Category: U.S. Travel (Page 2 of 10)

Easy Hikes in Grand Teton National Park

I haven’t been to every national park in the United States, but I have been to a fair few. (Including the Cascades, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone). And I must say, I think that Grand Teton National Park are one of my all-time favorites. When I first caught sight of the rocky peaks, rising up over the valley floor, I couldn’t believe that I was in the US, and not in New Zealand somewhere. The mountains didn’t even look real, but more like something from a fantasy book.

easy hikes in grand teton national park

This place maintains its wildness, while also being a huge tourist draw. It’s crowded, but it’s magical. Besides a landscape that will make your jaw drop, Teton is full of wildlife. Taken together, great hikes, and beautiful views all make even the easy hikes in Grand Teton National Park an adventure.

Come with me now to explore some perfect, beginner’s lake hikes for your first time in Grand Teton National Park.

Easy Hikes in Grand Teton National Park

Hermitage Point Trailhead

easy hikes in grand teton national park

(c) ABR 2022

Hermitage Point Trail leaves from Colter Bay Village, which is right off of the 287/89 and has food, gift shops and information. If you try to make it all the way to the end of the trail and back, it isn’t really a beginners trail (imho). It’s 9 miles long, round trip. But what makes it nice for beginners is that there are so many loops in this area that you can take to make it a shorter trip, or you can turn around at any time. The trail is fairly flat, however, so it’s a great option for a flexible option among the easy hikes in Grand Teton National Park.

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Two Small Towns to Visit in Southern Wyoming: Laramie and Saratoga

Wyoming is home to many small towns, and while I can’t say that I have been to even the majority of them, the few I have had the opportunity to visit so far all have their own character and charm. In southern Wyoming, there are two small towns that are close to my heart that I’d like to encourage you to consider visiting and/or learning more about – Laramie and Saratoga.

Laramie is home to the University of Wyoming and next door to some exceptional hiking. And Saratoga is a very small town that is home to a beautiful hot springs. Taken together, these southern Wyoming towns have a little something for everyone – trails, history, and relaxation. So, think about these small towns to visit in southern Wyoming when planning your next trip!

Laramie and the University of Wyoming

I knew of Laramie before my first forays into Wyoming for one thing – the boy scouts. Of course, that’s a little ironic, because as a woman, I couldn’t be part of the boy scouts when I was little, so I never got to go. But the stories of the adventures to be had there were legendary among my family and my friends who were boy scouts.

small towns to visit in southern Wyoming

(c) ABR 2022

Now, I live a short drive away from the town of Laramie, and I am a mini University of Wyoming student. So, I’ve grown a certain appreciation for the town, and do see it as a gateway to adventures in the wider Wyoming landscape.

As for the town itself, it is very small. And actually, after all the stories I had heard about Wyoming and Laramie itself, I was surprised to find that it is nested in a relatively flat area. There is no easily accessible hiking right in town. But with the University at its heart and a vibrant old town, Laramie is still a very cool place to check out when considering small towns to visit in southern Wyoming.

Downtown Laramie

small towns to visit in southern Wyoming

(c) ABR 2022

The downtown area of Laramie is not large by any means. You could easily shop it thoroughly in a few short hours. But that being said, it is full of nice shops (some of our favorites have Laramie-made adventure gear and University of Wyoming apparel), restaurants and coffee shops. You could easily make a leisurely partial day there by relaxing in a few food related places, shopping, and then eating lunch.

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Hiking in Indiana North to South: Two Parks Showcasing the Variety of Indiana Landscapes

We don’t really know the Midwest for its hiking, but I’ve found exceptional trails in every central US state that I’ve been too. (For example, did you know that there is cool hiking in Kansas?). And Indiana is no exception! While I will admit that I am no expert on the trails here, I can say that if you don’t go anywhere else to experience nature, Turkey Run State Park and the Indiana Dunes will not disappoint. All in all, hiking in Indiana shouldn’t be missed.

Hiking in Indiana Thanks To Cool Geology

One thing I’ve learned as I’ve traveled through the Midwest over the years is that it isn’t the flat land it’s made out to be. Sure, the Midwest states don’t have the Rocky Mountains or the Appalachians, but powerful geological forces shaped the Great Plains just as well as anywhere else.

