Wanderlust: Favorites & Dream Destinations
As I recently got my license just this past November, all I’ve been wanting to do is get out. Whether it be going to the shore which is just a ten minute drive for me, so, not that special or driving an extra ten miles to go to a different Target instead of my local one just because it has a Starbucks in it, having the freedom to control where I’m going is exhilarating. Luckily, I inherited my dad’s trucker sense of direction and can get from my house to anywhere within a twenty mile radius, or off the parkway, without the assistance of a robotic voices blaring over my speakers. I take this trait for granted, and go on road trips with friends with no real destination in mind. With the windows rolled down and our favorite band’s album blasting, the time of day seems to blur before us, and soon enough the sun is setting and we’re in the middle of a suburban town with a need to watch the sky turn from magenta to gold to midnight blue. The times where we find ourselves lost is more often than not the times where we find the places that we feel found. So, take a road trip, virtual or actual, with me along to some of my favorite hang out spots, and to some of my dream locations.
Okay, so I’ll admit, I didn’t find this town while adventuring. I actually found it while going on a college visit to a university in the next town over, and felt like I was in a city condensed to the square footage of a large shopping mall. The main street in town, not surprisingly called Main Street, features quaint book shops and cozy cafes, along with uptown style dining and stores with higher end clothing. In the direct center of town sits a statue of, you guessed it, James Madison, and the incredibly photogenic town clock. If you Google Madison, NJ right now, you’re bound to find that black analog within the first five results. The town is also home to multiple gardens and showcases of natural habitats, making the small city an all around balanced community. When visiting, I felt as though I was back home at a town just a few minutes away from me in Red Bank, NJ, as the architecture of the streets made the town seem as though it was old time.
Washington Depot, CT
True Amy Sherman Palladino fans know that the writer of Gilmore Girls was staying in an inn in this town that inspired Stars Hollow and it’s familiar small town community. The town is nearly identical to the Stars Hollow layout, according to the town map I most definitely don’t have printed and saved in my desk drawer. Although I haven’t been there yet, I already know I’m in love with it. I’m one who loves cities, but my appreciation for cute and cozy towns is just as large. Washington Depot is a town full of mom and pop shops, and a place where you can’t go anywhere without seeing your entire neighborhood. The population is just over 3,000, and the area is flanked by Bethlehem and Morris, two more small towns in the state. The only disappointing thing I think I would find in Washington Depot would be not running into Miss Patty for the latest gossip, and having to get a cup of coffee at a knockoff version of Luke’s. (You saw this reference coming.)
New Hope, PA
I was introduced to New Hope by Meghan Hughes, a YouTuber and friend of mine. She posted pictures and vlogs from her trips there, and I was instantly intrigued to visit. My school’s drama club ventures to the town every year to compete at the Bucks County Playhouse, and I figured it was my turn to visit this past December. You will not find a single chain restaurant or convenience store in this town, building a truly authentic vibe of small town. Stores dedicated to tie dye, dog treats and even calligraphy line the road and over the bridge. I initially visited the town to shop at a traditional Indian store, looking for a tapestry for my wall, and left with much more. Besides the unique shopping spots, the greenery and nature to be seen truly builds the small city to be both a commercial and natural center. This town is like an expanded version of Smithville, NJ with its small shop and riverside environment.
So, this may seem a bit shocking to someone who knows anything about World War II, but for someone who has watched the documentary Happy on Netflix, you’d understand. Okinawa is the home country to the longest living people, and the people who remain the most optimistic. Besides its incredible beaches and clean white architecture, the people island is known for being as bright and bubbly as its water. In Happy, interviews with natives of the island show how genuinely appreciative they are of little things, like flowers and the elderly dance teams, and defines how happiness flows through the country. Although it may not be the wealthiest, the people of Okinawa find wealth of joy and creating memories, which I find to be incredibly admirable.
New Haven, CT
Home of the ivy league Yale University, New Haven defies the essentials of art, authenticity and shops of a cute find. As the town roots back to historic times, the architecture features arches and bright colors within the buildings. Being a college town, the streets are filled with coffee shops and the perfect places to hang around and study at the Yale University Art Gallery and found peace while exploring the sculpture garden in the center of the museum. This mini city is the perfect place to venture to when you need the satisfaction of small town charm.
Silver City, NM
Silver City reminds me of what you classically imagine as a town in an in old Western film. To be honest, I found this town while doing a research project on the state when I was younger, but have not been able to get my mind off of it since. The buildings are splattered with bright greens and oranges, and the town has all of the best features. It’s main strip line is home to mom and pop boutiques and conveniences stores, but on the other side of town resides Lake Roberts. Silver City offers the daytime shopping experience and the late night swims and camp fires that anyone dreaming of mixed vacation days desires.