Three Perfect Days: Guadalajara
Hemispheres

Three Perfect Days: Guadalajara

By The Hub team , April 20, 2016

Story by Justin Goldman | Photography by Alexis Lambrou and Jorge Garrido | Hemispheres, April 2016

From mariachi and tequila to contemporary art and gastronomy, Mexicoâs second city offers a tantalizing mix of traditional and modern culture

If Mexico City is the New York of Mexico, then Guadalajara is its Los Angeles—a sprawl of towns and neighborhoods that have been patched together into a metropolis of more than 4 million people. The Jalisco state capital also has perfect weather and a shockingly beautiful population, with a culture that combines modern refinement (art galleries and high-concept restaurants) and spirited tradition (mariachi and lucha libre). Speaking of spirited, Guadalajara also happens to be an hour away from the home of Mexico's most famous export: tequila. Whether you're looking for a cosmopolitan experience or a taste of old Mexico, the Tapatíos, as locals are known, will deliver in style.

Day 1 Graphic

In which Justin cranes his neck at macabre murals, experiences the passion of Mexican soccer fans, and eats at the bone church of restaurants

“It's the coldest day of the year," my cab driver says as we pull away from Guadalajara International Airport. “We're all freezing." I check my phone—it's 72 degrees. A half hour later, still shivering, he drops me at the Hotel Demetria, in the city's trendy Lafayette neighborhood. The Demetria is one of those places that is so architecturally incongruous that it somehow makes sense: a 1930s Mediterranean-style house with a concrete, steel, and glass tower tacked onto the back of it. I enter through a glass atrium, stepping across stone slabs set into a pool, like lily pads, and passing a cluster of Romanesque columns on the way to the elevator. In my suite, I find a white cereal bowl of a bathtub next to a picture window overlooking Avenida de la Paz. I'll be back for that tub.

First, I have an appointment. I stroll a few blocks to Palreal, an open-air coffee shop and restaurant where hummingbirds (called chuparosas, or rose suckers) flit among bougainvilleas. I spot contemporary artist Jose Dávila sitting on the patio sporting a blue blazer, circular glasses, and slicked-back hair. At his urging, I order the house special, lonche de pancita, a pork-belly sandwich messily topped with green tomatillo salsa and avocado. As I napkin salsa from my face, he tells me about Guadalajara's place in Mexico's cultural history.

“Mexico City, for obvious reasons, has always been the big center of it all, but there's always been a certain counterpart in Guadalajara," Dávila says. “In the '30s, at the time of the muralists, José Clemente Orozco was from Guadalajara. Luis Barragán, the famous architect, was from Guadalajara. Juan Rulfo, the writer, was from here. Even now, with the three famous Mexican directors in Hollywood—Iñárritu, Cuarón, and [Guillermo] del Toro—del Toro is from Guadalajara."

Jose D\u00e1vila, artistJose Dávila, artist

After breakfast, Dávila takes me to his studio, a 10-minute drive (as in Los Angeles, access to a car here is essential) up the wide Avenida Federalismo to the appropriately named Colonia Artesanos. The studio, across a narrow street from a metalwork shop, is a multilevel marvel of abstract sculptures in various stages of completion, with several finished pieces—including a series of rotating metal squares hanging from the ceiling and a large pane of glass suspended from a steel frame—on display in an old wrestling gym. Later, as we say goodbye, I ask Dávila for a museum recommendation. “The Cabañas, where the paintings of Orozco are," he says, “is a must.

I take the short drive to the Centro Histórico and the nearly 200-year-old Hospicio Cabañas, a former orphanage with balustrades and pinnacles that reflect the palaces of France and Spain. Once the largest Spanish-built structure in the Americas, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inside, I lean back to take in the macabre Orozco frescoes that adorn the ceilings and the sunlit dome. “This is like therapy for the neck," jokes my guide, Rubén, who explains that the murals depict scenes from Mexico's often violent past: Aztec sacrifices, a robotlike Hernán Cortés carrying a huge sword, Philip II bearing a bloody cross to represent the Mexican Inquisition.

“Guadalajara has been an artists' hub for 15, 20 years. Plenty of international artists around the world come to Guadalajara to produce work. Large works, small works, ceramics, metal, copper—you name it." —Jose Dávila

From here, I walk across the main square, Plaza Tapatía, to the Palacio de Gobierno to see more of Orozco's work. On the ceiling of the palace's stairwell looms a terrifying mural of Miguel Hidalgo (the leader of the Mexican Revolution) wielding a flame, surrounded on all sides by casualties of war.

I need some light after all that gloom, so I walk around the corner to sunny Plaza de Armas, where I settle under an ornate gazebo. Kids play by a fountain, old men in cowboy hats lounge under shade trees, and teenagers snap selfies. Across the street is the city's centerpiece, the Catedral de Guadalajara, a Spanish Renaissance church with twin neo-Gothic bell towers that was completed in 1618 (though it's been rebuilt several times due to earthquake damage). I step inside and watch from the rear as penitents knee-crawl down the long middle aisle toward the radiant stained glass windows in the gilded dome.

One more stop in the Centro: I enter Mercado San Juan de Dios, a three-story warren of stands selling jewelry, candy, mariachi suits, lucha libre masks, even caged birds, their songs mingling with the sounds of competitive commerce. Retailers hawk their wares aggressively here—witness the guy who lifts a horse saddle off a counter and shakes its leather tassels in my face.

Chivas moves up the field at duskChivas moves up the field at dusk

The market's second floor is a maze of taco stands, so many that I can't make a choice. So, in the classic fashion of the indecisive traveler, I go somewhere else. A short drive down Calzada Independencia leads me to one of Guadalajara's most pleasant areas, Las Nueve Esquinas (The Nine Corners), a tangle of cobblestone streets that's home to several restaurants proffering a Guadalajaran specialty: birria, or goat stew. I take a seat in the open-air, blue-tile Birrieria Las 9 Esquinas, where I watch a woman hand-press tortillas as I'm served a bowl of the spicy, hearty stew. The meat, spooned onto those tortillas and topped with creamy refried beans and fiery salsa, is divine. I finish it off with a sweet little egg custard called a jericalla.

Pleasantly stuffed, I head back to the city center for a quick digestif at Guadalajara's most venerable dive bar, La Fuente, sometimes called “The Bicycle Bar" due to its decorative centerpiece: a bike that a drunk patron abandoned here back in 1957, and which the owner then mounted on the wall. I kick back a couple of Pacificos and consider the bike, coated with 50 years of dust, trying not to think about all the things I've left in bars over the years.

