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For every great travel experience, there’s a distinctive aroma waiting to embed itself in your memory. With this bucket list of fragrant places, all you have to do is follow your nose.
By Tim Neville
Photograph by Justin Clemons
In need of invigoration? Seek out these crisp, clean scents.
Rogue Farms, Tygh Valley, Oregon
Herbal and sweet, with a hint of fresh pine needles, it’s no wonder hops has been beer’s iconic ingredient since Benedictine monks began brewing with it nearly 1,200 years ago. This farm’s 42 acres’ worth is used in 12 of Rogue Ales’ award-winning brews, including Wet Hop Ale, whose hops are harvested less than three hours before production.
Pelindaba Lavender Farm, San Juan Island, Washington
Maybe it’s the color of the delicate blossoms, but a fuzzy field of lavender sure smells a lot like purple—deep, relaxing, and pure. Go during the annual Lavender Festival (July 19–20) to harvest your own fragrant bouquets, then hit the farm store for all manner of scented souvenirs. Need a refresher? Try the lavender lemonade.
Big Bear Lake, California
The bark of a towering Jeffrey pine smells like sawdust soaked in vanilla extract. But don’t settle for a ground-level whiff: Climb one instead. Action Tours’ guided tree-climbing excursions involve ropes, harnesses, and solitude, 45 feet up. Go ahead, lick the bark.
Celestial Seasonings, Boulder, Colorado
Step inside the peppermint room at this famous tea factory, and let the happy scent of hundreds of pounds of dried leaves stop you in your tracks (and clear your sinuses as they’ve never been cleared before).
Salmon River, Idaho
The middle fork of this aquatic thoroughfare skirts some of the Lower 48’s largest swaths of wilderness. Book a rafting trip with the highly respected outfitter O.A.R.S.: You’ll encounter class III and IV rapids, world-class trout fishing, and air so pristine it’s primal.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
The olfactory stew of wet rocks, woods, and muck sublimely simmers most mornings at this paradisiacal expanse in northern Minnesota, where roughly 1.3 million acres of zen-inducing lakes, waterways, and boreal forest conspire for the perfect canoeing and camping trip.
From fruity to floral to chocolaty, the word means many things.
El Moro Churrería, Mexico City
Deep-fried and dusted with sugar, the churro is impossible to resist. Get these tubular pastries at their best from this 79-year-old shop near the San Juan de Letrán metro station.
Barrachina, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Off a quiet street in Old San Juan sits the courtyard bar that claims to have invented the drink. A few other joints make the same claim, and so be it. The real question: Does anything smell better than coconuts, pineapple juice, and rum on a sultry tropical night?
International Rose Test Garden, Portland, Oregon
More than 500 types of roses fill this garden, a lush laboratory of sorts where breeders test new hybrids. Follow the tendrils of citrus curling off the Francis Meilland, a pale pink beauty introduced in 2013 that is most fragrant in the heat of the day.
Katherine Anne Confections, Chicago
Much of the country’s cocoa comes from the Blommer Chocolate Company’s factories in Chicago, where the richness of the air in certain areas will make you think you’re in Willy Wonka land. For a taste of the artisanal version, visit this Logan Square confiserie, and let your schnoz savor nine types of hot chocolate.
Gregg Farms, Concord, Georgia
A universal law dictates that we cannot eat peaches without first pressing our noses into them to inhale syrupy memories of summer goodness. Pick your own at this family-owned orchard, or just linger at the walk-up window, devouring homemade peach ice cream by the bucketful.
Charleston, South Carolina
In the summer, the lemony scent of magnolia blossoms is so thick you could almost hold a bottle up and capture it. For concentrated doses, head to the gardens at Middleton Place plantation.
Dry and fiery or dripping with flavor, these smells are so strong they’ll stick to you.
Texans know this one-horse town is the state’s barbecue mecca. The mouthwatering aroma of slow-roasting brisket, ribs, and sausage pervades the entire place, thanks to the four famed joints churning out BBQ from sunup to sundown. Get your fill at Smitty’s Market, where the walls are literally
Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center, Bloomington, Indiana
The Dalai Lama’s oldest brother escaped from Tibet in 1950 and later founded one of the most important Buddhist centers in America. Amble its 108 leafy acres, and duck into the shrine room and stupas that offer spicy notes of the Far East with every deeply breathed om.
Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co., Milwaukee
A rich cloud of roasting coffee lingers thick around this micro-roaster and café in hip Walker’s Point, where organic beans transform into puffs of creamy brown sugar in the cup.
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Ask anyone in Tucson about monsoons, and they’ll mention the “rain smell” that comes with them. Like a box of fresh crayons with daubs of prickly smoke feathered in, the aroma is creosote, a waxy bush whose name in Spanish—hediondilla—means “little stinker.” The park’s aptly named Creosote Trail weaves through a stand of them.
Little Havana Cigar Factory, Miami
Step into this corner emporium, and inhale the tangy tobacco and rich leather. Then spark a handmade Arturo Fuente in the lounge, and talk flavor wheels with other aficionados.
Le Labo Fragrances, Los Angeles
This unisex boutique compounds its fragrances by hand at the time of purchase. For a sophisticated, smoky scent with notes of leather and wood, opt for Patchouli 24.
Yosemite National Park, California
In this storied setting, sleeping on the ground with your clothes redolent of smoky cinnamon from a cedar-wood campfire is mandatory. Pick up a bundle at the Yosemite Village store and score a first-come-first-serve site at the park’s historic Camp 4 to watch the stars drift over 3,000-foot-high rock faces.
Lots of things improve with time, and these odors are no exception.
Brimfield Antiques and Collectibles Shows, Brimfield, Massachusetts
The world’s largest outdoor antiques show unfolds thrice a year in this rural setting 65 miles west of Boston, where upwards of 3,500 dealers entice visitors with furniture, pie safes, and gewgaws that delightfully reek of grandma’s house.
John K. King Used and Rare Books, Detroit
Set amid the empty lots and distressed blocks of the city’s less sunny side, this institution has hundreds of thousands of timeworn tomes piled high inside a defunct glove factory. Wander the four stories of creaky floors, and inhale the trove of musty treasures that no e-reader can replicate.
Hoodoos, those mystical pillars of desert rock that sometimes soar higher than a 10-story building, number by the thousands at this otherworldly site, where the air conjures up sunshine and dinosaurs. Catch a new day dawning at Sunrise Point, then hike the Rim Trail for views of them from above, where the updrafts are stale and dry.
Luray Caverns, Luray, Virginia
Nowhere is the descriptor “earthy” more true than at this series of fusty rock chambers dressed in glimmering stalactites, deep beneath the Shenandoah Valley.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, New Orleans
On the quiet end of Bourbon Street sits one of the city’s most legendary bars. Inside this weathered, early- 1700s French Creole abode, you can inhale the booze-tinged history of centuries past—while also nosing a Bloody Mary.
Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro, Vermont
Below the cows and pasturelands of the Northeast Kingdom sit seven man-made caves where wheels of some of the country’s best artisanal cheeses come to pack on flavor. Thanks to the cache of curing fromage, the air is heavy, damp, and old. Take the aroma home with a wheel of pungent Winnimere.
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