Best State and National Parks in California


Largely thanks to Hollywood, the state of California is a mecca for arts and entertainment. However, the state also deserves status as an outdoor wonderland.

With nine national parks and an impressive 280 state parks, California certainly has much to offer, in both opportunity and acreage.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park picturing a landscape of red rocky hills with steam rolling off a small body of water

Nearest City: Redding, California

Located in the northeastern region of the state, Lassen Volcanic National Park protects one of the most breathtaking and unique natural areas in California.

The park’s most notable feature is Lassen Peak, a volcano located amongst California’s famous Cascade Mountain Range. It’s a plug dome volcano, the largest of its kind in the entire world.

However, Lassen Volcanic National Park contains more than one volcano. In fact, it’s actually one of the only places in the world with all four types.

In addition to this ensemble, Lassen also protects several volcanic lakes, an elaborate display of hiking trails, and several camping areas.


Redwood National and State Parks

An upward shot of the Redwood trees displaying their towering heights in the Redwood National Park

Nearest City: Orick, California

The Redwood National and State Parks in California are co-managed by the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Located along the western coast of northern California, these protect endemic species of the area, including the coastal redwood.

Jedidiah Smith, Del Norte Coast, and Prairie Creek are three of the most popular and largest state parks included in the collection. These parks offer visitors the opportunity to walk amongst some of the largest trees in the world, set up camp within California’s idyllic western coast, and kayak along the Smith River.

The Redwood National and State Parks also manage the tall trees grove, where visitors can crane their necks and admire trees over 300 feet tall.

Entry to the tall trees grove requires a permit, obtained from the visitor centers.


Yosemite National Park

A rocky, shallow river or lake bed is lined with golden and green trees along the shoreline with towering rocky cliffs on a partly cloudy day in Yosemite National Park

Nearest City: Mariposa, California

Yosemite National Park was the third national park the National Park Service developed and protected. First created in October of 1890, it’s consistently one of the most visited parks in the United States.

The park also boasts diverse populations of wildlife, geologic formations, and dense acres of hardwood forest.

In total, Yosemite National Park covers almost 750,000 acres. Visitors will find an endless supply of outdoor experiences, several protected habitats, and opportunities to learn more about the park’s cultural ties.

Wildlife species include black bears, bighorn sheep, mule deer, mountain lions, foxes, and bobcats. You might be lucky enough to spot these upon your arrival.

However, take care to keep your distance—these wildlife species are indeed wild.


Joshua Tree National Park

Hikers walk up a small rock formation surrounded by dried out desert vegetation and Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park

Nearest City: Twentynine Palms

Featured on album covers of popular bands such as the Eagles and U2, Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most iconic locations in all of California.

It protects a desert shrub environment scattered with Joshua Trees.  These give the park its name.

Interestingly, however, the Joshua Tree isn’t a tree at all. Rather, it’s a unique species of yucca (Yucca brevifolia).

Composed of acreage from the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, the park’s ecosystem and environment is largely dictated by elevation. The Mojave Desert resides at a higher elevation, and thus is quite cooler than the lower Colorado Desert.

Visitors will find opportunities to hike, camp, rock climb, and see breathtaking sights.


Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Small forests line the shores of small lakes which sit in a valley surrounded sharp, steep mountains in Sequoia and Kings National Park

Nearest City: Visalia, California

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park reside in the southern ranges of the Sierra Nevada. Together, the two parks manage more than 1,350 square miles. These protect diverse populations of flora and fauna.

Every year, over 1.5 million visitors arrive at Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park to experience its uniqueness and undeveloped acres of wilderness.

Recreation attractions include hiking trails, groves of large sequoia trees, waterfalls, and a series of developed and undeveloped camping areas.

The two parks continue to work together, largely due to proximity and overlap of species.


A Limitless Landscape

A large shallow lake reflects the tree-lined shores and barren mountainous hills at one of California's National Parks
The state of California came to fame as a natural paradise via the words of renowned naturalist, John Muir.  He is often considered the “father” of national parks.

It’s not hard to understand why California’s beauty so moved him. With a diverse landscape, extensive wildlife, and incredible natural phenomena, the Golden State deserves its nickname and then some.

That said, they’re far from the only parks worth visiting! “America the beautiful” isn’t just a saying. These vast parks with what seem like endless lands litter states such as Oregon, Utah, TexasArizona, Colorado, as well as many others.


Best Places to Shower on a Road Trip

Brunette woman in bathing suit takes a shower at an outdoor fixture during a road or camping trip.

Once you go on your first long road trip, you quickly realize that showering is a problem. If you travel in long stints, go on hikes, or just tend to sweat a bit, you might get stinky and crave a shower. Without a game plan, your idea to travel cheaply goes out the window as you splurge on last minute hotels to get some comfy sleep and a shower.

But we’ve got you covered. We’ve been on a road trip or two and found the best ways to get a good shower on the road without breaking the bank.




Tips For Showering on the Road

  • Travel with light, rubber sandals that don’t absorb water. Make sure they dry quickly, as well, and have enough tread to prevent slipping.
  • Carry your own shampoo. Chemical-free is best, since you can use it in lakes and other natural water sources without disturbing wildlife.
  • If your water is limited, do a quick rinse, turn off the water, lather up, then turn it back on to rinse quickly. Skip washing your hair and only focus on the important body parts, or opt for an all-natural dry shampoo.
  • “Don’t forget to bring a towel.” -Towelie



Best Places to Shower During Road Trips


Travel Gas Stations

A young blonde woman in a bathing suit showers in a stall with blue tiles.

There are several gas stations that offer more than gas and snacks. They actually offer showers too! The places you can find these showers include:

  • Pilot and Flying J Travel Centers
  • Love’s Travel Centers
  • Travel America

Of course you have to pay a little bit, but this is a much cheaper option than hotels.



A row of showers in a gym or camping facility with white tiles.

Many, but not all, campgrounds offer showers. Many of these will ask for a small fee when you stay overnight, but this is usually less than $15 if you are not in a highly popular area. And to use the shower, you must pay the fee to stay, so you may as well get some time at the campground or nearby hikes if you plan to use the shower facilities.



A dark wall of showers in a gym or campground with heavy shadows.

Gyms are a great place to get in a good workout our sauna session. But most also offer showers, which make them a great option for travelers.

If you have a membership to 24 Hour Fitness or Anytime Fitness, you can get the benefit of visiting facilities across the U.S. and showering there. Otherwise, most gyms offer day-passes for a small fee or trial memberships if you plan to be in the area a while 😉

Don’t forget that you’ll need your own shampoo, soap, and towel. You’ll also want to bring some rubber sandals because people can be kinda nasty.


Motels or Hotels

The outside of a two-story motel with light orange paint and white stair railings.

It’s the last resort for travelers on a budget. But when you’re tired, achey, and smelly, sometimes it’s worth the dough. We suggest driving to an off-the-map region if you’re really road-tripping on a budget and plan to do this. Don’t go miles out of the way, but map the route accordingly, and check your favorite hotel apps to see where you can get the best deal.


Solar-Heated Travel Shower

An outdoor shower head amongst green branches.

When you go camping, you may be sure to bring your favorite tent or backpack, but can you pack a shower? Yes! These shower bags usually hold up to 5 gallons of water and can heat up with solar energy. These tend not to heat up very quickly, but are a good option nonetheless. You can also purchase these on Amazon very cheaply, such as the Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower or the Sportneer 5-Gallon Solar Shower Bag.




Best State and National Parks in Oregon


With only one national park to its name, Oregon may seem like it doesn’t have much to offer in the way of outdoor recreation. However, once you dive into its collection of varied state parks, scenic areas, and natural rivers, you’ll quickly change your mind.

Crater Lake National Park

A small island covered in trees surrounded by a large, deep blue lake which itself is surrounded by tree covered mountains and cliffs in Crater Lake National Park

Nearest City: Klamath Falls, Oregon

Crater Lake, a caldera-formed body of water in the park’s center, is the deepest lake in the United States. Additionally, it’s said to hold some of the clearest and cleanest water in the entire world.

