Utah’s red-stone garden
Utah’s Arches National Park “serves up a visual feast,” said Dan Blackburn in the Los Angeles Times. More than 2,000 natural stone arches dot the desert landscape here, and “there is so much to see that just one or two visits, or even three or four, don’t do the park justice.” You’ll recognize some of the area’s red sandstone formations even if you’ve never been: The Delicate Arch, the 900-foot Fisher Towers, and the forbidding Fiery Furnace are frequently featured in movies and commercials. (At nearby Dead Horse Point State Park, you might even recognize the site of the famous last scene in Thelma & Louise.)Well-maintained roads traverse the terrain, but Arches is “very much a hiker’s park,” a place to explore on foot. Summer brings crowds and 110-degree temperatures, so try to get here in the fall, winter, or spring. At sunset, “the red rock begins to glow,” and any worries you’re carrying will be “swallowed up by the grandeur of the scene.”
Massachusetts’s cradle of invention
No wonder Springfield, Mass., likes to call itself “The City of Firsts,” said Patricia Harris and David Lyon in The Boston Globe. Most famous today as the birthplace of basketball, Springfield has created a downtown tourist destination by clustering together several museums that speak to the city’s history of innovation. The Basketball Hall of Fame, now sited right on the Connecticut River, is “full of touchstone artifacts” from the history of a game created 123 years ago by local YMCA instructor James Naismith. Nearby stands the new Museum of Springfield History, which focuses on local transportation breakthroughs, like the 1893 creation of the first successful gasoline-powered automobile. Some families will surely be eager to get to the Springfield Science Museum, but they usually take a detour at a sculpture garden populated by statues of the Grinch and various other creations of another Springfield great—the author known as Dr. Seuss.