Ghost Tour at Virginia City’s Washoe Club

The great thing about traveling is it opens your eyes to the fact that there is history all over this world and with history comes the paranormal! History and ghost stories become intertwined telling the story of a location’s past.

Virginia City, Nevada is located northeast of the capital of Nevada, Carson City and southeast of Nevada’s third largest city, Reno. In the late 1800s, Virginia City became the the most important industrial center between Denver, Colorado and San Francisco, California due to the gold and silver mining in the city. The millions of dollars worth of gold and silver that miners pulled from the shafts beneath the city brought wealth to Virginia City. Mansions were built, furniture and fashion were imported from Europe and fine dining and and entertainment took over the city. All of this wealth was noticed by then president Abraham Lincoln, who made Nevada a territory in March of 1861 and then three years later it became an official state.

Visiting Virginia City today is like stepping back in time, from old time shops to historic saloons. One of the can’t miss stops in Virginia City is the Washoe Club.

In 1870, an exclusive bar, the Old Washoe Club (nicknamed the “Millionaire’s Club”) opened as a meeting place for the elite men of Virginia City. Some famous visitors to the Old Washoe Club were the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S Grant and writer Samuel Clemens (more widely known as Mark Twain). Did you know that it was while writing for the Virginia City newspaper Territorial Enterprise that Samuel Clemens first used the pen name Mark Twain?

What used to be an elite club, can now be visited by all as the oldest saloon in Virginia City as well as a Haunted Museum with ghost tours offered daily. As a town with so much history, there are many places that are considered haunted in Virginia City, but the Washoe Club has been known to have the most paranormal activity of any place in Virginia City as well as one of the most haunted places in the state of Nevada. The Washoe Club is considered so haunted that it was featured in the documentary that started the Travel Channel’s show, Ghost Adventures. It has since been featured on Ghost Adventures multiple times since then as well.

Millionaire’s Club

The ghost tour lasts approximately 40 minutes and covers three floors of the building. Not only has Ghost Adventures been to the Washoe Club multiple times, while I was on the tour, there were a few people who had been on the tour multiple times. They return because there have been paranormal sightings during tours. The tour guide (who was featured on Ghost Adventures) shared photos that other guests had taken during the tour that showed what appeared to be ghosts in the photos.

The building has been home to many deaths which may be the reason for so many ghost sightings there. First off, in the winter months when the ground was frozen, they used to store dead bodies in a room in the back of the building. This room became known as the crypt. Not hard to believe that ghosts of some of these bodies might have stuck around all these years later.

There have also been deaths that have occurred in the building. A bartender in the club committed suicide by a gunshot after hearing that his teenage son fell to his death in an abandoned mine shaft. There is also the lady, who’s ghost is often scene at the top of the spiral staircase, who people believe was a prostitute that was killed by a member of the Millionaires Club. Ghost sighting or not, the spiral staircase is definitely something worth seeing. Built in 1870, it’s the longest spiral staircase without a supporting pole.

Sprial Staircase

But probably the creepiest of sights in the Washoe Club is the Annabelle doll. It sits on a small rocking chair and has been known to move on it’s own. The doll belonged to a young girl who died in an explosion in the building, people believe that when the doll moves that it’s the young girl’s ghost playing with her favorite doll. Ghost or not, it’s definitely the scariest doll I’ve ever seen. Why are all dolls named Annabelle so scary?

Annabelle Doll

If the day time ghost tour isn’t scary enough for you, they also offer overnight ghost investigations. Imagine being locked down in this haunted building just like the team from Ghost Adventures! I’m not sure I’d be up for that especially with that creepy Annabelle doll in the building. Anyone willing to try the overnight investigation?

If you happen to be visiting Reno or Lake Tahoe, a day trip up to Virginia City is more than worth it. Not only is this ghost tour at the Old Washoe Club great, but there are definitely plenty of other things to see and do for the entire family. Walk around and check out the historic buildings and museums, take a mine tour, take a train ride, see a live shoot out performance, interact with the time period actors walking the street, check out the shops or have a drink in one of the many historic bars.

While in Virginia City make sure to be on the lookout for paranormal activity, you never know what you will experience in the haunted and historical town.

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Milwaukee : Long Weekend in the Brew City

One of the most underrated cities for a great long weekend visit has got to be Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It has always been on my bucket list of cities to visit in the US and after a recent Labor Day weekend trip there, I’m so happy that I finally made it there. I actually cannot believe it took me so long to get there and hope to visit again some time in the future. Important to note, Wisconsin winters are rough, pretty cold with quite a bit of snow, so I definitely recommend visiting late spring thru early fall for the best experience.

Milwaukee is located approximately 90 miles north of Chicago, Illinois. You could definitely include it as part of a trip to Chicago. In fact, while Milwaukee has it’s own airport, depending on where you are arriving from, it might be cheaper to just fly into Chicago instead. This is what I did for my trip as the flights from Boston were half the price to fly into Chicago and also direct. While I’m a big advocate of not renting cars in cities when I travel, it seemed easier to get around in Milwaukee with one, so having to drive up from Chicago wasn’t too big of a deal.

So what is there to see in this midwest US city? So much, from the riverwalk to the lakefront, there are historic districts, street art, breweries, lighthouses,food and sporting events. Definitely something for all ages and interest levels.

Milwaukee RiverWalk:

The heart of Milwaukee, the RiverWalk takes you along the Milwaukee River thru the different neighborhoods of the city. It’s similar to Chicago’s riverwalk but on a much smaller scale. Spamming over 20 blocks along over 3 miles the riverwalk connects three of the city’s neighborhoods: Downtown, Third Ward and Beerline B.

There are so many ways to enjoy the Milwaukee RiverWalk:

  • Go for a walk or run along the RiverWalk
  • Kayak on the Milwaukee River
  • Take a boat cruise on the Milwaukee River
  • Catch an outdoor concert in the park
  • Enjoy a meal or drink at an outdoor patio
  • Browse the outdoor art gallery, RiverSculpture, located along the RiverWalk
  • See the Bronz Fonz – honoring Fonzie from the popular TV show Happy Days which was set in Milwaukee. This is located downtown on the RiverWalk and a great photo op!

