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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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The Best of Tucson in 3 Days

The following 3-day itinerary is meant to guide you to the very best of Tucson—the essential Old Pueblo experience. You’ll need your own car, a camera, a hat, a comfortable pair of walking shoes, and, of course, water.

front view of San Xavier del Bac church in Tucson
The church of San Xavier del Bac. Photo © Michael A. Barrios.

Day 1

Try to get an early start for sightseeing, especially during the hot months, when you only have a few hours before the weather gets unbearable. If you’re an early riser, I’d suggest heading downtown to the St. Augustine Cathedral before 7am. You can stand across the street and watch as the rising sun lights up the Spanish revival cathedral, and the tall, skinny imported palm trees cast their shaggy shadows against the glowing building. It’s a perfect Southwestern scene.

Then head downtown to the Hotel Congress, have a big breakfast at the Cup Café, and take a look around the historic old hotel.

Hop in the car and head west from downtown into Tucson Mountain Park, stopping to enjoy the view of the desert below at Gates Pass.

Spend a few hours exploring the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, just down the hill.

Next, head back over the Tucson Mountains to downtown and stroll, shop, and eat a late lunch or early dinner on 4th Avenue and nearby Main Gate Square. If you have it in you, barhop around Congress Street, 4th Avenue, and Main Gate Square, taking in a few bands at The Hut and Club Congress along the way.

A cyclist riding in Tucson Mountain Park
A cyclist riding in Tucson Mountain Park. Photo © Tim Hull.

Day 2

Drive to midtown for a filling greasy-spoon breakfast at Frank’s/Francisco’s. On your way back downtown, stop by the Arizona Inn and have a look around the lush grounds.

Then drive to the El Presidio district downtown and explore the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block and Presidio San Agustín del Tucson for a few hours.

For lunch, go to El Charro Café, right near the museum, or to Cafe Poca Cosa, a short walk away, before taking a short drive south on I-19 and checking out San Xavier del Bac.

In the late afternoon, drive into the foothills to Sabino Canyon Recreation Area and take a tram ride up into the canyon or hike one of the trails.

As the sun dips behind the Santa Catalina Mountains, head on over to Grill at Hacienda del Sol for drinks and appetizers (or dinner) on the patio overlooking the city.

people hiking through desert landscape in Sabino Canyon
The Seven Falls Trail is a popular hike in Sabino Canyon. Photo © Tim Hull.

Day 3

Depending on your personal inclinations, tour the Kartchner Caverns near Benson or head north up the Sky Island Highway into the Santa Catalina Mountains. Both trips are scenic and fun and take about two hours of driving time round-trip; it just depends on whether you prefer sweeping mountain views or otherworldly underground sights.

If you’re headed up to the mountains, stop at the Mother Hubbard Café for a big breakfast. If you take a trip to the caverns, stop afterward at the Horseshoe Café in Benson for lunch. Either way you go, you’ll likely get back to town in the late afternoon if you get an early start.

Once back downtown, head to Old Town Artisans to have a few drinks in the lush courtyard and check out the shops. For your final dinner in Tucson, go to Mi Nidito.


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5-Day Best of San Diego Itinerary

To take in all the best of San Diego in five days, you’re going to be very, very busy. Fortunately, between your museum-hopping, boutique-browsing, and enjoying the sights, sun, and sand, you’ll have a chance to fuel up at over a dozen delicious cafes and eateries.

The Botanical Building at Balboa Park.
The Botanical Building at Balboa Park. Photo © Lisa Robinson/The Department of Creativity.

Day 1

Get an early start and head up to the San Diego Zoo, where the animals are always livelier in the morning. Watch the pandas cuddle and the polar bears swim, then go next door to Balboa Park for lunch at Panama 66, a sculpture garden-restaurant with hot sandwiches and a terrific tap list.

Your first stop for an afternoon of museum-hopping is to peruse the minor masterpieces at the San Diego Museum of Art. Study humankind at the San Diego Museum of Man, marvel at aeronautic engineering in the San Diego Air and Space Museum, then catch your breath in the Botanical Building.

Head up to North Park for happy hour at Polite Provisions; its beautiful cocktail lounge may hook you up with some small plates if you’re hungry. Save the appetite, though—North Park’s Restaurant Row is nearby.

Grab a couple of gourmet tacos at City Tacos, a great first stop before exploring the local beer scene. Start at North Park Beer Co., then walk around the corner to visit Toronado.

map of San Diego
San Diego

Day 2

Take the ferry to Coronado and wander the impressive Hotel del Coronado. Spend some time on Coronado Beach, then grab lunch at Coronado Brewing Company before heading back on the ferry.