Recreation at Crater Lake National Park—the fifth oldest national park in the United States—is largely centered around the lake and its caldera walls, which provide access for several rim drives. Visitors can travel from one scenic location to the next via automobile.

Oregon’s sole national park also manages and maintains an elaborate hiking trail system. Facilities include a restaurant, camp store, several campgrounds, two lodges, and a few gift shops.

Visitors wishing to stay in the park overnight should make reservations several weeks, if not months, in advance. In the summer months, the park experiences its busiest season.


Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

The sunrise over a wispy cloudy sky, shining down tree covered hills and mountains with fog rolling off the hills and river at Columbia River Gorge

Nearest City: Roosevelt, Washington, & Arlington, Oregon

The Columbia River Gorge winds throughout the Cascade Range, following the path of the Columbia River. In total, the Columbia River Gorge stretches for nearly eighty miles, and is over 4,000 feet deep at its deepest point.

The gorge serves as the boundary between the states of Washington and Oregon. It’s also known for its abundance of idyllic scenery and waterfalls.

Now protected as the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, the Columbia River Gorge can be explored via automobile or hiking trails.

One of the premier attractions is Multnomah Falls. They reside near the Historic Columbia River Highway, which weaves alongside the gorge and through the mountains of northern Oregon.


Ecola State Park

Light blue water wash upon a beach at sunset with rolling green hills and mountains in the background at Ecola State Park

Nearest City: Cannon Beach, Oregon

Ecola State Park stretches across Oregon’s western coast, about three miles north of Cannon Beach. It’s revealed much about the Tillamook people that once lived there.

In 1806, William Clark and the Corps of Discovery embarked on a voyage to the area now protected as Ecola State Park. During their voyage, the group searched for a beached whale. Instead, they discovered burial canoes forged by the Tillamook.

Today, Ecola State Park is consistently visited for its hiking and sightseeing attractions, as well as its rich history.

The park—particularly Indian Beach—was featured in the 1985 cult classic The Goonies, as well as in several scenes of Twilight.


Silver Falls State Park

A large waterfall cascading down a cliff face surrounded by large trees at Silver Falls State Park

Nearest City: Silverton, Oregon

Silver Falls State Park is the largest state park in Oregon. It protects more than 9,000 acres, and includes over 24 miles of hiking and walking trails. Additional trails are geared for horseback and bike riding.

The park is well-known for its array of large and powerful waterfalls. Its most visited waterfall is the South Falls, although the Double Falls are significantly larger. Unfortunately, they’re more remote, and troublesome to access for inexperienced or casual hikers.

Don’t despair, however: the Trail of Ten Falls will provide visitors with access to the majority of the park’s most notable waterfalls.

Sport some sturdy footwear if you plan on hiking this one, since the trail occasionally grows slippery.


Smith Rock State Park

A winding river lined with lush vegetation and trees is surrounded by large, sheer cliffs and rock formations at Smith Rock State Park

Nearest City: Redmond, Oregon

Smith Rock State Park is located in central Oregon, in the state’s high desert. As a result, the terrain and environment vary greatly from the other parks on this list.

As a climber’s paradise, Smith Rock provides a number of challenging and unique routes perfect for traditional rock climbing, sport climbing, and bouldering.

Visitors not interested in rock climbing, however, will still find several other recreation opportunities. These include hiking trails, as well as an overnight camping area.

Wildlife in Smith Rock State Park is abundant, in some areas. During your trip, you might spot mule deer, river otters, beavers, golden eagles, and a number of other interesting species.


Oregon: Diverse and Wild

A large waterfall cascades down a large cliff face with a white bridge passing just in front of the waterfall
From waterfalls to extreme rock-climbing routes, the national park and state parks of Oregon have plenty to offer outdoor enthusiasts.

Just be sure to book your campsites early, and map routes beforehand when possible: the summertime brings a flood of visitors to the state parks of Oregon, but particularly Crater Lake National.

“America the beautiful” is more than just a saying – it’s truly a reality. With gorgeous acres of land running through states like, Texas, California, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and many others, one could spend a lifetime visiting them all. Of course, while that’s possible, you’d definitely need to be prepared with tents, backpacks, water filters, and a solid plan.



The Ultimate NYC Travel Guide


New York, New York: the center, the capital, the core. Whatever title it holds in your wildest dreams, it’s definitely a place to be. Whether it’s your first time visiting NYC or not, this travel guide—combining New York classics with shopping, dining, and wandering that strays off the beaten path—will help you experience the city through the eyes of a local.

A slightly jaded, cynical, and tourist-wary local…but what true New Yorker isn’t?



Where to Stay in NYC

In NYC, where you stay depends largely on your budget.

If your trip is a reason to splurge, then you’ve chosen the right city. There are a number of beautiful vintage hotels that will take you back to the decade of your choice.

For more frugal travelers, however, staying in an outer borough can be cheaper. Additionally, it’ll offer a totally different perspective on the city.

Getting on the bus or subway is a part of most residents’ daily routine, and public transportation will get you nearly anywhere if you play it right.


Man with a tattoo on upper back standing in front of a hotel window with a white towel around his waist, looking at the city skyline.


Brooklyn: EVEN Hotel and the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge

Centralized and busy, Downtown Brooklyn is a good option for a hotel stay outside of Manhattan.

There’s a cluster of popular hotels in the area, which is accessible by about ten subway lines.

The EVEN Hotel and the NY Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge are two safe bets for a comfortable stay.

Located on Nevins Street, the EVEN is blocks from Brooklyn’s busiest shopping districts and the East River waterfront. Brooklyn Bridge Park is a short walk, as is the bridge itself. Walk south along the river to Red Hook’s piers, and then circle back through residential Carroll Gardens and Gowanus.

The best feature of a hotel like the EVEN or this particular Marriott is their proximity to Manhattan, the riverfront, and some of Brooklyn’s most walkable historic neighborhoods.


Manhattan: Colonial House Inn and Chelsea Pines Inn

Chelsea is one of Manhattan’s most popular neighborhoods, and luckily, it offers a few affordable options for overnights.

The Chelsea Pines Inn and the Colonial House Inn, located on 12th and 22nd streets, respectively, will place you in a sweet spot between downtown and uptown Manhattan.

Close to Hudson River viewpoints like Pier 57 and the Hudson River Greenway, both locations will motivate you to put on your walking shoes.

After wandering the food and gift stalls at Chelsea Market, take 8th Avenue up to Midtown, or walk crosstown across 14th street to the East Village.

The Colonial House Inn has the added bonus of a fireplace suite, while the Chelsea Pines Inn offers breakfast and the rarity of a Manhattan terrace.


Queens: Feather Factory Hotel and The LOCAL NYC Hostel

The Queens waterfront has risen in popularity over the past decade, and lodging options are now abundant.

The borough is still a good option for budget travelers though, and it’s close enough to Manhattan and Brooklyn without sitting smackdab in the heart of the city.

Staying in Queens could also be a gateway to venturing deeper into the worlds’ most diverse borough.

The Feather Factory Hotel sits right on the 7 subway line, and is within walking distance to everything from North Brooklyn, to the Pepsi Cola sign on the river, to Astoria’s famed gyro spots.

The Local NYC Hostel offers a similar experience, with the option of private or dorm rooms. Best of all, these start at much less than your average hotel rate.


Staten Island: NY Harbor House Bed & Breakfast

For travelers willing to subvert their own expectations, NY Harbor House Bed and Breakfast is an interesting take on a city stay.

This B&B, located on the shores of Staten Island, is one of the more authentic lodging options out there. In short, it’s quaint.

Being in an outer borough that hasn’t gained the kind of attention Brooklyn and Queens have in recent years, the Harbor House promises a residential experience with one-of-a-kind views.

Its windows face Brooklyn, the Verrazano Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty all at once. What’s more, it’s right next door to a small museum dedicated to photographer Alice Austen.

The Staten Island Ferry terminal is located a short bus ride away, and the ferry can take you to and from Lower Manhattan 24/7. The boat ride is free, and an attraction in itself.

