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Haunted USA: 8 Spooky Destinations

From famous ghosts to spine-tingling legends, we’ve rounded up some of the most haunted places in the USA.

Savannah, GA: The Kehoe House

The Kehoe House, a Queen Anne brick mansion designed for owner William Kehoe in 1892, is one of Savannah’s premier bed-and-breakfasts. It’s also a former funeral home with a creepy history and countless reported hauntings. Some of the Kehoe children died in the house, including the twin boys who, as the legend goes, were trapped while playing in a chimney.

Although this particular story has been met with skepticism, guests report hearing children laughing, running and playing in the hallways, even when no children are present. In Room #203, guests have claimed to have seen a child at the foot of the bed, felt as if someone was kissing their cheek and touching their hand, and watched lights go on and off by themselves. Spooooky.

Ready to take on this historic (and haunted) city? Check out Moon Savannah.

front view of The supposedly haunted Kehoe House hotel in Savannah
Guests of The Kehoe House have reported hearing children laughing, running and playing in the hallways. Photo © Jim Morekis.

Jerome, AZ: Jerome Grand Hotel

The Jerome Grand Hotel used to be a hospital, and from the outside it still resembles an old sanatorium, perched on a hill and heavy with secrets. Inside, the rooms are tastefully decorated and comfortable, though a good night’s sleep is not guaranteed: It’s believed that 9,000 people died at the Jerome Grand during its time as United Verde Hospital from 1927 to 1950. There are a number of other creepy incidents as well, like the two deaths in Room #32 and the time a maintenance man was crushed to death by the elevator. Guests report hearing a hospital gurney at all hours, unexplained voices, doors opening and closing, lights turning on and off, and other standard paranormal activity, including ghost sightings.

Want to experience Jerome for yourself? Moon Arizona & the Grand Canyon has ghost towns galore.

Chicago, IL: Oriental Theatre

Opened in 1926, the Oriental Theatre screened motion pictures and staged vaudeville acts amid its ornate, over-the-top east Asian decor. Today, the beautiful theater hosts pre- and post-Broadway shows, concerts, and other events, and the lobby’s elaborate architecture and design is worth checking out even if you don’t see a show. But where the Oriental now stands was once home to the Iroquois Theatre, the site of one of the deadliest fires in US history, claiming around 600 lives in 1903. Today, both performers and audience members report mysterious activity, particularly in “Death Alley,” the narrow passageway behind the theater. Ghostly figures are seen and even captured on camera, cries are heard, and unseen hands have reached out to touch the living.

For a peek at more of Chi-town’s rich history, check out Moon Chicago.

street view of the front of the Oriental Theatre in Chicago
The Oriental Theatre was built on what was once the site of the Iroquois Theatre, which burned down in one of the deadliest fires in US history. Photo © Andrey Bayda/Dreamstime.

Boston, MA: The Omni Parker House

Boston’s Omni Parker Housethe oldest continuously operating hotel in the United States—opened in 1855, and the history inside its doors is as captivating as that of the Freedom Trail outside. John F. Kennedy used the hotel as a base for both his candidacy for Congress and his bachelor party, and everyone from Malcolm X to Emeril Lagasse to Ho Chi Minh has been on the hotel’s payroll.

But with so much history comes a spooky side, as well. Numerous visitors have spotted the ghost of Harvey Parker, the former owner, who once even appeared smiling at the foot of a young guest’s bed. There is also a mirror supposedly haunted by the spirit of Charles Dickens (don’t say his name three times!), and Room #303, which is said to be the basis for Stephen King’s short story 1408, was converted into a storage closet due to so many complaints of hauntings from guests. It doesn’t help that the city’s oldest cemetery (and notorious paranormal hotspot), King’s Chapel Burying Ground, is right across the street.

Think you’re brave enough to spend the night? Moon Boston is your best bet.

Key West, FL: Captain Tony’s Saloon

Captain Tony’s Saloon, a Key West tradition since 1851 and the original location of Sloppy Joe’s from 1933 to 1937, promises, among other things, live music every day and a glimpse at Ernest Hemingway’s former stool. It also promises a scare or two—no surprise given its sordid past. Captain Tony’s was, at different times during its history, a speakeasy, a cigar factory, a wireless telegraph station, and the city morgue. In 1865, during the morgue phase, a hurricane washed bodies out into the street. In the 1980s, the skeletal remains of several people were found inside the walls. Other tales include eerie vibes and pranks in the ladies’ restroom, where a child was murdered during Captain Tony’s speakeasy days, and the Lady in Blue, the ghost of a woman who was hanged (along with 16 pirates) from the tree that grows through the roof of the building.

If you prefer an ice-cold drink to an icy chill from the great beyond, check out Moon Florida.

business sign hanging over the entrance to Captain Tony's in Florida Keys
Captain Tony’s was, at different times during its history, a speakeasy, a cigar factory, a wireless telegraph station, and the city morgue. Photo © Joshua Kinser.

Los Angeles, CA: Griffith Park

Griffith Park feels worlds away from Hollywood Boulevard, the 405 freeway, and the rest of L.A.’s traffic-laden corridors. This is a place where you can lay a blanket, read a book, eat a picnic lunch, and hike trails across more than 4,000 acres. It’s serene, refreshing, and…cursed?

