Listen up: America’s top 10 outdoor concert venues

Outdoor arenas, beach-side stages, amphitheaters under the stars – the sounds of summer are everywhere, you just have to buy a ticket. So where do you go to hear the best music and see the best concerts? Next time you want a little groove in your summer night, take a trip to one of the top outdoor music venues in America and enjoy the sounds of summer.

Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, New York.
The primary summer stop for every major act in the New York Metropolitan area. Everyone from Phish to Rush has rocked the beach. The stage is surrounded by the open water of New York‘s Great South Bay. Boats often cruise close for a listen.

The Greek Theatre, Berkeley, California. The “home field” of the good ol’ Grateful Dead is in California. Stunning acoustics, the mellowest, intimate crowds and that unique University vibe – it’s on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. Home to the annual Berkeley Jazz Festival.

The Gorge Amphitheater, George, Washington. Perfectly situated over the Columbia River, The Gorge Amphitheater in Washington is widely regarded as the most inviting outdoor venue in the country. Scenery, sound and weather are routinely picture perfect. Pearl Jam recorded their monstrous box set here.

Buckeye Lake Music Center, Hebron, Ohio. Thanks to a steep open-air “mountainside”, a rainy night turns this Oregon Ohio concert venue into a true mudslide/madhouse. Spacious camping and tailgating scenes outside make this venue a total summer free-for-all.Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga, New York. Security is mellow here and the scene outside is always friendly. The venue itself features a well covered and expansive pavilion with open lawn seating behind it. Frequenters include James Taylor, Carly Simon and Carole King.

Summerstage, Central Park, New York City. “Hot town, summer in the city…” A truly intimate outdoor venue, if there is such a thing. Tucked away in a corner of the park on the Upper East Side, surrounded by trees and wonderful breezes is Summerstage in New York City. Once the gig ends, you can spill out into the streets of the greatest city in the world to keep the party going.

Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland. Wide open green spaces, surrounded on all sides by breezy trees and forest of the most pristine variety. The venue itself is small but has great acoustics. For sonic reference, dig The Jerry Garcia Band’s recorded and released performance.

Alpine Valley Music Theater, East Troy, Wisconsin
. Wisconsin in the summertime equals bright sun, low humidity, and clean air, which makes for an awesome evening under the stars at Alpine Valley. Every major rock act you can think of swings through during the summer, including Dave Matthews, who has long considered it his favorite place to play.

Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, Colorado. The mecca of American outdoor music, this venue is embedded in multi-hued mountains and stone monoliths, surrounded by breathtaking views of..well…the red rocks of Colorado. It’s acoustically perfect and a majestic experience. U2’s legendary documented performance still sets the standard.

Drew Moss is a contributor.

Get into the groove: Summer’s best music festivals

Nothing says summer like backyard barbecues, the beach and live music. Spend a steamy summer night under the stars listening to your favorite band, or commit a weekend to rocking out at some of the best music festivals around the country. Here are a few of our favorites:

Delfest is a blue grass festival masterminded held in Cumberland, Maryland. The McCoury family – who have been in the business of blue grass for 50 years – started the festival. This family friendly weekend festival is organized by High Sierra.

All Good: A bit more “crunchy” than some festivals, All Good is a nitty-gritty atmosphere with stellar musical acts. They really have a great vibe at Marvin’s Mountaintop, West Virginia, and you’ll really get back to your roots here!

Gathering of the Vibes: The Gathering is great, especially since they moved it to Bridgeport Connecticut. The location is great for biker riders, like me, because it has sidewalks throughout the festival ground, and the Vibes family has built quite a community of vendors and fun morsels for their concert goers.

Camp Bisco: Camp Bisco is at the Indian Lookout in Mariahville, New York, where the Gathering of the Vibes used to be held, which is a great location. This intense, electronica-jam festival is now in it’s 9th year, and is certainly one to catch if you are in the area.

Philadelphia Folk Fest: The “mother” of all folk festivals, this festival is in it’s 49th year! Just outside the city of brotherly love, this festival has great acts, a family friendly atmosphere, and lots and lots of craft vendors. So if you are looking to let loose to some down-home sounds, this festival is a great way to cap off the festival season here on the East Coast!

Mayan Holidaze: Previously called “Caribbean Holidaze” this is the cream of the crop of festivals for anyone who loves to travel. The previous years, it has been held in Jamaica, and this year they have moved it to beautiful Mexico, right in the middle of the Mayan temples! Put on by the Disco Biscuits and Umphrey’s McGee, this is a decadent festival that will leave lasting memories. This has to be, hands down, one of the best festivals I have ever been too, and it’s held in January, so you can save all year to make it there!

Bonnaroo: There is almost no way I could talk about festivals without mentioning one of the country’s biggest. Bonnaroo is a playground for adults who love music of all genres. The musical mix boasts something for everyone, so even your pickiest friends would have a blast at this one. And with attendance being around 100,000 per year, you will feel the energy surging all weekend!

– The above was written by Billie Nichols, Seed contributor.

The Great South Bay Music Festival is held in Patchogue, NY, July 9-11. Local artists drive this scene and deliver an eclectic blend of rock, folk, jazz and reggae, with Robert Randolph and the Family Band headlining this year. Family friendly scene as well, there’s even a dog tent.

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic happens in Bee Cave, Texas, and it’s as easy-going as a backyard barbecue. Grab a hot dog, a cold Lone Star Beer and listen to Willie’s deft finger-picking, dust kickin’ good time country swing. Driving a few days from either coast to Willie’s own backyard to for the festival? That’s America.

