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Jessie Festa was on the Caribbean island of Guadaloupe last week when her car veered into a ditch. She was by herself, without a working phone, and unable to speak French. She considered her options. Then walked to a nearby farm and through charade-like gestures communicated to the residents that she needed help. After some animated back and forth, the farm crew helped push her rental onto the road and waved her on her way.
“It ended up being no problem,” she says, “but it was a reminder that solo travel helps you grow your relationship with yourself. You realize what you’re capable of.”
Festa, whose two websites — Jessie on a Journey and Epicure & Culture — document her solo travel around the world, has always thrived when chasing the unknown. But after years of vagabonding, things have slowed down as of late. She’s got an apartment in New York City. A fiance. A cat. And she’s been eager to seek out adventures in her own backyard. In doing so, she’s uncovered a wealth of unexpected experiences just a few hours from Manhattan.
Like Festa, Uproxx is on a mission to highlight affordable activities and destinations around the nation. For a full month, we’re focusing on experiences that are off-the-beaten-path and offer alternatives to more touristy locales. When tackling the Big Apple, we turned to the travel expert to guide us to hidden gems beyond the glare of Time Square. Check out her expert advice to experience a side of New York state that too many people ignore.