In the case of Indiana, the big, geological force that created the land that we see today was glaciers. They slowly scraped across the land, leaving behind the fertile place that feeds millions today. They also left behind magnificent fossils from the Ice Age. And they created the unimaginably large Great Lakes.

hiking in Indiana

Turkey Run State Park (c) ABR 2022

North Indiana is notable for the series of dunes that stretch south from Lake Michigan. There are seven, in fact, and the series furthest from the lake is the oldest. This is an area where you can explore all kinds of ecosystems. Different plants colonize the sand and pave the way for more established species.

The middle of the state, which likely looks the way that you’d expect Indiana to, the plains seem to stretch on forever. And they are carpeted with oceans of agriculture. This was all scooped out by the glaciers that survive on as Lake Michigan now.

Continue traveling south, into the vicinity of Indianapolis, and you will see the land change again. Here, in the south, the plains give way to undulating hills covered in forests. They hint at the gorges and caves of Kentucky, with their own twisting rivers and narrow, stone canyons.

And you can explore it all by hiking in Indiana.

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Experience History and Culture in Indianapolis

Indianapolis is a hub for culture and history in the eastern Midwest. Whether you are passing through or you are interested in staying, it is worth taking the time to explore. There are many good museums and delicious foods to indulge in as you learn more about Indiana history and culture in Indianapolis.

culture in indianapolis

Unique Spots for History and Culture in Indianapolis

Indiana State Museum 

culture in indianapolis

(c) ABR 2022

If you are like me and you enjoy museums that encapsulate the natural and human history of a place, then the Indiana State Museum is the place for you. Even better that this museum has invested in a variety of immersive and hands-on exhibits. It is so fun to explore. And honestly, if you live in Indiana, I think it would take multiple visits to absorb all the information in there. I really enjoyed myself while visiting.

Tickets are $16 per adult (2022), and you can get underground parking validated for $4. They are closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and their typical hours are 10a-5p.

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A One Week Kentucky Itinerary for History and Nature Lovers

Kentucky is a land of caves, culture, spectacular river gorges, and more. While people might stop by for the Kentucky Derby, or the state’s other big events, I’d suggest at least trying to spend a week here exploring across the state. This is a good place to start, if you’d like to get a good taste of what Kentucky has to offer. I’ve designed this Kentucky itinerary to include key historic and natural sites, and while it is only scratching the surface, it includes some spectacular places and paints a nuanced picture of the story of this place. If you are wondering what to do in Kentucky for a high-energy week, this is the post for you.

I would suggest this active itinerary for spring or fall, as summers can get hot and winters can be snowy. My plans here do not account for either, although I think summer would be somewhat doable with planning for hydration and staying cool.

This is also designed as a road trip so you will need a vehicle and a safe driver(s) handy for this trip.

Day 0: Arrival

I flew into Nashville, Tennessee when I traveled to Kentucky, because it was much cheaper from my home airport. Depending on where you are coming from you might fly into Nashville, Louisville, or Lexington. You can just adjust this itinerary to fit your starting airport, and consider driving in a clockwise (or counterclockwise!), circular route. I also like building travel days into my itineraries in case of delays or long travel days. You will also want some energy for this itinerary, so it’s good to get some rest.

STAY: In the city of your arrival.

Day 1: Land Between Two Lakes and Lost Cave

kentucky itinerary

(c) ABR 2022

Since I got started in Nashville, which is south of Kentucky, I started my journey in the lower southwestern corner of the state. Take a peek at a map with rivers and terrain, and you will see why I wanted to visit the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area when considering what to do in Kentucky. It just looks cool! And it is! There are tons of recreational activities in this area. Of course, I went hiking, and I discuss the trail that I explored in detail in my hiking in Kentucky post. But you can hike, fish, boat, and learn about nature at the park’s visitor centers.

It will take about 2 hours to drive from Nashville to the Woodlands Nature Station, which is in the northern section of the park.

Honestly, for nature lovers, you could spend an entire day enjoying this area on your Kentucky itinerary. I include it in mine for the hiking, but you could easily walk in the morning, have a picnic lunch and then spend a lazy afternoon out on the water and/or fishing. Just make sure you check out the official website for information on fishing and hiking permits. If you have any questions, you can always stop by the visitor center as well.

kentucky itinerary

Lost River Cave (c) ABR 2022

For me, I spent about half a day here and then I headed east to Bowling Green. Being the kind of person who loves riding boats through caves, I was super excited to head up to the land of caves. The small city of Bowling Green has you covered with Lost River Cave. This is a great way to end the day, as their tours are pretty relaxed. You will just walk down into the preserve with your tour group and then take a short boat ride in and out of the cave.

