BEST PLACE TO ESCAPE TO IN EVERY STATE

Lily Rogers | January 9, 2019 |

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes |

Looking for reprieve in beautiful spaces?

The hustle of everyday life can wear you down in the best of times, but lately things have been…shall we say…unpredictable, and stress levels have spiked. From political unrest to natural disasters, the world is facing some trying things, and we’re right there with you in craving a peaceful retreat and a good place to relax.

When burdens begin to feel particularly heavy, it’s time to take a real break. You may need to go, not where everybody knows your name, but somewhere to soak up nature’s wonders and revel in serene solitude. Turn off your phone, take a breather from the latest news cycle, and let your worries fade for a while. When you take time to recharge, you’re better equipped to handle all that life throws at you and then some.

From quaint small towns to quiet nature preserves, this country is full of places to escape to, and we’ve chosen our favorite in each state, highlighting the perfectly restful things to do there. So, sit back, relax, and start dreaming of better times ahead—these calm places are calling your name.

 

Alabama

 

Fort Payne

Despite its name, there is nothing but bliss on a trip to this secluded spot. Spend time in Little River Canyon National Preserve hiking through the gorgeous foliage and listening to the sounds of nature undisturbed. Nearby Lookout Mountain and Manitou Cave are perfect places to gain some peace of mind. Step back in time for a fine dinner at Vintage 1889, a romantic restaurant set in a former mill. Sit in the courtyard area for an enchanted evening.

 

Alaska

Talk about a great place to get away from it all—Tok is located on the border of the remote Canadian Yukon territory. A seriously secluded getaway within sight of Denali, it’s home to hiking trails for summer travelers and snowy sights in the winter. September through April is prime aurora borealis viewing season, and Tok has almost no light pollution to muddy your view. Relish the daylight hours at Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge located approximately 56 miles southeast in Northway. There you can channel your inner calm communing with the area’s wildlife population, from elegant caribou to darling waterfowl.

 

Arizona

 

Monument Valley

Located within the Navajo Nation, Monument Valley is exactly what you picture when the Southwestern landscape is mentioned. Beautiful buttes stand tall along the red-earth desert. Take a tour with a local Navajo guide to places that are otherwise not accessible to visitors, like the unique Ear of the Wind formation. You’ll hear stories of the valley’s mystical origins as you explore. If you find yourself wanting to take the feeling home with you, we can relate. At least you can bring home a reminder; the View Hotel has a trading post outfitted with handmade Native art, jewelry, and housewares. Local artists can be found selling and crafting their work around town as well.

 

Arkansas

 

Hot Springs

Let healing waters surround you in Hot Springs, where Bathhouse Row presents top soaking spots like Buckstaff Bathhouse and Quapaw Baths and Spa. Tour the historic Fordyce Bathhouse and other historical spas to learn all about the city’s natural wonder and the ways people have benefited from healing mineral waters throughout history. After a warm dip, take a relaxing hike along one of the many winding walking trails.

 

California

 

Palm Springs

Via Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism

There is an undeniable healing presence in the still mountains surrounding Southern California’s desert, and when the warm winds start blowing, you can almost hear your mind relax and your body uncoil. Really, Palm Springs is full of things to do for every traveler. For casual vacationers, this is a place to unwind by the pool and in the spa, like the Palm Mountain Resort and Spa or Palm Springs Yacht Club. For mystics, this is a place to get away from the distractions of urban life and encounter the metaphysical. Experience a spiritual tune-up at the Integratron in nearby Landers. The stunning domed building, built on the site of a geomagnetic vortex, is used for rejuvenating sound baths that will leave you with a sense of peace.For health and wellness travelers, California is one of the best states to visit.

 

Colorado

 

Salida

Located among the state’s tallest mountains—more than a dozen over 14,000 feet, known as the 14ers—Salida is magnificent. Hike or ski at the famous Monarch Mountain to feel the wind in your hair and the world at your back. A lively art community with more than a dozen galleries and studios, the quaint downtown area puts on the annual Salida Art Walk each summer. Take a heated hiatus in the Salida Hot Springs, the largest indoor natural springs pool in the U.S. Sate your appetite while you relax in the casual atmosphere of Boathouse Cantina, located right on the sparkling downtown waterfront. The eats are serious business, so let hunger take a recess for a while.

 

Connecticut

 

Litchfield

The seat of Litchfield County and home to the region’s historic district, this borough is brimming with historical buildings and a contemplative atmosphere. Let Charym enchant with a meditation or yoga workshop —this wellness center looks like it leapt from the pages of a storybook. Winvian Farm, about a mile away in Morris, is a spa, dining, and nature destination where lucky guests refresh with a yoga session and bask in the stories this old house can tell. Horticulturists rejoice! White Flower Farm blooms in full color each spring and summer. When the display gardens are open, wander among plants from all over the world

 

Delaware

 

Dover

Though it’s the capital city, Dover (and its surrounds) offers plenty of opportunities to leave your worries behind. Little Creek Wildlife Area is located directly east of Dover, hugging the coast. Here you can find quiet moments to birdwatch and catch a glimpse of the graceful waterfowl. Silver Lake Park is also peaceful, lush, and a great place to take a meditative walk along the trails, or to cast a fishing line into the still water. Pickering Beach is another great place to stroll and reflect. Stop for a spot of tea or a full tea service at Tea for Two, a lovely English tea house set in one of Dover’s historical painted lady houses, where menu options are whimsically named after “Gone with the Wind” characters.

 

Florida

 

Pompano Beach

A strong argument can be made that the best places to get away from it all are warm, inviting beaches. Pompano Beach has a secluded vibe while boasting sparkling beaches that are close to the small city center. It’s exceedingly vacation-ready, but free from major crowds. See how chill this community can be when you join the sangha of Broward Zen Group for meditation. For personal quiet contemplation, walk to the Hillsboro Inlet Light at sunset while the bright colors reflect in the lighthouse glass. The area also comprises 50 parks, so there is no shortage of greenspace to claim as yours for an afternoon.

 

Georgia

 

Blue Ridge

Named after the Blue Ridge Mountains, this area is incredibly scenic, and the natural beauty is well preserved and accessible. Take a ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, built in 1905, which starts at the downtown station and tours the region in relaxed, vintage style. Walk across or canoe under the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge—it’s 270 feet long and the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River. Join an event, class, or workshop at Yoga and Wellness of Blue Ridge. The team there offers massage therapy as well, trained in Thai techniques. Don’t bother bringing your worries along, they won’t last long here. 

Hawaii

 

Kula
An upcountry town on the island of Maui with sweeping views of both the island and the Pacific Ocean, Kula is a prime spot to help erase stress. Indulge in a tour, then taste the freshness of a farm-to-table organic lunch at O’o Farm. Breathe in soothing lavender aromas at Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, then gaze upon the world from atop Haleakala volcano a short drive away. Stroll through 8 acres of bliss at Kula Botanical Garden, taking in the array of colorful plants, rock formations, trees, and waterfalls.

 

Idaho

 

Salmon
Salmon is a tiny city of just over 3,000 folks in the mountains of Idaho, and its River of No Return might come to embody your reluctance to go back to daily life once you’ve enjoyed its treasures. Sail down the Salmon River on a guided excursion with Solitude River Trips or stroll the picturesque grounds at the Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural, and Educational Center. Cruise the Salmon River Scenic Byway and opt out of being the driver if you can—you won’t be able to keep your eyes on the road and off the foliage. Soak your cares away at the Goldbug Hot Springs, or get your om on at Peaceful Mountain Yoga.

 

Illinois

 

Makanda
Known as the gateway to the Shawnee National Forest, the Makanda area is the right spot to lose yourself in nature. Explore over 4,000 acres of forest, bluffs, ponds, and streams at Giant City State Park. Then wind down with some wine along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, which boasts 11 award-winning wineries along a scenic highway. Art is a great healer, so bring some home with you from the Makanda Boardwalk, where local artists showcase their wares. Book a private cabin for the ultimate getaway, with jetted soaking tub and sweeping views.

 

Indiana

 

Chesterton

Via Indiana Dunes Tourism

Camp out at Indiana Dunes State Park, where you can stretch out on the white-sand beach, hike the dunes, stroll through the black oak forest, and explore the button-bush marsh. If you’re more of an indoor lover, drink in nature’s beauty by booking a stay at At Home in the Woods Bed and Breakfast. Fawn over adorable native fauna as you relax in the outdoor hot tub, or snuggle up to your own wildlife in the dog-friendly room, the Denali Tree House. If there’s any hint of tension left, take the edge off with a glass of wine at Butler Winery, then transport to northern Italy by treating yourself to a quiet, authentic Italian dinner at Lucrezia Cafe. For something entirely different, try to escape, literally…from an escape room. Mission: Escape challenges your deductive abilities in a fun escape challenge.

 

Iowa

 

Fairfield

Seek transcendence at the Vedic Observatory, or treat yourself to a unique spa experience at The Raj, an ayurveda health spa that combines natural therapies, yoga, and other customized treatments to address myriad maladies. Unwind at the Seven Roses Inn, a historic main house and guest house with various types of rooms to suit your needs (our pick is The Lavender Attic Suite, with a spa-like bathroom and claw-foot tub). Escape to simpler times by visiting Maasdam Barns to learn about local draft horse history. Cook an outdoor meal and eat al fresco by the lake at Waterworks Park.

 

Kansas

 

El Dorado
El Dorado State Park, the largest state park in Kansas, is at your fingertips. The horse trails include hitching posts on the shoreline and campsites with corrals and other equestrian amenities. Explore the surrounding Flint Hills, the continent’s largest remaining tract of tallgrass, and let blankets of wildflowers envelope your senses. Rent a boat from Shady Creek to paddle away your stress in El Dorado, then toast to the simple life at the Walnut River Brewing Company. Escape into a sweeter world at The Sweet Mercantile chocolate shop.

 

Kentucky

 

Elizabethtown
If you’ve felt like retreating to a dark cave recently, the Mammoth Cave Network, less than an hour outside of Elizabethtown, is your new happy place. It’s the largest known cave system in the world, and the best place to lose sight of reality for a little while. If you prefer to stay in the sunlight, explore the many GreenSpace Trails, or watch the ducks at Freeman Lake Park. Pack a picnic and enjoy the bench swing overlooking the lake at the Lincoln Heritage House, or escape to Country Girl at Heart Farm, just 30 minutes outside of town, where some rooms feature jetted tubs. Sip your blues away on the famed Kentucky Bourbon Trail; it’s an area rite of passage.

