Need some travel inspiration for 2019? Ask the experts. For the first time, our Moon editorial team is sharing their wanderlust-worthy travel goals for the year. Feel free to steal their ideas:
“I have always wanted to go to the Azores to explore my roots. My family immigrated from the islands in the 1920s. Now it’s an up-and-coming destination — I better go soon to beat the tourist rush!”
– Sierra Machado, Editor
“I’ve added the Azores to my list. The islands have a dramatic volcanic landscape that looks impossibly green – the moment I first saw a picture, I knew I wanted to see it in person. There’s plenty to do, like hiking, whale-watching, and soaking in hot springs. And there are direct flights from the United States, so I’m hoping to get there sooner rather than later!”
– Kathryn Ettinger, Senior Editor
“I’m planning to go to Kauai this spring. The last time I visited Hawaii was in my teenage years, so I’m looking forward to exploring as an adult. We’re hoping to book a backcountry river tubing tour through the old Lihue Plantation! For my inner child, I’m also planning a Disneyland trip with my family. The long-awaited Star Wars themed land is slated to open this summer, but we’ll wait a bit until the crowds die down before venturing into that galaxy!”
– Jamie A., Editor
“Usually, the national parks are my travel go-to’s. However, with the federal government shut down, I’ve had to re-think those destinations. Now at the top of my list is Utah’s Monument Valley, where admission costs directly benefit tribal lands.”
– Sabrina Young, Senior Editor
“Oaxaca has been on my wish list for a long time now. Maybe I’ll make it down there for Dia de los Muertos. I’m excited about the art, the music… and especially the food! In the meantime, I’ve planned a long weekend in Santa Fe, which is one of my favorite getaways and also has great food (I’m starting to see a pattern here).”
– Kevin McLain, Editorial Director
“In the past couple of years, I’ve traveled to Morocco and Sri Lanka, both exciting up-and-coming destinations with delicious food and diverse appeal. This year I’m planning on road-tripping in Baja Mexico. The peninsula’s border towns, wild beauty, and sense of remoteness are what intrigue me most. I’ll also spend a weekend camping in the Channel Islands in my ongoing quest to visit every U.S. national park.”
– Kristi Mitsuda, Editor
“I am eager to be in Greece this May: to be in awe at the soaring Acropolis and to be transformed by the wish-fulfilling seas of the Cyclades.”
– MP, Senior Editor
“I just got back from a bucket-list trip to Fiji. It’s not a big destination for Americans, but it’s a surprisingly easy plane ride from the West Coast (only 11 hours). I recommend breaking away from the resort-filled Denarau Island and heading down to the Coral Coast. My boyfriend and I stayed at a low-key resort in a cottage that was literally on the beach, five minutes away from a marine sanctuary where we did some incredible snorkeling. We are now planning a trip to Barcelona, where we want to spend a few days at one of the cava vineyards that aren’t too far from the city. Following that, we’ll take the train along the Costa Brava and into southern France. I’m especially excited to spend a few days in Marseille, then go kayaking among the limestone fjords in nearby Calanques National Park!”
NOTE: Some museums and historic sites are closed during the shutdown. Please check websites for updated information.
If you’re planning on joining the Women’s March in DC this January, take pride in the fact that you are part of a long history of exercising first amendment rights. From suffragettes in the early 20th century to the original Women’s March in 2017, DC has long been a destination for people from all over to unite, march, and let their voices be heard.