Legend has it that a curse was placed on the land in 1863 by Dona Petronilla Feliz, the niece of the original landowner who believed she was the rightful heir to the land. While it’s hard to say if the years of drought, wildfires, and livestock deaths on the land can be considered supernatural, the eventual owner Griffith J. Griffith donated the property to the city to rid himself of the tainted land after a particularly bad ostrich stampede. (You can’t make this stuff up.) Ghosts have been sighted here for decades, including the spirits of Peg Entwistle, the actress who jumped from the Hollywood sign to her death in 1932, and even James Dean, whose film Rebel Without a Cause was filmed at Griffith Observatory. The strangest story of all is that of a coyote-like beast that stalks the park, rumored to be a demon unleashed by the original curse.

For more L.A. lore (and a sunnier look at the city), pick up Moon Los Angeles.

Estes Park, CO: The Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel, the most distinctive building in Estes Park and one of the oldest, was built in 1909 by F. O. Stanley, who, along with his twin, was the co-owner of the company that built the famous Stanley Steamers. Stanley and his wife Flora craved the more refined accommodations and social scene they were used to on the East Coast, so they decided to build a grand colonial revival hotel with innovations like electricity throughout the building. Today, the 140-room hotel is known for its amazing views from every window, and for frequently landing on lists of America’s most haunted hotels. The Stanley is famous for its ghostly guests, including Stanley and Flora, who plays her antique piano in the middle of the night, and for serving as horror writer Stephen King’s inspiration for the terrifying Overlook Hotel in his best-selling novel The Shining.

Feeling inspired by Estes Park? Find out more in Moon Colorado.

The Stanley Hotel, a multi-story, Georgian-style hotel rumored to be haunted.
There’s no missing The Stanley Hotel when you drive into Estes Park. Photo © Erin English.

New Orleans, LA: LaLaurie Mansion

The curious gray LaLaurie Mansion has a dark history. While it’s not open to the public, it’s routinely included on the walking ghost tours offered in the French Quarter. This notorious mansion was once owned by the twice-widowed Madame Delphine Macarty de Lopez Blanque and her third husband, Dr. Louis LaLaurie. After a fire broke out in the mansion in 1834, newspapers reported that several of the men and women the LaLauries kept as slaves were found in the attic tortured, starving, and chained. As word spread of the mistreatment, a mob gathered intent on damaging the home. To evade punishment, Delphine and her family fled to Europe, where she supposedly died several years later.

Over the ensuing decades, the building has served as headquarters of the Union Army, a gambling house, and the home of Nicolas Cage. Through all of its incarnations, however, the LaLaurie Mansion has often been the source of ghostly tales, with reports of moaning, phantom footsteps, flickering lights, and sightings of apparitions.

Can’t get enough of New Orleans’ creepy past? Let Nashville to New Orleans Road Trip guide you through the Big Easy.


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Sunday in Los Angeles: Melrose Avenue Shopping Walk

Melrose Avenue—the other famous shopping street in Los Angeles—is accessible, diverse, and, luckily for us shopaholics, long. Melrose hosts some of L.A.’s favorite stores, offering everything from hard-to-find sneakers to healing crystals. Ideally, you’ll take this walking route on a Sunday morning, when Melrose Trading Post (a fancy flea market) is up and running at the corner of Melrose and Fairfax.

Total Distance: 1.3 miles
Walking Time: 1-2 hours

fresh gorditas at a los angeles restaurant
Gorditas from Gracias Madre. Photo courtesy of Gracias Madre.

Start at the east end of Melrose and fuel up with some vegan tacos at Gracias Madre.

Wander around the West Hollywood Design District, speckled with high quality shops and galleries. Get some inspiration for your next home remodel.

The highlight of the Design District, the Pacific Design Center is an awesome place to visit even if you’re not buying an outrageously oversized chair to bring home. Arts meets interior design at the MOCA’s satellite exhibition space next door.

Keep walking west for a bit, window-shopping and people-watching, before you reach Melrose Place. Here you’ll find the hip, popular Alfred Coffee. Grab a Stumptown brew to go and take a selfie with its huge “But first, coffee” mural.

Also in Melrose Place is the luxe Balmain, one of two in the U.S. The beautiful, Parisian pieces are nice to look out even if you can’t afford any of them.

Go back to Melrose Avenue and cross the street for a fun shopping break at Duff’s Cakemix, run by the famous Ace of Cakes man himself, Duff Goldman. You can bake and decorate your own cupcake masterpieces here. (Or just eat someone else’s.)

You can’t miss the huge, ivy-covered Fred Segal store. You also can’t leave the iconic California shop without buying some cute clothing, accessories, or home goods.

people walking between a line of commercial tents at an outdoor market in Los Angeles
Head to Melrose Trading Post on Sunday for unique clothing and handcrafted goods and accessories. Photo © Steffany Ayala.

A few blocks east, you’ll hit the corner of Melrose and Fairfax, where the Melrose Trading Post is held every Sunday 9am-5pm. Angelenos from all over the city head to the parking lot of celeb-attended Fairfax High School to find unique clothing and handcrafted goods and accessories at reasonable prices.

Continue east on Melrose and in a few blocks you’ll get to Japanese clothing and accessories store Joy Rich. If you’re looking for a cool background for your selfie, consider Joyrich’s flower-painted exterior.

If you’re in the mood for a drink, pop into the divey Snake Pit Alehouse next door and take a break with a beer (or whiskey) and some jukebox tunes.

Once you’ve refueled, cross the street and find Anthem, a big, cool shoe store with fashion-forward footwear for men and women. Check out the creative street art on the sides of the buildings on the north side of Melrose and Sierra Bonita (the same side of the street as Snake Pit).

storefront of a metaphysical accessories store in Los Angeles's Melrose neighborhood
Stop in at the House of Intuition for all of your metaphysical shopping needs. Photo courtesy of House of Intuition.