 

Louisiana

 

Mandeville
Mandeville was made for slowing life down to a drawl. Located on the placid shores of Lake Pontchartrain, the town is the right setting for sailing off into the sunset, and Delaune Sailing Charters can help. Book a room overlooking the water at De La Bleau Bed and Breakfast, then pack a lunch and head to Northlake Nature Center. Find the pavilion overlooking the cypress swamp, and your only worry will be which beautiful view to take in first. Lazily lap along in a canoe, or join a guided kayak swamp tour with Canoe and Trail Adventures. Indulge in a rejuvenating massage or energy session at Aviva Massage & Well-Being and slip into a state that’s more comfortable.

 

Maine

 

Greenville
Known to be a peaceful place to rest and relax, Maine is full of idyllic and easygoing charm. Greenville is no exception. Between Moosehead Lake and Burnt Jacket Mountain, the area is full of places to plan a secret away or simply enjoy some quietude. If you want nature to awe you, head out on a moose-sighting journey with Special T Adventures, then retire to the comfort of a room at Greenville Inn of Moosehead Lake. The charming 1890 property has only 14 rooms, and the on-site library is where you can cozy up with a book and let the day fade away.

 

Maryland

 

Chestertown

Kent County is known for its beauty, and the people of Chestertown appreciate what it means to need some one-on-one time with nature. You’ll be welcomed with warmth at the Inn at Mitchell House, but you’ll also find yourself with plenty of Zen moments as you quietly explore the 12 acres of landscaped gardens, meadows and trees that surround this restored manor house. Escape to the high seas on the Schooner Sultana for a 2-hour tour. For a quiet afternoon, spend time appreciating the art at Carla Massoni Gallery. Pleasant days and serene evenings are a Chestertown guarantee. 

Massachusetts

 

Lenox
The word respite takes on new meaning at Blantyre in Lenox, where you can hike the 110 acres, swim in the outdoor heated pool, ice skate in the winter, or indulge in a half-day package at the Potting Shed Spa. Lose track of time at the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can snowshoe in winter and enjoy the meadows and brooks in warmer months. If you’ve ever lost yourself in a book, escape to the world of Edith Wharton (the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize) at her estate, The Mount, and imagine writing your own novel, with the beautiful house and grounds to inspire you. Detox and enjoy the farm-fresh food from the local Berkshire Grown movement, and settle into a vacation that’s blissfully detached from stress or strain.

 

Michigan

 

Mackinac Island
You may feel like a time traveler on Mackinac Island. As there are no automobiles (other than service trucks) on the island, the transportation of choice is a horse-drawn carriage. Or, you can take the reins and ride your own horse from Cindy’s Riding Stable, or take a bike and explore Mackinac Island State Park. Leave your diet a distant memory and indulge in some famous local fudge at Ryba’s. A peaceful afternoon among the butterflies at the Butterfly House will boost your spirits in summer, while cross country skiing is perfection in winter—the entire east half of the island is dedicated to the sport.

 

Minnesota

 

Lake Shore
Lakeshore claims the title of Minnesota’s Year Around Playground, and for outdoor enthusiasts especially, watch your worries melt away in this tranquil town. Meditate and explore at Fritz Loven Park, an 80-acre park with a playground, brook, wildlife, and trails for hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. Stay at Lost Lake Lodge, an all-inclusive cabin resort with lake views and woodsy surroundings. Rent one of the resort’s paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, rowboats, or bicycles to explore Gull Lake and its shores. Make yourself at home at local favorite, Cowboy’s Restaurant, where you’ll find friendly staff and tasty meals. In fact, you’ll feel so welcome, you may be reluctant to leave.

 

Mississippi

 

Clarksdale
Relax your blues away in the place where blues music began. Visit the Delta Blues Museum, catch live music at Red’s, pay homage at the Muddy Waters’ Cabin, and check out the markers along the Mississippi Blues Trail. Take to the water in a kayak or canoe on the Lower Mississippi with Quapaw Canoe Company. Then take a literary journey and escape to Tennessee William’s world in the Clarksdale Historic District, which was the inspiration for his plays. For a unique experience that will introduce you to the local flavors and vibes, take a customized Delta Bohemian Tour, which is tailored to your specific interests. Try as you might, no visitor leaves Clarksdale still singin’ the blues.

 

Missouri

 

Shell Knob

Life does not move fast in Shell Knob, and that is just what the doctor ordered. This is a place that encourages visitors to relax, slow down, and enjoy the pleasures of taking it easy. Admire the sweeping views of Table Rock Lake and cast a line at one of the best fishing spots in the U.S. Continue to breathe nature in on a hike through the woods of Pilot Knob Conservation Area—there’s a good chance you’ll have the trails all to yourself. Ease sore muscles with a massage in a treehouse at Stonewater Cove’s Treehouse Spa, where there’s also a meditation room. After these euphoria-inducing activities, a day on the town may seem downright bustling. Hunt for antique treasures at Red Barn and treat yourself to some sweets at Cup Cakes and Cream.

 

Montana

 

Red Lodge

This Old West town at the foot of the Beartooth Mountains is the perfect gateway to Yellowstone National Park, and one of the best places for adventure travel. From Red Lodge, you can take the scenic Beartooth Highway, which is often considered one of the most beautiful stretches of road in America. What better place for a solo road trip to escape your daily woes? At the summit, you’ll see alpine lakes, glacial cirques, and snow, even in summer. For a warmer weather quest, explore the local waterways with Adventure Whitewater. If winter sports are your ideal getaway activity, you’ll want to head to Red Lodge Mountain for skiing and snowboarding.

 

Nebraska

 

Red Cloud
Slow down in this small, quaint town, where you won’t deal with noise, traffic, or crowds. Take a walking tour with Walk Red Cloud to learn about the town’s history, and don’t leave without visiting the Willa Cather Foundation to learn about the important author. Unwind and practice your swing on the greens at the Red Cloud Golf Course, and forget about chain stores and coffee shops when you stop into Lizzy’s Boutique and Coffeehouse to shop and eat local.

 

Nevada

 

Sparks
Located in the Truckee Meadows, Sparks is a wonderful spot for recreation and temporary retirement. Start your stay off right with a Stress Fix Body Massage or a Chakra Balancing Massage at Shine Aveda Concept Salon Spa. Join a meditation circle, retreat, or yoga class at The Yoga Pearl to achieve a tuned-in but blissed-out state of mind. Take your newfound sunny outlook out for a whirl at Revision Brewing Company or Seven Troughs Distillery. In the morning, unplug further and venture around Sparks Marina Park , where a lake, beaches, trees, and walking paths await.

 

New Hampshire

 

Jefferson
Spoil yourself with a pampering trip to Jefferson. Start it off by becoming one with nature at the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge, where ponds, wetlands, and forests are primed for exploration. Challenge yourself to a hike on Caps Ridge Trail and be rewarded with sweeping views in every direction. If you like things more manicured, practice golf at the state’s oldest golf course, Waumbek Country Club or spoil yourself with a scrub or wrap at the Spa and Wellness Center at Carlisle Place. No matter your activities, start your days off right and warm with a stack of pancakes and real maple syrup at Water Wheel Breakfast.

 

New Jersey

 

Lambertville

If perusing the treasures of the past is your idea of perfect escapism, get thee to Lambertville. An artsy Victorian community with galleries and antique shops, it’s sometimes called the Antiques Capital of New Jersey. You’re sure to find some treasures at the Golden Nugget Antique Flea Market, and you may score something more contemporary at one of the many galleries like Highland Arts Gallery. To rejuvenate your mind and body, indulge in a spa treatment at Zanya Spa Salon and find your flow at a RiverFlow Yoga session. Ease into evenings at Lambertville Station while sipping a glass of wine and looking out over the Delaware River.

 

New Mexico

 

Cloudcroft
This small mountain community takes its name from a term meaning “covered in clouds,” and you’ll be on cloud nine with a much-needed break here. With a quaint downtown, Cloudcroft (and the surrounding area) are greener than most places in the state, and organizations like Rails to Trails are helping optimize the beauty of the intricate abandoned rail lines that disappear into lush green forests. Repurposed as running and activity trails, they are serene spaces to hike and run. Collect your own bowl of cherries in the u-pick summer fields at Cadwallader Mountain Farms and Orchard, or cozy up at the Lodge Resort and Spa at Cloudcroft any time of year. Stretch, breathe, and release at Instant Karma with a yoga session with a holistic approach.

 

New York

 

Wilmington
Sixty-two percent of the town is state forest preserve, so nature stretches out before you around almost every turn. The slopes of Whiteface Mountain are exhilarating year-round, from downhill skiing to scenic drives. Welcoming and woodsy, Adirondack Spruce Lodge at the base of Whiteface sets the scene for a real mountain retreat. The goal of a successful escape is return feeling renewed, and River Stone Wellness Center is there to help with services ranging from art classes to acupuncture to massage.

 

North Carolina

 

Tryon
Historic, artsy, and rural enough to offer sanctuary from the pressures of everyday life, Tryonwas the first village located on the rise to the Blue Mountains. Don’t forget to say “hi” to town mascot Morris the Horse when you arrive. Fans of all things equestrian will relish a tranquil moonlight ride with FENCE Equestrian Center. Views, vines, and vintages, the three V’s of a good vacation, are on yours at Mountain Brook Vineyards. They welcome walk-ins, so be spontaneous or plan ahead; either way, don’t skip it. Nearby Pearson’s Falls is a misty wonderland of greenery, where 268 acres of mosses, trees, granite, and spring-fed streams provide both a backdrop and soundtrack to a burden-free day.

 

North Dakota

 

McKenzie County
Bordered by the Yellowstone River, Lake Sakakawea, the Missouri River, and the Little Missouri River, this area in the far west of the state is good for getting away from it all. Badlands, grasslands, and rolling fields beg exploration. Home to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, full of Great Plains wildlife and historical attractions such as the Maltese Cross Cabin, it’s also a prime spot for back country hiking, horseback riding, and stargazing (including opportunities to spot the aurora borealis).

