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Enjoying Southern Comfort Food in Nashville

View of the fire grill in Husk Nashville.
Inside Sean Brock’s Husk Nashville. © Andrea Behrends

Even before Nashville became the foodie mecca that it is today, it always excelled at one particular kind of cuisine: Southern comfort food. It took awhile for Music City to warm to small plates and ethnic eats, but there was never a time during which you couldn’t find a warm serving of grits or the perfect flaky biscuit. As the diversity of Nashville restaurants has expanded, so, too, have the choices where you can fill up on Southern specialties. You can fill up at meat-and-threes (Nashville-style eateries that serve an entrée plus three Southern vegetables/side dishes). But you can now find top chefs offering their interpretations of the regional dishes that were served on in their grandmothers’ kitchens.

[pullquote align=”right”]Loosen your belt buckle and satisfy your craving for Southern comforts.[/pullquote]
Loveless Cafe is perhaps Nashville’s best-known Southern dining spot. Since 1951 it has been a must-stop—first for travelers along Highway 100, now for locals and visitors alike. The wait times for a table can be long, but the biscuits are fluffy and buttery, the ham salty, and the eggs, bacon, and sausage are just like Mama made.

There’s no shortage of fried chicken in Music City; even so, people often clamor to one of Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant’s locations for what some say is the area’s best. The downtown outpost offers stick-to-your-ribs comfort food in a location that will get you in and out in time to see a show at the Ryman. Unlike many Southern food favorites, Puckett’s has a full bar.

Sean Brock was known as a Southern culinary standout thanks to his Charleston, SC, restaurant called Husk. Fortunately for Music City, Husk Nashville has lived up to Brock’s reputation. On the menu for brunch, lunch, and dinner are dishes made with local, seasonal Southern ingredients (although they may not be strictly Southern dishes).

Inside Sean Brock's Husk Nashville. © Andrea Behrends
Inside Sean Brock’s Husk Nashville. © Andrea Behrends

Grab a $10 bill and head to an easily missed red cinderblock building on the southern edge of downtown. Arnold’s Country Kitchen is a cafeteria-style meat-and-three that is one the city’s stalwarts. “Entrees” (i.e. meats) change daily, but for “vegetables,” you’ll always find the likes of Jell-O salad, sliced tomatoes, turnip greens, mashed potatoes, squash casserole, macaroni and cheese, and corn bread.

With chow-chow, macaroni and cheese, and fried green tomatoes on the changing seasonal menu, Lockeland Table has Southern comfort food down. But with a mission to bring farm goods to city tables and to connect to the surrounding neighborhood, Lockeland Table adds a hip, trendy vibe to its Southern (and other) delicacies.

Everyone from politicians to country music superstars has dined at Swett’s, an old-school cafeteria that has been in business for almost 60 years. There’s nothing fancy here, but that’s true of the best comfort food, right? Expect beef tips, macaroni and cheese, and other entrees and vegetables, plus excellent pie for dessert. There’s also a Swett’s at the airport, but it lacks the cafeteria’s ambiance and plethora of choices.

If you can’t decide where you want to sample the best Southern food, taking the new Walk Eat Nashville tour is a good way to have the decisions made for you. These tours involve about 1.5 miles of walking and six different culinary stops in East Nashville. You’ll get a helping of context and history along with good things to eat.

Water Sports in Monterey: Diving, Kayaking, and SUP

View from shore of kayakers in the bay.
Kayaking in Monterey Bay. Photo © Sharon Mollerus, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Map of Monterey, California
Monterey
The Monterey Bay is the premier Northern California locale for a number of water sports, especially scuba diving.

Scuba Diving

Any native Northern Californian knows that there’s only one really great place in the region to get certified in scuba diving—the Monterey Bay. Even if you go to a dive school up in the Bay Area, they’ll take you down to Monterey for your open-water dive. Accordingly, dozens of dive schools cluster in and around the town of Monterey (check Carmel and Santa Cruz as well, if you prefer).

