Best National Parks to Visit in Every Season

Rocky Mountain, one of America's most popular national parks, during the winter with ice visible in the water and snow on the distance mountaintops.

The National Park Service protects and manages 63 diverse national parks in the United States through every season, all of which immerse visitors into the richest, most vibrant ecological and historic sites in the country.

While some national parks see far more annual visits than others, all 63 play a special part in telling the story of America’s natural wonders.

These days, it is entirely common for an individual to strive to visit every park the National Park Service protects. But when is the best time for you to visit these national parks?

Although most are open year-round, there is an ideal time to visit each. Here are the best national parks to visit during every season.



Best National Parks to Visit During Spring

The spring season brings with it blooming wildflowers and active wildlife populations. Honestly, you can’t really go wrong with visiting any of the nation’s 63 national parks during this season, but there are a few that stand out as prime springtime destinations.


Shenandoah National Park

Mountainous landscape of Shenandoah National Park, with a mostly cloudless bright blue sky.

State: Virginia

There’s no better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than by taking in the breathtaking views of Shenandoah National Park.

Skyline Drive, the park’s premier road, offers views of the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains. For a truly special Shenandoah experience, get up early and head to Skyline Drive to take in the sunrise.

Elsewhere throughout Shenandoah National, you’ll spot fields and meadows blooming with abundant wildflowers, waterfalls roaring over river rocks, and wildlife enjoying the warm temps.

Black bears, white-tailed deer, and songbirds aren’t unusual sights, either.

Recreation in Shenandoah National Park includes an elaborate array of hiking trails, the most popular of which is Dark Hollows Falls Trail. It leads hikers to a 70-foot cascading waterfall.

In addition to hiking, you can also camp throughout the park’s backcountry, or go fishing in one of its ~90 mountain streams.


Arches National Park

Sunset casting a deep red orange hue over rock formations at Arches National Park.

State: Utah

During the summer, Arches National Park is extremely popular. Visitors flock to this national park from all over.

However, during the spring, visitation is much slower and can provide a better experience for your trip.

Take in views of Delicate Arch, Navajo Arch, and Landscape Arch. For those wanting to hit the trail, you should hike along the Devil’s Garden.

During your hike, not only will you see almost all the park’s picturesque arches, but you’ll also find other unique geographical features as you meander up and down in elevation.


Redwood National Park

A bridge crossing through a hiking trail at Redwood National Park with lush green vegetation around.

State: California

The spring season is the best time to visit Redwood National Park, when temperatures hover around the sixties.

Standout locations include Gold Bluffs Beach, Trillium Falls, and the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway.

Hiking is the most popular activity, due to a variety of unique trails including the Coastal Trail and Tall Trees Grove.

The Coastal Trail takes you around the western border of Redwood National Park, through redwood groves, and along the Pacific coastline.

Tall Trees Grove is one of the more isolated parts of Redwood National Park, but it is worth the effort if you are able to make it there.

In order to walk among the tall trees, you will first need to receive a permit from the park visitor center. Keep in mind that these permits are limited, so you might want to arrive early.


Grand Canyon National Park

A tree with breached roots and twisted limbs from the elements in a desert portion of Grand Canyon National Park during the summer season.

State: Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. However, a large percentage of its traffic arrives in the summer.

In the spring, Grand Canyon National Park is a little quieter—and perfect for biking, white-water rafting, or just enjoying the picturesque views of the canyon. For a special trip, visit the Rim trails or the Angel Falls Trail to find a campsite for the night.

While temperatures in the canyon get a bit chilly come nightfall, sleeping under the stars will prove well worth a few shivers.

If backcountry camping isn’t your thing, there are plenty of front country campgrounds, as well. Grand Canyon Village also features several other lodging facilities, including hotels.

Hiking into the canyon can be easier during spring because temperatures are not as extreme, but visitors should still use caution and bring ample supplies of water on their expedition.


Joshua Tree National Park

Stunning sunset over a field of Joshua Trees and desert plants in Joshua Tree National Park.

State: California

Temps in Joshua Tree National Park retreat from their summer highs to averages in the low eighties during springtime.

Explore low and high desert ecosystems, hike, camp, mountain bike—or simply see the sights.

For a challenge, tackle the Ryan Mountain Trail. It offers dramatic views of the surrounding landscape.



The Best National Parks to Visit During Summer

Summer is the most popular time to visit a national park by far. Kids are off from school, and visitors want to put that two weeks’ vacation from work to good use.

True, any park you choose will be more crowded during this season—but with good reason. High temps mean even nightfall can be mild, which is ideal for camping.

What’s more, if you plan your trip for late August, you’ll be right on time for the National Park Service’s birthday celebration. Every year on the 25th, access to any of the 63 national parks is free.


Crater Lake National Park

Sunrise over Crater Lake, a caldera in the national parks system, during the spring or summer season.

State: Oregon

The lake that sits in the middle of Crater Lake National Park holds the cleanest and clearest water in the world.

This lake sits in the middle of a caldera—a volcanic crater—so summertime, when temperatures and conditions in the park are most idyllic, is the best time to visit. During the rest of the year, swimming in Crater Lake is largely impossible, because the water temperature is well below enjoyable.

However, for about two weeks in the summer, the water in Crater Lake warms up enough to offer a very enjoyable swim.

While visiting, you can camp in one of three campgrounds, or grab a reservation at the park’s lodge.

Other recreation opportunities include various hiking trails, fishing, and interpretive ranger programs. Furthermore, fishing in the park’s lake does not require a state fishing license.


Acadia National Park

Rocky coastline and churning waters at Acadia National Park on an overcast day.

State: Maine

Due to its smaller size, Acadia National Park occasionally gets forgotten. However, during the summer this can be used to your advantage. While crowds are flocking to Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone National Park, you can be enjoying some of the most picturesque views in the United States.

Sitting on Maine’s eastern coast, Acadia National Park protects a diverse environment that includes rocky coastlines, intertidal zones, and acres of inland forest.

The Beehive and Precipice hiking trails are the most popular trails in the park. These trails are interactive trails, which require visitors to climb a series of ladders and other obstacles to complete the hike.

Beehive is a good warm-up for the more difficult precipice trail. Anyone exploring either of these two trails should use caution and be careful as they ascend.

After you finish in the park for the day, you can visit Bar Harbor, a nearby coastal town boasting some of the best food in the New England region.


Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park with bright blue sky and some clouds in springtime or summer.

State: Alaska

Most recreational pursuits in Alaska run through the city of Anchorage. Kenai Fjords National Park is located about 2.5 hours from Anchorage along the Kenai Peninsula, and is the perfect summer destination.

Within the confines of the national park, visitors will be able to hike alongside glacier icebergs, kayak in immaculate waters, and try their hand at stand-up paddleboarding.

Temperatures in the summer frequently reach highs of 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. During the middle of summer, daylight in this region of Alaska lasts for about 19 hours, providing visitors with ample time to explore.

Most of Kenai Fjords is not accessible by road. However, visitors can hire various outfitters in the area to take them around.

Additionally, you can hire a pilot to take you on a “flightseeing” trip of Kenai Fjords—an experience you’ll never forget.


Grand Teton National Park

Calm, scenic water in foreground with snowy mountains in background at Grand Teton National Park.

State: Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park is an outdoorsman’s paradise.

Not only does Grand Teton, the highest peak of the Teton Range, rise an impressive 13,775 feet in the air, but the surrounding landscape also includes several small glaciers, mountain streams, alpine lakes, and the Snake River. Waters are tranquil during the summer, when temperatures approach seasonal highs.

While only located about thirty minutes away from neighboring Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park remains significantly less crowded.

Recreation in Grand Teton includes hiking, fishing, biking, and camping—the latter of which can be practiced in several front country campgrounds, or in the backcountry where permitted.


Mammoth Cave National Park

Interior of a cave with stone formations and peaks in Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, United States.

State: Kentucky

When the summer heat becomes unbearable, it might be time to start exploring underground. The various passageways of Mammoth Cave National Park help comprise one of the largest caves in the world.

In total, the Mammoth Cave system exceeds 400 miles. Tours are available to take visitors into various rooms, discuss the formation of the cave, and highlight unique formations found throughout.

Feeling extra adventurous? Join the Wild Cave Tour, which takes you on a challenging route of crawling, climbing, and squeezing.

Above ground, you can hike through hardwood forest, fish in the Green River, or camp in one of the many campsites the park manages and maintains.



The Best National Parks to Visit During Fall

National parks in the fall are revered for their elaborate foliage. The five national parks listed below are some of the best destinations to take in views of the changing colors of autumn.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Fog over the mountains of Great Smoke Mountains National.

State: Tennessee/ North Carolina

Foliage enthusiasts will undoubtedly love the wonders of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Every year, thousands of visitors arrive at the park and the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway to take in the changing hues of autumn.

While the leaves are the true showstoppers of the season, there’s plenty else to leave visitors awe-inspired. Throughout the park, you can explore a vast system of hiking trails, drive along several auto-loops, fish for brook trout in mountain streams, share stories around the campfire, and much more.

Some of Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s most revered attractions are Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, and Deep Creek.

Cades Cove, in particular, draws huge crowds hoping to spot wildlife and learn more about the park’s rich cultural history.

This vibrant valley can be explored by vehicle, via the Cades Cove Auto Loop. The loop is 11 miles long, running only one way.


Yosemite National Park

Snow-covered rocks in a valley or creek at Yosemite National Park.

State: California

Yosemite National Park is a popular travel destination during all four seasons.

However, deciding to visit the park during the fall will offer visitors a rare glimpse into Yosemite Valley that truly displays the location’s beauty. What’s more, the cooler temperatures make outdoor recreation activities like rock climbing, hiking, and backpacking far more enjoyable.

Bicyclists will experience less traffic on the various park roadways, and fisherman will find more trout biting than in other seasons: trout season runs from September to December. The Merced River, Hetch-Hetchy Reservoir, and Tenaya Lake all offer anglers the opportunity to try their luck.

The color-changing dogwoods and maples of Yosemite are certainly enough to attract visitors, but by no means are they the only aspect worth exploring during your trip.


Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Whitewater cascades over rock ledges of beautiful Bridal Veil Falls, a waterfall photographed in the colorful autumn landscape of Cuyahoga Valley National Park of northeast Ohio.

State: Ohio

It’s safe to say Ohio isn’t exactly considered an outdoor paradise. However, a quick visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park during the fall will likely persuade you to believe otherwise.