Consider those chelas (beers) a tailgate of sorts, because my next stop is Estadio Omnilife, home to CD Guadalajara, or Chivas, Mexico's most popular soccer club, in part because it's the only team that exclusively fields home-grown players. I'm a sports fan, but the passion here is unlike anything I've ever seen. Behind one of the goals, supporters cram themselves into a standing-room-only section where they wave flags and chant throughout the game and jump all over each other in an orgy of thunderous joy when Chivas scores. Late in the game, when the opposing team scores to earn a tie, these fans also employ some of the most colorful profanity you'll hear in any language.

An Orozco mural at the Palacio de GobiernoAn Orozco mural at the Palacio de Gobierno

After crawling through an epic post-game traffic jam, I pop back into the Demetria to change clothes. A few blocks from here is Hueso (Spanish for “bone"), a two-year-old restaurant with an all-white interior that feels like a brightly lit version of a Gothic bone church, its walls cluttered with cow skulls and assorted animal bones. The food, served at a long communal table, is more, um, lively. Courses of seafood (scallop ceviche; mussels and shrimp in squid ink; gravlax with avocado sauce) and meat (rack of lamb with mole, short rib topped with thin-sliced roast beef) pair with an excellent Pies de Tierra red wine from Baja California.

“On the ceiling looms a terrifying mural of Miguel Hidalgo wielding a flame, surrounded by casualties of war."

After the meal, chef Alfonso Cadena—who, with his long hair, bandanna, and pointy goatee, has a Jim Morrison air about him—steps out of the open kitchen to say hello. “For me, 'bone' means flavor," he says. “The challenge was, how are we going to make the perception of something repulsive, like a skeleton, into something pretty? It was kind of risky for Guadalajara, which in some ways is very conservative. But you can find a lot of artists, musicians, architects, and I think it's an advantage to have a restaurant here, because I truly believe that Jalisco has this global connection. Jalisco talks about the Mexican culture itself."

By the end of the meal, I'm a little buzzed, more than a little full, and about ready for bed. My waiter has other ideas. He brings me a carajillo, a shot of espresso poured over a sweet Spanish liqueur, Licor 43, on the rocks. I'm suddenly light and bouncy on my feet, so I walk up Avenida Chapultepec and over to the Black Sheep, a popular bar affixed to a backpacker hostel on a small pedestrian plaza. After shooting a few games of pool, I take a seat on the streetside patio, where I sip Don Julio 70 and eavesdrop on the multilingual crowd around me, reflecting on chef Alfonso's words: There truly is a global spirit here.

Day 2 Graphic

In which Justin views mind-bending art, listens to an all-female mariachi band, and ducks flying lucha libre wrestler

I wake up feeling a bit crudo, as they say here. Fortunately, I've got a driver—I don't think I could handle the streetfight that is driving in a Mexican city today. Apprised of my condition, Vicente Rangel, of tour company Sin Fin de Servicios, takes me to the nearest Tortas Toño, a chain that serves the Tapatíos' favorite hangover cure: the torta ahogada, a pork or chicken sandwich on crusty French bread that you dress to your liking with nuclear reactor–level red chile sauce. In my enthusiasm for the life-restoring properties of capsaicin, I go a little overboard with the pepper sauce. Seeing me sweat, Vicente passes along another remedy: a mini Corona.

Revived, I ask Vicente to take me across town to Tonalá, a suburb on the southeast side of the city, to see its famed tianguis, or open-air market. The main thoroughfare, Tonaltecas, is lined with handicraft shops, and twice a week these shops put up booths on the sidewalk to show off their wares: wood carvings, glass sculptures, tequila sets, flowers, tacos at five for 10 pesos (less than 60 cents). The market stretches most of the length of the town and is even more crammed than the Mercado San Juan de Dios. I can't turn around without bumping into a hanging display of jewelry or a Jesus statue—my last collision causing a child riding on his father's shoulders to point and laugh.

Sensing that I'm not handling the human crunch all that well, Vicente leads me onto a side street, to Galeria Bernabe, a ceramics shop that makes hand-painted tableware (a 94-piece set takes three months to make and costs $12,000). As I browse, Vicente gleefully recaps the previous night's soccer match with Javier, one of the owners (they're fans of Atlas, Chivas's intracity rival). “I think I might be sick," Vicente tells me. “I'd rather see Chivas lose than Atlas win." As a Giants fan, I tell him, I feel the same about the Dodgers.

Sculptures at Galeria Sergio Bustamante in TlaquepaqueSculptures at Galeria Sergio Bustamante in Tlaquepaque

From Tonalá, we head to the neighboring suburb of Tlaquepaque, which features an upscale pedestrian ramble of art galleries. We stroll Calle Independencia, stopping at Galeria Sergio Bustamante to marvel at the paintings and sculptures; with their triangular heads, oddly stretched features, and lurid colors, Bustamante's figures resemble characters from a Tim Burton nightmare. We also poke our heads into the Galeria Rodo Padilla, with its ceramic depictions of Mexican folk symbols, and Carlos & Albert, which features in its entryway a beautiful Día de los Muertos Catrina skeleton.

On the street in front of Restaurante El Patio, we encounter an all-female mariachi band playing to a crowd of photo-snapping tourists—some of whom pose amid the musicians midsong. We follow the band into El Patio and sit on the, um, patio as they serenade tables with songs ranging from the traditional “Malagueña" to a mariachified “New York, New York." Afterward, I buttonhole Mayra Casillas and ask her about becoming a mariachi.

“Mariachi is a fundamental part of our culture," she tells me. “When you hear a mariachi, you say, 'Mexico!' My uncles and my father liked to sing, and they gave me the love of Mexican music, but none of them studied it. I was the only one who became a musician."

Inspired by Casillas, we walk a few blocks up to El Parian, a large patio ringed with cantinas. We grab seats and watch as roving mariachis and música norteña (another form of Mexican folk music) players—I count at least 10 bands—go from table to table, singing for tips. After a few songs, I'm ready to order food, but Vicente stops me. He has something special in mind.