Stroll up the Embarcadero and visit the Maritime Museum of San Diego and USS Midway Museum. After gazing at ships both antique and modern, walk north to Little Italy, where you can sample more local beers at Bottlecraft before dining at one of the neighborhood’s fantastic restaurants, such as Herb & Wood.

After dinner, stroll through the charming neighborhood to reach decadent Extraordinary Desserts. The sugar rush should get you started for a night out in the Gaslamp District club scene; if you prefer something chill, the swanky retro cocktail bar Prohibition Lounge is a great way to finish the night.

rainbow colored sailboat in Mission Bay San Diego
There are several options for water sports in Mission Bay. Photo © Stasvolik/Dreamstime.

Day 3

Start the day with donuts and coffee from Nomad Donuts, which will fuel you without leaving you too full for a day of action.

Catch a morning surf lessons from Surfari Surf School at north Mission Beach, and enjoy some prime people-watching on the Pacific Beach Boardwalk while you catch your breath. You’ll have worked up quite an appetite, so sate it the way a local surfer would—with fish tacos from Oscars Mexican Seafood.

Next up is Mission Bay, where you choose your speed: kayak, Jet Ski, wakeboard, or sail. (Hint: There’s time to do two.) After playing all day, you’ll need serious nourishment.

Roll up to La Jolla for sustainable ingredients perfectly prepared at George’s at the Cove. If you still have energy, nourish your mind with a destined-for-Broadway show at La Jolla Playhouse.

Day 4

Spend a long morning in Old Town State Historic Park, exploring the adobe buildings and browsing the many gift shops. You’ll be tempted to sit down for a Mexican lunch at one of the tourist restaurants, but save your appetite for a more genuine experience at El Indio, just up the street in Mission Hills.

After lunch, ride over to Ocean Beach for a walk along the lengthy Ocean Beach Pier, a great vantage point for watching surfers. Grab your own spot of sand and enjoy the local color while you soak up some sun.

Hit happy hour at Wonderland Ocean Pub when you get thirsty, then sit at the window to wait for an incredible sunset. Or, make your way up to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park to stroll the cliffs and experience the panoramic pink, purple, and bright-orange majesty as the sun goes down.

Finish off the day over the hill at Officine Buona Forchetta, where some of the city’s best Italian dishes include handmade pasta and authentic, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza.

waves rolling up onto the beach at La Jolla Cove
Most of the year, waves on the beach at La Jolla Cove are small or nonexistent, making for a fun swimming beach. Photo © Alexua/Dreamstime.

Day 5

Beat the crowds into La Jolla and grab a cup of local coffee at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.

Take advantage of the calm morning conditions to snorkel or scuba off La Jolla Cove and experience the vibrant below-sea-level nature reserve of the La Jolla Underwater Park. This will prime your appetite for a fish taco plate at El Pescador Fish Market, in La Jolla Village.

Walk it off along the famous shoreline, then spend the afternoon exploring neighborhood shops and art collections, including the Madison Gallery and Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

Prior to sunset, head up the hill to gape at the panoramic views from the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial. Then roll south to the city’s best sushi at Sushi Ota in Pacific Beach, followed by tiki cocktails and decor to match at The Grass Skirt.


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See the Best of Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque in Six Days

While you could conceivably explore Santa Fe, Taos, and Albuquerque for weeks on end, seeking out ever more remote hiking trails and sweeping vistas, six days gives just enough time to appreciate the distinct character of each community.

The plaza in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo © Thomas Fikar/123rf.
The plaza in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo © Thomas Fikar/123rf.

Day 1

Arrive at Albuquerque’s Sunport airport; make your way directly to Santa Fe. For old-school style, stay at La Fonda—it’s a short stroll to The Shed for dinner, and you can cap the evening with a margarita in the lively hotel lobby bar.

Day 2

Start with a breakfast burrito at Tia Sophia’s, then stroll around the plaza. Depending on your interests, visit the history museum at the Palace of the Governors or the New Mexico Museum of Art. Pop in to see the winding staircase at the Loretto Chapel, then cruise the galleries on Canyon Road, finishing up with drinks and tapas, and maybe even dancing at El Farol.

opening of a cave in a rock wall in New Mexico
Cave dwelling in Bandelier National Monument. Photo © Dean_Fikar/iStock.

Day 3

Get an early start to Bandelier National Monument, followed by lunch at El Parasol in Española. In midafternoon, return to Santa Fe to explore the House of Eternal Return, followed by happy hour drinks in the Railyard at Cowgirl BBQ. Settle in for dinner at Joseph’s or Bouche.