Centered in northeast Ohio along the Cuyahoga River, Cuyahoga Valley National Park looks to preserve the remaining acres of undeveloped wilderness remaining in the state.

Unlike most other national parks in the country, the confines of Cuyahoga Valley also include two large urban areas, small towns, reservations, and a network of developed roadways.

Visiting Cuyahoga during the fall is a special experience, since you will have a front-row seat to the season’s greatest show. Take in breathtaking foliage from the Brandywine Gorge Trail, the Ledges Trail, or the Octagon Shelter access road.


Glacier National Park

Gentle waters in foreground and mountain range in background at Glacier National Park.

State: Montana

Visiting Glacier National Park during the fall requires self-reliance, since some park amenities close as soon as peak tourist season wraps up.

However, this will also bring heightened solitude, quieter mornings, and elevated wildlife activity—all three of which make visiting Glacier National Park in the autumn a can’t-miss trip.

Trees and vegetation in Glacier National change during mid- to late September. Enjoy cool nights and sunny days as temps hover between 40 and 70 degrees.

Later in the fall, occasional snow is common, though this weather is not nearly as severe as it is in winter. Biking down Going-to-the-Sun Road, or taking a boat tour of one of the many lakes in Glacier National Park, are two great ways to spend an autumn day in the park.


Rocky Mountain National Park

A person plays in the snow in a clearing among pine trees at Rocky Mountain National Park.

State: Colorado

During only four weeks in the summer, Rocky Mountain National Park experiences upwards of one million visitors. While the park is still well-visited during the fall, visitation numbers hardly compare.

One of the more popular fall attractions located within Rocky Mountain National Park is Old Fall River Road. This mountain road climbs throughout the park and offers unparalleled looks at the breathtaking landscape.

In autumn, Old Fall River Road is decorated with hues of burnt orange, yellow, and deep brown. Fall visitors can also take advantage of the decreased visitation and idyllic seasonal conditions by exploring the various hiking trails.

Additionally, you can visit in the winter for a winter wonderland and views that simply can’t be beaten.



The Best National Parks to Visit During the Winter

The winter season offers new opportunities and unrivaled recreation, even if the temps are less than ideal. You can explore the crowded popular parks you’d avoid during peak seasons, or revisit old favorites to see the landscape in an entirely new light.


Mount Rainier National Park

Snowy peaks in the distance over the forest in Mount Rainier National Park.

State: Washington

If you are looking for snow, then there is no better place than Mount Rainier National Park in the winter.

Throughout the year, the Paradise portion of the park receives about 54 feet of snow—yes, you read that right: 54 feet—and much of this snowfall occurs during the months of November through February.

In addition to being the perfect winter wonderland, Mount Rainier is also well equipped for recreation. Enjoy downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing.

You can also embark on a backpacking trip. However, anyone venturing into the backcountry during winter should be extremely prepared and ready for anything nature might throw your way.


Bryce Canyon National Park

An individual stands between two canyon walls in Bryce Canyon National Park.

State: Utah

“Otherworldly” is the best way to describe Bryce Canyon National Park during the winter.

The sandstone spires that dominate the park’s landscape are reminiscent of sci-fi movies, but during the winter these spires offer even more unique photographs and sightseeing opportunities.

In recent years, Bryce Canyon National Park began hosting an annual Winter Festival. Held on President’s Day Weekend, the festival is filled with astronomy programs, moon-shoeing adventures, and special winter programs.

If you decide to embark on a hike in Bryce Canyon during the winter, you should follow all park regulations and be cautious. Besides a sturdy pair of hiking boots, you’ll need vast quantities of water and clothing designed to repel severe weather and temperatures.


Death Valley National Park

Sweeping views of the dunes at Death Valley during sunset, with a pale purple and pink sky.

State: California/ Nevada

Winter might just be the perfect time to visit the hottest place on earth. Snow-capped mountains, penetrating sunshine, and clear skies make Death Valley a must-visit destination.

The park is quietest between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you can also plan your trip to coincide with several astronomical events. These include full moon watch parties, star festivals, and a whole celebration centered around the planet Mars.

While uncommon year-round, a few rain showers normally move into Death Valley National Park every winter. Be prepared for all types of weather if you choose to visit the park late in the year.

Several lodges are available for your stay, the most popular of which are the Panamint Springs Resort and Stovepipe Wells Village.


National Park of American Samoa

Pago Pago Hill view over the island, known as the gateway to American Samoa.

Location: American Samoa

Sometimes winter weather calls for a tropical vacation. The National Park of American Samoa is the only unit managed by the National Park Service that is located below the equator. This characteristic makes the park the perfect place to go in order to escape the throes of winter.

Visitors traveling to the National Park of American Samoa will not find snow, sleet, or ice. However, they will find plenty of sunshine, crystal clear waters, and a plethora of opportunities to explore.

The park’s primary mission is to protect the coral reefs, tropical rainforests, and other unique biological features of American Samoa. Coinciding with this mission, popular activities completed in the park include snorkeling, bird watching, free diving, and hiking.

Additionally, a diverse array of wildlife—including bats, lizards, tropical birds, and tropical fish—populate the waters and rainforests protected by the park.



Channel Islands National Park

View of deep blue waters and rock formations on cliffs of the Channel Islands in spring, with flowers in foreground.

State: California

Like the National Park of American Samoa, Channel Islands National Park offers visitors the opportunity to pretend winter no longer exists. Temperatures in November through January reach highs of 65 degrees and up.

In total, Channel Islands National Park covers five of the eight islands located off the Pacific coast of California.

The largest of these islands is Santa Cruz Island. Dominated by acres of lush rainforest and Elysian beaches, the island offers visitors the opportunity to hike, bike, fish, sightsee, swim, snorkel, and kayak.

Other islands populated by Channel Islands National Park include Santa Rosa Island, Santa Barbara Island, and San Miguel Island. Recreation opportunities are similar amongst them all, but you’ll soon find each island offers unique features, as well.


A National Park for Every Season

Snowy mountain behind a green meadow of wildflowers in the spring season in Mount Rainier, one of the country's lesser-visited national parks.
Whether you opt for warm weather or snowy locales, planning a national park excursion at any point during the year can create lifelong memories and unforgettable experiences.

“America the beautiful” isn’t just a saying. These vast parks with what seem like endless lands litter states such as California, Oregon and Alaska, as well as many others.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you might try to hit one or more every season. Ski in winter, fish in the fall, bike ride in spring, and swim in summer–there’s no wrong way to explore the incredible array of ecosystems and natural wonders of the U.S. National Park Service.


National Parks in Colorado

Overcast late sunset at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

The state of Colorado holds four national parks within its borders—Great Sand Dunes, Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Together, they form a diverse playground that continually attracts visitors to The Centennial State.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Person in the distance walking along sand dunes at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.

Nearest City: Alamosa, Colorado

True to its name, Great Sand Dunes National Park preserves a number of sand dunes—the largest in the United States, in fact.

The park is located on the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley, and is a unique natural and cultural area.

Throughout Great Sand Dunes National Park, you’ll find evidence of human settlement which dates back over 10,000 years. The largest tribes to settle in the area include the Southern Ute, Apache, and Navajo Native Americans.

Recreation in Great Sand Dunes National Park includes dune exploration, hiking, sandboarding, and camping.

In order to access the dunes, visitors must cross Modano Creek. Most days out of the year, this creek is shallow and wide.  Therefore, you’ll probably only need to traverse a few inches of water.

Once across, you’ll then be able to hike across the sand dunes as much as you like. However, keep in mind that these dunes reach extreme temperatures in summertime—and can therefore become fairly dangerous to explore.

As for sandboarding, you can rent boards and sand sleds from an outfitter located just outside the park, such as Oasis or SpinDrift.


Rocky Mountain National Park

Bright blue sky and white clouds over the Ship's Prow of Long's Peak at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Nearest City: Estes Park and Grand Lake, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park is the most popular national park in Colorado, and one of the United States’ most frequently visited parks overall. On average, its yearly visitation totals more than 4.5 million people.

Even more impressive is that most of this visitation occurs during just four weeks.  Peak season runs through June, July, and August.

With that in mind, you’ll probably want to plan your trip in a less crowded season, to get the most out of the experience.

The landscape maintained and protected by Rocky Mountain National Park includes several peaks, mountain lakes, and bountiful meadows. While hiking and backpacking are the most popular activities there, admiring its diverse population of wildlife is another big draw.

The most notable animal species living in Rocky Mountain National Park include moose, elk, black bears, bighorn sheep, and coyotes.

In addition to these large mammals, Rocky Mountain also provides a home to many songbirds, and a few amphibians and reptiles.


Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Palace, ancient homes carved into rock wall at Mesa Verde, one of four national parks in Colorado.

Nearest City: Cortez, Colorado

Sitting just north of the New Mexico border, Mesa Verde National Park preserves one of the most unique cultural settlements in the United States.

Inside the park’s borders, visitors will find the largest collection of ancestral puebloan artifacts, as well as several ancient cave dwellings. These sites are open to tours, under the supervision of a park guide.

The most popular cave dwelling is the Cliff Palace, which is thought to be the largest cliff dwelling on the entire continent.

Besides transporting visitors back in time, Mesa Verde also provides ample opportunities to hike and explore the landscape of southern Colorado.

The name, Mesa Verde, translates directly to “Green Table.”

Springtime visitors will quickly see why. Flora species there thrive among woodlands, shrublands, open meadows, and grasslands.

Additionally, nature lovers will find ten hiking trails throughout the Morefield, Chapin Mesa, and Wetherill Mesa areas of the park.


Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Deep blue river running through steep cliffsides in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado, United States.

Nearest City: Montrose, Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located in western Colorado.  It’s frequently overshadowed by Great Sand Dunes and Rocky Mountain, which are more popular.

However, visitors to Black Canyon will find this journey well worth it.

The park contains some of the best hiking in the state, including three steep descents down into the Black Canyon Wilderness Area.

Once at the bottom, you’ll be able to take in the sights and sounds of the basin. This is one of the least explored areas, and thus provides the perfect amount of solitude.

In addition to being a hiker’s paradise, the park maintains several backcountry and frontcountry campsites where visitors can rest for the night.

Wildlife species frequently spotted in Black Canyon of the Gunnison include mule deer, black bears, and coyotes.

Visitors wishing to hike into the Black Canyon Wilderness Area will need a wilderness permit.  These are free, and obtained from the park’s visitor center.