“This is not a fancy restaurant," he tells me as we head back across town, “but it's real Mexican seafood, like they make in Nayarit," his home state, Jalisco's neighbor to the north. After about 30 minutes, he pulls onto a small street in the suburb of Zapopan and parks next to El Zarandeao. The warehouselike space is utilitarian, but the food? ¡Dios mío! We start with cups of shrimp soup, then plow through a plate of tender ceviche topped with chunks of avocado, followed by shrimp empanadas, a fillet of fish smoked over an open fire, and finally a plate of grilled shrimp that we eat shell and all—without a doubt, the best camarones I have ever tasted.

After lunch, we head to the center of Zapopan, home to a couple of Guadalajara's signature attractions. We start at the 17th-century Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Zapopan, a huge, dual-towered church that looks more like a fortress than the convent that it was originally built to be. At the church gate, campesinos sell beaded jewelry, a simpler rendition of the mesmerizing beadwork inside the Museo Huichol, attached to the basilica. In the exhibit hall, I stop to consider a bright green-and-red frog—if I licked him, would I hallucinate? A stern look from an attendant discourages me from trying, so I scamper a couple of blocks away, to the Museo de Arte de Zapopan, a boundary-pushing museum for contemporary artists. At the moment it's exhibiting performance pieces by Czech artist Jiří Kovanda. My favorite is a video of Kovanda at London's Tate Modern offering a kiss to each passing patron.

There's been a lot of walking—and eating—so I'm ready for siesta. Vicente drops me back at the Demetria, where my plan is to grab a quick nap and then a soak in the tub before dinner. But when I lie down I feel myself sink deeper and deeper into my cloudlike bed, and by the time I wake, a bath is out of the question. Sigh.

Masked wrestlers hurl each other around as a crowd watches

“Masked wrestlers hurl each other around as vendors prowl the crowd offering white pork skins and Coronas."

A short cab ride away, on a frontage road along the railroad tracks, is i Latina, one of Guadalajara's best-loved restaurants. The place has a sort of found-object decor—every wall painted a different color and bearing a different style of art, no two tables alike. The food too is eclectic. Appetizers include fried-shrimp-and-mango tacos served on thin slices of jicama instead of tortillas. For an entrée, I opt for duck confit terrine in a peanutty mole sauce, washed down with a tamarind margarita. Early in the meal, the room is relaxed, Dolly Parton's “Jolene" playing on the stereo, but by the time I'm finished, the place is filled with stylish people, and the music has switched to bumping David Bowie.

I could imagine a restaurant like i Latina in America, but my next destination could exist only in Mexico: the Arena Coliseo lucha libre ring. Lucha libre is a hopped-up version of the WWE, with far more rabid fans (the cheap seats are literally behind a chainlink fence). Masked wrestlers hurl each other around as vendors prowl the crowd offering white pork skins (no, thanks) and Coronas (yes, please). In some ways, it's a family environment—kids crowd the edge of the walkway to high-five the wrestlers—and in other ways, it's very much not. (To call the ring girls scantily clad would be an understatement, and spectators hurl insults that would make a Chivas fan blush.) At least once, a wrestler wades into the crowd to do battle with mask-wearing fans.

After the last match, the crowd pours out of the arena, a mass of humanity clogging the narrow street. Grinning men stop for photos with ring girls, smoke rises from mounds of carne asada on taco-stand grills, kids in brand-new lucha libre masks dash by, their parents close behind. It might not be the kind of scene you'd find in a guidebook, but this, right here, is Mexico.

Day 3 Graphic

In which Justin tours the world famous blue agave fields, tastes fine tequila, and dances past the break of dawn

I'm going to need a good base for today's activities, so I start at La Cafeteria, a popular brunch spot in a lovely old stucco house nestled among French mansions on Avenida Libertad. The specialty here is chilaquiles—nachos drowned in spicy tomato ranchero sauce and topped with crunchy chicharrón—which I devour as I sit on the shaded patio, enjoying the perfect morning weather.

Now I'm ready to get acquainted with the spirit of Mexico. Juan Pablo Ramírez, a guide for Jose Cuervo who goes by J.P., has agreed to take me and my friend Matt—an Angeleno in town on business—to the town of Tequila, an hour northwest of Guadalajara, for a tour of La Rojeña. The oldest distillery in the Americas, it has produced Cuervo tequila since 1758.

J.P., a former rock musician, grew up in Guadalajara but moved to Tequila because he liked the small-town feel. “Also, the tequila," he adds with a laugh. From Guadalajara, we take the historic Ruta del Tequila, passing the 9,580-foot Volcán de Tequila, roadside tequileros, and the sprawling, 145-year-old Herradura distillery in Amatitán. We descend into a valley, crossing railroad tracks where migrant laborers wait to jump the train to the States, and cut through fields of blue agave.

We pull onto one of the tracts, tires crunching on the parched, rocky soil. Between rows of spiky blue agave, sprouting waist-high from the earth like alien tentacles extricating themselves from shallow graves, we find Ismael Gama, a fourth-generation jimador who has worked these fields for nearly 50 years. He doffs his white cowboy hat, then selects a good-size agave plant—one with a piña, or pineapple-shaped heart, of about 130 pounds, which will produce about seven liters of tequila—and takes his machete to the leaves. In a matter of moments, he has uprooted the heart, which he splits so we can taste the fibrous, jicamalike center.

Juan Pablo Ram\u00edrez, guide, Jose CuervoJuan Pablo Ramírez, guide, Jose Cuervo

We continue into Tequila, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, over cobblestone streets, past an 18th-century church, to La Rojeña. J.P. leads us through the gates of the yellow-walled hacienda, past a tall statue of a black bird (cuervo is Spanish for “raven"), and into the production facility. All around are heaps of harvested piñas; the air is full of the sweet, bready smell of fermentation. By the stills, where the agave wine that's extracted from the plants is distilled into tequila, we stop to taste a 110-proof blanco, then continue into the barrel room, where we sample reposado (aged six months) and añejo (aged a year or more) tequilas to see how the wood mellows the agave and imparts oak and vanilla notes to the liquor.

“I like it in Tequila because it's a really calm life. It's not as fast as Guadalajara. It's growing a lot, but the essence of the town is still calm."—Juan Pablo Ramírez

“What I look for in tequila is the taste of the plant," J.P. says. “When I drink the añejos, I taste the wood, so I prefer the blancos."

Next, J.P. takes us down to the La Reserva de la Familia Cellar, home to bottles of 100-plus-year-old blancos and barrels of the three-to-seven-year-old Reserva, one of the world's finest liquors. (“It's the cognac of tequilas," J.P. says.) I ladle myself a glass straight from the barrel. “This must be what magic tastes like," I say to Matt. “This is the best thing that's ever happened to me," he replies.