Day 4

Drive to Taos via the low road, detouring to the pilgrimage site of Chimayó. Stop for lunch at Zuly’s in Dixon. In Taos, head straight to Taos Pueblo. Admire the sunset at the Rio Grande Gorge, then stop at the Adobe Bar at the Taos Inn for a margarita and head up the road for dinner at The Love Apple or Orlando’s.

church in taos with a statue of a priest in front
San Francisco de Asis welcomes visitors at the southern edge of Taos. Photo © Steven Horak.

Day 5

In the morning, have breakfast at Gutiz or Michael’s Kitchen, and, on your way out of town, stop by San Francisco de Asis Church. Drive back to Albuquerque via the high road past Truchas and Las Trampas, then along the Turquoise Trail, stopping for lunch in Cerrillos or Madrid before visiting the Tinkertown Museum.

In Albuquerque, take a sunset ride up the Sandia Peak Tramway. Enjoy dinner and drinks downtown.

Day 6

Have a big breakfast at The Frontier and, if time allows, stroll around Nob Hill before catching your plane out of the Albuquerque airport.


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A Weekend in Tofino, Vancouver Island

With its rugged beaches and peaceful coastal rainforests, Vancouver Island’s west coast can feel like the edge of the world—but the stylish surf town of Tofino has put this dreamy destination on the map. Replete with whale-watching tours, First Nations canoe trips, and beachfront lodges—not to mention an enviable food scene—Tofino (and the surrounding wilderness) makes for a great weekend trip.

a boat sits on the water in Tofino Harbor
Tofino Harbor. Photo © Elena Elisseeva/Dreamstime.

The weather on the west coast can be cooler, damper, and more changeable than elsewhere on the island, so bring layers, rain gear, and shoes or boots that can get wet. Whatever the weather, the west coast is a laid-back region where surfers carry their boards on their bikes, the seafood is always fresh, and cocktail hour is a sacred ritual. And it’s hugely popular with travelers: Tofino’s population of 2,000 can swell to more than 20,000 on weekends in July and August. Don’t worry, though. Even in midsummer, there’s plenty of room here at the edge of the world. Here’s what to do with a west coast weekend.

Start your day with a morning stroll along the beach; Chesterman Beach is one of the area’s most beautiful. Then wander through the Tofino Botanical Gardens to explore the old-growth rainforest, stopping at Darwin’s Café when it’s time for a coffee break. Wolf down the delicious fish tacos at the orange food truck, Tacofino, then head for Pacific Rim National Park Reserve to check out the displays in the Kwisitis Visitor Centre and hike near the shore. Later, take a surfing lesson, go swimming, or book a First Nations Canoe Tour with the excellent guides at T’ashii Paddle School—you’ll learn about the local indigenous communities while paddling in hand-carved dugout canoes. For dinner, don’t miss the potato-crusted oysters at The Wolf in the Fog, where all the local seafood is bound to be stellar.

wide swath of beach on the Pacific Ocean in Vancouver
Named for its location on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, Pacific Rim National Park encompasses a long, narrow strip of coast that has been battered by the sea for eons. Photo © James Wheeler/iStock.

The next morning, pick up coffee and a ginger scone at Common Loaf Bake Shop before heading to the waterfront for an offshore excursion. Take a full-day trip to Hot Springs Cove, a kayak excursion to Meares Island, or a shorter whale-watching or bear-watching tour. Afterwards, clean up and drive to the Wickaninnish Inn for a cocktail in their window-lined lounge facing the sea. Stay for a special dinner at The Pointe if your budget allows, or head into town for a restorative bowl of ramen at Kuma Tofino or the wild salmon chowder at SoBo. Either way, be sure to stop for a few sunset photos over the harbor to remember your west coast adventures.


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5-Day Las Vegas to Death Valley Road Trip

Aside from being one of the world’s premier destinations, Las Vegas also serves as a handy base camp for exploring southern Nevada’s natural and recreational attractions. With flights arriving from around the country and around the world, the city’s McCarran International Airport makes it an easy gateway to the state. This road trip itinerary will guide you from Las Vegas to Death Valley in 5 days; adding a day or two in Vegas at the beginning or end of your trip will round it out to a full week.

aerial shot of the hoover dam
Marvel at the engineering behind the Hoover Dam. Photo © Kobb_dagan/Dreamstime.

Day 1: Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

33 Miles / 45 Minutes
Head south on I-515 to Boulder City (about a 30-minute drive), gateway to Lake Mead and Hoover Dam. You will burn a lot of calories today, so treat yourself to breakfast at the Southwest Diner. Park at the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, downstream from Hoover Dam, and walk across, pausing to read the interpretive signs and take in a fine view of the engineering marvel. Next drive to the visitors center and tour the bowels of the dam. Check out the visitors center until lunchtime.