 

Ohio

 

Amish Country

In Amish Country, many quaint villages dot the landscape and outdoor activities are abundant. Take a living history tour and a boat ride on the canal in Historic Roscoe Village, where charming festivals fill the calendar throughout the year. In autumn, experience the Annual Apple Butter Stirrin’ Festival or stroll the paths of the gardens of Roscoe in spring or summer. Enjoy life’s simpler pleasures and splurge on handmade goods such as Walnut Creek Cheese and Schrock’s Heritage Furniture. Slow-cooked meals made from scratch are a way of life here, and you can savor the real deal at Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen. No matter how good the food, Amish Country will feed your love of the little things more, and may reset your clock in ways you didn’t expect.

 

Oklahoma

 

Sand Springs

Sand Springs is a charming town that serves as a wonderful home base for travelers in search of wildlife. In the nearby Keystone Ancient Forest, you can spy many species, including deer, bobcats, eagles, mountain lions, and more than 80 kinds of butterfly. Plus, if you want to know just which animal you’ve spotted in the distance, trail guides are often on-site to answer questions or lead hikes. Its 1,360 acres are well worth exploring, and the Nature Conservancy lists it as one of the last great places on earth. After your forest excursion, take to the waters on Keystone Lake or Shell Lake, both of which provide great fishing and boating.

 

Oregon

 

Yachats
Between the Pacific Ocean and the Siuslaw National Forest, this small village is full of wonderful things to do. From forest paths to tide pools, nature beckons with a bounty of beauty. River meets ocean at Yachats State Recreation Area, and the scenic overlook offers impressive views. The Overleaf Lodge and Spa will welcome you with ocean view rooms, an on-site wine cove, spa services with stress-fix massages, and hand-packed “picnics by the sea.” Yachats Brewing + Farmstore is the perfect stop for delicious local foods and brews, where you can also find treasures to take home (our pick is a bottle of the Salal Sour).

 

Pennsylvania

 

Clearfield County (Clearfield and DuBois)

You’ll find some of the prettiest country in Clearfield County, and plenty of places to escape. Forests, rocks, lakes, and rolling hills surround two cozy towns perfect for settling in after outdoor exploring. Climb the passageways and nooks of Bilger’s Rocks then head 11 miles east to Clearfield, where you can reward yourself with sips at Wapiti Ridge Wine Cellars and a good night’s rest at a local inn. Or, hike in the massive Quehanna Wild Area, and don’t forget your camera. Waterfalls, rivers, scenic byways, and tree-lined trails beg to be photographed. Take some personal space among the trees and wildlife at Moshannon State Forest or splash in the waters of Treasure Lake.

 

Rhode Island

 

Portsmouth
This region encompasses four islands, including remote and beautiful Prudence Island, which is mainly reached only by ferry. If you’re looking to leave it all behind, Prudence is for you. Aquidneck is where you will find the most activity, though don’t fear—the pace is nice and chill. Spend a lovely, thoughtful day amongst towering yet playful figures in the Green Animals Topiary Garden. Don’t spend all your time on dry land, however. Portsmouth is the home of the National Women’s Sailing Association, and water sports like fishing and sailing are tailor-made ways to relax here.

 

South Carolina

 

Clemson 

Clemson is a lovely town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Many area parks, including the Chau Ram County Park offer ample opportunities to commune with nature. The 40-foot falls alone are worth a trek to this lush space. History and nature meet here; you can tour historical homes like the Ballinger house, museums like the Bob Campbell Geology Museum, forests, farms, parks, and arts centers. Not only will you not run out of things to do, but everything moves at a pace to suit a leisurely lifestyle.

 

South Dakota

 

Garretson
When it comes to leaving the chaotic life behind, some places are undeniably the right place to be. The people of Garretson know the joys of exploring nature to its fullest, but know when to put their feet up and enjoy peace and quiet, too. On the nature front, Split Rock Park features quartzite rock formations and fishing, boating, and hiking possibilities. The impressive Devil’s Gulch has a colorful history, and Palisades State Park is a visual delight. For a night you will treasure in memory, take to the skies at nearby Strawbale Winery for their Twilight Flights in December and February. The evening starts with wine and hor d’oeuvres, and ends with a helicopter tour over downtown Sioux Falls.

 

Tennessee

 

Sewanee
A quintessential small college town, the campus is beautiful and the grounds and Hogwarts-like library are perfect places to get lost in thought. Hike the Natural Bridge Trail and admire the natural sandstone arch as you breathe in fresh forest air. A lovely walk in Sewanee Village will take you past shops like the Lemon Fair and favorite community meeting spots like the Blue Chair Café and Tavern. Stay at the Sewanee Inn, where the impressive lobby and inviting rooms provide another layer of respite to this already serene getaway.

 

Texas

 

Big Bend area
Known for super dark, starry skies (the darkest in the lower 48 states, to be precise), the Big Bend area is equally appealing during the day. Big Bend National Park is the stand-out attraction, where you can lose yourself, your worries, and your desire to ever leave among the rivers and trees. Speaking of never wanting to leave, the Gage Hotel Spa offers so many relaxing treatments, including a full day service, they may have to drag you away when it comes time to go home. Before the inevitable departure, make the most of your time and stock up on delicious bites at the French Grocer for a private picnic or in-room meal.

 

Utah

 

St. George
Boasting some of the best spas in the state, St. George is an ideal place for some serious R&R. Try Amira Resort & Spa for the height of luxury pampering and St. George Day Spa for packages that are vacations in themselves. That being said, serious outdoor adventurers will find endless opportunity to explore, discover, and connect to nature. A canyoneering excursion with Paragon Adventures offers one of the best ways to experience the still seclusion of slot canyons. If possible, plan for a long stay in St. George; the surrounding nature will keep you engaged, and the spas will keep you well at ease.

 

Vermont

 

Brandon

A relaxed getaway through all four seasons, this charming town is also the gateway to the Green Mountains. Moosalamoo National Recreation Area has provided solitude and inspiration to the likes of Robert Frost, who had a home on the northern side that you can still visit. Forests, waterfalls, lakes, and streams—what’s not to love about this inviting, secluded, and serene haven? The walkable downtown of Brandon takes life at its own pace. Case in point, the charming Woods Market Garden, which carries over 50 delicious kinds of fresh produce during the season.

 

Virginia

 

McLean
Wooded parks, scenic trails, residential quiet, and historical activities lend McLean its appeal, especially for those looking to escape the D.C. hustle. Let the white noise of the rushing Potomac River lull you into carefree contentment in Great Falls Park. Prefer a little adventure? Hiking, climbing, and kayaking are great ways to explore these great falls. Step back in time at Claude Moore Colonial Farm, which gives visitors a unique insight into pre-Revolutionary War farm life. Stay in the present, but let your senses be transported, at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner Spa with its nature-inspired treatments.

 

Washington

 

Goldendale
Forget the wet west; this eastern Washington town is the perfect spot to dry off, cozy up, and take a load off. Space out at Goldendale Observatory, one of the few official Dark Sky Parks on the planet. A one- to three-hour show includes on-hand experts and the rare opportunity to view the stars through one of the biggest public telescopes in the world. For a spirited cultural excursion with stunning views, visit Maryhill Winery. It’s remote enough to be low-traffic while offering the height of what wine tasting should be: relaxed, delicious, informative, unforgettable.

 

West Virginia

 

Moundsville
On the banks of the Ohio River, this town is surrounded by ancient mysteries and mystical energies. The burial mound, which the town is built around and takes its name for, was a ceremonial site for the Native Adena culture around 250 to 150 BC. Today, pilgrims of the Hare Krishna Movement as well as curious visitors make their way to the New Vrindaban temple to meditate in the serene atmosphere and tour breathtaking structures like the Palace of Gold. Every year, the Mystic Valley Festival is a place for event-goers to unwind, soak in good vibes, and listen to right-on jams.

 

Wisconsin

 

Superior

Superior takes its name from more than the Great Lake; it truly is one of the most beautiful spots in the state. Of course, the lake has a little something thing to do with that. Its sheer size—Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake by surface area in the world—makes it easy to find some alone time to boat, fish, or enjoy the scenery. Pattison State Park is a serene spot nearby to view waterfalls and immerse yourself in nature. Walk along Wisconsin Point for views of the lighthouse and bird watching, and visit in the colder months for the ultimate winter wonderland.

 

Wyoming

 

Dubois

Via HTurner

An Old West town where you may feel like you’ve stepped out of the real world and into Westworld, Dubois will cure your frontier fever and fulfill your Wild West daydreams. First things first, you’ll need a trusty steed, and establishments like Bitterroot Ranch can deliver rugged and unforgettable experiences through expert-guided pack trips. For the softer side of camp life, come for their annual summer yoga and horseback riding retreat. In winter, Dubois is primed for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing, while hiking and kayaking are the perfect ways to while away the warmer months.

Tell us your favorite places to escape to!

Lily Rogers

 
Lily is a Southern California-based writer, editor, and traveler. She aspires to never be too far away from her next adventure, whether it be exploring the deserts of SoCal or the mossy forests of her native Pacific Northwest. She also loves international travel and always looks forward to crossing another destination off her bucket list.

I Feel Just Fine. I Can’t Possibly Be Vitamin Deficient, Right?

Scott W. Tunis MD FACS |

Before we consider the answer to that question, we need to define the term “vitamin deficient”.

Vitamin deficiencies can be absolute, wherein there is a complete lack of an essential vitamin in the diet, or partial, wherein there is a relative lack of of an essential vitamin in the diet.

An absolute deficiency of any one of the 13 essential vitamins causes clinical disease with an identifiable syndrome of symptoms and signs. Absolute vitamin deficiencies are lethal in 90-120 days. That’s why they are called essential vitamins.

You may be surprised to discover that as recently as between 1900 and 1940 in the United States there were approximately 300,000 cases and 100,000 deaths from Vitamin B3 (Niacin) deficiency. The disease is called pellagra.

Fortunately, absolute vitamin deficiencies are a thing of the past in developed countries where food is abundant. An abundance of food high in simple carbohydrates and lipids, however, has led to other problems in developed countries, particularly in Western society. Let’s face it… our highways, shopping centers and neighborhoods are not exactly teeming with fresh fruit, vegetable, and whole grain stands.

Even if we are highly motivated to eat healthy and nutritious diets, too often our unyielding schedules, our commitments to family, faith and work, and our sometimes limited dietary options can cause our diet to be low in essential vitamins.

Which brings us to the definition of “partially vitamin deficient”.

