The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in the Twin Cities



How great is that moment of relaxation that washes over you when you sit down after a long day of tackling the trails to take your first sip of a locally brewed beer? Some might call it priceless, but most agree it’s at least worth the $5-7 price tag for a cold pint in the Twin Cities.

In addition to being a place where taphouses quadrupled (!) between 2013 and 2016, Minneapolis and St. Paul offer extensive outdoor activities. The area has taken home awards like the #1 Bike City and has been the only U.S. city on a global list of bike-friendly spots; not to mention the paddling opportunities on urban lakes and trails winding through some of the best parks in the country.

All of this adds up to one thing—you simply have to tackle a Trail to Tavern® adventure in this Minnesota metropolis the next time you have a long weekend coming up. Because the Twin Cities are just that—two cities smashed together—the area isn’t tiny, so the best way to approach a long weekend is to divide and conquer. We’ve done all the planning for you, so all you’ve gotta do is get yourself here!

Day One

Minnehaha Park is one of the oldest and most popular parks in the area.Minnehaha Park is one of the oldest and most popular parks in the area. Adam Fagen

Your first day should absolutely be spent exploring the outdoors in Minneapolis. There’s plenty to choose from, but the beauty is that they’re all doable if you start your day early enough. Luckily, each option is also great all by itself, so you’re guaranteed a good time even if you only tackle a few.

Kick off your weekend with a trip to Bogart’s Doughnut Co. for a quick and delicious donut and coffee before you head over to Minnehaha Regional Park—a must-see for waterfalls, Mississippi River overlooks, and hiking that will make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the city. There are almost 10 miles of paved path at the park, so pick up a map when you get there and start exploring!

If you’ve got Fido in tow, there’s an excellent dog park within Minnehaha for more than six acres of off-leash glory—filled with trees, sand, and plenty of riverfront for your four-legged buddy to enjoy. (You do need to buy a permit in advance to take your dog to the dog park, though.)

When it’s time to take a break, relax on the patio or play some Skee-Ball at Pat’s Tap. This Skee-Club (yes, that’s right) and gastropub serves up squeaky cheese curds, full meals, and a wide range of drinks. With 20 beers on tap and more than 100 available in cans, you’re sure to find something to drink here (even if you need gluten-free). This south Minneapolis hot spot also welcomes dogs on its patio, so don’t feel like your pup has to stay behind.

After fueling up at Pat’s, biking the 5.5-mile Midtown Greenway is an excellent way to take a tour of the city itself while getting a few miles of cycling in. You can rent a bike from Nice Ride, the Twin Cities’ public bike sharing system, and it’s just $3 per half hour.

The Fulton Taproom is a local favorite. Photo courtesy of Fulton BeerThe Fulton Taproom is a local favorite. Photo courtesy of Fulton Beer.

When the sun starts to set, keep the day going by hitting up another of the city’s many amazing breweries. The Fulton Taproom is a local favorite (you have to try the Lonely Blonde) and Lakes and Legends is another super pup-friendly spot that has a variety of games like hammerschlagen—a German game that entails hitting a nail into a piece of wood with the narrow end of a hammer. Bauhaus in Northeast (or Nordeast if you ask a local) has one of the best patios in the city and a solid rotation of local food trucks to supplement their brews.

For those that are less into beer, head on over to recently opened Twin Spirits, the first one-woman owned distillery in the entire state. You can tour the distillery on Wednesdays or Saturdays, and be sure to taste Mamma’s Moonshine, which is more of a mead made with Minnesota honey instead of the traditional white corn whiskey.

Where to Stay

Like any big city, Minneapolis has many chain and boutique hotels. A couple of good options are the Nicolette Island Inn on an island in the Mississippi and the Alma Hotel and Cafe along the banks of the river. If you brought a four-legged companion, try the pet-friendly Kimpton Grand.

If Airbnb is more your style, look for something in South Minneapolis for a residential feel or Uptown (Lyndale / Lake area) to be close to all the nightlife action.

Day Two

Paddling around the Lake of the Isles can be a peaceful experience.Paddling around the Lake of the Isles can be a peaceful experience. Michael Hicks

Start your second day at Al’s Breakfast, located in the heart of Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. This gem is counter service only, and is the go-to spot for traditional morning favorites like scrambled eggs and strong coffee. Then it’s off to the city’s signature lakes.

There’s a reason that the Chain of Lakes is one of the pride and joys of the Twin Cities—not many places can boast four major, connected lakes within their boundaries. Found near the bustling Uptown neighborhood, Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles, and Cedar Lake offer endless outdoor fun all year long. During the summer the lakes are filled with swimmers, beachgoers, and paddlers of all kinds, but even in the winter there are ways to enjoy the lakes. Ice fishing is popular, as is simply taking a walk across the frozen wonderland that the lakes become when they freeze over. There’s also an annual lantern festival, the Luminary Loppet held on Lake of the Isles, that is an incredibly unique event designed to celebrate Minnesota’s most extreme season: winter.

Paddling is a great way to spend your day at the lakes. One option is to put-in at Lake of the Isles Park and paddle through a tree-lined canal down to Lake Calhoun, a popular spot for windsurfing. From Lake of the Isles, you can also paddle up to Cedar Lake, where you’ll find a little beach. You can also put-in at Lynnhurst Park just south of Lake Harriet and paddle Minnehaha Creek east to Minnehaha Falls (it’s about six miles). For a real adventure, skip the lakes and head about half an hour west to Lake Minnetonka and take Minnehaha Creek all the way to the falls (this trip is about 22 miles).

Because the lakes are smack-dab in the middle of the city, there are plenty of options nearby for grabbing a quick lunch after building up an appetite. Bread & Pickle near Harriet Lake (only open from May until Labor Day) offers sandwiches, salads, and ice cream, using locally sourced ingredients as much as possible. If you find yourself at the northern lakes, try Namaste Cafe for a great selection of vegetarian fare, or Stella’s Fish Cafe & Prestige Oyster Bar for tuna poke or blackened fish tacos. Stella’s also offers a handful of beers on tap and in bottles.

After you’ve had your fill of the water and your feet start to itch for solid ground, the lakes are also the perfect place to go for an afternoon run. Each lake is encircled by a fully paved running and biking path and they all connect for about 15 miles of trails, which means you can run or bike for exactly as long as you want.

Once you get cleaned up and are ready to explore the nightlife, Uptown is full of great places to hang with the locals. LynLake Brewery is located just a few blocks from the lakes in the heart of uptown. It has a rooftop complete with a fire pit and a view of the city to rival the rest. For the gamers in your group, Up-Down is a top notch spot filled with giant Jenga and Connect Four, craft beer, and a variety of video games like Mario Kart and Frogger in addition to 90s TV shows like Rugrats and Ah! Real Monsters on repeat. Bryant-Lake Bowl is the place to go to drink, eat, and bowl until 2 am. The best part? The bowling is totally free (as long as you’re buying a drink).

Day Three

There are some excellent trails to discover at Fort Snelling State Park.There are some excellent trails to discover at Fort Snelling State Park. Jeanne W

On your third and final day, make your way across the river to the less-explored St. Paul side of the Twin Cities. Here you’ll find fewer hipsters, but just as many outdoor opportunities and local beer options. The Minnesota River Trail is an expansive, 318-mile water trail that stretches from Big Stone Lake in the northern part of the state to where it meets the mighty Mississippi River near St. Paul’s Fort Snelling State Park. Here, you can take off for an exploration of the last few miles of the massive river trail or trot along any of the historic fort’s 18 miles of hiking trails.

If you’ve been dying to get some time on your mountain bike, continue east to Battle Creek Regional Park. The trail system here has 4.5 miles of singletrack and 3.3 miles of multi-use trails with rolling hills and steep climbs through the forest.

For lunch, catch a food truck and a pint at Bad Weather Brewing Company, a local favorite that prides itself on crafting beer that is “untethered and unpredictable, just like the weather here in Minnesota.” As such, their brews are always in flux, constantly offering something new to their loyal band of followers. If none of the seasonal options tickle your fancy, try one of the popular flagship brews, like the hoppy Windvane Red IPA or the citrusy Hopcromancer American IPA.

Post-feast, put in a solid climbing session at Vertical Endeavors, one of the largest indoor gyms in the country. They have a location in Minneapolis, too, but the one on Phalen Boulevard and Arcade Street/U.S. 61 is just a few miles from Bad Weather. With more than 18,000 feet of climbing space, offering top-roping, two bouldering spaces, an auto-belay device, and lead-climbing routes, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon. The gym also features a Nicros A.R.T.Wall™, made from molds of real rock for a natural look and feel.

Finish your weekend at the Summit Brewing Company, the source of the national favorite, or the Wabasha Brewing Company. You can’t go wrong with either, but the latter is “just a stone’s throw” from the Wabasha Street Caves—one of the most fun and well-kept secrets in the Twin Cities.

With so much to do, this itinerary is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to adventure in the Twin Cities, and that’s not even touching the Great Lakes (a mere 2.5-hour drive away). As you can see, there is plenty to keep you busy for weeks, months, or even years, so you may want to carve out a few long weekends to visit this northern state.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by PunkToad

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Portland, Maine



Known for lobster, miles of coastline, and landscapes that have inspired artists for centuries, Portland may be our coziest Trail to Tavern® city yet. Once the capital of Maine and still the largest city in the state, this industrial town has turned into a true foodie destination with about 200 restaurants and more than 20 breweries (and that number grows each year). Pair that with more than 70 miles of urban trails, and you’ve got a full weekend ahead.

But with so many options, how do you make the most out of three days in Portland? Even just walking, eating, and drinking your way across the Forest City would be considered a major accomplishment. But we’re going to get you off the peninsula, too, and pack as much as possible into the three days you have here.

