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10 great breweries where the scenery’s as good as the beer

Larry Bleiberg, Special for USA TODAY Published 7:41 a.m. ET Sept. 15, 2017

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With the explosion of craft breweries, good beer is more accessible than ever. But some places are worth an extra trip just for the scenery. “There’s a huge variety of beer experiences all over the world,” says Robin Barton, who helped produce the new book Lonely Planet’s Global Beer Tour (Lonely Planet, $19.99). “With few exceptions, you’re never far from a beer wherever you are.” He shares some favorites with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

Wicked Weed Brewing
Asheville, N.C.

Outdoorsy and artsy, Asheville is a natural for beer lovers: The city claims to have the most breweries per capita in the nation. Barton singles out Wicked Weed, which offers visitors dozens of proprietary draft beers. A second location a few blocks away focuses on barrel-aged sour beers. “It’s a handsome brewery with slightly raw fixtures and fittings in a great mountain town.” wickedweedbrewing.com

PFriem Family Brewers
Hood River, Ore.

Not only can you find European-style brews in southern Oregon, but also a laid-back place to enjoy them. PFriem, located near the Colombia River Gorge Natural Scenic Area, has a patio with fire pit and sits across the street from a waterfront park. “There’s a big windsurfing scene, and it’s also known for great cycling and hiking,” Barton says. “It’s a refreshing outdoorsy spot to explore some very serious and highly regarded Belgian beer.” pfriembeer.com

Bissell Brothers
Portland, Maine

While its location on a Fore River point is notable, Barton is also impressed by the interior of this brewery. “It’s a huge airy taproom with very high ceilings, street-art murals on the inside and industrial beams,” he says. There are also outdoor areas for food trucks and picnic tables. “It’s a nice place to be inside and outside.”  bissellbrothers.com

Ballast Point Brewing Co.
San Diego

Based in San Diego’s lively Little Italy, this spot has an ideal setting just a few blocks from the waterfront. “It’s got a very appealing street-side location in a pretty neighborhood, just north of downtown,” says Barton, who once lived in the area. It also turns out great brews. “It’s very much an incubator in beer talent.” ballastpoint.com

Hook Norton Brewery
Hook Norton, England

With steam-powered machinery and shire horses delivering beer to local pubs, this brewery seems to be lifted from the Victorian era. Dating to the 1850s, the equipment uses gravity, instead of a pump, to move water and beer around the building. “It makes some very classic British beers,” says Barton, who used to visit when he was a university student in nearby Oxford. “You can sit outside in a rural country pub, and have a few pints.” hooky.co.uk

Meander River Farm and Brewery
Canada

This cottage brewery in Nova

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Arches National Park: Nature's masterpieces on display

Susan B. Barnes, Special for USA TODAY Published 7:48 a.m. ET July 11, 2016 | Updated 7:48 a.m. ET Sept. 15, 2017

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Mother Nature’s masterpieces are on full display at Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. More than 2,000 natural stone arches have been recorded throughout the 119-square-mile park, as well as hundreds of pinnacles, fins and balanced rocks. Arches National Park isn’t only a destination for geologists, but for anyone who enjoys admiring natural beauty as well. The park, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week ( visitor center hours vary throughout the year), was established as a national monument in 1929, and designated a national park in 1971. In its first year as a national monument, 500 people visited; in 2010, Arches reached 1 million annual visitors, and in 2015 that number increased to nearly 1.4 million. To make the most of your visit to the popular Arches National Park, we checked in with VisitUtah.com for a few of their insider tips.

1. Take a drive: The 18-mile scenic drive that winds through Arches National Park reveals many of the park’s incredible natural features. Some of the park’s largest arches can be found in the Windows Section, or drive to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint to see the world’s most famous arch, just a mile away. If you have the time, park at any of the trailheads and get out of the car to walk or hike to some of these magnificent formations.

2. Go off-roading: Though ATVs and other off-highway vehicles are not permitted within Arches National Park, four-wheel-driving is. Navtec Expeditions takes guests in high-clearance SUVs on dirt roads to secluded spots within the park for all the views without all the crowds.

3. Horseback riding: Another terrific way to see Arches National Park is by horseback. Horseback riding is permitted within the park, but regulations do apply. So if you’d like, saddle up and take a ride; you can even camp overnight.

4. Hike to Delicate Arch: One of the world’s most famous arches, Delicate Arch is visible from three points within the park. At the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint, a 100-yard walk provides views from one mile away; the Upper Viewpoint offers a less-obstructed view via a half-mile walk. For the best view, hike three miles roundtrip to the arch itself. Whichever you choose, it’ll be worth your time.

5. Explore Fiery Furnace: The Fiery Furnace section is one of the park’s most popular, and anyone who goes to this part of the park must obtain a permit or be on ranger-guided tour . If you plan on visiting Fiery Furnace during your visit to Arches National Park, plan ahead – permits oftentimes sell out during busy times of the year, and

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National Geographic: Get lost in these striking travel photos

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After Irma, Florida agents give extra effort for clients and each other

For some travel agents, Hurricane Irma presented a double-whammy. As they were helping clients rearrange and rebook travel plans, they themselves were dealing with power outages, flooding and damaged homes and businesses.

Steven Gould, owner of Goulds Travel in Clearwater (a coastal city in the Tampa area) had no power at his home and had been sleeping in his office for three days straight to field phone calls from clients who were impacted by the storm.

"Fortunately, we have space to work," he said, adding that other travel agents used his office, too. "I wanted to make sure our clients knew that we were still open and still working. We had our phone lines forwarded to our cell phones." Gould also posted a message on Facebook that the agency was assisting clients.

Gould's office only lost power for about eight hours. His home didn't fare as well, and as of Sept. 14, he still had no power. But his clients were a priority. 

"Many travel agents stepped up to the plate and said, "We have make personal sacrifices because our clients are in as much distress as we are but they are traveling and can't get flights and can't get home to their loved ones," Gould said. "We're sitting here trying to board up windows while we have clients all over the world freaking out about getting back home. It's been interesting to juggle both at the same time."

Gould had Tampa-based clients stuck for six days in Toronto because of the Tampa airport closure and the numerous flight cancellations that have occurred since the Florida airports reopened on Tuesday. He booked them a hotel in Toronto and kept trying to book Tampa flights for them, which he finally did on Thursday.

At the same time, Gould was assisting a group of 53 on one of the canceled Carnival Cruise Line sailings to the Bahamas, among other clients on cruises.

Even though Cruise Planners agent Carol Furst Matulonis had lost power and a fence at her office in Fort Pierce (about 100 miles north of Fort Lauderdale), she was more concerned with her clients' predicament.

"We are used to taking care of everyone before we take care of ourselves," she said. "That's what it means to be in the service industry."

That included pre-storm prep.

"I had clients in Alaska who I asked if they needed help getting their home ready. Clients in Cuba whose cruise was being rerouted who I thought might need help with their dog. It's a way to provide that personal service and I really do care about my clients," she said.

"When we had working cell phones, I was able to call on my clients who were home and make sure they were safe. My husband and I have had our own business since 1990 and we've always reached out to our clients, and only after they are taken care of do we start our own preparation."

Vicky Garcia, COO of Cruise Planners, was on the 42d floor of her condominium in Hallandale Beach (near Hollywood, Fla.) with no working elevators or air conditioning as the storm thrashed Florida. Luckily, she never lost power, but said the storm was far worse

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