Tour finished, we cross the plaza to La Antigua Casona, the main restaurant in Mundo Cuervo's Solar de las Ánimas hotel. After a much-needed three-course meal—a tuna-poke tostada with avocado sauce and cucumber, beef tenderloin in mole sauce, and a fluffy slice of chocolate cake—I feel as if I've reinfused some blood into all that tequila in my veins.

Jimador Ismael Gama uproots a blue agave to harvest the pi\u00f1aJimador Ismael Gama uproots a blue agave to harvest the piña

After lunch, J.P. arranges for a friend to give us a ride back to the city. I'm still a bit bleary when I walk into the Demetria, but everything gets clear when I lock eyes on that tub. It's time. After a long soak and a quick snooze, I go upstairs to the hotel's rooftop pool and pass some time on a lounge chair looking down on the tree-lined streets of Lafayette and Chapultepec. A few laps to work up an appetite, and I'm ready for dinner.

A short cab ride brings me to the upscale Providencia neighborhood. I'm reuniting with Matt at La Tequila, a two-story brick restaurant that offers high-end takes on traditional Mexican fare—and lots of its namesake spirit, as evidenced by the bottles on the walls. We sit on the upstairs patio, where we watch a pickup soccer game going on across the street. The drink menu has 11 pages of tequilas, mezcals, and sotoles (another spirit distilled from agave), but that Cuervo Reserva was so good that we can't help but order it again. We're a little more adventurous with our appetizers: chapulines (chopped grasshoppers) and escamoles (ant larvae), which look like lentils and serve as a salty tortilla topping. For an entrée, Matt has a molcajete, a stone mortar filled with steak, shrimp, sausage, avocado, and nopal (cactus strips), while I opt for suckling pig that's been slow-roasted in dried chiles and pulque, a traditional fermented beverage.

“Spiky blue agaves sprout from the earth like alien tentacles extricating themselves from shallow graves."

It would be easy (and almost certainly advisable) to call it an evening, but it's my last night in Mexico, and I ain't going out like that. So: ¡Carajillos!

We hop a cab to Avenida de las Américas, a busy strip of shiny malls and office towers, disembarking at Evva, the city's trendiest club. Inside, the sounds of Ricky Martin, J. Lo, and Pitbull (“Pitbull's some kind of god here," Matt tells me) pump across the dance floor and the rooftop pool, causing insanely good-looking men and women—seriously, the most attractive people I've ever seen—to shake it. We find a table and watch through the neon light as waiters parade by bearing champagne in ice buckets, sparklers shooting into the air. A friendly local guy comes over and photobombs one of our selfies, then pours tequila in our mouths.

When the lights come on, we head down the escalator to find the sun creeping over the tops of the palm trees on the avenue. I turn to Matt, smile, and say, “Who's ready for a fourth perfect day?"

Hemispheres managing editor Justin Goldmanknew he would love Guadalajara—after all, his favorite hot sauce is Tapatío.


This article was from Rhapsody Magazine and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Best aviation-inspired museums to visit

By Benét J. Wilson

With National Aviation Day right around the corner (August 19), a great way to celebrate is by visiting an aviation-themed museum. Many of the museums have hands-on, interactive exhibits —and some even have retired airplanes you can visit. Below are seven museums to visit this Aviation Day and beyond.

The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington

The Museum of Flight in Seattle bills itself as the largest independent, nonprofit air and space museum in the world. The museum's 20 acres is home to more than 160 significant aircraft and spacecraft, including the world's first fighter plane, the first jet Air Force One and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It's also one of a handful of museums in the world that has a Concorde supersonic jet on display —located in its British Airways livery. The campus also includes the original Boeing factory, the NASA Space Shuttle Trainer and the only exhibit to house the original rocket engines used to launch Apollo astronauts to the moon. Additional activities include flight simulators that make you feel as if you're flying an airplane, a 3D movie theater and an aircraft exhibit that includes the world's only presentation of the first Boeing 727, 737 and 747 jets.

Tucson, Arizona

The Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson boasts 2,600 acres and is one of the largest non-government funded aviation and space museums in the world. It features more than 350 historical aircraft, from a Wright Flyer to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Visitors can take an hour-long tram tour narrated by experienced docents who share stories about the planes' significance and personal stories of service. There are bus tours of its aircraft boneyard, home to more than 4,000 military and federal government aircraft. If decide you want to participate in the tour while visiting the museum, it's recommended that you make a reservation 10 business days ahead of time.

A P-51 Mustang takes off from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, during EAA Airventure.

Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Each year, Oshkosh attracts nearly 500,000 spectators to what is considered the largest airshow in the world — EAA AirVenture. But if you can't make this annual event in July, you can still visit the EAA AirVenture Museum year-round. While there, check out the museum's display of more than 200 historic aircraft — aircraft like the 1918 Curtiss JN-4D 'Jenny', a 1945 Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair and a 1930 Cessna CG-2 Glider. For attractions, visit the Eagle Hangar, a tribute to World War II aviation. And lastly, make sure to take a ride in a vintage 1929 Travel Air E-4000 open-cockpit biplane located at Pioneer Airport.

Palm Springs, California

Named by CNN as one of the best aviation museums, the Palm Springs Air Museum is one of the few that actually allow visitors to go inside aircraft to explore the exhibits. It features 59 aircraft from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Aircraft include a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, an F-14A Tomcat and even a Russian MiG-21+. Take a ride in aircraft like the P-51 Mustang, the iconic plane flown by the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. The museum is also home to permanent and temporary exhibits, artifacts, artwork and a library.

The inside of the closed Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is seen in Washington

Washington, D.C.

The National Smithsonian Air & Space Museum has two outposts — the original building in downtown D.C. and the more than 100-acre Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center facility near Washington Dulles International Airport. The downtown location has aircraft like the Bell X-1 flown by Chuck Yeager when he first broke the sound barrier, an Airbus A320 flight deck simulator and the forward fuselage of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, along with the popular “How Things Fly" exhibit.

The Udvar-Hazy center has thousands of aviation and space artifacts on display, including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, an Air France Concorde, the Space Shuttle Discovery and the Boeing 367-80 — the prototype for the Boeing 707 and America's first commercial jet airliner. There's also the Airbus IMAX® Theater and the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower, which gives you a 360-degree bird's-eye view of Washington Dulles International Airport and the surrounding area.