It takes about two hours to drive from Woodlands Nature Station to the Lost River Cave. Check Lost River Cave’s tour times to make sure that you arrive there before they close!

Stay the night in Bowling Green, KY.

Day 2: Mammoth Cave National Park

kentucky itinerary

Mammoth Caves (c) ABR 2022

It is about a 40 min drive from Bowling Green to Mammoth Cave National Park, and this is probably my favorite part of my Kentucky itinerary.

Plan to spend AT LEAST one full day in Mammoth Cave National Park. There is so much to do in this park. Top of your list, unless you are scared of caves, is to go on a cave tour. There are several different options in the park, and if you like caves you can try to do a couple. Mammoth Cave is so large that if you do two (or more!) tours you can see different parts of its depths. Just plan ahead, because you will likely want to get reservations. Check out to plan out your tour reservations.

kentucky itinerary

Mammoth Caves (c) ABR 2022

There is also hiking at Mammoth Cave National Park! So, you can tour the cave and explore the forested lands above. If you want some more details on the park, check out my Caves in Kentucky Post. Caves are essential to one week in Kentucky.

There are a few options of places to stay tonight. Bowling Green is a great option for a second night or staying in Cave City is a good alternative; you might also consider camping at Mammoth Cave NP if that is something you would enjoy.

Day 3: Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace and Louisville 

kentucky itinerary

(c) ABR 2022

Day 3 could be a bit of a down day for your Kentucky itinerary, depending on your energy level. But if you’d like a little more to do, you might consider revisiting Mammoth Cave National Park for the morning.

Either way, definitely plan on stopping by Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace. This is a small, historic national park unit, and it is free. Spend some time visiting the monument, learning about Abe’s life, and walking the grounds. It could take anywhere from 1-2 hours to thoroughly explore. You can learn a bit more about this spot in my post on History in Kentucky.

After that, drive up to Louisville and consider relaxing in the city for the evening. When considering what to do in Kentucky there is tons of good food here and plenty of places to stay. It’s about an hour from Bowling Green to Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace, and an hour from Birthplace to Louisville.

Stay in Louisville.

Day 4: Louisville

kentucky hiking trails

(c) ABR 2022

Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky, and it is full of history and culture to be explored. So, it is a must-visit for any Kentucky itinerary. I would suggest making sure that you do two things while you are there. (1) Walk through one of the city’s beautiful parks, and (2) visit some of the city’s museums.

For us, we wanted to explore the Waterfront Park so that we could walk across the Big Four Bridge to Indiana. This park had a lot of different amenities. These included some bathrooms (which were not in full operation when we visited because they had been overloaded by a huge event the night before). There are playgrounds for the kids to frolic in, bikes for rent, and swings for adults. The Big Four Bridge is also a pedestrian bridge, so it is really nice to walk across. On the other side, in Indiana, there are restaurants and biking paths as well. You could easily spend half a day just exploring and enjoying the park.

(c) ABR 2022

There are also LOADS of museums in Louisville, so really when planning one week in Kentucky, you likely won’t be able to visit them all. We visited the Muhammad Ali Center, which I would highly suggest and which I talk about more in my Exploring the History of Kentucky post. But there is also a bourbon museum, and plenty of great museums for kids.

After you’ve spent a day exploring the city, spent another night here.

Day 5: Camp Nelson and Lexington

Camp Nelson (c) ABR 2022

Camp Nelson might not be at the top of most people’s what to do in Kentucky lists, but for me it is essential. I am trying to visit as many national park units as possible, and it also covers history that you won’t see in many others places. I would suggest getting an early start to this day, so that you can arrive at Camp Nelson as soon as the visitor center opens at 9a. It is about a 1.5 hours drive from Louisville to Camp Nelson National Monument.

The visitor center is only open from May 30th to September 5 each year. Unfortunately, we visited outside of their season, so we missed learning as much about this site as we could have. Camp Nelson, however, is an important site related to the Civil War and the fight for African American freedom in Kentucky, which had a complicated relationship with the Union.

It is then an hour drive from Camp Nelson to the International Museum of the Horse, which would be my number one suggestion for a place to visit in Lexington, KY. The museum is open 9-5p every day EXCEPT Mondays and Tuesdays, when it is closed. This is easily a half day experience at least, so make sure to plan for this when timing out your day.

kentucky itinerary

(c) ABR 2022

I talk more about this museum in my Exploring the History of Kentucky post, but you have the opportunity to learn about the history of horses in Kentucky in an indoor museum. There is also an outdoor section of the museum where you can visit with real horses. I think this museum should be on everyone’s Kentucky itinerary; horses are a major part of Kentucky culture and they are also amazingly cool animals.

