Since leaving our humble abode last spring, we have driven through the following 28 states:
One of the most frequent questions we hear is, “Where are your favorite places?” Although Juneau (and several other places in Alaska) remain top of that list, based on the state’s incredibly vast scenery, mountainous landscapes, hiking, spots to adventure & incredible dog friendliness, we will keep this list focused on our favorites from the “lower 48.” This list is in no particular order:
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Growing up in Michigan, the “UP” was an area I never explored, unless the high school football team made it to the semi-finals, which meant we were going to the “yooper-dome” in Marquette, MI. Since the start of this tour we’ve been to Marquette twice, and I fell in love! The trails, the woods, and Lake Superiors rocky shoreline are gorgeous. Although the area we grew up in, near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, is also beautiful, “home” went down a few notches for us this past summer when we realized there weren’t many places we could go with our two boys. Unlike parts of “lower Michigan”, the UP has the rugged terrain that makes you feel like you can wander forever.
One of the many places to hike:
“Black Rocks” in Marquette:
The Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina
Neither of us expected to love North Carolina as much as as we did, but it was SO green, riddled with trails, and full of waterfalls to explore. There is just something about a waterfall that makes me feel at peace. We mostly stuck to Asheville and the surrounding areas, although we wish we could have made it to the Outer Banks as we heard it was also beautiful. North Carolina is a place we are eager to return to and continue exploring.
One of the many, many waterfalls:
And plus…how many other places have an all natural water slide?!
Both of us planned to love all of Colorado, but the influx of people since the legalization of marijuana was a huge turn-off. The entire front range is crowded, too far from the mountains for our preference, and every time of the day feels like rush hour. When we reached Telluride in October is was such an incredible breath of fresh air. The drive through the mountains is stunning, and the arrival into Telluride’s box canyon is gorgeous. In addition to the beauty, the town has a laid back, outdoor-enthusiast-feel, everywhere we went. The area is no where short of hiking, climbing, rafting, and of course skiing and boarding. One of our favorite parts–it’s incredibly dog friendly! So many incredible pictures to choose from! …but you really must go and see it for yourself!
Santa Barbara, CA
We were only able to explore southern California, despite our California wish list; however from San Diego up to Santa Barbara was gorgeous! Santa Barbara stood out to us because of it’s hilly landscape along the ocean shores. In addition to it’s scenery, the downtown was full of fun eateries and lined with shops. We only spent one night camping in Ojai (near Santa Barbara) and an afternoon in downtown Santa Barbara, but even with such a short visit, it stood out as a favorite.
It’s hard to pick one spot in Arizona, so we generalized it to the northern parts. We spent a few short hours in Sedona, one (very cold) night in Flagstaff, saw the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell & the unforgettable, Antelope Canyon. One of our favorite drives we have done yet, was through the very northern part of Arizona as it was rugged and had very few pull-offs or stops…yet off in the distance the flat landscape was riddled with crazy rock formations shooting up from the horizon.
The Grand Canyon (something that pictures never can do justice…you really must see it in person!)
Lower Antelope Canyon…we were able to get so many incredible pictures, it feels impossible to pick only one!
Utah is a place I cannot wait to make a return trip. We were only able to spend a few days in Moab, but with good friends of ours who knew the area well. We saw Arches National Park, part of Canyonlands National Park, and walked along the base of the green river. In a separate trip we spent a night on the west side of the state in St. George, just outside of Zion, but weren’t able to stop, much to our disappointment. Doing a trip to all five of the states national parks is top on our future travel list!
Arches National Park:
The moon rise in Canyonlands:
During the Winter World of Beer tour we had a show scheduled in Columbia, SC. When we mentioned that location to people familiar with South Carolina, several asked if we were going to Charleston. After being asked a few times I started looking in to it and learned Charleston is a “music town,” so inevitably we made it part of our tour–and we are so glad we did! The city is full of rich history, cobblestone streets, and colonial style houses. We did a ghost tour while we were there and enjoyed the kooky stories, but also seeing the headstones that dated as far back as the mid-1600’s. Near Charleston was Folley Beach, which we’d love to see in it’s prime! It was a quaint surfing town, just outside the city. We are eager to make it back to the coast of South Carolina to explore more of the history, including a historical tour of the plantations.
The edge of Charleston, along the shoreline:
New Orleans, LA
This city definitely lived up to the craziness we were expecting. We were there on St. Patricks Day & we dared to walk Bourbon Street (with dogs in tow). People were standing on balconies that lined the streets, heckling walkers down below and tossing beads. Aside from the party aspect, the French Quarters were fascinating, and in a way, felt like a walk through time. The old, skinny buildings with 8 ft high shutters covering the windows, or the black intricate mental porch railings that lined second floor balconies, met the authenticity of New Orleans I was hoping to see. My favorite was the costumes, the craziness and the masks. Growing up I always had several costume boxes at my disposal…so I felt like the little kid in me hit a costume jackpot with sequins, tutus, and over the top outfits.
Do you have a favorite spot you’ve visited? Leave it in the comments below!