Denver, Colorado

The Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is located on a portion of land that used to be Lowry Air Force Base, a technical training center until it closed in 1994. The museum is home to aircraft including a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, a Cessna O-2 Skymaster and even a Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter. The brand-new Boeing Blue Sky Aviation Gallery at Centennial Airport is phase one of the museum's second location that will focus on the present and future of aerospace. It offers interactive exhibits, the latest in general aviation technology and the chance to fly realistic Red Bird simulators as well as tours of the airfield.

Planes At Intrepid Sea Air And Space Museum

New York, New York

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum complex in New York is located on a World War II aircraft carrier. Among its many exhibits are Enterprise, the prototype of NASA's Space Shuttle and a Harrier fighter jet. It also includes the British Airways Concorde that made the world's speed record for passenger airliners in 1996 when it flew from New York to London in 2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds. Before leaving, make sure to check out the 4D aircraft simulator, something you won't want to miss.

Getting there

United flies to most of the destinations above, including Denver, New York, Palm Springs, Seattle, Tucson and Washington, D.C. You can fly into neighboring Appleton, Wisconsin, to visit Oshkosh. Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your aviation-themed museum trip.

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Weekend inspiration: Savannah

By Kelsey + Courtney Montague

The key to visiting Savannah in the summer? Planning outdoor and indoor activities, so you can enjoy all of the treasures this charming Southern city has to offer. If you only have a few days to spend here, it is even more important to plan your time and itinerary carefully. Luckily, we've gathered the best of the best to visit in historic Savannah with carefully planned air-conditioned stops along the way. Put on your walking shoes, grab some sunscreen and get ready to explore.

Day 1

Before your trip, make sure to make reservations for dinner at The Olde Pink House restaurant in advance. Adjacent to the Planters Inn, this popular spot has been serving Southern food at it's finest at one of Savannah's oldest mansions. While there, make sure you order the fried chicken — voted one of the best in Savannah and it does not disappoint. The braised pork shank is also a must-try. From there walk over to Leopold's Ice Cream. Choose a fancy pre-made ice cream or create your own treat. A Savannah tradition, this shop has been serving the best ice cream in Savannah since 1919.

Abe's on Lincoln | Photo credit: Kelsey + Courtney Montague

If you're looking for a dive bar instead of ice cream, drop in to Abe's on Lincoln. Create your own artistic rendition of Abraham Lincoln on your napkin, and your creation might end up on the ceiling where other patrons' artwork is displayed.

Day 2

The next morning get started before the crowds and visit the Waving Girl Statue. This statue commemorates Florence Martus who (from 1887-1931) became the unofficial 'greeter' of Savannah and waved at every ship that came into port. From there head down River Street to Huey's on the river for beignets and their potato casserole. Don't worry about the calories, you will walk them off.

The potato salad at Hueys on the river

Photo credit: Kelsey + Courtney Montague

The Georgia Queen on River Street

Photo credit: Kelsey + Courtney Montague

After Huey's, stop by the Savannah Bee Company and sign up for a mead tasting. For just a few dollars you will get to taste all sorts of variations and flavors from all over the country. Interestingly mead, created from fermenting honey, is one of the oldest alcohols in human history. Evidence of mead in clay pots dates back to 7000 BC. After you've had a few sips of mead and tasted the honeycomb, head out for a bit of shopping. We recommend Broughton Street, especially 24e and the Paris Market.

Artillery - Savannah The Artillery restaurant | Photo credit: Kelsey + Courtney Montague

Stop by Juliet Gordon Lowe's birthplace (Girl Scout's founder) to see when the next tour is and make a reservation. Go to Husk for lunch while you wait. Husk, founded by James Beard award-winning chef Sean Brock, uses local ingredients in his ever-changing, scrumptious menu. After your tour of Ms. Lowe's home, put on your finest and head over to Artillery for a fancy cocktail and then on to The Collins Quarter Restaurant.

The Collins Quarter - Savannah Collins Quarter restaurant | Photo credit: Kelsey + Courtney Montague

The Collins Quarter restaurant is an Australian take on Southern food and is exquisite. Get the hot chicken — it's delicious. Wander over to Chippewa Square after dinner where the movie Forrest Gump was filmed. The exact bench he sat on for the movie is no longer there, but everything else in the park is the same. Nearby on Bull street is another boutique, Red Clover, you should stop at if you're in the market for a gorgeous new frock. End the evening with dessert at Chocolate by Adam Turoni. Adam's shop feels like you stepped into wonderland, complete with a grass floor and bookshelves full of delicious treats.

All that's left is to head home full of southern food and southern hospitality.

P.S. If you have a few extra hours rent a car and go see the Wormsloe Plantation. The entrance will take your breath away. Also check out the Bonaventure Cemetery where poets, revolutionaries and the founders of Savannah have ornate gravestones in a picturesque, photo-worthy setting.

How to prepare for your child's first flight

By Benét J. Wilson

Traveling can be stressful at times, even when you're flying solo. But imagine what a child must feel, especially as they prepare to take their first flight. The key to any successful first flight is to take a cue from the Girl Scouts motto: be prepared. I'm a mother who started traveling the world with her child since she was 10 days old. So if you're planning your child's first flight soon, read on for my helpful tips to make your child's first flight a success.

Before the flight

Make sure to choose your seats as soon as you book your flight. Since restrooms are usually located at the back of the plane — and also near the front of the cabin, depending on the aircraft — you may want to choose seats near those areas so you won't have to go far if you and your child need the restroom or you need to change your baby's diaper. Additionally, children oftentimes enjoy looking out the window during a flight, so you may want to opt for a window seat so they can see other planes, a busy tarmac or clouds once you're up in the air.

Most airlines, including United, allow a child under the age of two to sit on a parent's lap. But if it fits within your budget, you could consider buying them their own seat and, depending on the child's age, bringing a government-approved child seat for them to use in the purchased seat. This allows you and your child to travel more safely and comfortably, and can help create a better sense of security for your child if they're used to the child seat you bring along.

Make sure to prepare your kids prior to the flight. Although airplanes can be exciting, they can also be scary for kids at first. Take time to explain what to expect during your journey, from the time they arrive at the airport until the plane lands at your destination. You can tell them about the kinds of people they will meet, such as gate agents, flight attendants and pilots, and the different events that occur, like boarding, the flight attendants' safety message and the sound of the aircraft engine during takeoff. This way they can enjoy identifying the people and events that make up their first flight.

two kids playing on a tablet at the airport

At the airport

To avoid any unnecessary stress, print your boarding passes or download them to your mobile device before arriving at the airport. Also plan to check your baggage as soon as you get to the airport so you don't have to worry about carrying along extra gear.