Two blocks down, House of Intuition is a one-stop shop for all of your metaphysical shopping needs. Grab some spiritually-minded books, incense, crystals, and jewelry.

End your journey at Wasteland on Melrose, a haven for gently worn high-end clothing. If you don’t have any shopping bags in your hand at this point, now’s a good time to stock up.


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Things to Do in Buena Vista, Colorado

If you haven’t been to Buena Vista, Colorado in a while, take note that it’s changed—and you’re going to like it. This beautiful mountain town offers plenty of things to do to fill a weekend and makes for a great getaway.

Only a two-hour drive from Denver, Buena Vista sits at the foot of the Collegiate Peaks, an impressive bump in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. The name comes from the 14,000-foot peaks named after Ivy League schools such as Mount Princeton and Mount Yale, which provide the picture-postcard views here. For years Buena Vista has made a name for itself as a departure point for whitewater raft trips along the Arkansas River, but now the town is becoming its own destination for quality time before and after hitting the rapids.

tilework furniture facing toward a view of the mountains in Buena Vista Colorado
Buena Vista, CO offers picture-postcard views. Photo © Mindy Sink.

What’s new is South Main, an ongoing development project along the banks of the Arkansas River that seamlessly connects with the historic town center. Those coming here for a few hours of sleep before an early morning raft ride might only be familiar with the motels along Highway 24, the road that bisects this town of less than 3,000 people. However, an eastward turn on Main St. takes you towards the Arkansas River, where the Surf Hotel and Surf Chateau have been built in recent years. You’ll also find a whitewater park, restaurants, a small park with a climbing rock, and a neighborhood of new homes and vacation rentals.

The concept of South Main is a walkable community that allows visitors to walk from kayaking to beer to bed, or some variation on that theme depending on your preferences. Maybe you prefer coffee to river surfing or fly fishing to live music to bed. Or taking a Polaris Adventures ride on a Slingshot or side-by-side RZR before returning to the hotel for dinner on the patio overlooking the water.

courtyard at Surf Chateau in Buena Vista, Colorado
Design elements at the Surf Chateau feature river rocks that give the place both a connection to the environment and a European vibe. Photo © Mindy Sink.

The Surf Chateau opened in 2014, with 20 rooms either overlooking the river or facing a pleasant courtyard that leads to the river. The hotel’s design features river rocks that give the place both a connection to the environment and a European vibe. This year, the property expanded with the Surf Hotel, a 42-room boutique hotel with wraparound second and third floor balconies that evoke New Orleans, right next door. The hotel is also home to Wesley & Rose, a restaurant featuring breads made on site and Colorado grown-and-raised ingredients, plus a Colorado-inspired menu of cocktails, wine and beer.

In one brief late summer weekend in Buena Vista, I found there was only so much I could squeeze in here. After the drive from Denver, it was the perfect time to relax on the porch and listen to the river as the sun set. The courtyard of the Surf Chateau was quietly filling with people returning from their day’s adventures in the area. I chose Wesley & Rose for dinner, but Eddyline was my second choice and only a one-minute walk from the hotel (there are two Eddyline locations in town).

a woman stands on a 4x4 with mountains and aspens behind her
Mindy Sink on an off-road experience through the Colorado wilderness courtesy of Polaris Adventures. Photo © Mindy Sink.

The next morning I started the day at the Midland Stop, which is proud of something called “third wave coffee,” but I was there for the delicious baked goods. I checked in next door at the Buena Vista Adventure Hub for my guided Polaris Adventures on a Polaris RZR, to take an off-road experience through the nearby wilderness. These ATVs are available for rental or with a guided tour. The thrill is seeing places you might not be able to access in a typical car. With Colorado’s famous aspen trees turning golden and orange for the fall, the views of the trees on the peaks to the west throughout the ride were spectacular. My guide, Beau, not only graciously took turns at the wheel but also shared stories on how the locals live (river surfing after work all summer) and dine here.

The Adventure Hub also has kayak and paddleboard rentals and tours available, and River Runners takes rafters out on trips from here. You can also rent this equipment at CKS Main Street, which hosts Paddlefest in the spring. The Trailhead sells and rents gear for rock climbing and alpine winter sports. During summer’s rafting season, look into Browns Canyon Rafting or American Adventure Expeditions.

After my Polaris ride, it was time for lunch on historic Main St. at The Buena Viking, a burger food truck on the patio of Deerhammer Distilling Company, recommended by Beau. This food truck is open during the summer primarily, with burgers fit for a world- (or mountain-) conqueror appetite. This portion of Main St. is a mix of up-and-coming businesses and old standbys, plus the Buena Vista Heritage Museum in the former Chaffee County Courthouse.

trees surround a pool in Colorado
For a relaxing soak after exploring the Colorado wilderness, head to Cottonwood Hot Springs. Photo © Mindy Sink.

Next, I headed west on Main St. for the Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa, a natural hot springs that has retained its funky 70s style. Only a 10-minute drive from downtown Buena Vista, the springs are the perfect place for a soak if you’ve been bagging a 14er or snowshoeing.

For a night out, check to see who might be playing at the Surf Hotel, which has already hosted Leftover Salmon, DJ Logic, and Rapidgrass in a state-of-the-art concert venue, or head to the Lariat Bar & Grill on Main St. for live music, beer, a game of pool, or just a lively social scene.