The human body cannot store most essential vitamins. What you ate yesterday is gone today. 24 hours, that’s it. So, in order for your essential vitamin tank to be full every day, you need to consume 100% of the Daily Value every day. That’s why it’s called a Daily Value.

A partial vitamin deficiency means your level is below optimal, and this type of deficiency is actually quite common in the United States. Iron deficiency anemia has been estimated to be present in approximately 30% of young adults and 50% of reproductive age women. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey performed by the CDC found that the prevalence of mild deficiencies in vitamin B6 and and B12 in the US population were 10% and 4% respectively.

If you under physically and mentally stressful conditions you will have higher requirements for obvious reasons. Just as you need more calories, you will need more nutrients as well. The Daily Value (DV) published by the Food and Drug Administration is for the “average person”.

We’ve all have bad days where we don’t “have it”. That’s life. But on the days you “feel fine” do you think you can tell when your physical and mental performance is reduced by 10% as a result of sub-optimal nutrition? How about 5%… or 2%? Almost certainly not. And while some of the factors that can subtly hinder your performance are beyond your control, nutritional and vitamin status is not one of them.

Suppose you are going off-grid on a hiking and camping trip and you know it will be challenging on many levels. You make all the necessary preparations. You pack all your supplies. You plan on spending time away from work. You’ve spent money for the best equipment. And you’re excited to take on the challenges ahead of you. Do you really want to face your challenges at 95% of your real capabilities?

You may “feel just fine”.

But if you want be at your physical and mental best then provide your body’s metabolic engine with 100% of the essential vitamins it needs for peak performance.

 

20 things that are better in the fall

 

vermont fall
Fall is more than just stunning colors. – Shutterstock/ Jay Yuan

Sure, the summer has sun and beach vacays, the winter has snow and sports, but fall is an especially magical season that’s often overlooked.

With its stunning foliagemild weather, and pumpkin-spiced treats, what’s not to love?

Keep scrolling to see all the things that are better in the fall.

 

Travel is cheaper

Travel is cheaper
The streets of Barcelona in the fall.
 LALS STOCK/Shutterstock

Fall is one of the best times of the year to travel. Not only is it cheaper than traveling during the summer or holidays, but there are fewer crowds, beautiful foliage, and milder weather that’s perfect for exploring.

 

Pumpkin flavored everything hits shelves

Pumpkin flavored everything hits shelves
Starbucks’ PSL.
 @starbucks / Instagram

Fall is known for pumpkin-spiced drinks and treats, like the famous pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, which has a huge fanbase. But once fall hits, the shelves are filled with delicious pumpkin-flavored products, from pumpkin M&Ms to pumpkin ice cream, which we eagerly await all year.

 

The weather is milder

The weather is milder
Fall climate is the perfect weather for exploring.
 Shutterstock/ Monkey Business Images

Not too hot, yet not too cold either, fall weather is perfect for exploring, snuggling under the covers, or bringing out the fall scented candles.

 

Your wardrobe is cozier

Your wardrobe is cozier
Sweater weather.
 Allef Vinicius/Unsplash

Two words: sweater weather. Falls marks the time of the year where you can snuggle up in a cozy sweater without having to worry about a bulky jacket just yet. Even better, between boots, hats, scarves and light coats the number of outfits to mix and match seems infinite.

 

It’s prime partner-finding time

It's prime partner-finding time
Fall is the start of cuffing season.
 Flickr/deveion acker

So many people get into a relationship during the fall that there’s a name for the phenomenon: cuffing season. Studies have found that people are more likely to start coupling up in the fall and winter than during any other season.

 

It’s tailgating season

It's tailgating season
Every football game deserves a good tailgate.
 slgckgc/ Flickr

Fall marks the start of football season! So put on your favorite jersey and head to the nearest tailgate.

 

TV is great

TV is great
Grey’s Anatomy’s 14th season premieres this fall.
 ABC

With iconic shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” airing on TV during the fall, it is one of the best seasons for television. Even better, you can binge watch shows and stay indoors for hours without feeling guilty.

 

The foliage is stunning

The foliage is stunning
Fall scenery in Quebec, Canada.
 Shutterstock/ David Boutin

The stunning hues of fiery red, yellow, and orange that take over trees every autumn are truly breathtaking.

 

The holidays are around the corner

The holidays are around the corner
New Years, Christmas, Hanukkah, and more are almost here! 
Reuters/Michaela Rehle

Fall brings you one step closer to the holiday season.

 

It’s back-to-school time

It's back-to-school time
Wake Forest University in the fall.
 Shutterstock/ Bryan Pollard

Parents can rejoice in the fact that their kids once again have someplace to be every day, and students can get excited to see all their friends again. A true win-win.

 

There’s apple picking

There's apple picking
These apples didn’t pick themselves.
 Flickr/jenniferboyer

Pick your own apples and make some homemade apple pie, cider doughnuts, and other fall treats.

 

There’s Thanksgiving

There's Thanksgiving
Turkey time!
 Getty Images

Thanksgiving means quality time with family, great shopping deals, football, and, of course, a belly full of turkey.

 

The seasonal food is amazing

The seasonal food is amazing
Fall is the beat season for apples, pears, squash, and sweet potatoes.
 Getty Images

Fall cuisine is a category all its own. Peak season for apples, pears, squash, and sweet potatoes, fall might be the best time of the year for food. Whether you’re getting outdoorsy and going apple picking, or noshing on seasonal dishes at a restaurant, your taste buds are sure to love fall.

 

Hot chocolate becomes a totally acceptable order

Hot chocolate becomes a totally acceptable order
The perfect fall treat.
 Facebook/Hot Chocolate Chicago

Although hot chocolate is delicious year-round, the chilly fall weather makes it that much better.

 

It’s a season of great festivals around the world

It's a season of great festivals around the world
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
 REUTERS

Fall sees a lot of epic festivals around the world, like Oktoberfest, Diwali, London Fashion Week, Halloween, and Dia de los Muertos.

It’s prime shopping time

It's prime shopping time
Save your big purchases for fall.
 Facebook/Kitchenaid

There’s both Black Friday and Cyber Monday to look forward to for some great sales and deals.

It’s campfire season

It's campfire season
Don’t forget the s’mores!
 Autumn Mott/Unsplash

Fall is the perfect time to go camping, and with camping obviously comes a cozy campfire and delicious s’mores.

Outdoor decorations become a thing

Outdoor decorations become a thing
Bring your reefs out.
 Shutterstock/ V J Matthew

It seems like every street gets a little more festive during the falls months as people put pumpkins on their porches or hang wreaths on their doors. Of course, holiday decorations also start popping up to get you into the spirit.

There are piles of leaves to jump in

There are piles of leaves to jump in
Fun for all ages.
 Shuttertock/ Bull’s-Eye Arts

The stunning foliage is not only beautiful, but also fun to play in.

There are pumpkin patches to visit

There are pumpkin patches to visit
A pumpkin patch.
 Flickr/lizwest

Nothing screams fall like pumpkin picking. It’s the perfect fall date activity or trip with the kids.

Here’s the story behind that weird, rectangular iceberg

Tabular icebergs like this are uncommon, but they do happen.

When we picture icebergs, what comes to mind is a jagged mountain of ice floating in the ocean, ready to collide with the Titanic — or simply melt.

What we don’t picture is an iceberg that’s as flat and cleanly cut as a playing card, and yet that’s exactly what NASA’s IceBridge mission tweeted a picture of on Oct. 17.

NASA ICE

@NASA_ICE

 
 
 

“I thought it was pretty interesting; I often see icebergs with relatively straight edges, but I’ve not really seen one before with two corners at such right angles like this one had,” said Jeremy Harbeck, IceBridge senior support scientist and photographer of the iceberg, in a NASA statement.

This sheet cake of an iceberg is formally known as a tabular iceberg for obvious reasons. Tabular icebergs occur as a mass breaks off an ice shelf, themselves large floating sheets of ice connected to a land mass of some kind. The icebergs that we’re used to seeing break off from ice shelves, glaciers or even icebergs in large chunks.

A panoramic view of a tabular iceberg

This composite of two photographs shows the full length of the tabular iceberg. It’s probably more than a mile across. (Photo: Jeremy Harbeck/NASA/Flickr)

Speaking to Live Science, Kelly Brunt, an ice scientist with NASA and the University of Maryland, likened tabular icebergs to fingernails growing too longer and breaking off at the end. The result is a rectangular shape. Still, Brunt conceded that the near-perfect rectangular shape of this one is “a bit unusual.”

October 24, 2018
 

Related on MNN: Runaway iceberg that’s bigger than Delaware is on the move again

 

10 photos that will make you appreciate the stunning diversity of nature

Natural History Museum unveils the top Wildlife Photographer of the Year images.

A flying fish captured at night

This ‘innerspace’ look at a flying fish captures its speed, movement and beauty. (Photo: Michael Patrick O’Neill/Natural History Museum)
 

For 54 years, London’s Natural History Museum has sought out the best in nature photography with its Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, and 2018 was no exception. More then 45,000 entries from 95 countries were submitted, and the winners were announced Oct. 16.

One of those entries, and the winner in the competition’s underwater category, is pictured above. Taken by Michael Patrick O’Neill in Florida, the image shows a flying fish in various stages of motion at night.

This photo and 99 others will be on lightbox display in at the museum before going on tour to countries around the world, including Germany, Canada, the United States, Spain and Australia.

‘The Golden Couple’

A male Qinling golden snub-nosed monkey (left) sits next to a smaller female in the temperate forest of China’s Qinling Mountains. (Photo: Marsel van Oosten/Natural History Museum)

The Grand Title Winner of 2018 was Marsel van Oosten. The Dutch photographer captured this image of two Qinling golden snub-nosed monkeys in the Qingling Mountains. The two monkeys are observing an altercation between two males from different groups in a valley below. Van Oosten worked hard to capture the image, studying the group’s dynamics for quite some time before getting the winning shot.

‘Lounging Leopard’

Mathoja the leopard lounges in a nyala tree in Botswana’s Mashatu Game Reserve. (Photo: Skye Meaker/Natural History Museum)

People of all ages are allowed to enter the competition, and there are specific categories for certain age groups. In the case of this photo of a sleepy leopard, it was the title winner in the 15- to 17-year-old category. Taken by 16-year-old Skye Meaker of South Africa, the photograph is of Mathoja, a calm 8-year-old leopard. Like many of the photographers in the competition, Meaker had to wait until conditions were just right — in this case when Mathoja opens her eyes and the wind rustled the leaves to let in just enough sunlight — to snap the winning shot.

