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

Cafe Marron: Another Reason To Visit Spokane

There’s a place in Spokane where you can eat delicious food, no matter the time of day, and sip wine indoors or outdoors in a hip little neighborhood near a sprawling, beautiful park.

When I first took my seat (outside, of course) at Cafe Merron on a warm July morning, I distinctly remember feeling exceptionally at ease. Maybe it was the splendid evening I had had prior, out on the town with bottles of wine, or maybe it was the biking expedition along the Centennial Trail I had set up for after my breakfast looming its excited head around my morning’s corner. Either way, I gazed onto the menu, unsure of what to get. Would I be ‘good’ and get granola and fruit? Or would I, most predictably, be ‘bad’ and get the eggs florentine…

15 minutes or so later, I was diving into my decadence regret-free. That eggs florentine is probably the best eggs florentine I have ever had. Perfectly paired with fresh fruit and coffee that was replenished more times than I can count, Cafe Marron and I were a match made in heaven from beginning to end.

Do yourself a favor and stop in when you’re in Spokane.

By: Elizabeth Seward

Spokane’s Wines…Are Very Good.

Barrister Winery

I try to remind everyone I meet that I consider myself a musician first and a travel writer second. But it gets confusing because the two industries overlap so much. For instance, Elizabeth Seward, the musician, loves her wine. Elizabeth Seward, the travel writer, also loves her wine. I’ve been collecting wine tastings like stamps throughout the last year and proudly highlighting my favorite wines as they come pouring in. I fell in love with Riesling on a wine trip along the Mosel river in Germany in June. I remembered just why northern California wines are famous while exploring vineyards in San Mateo county in April. But I never expected to find new favorite wines in Spokane, Washington. For a wine-sipping, Scrabble-playing, story-telling, antique-appreciator…I’m kind of young. So maybe I’m naive. Maybe that’s why I didn’t have a clue about Spokane’s wines until going there to try them myself because apparently, Washington state is the USA’s 2nd top exporter of wines and I hadn’t a clue.

Whitestone’s grounds, Ben Torbin

In Spokane, it’s very important to use the term ‘wineries’ rather than ‘vineyards’ when speaking specifically of the Spokane region. The area boasts around 15 successful wine collections, but the grapes for these wines are primarily grown southwest of Spokane. The grapes are typically brought back to Spokane for fermentation after they’ve been harvested outside of the region. But some in the business would argue to you that the magic only occurs post-harvest; that a grape is a grape is a grape. While I’m sure all of the wines out of this area are delightful in their own ways, I have four new favorite labels I’ll be looking out for…or…well, ordering online.

Robert Karl Winery

What happens when two attorneys start making wine on the side, starting from an over-the-counter DIY kit and build from there? Barrister wines is what happens. It’s not just the name, I swear, but ‘Rough Justice’ is my favorite wine from these fellas. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, and Syrah. You should order it online. But if you’re ever in Spokane, make sure you stop by their winery on the first Friday of a month. Every first Friday, they feature a showing of a local artist’s work, followed by blues music. Yes, I will play there some Friday night, some day.

My favorite wine from this Spokane winery is also a blend. ‘Piece of Red’ accompanied me back to my hotel one evening in Spokane, made it to my bed, and was gone before I could realize what happened. It’s just that delicious.

Yet another delicious wine-maker right in the heart of Spokane. I suggest you try the Rose.

Not to be confused with Arbor Mist. Ever. Snuggled onto a cliffside in Spokane, the beautiful grounds for this winery happen to also be party central in Spokane on Sunday evenings during the summer months. Locals pay a small fee to enter the grounds with their picnic baskets and blankets and enjoy the wine alongside some live music and food hot off the grill if they prefer. I recommend the Riesling and Huckleberry ice cream. Together if you like.

Arbor Crest Winery

By: Elizabeth Seward

The Davenport Hotel: Sexy, Classy, Delicious, and Haunted. Spokane, Washington.