You can check with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) if you're unsure about what's allowed past security checkpoints, but baby formula, breast milk, food and medications aren't subject to the 3.4 ounce liquid restriction, so you're able to bring larger amounts of those items with you. Just make sure to let TSA officers know right away that you're carrying those items so you're not slowed down during the screening process.

After you've made it through security and are waiting at the gate, make sure your children have entertainment to keep them occupied while you wait. While most flights offer entertainment, there may be times when the inflight entertainment is not available, so bring toys, games, a tablet, coloring books or whatever it takes to keep them occupied and happy during a flight. If you're traveling with babies or toddlers, be sure to double check your diaper bag and make sure it has clothing, baby wipes, lotion, toys and extra bottles. Also, pack a favorite blanket and pillow for inflight naps.

You'll also want to carry various snacks, such as sandwiches, fruit, nuts, crackers or popcorn, and account for possible delays because food options may be limited. It's also a good idea to pack empty sippy cups or water bottles to fill up with inflight beverages.

On board the flight

When it's time to board your flight, you can take advantage of United's policy that allows families with children two and younger to pre-board. This will give you that much-needed time to stow your items and get you and your children in your seats so you're comfortable and ready for your flight.

By request, strollers can be checked at the gate at no additional cost. Before boarding starts, simply ask the gate agent to put a baggage tag on the stroller and you can leave it at the bottom of the jet bridge as you board the plane. When you get to your destination, your stroller will be waiting for you on the jet bridge after you exit the plane.

Once you're on board and settled, it helps to have a bottle on hand during takeoff and landing because it can help alleviate ear pressure for babies and toddlers. For older children, tell them what's about to happen and encourage them to look out the window to see what's going on before take-off. While in the air, create easy access to all the things you need to keep your children entertained and happy, and before you know it, you'll be on the ground again in no time. With just a little preparation, flying for the first time can be an exciting experience for both you and your child.

United heroes: Saving the life of a newborn

By Gladys Roman , August 13, 2018

Pediatrician Elizabeth Triche was so touched by how our employees went above and beyond to transport her critical ill newborn patient from Saipan to Guam then Honolulu to San Francisco and from there to their final destination of San Diego, that on July 27, she wrote the heartfelt note below to CEO Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby.

"Mr. Munoz and Mr. Kirby,

I am writing to give you my greatest gratitude for running a company that just did everything possible, every step of the way, to allow us to get our critically ill newborn with a fatal heart defect to life-saving emergency specialty care in San Diego.

Geoff Larson [Customer Service De-escalation Senior Manager] had given me his cellphone number one month ago and said to call if we ever needed any help getting patients to critical care. When I did call 3 days ago, he burst into action. We exchanged at least 10 emails and phone calls over the next 36 hours as he opened seats on fully booked flights, got us cleared to use oxygen (a process that usually delays our exit by 48-72 hours), and called on colleagues to make sure that all of our "special handling needs" in the airports were met. He emailed me as our first (of 4) flights arrived, letting me know that he was available to help with any glitches.

In Honolulu they held everyone on the plane so that we could get TSA and customs clearance first, gate side, avoiding our having to carry a sick baby in a car seat through an entire airport to customs. Helpers met us at each destination as gate agents from our departing cities warned the gate agents at our next arrival destination that we would need a wheelchair and help with bags.

Finally, as we were 30 minutes from our final destination, the pilot of United Flight 284 on 7/26/2018 from SFO to SAN called me up to the front of the plane to chat, as [there was] fog in San Diego. He wanted to know if the baby would be adversely affected if he [diverted] the flight to LA to refuel. We truly appreciated his taking our patient into account.

Ultimately, we arrived in San Diego without any major mishaps, and our newborn is currently undergoing definitive treatment for his condition.

Mr. Larson and his colleagues at United helped to save a life yesterday, as this baby may not have survived to make the flights had we had to wait for an open seat. Now that he has gotten to care, he will likely have a great chance at a normal life.

I just wanted everyone know that there are truly compassionate, dedicated people working for your organization."

We fly Australian firefighters to wildfires

By Gladys Roman , August 10, 2018

As parts of Oregon and California continue to battle blazing wildfires that have already consumed thousands of acres of land, we stepped up to help and flew a group of Australian firefighters to Boise, Idaho, over the weekend.

We created an extra section to fly a group of firefighters from all over Australia to Los Angeles International Airport, where they departed on a flight to Boise, Idaho on August 4.

Australia/New Zealand Contingent Field Liaison Officer Barry James explained that firefighters were selected to come help based on their qualifications, and they're all proud to support their fellow firefighters in the United States.

"We're flying to Boise for a couple of days of training and then we'll be splitting up. Some of us are going to Northern California and the rest are going to Oregon for a six-week deployment," explained Officer James, who flew United for the first time, but said it won't be his last. "It was an awesome, awesome experience; it was really hospitable," he added.

Our Los Angeles based employees and crews made sure the firefighters felt their appreciation by giving them a special welcoming message in the gate area, where they thanked them for their hard work.

"It was such an incredible honor for us at LAX to meet and fly these men and women, who are sacrificing their time and putting their lives on the line to help us battle the wildfire devastation in this part of the country," said LAX Station Operations Control Manager Maggie Ronan. "The crew in general was just outstanding. They were all so honored to fly this group and felt it was amazing that United built the extra section for their journey. There was a very special energy felt on the flight as we closed up to send them off to BOI."

We're teaming up with leading disaster relief organizations to provide aid to those impacted by the California wildfires. We will match up to $50,000 in total donations made to our charitable partners, Airlink, American Red Cross, Americares, North Coast Opportunities and Shasta Regional Community Foundation. For more information and to make a donation California Wildfire relief efforts, visit our CrowdRise fundraising campaign.

Lots of sweat, lots of on-time departures: Summer on the ramp

By Ryan Hood , August 10, 2018

It's 10:30 in the morning and the temperature gauge already reads 89 degrees. The Texan summer sun beams down from above. Heat waves emanate from the ground. Sweat glistens atop Ron Davis's shiny, bald head.