Not sure when to go to Buena Vista? There’s no bad time to visit, as there are a lot of events year-round. The Rapids & Grass Festival in the summer takes over South Main for a weekend with music, beer, and soaking up the sunshine by the river. In August the city celebrates Gold Rush Days, best known for its burro race. I visited during the Autumn Color Run, and a couple of weeks later in September the annual 14er Fest was held.

As South Main continues to evolve in Buena Vista, each visit here is going to feel like a discovery of both outdoor activities and urban-style amenities.


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11 Gifts for Hikers and Campers

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Looking for the perfect present for the outdoor enthusiasts in your life? Get them geared up for adventure with these gifts for hikers and campers.

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1. Moon USA National Parks

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This comprehensive guide to all 59 national parks in the US covers the best outdoor adventures in every park, including backpacking, biking, mountain climbing, kayaking, rafting, and more, plus detailed hike descriptions and trail maps marked with distance, duration, effort level, and trailheads.

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2. Darn Tough Socks

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There’s nothing worse than a mid-hike blister. Avoid the pain and bandages with these durable, built-to-last socks that regulate temperature, wick moisture, and provide just the right level of cushioning.

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3. GoPro HERO Camera

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The GoPro Hero is an excellent hiking companion, even for the less tech-savvy: it’s intuitive to use and auto-adjusts for contrast, focus, and color. All you have to do is strap it on and let it document your wild adventures!

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4. GSI Outdoors Collapsible Coffee Maker

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For those of us that require a caffeine fix: this collapsible pour-over coffee maker will give anyone that burst of morning energy needed to start a new day of hiking.

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5. Justin’s Nut Butters

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These nut butter packets are a perfect stocking stuffer. They’re non-GMO and naturally made from only two ingredients, packing a powerful protein punch when you need a little pick-me-up on the trail.

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6. PlatyPreserve Wine Preservation System

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Who says you can’t hike and drink at the same time? Okay, maybe not at the same time—but with this lightweight collapsible flask that holds a full bottle and protects wine from oxygen, they’ll have a delicious glass to toast with when they reach their campsite.

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7. MSR PocketRocket Travel Stove

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This ultralight, compact stove is a backpacking favorite. It boils a liter of water in under 4 minutes, has adjustable flames from simmering to boiling, and is super easy to set up and operate.

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8. LifeProof Frē Cell Phone Case

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These phone cases are definitely a lifesaver. They come in a variety of styles for Apple, Samsung, and more, and are built to ensure your phone’s safety even in the wildest conditions: they can handle water, mud, snow, and even hard hits when dropped (it’s okay, we all do it).

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9. America the Beautiful National Parks Pass

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Give them the gift of nature by…giving them access to it! The National Parks Pass gives them access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the country. More than 80% of the proceeds go directly to causes protecting the parks—and if you purchase through REI, they’ll donate 10% of the proceeds to the National Park Foundation!

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10. SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger

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Any seasoned hiker will tell you: safety and preparation are key. This satellite messenger is great if they’re headed out on a backcountry trek where service is spotty: they can use it to reach emergency responders, check in with family and friends, and share GPS coordinates—or just track their adventures!

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11. Suunto Core Watch

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This altimeter watch means business: its many (many) functions include a temperature gauge, compass, pressure-based altimeter, weather forecast, and ascent/descent rate measurer. It’s also water-resistant up to 30 meters underwater. So it’s basically the outdoor adventurer’s new best friend.

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Best Death Valley Hikes

While there are few maintained trails in the park, old mining roads, narrow canyons, and natural features offer some of the best Death Valley hikes.

sunrise over zabriskie point in death valley national park
Head to Zabriskie Point for fantastic views. Photo © sdbower/iStock.

Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch

Effort: Moderate
Hike through glowing Golden Canyon and past historic borax mining ruins to the spectacular views from Zabriskie Point, the stunning halfway point on this 6-mile round-trip trek. Shorter destinations include equally striking Red Cathedral.

Hungry Bill’s Ranch

Effort: Difficult
Historic Hungry Bill’s Ranch was tied to one of the biggest silver rushes in the area. The 3.3-mile round-trip hike is via Johnson Canyon, one of the most-watered canyons in Death Valley. Gorgeous canyon views and hand-built rock walls make this well worth the effort it takes to drive the rough, four-wheel-drive-only road to get here.

Ashford Canyon

Effort: Difficult
Colorful Ashford Canyon leads to the tucked away and well-preserved Ashford Mine Camp. Gold mining caught on in the area in 1907; the Ashford Mine was worked until the 1940s, when it was finally abandoned, leaving behind cabins, underground rooms, and the trappings of camp life. The steep 4.2-mile round-trip hike follows the canyon and pieces of the old mining road.

Sidewinder Canyon

Effort: Easy
Half the fun of Sidewinder Canyon is the fun of discovery. Hikes range 2-4 miles or more to explore three different slot canyons and the twisting arches, hollows, natural bridges, and sculpted narrows that make up this sinewy maze at the base of Smith Mountain. The trailhead is south of Badwater Basin off of Badwater Road.

narrow pathway through rock canyons in Death Valley
Hikers visit Mosaic Canyon for the canyon polished narrows. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Mosaic Canyon

Effort: Easy
Mosaic Canyon is a popular hiking destination. This 2.8-mile round-trip trek through the canyons of the Cottonwood Mountains wanders through polished marble and colorful mosaic stone. The trailhead is just outside Stovepipe Wells.

Ubehebe Peak

Effort: Difficult
Unlike other Death Valley hikes, there is an actual trail to Ubehebe Peak; miners built it as a mule trail to haul out copper ore. A difficult 6-mile round-trip climb rewards with sweeping views of The Racetrack and the Saline Valley.