A local’s favorite, Bamboo Reef (614 Lighthouse Ave., 831/372-1685) offers SCUBA lessons and rents equipment just a few blocks from popular dive spots, including Breakwater Cove.

Another of your many dive shop options is the Aquarius Dive Shop (2040 Del Monte Ave., 831/375-1933, Mon.-Fri. 9am-6pm, Sat.-Sun. 7am-6pm). Aquarius offers everything you need to go diving out in Monterey Bay, including air and nitrox fills, equipment rental, certification courses, and help booking a trip on a local dive boat. Aquarius works with five boats to create great trips for divers of all interests and ability levels. Call or check the website for current local dive conditions as well.

Kayaking and Stand Up Paddleboarding

With all the focus on sustainable tourism in Monterey, coupled with the lovely recreation area formed by Monterey Bay, it’s no wonder that sea kayaking is popular here. Monterey’s coastline is as scenic a spot as any to learn to stand up paddleboard (SUP). Whether you want to try paddling for the first time or you’re an expert who hasn’t brought your own gear out to California, you’ll find a local outfit ready and willing to hook you up.

Adventures by the Sea (299 Cannery Row, 831/372-1807, summer daily 9am-8pm, winter daily 9am-8pm, tours $60 pp, rentals $30/day) rents kayaks for whole days to let you choose your own route in and around the magnificent Monterey Bay kelp forest. If you’re not confident enough to go off on your own, Adventures offers tours from Cannery Row. Your guide can tell you all sea otters, pelicans, seagulls, and maybe even a whale in the wintertime! The tour lasts about 2.5 hours and the available tandem sit-on-top kayaks make it a great experience for school-age children. Adventures by the Sea also run a tour of Stillwater Cove at Pebble Beach. Reservations are recommended for all tours, but during the summer the Cannery Row tour leaves regularly at 10am and 2pm, so you can stop by on a whim and see if there’s a spot available.

Right on Monterey Beach, Monterey Bay Kayaks (693 Del Monte Ave., 800/649-5357, tours $50-60 pp) specializes in tours of central Monterey. (There’s also a branch up in Moss Landing on the Elkhorn Slough.) You can choose between open-deck and closed-deck tour groups, beginning tours perfect for kids, or long paddles designed for more experienced sea kayakers. Check the website for specific tour prices, times, and reservation information. If you prefer to rent a kayak and explore the bay on your own, Monterey Bay Kayaks can help you with this too. If you really get into it, you can also sign up for closed-deck sea kayaking classes to learn about safety, rescue techniques, tides, currents, and paddling techniques.


Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Coastal California.

Enjoying Budapest’s Thermal Baths: Tips for First-timers

Bathers at the Szechenyi Bath in Budapest.
Bathers at the Szechenyi Bath in Budapest. Photo © Graeme Churchard, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Thermal baths are a distinct part of Hungarian culture, and while a visit to one can be pretty intimidating to a first-timer, it will also be one of the most rewarding experiences on your trip if you forgo your initial shyness and plunge right in.

Your first order of business is to approach the ticket window and choose from the long list of facilities and services available (all in Hungarian). Odds are you’ll be looking to use the pool (uszoda), thermal pool (termál), bath (fürdo), steam bath (gozfürdo), massage (masszázs), or sauna (szauna).

Once you’ve purchased your ticket, you’ll be given a free locker in the locker room (öltözo), or, depending on the establishment, you’ll also be able to rent a private cabin (kabin) for an additional fee. Whatever you choose, you’ll be given a token on a string by the attendant in charge, which allows you to return to your locker or cabin at your leisure.

Useful Tips for First-Time Bathers

  • Remember to bring a bathing suit and bathing cap (all long hair must be covered) as well as soap, shampoo, flip-flops, and a towel.
  • Treat yourself to the waters for at least two hours in order to fully enjoy their effects.
  • Shower thoroughly before entering any of the pools.
  • Stay hydrated — keep a water bottle nearby.
  • Tip your attendant and masseuse.
  • Eat after your time in the baths and take a nap as you’ll feel plenty drained. Do not plan on doing any sightseeing immediately afterward.
  • Keep in mind that ticket windows close an hour before the baths.

