Sedona is regularly described as one of America’s most beautiful places. Nowhere else will you find a landscape as dramatically colorful. The towering red rocks and jagged sandstone buttes matched against an almost always blue sky have beckoned to professional and budding artists for years. And filmmakers have chosen these fiery rock formations in north-central Arizona as the backdrop for such box-office hits as “3:10 to Yuma,” “Broken Arrow” and “Midnight Run.”
But there’s more to Sedona than red rocks and good looks. Over the past few decades, spiritualists have flocked to the region to take advantage of the numerous New Age “vortexes” with supposed spirit-balancing powers found here. Still searching for a way to satisfy your yen? Book an afternoon at one of Sedona’s many spas. Traditional treatments with a local twist – such as red clay wraps and blue corn body scrubs – followed by a glass of local wine are great ways to relax after a long day spent on the trails. Oh yeah, did we mention that the area is home to more than 100 hiking trails? Don’t forget to bring your boots! Exploring the wilderness via a guided Jeep tour is another popular option.
Take a number of diverse cultures, add a strong dose of the arts and a splash of ocean water, and you have Miami. Looking at the fantastic art museums and the blossoming gastronomical scene, you might find it hard to believe that just a century ago, this colorful Floridian city was covered in swampland. Once developers rushed into the area, one of the most popular tourist destinations and spectacular city skylines in the country was born. Today, with South Beach before you and the Everglades behind you, you can walk through the bustling streets past historical homes with Spanish words and Caribbean music floating into your ears.
This mini melting pot has preserved multicultural neighborhoods like famous Little Havana as enclaves for unique traditions to thrive. United, they form an electric network — Miami. Its reputation for vibrant nightlife and extravagant parties is realized in Miami Beach, a barrier island to the east of the mainland. Meanwhile, the down-to-earth city proper cultivates an artsy vibe.
History drips from the Outer Banks:Here, aviators Orville and Wilbur Wright took their famous first flight (at Kill Devil Hills), the pirate Blackbeard fought his last battle (at Ocracoke) and the mysterious Lost Colony disappeared (exactly where is anyone’s guess, but last seen on Roanoke Island near Manteo). But this chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina – affectionately dubbed OBX – isn’t just for history buffs. Fishing, windsurfing and wildlife watching attract adventurous types, not to mention the roughly 3,000 shipwrecks you can explore by snorkel and scuba diving. Families gravitate toward the beaches, mini-golf courses and the North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island.
Each island has its own charm: The old lighthouses, rugged dunes and secluded beaches in the south coupled with vacation rentals, water sports and kitschy beach shops in the north, all form a unique seaside destination. OBX is ideal for those looking to skip overly developed touristy towns and head straight for the unspoiled beaches. You won’t find big nightlife, but you will find an abundance of natural beauty. Beaches are more populated during the summer months, but with so many destinations spread out along the barrier islands, you likely won’t experience big crowds.
More in Part 9 of this series!
(Information from US News & World Reports)