Restaurant choices in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area are slim, so pick up a few snacks and rent a pontoon boat at Lake Mead Marina. Spend the afternoon exploring the lake’s coves and enjoying a floating picnic. The marina also sells fishing gear and licenses in case you want to match wits with the lake’s legendary striped bass.

Return to the marina before sundown and head back up the hill to Boulder City for some window shopping and an evening stroll through the historical downtown, full of curiosity shops and boutiques housed in 1930s Spanish Colonial Revival buildings. On the way back to Vegas, stop again at the Southwest Diner for a home-style dinner of meatloaf, pot roast, or grilled ham steak, but make it an early night.

Day 2: Caliente, Panaca, and Pioche

180 Miles / 2.75 Hours
After exploring some of humanity’s greatest creations in Boulder City, today you’ll head out on a jaunt through nature’s handiwork. Order coffee and muffins to go and head out on US 93 for the roughly 90-minute drive to arrive at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. Get there early to catch a glimpse of deer, foxes, cougars, egrets, and tortoises, which are most active in the early morning. Continue north on US 93 for lunch at Caliente’s J&J Fast Food for fried finger food made from scratch but served in minutes.

Spend the afternoon looking up at the eerie spires and spindles at Cathedral Gorge State Park, then drive up to Pioche for dinner at the Silver Café, the best of the sparse offerings in this part of the state. Head back to Panaca and settle in with a good book and a restful night’s sleep at the Pine Tree Inn and Bakery.

jagged landscape of Cathedral Gorge State Park
Cathedral Gorge State Park. Photo © Rinus Baak/Dreamstime.

Day 3: The Extraterrestrial Highway

210 Miles / 3.25 Hours
Dig into the Pine Tree Inn’s full breakfast for the fuel you will need for a full day of chasing extraterrestrials. Drive the 65 miles from Panaca to Hiko (following US 93 south). Pick up a Martian coffee cup and take a selfie with the 30-foot-tall metallic spaceman standing guard at the Alien Research Center. Then head west on the Extraterrestrial Highway (NV 375) to Rachel for an Alien Burger lunch at the Little A’Le’Inn. Explore the perimeter of Area 51—carefully—including the “Use of Deadly Force Authorized” sign. Reach the end of the ET Highway at Warm Springs and head on to Tonopah for a spicy, cheesy dinner at El Marques.

If you don’t mind sharing a room with the ghosts of miners and working girls, book the night’s stay at the Comstock-opulent Mizpah Hotel. But don’t turn in before a star party with the Tonopah Astronomical Society under the dark, dark canopy illuminated by thousands of stars.

Day 4: Boomtowns and Ghost Towns

93 Miles / 1.5 Hours
You won’t need a pick or pan for today’s lesson in Nevada’s mining history. Start the day with the Miner’s Breakfast amid Comstock-era decor at the Stage Shop Café at Tonopah Station casino. Peer into the shaft of Burro Tunnel and peruse the hoists and works at the Tonopah Historic Mining Park. Visit the Central Nevada Museum to gain some perspective into mining’s place in life in the Old West. The faithful boomtown re-creation outside includes a saloon, blacksmith shop, and stamp mill.

Head 30 minutes south on US 95 to stretch your legs with a wander around Goldfield. Its turn-of-the-20th-century hotel, fire station, and courthouse serve as apt selfie backgrounds. Finish with burgers and fries at Dinky Diner, then continue another hour south to Beatty and onto NV 374 to see the surreal plaster cast sculptures and other modern art at the Goldwell Open Air Museum. Head next door to check out the Bottle House, railroad depot, bank building, and other relics at Rhyolite ghost town before beating it back to Beatty for a casual alfresco dinner at KC’s Outpost. Load up on jerky and trail mix at Death Valley Nut & Candy Co. for tomorrow’s adventure, then hit the hay at the retro-cool Atomic Inn.

sky turning purple and pink at sunset over sand dunes in Death Valley
Watch the sun set over Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Photo © Bukki88/Dreamstime.

Day 5: Into Death Valley

220 Miles / 4 Hours
Leave Beatty early for the drive southwest along NV 374 into Death Valley toward Stovepipe Wells Village (roughly 40 minutes), planning to arrive at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes to see the sunrise. Climb a dune to watch the play of light and shadow on the sand and rock formations. Backtrack slightly through the Titus Canyon Narrows and follow the signs to Scotty’s Castle for a guided tour of the iconic Spanish-style residence. The landmark castle was damaged during flooding in 2015, but the National Park Service offers a limited number of tours to witness its recovery, planned for completion in 2020. Either way, it’s worth a stop.

