Cancun, Mexico — 3-Day Itinerary

Next week I visit Cancun, Mexico for my first Caribbean getaway. Follow along or plan your vacation using this itinerary as a suggestion. We’ll stay at Hotel Xcaret Mexico but also tour the new Hotel Xcaret Arte that opens this summer. Learn more about both properties: Hotel Xcaret Mexico is an oceanfront haven where thrilling…

Coastal Mississippi: 4-Day Itinerary

Follow along for four days of discovery along the Mississippi Coast that includes beachside bonfires, a dolphin sighting cruise, shrimp boating, an oyster farm, and of course, loads of fresh seafood. • Coastal Mississippi is comprised of three coastal counties including Jackson, Harrison andHancock. Twelve cities make up these three coastal counties.• Coastal Mississippi spans…

Celebrating Amtrak’s 50th: 8 Incredible Small Town Stops

Train travel may be the most leisurely, scenic, and affordable way to visit small towns in the U.S. Since 1971, when the first Amtrak train departed New York City on its way to Philadelphia, Amtrak, known as America’s Railroad, has taken eager travelers, lulled by the clickety-clack of the tracks and enamored by the sense…

Getting Outside Is The New 10,000 Steps

Author and fitness expert says hiking is the ‘fountain of youth’ – physically and cognitively  In new book Secrets of Aging Well: Get Outside, globetrotting mountaineer and fitness entrepreneur Martin Pazzani reveals how walking outdoors is the key to a happier, healthier, longer life. Says ‘it’s the fitness you can’t get in a gym.’  For the…

6 ‘Ratched’ Filming Locations You Can Visit In Real Life

The film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, released in 1975, featured Louise Fletcher as the antagonistic character of Nurse Ratched. The tyrannical nurse, rigid and focused on order, left many of us wondering about this fictional character’s life before McMurphy’s fate intertwined with Ratched’s. Where did she come from, and what might possibly have led…

Our 8 Favorite Places For Stargazing

Stargazing is a luxury in itself. Busy lives may keep us from stepping outdoors to observe the night sky, but locale can be a deterrent, too — without darkness and clear skies, many city dwellers miss the special sights of the night sky. That’s where astrotourism comes in. Read Jill’s story at Travel Awaits.

Tulum, Mexico – Riviera Maya – Itinerary

We are so pleased to invite you to experience Bahia Principe Grand Tulum, a newly renovated oceanfront property in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Inspired by its natural surrounding and the area’s deep cultural roots, Bahia Principe Grand Tulum reopened on November 15th following over a year of extensive renovations. The renovated hotel boasts updated accommodations featuring…

6 Incredible Places For U.S. Snowbirds This Winter

The dream for many is to live as a snowbird, flocking each winter to warmer locales to spend time in the sun and leave the snow and cold weather at home. While many snowbirds are retirees, people of every age seek the seasonal getaway to avoid harsh winters. To start planning your winter escape, here…

The Best Alcohol Gifts This Holiday Season

Get Creative With These Spirited Gift Ideas Enjoy these hand-selected and reviewed liquor-themed gift ideas. There are even some non-alcoholic options as well for the consumer who wants flavor without the alcohol. Brewferm makes crafting your favorite Belgium drafts easy with kits that take the guesswork out of your glass. See how it works here! Brewferm makes…

The Best Things To Do In Adorable Canon City, Colorado

While the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush brought the first settlers to Canon City, the city has grown since its Wild West origins and is now known for its abundance of wild, natural beauty. This beauty is celebrated with breathtaking views at Royal Gorge, along the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, on scenic drives, and in public parks….