This isn't bad at all, Davis says. "I played high school football. Two-a-day practices? Those were hot. Some of the really hot days out here? Those feel more like three-a-day practices. We got it easy today."

A few gates down, employees revel in the "relief" that this weather feels like compared to the prior week.

"This is nothing," quips Tom Saavedra.

"A few clouds up there and a bit of a breeze – it's our lucky day," Leroy Taylor chimes in, a wide smile on his face.

Air temperature nearing 90 degrees. Tarmac temperature eclipsing 100 degrees most everywhere you step. 10:30 in the morning. And this is "easy". Welcome to life as a United ramp service employee at Houston's George Bush International Airport (IAH) in the summer.

United isoperating more than 500 flights out of Houston each day this summer, and thanks in part to the hard work of our ramp service employees, more flights have left Houston on time this summer than any prior summer.

How? Hydration and nutrition have played huge roles.

United ramp employee hydrating on the job

Posters with hydration reminders adorn the walls of ramp break rooms and hallways. It's the first topic of every meeting. Regular reminders are sent out over the group's radio system.

Employees have a flight schedule to keep, but as leaders, we have to provide them with the tools to do their job, says Gary Snead, a United supervisor based at IAH. "That includes keeping them fit to work in the summer heat."

And provide they do. Here are the resources deployed in an average summer month on the ramp in Houston:

  1. Over 10,000 bags of ice, totaling more than 100,000 pounds of ice.
  2. 313, 5-gallon water coolers refilled at least four times per day.
  3. An athletic trainer on site.
  4. One day a month, the IAH ramp holds a fruit & hydration day, where supervisors distribute over 1,000 pieces of fruit to our sun-soaked employees.
  5. 1,000+ cooling towels distributed.
  6. 10 misting tents

The increased focus on hydration has helped increase productivity, and it's also resulted in a record-low number of heat-related illnesses among employees.

You take care of the employees, Snead says, "and the employees will take care of your operation."

That's proved true around the world, as we have flown more customers this summer than ever before, all while topping our competition in on-time departures in recent months. Our 13,000+ ramp service employees have played a huge role in that.

Summer heat? It's been beat.

Top 7 things to experience when visiting Las Vegas

By Matt Chernov

When picturing Las Vegas, you probably see shimmering lights, felt-covered poker tables and the ecstatic sound of slot machines. But the truth is that the city offers visitors far more to experience than just gambling and excess. Located on the edge of the vast Mojave Desert, this uniquely American destination is constantly reinventing itself with every passing day, which makes it an ideal vacation spot for virtually every type of traveler. To help you get the most from your next trip to Vegas, here are seven attractions in and around the city that you won't want to miss.

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The Neon Museum

Since 1996, this magical outdoor art gallery has collected hundreds of old and discarded neon signs from the Las Vegas strip and displayed them for visitors on a 2-acre plot of land. With so much colorful history available to see, it's no wonder that the Neon Museum is one of the city's top Instagram spots. Though new signs are constantly being acquired and refurbished, many date back to the glory days of the 1950s, when Vegas icons like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. were the entertainment headlines at the casinos.

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

Red Rock Canyon

This stunning nature preserve is just a 15-mile drive west of Las Vegas, and is the perfect place to experience all the scenic beauty that Nevada has to offer. Red Rock Canyon features 26 clearly marked hiking trails, indoor and outdoor conservation exhibits and a plethora of majestic wildlife and desert flora to view. There's even a picturesque waterfall, so bring your camera along with your sunscreen and bottled water. A variety of educational programs are held each month, including a popular “Bats in Our Belfry" presentation in which rangers take visitors on a bat sightseeing tour of the canyon.

The Mob Museum

Because the birth of Las Vegas is intricately connected with organized crime, this fascinating museum is a must-visit for anyone who wants to understand how a dry Nevada desert became a worldwide symbol of glitz and glamour. Filled with amazing artifacts, vintage photos and life-size recreations of some of the city's most infamous residents, the Mob Museum focuses on both the gangsters who built Las Vegas and the law enforcement heroes who pursued them. A rotating collection of exhibits brings the town's colorful history to life in a way that no movie or book could ever hope to duplicate.

The Hoover Dam in Nevada

The Hoover Dam

A monument to man's industrial spirit and a marvel of American engineering, the spectacular Hoover Dam is located less than an hour's drive from Las Vegas — and it's truly an unforgettable sight to behold. Tours of the 726-foot-tall dam are highly encouraged and will fascinate young and old alike. While you're in the area, why not spend some time cruising the beautiful waters of nearby Lake Mead, which was created by the dam itself. Boat tours are available all week long from several locations around the lake, so advanced reservations are not needed.

Dig This Last Vegas

Are you visiting Las Vegas with children? If so, then this one-of-a-kind experience should definitely be on your travel itinerary. Dig This Last Vegas lets you and your kids drive and safely operate heavy duty construction equipment like bulldozers and excavators on a massive outdoor playground in the heart of the city. Anyone who grew up with toy tractors and plastic earth-moving machines can now climb behind the wheel and try them for real. With the help of trained instructors, kids as young as 8 years old can make their dreams of operating a genuine Caterpillar D5 bulldozer come true at this hands-on attraction site.

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

Spring Mountain Ranch

This Nevada state park is a relatively short drive from downtown Las Vegas and will instantly transport you back to the region's historic past. The perfectly preserved old west-style ranch is an excellent place for an afternoon picnic when you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the casinos. Thanks to the lush green surroundings and man-made lake, the temperature at Spring Mountain is noticeably cooler than you might expect of the hot Nevada climate. Explore further as gentle hiking trails allow you to stretch your legs in comfort while you navigate some of the loveliest scenery in the entire state.

Lotus of Siam

Widely considered to be one of the best Thai restaurants in the United States, Lotus of Siam earned its prestigious James Beard Award the hard way; by serving incredibly delicious Northern Thai dishes every day for the past 19 years. Owner and head chef Saipin Chutima recently opened a second location in Las Vegas, which means you'll have no trouble making reservations while you're in town. Considering that top foodie magazines like Gourmet, Saveur and Bon Appétit have praised this restaurant's incredible dishes for almost two decades, you'd be wise to book a table in advance. Try their crispy rice salad with house-made pork sausage for a flavor that will make your taste buds sing.

Getting there

When you're ready to experience the fun and excitement of Las Vegas, book your flight at united.com or by using the convenient United app, and share your story on social media with the #UnitedJourney hashtag.