Jerry Fest, the annual music tribute to Grateful Dead great Jerry Garcia, takes place Aug. 6-7 in Mountain Springs, Shartlesville, PA. An entire weekend devoted to the life and music of Jerry Garcia includes nature walks, jam bands, bluegrass weirdness and more, all for $35.

Lollapalooza descends on Chicago Aug. 6 – 8. Perry Farrell, the Godfather of the modern fest, has found a home for his circus tent. Pearl Jam, Ice Cube, Beck, Neil Young and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers have all killed it in the past. Soundgarden, Green Day and MGMT this year? Historic.

Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival in Vermont happens Aug. 12 -15, and is one of the finest down home American roots music festivals in New England. Of note this year are the Mad Mountain Scramblers, absolutely kickin’ it with that “high lonesome sound.”

Celebrating Brooklyn, the annual party in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, features a varied and esteemed summer-long lineup in one of the area’s most pristine open spaces. Highlights will include The Dead Weather, Buena Vista Social Club, The Roots, The National and of course, the inimitable Sonic Youth who, for some reason, really go for broke outdoors in the heat.

Burning Man takes place in Black Rock Desert Aug. 30-Sept. 6. Located approximately 120 miles north of Reno, Nevada, this festival is for the truly extraordinary. You don’t go to Burning Man. You become Burning Man. Don’t expect to be the same – ever.

– The above was written by Drew Moss, Seed contributor.

Rock Fest Cadott: Heralded as the biggest music festival in Wisconsin each year, Rock Fest has never been a disappointment. With incredible line-ups featuring some of the biggest names in Rock ‘n’ Roll. Along with the great local accommodations, Rock Fest offers a spectacular festival venue. Last year there were over 25,000 people in attendance.

Rock Jam Mack: Colorado Rock Jam is the largest Rock ‘n’ Roll music festival in Colorado. Known to draw crowds of up to 10,000+ fans each day of the event, it is unlike any other Rock ‘n’ roll festival on the planet. Rock Jam offers two days of great music and lots of local campsite as well as hotels available for those looking for accommodations.

Abbey Road On The River Louisville: Nothing can compare to the experience of attending the worlds largest Beatles tribute festival. Throughout the festival’s four days, fans of the Beatles band together to experience something that is truly unforgettable. For any Beatles fan this is the ultimate event. Many cover bands perform, as well as other world famous musicians.

— The above was written by Benjamin Ray Williams, Seed contributor.

39 of America’s best drives

Summer is upon us, and that means it’s time for road trips. Even with gasoline prices nudging the three dollar mark, there’s no better way to spend a summer day or weekend than taking part in the American tradition of a great drive. With that in mind, Gadling has put together 39 great drives across the U.S. you’ll want to check out. So grab your keys and get out on the open road!

Duluth, Minnesota to the Canadian border

Heading northeast out of Duluth you’ll find one of America’s most beautiful waterfront drives. At Two Harbors, four lanes turn to two and the birch forest closes in. The next 130 miles include tunnels, waterfalls, a spectacular lighthouse and numerous other surprises that will make your day. Music: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door – Bob Dylan.

Trail Ridge Road, Colorado
An hour northwest of Denver, Trail Ridge Road is the highest paved through road in the United States, topping out well above timberline at 12,183 feet. The road is safe and easy to drive, but it’s only open during the summer months due to heavy snowfall. Be sure to check with the National Park Service for road conditions before making this trek. Music: Rocky Mountain High, John Denver.

Underground Chicago

Lower Wacker Drive is unlike any other street in the United States. For one thing, it’s underground. For another, it runs north, south, east and west. Immortalized in movies like the Blues Brothers, it allows you to cross under one of America’s busiest cities in a matter of minutes with virtually no traffic. Enter north of the river under Michigan Avenue or south of downtown at Congress Parkway. Music: Sweet Home Chicago, Robert Johnson.Flint Hills, Kansas
The 45 miles from Emporia to Florence along US 50 in the Flint Hills will take you by surprise. This is America’s last remaining tallgrass prairie and looks like much of the heartland used to look. Go in the springtime and you’ll think you’re in Ireland. Return in autumn for a completely different experience. Music: Dust in the Wind, Kansas.

Down on the Bayou, Louisiana
It’s 85 miles from Baton Rouge to New Iberia, Louisiana but a more interesting 85 miles you won’t find anywhere. Head west on Interstate 10 over the Atchafalaya Swamp before descending into Lafayette, the capital of Cajun culture. You’ll want to enjoy a meal here before heading south 20 miles on US 90 to New Iberia. Follow the signs to Avery Island, a unique wildlife refuge and the home of Tabsco-brand Louisiana hot sauce. Music: Zydeco Gris Gris, Beausoleil.

