Erin Gifford

I am a Washington, DC-based travel & outdoor writer. My writing has appeared in USA Today's GoEscape, The Wall Street Journal,,, The Washington Post,, Parents, Family Circle,,, AAA Traveler Worldwise, Northern Virginia Magazine, and AAA World. I also write about hiking in Virginia at and have written three hiking guidebooks for Falcon Guides. When not seeking out new adventures, I'm crossing off the next state in my quest to run a half-marathon in all 50 states (so far, I've run in 38 states).

12 Best Things to Do in Wytheville, Virginia

At the intersection of two major highways, I-77 and I-81, you’ll find Wytheville, a small town named after George Wythe, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and friend and mentor to Thomas Jefferson. Wytheville is rich in American history, but it’s also noted for its quirky, must-visit attractions, like one of America’s smallest churches, a rainbow-painted hot air balloon water tower, and a 100-foot-tall lookout tower that boasts wildly scenic panoramas across the mountains. Here everyt

Destination Dupes: Hiking Trails on North and South of I-66

Plan your next trek based on where you live for the utmost convenience. There are many great hikes in Northern Virginia, but Northern Virginia is a vast region. But because it’s so big, we can get in on the latest trend: “destination dupes.” In this case — hikes on the north side, say north of Interstate 66, that have near duplicates on the south side. You know, so you don’t need to drive as far for a good hike. Here are six to check out. On 88.5-acre Theodore Roosevelt Island, a 1.8-mile loop

How to Plan a Bike Camping Trip

The pandemic was filled with firsts for me – first time backpacking, first time kayak camping and first time bike camping (also called bike touring or bikepacking). The latter had inched onto my radar a few months into the pandemic when I bought my first bike in 20 years. It was June 2020. Most indoor attractions had shuttered, and like everybody else, I was rediscovering the outdoors. We were all scooping up bikes, backpacks, tents and all types of paddle craft. I was lucky to get my hands on

This Walkable Town Outside Of Washington, D.C. Is The Ultimate Weekend Escape

There’s a lot to love about Reston, Virginia. Just 30 minutes from Washington, D.C., this vibrant town can feel both urban and suburban. Reston was one of the first planned communities in the country and was designed as a place to work, play, learn, shop, and get involved. Today, it’s noted for its open-air town center, green spaces, arts and culture, and walking and biking trails that make it easy to get around Reston. Book a room at the Hyatt Regency Reston to be at the center of the action wh

How to Find Great Food When You Travel

For many of us, food is a big part of the travel experience. Food can reveal so much about a destination. It has the power to articulate the vibe and, yes, the flavor of a city or region. We checked in with chefs for the scoop on what they do to find great food when they travel. When you’re ready to sink your teeth into something delicious, here’s how to find your next favorite dish while on vacation. Many travelers default to Tripadvisor and Yelp when searching for a good meal. You may want

This Small Virginia Town Attracts Mountain Music Enthusiasts From Around The World

In Southwest Virginia, you’ll find dozens of small mountain towns, but for old-time mountain music, the place to go is Galax, a quaint town of fewer than 7,000 residents. It’s been called the “World Capital of Old-Time Mountain Music,” and for good reason, attracting world-class fiddlers, banjo players, cloggers, and bluegrass musicians. The Old Fiddlers’ Convention has been held in Galax every August since 1935. Some of the earliest musicians to record country music hail from the Galax area, i

Your Guide to Hiking Shenandoah National Park

There’s something for everyone across the national park’s miles of wooded trails. Fall is the ideal time to visit the mountains and valley to our west. In our September 2023 issue, we reveal where to go for great hikes and how to see the area by plane or by car. Plus, we’ve found the best places to eat, drink, and shop — and where to kick back and stay awhile. Thanks to more than 500 miles of hiking trails that crisscross Shenandoah National Park, there are scenic hikes for all ages, interests

25 Best Hiking Cities in the US

We all know that nature and hiking are good for mental and physical health. There’s just something about breathing in fresh air, scrambling to summit views and basking in the warm sunshine. When you’re ready for a good hike, or maybe a new travel destination that’s chock-full of beautiful trails and natural beauty, we’ve got you covered. We researched and put together a list of 25 US cities that are absolutely tops for these who love hiking, or at least, love to get outside from time to time. T

A Road Trip Along Nevada's Alien Highway

The Extraterrestrial Highway begins at a rest area in Crystal Springs, Nevada, but you’d be wise to first take a quick detour to E.T. Fresh Jerky, where State Route 318 bisects U.S. Route 93. It’s less than one mile east, and it’s worth a stop for beef jerky in more than a dozen flavors, including hickory, lemon pepper, and honey teriyaki. The proprietors boast that it’s “out of this world delicious.” You’ll also find creative types such as ahi tuna and wild boar jerky.
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