Colorado: An Outdoor Playground

Landscape portrait of Great Sand Dunes, one of the most popular national parks in Colorado.

When it comes to outdoor recreation, stunning wildlife, and a diverse landscape, the state of Colorado has much to offer.

While Rocky Mountain and Great Sand Dunes are larger and more popular than the other two national parks in Colorado, you can’t go wrong with any option—or, even better, all four.

For more travel recommendations, check out the state and national parks in California, Oregon, or Utah, or these buyers’ guides to the best water filters and packs for hiking and camping.

Healthy Smoothie Recipes

Man holding two mason jar glasses filled with strawberry smoothies with sliced strawberries against the glass.

There’s nothing more refreshing after a workout—or a crazy morning commute—than a healthy smoothie. Easy to make, easy to carry, and easy to gulp down on the go, these delicious smoothie recipes can even be prepared ahead of time by cutting and freezing the produce. Best of all, these recipes are all vegetarian!

For all the recipes below, simply place your smoothie ingredients into a high-powered blender, and let it run for 30 seconds to a minute until smooth.



How to Customize Your Smoothies

Whenever you find a recipe you love, consider tinkering with its ingredients a bit so it can deliver exactly the nutrients and boosts you’re after.

Some great smoothie additions include:

  • Matcha. High in EGCG, which is believed to promote brain health, heart health, and weight loss, matcha also has a calming effect on the mind and body.
  • Chia Seeds. These are high in protein, antioxidants, omega-3, fiber, magnesium, and potassium. With the right blender, you can’t even tell they’re in your smoothie.
  • Oats. High in fiber, iron, antioxidants, low in fat, and great for lowering cholesterol, oats are a simple addition that bulk up smoothie recipes without too many calories.
  • Hemp Hearts. These are high in protein, as well as omega-3 and 6.
  • Ginger. This aids with nausea and upset stomach, and contains many anti-inflammatory properties. You can use it fresh, or in powder form, for a zesty kick to any smoothie.
  • Spirulina Powder. Packed with vitamin A, spirulina is also a great natural source of chlorophyll.
  • Almonds. With antioxidants and vitamin E, almonds provide a protein and flavor boost that pairs beautifully with most fruits. Additionally, they can lower harmful cholesterol.
  • Turmeric. Not only does turmeric boast anti-inflammatory properties, but it also increases the body’s ability to absorb antioxidants—which means it can boost all the other “boosts” you add to your favorite smoothie recipes! Turmeric can be used fresh, or in powder form for convenience.
  • Flax Meal. This smoothie additive is chock full of fiber, omega-3, and lignans (a type of antioxidant).


Healthy Smoothie Recipes


Strawberry and Banana Delight

Strawberry smoothie with berries on a windowsill.

Perhaps the most classic fruit combo out there, strawberry and banana give that perfect blend of sweetness, without being overwhelming.

While you can certainly use fresh fruit (just add some ice), frozen fruit really shines in this recipe: consider slicing and freezing your bananas and strawberries in a baggie, shortly after purchasing the produce.

Then, when a hectic morning strikes, all you have to do is dump the bag into your blender, toss in some chia seed and a little almond milk, and hit Puree.

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 banana


Ginger Orange and Carrot Palooza

Orange smoothie with ginger and carrots on a blue table.

Zesty and sweet, this smoothie will wake you up and energize in no time. The banana acts as a base, more than anything: you’ll mostly taste orange and ginger.

Even the carrot isn’t that noticeable, which makes this recipe perfect for veggie-haters looking to diversify their diet.

  • 1/3 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup fresh orange slices
  • One banana (frozen or not)
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
  • handful of ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup almond milk


Pineapple Mango Paradise

A yellow smoothie on a light blue tabletop, garnished with a pineapple slice and greenery.

Escape to waterfront views and sunny shores…at least, for a few minutes. This simple smoothie delivers tropical flavor with a punch of protein.

  • 1 cup frozen pineapple slices
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • Whole banana
  • 1 cup frozen mango slices
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk


Avocado Cucumber Kale Super Smoothie

A kale smoothie with fresh kale on a cutting board, with two pink paper straws inserted.

This green smoothie is ideal for go-getters. Despite the high vegetable content, you’ll mostly just taste banana, and a smooth undertone of avocado.

If lack of sweetness is a concern, consider adding a little low-fat vanilla yogurt.

  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
  • 1/2 cup kale
  • about a quarter to half of a medium-sized avocado, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup peeled cucumber
  • Banana
  • Handful of ice cubes


Blueberry Lemon Desire

Hand holding a purple smoothie with a lemon wedge and fresh mint in front of a white wall.

Those blueberry lemon squares you loved as a kid are back—and this time, they’re actually good for you! Some classic oats bulk up this recipe with iron and fiber, but don’t dare take the spotlight off the real stars.

A generous serving of blueberries and just a little lemon keep this smoothie on the sweeter side, but feel free to juice things up: adjust the lemon additions to your personal preference.

  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • Banana
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds


Delicious Cherry Beet Surprise

Hand holding a bottle filled with bright beet-red liquid up to the sunlight.

Beets are a tough ingredient to work with: not many people like their earthy flavor. It’s a shame, since beets are loaded with folate and vitamin C, as well as betalains. These give beets their red color, but also protect your cells against oxidative damage.

Thankfully, the cherries in this recipe mask that earthiness of the beets, ensuring you get all the good stuff without having to hold your nose as you drink.

  • 1/2 cup cooked beets
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • Banana


Banana Pineapple Strawberry Haven

Pink smoothie in a mason jar in front of pineapple, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, and oranges against a pale pink wall.

Greek yogurt and banana make up the base of this classic-turned-powerhouse. With flax and spinach in the mix, you can enjoy the simply sweet flavors and know your post-workout treat is actually good for you.

  • 1 Tablespoon Chia or Flax Seeds
  • 1/2 cup Pineapple
  • 2 cups fresh Orange Juice
  • Banana
  • 1 cup Spinach (for an extra health boost)
  • 1 cup Strawberries
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
  • Handful of ice (optional)


Sweet Almond Cherry

Icy bright red smoothies in mason jar glasses against deep blue background.

This simple smoothie is low in calories, but high in protein—a go-to blend for anyone hitting the gym.

  • Scoop of protein powder, vanilla or unflavored
  • 1 cup Soy or Almond Milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Cherries frozen
  • Banana
  • Handful of ice


Tasty Greens Medley

Bubbly green smoothie in a blender pitcher with spinach leaves nearby on a marble countertop.

Don’t let the sweetness in this one fool you: with a pretty generous serving of spinach, the tropical taste is actually a clever vehicle for vegetables.

  • 1 1/2 cups Orange Juice
  • 2 cups Baby Spinach
  • Banana
  • 1 cup Pineapple
  • 1/2 cup Grapes
  • Handful of ice


Chocolate and Spinach Blueberry Twist

Chocolate blueberry smoothies in mason jars on linen tablecloth.

The really beautiful thing about spinach? Once it’s blended into a smoothie, you can’t even taste it. In fact, you might even get away with doubling the greens in this one, and no one would be the wiser.

For a bit of decadence, blend in a small handful of semisweet chocolate chips.

  • 1 cup Spinach
  • Scoop of protein powder (dark chocolate or regular)
  • Banana
  • 1/2 cup Blueberries
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh Almond Butter
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk
  • Handful of ice


Green Youth Super Smoothie

Two green smoothies seen from above on a white marble counter.

This is one recipe you might be happy to share with your kids. While it’s absolutely loaded with green veggies, the apple juice, lemon, and banana make it far more palatable than picky eaters might expect.

  • 1/2 Cucumber
  • 2 handfuls of Baby Spinach
  • 2 cups pure and unprocessed apple juice
  • Approximately 2 cups of kale or power greens mix
  • Banana
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • Handful of ice


Mango and Peach Tropical Delight

Two tropical orange smoothies on white tabletop.

This smoothie is heavy on the fruit, but doesn’t cross that line into “too sweet.” Instead, it’s got a great blend of smooth, mellow flavors you can’t help but devour.

Additionally, turmeric and ginger deliver just the slightest kick, to keep things interesting.

  • 1 cup cubed mango
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • Banana
  • 1 cup peaches


Get Blending

The best smoothie recipes balance health and taste. After all, it’s no fun chugging a bitter concoction, no matter how good it is for you.

With some creativity and testing, however, any veggie, fruit, and additive can become a star ingredient in your next blend…whether or not you can actually taste it.

In short, the smoothie has got to be one of the most overlooked snacks or meal replacements. Their versatility allows them to become almost whatever you’re looking for. Whether that be a breakfast smoothie, something to keep you going while you’re camping or hiking, or even when you’re out on the road to pick up your favorite healthy takeout option.


Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

A man with a baseball bat faces off zombies in a burning city.

You know how to escape the clutches of a category 5 storm, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake, or even a contagious virus…but you’re clueless when it comes to a zombie attack? Come on! Just like a natural disaster, an undead invasion can strike at any time. All those zombie movies, apocalyptic films and books just make it look easy to survive. Add this guide to surviving the zombie apocalypse to your bug-out bag to give you the best shot at long term survival.



Even the CDC Has a Plan

CDC illuminated map showing an outbreak across continents in black and red.

It’s highly recommended that you start coming up with an emergency plan now before it’s too late. But do not panic. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) advises to “never fear.” They’ll be doing their part in the advent of this very possible scenario.

According to their website, they would first conduct an investigation if zombies were to suddenly appear on your doorstep, eager to feast on your brains.

“CDC would conduct an investigation much like they do for any other disease outbreak. They would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation.

This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine),” their website says.

If the CDC’s got a plan, what’s your excuse?


Your Guide to Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse

A horde of zombies with red eyes approaching through smoke on a desolate apocalyptic landscape.

Do not rely too much on the CDC, however, as their action plan is city-scope. You and your family should be prepared to take care of yourself.

After all, it might be awhile before the CDC guys get to you—and you need to be alive to tell the tale.
Besides…what’s to keep the living dead from taking over the CDC, too?


Invest in Weapons

Blurred and eerie woman with dark hair in a white dress behind in-focus barbed wire.

It’s important to get some armaments as soon as possible.

But choose wisely, as not every weapon is effective against fending off a zombie, especially the crawlers (ankle-biters) that suddenly jump on you.

And no, a hammer is not enough: it leaves plenty of room for a zombie to get to your arms, or even your back.

