America's B-Sides

Unsung Sites on a U.S. Tour
By Joe Sugarman
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Way back in the days of the 45, the B-side was the flip side of the "hit." It was the band's throwaway song, destined to languish as the obscure answer to some latter-day trivia question. (Quick: What was the B-side to the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women"?) Occasionally, the B-side turned out to be every bit the A-side's equal: witness, The Beatles' classic "Yellow Submarine" and the equally popular "Eleanor Rigby." We've picked our own travel flip sides, the less-publicized, less-flashy, and most importantly, less-crowded counterparts to neighboring big-name attractions. And like some of those more successful musical B-sides, all of these overlooked sights could easily be hits on their own.

The Grand Canyon's North Rim
Most visitors to the Grand Canyon only explore its south rim. Spectacular canyon views and challenging hiking trails abound, but so do people. The north rim, on the other hand, offers an equally jaw-dropping experience—and attracts only one-tenth the number of the south rim's crowds. The landscape itself is altogether different. Whereas, the southern side is mainly desert, the north rim harbors verdant forests of spruce, fir, aspen, and pine, grassy meadows, and wildflowers in spring. Viewpoints are 1,500 feet higher than those along the southern edge. These dramatic lookouts inspired early explorers to choose names like Point Sublime, Cape Royal, Angel's Window, and Point Imperial. There's no Grand Canyon Village of over-the-top souvenir shops and restaurants hawking "canyon-sized buffets," but for many visitors, that's just as well.
Acadia's Southwest Harbor
Vacationers have been flocking to Maine's Bar Harbor since the late 19th century, when steamboats, arriving from points south, deposited passengers at Mount Desert Island's exclusive resorts. The Duponts and Vanderbilts threw lavish parties here and generally whooped it up. On the other side of Mount Desert Island, Southwest Harbor remains content to let its better-known neighbor receive most of the island's attention. But Maine's dramatic coastal scenery looks just as spectacular from the south, and many of the hiking trails in this section of Acadia National Park are far less congested than its eastern parts. Rent a bike and pedal around the neighboring villages of Bass Harbor, Somesville, and Bernard. The pace is slow, the views are fabulous, and you'll feel as if you've stumbled upon "the real Maine."

Published: 16 May 2000 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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