Day One

The Eastern Promenade is easily accessible from downtown, and is a popular spot for locals.The Eastern Promenade is easily accessible from downtown, and is a popular spot for locals. murphman61

Start your first day at sunrise (trust us, it’s worth it!) on Munjoy Hill. The spot is located in the Eastern Promenade, and you’ll have the best vantage point for breathtaking views of Casco Bay, Fort Gorges out on Hog Island Ledge, and other nearby islands. The “Eastern Prom” offers a 2.1-mile paved and stone trail along the water that is perfect for running or biking, and also connects to the 3.6-mile Back Cove Loop if you want to add in more mileage.

After finishing your run back at the Eastern Prom, take a dip in the ocean at East End Beach, or bring your kayak or canoe and launch right off the beach or the boat ramp. (You can also rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board at the promenade.) Paddle around the bay, or go under Tukey’s Bridge to the calm Back Cove.

By now, everyone else will probably be awake, so make your way down the hill for coffee at Coffee by Design on India Street with some of the friendly locals. Committed to the environment, their partners in South America, and the community, the micro roaster offers up perfectly brewed flavored coffees (and single origin black coffee, too!) and tasty pastries like handmade donuts from The Holy Donut.

After a little breakfast, head over to the Casco Bay Lines’ terminal for a 20-minute ferry ride out to the biggest nearby island, Peaks Island. The first boat leaves at 5:45 am, and then every hour after that until the last boat at 11:30 pm. The schedule may vary, so check the ferry website.

You’ll need fuel for your upcoming adventure, so stock your backpack full of bread, cheese, meat, and delicious spreads from Rosemont Market or Standard Baking Co. before boarding the boat.

Once you do get out to the island, beeline it to Brad’s Island Bike Rentals & Repairs. Making your way around the island via pedal power is the best way to take in all in. You’ll find birds to watch, beaches to explore (check out the back shore), and Battery Steele, a fortification from World War Two. The Umbrella Cover Museum is a quirky little place featuring (you guessed it!) umbrella covers, and with a motto of “Celebrate the Mundane!”

Of course, paddling is almost always an option when you’re on an island, and the Maine Island Kayak Company is the place for rentals or guided tours. There are half-day and full-day options that are suitable for beginners or those with a little more experience, and your guide will take you out to “secret” areas that are tough to find on your own (think a lighthouse, a lagoon with starfish and lobsters, and more). If you have self-survival skills, they will rent you a kayak in the warmer months of July and August, but the tours are worth checking out.

It’s 100% okay to bring a boat beer for the ride back, so stop by Hannigan’s Island Market (about a three-minute walk from the ferry) for a wide selection of local brews. Sometimes you can even snag a seasonal beer that is sold out on the mainland!

Once you get back on the mainland, head over towards the Back Cove to the family-owned Rising Tide Brewing Company. Making small-batch beers with an “aim to create well-balanced beers that are inspired by old world traditions but with modern twists,” they offer tours and tastings throughout the week. You’ll also find a food truck there most days.

If you didn’t find something to snack on at Rising Tide, wrap up your day with dinner at The Thirsty Pig, serving up house-made sausages and local beer. With options ranging from a pork sausage with Thai chili sauce to a Lithuanian Kielbasa, this place is a must stop for good beer and food. You can even get vegan chili and vegan hot dogs for the non-meat eaters in your crew.

Where to Stay

Portland has several chain hotels, but for an authentic experience, look into a bed and breakfast. There are several in town, each with their own character. The Danforth Inn is just south of downtown, near the Casco Bridge, and is housed in the renovated Old Port Mansion. A few blocks away, the Inn at Park Spring is a little smaller with just five rooms in an old brick house dating back to 1835. A third option is the Inn at St. John, which is a little closer to a hotel than a B&B. With 39 rooms, it’s the oldest continuously operating Victorian inn (built in 1897).

Day Two

Founded in 1995, Allagash Brewing Company focuses on Belgian beers.Founded in 1995, Allagash Brewing Company focuses on Belgian beers. Allagash Brewing Company

After filling your first day around and on the water, we’re heading inland for day two. Before leaving the peninsula, though, fuel up at Tandem Coffee Roasters on Congress Street in the West End. The cafe is known for espresso and drip coffee, as well as muffins and mouth-watering cinnamon rolls.

A 30-minute drive from Tandem will get you to Pownal’s Bradbury Mountain State Park. The park is home to nine trails ranging from flat and easy to steep with sharp turns, all converging at Bradbury’s summit, with views of Casco Bay and Portland’s skyline on a clear day. The trails are short (the longest is 1.5 miles), but it’s easy to link them up for more mileage. All of them are open to foot traffic, but a few are open to mountain biking and horseback riding, so be aware of who might be coming up behind you.

After working up an appetite, drive just a half-mile back to Pownal Center to Edna and Lucy’s, a locally-owned cafe serving up a menu of quick bites like sandwiches, wraps, salads, and soups. The options change daily, but make sure that you save room for dessert—they have some of the best old-fashioned German donuts in the state!

Pownal is very rural compared to Portland, but it’s a mere five miles from downtown Freeport. This former sleepy village is now a busy retail outlet town, so Main Street offers all kinds of shopping for clothing, jewelry, and outdoor apparel. Turn off Main onto Bow Street and see what’s new in the local Toad&Co store while you’re in town.

After leaving downtown Freeport, point your GPS south towards Maine Beer Company on your way out of town. While Maine Beer Co. is all about their beer, they’re also a brewer with a conscience, committed to reducing, reusing, and recycling. Knowing that you’re supporting a company who cares about the environment might just make their Lunch IPA or Maine Peeper taste even better than they already do!

If you want to grab one more drink on your way back to Portland, stop by Allagash Brewing Company right off the Maine Turnpike. Allagash focuses on Belgian-inspired beers and is known for their flagship Belgian white. They offer 10 beers year-round, plus some limited editions, and a few brewed with spontaneous fermentation, a traditional Belgian method of cooling hot, unfermented wort overnight with outside air. They offer free tours and tastings daily (by reservation), just get there before they close at 6 pm!

Right across the street from Allagash is Foundation Brewing Company, with a core line of more traditional beers (an American IPA, a brown ale, etc.), but also unique flavors like the cherry Magnus and an apricot sour ale.

Once you get back to town, meander over to the other side of the city for pad thai or drunken noodles at Boda, then watch the sun set over the Western Promenade.

Day Three

There’s plenty to discover when hiking the trails in Portland. Terry CockburnThere’s plenty to discover when hiking the trails in Portland. Terry Cockburn

Spend your last day in Maine hitting the trails in Portland. Portland Trails, a nonprofit urban land trust, maintains the 70 miles devoted to hiking, walking, and mountain biking throughout Greater Portland. Visit the Presumpscot River Preserve, a 48-acre public preserve, for a tough 2.5-mile route through a ravine and wooded areas to the Presumpscot River. Another solid option is taking Andrews Avenue out to Mackworth Island, a legislated bird sanctuary. The 1.25-mile loop on Mackworth is relatively flat and follows the perimeter of the island. There are fantastic views of Casco Bay, and also a few side trails that lead down the steep slopes to the beach.

What better way to wrap up a Trail to Tavern weekend than with a trip on the environmentally friendly Maine Brew Bus? Rarely does a month pass without word that yet another brewery has opened, so the easiest way to hit some of the best spots is to hop aboard the bus and leave everything in the capable hands of your tour director and bus driver.

The company offers several different tour options, from the Southern Crawl through southern Portland to Breaking Brews (exploring the newest breweries) to the Curling and Brew Tour that throws in a trip to the Portland Ice Arena for some friendly competition before heading to two local breweries.

Before you leave town, we highly recommend taking your time to enjoy a family-style meal at Empire Chinese Kitchen in the heart of the city’s art district. Known for their dim sum (tasty Chinese dumplings filled with things like mushrooms, pork, and lobster), their extensive menu offers something for everyone, including vegetarians and vegans.

Right about now, you’ll begin to wonder how the last three days have flown by—and there’s still so much to see! The good news is that the friendly locals will welcome you back to the Portland of the East whenever you’re ready, but you’ll be planning your next trip in no time.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Allagash Brewing Company

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Seattle


It’s hard to say what Seattleites love more: getting outside or drinking locally crafted beer. Luckily, in this Trail to Tavern® city, you don’t have to choose just one. With more than 40 breweries and tons of ways to get outside (hiking, trail running, cycling, and paddle boarding, to name a few), Seattle certainly has plenty of opportunities to squeeze in visits to both trails and taverns. Here’s our guide for how to make the most of your three-day weekend in the Emerald City.

Day One

Discovery Park is the largest public park in the city. Samantha LarsonDiscovery Park is the largest public park in the city. Samantha Larson.

Start your first day with a lap around one of Seattle’s most popular spots: Discovery Park. Whether you are driving up I-5 or coming in from the airport, take a detour to stop at Cherry Street Coffee House. There are 10 locations around Seattle, and each one has a unique store design. Grab a coffee or tea and a bagel (or housemade quiche!) and continue to the largest park in the city, covering more than 500 acres on a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound.

The 2.8-mile Discovery Park Loop (there’s also a four-mile option) weaves through forests and meadows, past sea cliffs and sandy beaches, while offering stellar views of Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains, and Puget Sound. With steep hills that are sure to get your heart pumping, running through Discovery Park is an equally delicious way to wake up as sipping on a handcrafted latte—and here in Seattle, that’s saying something.

If you’ve got some energy left, stop by for a quick session at Vertical World, America’s first climbing gym, which is about a mile to the east. Bring a towel, and you’ll be able to take a hot shower here before getting on with your day, too.

Grab a flight at the Pike Brewing Company.Grab a flight at the Pike Brewing Company. +Russ

From here, make your way downtown for lunch at another classic Seattle site: Pike’s Place Market. Jump in the long line to get a frappuccino from the original Starbucks and grab a sandwich, falafel, or hom bow from one of the outdoor food vendors. Don’t miss the famous fish throwing spectacle, then head over to the Pike Brewing Company for the 3 pm tour and tasting, where you’ll learn about the art of brewing and try out some samples. This family-owned establishment was founded in 1989 by Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, who dedicated themselves to brewing after falling in love with beer while traveling in Europe. From Belgian lambics to English ales, they wanted to bring these flavors back to the Pacific Northwest. The brewery really took off when they concocted the Pike IPA in 1990, which is still one of their most popular drinks.