  • Home tools. Multitools, such as crowbars, are your best bet. They’re light (even your kid can swing one) and can be used as a lock to create a barrier between you and a crowd of walking-deads. A screwdriver is also handy.


  • Machete. Cheap, lightweight, and ultra-sharp, this is perfect for a one-on-one combat with a persistent zombie. It can also decapitate with startling precision.


  • Grenade. Use this only against a swarm of zombies, since grenades are hard to come by. Throwing a grenade in a sea of flesh-eaters is spectacularly destructible, and will cause zombie heads to explode. Some will definitely survive, so that’s when you get your machete or crowbar ready.


Young woman in zombie makeup, black and white.

  • Shotgun. This is effective in close-range combat, especially if a group of the undead were to invade your home. Its projectile is heavier, making close-range shots powerful. That translates into zombie brains, blown off into smithereens.


  • Chainsaw. This is another effective way to make those zombie heads roll. Just make sure to do a neat decapitation, since semi-attached heads will send them into full-blown rage.


  • Bat with barbed-wire. You can DIY your weapon, especially if you are currently strapped for cash. Knock off heads and tear into the flesh of your rotting enemy.


Make Your Own Survival Kit

Worn and dirty first aid kit in army green and white.

  • Fire starters. Throw in some petroleum jelly, lip balm, and a bottle of hairspray, and you can get a serious flame going. Tampons are great alternatives, too. Simply unwrap, unfurl, smear with petroleum jelly, and light the string.


  • Plastic bottles. You need to be constantly hydrated, and a plastic bottle is very handy. You can easily clean this using “solar disinfection,” or leaving it out in the sun for a day. Keeping two bottles is wise, as you’ll likely need one while disinfecting the other.


  • GPS device. Power grids will definitely go down during a zombie apocalypse. When that happens, your smartphone signal will be nada. Go for a GPS device, or an old-fashioned physical map.


  • Canned goods. Food that won’t spoil for years on end will tide you over between risky supermarket raids or foraging trips. Remember to pack a can opener, too.


  • Medicine. Stock up on maintenance meds, like asthma inhalers or insulin. You’ll also need painkillers (if you have access to morphine, that’s best), bandages, and disinfectant.


Indian man in black dress pants and white shirt holds a copper flask of alcohol.

  • Alcohol. Not to be used for liquid courage. Douse yourself with alcohol when a zombie is nearby and you have no place to hide. These walking corpses are repelled by the scent.


  • Flashlight. A reliable light source is crucial to your survival. You need to see zombies coming at you in the dark, navigate rough terrain, and explore abandoned buildings or sprawling woods. Also, be sure to buy the water-resistant type: you don’t want your flashlight to die in the rain.


  • Bandage protector. Injuries are inevitable after zombie evasions. Prevent further infection or exposure by adding a layer of protection to your bandages.


For the Love of God, Leave the City

People running in a panic through city streets.

Naturally, civil society will collapse during the zombie apocalypse. These monsters will spread like the plague and take over military, government, and health institutions.

Without basic needs and technology, the city will no longer be habitable. Head for the wilderness (the more hostile, the better), as zombies don’t head into unfriendly zones. They like congregating where populations are high.


Act Early

Experts say that once a zombie outbreak happens in your area, you have less than two weeks to survive. As soon as a zombie outbreak has been confirmed, you need to act fast to survive.

  • Distribution centers. This is where you can grab as many canned foods as you can. Abandoned supermarkets are okay, too.


  • Abandoned roadworks. You’ll most likely find a mobile generator somewhere there. Get it.


  • Renewable energy. Your diesel will surely run out. Before you head into the deep wilderness, scavenge for solar panels. If you can’t find any, wind turbines will do.


Acquire New Skills

Hands weaving a basket from straw.

It’s better to have a mindset that you will survive the zombie apocalypse. You and a few other survivors will surely start building a community in a hidden forest or wilderness.

Weapons handling, first aid, hunting, trapping, knitting or weaving, mechanics, and other homesteading practices will keep you useful (a.k.a., indispensable) in your new society.



It is crucial to add a guide to surviving a zombie apocalypse to your collection of how-to-survive manuals. When it comes to a widespread zombie pandemic, ignorance and unpreparedness will get you killed. Fast.

Comparisons of the Best Tents for Camping


Typically, a tent is the first piece of equipment an experienced backpacker or hiker packs. It’s also the first piece of equipment a beginner researches and purchases when starting their outdoor recreation journey.

Whether you’re hitting up some up the coolest places to travel this year, planning your first biking adventure, or simply taking a day trip from the city, these tents are versatile to meet almost any needs.

The following list compares the five best tents on the market in 2021, and takes a look at the outright best performing tents in the following five categories: family camping, budget, rough weather, backpacking, and rooftop. Notable brands include REI, Coleman, and The North Face.


Best Family Camping Tent

REI Co-op Base Camp 6


Image Credit: REI

Often, a family camping trip includes exposing small children—and maybe a dog or two—to the joys of camping…and the elements. So, when it comes to family camping, space and comfortability are almost as important as ease of use.

The REI Co-op Base Camp 6 tent is the best family camping tent on the market in 2021. This tent is easy to set up and use, which will keep the whole family enthusiastic about camping.

The tent is also spacious enough to fit 6 individuals, and includes a protective rain fly.

In addition to the 6-person setup, options include a 4-person version. The tent can also be paired with a designed footprint, sold separately, to increase the tent’s durability against heavy foot (or paw) traffic.

Learn more here.


Best Budget Camping Tent

Coleman Sundome 6

For occasional campers, the Coleman Sundome 6 is ideal. Not only is this tent one of the cheapest 6-person tents on the market, but it also performs well and is rather easy to set up—so the Sundome is easy on your wallet and your patience.

This dome-shaped tent is constructed out of polyester and fiberglass poles. The Coleman Sundome 6 performs best in dry and sunny conditions, but also will stand up to frequent rain showers.

Learn more here.


Best Rough Weather Tent

The North Face Mountain 25


Image Credit: North Face

Planning to camp in rough weather? You’ll need the best tent for rugged mountain adventures.

Whether facing hail, snow, heavy winds, or blinding rain, The North Face Mountain 25 is up to the task. The tent is equipped with dual doors and a poled vestibule. Additionally, it features a fully taped nylon bucket floor, reflective guylines, and glow-in-the-dark zip pulls.

Price-wise, the Mountain 25 is a hefty investment. However, if you’re ever stuck inside the mountains in a severe weather event, you’ll find every cent worth it.

Learn more here.


Best Backpacking Tent

REI Co-op Half Dome


Image Credit: REI

When it comes to backpacking, the weight of a tent is just as important as its overall performance. The REI Co-op Half Dome weighs in at 3 pounds and 14 ounces, which is light enough to carry on even the longest of trails.

In addition to its stellar weight, the REI Co-op Half Dome is a worthy investment in terms of ventilation, rain protection, and overall performance.

The half-dome also is equipped with a number of helpful and clever storage pockets, which will allow backpackers to keep several items within arms reach without leaving the tent.

While it’s listed as a 3-season tent, reviews show it holds up well even in the early stages of winter in many regions.

Learn more here.


Best Rooftop Tent

Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 Tent

Cartop tent for camping off the ground.

Price: $1,749

Thule exceels when it comes to producing rooftop camping tents and accessories. Their latest production, the Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3, is a durable camping tent that can accommodate up to three people.

The tent is designed to be used year-round, and can keep campers comfortable in the middle of summer or in the dead of winter.

The Tepui Explorer is equipped with a single door, ladder system, and a number of helpful organizational pockets.

Its body is manufactured from polyester, cotten, and ripstop, whereas the poles are produced from welded aluminum. The tent is also designed to be compatible with most roof rack systems.

Learn more here.


A blue tent set up in the desert under the stars with the sunset in the distance.

Leaking or drafty tents can completely ruin otherwise amazing camping trips. Likewise, warm and comfortable tents provide moments of solace and peaceful tranquility to salvage even the worst excursions. Before you set out on your next adventure, make sure you’re well-protected and equipped with the best tent for your hiking or camping needs.


The History of Skateboarding and Its Best Skaters

A closeup of a skateboarding performing a trick of grinding on a ledge

Skateboarding is a pastime enjoyed by many, from youngsters learning on their first board, to seasoned pros whose performance and handling leave spectators in awe. It’s so popular, in fact, that it’s now an Olympic event.

The history of skateboarding is, unsurprisingly, rooted in a very similar sport: surfing.

The 1950’s

Skateboarding got its start in the 1950s, in Hawaii and California, when athletes who sought the feeling of riding waves on dry land. It’s believed that skateboards already existed, in some form: crate scooters were already invented, and some people modified them to make wheeled boards.

Once surfers were involved, though, the sport really had legs. Early boards were rudimentary and comparatively slow to later versions, but this new class of “sidewalk surfers” loved them. Many even skated barefoot, the way they’d surf, and translate their maneuvers from ocean to land.

When the toy industry got wind that people were using a board to surf the streets, commercial skateboards came into fashion.


A skateboarder about to perform a trick as he's reaching down for his board at the lip of the ramp


The 1960’s

Roller Derby first launched the first mass-produced commercial skateboard in 1959, which marked its transition from “toy” to sports equipment. More companies followed suit, most notably surfing manufacturers who knew the sports’ crossover appeal was huge with current clientele.

Skateboarding competitions became more popular, with downhill races in San Francisco and other valley cities, but ultimately dipped in the mid-1960s when in- and outdoor roller derbies started.

The media painted skateboarding as dangerous, and the sport saw a decline in popularity.


A skateboarder preparing to safely land from his fall from an unsuccessful dismount or trick

The 1970’s

Like any sport, skateboarding changed constantly to make it more fun, challenging, and more welcoming to newcomers.

Frank Nasworthy introduced the urethane wheel with the company Cadillac Wheels. These plastic upgrades glided along city streets, instead of gripping them like clay wheels. They also lasted longer and, most importantly, were smoother and much faster. Suddenly, skateboards were both safer and more exciting.

Skateboarders started magazines; competitions took root; and the first man-made skate parks—rather than abandoned or repurposed construction sites—were born. Riders with different styles began clamoring for more, and customization shops popped up.

The 1970s and 1980s also saw the advent of tricks like the ollie. Thus, modern skateboarding was born.


The 1980’s

VHS cassettes featuring training techniques and new tricks became widely available. Magazines also detailed tricks and tips; new shops continued to pop up, offering new features on skateboards. Some boards became wider and longer. Depending on what you wanted, you could customize a board to suit your exact riding style.

