I've grown a little too familiar with my house and my town lately. Bet you can't guess why.
Don't get me wrong - despite everything this year has thrown at me and my loved ones, we've found ways to make this year work. We've adapted. It helps that the majority of people I know love the outdoors, so we've just thrown in extra hikes and trips to nature preserves this year. I'm shocked that it took so long for me to find out about some of the places I've gone to this year, since I've lived in my town since middle school, but I'm grateful that this year gave me another chance to explore my town.
But there's only so much I can do within the 50-mile confines of my county and neighboring counties.
And that's probably been one of the worst parts, emotionally, about this pandemic. You can adapt, you can modify your activities, you can get creative, but at the end of the day, we all feel a little trapped. A world that was once wide open to us now faces us with closed borders, travel restrictions, and the general fear of spreading the virus if you can get past all of the other red tape.
This article isn't about that. This article is looking forward to brighter times. Post-vaccine times. No restrictions. This article is about blasting "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" at 1AM on the last leg of a 500 mile journey to some place brand new. For your post-COVID consideration, here are some of the beautiful and bizarre places I'm planning to go during better times:
1. BabyLand General Hospital - Cleveland, GA
This bizarre Georgia toy store holds bragging rights as "the only place in the world where you can witness the birth of a hand-sculpted Cabbage Patch Kid", which is so wonderfully weird that I cannot wait to see it. Admission is free, and the self-guided tour lets you check out Cabbage Patch Kid nurseries and collections of older Cabbage Patch Kids dating back to 1978.
If your friends would for some reason rather sit out on the Cabbage Patch Kids tour, there's plenty of other options in Cleveland, such as waterfall hikes, paddling, and mountain biking through gorgeous terrain.
2. Washington D.C.
Now that a certain somebody will no longer be occupying the White House, D.C is looking like a really great travel destination. Between the Smithsonian museums, the Capitol, art galleries, and monuments, it would take weeks to work through everything D.C. has to offer. Touring the White House and watching Senate/House proceedings from the gallery are definitely on my bucket list for the coming years.
3. The Sonoran Desert - Arizona, California, Mexico
This desert is made up of tons of biomes, from forest to tundra to proper desert. It is home to saguaro cacti, which can grow up to 66 feet tall, as well as Gambel's Quail, roadrunners, Gila monsters, and a variety of other animals that we would never see anywhere near Florida. The Southwest is also very fond of prickly pear cactus-flavored items - in almost every gift shop you can find prickly pear saltwater taffy, prickly pear lollipops, prickly pear breath mints, and prickly pear lotion.
4. The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum - Fall River, MA
Up until a few months ago, I had no idea that this true crime case is barely known outside of the New England area. Apparently, none of my friends grew up with the nursery rhyme - "Lizzie Borden upped an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one." The short version of the story goes like this - In 1892, a wealthy couple was butchered in their own home in Fall River, Massachusetts. The husband's daughter, Lizzie, who lived in the house along with her sister, Emma, was the only other person in the house other than the housekeeper at the time the bodies were discovered. She was the main suspect of the case, but the jury believed that an innocent-looking woman of Lizzie's stature could never commit such a crime. She was let off the case, but the public was still very suspicious of her until her death in 1927. The Borden House is now open as a bed and breakfast which offers day tours, night tours, ghost hunting, and a gift shop.
5. Shipshewana, IN
Shipshewana is home to the third largest Amish population in the country, which means it's full of rich history, fascinating culture, delicious food, and things to do. Visit Menno-Hof, a museum showcasing Amish and Mennonite history through presentations, home/ship replicas, and tours. Check out flea markets and local cottage shops for handmade furniture, clothes, food, and souvenirs. But above all, make sure you don't miss out on the homestyle country food. During one of my past visits to Shipshewana, I had some of the best donuts I've ever tasted from Rise 'n Roll Bakery. And don't get me started on the breakfast buffet at Blue Gate. The biscuits and gravy, corned beef hash, fresh fruit, and cheesy potatoes are absolutely to die for.
I could go on for days about all of my 2021/2022 travel destinations, but hopefully this list has served as a sort of inspiration for your own future adventures. Let the wonders of Cabbage Patch Kids and giant cactuses propel you through the rest of 2020, and make up for this godawful year with an unforgettable trip when the time comes.
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