Stay this night in Lexington.

Day 6: Red River Gorge

kentucky itinerary

(c) ABR 2022

There are days worth of activities in the Red River Gorge area for folks who like hiking and camping. But in this Kentucky itinerary, I will suggest two activities for a single day. It is an hour drive from Lexington to Red River Gorge.

First, I would suggest visiting the Natural Bridge State Resort. Here, you can do a variety of things including plenty of hiking, or riding a cable car up to the natural bridge there. We hiked up to arch from the river and I cover the details of the trail that we took in my Hiking in Kentucky post.

kentucky itinerary

(c) ABR 2022

Second, I would suggest taking the 715 loop. You can just do this drive and stop to see some breathtaking views along the way. There are deep gorges, beautiful rivers and natural arches, and a very cool tunnel that the road passes through. When we visited this area, we took the driving tour, and coupled it with an easy hike to a suspension bridge. That Hiking in Kentucky post covers that trail in more detail.

Along with hikes and beautiful views, there are lots of little outdoor communities in this area with food and cool shops. I’d suggest spending the night in this area in a town like Campton, or in one of the more remote hotels. There are also campsites in this area if that is something you like doing.

Alternatively, you could use part of your day to drive back to where you will be flying out of. It is 4 hours to Nashville and 2 hours to Louisville.

Day 7: Start Heading Home

Start your journey home on this final day of the Kentucky itinerary, whether that is by car, plane, or both. After your one week in Kentucky, I hope you will think about coming back to learn more and explore more in this fascinating state.

Want to save this for later? Consider pinning it!

A Traveler’s Guide to Exploring Kentucky History

Everyone who visits or lives in Kentucky should take some time to experience the state’s history. This state had prehistoric cave explorers, and modern-day boxing prodigies. It was the birthplace for one of the United States most beloved presidents, and is home to one of the most famous horse-riding events in North America, the Kentucky Derby. No matter your interests, there is a little bit of Kentucky history for everyone. This short Traveler’s guide will give you a taste for some spots that I adored when I visited in 2022. None of these places will disappoint, and each one will give you a little something different when it comes to the story of the state.

kentucky history

The Muhammad Ali Center

kentucky history

(c) ABR 2022

One of the cool things about traveling with friends is that you end up visiting places that you might not otherwise see. For me, the Muhammad Ali Center was one of those places. I am not a huge museum go-er, and usually when I visit one, I either pick a historic museum for the area, or a natural history museum. I’m also not at all big into sports, or famous people for that matter.

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A Traveler’s Guide to Caves in Kentucky

The caves in Kentucky are some of the most spectacular in the whole world, believe it or not. And with short, road-side tours as well as long, National park- scale explorations, there are options for all levels and interests. Caves have shaped the history, economy, and ecology of Kentucky, and thus they are a must for any traveler to the state who is comfortable with their depths.

Sobre los Digests de Español Pequeño

En esta blog, trato incluir secciones cortos en Español. Lo siento para mi gramática muy horrible!

Pero, deseo que este blog es un inspiración para tus viajes. Las cuevas de Kentucky son muy especiales y hermosas. En todo el mundo, estas cuevas son algunas mas únicas.

Why You’ve Got to See the Caves in Kentucky

kentucky caves

Mammoth Caves (c) ABR 2022

If you are a hiker, kayker, or just general nature-nut, the caves in Kentucky should be on your bucketlist. These exceptional underground worlds shaped the history and economy of the state of Kentucky that we know today. They teach us about the geologic nature of the land, and harbor strange and unique creatures.

I have been to caves all over the world. As of 2022, this includes caves in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Arkansas, Belgium, Ireland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Haiti. All of them have captured my imagination, and all of them are beautiful. But none of them was as awe-inspiring as Mammoth Caves. I have never been in such a large cave system before (the longest in the world with over 400 miles mapped). And it felt massive. The tour that we went on walked for almost 2 hours, up and down stairs, and through long passage ways. And this was just one of several tour options that explore completely different parts of the cave, never crossing paths.

