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Yellowstone National Park

Nowhere else in the world has as many geysers as Yellowstone National Park. There have been huge volcanic eruptions here as far back as 2 million years ago, 1.3 milling years and ago and 640,000 years ago. By visiting the park, you’ll be entering a 30 x 45 mile wide caldera (also known as a basin). How cool is that?! In this post we discuss our favorite travel tips for visiting Yellowstone National Park.

Follow in our steps:

We entered the park via the East Entrance. We spent the night before we entered the park about 20 minutes southwest of Cody (message us if you want the specific camping spot that included electricity). Prior to that we had visited Devils Tower and Badlands National Park as we traveled west from Delaware.

From the East Entrance we went north (clockwise along the park road.) The park roads make an “8” so you can either go north first or south first. We wanted to save the “best” for last so we went north first. We tried to get a camping spot at Slough Creek but it was full when we arrived. Ended up spending the night in Livingston. There are some cute cottages there but we stayed in the van. 

Best Things To Do in Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful erupts!

Look at all the people lined up to watch Old Faithful!

See Old Faithful erupt! There’s a crescent shaped set of benches that face Old Faithful. Check the boards in front of the visitor center to see what time she’s supposed to erupt and grab yourself a bench for the show!

Snap a photo of some bison! We saw most of them in the Hayden Valley alongside the Yellowstone River. 

Check out the petrified tree not too far from Roosevelt Lodge. Maybe I’m a nerd (okay I’m a nerd) but this thing is awesome!

Mammoth Hot Springs are super cool. Check out the Upper Terraces Area as well as the Lower Terraces Area. We photographed both at sunrise and only saw two other people there (in stark contrast to the hordes we experienced the day before).

Visit Norris Geyser Basin and be amazed at the colorful pools and geysers. It’s a photographers dream.

Be sure to check out Midway Geyser Basin which is where THE Grand Prismatic Spring is located. The Grand Prismatic Spring has graced the cover of many magazines and even Fodor’s Complete Guide to National Parks of the West. It is incredible. 

Also check out the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River as well as Yellowstone Lake.

Get into the backcountry! Did you know there are about 1,000 miles of trails within the park? Most people only see a fraction of what the park has to offer but there are a ton of other places to explore (without the crowds).

Things To Know About Yellowstone National Park

Park website: www.nps.gov/yell

Telephone numbers:

307-344-7381

307-344-2386 TTY

307-344-2117 road updates

Yellowstone National Park Visitor Centers, Education Centers and Museums

Horace M. Albright Visitor Center (Mammoth Hot Springs)

307-344-2263

Open daily, year round

Canyon Visitor Education Center

307-344-2550

Open late May to Early November

Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center

307-344-2450

Open late May to early September

Grant Visitor Center

304-344-2650

Open late May to early October

Museum of the National Park Ranger 

307-344-7353

Open late May to mid-September

Norris Geyser Basin Museum and Information Station

307-344-2812

Open mid-May to early October

Old Faithful Visitor Education Center

307-344-2751

Open mid-April to early November

West Thumb Information Station

307-344-2650

Open late May to early October

West Yellowstone Visitor Center

307-344-2876

Open mid-April to early November

Yellowstone National Park Rules

Caroline Whatley exploring Yellowstone National Park

Up early to beat the crowds!

Might sound hard to believe, but people used to throw coins into some of the thermal pools. It’ll damage them so please don’t do that!

Bathing and swimming in the pools isn’t allowed either.

You’re not supposed to stop in roadways to take pictures but we’ve seen all kinds of things. Best practices are to us a roadside parking area or parking lot. That said, if wildlife is in the road, brake and hang out. Delays can be long, so expect them and have snacks and water and games or books in the car to keep everyone busy.

Winter time means road closures. Be sure to check before you go. The only road that is open all year is the one between Gardiner and Cooke City. 

Yellowstone National Park Safety Tips

This is bear country. There are both black bears and grizzlies within the park. Be smart with your food, dispose of waste in bear safe trashcans. 

It is illegal to get within 100 yards of bears and wolves. It’s illegal to get within 25 yards of other wildlife including bison. Don’t be the person who tries to take a selfie with a wild animal and ends up getting hurt! 

Leash all pets! They’re prohibited from all trails, on the thermal basin boardwalks and in the backcountry.

Stay on trails and boardwalks at all times.

Cellphone reception is spotty. We use Verizon and could get a little bit of access in Mammoth Hot Springs, Canyon Village and Tower Fall but it wasn’t great. Be prepared to be a little off the grid and without cell phone service in Yellowstone. 

Where To Stay in Yellowstone

The lodges near Old Faithful aptly named Old Faithful Lodge, Old Faithful Inn are in an awesome central location. You are literally just steps away from Old Faithful! Caroline was in love with the buildings the moment she saw them because they were so wide open with balconies on four floors and there were round logs everywhere. If you’re in to historical lodges, you might want to shell out some money just to stay there.

Rough Rider Cabins

They’re clean but basic. Some would say they’re rustic (no AC, TV, radio or bathroom). The bathroom is just a short walk away. That said the location can’t be beat! I stayed there in late June a couple years ago and had a great experience. The temperature was comfortable for sleeping. You’re in the middle of the park! Heat is by wood burning stove and most of the cabins have one or two double beds. FYI coffee nor coffee makers are included so if you crave it like we do, come prepared or by it in the nearby lodge.

Camping in Yellowstone

Mammoth is the only campground that is open all year. It has 85 sites.

It’s recommended that you reserve your site ahead of time so that you are guaranteed a spot but you should do it as far in advance as possible. You can reserve a spot at Canyon, Bridge Bay, Madison, Grant Village and Fishing Bridge RV Park (only hard sided campers are allowed there, no tents or trailers). 

First-come, first serve campsites include Mammoth, Norris, Indian Creek, Lewis Lake, Pebble Creek, Slough Creek and Tower Fall.

Most campsites are open 7am to 10pm during the peak season and 8am to 9pm during the shoulder. Checkout time is 11am. 

Backcountry camping is allowed in designated sites but it requires a permit. 

Tips for Visiting Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone 2

There’s very little shade in Yellowstone so be sure to bring and drink water!

Bring water and drink it! We visited in mid-August and it was HOT! There’s very little shade within the park and you’re at elevation so you’re going to need to stay hydrated in order to enjoy the adventure.

Fishing is allowed but it requires a permit which you can get at a ranger station.

Temperatures in the summer in Yellowstone can get up into the 90’s. Nighttime temps can also get down into the 40’s! It’s a huge range but it means you can get tan in the day and sleep GREAT at night.

On that note, bring sunscreen!

Fuel up before you enter the park. There are a couple of gas stations within the park but you’ll pay a higher price to fuel up in there. 

The park is also undergoing a bunch of road construction. We tried to go south one morning to Norris from Mammoth Hot Springs but the road didn’t open up until 7am.  Known before you go. 

To get road status alerts you can call 307-344-2117 or text “82190” to 888777

Gas stations within Yellowstone are located at:

Fishing Bridge
Grant Village
Canyon Village
Old Faithful
Mammoth Hot Springs

Try to fill up outside of the park or be prepared to pay a premium for convenience.