Historic Third Ward:

Located on the southern section of the Milwaukee RiverWalk is the Historic Third Ward District. Listed on the National Register of Historic places, this was the oldest commerce hub in Milwaukee. It has a long commerce history that was able to come back even after a devastating fire in 1892 which destroyed 16 blocks and took 30 years to reconstruct.

Historic Third Ward

Today, this former warehouse district has been revitalized as one of the most popular mixed-use neighborhoods of the city. In the district, you can find art galleries, shopping, restaurants and many festivals. The weekend I was there, a huge outdoor art market was being held, which was a great opportunity to check out some of the local creatives and their work.

Street art is becoming more and more popular in cities big and small across the world which makes every structure the perfect canvas! Milwaukee’s Third Ward has no shortage of street art, definitely something to check out while exploring the neighborhood.

There was even this cool tunnel that was covered in street art:

Milwaukee Public Market:

While there are many great restaurants in the Historic Third Ward, you must make sure to stop by the Milwaukee Public Market for a bite to eat while exploring the this neighborhood! Opening in 2005, the Milwaukee Public Market’s inspiration came from Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Featuring local vendors that sell prepared meals, produce, meats, seafood, cheeses and more, it’s a great way to support local small businesses.

There are so many great local vendors to grab lunch from, it can be hard to decide. I recommend walking around a few times and making note of the top vendors you want to check out. There is ample seating on the second floor of the market as well as seating outdoors.

So many vendors to choose from

Beer History and Tours:

Known as the Brew City, Milwaukee was once the Beer Capital of the World, so it’s no surprise that there is no shortage of breweries and beer history in Milwaukee. There are many tours that you can take including:

  • Miller Brewing Company – What beer drinker hasn’t had a Miller Lite in their lifetime? Located a few miles from downtown is the Miller Brewery offering tours daily (currently tours are suspended due to covid).
  • Pabst Brewing Company – Famous for Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), Pabst may no longer brew it’s beer in Milwaukee, but it has a long history in the city dating back to 1848. The former location of the brewery and many of it’s buildings are still standing and they offer history tours at the former brewery. You can also take a tour of the Pabst family mansion. To learn more about these tours, check out my post on Pabst History in Milwaukee
  • Lakefront Brewery – located in the northern neighborhood of the RiverWalk, Beerline B, this brewery has been operating since 1987. The company was started by two brothers who used mostly used equipment at first, including a piece of equipment that was seen in the opening credits of the popular Laverne & Shirley TV show that they got from Schlitz Brewery. This piece of equipment can be seen on the tour. Their tour is a must, it’s rated as one of the top brewery tours in the country and is a lot of fun. The brewery includes a beer hall as well as outdoor seating along the river. Make sure to pair your beer with some cheese curds. Not only are they a must when visiting Wisconsin, but Lakefront Brewery makes some of the best cheese curds in all of Milwaukee!

If you walk along the Milwaukee RiverWalk south towards downtown from Lakefront Brewery, you will come to Schlitz Park. This is the former location of the Schlitz Brewery, which brewed Schlitz Beer, known as the “The Beer that made Milwaukee Famous”.

Milwaukee Lakefront:

While the Milwaukee River goes thru the heart of the city, the city also sits along one of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan. There are so many great things to do along the Lakefront:

  • Visit a museum – Both the Milwaukee Art Museum and Discovery World are located along the lakefront.
  • Enjoy a summer day on the beach, like the popular Bradford Beach
  • Enjoy one of the many parks along the lake, popular parks include Lakeshore State Park and Veterans Park
  • Get out on the water – go sailing from Mckinley Marina
  • Take a walk, run or bike ride along the 3 mile long Milwaukee Lakefront Trail

North Point Lighthouse:

Located near Lake Michigan is North Point Lighthouse. In operation from 1855 thru 1994. The lighthouse stands 74 feet tall and the light was visible for 20 miles away. In 2007 the lighthouse was restored and opened as a museum. The lighthouse is currently closed due to water damage repairs being made, but it’s definitely worth visiting to take some photos of the outside and explore nearby Lake Park.

North Point Lighthouse

Attend a Sporting Event:

Milwaukee has some great professional sports teams. While in town make sure to check out a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game at American Family Field which is located just a few miles outside of the downtown area. Or attend a Milwaukee Bucks basketball game at Fiserv Forum located in downtown Milwaukee not far from the former Pabst Brewery.

With so much to see and do right in the Milwaukee, you probably won’t have much time to get out of the city if you are only there on a long weekend trip, but if you did have a little more time, I highly recommend checking out Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve . This hidden gem is located just a half hour north of Milwaukee but will make you feel like you are over a thousand miles south of Milwaukee. It’s the type of place that will make you truly appreciate how beautiful Lake Michigan is!

Milwaukee is very much underrated and would make the perfect spot for a quick long weekend getaway! Who’s ready to check this great city off their bucket list?

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The World’s Most Magical Celebration

50 Years ago on October 1, 1971, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando Florida opened! Can you believe this magical place has been open for 50 years?

What started as a dream of Walt Disney who wanted a place that both young and old could enjoy together as a family has turned into one of the most popular vacation destinations in the entire world. Walt’s first park Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California on July 17, 1955. With the success of that park, he purchased a large amount of land in Florida in hopes of building a larger Disney Park. Sadly Walt Disney passed away in December 1966 but his brother Roy carried out his dream of the Florida park.

On Opening day, Walt Disney World consisted of just two hotels, The Contemporary and Polynesian hotels. Today there are over 25 hotels on Disney property. They opened with just the one park, Magic Kingdom which included less than 20 rides and attractions. With just one park, you could visit Disney Word for two days and enjoy each ride multiple times and spend the rest of your week exploring other things in Florida like the beach. There have since been 3 other theme parks opened and two water parks. You could probably spend a month inside the Walt Disney World Resort and still not be able to experience everything.

Opening Day October 1, 1971 (photo courtesy of my Walt Disney World book)

I have been coming to Walt Disney World for 42 years since I was 5 years old. It’s amazing just how much the parks have changed over the years. Some changes have been great, some make me sad since I get nostalgic for the past. Cinderella’s Castle has certainly evolved over the years.