If you feel lost or can’t remember anything you just read—just do as the locals do.


Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Prague & Budapest.

Seeing Vermont’s Covered Bridges

Bridge on the Green in Arlington, a red-painted covered bridge.
It’s easy to get up close to Bridge on the Green in Arlington. Photo © Doug Kerr, licensed Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike.

Color State Map of Vermont
Vermont
Bridges in Vermont were covered to protect the roadway and supports from the ravages of New England weather. The covers were relatively easy to replace compared with the supports driven into the river bottoms. Originally, there were more than 600 covered bridges in Vermont; two-thirds of them were destroyed in the disastrous flood of 1927. Dozens more were simply not replaced when their covers became damaged or rotted.

While Pennsylvania is the state with the largest number of surviving covered bridges, Vermont and New Hampshire have long fought over which of the states can lay claim to being the “covered bridge capital of New England.” Actually, Vermont blows New Hampshire out of the water, with 106 surviving covered bridges compared to the Granite State’s 54. If it’s any consolation, however, New Hampshire can lay claim to having the longest covered bridge, the 450-foot Cornish-Windsor Bridge over the Connecticut River. (That’s the Windsor-Cornish Bridge to Vermonters.) Because the official boundary between the states is the west bank of the river, nearly the entire bridge is firmly within New Hampshire state territory.

  • Number of Covered Bridges in Vermont: 106
  • Oldest Bridge in Vermont: Pulp Mill Covered Bridge in Middlebury, dating from 1820
  • Oldest Continuously Operating Bridge in Vermont: Great Eddy Bridge in Waitsfield, dating from 1833
  • Longest Bridge in Vermont: Scott Covered Bridge, north of Brattleboro—277 feet long
  • Most Camera-Friendly Bridge Near Norman Rockwell’s Home: Bridge at the Green in Arlington
  • Longest Bridge not Technically in Vermont: Windsor-Cornish Bridge in Cornish, New Hampshire
  • Town with the Most Covered Bridges in the United States: Montgomery, Vermont, with six covered bridges
  • Place Where You Can See Two Bridges at Once Spanning Different Sections of the Same Road: Cox Brook Road in Northfield
  • Best Place to Learn About Covered Bridges: Covered Bridge Museum in Bennington

Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Vermont.

Discover the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon. Photo © Grand Canyon National Park Service, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Grand Canyon is a place of grand drama and serene vistas, so vast and varied that each visitor will experience it from a different perspective. Grand Canyon National Park’s mile-deep abyss and 1.2 million acres hold a multitude of experiences, from bustling Grand Canyon Village to wild and lonesome wilderness.

Layered cliffs of red, orange, gray, and tan record three eras of geological time, with rocks along the Colorado River that are two billion years old. The canyon itself is five or six million years old and still changing. Wind and moisture sculpt fantastical stone shapes one grain of sand at a time. But nature doesn’t always work slowly—a room-sized platform of limestone at Mather Point once toppled overnight, and a single storm transformed Crystal Rapid from a mellow ride to a maelstrom.

The canyon’s rocky expanse may look stark and forbidding, but it has sheltered people along its river and rim for 10,000 years. The native peoples left signs of their passing in rock art, stone pueblos, and potsherds. Diverse environments, from the North Rim’s boreal forests to the inner canyon’s deserts and river, support more than 2,000 species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, including several endangered and threatened species and a few species found nowhere else on the planet.

Hiking and rafting the inner canyon may be challenging, but those who enter Grand Canyon’s heart are rewarded with closer looks at features often hidden within its rocky folds—sinuous side canyons, sparkling waterfalls, and towering monuments of stone. Places like Vishnu Temple and Deer Creek Falls are just small pieces of a whole that is considered one of the world’s seven greatest natural wonders.

Features outside the park’s boundaries—forests, plateaus, and Indian Reservations—add further perspectives to the canyon experience. You can drive up to the Colorado River at Lees Ferry, mountain bike along the Rainbow Rim, or stroll onto the Hualapai Reservation’s Skywalk, a 70-foot-long glass-bottomed observation deck that stretches into the canyon.