Sponsorships, cash-prize contests, and the overall rising popularity of skateboarding made it possible for athletes to get paid skating.

The sport continued to spread, despite—or, arguably, because of—its reputation as a counter-culture activity: skate parks were now magnets for injury lawsuits, and boarding was banned in many public areas.


A trio of skateboarders taking a break and sipping on soda as they sit upon large steps

The 1990s

The introduction of the “Street League” for international racers helped skateboarding grow further as a professional sport, with cash prizes upwards of $200,000.

The televised X Games and its high flying aerials made skateboarding even more well-known. New skateboards and safety equipment meant newbies and seasoned skaters alike could attempt the tricks pro-skaters displayed on screen.


The 2000’s

Now that skateboarding is a professional sport and mainstream, few innovations have occurred in recent years.

The sport itself has continued to grow, though, with training videos readily available on YouTube, more X Game-esque competitions, and video games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise, now boasting an impressive 21 titles.

Skateboarding is close to the height of its technical abilities, and has changed a bit for competitions like Red Bull’s downhill series, featuring serious downhill races on regular streets.


The Boarders

Tony Hawk

Embed from Getty Images

Tony Hawk is almost a household name, even if you don’t skateboard. Hawk landed the “Trick Heard Round the World” in the 1999 X Games by completing the first professionally landed 900 spin. That’s 2.5 revolutions mid-jump, a trick no skater had ever landed correctly in a professional competition.

Hawk is also well-known for his self-titled video game franchise, which was popular with skaters and non-skaters alike for not only the visuals and game physics, but its killer videogame soundtrack.


Paul Rodriguez

Embed from Getty Images

Rodriguez won a total of eight medals at X Games competitions, and later launched his own skateboard deck company, Primitive ( He’s also a rapper and recording artist, as well as the owner of his own private skatepark.

Rodriguez last won a professional competition in 2012, and now focuses on acting, music, and his businesses.


Eric Koston

Embed from Getty Images

Despite being featured in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games, Koston is part of the generation of skaters who came before Hawk. He placed first in the X Games in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

He was featured in many videos for the Girl skateboard company and garnered many sponsorships, including a Nike shoe named after him. Koston now owns his own business, Fourstar Clothing.


Skateboarder Eric Koston performs a trick in the bowls of a skatepark by the beach

Skateboarding is now fairly mainstream and accepted (though you probably still can’t get away with skateboarding down the library rails). Its transition from a humble hobby to competitive powerhouse is, in large part, owed to professional skateboarders innovating both the equipment and the sport itself. As you’re riding your board, and hopefully not taking too many spills, find yourself listening to the best pop-punk songs or the best albums on Spotify.

Awesome Day Trips from NYC

New York City skyline set against an afternoon sky

As much as New York pulls you in with its promises of over-stimulation, over-achievement, and other excess, there’s nothing like leaving it behind with some sorely needed day trips from NYC.

All complicated relationships can benefit from an occasional break, and luckily, the five boroughs extend only so far. With the Shore to the south, the Island to the east, and Upstate woodland to the north, there’s no shortage of small havens to get to know.

Set aside an entire day; these destinations will require a commute, but there are options for drivers, train riders, and even cyclists in need of a break from the Big, Loud, and Very Busy Apple.

Day Trips from NYC by Car

If you’re a New Yorker who owns a car, it’s likely that your desire to get away already outweighs your daily parking-induced neurosis.

Are your usual weekend haunts missing natural appeal or historical value? Check out these sites on your next day trip from NYC.


Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Minnewaska State Park Preserve with a large lake surrounded by snow-flocked trees with a mostly cloudless sky

Set aside an hour and a half to drive to this park located between the towns of New Paltz and Kerhonkson.

Minnewaska is one of the most popular destinations in the area, so try to experience it on a weekday. Surrounded by rock walls and greenery, Lake Minnewaska is unforgettable, along with the elegant Awosting Falls.

The park hosts a variety of moderate trails, viewpoints, and other lakes and waterfalls. It’s easy to see why two luxury hotels were built at the location over a century ago; both are long gone, and the area is still maintained as a preserve.

The same family that owned the hotels later established the neighboring Mohonk Preserve, situated a little to the north. Its 70 miles of trails incorporate former carriage roads surrounded by nature. Some are open to hiking, while others accommodate skiing and mountain biking.


Storm King Art Center

Currently open on a limited schedule, Storm King Art Center is an outdoor sculpture park a little over an hour away from the city.

Featuring special exhibits alongside a permanent collection, the park is best seen via the meandering footpaths that cross its grounds.

A large portion of the work shown is site-specific, turning your traditional museum experience into a more intimate, interactive activity.

Summer wildflowers, fall foliage, and winter chill all add to the allure of weaving your own path. You may stumble upon a bronze log hidden in a forest floor, or a Lichtenstein mermaid overlooking the park’s north pond.


Martin Van Buren Historic Site

The Martin Van Buren Historic Site near Kinderhook, NY, is a low-key stop. It features a system of nature trails that run through private farmland, as well as the eighth president’s own farm—active in the mid-19th century.

The trails are tranquil and not too extensive, making this a good detour on the way to Kinderhook, or if you’re visiting the town of Hudson.


Catskills/ Hudson River Art Trail

The Catskill Mountains and the town of Catskill, nestled on the left bank of the Hudson, are well-known destinations for day escapees.

For a mix of culture and American history, plan your day trip to the area around the Hudson River Art School’s most famous members. The 19th century movement, focused on the idea of the sublime American landscape, produced iconic paintings of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley.

The Hudson River Art Trail is a local project that works to preserve the legacy of painters like Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, by providing detailed directions to the sites depicted in their works.

Travel to any of the twenty sites listed on their website, hold up a printout of the painting associated with it, and compare. Incredibly enough, many of the shapes and forms haven’t changed since the 1800’s, making it easy to imagine the artists moving their brushes along with mountain ridges and riverbanks.

You might be able to hit many of the sites on the same day, with pit stops in villages like Saugerties and Rhinebeck.


Day Trips Out of New York by Train

For those of you who have grown used to a subterranean commute, the Metro North, LIRR, and NJ Transit are a refreshing way to get to where the Subway just can’t take you.


Harriman State Park

A couple kayaking in the lake of Harriman State Park while large trees cover the entire hillsides

While the Metro North’s Hudson line might be the most scenic, NJ Transit’s Port Jervis line is the one that gets you to Harriman State Park.

From the station in Suffern, NY, walk ten minutes to the Suffern-Bear Mountain trailhead. The entire trail adds up to 23 miles and is rated difficult, but a few hours of steadily paced hiking can round out your trip.

With lean-to shelters, lake beaches, and peaks, Harriman is ideal if you decide to turn that day trip out of NYC into an overnight stay.

You can even take in a tiny and adorable Manhattan skyline from certain viewpoints near the Suffern trailhead—just so you don’t forget it’s still out there.


Asbury Park

Few day trips from NYC offer a great escape 365 days a year, but New Jersey’s Asbury Park is always worth a visit, even in the colder months.

While the boardwalk is busy with nightlife during the summer, in the winter it holds a carnivalesque, slightly deserted charm.

Though it has a beach town reputation, the community boasts a vibrant local culture without the summer crowds. Amidst the town’s revival, its historic seaside architecture has become a draw, along with the local businesses that have sprung up in the past decade.

The NJ Transit ride to Asbury Park is a little under two hours from Penn Station.


Sagamore Hill

If Martin Van Buren didn’t spark any recognition, how about a visit to Teddy Roosevelt’s final home?

Roosevelt lived at Sagamore Hill on Long Island for over 30 years, and his estate is open to the public. While the buildings are temporarily closed, the grounds offer wooded trails and access to the Cold Spring Harbor beach via the Eel Creek Bridge.

The former president’s actual house, painted a soft blue, can be viewed from the outside. Take the LIRR to Oyster Bay, then a brief cab ride to Sagamore.

If the visit is shorter than expected, return to Oyster Bay for waterfront views from Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park.

And if you tire of Teddy, look across the water towards Centre Island, where Oyster Bay native Billy Joel owns a mansion.


Day Trips from NYC by Bike

If you’re determined to spend your entire day trip out of NYC enjoying the great outdoors, both Nyack and Tarrytown can be reached from the city by bike.

Don’t worry: they still feel plenty removed to qualify as a getaway.


Nyack/ Edward Hopper House

The Edward Hopper House in Nyack, NY, is a gem on the Hudson in Rockland County. The 20th century painter, famous for his scenes of American life, was born in the home on North Broadway in 1882.

The home gallery now features contemporary artwork, and Hopper’s early work and supplies, among other rotating exhibitions.

Starting on the Upper West Side, cross the George Washington Bridge to reach bike Route 9w. Find detailed directions here.

This is a long, 60+ mile round trip ride, but it’s a good challenge for experienced cyclists. Consider staying overnight if you do want to devote time to Nyack’s Main Street, and attractions like the Hopper House.


Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow

Unnamed road in Tarrytown Sleepy Hollow with beautiful trees and stone statues alongside the paved road

New York to Tarrytown, NY, is another smooth ride to an idyllic town north of the city.

The best part about this one is that you and your two-wheeled friend can take the Metro North one way, leaving you more time to spend in Tarrytown and neighboring Sleepy Hollow.

From the Bronx, connect to the South County Trailway just beyond Van Cortlandt park, then ride a little over 20 miles north to reach Tarrytown.

The paved, traffic-free path allows you to focus on the tree-lined road ahead and enjoy the journey.

Once in Tarrytown, lock up and stroll the main drag, or relax by the Hudson in view of the Tarrytown Lighthouse.

Sleepy Hollow, located right above Tarrytown—and the site of Washington Irving’s classic tale—is best visited deep into the fall. The town embraces its uncanny history during Halloween season, and there’s plenty of historic sites to visit.

Stop by Sleepy Hollow Cemetery any time of year, though, to read centuries-old epitaphs and get lost among the serene stone structures.


Get Away for a Bit

Too much of a good thing applies to all cities, and New York is no exception. Fortunately, great destinations sit within a stone’s throw of the concrete jungle, giving overwhelmed city dwellers the perfect opportunity for a few day trips from NYC. All the same, for the days that you’re looking to connect with your city more, this Ultimate NYC travel guide is perfect for residents and tourists alike. NYC is among the coolest places to travel, after all.