Head back south on CA 190 (60 miles, 75 minutes) for lunch at the Ranch at Death Valley, fuel for the Golden Canyon/Gower Gulch trail. Park at the trailhead on Badwater Road, two miles south of the junction with CA 190. The trail encompasses Zabriskie Point and views of Red Cathedral, Manly Beacon, and wave after wave of basalt ridges.

Returning to your car, drive the scenic Artist’s Drive loop through Artist’s Palette. The scenic route, lined with canyon walls stained green, yellow, pink, and white by minerals in the rock, starts three miles south of the Golden Canyon trailhead on Badwater Road. Nine miles and 22 minutes later, the drive returns to Badwater Road, four miles south of the embarkation point. From here, go north on Badwater Road and take CA 190 and NV 373 to Amargosa Valley (61 miles, 1 hour). Enjoy a late dinner at the Nebraska Steakhouse, a little slot play, and a room for the night.

Return to Las Vegas via US 95 or NV 160 (roughly 120 miles; a two-hour drive).


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3 Days in Montréal with Kids

Reasonable rents and a good social safety net mean most Montrealers eschew the burbs and stay in the city to raise their kids. Festivals often have kid-friendly options, and there are plenty of parks and fun things to do. Visiting teens can often join their parents on bike tours and other excursions, and if you’re with little ones most rental places will offer something to accommodate that—a bike trailer or trail-a-bike, for example, or a pedal boat instead of a kayak.

Many hotels, especially the higher-end ones in Vieux-Montréal, can set up child care if you give them some advance notice. Staying in Vieux-Montréal also means you’ll be close to the Vieux-Port, which features a ton of family-friendly activities and museums.

a zipliner in Montreal with a view of the ferris wheel on Bonsecours
La Grande Roue de Montréal. Photo © Will Keats-Osborn.

Day 1

Arrive in Montréal and head to your hotel in Vieux-Montréal. Drop your bags and head out to grab a coffee and a light bite at Crew Café. Then stroll down rue St-Paul, the oldest street in the city, and do a little browsing. Head to the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal and learn a bit about the city’s culture and history to ground your trip—you can take a guided tour of the church, or just a read a little about the church and the Place d’Armes.

Next, walk down to the Vieux-Port and grab a snack from a food truck or Muvbox—tacos, poutine, and lobster rolls are all popular options. After lunch has settled, head to Voiles en Voiles, a super-fun ropes course set up on pirate ships in the Vieux-Port—you can stay for an hour or longer. If you find yourself with more time to spend before dinner, check out the Centre des Sciences de Montréal.

Try local favorite Brit and Chips for dinner. After the meal, head back down to the Vieux-Port and enjoy an evening at the Bonsecours Basin. La Grande Roue de Montréal, a giant Ferris wheel, is open till 11pm nightly, or, if you’ve still got some energy to burn off, the SOS Labyrinthe is a fun game for the whole family.

kids on a ropes course at Voiles en Voiles in Montreal
Voiles en Voiles, an elaborate rope course stretching between pirate ships in the Vieux-Port. Photo © Will Keats-Osborn.

Day 2

After breakfast at Le Cartet, head down to the river and walk east along the Lachine Canal, or take transit if you’re with young kids. Hook a right and cross the bridge at Marché Atwater. Treat the kids to an ice cream at Havre aux Glaces and wander the market for a while before you rent a pedal boat at H2O Adventures.

When you’re done pedal-boating, return to the market for a quick bite to eat—Pizza Mia is a safe bet. Then catch the Métro back east to the Pointe-à-Callière Musée d’Archéologie et d’Histoire. There’s plenty to explore, and this museum always offers a few kid-friendly interactive exhibits.

For dinner, head to Jardin Nelson, which offers refined classics for adults alongside kid-friendly choices. After the meal, meander up Place Jacques-Cartier and make your way to the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal for the nightly light show.

view of the fountain and lake in Parc Lafontaine in Montreal
Take your picnic dinner to Parc Lafontaine. Photo © Will Keats-Osborn.

Day 3

Today you’ll be taking an excursion out to Greater Montréal—pack snacks and a picnic—so start your morning with a hearty, healthy breakfast at 7Grains Bakery & Café. Catch the Métro to the Space for Life park out at Pie-IX station—this park includes the Jardin Botanique, Biodôme, Insectarium, and Planetarium. The best deal—you’ll get to experience a whole day of fun—is to purchase the family package allowing you access to all four spaces.

When you’re ready for lunch, unpack your picnic at one of the designated picnic areas or the Frédéric Back Tree Pavilion in the botanical garden. Alternatively, order lunch at the botanical garden and find a seat on the lovely terrasse. After lunch, head back to Space for Life and pick up where you left off.