In 1903, Teddy Roosevelt urged every American to see Grand Canyon. Today, some five million visitors each year do, but the Grand Canyon you experience is yours alone.

Travel map of the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Overview

Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Grand Canyon.

Exploring El Malpais National Monument

A natural stone arch in El Malpais National Monument.
La Ventana Arch in El Malpais National Monument. Photo © Martina Roth/123rf.

The product of three volcanic events, the lava-strewn landscape of the El Malpais National Monument (505/783-4774, free) is not exactly the barren terrain el malpaís (el-mal-pie-EES, literally, the badlands) suggests. A surprising amount of greenery has taken root in the millennia since the last eruption, between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago, and in the spring, wildflowers stand out against the jagged black rock. The lava fields are riven with deep, cave-like tubes that formed as the hot rock cooled. Some of the most scenic areas are along the monument’s eastern border, where the lava meets red sandstone cliffs, as well as New Mexico’s largest natural arch.

For those who just want a quick look, the easiest access point is Sandstone Bluffs Overlook, where, on a short walk along the edge of the eastern cliffs, you can admire the lava fields, and see north to Mount Taylor. It’s about 11 miles south from I-40 on Highway 117. Drive another 7 miles to reach La Ventana Arch, a great sandstone arc; a short trail leads to a scenic viewing spot.

If you’d like a longer hike or drive into the park, stop first at the Northwest New Mexico Visitors Center (1900 E. Santa Fe Ave., 505/876-2783, 9am-6pm daily in summer, 8am-5pm daily in winter), near I-40 at exit 85, midway between the two highways that access different parts of the badlands. National Park Service employees can give you detailed maps and current conditions, and from there you can decide whether to take Highway 53 or Highway 117 south into the monument area. The monument information center (505/783-4774, 8am-4:30pm daily) is less conveniently located on Highway 53, 23 miles south of I-40.

In addition to the hikes detailed below, there are more demanding but worthwhile places to explore outside the borders of the national park, in the BLM land designated Cebolla Wilderness (off the southeast border of the park) and West Malpais Wilderness (to the south and west)—ask at the visitors center for details on these areas as well.

Zuni-Acoma Trail

By far the most strenuous hike, the shadeless 7.5-mile Zuni-Acoma Trail cuts across the lava beds roughly along the path used for centuries by the Puebloans in this region. It’s rough going because the ground is so uneven, but if you’re interested in the plants and animals that thrive in El Malpais, this can be a rewarding trek. The eastern trailhead is on Highway 117, before you reach La Ventana Arch; the western one is on Highway 53.

Lava Falls Area

For the best up-close look at the lava, head farther south on Highway 117 to the Lava Falls Area. Here you can still make out the swirls and eddies of the molten stuff as if it had cooled yesterday; the variety of shapes and textures is fascinating, as are the odd pockets of stunted trees that manage to flourish here. The three-mile route (a mile-long loop with a one-mile spur) is marked only by rock cairns, so bring a compass, as it’s easy to get disoriented.

El Calderon Area

At the El Calderon Area on Highway 53, a three-mile loop trail heads to El Calderon Cinder Cone, the area around the lava vent, and then back to the parking lot via a dirt road. Calderon Crater, the oldest of the three lava flows that make up the area, dates back some 115,000 years—as a result, the rock is more weathered, and not the stark black found around younger McCartys Crater. This is also the area where lava tubes are closest to the road—a short walk from the car reveals the entrance to Junction Cave, a tube that partially collapsed—you see a sliver of daylight on the other end. The famous Bat Cave, less than a mile from the parking area, still has a circling cloud of the nocturnal critters at sunset, though not as many as in the past.

Big Tubes Area

The Big Tubes Area, a network of 17 miles of lava caves on the west side of the monument, has by far the weirdest terrain, but it was closed at the time of research, again due to the bat fungus. Even if it does reopen, you’ll need a high-clearance truck to get here, as well as headlamps (with extra batteries), sturdy boots, and heavy work gloves to protect your hands from the jagged rocks.