While I get nostalgic for the classic white and blue castle, they have done a great job at sprucing it up for the 50th Anniversary celebration.

The celebration officially begins on October1, 2021 and will last for 18 months. There have already been plenty of 50th Anniversary touches added to the park leading up to October 1st. As seen above, Cinderella’s Castle is all decked out for the 50th. A new fireworks show, Enchantment which opens on October 1st. In the Magic Kingdom and in Disney’s shopping, dining and entertainment district, Disney Springs, you can find new 50th Anniversary merchandise for all ages.

Walt Disney World has also released The Vault which is a collection of vintage merchandise from the early years of the park. Get classic tshirts, a vintage park map and other memorabilia.

The Vault

There are plenty of 50th anniversary decorations throughout the entire Walt Disney World Resort. From birthday cakes to sparkly 50th banners, you can’t miss all these beautiful displays of the celebration!

But the most impressive decorations to me where the Fab 50 Golden Character Statues. These beautiful statues are located in all four of the Walt Disney World theme parks, with at lease half them in the Magic Kingdom. While some of them are fairly easy to located in central areas of each theme park, there are a few you have to search for. I managed to find all but three, two of them I know where they are located but they had the area blocked off, but I still have yet to find Tink, she apparently is hidden in the trees. Next trip I’ll for sure find her! These statues are so beautiful and represent so many Disney characters from past and present movies.

Fab 50 Golden Character Statues

When you visit during the next 18 months, not only will you experience the excitement of the 50th Anniversary, there are also so many new attractions opening.

On October 1st, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in Epcot opens. This 4D trackless ride will shrink you down to Chef Remy’s size for a culinary adventure. This ride has been at Disneyland Paris for a number of years and it is such a fun ride, I can’t wait to ride it again at Epcot on my next trip.

Also at Epcot, Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind will open in 2022. And earlier this week, the new nighttime show, Harmonious opened. Make sure to get a spot front and center along the World Showcase lagoon to experience all this nighttime show has to offer.

Speaking of new nighttime spectaculars, Disney’s Happily Ever After had it’s last performance on September 29th and now there is a new nighttime spectacular in the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Enchantment. Enchantment will have a lot to live up to as Happily Ever After was one of Disney’s best nighttime shows in my opinion and evoked lots of emotions during it’s tenure since May 2017.

In March 2022, Disney’s Galactic Starcruiser will open. This totally immersive Star Wars hotel will put you right into the Star Wars universe. Reservations for this experience will include two nights in the hotel, 3 meals per day and admission into Disney’s Studios. It sounds like quite the once in a lifetime experience that also comes in a once in a lifetime price tag. Reservations open on October 28th.

Magic Band + will debut in 2022. These bands will bring you more than the typical park ticket, hotel room key and ability to pay for your purchases. Now the magic bands will be more interactive, with is lighting up along with the nighttime spectaculars and interacting with the Fab 50 Golden Character Statues.

With so much going on in the parks and with all the world has gone thru since March 2020, the next 18 months are the perfect time to visit Walt Disney World and take part in the celebrations. Contact your favorite Disney Travel Agent at Beyond the Miles Travel today, to book your 50th Anniversary Walt Disney World Trip.

Have a Magical Day!

Happy 50th Anniversary Walt Disney World, thank you for giving me the best memories over the past 42 years of my life. I hope every little kid has a chance to experience your magic like I did for the first time back when I was 5 years old.

My first Disney Trip

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Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve

Wisconsin may not be the place that comes to mind when you think of towering bluffs above tropical looking blue waters, but that is exactly what you will find at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve.

Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve

Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve is located about a half hour drive north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the town of Grafton. Located along the largest of the great lakes, Lake Michigan it features 100 foot tall bluffs along one mile of the lake’s shoreline. I could not get over how beautiful the water of the lake looked from the bluffs. I definitely did not feel like I was in the northern part of the United States, it looked much too tropical for that area! This 73 acre park overs many different hiking trails and scenic views for the entire family.

Lion’s Den Gorge Hiking Trails

Hiking: There are a few trails located in the Nature Preserve. The best part about the trails are that they are fairly easy with not too much elevation and some portions of the trail are on boardwalk which makes them accessible to all. The main trail is the Lion’s Den Trail which is just under 2 miles long. The trail will take you thru the woods, along boardwalks and regular trails.

The biggest highlight of the trail is that it goes along the bluff with multiple stopping points to take in the beautiful views of Lake Michigan. It’s amazing how blue the water is, at points I almost felt like I was looking out into water in the caribbean!

At the end of the trail, you will reach a set of stairs that will take you down to the beach below. Great spot for a relaxing stroll along the beach or if it’s a warm day, take a swim in the lake.

Other things to do at the Preserve:

  • Have a Picnic – There are picnic tables set up in the park or you could even bring a large blanket and have a picnic on the beach while relaxing on the shores of Lake Michigan.
  • Fishing – While down on the beach, don’t forget your fishing pole, Lake Michigan is a great place to fish specifically for trout.
  • Bird viewing – The high bluff makes for a great spot for bird viewing. In the area you can view birds such as loons and heron and in the spring and fall you may catch the raptor migration.
  • Flowers – I visited in September and there were so many beautiful flowers throughout the preserve, I can only imagine how many more there are in the prime flower season of spring.

If you are visiting the Milwaukee area, I highly recommend a half day trip to Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful parks I’ve visited. It’s hard to believe that prior to Ozaukee county purchasing the 73 acres in 2002, this land was privately owned. If I owned this land, I’m not sure I would want to share views like this:

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Pabst History in Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin is currently known as the “Brew City” and once known as the Beer Capital of the World. There are many well known beer brands that called Milwaukee home like Miller, Schlitz, Blatz and Pabst. Pabst Brewing has a long history in Milwaukee and you could easily dedicate a whole day to the history of the beer and family that made Pabst famous.

The Brewery District: The former site of the Pabst Brewery is one of the newest neighborhoods in Milwaukee. Located in the northwestern part of the city, this area has been transformed into a sustainable, mixed use district which includes apartments, hotels and restaurants. The area is beautiful, they did a great job in adding some new modern buildings while keeping 16 of the historic buildings from the brewery. I don’t know about anyone else, but I always love seeing the contrast of the new and old buildings together in a city.