There’s plenty of food, essential shopping, and waterside strolls in the Rosebank neighborhood where the Harbor House is located.

This stay is guaranteed to be a quieter, more low-key choice for those looking for a slice of life from the outer boroughs.


The Best Places to Eat in the City

A group of four sits at a table each eating their meal of choice of a burger or a vegetarian dish.

New York boasts any kind of cuisine you can think up—and more.

So where do you start when you’re deciding what to sample? These neighborhood spots are worth checking out, based on both quality and atmosphere.

Most of these are tried-and-true local businesses that benefit from your support, and speak to New York’s global heritage. Some of these might be a trek from where you’re staying, but what you happen upon along the way is as worthwhile as the destination.

All of the businesses listed here offer some combination of takeout, as well as outdoor and indoor dining. Whether you’re hungry, parched, or low on caffeine, choose local dining over chain restaurants, especially in New York!



The best thing about New York’s cuisine is that affordable options from around the world are around every corner.

Though many old immigrant neighborhoods have been gentrified, there are still family-run gems throughout the five boroughs.

In Brooklyn, support Greenpoint’s historic Polish community by trying homestyle Eastern European cooking at restaurants like Pyza, Karczma, and Krolewskie Jadlo. Expect a healthy amount of meat, potatoes, and cabbage, as well as vegetarian options like pierogi.

For a modern take on classic Polish food, try Pierozek or Polka Dot, located within a few blocks of each other. Both offer creative spins on standard dishes.

Old Poland Bakery, Syrena, and Jaslowiczanka Bakery are neighborhood mainstays that keep the Polish baking tradition alive with plenty of homemade fillings and age-old recipes.

While you’re in North Brooklyn, stop at Ashbox for its adorable decor, fantastic Japanese meals, and kind employees.

A classic rice ball and hot drink will amount to less than ten dollars—though spending more is definitely worth it, if you’re looking for a healthy and cozy breakfast or lunch.


A close up of a slice of New York pizza being pulled away from the pie with melted cheese being stretch along with.

Real Brooklyn Pizza

Vinnie’s in Williamsburg is a go-to that makes memories. They serve both classic and vegan slices. In fact, the latter is so savory, even the most committed dairy fans should give it a shot.

For more experimental flavors, find a Two Boots pizzeria near you. They now have locations in Jersey and Tennessee, but originated in the East Village in the late eighties.

Try the loaded Bayou Beast for a taste of true Two Boots tradition: cajun flavors on an undoubtedly Italian pie.


International Fare

Moving south through Brooklyn is a trip across continents in terms of international flavors. Look for Caribbean food in Flatbush, Russian and Georgian dinners in Brighton Beach, and Chinese Dim Sum in Sunset Park.

Or, if looking restaurants up online is too overwhelming, take a walk down Court Street, Bedford Avenue, 7th Avenue, or any other large avenue in Brooklyn.

There’s too many great restaurants to name, but you’ll know yours when you see (or smell) it.


3 main dishes of oriental cuisine, appearing to be pot stickers or dumplings, laid in a circular pattern in their respective bowls.



As you might already know, Queens has been called the most diverse spot on Earth.

It’s impossible to list all the amazing South American, Asian, and European restaurants you can find in the borough, especially since the best ones don’t have a website, let alone a Yelp page full of elaborate opinions.

With that said, get on the 7, A, E, Q or bus and plan your own route through neighborhoods like Elmhurst, Flushing, and Howard Beach.

Among the endless options, one of the top recommendations is Lenny’s Clam Bar in Howard Beach, a waterfront section of Queens built around Crossbay Boulevard.

Lenny’s has the atmosphere of a family-run Italian restaurant, with a reputation that far surpasses your expectations. It belongs right where it first opened in 1974, on Crossbay, and there it will stay.

The deeper you get into Queens, the larger it seems. Howard Beach is a breath of fresh, salty air from what you’d consider the city.

The same goes for neighboring Rockaway Beach, where places like Uma’s make the trip well worth it. Try their Central Asian dishes a few blocks away from the Atlantic.


The Bronx

You’ve definitely heard of Manhattan’s Little Italy, and you may have even been told about the Little Italy in the Bronx, which is just as worth checking out.

The Bronx neighborhood’s best-kept secret, however, isn’t its eggplant parmigiana or cannolis.

The Belmont-Arthur Avenue area is also home to a significant Albanian population, and Cka Ka Quellu is one of the best restaurants serving an Albanian menu in New York.

The restaurant itself is decorated with cultural artifacts, setting the atmosphere of a medieval dining room, and meals are served sizzling hot.

Start with the Mantia (baked dumplings) to get a savory taste of the Balkan palette. Then make your way to one of the many grilled options and traditional desserts that follow.



Sometimes, with so much to choose from, it’s nice to just sit down at a spot with an all-around menu where you know you’ll find something you’re in the mood for. It also helps if the atmosphere is awesome, and the restaurant is a downtown classic.

The Grey Dog and Mudspot Restaurant are two choices that check all those boxes and then some.

Since 1998, The Grey Dog has served breakfast, brunch, and dinner all day—along with coffee and alcohol. The menu is diverse, the food is fresh, and the decor features many a canine portrait.

Mudspot, located in the East Village, is equally eclectic and approachable. Grab a coffee and pastry, or sit down to all-day brunch in the back—mimosa included.

Dimly lit, cozy, and beloved, Mudspot promises a good time on 9th street. Don’t forget to grab a bag of their famous coffee beans on your way out, so you can bring the mud home.


Beans and Bars

A brunette woman enjoys her cup of coffee as she holds the mug with both hands

Getting a coffee is, usually, just a thing you do to start the day…but you might as well do it right while you’re in NYC.

With locations in Greenpoint and Queens, Sweetleaf Coffee is hard to miss and easy to remember.

Try the Voodoo Child Cold Brew or toasty Maple Leaf Latte, along with a house-baked scone. The coffee is roasted carefully, intentionally, and—most importantly—locally.

Additionally, the Center Boulevard location doubles as a cocktail bar. Be sure to visit twice!

Stop by Cafe Grumpy in either Brooklyn or Manhattan to enjoy house-roasted coffee…and an adorable logo that might just reflect the way you start your day.

Pause Cafe on the lower East Side has seen such a flow of devoted customers since 2010, it recently expanded its storefront to the space next door.

The cafe serves all your favorite caffeinated drinks, along with breakfast bowls and Moroccan-inspired options. Its cushions are soft, the people are nice, and even the restroom is charming. Head over to Clinton and Houston when you’re in the area.

As for bars, the list remains eternal and endless. Check out Mona’s on Avenue A, Goldie’s on Nassau Ave, or the Zombie Hut on Court Street for a low-key night out.

And for more mouthwatering recommendations, check out this NYC foodie travel guide with even more restaurants to love.


Shopping in New York City

A crowded New York street with tourists crossing in the foreground with busses, taxis, and other vehicles in the background.

Online commerce has taken some of the magic out of shopping, but hopefully these businesses will pleasantly surprise you.

There’s nothing like associating an item with the first time you saw it through a window, or the recommendation of the local at the register.

Don’t write a shop off if it doesn’t have a website or online presence; let yourself be taken by surprise. There are still some things you can’t buy online, after all. It’s just your job to seek them out past SoHo or Midtown storefronts.



No amount of handheld, lightweight, semi-conscious screens can replace the satisfaction of a good book in your hand, and New York’s bookstores are here to stay.

A used find is a great way to mark a successful getaway, especially if it keeps you busy on the way home. The Strand, Manhattan’s most famous bookstore, has been a community gathering spot for nearly 100 years. Today, it’s still a hub for locals and visitors alike.

Filled with new and used titles, souvenirs, and a good helping of drama in recent years, it remains a classic. Besides the downtown location, there is a new Strand store on the Upper West Side, and two additional kiosks by Central Park and Times Square.

In Brooklyn, Spoonbill & Sugartown just celebrated its twenty-first year as Williamsburg’s best independent bookstore. The extensive collection of art, photo, and design books sets it apart, as does the charm of wandering off Bedford Ave and into a cozy space stacked with books in every genre.