After a tasting at Pike, spend some time exploring the market, the waterfront, and maybe take a ride or two on Seattle’s Great Wheel for picturesque views of the city and the Puget Sound.

Finish the night with dinner back at Pike’s Place Market at one of Seattle’s newest breweries, the Old Stove Brewing Co. Just because the brewery is the new kid in town, don’t think that Scott Barron, the head brewer, is a greenhorn: he came to Old Stove after stints at three other local breweries. If you like a bold tasting beer, try the Touch Too Much IPA (though we think it’s just the right amount of hops), or the Streaker Citra Ale for something a little lighter and brighter. Pair either option with a Fresh Dip sandwich and you’ll be set.

** Where to Stay**

Get some sleep in a uniquely Seattle abode by renting a houseboat or a sailboat on Airbnb. If you would rather stay on dry land, Hotel Max is a solid alternative—and they offer free craft beer during happy hour (what more could you ask for?).

Day Two

The route to Colchuck Lake makes for a wonderful day hike.The route to Colchuck Lake makes for a wonderful day hike. laffertyryan

For day two, get out of the city and into the wilderness by taking a trip to Leavenworth, a Bavarian-themed village nestled in the Central Cascades. But don’t be fooled by this quirky tourist town—it’s the gateway to some of Washington’s best outdoor adventures. At 2.5 hours away, it’s a bit of a drive from Seattle, but well worth it. Get an early start and book it to Pioneer Coffee Roasting Company along I-90 in North Bend for breakfast and cup of joe before continuing on.

Since you’ll likely want to eat lunch on-the-go, swing by family-owned Good Mood Food once you get to Leavenworth for snacks and a sandwich, and then let the adventure begin.

The Enchantments have been called an alpine paradise, and as soon as you find yourself surrounded by granite boulders and blue alpine lakes (maybe even mountain goats!), you’ll understand why. You could spend a lifetime exploring the area, but the eight-mile out-and-back hike to Colchuck Lake is a great option if you only have a day. You’ll hike through the forest and across several streams before tackling a series of switchbacks. After more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Dragontail Peak, Colchuck Peak, and the Colchuck Glacier.

Leavenworth is also home to one of the best climbing areas in the state, with a high concentration of sweet boulder problems, trad routes, and sport climbs. The Washington Climbers Coalition is an excellent resource for information on the climbing here.

After a day filled with adventure, stop by Leavenworth’s Icicle Brewing Company for a bite to eat and a drink before hitting the road. Try their Colchuck Raspberry Wheat, fermented with Willamette Valley raspberries, with a turkey sandwich or salad.

Once you get back to Seattle, celebrate the day with a cold one (or two!) from Two Beers Brewing Company in Seattle’s Industrial District. After spending several years perfecting the art of homebrewing from his kitchen, Joel VandenBrink decided to take the craft even further and founded the company in 2007. The brewery now produces almost 6,000 barrels every year. The Day Hike, a light and crisp lemony summer session ale, is the perfect way to top off the day’s activities.

Day Three

The Burke-Gilman Trail is part of 90 miles of biking trails in Seattle.The Burke-Gilman Trail is part of 90 miles of biking trails in Seattle. Seattle Parks

Ease into day three with brunch in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. A good place to start is with a Belgian-style street waffle with sweet or savory toppings from Sweet Iron Waffles or a traditional Syrian breakfast at Mamnoon. Then grab a bike from a local rental shop and head north for a leisurely ride along the Burke-Gilman Trail, a paved bike path that hugs the shores of Lake Washington, Lake Union, and the Ship Canal. The greenery lining the trail is, in part, thanks to the tree-planting efforts of organizations like the local conservation group Forterra.

Check out the salmon ladder at the Ballard Locks as you ride to the end of the Burke to Golden Gardens, a beach on Puget Sound with magnificent views of the Olympic Mountains on a clear day. Rent a paddleboard or kayak and take the easy, two-mile trip out to the Discovery Park Lighthouse. (Keep your eyes peeled for jellyfish below and seals frolicking in the water around you!)

The Burke also offers excellent access to some of the best breweries in town, so get ready for a little brewery hopping on the return trip as you wrap up your weekend in Seattle. Stoup Brewing is the product of a scientist and self-proclaimed beer geek, with a goal to brew the best beer scientifically possible. Just a block away is Reuben’s Brews, whose beers have won awards both nationally and internationally. If you order a pie from Zeeks or Ballard Pizza, you will not only get a discount, but you can also take it into Reuben’s with you.

The family-owned Maritime Pacific Brewing Company’s seafaring theme and traditional recipes are a hat-tip to the Ballard neighborhood’s roots as a fishing town. Try the Old Seattle Lager, made with Cascade hops, or the Flagship Red, both available year round. And just a little farther away is Hale’s Ales Brewery & Pub and the Fremont Brewing Company.

Did we mention that Seattle has a lot of breweries?

But don’t worry about hitting them all in this trip—you need a reason to start planning your next visit, right?

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by David Herrera

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Philadelphia



Philadelphia might be best known for cheesesteaks and ‘Brotherly Love’, but this trail to tavern city is working hard to earn a new nickname: America’s Best Beer City. Philadelphians love drinking and brewing beer so much that they’ve dedicated an entire week to the craft each year. For outdoor enthusiasts looking to pair ales with hiking trails, America’s 5th biggest city has a ton to offer—if you know where to find it. From trekking on the Appalachian Trail to exploring the wilds of the Wissahickon, you can spend time in nature without even leaving the city limits. Follow this long-weekend itinerary for some of the best outdoor activities (and the best beer!) that the city has to offer.

Day One

No visit to the America’s birthplace is complete without seeing a landmark steeped in history. Kickoff your day at Valley Forge National Historical Park, where General George Washington’s Continental Army set up camp during the original British Invasion in 1777. Take some time to tour Washington’s headquarters then go forth to conquer Mount Misery and Mount Joy. It’s just over 4 miles (if you climb both) of lush, wooded trails. You’ll pass a dilapidated, old bottling plant, a covered bridge from the 1800s and eventually pop out at the summit of Mount Joy. America the beautiful, indeed!

On your way back from Valley Forge, grab a beer in the Philly neighborhood of Manayunk. Its vibrant Main Street is home to more than 60 funky shops and restaurants, and the most scenic spot for lunch is Manayunk Brewing Company. Order a flight and hang out on the massive riverside deck overlooking the Schuylkill River.

After a cold drink, make your way to Center City and grab lunch at the Reading Terminal Market. This farmer’s market has all kinds of restaurants, ranging from Thai food to burger joints, but it’s pretty much a requirement to get yourself a cheesesteak when in Philly. By George! Pizza, Pasta and Cheesesteaks is one of the best. It’s also a good option to pick up a slice of pizza if cheesesteaks aren’t your thing.

After filling up at the market, take it easy and rent a bike from Philadelphia’s Indego bike share. Saddle up and cruise on one of America’s best urban trails: the Schuylkill River Trail. Take in views of the Philadelphia skyline as you ride along the water, and continue up the riverfront to the Philadelphia Art Museum. Movie aficionado or not, channel your inner Rocky Balboa as you ascend the steps. And if you throw up your arms in celebration at the top, we won’t judge.

To get a true education on Philadelphia’s beer scene, head straight to the source. Tucked down a dark, inconspicuous alley in the heart of the city, you’ll find McGillin’s Olde Ale House. As Philadelphia’s oldest continuously operating bar, the beer’s been flowing here since 1860 and hasn’t stopped since – not even during Prohibition (hence the dark, inconspicuous alley). McGillin’s is still the rowdiest ale house in town, but they’re serious about great beer. You’ll find 30 beers on tap, with a focus on eastern Pennsylvania breweries and three signature brews: McGillin’s Real Ale, McGillin’s Genuine Lager, and McGillin’s 1860 IPA.

McGillin’s has typical bar fare (think nachos and mozzarella sticks), but also has a full menu with everything from pizza and salad to full-on entrees like chicken parm, meatloaf, and a German sausage platter.

Where to Stay

After a long day, head to the revitalized Fishtown neighborhood to get a good night’s sleep. This up-and-coming neighborhood currently has just one hotel—a four-room boutique called Wm. Mulherin’s Sons. Housed in a restored 1800s whiskey distillery that bore the same name, Muhlerin’s shares its space with one of the city’s best restaurants and is walking distance from the best breweries and taphouses around.

Day Two

After a potentially long night at McGillan’s, you may need a little pick-me-up to start day two. Luckily, just a couple blocks from the hotel is the Gryphon Coffee Company. Check out the local art on display while you sip your latte and then head out to escape the city’s hustle and bustle with a mountain bike ride or trail run in Wissahickon Valley Park.

Just beyond the city’s art museums, this forest haven is technically within city limits but feels worlds apart. Out of eye and earshot of Philadelphia, explore some of the 50 miles of rugged trails winding through the gorge. Look for remnants of the old milling industry: crumbling dams, preserved homes and roadhouses, and the only covered bridge left in Philadelphia.

Despite the name, Forbidden Drive is one of the easiest trails at the park, with a gentle grade and wide gravel path. The 5.35-mile route follows the Wissahickon Creek from one end of the park to the other, and is popular for biking or an easy trail run. For more of a challenge, try the 4.39-mile White Trail. You’ll find technical singletrack with some steep sections along the eastern side of the park.

Once you’ve worked up a sweat, head to Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood for a free tour and tasting at Philadelphia Brewing Company. Every Saturday, this local brewery opens their doors to the public from 12-3 p.m., and the vibe is totally casual—no reservations necessary. You’ll learn about the brewing process and they say you might even pick up a few useful tidbits of information as well. Try year-round classics like the Kenzinger, a crisp, light golden beer that you’ll find all over town or the PHL Session IPA if you like it hoppy.