An Island in the Sky, Texas
The Chihuahan desert of west Texas is a stark, unforgiving place but in Big Bend National Park miles of sand and cactus give way to a lush pine forest high in the cool crisp air of the Chisos Mountains. This sky island is as different from the surrounding terrain as an island is from the sea. From Fort Stockton, head south on US 385 to the park entrance at Persimmon Gap. From here it’s still 35 miles to the Chisos Basin. In the summer months, it’s best to make this trip late in the day to avoid the extreme desert heat. Be sure to fill the tank….this is big country. Music: Into the Great Wide Open, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Merrit Parkwa
y, Connecticut
In the far, far suburbs of New York City you’ll find one of America’s most beautiful highways. The Merrit Parkway runs from the New York – Connecticut state line approximately 37 miles to Milford. It is one of just a handful of American highways to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to it’s natural beauty and many stone arch bridges. Music: I Can’t Drive 55, Sammy Hagar.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Head north from Portland on Interstate 205 and pick up Washington state highway 14 before heading east to Beacon Rock State Park. Stop and climb the easy trail to the top for great views of the Gorge. Continue on to White Salmon and cross the bridge to Hood River, Oregon. From here it’s a straight shot back to Portland on Interstate 84. Stops at Multnomah Falls and Bonneville Dam are pleasant diversions. Music: Given to Fly, Pearl Jam

Pasadena Freeway, California

Also known as California 110, this is the state’s oldest freeway. It has twists and turns, bridges and tunnels, mountains and canyons and more excitement than its better known brethren in southern California. From downtown Los Angeles, follow the signs to Pasadena. When you reach the City of Roses, turn around and do it again. Make sure the top is down. Music: I Love LA, Randy Newman.

The Bridges of Parke County, Indiana
Parke County, Indiana has more covered bridges (31) than any other area of the United States. Most are accessible to passenger cars. If that’s not enough to entice you, rumor has it that there’s no better place to sneak a kiss than on a covered bridge. Head west 67 miles from Indianapolis on US 36 to Rockville. From here, take any of the five covered bridge routes on a journey back to a time when life was simpler and the pace was slower. Music: Small Town, John Mellencamp.

– The above was written by Baja Publishing, Seed contributor.

North Shore National Scenic Byway, Minnesota
The North Shore National Scenic Byway, along Minnesota’s coast of Lake Superior, thrills drivers with 154 miles of towering cliffs, tucked-away cobblestone coves, roaring rivers and waterfalls, a 100-year-old lighthouse, and killer views of the world’s largest freshwater lake.

Thermopolis to Buffalo, Wyoming

Road-tripping from Thermopolis to Buffalo, WYspools past the rich reds of badlands and grassland greens before climbing into the deep browns of the dramatically rugged, beautiful Big Horn Mountains.

Road to Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
It can feel like tumbleweed Texas, lush Ireland or thick forests of the Pacific Northwest as each elevation–and biome–changes the scenery on Maui’s road to Haleakala National Park. Highway 378 climbs 10,000 feet above sea level with exhilarating zig-zags, stellar scenery and sudden fog.

Highway One, California

Get a sampling of the stunning (and less crowded) California central coast with a trek along Highway 1 from Cambria and the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery up to spectacular hiking at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. You’ll find a hidden waterfall, redwoods and may even spot a migrating whale while hugging the coast.

Highway 22 and 31, Michigan
Michigan’s Highway 22 and 31 wind through forest, dunes, orchards, wineries, harbors, and the quaint lakeside communities nestled along Grand Traverse Bay and the Lake Michigan shore: Glen Haven, Suttons Bay, Traverse City and Petoskey. Chicago’s turn-of-the-century elite families left a legacy pastel-colored Victorian mansions overlooking the gorgeous blue-green bays.

Mount Evans Scenic Byway, Colorado
You don’t need a trip through Rocky Mountain National Park to enjoy stellar alpine views. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway, just outside Denver, Colo., claims to be the highest paved road in the country at more than 14,000 feet. The road to get there spins through valleys and climbs through the Arapaho forest, framing up perfect views of snowy peaks.

Highway 135, Indiana

An easy drive from Indianapolis, Indiana’s Highway 135 loops and roller-coasters through covered bridges, state parks, Brown County’s art colony and the dense hardwood hills of Hoosier National Forest between Nashville and Houston. You’ll be craving bluegrass music, guaranteed.

Great River Road, Minnesota

Cruise below sandstone bluffs that border the Great River Road as it follows the Mississippi River south of the Twin Cities and through historic small towns on its way to Red Wing, Wabasha (remember “Grumpy Old Men”?) and Winona, Minnesota. Best bet: Go in March for world-class bald-eagle watching or in the fall for prime apple picking and antiquing.

Needles Highway, South Dakota

One of the nation’s most skillfully engineered scenic byways perfectly frames up views of Mount Rushmore like a postage stamp. South Dakota’s Needles Highway also spirals down pig-tail bridges, nudges past granite needles and purposely slows down drivers so they don’t miss the Black Hills scenery–or the mountain goats.

– The above was written by Lisa Meyers McClintick, Seed contributor.

Lake Superior Circle Route, Wisconsin/Minnesota/Michigan
This gorgeous stretch of road circles through Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. This scenic tour takes you through picturesque villages, over crystal clear rivers, by spectacular waterfalls, over the highest mountains in the midwest, along panoramic beaches, and through towering forests. In addition, enjoy some great cafes, bakeries, and quilting shops.

Carson Pass Scenic Byway: Jackson to Woodfords
The Carson Pass Scenic Byway travels along through alpine forests and meadows and over the towering Caron Pass in the central Sierra Nevada region. Spectacular views of rocky peaks and lakes, coupled with volcanic landscapes, deep canyons and dense forests make this seventy-five mile long scenic drive as varied as it is beautiful.

Manitowoc Scenic Drive, Wisconsin

This drive tours the Lake Michigan shore from Sheboygan to Algoma, passing sand dunes, high bluffs, lighthouses, farms, and museums. The area’s flavor and history are closely tied to the lake through fishing, sailing, and ship building. Stop at one of the many specialty shops along the way to get a souvenir.