Don’t forget to grab a sticker featuring an actual, finely-rendered spoonbill.

Finally, in Queens, Astoria Bookshop (est. 2013) is a worthwhile pitstop if you’re in the area. As a small independent bookshop, it serves all tastes and interests; there’s something for everyone.

It has the added bonus of a memorable address, too—the bookshop sits right at the intersection of 31st St. and 31st Ave.


A shopper appears to be looking and sampling some of the products being offered in a store

Health and Wellness

Herbal and wellness shops aren’t unique to New York, but the variety within them might very well be. Check out these small businesses for alternative gifts and supplies to have your souvenirs last longer than your trip.



In Greenpoint, Ziolko (“Herb” in Polish) is a unique destination for body and skincare products.

This shop carries products imported from Eastern Europe, many of which are focused on herbal ingredients that are hard to find in the States.

The shampoos, salves, and lotions sold here include traditional healing herbs from chamomile to calendula, and are an affordable step beyond what you’d find at CVS or other conventional drug stores.

Stokrotka (“Daisy”), located on Manhattan Ave, is a similar shop, with an equally large array of wellness products in the same neighborhood.

If you’re elsewhere in Brooklyn, stop by Remedies in Carroll Gardens for a slightly different herbal medicine experience.

Instead of mostly body care products, this shop sells herbs by weight, as well as all sorts of hand-chosen gifts from bath salts to teas.

You can find elderberry syrup bottled by the shop, kitchenware, and even an elixir known as “Fire cider.”



If you’re in the city on a Wednesday or Saturday, the Union Square Greenmarket is an essential stop for your herbal needs.

The market is open on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays, and Saturdays, but Furnace Creek Farm, a vendor from Pennsylvania, is only there two days a week.

If you’re able to catch them, check out their tonics and powdered and liquid supplements, made from plants grown on their small farm in Berks County.

The Greenmarket is a great place to shop in general, with vendors selling everything from fresh baked bread to local honey, condiments, and even merino wool yarn.

Himalayan Vision in the East Village is well-stocked with Tibetan gifts, including jewelry and clothing. The store is budget-friendly, while embracing an authentic Nepali and Tibetan shopping experience.

There are a variety of similar stores peppering downtown Manhattan, but Himalayan Vision is the full package in terms of special pieces, an inviting atmosphere, and fair prices.



Tucked into a tiny nook on Jackson Ave, Slovak Czech Varieties stands ready to introduce you to all things Czech.

Browse imported snacks and tchotchkes; the wooden children’s toys are beautifully crafted, and make refreshing gifts for the little ones of this digital age.


Gifts and Souvenirs

A yellow taxi passing in front of a store on a busy New York street

Museums might not be your first shopping destination, but some of New York’s best art institutions have gift shops with enough curiosities to keep you interested.

The American Folk Art Museum’s gift shop greets you right at the entrance of the museum, and the actual exhibition space, while small, is a delightful way to pass an hour or so.

The shop carries a variety of gift items like home accessories, jewelry, and art books, some of which are related to current and past exhibits.

The Whitney, MOMA, and Cooper Hewitt Design Museums all have a variety of design objects for sale, along with books, apparel, and even artist prints.

And, if you’re really looking for New York-themed shopping, don’t miss the subway souvenirs at the Transit Museum gift shop, nor the Big Apple-obsessed knick-knacks at the Museum of the City of New York.

Last but not least among museums, the Met’s gift shop lives up to the museum’s reputation. (As does this MET-themed Monopoly!)


Records, Books, and Miscellanea

Amid the many, many record stores around the city, Generation Records is just special.

With a shrinking CD section but expanding T-shirt selection, it’s still a comfortable place to browse and—hopefully—walk out with a fairly priced record to remind you of Greenwich Village.

While you’re there, stop by the Chess Forum across the street for all your chess needs, including beautiful sets and accessories like clocks scorebooks. The Forum defines itself as New York’s last “old style chess parlour,” so take the time to stop in…even if you’re brand-new to the game.

Famous for its natural historical artifacts, the Evolution Store on Broadway is a very important part of downtown Manhattan. The store sells everything from artist-made jewelry to specimens, including bones and minerals.

Though it does focus on books, Polonia Bookstore in Greenpoint is a one-of-a-kind shopping experience in terms of gifts and unique souvenirs.

This neighborhood mainstay sells handmade, traditional crafts imported from Poland at ridiculously affordable prices. There’s nothing more New York than artisanware you can’t find anywhere else in the U.S.

The shop’s collection of Polish pottery is vibrant, delicate, and varied; everything sold here comes from a region of Poland that prides itself on its community of painters and potters, known all over the world.

If you’re there around Christmas, you’ll also find a beautiful selection of hand-painted ornaments.


Sightseeing and More

A young blonde woman standing atop of a building overlooking the New York skyline.

New York may ruffle your pockets—and even turn them inside out—but after you’ve spent everything at The Hard Rock Cafe or The Museum of Sex, sightseeing will mostly remain free.

The Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square, etc. are all worthwhile excursions, but the city carries a different, less monumental beauty all throughout the five boroughs. In fact, some of the best viewpoints around the city are hidden, unassuming…and, more importantly, not too crowded.


Pier 40

There’s no shortage of waterfront access in the city, but Pier 40 might be one of the less-trafficked ones, despite its West Village location.

The Pier features a soccer field on the top level, and is easily accessed from West Houston St.

In the evening, the top level offers a glimmering view of the Downtown Manhattan skyline, which only gets prettier as night falls.


A person standing with their hands on the railing overlooking the ferry to Roosevelt Island.

Roosevelt Island

Often overlooked, Roosevelt Island is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to waterfront destinations.

Being a residential island, it has plenty of apartment buildings, but also a very walkable and bike-able riverfront pathway. The path stretches across the small island, ending with a small but handsome lighthouse on the north end. Looking around, you’ll take in Manhattan from the middle of the East River.

The island is easy to reach on foot, bike, or subway from Queens or Midtown, but its real attraction is the tramway that picks up passengers at 60th Street, then whisks them across the water in minutes.


Fort Tryon

For more riverfront views, visit Fort Tryon Park, located at the very tip of Manhattan.

The park is all stone arches and corridors, and follows the Hudson River, giving you an expansive view of New Jersey.

Also in the park are the Met Cloisters. Its medieval culture exhibitions accentuate the surrounding Fort Tryon’s lovely gloom.


Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is perhaps the best nature walk within the five boroughs.

Located on marshland, the refuge offers a walking loop through wetland habitats that are home to migrating bird species. The walk features educational material along the trail, which weaves in and out of thickets and clusters of trees.

If you happen to look out on the horizon, you’ll see the entire skyline stretching out before you, albeit microscopic.

The refuge is located on the Southern edge of Queens. It’s a trek, but if you have the time to commute, it’s a truly special environment.


Industry City

Industry City is a cluster of warehouses, studios, and dining located on the riverfront west of Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The complex has grown to include restaurants, bars, public art installations, and even a small ice skating rink in the colder months.

Start with a coffee from Italian cycling cafe Maglia Rosa, then walk between the buildings lining 34th to 40th Streets, where you can check out the ground-floor businesses on each block.

The indoor food court on 36th Street is your best bet for global cuisine, and Sahadi’s on 35th will satisfy all your Mediterranean grocery needs (or introduce you to ones you never knew you had).

Top all that off with Brooklyn Kura, a brewery specializing in Japanese sake. Take a walk down to Bush Terminal Piers Park for an uncrowded, unbothered riverside stroll with views of Lower Manhattan.


A New York ferry called the NY Waterway carrying passengers to their destination while the city's buildings are depicted in the background.

NYC Ferry

You might not necessarily associate New York with boats, but the fairly new NYC Ferry system has been a blessing. Taking the ferry has become a mode of commute for many New Yorkers, but it’s also just a lot of fun.

For the price of a subway ride, take the Ferry from borough to borough. You even get a free transfer along the way.