I don’t know about you, but I would always prefer to stay somewhere classy while traveling rather than somewhere trashy. While my love affair with trashy beats on (dive bars, scandalous stores, graffiti, all things rock ‘n’ roll…) I do like to come ‘home’ to carpets that don’t smell of cigarettes and beds that don’t make me want to sleep in the bath tub. (Damn straight I have slept in bath tubs. For the record.)

When visiting Spokane, Washington, which you should do, and I’ll aggressively argue that many times in the near future–just to get on your nerves, you should stay at The Davenport. Because I did. And you should always do whatever I do.

The Davenport is elegant. It’s Audrey Hepburn. It’s pearls, gold finishings, martinis, and young, hot doormen (I only made conversation with them for my readers...). With all of this class, I was surprised no one bounced me any second glances when I walked through the lobby in my drenched bathing suit and flip-flops after a morning of kayaking. But, alas, truly classy people don’t bother with second glances now do they?

The Davenport is lush. Like the suite I called home for five days straight. The king bed was mounted gorgeously against the wall, centered with an enormous wooden headboard with intricate carvings. The couches in my living room faced the mini-kitchen and television. I had a desk. A ridiculously large vanity (Two sinks! Two well-lit mirrors! He and she!!! Except…it was only me…), bath robes, a siiiick bathroom with a huge tub annnnnnd shower. I woke up early every morning to lay in the steaming hot tub reading ‘White Oleander’ after my rise-and-shine workout. It sucked. Big time.

The hotel is glamorous and, in case you’re wondering, also haunted. I consider that an appeal, for the record. Many visitors have reported hearing and seeing two ghosts in the hotel…ghosts of people who did, officially, newspaper reports and all, die in The Davenport.

The hotel boasts some ridiculously decadent restaurants. I had breakfast at Palm one morning. Check this out: they framed my crab, avocado, and Brie omelet with the hard edges of the Brie. And our charming waitress was intuitive enough to know that I hadn’t had enough coffee when it was time for us to go and she generously brought me out a to-go cup. (Are New Yorkers’ caffeine addictions so easy to spot?)

All in all, The Davenport is amazzzzing. David Duchovny stayed there one of the same nights I was there. (David, if you’re reading this, I was looking for you. I had on a very tight black dress and heels. I heard about your addiction…I was going to…talk…to you about it…you know, if I saw you there at The Davenport. Maybe next time?) Oh yeah. And they leave you peanut brittle with their turn down service each night. I am consequently fasting right now.

By: Elizabeth Seward

(Photos: The Davenport Hotel and Tower/Peter Hassel)

Spokane is Supercalaindiefunkaexpialidocious: Zola

I was exploring Spokane, Washington recently. You might be thinking…”Spokane?! Why?!”…well, that common sentiment expressed by most people I know, most of them independently-thinking artists, was starting to really get on my nerves. I believe every city has its jewels. Yes, even Detroit. And Baltimore. So why not Spokane? I was kayaking and biking and running and breathing air far less expired than New York City’s. I was having fun. But I was missing something. Where would I tell my non-outdoorsy friends to go in Spokane? I knew what they’d be seeking: a funky, art-driven bar, live music, good beers, and like-minded crowd.

Luckily for me, my new friend, Joe, knew just where to take me. Zola. Zola is a cool bar, restaurant, venue, cool artistic space located in downtown Spokane at 22 West Main Street.

I walked into the place, which was remarkably crowded for a Tuesday night. An acoustic duo + a bassist covered songs like “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga and “Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams. Covers don’t usually impress me, but these did. While the guy next to me sat drooling over the singer girl, a friend of Joe’s bought me a pitcher of Drifter and I sat sipping my brew, admiring the quirky decor (bike rims as liquor shelves? A giant boat as a bench?)

This is a place that I will not only return to the next time I’m in Spokane, but I’ll probably book a show there, too. It was just that cool.

By: Elizabeth Seward

The 5 Point: Seattle’s Hangover Cause and Cure.