Yellowstone National Park Recap

This is a very busy park so get up early and not only catch the best light but see all the sights without tons of crowds. It’s an incredible place to see, so if it’s not on your list of top places to visit in the United States, be sure to add it! 

Have you been to Yellowstone? If so, we’d love to know what you thought.

Also in the area:

Badlands National Park

Mount Rushmore

Devils Tower

Grand Teton National Park

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Visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial

You’re probably seen photos and even tv shows about Mount Rushmore but it’s just as amazing in person. I’ve been there twice and each time the car rounds the corner and I spot it, I experienced a sense of wonder that someone MADE that! It’s incredible. We highly recommend going to see it if you ever get the chance. Oh and who’s up there? George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln!

Getting to Mount Rushmore National Memorial

13000 Highway 244
Building 31, Suite 1
Keystone, SD 57751

If you’re coming from the east like we were (we came from Badlands National Park), you’ll take I-90 all the way to Exit 61 and then just follow the signs.

Visiting Hours

October through May: 8:00 – 5:00

June through mid-August: 8:00 – 10:00

Mid-August through September: 8:00 – 9:00

All times are Mountain Time.

Parking

If you hate traffics and lines as much as we do, then you’re in for a treat. Though Mount Rushmore is almost always busy, there are traffic guides to help you pay and be on your way. Watch for the people with flags who will direct you to a toll booth. Cars and motorcycles go in the three left lanes and RV’s in the far right hand lane. You won’t have to pay to get in but you will have to pay for parking ($10 per cars, motorcycles and RV’s.) Active duty military is FREE and seniors over 62 are $5.

Things to Know About Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore 2

Every state in the country has a flag here. Can you find yours?

Have your money ready when you get to the tollbooth!

Drones are prohibited in the park.

If you want to learn a little more about the park, consider renting an audio device, cost is $6. New in 2018 is the multimedia tour which, in addition to audio, offers pictures. The multimedia tour is $8.

Mount Rushmore 3

These signs correspond with the audio and multimedia tours!

Rangers are also on hand to give tours and they’re FREE! Check out the schedules which are posted at the Information Center and the Visitors Center. When the weather is good there is also an evening program which is also hosted by a ranger. The evening programs are about 45 minutes long and include a film and the lighting of the memorial.

Dogs and other pets are not allowed at the memorial but they are allowed in the parking areas. There’s also a special pet exercise area for dogs. (Service dogs are the exception to this rule.)

There is food within the park at Carver’s Marketplace. There’s everything from charbroiled bison to salads and wraps. There’s even ice cream and beer.

Mount Rushmore 1

You can go in this little cave at the start of the Presidential Trail.

Tips for Visiting Mount Rushmore

Bring your camera but leave your drone at home.

A rain layer is recommended so that foul weather won’t get in your way of enjoying the park. Good walking shoes, too. There’s a trail that goes beneath the memorial and there are many steps to traverse.

Wear good walking shoes. The Presidential Trail is only about .6 miles long but it has 422 stairs for you to tackle! The trail is worth your time since it’ll take you close to the memorial so that you’re looking up the Presidents noses!

Save time to visit the Sculptors Studio. It was closed when we visited but is set to reopen in the spring of 2019.

Keystone is the closest town to Mount Rushmore and is only 3 miles away. There are numerous places to stay. We’ve actually never stayed in the town because we’ve always visited early enough to push on towards somewhere else.

Traveling to Mount Rushmore National Memorial Recap

Looking for a fun road trip? We recommend linking up Badlands National Park with Mount Rushmore and Devils Tower. While you’re at it go ahead and throw in Yellowstone and Grand Teton!

Thanks for visiting Authentic Asheville. We’d love to hear from you, please leave your comments below!

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Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower is a place I have been thinking and dreaming about for several years. It all started when I was in the gift shop in Yosemite National Park and happened to see a postcard for Devil’s Tower. Up until then, I’d never heard of it. But the image was seared in my mind and I swore I’d make it there one day. Well, the day finally arrived on our most recent van life adventure and it was everything I hoped it would be and more.

Traveling to Devils Tower National Monument

Getting to Devils Tower is fairly straightforward. We were coming from the east (we’d visited Mount Rushmore before heading here) and took route 90 for most of the way. Be sure to get directions ahead of time, especially if you will be using a GPS. Though we had a fairly strong signal the entire time, you never know! The physical address is WY-110, Devils Tower, Wyoming 82714.

We recommend using GPS Coordinates: 44.5902° N, 104.7146° W

Where to Stay

Badlands National Park 5

Devils Tower Tipi Camping – how cool are they?!

If you’re approaching Devils Tower from the east, you’ll see a bunch of really cool tipis on a hillside and a red building close to the road. That’s Devils Tower Tipi Camping. We had no idea it was there but made a U-turn as soon as we saw it. There happened to be one tipi left and we got it! Juliana is the owner and is super friendly.

Each tipi comes with a camp stove, water, a non-electric coffee maker, propane lantern and a solar lantern. The 14′ tipis are $50 a night and the 16′ tipis are $50 a night. You can also rent a sleeping pad, sheets, blanket and pillows for $10.

To book a stay with her, head to her website Devils Tower Tipi Camping!

There’s also a campground, the Belle Fourche River Campground that’s open seasonally (May – October). It can accommodate RVs and tents but works on a first come first serve basis. There are also three group sites. There aren’t any hookups, showers or laundry facilities at this campground but there are grills, picnic tables and water. Individual sites are $20 and group sites are $30. There are also 4 accessible sites and they are $20 each.

Best Hikes at Devils Tower National Monument

Tower Trail

The Tower Trail is the most popular trail. It’s a 1.3 mile paved loop that goes around the base of the tower. There are a couple of hills but there are benches along the way for you to rest. Bring your camera because there are several great photo opportunities along the way.

Red Beds Trail

If you hike the Tower Trail, you’ll actually pass the trail head for Red Beds. It’s on your left as you go up the paved path. If you want to run counterclockwise, look for the trailhead a little closer to the visitors center. This trail is a nice mixture of short climbs, short descents, epic views and fun, runnable single track. Does this sound like music to your ears? We loved it. Round trip the trail is 2.8 miles. There are a couple of places where the trail intersects with another, so make sure to read the signs and/or carry a map with you.

Joyner Ridge Trail

After running the Tower Trail and Red Beds, if you still have enough in your legs, head on over to the Joyner Ridge Trail. To get there, you can either run up from the dirt road that, as you’re leaving the visitor center, will be on your right hand side, or you can drive up there. The trailhead is clearly marked and the parking lot is big enough for several cars. We went clockwise and were glad we did because the descent is fairly steep and the climb back up to the van is more mild. You’ll get an incredible view of Devils Tower so bring your camera or GoPro on this one as well.

Climbing Devils Tower

All climbers need to register with a park ranger before climbing. There are signs throughout the park marking where visitors can rock scramble and where they must stop. Going beyond the yellow line can actually lead to a citation and a fine.

Please note that throughout June, the park asks visitors to refrain from climbing on the Tower. This also pertains to scrambling on the rocks inside of the Tower Trail loop. To learn more about the closure in June as well as other Devils Tower climbing information, head on over to the park’s website.