Sit on the upper outside deck for views from a different perspective. For a truly great route, take Sunset Park to Rockaway stretch and the East River line.

From either of those, you can connect to routes spanning the East River, from Soundview in the Bronx to Wall St.


Transportation in the Big Apple

A yellow NYC taxi pictured in a blurred style to indicate its driving to its destination.

Taking advantage of New York’s public transportation system is an important initiation rite to the city.

So is hailing a cab, for that matter—but if you’re staying frugal, get a weekly Metrocard or rent a Citibike as soon as you arrive.

Combine the subway, MTA bus, and NYC Ferry to design your routes around the city.

Additionally, keep these tips in mind:

  • There are free transfers between the subway and any public bus! The NYC Ferry also offers free transfers between boats, so hold on to your ticket.
  • If you can, check subway service before you leave. Always be prepared for changes, and make sure you have an alternate route in mind, just in case service is disrupted.
  • Pay attention to which trains are designated as express trains. You might zip past your stop without even realizing it.
  • If you’re renting a Citibike, or a different bike from a local shop, ride carefully, stay in the bike lane, and always be aware of turning vehicles coming up behind you. Biking in New York is no joke, especially if you’re not familiar with the roads.
  • If biking around the boroughs sounds appealing, consider these cycling routes to navigate the city quickly—and safely.


Ocean Parkway Greenway

This bike route is heavy on intersections, but a great way to get to Coney Island from areas around Prospect Park. Stay on Ocean Parkway: it’s a straight shot down to the beach.


A row of CitiBikes are pictured showing an other method of transportation around NYC.

Shore Parkway Greenway

This Greenway sticks to the water, and can take you from South Brooklyn to Queens—with plenty of open water views along the way.


Westside Greenway

The Westside Greenway is extremely popular, thanks to its sweeping Hudson vistas and length. In fact, it runs all the way up the west edge of Manhattan.

From Inwood, the northern tip of Manhattan, you can circle back around via the Harlem River Drive Greenway. Once you get down to around 59th street, avoid biking through Midtown by climbing the 59th Street Bridge into Queens.


Randall’s Island

Randall’s Island isn’t usually at the top of tourist destination lists, but it promises a great ride if you’re on two wheels, especially in the warmer seasons.

The island can be accessed from Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. It also has bike and pedestrian paths.

The RFK Bridge, which connects the island to Astoria, is a steep ride…but its expansive views of Queens and upper Manhattan make the huffing and puffing worth it.

Additionally, the bridge has a few staircases: go slow, and be ready to carry your bike a bit.


New York is painted in a graffiti style on a metal roll up security door as two women walk by.


Travel to NYC…Your Way

If fitting all of New York into a confined stretch of time seems like a daunting task…it most definitely is!

While a travel guide will certainly make NYC more enjoyable, don’t forget what the city is all about: originality. Your trip is completely your own, and no two visits to New York can—or should—be alike.

Don’t be afraid to explore the city without a route in mind (it is a grid, after all), and set aside time between classic sites to wander wherever your heart desires.

New York is constantly changing, for worse and for better…but first and foremost, it continues to welcome.

If you’re looking to get out of the city, but still stay close, there are amazing day trips you can take out of the city. If you’re looking to get much further away, consider these guides to Portugal or Italy as your next destination.

Best State and National Parks in Utah


Within the “Big Five” most popular national parks located in the state of Utah, visitors can explore natural arches, breathtaking canyons, and a host of other unique landscapes.

Utah also manages a collection of state parks, all with stunning geography, and endless opportunities to make your next trip to the Beehive State one incredible outdoor adventure.

Zion National Park

A lush, green landscape sit in a valley of towering cliffs at Zion National Park

Nearest City: Springdale, Orderville, Cedar City, Utah

Best known for the 15-mile long Zion Canyon, which is made up of reddish Navajo Sandstone, Zion National Park has quite a bit to offer its visitors.

Other notable features include a slot canyon named The Subway, as well as Mount Carmel.

Several hiking trails meander throughout the canyons and other geographical features, such as the Kolob Arch.

Additionally, several areas are designated for rock climbing and mountain biking. Climbers should definitely check out the Spaceshot, Moonlight Buttress, Prodigal Son, and Touchstone.

The Zion Lodge and three nearby campgrounds allow visitors overnight stays. Visitation in the park reaches its peak during the summer months of May, June, and July.


Canyonlands National Park

A long road runs through a valley of massive red cliffs at Canyonlands National Park

Nearest City: Moab, Utah

Filled with canyons, mesas, and buttes, the 337,598 diverse acres of Canyonlands National Park are divided into four distinct districts: Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the Colorado and Green Rivers.

Recreation throughout these four regions is varied, and guarantees adventure. Visitors commonly embark on float trips via kayaks and rafts, on the Green and Colorado Rivers.

However, hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking across the other three regions of the park are just as popular.

Island in the Sky is the most visited district, while the Needles—with its array of impressive rock formations—is the second most visited.


Arches National Park

A red rock formation in the form of an arch is depicted in the foreground at Arches National Park

Nearest City: Moab, Utah

Arches National Park is most well-known for—you guessed it—the series of arch formations present throughout its landscape.

In total, Arches national Park contains more than 2,000 arches. The most notable of these is the Delicate Arch, which is highlighted by a backdrop of the La Sal Mountains.

While the Delicate Arch is breathtaking, visitors can also enjoy backpacking, rock climbing, and even canyoneering—using rock climbing equipment to descend, and explore, a canyon.

Due to its dark skies, Arches National Park is also popular for astronomers and novice stargazers alike.


Capitol Reef National Park

Deer grazing on a grassy plain in front of a large, red cliff at Capitol Reef National Park

Nearest City: Torrey, Utah

Somewhat of a combination of Zion National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Arches National Park, Capitol Reef National Park contains a number of unique rock formations, slot canyons, and natural bridges.

However, the park is best known for the Waterpocket Fold which, indirectly, grants the park its name.

The Waterpocket Fold is a rocky spine that extends throughout the park, and is very hard to traverse. “Capitol Reef” comes from the dome-shaped formations that protrude along the Fold.

Recreation in Capitol Reef National Park includes several auto-tours, hiking trails, and plenty of opportunities for photography and sightseeing.

The park also manages the Fruita Campground, where visitors may stay overnight.


Dead Horse Point State Park

A river runs through the deep valley that is created from the towering red rock cliff faces at Dead Horse Point National Park

Nearest City: San Juan County, Utah

Dead Horse Point State Park contains some of the most dramatic overlooks of the Colorado River in all of Utah.

From the park, visitors can also take in Canyonlands National Park and its surrounding landscape.

The most notable hiking trails in Dead Horse Point State Park are the East and West Rim Trails.

Together, these two trails span eight miles. They feature a number of loops and off-shoots, where visitors can explore the park’s environment.

The park also maintains and manages 17 miles of single-track mountain biking trails. These trails vary in difficulty and range from easy to expert.

You may be lucky enough to spot several unique wildlife species here: the park is home to the Gray Fox, Gambel’s Quail, River Otters, and a slew of other species.


Utah is Waiting

Sweeping rocky mountainous views covered in a light snow on a mostly cloudy day
The state and national parks of Utah provide endless views and unique formations to explore, whether you prefer the calm of a guided tour, or the thrill of rock climbing.  What’s more, its outdoor community is strong and inclusive.

“America the beautiful” is more than just a saying – it’s truly a reality. With gorgeous acres of land running through states like, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and many others, one could spend a lifetime visiting them all. Of course, while that’s possible, you’d definitely need to be prepared with tents, backpacks, water filters, and a solid plan.


Best State and National Parks in Florida


While a huge portion of the Sunshine State’s tourism is owed to its beaches, amusement parks, and active nightlife scene, Florida also boasts one of the largest national parks in the country, as well as a series of smaller national and state parks.

In other words, Florida has so much more to offer than mouse ears and sunny shores.