Bandera Crater Ice Caves

A family-run tourist attraction that was grandfathered in when El Malpais was made a national monument, the Bandera Crater Ice Caves (Hwy. 53, 888/ICE-CAVE, 9am-5pm daily Mar.-Oct., 9am-4pm daily Nov.-Feb., $11) are an impressive natural sight, especially during the heat of summer, when you can descend from 90°F outside to 31°F underground, the chill emanating from a permanent layer of greenish ice at least 20 feet thick. Although the same phenomenon is visible elsewhere in El Malpais (for much less money), this is the most accessible spot, and generally more impressive. The other half of the attraction, Bandera Crater, 750 feet deep, is actually not much to look at—literally, just a big hole in the ground.


Excerpted from the Ninth Edition of Moon New Mexico.

Colombia’s Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados

View across the mountain ranges with grasses in the foreground.
Colombia’s Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados. Photo © María del Pilar Ruíz, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.
Travel map of Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados in Colombia
Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados

This national park covers 583 square kilometers (225 miles) of rugged terrain along the Central Cordillera between the cities of Manizales to the north, Ibagué to the southeast, and Pereira to the northwest. Whether you do a day trip or a multi-day trek, a visit to Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados allows you to enjoy first-hand the stark beauty of the upper reaches of the Andes, far above the forest line, with its intriguing vegetation and fauna. Within the park are three snowcapped volcanoes, Nevado del Ruiz (5,325 meters/17,470 feet), Nevado del Tolima (5,215 meters/17,110 feet), and Nevado Santa Isabel (4,950 meters/16,240 feet), as well as myriad lakes, such as the Laguna del Otún.

This rugged landscape was formed by volcanic activity and later sculpted by huge masses of glaciers. At their maximum extension, these glaciers covered an area of 860 square kilometers (332 square miles). They began to recede 14,000 years ago and, according to a 2013 study by the Colombian Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology, and Environmental Studies (IDEAM), will completely disappear by 2030.

Most of the park consists of páramo, a unique tropical high altitude ecosystem, and super páramo, rocky terrain above the páramo and below the snow line. Páramo is a highland tropical ecosystem that thrives where UV radiation is higher, oxygen is scarcer, and where temperatures vary considerably from daytime to nighttime, when the mercury falls below freezing. It is the kingdom of the eerily beautiful frailejones, plants with statuesque tall trunks and thick yellow-greenish leaves. Other páramo vegetation includes shrubs, grasses, and cushion plants (cojines). The super páramo has a stark, moonlike landscape, with occasional dunes of volcanic ash. Though it’s largely denuded of vegetation, bright yellow plants called litamo real and orange moss provide splashes of color. On a clear day, the views from the páramo or super páramo of the snowcapped volcanoes and lakes are simply stunning.

The black and white Andean condor, vultur gryphus, with its wingspan of up to three meters (10 feet), can sometimes be spotted gliding along the high cliffs in the park. While it is estimated that there are over 10,000 of the birds on the continent (mostly in Argentina), there are few remaining in Colombia. Some estimates report that by the mid-1980s, there were no more than 15 left in Colombia, due in large part to poaching by cattle ranchers. In an effort to boost their numbers in Colombia, a reintroduction program was initiated in the park (and in other parts of the country) in the 1990s in conjunction with the San Diego Zoo, where newborns were hatched. Today it is estimated that there are 200-300 condors soaring above Colombia’s Andean highlands. Numbers of the endangered birds in Los Nevados range 8-15. Other fauna includes spectacled bears (oso de anteojos), tapirs, weasels, squirrels, bats, and many species of birds.

The Nevado del Tolima and Nevado del Ruiz volcanoes are considered active, with the Ruiz presenting more activity. In 1986 it erupted, melting the glacier, which in turn created a massive mudslide that engulfed the town of Armero, burying an estimated 20,000 of the town’s 29,000 residents.