Door Country, Wisconsin

A drive through Door County, Wisconsin will provide you with views of over 250 lighthouses. In addition, 130 miles of the rustic Lake Michigan shoreline, limestone bluffs, and rocky shores will keep you awestruck for hours. If you need to stretch your legs, consider taking a tour of one of the many cherry or apple orchards who call Door County their home. Finally, wrap up your trip with a visit to Peninsula State Park, one of the largest state parks in Wisconsin.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, located in northwest Montana, boasts some of the finest mountain scenery in the country. A drive through this mountainous terrain will provide you with views of more than 50 major glaciers and over 200 lakes. Top that off with a tremendous variety of trees and all colors of wildflowers in summer, and you have a natural setting of excellence.

Kettle-Moraine Scenic Drive, Wisconsin

This 115-mile drive follows the Kettle Moraine, a long ridge of forested hills that mark where two great arms of the last glacier butted up against each other. The route follows the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive developed and maintained by the Kettle Moraine State Forest staff. Along the way you’re likely to learn more about glacial geology than you ever thought you’d know.

Amish Country: St. Charles-Harmony-La Crescent-Spring Grove, Minnesota

A stretch of road provides a 77-mile ramble through the wooded hills and intimate hollows of southeast Minnesota’s “bluff country.” Crossing the great rift valley of the Root River at Lanesboro, the drive passes through Amish farm country near Harmony and loops north and east through small towns and secluded valleys to the Mississippi River.

Sonoma-Napa Valleys Scenic Drive: Santa Rosa to Hopland, California
A scenic drive and wine tasting extravaganza! This 132 mile scenic drive loops through the wine country of Sonoma and Napa and follows three California highways. Winding through rolling mountains and dense forests, the scenic drive also passes through Clear Lake, the largest natural lake entirely within the state. Along with wine tastings, there are numbers state parks and sites including Old Faithful Geyser in Calistoga.

Sonoma-Mendocino Coast Scenic Drive: Marin City to US 101, California
This California scenic drive starts on the Marin Peninsula just north of the Golden Gate Bridge and follows Highway 1 up the beautiful Pacific coast. The highway passes through historic sites, redwood forests, wave carved coves, quiet sandy beaches and much more. From Muir Woods to Point Reyes National Seashore there are tons of state parks and beaches to visit and be awed by.

Monterey, California to Morro Bay, California
Traveling through California from Monterey to Morro Bay is a scenic drive that tops them as the best of the west. Beginning south of Monterey, the highway takes you along the Big Sur where the Santa Lucia Range meets the Pacific Ocean. This scenic drives offers an abundance of marine life, sandy beaches and breathtaking views.

– The above was written by Kathryn Gierok, Seed contributor.

Ocean Parkway, Long Island, New York
Starting at Jones Beach in the west, you can cruise East along the Atlantic Coast dune line of Long Island. Multiple beach stops along the way include Tobay, Gilgo and Oak Beach. It’s straight, desolate, with magical salty ocean breezes.

Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur, Northern California
There’s only one road that takes you through the sparse and exclusive community. Breathtaking views of the Pacific bluffs on one side and the Santa Lucia Mountains on the other. Multiple state parks for camping, hiking and sightseeing all along Highway 1.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota. Miles and miles of (super) natural rock sculpture. Endless arrays of wildlife, especially endangered and protected herds of buffalo. If you’re lucky enough to ride West towards Sturges during bike week, you’ll have an escort of 150,000 bad-ass bikers.

Independence Pass, Aspen, Colorado
One of the highest paved roads in the country, with an altitude of over 12,000 feet. Hairpin turns in bad weather combined with unforgettable views of the Rockies give you Ansel Adams beauty and pure adrenaline in the same ride.

Ecola State Park, Oregon Coast
Also an extension of the Pacific Coast Highway (named Route 101 in Orgeon). Breathtaking views of the Northwest Pacific Coast. March starts the spring run of brilliant whale watching.

2nd Avenue, New York City
After 10:00 PM, take the RFK Bridge (formerly the Triboro) into Manhattan with the stunning New York City skyline on your left. Take the FDR drive South, get off at 116th street. Make a left onto Second Avenue. Roll down the windows, crank up the tunes, drive all the way downtown and feel the city rhythm under your wheels.

Florida Keys, Route A1A, South Florida
A one lane road into and out of paradise. Traffic and roadwork can get ugly, but what’s the rush? Warm breezes, lazy palms and the bluest of blue water as far as the eye can see in every direction. Spring breakers on the move add a party flavor.

Interstate 15 from Los Angeles to Las Vegas
Classic road trip stuff. Grab your friends, pack all the necessary accoutrements, rent an old convertible and be the American Dream. Start in the afternoon, get that magic Sierra sunset and hit the Strip by nightfall.

I-87 North, Upstate New York
In September/October, the entire Adirondack region is afire with Autumn color. Beautiful side exits take you to Saratoga, Woodstock or Fort Ticonderoga. Stop for an hour to go apple picking – it’s a must.

The Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii
This might be the most incredible drive in the United States. The first half is all flora, fauna and waterfalls. The ride back through volcano country is psychedelic, martian-like and wrought with peril if not taken seriously. The remote rainforest village of Nahiku is heaven on Earth.

– The above was written by Drew Moss, Seed contributor.