If you are looking to learn more about Pabst Beer, along the sidewalk in the Brewery District is a timeline of the history of Pabst Brewery.

Pabst history along the sidewalk

But if you have more time, I highly recommend heading to Best Place at Historic Pabst Brewery for a fun and informative tour on the history of Pabst Beer.

Best Place at Historic Pabst Brewery: Here you will find Best Place Coffee & Spirits for a little pick me or a beer that made Pabst famous, whichever you choose Make sure to check out the Vintage Gift Shop which not only sells Pabst items but items from all the beer brands that made Milwaukee famous like Schlitz, Blatz and Old Milwaukee. During the warmer months, they have live music in the courtyard. There are also banquet facilities in the historic brewery for weddings and other events. Throughout the entire place is Pabst memorabilia.

The highlight of Best Place at Historic Pabst Brewery, is definitely the Beer History Tour. On this hour long tour, enjoy a free beer (preferably a Pabst Blue Ribbon, aka PBR) or soda, hear about the history of Pabst beer and Milwaukee beer history in general, see the Blue Ribbon Hall and the former corporate offices of Pabst Brewery.

Beer History Tour: The tour starts in Blue Ribbon Hall where you learn some history while enjoying your free beer or soda. Pabst was the first of the great beer brands to come out of Milwaukee when Jacob Best started Best Brewery in 1848. The name of the beer, Best Beer, what a great name, nothing like heading up to a bar and say give me the Best Beer! In the 1850’s Jacob’s son Phillip Best takes over running the company. In 1863, Phillip’s German son-in-law, who was a ship captain made a career move and became a partner in the company. His name, Frederick Pabst, the name sake of the famous Pabst beer!

A fact I learned during the tour was that Chicago used to be the beer capital, but then the Great Chicago Fire happened in 1871 and it helped the breweries in Milwaukee and soon after Milwaukee became the beer capital of the world. Even with Frederick Pabst as partner in the company, it remained Best Brewing Company until 1889 when the name of the company was changed to Pabst Brewing Company. Prior to the name change they were selling Best Select beer which had a blue ribbon around the neck of the bottle. So in 1889, Pabst Blue Ribbon (othewise known as PBR) was born.

Pabst Logo with B in the middle to honor Best Brewing Company

During prohibition, breweries were hit hard. Pabst did what it could to stay afloat, they did what any true Wisconsin company would do and switched from selling the state beverage to selling the state food, cheese! After prohibition ended they went back to selling beer and eventually their cheese operation was purchased by Kraft.

Pabst was the largest American owned brewery and was a great place to work with some wonderful benefits including a beer every 3 hours at work! Where can I send my resume for that job? 😉 In 1996, they abandoned their brewery in Milwaukee and are currently located in San Antonio, Texas.

There are still 16 buildings left in the Pabst Brewing complex and the tour takes you into what used to be the corporate offices of Pabst Brewing. You can see Frederick Pabst’s office and desk. There is plenty of old Pabst momentos in the former corporate offices and they are used as a location for weddings and other events today. It’s really a great historic spot for an event.

Then the tour goes down to the basement where there is a bar and where one of the many safes at Pabst Brewing was located. It’s another great spot that can be rented for smaller events.

Pabst Mansion: Now that you know who Frederick Pabst and his history, why not drive a little over a mile west and visit his mansion. Take a guided tour of this beautiful mansion that has been standing since 1892. The Pabst Mansion took two years to build and costs $254,000 to build, which was definitely quite the big amount of money in the 1890s.

The Pabst lived in the mansion until their deaths in 1904 and 1906. In 1908, their descendents sold the house to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee to be used as a residence for the archbishop. From beer to the church, the mansion has certainly had an eclectic past. It remained a residence for numerous archbishops for sixty seven years. Then in 1975, after almost getting torn down to build a parking lot for a hotel, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and became a museum.

Pabst Mansion

The guided tour was a great way to see the mansion and learn more about the Pabst family and personal lives. I found it interesting that the different rooms were done if different styles from different time periods, it definitely gave the house an eclectic feel.

There were so many interesting unique artifacts in the house, alot of which had to do with drinking. I guess that’s to be expected in a mansion owned by an owner of a brewery.

And one of my favorite things that I saw was the stained glass ceiling above the staircase.

The history of the Pabst family and their beer business was very interesting to me. It’s a huge part of the history of Milwaukee and helps to give you and idea of what made this city successful. Now I just need to find a job that gives me a free beer every three hours. 😂

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Day Trips From Boston By Train: Newburyport

Located 35 miles north of the city of Boston, is the coastal town of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Located along the Merrimack River where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean, Newburyport was once part of the town of Newbury and became an important fishing and trading port in the 1600s. Goods came into the US thru the port in Newbury from all over the world. The port was also well known for ship building.

In 1851, the port area split from the town of Newbury to form the town of Newburyport. At this time, mills were built which brought more industry and economic means to the city. After up and down economic years, the city has been revitalized while preserving the history of the city, which makes it a wonderful place for a day trip from Boston.

Getting to Newburyport: Newburyport is easily accessible by train. From North Station in downtown Boston, you can take the Newburyport line of the MBTA’s commuter rail to the very last stop, Newburyport. On the weekend, the train runs every couple of hours, with more frequent service on weekdays, especially during prime commute hours. Tickets cost $24.50 roundtrip. They often sell a $10 unlimited rides weekend pass which is a great deal to head to Newburyport for the day. Check the mbta website to see if this special is running and for the train schedule.

The train takes a little over an hour and the stop is 1.1 miles from downtown Newburyport. Getting to downtown from the train is very easy, the Clipper City Rail Trail makes the walk from the train to downtown an enjoyable and scenic walk.

Clipper City Rail Trail: Newburyport is known as the Clipper City due to the Clipper ships that were built there. The Clipper City Rail Trail was built to connect the train station with the harborwalk downtown. The trail is great for walkers, runners and bikers. Along the scenic trail, you will see works of art, sculptures, murals and signs with history of the railroad in Newburyport. If you’re hungry or thirsty on your way back to the train, right off the trail you will find Haley’s ice cream as well as Riverwalk Brewing Co., both places are definitely worth a stop.