Don’t hesitate to skip town by car, train, bike or all three. Be warned, though: if you get stuck in FDR traffic, a delayed train, or ill-chosen gear on the way back from your day trip, you might wish you were still there in the woods, on the beach, or in that charming village. If you are planning to travel by bike, be sure to plan thoroughly as you will likely need to plan where you eat, sleep, and even shower.

Luckily, you can do it all over again on your next free day. One of the best things about the city is the variety in what surrounds it, and how simple it is to unplug, pack up, and get away from it all.



Planning a Bike Tour with the Best Destinations in the US

Red and blue all-terrain bikes on a mountain after a long distance tour or ride.

Many American sights are built around the probability that people will not only arrive by car, but stay in it as they take in the views. Parking lots, overlooks, scenic highways: they’re all there to make travel as convenient as can be. Planning a bike tour, however, is a way to deepen that sightseeing experience from a totally new vantage point.

It’s as much about the journey as the destination. Hovering between sport and adventure, long-distance cycling is an art of its own. Yet even seasoned riders can get lost amid the logistics when planning a bike tour.

The most crucial element is preparedness. You need to bring the right gear, plan your route efficiently, and know your own limitations.

This comprehensive guide to planning a bike tour covers the basics of preparing for your trip, all the gear you need to bring, and, finally, a list of some of the best destinations in the US to see by bicycle.



Planning a Bike Tour Route

A cyclist takes a break at a scenic overlook near his red bike.

First off, figure out where you want to go, and whether your budget, resources, and willpower will get you there by bike.

More importantly, make sure the roads you’ll be riding are bike-friendly; you don’t want to find yourself pedaling inches away from an eighteen wheeler.

Enter the Adventure Cycling Association, an organization that has been bringing bike touring to the people since 1973. Run by longtime cycling enthusiasts, ACA has compiled an extensive network of bike routes spanning the entire country. Along with hand-picked directions, their maps show food, lodging, and amenities available to cyclists on the road.

There are a number of long, car-free bike paths like the Katy Trail around the country which you can incorporate into your trip. Additionally, the Rails to Trails Conservancy (RTC) converts and maintains miles of multi-use rail trails throughout the country that can be a starting point for a shorter tour.

Chances are someone else has done a tour in your area, so check out Facebook groups to connect with other cyclists and get their recommendations.

Lastly, if you aren’t comfortable riding alone, ACA leads supported tours that might cost you a lot less than a standard vacation.


Overnights and Mileage

Once you know where you’d like to end up, plan your trip depending on where you’ll be sleeping. Everyone’s comfort level is different; you may prefer staying at motels, or you might be up for roughing it in a tent.

Either way, make sure you know where these and other resources are located. If your next campground turns out to be too many miles from the last, you could be left stranded.

This is especially important in terms of grocery stores. You definitely don’t want to get too low on food or water. Never assume there will be a store ahead of you, and keep meticulous inventory of your supplies.

Training before your trip is a smart move, too. Doing longer loops in your area will give you an idea of your daily distance: how far your can ride without overexerting yourself. This will help you map out your tour more efficiently.

Thirty to fifty miles is a good daily average to start with, but be careful not to overestimate your capabilities. Pacing yourself is one of the best things you can do for your body on a bike tour.


What Bike Should You Tour On?

What bike you ride can make a huge difference on tour. Like any decent vehicle, you don’t want it breaking down on you.

Now, that’s not to say you can’t traverse an entire state on a regular road bike. However, if you’re serious about riding long-distance, a touring bike is the way to go. Among all the unpredictable elements of being on the road, having a capable bike is one you do have control over, so don’t risk your safety or comfort with a subpar bike.


If Price Is an Issue

Touring bikes are built to carry weight, have diverse gears to tackle uphills, and can handle unpredictable surfaces thanks to stronger wheels and thicker tires. Your bike will be the biggest investment of your trip.

To put it another way, your bike will be your home, car, and companion, all rolled into one—so it’ll be well worth its higher price point.

For bicyclists on a budget, Craigslist or touring forums are always a good bet to score affordable used bikes and travel or camping gear.


Essential Gear to Pack on a Bike Tour

Cyclist in blue athletic clothing and black cycling shorts, resting on a glass-lined balcony beside a black bike.

Before departing on what might be your first bike tour, avoid the common mistake of underestimating the challenge ahead of you.

Even if you’re an experienced traveler, a tour of any length has different demands than a trip by vehicle or other means of transportation. When you’re out and exposed on your bike for multiple hours a day, the obstacles you might face are unpredictable.

Preparing for the trip is the part you actually have control over, so take the time to pack accordingly. This gets easier as you continue touring, but this gear guide is a good start for those who aren’t sure if they are over or under-packing for their first long-distance bike trip.



As the saying goes, the weather is never the problem: the way you dress is.

If you’re going to be spending most of the day outside pedaling, have a range of clothing suitable for most conditions. Make sure you’re familiar with the temperature and weather patterns of the region you’ll be touring in, and plan for nighttime cool-downs.


Sweat-Wicking Clothing

Three cyclists with their bikes and gear chatting in the woods on a trail.

Invest in a few pairs of bottoms with sweat-wicking technology (this includes liner shorts, padded shorts, socks, and tights). Cycling- specific fabrics account for how much you sweat while exerting energy, and it’s important that your clothes aren’t soaked when you get off your bike.

Most of these fabrics have antibacterial, odor-free characteristics and dry quickly, making them a good choice for overnight trips. You can rinse them off before bed, then reuse them the very next morning.

Sun Sleeves

Sun sleeves can help you avoid prolonged sun exposure as you bike. These arm warmer-like covers often include cooling technology to keep you comfortable and protected.

Sunscreen needs to be reapplied (and gets messy when mixed with sweat). If you rely only on sunscreen, there’s a good chance you’ll end up oily, caked in grime, and slightly sunburnt by the time you get off the bike. Pulling on a pair of sun sleeves can save you from that Banana Boat headache later on.



When choosing a helmet, focus on weight and airflow. Though definitely protective, a hard-shell helmet will not be the most comfortable when you are sweating all day.

The Giro Agilis, Giro Isode, and Specialized Centro are all budget-friendly examples of safe, breathable helmets to take on tour.


Rain and Cold Weather

Cyclists pedaling down a path on an overcast day following rain, reflected in a puddle.

Rain shouldn’t be a reason to miss a day of riding on tour. Unless conditions are dangerous, you should be able to keep moving even in a drizzle—provided you have a touring bike with capable brakes and tires.

A set of waterproof clothes is a must, even if rain isn’t forecasted in the area. You’ll want a waterproof rain jacket that can keep you warm and dry. Ideally, it will also have a hood that extends completely over your helmet.

Another staple: waterproof pants that can fit over a bottom layer. Showers Pass Club Convertible pants zip off at the knee, have reflective details, and fit snugly.

High-quality waterproof pants will be a financial investment, but one pair can take you through years of flash rainstorms.

The same goes for gloves and shoes. Lightweight waterproof gloves like this Showers Pass Crosspoint Knit pair will prevent your hands from getting pelted with freezing rain.

Base layers are compact enough not to take too much space and will keep you warm on cold nights. If you’ll be sleeping outdoors, be prepared for plummeting nighttime temperatures, especially if you’re planning a bike tour in mountain climates.

They can also be worn under your rain gear as an emergency layer.



Your shoe choice is, arguably, the most vital part of your wardrobe to get right when planning a bike tour.

Pack two pairs of shoes: a lightweight low-top option, and a warmer waterproof model.

If you choose to clip in to your pedals, you’ll need the right shoes and cleats. In general, clipping in will give you a more efficient pedal stroke, but how much this matters while pacing yourself on tour is up to you.

If you don’t want to clip in, research flat pedal shoes to find the right fit for you. You will notice that cycling-specific shoes have very stiff soles to protect your foot from the pressure exerted while pedaling.

Since waterproof cycling boots can be higher-priced, consider shoe covers to protect your feet in the rain.


On the Road

Great views and incredible rides are just ahead…but so are flat tires, pouring rain, and pitch-black country roads. Mishaps are inevitable, so prepare for these hazards ahead of time with the right gear.



USB-rechargeable lights are the norm nowadays, and you can’t go wrong with a front light you can charge anywhere, such as the Blackburn Dayblazer 1100.

With a battery life of up to 12 hours, it’ll give you the visibility and peace of mind you need on tour.

Check out the other Dayblazers on Blackburn’s website, as well, which all come with a lifetime warranty.

Remember to have your front and rear lights turned on at dawn, in fog, and even in shaded areas.


Portable Pump

Again, flat tires are inevitable: no matter how carefully you map your route or research road conditions when planning a bike tour, you’ll lose air along the way. A lightweight portable air pump will make that annoyance a breeze to fix.

Try the Topeak Mini Dual DXG. Its built-in pressure gauge indicates when you’ve gotten your tire into the perfect pressure range.


Waterproof Bags and Panniers

Durable panniers are extremely important, since they protect and carry your entire world when on tour. Make sure you get a waterproof set like these roomy, dry, and sturdy Banjo Brothers panniers.

How you set up your bike is up to you, but two larger panniers in the rear and two smaller ones in the front is a standard. Add a frame bag, handlebar bag and seat post bag for smaller items, like tools and electronics.

Distribute weight evenly. Remember that your rear and/or front racks are a good storage option for your tent, sleeping bag, and other bulky items.



A person stands and watches the sunrise near their tent on a grassy mountain top.

If you’re planning on relying on motels and other indoor lodging on tour, you’re all set with the gear listed above.

If you’re camping, however, you’ll need a few specific items to make sure you’re well-rested when you tumble out of that tent and onto your bike.



This one’s a given, but quality matters. Ideally, invest in a weather-resistant and ventilated tent like Coleman’s Skydome Camping Tent.

Used gear will suffice just fine, of course, but make sure there’s no damage to the tent that can compromise your comfort, like holes or broken zippers.

Speaking of holes: if your tent doesn’t come with one, bring a patch kit to mend rips and tears quickly.

Additionally, consider lightweight options to minimize your load. Before departure, practice setting your tent up and breaking it down.


Sleeping Bag/Pad

Mummy-shaped sleeping bags are popular among cyclists because of their portability and warmth factor. A blow-up sleeping pad is a lightweight addition to your setup that will keep your back comfortable and protected.

Also, if you have the space, you can’t go wrong with a water-resistant blanket to either put underneath your sleeping bag for insulation, or to wrap yourself up in on stormy nights.



If you’re planning a bike tour that’s on the longer side, you’ll probably cook at least some of your own meals.

