13 Summer Travel Ideas: USA

It’s too early for me to be awake. I was watching my nephew shoot off bottle rockets next to a raging bonfire in BackWoods, USA last night (Greensboro, Pennsylvania). To nobody’s surprise, that lasted all night. But I’m up and I’m happy it’s July 4th. I’m in Morgantown, West Virginia for it, getting ready to embark on an afternoon of one of the most American things out there: a BBQ. I’m either feeling groggy or generous or both, but I want to help you plan your travels this summer across the USA if you haven’t already done some planning. Here are some summer travel ideas, straight to you from The Anti Tourist.

1. Spokane, Washington

Go biking, kayaking, wine-tasting, live-music-watching, or out to eat in this city that surprised me last summer. I had a blast in the blazing heat and you will, too. The Davenport is the main hotel downtown and I swear on my life that it’s haunted.

2. California (Santa Cruz and farther north)

SoCal is gorgeous in its own right, but during the summer, head north–preferably on a road trip up the 101. Between Santa Cruz, The Redwoods, and all that is offered in San Francisco and San Mateo County, you’ll keep yourself busy and wonder why you hadn’t explored more thoroughly before now.

3. Maine

Maine makes for a great summer getaway. You’ll hit a lot of cities on the east coast, but once you hit Maine, you’ll get some much-needed peace and quiet. Try out The Cliffhouse for top-of-the-line oceanside rooms and a rockin’ spa. HINT: you can also bring your dog(s).

Need more ideas? OK. Here you go. 10 more USA summer travel ideas:

4. Pamper yourself at NYC Spas.

5. Visit Asheville. Stay in a B&B in Asheville.

6. Go ghost hunting in Texas, stay here, eat at the Mighty Cone (serious about that last one–FRIED FOOD in ICE CREAM cones, what??).

7. Speaking of ghosts, go to Dudleytown in Connecticut.

8. Colorado is good for more than its slopes. Check out the state in the summertime. Stay at the Boulder Canyon Inn, check out the Bat Cave!

9. Hit the streets of DC. From cool clubs with caves for basements to bed and breakfasts that will give you way too much wine, DC is a sweet city that comes alive in a way we like during the summer. Worship both Jehovah and the Gods of Rock and Roll at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue/Music venue!

10. Go zip-lining in Hocking Hills, Ohio. While you’re there, go Hot-Air Ballooning too, because, why the hell not? How about a Lunchbox Museum? How about flying lessons from a crazy (crazy AWESOME) man?

11. Hike, ride horses, and do other country thaaangs while staying at a B&B in Pennsylvania.

12. Turn off your phone and check into a cottage in Oregon.

13. Go caving. Anywhere. The caves will keep you cool during the hot summer months. Tennesee and Kentucky are full of ’em, but check out a full list of USA Caves to map out your underground route.

Now quit talkin’ about getting away this summer and just do it.

By: Elizabeth Seward

WildSpring Guest Habitat: Heavenly Cottages on the Southern Oregon Coast

Nestled in a towering second-growth Douglar Fir forest along the southern Oregon coast in Port Orford, WildSpring Guest Habitat boasts five of the most heavenly cottages on the Pacific coast and quite possibly, in the world. On five acres of Certified Wildlife Habitat, WildSpring is respectfully built upon old Native American grounds on a bluff overlooking a primitive stretch of Pacific perfection.

The cabin suites, whimsically named after mythic legends and folk-lorical figures, are situated at the base of hundred-feet-tall Douglas Firs towering Jurasically into the sky and furnished with vintage yard sale finds from Los Angeles yard-saling excursions by husband and wife owners and masterminds: Michelle and Dean Duarte. Each cabin, pleasantly appointed with eclectic furnishings and interesting artwork, has a sitting area, bedroom, and a phenomenal bathroom with huge tiled showers and vanity sinks, though each maintains its own identity, tastefully different from its neighbors.

My (difficult) selection: the Rosslyn, was named after “the famous Scottish Chapel, Rosslyn Chapel, which is the subject of a truly fascinating collection of myth and legend. It is also a place of great earth power- the conjunction of two major ley lines.” I will say it was a close call with the Annywn because of its slightly larger space, wood-burning stove, and elegant, antique coat rack. The Rosslyn, with a cozy love seat, vintage writer’s desk overhung by an enchanting, crystal chandelier (clearly my deciding factor for my decision), found at a yep, you guessed it- L.A. yard sale, colorful, patchwork bed dressings, and overlooked by those aforementioned Jurassic Douglas Firs, was nothing short of perfection, and perhaps the most relaxing, calming, and exhilarating little nook I’ve ever had the privilege of staying.