[Image credits: Nicholas T, Wolfgang Staudt, Mi Pah, puroticorico, thomaspix and [le]doo ]

19 perfect dive bars

We need dive bars more than we care to admit. They are the counterweight to a world overflowing with upscale lounges and designer “mixologist” cocktails, a way to keep it simple, hang out with friends old and new and tip back our favorite beverage. Gadling is a big fan of dive bars too. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 19 of our favorites. Where’s your favorite dive bar? Leave us a tip in the comments.

Crystal Cafe – Raton, New Mexico
The most remarkable thing about Crystal Cafe is the light up dance floor. That and the decor make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, and that a disco maniac in a polyester suit will walk through the door at any moment. The bar is entirely retro, but not because they’re trying — the owners just haven’t changed anything since when the small town its located in was more happening.

Norma’s (a.k.a. the Domino Club) – St. Croix, USVI
is famous for two reasons: beer drinking pigs and a local brew called Mama Wanna. Animal rights concerns resulted in the pigs getting switched to non-alcoholic beer, but the patrons aren’t so restricted. Mama Wanna is some kind of wonderful spiced rum drink, and the local proprietress of this island hut tucked away in the jungle hasn’t even been tempted to sell the recipe yet. It packs quite a kick, so the locals use Elephant beer as a chaser.

Madam’s Organ Blues Bar – Washington, DC

With a slogan like, “Where the beautiful people go to get ugly,” how could you not love Madam’s Organ Blues Bar? Despite the popularity this bar enjoys, they haven’t managed to clean it up too much. There’s live music most nights, and more old couches upstairs than a used furniture store. After the bar closes, the local tradition is to grab a giant slice of pizza from one of the nearby all-night sliceries.Salty Dawg Saloon – Homer, Alaska
The buoys strung up on the outside of Salty Dawg Saloon, found inside a plain log and thatch cabin, hardly scream party time, but the partiers on the inside sure as heck do. The walls have thousands of dollar bills stapled to them, each one uniquely decorated by the patron who posted it. In true Alaska dive style, the floors are covered in sawdust. If you’re feeling frisky, you could even order a Salty Dog. The bar isn’t named for the drink, but they do serve them.

Neptune’s Net – Malibu, California
Despite this bar’s location in upscale Malibu, Neptune’s Net is a bit of a dive. You’ve got to fight (sometimes literally) for a table, it’s crowded with bikers, and the restrooms are of the portable variety. But it’s got some amazing fried seafood and beers a plenty. Plus, the outside tables have gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean.

Crossroads Bar & Grill – South Royalton, Vermont
It’s dark, it’s dank, and it’s darling. Crossroads is the perfect dive bar where you could wile away a night, or an entire winter, given the local weather patterns. Set in the small and idyllic town of South Royalton, this bar is a meeting place for long time locals and cerebral students from the nearby Vermont Law School. There’s even a collection of offensive bumper stickers posted behind the bar, if you forget your reading material.

Gentleman Jim’s – Gaithersburg, Maryland
It’s not often you get a dive bar with two floors of drinking, but they’ve managed to make it happen in this industrial complex tavern. Upstairs is a small, windowless bar with a bit of a Cheers feel, since the variety of the patrons tends to be limited. Downstairs is the restaurant area with a service bar open to the public. What makes this place worth mentioning is the pizza — square, with sweet tomato sauce and a swiss cheese blend. Try it on a Monday or Tuesday for half price, and the happy hours are competitive as well.

The Alley Cantina – Taos, New Mexico
If it weren’t for the local crowd, a ratty old games collection, and $2.50 margaritas every day from 5 to 7, the Alley Cantina might not have even qualified as a dive. But thanks to the shuffleboard, crooked pool table, and some old french game where you’ve got to flick checkers around with your thumb, this is the perfect place to hang out and have a beer, or five. They’ve even got food, if you’re into fried.

The Broken Spoke – Austin, Texas

The Broken Spoke has become legendary, perhaps regrettably to its loyal local clientele. It’s claim to fame is its long affair with country music, with legends like Willie Nelson having made regular appearances through the years. It’s got a country dance hall vibe, and they even offer blue plate special lunches to stick with the theme. Not a bad place to have a couple beers and get rowdy.

Norton Rats – Cusco, Peru
You might not guess that you could find a biker bar in a South American town at an elevation of 11,000 feet but, lo and behold, you can. There is simply no explanation for Norton Rats other than divine providence. They offer a wide selection of beer, and a view of the main plaza in Cusco from the narrow balconies. Flags from a hundred countries are nailed to the ceiling, giving you something to look at when your drinks get to you early due to the altitude. Even if the place has a bit of a divey vibe, its a welcome respite for travelers who have made it this far into the wild.

– The above was written by Writing Kimberly, Seed contributor.

Malachy’s – New York, New York
Malachy’s might be the most miserable place on Earth. Horrendous lighting, depressed staff, despondent clientele and a perfect Guinness every time. The fat, juicy 1/2 lb. burger is real good too. Somehow, the cook has been spared.

Nolan’s – Long Beach, New York
A free standing shack made of old cedar, Nolan’s looks like even the faintest ocean breeze will knock it over. Trashed motocycles and cars litter the adjacent lot. Every lifer in the place is crusty and pissed off. Coldest bottle of Bud ever served. Step out into the sun, across the street and stumble to the beach.