Tips for Visiting Devils Tower

Badlands National Park 5

Night sky photography near Devils Tower

Bring lots of water! There’s a water fountain near the visitors center so be sure to fill up before your hike.

The park is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Going at night is a cool thing to do. There is so little light pollution in this part of the world that you can do some great stargazing. We had fun doing night photography!

The park is in the Mountain Time Zone.

Pets are not allowed on the trails.

There isn’t any food sold within the park so come prepared.

The Joyner Ridge Trail mentioned above is a great place to see stars at night as well as take night photography. Just make sure to bring a headlamp and a map.

There are several nighttime events at the park scattered throughout the year. Check the park’s website to see what events might be happening during your visit. We were a couple of days away from a meteor shower but would have loved to go to this event and hear what a ranger had to say.

Devils Tower National Monument Recap

This park is one of the coolest places we’ve ever been to. Not only does it look incredible and make for a wonderful photograph, but it also has some really fun trails to run. We recommend putting this park on your list of places to visit.

Also in the area: Badlands National Park

Have you been to Devils Tower? If so, what did you think? We’d love to hear from you!

Curious about how we’re traveling and want to learn more about our van or our Wayfarer Conversion Kit?

+ Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Things to Know About Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is technically two units. The North Unit (park lands north of Highway 44) and The South Unit (park lands south of Highway 44). It became a National Monument in 1939 and was redesigned as a National Park in 1978. The park is 244,000 acres and gets around one million visitors a year!

Badlands National Park is in the Mountain Time Zone.

Park headquarters phone number: 605-433-5361

Park website: www.nps.gov/badl

Badlands National Park Visitor Centers

There are two visitor centers in the park. The Ben Reifel Visitor Center is open year round and has a 97 seat air conditioned theater as well as a bookstore and several interactive exhibits. There’s also a free station to fill up your water bottles with cold water. Hours vary from month to month with hours being longer in the summer months (typically 7am to 7pm) and shorter in the shoulder season and winter. Winter hours are typically 8am to 4pm. Be sure to check before you go if you plan on visiting.

The White River Visitor Center is located on the Pine Ridge Reservation off Highway 27. It is only open seasonally. Be sure to call before you go to make sure it is open.

Things to Know About Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park 4

This park has one of the world’s richest mammal fossil beds. Be sure to only take photographs. Do not take home any artifacts, fossils, etc. that you find. Collecting artifacts including plants, flowers, animals, rocks, etc can land you in jail and or with a steep fine.

Get gas before you go into the park. There are stations to fill up at on either end of the park (Interior is 2 miles away, Cactus Flat about 9 and Wall about 30) but there are no gas stations in side the park.

Badlands National Park Tips

Badlands National Park 3Drones are not allowed!

Stay on the trail.

Bikes are allowed in the park but must stay on park roads. No bicycles are allowed on any of the trails.

Dogs are allowed in the park but are also not allowed on any of the trails. They must also be kept on a leash at all times. The leash can not exceed six feet in length.

The speed limit max is 45 miles an hour. Many other places are slower. Take your time, see all the sights and watch out for pedestrians and wildlife. We saw several bighorn sheep crossing the Old North East Road after a trail run one morning.

Park only in designated areas, not on the grass.

Backcountry permits are currently not required. Be sure to sign a register at the trailheads and let someone know where you are going.

Badlands National Park Safety

Be sure to drink water! The park is hot and you can dehydrate quickly.

Beware of intense weather that moves swiftly. During the beginning of August we experienced a storm that had lightning, strong winds and even hail. Make sure you know the weather before you go, fill out the back country registration book at trailheads, pack appropriate clothing and supplies, and use caution in the wilderness.

Watch out for rattlesnakes! There are signs on most trailheads reminding people to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes. They are venomous and one bite can surely ruin your trip. It’s recommended that you wear closed toed shoes and watch where you step.

Use caution when exploring. The rocks are slippery and also unstable. They can crumble beneath you if you are not careful. When it hasn’t rained the surface is dry and dusty and loose, making it hard to come down from places that you’ve climbed up. When it rains, that same dust turns into a slick clay-like surface that will have you slip-sliding all over the place. Falls can be extremely dangerous if not fatal so be careful.

To keep prairie wildfire risk down, campfires are not allowed.

Cedar Pass Lodge

Located just a short walk or drive from the visitor center and the campground is Cedar Pass Lodge. You can grab a meal in there. We didn’t do this because we were trying to save money but it seemed pretty busy! Here’s what people are saying about it on TripAdvisor (3.5 stars out of five) and Yelp.

Cedar Pass Campground

When we arrived the campsite sign said it was full but the woman working the booth told us to come back at 1:00 pm since sometimes people cancel and they have last minute openings. We went for a run and did just that, arriving about 30 minutes early and just hanging out until 1:00. We wanted to be first in line in case there were any openings and were super psyched to find out there was one! Unfortunately when we came back from a fun day in the park, we saw someone else at our site. They were in our parking spot and already hooked up to the electric. Our name was on the tag and some of Caroline’s clothes were in a pile on the picnic table.

To make a long story short we ended up going back to the booth where we were told that they had overbooked the campsite. She asked us to drive to the Minuteman campsite which was a new property they had just acquired, 8.9 miles up the road (17 minute drive.) We were sad to leave the park but it ended up being okay.

Minuteman Campground

The Minuteman campground was a little less crowded and we ended up being fine with it, though the showers here required $1.50 to get 7 minutes of hot water. The sign said that 1 quarter after that would get you an extra minute but when I put a quarter in after the water cut out without warning, the machine just ate my money. I think if you add money while it’s still running that should do the trick!

If you end up needing to stay at Minuteman, it’s not on the map. Put Cactus Flat into your GPS and as you are leaving the park it will be on your right hand side, across from the Conoco gas station.

There are picnic tables at each one and most of the sites were pull-through which is great if you have a big RV. They were also level.

Bathrooms are in the middle of the campground. There’s also a laundry facility.

They sell six packs of PBR, Corona and Budweiser. They also have a couple bottles of wine!

Best Hikes in Badlands National Park

Instead of hiking, we mostly did trail running. We were short on time and wanted to see as much as possible. Be sure to watch out for rattlesnakes, sign the registration log when it’s present, wear proper clothing, footwear and sunscreen and take enough water!

Medicine Root Loop

This was our favorite trail in the park because of the incredible scenery. The trail is 4 miles loop. On it you’ll see numerous jaw dropping rock formations and be able to experience the mixed grass prairie as well as the views. There are no major climbs but there are several rolling sections that are fun to run into and then out of.

Castle Trail

We didn’t run the entire castle trail but we did about 4 miles of the 10 miles. It’s the longest trail in the park and you can pick it up at several places (the Door and Window parking lot or the Old NE road). If you’re looking to get a long hike in, this is the one. It’s relatively level but it’s almost all exposed so be sure to bring lots of water and snacks.

Fossil Exhibit Trail

This little trail is a great place to learn about the park. It’s on a boardwalk (that can be super slippery when wet!) and the whole thing is only a 1/4 mile long. It’s also wheelchair accessible and has several interpretive signs for you to learn about fossils and other creatures that used to live in the Badlands.