From Philadelphia Brewing Company, grab another Indego bike and head down Christopher Columbus Blvd. to Spruce Street Harbor Park on the Delaware River Waterfont. Grab a bite to eat at one of the vendors or at the floating (that’s right, floating) restaurant, and then hang out in one of the colorful handmade hammocks. You can also take a walk along the boardwalk, play one of the many games available (bocce ball, life-sized chess or Connect Four), or play traditional boardwalk games housed in converted shipping containers. This pop-up park is open from May – September.

From the park, go about three miles north for a drink at the Evil Genius Beer Company, an old auto body shop turned innovative beer lab. The ridiculous names and unique flavor combinations make for a memorable pit-stop. Try the Purple Monkey Dishwasher, a chocolate peanut butter porter, or the I Love Lamp, a pineapple Hefeweizen. And if you need a 90’s video game fix, a vintage Sega Genesis is calling your name (that’s the actual game console, not a beer, FYI). They’ve got a kitchen too, so stock up on hoagies and sloppy joes, too.

The night doesn’t have to end there: less than a half-mile walk from Evil Genius, get a taste of Germany on Fishtown’s bustling Frankford Avenue. The massive indoor-outdoor beer garden at Frankford Hall is the place to challenge your friends to a round of Jenga or foosball. Go big and order a giant one-liter stein of German (or local) beer, and pair it was a Bavarian soft pretzel the size of your face.

Day Three

For your last day, we’ve got one more hike for you, and it’s a toughie. Drive 90 mins to the town of Hamburg and jump on the 8.7-mile Appalachian Trail circuit to the Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock. The high point of the AT in Pennsylvania, Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock’s expansive vistas make this steep, rocky trek worthwhile.

Another Option

If you want to get a different perspective on the city, head back over to the Schuylkill River and rent a kayak or paddle board from Hidden River Outfitters. Located at the Walnut Street Dock, Hidden River also runs tours a couple days a week during the summer. Paddlers of all levels will feel comfortable on the waterway, and the outfitter offers moonlight kayak tours and movie nights if you end up staying for one more night.

Top off an adventure-filled weekend than one last pint at Yards Brewing, a Philadelphia mainstay since 1994. Rent an Indego bike and follow the paved East Coast Greenway to this riverside brewery. Free tours are offered from 12-4 p.m. and you should take it. You’ll learn why Philadelphia water is tops for beer production and how Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale is made (hint: it’s a historically accurate beer made from the original recipe that ol’ TJ brewed at Monticello).

When it comes to food, Yards has you covered – they feature a different local food truck every Saturday, while Oink & Moo BBQ is there every Sunday. You can also load up a bowl of homemade bison and beef chili, nachos, or a sandwich to fill your stomach before calling it a weekend. Just make sure you get there before last call (usually around 7 p.m.).

Don’t say we didn’t warn you: it only takes a couple days to fall in love with a place like Philadelphia. Between the tasty beer, extensive trail network, and historical landmarks, the city of Brotherly Love offers something for everyone. Don’t be surprised if you start planning your next trip on the ride home.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Montgomery County Planning Commision

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Golden



Golden might be the best little Trail to Tavern® town in Colorado. It’s only about 15 miles from the heart of Denver, but somehow has that sleepy mountain town feel. North and South Table Mountains keep it hidden from the plains, and Clear Creek Canyon offers access to endless paddling, climbing, hiking, and mountain biking opportunities. The name fits, too—it was established during the mid-19th century Pikes Peak Gold Rush. Golden’s quaint main drag, Washington Avenue, sums up the friendly town’s attitude with a sign that reads “Howdy Folks!”

If you’re not already sold on Golden, consider its biggest export—craft beer. The town’s best-known resident is the Coors Brewery, but it’s not just big beer that’s brewed here. Golden is home to several excellent craft breweries, all gathering places for adventurers fresh off a bike ride at North Table Mountain or a paddle in Clear Creek. Make the most of a three-day weekend in Golden with this trail-to-tavern itinerary.

Day One

Rocky Mountain National Park is about 90 minutes away from Golden, and has tons of hiking and bouldering opportunities.Rocky Mountain National Park is about 90 minutes away from Golden, and has tons of hiking and bouldering opportunities. Miguel Vieira

Start your first day with a delicious breakfast burrito at the family-owned La Casa del Sabor, and then kick off your weekend with an adventure into the Wild West. From downtown Golden, head west towards Clear Creek Canyon on the bike path. Keep an eye out for a small sign marking the start of the Chimney Gulch Trail, which makes for a lung buster of a mountain bike ride up technical singletrack. Follow Chimney Gulch to the Windy Saddle area (a good place to stop for killer views of the canyon), then follow the road to the top of Lookout Mountain.

The Lookout summit is chock full of history: it’s not only the final resting place of the legendary Buffalo Bill, but you’ll also find a museum here dedicated to his life. Spend some time checking out the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, then head back down the mountain. The trip will be about seven miles when it’s all said and done, and keep your eyes peeled for the giant “M” on the east face of Mount Zion—a symbol of the local Colorado School of Mines that has been around since the early 1900s.

Follow the bike path back to Washington Avenue, the Main Street of Golden. After your trip up Lookout Mountain you’ll probably be on the verge of hangry, so pick one of the many restaurants for a bite to eat—like the Buffalo Rose Saloon that dates back to 1858 or the Old Capitol Grill with its old Western atmosphere. After that, take your time looking at the shops (make sure you check out the new Toad&Co store!) and old buildings along Washington Avenue. Learn about the history of mountaineering at the museum in the American Mountaineering Center, or head to the other side of the highway to see the Colorado Railroad Museum, with a 15-acre rail yard and artifacts from the days of Buffalo Bill.

Top off the afternoon with a stop at Golden City Brewery, historically the second-largest brewery in Golden, and enjoy a Lookout Stout or a Clear Creek Gold Pale Ale. Like most of Golden’s breweries, you’ll find a food truck at GCB most nights.

Where to stay: Table Mountain Inn is the perfect base camp for your Golden adventures. It’s right on Washington Avenue, so you’re steps away from all the action. You can’t miss it: the adobe-style hotel stands out and brings just the right amount of Southwestern charm. Also, they have a great happy hour (think $6 margaritas the size of your head), and a restaurant with Southwestern-inspired meals.

Day Two

New Belgium Brewing is known around the country for their tasty beer.New Belgium Brewing is known around the country for their tasty beer. +Russ

Golden has tons of breweries per capita, but its northerly neighbor is home to the Colorado’s best-known brewery, so we’re heading to Fort Collins for day two. Before you set out, though, walk about a block from your hotel to get a cup of coffee or chai from Cafe 13. Offering homemade pastries, bagels, and eggs to order, Cafe 13 will set you up for a day of adventure.

Hop in the car and get on I-25 north to Fort Collins, home of 100% employee-owned New Belgium Brewing. New Belgium is among the country’s largest craft breweries, and it’s not hard to see why their beer can be found all over the country—you’re probably already familiar with beloved brews like the Fat Tire Amber Ale and the Ranger IPA. Take a 90-minute tour of their brewing facility, which includes beer tastings (score!). Tours fill quickly, especially on weekends, so you’ll want to reserve your tickets online in advance. The brewery offers several tours daily between 11:30 AM and 4:30 PM. (Local tip: If you get up to FoCo before your tour starts, stop at Lucile’s Creole Cafe for a homemade, New Orleans-style beignet.)

After your tour, get a real Colorado-style mountain pie at Beau Jo’s. Order your pizza by the pound—one, two, three, or five—and then load it up with fresh toppings. The crust around the edges is super thick to hold all that flavor in, and you’ll see locals dipping the crust in honey to finish it off.

Horsetooth Reservoir is another great spot for trail running or for throwing down a crash pad and bouldering a bit.Horsetooth Reservoir is another great spot for trail running or for throwing down a crash pad and bouldering a bit. Angelika Boyko

Next up on the agenda is hitting the trails at nearby Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. Its namesake reservoir was created by four separate earthen dams, each built in 1949. Today, Horsetooth is a recreational playground. Bring a crash pad to check out the excellent bouldering (there are tons of moderates here) or lace up your trail shoes to go for a run on the park’s many well-maintained trails.

Bonus: Feeling ambitious? Include a side trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in your day. It’s about an hour and a half drive west of Fort Collins, but has tons of hiking and bouldering. Lots of park roads are closed during the snowy winter months, but after Memorial Day, drive up Trail Ridge Road for panoramic views of the Rockies.

Whenever you’re ready, drive back down I-25 to Golden and get some sleep before your last day.

Day Three

Holidaily Brewing Company is the only dedicated gluten-free brewery in Colorado.Holidaily Brewing Company is the only dedicated gluten-free brewery in Colorado. Holidaily Brewing Co.

Thanks to its location at the base of the Rocky Mountain foothills, Golden offers access to tons of high-quality trails, all of which are walkable from downtown. This also means it’s entirely possible to do a pub crawl using the trails right out your back door.

Start your tour de brew with a trail run or bike ride on North Table Mountain. Take the 7.5-mile North Table Loop around this spectacular mesa, or mix-and-match the many trails that criss-cross its plateau. The steep, half-mile fire road from the west side parking lot to the top of the mesa also accesses some of Golden’s best single-pitch trad climbing.

If you have been searching far and wide for gluten-free beer, look no further than Holidaily Brewing Company. The only dedicated gluten-free brewery in the state, their beers are well-loved by everyone, gluten sensitivity or not. Just down the road, you can pop into Cannonball Creek Brewing Company, where you’ll find anywhere from 8-14 beers on tap at any given time, including many that have been awarded medals at the Great American Beer Festival.

Running right through downtown Golden, Clear Creek offers tubing and whitewater paddling, as well as a lovely trail that is perfect for biking or walking.Running right through downtown Golden, Clear Creek offers tubing and whitewater paddling, as well as a lovely trail that is perfect for biking or walking. Grant Bishop

If you’ve been itching to get out on the water, you’ll love the Clear Creek Whitewater Park. Designed for more experienced paddlers, this free, quarter-mile course includes boulders, drops, pools, and eddies. If tubing is more your speed, the best place for this is right around downtown, where the water will be the calmest. (Locals recommend not starting any higher than Tunnel 1 on Route 6.) Check in with Golden River Sports on Washington Avenue if you need any information before heading out.