Just before dinnertime, catch the Métro back into town—specifically, to La Banquise, Montréal’s most-famous poutine spot. Order your meal to go and take it for a picnic at the nearby Parc La Fontaine, where the kids can splash their feet in the pond or play Frisbee after dinner. Take transit back to your hotel when you’re feeling tuckered, or if you’ve got energy to spare, wander back along Ste-Catherine, in the pedestrian-only section of the Village.


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Driving US Route 50: The Loneliest Road Trip

The stark landscape along US Route 50 is the origin of its famed solitude, but it has given rise to some of the best recreational activities Nevada has to offer. From hot springs to mountain-biking trails to sand drifts just begging for a dune buggy ride, the Loneliest Road in America is the perfect route for outdoor enthusiasts.

Nevada US 50 leads into a mountainous landscape
US 50 is also known as the Loneliest Road in America. Photo © Neillockhart/Dreamstime.

Day 1: Carson City and Lahontan State Recreation Area

91 Miles / 2 Hours
If you’re based in Reno, slide down to Carson City on I-580 and share the antipasti plate and crab and tomato salad at Café at Adele’s, a candidate for best restaurant in the state. Although it’s not the typical tourist attraction, tours of the old Nevada State Prison encompass the world’s first gas chamber and the most brutal solitary-confinement cell in the country. After a visit, you’ll want to shake the feeling of confinement with an exhilarating flight over lake, ridges, or treetops in Hang Gliding Tahoe’s motorized ultralight aircraft.

Recover from the rush by communing with wild horses, foxes, herons, and Nevada’s only nesting bald eagles at Lahontan State Recreation Area, a little over halfway on the 90-mile drive to Fallon. For dinner, order soup and egg rolls at Vn Pho in Fallon.

Day 2: Hidden Cave and Sand Mountain

125 Miles / 2 Hours
Start your day in Fallon at the Churchill County Museum, checking out the re-creations of frontier dwellings and a Native American tule shelter. At the museum, get directions to Hidden Cave, where generations of local indigenous people stored tools, weapons, and food. Hike a mile from the caves to Grimes Point, containing fine examples of Native American petroglyphs.

Continue east on US 50 to spend the rest of the day at Sand Mountain. Wax up your sandboard and hurtle down 500-foot inclines, dodging OHVs along the way. If the ATVs and motorcycles don’t drown them out, listen for the whistling moans of the “singing sand” as the wind blows through the grains.

Stop at Cold Springs Station for comfort food and a Pony Express history lesson, then cruise the final 50 miles to bunk down at Union Street Lodging in Austin.

ATVs in the distance on Sand Mountain
Enjoy a day on the sand at Sand Mountain. Photo © Natalia Bratslavsky/Dreamstime.

Day 3: The Toiyabe Range and Spencer Hot Springs

136 Miles / 3.5 Hours
After loading up on coffee and carbs at Union Street’s complimentary breakfast, break out the mountain bikes and pedal some of the varied trails scattered throughout the Toiyabe Range. Castle Loop, a 4.5-mile ride, is a moderate place to start. (More seasoned cyclists may want to take the time to test their mettle on the steep climbs of the 27.5-mile Gold Venture Loop.)

Morning exercise out of the way, take the scenic drive south along NV 21, flanked by the Toiyabe and Shoshone Ranges. It takes nearly two hours to cover the 50 miles to Ione Pass through the southern Shoshones, but your destination, Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, is at the end of the pass. Spend a few hours strolling among the well-preserved mining town relics and check out the ichthyosaur fossil beds and interpretive displays that describe the life and times of the ancient marine lizard that once plied the seas covering Nevada.

Take the easier route back through Austin via NV 844, NV 361, and US 50. Your bike-addled bones and muscles will thank you for continuing the 20 miles southeast to Spencer Hot Springs, one of the most visitor-friendly hot springs in Nevada.

From Austin, you can retrace your route back to Reno or continue eastward to Great Basin National Park. Better yet, jump on NV 305 north for 95 miles (1 hour 25 minutes) and take I-80 back to Reno through Winnemucca and Lovelock.


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5-Day Best of Montréal Itinerary

Montréal is a busy, vibrant city that is very walkable and bikeable. There is plenty to see and do in every neighborhood, and it’s fairly easy to get from one side of the city to another by bike or public transit. This Montréal itinerary assumes that you won’t be traveling by car. If you’d like to get more exercise, substitute cycling by Bixi for public transit. If you or a traveling partner has mobility issues, skip the Métro (it’s often not accessible) in favor of the bus or a cab.

While you’re traveling, keep an eye out for street festivals, especially in the Quartier Latin and the Plateau—they’re everywhere in the summer.