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kentucky hiking trails

A Traveler’s Guide: Finding Kentucky Hiking Trails When You Only Have a Few Days

If you are looking for hikes across rolling green hills, and through lands of stone archways and underground rivers, Kentucky hiking trails are what you are looking for. This guide is not even scratching the surface of the adventures on trail that you can have in Kentucky. But if you only have a few days, these are some great options across from across the state and at varying levels of difficulty.

Digests de Español para los senderos de Kentucky: En este blog, trato usar mi Español en pequeño “digest” sobre cada sendero. Lo siento para mi gramática!

What is the best hiking in Kentucky?

kentucky hiking trails

(c) ABR 2022

As a West-coast folk who grew up exploring the wilds of Arizona, I never thought about Kentucky as a hiking destination. Even after I learned about its exceptional caving scene, I honestly still didn’t realize that this state had some really great hiking options. So, obviously, I am not an expert in Kentucky hiking trails. I was just a visitor. But I will outline some of the things that I was looking for on the trail in this beautiful state.

So, what makes for the best hiking in Kentucky in my opinion?

(1) The trail showcases the unique natural elements of the state. For Kentucky, this includes exceptional stone formations, rivers running to and from cave systems, and verdant rolling hills.

(2) Water features! Kentucky is the land of caves which means that it is also a land of water. Being from the desert, I think water along the trail is always an additional benefit for the experience of the hike. Sometimes it does add an additional challenge as well. But for the trails included here waters makes the trail interesting with dam crossings, and rope bridges!

(3) High quality trails which cater to all kinds of explorers, and which are connected to vibrant and welcoming gateway communities.

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5-Day Molokai Itinerary for Hikers

When I set off for Molokai, I wasn’t 100% sure what the experience was going to be like. This isn’t as popular an island as most of the more accessible parts of Hawaii. I also didn’t really find any itineraries that fit my preferences – e.g. an itinerary for a hiker. So, after visiting and having a wonderful time, I wanted to put together a 5-day Molokai itinerary for hikers. This will take you to several different, unique ecosystems that characterize the island, and give you space to enjoy some of the culture and history of Molokai as well.

Who Might Like This Itinerary

molokai itinerary

(c) ABR 2019

This definitely isn’t the 5-day Molokai itinerary for everyone, mostly because I think it is pretty high energy. And not everyone is looking for that on vacation. Furthermore, two of the day’s trails are pretty hard to get to and require both a 4WD vehicle and some careful drivers. You need to know when to turn back if things just aren’t safe on the road, on the trail, or due to weather.

Now that I’ve told you why you might NOT like this itinerary, why don’t I tell you why it’s awesome.

(1) This schedule features some of the most unique environmental and cultural experiences on Molokai.

(2) You will get a workout everyday. Believe me, even shorter trails in Hawaii will really take it out of you. (Unless you are a Hawaiian hiker, then I am sure it is old hat). Whether you are trekking across a beach, or navigating rainforest trails, there is no shortage of physical activity here.

(3) Every day is completely different than the last. You will never feel like you saw the same thing twice. And when you leave, you will definitely be feeling like you made the best use of your limited time on this amazing island.

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Kamakou Preserve: Tropical Mountain Hiking in Molokai, HI

I recently found out that my Polish ancestors were mountain folk, and so perhaps my love for the mountains has been passed down to me. Whatever it is, the mountains always call to me and Mololai’s heights were no different. However, unlike the readily accessible mountains of Phoenix, Molokai’s mountains are steep, can be treacherous, and/or aren’t always to be scaled (private land or sacred land). So, for me, the Nature Conservancy’s Kamakou Preserve was the perfect place for mountain hiking in Molokai. I got to see some very different ecosystems, a more temperate forest and then a tropical bog. Also, the views were out of this world.

While mountain hiking in Molokai isn’t easy, for those travelers who are willing to do it responsibly and respectfully, it is an amazing and unique experience. The challenge that it presents offers you an opportunity to explore your own limits. And the mountains offer a view into the wild heart of the Hawaiian islands. If this hike isn’t for you, I’ve got you covered with some cool photos of the forest and the bog. And no matter your location or travel style, I will include information in this blog about the conservation of Kamakou Preserve and how to support this important work.

Mountain Hiking in Molokai is a True Adventure

Mountain hiking in Molokai and Hawaii in general is like basically nowhere else in the United States. I hike hundreds of miles a year, in difficult desert terrain where people die every year. Despite that, even I found hiking in the mountains of Molokai to be extra difficult. Furthermore, there is lots of private land and sacred places in the mountains. And visitors need to be respectful of these spots.

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