Door and Window Trail

Badlands National Park 2

The Door Trail is .75 miles long round trip and the Window Trail is .25 miles round trip. Both are easy to hike or run though they are both super exposed to the sun so just because it’s short, don’t leave your water in the car. These are some of the easiest places to get great photographs! The “Door” will give you a view of the Badlands and the “Window” will give you a view into a canyon. Both are awesome and must – do’s, even if you only have a little bit of time.

Saddle Pass

This trail is short but it is intense! It basically goes straight up the Badlands Wall and gives you a look over the White River Valley. It also connects with the Castle and Medicine Root Trails. This trail in particular can get very slippery when wet and may have you coming down on your butt. Use caution if rain is in the forecast.

Next time: Notch Trail

We didn’t have a chance to do this trail and are super bummed about it but eager to do it upon our return. It’s 1.5 miles long and involves climbing a ladder and walking along a ledge in order to get to “the Notch” which gives you a view of the White River Valley. You can pick this trail up near the Door and Window’s trail. Like Saddle Pass, it’s also not recommended during or after a heavy rain. The park also recommends not hiking it if you have a fear of heights.

Badlands National Park Recap

Badlands National Park 1

This is one of the coolest (though really hot) parks in the United States. It’s got some great hiking, some epic views and tons of great places to snap some photographs. Have you been there? If so, we’d love to hear from you!

Interested in what we’re taking pictures with? Check out our post on our Favorite Photography Gear to learn more.

+ Caroline Whatley holding a book in Delaware

Best Travel Books

Inspiration comes in so many forms these days. For starters, there’s YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. But for us, nothing quite has the same effect on us as a really great book. As such, we’ve created a list of our favorite books that inspire us to travel. How many of these have you read?

Need a little travel inspiration?

We’ve broken down some of our favorite books into categories to help you decide on the perfect book for you.

If you love the water:

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
This book was given to me by my mom’s best friend, Debbie Harmon, on a recent visit to her home in Santa Fe. Over dinner the discussion turned to books and she walked right over to her shelf and chose this one for me. I’ve been reading it slowly, savoring it, really, in the way one does with great books. As you might guess, it’s focus is on surfing.

Erin McGrady holding a book at the beach

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

Dove by Robin Lee Graham
I first read this book when I was 22 and living on Andros Island in the Bahamas. Boats were fairly new to me at this point in my life and I was spellbound at the thought of someone going on a solo adventure at sea on a 24 foot sailboat.

If you dream of road trips and van life:

Van Life: Your Home on the Road by Foster Huntington
If you love pictures of vans and get starry eyed at the thought of living the van life, put this book on your reading list. It’s photo-heavy and the images are so cool … vans parked in all kinds of places, peeks at the inside of unique rigs … you know the deal.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
This is a story about a cross-country road trip that Kerouac took with Neal Cassidy. I read this in my early twenties and it continues to inspire us to hit the road and seek out our own adventures, just like it has countless others who have read it. It’s a classic, legendary even, and a must read for anyone who dreams of a road trip. It’s easily one of our favorite and best travel books.

Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram by Iain Banks
Do you love road trips? Do you love whiskey? If either (or both) of these are true for you, then this is the book for you. Follow Banks on a tour of Scotland as he goes from distillery to distillery and see if you’re not searching the internet for a plane ticket to see and taste for yourself.

If you love nature and hiking:

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
My grandfather recommended this book to me because it had to do with a shared love of ours: the Appalachian Trail. He read it first and told me to give it a try. It sat on the shelf for years before I read it but he was right. It easily makes our list of the best travel books because it’s almost guaranteed to make you get out on the trail and hike a bit.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail
This #1 New York Times Bestseller by Cheryl Strayed was also turned into a movie (you know, the one with Reese Witherspoon in it.) I liked the book even though I found myself annoyed with the author on more than one occasion. It also really inspired me to want to get out and explore.

If you want a book that pulls at your heart:

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Gilbert leave behind a marriage and a career in search of something else. Her life-changing journey takes readers through three countries and in doing so, explores themes such as pleasure (Italy), devotion (India) and Bali (balance).

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
For years after reading this book, I would buy extra copies to have them on hand and would give them out to friends who I thought might appreciate it. It had that big of an impact on me. It’s one of the rare books I’ve read more than once. It’s not your typical travel book, but it’s on the list because it impacted the course of my life and led to decisions that placed value on following dreams.

Into the Wild
Another book turned into a movie. This book is also written by Jon Krakauer. It captivated me from the moment I opened it. I’d tell you more but I don’t want to ruin it for you. If you’re looking for a book to take you on an adventure that you won’t ever forget, choose this one.

If You Love the Mountains

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
This book can be difficult to read because it talks about the tragedy on Mount Everest that happened back in 1996. There were parts of the book that had me on the edge of my seat and other parts that made me feel deeply sad and wonder about the risks we take in the name of adventure.

Best Travel Books Recap

What do you think about our list of the Best Travel Books? Have you read any others that inspired you to get out on the road and travel? We’d love to hear about them, please leave your comments below!

+ Bahamas landscape photo

Things to Know Before Visiting the Bahamas

Do you have an upcoming trip to the Bahamas? If so, read on to learn about some of the things to know before visiting the Bahamas!

Tips for Visiting the Bahamas:

The Bahamas are made up of about 700 different islands in the Atlantic Ocean. They are located North of Cuba and southeast of Florida. Nassau is the capital and is located on New Providence. The Bahamas became a British crown colony in 1718 and gained it’s independence on July 10, 1973. Locals are referred to as Bahamian, not Bohemian.

Passports:

Yep, you’ll need a passport when visiting the Bahamas. No tourist visa is required.

Cell service:

We were able to access LTE cell phone services in the Bahamas, both on New Providence and Andros. However, if you choose to use your cell phone, make sure your plan supports it. There are also payphones sprinkled throughout the Bahamas that work with calling cards and coins. Not all of them work, so be sure to have a backup plan!

Land lines scattered around the island.

Vaccinations:

None are required for entry into the country.

Climate:

There has never been a recorded or reported frost in the Bahamas. Overall the Bahamas are typically sunny, averaging more than 3,000 hours or 340 days of sunlight each year. Summer, however, is the wet and rainy season and the bugs are the worst as well. Winter temperatures in the Bahamas range from mid to high 70’s and with lows in the 60’s. The bugs are least aggressive this time of year. Summer temps are typically in the high 80’s with lows in the mid 70’s. Humidity is often really intense in the summer as well. Be sure to bring sunscreen no matter what time of year you are visiting!

Hurricane Alerts:

Hurricane Season in the Caribbean officially begins June 1 and ends on November 30 though most tropical cyclones typically develop between May and October. Be sure to check the forecast before departure and stay aware of conditions while you are in the Bahamas.

Driving and Transportation:

Vehicles are driven on the left hand side of the road. Seatbelts are mandatory. Many of the vehicles are Japanese and are also right hand drive. Visitors with a valid drivers license who are 25 year or older are eligible to rent a car. A foreign drivers license can be used for the first three months, after that you must obtain a Bahamian drivers license. Be very careful in the roundabouts AND when walking! Most American’s tend to look left and then right because we drive on the right, but it’s the opposite in the Bahamas!