Harborwalk and Waterfront Park: Once you reach downtown the Clipper City Rail Trail turns into the Harborwalk. This walkway spans the Merrimack River and had beautiful waterviews, the harbor, a boardwalk and the Waterfront Park. The park is home to music festivals, theater performances, exercise classes and is a great location for a summer wedding ceremony.

Boating and Fishing: A visit to a coastal town isn’t complete without some time on the water. Newburyport offers plenty of harbor cruises, river cruises and fishing trips for all ages. You can also charter a boat if you would like a more private experience on the water.

Custom House Maritime Museum: Newburyport is full of maritime history.

The port in Newbury wasn’t just known for the goods that were transported into the port but it was also where many ships were built. One of the famous ships built there was the U.S. Revenue Cutter Massachusetts which was built in 1791. This was the first cutter in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service which was put in place to enforce the collection of customs tonnage duties. In 1915, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life-Saving Service combined to form the U.S. Coast Guard. Newburyport is known as the birthplace of the Coast Guard due to it’s start in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service.

At the Custom House Maritime Museum, you can learn all about the history of the clipper ships and the US Coast Guard. The museum is located in the Custom House that has been in Newburyport since 1835.

Walking Tour of Newburyport: There is so much history in Newburyport and what better way to discover it than to take a walking tour of town. One of the more popular tours in town is Untapped History. Knowledgable tour guides will lead you on a 75 tour of Newburyport with 16 historic stops. The tour also includes drinks and appetizers.

Shopping in Newburyport: There is plenty of great shops to check out in Newburyport including a great antique shop that will have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time to your grandparents house. The shops downtown are located in some of the oldest and most historical buildings in town. The brick buildings and walkways will have you feeling like you have stepped back in time. From gift shops to galleries to clothing and apparel stores, there is something for everyone. The stores in Newburyport are a great way to support small business instead of the big chain stores.

Dining In Newburyport: Like the shops of Newburyport, you won’t find the big chain restaurants here, but you will find some absolutely amazing local, independent restaurants. The seafood restaurants are the stars of the show in this coastal community. While there are plenty of seafood restaurants, there are also many other cuisines to choose from such as Mexican, Italian, Indian and Japanese.

While I was in Newburyport I had lunch at Michael’s Harborside. They had great food and the atmosphere on the outdoor patio by the river was what we dream about all winter long in Massachusetts.

If you are like me and love checking out local coffee shops, make sure to visit The Coffee Factory and I highly recommend the Frozen Reese’s Coffee, it was probably the best coffee treat I’ve ever had!

Newuburyport is one of the many perfect day trips that you can take from Boston by train. If you are looking for another great day trip, check out my post on Manchester-by-the-Sea.

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Day Trips From Boston By Train: Manchester-by-the-Sea

As someone who lives in Boston and does not own a car, I’m always looking for great day trips that are accessible by train. One of my favorite day trips from Boston in the summer is Manchester-by-the-Sea.

Manchester-by-the-Sea is located approximately 30 miles north of the city of Boston on Cape Ann which also includes the nearby towns or Rockport, Gloucester and Essex. The town was incorporated in 1645 and was known as Manchester up until 1989 when it was renamed Manchester-by-the-Sea to avoid confusion with the largest city in neighboring NH which was also named Manchester. It served mainly as a fishing village for the first 200 years. After this time it became a summer home to many of the rich in Boston building summer cottages along the coastline.

Manchester-by-the-Sea may sound familiar to you and you are correct, it was the name of the hit movie from 2016 starring Michelle Williams and Boston native Casey Affleck. The movie was filmed in the town as well as the nearby towns on Cape Ann. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it but just be prepared for some tears, it’s definitely a sad story.

Getting to Manchester-by-the-Sea: Manchester-by-the-Sea is easily accessible by train. From North Station in downtown Boston, you can take the Rockport Line of the MBTA’s commuter rail to the Manchester stop. On the weekends, the train runs every couple of hours and runs more frequently on weekdays, especially during the prime commute hours. Tickets costs $21 round trip. They often sell a special $10 unlimited rides weekend pass. Check the website to see if this special is running.

The train takes just under an hour from Boston and lets you off right downtown within walking distance of plenty of things to see and do.

Singing Beach: Probably the top thing to do in Manchester-by-the-Sea during the summer months is to visit the beautiful Singing Beach. The walk from the train is just under a mile, starting by walking by the harbor and then up the tree lined Beach Street straight to the beach. It’s fairly easy to know which way to go, just follow the rest of the people departing the train. Singing Beach’s parking is limited to residents on weekend days in the summer, so the train is definitely the way to go to get to this stunning Cape Ann beach.

Once you arrive at the beach there is a $7 per person walk on fee (cards not accepted so make sure to bring cash). My favorite thing about this beach which makes the fee worth it is how much less crowded it is than other beaches in the area due to the limited parking. It’s definitely one of the quieter, more relaxing beaches near Boston.

The beach has a bathhouse which has been there since the 1920s and features a snack stand, restrooms and showers. The bathhouse is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Singing beach is a half mile long and features soft sand, beautiful water, rocky shores and nearby cliffs. Singing Beach got it’s name from the sound the sand makes when you walk on it, it’s almost as if it’s singing to you. I’m not sure it sounds like it’s singing, but it definitely makes a squeaking sound I haven’t heard at many other beaches. What causes this singing or squeaking? It has to do with the shape and size of the sand, the moisture level and the silica in the sand. It’s more common to hear it on dry sand. I’ll admit, I usually head up to this beach one or two times every summer and the only times I noticed the sound were the first time I visited and when I visited this summer, both times I was purposely listening for it. It is quite a phenomenon when you do hear it!

Other than the singing sand, it’s a great beach to relax or take a walk along the shore line.