A portable gas stove like the Olicamp Ion Micro Titanium Stove and a camping pot can help you eat healthier and save money. The Olicamp runs on fuel canisters, allowing you to make anything from outlaw coffee, to a nice, hot plate of pasta.

It might sound like the last thing you want to do at the end of a six-hour bike ride, but preparing something hot is a huge plus. This is especially true if you find yourself in an area without restaurants (or pull into a campground late).

Using the stove is almost like throwing together a quick dinner at home—even if your apartment kitchen is a little nicer than that rotting picnic table.


When Planning a Bike Tour, Gear Matters Too

Even if you’re on a tight budget, what you bring with you on tour will determine the quality of your experience.

By no means do you need to have the latest camping gear or technology to enjoy yourself and stay safe, though. It’s just a matter of basic human needs for nutrition, shelter, and warmth. And these needs become very obvious when you’re on the road.

Touring is inconvenient by nature. That’s part of its appeal, however. It pushes you out of your comfort zone, and into new places, interactions, and (hopefully) perspectives. Packing properly with gear that keeps you warm, dry, comfortable, and hydrated will make your tour unforgettable.


Bike Touring Destinations in the U.S. (By Region)

The silhouette of a cyclist on their bike during the sunset.

When planning a bike tour, it’s tempting to want to see it all in as little time as possible. Keep in mind, though, that sight-seeing on a bike is vastly different from traveling by vehicle.

You’re your own engine, and you don’t want to burn out between Point A and Point B. It’s better to choose a handful of must-see destinations and actually enjoy your ride, rather than conquering a massive travel checklist all in one tour.

Starting out close to home is a good idea if you’re new to bicycle touring. Check to see if there are any bicycle loop trails near you. Your endurance is usually lower, and the discomfort of long rides will be mitigated if you give yourself plenty of time between destinations to rest.

But, if you have some touring experience and are looking for a challenge, customize your path by connecting existing routes like those created by the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA). The ACA website also offers access to the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS), a collection of state- approved bike routes throughout the country.

The following is a list of destinations that can be reached by bike in different regions of the United States. Always exercise caution when biking on shared roadways.



While it can take weeks to explore every corner of New York City by bike, the rest of the state is better suited for a long tour. (Scenically, at least).

State Bicycle Route 9 can take you from the city to the Canadian border, 345 miles to the north. After the riverside views of the Hudson Highlands, the ride climbs into the Adirondack Mountains, which boast some of New York’s wildest terrain.

Prepare for plenty of uphills, maple syrup, and lakeside communities like Lake George Village, or the quieter Schroon Lake.

Once you hit the banks of Lake Champlain, take a detour to Vermont via the Lake Champlain Bridge, or the ferry from Port Kent to Burlington.

For an east-west excursion, the 360-mile Erie Canalway cuts across the state, following the historic Erie Canal.

Expect rolling farmland, canal locks, and towns bearing the evidence of New York’s role in the Revolutionary War.

If you’re traveling west, your finish line will be the roaring trio of Niagara Falls.




If you’re looking for elevation along with history, and one of the coolest places to visit, Virginia has a lot to offer for those on two wheels.

For an extended experience, get on the TransAmerica Trail (U.S. Bicycle Route 76) in coastal Yorktown. The route travels the entire length of Virginia, crossing borders at Kentucky’s Breaks Interstate Park.

The Virginia portion of the route measures over 400 miles, taking you over the Blue Ridge Parkway in the western part of the state.

Often remote, wooded, and gorgeous, this section of the TransAm is diverse enough to plan an entire trip around. Try out detours like the Creeper Trail, which is a 34-mile long bike path connecting Abingdon, Virginia, with the Appalachian Trail town of Damascus.

Don’t miss colonial Williamsburg, downtown Charlottesville, or historic Roanoke, either. Be ready for long climbs once you reach the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains.

Williamsburg, Virginia, during an orange sunset.



If you’re further down the coast, the East Coast Greenway is a one of a kind resource to take advantage of when planning a bike tour.

Good news: you can make your Greenway ride as long as you want. The entire trail is 3,000 miles long, stretching from the Florida Keys to Maine’s rocky beaches.

The entire Florida coast can be a shorter section ride. Starting in Key West, the greenway ride to Jacksonville totals about 600 miles, including stretches of pristine Atlantic beach, Spanish colonial architecture, and just as much greenery as sand.




The Midwest is vast, but Missouri’s Katy Trail is within a day’s drive from several large cities, including Chicago, Kansas City, and Louisville.

This is another cross-state ride, beginning just outside of St. Louis and ending in Clinton, Missouri. Over the trail’s 240 miles, experience trailside communities like Sedalia, Augusta, and Rocheport.

The trail mostly gravel, so prepare accordingly. You’ll need thicker tires and, ideally, a mountain or gravel bike.

The Katy Trail is a green, serene, and traffic-free choice for a shorter tour. With multiple access points by car or Amtrak, it can be forgiving to those who aren’t used to riding long-distance.




Aerial view of Phoenix, Arizona.

Tucson is a dream destination for winter cyclists. Since the establishment of Arizona’s Bike Route 90, it’s easier to make the city a focal point of a long-distance tour.

Route 90 is about 575 miles. It extends from Cochise County (home of the quaint mining town of Bisbee) to Maricopa county in the western part of the state.

From the Sonoran desert, cyclists can pedal north through Tucson, traverse Phoenix, and ride to the California border.

Though the remote nature of the route requires advance planning, there’s nothing quite like experiencing the vastness of the landscape at a cyclist’s pace.

In Tucson, make sure to ride the paved Loop around the city, and try the Cactus Forest Loop in Saguaro National Park. The Park offers multiple cycling trails and striking desert fauna making it one of the best national parks to visit for cycling. Get in at sunrise or sunset for golden views!



The Oregon coast is one of the west coast’s most popular touring destinations.

The Oregon Coast Bike Route will take you from Astoria, in the state’s Northwest corner, to Brookings, a town tucked into the southern Oregon coastline.

Windy and wild, the route rarely strays from the shoreline. You’ll pedal right along the Pacific, with stops in seaside towns like Cannon Beach and Florence.

Ride north to south to avoid headwinds. Expect drizzle, fog, and dramatic cliffside scenery.

If you end up in Brookings and are craving more, hop on ACA’s Pacific Coast Route. You can follow it south through California all the way to the Mexican border.

Remember to pace yourself, research cycling conditions in the areas you’ll be passing through, and be proud of every mile.


More Helpful Tips for Planning a Bike Tour

You’ve got a route in mind, proper gear, and a departure date. But before you embark on that epic bike tour, here are some final tips to make that ride as legendary as possible.


  • Allow for rest days. Your body will be challenged during your ride. Taking a day once or twice a week to relax will keep your spirits up (and your muscles grateful).


  • Don’t set hard mileage expectations. While you’ll sometimes need to bike a certain distance to get to where you’re sleeping or eating, give yourself the option of biking less or more whenever possible. Planning a bike tour with that little bit of “cushion” will make all the difference in how you feel afterwards. Listen to your body, and remain as flexible as you can.


  • In a pinch, a local fire or police station may point you towards a safe place to camp, or even let you pitch a tent on their premises.


  • Bike shops and churches are often willing to give pointers. Oftentimes, you can call ahead to scope out the situation.


  • Don’t underestimate dogs! Your first instinct might be to out-bike them, but that can go terribly wrong if an animal gets underneath your wheel. If your air horn isn’t successful, stop and shield yourself with your bike. Yelling at the dog while pointing at it can assert your dominance. Continue making yourself loud and large while backing away until it’s safe to get back on your bike. If you can wave down a passing car, the motorist can honk at a dog to scare it away.


  • Pay attention to bear-prone areas you might be crossing and camping in. Bring bear bags and bear spray just in case.


  • Unless you’ll be staying indoors, prepare to be shower-free for a while. Bring a quick dry towel for when you do shower. In the meantime, a simple washcloth and Starbucks sink might have to do. If you’re lucky, you may be able to find a couple showers on the road.


  • Wear a helmet—always.


  • Use lights at night, early in the morning, while riding in fog, or any instance when visibility is less than ideal.


  • Do all you can to make it easier for yourself. That might mean saving up for a weekly hotel stay, or listening to music as you ride.


Remember Why You’re Riding

A cyclist in a blue helmet stops to take in the mountain view on a rocky beach, while his red bike sits nearby in some grass.

Don’t forget that your trip is an adventure as much as it is an endeavor. It isn’t easy but planning a bike tour properly can deliver an unforgettable travel experience no other transportation method offers.

Touring is a special way to experience the country at a rare pace. It allows you to directly interact with the world around you. On your bike, the weather matters. The way the land dips and rolls matters, because it’s under your tires.

Being out on the road brings you closer to coexisting with both the natural and man-made. You might walk away knowing more about your capabilities and limitations.

Better yet, you might choose not to walk away at all.

So, the next time you’re feeling a little bored, get out on that bike and hit the open road. Enjoy that crisp air, the cool breeze rushing past you, and the beautiful scenery that surrounds you.




The Best-Tasting and Healthiest Drinking Water

Happy blonde woman drinking water.

Whether steeping a nice cup of English Breakfast or quenching cotton-mouth from that hit of Unquestionably OG, you should always take your drinking water seriously.

These days, almost everyone knows the importance of staying hydrated, and that the average adult body is comprised of about 60% water—even more for those with lots of lean muscle—but too few actually think about the quality of their drinking water.

This guide will help you find the best-tasting and healthiest drinking water to stay hydrated…and explain why tap water ranks dead last.




Best Sources of Drinking Water

Hiker overlooking lake drinking water from orange hydro-flask.

These are the best sources of drinking water, ranked from worst to first.


5 . Tap Water

You’ve likely already consumed tap water whether you were making your favorite kombucha flavors or freezing it for the ice in your smoothie—and that’s perfectly fine.

Despite all the confusion and debate surrounding tap water, it is still good enough to drink or cook with.  However, it does contain certain chemicals you might not want circulating through your body. So, if your put off from cooking with it for the meantime, grab some healthy takeout while you asses these options.

These include chlorine, fluoride, or possible contaminants from compromised water systems.

Additionally, most water treatment methods remove minerals crucial to your health and wellbeing—but more on that below.


4. Home Water Filters

One way to make tap water healthier—and tastier—is to use a water filter.  You can use a pitcher system, like this one from PUR, or a large dispenser that sits on your counter or in the fridge, such as this option from Brita.