Mini buses can be used for getting around on Freeport and Nassau. On the out islands, vans that act like taxis are the main form of transportation. Most taxis have rates that are government controlled. Rates can typically be found at the airport on a posted board showing how much it costs to go from A to B.

Stay on the left hand side of the road!

Language:

The official language of the Bahamas is English. That said, some visitors have a bit of difficult understanding the Bahamian dialect.

Currency:

One of the top things to know before visiting the Bahamas is how to purchase things! The Bahamian dollar is accepted everywhere in the Bahamas. So too, is the US dollar. Currently the exchange is 1:1. Understand that most often if you pay with US dollars you will get change back in Bahamian currency so be sure to spend it all before you return or only pay with the correct amount. Many places, even some of the out islands (outside of New Providence), now accept credit cards.

Banks are typically open Monday to Thursday from 9:30 to 3:00 and on Fridays from 9:30 to 4:30. Some banks are open on Saturdays with limited hours. Operation may vary on the out islands.

Main ports:

Many people skip flights altogether and visit the Bahamas via cruise. Most ships visit these main ports:

Nassau (New Providence)
Freeport (Grand Bahama)
Matthew Town (Inagua)

Alcohol:

The drinking age is 18. I’ve never been to a place that cards but it could just be that my age is showing! The local beer to try is Kalik, pronounced Kuh-lick! If they have Kalik Gold, get one, they’re super strong. Sands isn’t bad either. Cheers!

Clothing:

The Bahamas are overall very casual. Fancy attire is not necessary unless you will be attending church or some other ceremony. Many visitors wear beachwear but it’s recommended that you cover up your bathing suit when you are away from the beach or pool. That is acceptable unless you are in a restaurant, church or casino.

Electricity:

Outlets in the Bahamas are like those in the US and will work with all American Devices. If you are coming from another country, be sure to pack a two-pin flat adapter and/or a 220 volt converter.

Time Zone:

The Bahamas is in the Eastern Time Zone and has adopted Daylight Savings Time.

Spring Break:

Some tourists want to be in the Bahamas during Spring Break and others want to avoid it altogether. Be sure to check dates in advance but spring break season is typically from late February to mid-April.

Tipping:

15-20% is customary. Be sure it’s not included in the service, however, before tipping since some places roll it right into your bill.

Things to Pack for the Bahamas:

Reef Safe Sunscreen
Hat
Snorkel, Mask, Fins
Rashguard
Chacos
Bug Spray
Swimsuit
Boardshorts
Cover-up
Shorts
T-shirts
Sunglasses
Rain Jacket
Passport
ID
Cash

Getting to the Bahamas:

We flew from Salisbury, Maryland (SBY) to Philadelphia (PHL) on American. Our layover was brutal. We arrived in Philly around 8:30 and left the next morning at 8:00. Luckily, between Gates A and B, the airport sets up complimentary cots. We were able to get two and though it was loud, they provided free eye masks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouth wash and a fleece blanket which we were allowed to keep. Promptly at 5:15 we were woken by someone in the airport because they were cleaning the area up, but it was much more comfortable than sleeping in a chair.

We flew into Nassau at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) via American and then after a short layover hopped on a flight with LeAir to get to Andros.

The Airport in Fresh Creek on Andros Island.

U.S. Embassy

The US Embassy is located on Nassau, New Providence
P.O. Box N-8197
#42 Queen Street
Nassau, The Bahamas
Telephone: +(242) 322-1181
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(242) 357-7004
Fax: +(242) 356-7174

Things to Know Before Visiting the Bahamas Recap

If you have been to the Bahamas before then hopefully the above was a refresher for you. If not, we hope our travel tips for visiting the Bahamas has been helpful!

Be sure to check our our tips on How to Avoid a Tourist Trap as well as How to Eat Like a Local!

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Fun Things to Do in Frederick, Maryland

We’ve come up with a list of our favorite and fun things to do in Frederick, Maryland. After living there for over ten years the list came pretty easily but I’m curious what may have changed or appeared since I left!

Alive @ Five – Happy hour outside along the creek with live music? Heck yeah! Thursdays in May – September, you can experience just that! Admission is only $5.00. If you want to go for free, volunteer for an event.

Baker Park – Some would say that Baker Park is the crown jewel of the whole city. It’s a gorgeous space to go for a walk or a run, see a concert, play soccer or just read a book.

Barbara Fritchie House – What used to be a museum is now an Air BnB. Who would have thought?!

Carroll Creek Park – What started out as a flood control project has turned into a meeting place for locals and tourists alike. There are places to eat along the creek as well as public art and benches to relax. It’s a gorgeous place to spend an afternoon. If you like running, link this up with Baker Park as part of your mileage.

Check out an art gallery – Looking to buy art or just in the mood to browse? There are a ton of places in downtown Frederick to get your fill. I like the Potter’s Guild, the Delaplaine and the NOMA Gallery!

Curious Iguana – Actual bookstores are not dead! This gem of a bookstore in Frederick, Maryland is one of our favorites. They have author talks, book discussions and a great selection of books. In addition they donate a portion of the store’s monthly sales to international non-profits.

Dog Park – This park is fairly small but it’s in close proximity to Baker Park (it’s just off Bentz Street) and is a great place to get your dog some exercise and social time.

Find the Street Art – One of our favorite things to do in a new city is to find awesome street art. Frederick as several cool spots. Be sure to check the bridge along Carroll Creek as well as some of the ones on Patrick Street and the mosaic on Lord Nicken Street.

First Saturday – The first Saturday of every month is a great time to explore Frederick. In the spring the city celebrates the unique architecture and spaces in downtown. In the summer there’s an emphasis on music and visual arts. Fall means food and drinks and handcrafted goods and winter is of course a celebration of lights. If you haven’t been, get to one. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Frederick.

Flying Dog Brewery – Really delicious craft beer. Tours are free Thursdays through Sundays but you need a reservation. Their outdoor summer concert series is a lot of fun, too.

Frederick Keys Baseball – If you love baseball but don’t want to pay major league prices, go catch a Keys game. They’re fun, you can get up pretty close to the field and they actually serve pretty good beer there.

Ghost Tour – Maryland’s oldest operating ghost tour is right here in Frederick! Get spooked by the paranormal if you dare lol. The content is rated PG-13 and is not recommended for kids under 8. Tours last about 90 minutes and guests walk about a mile.

I Made This! Pottery Studio – Choose a piece of pottery, get creative, paint it and then pick it up about a week later. (Every Thursday evening ladies get a special 20% off of pottery.)

Maryland Ensemble Theater – This small, local theater group is always got something up it’s sleeve. Grab a ticket and go have a little fun!

McClintock Distillery Tour – Maryland’s award-winning organic distillery is open for tours and tastings Thursday through Sunday. Tours are free and a tasting is $5.00. Your money is refunded if you end up purchasing a bottle. Bonus: It’s dog friendly.

Monocacy Battlefield – Get a little bit of history with your trip to Frederick, Maryland. You can take a self-guided auto tour or even walk on one of six trails.