Telescope Peak

Effort: Strenuous
At 11,331 feet, Telescope Peak is the highest point in Death Valley. Covered in snow most of the year, this 13-mile round-trip hike is strenuous but worth it. Plan your attempt in May or June for premium views.

hiking trail leading to panoramic views of Death Valley
Ancient pines and views of Death Valley make Wildrose Peak worth the effort. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Wildrose Peak

Effort: Moderate
The steep hike to 9,064-foot Wildrose Peak leads through conifer forests, offering some welcome shade for hiking. The limber and bristlecone pine-studded trail stretches 9-miles round-trip, but pays off with impressive views of Death Valley Canyon and Trail Canyon.

Surprise Canyon to Panamint City

Effort: Strenuous
The silver boom ghost town of Panamint City can only be reached via a long, strenuous hike through the scenic and well-watered Surprise Canyon. This 10-mile round-trip hike is best done as a backpacking trip: plan one day to hike in, a day to explore, and a day to hike out.


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Death Valley Day Trip

This Death Valley day trip itinerary will guide you to the park’s most iconic sights while giving you plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs and enjoy a back-road adventure. Fill your gas tank before entering the park, and be sure to have plenty of food and water on hand, as services are limited.

Start the day at Furnace Creek, a tourism outpost since 1933. Orient yourself at the Furnace Creek Visitors Center, where you can pick up a park map and pay the entrance fee. Furnace Creek is also home to a few restaurants and a general store; this is a good place to fill up on breakfast or lunch before hitting the road.

view of walkway in Badwater Basin
The dramatic salt-to-snow shift in elevation and landscape from Badwater Basin to Telescope Peak. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Drive south along Badwater Road to Badwater Basin, a Death Valley classic. The lowest point in North America, these vast salt flats lie 282 feet below sea level and encapsulate the mesmerizing yet unforgiving landscape of Death Valley. Walk out onto the salt flats to look for delicate salt crystal formations.

Head north, back to Highway 190, and continue past Furnace Creek to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes near Stovepipe Wells. These sculpted, windswept dunes sit perched on a slope of the valley floor and are the most popular dunes in the park.

Venture east along Daylight Pass Road to the ghost town of Rhyolite. Wander the ruins of this once-flourishing town whose crumbling banks burst with gold.

a dirt road winds through titus canyon in Death Valley
Titus Canyon Road is a popular backcountry route in Death Valley National Park. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Two miles east of Rhyolite, Titus Canyon Road begins. The 27-mile one-way dirt road is one of the most popular backcountry routes in the park. It sweeps past rugged rock formations and a ghost town before the grand finale, the canyon narrows. The narrows tower overhead, barely allowing a car to squeeze through before they open wide to reveal the salty and barren Death Valley floor.


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13 Gift Ideas for Road Trippers

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Not sure what to get the road-warrior in your life? From practical to cozy to just plain fun, these gifts will help your loved one hit the open road in style.

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1. Road Trip USA

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The quintessential guide for turning America’s highways into an unforgettable vacation, Road Trip USA features 11 of the best road trip routes in the country, with mile-by-mile highlights like roadside curiosities, parks, diners, and more.

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2. Moon USA National Parks

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Moon’s comprehensive guide to all 59 national parks is packed with tips for taking a national parks road trip—ideal for adventurers who want to cross off multiple bucket-list items at once.

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3. Ranger Polarized Aviator Sunglasses

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Don’t leave your loved ones squinting in the sun: these sunglasses are polarized, with UV protection and thin temples that keep a driver’s peripheral vision wide open.

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4. FlyHi Portable Car Jump Starter

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Getting stranded with a dead battery on a lonely road sounds like the stuff of horror movies—but it doesn’t have to be. This portable jumper is small enough to fit in a glovebox, has a helpful LED strobe light, and can charge up to eight laptops at once. You know, just in case.

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5. Awake Dark Chocolate Bars

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Just the right size for a stocking stuffer, these caffeinated chocolate bars will keep drivers focused for long stretches when there’s no coffee stop in sight.

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6. Matador Mini Pocket Blanket

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This tiny blanket is downright magic. When packed away, it’s smaller than your hand, but unfolds into a durable picnic blanket for two—perfect for rest stops and mountaintops alike.

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7. Hydro Flask Water Bottle

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This stainless-steel water bottle keeps water cold without any condensation, and the sport cap makes it easy for drivers to keep a hand on the wheel and avoid spills. It’s a win-win.

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8. EverBrite Mini LED Flashlights

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In a sticky situation, it’s best to have more than one flashlight on hand. These LED flashlights come in fun colors and have a soft rubber grip. They also glow in the dark, so you can locate them quickly in an emergency.

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9. MadLibs on the Road

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The longest and most tedious highway journeys call for Mad Libs. Stuff this in the stocking of your favorite road-tripping family and they’re sure to have a _________(adjective) time.

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10. Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

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This instant camera is both practical and trendy, complete with a built-in selfie mirror and an extra close-up collapsible lens. Get this for the young road-tripper in your life who wants to document everything along the way.

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11. Regal Games Travel Bingo

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Bingo is an old-school classic, fun for the whole family (or group of adults, no judgment here!).

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12. Yeti Roadie 20 Cooler

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Made for the most serious road-tripper on your list, this Yeti cooler means business. With extra thick walls and a freezer-tight seal, it protects against extreme temperatures—and bears!

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13. AERIS Travel Pillow

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This super-soft travel pillow also comes with earplugs and an eye mask, so passengers can rest up for their next stint behind the wheel.