Orientation

The Northern Sector of the park includes the Nevado del Ruiz, with its three craters (Arenales, La Piraña, and La Olleta), and extends south to the extinct Cisne volcano and Laguna Verde. This part can be accessed by vehicle.

The Southern Sector includes everything from the Nevado Santa Isabel south to the Quindío peak, as well as Nevado del Tolima. This area has fewer visitors as access is only by foot or by horse, from Manizales, Pereira, Salento, or Ibagué.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Colombia.

Visit Jamestown National Historic Site and Settlement

The remaining brick walls of a house dating back to the 1600s in New Towne, Jamestown, Virginia.
The remains of the Ambler House in New Towne. Photo © Ken Lund, licensed Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike.

Map of Coastal Virginia
Coastal Virginia
Jamestown was the first permanent English colony in America, founded in 1607, more than a decade prior to the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth. Three small ships carrying 104 men made landfall at Jamestown (which is actually an island) on May 13, 1607. They moored the ships to trees, came ashore the following day, and never left. The newly formed town served as the capital of Virginia during the 17th century.

Jamestown National Historic Site

The original Jamestown National Historic Site (1368 Colonial Pkwy., 757/856-1200, , daily 8:30am-4:30pm, $14) is run by the National Park Service and APVA Preservation Virginia. Purchase your admission ticket at the visitor center (your ticket also grants access to the Yorktown National Battlefield), which shows an informative 18-minute video that is a good start to orienting yourself with the site. From there, continue to “Old Towne,” the original settlement site and explore it on foot. Highlights include the original Memorial Church tower (the oldest structure still standing in the park, dating back to 1639), a burial ground (many of the first colonists died here), a reconstructed sample of a “mud-and-stud” cottage, and the foundations of several buildings. Another “don’t miss” is the APVA Jamestown Rediscovery excavation, where remains of the original James Fort built in 1607 are being uncovered at an archaeological dig site open to visitors. History programs and children’s events are held in the summer months.

Continue on to “New Towne,” where you can explore the part of Jamestown that was developed after 1620. The foundations of many homes were excavated in the 1930s and 1950s and replicas can be seen throughout the site. Next, take a drive along the “Loop Drive,” a five-mile wilderness road. Be sure to stop to read the interpretive signs and paintings along the route to learn how inhabitants used the island’s natural resources, or visit the Glasshouse to see artisans creating glass products as glassblowers did back in the early 1600s.

Jamestown Settlement

The Jamestown Settlement (2110 Jamestown Rd., 757/253-4838, daily 9am-5pm, $16) is one of the most popular museums in Coastal Virginia. It is a living museum that recreates and honors the first permanent English-speaking settlement in the country and takes visitors back to the 1600s. Costumed guides share wonderful facts about a Powhatan Village, and replicas of the three ships that sailed from England under the command of Captain Christopher Newport and eventually landed at Jamestown. The ships are a highlight of the museum, and the costumed crew does an excellent job of answering questions and showing off every nook and cranny of the ships.

The James Fort is another main attraction at the museum. There, visitors can see authentic meals being prepared, witness arms demonstrations, and even try on armor. Ninety-minute tours of the outdoor interpretive areas are available daily at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm. Thanksgiving is a great time to visit as special events are held in the museum. Combined entry tickets to Colonial Williamsburg and the Yorktown Victory Center can be purchased, and bus service between the sites is offered during the summer season.

Getting There

Jamestown is nine miles southwest of Colonial Williamsburg along the Colonial Parkway. From mid-March through October, the Historic Triangle Shuttle (daily 9am-3:30pm every hour and a half) provides transportation service between the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center and Jamestown via the Colonial Parkway. There is no charge if you have purchased a ticket to either historic area. Boarding passes can be obtained from the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center (101 Visitor Center Dr., Williamsburg, 757/220-7645, daily 8:45am-5pm).


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Virginia & Maryland.

Music and Dance Festivals in Colombia

Dancers in red and white costumes getting ready for Carnaval in Barranquilla.
Dancers getting ready for Carnaval in Barranquilla. Photo © Andrew Dier. Keep up with Andrew via his Facebook page for Moon Colombia.