Mount Olivet Cemetery – Francis Scott Key, the man who wrote the Star Spangled Banner, is buried here. Photographers, walkers and even those just curious about entering a cemetery (“tombstone tourists” are welcome but respectful behavior is required.

National Museum of Civil War Medicine – There are over 5,000 artifacts in the collection. The wax figures are a little creepy but if you have an interest in medicine and some of the procedures they used during the war (some of which are still practiced today), this is the place for you.

Ride bikes – Group rides depart from Wheel Base, my favorite bike shop in Frederick, on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the year. Be sure to bring your own helmet. Check their website for departure times.

Rose Hill Manor Park and Museum – Maryland’s first Governor, Thomas Johnson, lived here. The property is now a museum. There’s a manor house, icehouse, log cabin, blacksmith shop, carriage collection, and two barns for you to explore. The grounds are beautifully maintained and a great place to spend an afternoon.

Shop til ya drop – There’s a ton of cute little boutique shops up and down Market Street.

Skate Frederick – An ice rink in Frederick? Yup. You can drop in for a public skate, take lesson, go to camp or even rent the whole rink.

Summer’s Farm – What would a list about Frederick be without a farm on it? If you like corn mazes and picking your own pumpkins, chances are you’ll like it here. This year they open September 22 and run through the end of October.

Take a food tour! – Like to eat and as well explore? Marry the two and take a walking food tour with Taste Frederick.

Visit Earthly Elements – This is one of the coolest shops in downtown Frederick. They have a ton of gems, minerals and fossils for you to purchase. Some of the more rare stones are behind display cases but most of them are available for you to touch and hold.

Weinberg Center for the Arts – Right in the heart of downtown you’ll find this sweet venue. It’s a little on the small side but they have a bunch of great events that range from silent films to speakers to live music, etc. Had a great time in there on many occasions.

Fun Things to Do in Frederick, Maryland

What do you think about our list of 26 Fun Things to Do in Frederick, MD? Did we leave anything out? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave your comments below.

Headed to Frederick? Be sure to check out our Best Places to Eat in Frederick, Maryland story and let us know what you think about any of the places you visit! We’d love to hear from you.

 

 

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Best Places to Run in Delaware

Delaware is a small state but it has some really great places to experience the outdoors. There are tons of activities to experience, one of which is running. In this post we share some of the best places to run in Delaware.

Brandywine Creek State Park – There are five trails within the park. Most of the terrain is easy to moderate. The Northern Delaware Greenway also happens to run through the park (a 2.9 mile segment.)

Gordon’s Pond Trail – This trail is only 3.2 miles long and is made of small crushed stone. It’s relatively flat and a great place to get in a short and easy recovery run. About 3/4 of a mile into your run you’ll come to the Gordon’s Pond Scenic Overlook. We recommend bringing bug spray!

Junction and Breakwater Trail – This trail is 5.8 miles long. It connects Rehoboth Beach and Lewes and follows a section of the old Penn Central Rail Road. The surface is mostly flat and the surface is a mixture of tiny crushed stone, pavement and a couple of wooden bridges. Look for signs behind the outlet shopping malls in Rehoboth for the trailhead.

Killens Pond State Park – There are four trails at this park that combine to make 8.5 miles. Located in Central Delaware it has some beautiful bridges and parallel forest to run over and through. Fall colors, if you time it right, can also be beautiful here.

Northern Delaware Greenway – This paved path is 10.4 miles long and links up Bellevue State Park, Brandywine Creek State Park and the City of Wilmington together. You’ll pass by both Bellevue Hall and Rockwood Mansion along the route and experience some hilly sections in the Alapocas Woods section of the trail.

Prickly Pear Trail – We hesitate to even tell anyone about this trail because we love it so much! It’s a flat, easy, fairly shaded path of fine gravel and some sand. It’s wide too, great for both running and riding bikes. In addition, it’s proximity to Bethany Beach, Dewey and Rehoboth make it a go-to for any runner looking for a workout that doesn’t involve Route 1.

Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk – Though the boardwalk is only a mile long, we still think it’s one of the best places to run in Delaware. If you go early in the morning, you watch the sun come up over the ocean and join all of the other walkers, runners and sunrise gatherers. If you go later on in the day you can people watch. Watch out for boards sticking up at odd angles, though. I’ve tripped more than once because I’m preoccupied with everything around me lol.

The beach – This idea might be super obvious but it’s still one of the best places to run in Delaware. Not much beats looking at the ocean as you run. Make sure that once you get on the beach, you know where to turn to get back to your car or hotel! From the sand a lot of the places look identical. In addition, please be sure to stay off the dunes and only cross back along the designated paths.

Best Places to Run in Delaware Recap

How many of these places have you logged some miles on? We love that there are so many great places to run in DE. The state is tiny but it’s not lacking in variety! Most of the places listed are also great for walking and biking. Did you know there were so many trails in Delaware?

If you’re going to be visiting the beach, be sure to check out our story series on the Best Places to Eat in Ocean City and the Delaware Beaches, the Best Bars at the Beach, the Best Things to Do in OC and DE and Free Things to do at the MD and DE Beaches!

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Best LGBTQ Instagram Accounts

There are so many people on Instagram these days that at times it can feel downright overwhelming. We’ve got our eye on the following people who we think are worth a follow. But don’t just take our word for it, go check out their accounts yourself. Here are our top picks for the Best LGBTQ Instagram Accounts:

@adapperchick Style. Substance. Excellent taste and a gorgeous feed.

Best LGBTQ Instagram Accounts

@amandlastenberg 24/7 awesome and a powerful voice that 1.7 million others are already listening to.

@anitadolcevita The owner and pioneer behind dapperQ and @hifemme as well as fashion editor at @curvemag, Anita has been featured on HBO, Vice, Teen Vogue, NBC News, Vanity Fair, NYLON, HuffPost, Refinery29, BuzzFeed and SXSW (to name a few). She’s informed, passionate and working harder than just about anyone else we know to better things for LGBTQ people everywhere.

Anita Dolce Vita

@awalkinthewild Miranda easily makes the list of one of the best LGBTQ Instagram accounts because her feed is beautifully curated and her captions are fun and quirky. She’s based in DC so lots of her photos are cool photos of the city but she also travels a bit and is good for some solid mural art and A-frames.

Best LGBTQ Instagram Accounts

@blairimani Author. Public speaker. Non profit organization founder (it’s called Equality for HER). Activist. I feel like I learn something new every time I see her photo pop up in my feed.

@chefmelissaking Bravo Top Chef Finalist Melissa King has one of the Best LGBTQ accounts because her food is incredibly good looking and she’s not afraid to use her platform to speak up about Pride events and goings-on. I really hope to eat at her restaurant one day. She makes me proud to be Asian and gay.

@frenchieyankee Following David automatically boosts your feed’s beauty (he bounces between DC and Paris and has the most amazing eye). It also boosts your mood since his captions and comments are some of the best on Instagram (he makes fun himself quite a bit lol). If you like chuckling at your phone in public …

Best LGBTQ Instagram Accounts

@harperwatters I can’t dance, but if I could I’d want to be Harper Watters. THE Harper Watters. His feed is just downright sexy and cool and the message is always the same: be yourself and have fun doing it.