After getting your water fix, stop by Mountain Toad Brewing Company, a local favorite that’s just two blocks away from Clear Creek on Washington. Depending on the day, sip a sour, stout, or saison out on the patio.

Finish up the weekend with a jaunt to the top of the aptly-named Castle Rock on South Table Mountain, which boasts the best views in Golden. Take the Golden Summit Trail from the dead end at 19th and Belvedere Streets, and get ready to go up. The trail is short (only about two miles round trip) and not as steep as the Sleeping Elk Trail, but will still be a decent workout.

Round out the brew crawl with a stop at Barrels & Bottles Brewery, where you’ll find an assortment of drinks from beer to wine slushies to kombucha on tap. Before heading home, play a few board games with your friends or family as you recount your amazing Colorado adventure (and plan your next one).

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Ken Lund

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Grand Rapids

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While the Great Lakes are often overlooked in favor of the mountains or the coasts, when it comes to adventure we’d argue that the area is worth a second look. With access to miles and miles of hiking and biking trails, easy paddling, whitewater rapids and more than 40 local breweries to grab a pint, Grand Rapids is a great home base for any Trail to Tavern weekend. The second-largest city in Michigan is going from Furniture City to Beer City USA. We’re not kidding – Grand Rapids has won the titles of “Best Beer Town” and “Best Beer Scene” multiple years in a row! If that’s not enough of a reason to head north, check out this three-day, action-packed itinerary. You’ll be packing your bags in no time.

Day One

Grand River Open Space is a 279 acre, undeveloped wetland on the Grand River.Grand River Open Space is a 279 acre, undeveloped wetland on the Grand River. Sam Brown

Start out your weekend at a Grand Rapids staple, Marie Catrib’s. Some might even say you haven’t *really *been to the west side of Michigan without a pilgrimage for Marie’s incomparable breakfast potatoes. Organically grown and locally sourced, Marie’s offers a full array of options from the city’s best vegan dishes to the seriously mouthwatering “Kate’s Corned Beef Hash”.

After getting your fill of the tastiest bacon around, pay homage to the city’s namesake by paddling on the Grand River. Rent the vessel of your choice from Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus and then head back downtown to paddle on the Grand. There are multiple launch spots, so choose yours based on how long you’d like to be on the water. The staff at Bill and Paul’s is always a good source for suggestions and general knowledge of the local area if you want some tips, especially considering that there are several dams to navigate around, necessitating a few portages. These dams were originally put in to tame the rapids for the furniture shipments, but now they serve mostly as a congregating point for fishermen.

The Grand Rapids Whitewater project is actually advocating for the removal of the dams and a return to the river’s natural rapids state, which would turn downtown Grand Rapids into a whitewater playground. Sounds like a good idea to us. Learn more about their efforts and how you can get involved here.

Stay downtown and check out the Downtown Market. Modeled after open-air style European markets, you’ll find a variety of flavors under one roof. Try Social Kitchen & Bar for killer fries, or Slows for barbecue (by the pound) and hard cider.

From here, you have some options. For the anglers, rent yourself a fly rod from Nomad Anglers and hit the city. There are a few urban fishing hotspots, but the best are along the river path behind the Amway Grand.

If fishing isn’t your thing, lace up your running shoes and hit the Grand River Edges Trail. Following the banks of the river downtown where there are a few options to connect to Kent Trails and Millennium Park. There’s also 2.2 miles of paved trail in Riverside Park. For a tour of the city by foot, take the trail from Fulton Street to the 6th Street Bridge, passing the original rapids and some of the main attractions in town (like the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum).

Founders Brewery has great food and great beer.Founders Brewery has great food and great beer. Founders Brewing Co

For dinner, head to Founders Brewery. Founders is the crown jewel of the Grand Rapids brewing scene: it was named the third best brewery in the world in 2013 by! Dinner is ordered at a deli-style window separate from the beer ( but the roving wait staff will help you out in a pinch). The All Day IPA is a standby, or the Dirty Bastard for those who prefer dark beer with a strong punch.

Where to Stay

Airbnb is by far the best value and best experience here. Staying downtown is always fun, but look into the Heritage Hill and Eastown neighborhoods. Both are filled with historic homes that have a ton of character and easy access to the best restaurants and bars in the city.

Day Two

Sunset on Lake Michigan.Sunset on Lake Michigan. Tom Gill

No trip to Michigan is complete without playing on the Great Lakes. More like a freshwater ocean, there’s a reason why Michiganders devote their summers to water sports. With easy access and abundant resources, Ludington State Park is one of the best places in The Mitten (that’s Michigan’s shape, fyi) to experience the water.

Before driving up to the state park, grab a hearty diner breakfast at Real Food Cafe. Show up early because here’s usually a line out of the door (that’s how you know it’s good) and bring cash because they don’t take cards.

Stop by a grocery store and put together a picnic lunch for the day, then head about 90 minutes north via I-96 W and US-31 N. With more than 20 miles of trails, Ludington State Park is a great spot for hiking or trail running along the Sable River, around Hamlin Lake, or through the dunes out to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. The 112-foot, black and white striped tower is open for tours daily between May and November.

If you’re hoping to really maximize your time on the water, Ludington has something for all level paddlers: you can take a canoe out on calm Hamlin Lake or kayak in Lake Michigan. The canoe track is perfect if you have less experience, while paddling out on Lake Michigan is essentially sea kayaking without the salty brine. You can rent canoes and kayaks at different locations within the park.

When you’ve had enough (or are soaked), head to Jamesport Brewing Co for dinner. In the late 1800s, the building was a saloon for sailors on the Great Lakes. The owners continue the tradition today with good beer, tavern food and a chance to kick back after a day of rambling. You really can’t beat it.

Stay in Ludington long enough to take in a sunset from the dunes along Lake Michigan. You’ll have arguably the best view in the state, and while we’re not saying it will be the defining moment of the entire trip, it just might be.

Day Three

Start your day with breakfast tacos at Donkey Taqueria.Start your day with breakfast tacos at Donkey Taqueria. Steven Depolo

On day three, rise and shine for breakfast at Donkey Taqueria. Tacos in the Midwest? You betcha! Well-known for its margaritas, locals know that Donkey also packs a punch with its breakfast tacos. Don’t be thrown off with the all-white building with no sign—if they advertised it, there would be no seats at all.

For the afternoon, you’ll need a bike and Grand Rapid Bicycle Company can hook you up with a decent rental. A hard tail mountain bike with big wheels or a gravel rider is optimal for what’s to come.

The White Pine Trail is Michigan's second longest rail-trail.The White Pine Trail is Michigan’s second longest rail-trail. cgulker

The entire White Pine Trail trail runs 93.5 miles through the state, and just over eight of those miles connect Grand Rapids to Rockford, home to excellent mountain biking. It’s a pleasant trail that you could certainly blaze through if you’d like, but you may want to take it easy considering the afternoon ahead.

The best part is that the trail takes you straight to lunch at Rockford Brewing Company. Michigan is not a stranger to good beer (as you well know) and Rockford is a big part of that reputation. Try their “elevated” tavern food while you sample a selection of beers. Just remember to drink some water – you’ve still got an afternoon of biking ahead!

There are a few mountain bike parks to choose from: Merrell Trails, Luton Park, or Cannonsburg Ski Area. Cannonsburg is a ski resort in the winter, which means it has the most ups and downs, but Luton and Merrell are both well-designed for optimal flow, with a series of manmade and natural obstacles. Both are maintained by a hard working and vigilant group of trail volunteers and mountain bike associations.

To close out your weekend, you have to hit up Brewery Vivant for dinner. This Belgian-style brewery was converted from a funeral home to a dining establishment, so the stained glass and exposed wooden beams shine with old European charm (and trust us, it’s not as weird as it sounds). From escargot to goat pot pie, it’s pretty much impossible to go wrong here, but don’t leave without trying the duck nachos (perhaps their most famous and coveted menu item). Local tip: the weirder it sounds, the better it’ll taste. Trust. Pick up a souvenir growler of Big Red Coq IPA or a four-pack of Undertaker dark ale for home. That is, if you don’t decide to move to Grand Rapids right then and there!

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Founders Brewing Co

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in San Francisco

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San Francisco may be the ultimate Trail to Tavern® city. With sprawling public parks and wild seashores, exploring this peninsula is both rigorous and rewarding. Notorious hills offer stunning views of the greater Bay Area and a bustling beer culture gives you good reason to raise a glass. This three-day trail to tavern itinerary is a sample of San Francisco’s best brew spots and most impressive experiences. Stick to our suggestions or cut your own path – you really can’t go wrong in the City by the Bay.

Day 1

The Clift Hotel is close to Union Square and has an artsy vibe.The Clift Hotel is close to Union Square and has an artsy vibe. Thomas Hawk

Union Square is one of the most popular areas of San Francisco so it makes a great homebase for your weekend. Kick off the first morning with a crepe and coffee at Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery on the corner of Post and Taylor Streets. Obviously the crepes are the bee’s knees, but the omelettes, French toast, and Belgian waffles aren’t too shabby either.

Another option is to dive right in at HOGWASH Swine and Swill on Sutter Street. Snack on their signature fried pickles or Indian-inspired curry fries while you mull over the eclectic beer menu. They’ve got 30 beers on tap, including a solid collection of West Coast IPA’s and beers from around the world. No judgement if you go here for breakfast (you’re on holiday, remember?)

From HOGWASH, embark on a roughly one-mile urban trek through the heart of San Francisco. Head east on Sutter Street and turn left on Grant Avenue into Chinatown, a must-see feast for the senses. (Don’t forget to grab a photo under Dragon’s Gate as you walk in!) Spend some time picking up souvenirs and sampling traditional teas and pastries as you navigate the packed sidewalks. If you need a destination, Good Mong Kok bakery has excellent Dim Sum at an excellent price. You can fill up on pork buns and wontons for less than $2.