Masconomo Park: Walking back into town from Singing Beach, you will pass this beautiful coastal park. It’s the great place to take a short walk along the water, check out the World War I Memorial, watch the boats come in and out of the harbor or have a picnic. And what perfect way to enjoy a summer afternoon than to enjoy some ice cream in the park. Located just across the street is Captain Dusty’s Ice Cream and it’s an absolute must when visiting Manchester-by-the-Sea!

Enjoy the Harbor: There is nothing more quaint than a New England harbor. I could sit there for hours watching the boats. If you want to get out on the water, check out Frayed Knot Sailing Charters to charter a boat or to take sailing lessons.

Manchester Harbor

Discover the History of Manchester: For a town that has been around since the 1600s, there’s a lot of history to see. The Manchester Historical Museum was established in 1886 and is located in the historic Trask House. The Trask House was the home of one of Manchester’s most prominent merchant ship captains in the 1800s. The museum houses historical artifacts and town records. The museum also offers self guided walking tours of town.

Some of the things you can see on the self guided walking tours include the First Parish Congregational Church which is listed in the National Register of Historical Places. Built in 1809, it served as Manchester’s fourth Meeting House.

The Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library is across from the Trask House and has been open since 1887. Also along the walks are many historical homes from the 18th and 19th century.

Shopping and Eating in Manchester-by-the-sea: As with all towns to visit, Manchester-by-the-Sea offers great shopping and restaurants. From gift shops to antique shops to art galleries and the popular Manchester By The Book offering a large collection of books to buy and a great place to sell some of your old books.

There are also plenty of local restaurants downtown to choose from including Allie’s Beach Street Cafe, Calas and Bravo by the Sea.

With small town charm, history and a beautiful coast line, a day trip to Manchester-by-the-Sea is a must visit from Boston, especially in the summer months.

Singing Beach

Planning a trip to Boston and wanting to take some day trips outside the city, contact Beyond The Miles Travel so we can help with your planning.

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Running 50 States – Grand Teton Half Marathon in Wyoming

When deciding where to run a half marathon in Wyoming during my quest to run in all 50 states, I just knew it needed to be in the Jackson Hole area so I could make a vacation of it and visit the two nearby National Parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone while in the area.

I came across the Grand Teton Half Marathon which was part of the Vacation Races race series. Vacation Races started in 2012 and holds races ranging from 5Ks to ultra marathons on both road and trails in or near National Parks across the country. I had heard nothing but great things about thier races and knew I needed to try one. I’m not one for trail races and think running in all 50 states is enough of a challenge, so I don’t necessarily need a difficult race, so the fact the Grand Teton Half Marathon was rated as easy, made it the perfect choice for my Wyoming half marathon.

Grand Teton Half Marathon Views

Even though I wasn’t looking for a challenging course, I definitely was not completely opposed to a challenge, so I decided to take on the Moose Double Challenge. This involved running the 5K on the Friday night and then the Half Marathon on the Saturday morning.

When I signed up for the races, I was imagining the perfect cool running weather, but after snow in the area just a couple of weeks earlier, it ended up being a warm 80 degrees for the start of the 5K. Add in over 6,000 feet of elevation for someone that is used to running at sea level and it might as well have been 100 degrees and humid. It was a tough 5K even though it was a completely flat course that mostly went along a bike path. The one advantage to being a slow runner during covid though is that they start you in waves based on your anticipated finish time, so I was in one of the last groups to start, so the temperature was going down a bit towards the end of the 5K. And I was also able to see the first group start, which was fun.

5K Start

It was a great race though and a good warmup to get used to the elevation for the Half Marathon the next morning. Or so I thought….

The morning of the half marathon started early, I had to be on a shuttle from downtown Jackson Hole to the start at 4:30am. I won’t lie, walking from the hotel thru downtown to the shuttle in the dark early morning hours had me slightly worried about running into wildlife, especially bears. Things that go thru a city girl’s mind when in bear country! Luckily I walked out of the hotel with two other girls also running, safety in numbers!

The race did not start until 6am and due to the staggered start, my wave wasn’t set to start until 7am. Unlike the 5K where the slower runner’s late start had a slight advantage, for the half marathon it did not. It meant sitting around for 2 hours and then having to run more in the hot sun. Luckily they did start us a little earlier than 7am since a week earlier covid restrictions had been lifted because we thought it was over and we could go back to normal (ahh, remember the good old days of the beginning of summer when we thought we could safely be back to normal).

The race started out ok, but it didn’t take more than a couple of miles before the altitude started to bother me, the 5K definitely didn’t help get me used to the altitude nor did the run I did a week earlier in Idaho at over 4,000 feet. I’m pretty sure that I would definitely have an easier time running in 95 degrees and humidity than at the over 6000 feet altitude! Don’t be fooled by my forced smile in the photo below. Many, many rundisney races have taught me to be on the lookout for photographers and put on my ultra happy face, no matter how awful I feel!

As hard as the altitude was to run in, the views along the way more than made up for it. I must say the views in this race were as beautiful as my favorite race in terms of views, Maui Half Marathon. Every mile of the race was more beautiful than the next! I managed to run/walk up until mile 9 then I did nothing but walk the final four miles until the finish line where I forced myself to run. I luckily started talking with another girl at mile 9 and we walked together for two miles, that definitely helped to pass the time.

I probably have never been so happy to see a finish line as I was to see this one. And the finish line views were incredible! Definitely the most beautiful and scenic finish line I’ve ever run thru! They had some great signs leading up to the finish line ad a great photo op after the race with the Grand Teton Half Marathon sign.

After talking with other runners after the race, I definitely learned that even though the altitude was difficult in this race, it is definitely one of their easier races. Some of the trail races sound beyond challenging. There are quite a few people that run all of the races put on by vacation races. I talked to one man who was traveling thru the country running quite a few of the them this year. They even had another challenge called the Grand Quad where you run the 5K and Half Marathon at Grand Teton and the 5K and Half Marathon at Yellowstone the following week. Very impressive how many were in this challenge.

Even with the altitude, I highly recommend this race for your Wyoming race if you are working to run all 50 states. It was incredibly organized and well run, great course support and just a beautiful course! I’d love to get in a little better shape and run another race in the vacation race series, we’ll see, I’m definitely not getting any younger so races just seem to be getting more difficult on my body, but hey, there is always the 5K’s at some of the locations that I can certainly conquer!