There are also faucet systems that allow you to filter one sink in your home, or whole-house systems that deliver clean water to every single faucet.

The drawback to filtration systems of any kind, however, is the price.  Generally speaking, the more you want filtered out of your water, the better filter you’ll need…and the more money you’ll spend on it.

There’s also a time and effort factor involved, since you’ll have to replace filters regularly to keep particle-reduction optimal.   Lastly, refilling pitchers or tanks can be tough to remember.


3. Bottled Water

Bottled water is good for on-the-go hydration or cooking while camping, and is usually clean with a pleasant taste.

The cost adds up, though, as does the plastic.  Filling landfills with that stuff is far from ideal, especially since it takes over 400 years for a single bottle to degrade.

What’s more, that plastic could be harming your health, one sip at a time.

A 2018 study found microplastic contamination in 93% of the bottled water brands it tested, sourced globally from multiple sources.

In terms of health consequences, experts continue to disagree about the effect these particles have on the human body.  Most deem the research inconclusive thus far, but some studies indicate cumulative exposure can lead to toxicity, oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and neoplasms that may or may not become cancerous.

With that in mind, bottled water is generally fine to consume, and it’s certainly preferable to dehydration.  Exploring more eco-friendly drinking water options, however, is a smart move.


2. Water Store Refills

While some might scoff at the idea of a water store, it’s a wise investment for your health.

Many use multiple processes, which allows you to select the kind of drinking water you’d prefer: alkaline, mineral, oxygenated, and more.

Each type of drinking water has unique benefits or purposes, and even a difference in taste.

As for price, this varies largely by establishment and state. Generally, water stores cost much less compared to purchasing comparable filtration systems for your home.


1. Aquifers and Wells

Undoubtedly, this is the best way to get your drinking water: straight from the source.

Aquifers provide clean water from underground sources, untouched by man and stocked with healthy minerals.  Getting it can be a challenge, however.

Wells are the most common method for extracting water from an aquifer.  Additionally, the water leaves an aquifer over time and goes into springs or streams.

Groundwater is usually safe, given how little interference and exposure it receives, but contamination is still possible.  Oftentimes, trace amounts of fluoride, heavy metal, or household waste can sneak their way inside.

Runoff pollutants can also seep into the groundwater supply—even if you live in an isolated area.

These include pesticides, contaminants found in snow- or rainfall, and medications from yourself or any nearby humans, from anti-inflammatories to antibiotics.

While these usually exist in extremely small amounts, it’s a good idea to test well water periodically.



What’s Wrong with Tap Water?

Glass of water splashing in someone's hand.

Again, it’s important to note that most tap water is okay to drink, particularly when compared to countries lacking sanitation management.

The United States is far from the best, however, among countries with mass filtration systems.  Switzerland, Norway, and several others have America beat on both water taste and quality.

Unsurprisingly, part of this comes down to pollution.  The more pristine an environment is, the less runoff seeps into the groundwater, which means fewer contaminants overall.

What’s more, cleaner groundwater allows for less processing to clean it for consumption.

Another component is how, exactly, the United States cleans its tap water.

Most water plants utilize chemical filtration at some point during the purification process.  Then chlorine or chloramine are added, along with fluoride, before it passes through your pipes.



Chlorine is a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to tap water.

On the one hand, it keeps waterborne pathogens out of your drinking water.  These can include hepatitis or dysentery, among others.

On the other hand, when chlorine mixes with even trace amounts of natural organic matter in a water supply, it can produce Trihalomethanes, or THMs.  While boiling water can eliminate THMs, common filtration systems like pitchers or faucet systems cannot.

THMs are harmful to your health because they produce free radicals in your body, which can lead to cellular damage.  This can cause inflammation, cardiovascular disease, neurological issues, and even cancer.

Several studies have found increased risk for colorectal cancer, in particular, among chlorinated water drinkers.

Most of the chlorine added to public water supplies will dissolve once it’s pushed through your faucet, however.  Furthermore, a high-quality aerator will help remove it even more efficiently.



Chloramine is a chemical produced when chlorine and ammonia combine.  It puts a coating on the inside of pipes, which reduces the amount of lead that is leached into the water.

It sounds like a good idea on the surface—but if you’ve ever smelled cat urine, attempted to buy ammonia and bleach at the same time, or watched King Of The Hill, you already know how volatile ammonia can be.

Chloramine exposure can result in respiratory issues such as coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, or even pneumonia.  One study found asthma and reduced pulmonary function were particularly common among indoor pool workers.

It’s important to emphasize that those results involve heavy chloramine exposure.  Drinking tap water isn’t likely to carry the same risk, since the amounts are far smaller.

Still, the studies for long-term, cumulative effects of chloramine via tap water are sorely lacking—so it might be preferable to err on the side of caution.



There’s a great deal of mixed info out there regarding fluoride, and you’ve probably wondered if it’s actually beneficial to your health…or if it’s made your drinking water a ticking time bomb.

Rest assured: like most elements in your tap water, fluoride is regarded as generally safe.  Unless you’re part of the population segment that’s allergic or sensitive to fluoride, a few glasses here and there won’t hurt you.

With that in mind, it’s important to objectively decide if fluoridated water benefits your overall health.


Fluoride Vs. Fluorine: What’s the Difference?

First and foremost, take note that fluoride is not the same as fluorine, a highly reactive electronegative element.  It’s often used in nuclear power plants, and used to be prevalent in everyday objects like fire extinguishers and refrigerators.

However, due to its contribution to ozone depletion, household use of fluorine has been banned since the mid-1990s.

While fluorine gas on its own is explosive and possibly quite dangerous, compounds containing this gas form many substances you can probably still find throughout your home: Teflon-coated pans, certain rain or snow boots—and, of course, the fluoride in toothpaste, mouthwashes, and most areas’ drinking water supplies.

Fluorine occurs naturally in the air, so you’re exposed to this gas in minute amounts regularly.

In large amounts, though, the gas can be deadly.

Fluoride is different from fluorine—it’s the negative ion of that element, and therefore isn’t as reactive. In trace amounts, it can be beneficial to dental health, and most people get some naturally through other means.

Simply put, toothpaste or some tap water isn’t going to kill you.

Where the concern arises, rather, is in how much fluoride you’re getting…and whether or not you actually need so much.


Does Fluoride Really Help Your Teeth?

The simply answer is yes: fluoride helps prevent cavities and tooth decay.

A more complicated and accurate answer, however, is that fluoridated water only reduces the rate of cavities by 25%.

Additionally, although fluoride may aid in the remineralization of bones and enamel, its cavity reduction comes down to bacteria inhibition.

This sounds like a good thing, of course…assuming it’s only affecting bad bacteria.

Recent studies show that your mouth, just like your stomach or skin, has a unique microbiome that not only impacts your oral health, but your gut and overall health, as well.

Since neurotransmitter synthesis begins in the gut, the health of your mouth directly impacts your gut-brain axis. Anything that throws that out of balance—from antibiotics, to mouthwashes…and yes, possibly fluoridated water—can affect your mental state and moods, in turn.

Other studies have shown a clear link between fluoride and impaired thyroid function. In fact, it’s recommended that individuals with hypothyroidism filter their tap water to remove the fluoride.

Even if you don’t have hypothyroidism, your levels can be negatively impacted by the fluoride in your drinking water: perhaps you’re in the “normal range,” but higher than your personal baseline.


Too Much of a Good Thing

Lastly, it’s important to remember the old adage: too much of a good thing…is a bad thing.

Excessive fluoride consumption can lead to fluorosis of the teeth or skeletal system, thereby weakening the very systems it’s meant to strengthen.

While dental fluorosis is very difficult to get, since fluoride simply doesn’t sit on the teeth that long, the skeletal version of this condition results from repeated, cumulative exposure to fluoride.

If your tap water is over fluoridated, that excess could build in your system over several years and cause stiffness, joint pain, or even ligament calcification.

Furthermore, some studies such as this one have linked fluoridated drinking water to increased osteosarcoma in adolescent boys.

Note that no clear-cut, consistent links exist between fluoride consumption and cancer risk. Generally speaking, conclusively determining fluoride’s long-term effects on health requires more research.

So when it comes to your drinking water, you might choose to forgo the unknown, or consume it and hope for the best—or even some of each, if you still want the dental benefits of fluoridation, but with less overall exposure.


Possible Contaminants

Ice dropped into water glass with red paper straw.

Despite all the filtration methods, both physical and chemical, tap water can still be contaminated.

Like groundwater, runoff is a concern.  Any pesticides, herbicides, or industrial waste that touches the earth can later seep into nearby water sources.

Similarly, pollutants in the air can result in contaminated rainwater, snow, or ice.  These can enter water supplies, as well.

Although most filtration methods will eliminate these, there are always exceptions.

This is especially true when the filtration systems or pipe networks become compromised in some way.

Lead or mercury can enter water through natural sources in the ground, too, or from improper disposal of hazardous materials like batteries or paint.

Finally, bacteria and parasites can contaminate tap water if it comes into contact with animal or human feces.

Because pipes run underground, diagnosing a compromised system is tough.  All too often, people don’t notice a problem until their water supply is polluted.


Removal of Important Minerals

Typical tap water filtration removes more than the bad stuff from our drinking water.

Three of the most common minerals filtered out of water—and three of the most crucial minerals the human body needs to function properly—include calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Magnesium alone is responsible for hundreds of enzyme reactions in your body.  Most people don’t get enough through their diet, and have little to no knowledge of its role in overall health.

Besides nerves and muscle function, magnesium helps regulate your heartbeat, blood sugar, and bone and protein synthesis.  It might even help people with anxiety.

Calcium is also critical for bone and nerve health, while iron helps our bodies store and utilize oxygen efficiently.

Of course, the verdict is still out on whether drinking tap water really matters when it comes to these minerals.  A study by the World Health Organization noted that, even when these minerals are in drinking water, they aren’t chelated—which means they aren’t easily absorbed by the body.

In other words, try to get your mineral intake through a healthy, balanced diet, no matter what kind of water you drink.


The Final Word: What’s the Best Drinking Water for You?

Ice water in a Ball mason jar.

Once more, it should be emphasized that any source of decontaminated water is probably generally safe for consumption.

Staying hydrated is critical to your health and wellbeing—so when you’re thirsty, it’s okay to drink what’s on hand, even if it’s not your usual preference.

But overall, well water or filtered sources are best for your everyday water consumption.