November 27, 2023

Like surprises? Take a mystery trip

Katie and Gene Hamilton

Bring Binocular News

Enjoy a day trip without planning it

The title “Guess Where You’ll Go?” piqued my interest and sense of adventure so I read more about going on a day trip, but not actually knowing where I was going. The element of a surprise had a nice twist. If you’re in the mood for a day trip get away, but don’t want to be the travel agent who puts it all together Guess Where Trips is for you. The Canadian company offers many day-long road trips in the United States in Connecticut, D.C. Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New England, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.  Many are offered throughout Canada too.

You receive the details of your itinerary in the mail or in a .PDF file to print. With a mailed trip – the most popularyou will receive 5 sealed envelopes including 4 well-curated surprise stop envelopes and a “Before You Go” envelope which will give you just the right amount of details, without ruining the surprise stops. On the day of your road trip, your surprise stops will be revealed to you as you open each envelope.

The PDF trip are for trippers who don’t want to wait for their package in the mail. The road trip is the same as the mailed option just in a digital format. Once you purchase a PDF trip, you will receive an email with a link to download your trip. But be advised there are no surprise envelopes with the PDF option. All of the stops are in one digital file, so –  Spoiler Alert! – scrolling through the document will reveal the surprise stops. This is a handy format using a cell phone or tablet because it has all four stop in one document.

I chose a surprise trip near D.C., the District of Columbia close to where I live. I was going to Annapolis, Maryland.But I only knew that because I peeked into Stop One.  I could have wait to open it until I was leaving. I was too curious not to sneek a peek.

In the Before You Go envelope you find a comprehensive overview of your trip suggesting you need a vehicle, a GPS and a driver. The information was very helpful with a suggested departure time, recommended duration – how long to stay – and drive time. It also included food options.

The FAQs answer your questions about required fees, if the stops ae pet-friendly, round trip distances from major cities and accessibility for wheelchairs and strollers along the way or at the stop.

Other useful information included is Navigation of the Roads with nitty gritty details like the best time of year to go, staying overnight options close to the last stop, and what to pack. Scan a digital version of the trip, and download a playlist of road trip music on Spotify to get you in the mood. We left early in the morning listening to the Beatles “Here comes the sun”. In the booklet Your First Stop: Waterfront Bites envelope I found a detailed easy-to-read map of the area with featured and optional food stops and a timing suggestion of spending around 45 minutes to an hour there.

In Your Second Stop: Historic Hot Spots envelope I read Fast Facts about Annapolis like its historic significance, Colonial architecture, and famous films and TV shows made there. Three food options  – all described in detail – were clearly identified on the map. Three self-guided drives like the one to the U.S. Naval Academy & Museum were described and illustrated.

Family friendly stops are noted so are dog friendly gardens. Fun facts give you more information to mull over as you drive along your route. It’s obvious the details of information in these booklets is only from someone who has been there and knows what visitors want to know.  It’s so comprehensive.

The Your Third Stop: Boardwalk or History? envelope gives you two outdoor adventures both with nature trails and a mansion with a story. An hour to see SERC Trails & Contee Mansion Ruins, which is the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center was the suggested time frame.  A useful Travel Tip warns “Keep your eyes peeled for the road on the left-hand side as you drive into the park.”  Or visit Historic London Town and Gardens where leashed pets are welcome in the garden, but not in the house.

In Your Fourth Stop: Choose Your Own Adventure envelope the booklet has an overview that recommends a few favorite things if you’re up to a longer drive after the third stop. One is Beverly Triton Nature Park on Chesapeake Bay, another is a well known German Biergrten and restaurant and Great Fog Winery and Thomas Point Park. 

Our firsthand experience using binoculars when traveling: 8×25 compact binoculars are a good choice for traveling because they’re lightweight and easy to tuck into a backpack or purse. The first number”8” is its magnification which makes an image 8 times closer than what you see with your eyes; it’s good for a wider field of view. The “25” is the size of the objective lens measured in millimeters that defines how much light the binocs can gather. A larger objective lens has more light gathering power so the image resolution will be higher and brighter.                      

The creators of Guess Where Trips think of everything.  For the $65 charge it’s a bargain. Here’s their website Guess Where Trips.

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Gene and Katie Hamilton travel the U.S. extensively in search of a favorite place. They are members of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

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