Looking for more to do while in the area for the race, check out my posts on Grand Teton and Jackson Hole.

Need help planning your 50 states running travel, Beyond The Miles Travel is here to help. Contact us today.

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Jackson Hole: An Ideal Summer Getaway

Jackson Hole is the name of the valley that sits below the Teton Mountain Range in the state of Wyoming, which is part of the Rocky Mountains. The valley includes the town of Jackson, Wyoming. While some may prefer to visit Jackson Hole in Wyoming during the winter to ski down the world class slopes, I think summer is the ideal time to for a visit to Jackson Hole.

There is just so many things to do in Jackson Hole in the summer:

Grand Teton National Park: The number one attraction that brings visitors to Jackson Hole during the summer is Grand Teton National Park. With hiking, lakes, wildlife and beautiful views of the Tetons, this National Park is a must for all outdoor lovers. Top things to see in the park are Jenny Lake, Signal Mountain and Colter Bay. Check out my one day itinerary for Grand Teton National Park.

Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park

Yellowstone National Park: Speaking of National Parks, the south entrance to Yellowstone National Park is just 60 miles north of Jackson Hole. The Jackson Hole Airport is a popular airport for travelers to fly into when visiting Yellowstone National Park. This national park can’t be missed, known for it’s abundant wildlife, popular geysers and hot springs such as Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic and other natural features like waterfalls and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It’s definitely one of the most diverse parks I have ever visited.

Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park

Mormon Row: You can’t miss the Teton Mountain Range when in Jackson Hole. It’s absolutely breathtaking and one of the most popular photographed views of the Tetons is at Mormon Row. Technically part of Grand Teton National Park, I’ve included it separately as it’s off Highway 191 and can therefore be accessed without entering the park and it’s also on the National Register of Historical Places.

In the late 1890’s Mormons from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah settled into the town of Grovont, Wy, which is now known as Mormom Row. A total of 27 homesteads were built in the area. To this day, some of the homestead barns still stand on these grounds and people come from all over the world to photograph the John Moulton barn and the T.A. Moulton barn with the Tetons in the background. Sunrise is an especially popular time to photgraph Mormon Row.

Teton Village: This is a popular area surrounding the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. This isn’t just a place to enjoy during the ski season, a summer visit is also great. Check out the shops and restaurants in the village. Ride the Aerial Tram or Gondolas to the top of the mountain for fabulous views and many hiking trails to explore. Pro-tip: Check the weather report before heading up. I took the Gondola up, was up there long enough to take some quick photos, pay for a beer and a snack that I was looking forward to enjoying with the view and we were all told that lightning was heading our way and we would need to go back down as they shut the Gondolas off when there is a lightning in the area. Guess I’ll just need to go back so I can enjoy more time up there!

Rafting on the Snake River: The 1,078 foot long Snake River starts in Wyoming and flows thru Idaho into Washington State. It flows right thru Jackson and is the perfect spot for a rafting adventure. From a scenic float to Class III whitewater, there’s a raft trip for everyone. I’m not the biggest fan of getting wet, especially when it’s really cold water, so I opted for the scenic float. It was a 13 mile float down the river, with not just the beautiful scenery of the Tetons, but also plenty of wildlife to see along the way. We saw a bald eagle and pelicans. I was really surprised with the pelicans, I always think of somewhere by the ocean or a river in the southern part of the US when I think of place I would see pelicans, I certainly didn’t think I’d see them in the mountains of Wyoming!

I highly recommend Teton Whitewater for your rafting trip. Their guides were knowledgable about the area and alot of fun.

Jackson Hole Rodeo: Wyoming is the “Cowboy State” and rodeo is the state sport, so how could you come to Wyoming and not attend the rodeo? The Jackson Hole Rodeo takes place every Wednesday and Saturday night in June and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights in July and August.

For this city girl, the rodeo was definitely a different way to spend a Saturday night. It’s an experience that you must have when in Wyoming. I had a lot of fun!

Downtown Jackson Hole: It may be small for a downtown, but Jackson Hole’s downtown has a lot to offer. During the peak travel months, traffic going into downtown can go for miles. Best to arrive in the morning and just spend the day exploring downtown to miss the worst of the traffic.

Located in the center of town is George Washington Memorial Park, otherwise known as Town Square. Each corner of the park features arches that are made of elk antlers. The arches are a great place to take a photo! The park is a great place to relax and enjoy the nice weather or on a warm day sit and enjoy an ice cream cone from Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream located nearby. I highly recommend the huckleberry ice cream. Or in the morning enjoy your coffee in the park, stop by nearby Cowboy Coffee. I absolutely loved getting coffee at this local spot every morning.

Arch at Jackson Town Square

The Jackson Hole Historical Society offers free walking tours from the Town Square during the summer months. These tours will take you past historical buildings while you hear stories of Jackson Hole’s history.

Have a meal or enjoy a drink in one of these historic buildings. Jackson Hole Drug has been around for over 100 years, it’s gone thru different ownership and closed and reopened, but as of 2016 it’s back under ownership of a new generation of the original owners. If you are looking for a casual meal, this historic soda fountain is the place for you.

Jackson Drug

Looking for a after dinner beverage, well look no further than Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. This fun bar has been around since 1937 and has been visited by people from all over the world, including many celebrities. They offer live entertainment and my favorite part was the saddle bar stools. My short self might have had a little trouble getting up on the bar stool. lol This is a must stop in Jackson in my opinion.

Check out the shops to pick up some great souvenirs, from the typical touristy t-shirts to great quality western wear and cowboys boots.

Dowtown Jackson Hole is a great place to stay as well, there are many hotels located downtown like the historic Wort Hotel which has been in business since 1941 and has been rated as one of the best hotels in the state of Wyoming.

These are just a few of the many things there are to do during the summer in Jackson Hole. With the great scenery, the outdoor activities are endless. It’s definitely the perfect spot for a family vacation.

One Day in Grand Teton National Park

Located just 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is another great national park, Grand Teton National Park. Named after Grand Teton which at 13,775 feet is the tallest peak in the Teton Range of the Rocky Mountains. The Teton Range is the youngest mountain range in the Rockies, forming between 6 and 9 million years ago caused by movement along the Teton fault.