Lessons I Learned From My First Fly Fishing Experience

As we wound along the curving roads, ever rising, we were glad we had rented something larger than an economy car. We needed a vehicle that could handle the climb in altitude as we made our way to the Broadmoor Fishing Camp at 8,800 feet. My friend drove as I watched the scenery change outside…

8 Beautiful Colorado Train Rides

The wind brushed my face, causing me to question whether the breathlessness I felt was from the wind, the altitude, or the utter enormity of the Colorado Rocky Mountains I was viewing up close on the train. Riding in an open-air car, the pace was a leisurely 12 miles per hour, which felt like a…

Colorado Fall Road Trip (Itinerary)

Road trips are the travel trend for 2020 so when deciding on our next adventure, fellow travel writer Heide Brandes and I decided to experience the great outdoors of Colorado where we could learn fly fishing and falconry, tour the Royal Gorge Park, and take a train ride on the Royal Gorge Railroad. Day 1:…

Booze And Brothels: 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan, Alaska, located at the southernmost entrance to the famed Inside Passage, is the beginning of the final frontier. Situated on Revillagigedo Island, Ketchikan is the gateway to the Inside Passage, a system of waterways for ships and boats that weave through the islands and their stunning wilderness views. Read Jill’s story at Travel Awaits.

7 Best Places To Savor Seafood In Ketchikan

Ketchikan, Alaska’s “First City,” is an island reached by plane or boat. A popular cruise port, tourists flood into the city daily to view the artwork along the waterfront of the Inside Passage, the Native American totem poles, and to savor the variety of fresh seafood in a city that is known as the Seafood…

Alaskan Adventure: My First Trip Since Coronavirus

I was going to Alaska, my first trip in months. Early in the pandemic, back when we were getting news that California had just a handful of cases of COVID-19 — and before the pandemic felt real — I spent two weeks traveling several cities in California. I returned home just as the urgency flipped and the…

Picturesque Tennessee Road Trip

There are plenty of reasons to take a road trip from Nashville to Chattanooga — delicious food, historical sites, Southern hospitality, live music, and gorgeous scenery among them — but the outdoor adventures are among some of the best in the U.S. Fill your belly and feed your soul with food and music in Nashville,…

Traveling During A Pandemic + Alaska Itinerary

Who knows how long it will take for travel to recover post COVID-19? For now, many are planning summer road trips to smaller destinations, seeking less-traveled paths to allow for physical distancing and outdoor settings. Some things to consider before planning a trip: Check the current status of the outbreak in the city you plan…

10 Essential Travel Accessories for Women

USAbyRail participates in affiliate programs with various companies. We may earn a commission when you click on or make purchases via links. Packable Hat A pack-able hat that can be worn while traveling is good, but a hat that can be rolled up and stored in luggage is even better. There has never been a…

How to Sneak a San Francisco Chef Into Your Kitchen

You can’t visit them (yet) and they can’t come to you but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the creativity, expertise, and delicious cuisine of some of San Francisco’s top chefs in your home while you shelter in place and help flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic.

Practical Prepping

I remember when people used to comment on Madonna’s ability to reinvent herself. I believe we all have that potential to take inventory, realize the current situation, and realign our goals to meet the new climate. I’m in the midst of that myself.

Road Trip: Washington D.C. to Culpeper, Virginia

The natural beauty of Virginia plus the abundance of outdoor activities, craft beverage makers, and historical sites, lends itself as an ideal road trip. Start in D.C., then visit several cities in Northern Virginia before ending your tour in Culpeper, Virginia. Read Jill’s story at Travel Awaits.

Historic New Mexico Road Trip: Santa Fe To Taos

Offering history, culture, religion, and architecture, the high desert between Santa Fe and Taos is a wonderful place for a road trip. Along the High Road from Santa Fe to Taos, you’ll pass through remote mountain villages with Spanish colonial roots, see Pueblo enclaves, visit a chapel that’s thought to hold healing earth, take in…

California Road Trip: San Francisco To Los Angeles

The best kind of road trip features great scenery, and the road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Highway 1 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway) certainly fits the bill — it boasts fantastic coastal views, wine country, quaint towns, and much more. Read Jill’s story at Travel Awaits.