@johnny.flowers Juan is based in Indianapolis but is always juandering (get it?) around somewhere fun and bringing his unique eye with him. We love that he shares his settings and gear on his feed. It helps us learn how he’s capturing what he’s capturing. It’s a real treat to have someone so skilled behind the lens share his knowledge.

Best LGBTQ Instagram Accounts

@kama_la_mackerel Selfies perfected and so much more. So much more. Scoot on over and see for yourself. We’d tell you more but honestly, the first time we discovered Kama’s feed was like opening a special present, slowly and with joy. Don’t want to ruin it for you.

@kellyfields Don’t look at Kelly Field’s instagram account unless you’ve just eaten because her feed will make you hungry. It’s more than just pretty pictures of food, though. Garden and Gun called her one of the most influential people in the south and she continues to be so by mentoring others and having what appears to be a blast the entire time.

Best LGBTQ Instagram Accounts

@lenawaithe Remember the rainbow flag cape that she wore to the Met Gala? (How could you forget it, right?) Surround yourself with people that lift you up, even if it’s just on Instagram.

@lezbackpack Mel and Con make up Lez Backpack. Their feed makes us go “awww” more times than not simply because they’re so dang cute together. We love that they hold hands and kiss and aren’t afraid to share about it.

@lindscale One half of the travel blogging duo behind Dopes on the Road. Inspiring adventurers everywhere including us, to get out and live our best life. Her captions are funny and make her glamorous travel life seem accessible and within reach.

@megcale The other half of Dopes on the Road, she’s constantly traveling and opening our eyes to new people, places and ideas. Her feed a steady stream of color and rainbows and I often find myself smiling at my phone because of what’s in her feed.

@mjvc.rocks Mario describes himself on his IG profile as a QPOC, an advocate for LGBTQ rights and an artist of some sort. We’ve got our eye on him because we think he’s one of the leading creatives in the Austin, TX area. He’s also a genuinely nice guy who hasn’t let his success go to his head.

Best LGBTQ Instagram Accounts

@tarabethphotography You’ll end up at the very bottom of her feed before you know it because her work is just so damn good. Sweet. And hot. I swear there’s steam coming off some of her photos. Thank us later, okay?

@thelocdbella This NYC based lifestyle and wedding photographer and blogger (The Loc’d Bella) is one of a kind. If we all did passion, vulnerability, truth and strong like her … who knows where we’d be? Full disclosure: she’s as cool in real life as she seems on her feed. I’m honored to call her a friend and can’t brag about her enough.

Best LGBTQ Instagram Accounts

@travisalablanza This London based performer and artist is a breath of fresh air. Travis makes us feel braver to be who we are because they are so comfortable in their own skin. It’s hard to explain but we look at them and think, if they can do it, so can we. Is inspiration ever a bad thing?

Best LGBTQ Instagram Accounts Recap

Okay, so you’ve gotten to the bottom of our best LGBTQ Instagram accounts and you can’t believe we left off so and so? Tell us about it (but please be nice!) We’d love to know who you follow and who you think we should be following! (Yes, it’s okay to nominate yourself.) And as always, don’t forget to follow some of the leading voices @huffpostqueervoices and the @humanrightscampaign. You can never be too informed.

Also, we didn’t list ourselves on here but if you’re not already following us, we’d love for you to give us a look at @authenticasheville@carolineperdue and @e.mcgrady

** Special thanks to Debbie Lemonte for her help with this piece. To learn more about her services, please visit her site The Loc’d Bella or contact her directly at debbie@thelocdbella.com

 

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Best Van Life Instagram Accounts

A while ago we assembled a list of our favorite Asheville Instagram accounts. It was a fun way to acknowledge some of the people who’s work we really love. Playing off that theme we’ve decided to create a new list: Best Van Life Instagram Accounts.

Asheville Van Life  – Stay up to date with the Asheville Van Life Rally and get a daily dose of sweet rigs from the southeast and beyond.

Camper Lifestyle – Vans and campers that make you go ‘WOW!’

Chloe Mayne – This wandering DJ might have you rethinking your life and trying to catch up with her on the road or at the beach.

Dustin, Noami + Irie – Digital nomads and sustainable thinkers with a beautiful feed.

Franzi and Toni – Two humans and two pups, all of them living in a 27 year old VW van.

French Vanlifer – Have yellow van, will travel. If his rig doesn’t make you drool, we don’t know what will.

From Our Vantage – Excellent photography, a kick ass van and all around good vibes.

GoWesty Campers – If you’ve got thing for VW’s then brace yourself. This Instagram account has been known to suck IG users into the vortex, only to return hours later.

Harriet Carpenter & Dan Ingram – Great landscape photography and sneak peaks into their van.

Noël Russell – Cute pictures of pups and vans and mountains. Need we say more?

Peter and Shruthi Lapp – Love their photography and their captions are often short stories worth reading.

Pine Pins – Two German travelers and a two tone van named Rudi with a very clever inside.

Slow Car Fast Home – Not exactly a van per se, but you know how we have a thing for Toyota Motorhomes. We’re living vicariously through their adventures in their 1992 Toyota Odyssey.

The Bus and Us – A teal VW bus and one that you’re probably already following. You and 108K others!

The Ladies Van – Bre and Lacey did their own van build out on the weekend. Lots of photos of the process as well as tons of positive vibes about love.

The Van Nation – Cool vans in epic locations. Hardly a boring shot in the lot.

Travel Many Roads – Full-time van lifers living the dream in Europe. Incredible rig, too. It’s a Volkswagen LT28D.

Vanlife Diaries – One of the biggest van life Instagram accounts around. Daily features of awesome vans.

Van Life Explorers – Need a little motivation to go exploring? This is one of the best van life Instagram accounts for stoking wanderlust.

Van Life Magazine – More dreamy pictures of vans. Volkswagen gets a lot of love on this account, all kinds of Volkswagens.

Van Lifer – Doodles of awesome vans. This account is basically a continuous stream of square happiness.

Van Lifers – Another monstrous account, it’s still one of the best Van Life Instagram accounts around.

Vehicle Living – This IG account has more than just vans. It’s got all kinds of overland vehicles, trucks and buses on it. And all of them are awesome.

Viktoria and Michael – Lots of gorgeous mountain shots and photos of their blue VW van with a pop up roof.

Wayfarer Vans – These guys are the ones who helped us with our van conversion. They took our Dodge Ram Promaster City and turned it into an adventuremobile! To read more about our van life conversion kit go HERE.

Women on the Road – Not everyone featured on this account lives the van life but all of the women are badass adventurers worth learning about and learning from.

Best Van Life Instagram Accounts

We didn’t put ourselves on the list of the best van life instagram accounts to follow but if you’d like to follow us on Instagram, you can find us at @authenticasheville and @carolineperdue and @e.mcgrady

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Best Places to Eat in Frederick, Maryland

Before living in Asheville, North Carolina, I lived and worked in Frederick, Maryland. It’s a great small city (about 70,000 people live there) with close proximity to Washington, DC and Baltimore. It’s also got enough of a fun food scene that you don’t really need to leave to get a great meal. Here are our best places to eat in Frederick, Maryland:

Ayse Meze – Greek, Lebanese and Turkish food. Nice little spot for happy hour.