Day 1: Vieux-Montréal

the interior of the Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal
Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal is one of the top sights in the city. Photo © Demerzel21/Dreamstime.

Arrive in Montréal and head to your hotel in Vieux-Montréal. Drop your bags and head out to grab a coffee and a light bite at Olive & Gourmando. Then stroll down rue St-Paul, the oldest street in the city, and do a little browsing.

Head to the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal, Montréal’s beloved landmark and the site of much of the city’s early history. Right in front of the church you’ll find Place d’Armes, a bustling tourist spot home to public art, four centuries of architecture, and, often, talented buskers. Next, walk down to the Vieux-Port, stroll along the waterside promenade, and check out Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, the oldest church in the city, as well as Habitat 67 and Silo #5.

In the late afternoon head out onto Jacques-Cartier Quay to Terrasses Bonsecours for a drink on the patio and a great view of the skyline as the sun begins to dip down. Head past the artists and street vendors on Place Jacques-Cartier and up to Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal for the nightly light show.

Try local French favorite Le Club Chasse et Pêche for dinner. After the meal, head to Place d’Armes Hôtel and Suites for a nightcap and a view of the city’s twinkling lights at rooftop bar Terrasse Place d’Armes. If you’re not ready to head back to your hotel, there’s always a chance to make a few late-night dance moves at dance club Wunderbar.

Day 2: Petite-Italie, Mont-Royal, and Centre-Ville

colorful sculpture garden lines the street leading to a museum in Montreal
The sculpture garden at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. Photo © Will Keats-Osborn.

Take the Métro to Marché Jean-Talon for breakfast—La Crêperie du Marché is a perfect choice—and stroll around enjoying the sights and sounds and gathering snacks for later. Then rent a Bixi from the closest stand and head south along the bike paths toward Parc du Mont-Royal. Grab a coffee to go at Café Santropol and hike up the mountain to one of its four belvederes—Belvedere Kondiaronk near the Chalet du Mont-Royal is a favorite.

For lunch, try Aux Vivres, close to the eastern edge of the park—the healthy vegetarian food will be welcome after all that exercise. Next, hop back on a Bixi or catch bus 435 to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. Spend the afternoon soaking up art.

When you get peckish, grab dinner and a drink at Kazu. Then catch bus 165 up the west side of the mountain and end your evening by walking to Saint Joseph’s Oratory and climbing the steps for an amazing sunset view.

Day 3: Quartier Latin, Mile End, and Plateau Mont-Royal

view of the fountain and lake in Parc Lafontaine in Montreal
Parc Lafontaine is an oasis in the middle of the Plateau. Photo © Will Keats-Osborn.

Take the Métro to rue Sherbrooke and walk north on rue St-Denis, taking as many side streets and alleyways as possible to explore the true character of Plateau Mont-Royal. Grab breakfast at French bistro L’Express and keep your eyes peeled for the cobblestone avenue Duluth and, farther north, avenue Marie Anne, Leonard Cohen’s old haunt. Explore a bit of the French side of avenue Mont-Royal before heading west and north.

Make your way to St-Viateur Bagel Shop and eat your hot-from-the-oven treat with a coffee from Café Olimpico for lunch. Check out the vintage stores on rue St-Viateur and avenue Bernard. Comic fans should hit up Drawn & Quarterly.

Head for boulevard St-Laurent. Browse the shops and take in the street’s history as you head south. Stop in at Kitsch ’n’ Swell and La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse. Have a beer or cider at Else’s and get a thick, smoked-meat sandwich at Schwartz’s. Catch an up-and-coming band or dance the night away to the city’s most eclectic DJs at Casa del Popolo.

Day 4: The Village and Greater Montréal

aerial view of the Village in Montreal
The Village is a mecca for late-night partying, karaoke bars, and antiques shopping. Photo © Guy Banville/iStock.

Head to the Village, get goodies to go from Le Mie Matinale, rent a Bixi, and make your way to the Pont Jacques-Cartier. Built over the St-Lawrence River, the bridge has spectacular panoramic views of the city, and it’s a unique way to get to Parc Jean-Drapeau. Once on the island, you can drop your bike off and head off for a day of rides at La Ronde or just ogle the awe-inspiring wonder that is Buckminster Fuller’s Biosphère.

Have a picnic on the shores of the river—take advantage of Montréal’s picnic law and enjoy a beer with your meal—wander the gardens, then hop the Métro back for an unparalleled dining experience at Toqué! and an evening performance at Cirque du Soleil.

Day 5: Mont-Tremblant

a serene lake sits under the mountains of Mont-Tremblant Provincial Park
Spend the day away from the city in Mont-Tremblant National Park. Photo © bakerjarvis/iStock.