From the parks of Bogotá, ciudad de la música, to the great plains of the Llanos in the east, Colombia is a country where music and dance flourish. There are plenty of festivals where travelers can see the best dancers, pick up a few moves, and get their groove on.

Festivals in Cali

Caleños boast that their city is the world capital of salsa, and there’s no denying that it’s an integral part of daily life in Cali. The last week of the year is the Feria de Cali, a week-long event of salsa concerts, parties, and pageantry that takes over the city.

Other festivals worth checking out are August’s Festival Mundial de Salsa, which showcases the glitz and frenetic footwork of the dance, and the Festival Petronio Álvarez, a September celebration of Pacific Coast music and culture.

Festivals in Villavicencio

On the Llanos, the great eastern plains of Colombia, cowhands work on cattle ranches during the day. At night, they get out their harps and jam a Llanero form of waltz called joropo. During the Torneo Internacional del Joropo in June, musicians and dancers from across the Llanos converge on Villavicencio, participating in open-air concerts and competitions. Cowboys show their stuff in Llanero rodeos during the week-long festival.

Festivals in Medellín

Tango has a long history in Medellín. The Festival Internacional de Tango is held each year in June, offering four days of free concerts and dance performances across the city.

Festivals in Barranquilla

Colombia’s favorite festival is the Carnaval de Barranquilla, held each year in February. Cumbia, an intriguing mix of indigenous, African, and Spanish musical styles, takes center stage at this multi-day event of parades, concerts, and parties.

Festivals in Bogotá

Typical of the way this metropolis rolls, Bogotá doesn’t have just one music celebration. From July to November, the action takes place in the city’s largest park, the Parque Simón Bolívar, during the Festivales al Parque series of festivals: Salsa al Parque, Jazz al Parque, Opera al Parque, and the thumping Rock al Parque. Best of all, it’s free.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Colombia.

Kentucky Itinerary: The Two-Week Best of the Bluegrass State

A stone bridge spanning a river with fall foliage on the banks.
Cumberland Falls Bridge. Photo courtesy of Kentucky Tourism.

Let’s be honest: The trip outlined here is a bit crazy. It’s an ambitious attempt to get you to see the best of Kentucky in just two weeks. What you really need is a month, or better yet, a lifetime, but most people just don’t have that amount of time. So consider this your sampler platter, your chance to savor the best of the best. You’re not going to see everything—not in the state, and not even in each destination—but you’ll get a taste of what Kentucky has to offer, so next time you can dive in deeper.

Day 1

Start in Louisville with a day of museum-hopping. Begin downtown with a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory to immerse yourself in all things baseball, then head to the Muhammad Ali Center to air box with The Greatest. If history is more your thing, swap the Ali Center for the Frazier International History Museum to see their remarkable collection of artifacts. In the afternoon, head south to the Kentucky Derby Museum, where you’ll get to pop in at historic Churchill Downs. Grab dinner in NuLu—maybe at Decca or Rye—and then splurge for a room at 21C Museum Hotel or enjoy the atmosphere at one of Old Louisville’s B&Bs.

Day 2

A lot of driving awaits, so wake up early and travel to Paducah in far western Kentucky. Art is at the heart of Paducah, so make sure the National Quilt Museum and the Lower Town Arts District both make it onto your itinerary. Enjoy dinner at Cynthia’s and then have sweet dreams in one of the enormous suites at Fox Briar Inn.

Day 3

Start your journey back east with a short drive to Land Between the Lakes. Stop at Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park and rent a boat, and go for a morning cruise on beautiful Kentucky Lake, the largest man-made lake east of the Mississippi. Dedicate your afternoon to exploring Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. You can go for a hike or a horseback ride, or visit the Nature Station or The Homeplace. Sit down to a plate of fried fish at Catfish Kitchen, then pitch a tent and sleep under the stars at one of the many campgrounds.