Everglades National Park

A colorful yellow, red, orange, and purple sunset over a marsh at Everglades National Park

Nearest City: Florida City, Everglades City, Florida

Everglades National Park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States. The park protects the southernmost portion of the original Everglades environment, and continues to draw more attention as an important ecological site, every single year.

The park was created in 1934, declared a biosphere reserve in 1976, listed as a world heritage site in 1979, and then upgraded to a wetland of international importance in 1987. Impressively, only two other locations in the entire world appear on all three of these lists.

The Everglades largest claim to fame, however, is its biodiversity. More than 800 species live in Everglades National Park alone.

Visitors may be lucky enough to spot a number of these species—including the once-threatened Florida Panther or American Alligator—while kayaking, hiking, camping.

If stargazing is your thing, both the remote Flamingo and Ten Thousand Islands regions of the park offer superb nighttime views.


Dry Tortugas National Park

Light turquoise waters surrounding an abandoned brick building at Dry Tortugas National and State Park

Nearest City: Key West, Florida

Making up the latter portion of the Everglades and Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve, Dry Tortugas National Park is best known for its sea life and undisturbed coral reefs.

However, the national park, which lies 65 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico, also contains a number of other recreational attractions, as well as Fort Jefferson.

Construction of Fort Jefferson began in 1846, but never finished. Made up of over three million bricks, it’s the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere—even while incomplete.

Other popular recreational activities at Dry Tortugas National Park include snorkeling, SCUBA diving, kayaking, and hiking. The park also offers ranger-guided tours.


Biscayne National Park

Light turquoise waters surround a small, lush, green island at Biscayne National Park

Nearest City: Homestead, Florida

Located south of Miami, about ninety-five percent of Biscayne National Park is water. It protects Biscayne Bay, as well as some of the largest barrier reefs in the world.

Four distinct ecosystems comprise the park’s environment: the mangrove swamp, Biscayne Bay, limestone keys, and barrier reefs. All protect a diverse series of flora and fauna.

In fact, an incredible sixteen endangered species live in and around these four ecosystems.

Prepare for an otherworldly experience while visiting. SCUBA divers and snorkelers will rejoice as they explore the rich and diverse waters of the park, while other visitors can enjoy wildlife-watching alongside park rangers.


Anastasia State Park

Seagrass in the foreground of a beach with crashing waves in the background at Anastasia State Park

Nearest City: St. Augustine, Florida

Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors arrive at Anastasia State Park to enjoy its beautiful and enticing beaches.

While in Anastasia, you can enjoy beachcombing, swimming, surfing, camping, fishing, sunbathing, and several other outdoor activities. The park is well-outfitted with campsites, nature trails, picnic areas, and outdoor grills.

In addition to its popularity as an outdoor playground, Anastasia State Park contains the archaeological site that unearthed the coquina stone. This stone was used in the construction of the Castillo de San Marcos, which resides in St. Augustine, Florida.


Honeymoon Island State Park

A small white sand beach surrounded by blue-green waters on a mostly cloudy day at Honeymoon Island State Park

Nearest City: Dunedin, Florida

Honeymoon Island State Park formed after a hurricane in 1921 split the larger barrier island.  It sits across Hurricane Pass from Caladesi Island and protects 2,785 acres.

The park’s gem is its breathtaking beaches, which welcome more than a million tourists annually—making it the most visited state park in Florida.

This sunbather’s paradise also protects a diverse set of wildlife. Many bird species migrate to the park throughout the year, and tourists consistently spot pods of dolphins from the shores.


Explore the Sunshine State

A sunset on a rocky beach on the Florida coast
Florida really does live up to its nickname: its warm, island-like feel makes it one of the most popular tourist spots in America—and one of the most diverse ecosystems out there.

Besides the traditional outdoor adventures you’d find in most state or national parks, Florida throws in the extra thrills of water-themed activities, from snorkeling to diving.

Outdoor enthusiasts, families, and honeymooners alike can explore the gorgeous views and vivid, varied ecosystem this state has to offer.

“America the beautiful” is more than just a saying – it’s truly a reality. With gorgeous acres of land running through states like, TexasCaliforniaColoradoNevadaArizona and many others, one could spend a lifetime visiting them all. Of course, while that’s possible, you’d definitely need to be prepared with tentsbackpackswater filters, and a solid plan.


Fun Things to Do While Traveling in Italy


Rich with ancient ruins, historically famous paintings and sculptures, and a culture that prides itself on family, food, and love, it’s no wonder Italy is among the top 5 travel destinations in the entire world.

Whether going solo or in a group, there are endless fun and exciting activities to do while traveling in Italy. Start with four of the most popular cities: Milan, Rome, Venice, and Florence.




A large dramatic fountain display in front of Castello Sforzesco in Milan, Italy

Castello Sforzesco

You absolutely have to take a tour of one of the most influential and important landmarks in Italy.

This castle was built around the 15th century, and was renovated shortly after. Leonardo Da Vinci lived in this castle for 17 years, in fact, and even designed one of the rooms himself.

You can also participate in a guided tour, which takes you through the museum and explains the history of the castle and the Dukes of Milan.

This institution has become a museum of sorts. It allows visitors to step back into the past, to see what life was like for prestigious artists and noblemen.


La Casa Maledetta

An excellent and invigorating experience awaits you at La Casa Maledetta.

This spooky house hasn’t been inhabited for close to 100 years, following a tragedy.

Enjoy live action roleplay at this cursed house: participants get the chance to interpret some fictional characters, as they act out different scenarios given to them.

Actors will also enhance the event, and help you experience a real-life psychological thriller unlike any other.




Tourist taking in the historic views at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy


This ancient monument is a massive marble structure, impeccably preserved and just as grand today as it was when ancient Romans first gathered in its walls.

It was constructed to hold over 50,000 people, who would witness battles of strength, might, and valor.

Today, visitors can get a taste of the past by visiting the Colosseum, doing a walk-through, taking pictures, and watching reenacted scenes by professionals.

Near the Colosseum, there is also a flurry of merchants, both authentic and more familiar foods (such as Burger King, for the less adventurous members of your group), knick-knacks, and painters waiting to do a portrait.

Once you leave your tour, you can choose to shop in the nearby strip mall, or go out for a night on the town at a nightclub.

While the streets are always bustling, the real fun starts at midnight!


Wine Tasting

Vino reigns supreme! A wine tasting experience is a must while traveling in Italy, as you’ll find it at nearly every table, for every meal.

While in Rome, enjoy a two-hour wine tasting in the city’s historic center. You’ll get to sample 6 premium wines, including a Rosè, two red wines, two white wines, and a sparkling variety.

Additionally, enjoy a delicious selection of perfectly paired Italian cured meats, olives, salami, cheeses, taralli, and bread.




A gondolier wearing a striped red and white shirt piloting his gondola through the Grand Canal in front of the colorful buildings in Venice, Italy

Gondola Ride Through the Grand Canal

Ah, the famous gondola ride: an upper echelon of romance. While you’re traveling Italy, why not finally make it a reality?

You can enjoy a shared ride in a gondola through the beautiful canals while sightseeing. The tour takes you through smaller canals, eventually ending in the Grand Canal.

These mysterious and serene canals can be enjoyed for 30-minute rides. It’s a great date idea, or simply a time to take in the atmosphere and be inspired.


Carnival Mask Treasure Hunt

There’s a personal treasure waiting for you in the maze of the Venetian streets!

A treasure hunt can be a fun time for the family, a friendly competition between buddies, or a couple’s adventure.

If you find your treasure, you’ll win a genuine carnival mask handcrafted by a local producer. They can even incorporate elements of your personality, or customize certain aspects however you like.

While doing the hunt, you must take a photo of three or more locations that will be highlighted on a map for you. This is a great way to discover the streets of Venice.


Gelateria lit prominently, and towering neighboring buildings against a sunset sky in Florence, Italy


Tour of the Gelateria

Real Italian gelato is an experience like no other.

Florence is the birthplace of authentic Italian gelato, made with care and quality ingredients. You’ll only pay €2 for a small, but handmade and organic cup of gelato.