The Goat Hill Tavern – Costa Mesa, California
The Goat Hill Tavern, an out-of-the-way hole in Los Angeles Southern California, might be the region’s greatest anti-attraction. Hundreds of tap beers, cramped quarters, stale smoke and that God awful dive bar smell. Top it all off with the wannabe screenwriter next to you stirring his vodka with his finger while plotting his next “murder the movie exec” thriller at one in the afternoon. Lights, Camera, Misery!

PJ’s Pub – Baltimore, Maryland
Is PJ’s Pub the best daytime watering hole in history? Homemade Bloody Mary’s and baskets spicy Old Bay dusted steamed shrimp at noon chase away any hangover. Hours pass effortlessly until the Johns Hopkins engineering geeks and Lacrosse studs start to file in for their nightly revelry. Guys, if you’re lucky, maybe a girl will even show up.

Mission Hill Saloon – San Francisco, California
Mission Hill is the “Cheers” of dive bars. Dark, dingy and depressingly plain – but the misery stops there. Ice, ice cold beers served by good people. Excellent jukebox and locals that have no problem making you feel like a local.

The Cat’s Eye Pub – Baltimore, Maryland
Ah, the Cat’s Eye Pub. You can’t move, you can’t breathe. Old salts stare you down and threaten with daggers. Old cougars troll for new meat. Killer blues bands play way too loud, right in your ear. The lost leg of a dead sea captain hangs above the men’s urinal. Fun!

The Bronx Bar – Detroit, Michigan
The Bronx Bar is in the “happening” part of town, whatever that means. Great tunes, cold beers. Ultimately, it just looks real cool and divey from the outside. Pure American depression. Rejoice!

Catacombs Bar – Boulder, Colorado

Catacombs Bar is huge hole in the ground – literally. On a weeknight, it feels like “Land of the Lost.” Spacious and desolate, an alcoholic paleontologist’s dream. Tunes echo from the juke, drinks are served by pretentious, cruncher wannabes who are too cool for school. “Is there anybody out there?”

McSorley’s – New York, New York
Step down off street level and into history at McSorley’s. The oldest operating saloon in New York. Dingy, quiet – reverent even. Don’t go for the music, the TV, the pool table. Go there to drink, lament and repent. That’s what you do in a dive bar.

– The above was written by Drew Moss, Seed contributor.

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35 fantastic U.S. beaches for Summer

Summer is fast approaching. Where are you going to spend your vacation? How about visiting one of our country’s many fantastic beach locations? Bring your lover or family, a bathing suit, sun lotion, a blanket and a picnic basket, and you are all set for a romantic get-away or a relaxing family get-together on one of these magnificent sandy stretches. Wondering if we picked one of your favorites? Take a look below!

Delray Beach, Florida

Delray boasts a great family-friendly stretch of sand, with youngsters playing Frisbee games and teens surfing the waves. Enjoy the well-preserved dunes and the warm, snow-white sand and comforting turquoise water. After a day on the beach, take a stroll in the European-style town and dine at the sidewalk bistros.

Mexico Beach, Florida
Mexico Beach is located on Florida’s panhandle near St. Joseph Bay and Cape San Blas on the Gulf of Mexico about 30 miles east of Panama City. This secret, romantic location is still mostly free of the crowds because it is exceedingly hard to get to. Enjoy long stretches of rosy-white sand and crystal blue water.

Kauapea Beach, Hawaii

Kauapea Beach is the most spectacular of all beaches in Hawaii and also one well-known for nudists. The cliffs and plantation in the background are stunning, and the beach is covered with pinkish-yellowish sand, stretching into warm cuddling bluish-greenish water. Though nudity is illegal on all beaches in Hawaii, the laws are rarely enforced. To get there you need to hike down a dirt road and then down a narrow trail from Kalihiwai Road, just about half a mile North of Kilauea on Rt. 56. Consummate your relationship in the most ravishing and breathtaking scenery in the US.Ocracoke Island Beach, North Carolina
You will need to take a ferry boat from Hatteras Island to get there, unless you own a private helicopter. The degree of isolation afforded by Ocracoke is a big part of its appeal. There is an aura of natural beauty surrounding Ocracoke Island, which features miles of silvery sand and surf that have been well protected.

Wildcat Beach, California

Wildcat Beach is located 30 minutes from San Francisco. A 5-minute hike is all that’s required to reach this sandy gem. Take a soothing stroll hand-in-hand bare-footed on long stretches of ivory sand facing a turquoise and tranquil Pacific Ocean.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida
New Smyrna Beach is located on the central east coast of Florida, south on I-95. Enjoy long stretches of white sand, free of the crowds and noise. This is probably also one of the least polluted beaches in Florida. Perfect for a romantic getaway, pre-baby furlough or fertility vacation.

– The above was written by Berit Brogaard, Seed contributor.

Poipu Beach, Hawaii
Say “aloha” to paradise at beautiful Poipu Beach on the South shore of Kauai. This island retreat gets the vote for best exotic getaway in the U.S. White sand beaches are decorated with enough lush tropical foliage to make Jimmy Buffet jealous. Visitors often find themselves overwhelmed by the beach’s wealth of activities, many of which include snorkeling, diving, kayaking, surfing, deep-sea fishing and horseback riding.

Sanibel Island, Florida
Sanibel Island is located just off the mainland of Florida’s west coast. Though tourism has increased in recent years, Sanibel still retains much of its natural appeal. Green palm trees set a background for the pristine white sand of Sanibel – all of which is complimented by the crystal blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. For beach-goers who want to do more than soak up the sun, a variety of activities including golf, tennis, shopping and boating are available to islanders.

