Getting the flavor of...
A firefly light show in Appalachia
For two to three weeks usually ending in early June, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park “pulsates with light and darkness,” said Andrea Sachs in The Washington Post. The wilderness park on the Tennessee–North Carolina border is home to a rare species of firefly that—like a cousin species in South Carolina—draws sightseers by the thousands. The bioluminescent beetles are synchronous, meaning they blink in unison during a beautiful mating ritual that ends—“spoiler alert”—with the love bugs’ death. It’s a rare phenomenon made more hypnotizing by the setting: a hardwood Tennessee forest threaded by a burbling river. To stop the tourist hordes from stomping on the fireflies’ habitat, the park recently instituted a lottery system. Nearly 19,000 people applied for the 1,800 passes up for grabs this year. On the fireflies’ best nights, they reward lottery winners with an incandescent performance that “dazzles like a laser show.”
New York’s Finger Lakes
When you visit the Finger Lakes in western New York, take your time, because each lake “offers a distinct world all its own,” said Kenneth Rosen in The New York Times. Hikers and boaters adore the 11 lakes and the surrounding blue hills and vineyards, which produce some of the world’s greatest rieslings. More than 30 wineries surround Seneca Lake, including Lakewood Vineyards, where the chalet offers water views and 14 wine varieties to sample. For a burst of color, head to Cornell University’s Botanic Gardens in the city of Ithaca—the region’s crown jewel, on Cayuga Lake. The gardens are a treat in the early summer, when marsh marigold and trillium are in bloom. A more dramatic natural display can be enjoyed at Letchworth State Park, “the Grand Canyon of the East,” where the Genesee River crashes over three waterfalls. Book an early-morning ride in a hot-air balloon and you can watch the sunrise while floating over the falls. ■