But once it’s time to set down your megaphone and picket sign, you may be wondering how to make the rest of your trip equally meaningful. If so, you’re in luck: with its thought-provoking monuments, political hotspots, opportunities for ethical consumerism, and museums that celebrate the diversity of the United States, DC offers plenty of ways for you to enrich your trip, whether you have a day, a weekend, or a week to spend. Get ready to ride that marcher’s high and check out these 11 spots, all recommended by Moon Washington DC author Samantha Sault:
Established in 2005 by an Iraqi-American artist and activist and inspired by Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy in a Washington hotel in the 1920s, Busboys and Poets is where progressive activists tend to meet for breakfast before a march. It’s also where artists and poets ruminate on political and cultural issues, and where locals enjoy good, affordable food made with organic, hormone-free, and fair-trade ingredients. This busy, casual restaurant is covered in art inspired by its progressive, community-focused mission. Choose from standard dining tables or cozy couches where you can have coffee or tea. If you have a little time to kill, browse the onsite bookshop specializing in social justice issues and DC life and history. In addition to the 14th and V flagship, there are several other locations throughout the city, including one less than a mile north of the National Mall where the Women’s March plans to gather. 2021 14th St. NW, 202/387-7638, www.busboysandpoets.com; 8am-midnight Mon.-Thurs., 24 hours Fri.-Sat., until midnight Sun.
Want to find an on-point rally outfit while putting your money where your mouth is? March on over to The Outrage to get your resistance-themed gear, including tees, tanks, totes, leggings, baby onesies, jewelry, art, and much more with feminist and equality slogans— think “Nevertheless, She Persisted” and “Nasty Women Unite” as well as designs celebrating gay pride. The proceeds from every item sold benefit organizations like Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and The Malala Fund. 1722 14th St. NW, 202/265-6546, www.the-outrage.com; 10am-8pm daily
Discover how women artists have been catalysts for change at the…
Shockingly, Washington’s National Museum of Women in the Arts is the only major museum in the world dedicated exclusively to women artists—why not lean in to the theme of the weekend and check it out? The museum was founded by Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, a diplomat and art collector who was appalled by the lack of information about women artists in American art textbooks, and she made it her mission to support women artists. Rotating exhibitions draw from the collection of nearly 5,000 pieces by more than 1,000 artists, including Mary Cassatt, Clara Peeters, and Frida Kahlo, as well as hundreds of lesser-known artists. 1250 New York Ave. NW, 202/783-5000, www.nmwa.org; 10am-5pm Mon.-Sat., noon-5pm Sun.; $10 adults, $8 students and seniors, free for children 18 and under
While this imposing white neoclassical dome is visible for miles, rising 288 feet into the Washington skyline, the U.S. Capitol is worth seeing up close. If you plan ahead, it’s relatively easy to take the free, 45-minute guided tour of the Capitol, either by contacting the office of your senator or representative or by reserving tickets online through the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. The highlight is the rotunda, the 96-foot-wide circular room under the dome that connects the House and Senate sides of the Capitol. Want to go a little higher? It’s possible to tour the top of the dome, if you’re accompanied by a member of Congress. You’ll climb 300 spiraling steps to get an up-close look at the dome and an expansive view from an exterior walkway. It’s hard to nab a spot, but it’s worth asking when you request a tour of the Capitol. Afterwards, swing by Bullfeathers, a watering hole popular with Hill staffers, for a refreshing beer (or two). 1st St. SE and E. Capitol St. NE, 202/226- 8000, www.visitthecapitol.gov.
Celebrate America’s immigrant heritage in…
Washington DC has a large Ethiopian population, and the Washington metro region has the largest Ethiopian population in the country. While Ethiopian immigrants are increasingly priced out of the District and now live and open businesses in suburbs like Silver Spring, Maryland, and Alexandria, Virginia, parts of the U Street Corridor and Shaw around 9th Street NW are still known as “Little Ethiopia,” as evidenced by restaurants like Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant, where you can feast on traditional dishes. Today, Ethiopian food is an essential part of the District’s culinary landscape.
If you’re lucky enough to snag tickets, don’t miss the…
If you can get tickets, go early and stay late—it’s worth seeing everything inside the five-story museum. The newest and by far the best Smithsonian museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture deserves several days to fully explore the magnitude of information and artifacts contained in 12 exhibitions over five floors—but you’ll likely only have entry passes for one day, so plan to spend the better part of a day here, if you can.