Day 4

Continue east to Bowling Green to admire the hot rods at the National Corvette Museum. In the afternoon, hop on I-65 and drive north to Cave Country to explore Mammoth Cave or the cave of your choice. The national park is a good place to have a picnic dinner before making your way north past Munfordville to Country Girl at Heart Farm Bed and Breakfast, where you can get a peaceful night’s sleep.

Day 5

After breakfast, make your way to Bardstown to say hello to My Old Kentucky Home and then get started on the Bourbon Trail. You have your choice of distilleries, but stop at Maker’s Mark in Loretto if you have time for only one. After your tour, continue on to Harrodsburg, where the Beaumont Inn is the place to go for both dinner and a room.

Day 6

Try to be at Shaker Village when it opens so that you have time to peek into the many buildings and watch the demonstrations. If you wish, have lunch there before continuing north to Frankfort, Kentucky’s capital city. With little time in Frankfort, make the Center for Kentucky History your destination. Plan for dinner at Rick’s White Light Diner and then see if a room is available at The Meeting House Bed and Breakfast.

Day 7

From Frankfort, it’s on to Northern Kentucky, where the Newport Aquarium is a must. Between Newport and Covington, you have a slew of dining and hotel options, so let your mood guide you. In the evening, enjoy a view of both the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati skylines while on a cruise with BB Riverboats. End the night with a stein of beer at the Hofbräuhaus Newport.

Day 8

Put on your hiking boots this morning, as today is going to be an outdoor adventure. Travel south to Red River Gorge, a nature lover’s paradise in the Daniel Boone National Forest. You can hike to sandstone arches and waterfalls, paddle down the Red River, or try your hand at rock climbing on some of the east’s best routes. Rent a cabin in the gorge or book a room at Natural Bridge State Resort Park.

Day 9

Drive an hour east from Red River Gorge to Paintsville, located on the Country Music Highway in Kentucky’s Appalachians. See if Herman is available to give you a tour of Butcher Hollow, the birthplace of Loretta Lynn, then explore Mountain HomePlace. In the evening, head south to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, where you’ll spend the night. Try to catch a show at either the Mountain Arts Center or the Jenny Wiley Theatre.

Day 10

Put on some country music as you continue down the highway to Pikeville, where you can spend your morning on the Hatfield-McCoy Feud Driving Tour or getting back to nature at Breaks Interstate Park. In the afternoon, head west to the coal company towns of Benham and Lynch, where you’ll want to make time for a tour of Portal 31 and a visit to the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum. The Benham School House Inn welcomes you to overnight in a former school.

Day 11

Rise and shine early to see if you can spot any black bears at Kingdom Come State Park before continuing west to Middlesboro and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Sign up for the trip to the Hensley Settlement, where you’ll get a taste of Appalachian homestead life. In the evening, watch the sunset from the Pinnacle Overlook. You’ll sleep well at Cumberland Manor Bed and Breakfast.

Day 12

Make it to Stearns in time for the morning departure of the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, which chugs its way through scenic forest to the Blue Heron Coal Mining Camp, which is interpreted by the National Park Service. Really immerse yourself in the region’s coal mining history with an afternoon visit to Barthell Coal Mining Camp, a perfect reconstruction of the former camp. For a unique experience, overnight in one of the miner’s cabins.

Day 13

Cruise north to the town of Berea, Kentucky’s folk arts and crafts capital, passing Cumberland Falls State Resort Park on your way. Spend your day in Berea hopping between the galleries and workshops of the town’s studio artists, where you can watch them at work and do a bit of shopping. Try for an early dinner reservation at Boone Tavern, where you’ll also spend the night. For evening entertainment, backtrack to Renfro Valley to catch one of their jamborees.

Day 14

Your tour of Kentucky ends in Lexington, where horses will be the theme. Sign up for a tour of a horse farm and then spend a few hours at the Kentucky Horse Park. If the Keeneland meets are going on, abandon all plans and go to the races. You’ll have a hard time choosing among the many fine restaurants in the region, but if you can get a reservation at Holly Hill Inn in nearby Midway, take it. With wonderful B&B options, Midway or Versailles is a good place to spend the night.

Color travel map of Kentucky
Kentucky

Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Kentucky.

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