South Padre Island, Texas
If you are like most, when you think Texas, the beach is not the first thing to come to mind. However, the Lone Star State is more than just cowboy hats and barbecue. South Padre Island is a stretch of land near Corpus Christi that draws thousands of visitors every year. With a beachside waterpark, parasailing, resort accommodations and enough sandy coastline to last for days, the beaches of South Padre make for an ideal weekend vacay.

Catalina Island, California
Catalina Island is a SoCal dream. Known as “the island of romance,” honeymooners are swept away by the privacy and romance that Catalina offers. Luxurious resorts with ocean-view suites are scattered throughout the island’s shores. Some resorts offer access to champagne, strawberries, chocolates, spa services and even glass-bottom boat tours. Whales and dolphins are no strangers to the area, and couples can view marine wildlife at its best on one of Catalina’s underwater sea excursions via semi-submersible submarine. After a long day at the beach, relax with an intimate couple’s massage or an evening bike ride on a bicycle built for two.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Beach season in Maine may be fleeting, but award-winning Old Orchard Beach in Maine has families visiting its shores year-round. The area has a distinct community atmosphere that seems to make time slow down. A traditional pier darts into the waters where families can peruse shops and eat seafood at seaside restaurants. At the center of it all is Palace Playland, a beach side amusement park popular with the kids. Seven miles of white sand exude Old Orchard’s 200 year history as one of the top beaches in Maine.

Cannon Beach, Oregon
Travel to the northwestern corner of the U.S. and visit Cannon Beach, Oregon, a serene encounter with nature and the arts. The premier attraction is Haystack Rock which is said to be the third largest monolith in the world. Towering a staggering 235 feet high, more than 2,000 birds nest on the rock and large amount of delicate sea life resides below it. The beaches here are unusually wide and stretch a lengthy nine miles. Beach comers can browse through the shops that line the beach and select souvenirs amongst an endless supply of homemade crafts and works of art.

Malibu Beach, California
If you are looking for the beach to see and be seen, look no further than Malibu Beach. One of the most popular beaches in the world, Malibu Beach draws even the biggest celebrities to its vigorously maintained coastline. The likes of David Letterman, Tom Hanks and Demi Moore are known to have called Malibu home in addition to many others. The beaches of Malibu are great for morning runs, family picnics and intimate seaside gatherings, and getting a glimpse of your favorite silver screen actor is a welcome bonus.

Panama City Beach, Florida
Panama City Beach, or PCB as the locals call it, is a descended upon by thousands of college students looking to make the most of their spring break vacations each year. Keg parties and white t-contests rule the day, and bars, nightclubs and restaurants offer a variety of entertainment when the sun goes down. It is not unusual to encounter film crews from networks such as MTV looking to promote spring break programming. Though the beach is popular with families year-round, you may want to avoid bringing the kids along during spring break.

Galveston Beach, Texas
According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the gulf coast allows for the best shell collecting in all of North America. Galveston Beach, which is already popular with tourists due to its large indoor waterpark and Moody Gardens, offers premier shelling – especially when windy cool fronts from the North push the waters back, revealing an abundance of natural shells ripe for the picking. Children and parents alike will love scouring the shores for these tiny treasures.

Biscayne National Park, Florida
Snorkeling is perhaps the most popular water sport because it requires virtually no skill and minimal physical requirements. Biscayne National Park in southern Florida is home to the best snorkeling in the U.S. Snorkelers observe entire underwater ecosystems, coral reefs, pirate shipwrecks and colorful marine wildlife. Unlike most national parks, Biscayne is 95 percent underwater and is highly preserved due to the government’s stringent protection of the park.

– The above was written by Allison Westbrook, Seed contributor.

Hanalei Bay, Hawaii
Hanalei Bay’s location is somewhat off the beaten path of the Hawaiian islands. Yet this beach offers vacation seekers adventure within a wide-assortment of activities including surfing, canoe rides, stand-up paddle and surfboard rentals. Lined with palm trees, and covered with white sands. This beach sits between a backdrop of stunning waterfalls and green mountains which stretch across the sky-line of Hanalei Bay. The 2-mile coast is home to spectacular plant and animal life, and gets more rain than any other Hawaiian island.

Siesta Beach, Florida

Consistently rated as a top 10 beach in the USA, Siesta Beach holds some of the finest, whitest sand in the world. Soft to the touch, these unpolluted sands are a tourists delight, as the county of Sarasota takes extra care in making sure the sands stay clean. Off shore, there are amazing coral reefs, supply recreational opportunities, for snorkelers including unique underwater formations. Siesta Beach, attract snorkelers and scuba divers as the warm crystal clean water is ideal for swimming. The beaches extra wide shore is ideal for sports and fun activities.

Cooper’s Beach, New York
New York, Cooper’s Beach is surrounded by large sand dunes, dotted with long beach grass. The beach sand is made of grainy white-quartz sand, (dark brown in color). What makes Cooper’s Beach particularly special is the view – when night comes, the moon shines off the water and is very romantic.

Coronado Beach, California

Coronado Beach has lush subtropical vegetation, a Mediterranean climate, and a warm and mild surf. The Hotel de Coronado, a local landmark, was built more than a hundred years ago. This timeless treasure offers “spectacular” architecture. Coronado Beach’s sunsets are truly spiritual, when viewing the San Diego shore-line. Seeing the sunshine collide with ocean, is so amazing. The climate is warm and the air is truly freshening.