Start in the History Galleries, where you’ll learn the detailed realities of the horrific slave ship journeys. Plan to spend at least two hours climbing the ramps in the galleries from the Civil War through segregation and the civil rights movement to present day, alternately distraught by the treatment of African Americans by their fellow Americans and elated at the triumphs, culminating with the election of America’s first black president. After decompressing by the indoor rain-shower waterfall in the Contemplative Court, save time for the upper levels, which are dedicated to black art and culture. 1400 Constitution Ave. NW between 14th St. NW and 15th St. NW, 844/750-3012, http://nmaahc.si.edu; 10am-5:30pm daily; free
While the new National Museum of African American History and Culture has been getting so much attention, the National Park Service has been quietly preserving the legacy of one of the country’s most important abolitionists—and you won’t need to wait for hours to see it. Located in Anacostia, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site is the estate where Douglass lived from 1877, when he was appointed U.S. Marshall by President Rutherford B. Hayes, until his death in 1895. See rooms containing many of Douglass’s personal belongings in the exact spots they would have been while he was alive, as well as artwork and photographs of the Douglass family. Discover fascinating tidbits about the man who was born a slave and would eventually become a renowned (and mostly self-educated) abolitionist, author, and speaker. Reserve tickets online at least a few days in advance and arrive early to catch the 19-minute film about Douglass. When you finish the tour, take in the view from his porch, located high above the city on a 51-foot hill and offering expansive views all the way to the U.S. Capitol. 1411 W St. SE, 202/426-5961, www.nps.gov/frdo; 9am-5pm daily Apr.-Oct., 9am-4:30pm daily Nov.-Mar.; $1.50 for reserved ticket
And while you’re at it, stroll the…
Anacostia Heritage Trail
Launched by Cultural Tourism DC in 2015 to showcase the history of the community, the trail highlights prominent African Americans who lived here, like John A. Moss, who escaped slavery and became the neighborhood’s first lawyer, Solomon Brown, the first African American to work at the Smithsonian Institution, and of course, Frederick Douglass. After about a block and a half, America’s Islamic Heritage Museum and Cultural Center will be on the left. This museum has displays, rife with text and photographs, which traveled with the U.S. State Department before finding a permanent home in Anacostia. It’s worth spending an hour or two here if you want to dig into the stories of American Muslims that you may not have known before.
To read up on (and possibly meet!) your political heroes, stop in…
Since opening in 1984, Upper Northwest’s Politics and Prose has long been a favorite local shop to purchase books and meet authors, including many U.S. senators, star reporters, and bestselling novelists, at the store’s readings and signings that take place almost daily. Events at the store are almost always free and open to the public, though events with high-profile authors (Patti Smith, Amy Tan, Dan Rather) hosted at other city venues often require advance tickets. There is also a Metro-accessible, 2,300-square-foot location at the District Wharf is where you can find a large selection of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books as well as cards, gifts, and other items. 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202/364-1919, www.politics-prose.com; 10am-10pm daily
Linger at one of the store’s evening book signings, then head a couple doors down to…
In the aftermath of Pizzagate, Comet Ping Pong was flooded with community support. It’s a terrific local business to support if you’re against the proliferation of fake news—and the wood-fired pizza is good, too. Enjoy free ping pong games while you wait for your pie or join DC hipsters for beer (most between $5-8) and live music until late. 5307 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202/364-0404, www.cometpingpong.com; 5pm-9:30pm Mon.-Thurs., 11:30am- 10:45pm Fri.-Sat., 11:30am-9:30pm Sun., bar open late
This growing, woman-owned distillery produced a limited-edition rye for November 2016: Rodham Rye, celebrating what they thought would be the election of the first female POTUS. Things didn’t quite go as planned, but Pia Carusone and Rachel Gardner released it anyway. Visit their tasting room bar, which is built in a warehouse in the former B&O Railroad Yard in Ivy City and has lots of natural light and sleek wood finishes, where you can try refined cocktails made with their clean Civic Vodka or Borough Bourbon (made with Kentucky whiskey). The day of the march, they’re hosting a free after-party featuring the woman-owned operated hot dog company Sporty Dog Creations and drink specials from their incredible bar team. 1369 New York Ave. NE, 202/733-3996, www.republicrestoratives.com; 5pm-11pm Thurs.-Fri., noon-11pm Sat., noon-5pm Sun., tours available Sat.-Sun. or by appointment Mon.-Fri.