‘Pipe Owls’

These two owls in Kapurthala, India, have adapted to urban life. (Photo: Arshdeep Singh/Natural History Museum)

And when we say “all ages,” we really do mean all ages. This photo of two owlets nesting in a pipe, taken by Arshdeep Singh, won the 10-year-old and under category. Singh had to beg his father to allow him to use his telephoto lens-equipped camera to take the picture. Singh balanced the camera using the rolled down window of the car and a shallow depth of field to bring the two birds into focus.

‘Crossing Paths’

A Marsican brown bear explores a village in Italy’s Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park. (Photo: Marco Colombo/Natural History Museum)

Those owlets aren’t the only critters that have adapted to urban life. Winning the urban wildlife category, Marco Colombo snapped this photo of a Marsican brown bear, a critically endangered subspecies of around 50 individuals, looking for food in an Italian village. Colombo had only moments to turn off his car’s lights and change lenses to capture this intersection of wilderness and urban living before the bear ventured deeper into the shadows.

‘Mud-rolling mud-dauber’

Mud-dauber wasps hard at work making egg chambers in Australia’s Walyormouring Nature Reserve. (Photo: Georgina Steytler/Natural History Museum)

Sometimes you have to get dirty to get the winning shot, and that’s exactly what Georgina Steytler of Australia did to snag this image of two mud-dauber wasps near a waterhole. Steytler laid in the mud to take this shot, clicking away any time a wasp entered the frame. It took hundreds of attempts to get this winning shot for the “Behavior: Invertebrates” category.

‘The Ice Pool’

Crabeater seals circle an iceberg near the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. (Photo: Cristobal Serrano/Natural History Museum London)

From the mud to the skies, photographers did what was necessary to capture nature at its most compelling. This shot of an iceberg located along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula was taken by Cristobal Serrano using a low-noise drone. The iceberg was about 130 feet (40 meters) long and 46 feet tall. Warm air had carved out the heart-shaped pool, giving the crabeater seals a place to swim and rest as they looked for food.

‘Mother Defender’

A large Alchisme treehopper guards her young while they feed on a nightshade plant. (Photo: Javier Aznar González de Rueda/Natural History Museum London)

Nature can be dangerous for all its inhabitants, so some parents are extra vigilant, like this Alchisme treehopper. Mothers of the species will look after their young, pictured here feasting on a nightshade plant, until they become adults themselves. Javier Aznar González de Rueda snapped this photo in Ecuador’s El Jardín de los Sueños reserve. It was part of a winning portfolio that de Rueda assembled for the competition.

‘Hellbent’

A hellbender takes a northern water snake as a snack in Tennessee’s Tellico River. (Photo: David Herasimtschuk/Natural History Museum London)

Of course, vigilance sometimes doesn’t pay off, and the circle of life rears its ugly head. David Herasimtschuk caught one such moment while on Tennessee’s Tellico River, as a hellbender struggles to make a meal out of a northern water snake. The hellbender is North America’s largest aquatic salamander, often growing to 29 inches (75 centimeters) long. This image, the winner in the “Behavior: Amphibians and Reptiles” category, is just a moment of the struggle. According to Herasimtschuk, the snake managed to free itself and live another day.

‘Signature Tree’

A jaguar sharpens its claws on a tree in Mexico, a clear warning to others not to trespass on its territory. (Photo: Alejandro Prieto/Natural History Museum)

Like humans, other animals like to leave a mark of some kind on the world. This jaguar in the Mexican state of Nayarit is doing just that. While the tree is sturdy enough to sharpen its claws, it’s also soft enough to allow for deep, visible gashes. These gashes, plus a pungent scent, tell other animals to stay clear. The image was taken by a camera trap set up by Alejandro Prieto for part of a photojournalism story titled “Gunning for the Jaguar” and was part of the winning portfolio for photojournalism.

If you have a particularly vivid image of nature at its most captivating, you can enter it for the 2019 competition. Entries will be accepted from Oct. 22 to Dec. 18, 2018 and can be submitted via the competition’s website.

Noel Kirkpatrick

October 19, 2018, 10:13 a.m.
 

28 Best Places to Visit in the USA in 2018

28 Favorite Places to Visit in the USA

san francisco, california
Updated: 10/8/2018 | October 8th, 2018

From sea to shining sea, the United States is home to a diverse landscape — both culturally and physically. Spending months traveling across its vast landscape gave me a deep appreciation for all my country has to offer.

After traveling across the continental United States through multiple cross country road trips (you never really realize how big Texas is until you drive through. Damn that state is big!), I wanted to share some of my favorite places in the United States with you. I’ve already talked about my favorite restaurants and lessons learned, so it only seems proper to give you a list of the best places to visit in the USA when you come and travel here!

(Note: This list is based only on where I myself have been. There are a lot more incredibly breathtaking places — like Yosemite or Hawaii — I haven’t explored yet, which is why you don’t see them on this list!)

Memphis

the restaurants of memphis at night
Gritty, industrial, and a bit run down, Memphis appears like its best days are behind it, but don’t let the rough exterior fool you — the city is still home to some killer food and a vibrant blues music scene. Additionally, there’s Graceland (Elvis’s home) for fans of the King, a big waterfront for walking, and the phenomenal, detailed, and moving Museum of Civil Rights (it’s huge, so don’t rush it!). I enjoyed the city more than I expected and was disappointed when I had to leave. To use a cliché, it’s a hidden gem!

Austin

austin skyline at dusk
My new home (surprise! I moved to Austin!), and every visit here makes me love it more and more. The warm weather, the lively honky-tonks and live music, funky house bars on Rainey Street, amazing hiking and biking trails, and tons of outdoor activities… Austin has it all. Thanks to everything from the growing food truck population to the flagship Whole Foods store with the incredible salad bar (grilled pineapple!), I eat — and eat well — nonstop. The Austin campus of the University of Texas provides a youthful vigor to the city, and its liberal attitude attracts a diverse and eclectic population. In short, you can’t skip Austin, because if you do, I’ll find you and drag you there.

New Orleans

beautiful new orleans
New Orleans is a city with soul. It’s seen some hard times, but it lives on with a zest for life unmatched by most places. It has a rich and long history and is filled with scrumptious French-inspired Creole and Cajun food, live jazz music, street performers, and an appreciation for all the temptations of life. Life is lived well here in the Big Easy. You don’t come here to relax – you come here to indulge! In my opinion, New Orleans one of the most eclectic and vibrant cities in the United States.

Asheville

downton abbey mansion in asheville
Asheville is Portland in the North Carolina mountains: full of tasty craft beer, food, and hipsters. I liked the area a lot, including its proximity to some wonderful and scenic mountain hikes such as the Carolina Mountain Trail. Moreover, the town has a lot of parks for those wanting something closer — and be sure to check out the Ashville Botanical Gardens near the university campus. The beautiful Smoky Mountains are a short drive away, and the gigantic Biltmore estate, the largest privately owned home in the US and once home to George Vanderbilt, is on the outskirts of the city. If you’ve ever seen Downton Abbey, that’s what the house is like! (And, if you haven’t, you should! The show is addicting!)

The Pacific Coastal Drive

a view of the pacific from the pacific coastal drive
The drive up the Pacific Coast is considered one of the most scenic in the world. I have to agree. I didn’t travel the whole coast, but the portion I drove (San Francisco to Portland) was incredible: sheer cliffs, forests descending to the shoreline, miles of beaches, and giant redwoods. It’s jaw-dropping all the way. Be prepared to make slow progress, as you’ll be pulling over frequently to stop, hike, and admire the view. I especially liked Bandon and Coos Bay, Oregon and Mendocino, California.

Redwood National Park

beautiful redwood trees in the redwood national park
Along the Pacific Coast is Redwood National Park, a large expanse of giant redwood trees filled with picnic areas, places to camp, and miles upon miles of hiking trails. Trails range from easy to strenuous, and there are many loops that head out to nearby beaches. It’s utterly beautiful, awe-inspiring, and humbling in every way.

Glacier National Park

awe-inspiring views at the glacir national park
Even though I visited when most of the park was still closed (it was too early in the year and there was still snow around), I was still stunned by the area: gorgeous snow-topped mountains rising high into the sky; a beautiful, still lake in which to admire those mountains and large glaciers; and hiking trails galore. It was the most mind-blowing place I saw on my trip, and I can understand why everyone raves about it. I can’t recommend a visit there enough.

Denver

the denver skyline at night
The mile-high city (not least because marijuana is legal there), Denver has a mix of outdoor ruggedness and big-city living. It has a huge craft beer scene, excellent restaurants (including, Sushi Sasa, one of my favorite sushi restaurants in the world), a large international airport with lots of connections, and proximity to the mountains (and the Republic of Boulder). It’s clean, and the locals are incredibly friendly. There are few cities in the US I want to live in, but I love Denver enough to say that it’s one of them.

Chicago

the bean sculpture in Chicago
When the weather is nice, I don’t think there’s a better city in the United States. Set on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago has world-class food (try the deep dish, sushi, and hot dogs), the fun and kitschy Navy Pier, Millennium Park with its famous bean-shaped statue, a kick-ass aquarium, and iconic architecture (be sure to take an architecture tour). And once the winter deep freeze is over, Chicagoans burst out of their homes to enjoy the summer weather, so there’s positive, happy vibe emanating through the city. Take advantage of it.

New York City

the impressive new york city skyline
The city that never sleeps. ‘Nuff said. You can’t go wrong here.

Natchez

sunset over the mississippi on the natchez outskirts
I was most surprised by this Mississippi city. I didn’t know anything about it, but Natchez was recommended as a place to see historic 19th-century homes, built by isolated plantation owners wanting to get away in the summer and interact and socialize with each other. As cotton became king, the houses became ever larger and more elaborate. Now, they are historic monuments, and you can tour them while enjoying a view of the Mississippi River. It’s far off the beaten path — and my favorite discovery from my last road trip.

Savannah

an antebellum mansion in savannah
Sitting on Georgia’s coast, Savannah escaped the wrath of the Civil War, allegedly because Sherman thought it was too pretty to be destroyed. With streets lined with Spanish moss–covered trees, large and inviting parks, and a bustling waterfront, Savannah is wonderful place to experience the slow pace of the Old South. I had visited this city many, many years ago, but its beauty, Southern comfort food, and tranquility stuck with me over the years.