Rogue Ales Public House has a wide selection of craft beers from Rogue ales and lagers to other independent breweries.Rogue Ales Public House has a wide selection of craft beers from Rogue ales and lagers to other independent breweries. Alberto Cruz

At the intersection of Broadway and Columbus, you’ll move into the iconic North Beach neighborhood with its line-up of Italian restaurants, cozy coffee shops, and lively bars. Your next stop is Rogue Ales Public House, with an outdoor patio and more than 40 taps serving their own “Rogue Nation” beers and other brews. Sample six beers and get a half-growler to-go of your favorite beer. You’ll want it when you catch the sunset later.

After getting your fill at Rogue, get ready to work it off. One of the most exhilarating spots in all of SF, Coit Tower is the city’s 210-ft, art deco pillar sitting atop Telegraph Hill. It’s only about half a mile from Rogue (following Filbert St. from Washington Park), but the last part is straight uphill. Like we said, you’re gonna earn this view. But the views can’t be beat and the 27 frescos displayed in the tower’s ground floor offer a beautiful look at life in San Francisco during the 1920s and 30s. Art with a view? We’ll take it.

Where to Stay

Get settled into the glamorous Clift Hotel, conveniently located two blocks from Union Square. Even though most of your time will be spent exploring the city’s streetscapes and landscapes, you’ll appreciate the Clift’s artsy, upbeat vibe. There’s a quirky bar if you’re up for a nightcap and end-of-day people watching.

Day 2

The Muir Beach Loop Trail is a solid workout with amazing views on clear days, including the San Francisco and part of the Golden Gate Bridge.The Muir Beach Loop Trail is a solid workout with amazing views on clear days, including the San Francisco and part of the Golden Gate Bridge. David Abercrombie

As tempting as it might be to stay in the city the whole weekend, you don’t want to miss crossing the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin. Home to Muir Woods’ towering redwoods and the region’s highest peak (Mt. Tamalpais, “Mount Tam” to the locals), Marin is a magical corner of Northern California just half an hour from downtown SF. It could very well be heaven on earth for hikers, with miles of trails crisscrossing the rugged landscape and dipping into verdant, eucalyptus-scented valleys.

The 4.3-mile Muir Beach Loop Trail—comprised of Green Gulch Trail, Coyote Ridge Trail, and the Coastal Fire Road and Trail—packs a lot in the span of just a few hours. This moderately strenuous hike has phenomenal views, a small beach nestled in a hidden cove, and a tavern straight from the English countryside. You’ll start near the Muir Beach parking lot and walk through an organic garden. After the garden, conquer a steep climb through low brush and be rewarded with a heart-stopping panorama of the Golden Gate Recreation Area, the San Francisco skyline, and dramatic coastal cliffs. Get those cameras out! With the ocean at your side, the trail eventually leads down to Muir Beach and back to the parking lot. The trail is also open to mountain biking if you prefer your exercise on two wheels.

The perfect end to a perfect hike can be found just steps from Muir Beach at the charming Pelican Inn, a 16th-century-inspired English tavern. Overnight guests and visitors can indulge in traditional pub fare like bangers and mash and Yorkshire pudding, as well as a changing menu of fine ales, draught beers, stouts, and pilsners. On a warm day, you can order a pint from the bar and take it out to the Inn’s sprawling lawn or back patio.

Back in San Francisco, spend the rest of your day in the vibrant Mission neighborhood, which balances its strong Latino roots and artsy vibe with San Francisco’s tech elite. Make your way to the famous Mission Dolores Park, covering almost 16 acres. It’s a great place to spread out a blanket and take a nap, toss a frisbee, or join a pickup game of basketball or soccer. There are tons of festivals and cultural celebrations at the park, so you might stumble upon a truly unique experience. You may also stumble upon a pack of nude sunbathers. This is San Francisco, after all.

Do not leave Monk’s Kettle without trying the macaroni and cheese.Do not leave Monk’s Kettle without trying the macaroni and cheese. Daniel Hartwig

You’ve worked up an appetite so head over to the Mission’s Monk’s Kettle, a gastropub with 200 rotating beers and friendly staff. Try their daily “off the menu” dish—a sandwich or entrée that is made using whatever local ingredients they have in abundance that day. The mac ‘n cheese with lobster and jalapeños is the stuff legends are made of.

Day 3

Lands End is a great place for a hike near the city.Lands End is a great place for a hike near the city. Adam Fagen

For your final day, you’ll experience a whole other side of San Francisco: Lands End. Located in the northwest corner, crowded avenues give way to broad stretches of sand and magnificent bluffs. It’s raw, craggy nature at it’s finest and one of the most beautiful places in the city.

Fuel up with classic breakfast fare at the 50s-themed Lori’s Diner then drive or take SF Muni’s 38 Geary bus to the ocean. You’ll get off at Point Lobos and 48th, leaving you with just a short walk to the Lands End Lookout Visitor Center (and parking lot, if you decide to drive). From here you’ll access wind-swept coastal trails with postcard views of the Golden Gate Bridge and maybe even a shipwreck or two.

To truly see what this spot has to offer, take the four-mile out-and-back Lands End Trail, starting with a walk down to the Sutro Baths ruins. This saltwater pool was built in 1896 as the world’s largest indoor swimming complex. It burned down it the 60s and all that’s left is the ruins you see today. Continue on the trail along the rugged cliffs and after about a mile, you’ll come to a spur trail leading to Mile Rock Beach and the off-the-beaten-path stone labyrinth. Return to Lookout Point from here or go another mile to scenic Eagle’s Point before turning back.

For a longer hike, continue on the California Coastal Trail, a 9.1-mile round trip trek from Lands End to the Golden Gate Bridge and back. You’ll pass many beaches along the way if you want to take a break. It’s surprisingly less crowded than some of the other trails in the area so really take your time and soak it all in. If you’re feeling super intrepid, tack on a couple more miles by jumping on the Batteries-to-Bluffs Loop at the Presidio (part of the loop overlaps with the Coastal Trail).

After hiking for hours, kick back at the bustling Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant, less than half a mile from the Lookout Center. Across the street from Ocean Beach, this joint offers prime sunset viewing (assuming the fog hasn’t rolled in), solid American fare, and a nice selection of locally handcrafted ales. Start with the sample set of eight house made brews or try their flagship blonde V.F.W. Golden Ale.

Social Kitchen & Brewery is a just a couple blocks from Golden Gate Park.Social Kitchen & Brewery is a just a couple blocks from Golden Gate Park. Photo courtesy of Social Kitchen & Brewery

On your way back to Union Square, swing by Social Kitchen & Brewery for a killer happy hour. You’ll find a wide variety of both traditional craft brews (think Belgian-style pale ales and imperial stouts) to more unique flavors like the wine grape saison and Belgian Brett Triple with jasmine rice. The spot looks contemporary on the outside, but with high ceilings and exposed beams on the inside, you get a spacious yet cozy feel.

After dinner, mosey on back to your hotel with an urban hike through the iconic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. The birthplace of the “Summer of Love,” the Haight is known for it’s surreal murals and lively locals. Pop into any bar that catches your eye as you continue back to Union Square and end your trail to tavern weekend in San Francisco. Whether you leave your heart here or not, you’ll be back before you know it.

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Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Photo courtesy of Social Kitchen & Brewery

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Asheville

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Here’s a secret about the craft beer scene in Asheville, North Carolina: you can’t go wrong. With so much competition, each brewery has got to be at the top of its game in order to keep the doors open. Same is true for the outdoor exploration: whether you’re scouting singletrack, craving an airy mountain summit, or going in search of waterfalls, the Blue Ridge is brimming with big mountain adventure.

Still, when you’re aiming to experience the crème-de-la-crème of what this mountain town has to offer, it’s always best to ask. This three-day itinerary of trail to tavern activities in Western Carolina was brewed up by an Asheville local who excels in the fine art of pairing stout adventure with hoppy refreshment.

Day One

Paddling on the French Broad River near the Biltmore Estate.Paddling on the French Broad River near the Biltmore Estate. anoldent

Begin your long weekend with a drive along the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, America’s longest linear park. Half an hour from downtown Asheville, at milepost 364.6, you’ll find yourself at the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center. A brilliant section of the Great Craggy Mountain Range, the Gardens are characterized by steep rocky slopes, mile-high views, and high altitude meadows that blush pink with rhododendron in the summer.

Get your blood pumping with a hike to the top of the Craggy Pinnacle via the 1.5-mile round trip Craggy Pinnacle Trail. Twisted, altitude-stunted mountain ash, birch, and beech trees give way to a summit of exposed rock, a beautiful and fragile habitat for many rare plants. From there, the panoramic views of distant Appalachian peaks are sure to wet your appetite for more exploration to come.

As the morning rolls into afternoon, travel from the rugged mountaintops to the meticulous grounds of the Biltmore Estate, surrounded by thousands of acres of rolling meadows and wooded hillsides. Cruise alongside the peaceful banks of the French Broad River on a rented bike or wander along the extensive network of hiking trails to discover quiet fields, secluded forest groves and elaborate gardens.

It’s hard to believe that such pastoral beauty is only a four-minute drive from downtown Asheville, but when you’re done at the Biltmore, it’s time to head back. Allow yourself an hour just to wander through the bustling streets, browsing the local bookstores, cafés, chocolate shops and peruse the many art galleries.

For dinner, head over to Wicked Weed Brewery. You’ll recognize it by the crowds on the patio—a swarm of adventure-types nursing pints of Pernicious IPA around the fire pits. This insanely popular craft beer hotspot, housed inside a refurbished hardware store, was created by local climber turned award-winning brewmaster. The menu features ‘elevated pub gastronomy’ like a short rib burger and fried chicken sandwich, with an à la carte selection of classic southern sides.

Just south of downtown, the industrial buildings and former warehouses of the South Slope District (also known as Asheville’s Brewery District) have been chicly restored into restaurants, coffee shops, and no less than eight distinguished microbreweries. It’s hard to believe that this entire neighborhood claims only a couple of city blocks.