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The 8 most underrated American road trips

By The Hub team

You've gotten your kicks on Route 66. You've wound through Highway 1. So how do you take another quintessential American summer vacation without repeating yourself? Good thing this country is not lacking in incredible vistas and varied landscapes—trust us: there is so much more than purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain (although, those aren't so bad themselves). From badlands to waterfalls, here are eight American road trips to consider.

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RELATED: 10 Waterparks Worth Traveling for

View of the Rockies in Colorado RondaKimbrow/Getty Images

Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway, Colorado

This western road trip through and around the Rocky Mountains has three separate routes that converge in Leadville, Colorado (the highest incorporated town in the country at 10,152 feet above sea level). There's no rule against traversing all three, especially since each is pretty short (82 miles total). First, take in the five enormous mountains surrounding Leadville, two of which are the tallest in the state. Head up through Tennessee Pass and cross the Continental Divide to reach the majestic town of Minturn for incredible fields of wildflowers. The route through Independence Pass toward Aspen has unbelievable views of the Rockies and Twin Lakes. Driving along the Arkansas River through Fremont Pass to Copper Mountain is ideal for spotting ranches, old mines and—fingers crossed—some Colorado wildlife.

Overseas Highway in FloridaFilippoBacci/Getty Images

Overseas Highway, Florida

You do not need a boat to enjoy the Florida Keys, and we can prove it. The Overseas Highway is one of the most unique roads in the country, as it basically island hops along Florida's hottest vacay spots like Islamorada (home of the Florida Brewing Company) and Marathon (home of Long Key State Park). The Seven-Mile Bridge is a highlight nestled into the 113-mile trip, so make sure to cross during the day for sprawling views of turquoise water and boaters galore. Other fun pit stops: Swim with dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, snorkel with sea critters at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and pose for a selfie at Southernmost Point Buoy, the farthest south you can get on the continental U.S.

Columbia River Highway, OregonJason W Lacey/Getty Images

Columbia River Highway, Oregon

This stretch of highway was the first of its kind to be officially declared a National Historic Landmark, and it's easy to see why. Set out from Troutdale, Oregon, and immediately you'll see the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge. Get ready for a roller-coaster decent as you roll into Crown Point—the 600-foot drop toward the Columbia River is designed specifically for road trippers as it curves and winds through lush green forests. There are at least six notable waterfalls you'll pass along the way; step out at Multnomah Falls for a pic of its stunning bridge. Once you hit the town of Mosier, consider trekking through a tunnel of lava rock on the Mark O. Hatfield Trailhead. The road officially ends after roughly 70 miles at The Dalles, conveniently close to the Sunshine Mill Winery. Treat yourself to a glass of the wildly popular Nirvana, a white blend with touches of honey and melon.

Hana Coast Highway, HawaiiBobbushphoto /Getty Images

Hana Coast Highway, Hawaii

While Hawaii's island of Maui is a hot destination for tropical romance, the Hana Coast Highway is not for the faint of heart. The road is affectionately called the “Divorce Highway" in honor of its precarious turns and proximity to the edges of tall cliffs. That said, the frequent waterfalls, black sand beaches and eucalyptus trees along the country's lengthiest rainforest highway make the trip totally worth the adrenaline rush. Though it's only 52 miles, the 25-miles-per-hour speed limit (with blind spots and one-lane bridges galore; this is a very good thing) makes it a two- to three-hour trip. But we have a feeling you'll happily take your time—the views from Kahului to Hana are beyond breathtaking.

Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway, New MexicoScott_Walton/Getty Images

Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway, New Mexico

If you're in the mood for dry heat and history up close, the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway is calling. West of Albuquerque is Chaco Canyon, an important ceremonial site for the Pueblo peoples between 850 and 1250 A.D. After taking in the incredible expanse of the canyon, drive south through the towns of Crownpoint and Grants toward the El Morro National Monument. Ogle the 2,000 or so signatures weary travelers have carved into the sandstone over centuries. Continue east through the Zuni Reservation to Zuni Pueblo, an arts community still practicing ancestral traditions and ways of life. Cap off this winding 360-mile desert tour in Farmington, where you can see Aztec Ruins National Monument and Salmon Ruins, both of which date back to the 1050s.

The Black Hills and Badlands, South DakotaAndrewKrav/Getty Images

The Black Hills and Badlands, South Dakota

Together, the Black Hills and Badlands National Park in South Dakota offer 5 million acres of grassland, forest and rock formations. Might we recommend not hitting it all in one day? Instead, start out on the Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway near the town of Interior. Check out the millions-year-old (literally) jagged geographic deposits before heading north to Spearfish Canyon, home of sky-high pink limestone and gorgeous waterfalls. Meander down through Black Hills National Forest to check out Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park and (drumroll, please) Mount Rushmore. Set aside a few days for the entire 232-mile journey because you'll probably find yourself either driving slowly to take it all in or stopping the car every few miles to hike or swim.

View of one of Minnesota's many lakes from North Scenic DriveNickJKelly/Getty Images

North Shore Scenic Drive, Minnesota

For a truly otherworldly experience, drive along the coast of the biggest freshwater lake in the world: Lake Superior. The northern Minnesota gem means ample opportunity to really get away from civilization. (Heading off the beaten path into the Boundary Waters just north of the coastline leaves you with no cell service, almost complete solitude and a chance to catch the northern lights!) Start your drive in Duluth and head north, scoping out the many lighthouses dotting the rocky coastline on your right and the distant Sawtooth Mountains on your left. Everywhere else is covered in pine and birch trees—and crawling with wildlife. Beaches pop up along the 142-mile ride, although Lake Superior is notoriously chilly, reaching 65 degrees Fahrenheit max during the hottest months of the year. But, in the height of summer, this might be exactly the cool-down you need.

Holcy/Getty Images

Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway, Maine

For the ultimate, rugged New England road trip, you must drive the Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway. On the western side of the state, near New Hampshire, the lake is flanked by Rangeley Lake State Park and rolling hills of trees, flowers and wildlife. Start at Smalls Falls, and let the Appalachian Mountain ridgeline be your guide on this 36-mile tour. The route is straightforward but provides sights of everything from lakes and rivers to valleys and farmland. Swift River and Mooselookmeguntic Lake (who named this lake?) are outstanding photo ops. Summer is always a good time to visit when it comes to temps, but come autumn, the bright colors pop along this route, and might just be worth a second trip.

RELATED: The Most Serene Spot in Every Single State


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