Grand Canyon

an amazing view from the top of the grand canyon
Words can’t accurately describe how incredible the Grand Canyon is. It’s breathtaking in so many ways —its sheer size, fantastic depth, red hues, and striking vistas. Most people simply stand at the edge of the canyon and look out across it, but its true size and beauty are best appreciated with a hike down to the bottom. Make the time to hike down to the Colorado River, hike the less visited trails, spend the night, and hike back up for sunset.

Nashville

a street of music bars in nashville
A little bit country, a little bit tech, Nashville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US and rightly so. It’s got a wonderful music scene (duh), a growing cocktail bar scene, and some down-home Southern restaurants. There’s not a lot of “touristy stuff” to do here, but what make this city one of my favorites are the music, the food, the wildly friendly and happy people, and the positive energy the city seems to exude. When you’re here, plan to spend a few hours at the Tennessee State Museum. It goes into great (though sometimes very one-sided) detail about the state’s history, but it’s more exciting than you might think.

San Francisco

the golden gate bridge from san francisco beach
Food of every nature, hipsters, high tech, and a diverse population make San Francisco one of my favorite places to visit. Additionally, it’s close to some wonderful national parks, like Muir Woods, where you can escape the city and go hiking amid giant trees. This city is changing fast (for good or ill) and I’m always looking forward to my next visit. San Francisco has so much to do that you need at least four days to really appreciate it. The city is one of the cultural centers of the United States and not to be missed.

Miami

miami beach
White sand beaches, Cuban food, wild nightlife, gorgeous people, and amazing warm weather — what’s not to love about Miami! I don’t think I could ever live here, but for a weekend of fun in the sun, Miami is perfect.

San Diego

a pier on the san diego beach
Forever warm and sunny, San Diego’s weather creates a permanently happy population that’s friendly and outgoing and that loves the outdoors – from hiking, days at the beach, or running….and they are always happy to show people their city. The downtown Gaslamp area — as well as the famous Pacific Beach — is full of trendy seafood restaurants, bustling bars, and some seriously life-changing taco stalls. I love San Diego.

California Wine Country

a selection of wines from Napa valley
California is home to some of the best wine in the world, and a visit to the Sonoma and Napa Valley regions will reward you with some fine dining in addition to the wine. Take the short trip from San Francisco and learn to appreciate wine! Tip: Sonoma is cheaper than Napa.

Lake Tahoe

the beautiful forests around lake tahoe
Though the water level of the lake, as well as the flora and fauna around it, is sadly depleted due to the California drought, Lake Tahoe is still nonetheless impressive and beautiful. Ringed by tiny mountain communities, this is a terrific place for hiking and boating in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Anywhere in Montana

the majestic rolling plains of montana
A lot has been written about how stunning Montana is, but it’s all wrong. It’s even better than words can describe. It’s the most crazy beautiful state I’ve ever been to, filled with wondrous mountains and hills as far as the eye can see. The people are super cool, welcoming, and outdoorsy, too. If I had to pick a favorite state, it would be Montana. I just love Montana.

Washington D.C.

the white house in washington d.c.
The capital of the United States is a vibrant, international city, and that’s what I love about it. It’s second only to NYC in diversity of people and food (which is to be expected with so many people from international aid organizations and embassies). You hear a million accents in this town! Throw in the free Smithsonian museums, lots of parks, a riverfront for strolling or running, and some historic government buildings and monuments, and D.C. becomes one phenomenal place to visit, relax, eat, and drink!

Cape Cod

a sunny cape cod beach
I spent a lot of summers on the Cape since it’s where New Englanders escape for the summer. You’ll find plenty of small beach towns along the coast (Provincetown and Hyannis being the most famous but I also love Chatham, Falmouth, Wellfleet, and Brewster). If you’re looking for seafood, beaches, boardwalks, and hat perfect family vacation, visit the Cape!

Boston

a historic statue surrounded by flowers in boston
I may be biased because I grew up here, but I love Boston and cherish my visits home. Boston rocks (Go Red Sox!). It’s historic (founded in 1630), smallish, easy to get around, and filled with awesome and loyal people. It’s home to a ton of activities, like the Freedom Trail and Faneuil Hall, the JFK Museum, and the Boston Commons and Public Garden, as well as some of the best Italian and seafood restaurants in the country. Be sure to eat at Zaftigs for the best brunch in the city! It’s wicked!

Las Vegas

the glamorous hotels and casinos of the las vegas strip
Vegas, baby, Vegas! A lot of people are turned off by the bright lights and gambling, but Vegas is much more than the casinos, expensive clubs, and hotels on the famous Strip. There’s incredible hiking nearby at Red Rocks National Park, a growing art scene, a booming tech scene thanks to Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project, and lots of concerts and shows. Get off the Strip, explore the real Vegas (because technically the Strip is located in Paradise, NV, not Las Vegas), and see why people decide to live here.

Portland

a sunny public plaza in portland, oregon
Portland is incredible. I would move there if it had a bigger airport with better connections. Here you’ll find an impressive food truck scene, cool bespoke bars and cocktail lounges, a craft beer scene that’s religion to residents, relaxing parks (including a peaceful Japanese garden), a vibrant art scene, and hiking in the nearby mountains. Portland is just an awesome city, especially in the summer when the weather is perfect and there are festivals and events galore, like the World Domination Summit and the Portland International Beerfest.

Seattle

neon lit farmer's market in seattle
Home to a little business called Starbucks, it also boasts an exciting downtown, fresh fish, authentic Asian food, art museums, and funky nightlife. In historic Pioneer Square, you can go on an underground tour of the city’s ruins (a hella cool experience). Moreover, you’re right on the water and, weather permitting, can head out onto Elliott Bay to explore some little islands. Seattle is just a cool city. There’s always something to do there, it’s techy, and everyone is relaxed. Plus, there’s craft beer and coffee — what’s not to love about that!

Deadwood

the snowy main street in deadwood
Tucked away in western South Dakota, this town was famous during the Old West days, noteworthy enough to be the focus of an HBO series. Sort of kitschy and re-created, it’s nonetheless a very cool place where you can experience a taste of the old frontier days. It’s also conveniently located near the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore.

Kansas City

Joe's BBQ in kansas city
I really loved this city, which features some of the world’s best BBQ, a lively downtown, and cutting-edge technology like Google Fiber. There’s also a detailed and enlightening jazz museum here, as well as the eye-opening Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (that was the actual name; I’m not being racist). I wish I could have spent more time, but that’s just more reason to come back.

***
The United States is filled with too many “must sees” places to visit to list in a single blog post. After all, the country is home to over 350 million people and covers 3.8 million square miles. But for those looking for a starting point for where to go, what to see, and the places to visit, this list should point you in the right direction and fill your time!

Just be sure to turn off the highways, head to the small towns, and discover some favorites of your own. The best of the USA is always away from the major highways in the little no-name towns with little diners, quirky shops, and friendly people!

Nomadic Matt | October 8th, 2018


SurvivaGuard – Daily maintenance nutritional support for all your adventures. Feel the SurvivaGuard difference.

 

Social Media Is Making the Outdoors More Dangerous

Statistics from Los Angeles County demonstrate just how deadly doing it for the ‘Gram can be.

We all know that one-upmanship on social media is stupid and dangerous. But now we may have stats to prove it. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue team reports that its missions have increased by 38 percent over the last five years—something they attribute to people sharing photos and videos of their dangerous activities online. 

That department ran 681 SAR missions in 2017, its highest number ever, up from 491 in 2013. L.A. County is home to numerous outdoor hotspots, from beaches to 50-foot waterfalls to slot canyons to 10,000-foot mountains. The cops attribute some of the increase in SAR work to social media and other online tools that reveal previously little-known spots to the masses. They also blame people who try to mimic dangerous stunts they see online or to impress their followers with new ones. 

“People will post videos of themselves jumping off of Hermit Falls or the Malibu rock pool, and they post it in the springtime when there’s a decent amount of water. But now, the water is a lot less, so what used to be a 10-foot pool is now a 5-foot pool,” Michael Leum, of the Sheriff’s Office, told the Los Angeles Times. “You won’t want to be a lawn dart going into that shallow pool.”

The county has closed many dangerous locations in recent years, but signs often aren’t enough to discourage people determined to find an epic spot they’ve found online. I used to be one of those people. A few years ago, friends and I watched a video of people cliff jumping in Eaton Canyon, in the San Gabriel Mountains, then set out to re-create what we’d watched. Going off-trail to make our way into the waterfalls, we scaled a dangerous cliff with the aid of tree roots and a sketchy rope put up by strangers before reaching the base of the upper falls. The water was low and the climb up the falls was too difficult since we’d failed to bring ropes, so we decided to call it quits. But we still risked our lives just to make our social media presence look a little more exciting. I’m glad I know better now. 

By venturing off-trail in a high-use area, we also contributed to soil erosion. Robert Garcia, the fire chief for Angeles National Forest explains: “Trails are designed with mitigation and resource protection in mind, so user-created trails don’t have that level of planning.” 

He also suggests that social media is drawing unprepared people to outdoor locations that require experience, planning, and proper equipment to navigate safely. People are venturing into what’s actually a pretty challenging environment without tools, adequate footwear, proper clothing, flashlights, or even drinking water. The Times relates the story of a 19-year-old who got lost, found himself on top of a waterfall by accident, while wearing tennis shoes, then slipped and fell 50 feet. He broke his tailbone and pelvis. 

That kid was lucky. Just two months ago, I wrote a story about three members of Canadian social media collective High on Life, who died when they were swept over a waterfall while trying to create content for their popular Instagram account and YouTube channel. 

Writing this, I kind of feel like a dad asking his child if they’d jump off a cliff just because their friends did. But that is literally the advice I’m trying to impart. Likes on social media are never worth your life. 


19 beautiful forests around the world everyone should visit in their lifetime >>

 

Woman on bridge in forest
There are three distinct types of forests.
Forests cover 31% of the Earth’s land surface, and there are three distinct types: tropical, temperate, and boreal (taiga).

From the otherworldly Dragon’s Blood Forest in Yemen to Hawaii’s magical Rainbow Eucalyptus Forest, these vastly different woods showcase the world’s unique beauty in singular ways.

Keep scrolling to see 19 of the world’s most beautiful forests.