I had requested a bottle of local cranberry wine (southern Oregon is famous for its magnificent cranberry harvests) to await me, which was surprisingly accompanied by seasonal pink roses and hand-made chocolates. After walking through the disorienting darkness with the provided flashlight and welcome kit to my cabin (I had arrived rather late), I couldn’t have unwound more anywhere else in the world.

I filled out the provided sheet to leave on my doorstep outlining my breakfast preferences to be had the following morning in the main guesthouse atop the neighboring hill, which had healthy and local fare. They do not promise a “hot” breakfast, but each morning I was beyond satisfied with local fruit salads, quiches, hard-boiled eggs, warm oatmeal with dried cranberries, nuts, fresh cheese, juices, soy milk, and an assortment of gourmet teas and coffees. Pair that breakfast with the invigorating view of the Pacific ocean from the 180 degree floor-to-ceiling windows, and I was more than prepared for a day of adventure and hiking in the many nearby local escapes.

The elegant and comfy guesthouse is available to visitors twenty-four hours a day with kitchen access during certain hours and endless access to a plethora of teas, Hershey kisses, fruit and snacks (include the yummy breakfast leftovers if there happens to be any!) Soothing music is always a backdrop and the privacy of the wrap-around deck at night is positively haunting and often allows sporadic visits with the delightful house kitty: Miss Scarlet. With a bookshelf filled with classic novels, metaphysical and new age writings, and vintage fairytales, it’s a relaxing addition to the little cabins and a welcoming escape headlined by the therapeutic symphony of melodic ocean waves.

Day One: it began as a rainy morning, but the kind of comforting rain that allows you to lounge around in cozy pajamas, completely unaffected by the hustle of the outside world. I scurried up the hill, enveloped by the majestic forest, to the main guesthouse to meet the owners and have breakfast aside the foggy Pacific sky and returned to my cozy cabin till the sun showed her face and illuminated the ocean and my sense of adventure and imagination. I headed out to explore the locally recommended Elk River, but first stopping at the Port in Port Orford, absolutely taken aback at its sheer, wild, and rocky beauty, masked by the black sky the prior night. Wildflowers peppered the rim of the Port Orford Bay and colorful fishing boats pulled into the parking area, where a lovely one-room restaurant- Griff’s on the Dock- highlighting the day’s catches was situated. I sampled the fresh halibut fish and chips and the homemade, spicy chippino, essentially a tomato-based stew of fresh seafood and chopped vegetables. It was by far the freshest seafood I’d yet to find along my Pacific coast adventure.

I spent the remainder of the day backroading along the Elk River (Elk River Road), passing fish hatcheries, and the bluest river I’ve maybe ever seen. Returning to Port Orford in the late afternoon, I headed to the suggested Port Orford Heads where I accidentally hiked the two-mile loop in heels. Each step I took, I was more and more intrigued, until I was standing on a cliff’s edge overlooking the setting sun and the fierce Pacific waves crashing on the rocks below me.

Day Two: was perfectly sunny from start to finish and allowed uninterrupted opportunity to explore the entire day. I headed to Langlois Mountain Road, about 20 miles north of Port Orford, off the 101, a dead-end road providing marvelous views of the valleys and mountains southern Oregon has to offer. I then went to historic Bandon (Old Town Bandon), 10 or so additional minutes north, to have dinner before retiring to my cabin for the evening. I stopped at Alloro Wine Bar, highly recommended by WildSpring’s owners and other guests’ entries in the cabin journals.  I sampled an interesting take on the traditional gnocchi as well as a cream of asparagus soup, and took a tiramisu to go, as I’d planned on drinking my cranberry wine ocean-side in the hot tub atop WildSpring’s cliff, since I was the retreat’s only guest that evening.

I snuggled into the hot tub that evening, chilled cranberry wine by my side, and listened to the violent waves crash below me. The sky was filled with stars and I was lucky enough to see a vibrant shooting star, reminding me that there was something simply and unexplainably heavenly about WildSpring Guest Habitat.

**Sidenote: WildSpring Guest Habitat is easily classified in my favorite accommodations- ever. I recommend this establishment to all, whether seeking refuge, solace, adventure, mysticism, or romance. Port Orford is a great stopping point as it’s also the gateway to what is arguably the most beautiful stretch of the Oregon coast- the final hour between the California border and Port Orford.

Visit the Oregon Coast Visitor’s Assocation’s site for a comprehensive guide to visiting Oregon’s coast.