From the exclusively sour beers of the Funkatorium to the cult-following of Catawba’s Peanut Butter Jellytime Ale and Burial’s silky-dark donut skillet stout, each establishment in the Brewery District offers something fresh and tantalizing. Greenman is where the old-timers go, although its newly minted taproom is pretty hip, and Asheville Brewing Company’s lauded Ninja Porter is devastatingly delicious. Take our word for it—in one weekend, even the world’s thirstiest beer enthusiast could only scratch the surface of the illustrious South Slope.

Where to Sleep While there are plenty of hotels in the area, from the swanky downtown A-Loft and the Grove Park Inn to cheaper options on the outskirts, we recommend finding accommodation that’s more grounded in the local culture. A cursory search of Glamping Hub or Airbnb reveals a wealth of convenient, affordable, and off-beat lodging options in the Asheville area. Book a private cabin on the French Broad with Riverside Escapesor reserve a cozy cottage close to downtown at The Pines. Camping areas such as Montreat Family Campground and Big Creek Campground are quiet and entrenched in the wilderness, but will require a bit of driving.

Day 2

Pisgah National Forest covers more than 500,000 acres. Jeff BartlettPisgah National Forest covers more than 500,000 acres. Jeff Bartlett

Less than an hour outside of Asheville, the mountain town of Brevard is the jumping off point to some of the Southeast’s most popular outdoor recreation activities. Situated alongside the waterfall-studded DuPont State Recreational Forest, as well as the 500,000 acres of nearby Pisgah National Forest, you’ll have your pick of singletrack, multi-pitches, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

One of North Carolina’s most sought-after mountain biking trails, the seven-mile Ridgeline Loop Trail in DuPont State Recreational Forest is pure joy. It begins with a sustained, roundabout climb that never gets too steep or technical, unlike most of the trails in the area. The downhill is a flowing, curving plunge that gets delivered all in one shot. You’ll be tempted to lap it again and again, but try and pace yourself, the day is young.

Next, lace up your trail runners and throw a couple of extra power bars into your backpack—the journey to the top of Looking Glass Rock is a powerhouse. The trail, which totals 6.5 miles round trip, climbs 1,700 vertical feet over a series of serpentine switchbacks. At almost 4,000 feet above sea level, the summit is a rolling granite dome with unbroken views unfurling in every direction.

After a long day of adventure, it’s time to kick back and relax. Never before has craft beer and outdoor culture found such a perfect coexistence than at the Oskar Blues Reeb Ranch. Located just outside Brevard, the Ranch is a conglomeration of all things good: biking trails, a farmhouse-turned bed and breakfast, beer, food trucks. A daily pass to the Reeb Ranch Bike Park includes access to the Pump Track, Dual Slalom and two Jump Lines. It’s like summer camp for adults, and you’ll walk away wishing every brewery would invest in something equally awesome.

Perfectly positioned between Asheville and Brevard, the dazzling, castle-like campus of Sierra Nevada Brewery is the Hogwarts of breweries. Guided tours (available by reservation) offer a glimpse into the history, evolving tastes, and eco-friendly engineering of this extraordinary establishment. The small-plate menu takes a tapas approach to creative pub fare, with a seasonally rotating selection to match the growing season. As for the beer, don’t you dare invest in a full pour until you taste a flight or two!

Day 3

The New Belgium Brewery is a bright and airy space to enjoy a pint.The New Belgium Brewery is a bright and airy space to enjoy a pint. Kevin Stewart Photography.

Begin your final morning with a southbound cruise on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Your destination is Black Balsam Knob, whose lush, rolling scenery is the stuff of Appalachian daydreams. This high altitude meadow is a particularly gorgeous example of a mountain bald, a unique geological feature of the Southern Appalachians. Just under a half-mile on the Art Loeb Trail will lead you above the trees and onto an airy summit of wildflowers and waving grasses. For a longer hike, continue on the Art Loeb Trail towards the Shining Rock Wilderness.

As you follow the parkway back into town, you will pass the parking area to Graveyard Fields on the left (milepost 418.8) This mile-high valley, encompassed by 6,000-foot peaks, is home to two dramatic waterfalls and a number of wooden boardwalks. The area is popular for hunting wildflowers in the summer and wild blueberries in the fall. The best way to explore this unique landscape is by following the 3.2-mile Graveyard Fields Loop Trail.

Once you get back to town, it’s worth spending some time exploring Asheville’s River Arts District (RAD), a lively collection of art studios, pottery shops, and cafés on the banks of the French Broad River. Slick new eco-construction and crumbling brick warehouses comprise this eclectic neighborhood, brazenly decorated with street art, murals and statues.

Nothing exemplifies Asheville’s artistic, counterculture vibe quite like the Wedge Brewing Co. in the RAD. Order a pitcher of Iron Rail IPA and dig into a bucket of free salty peanuts. The RAD is filled with pizza shops and gastropubs, but we recommend eating dinner as the locals do—from one of the onsite food trucks like Melt Your Heart (grilled cheese) or El Kimchi, the beloved Mexican/Korean hybrid. In the age of renovated garages and art-deco interiors, the Wedge’s quirky aesthetics are a refreshing taste of authentic, old-school Asheville.

Across the French Broad River from the Wedge sits the gleaming campus of New Belgium. The tasting room, known as the Liquid Center, is bright and clean surrounded by bright garage door windows. It is a beautiful space to sit back, sip a cold pint of Fat Tire or Sunshine Wheat, and reminisce on the weekend’s many highlights. On a warm evening, sit outside on the deck to watch the French Broad flow lazily past, and begin planning your next visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Melina Coogan, Wild and Bright Photography

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Austin

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Known for its live music, tacos, and outdoor recreation, Austin does many things well. On a nice day, which is pretty standard in Texas Hill Country, Austinites know how to spend a full day that’s equal parts exploration, exertion, discovery and indulgence.

Austin has countless options for ways to spend your days in the outdoors, be it on trails or patios, but do as the locals do and opt for both. Here’s our three-day itinerary pairing the best of Austin’s trails and taverns. Live like a local for a weekend, and even get out of town for a day. Either way, you really can’t go wrong in Austin.

Day One

The boutique Heywood Hotel is within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and nightlife.The boutique Heywood Hotel is within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and nightlife. vjlawson2001

No visit to Austin is complete without a visit to one of its many greenbelts. Kick off your trip at Barton Creek Greenbelt — 13 miles of winding trails along Barton Creek, through lush green forest, over protruding root systems and past red rock walls. If you’re visiting in hotter months, start your day early to avoid the heat that comes with a Texas Summer.

Pick up the trail at Twin Falls for a particularly great hike now that Barton Creek is once again flowing. The trailhead is at 360 and Mopac, just a couple miles from downtown, with a parking lot for easy accessibility. The trailhead lies at mile 4.75 of Barton Creek Greenbelt, with Twin Falls just a half mile down trail. You can also get to Sculpture Falls at mile 6.25. This is an out-and-back hike, so take on as much (or as little) distance as you’d like, though we recommend visiting both falls before turning back.

Once you’ve gotten your trail fix, an old school Austin establishment called Dry Creek Cafe & Boat Dock is calling your name. The cash-only bar has neither a boat dock nor a cafe, but it’s full of old Austin charm, characters, cheap beers, and a good ol’ country jukebox. The best part? The patio overlooking Austin’s Mount Bonnell.

As for dinner, head past Mount Bonnell (a great place to watch the sunset), before stopping by Laguna Gloria and Mayfield Park to see the beautiful live oak trees, peacocks, and gardens that are on the grounds. Then, grab a seat at nearby Draught House Pub & Brewery, showcasing a vast selection of local Austin brews and the city’s best food trucks, including Best Wurst on Mondays and Quality Seafood on Tuesdays. Insider’s tip: There are free brats every Saturday at 4 p.m.

When you’re ready to call it a night, get cozy at one of Austin’s most quaint local hotels: Heywood Hotel. Located on Cesar Chavez on Austin’s East Side, staying at Heywood gives you the opportunity to explore a different side of Austin before and after your daily field trips (if you feel so inclined). Boutique indeed, the hotel has just seven rooms in an old house that pair old Austin bungalow charm with minimalistic, but still well-dressed touches like artwork by local artists. And, it’s within walking distance of some of Austin’s most celebrated businesses.

Day Two

Breakfast at Mi Madre’s is a must.Breakfast at Mi Madre’s is a must. Matthew C. Wright

Today you’ll take advantage of one of Austin’s many waterways and partake in an old-school tradition: a trip down the Lower Colorado River. Whether you prefer a canoe or a kayak, you can rent one from Cook’s Canoes, an old-fashioned canoe livery situated on the Lower Colorado in Webberville, Texas, about 25 minutes east of Austin.

But first, breakfast tacos. Since you’re staying on the East Side, head to Mi Madre’s Restaurant** **on Manor Road for some of the best breakfast tacos in the city, all served on housemade tortillas. We recommend going a la carte, so take your pick and fuel up for a day on the water. You can’t go wrong with a #6 (potato and egg) or a #15 (carnitas, avocado, and cilantro).

From there, you’ll head toward Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which becomes FM 969 before arriving in Webberville at the livery. Like the days of yore, the old men who run the livery will load you into a yellow school bus, take you up river and let you paddle your way back. Opt for the 7 or 11-mile route that’ll give you a quiet, easy ride down a wide section of river, hugged by giant trees, green shoreline, and the occasional sand bar that makes for a good breaking point.

When you make it back to the landing point, swing by Live Oak Brewery in nearby Del Valle, which is about a twenty-minute ride back toward Austin. Find a seat within the rows of picnic tables under the live oaks and kick back with a house-made beer. They’ve got everything ranging from year-round, seasonal, and limited edition beers. Live Oak Brewery also hosts local food trucks so you’ll have the opportunity to sample some of Austin’s most well-known mobile cuisines. And, if you feel up for another brewery,Zilker Brewing Company is just a few blocks from Heywood Hotel and offers some of the best locally made beer in some of the best-designed cans.

