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Staff Soundoff: Hidden Gems

We asked our staff, “What is an unexpected hidden gem that you have encountered in your travels?” Discover what our staff will be up to with their responses below.

Sorry, I can’t think of anything.  I guess it’s still hidden.

— Stacey Bowman, director, advertising sales

Hanging Lake in Colorado. I first visited it on a hike during church camp and was awestruck when we finally arrived at the end of the trail. It’s not the easiest hike, but the destination was so worth it. At the end of the trail is a small, crystal-clear lake with a waterfall and infinity-edge rim that looks like something out of a fairy tale. It used to be a little-known place, a secret only native Coloradans were aware of, tucked away in a tight and secluded canyon. In recent years it has become a popular destination many want to see. Fortunately, it remains somewhat protected and pristine due to its place in a tight Colorado canyon with limited parking available. Only so many people can hike the trail in one day. The last time we tried to take our children, we couldn’t get in the parking lot. After four tries, looping around the canyon highways, we had to head on down the canyon toward home.

— Donia Simmons, creative director

I was really impressed by the Biblical History Center in LaGrange, Georgia. This museum has a lot of buildings and exhibits that demonstrate what life was like in Israel during biblical times, and the interactive Passover lunch that we had really brought the story of the Last Supper to life for me.

— Kelly Tyner, director of sales and marketing

When I was traveling through the Florida Keys, I made a last-minute decision to stop by the Turtle Hospital, which is housed in a former motel just off the highway. I expected to see some cute turtles in water tanks, but I wasn’t prepared for how incredibly heartwarming and educational the experience was. During the tour, we watched an emotional video of the local community returning a rescued turtle to the ocean, and then walked through the rehabilitation facility to meet many of the current patients up close. I was so enthusiastic by the end, I spent a good 30 minutes googling a career in marine biology, though clearly that plan didn’t last long.

— Savannah Osbourn, staff writer

A couple years ago, while visiting family in Louisiana, Graham and I didn’t know what to expect when they drove us an hour out into the country before finally pulling into a gravel lot full of cars, but I was amazed at what we found. The buffet, White’s Seafood in Tangipahoa Parish, served some of the best seafood I’ve ever had! I loved the whole baked catfish and, of course, the fresh Louisiana crawfish. Needless to say, it was well worth the drive.

— Ashley Ricks, marketing and circulation manager

I’m going to go with Taybeh Beer and Brewery in Taybeh, Palestine. I enjoyed a fascinating trip through the West Bank of the Palestinian Territories about 10 years ago, and we visited this small brewery. This tumultuous land is predominantly Muslim and alcohol is either frowned on or forbidden in many places, but an American-educated Palestinian couple returned to their homeland two decades ago and established this brewery against all odds. Their beer is good, and their bravado is unquestioned.

— Mac Lacy, publisher