History, politics, and the world's best free museums: DC is a bustling powerhouse of a city. From strolling the National Mall to hobnobbing at happy hour, get to know the capital with Moon Washington DC.
If Angkor Wat is on your list of dream destinations, here’s how to get started on planning your adventure.
Where to Go
Cambodia’s temple town is clean, safe, and easy to navigate, and serves as the jumping-off point for the main monuments of the Angkor Empire. You’ll find excellent accommodations for all budgets, local cuisine as well as Western fare, and plenty of shopping opportunities.
Temples, temples, and more temples. Several huge imperial capitals of the Khmer Empire flourished between the 10th and 15th centuries and ruled Cambodia as well as large parts of today’s Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Today, only the magnificent temple ruins remain, and the Angkor Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sits as the spiritual and cultural heart of Cambodia.
Cambodia’s second-largest city offers a laid-back atmosphere, the best circus in Asia, excellent accommodations, great art galleries, and fantastic trips into the surrounding countryside.
Temples such as Banteay Chhmar, Koh Ker, Sambor Prei Kuk, and Preah Vihear have become more accessible in recent years and are less crowded than the main sites, although this may change as time goes by.
Cambodia’s capital has come a long way in the last decade. The streets are safe—if clogged with traffic—and hundreds of restaurants, bars, and clubs sit against a background of colonial architecture. You’ll also find street markets, art galleries, and museums that present both Cambodia’s Angkor era as well as its more recent turmoil.
When to Go
Cambodia’s climate is tropical year-round. The best time to visit Angkor Wat is in the cool season, between October and early March. But that’s also the busiest time of year around the temples. During the hot season, late March into June, much of the country turns into a furnace, although the Khmer New Year in April is a special experience anywhere, especially around Angkor. The rainy season, June-September, is a great time to explore the temple ruins, as there are fewer visitors. Keep in mind that some of the remoter temples could be inaccessible due to road conditions. In October, head to Phnom Penh for Bonn Om Tuk, the annual water festival.
How to Get Around
Distances in Cambodia are short, but the roads are bad (though they are improving). The main population centers are connected by paved highways, but out in the provinces, roads are often laterite dirt, which creates dust storms that turn clothes red and destroy cameras. The journey from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh can be done by plane, boat, bus, or taxi. The rest of the country is mostly reachable by bus or taxi, although some of the remoter corners of Cambodia, depending on weather, can only be reached by pickup or 4WD vehicle, or even just by motorcycle. Driving yourself is possible, if risky, given the local driving culture, state of the roads, and limited medical facilities. But it is a great adventure exploring Cambodia in or on your own vehicle, and in most places in the countryside, locals welcome anyone passing by with open arms.
Ready to start planning the trip of a lifetime? The best way to do it is with a guidebook! Check out Moon Angkor Wat for everything you need to know.
Visiting the Galápagos Islands is the experience of a lifetime, but it does take a little research (and effort!) to get the details in order. Here’s what you need to know to get started:
Where to Go
Santa Cruz and Nearby Islands
The archipelago’s tourism hub is centered around the busy but pleasant Puerto Ayora. Highlights include the Charles Darwin Research Station and Tortuga Bay, one of the islands’ most beautiful beaches. Lava tunnels, craters, and giant tortoises await in the highlands, while surrounding islands provide excellent excursions, notably the land iguanas on Plaza Sur and Santa Fé, and frigates and blue-footed boobies on Seymour Norte.
Sea lions dominate the waterfront of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and you can walk among a large colony close to town at La Lobería and hike to nearby beaches and snorkeling spots. Offshore, the trips to Isla Lobos and Kicker Rock offer unrivaled snorkeling with sea lions and sharks. At the far eastern side of the island is Punta Pitt, one of the few spots where all three booby species are seen together.
Isabela is the giant of the archipelago, occupying half the total landmass. It also boasts the most dramatic landscapes, with six active volcanoes. The highlight is the Sierra Negra hike, which circles the second-largest crater in the world before descending to the spectacular landscape of Volcán Chico. There are excellent boat trips to Los Túneles in the south and Las Tintoreras near town.