Grand Teton is just one of 84 named mountains in the Teton Range. Many of the other mountains in the range are over 12,000 feet. They are quite the sight to see and so beautiful as they are often snowcapped throughout the year.

Teton Range

After a few busy days in Yellowstone National Park, I decided to just spend one day in Grand Teton National Park as there were some other things I wanted to do outside of the park in the Jackson Hole area. In one day you can definitely see a lot of the highlights of the park. Here is my one day itinerary for Grant Teton National Park.

Jenny Lake: One of the must see spots in Grand Teton National Park is Jenny Lake. I would plan on spending the entire morning in this area of the park. It’s definitely the most popular area of the park, so it’s a good idea to get there as early as possible to be able to get a spot in the parking lot. I would suggest getting there well before 9am, the earlier the better during the busy summer months, as I had to circle the parking lot a couple of times before I got a spot a little after 9:30am, I definitely should have started my day earlier!

Jenny Lake

At Jenny Lake, there is a visitor’s center as well as a paved .35 mile Discovery Trail down to the lake with signs explaining the history and landscape of the area. Jenny Lake is home to some of the most popular hiking trails in the park. For a solo traveler like me, popular hikes were the way to go as you want to be sharing the trail with others when hiking in bear country.

Two of the more popular hikes in the park are Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. These are located on the other side of the lake. There are two ways to access these trails. The first is the Jenny Lake Loop Trail that goes around the entire lake. This trail is 7.6 miles roundtrip and has very little elevation gain. Another way is to take the Jenny Lake Shuttle. You could also hike one way and take the shuttle the other way.

I chose to take the shuttle since I love to take any chance I can for a boat ride. Seeing the Tetons from the water was pretty amazing!

The Hidden Falls trail will take you to the only accessible waterfall in Grand Teton National Park. From where the shuttle lets you off, it’s a one mile roundtrip hike with 200 ft of elevation gain to the falls, making it an easy to moderate hike to the 100 ft Hidden Falls.

Hidden Falls are fed by the snowmelt from the Tetons. I visited in late spring, so the water was definitely moving pretty fast from all the spring snowmelt. This video below doesn’t even do it justice as to how much water and how fast it was flowing.

From Hidden Falls, you can then take the one mile roundtrip trail to Inspiration Point. This trail is fairly steep, gaining another 300 feet in elevation.

After gaining these 300 feet in elevation, you will reach Inspiration Point which is at 7,200 feet. The views of Jenny Lake and the Jackson Hole Valley below definitely make the steep hike up worth it. It’s a great place to stop and have a snack while taking in the breathtaking scenery.

If you have more than a day in Grand Teton National Park, check out some of the longer hikes at Jenny Lake. Hike the mostly flat Forks of Cascade Canyon trail or continue on from there on the stenuous Lake Solitude trail where you will gain 2,500 feet in elevation to see this alpine lake.

If you aren’t up for a hike, you can also take a scenic boat ride or rent a canoe or kayak on Jenny Lake. Also make sure to drive the 3 mile long Jenny Lake Scenic Drive and stop to take in the views of the lake along the way.

Signal Mountain: After a morning at Jenny Lake, drive Teton Park Road over to Signal Mountain. The 7,727 foot Signal Mountain offers beautiful panoramic views of the Tetons and Jackson Hole. On a one day trip to the park, the perfect way to reach the summit is to drive the Signal Mountain Summit Road to the top. The road is narrow in spots but is an easy ride. There are pullouts along the way up to stop and take photos. You can really get some beautiful views of Jackson Lake at the stops along the way up. The views at the summit are definitely not to be missed. There were so many wildflowers at the top that just added to the beauty of it all.

If you have more than a day in the park, instead of driving to the summit you could hike the moderate 6.8 mile Signal Mountain Trail to the summit.

After enjoying the views from the summit, head back down Signal Mountain Summit Road to the Signal Mountain Lodge. The lodge sits right on the the shores of Jackson Lake. This is a great place to stop for a lakeside lunch. The lodge offers a few restaurants, at this time, most are take out only, but it’s the perfect place to find a spot to sit by the lake with your takeout lunch. Pro-tip, the quesadillas are huge, they have a full or half portion, I got the half portion and barely finished it (and I have a HUGE appetite, especially after hiking in the morning). In fact the takeout container was really heavy, that’s how big of a portion it was, but it was also one of the best quesadillas I’ve had in a while, highly recommend.

Colter Bay: On the northern end of the Teton Range is Colter Bay on the shores of Jackson Lake. The views of Jackson Lake with the Tetons as a backdrop are absolutely stunning! Take an easy 2 mile hike on the Lakeshore Trail.

If you have the time you can also rent a canoe or kayak to enjoy Jackson Lake.

Tips for Visiting: Whether you are visiting the park for just one day or multiple days, here are some helpful tips to enjoying the park.

  • Arrive early – it’s important to get an early start to help beat the crowds and make parking easier. National Parks have been busier than normal the past couple of years as more people are taking road trips and wanting to spend their vacations outside.
  • Hike in a group – Grand Teton National Park is in grizzly bear country, so it’s advisable to never hike alone and to try at minimum have at least three people in your hiking group.
  • Carry Bear Spray – To go along with hiking in a group, also carry bear spray with you while in the park. Bear spray is something that most people will never have to use, but it’s well worth the $50 price tag to have it with you on the rare chance you need it, it could very well save your life.
  • Keep your distance from wildlife – Seeing wildlife is exciting and we all want that great photo, but remember for your safety to keep 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from all other wildlife.
  • Wear sunscreen – Being at a higher elevation, you are closer to the sun, you will burn quicker than normal, so sunscreen is a must!
  • Bring plenty of water – At higher altitudes you can also get dehydrated quicker than normal. As with all hikes, it’s important to have plenty of water with you to avoid dehydration.

Although you could spend days exploring Grand Teton National Park, you can still manage to see quite a lot in just one day there. I hope this will help you get the most out of a one day visit!

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If you need help planning your Grand Teton vacation, Beyond the Miles Travel is here to help.