Oh, Seattle. Its grunge past constantly coming back to haunt it amid Space Needle-seeking tourists whose only definition of the word is a short one…something about some band called Nirvana. Its rumored suicide rate pulling visitors in to only visit, rather than play games with their own rain-spawned potential depression. Those living in Seattle know better than to buy into glamorous melancholy. Some of them even saw Nirvana back in the day and embrace almost any genre more warmly than ‘grunge’. They know that at Seattle’s root, the influx of alternative music in the early ’90’s and the post-Cobain suicide awareness play very little role. They don’t have to share Seattle’s secrets with you; but I will. I don’t live there. I hardly live anywhere. It’s my job to point you in directions locals would selfishly steer you away from.

There’s a place in Seattle where you can see the Space Needle and listen to that infamous ’90’s music…all while destroying a plate of french fries doused in brown gravy and sipping a beer. The 5 Point.

The 5 Point is a restaurant, bar, used-to-be laundromat, located at 2214 1st Ave. “Alcoholics serving alcoholics since 1929” reads the sticker on the cigarette machine. Bras hang from the head of a moose nearby. Concert posters decorate the walls near the bathroom and for all intents and purposes; this is a dive bar/restaurant. One you should dive into. (Corny? I don’t care).

Serving breakfast all day long, my friend, Ben, ordered a monstrous meal for $10 which supplemented his small figure with 2 huge pancakes, bacon, sausage, and eggs. This kind of meal is served on two plates. I dipped my swiss grilled cheese into my bowl of extra gravy that the waitress graciously brought to me when I let her know the sprinkle of gravy on my fries just wouldn’t cut it. I sat in the dark corner of the hidden-in-plain-view spot and my heart skipped a beat when my favorite band came roaring through the jukebox.

You can listen to Queens of the Stone Age here while dipping a grilled cheese in gravy, sipping a beer, and when you have to piss (men), you can proceed to do it in a urinal that comes equipped with an overhead tunnel view straight to the Space Needle. Comfort food and alcohol served decadently 24/7. WTF else could you ask for?

By: Elizabeth Seward

Welcome Pass — A Panoramic Perch along the North Cascades

Heading due east out of Bellingham, Washington is one of the most amazing scenic byways in the country — Washington State Route 542, affectionately known as the Mt. Baker Highway.  This two-lane thoroughfare undulates and meanders its way some 57-miles into the Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest before ending at the Mt. Baker ski area parking lot.  The twists, turns, ups, and downs of the road allow brief glimpses of the snow covered 10,778 foot escarpment of Mt. Baker and its accompanying glaciers.  However, just when you are beginning to become awestruck by the majesty of this monolith, the road doglegs amongst the foothills and the pine forests and the view becomes obstructed. Continue reading

Lake Washington, anyone?

It’s no mystery to most that the Northwest United States is one of the most beautiful places-period. It can actually be rather overwhelming to visit the area. There are so many great ways to experience the landscape and culture, however, Lake Washington is a must. You might just be going for a swim, or maybe you’ll be sailing (like I did), but either way, this is a must. Lake Washington is, hands down, one of the most gorgeous places in the USA. The lush, green hills cushion in this lake so that, despite the fact that there is a major city to your west, you still feel enveloped by the quiet-and, of course, the beauty. And hey, if you’re into collecting cool rocks- I filled a jar with them the day I sailed Lake Washington. Everything about this place is magnificent and you’re severely missing out if you visit the Seattle area without making time for this lake.

Highway 101

One of the single most gorgeous experiences I have had in America was driving down Highway 101 during the summer. My adventure down the highway began almost as a fluke. I had never heard of how beautiful this drive was from anyone before. Instead, I just SAW a road on the map that went down from Washington to California along the coast and I thought, ‘what the hell, why not?’. This drive is exhilarating. Anyone even remotely interested in doing something breath taking for a few days needs to do this. Drive slowly through northern Oregon. Give yourself time to pull over at viewing spots and take pictures. And pick flowers like I did.

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