Black Hog – This is where you go to get your barbecue fix in Frederick. If the smells from the parking lot don’t have you drooling by the time you hit the door …

Brewer’s Alley – It’s fun to sit out on the patio and people watch while you eat and drink. The burger is good and so is the crab dip.

Cacique – Really good margaritas. Almost always get the chips and salsa (add guacamole!)  Nice little happy hour menu.

Cakes to Die For – Brownies, cake, cookies … get one while you stroll up Market Street.

Family Meal – Fried chicken, the burger, the duck fat fries and dipping sauces … oh and brunch is good here, too. Easily one of the best restaurants in Frederick. Plus the parking is easy.

Firestone’s Culinary Tavern & Raw Bar – They have a steak there that cuts with a butter knife. Don’t want to spend a lot? Go for the steak salad or the chophouse burger and fries.

Frederick Coffee Co. & Cafe – Love the black bean burger (it comes with a small side salad). The breakfast bagels are good, too.

Glory Doughnuts and Diner – Get there before the sell out. The flavors are unique and the doughnuts are vegan! (They’ve also expanded their menu beyond doughnuts so you can order things like salads and Banh Mi Tacos).

Il Porto Fine Italian Restaurant – Romantic, intimate atmosphere. Solid Italian food. Ziti for me please.

Jojo’s Restaurant and Tap House – Big menu of American food. Pretty much something for everyone. They also have happy hour drink specials and live music.

Isabellas Taverna and Tapas Bar – Asparagus fries, goat cheese fritters, mussels. So many good small plate things to eat and share here. The paella is good, too!

La Paz Mexican Restaurant – [EDIT] The outside patio and margaritas are good but the food seems to be a hot topic. Seems like people are really passionate about the place – they either love yet or hate it. I honestly had no idea people felt so strongly about it one way or another! Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts.

Lazy Fish – Always had a great experience at this sushi restaurant but I never think about it! Could be because it’s upstairs location isn’t at eye level?

Lucky Corner Vietnamese Restaurant – Probably my favorite restaurant in Frederick. The chicken pho is so damn good. Also love the vegetarian spring rolls.

Pistarro’s – Wood fired pizza. You can build your own or pick from one of their specialties. One of my favorite pizza places ever. This will probably spark a debate but I think it’s one of the best restaurants in Frederick.

Sabor De Cuba – Can’t really go wrong with anything here though I’m partial to the Ropa Vieja (pulled flank steak) and the Papa Rellena (a mashed potato stuffed with ground beef) YUM.

Sumittra Thai Cuisine – Lots of stir fries, some soups and a red, yellow and green curry on the menu. I almost always get pad thai and they give you so much there’s enough for lunch the next day.

Tasting Room – One of the fancier places in town. Filet with lobster whipped potatoes. Yes, please. (Cover photo is of the Tasting Room).

The Orchard – Their homemade tomato tamari dressing is delicious – tangy and light. Start with the hummus appetizer (it comes with homemade flat bread) and get the crispy southwest chicken sandwich or one of their amazing stir fries!

The Wine Kitchen – Locally sourced food. Never had a bad meal here. Be careful how much wine you pair with the food lol.

Volt – Beautiful presentation. A place to go for a fancy date or celebration. Tasting menu is $125.

Places we are looking forward to visiting after hearing about:

Hootch and Banter

Pho Basil

White Rabbit Gastropub

Doner Bistro – been there once when they first opened. Eager to go back.

Best Places to Eat in Frederick, Maryland Recap

How many of these places have you been to? Did we miss any of the best restaurants in Frederick? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

 

 

 

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Mount Pisgah Campground

Looking for camping near Asheville? Check out the Mount Pisgah campground! We stayed up there for three nights in our Dodge Ram ProMaster City with a Wayfarer Conversion Kit. Here’s the things to know before you go camping at the Mount Pisgah Campground aka the Mt. Pisgah campground:

Directions to the Mount Pisgah Campground

  1. Know where you’re going! If you put in the address of the campground, 408 Blue Ridge Parkway, Canton, NC 28716, into Google Maps or even just the Maps app on your iPhone, there’s a good chance you’re going to end up near Cruso on a dead end road scratching your head and going “what the heck.” Trust us, we did this. Now before you think, what a bunch of idiots, we decided to let the GPS take us on a “new route” thinking we might see something new or learn a new way. Well we definitely saw something new but we ended up driving twice as long to reach the campground! If you want to use your GPS, use these coordinates instead:
    35.40278, -82.75667
    35°24’10″N, 82°45’24″W
  2. Coming from Asheville, take Brevard Road (Highway 191) all the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway and then head south. When you see mile marker 408, go just a little further and the campground will be on your right. (You’ll pass the Country Store and the Pisgah Inn on your left.)

    Mount Pisgah Campground

    Welcome to the Mount Pisgah Campground!

Mount Pisgah Campground Info

Sites are $20

The campground is open from late May to late October.

Elevation is around 4,980 feet!

There are 52 sites available for advanced reservation and 74 campsites which are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Reservations can only be made online. They can be made as early as 6 months ahead of time or 2 days ahead of time. To make a reservation, go HERE.

The Mt. Pisgah Campground is dog friendly.

Mount Pisgah Campground Asheville

Amenities at each campsite include: picnic table and fire ring. Some campsites have a food locker for bear safety.

Campground amenities include: showers with hot water (it was clean!), flush toilets, potable water and wi-fi near the ranger station. Some of you will be ecstatic to know you can stay connected. Others will probably dread having it available. Note that it only works near the ranger station and is “on” from 6am to 10pm.

Cell phone service is almost non-existent up at the campground. I did get a couple texts but wasn’t able to send any out. We have Verizon cell phone service but it mostly bounced between 1x and No Service. You can get a signal once you’re back on the Parkway headed back towards Asheville.

Sign at the Mount Pisgah Campground

RV’s, Trailers, Vans, Popups and Tents are all welcome here.

For those of you who are van lifers, there is no overnight camping at the nearby Pisgah Inn.

There is a dump station at the campground.

A camp host is also on-site in case you have questions or concerns. There are also ranger programs – look for the schedule of events on the bathrooms and at the ranger station.

Are you looking for some awesome hikes in the area? We recommend heading over to our friends at Asheville Trails. They’ve got details like maps, directions and photos to help you make a good decision.

 

Mount Pisgah Campground Recap

We visited the Campground three days in early July because we wanted to avoid the heat in Asheville. Though it meant leaving town to sleep, we felt it was worth it. The temperatures were in the sixties at night and there was very little humidity. The bathrooms were also clean and the campground was quiet. Unlike some other campgrounds where you can literally hear and see your neighbor, this one is a bit more spread out so you have a good bit of privacy.

We recommend this campground to anyone looking to enjoy all that Asheville has to offer but also wants to get away from the city and be in nature. Was this information helpful to you? If so, please like, pin or share with a friend.

Curious what we packed? Check out our Summer Packing Guide HERE.

Be sure to visit: How to Pick a Great Campsite and Our Favorite Camp Cocktails!

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