Floreana’s lush, peaceful ambience belies its troubled history, which has kept amateur sleuths guessing for decades. Highlights include a quirky post office and snorkeling at Post Office Bay and Mirador de la Baronesa. Offshore there is excellent snorkeling at Devil’s Crown and Champion Island.
Remote Uninhabited Islands
The blackened lava trails of Santiago recall a land that time forgot. Explore this unworldly landscape in the trails around Sullivan Bay. The nearby islet of Bartolomé—a partially eroded lava formation flanked by two beaches with the black lava trails of Santiago in the distance—is the most-photographed sight in the Galápagos. Fernandina, one of the least-visited islands, is great for spotting marine iguanas and flightless cormorants. Española is the world’s biggest breeding site for waved albatross. Fewer boats make it to the far north, but Genovesa is enduringly popular for its large red-footed booby populations. Wolf and Darwin Islands are best for experienced divers to catch a glimpse of whales from June to November.
Know Before You Go
When to Go
There are two distinct seasons in the Galápagos: rainy season and dry season. Many travelers consider wildlife when choosing the best time to visit: The famous waved albatross is only in Española April-November. The comical mating dance of blue-footed boobies takes place May-June. October-November is a great time to see playful sea lion pups. For divers on cruises, June-November is the prime season for spotting enormous whale sharks. December-April is the rainy, hot season. The seas are the calmest and the water is at its warmest, and it’s pleasant to swim without a wetsuit. The downside is that mosquitoes and the sun are the most intense; you may constantly feel sticky from bug repellent, sunscreen, and the humidity. This season coincides with the busiest tourist period around Christmas and early January. June-October is the cool, dry season. There are fewer mosquitoes, and the temperature on land is more comfortable for most people. You’ll need to wear a wetsuit for swimming and snorkeling; the waters can be surprisingly cold, but marine animals like sea lions, marine iguanas, and seabirds that feed on fish are all more active. June-August is another high season, with many travelers coming for summer vacations. The islands have short low seasons in May and September. These are the best times to secure last-minute availability.
Booking a Tour
In simple terms, the farther you are from the Galápagos, the more you pay. Cruises, land tours, and diving tours can all be arranged in your home country or through a travel agency in Ecuador. Keep in mind that when booking a tour from abroad, a deposit of at least $200 per person, via wire transfer or Western Union (no credit cards by Internet or phone), is usually required. Many travel agencies in Quito and Guayaquil advertise tours, so shopping around is the way to go. Holding out for last-minute deals may save you anywhere from 5 to 35 percent, but be aware that it may leave you stranded as well.
Flights to the Galápagos depart from Quito and Guayaquil daily. There are two entrance airports in the Galápagos: one on Baltra, just north of the central island of Santa Cruz, and one on San Cristóbal. The airport on Isabela is only used for inter-island flights, and there are no airports on Floreana. Make sure you’re flying to the correct island to begin your tour. Prices are about $350 round-trip from Guayaquil and $400 from Quito. If you are traveling to the islands without being booked on a tour, Puerto Ayora is the best place to arrange a budget tour. Note that getting from Baltra to Puerto Ayora is a journey in three stages involving two bus rides and a ferry ride. There are daily ferry shuttles from $30 per person one-way to the other three other ports—Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal, Puerto Velasco Ibarra on Floreana, and Puerto Villamil on Isabela.
Ready to start planning the trip of a lifetime? The best way to do it is with a guidebook! Check out Moon Galápagos Islands for everything you need to know.
Los Angeles is a city of surprising contradictions. It’s known for loud traffic and screaming producers, but it’s also the land of swaying palm trees, perfect surf, and the low buzz of a café filled with focused writers. It’s criticized for being too superficial, but it’s also packed with creative people making art—busy people who need an outlet. For this reason, LA has become the de facto western yoga capital of the world. And it’s not just yoga: LA has become a mecca for all kinds of spiritual healing and rejuvenation. From healing crystals to sound baths, here are some of the best places in Los Angeles to find your little slice of zen. Namaste!