 

      Pa Phru Tha Pom Khlong Song Nam, Thailand

Pa Phru Tha Pom Khlong Song Nam, Thailand
The bright blue water at Tha Pom results from seawater mingling with freshwater.
NavinTar/Shutterstock

          The name Tha Pom Khlong Song Nam means “two-water canal.” This ecological center is known for its magnificent mangrove trees as well as its shockingly blue water
          — a color that occurs when seawater mingles with freshwater at certain points in the tide cycle.

      Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, Madagascar

Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, Madagascar
Tsingy is known for its karst formations, porous limestone carved over time by rainfall.
Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock

 

        Tsingy, Madagascar’s “stone forest,” offers one of the most unique landscapes in the world — rugged terrain characterized by karst formations (porous limestone that was carved over time by rainfall).

        A UNESCO World Heritage site, Tsingy is also home to a number of rare and threatened animals, including 11 lemur species and several species endemic only to the reserve, such as the lowland red forest rat.

      Dragon’s Blood Forest, Socotra, Yemen

Dragon's Blood Forest, Socotra, Yemen
The otherworldly Dragon’s Blood Forest in Yemen.
Rod Waddington/Wikimedia Commons

 

       At first glance, you might mistake Yemen’s Dragon’s Blood Forest, located on the islands of the Socotra archipelago, which became separated from mainland Arabia
       34 million years ago, for an extraterrestrial landscape. In fact, 37% of Socotra’s flora are not found anywhere else in the world.

      Sagano Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan

Sagano Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan
Sun-drenched bamboo stalks in the Sagano Bamboo Forest, Kyoto.
Flickr/Alex Chen

 

       In Kyoto’s Arashiyama district, you’ll find one of the most unique forests in the world: the Sagano Bamboo Forest.
       The tightly packed bamboo grove is especially beautiful when the sun filters through the stalks. As you can imagine, the grove is a tranquil site — so peaceful, in fact, that Japan’s environmental ministry included the forest on its list of “100 Soundscapes of Japan,” a compendium of           the country’s most significant natural, cultural, and industrial noises.

     Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
A cloud-like mist gives the Monteverde Cloud Forest its name.
Getty Images Ltd. From 100 Places to Go Before They Disappear, published by Abrams.

 

          In Costa Rica, you’ll find the Monteverde Cloud Forest. A cloud forest is a tropical forest whose high elevation makes for a misty environment — it’s one of Earth’s rarest habitats.

         This mesmerizing, 26,000-acre forest is home to several thousand species of plants and animals, including 500 bird species alone. You might also spot monkeys, pumas, and Costa Rica’s famous red-eyed tree frog.

        6/19

     Olympic National Forest, Washington, United States

Olympic National Forest, Washington, United States
Moss in the Hoh Rainforest, part of Olympic National Forest.
kan_khampanya/Shutterstock

 

       

Exceeding 600,000 acres, the Olympic National Forest— located on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula — encompasses a variety of landscapes, from temperate rainforest to rugged mountains to coastal beaches.

One of four rainforests in the peninsula, the Hoh Rainforest— which gets between 12 and 14 feet of precipitation a year— is known for its gorgeous mossy terrain. You’ll also find moss hanging from the forest’s Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees (the latter is Washington’s state tree).

     Otzarreta Forest, Basque Country, Spain

Otzarreta Forest, Basque Country, Spain
Ethereal beech trees in the Otzaretta Forest.
pablofausto/Wikimedia Commons

 

         Gorbeia Natural Park in Spain’s Basque Country is known for its ethereal forests, like Hayedo de Otzaretta (“hayedo” is Spanish for “beech tree”). The park takes its name from the titular peak that Basque mountaineers use as a reference point when they’re climbing the hills.

         8/19

      Taman Negara, Malaysia

Taman Negara, Malaysia
The canopy walkway at Taman Negara, one of the oldest rainforests in the world.
Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi/Flickr

 

       One of the oldest rainforests in the world is Taman Negara in Malaysia, which is a whopping 130 million years old. Its 45-mile-high canopy walkway (currently closed for maintenance) offers sweeping views of the forest.
       You can also trek through the trees on foot or observe the          scenery aboard a river cruise.

       9/19

    Rainbow Eucalyptus Forest, Hawaii, United States

Rainbow Eucalyptus Forest, Hawaii, United States
Rainbow eucalyptus trees in Maui, Hawaii.
Janine Sprout/Wikimedia Commons

 

       Native to the Philippines, rainbow eucalyptus trees can be identified by their eye-catching bark that looks like it’s been painted. The tree’s inner bark layer, revealed when the outer layer peels away, is a vibrant green that fades over time to produce a magical range of bright colors.

      10/19

    Black Forest, Germany

Black Forest, Germany
The Black Forest inspired the dark tales of the Brothers Grimm.
Pixabay

    Germany’s Black Forest— which inspired the dark tales of the Brothers Grimm— is named for its impressively dense canopy of conifers. The forest itself may be dimly lit, but the broader Baden-Württemberg region,
the birthplace of the cuckoo clock, is full of charming spa towns and        resorts, such as Baden-Baden and Baiersbronn.

    11/19

    Sequoia National Forest, California, United States

Sequoia National Forest, California, United States
Sequoias are some of the world’s biggest living trees.
welcomia/Shutterstock

        The Sequoia National Forest, also known as the “land of the giants,” is home to some of the world’s biggest living trees.

       At 103 feet wide and 275 feet tall, the General Sherman tree (named for Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman) is a giant among giants. It has been alive an estimated 2,200 years. The sixth-largest giant sequoia, with a diameter of 35 feet and a height of 269 feet,
       is the 2,000-year-old Boole tree, which was named for the Fresno doctor who spared its life during a logging operation.

       12/19

     Hallerbos Forest, Belgium

Hallerbos Forest, Belgium
Bluebell flowers carpet the floor of the Hallerbos Forest in Belgium.
Jungle Rebel/Flickr

 

          Another fairytale-esque forest is the Hallerbos Forest in Belgium. Known as “the blue forest” for the bluebell flowers that carpet its floor each spring, Hallerbos is one of the last remnants of the Silva Carbonaria (“charcoal forest”), an ancient forest whose beech and oak trees                        formed a natural boundary between the West Frankish kingdom of Clovis and the East Frankish kingdom of Sigebert the Lame well into the Early Middle Ages.

          13/19

      Crooked Forest, Poland

Crooked Forest, Poland
The Crooked Forest in Poland.
Wikimedia Commons

 

One of the world’s most mysterious forests is the Crooked Forest (Krzywy Las) in Poland, whose 400 pine trees have a 90-degree bend at their base. Theories for how the trees got their unusual shape vary. Some posit that gravitational changes in the region caused the bending, while others attribute the crookedness to heavy snow that flattened the trees over time. Another, less likely explanation is that their shape was altered by hand.

14/19

The Sundarbans, India and Bangladesh

The Sundarbans, India and Bangladesh
The Sundarbans are home to the world’s largest continuous mangrove forest.

David Stanley/Flickr

 

The Sundarbans, a group of low-lying islands in the Bay of Bengal, are home to the world’s largest continuous mangrove forest, which spans 140,000 hectares (about 540 miles).
As the site of three wildlife sanctuaries, the forest has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

15/19

Tijuca National Park, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Tijuca National Park, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tijuca National Park in Rio is home to one of the world’s largest urban rainforests.
mk30/Flickr

 

Beneath the gaze of Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue — which towers over the city atop Corcovado Mountain — you’ll find Tijuca National Park, one of the largest urban rainforests on the planet. Between its 30 waterfalls and famous mountain peaks (including Pedra Bonita, Pedra da Gavea and Pico da Tijuca), there’s no shortage of incredible sights.

Surprisingly, for such a lush forest, Tijuca is actually manmade. The land was once part of the Atlantic Rainforest, but was cut down and redeveloped by industrialists. In the 19th century, trees were replanted to protect the city’s water supply.

16/19

The Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve, Scotland, United Kingdom

The Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve, Scotland, United Kingdom
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
john mcsporran/Flickr

 

Scotland’s Great Trossachs Forest, situated along the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, is a “forest in the making”— there’s a wide-scale conservation effort to preserve the trees of the ruggedly beautiful Trossachs glen.

Types of species native to the region include conifers, broadleaves, and Atlantic oakwoods.

17/19

Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada

Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada
Great Bear Rainforest is part of the world’s largest temperate rainforest.
Dan Kosmayer/Shutterstock

 

Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest the sole habitat of the white-furred Kermode bear, a subspecies of black bear — is part of the world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest. Some of its most stunning natural features include fjords, granite cliffs, and glacier-capped mountains.

Thanks to a conservation agreement signed in 2016 between First Nations and the British Columbia government, the forest’s protected land has been expanded to 19 million acres.

18/19

Yili Apricot Valley, China

Yili Apricot Valley, China
Apricot trees bloom in the Yili Valley.
Jixin YU/Shutterstock

 

At approximately 5,000 acres, the Yili Apricot Valley in Xinyuan County, China, is an oasis dotted with flowering fruit trees. To see the valley in bloom, visit in April — that’s when the apricot trees blossom with whimsical pink flowers.

19/19

Rātā Forest, Auckland Islands, New Zealand

Rātā Forest, Auckland Islands, New Zealand
Rātā trees are defined by dark green leaves and gnarled, twisted trunks.
Tupungato/Shutterstock

          The rātā, a type of myrtle tree, is native to New Zealand. You’ll find these flora, which are defined by dark green leaves and gnarled, twisted trunks, on the Auckland Islands. The variety found on the North Island plays a vital role in bird ecology.

          They rarely exceed a height of 65.5 feet, and produce stunning red flowers around Christmas time.

SEE ALSO: 26 hiking trails around the world that should be on your bucket list

When Getting Sorta Lost is…Good?

We were off the map, nearly out of food and having a blast.

As my wife and I neared what I assumed was an upcoming trail junction, the dotted line marking the trail we hoped to find on our (admittedly quite old) USGS topo map showed a path snaking along a dried riverbed along the base of a crumbling granite cliff. But once we arrived at the junction…there was no trail. Well, not really anyway. A faint path that didn’t seem like it had been stepped on in decades did wind off in the direction we hoped to go, but didn’t look like it could actually be a usable trail. So of course, we took the barely there path.