Since the shop is only big enough to accommodate a handful of people at a time, you can step outside to enjoy the weather and admire the piazza (town square) while you’re there.

The Gelateria della Passera should be a stop on your list when visiting Florence. It’s also a short distance away from the world-famous Ponte Vecchio (a massive bridge with a remarkable amount of merchants).


Teatro del Sale

This is one of the most beloved institutions in Florence. It’s a restaurant/theatre, housed in a former 14th-century convent.

Grab your membership card upon arrival, as this event offers members-only entertainment that gives you the true Italian experience.

Every night there are wonderful performances, decadent dishes—announced by world-class chef Fabio Picchi—and diverse music.

The food is served canteen-style, and you can enjoy rock, jazz, tango, and even classical music while you eat.


An aerial view of historic buildings and red-roofed town surrounded by a teal river and sunset sky in Italy

There is truly so much to do when it comes to discovering and embracing the Italian culture. From musical events, to water activities, food tours, and more, there’s something for the whole family while traveling in the beautiful country of Italy.

For more travel recommendations, check out this year’s must-see destinations, the coolest day trips out of New York City, or the best restaurants in Portland.

Eating Healthy While Camping or Bike Touring


When planning a trip, you might see it as a reason to splurge or indulge.  After all, you’re on vacation! While takeout and your favorite chipotle hack can certainly be included in your meal plans, some trips—such as camping or bike touring—require healthy eating habits to maintain proper energy levels.

Not only that, but your options are usually far more limited. Fear not: this lack of options can actually enrich your experience. Roughing it under the stars goes well with roughing it at the picnic table.

For those embarking on long adventures, making your own meals and choosing your fuel wisely isn’t just wise: it’s a necessity, one that becomes more crucial, the further off the beaten path you venture.


Equipment You’ll Need for Healthy Eating on the Go


Camping Stove and Pot

Preparing hot meals on the road is as easy as investing in a small camping stove and pot. Additionally, in the long run, it’s much cheaper than paying for cooked food.

Try the Olicamp Micro Stove or the Esbit Alcohol Stove, along with a portable pot and utensils.

The gas canisters on which the Olicamp runs are lightweight, and easy to find in stores. One container will provide you with weeks of daily hot meals.

When it does run out, many gas stations and hardware/outdoor supply stores will carry similar canisters. That accessibility is critical for long hiking trips or tours, since populated areas can be few and far between.

Alcohol-powered stoves are another great option, and are generally more lightweight than gas stoves: the latter requires you to carry sizable fuel canisters, whereas an alcohol stove—though slower to cook—is far more portable.

If you’re not sure which to choose, consider your priorities. Do you need to keep your load light, or is time of the essence?


man stirring a meal inside a camping stove while sitting on the grass


Optional—but Helpful—Extras to Pack

Some luxuries to add to your cooking setup can include the collapsible X-Seal Plate and Mug Set by Sea to Summit, or this Morakniv Outdoor Knife.

Aluminum is widely accepted as the best material for on-the-go cookware, since it allows heat to travel uniformly throughout the vessel. This, in turn, leads to less burning and sticking.

If you’re mostly going to be traveling by car, your options are more far-reaching.

You could pack an entire grill, if you wanted to, even a cooler, mini-fridge, and a blender for smoothies.

However, if you’re taking a more self-contained approach (bikes or walking), look for collapsible, multi-functional cookware designed for durability.

Don’t forget to pack some water! Of course you could always stop by a gas station and grab your favorite snack and water. Or, you could always bring along your water filter or hydration pack.



Grocery Shopping Before Your Trip: The Staples

Carrying a few bulk staples will ensure you’re always covered for delicious and nutritious fuel, no matter what’s open or nearby.

Easy-to-use, nonperishable items include pasta, rice meals, nut butters, crackers, dry fruit oil, oatmeal, beans, and spices.

Canned fish can be an emergency protein source, along with any form of jerky.

If you’re going to be on the move, either on foot or by bike, have those essentials on hand when you depart, and stock up on perishable items along the way.

It’s always a plus to have canned vegetables available, too, in case you make a pasta or rice meal. Or, if you can, purchase fresh vegetables at produce stands, grocery stores, or farmer’s markets during your trip.

Topped with olive oil or pesto, this can make for a quick but delicious tent-side dinner.

For breakfast, oatmeal is a classic go-to because of its versatility.

Fresh or dried fruit, peanut butter, or even savory additions can liven up any bowl, and provide steadily-releasing fuel for the longest of excursions.


Campfire Snacking

The simple thrill of sparking your own flame is even better when you pair it with the classic snack-on-a-stick, whatever the ingredients entail.

Though delicious, the standard marshmallows aren’t exactly healthy. For more filling options, try hot dogs, sausage, peppers, or corn on the cob.


fresh corn, cucumbers, and peppers on a wood table


Keep Ingredients in Mind

Many portable snacks and staples out there claim to be healthy…but are they?

Granola bars are one excellent example of this: while they contain nutritious, whole ingredients like nuts and berries, many also boast a shocking amount of sugar, guaranteeing a mid-trail crash.

Some tips to help you choose the best products:

  • Go for whole wheat, rather than white. For rice, choose brown over white whenever possible. Whole grain goods are less processed, and therefore retain more nutrients than their refined counterparts. They also satisfy hunger better.


  • Keep sugar and sodium to a minimum. Granted, you’ll be exercising quite a bit while camping or bike touring but eating healthy isn’t just about caloric intake and output.  Sugar and sodium, in excess, can still increase blood pressure and wreak havoc on energy levels. Read labels carefully before purchasing, as many “healthy” foods contain more salt or sugar than you’d never expect. Tomato sauce and certain breads are one sneaky example.


  • Eat fresh as often as possible. This is extremely difficult when on the move, especially if you don’t have a cooler handy, but some careful route planning can ensure you encounter a fresh food source every day, or close to it.  That said, the right canned or dehydrated products can be healthful, too. Since eating healthy while camping or bike touring ultimately comes down to convenience, the adage “some is better than nothing” holds pretty true here.


A woman on a bike taking a break in the bike lane to drink water


Eating (and cooking) healthy meals while camping or traveling isn’t easy, by any stretch. Then again, neither is blazing a new trail, or riding a bike across an entire state!

Remember that the better you eat, the better you can hike or ride…and the more enjoyable your trip will be, as a result.

If you’ll be going on a longer and more rural adventure don’t forget a backpack! This is a vital tool that would allow you to carry a tent, water filter and anything else you may need.

Lastly, plan your first bike tour. You wouldn’t want to get going somewhere without some sort of direction. Failing to plan is planning to fail!

Best State and National Parks in Texas


The state and national parks of Texas contain some of America’s most incredible natural gems. 

Undoubtedly, the crown jewel of its park system is Big Bend National Park, which features acres of desert, mountains, and riparian environments practically side-by-side. 

However, your exploration won’t end there: there’s also Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Palo Duro Canyon, and several other smaller state parks. 

Due to Texas’s massive size, landmarks are often hours apart—but this isolation only adds to the magic of every must-see natural wonder travellers can hope for while visiting the Lonestar State. 

Big Bend National Park

A star-filled sky displaying a prominent milky way in Big Bend National Park

Nearest City: Alpine, Texas

If you don’t believe the motto that “everything is bigger in Texas,” Big Bend National Park will definitely change your mind. 

In total, Big Bend protects over 800,000 acres. Within this expanse of land lies portions of the Chihuahuan Desert, Chiso Mountains, and several other rich and diverse natural environments. 

The cultural history of Big Bend National Park is just as rich. Several archaeological sites in the park have unearthed years of human evidence, most of which dates back about 10,000 years. These archaeological sites have also unearthed dinosaur fossils. 

Today, visitors can explore numerous hiking trails that meander throughout the park’s desert, mountains, and canyons.  You’ll also find areas to camp, birdwatch, and backpack. 

Additionally, Big Bend National Park was internationally designated as a Dark Sky Park in 2012. It is one of the least light-polluted areas in the United States. 

This means stargazing is truly out of this world, and an experience like no other. 


