Where to Go During Vanlife: Parks, Museums, Nuyorican and Busboys & Poets


Trail in Redwood National Park

The van life trend is a topic national publications have been covering a lot over the last couple of years.


Though I mainly want to visit national parks with a few landmarks and monuments thrown in for variety, I, for sure, want to hit up museums and poetry venues I’ve loved for the longest time.


While I’m still deciding on which direction to go first – east or west, as well as exactly which parks to hit, I do have a self-starter guide to help me out:


* National Parks:

choose from a list of no more than 10 parks


** City Museums:

Paisley Park outside of Minneapolis; National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.; and Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida


*** Poetry Venues:

Nuyorican Poets Café, Lower East Side, New York City; and Busboys & Poets, Washington D.C.

Joshua tree at sunset/Joshua Tree National Park

NATIONAL PARKS


Thus far, there’s one person – Nebraska native Mikah Meyer, who has visited all 419 US National Park Service sites. It took him a solid three years to do it!


Since I’ll be living this #vanlife part-time, I’m aiming for much smaller trips; travel during summer vacation, Thanksgiving break, winter break and spring break.


I’m just focusing on the 60 parks that have “National” in their official title.


So, here’s my top 10:


· Everglades National Park, southern tip of Florida

· Grand Canyon National Park, northwestern Arizona

· Great Smokey Mountains National Park, western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee

· Hot Springs National Park, southwest central Arkansas

· Joshua Tree National Park, Southern California


· Mammoth National Park, central Kentucky

· Redwood National State Park, Northern California

· Rocky Mountain National Park, north central Colorado

· Yellowstone National Park, located in Wyoming; extends into Idaho & Montana

· Yosemite National Park situated in Western Sierra Nevada of Central California


In a later post, I may go into detail as to what stuck out for me with each park, but I don't think the list will change much between now and next summer.


Also, you can read my post from last week about “Creating Van Memories: From Hiking to Stargazing.” The night skies are what I'm really looking forward to.


MUSEUM TOURS


I wouldn’t say I’m a museum head, but I can appreciate a dope exhibit.


I’ve been to The Met, the Whitney, and Brooklyn Museum in New York; Houston Museum of Fine Arts; Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, contemporary museums in other cities, and the eccentric spot here and there over the years. But I’ve been wanting to visit Prince’s Paisley Park Museum since it opened for public tours last year.


"Paisley Park is Prince’s extraordinary private estate and production complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota,” where the artist recorded, produced and engineered albums; "auditioned backup bands, rehearsed for tours, hosted parties, conducted rare interviews, and squeezed in a few hours sleep" over his illustrious 30-year career. As a lifelong Prince fan, it’s a place I truly want to take my time and absorb.


Since its opening in 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. has also been on my to-do list.


It holds permanent exhibits of numerous artifacts from African American culture including Harriet Tubman's hymnal and Nat Turner’s bible to Michael Jackson's fedora and Chuck Berry’s Cadillac; on to paintings, photography and digital media; even highlighting The Bronx: the birthplace of hip-hop.


I truly can't wait to tackle as many exhibits as I can, as they now have timed-entry passes for certain peak times and during high season.


Salvador Dali exhibit, Yang Art Museum, Beijing

Now, the Salvador Dali exhibit that arrived in Beijing last year was a special treat. A master of Surrealism, the Dali exhibit at Yang Art Museum showcased a variety of artwork from paintings, sculpture and collages. However, there’s an AI exhibit at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida that opened in May that's on display until 2029, that looks super dope to experience. Check it out below.


Next week, I'll talk about my years-long desire to read at one of my favorite poetry spots, Nuyorican Poets Café, and another venue I'm especially excited to hit up, Busboys and Poets. Until then...