The Yoga Collective: Venice
The Yoga Collective is a friendly, inviting yoga studio—and a great place to work up a sweat. Although quite popular, it still feels like a local neighborhood studio. Classes are inspired by Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga but feature the unique expressions of the teachers here, who are all wise and accessible. The Yoga Collective sees a lot of travelers, and the staff is warm and welcoming to new students. 512 Rose Ave., 301/392-2000, http://venice.theyogacollective.com; daily, hours vary, see online schedule
Bhakti Yoga Shala: Santa Monica
Visit Bhakti Yoga Shala for a radical yoga experience. This special studio focuses on the bhakti (love and devotion) aspect of yoga and has become a cornerstone of the Santa Monica yoga community. Bhakti Yoga Shala welcomes beginners, so go ahead and check it out, even if it’s your first time. Music is an integral part of every class, and there are a number of classes each week that include live music or kirtan (call-and-response chanting). Look at the online schedule for details. 207 Arizona Ave., 310/804-9290, www.bhaktiyogashala.com; Mon.-Fri. 7am-10pm, Sat.-Sun. 8am-10pm
The Den: Hollywood
Aptly named, The Den is a cozy meditation hideaway. It’s tastefully designed, and the teachers are true experts in their field. Even if you’ve never meditated, The Den will help you feel comfortable giving it a try. The Den offers about 10 meditation classes per day, with some really enticing focuses like “How to Get the Love You Really Want.” There are even private classes if you’re looking for one-on-one (or small group) guidance. They also offer the popular choice of sound healing, which uses gongs, chimes, bowls, etc. to inspire healing at a cellular level. 360 S. La Brea Ave., 323/424-3444, https://denmeditation.com; classes all day, check online schedule; $23/class
House of Intuition: West Hollywood
As this shop’s exterior will tell you, “Your intuition brought you here.” This new-agey paradise is replete with feathered dream catchers, crystals in all shapes and sizes, a wall of homemade incense, Tibetan singing bowls, and books about various topics related to spirituality. The best things to buy here are the goods that House of Intuition creates itself—bubble bath, candles, and incense blends. They also offer tarot card readings and reiki healing sessions. Born in Los Angeles, there are two other locations in the city (5108 York Blvd. in Highland Park and 2237 W. Sunset Blvd. in Silver Lake). 7449 Melrose Ave., 213/413-8300, www.houseofintuitionla.com; Mon.-Fri. noon-7pm, Sat. 10am-8pm, Sun. 10am-6pm
Mystic Journey Bookstore: Venice
With calming vibes and a wide selection of spiritually minded books, Mystic Journey lives up to its name. There are also vibrant crystals and gemstones for purchase, a nice jewelry selection, and the option to sign up for a private reading with one of the inhouse “intuitive readers.” Walk to the back of the store to relax on its big, sunny patio, which hosts multiple community events each week, such as “Open Mic of the Spirit,” and “Connecting and Clearing with the Angels.” 1624 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 301/399-7070, https://mysticjourneybookstore.com; Mon.-Fri. 10am-9pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am-11pm
Thunderbolt Spiritual Books: Santa Monica
Thunderbolt beckons with the smell of incense and an extensive collection of mystically minded literature. This two-story bookshop right in Santa Monica’s commercial corridor has been expanding the minds of the spiritually inclined since 1999. Its welcoming staff are helpful and give you space to peruse not just the books but also statues, jewelry, gemstones, tarot cards, mala beads, and more. Sift through the used book section, where there are usually some great finds. 512 Santa Monica Blvd., 310/899-9279; daily 10am-10pm
Bonus: Griffith Park Drum Circle
Last but not least, if you’re looking for an even more free-spirited method of healing, check out the Griffith Park drum circle, which has been ongoing for 35 years! It’s held every Sunday morning around 9am. The circle can get quite large, and the drumming lasts until late hours of the night sometimes. 4730 Crystal Springs Dr.; Sun. 9am
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.
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.
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.
Boston, MA: The Omni Parker House
Boston’s Omni Parker House—the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.