Probably I am not the only one thinking that USA is largely overrated from the point of view of the tourism opportunities. A huge continent country, America has an amazing potential of natural tours and healthy tours. Usually, the common understanding is that Canada is safer, nicer and more nature friendly, but this is because many identify the US with the big sky scrapers and busy daily life from the very big cities. On the other hand, anyone that had at least once to travel outside the usual tourist areas will agree with me.
To those who still need some proofs, I suggest to download – for free – a very useful recommendation of 5 of USA’s Best Trips. If you are too curious to resist wait till you will have enough time to read, I will mention some of the benchmarks of each tour. The book is a selection of a travel guide entirely dedicated to the USA, is written in a very pleasant way with many practical details and maps.
The musical Appalachian trails
Anyone interested in the history of country music, would be happy to go between May and October for 2-3 days for the Mule Skinner Blues, covering Western Virginia. The tour can start on a Friday evening, in Floyd, where the music is out of the street every week. Rest for a while at Pine Tavern Restaurant, who are in the business since 1927, and continue to Galax where you can visit the Blue Ridge Music Center for a good portion of Appalachian music. Interested to socialize? Schedule your trip during the high seasons of social events: either when the Barbecue Championship is held – the second week-end of July – or in August, when you can attend the Old Fiddler’s Convention. Looking for some more entertainment? Across the Tennessee border you will find the world of Dollywood!
Not everyone likes busy social schedules, especially after months of hard work. For some more relaxing time, a tour in Vermont, in the autumn, may be a pleasant experience. For three four days, all the stress and burnout will be gone. The recommended location to start the tour is Quechee, where the landscape is spectacular. Unfortunately, the Farmer’s Diner, the restaurant where the food was directly bought from the farmer closed in 2011. The good news is that the Long Trail Brewery Diner is still open and keeps alive the tradition of the Munich beer drinking. Do you want to fully taste the countryside life? Spend your night and a breakfast or two at the Liberty Hill Farm, in Rochester. Now, you have enough energies to spend some time in the pretty town of Brendon, where the French style coffees are not a dream. With the car, drive Rte 74 and visit the Garden of Apple’s delights, at Champlain Orchard. Another gourmet’s attraction in Vermont is Daily Chocolate, where the special art of preparing unexpected chocolate recipes turned Vergennes into a must see of chocolate lovers. Do you want to know what are the best foliage choices? Some websites may help: http://www.foliage-vermont.com/ and http://www.yankeefoliage.com/.
Cheese and farming
Between Minneapolis and Milwaukee there are plenty of opportunities to taste natural cheese and everything that has to do with good and natural food. For four days, any time between May and September, you can start your journey at Ellsworth, the ‘state’s cheese capital’. Looking for some meat as well? Go to Viroqua, famous for the good quality of the trout. Anyone interested in architecture cannot miss to go to Rochland Center where the most important buildings has the trademark of Frank Lloyd Wright. Are you ready to learn something new about your next stop, Madison? The capital city of Wisconsin is the most eco friendly and the most walkable and the most vegetarian city in the US. When the people living here are tired of too much walk, they rather prefer going by bike than by car. A completely different image of the US as you expected, isn’t it? Hungry to learn something new? Visit the National Mustard Museum in Middleton for a change. As a passionate traveller in Switzerland, I thought that when Lake Geneva was mentioned it must be a confusion. But I often forget that in the US you can find a lot of European names more than once, and I googled it further: Lake Geneva is situated between Beloit and Milwaukee and offers a lot of food events and tours. For more farming experiences, check the possibilities of Angelic Organics in the area.
In the world of Alice Waters
Those thinking that America is only hamburgers and McDonald’s and Coca Cola and does not offer anything valuable in terms of food culture are extremely wrong. They should discover that in the 1970s, Alice Waters challenged the unhealthy food culture at the time by offering an eating culture directly connected to the nature. From Chez Panisse she and her friends launched the fashion of organic food that is so popular nowadays in Europe. A neglected element of the US brand, isn’t it? This lack of knowledge can be corrected by a tour of the best in terms of California tour. It can start in Vacaville and end in Berkeley, located in California, the most agriculturally and diverse region in the US, with a high concentration of farmer markets open year around. When arriving in San Francisco, don’t forget to go to the Foreign Cinema, a quintessential experience of gourmet style.
A tour of breweries
I am not sure that the German immigration in the US brought the beer culture or it was before, but beers like whiskey are very much appreciated in America. One of the highest concentration of breweries is on the Pacific Northwest Coast. The recommended time for this tour is of around 10 days, any time between April and October. It starts in Eugene, Oregon, and ends in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada. The original recommendation of this tour is the possibility to travel by train – a dream of mine that I was never able to fulfil when in the States. An important stop is in Portland, where it is possible to visit the first certified organic brewery, Roots Organic Brewery, but also admire the arts and crafts traces in the architecture and interior design. A stop in Seattle can include as well some shopping time, but also some biking, as the rent-a-bike opportunities here – as well as in Portland and Vancouver – are extremely tempting.