Day Three, In-Town Option

The spring-fed Barton Springs are an Austin hot spot on a warm day.The spring-fed Barton Springs are an Austin hot spot on a warm day. Lars Plougmann

Before embarking on the day’s adventure, swing by Austin’s acclaimed Mozart’s Coffee Roasters on Lake Austin Boulevard. The long-time Austin establishment has one of the best patios in the city, incredible house-made coffee, and a wide selection of muffins, pastries and cheesecakes, always made in house.

From there, you’ll take on a section of trail in the heart of Austin. Ten miles of hiking and biking trails, known as the Ann and Roy Butler Trails, course through downtown Austin, edging along Lady Bird Lake and connecting Austin landmarks the entire way. Hop on the trail on the south side of the South 1st Bridge, heading west toward** **Zilker Park. This lakeside section is incredibly lush, shaded by giant trees, and runs parallel to some of Austin’s famous Barton Springs Road restaurants and bars.

Enjoy a leisurely two-mile walk along the lake to Zilker Park. Once arriving at the park, you can throw a blanket down and soak up the sun, toss a frisbee, or take a dip in the spring-fed Barton Springs , which is one of Austin’s most famous landmarks.

In the afternoon, head over to Rainey Street, which is one of Austin’s most celebrated neighborhoods. Once a residential neighborhood, the street is now a charming strip of old houses turned bars and restaurants. Grab an outdoor table at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, which has one of the best patios in the city and is a great place to cozy up after a day spent outdoors. Banger’s specializes in authentic German sausages and pints on pints on pints.

Day Three, Out-of-Town Option

The Jester King Brewery is well known for it’s sour beers.The Jester King Brewery is well known for it’s sour beers. Jester King Brewery

While Austin has much to offer within its city limits, locals frequent parks and waterside escapes outside the city, too. After all, Texas Hill Country is famous for its swimming holes. A local favorite is Krause Springs, which is about 40 minutes outside of town in Spicewood, Texas. Since you’ll be heading outside of town, plan to leave Austin in the morning and to spend high noon at the springs.

As you enter the 115-acre plot of land, you’re first greeted with a butterfly garden that just begs for a stroll. The property is registered on the National Register of Historic Places, so the entire place has a quirky vibe. There are 32 individual springs to enjoy, and you’ll find locals sprawled out on towels, swimming, and enjoying the shade of the towering cypress trees. Find real estate on one of the giant, water-smoothed rocks, lay out a towels and some snacks and let the day float by.

Head back toward Austin before sunset, but first stopping by Jester King Brewery for one of the brewery’s famous sour beers. Rows of picnic tables are lined up beneath gnarly live oak trees with antique chandeliers hanging from their curly limbs. Kick back in the shade of the tree and prepare for a wild sunset over the country horizon. As for dinner, order a salad and made-from-scratch pizza from Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza, which shares the property with Jester King. And, perhaps, opt for another round of sour brews. Note: Both Jester King Brewery & Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza are *only *open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

If you find yourself up for one last nightcap, we suggest a rendezvous at Whisler’s. Also on East 6th, the eccentric bar features a fantastic backyard, creative cocktails and an interesting atmosphere… antique mirrors, an old bathtub, and a mezcal bar upstairs. But be forewarned: The oranges are dusted with crushed crickets *not *sugar. We speak from experience.

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Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Johannes Schneemann

Epic Trails to Epic Taverns



If you’ve been following our Trail to Tavern series, you now have dozens of ideas for exciting days on the trail, paired with unique and convenient pubs. We’ve covered a variety of major cities like San Francisco and Chicago, as well as our original hometown of Telluride, Colorado. But it’s also nice to dream once in awhile, so here we’ve collected a few epic trails paired with epic taverns.

First, let’s define epic, because the word can certainly be over-used. In this case, we’re concerning ourselves with very long or very difficult trails, and the unique restaurants and bars near them. We’ve asked our friends at RootsRated for a few domestic as well as a few more exotic trails for you. While these trail to tavern duos may not be quite as easily-accessible as the previous pairings, we hope these give you a few additions to your adventure travel wish list.

The Doyle Hotel on the Appalachian Trail

Why not start with any long-distance hiker’s ultimate bucket-list item, an Appalachian Trail thru-hike? We’re assuming you’re familiar with the AT, but RootsRated editor Ry Glover offers a colorful account of his AT thru-hike that’s worth a read. Hikers have two major decisions to make before beginning: whether to start in the North or South, and whether to go for speed or relax and enjoy all the side trips and towns you’ll find along the way. Answers to both of these questions may ultimately be dictated by your budget and timeline, but no matter how you choose to enjoy the trail, you shouldn’t miss the Doyle Hotel.

Gerry Dincher (mods made)

Located in Duncannon, Pennsylvania, where Susquehanna and Juniata rivers come together, the Doyle has a reputation for being hiker-friendly. In fact, Glover includes this spot as one of the seven places where AT thru-hikers must stop. His description says it all: “It’s legendary. Run by one of the friendliest couples you’ll ever meet, the building is ancient with a lot of character, the food is greasy with a lot of calories, and the beer is plentiful with a lot of, er, drinkability. This is a hotel that was originally built in the 1770’s and where Charles Dickens once stayed, so while you’re sipping your Yuengling (be sure to call it a ‘lager’), try to appreciate this place for what it’s become: a weary, old building where weary, old hikers can come together and collectively find a little life and rejuvenation.”

Tour de Mont Blanc + Poco Loco in Chamonix, France

Now let’s head a little farther afield, to France. The Tour de Mont Blanc seems consciously designed for those of us who want to take this “trail to tavern” idea to the next level. In fact, our writer Matt Guenther cites the food along the way as one of the top reasons to hike this route. There are more than 50 places to stop along the way, so no matter what pace you choose to hike this 105-mile circuit of Mont Blanc, you’ll always have a convenient resting point.

Matt Guenther
Matt Guenther

Since we’re choosing one place to feature, Poco Loco in Chamonix takes top honors. Guenther said that he returned to this place, known for its generous and delicious hamburgers, a few times during his trip. It might be surprising to hear us recommend a burger place that sounds more like a Mexican joint in France, but Tripadvisor reviewers agree; this is the #1 restaurant out of 174 restaurants in this little ski town. The tiny restaurant serves affordable burgers and fries, and has great vegetarian options as well.

Hiking Telescope Peak in Death Valley + Beer at Panamint Springs Resort

Seasoned hikers know that the desert often holds amazing surprises–from unexpected oases teeming with life to once-in-a-decade superblooms when the desert explodes with color and life. One of the most rewarding hikes in the desert southwest takes hikers through several ecosystems and up to the highest point in Death Valley.

Telescope Peak towers above Death Valley National Park
Telescope Peak towers above Death Valley National Park. Rob Hannawacker.

Hiking to the top of Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park yields amazing panoramic views and a sense of accomplishment after seven difficult, uphill trail miles. You’ll gain 11,300 feet from the desert floor to the highest point in the park. This very remote hike in an already remote park will take you off the grid. You’ll pass landmarks like the historic charcoal kilns and Arcane Meadows, where Death Valley got its name. According to William L. Manly’s book about his party of 49ers traveling west in the California gold rush, “ours were the first visible footsteps, and we the party which named it the saddest and most dreadful name that came to us first from its memories.” After struggling through weeks of being lost and hungry in the Great Basin and Death Valley, one of the women in the party turned back over her shoulder and said, “goodbye Death Valley.”

Luckily, the return trip is all downhill, and today’s visitors to this forbidding wilderness have a man-made oasis in the form of a bar, motel and cabins right outside the park. Well stocked with what our writer Krista Diamond calls an “incomprehensibly massive beer selection,” and providing a place to stay and refuel, you’ll find the Panamint Springs Resort on highway 190 on the way back out of the park if you’re headed west.

Rainbow Rim Trail + Roughrider Saloon

We have to throw one in for the mountain bikers, and this one’s truly epic. As part of Kaibab National Forest, this trail operates under different management from the neighboring National Park lands. As a result, unlike all other trails along Grand Canyon’s massive rim, the Rainbow Rim Trail allows mountain bikes. While avoiding the crowds and tour buses, you’ll get spectacular panoramic views into the canyon. The higher elevation of the Kaibab plateau makes this North Rim trail relatively more wooded and full of wildlife compared to the more-visited South Rim. The most difficult part of this adventure? Attempting to balance your workout with the constant temptation to pull over and take yet another photograph of the stunning views into the canyon.

FX Gagnon/Alta Expedition

End your day’s adventure with drinks at the Roughrider Saloon. Absorb some of the Teddy Roosevelt stories and learn how this game preserve eventually became a national park, or just get your cocktail to go (they actually do that). Just a few steps away, you’ll find beautiful sunset views over the canyon. It’s worth noting that the Saloon also serves coffee and basic breakfast fare in the morning.

Echo Summit to Donner Pass (PCT) + High Camp at Squaw Valley

You’ll get extra credit on this hike, after which you’ll have experience with two iconic trails: the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) and the Tahoe Rim Trail. The 64-mile section from Echo Summit to Donner Pass will take backpackers about six or seven days depending on pace. Since the trail has snow cover in winter, we recommend a spring or fall hike. As RootsRated writer Jill Sanford explains, “epic granite slopes and sparkling alpine lakes make this 64 mile stretch of the PCT between Echo Summit and Donner Pass one for the record books.”

Donner Pass Summit on the PCT in California
Donner Pass Summit on the PCT in California. Bruce C. Cooper.

For the “tavern” part of this pairing, you won’t want to miss High Camp at Squaw Valley resort, where you can rest and enjoy a dip in their hot tub. Order a craft beer or a cocktail and enjoy the view provided by the 8,200’ elevation. You’ll definitely be paying resort prices, but it’s worth it for the location. Visitors who aren’t doing the backpacking route can also pay for a gondola ride up to High Camp, and go for an out-and-back day hike. In fact, all of the trails listed here would make for great day hikes as well.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co. Featured image provided by Matt Guenther.