Throw your hiking boots in a bag and leave Montréal on the first bus to Mont-Tremblant National Park for a day in the rugged outdoors. At the largest and oldest park in the province, you can hike, swim, canoe, and kayak to your heart’s content. For something a little less taxing, head to Mont-Tremblant Resort for some alpine luging and pedal-boating. Spend the night in Mont-Tremblant’s Auberge la Porte Rouge and have dinner at Seb l’Artisan Culinaire.


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Washington Wine Country and Waterfalls in 5 Days

This 5-day itinerary pairs the top sights in Washington’s wine country and Columbia River Gorge with the best wineries. This is a particularly good trip if you’re coming from Portland, Oregon, or Vancouver, Washington, which are situated nearby, right along the Columbia River. It’s a three-hour drive from Seattle to the itinerary’s starting point at the west end of the Gorge. If you’re coming from that direction, you might extend the trip a day and start off by making a visit to Mount St. Helens. Another viable strategy if you’re starting in the Seattle area, especially if you’re a wine lover, is to make Mount Rainier your first stop, and from there head to Yakima and pick up the Wine Country part of the itinerary.

Columbia River Gorge

a wooden walkway leads to a waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge
Latourell Falls makes a 249-foot drop from a basalt cliff. Photo © JPLDesigns/iStock.

Day 1

Spend your morning on the Oregon side of the Columbia, where the scenic drive east takes you past the West Gorge waterfalls and you can tour the Depression-era Bonneville Dam and its adjacent fish hatchery. Cross over the river at Cascade Locks, work in lunch at Skamania Lodge or in the town of Stevenson, and then head 10 miles west and spend the afternoon on the switchback path up Beacon Rock, an 848-foot-tall monolith that, after a surprisingly easy climb, provides unbeatable views of the Gorge. Cross back over to the Oregon side to spend the evening in Hood River, a fun, hip little resort town. Have dinner at one of Hood River’s many brewpubs.

Day 2

Traveling east from Hood River, over the course of 30 miles the Gorge makes a remarkable transformation from forestland to dry, barren bluffs. Back on the Washington side, about 45 minutes east of Hood River, is one of the state’s most remarkable cultural institutions, the Maryhill Museum of Art, which contains a substantial, eclectic art collection. It’s as impressive as it is incongruous.

Turn away from the river at this point, making the 1.5-hour drive on Route 97 to Yakima, your first stop in wine country. Along the way visit Goldendale Observatory, 13 miles past Maryhill. Its interpretive center has afternoon presentations, and the hilltop location provides good views of the surrounding region. In Yakima, the business hub for the surrounding farmland, your best lodging options are the plentiful chain hotels.

Washington Wine Country

vineyards stretch over the land in Yakima, Washington
Yakima Valley is a hotbed for winemaking. Photo © waterfordyork/iStock.

Day 3

East of the town of Yakima, the Yakima Valley is a hotbed for Washington’s thriving wine industry. The most satisfying winery-touring area is the Rattlesnake Hills, where country roads northeast of I-82 take you to eclectic, friendly wineries. Owen Roe arguably produces the finest wine here, and Two Mountain Winery has the most fun tasting room, but all of the producers in the region take an accessible, unpretentious approach to their craft. Also in the valley, it’s worth stopping in the little town of Toppenish, which is decorated with more than 80 historical murals.

At the east end of the valley is the Tri-Cities area, a community of a quarter million with numerous chain hotels that are your best lodging choice. The main business is dismantling the Hanford nuclear site, a remnant of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the conclusion of World War II. It’s an interesting, sobering place that you can visit on the Hanford B Reactor Tour.

Day 4

You get a different kind of wine country experience an hour east of the Tri-Cities in Walla Walla. While the Tri-Cities and Yakima are home to a variety of other enterprises, in Walla Walla winemaking is the undisputed top priority. As a result there’s a more hospitality-driven culture here, with appealing places to stay and a charming little downtown where tasting rooms share the retail blocks with cute shops and many good restaurants. Your best approach is to stop by a winery or two west of town on your way in, have lunch in town, and then head back out to visit more wineries at the old airport or in the vineyard area to the south. If that’s too much wine for you, check out the historic Whitman Mission or Fort Walla Walla Museum instead. Wrap up the day with dinner back downtown at either Brasserie Four or Saffron.

Day 5

If you’re headed back to Seattle, buckle in the next morning for the 4.5-hour drive, which will take you back through Yakima and over Snoqualmie Pass. If you’re driving a rental car, you can opt to drop it off at the airport and make one of the daily hour-long flights from Walla Walla to Seattle.


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