest tells them to do, they are supposed to die. It has plenty of crazy stuff like that. But all they get out of it is ‘ewwwwww gays.'”

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The other suspect in the shooting, which left one dead and seven wounded, has been identified as in court documents as Maya McKinney, a 16-year-old female who identifies as a transgender male and prefers to be called Alec.

[Read more: Transgender suspect asks court to use pronoun ‘he’ in Colorado school shooting case]

Erickson appeared in court with long, busy hair, half of which was dyed purple. The judges ordered that no images of McKinney could be used by the media.

In 2016, Erickson shared a video of late-night host Seth Meyers criticizing President Donald Trump prior to the 2016 election, and had shared an Occupy Democrats post that praised President Barack Obama.

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In a post on his Instagram, Erickson posted, “I’m covered in ink and addicted to pain.”

Far Left Youth, a group on Twitter using the handle @MarxFolks, tweeted that “one of our admins knew him personally” and that the shooter “had no love for socialism. What was done was evil and totally out of line with any leftist values.”

Denver 7 reported that because the suspects were under age they stole two handguns from one of their parents. Kendrick Castillo, 18, was killed after charging one of the shooters during the attack. Eight other students were wounded.

Brendan Bialy, a senior who enlisted into the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program, also charged the shooter and has been credited with stopping the attack.

(Love Poem) My Terrapin Girl

My Terrapin Girl

 

There once was a little Terrapin girl, she was born smiling, burping, and farting. With her little legs she did stumble as she was learning to waddle. Many times she fell on her bum, she was in such a hurry to grow up she thought childhood to be no fun.

 

At an early age she was bright and witty, much smarter than all the rugrats in her fair city. By the age of three she had taught herself how to read. If not for the laws saying she had to attend, of school she would have no need. By first grade she was already smarter than most of the old farts and bitties.

 

A young lady she was, a young lady she is, this Angel was in the state of Ozark when I met her, to my heart she has been like a fresh morning sun. I brought her to the east to be near her pappy, but these hills of the Smokey’s have made her allergies do nothing but run.

 

This bright little woman is still a spring breeze to my heart. As age dims my eyes my lady and I have western Colorado in our thoughts. Though I can’t help but wonder if you Lord will grant me the time for my lady and I to walk and live for a while in this old dinosaur park.

 

Either way these years have been a great ride with my lady and son by my side. Lord, I do have to say that through your grace you have given this old Blue Ridge Mountain boy’s heart more love and joy than I could have ever deserved. Thank you lord for giving me my bride, this sweet little Terrapin girl.