The 10 Most Beautiful Forests in the United States

The truly great outdoors.

More than a third of the United States is made up of forests or woodland areas, which adds up to around 822 million acres altogether–and we rely on them more than you might think. Over 200 million Americans get their drinking water sourced from forests. Forests themselves aid in protecting drinking water cleanliness by the reduction of soil erosion, and the filtration of harsh chemicals and sediments. They reduce risks in times of natural disasters (landslides, flooding), as well as reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus alleviating the effects of climate change to the environment. In short, they are crucial to our survival (and the planet’s). A complete list of the most important forests in the United States would be every single forest–these are just a few of the most gorgeous ones the country has to offer. They have been ranked in order of importance, to specifically me, based on…well, nothing really–personal preference. Here are some of the loveliest forests in the United States.

Where Can You Travel? What’s Open? What’s Closed? Here’s the Current Status for All 50 States

The states are starting to reopen. But is it wise to venture out?

[Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article that originally ran on May 19.] Disclaimer: This is meant to be a general overview of how each state is reopening. It is not intended to provide every last detail regarding guidelines and restrictions; please refer to the government website of each state for specifics. In addition, please remember that even if a state has been given the green light for a category of businesses to reopen, individual businesses may choose to remain closed. As such, please be sure to contact each business or site before visiting to ensure that it is open. As the United States begins to relax its shelter-in-place orders and some emerge from their homes, many are counting the days when we can get back out there and travel, even if it’s by car to a neighboring community or state. But as we know, a very different landscape awaits out there than the one we left earlier this winter at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. There are things travelers must consider that we never did before, including social distancing and personal sanitization. The big question is: Is it safe to travel in the United States? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pretty clear in its stance. It’s recommended that you stay home as much as possible, especially if your trip is not essential. Social distancing still needs to be practiced, especially if you are in a higher risk category or an older adult. You shouldn’t travel if you feel sick, or travel with someone who is sick. And you need to protect yourself and others by knowing how to prevent the virus from spreading.  Perhaps the most hopeful advice comes from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. According to him, summer travel “can be in the cards.” He urges caution, since we risk COVID-19 spreading rapidly if proper precautions are not taken. “When infections start to rear their heads again,” he says, “we have to put in place a very aggressive and effective way to identify, isolate, contact trace, and make sure we don’t have those spikes we have now.” As long as we’re aware that “getting back to normal is not like a light switch that you turn on and off,” he says, we should be able to get back to some sort of normalcy. So the answer is: We’re not quite there yet. The best thing to do is pay attention to the several-phase reopening plans that each state has developed, outlining when hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, outdoor areas, etc., should be open for business and what precautions they must take. Some states are freer than others—and that’s something to consider. Do you really want to be on a beach where social distancing guidelines aren’t being maintained? It’s a whole new world that we’ll be navigating, literally. The guidelines are fast-changing and it’s hard to keep up, but here’s where they stand today, state by state.

10 Books for Quarantine Summer Reading

It’s still summer, no matter how weird things are--and this calls for a summer reading list.

If this were a regular summer, we’d be on the beach reading the typical books meant for reading while lounging on the sand–we’re talking romance novels, romance novels laced with feminist themes, romance novels laced with women empowerment and oppression throughout the years, Ruth Bader Ginsberg biographies…the list goes on. And while we can’t sit around reading these captivating (and necessary) stories flanked by a beach umbrella, all of our friends, and general “regular life” (is this even a thing anymore? TBD) summer things, you can still read them, it’ll just have to be in your home. Here are some of our top picks for summer reading.

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