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DC Nightlife: 13 of the Capital’s Best Bars and Venues

In Washington DC, presidential debates, snow days, and major news events call for booze—and lots of it. Residents guzzle more alcohol per capita than residents of any other state except New Hampshire—they work hard and party harder. As a result, the city’s nightlife centers around bars: cocktail bars, wine bars, beer gardens, posh hotel lounges, and historic bars, where lobbyists and staffers grease the wheels among the ghosts of presidents and policymakers past. DC nightlife includes a little bit of everything, from dance clubs and music venues to craft cocktails and perfectly dingy dives.

Whatever your party preference, there’s a good time to be had in the capital. Here are our top choices for a night out on the town.

panoramic view from the watergate rooftop bar
Top of the Gate at The Watergate Hotel. Photo © Ron Blunt.

Best Rooftop Bar

This one is a tie. Take your pick between POV, a swanky bar on the covered roof of the W Hotel where a chic crowd enjoys cocktails, bites, and bottle service with a view of the White House, and Top of the Gate, the sprawling, open-air rooftop bar at the Watergate Hotel, with 360-degree views of downtown, Georgetown, and Virginia.

Most Historic Venue

Round Robin Bar at the Willard InterContinental has witnessed a lot of history since it was established in 1850. Famous customers have included Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Buffalo Bill Cody, and presidents such as Lincoln, Coolidge, Wilson, and Taft. It’s also where Senator Henry Clay introduced DC’s first mint julep with Kentucky bourbon in 1851—it remains the bar’s signature drink to this day.

Quintessential DC Dive

Tune Inn is one of DC’s last remaining true dive bars, and it’s been serving Capitol Hill’s bigwigs and residents since 1947. The funky spot filled with memorabilia and taxidermy is still a local favorite for cheap pitchers of beer and fried everything, including fried pickles, fried mushrooms, and a beer-battered burger.

Most Influential Venue

Since opening in a hidden spot above a mattress store in 1995, Dupont Circle’s Eighteenth Street Lounge changed the city’s nightlife scene. Even today, just a small plaque marks the spot, and it remains the place to drink cocktails on vintage velvet banquettes in what feels more like a cool house party than a bar.

front entrance of JR's bar in Washington DC
JR’s hosts a great happy hour. Photo © Samantha Sault.

Best Gay Bar

Located in the heart of Dupont Circle, DC’s historic gay neighborhood, JR’s Bar is always packed with a lively crowd for happy hour specials like all-you-can-drink for $15, showtunes nights, and live cabaret. If you’re headed to the city in June, check out the bar’s large covered patio—it’s the rainbow-covered place to be during DC Pride.

Unique Cocktail Experience

For a creative new spin on the cocktail experience, try the three- or five-course cocktail tasting menu at Columbia Room (don’t worry, there are snack pairings). For those interested, they also offer mixology classes. If you prefer à la carte, sip riffs on the classics from a comfy leather chair in the bar’s Spirits Library or bottled cocktails in the outdoor Punch Garden.

Best Chance to Dance All Night

Since 1993, Black Cat has been one of the best places to dance the night away. The 7,000-square-foot main stage has hosted Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers, and more, while a smaller stage and bar is open most nights for local bands and DJs. Don’t miss out on the theme parties like Eighties Mayhem and The Cure vs The Smiths, and remember to bring cash: you’ll need it for both the venue cover and the bar.

Best Live Music Venue

Even Rolling Stone and Billboard agree that 9:30 Club is, simply put, an institution. It opened in a tiny Chinatown building in 1980, and despite a capacity of 200, welcomed acts like Nirvana, R.E.M., and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Today they’ve moved to a decidedly larger location, but the sold-out shows for local bands like Thievery Corporation still feel wonderfully intimate.

Sunday Funday

Okay, it doesn’t technically qualify as nightlife—but the all-you-can-eat drag brunch is one of the biggest draws at Nellie’s Sports Bar, a local favorite named after the owner’s great grandmother and great-great grandmother. After brunch, soak up the sun into the evening on the expansive rooftop.

whiskey cellar at Jack Rose in DC
Jack Rose Dining Saloon. Photo © Shauna Alexander.

Best for Whiskey Lovers

Jack Rose Dining Saloon is a multi-level bar and restaurant that has more than 2,500 bottles of whiskey and Scotch from around the world. Saddle up to the main wooden bar in the saloon for flights, cocktails, and hearty American fare, or decamp to the speakeasy-style whiskey cellar, which serves whiskey on tap and rare bottles by reservation only. When the weather’s nice, head to the open-air terrace and separate tiki bar for fun, seasonal libations.

Best for People-Watching

Come for the extensive cocktail menu and dimly lit bar, stay for the people-watching: you never know who you’ll meet at The Lounge at Bourbon Steak, a favorite of celebrities and socialites. If you get hungry, the burgers are good, or you can make your way to the namesake restaurant, a pricey steakhouse by Michael Mina.


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Where to Celebrate Oktoberfest 2018 in the U.S.

Beer, sausages, and general German revelry: Oktoberfest is an annual folk festival that has expanded from its origins in Munich to local celebrations around the world. Officially, this year’s festival takes place September 22nd-October 7th, but don’t worry! You haven’t missed it; in many places, the party lasts through October. So grab your steins and your lederhosen—here are 7 Oktoberfest celebrations in the U.S. that are still going.

beer steins raised in celebration of Oktoberfest
Raise your glass to Oktoberfest! Photo © stillwords/iStock.