We were in a relatively un-hiked part of the Hoover Wilderness, just north of Yosemite, and were heading back to our truck after a couple days of peaceful, solitary days in the back country. We’d made up our own loop, and at one point, felt we knew the country well enough to head down an un-mapped game trail that led into a river valley we’d never seen before. Once there, we were nearly off the map, literally, but the trail junction was where I expected, so we kept pushing on. There were only a couple hours of daylight left and we were nearly out of food, so carefully had we planned our three day supplies, but we figured it was only seven or so miles to the trail head, we’d arrive at dusk and celebrate with a cold beer from the cooler in the truck.

A mile or so into our exploratory trail though, it transitioned from faint path to nonexistent path, becoming instead a boulder-strewn mess studded with downed trees. Clearly a rock slide had taken out the trail at one point in years past, so it was no longer in use. The faintness of the path made more sense now. It was still possible to follow the dried-up river over our right shoulder, and we were still headed in the right cardinal direction, so we figured, we’d push on and hope to connect to the trail on the other side of this mess.

You can imagine what happened next.

After another hour of slogging, we reached what was probably once a series of switchbacks that picked down a steep descent of several hundred feet. Now, though, it was a tumbling field of cracked granite blocks. Impassable. This meant another two hours working our way back to the trail junction, then a massive retracing of our loop that took us two days to get to this point. Not really an option.

Now, while I have some basic orienteering skills, my wife and I are not exactly dedicated off-trail conquistadors. At least, not when we’re days away from a known trail head. And especially not with almost no food, dwindling water reserves, and no obvious water supply nearby. Plus, I’d forgotten my GPS at home. But, there was no way in hell we were going to extend our trip by two days to retrace our steps unless it was life or death. So, we made a decision. We crossed the dry riverbed and hoped we’d find a route out toward where we knew the trail head was. There’d be at least one unplanned night in the back country, but we’d make it work. It was actually a little thrilling.

 

The other side of the riverbed was far less boulder-strewn and much easier to walk through. It was also off our map. We plugged on off-trail, headed where we felt we needed to be, buoyed by much easier walking and less boulder-hopping.

Just before the sun dipped behind the peaks surrounding us, we reached a slow-moving creek with about the flattest, most perfect campsite you could imagine. The views were stunning, there were no footprints anywhere, and it was a pristine creek, with trout rising in deep pools. There was something a bit exciting about being well off our planned route, off the map, but not in any real danger. Plus, we’d found about the most beautiful campsite I’d ever seen in the back country. We set up camp, split our meager food rations (two packets of oatmeal, a bit of dried salami, two oranges), and went to bed.

In the morning, we packed up and moved off again in the direction we hoped was correct and just after leaving camp intersected with a stock trail. A couple miles later, we spotted the road our truck was parked on, and, soon after, saw sun glinting off its windshield. Eventually, the stock trail led to the trail head we’d set out on a few days earlier.

Our sort of forced off-trail exploration worked out fine and we’d learned a lot. One, always keep a little extra food on hand in case you have to spend an unplanned extra night in the wilderness. Two, trust your instincts and sense of direction. I’d never attempted to navigate with solely a compass and a loose idea of where I was headed, but at no point did it feel unsafe. We’d made good mental notes of our terrain and were confident we could find our way back to the trail junction if we had to. Finally, we’d learned a bit of confidence to deal with situations in the back country when they don’t work out the way you’d hoped.

At the ranger station I popped in to talk about the missing trail on the topo map. Sure enough, they told me a rock slide many years ago blocked the trail we’d hoped to use, and that people now use the stock trail we’d ended up following. Apparently, we’d missed a side trail from the junction to the stock trail, but in retrospect were glad we did.

It’s only an adventure once things go a bit unplanned.

Is it Possible to Multitask? 12 Reasons Why You May Not Want To

There hasn’t been a busier time in the history of mankind than today’s fast paced digital world. Every day, we’re constantly barraged by an infinite stream of information, emails and social media notifications, whilst trying to keep up with demands from work, family and friends .

Our response to this overwhelm has been to do more than one thing at a time. We respond to text messages, whilst completing important projects, send emails, whilst watching TV shows and scroll through social media feeds, whilst chatting with friends and family.

But is it possible to multitask in this way? Even though it may seem like we’re getting a lot done, multitasking could cost us precious time and energy.

Here are 12 scientific reasons why you should stop multitasking today.

1. Multitasking kills productivity.

Each time we switch from one task to another, there’s a cognitive cost that hurts our productivity.

According to Gloria Mark, professor in the department of informatics at the University of California, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after an interruption.[1]

We’d like to think that it’s possible to juggle multiple tasks at once, but it comes with the cost of reducing the quality and quantity of attention applied to a task.

As a result, your productivity is less than that of someone who focuses on one task at a time.

2. Multitasking could endanger your life.

There are certain situations where multitasking may endanger your life.

For example, chatting on the phone whilst driving, or texting whilst crossing a busy road, could significantly compromise your ability to maintain safety.[2]

Multitasking isn’t worth your energy, time and especially, not your life.

3. Multitasking could damage your brain.

A study by researchers from the University of Sussex (UK) compared the amount of time people spent on media devices, like texting and watching TV to their brain structure.[3] The MRI scans of their brains showed that participants who multitasked more often had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, the brain region responsible for empathy and emotional control.

According to the lead researcher, Neuroscientist Kep Kee Loh:

“I feel that it is important to create an awareness that the way we are interacting with the devices might be changing the way we think and these changes might be occurring at the level of brain structure.”

4. Multitasking could make you dumber.

A study conducted by the University of London found that adult participants who multitasked experienced drops in IQ points to the average range of an 8-year old child.[4]

Imagine the effects of writing an important paper or email to a client whilst responding to texts on your phone. There won’t be much difference in the quality of your work and that of an 8-year-old child.

If you’re struggling to deliver high quality work on a consistent basis, make sure to eliminate distractions in your environment and avoid multitasking. This will help to raise the quality of your work.

5. Multitasking causes chronic stress and anxiety.

There are many causes of stress and anxiety but one of the major culprits is multitasking.

When we constantly switch between tasks, cortisol, a stress hormone, is released in our body. This hormone creates stress, tires us out and leaves us mentally fatigued.

Then, anxiety builds up and we act impulsively which creates more stress. And the cycle repeats itself, creating a constant state of stress and anxiety.

6. Multitasking worsens decision-making skills.

Multitasking also hurts yours ability to make good decisions. Switching tasks requires that you spend precious energy deciding what to do or what not to do.

For example, if you’re sending important emails to your boss whilst responding to text messages, you’d have to make decisions immediately:

How do I respond to this email? Should I respond to this text now? Should I take a break from work?

These decisions deplete your willpower muscles and causes decision fatigue, a psychological term referring to the deterioration of good decisions after making a long series of decisions.[5]

In addition, when an important scenario arises for you to practice self-control or delay gratification, you’re more likely to act on impulse. And you won’t have enough willpower to take effective action towards the important things in your life.

In effect, multitasking causes a downward spiral of bad decisions, that cost time, energy and money.

7. Multitasking hurts learning ability.

A study published in the journal Computers and Education found that on average, participants who used Facebook, whilst texting and doing schoolwork, had a lower GPA and grades, than those who didn’t.[6] According to the researchers, Reynol Junco and Shelia R. Cotton:

“Human information processing is insufficient for attending to multiple input streams and for performing simultaneous tasks.”

Quality attention is crucial for learning but multitasking reduces our ability to focus on a task at hand. As a result of low levels of attention, learning effectively is much harder than otherwise.

8. Multitasking kills your ability to focus.

According to neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, when you multitask, parts of your brain reward you for losing focus and switching tasks, with a rush of dopamine. The same parts of the brain that help you stay focused on a task become trained to look for distractions.

And so, when you’re working, you’ll feel a restlessness to check your email, social media and search for a dopamine rush from something else.

Once multitasking becomes a habit, it becomes very difficult to break the cycle of the dopamine rush linked to lack of focus and low productivity.

9. Multitasking kills creativity.

Imagine this scenario:

You’re writing an important paper and then, an incoming email from a work colleague pops up on your phone. You stop writing and respond to the email.

When you return back to writing, your brain has just spent valuable energy refocusing on the task at hand that could have been used for creative thinking. As a result, not only have you wasted energy, but also creative juice for your work.

Creative thinking requires a good level of concentration and attention. The problem with multitasking is that innovative ideas that crossed your mind could pass you by if you didn’t stay focused.

10. Multitasking may reduce your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions, in addition to the emotions of others. In general, emotional intelligence includes core skills, like emotional awareness, the ability to apply emotions to critical thinking and problem solving and the ability to manage emotions.[7]

According to Travis Bradberry, emotional intelligence expert, multitasking may damage a part of the brain — the anterior cingulate cortex that is responsible for emotional intelligence, a trait found within 90% of top performers.[8]

Multitasking reduces the speed and quality of work, worsens concentration and attention to detail. Additionally, multitasking in social gatherings may be an indication of low self and social awareness, two crucial emotional intelligence skills for success at work.

11. Multitasking causes overwhelm and burnout.

Ever wonder why you feel constantly tired even after a good night of sleep or a long vacation?

The constant switching between tasks requires a lot of attention and energy. When your brain shifts attention from one task to another, the prefrontal cortex of the brain loses oxygenated glucose which is required for staying focused on tasks.

The more tasks you switch between, the more oxygenated glucose your brain burns. After a short period of time, you’ll feel overwhelmed and tired, because of the loss of nutrients in the brain.

12. Multitasking could harm health more than marijuana

New York Times bestselling author and Neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, suggests that multitasking could damage our brains, even more so than smoking marijuana![9]

According to Levitin, the main ingredient in Marijuana, cannabinol, negatively affects the same receptors in the brain responsible for memory and concentration. And multitasking could cause greater cognitive losses.

Next time you’re about to multitask, think of the similar effects of smoking marijuana. If you wouldn’t use drugs whilst completing an important task, then why multitask?

Final thoughts

As you’ve read thus far, multitasking is a bad habit that has long-term harmful effects on your health, well-being and productivity. But there’s hope if you take charge of your life today.

When working on important tasks, eliminate as many distractions as possible including your phone, email access and people. Every day, create time blocks of 10 to 30 minutes for focused work. Take short breaks every two hours to recoup your energy and regain focus.

Most importantly, do one thing at a time and you’ll be productive for a lifetime.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Mayo Oshin:

Entrepreneur and Writer on Habits

Reference