Hamoa Beach, Hawaii
Who could turn down a beach once frequented by writer Ernest Hemingway? Ranked as one of the world’s best beaches, Hamoa Beach includes a coral-and-lava-sand shore, rimmed by tall cliffs. Hamoa Beach is covered with coconut palms and “beautiful” flowering vegetation. The beach has unbelievable waves, which attract thrill seeker surfers, from around the world.

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
If you want to see what a beach looked like when the native Americans inhabited the region, Cape Hatteras is the place. With its historic fishing villages and some of the best surfing along the East Coast. Cape Hatteras was the first U.S. National Seashore, designated as coastal areas for preservation. Make sure you bring insect repellent the sand fleas and mosquitoes are ferocious. The Cape Hatteras lighthouse, is the most famous lighthouse in the country. The lighthouse has 257 steps and is 210 feet tall.

Cape Florida State Park, Florida

A large offshore sand shoal makes the emerald-colored waters off Cape Florida State Park ideal for swimming, humans, and sea life. You can watch –sea turtles, swimming near the shore. The Cape Florida Lighthouse allows for a breathtaking view of this beautiful beach. There are coral reefs, which divers can explore year around. The beach has a romantic, appeal and allows lovers to go on sunset strolls.

Coast Guard Beach, Massachusetts
Accessible only by bike or shuttle bus. Coast Guard Beach of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has a ponderous view and soft sand that slopes down to the water’s edge. If you visitor, swimming is only feasible during the summer. Water temperatures get no warmer than 65 to 70 degrees. Coast Guard Beach is named, after the old Coast Guard station, it offers an astonishing, view of the bay.

Beachwalker Park, South Carolina
Beachwalker Park is a public beach with an abundance of recreational resources. Visitors can canoe and kayak through the tidal inlets. The beach is home to thousands of birds. Individuals can walk along the compact sand of the 10-mile barrier island. Those who love fishing can catch amazing shrimp, big enough to eat and even large eatable game fish, frequent the shore-line. The sun is heavy and the surf is smooth and calming. At night, walking the beach, stir at the moonlight and share an unique experience where phytoplankton, luminosities the sand.

– The above was written by Bryan DeLoatch, Seed contributor.

Assateague National Seashore, Virginia
Four wheelers and surf fishermen can ride side by side with the famous wild horses. Like other Atlantic beaches, the surf is kind to swimmers. Maryland’s Ocean City is a short drive to the North for plenty of food and fun for adults and kids.

East Atlantic Beach, New York

Like many overlooked Atlantic beaches, “EAB” is vast and wide. Weekdays are quiet, giving this expansive stretch an exclusive vibe. The neighboring “West End” rocks with restaurants and bars that feature cold drinks, hot crowds and great live music. Less than an hour from New York City as well.

Deerfield Beach, Florida
This South Florida spot is the perfect “grab a book” escape. Somehow the water at Deerfield Beach manages to be a perfect 78 degrees. Great cocktails (and shrimp cocktail) at one of the little food shacks that line the boardwalk. You can also rent a bike to cruise A1A and check out the trendy scene in nearby Delray.

Andrew Molera State Park, California
Right off the breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway. Set up camp, then hike dense trails that lead to the dramatic bluffs and cul de sacs of this Northern California coastal gem. Wildlife (deer, seals, sea turtles) can all be seen in abundance either at sunrise or sunset.

Ditch Plains, New York.
Low key and hassle-free, Ditch Plains, located on the far Eastern tip of Long Island, is literally “The End.” The local beaches are home to world-class east coast surfing and Hamptons celebrities galore. Paul McCartney’s a regular, but only because no one bothers him. One of the best food trucks in the country holds court in the parking lot.

Hailewa Beach, Hawaii
Hale’iwa Beach is one of Hawaii’s great surfing Meccas. In winter, be awed as the pros and hardcore locals take on the 50-70 footers (The ground literally shakes when the waves hit the beach). The rest of the year is safe for swimming, kayaking and snorkeling. The perfect blue water and crystal white sand are true paradise.

Sea View Beach, Massachusetts
Sea View Beach is another lesser known Atlantic Coast gem. Wide and quiet with gorgeous bluffs. Legendary surf fishing and pods of dolphin are a normal occurrence. The expansive quietude makes this spot quintessential Cape Cod. Great shopping and eating on adjacent Route 28.

Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia is among the East Coast’s more popular national parks, but the beaches are underrated and transcendent. Rugged hikes spill out onto the most Northeastern point in the United States. The town of Arcadia Bar Harbor is authentic and bustling with great food and nightlife.

South Beach, Florida
South Beach is probably the only” mega-star” on our list. Crank up Pet Sounds, slip on the shades, take the top down on Collins Ave. and let the rest speak for itself. You’ve arrived.

– The above was written by Drew Moss, Seed contributor.

Oval Beach, Michigan
The Atlantic and Pacific Coast beaches of America usually get all the love, but the state of Michigan boasts some of the longest stretches of prime beach you’ll find anywhere in America. Head for the state’s Western shore bordering Lake Michigan where you’ll find lovely beach gems like Saugatuck Michigan’s Oval Beach. Not only is this beach consistently named among America’s best, the lovely sand dunes and beautiful sunsets will have you in beach heaven. Midwest beach lovers represent!