By: Ashley Halligan

Teriyaki Heaven, Portland, Oregon

Occasionally, it is necessary to leave the sleek aluminum and retro-styled furnishings of your average Portland coffeehouse or restaurant in search of something else. Something with less of a ‘mood,’ and more of a character. Heading North on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, one heads out of hipsterdom, past Alberta, where skinny pants-wearing bikers zip towards bars and tea houses. Finally, just before crossing perpetually doughnut-scented Lombard, a quick right turn pulls you into the parking lot of Teriyaki Heaven. A neon sign entices entry and red vinyl booths request one to stay.

It is quickly obvious, both from the lack of customers in the front and the never-ending stream of entrants who head to the back, that Teriyaki Heaven stays open due to its video slots. But don’t underestimate this cover restaurant. Korean soap operas play as the cashier takes your order. Come back more than once, and there’s a good chance you will be remembered and greeted upon arrival. The menu is displayed in fading laminated pictures on the wall. Food is cheap- less than $6.00 for many items-as is to be expected at such a place. Tea and water are self-serve next to the register, day-old papers await your glance, and food is brought to your booth with a smile and offer of chopsticks.

Besides the wonderful Chinese food Teriyaki Heaven offers, one of the real joys of the place is the people watching. You are safely outside of the shtick of Portland. Here is where you’ll find people who are not only musicians, artists, and activists, although you’ll see them as well. From the safety of your red vinyl booth , you can watch policemen mingle with day laborers and tired-looking moms order after paint-covered workers. Try to count the number of times a slot-player will come to the register to cash in on winnings or get change to try again. Strike up a conversation with the kind server who offers you more water. Teriyaki Heaven is truly an escape from what, in Portland, can occasionally be an overdose of hip. The vegetables are crisp, the sauce is excellent, and the rice has that perfect amount of stickiness. But the true reward is a mix of the various ingredients that combine to create Portland.

By: Celeste Roberts

The Wondrous Wallowas

I have been slightly misled about the mountains in Oregon.  I believed the Cascade Range was not only the preiminent mountain range in Oregon, but the only one really worth seeing.  Certainly, the largest peaks in the state come from the mighty Cascades – Mt. Hood tops the list at 11,249 feet in elevation, followed by Mt. Jefferson (10,497 feet),  Three Sisters (South  10,363 feet , Middle 10,047 feet and North 10,085 feet), Mt. McLoughlin (9,495 feet) and Mt. Bachelor (9,068 feet).   There are a handful of other peaks that follow in the 8000+ elevation.  What I didn’t know was that if you travelled northeast to the right-hand corner of the state, you’ll find yourself in a wondrous place called the Wallowas.  And what I didn’t know ended up delighting me to eat my own words about which mountains are really worth the view in Oregon.

The Wallowas Range runs about forty miles with the highest point being Sacajawea Peak, with an elevation of 9,838 feet – the tallest Oregon mountain outside of the Cascade Range.  The range runs craggy like the Rockies and makes for an impressive landscape.  Most of my Portland friends have never even heard of the Wallowas – so it’s never overrun with tourists.  It’s a great camping destination with a beautiful lake and river, both sharing the Wallowa name.  To get to Wallowa Lake, you drive 72 miles east of La Grande on I-84, and wind through the quaint little town of Joseph, named for Old Chief Joseph, the leader of the Wallowa Band of the Nez Perce tribe.   A sentimental landmark is the monument to Old Chief Joseph, nestled under a tree with dream catchers, feathers and braided sweetgrass dangling from its limbs.  The monument leads into the campgrounds around Wallowa Lake.  Take the gondola to the summit of the Wallowas to get a bird’s eye view of the mountain range and the sprawling valley.  It’s one of the most breath-taking views in all of the northwest Continue reading

Bocce in the North Park Blocks & Beyond

I grew up with an Italian-American family on the east coast, on my mother’s side.  We occasionally played Bocce at family reunions, but that was the extent of our “lawn bowling”.  You can imagine my surprise when I moved to Portland, Oregon and found a pretty serious bocce sub-culture here.  There are a number of cool places to meet up with friends and duke it out over whose bocce ball is closest to the pallino.  My favorite spot is at the North Park Blocks, right in front of one of Portland’s best restaurants, Park Kitchen (422 NW 8th).  You can play a round on a lovely evening and then enjoy some savory small plates at the copper-topped bar in Park Kitchen accompanied by one of their signature cocktails or a glass of rosé.  Another fun place to catch a game is on the back patio at Vita Cafe (3024 NE Alberta), a perfect location for sport after a satisfying Sunday brunch.  Continue reading