Guadalupe Mountains National Park

A large, barren, grey cliff face in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Nearest City: Dell City, Texas


Guadalupe Mountains National Park resides east of El Paso, within the Guadalupe Mountain Range. 

Compared to Big Bend National Park, the Guadalupe Mountains receive far less visitors per year. 

However, the park has quite a bit to offer, and is revered for its isolation and stillness. 

The most prominent feature of the park is Guadalupe Peak which, at a height of 8,749 feet, is the highest point in Texas. It can be reached by visitors via the Guadalupe Peak Trail, beginning at the large parking lot adjacent to the campground. 

Additionally, visitors can hike the Bowl Trail and the McKittrick Canyon Trail, among others, and find several unique flora and fauna—including the Texas Madrone. 


Big Bend Ranch State Park

A muddy river flows through the valley of steep rocky cliff faces at Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas

Nearest City: Alpine, Texas

Big Bend Ranch State Park is the largest state park in Texas. Adjacent to the aforementioned national park of the same name, Ranch State shares a similar landscape. 

However, this state park separates itself in terms of access to the Rio Grande River. Connect with an outfitter to whitewater raft down the Rio Grande. 

If rafting is not for you, don’t be discouraged. Big Bend Ranch State Park also is home to the Madrid Falls (the second biggest waterfall in Texas).

There’s also a number of hiking trails.  An expansive backcountry just begs to be explored. 

Additionally, the park still follows open range policies.  It works alongside a number of cattle ranches that operate on its property. 


Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Green desert vegetation fills the canyons constituted of red rock cliffs at Palo Duro Canyon National State Parks, Texas
Image Credit: Andrew Chin on Flickr

Nearest City: Canyon, Texas

The most notable element of Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a series of paintings from famous American painter, Georgia O’Keeffe.  She lived near Palo Duro Canyon and visited frequently. 

Visitors arriving at the park today will find the second largest canyon in the United States—which is just as grand as another very famous canyon—and a number of opportunities for outdoor recreation. 

Along the canyon walls, the park maintains 16 trails that offer visitors the opportunity to hike, bike, and horseback ride. Some of these trails pass by notable rock formations, such as the Lighthouse. 


Colorado Bend State Park 

A waterfall flows through dense, leafy trees at Gorman Falls / Colorado Bend National State Parks
Image Credit: John Hill on Flickr

Nearest City: Bend, Texas

Named for a large curve in the nearby Colorado River, Colorado Bend State Park is relative unknown—even to some residents. But it holds a number of hidden caves, breathtaking waterfalls, and natural springs. 

Visitors can embark down the Spicewood Springs Trail, which will take them across Gorman Creek to a number of deep swimming pools as well as Gorman Falls, the most popular location in the park. 


Relish in the Differences 

A sunset against a cloudy sky picturing the desert vegetation in the valleys at Guadalupe Mountains, Texas

Texas boasts many things, including immense state pride, no state taxes, and great barbeque.

However, with national parks such as Big Bend and Guadalupe, and state parks such as Palo Duro Canyon and Colorado Bend, Texas should also be recognized as an outdoor powerhouse. 

Sure, you won’t find anything similar to the large 14,000-foot peaks of Colorado, or the snowy Cascades of California.  But you will find plenty of natural wonders that make Texas wholly unique. And while not a national park, but more of a sight-to-see would be a Tesla’s Gigafactory to supercharge it’s growth.

“America the beautiful” is more than just a saying – it’s truly a reality. With gorgeous acres of land running through states like, ArizonaFlorida, Alaska, Nevada, and many others, one could spend a lifetime visiting them all. Of course, while that’s possible, you’d definitely need to be prepared with tentsbackpackswater filters, and a solid plan. After all, national and state parks are some of the coolest places to travel.


Best State and National Parks in Nevada


In some respects, the flash of Las Vegas often hides the silver state’s true beauty as an outdoor recreation paradise. Hikers, climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts will all find spectacular travel experiences in the state and national parks of Nevada.

Great Basin National Park

Sunrise over the sweeping, rolling mountains at Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Closest Cities: Ely, Baker, and Border, Nevada

Commonly entered by Nevada State Route 488, Great Basin National Park is located in central Nevada. It also provides access to the Lehman Caves and a number of hiking trails.

The park’s most popular feature is its groves of ancient bristlecone pine trees.

Great Basin received its initial protection in 1922, when the Lehman Caves were protected as a National Monument. However, through the years, the park received additional protection and territory, culminating in its establishment as Great Basin National Park in 1986.

Travelers will find a visitor center, where they can orient themselves with the park, and also inquire about events or their planned itinerary with knowledgeable park staff.


Death Valley National Park

Wavy sand dunes with dried desert vegetation with sharp mountain ranges in the distance at Death Valley National Parks, Nevada

Closest City: Beatty, Nevada

Death Valley National Park meanders through the border of California and Nevada. Infiltrating each of these two states, Death Valley National Park contains a number of interesting and unique geological and geographical landforms.

The park is so desolate and unique, it served as a valuable backdrop in a beloved franchise: Star Wars fans might better recognize Death Valley as the planet Tatooine.

Visitors will find a number of hiking trails, auto tours, and areas for rock climbing. The park also provides a home to a number of unique flora and fauna, including the Death Valley Pupfish, bighorn sheep, kit foxes, cougars, and mule deer.

Be prepared for a desert experience. In extreme conditions, temperatures in the park can exceed 120 degrees. Sun protection and proper hydration are paramount during your trip.


Valley of Fire State Park

Bright orange and red rock formation with a natural weathered "O" and rocky hills at Valley of Fire National Park, Nevada

Closest City: Overton, Nevada

Valley of Fire State Park receives its name from the series of Aztec sandstone land masses that appear throughout its territory. When the sun is at its highest point in the sky, these Aztec sandstone formations appear to be on fire.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most beautiful sites in the whole state.

While appreciating the park’s landscape, visitors may also experience a number of hiking trails and desert camping.

The state park is located about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, and is the oldest state park in Nevada. Valley of Fire State Park received its designation in 1935.


Cathedral Gorge State Park

Sharp, jagged rock formations and cliff are pictured at Cathedral Gorge State and National Parks, Nevada

Closest City: Panaca, Nevada

Cathedral Gorge State Park preserves one of the most unique geological sites in the country. It features a dramatic scene of eroded clay, which towers and forms breathtaking peaks and ledges. The eroded clay covers a total of over 1,600 acres in southeastern Nevada.

In addition to its breathtaking sites, Cathedral Gorge State Park also contains a number of hiking trails, including the popular Juniper Draw Loop, and provides a home to a number of desert animals. Black-tailed jack rabbits, coyotes, roadrunners, and many others can all be found across the park.


Lake Mead Recreation Area

Mountains of red and brown rock outstretch mini-peninsulas into Lake Mead at Lake Mead National State Park ,Nevada

Closest City: Clark County, Nevada

Sitting on the border of Nevada and Arizona, Lake Mead grants visitors access to a number of outdoor and water-oriented recreation activities, such as boating.

Within the park, visitors will find the meeting of three of the four desert landscapes in the United States: the Mojave, Great Basin, and Sonoran Desert all converge in Lake Mead.

The park is also composed of nine wilderness areas, including the black canyon wilderness and the bridge canyon wilderness.

In total, the park protects over 900 plant species and over 500 animal species. Fish found in Lake Mead include largemouth bass, striped bass, channel catfish, and rainbow trout.


Rocky mountains in shades of light to dark brown against a purple and blue sky at this Nevada National Park


Nevada may conjure images of bright lights and casinos, but the state has so much more to offer. The state and national parks in Nevada provide incredible landscapes, diverse wildlife populations, and endless activities for travelers to take it all in.

“America the beautiful” is more than just a saying – it’s truly a reality. With gorgeous acres of land running through states like, ArizonaFloridaAlaska, and many others, one could spend a lifetime visiting them all. Of course, while that’s possible, you’d definitely need to be prepared with tentsbackpackswater filters, and a solid plan. After all, national and state parks are some of the coolest places to travel.