4 Ways To Experience Basque Culture In Northern Nevada

Step inside a Basque restaurant in Northern Nevada, and it’s as if you’ve stepped back in time, with long community tables pressed so close you can almost sample your neighbor’s dinner. During peak hours, the noise is booming with the sound of jovial conversations, clanking forks, and platters being delivered to tables. The food is…

15 Best Stops On The Cajun Boudin Trail

I first tasted boudin during a visit to see my sister, who lived in Louisiana at the time. There are variations, but at its most basic, boudin is a combination of pork, rice, and seasonings ground together and stuffed into a pork casing that is then steamed to eat on the spot. The classic way…

Best Places To Eat In San Francisco’s Chinatown

San Francisco’s Chinatown is not only the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, but it is the oldest Chinatown in North America. From its busy seafood markets to its medicinal herb shops, San Francisco’s Chinatown offers an up-close glimpse at Chinese-American culture and food. There’s no better place to experience Asian-American culture, sample dim sum, sip…

San Francisco’s Chinatown: 12 Things To Know Before You Go

The first Chinese immigrants arrived in San Francisco in 1848 aboard the USS Eagle. As the population grew — some 30,000 Chinese came to the city in pursuit of riches during the California Gold Rush — many immigrants established businesses in what became known as Chinatown. Located in the historic heart of San Francisco, the approximately…

Virtual Tennessee

During this time of shelter in place where recreational travel is on standby, there’s still a chance to take a virtual tour of many cities. Tennessee, in particular, has a plethora of digital methods for exploring from your home. Take a cooking lesson with some of Nasheville’s most beloved chefs, tour historical sites, visit an…

Why I’m Keeping My Summer Travel Plans

In the midst of so much change, one thing I still retain is the ability to dream, to envision future plans. My future plans include a women’s fishing expedition to the Steamboat Bay Fishing Club in the remote area of Ketchikan, Alaska. Located on Noyes Island, our group will take a short float plane ride…

Traveling Just Before The Coronavirus Outbreak

It was looking to be a full but typical year of travel. Spring and fall are the busiest times for a travel writer, and headed into the year, 2020 seemed to be no exception. Plans were set for spring travel to California in early March, Virginia in April, Alabama in May, a visit to Erie,…

Train Talk on NPR with Thomas Wilmer

While visiting Carmel-by-the-Sea, I got a chance to sit down and talk about my favorite topic — train travel — with Thomas Wilmer on his award-winning NPR podcast, Journeys of Discovery. Listen here.

The Best Things to See and Do in Fredericksburg, Texas

Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg offers wineries, charming shops, fine dining, and German heritage, all in a beautiful and historic setting. If you visit during the spring, you’ll be treated to a spectacular show of wildflowers, including Texas’s famous bluebonnets. Read Jill’s story at Travel Awaits.

10 Unique Bars in Phoenix

My introduction to the unique bars of Phoenix was walking down the stairs into the dark, cramped chamber of UnderTow. Lights were flashing as simulated thunder and lightning crashed in this makeshift ship’s belly. It was electric, and I’ve since sent friends to visit when they asked what to see and do in Phoenix. Read…

7 Reasons to Retire in Gainesville, Georgia

There’s a lot to consider when deciding where to retire, including cost of living, climate, leisure activities, community life, and access to the arts. Many retirees are flocking to Gainesville, Georgia, and it’s easy to see why. Gainesville, located near Lake Sidney Lanier in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, offers affordable living and…

San Francisco Bay to the Monterey Peninsula by Train – Itinerary

Follow along on a seven-night trip traveling to San Francisco, Sausalito, Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel-by-the-Sea with a train ride on the Coast Starlight. Day 1  Arrive at SFO. Take BART to lodging. Check in at Clift Royal Sonesta. The Clift Royal Sonesta is very excited to announce the reopening of their renovated hotel, a…