Boston, Massachusetts: Samuel Adams Octoberfest

Beantown loves its beer, and Oktoberfest is as good a reason as any to celebrate its most famous brew: the Sam Adams brewery will host their very own celebration on Friday, October 27th. The event includes a variety of original Sam Adams beers to sample, tons of food vendors, live music, and an inflatable slide. Tickets are $45 on Eventbrite, and the event is strictly 21+.

If you’re headed there, check out Moon Boston.

San Juan Islands, Washington: San Juan Island Brewing Co.

This local favorite brewery is bringing Oktoberfest to San Juan Island’s Friday Harbor on October 13th. The all-day celebration features delicious German food, live music, a costume contest, games, and of course—plenty of beer to go around! They’ll be featuring up to 12 styles of their handcrafted ales and lagers. Admission is free. For more information, see visitsanjuans.com.

If you’re headed there, check out Moon San Juan Islands.

Las Vegas, Nevada: Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas

This raucous Vegas institution is modeled after Germany’s oldest beer hall and is essentially a year-round Oktoberfest, with traditional Bavarian food, authentic German beer, and live music. There’s something going on just about every night here, so check out their calendar for specific events (including celebrity keg tappings!).

If you’re headed there, check out Moon Nevada.

Leavenworth, Washington: Leavenworth Oktoberfest

The tiny town of Leavenworth leans all the way in to kitsch: the entire thing is modeled after a classic Bavarian village, so naturally, Oktoberfest is when they really shine. The 2018 Leavenworth Oktoberfest will take place over three weekends (October 5-6, 12-13, and 19-20), with four venues dedicated to live entertainment, food, and beer. Tickets are $10 for Fridays and $20 for Saturdays, and free for children under 12.

If you’re headed there, check out Moon Washington.

Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville Oktoberfest

This year, over a quarter of a million people are expected to attend the 39th Annual Nashville Oktoberfest, a 3-day festival (October 11th-14th) spanning 10 city blocks of Nashville’s historic Germantown. This celebration is pretty epic: in addition to seemingly endless beer and food vendors, there’s a 5k Bier Run, an Annual Parade, a Dachshund Derby, and so much more. Admission is free, but if you’re really committed, there are VIP tickets available for $119 (single day) or $169 (3-day pass).

If you’re headed there, check out Moon Nashville.

Tempeh Beach Park, Arizona: Four Peaks Brewing Co.

The Four Peaks Oktoberfest in Tempeh Beach Park has been going strong for 46 years, and it’s no wonder: the festival is massive and has everything from separate adults’ and kids’ carnivals to polka dancing, kickball tournaments, and, you guessed it, more dachshund races. There are different events on each day of the festival (October 12th, 13th, and 14th); admission is free, but entrance to the carnivals will cost you $30.

If you’re headed there, check out Moon Phoenix, Scottsdale & Sedona.

Helen, Georgia: Helen Oktoberfest

This sleepy mountain town in North Georgia is another Bavarian-themed village that celebrates all things German year-round, and its annual Oktoberfest celebration is not to be missed. The all-ages event includes live German music, food and beer, and tons of dancing—waltzes, polkas, chicken dances, and more. It runs every weekend in September, and then daily through October 28th; admission is $8 Monday-Friday, $10 on Saturday, and free on Sunday.

If you’re headed there, check out Moon Georgia.

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One-Week Best of Death Valley Itinerary

This detailed one-week Death Valley itinerary covers the area’s most popular sights, notable landscapes, hikes, and more. You’ll have options for hotels and camping along the way, and you will need a car to make the drive to and through the valley.

Day 1

Fly into Las Vegas, Nevada, and rent a car for the road trip to Death Valley. From Las Vegas, travelers will access the eastern side of the park, a drive of about 2.5-3 hours (150 miles) to the park hub of Furnace Creek.

bathrooms and a tent in Furnace Creek
Texas Spring Campground is tucked into the hills above Furnace Creek. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Day 2

Set yourself up in Furnace Creek, the main park hub, to enjoy Death Valley’s most iconic sights. The casual Ranch at Death Valley and the upscale Inn at Death Valley are your only accommodation options. Texas Spring is the most scenic campground, but it can get crowded; make sure you’ve lined up your space early.

Just south of Furnace Creek, Badwater Road offers a scenic driving tour. Fill up with breakfast at The Wrangler or the 49’er Café in Furnace Creek before heading out. Your first stop is Golden Canyon, where you can beat the heat (and the crowds) with a lovely morning hike.

Continuing south along Badwater Road, take a quick side trip to enjoy the relaxing and scenic drive along Artist’s Drive and through the colorful, jumbled rock formations.

Just over 6 miles south of the Artist’s Drive exit along Badwater Road, the Devil’s Golf Course surprises with its bizarre salt formations, but you can only see these if you stop and get up close.

Two miles south is the turnoff to an easy stroll through impressively large Natural Bridge. Continue 4 miles south on the park road to admire Badwater Basin’s surreal salt flats, 282 feet below sea level and the lowest point in North America.

From Badwater, turn around and retrace your route north to the junction with Highway 190 and turn right (east). Follow Highway 190 to its junction with Dante’s View Road to end at Dante’s View after 22 miles for sweeping views of the valley below. Retrace your steps and make a detour through Twenty Mule Team Canyon 17.7 miles north of the viewpoint. Finish your scenic driving tour at Zabriskie Point for more spectacular views of the valley below and up close views of the eroded badlands below the point.