8 Reasons To Visit Lewisburg, West Virginia

I recently rode the Cardinal train through West Virginia, stopping in Huntington, Charleston, and White Sulphur Springs/Lewisburg. It was a spectacular ride, featuring fall foliage, mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, and views of West Virginia’s whitewater rivers only accessible by train. While I fell in love with the entire region, Lewisburg won a special place in my heart…

Mardi Gras in Louisiana: Why I go to Lake Charles Instead of New Orleans

The carnival season in Lake Charles, Louisiana, starts with the Twelfth Night celebration, where the royal courts of more than 50 krewes are introduced. The season continues through the Fat Tuesday celebrations on February 25, culminating with the Krewe of Krewes Parade. These celebrations may sound similar to the ones happening in New Orleans at…

5 Things You Should Bring On A Long-Distance Train Trip

Long-distance train rides can be a relaxing cross-country adventure — watching the landscape pass, meeting fellow travelers, playing cards, or reading in the observation car — or a long and uncomfortable ride. Your experience will depend on your mindset and how prepared you are before departing. A few important items can make all the difference…

4 Reasons To Travel By Train

Five years ago, I set out to explore the United States by train. The vision started in part because I had spent three months in Europe as a teenager traveling with my mom and two Eurail passes. My sister was in the military, stationed in Augsburg, Germany, so we used her house as a home…

Traveling Solo Over 50

I took my first solo trip when I was 51. During five years of solo travel, I have met numerous female solo travelers along the way: There was the woman sitting next to me on the train from New Orleans to Tuscaloosa, buried under blankets most of the day because she had stayed up late…

7 Great Day Trips From Reno, Nevada

When Nevada Tourism offered me the chance to visit several cities near Reno, I jumped at the opportunity. Other than Las Vegas, I was unfamiliar with the state and looked forward to visiting Western Nevada for several days. Each of these cities is in close proximity to Reno yet has diverse topography and cultures —…

The Top 12 Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico

Settled between the Sea of Cortez and the Sierra Laguna mountains on the Baja California peninsula, La Paz, Mexico offers a myriad of recreational activities on land and sea. You can enjoy a day at sea on a guided cruise for fishing or whale watching, then catch the sunset on the malecón (waterfront walkway) before…

No More Misshaped Hats While Traveling When You Wear a Crushable Hat

Have you ever found the perfect hat for a beach or holiday getaway, then realized you’d have to wear the hat during your travels (and who wants to wear or carry a large floppy hat on an airplane?) because the alternative—stuffing it into your luggage—would ruin the hat’s shape? That’s where crushable hats come to…

Discover Virginia by Train on the Northeast Regional

From Prince William County to Hampton, explore a variety of history and food in these five Virginia cities. Amtrak’s Northeast Regional train runs daily from Boston to Washington D.C., and south of D.C. through Virginia. With multiple departures daily, it’s an ideal mode of transportation to visit several Virginia cities along the route. Begin your…

My New Favorite Travel Accessory

I have a new favorite travel accessory. Around Christmas time, I was reading an article on travel pillows when I came across a review of the Tumi Patrol Packable Travel Puffer Jacket. I’m always on the lookout for the ultimate travel accessory, especially if it has multiple uses and saves luggage space.

How To Spend A Perfect Long Weekend In Scenic McCall, Idaho

There is only one U.S. destination I’ve considered moving to after my visit: McCall, Idaho. For someone who loves the vibrancy of the mountains as well as the relaxing aspects of water equally, McCall has it all. There was a cabin for rent, located right across the street from Payette Lake that had the Payette…

Top ways to vacation responsibly in 2021

(BPT) – After months of cautionary travel and shelving vacation plans, people, especially those with families at home, are researching how they can indulge their wanderlust safely again in 2021. The goal is to enjoy a vacation in a responsible manner, creating memories while keeping yourself and others safe. Heading to Coastal Mississippi: The Secret…