Leave yourself enough time to enjoy the warm spring-fed pool at the Ranch before heading to dinner. Reserve a table at the Inn at Death Valley for a sunset meal at one of the outdoor tables or in the historic dining room. The Inn also has a cocktail lounge where you can enjoy the same view.

narrow pathway through rock canyons in Death Valley
Hikers visit Mosaic Canyon for the canyon polished narrows. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Day 3

Today, explore the Stovepipe Wells and Nevada Triangle region. The short hike through Mosaic Canyon is a great introduction to the canyons—wander through polished marble, colorful mosaic stone, and satisfying narrows. Just across Highway 190, the sculpted sand dunes of Mesquite Flat are visible from Stovepipe Wells, but are definitely worth a closer view.

From Stovepipe Wells, head east for 26 miles along Daylight Pass Road to Beatty, Nevada, the jumping-off point for your next adventure. Beatty is a good place to fill up on gas and food. Try the Happy Burro Chili & Beer, a charming saloon-style bar and restaurant with an outdoor patio.

The ghost town of Rhyolite is just four miles west of Beatty. Wander the impressive ruins of this once-rich gold mining town, then stop at the Goldwell Open Air Museum next door to peruse the hauntingly beautiful outdoor art exhibits set incongruously against the desert backdrop.

The crowning point of your day will be driving the Titus Canyon Road—the most popular backcountry route in Death Valley. The one-way access point begins 2.1 miles south of Rhyolite, just off Daylight Pass Road. The washboard road winds 27 miles past rugged rock formations, sweeping canyon views, petroglyphs, and even a ghost town to eventually end at Scotty’s Castle Road, 20 miles north of Stovepipe Wells.

End your day with a celebratory drink at the Badwater Saloon back in Stovepipe Wells Village. Enjoy a dip in the pool or a casual dinner before retiring to one of the basic motel rooms.

NOTE: Scotty’s Castle is closed for repairs until 2020, but can currently be visited by reserving a walking tour. Visit nps.gov for details.

Day 4

You’ll need an early start to explore Scotty’s Castle and Eureka Valley. Pack your car with all the food and water you’ll need for a full day, and bring your camp gear.

Continue north to the Eureka Dunes, a drive of nearly 50 miles from Mesquite Spring Campground. It’s a two-hour haul to the northernmost destination in the park, but it’s well worth it to enjoy the isolated and pristine setting. The Eureka Dunes are the tallest dunes in Death Valley, rising from the Eureka Valley floor and framed by the Last Chance Range.

When you’ve had your fill, head back down to Scotty’s Castle Road (a one-hour drive) and camp at Mesquite Spring. The sites at this quiet, pretty campground are dotted with its namesake trees and sheltered along a wash. If you’re not camping, Stovepipe Wells has the closest accommodations, but this will add an extra hour of driving.

Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley National Park, California
Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley National Park, California. Photo © luckyphotographer/123rf.

Day 5

Today’s destination is the Racetrack Valley. (If you’ve camped at Mesquite Spring, you’re well positioned for this trip.) The long, gravel high-clearance Racetrack Road begins just beyond Ubehebe Crater. Make a quick pit stop at this colorful volcanic overlook before heading south toward the Racetrack Valley. The destination for most people is the Racetrack, 26 miles in.

At 19 miles, the colorful Teakettle Junction signpost comes into view. Take a left turn at Teakettle Junction for a quick detour to the picturesque and weathered cabin of the Lost Burro Mine (at 3.2 miles, you will reach a four-way junction; park and walk along the right spur, which ends at the Lost Burro Mine in 1.1 miles).

Head back to Racetrack Valley Road and turn left to continue to The Racetrack. This dry lake bed, or playa, is famous for its moving rocks, which glide across the surface and leave mysterious trails. Soak in the surreal sight, then tackle the ambitious hike to Ubehebe Peak. The trail starts at The Grandstand parking area, then switchbacks up the side of the mountain with increasingly spectacular views of the Racetrack and the surrounding valley. Leave enough time for the hike back down and the long drive back out.

Spend another night camping at Mesquite Spring, or drive the 66 miles (1.5 hours) south to the Panamint Springs Resort on Highway 190. Tuck into a rustic cabin, motel room, or campsite and enjoy a relaxing dinner on the stone patio. Swap stories of your day’s adventure with the other visitors at this friendly outpost on the western side of the park.

view of the valley below Aguereberry Point in Death Valley
Aguereberry Point has sweeping views of Death Valley from 6,433 feet. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Day 6

Fill up on breakfast at Panamint Springs before heading out for a full day of exploring and hiking in the Emigrant and Wildrose Canyons on the western side of the Panamint Range. The first stop is the historic Wildrose Charcoal Kilns. Once used to make charcoal for the mining efforts in the area, they now stand as works of hand-engineered beauty.

The Wildrose Peak trail starts from the Charcoal Kilns parking area. This colorful forested trail leads through juniper trees to a big payoff at Wildrose Peak and its panoramic views.

Wind down with two final stops on your way back to Panamint Springs Resort. Located off Aguereberry Road, Aguereberry Camp provides a great perspective of a small mining camp and life in the desert. Enjoy the spectacular views from Aguereberry Point across Death Valley below.

You’ve definitely earned your relaxing dinner at Panamint Springs Resort after this day. If you’re camping, Wildrose Campground is a great choice, tucked away in Wildrose Canyon.

Day 7

From Panamint Springs, it’s about 50 miles west to Lone Pine, an outpost of civilization on U.S. 395 and your western exit from Death Valley. Spend a few hours exploring the town before driving south to Los Angeles (3 hours, 200 miles) or return to Las Vegas (5 hours, 300 miles) for your flight home.


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