Usually on the day the NFL schedule is released, I'd be writing about one of my favorite topics: Eagles road trips.
This year is different.
There are still so many unknowns about the 2020 season. Will it begin on time? Will fans be allowed at games? Will there even be a season?
So we’ll change up this time and instead of looking ahead to the top tourist destinations on the Eagles’ 2020 road schedule, we’ll look back at my all-time top-10 Eagles road trips. Somehow, downtown Detroit didn't make the cut!
1. Grand Canyon, Arizona (Eagles-Cards)
No matter how many photos or videos you see of the Grand Canyon, nothing can prepare you for the first moment you stand there on the south rim and soak it all in. Your brain just can’t process the spectacular views in front of your eyes. Back when the Cards were in the NFC East, we would make the seven-hour round trip almost every year from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon the day before Eagles-Cards games at Sun Devil Stadium just to stand there for a couple hours. It’s something everybody should try to see at least once in their lifetime.
2. Armstrong Redwoods State Park, Guerneville, Calif. (Eagles-49ers)
Armstrong isn’t one of the largest redwood parks in Northern California, but it’s only 1 ½ hours north of San Francisco, so it’s one of the closest. There’s nothing quite like seeing a tree that’s 1,400 years old or one that’s 300 feet high. The hiking trails are steep and challenging but the views make it worth it.
3. Flatirons, west of Boulder, Colo. (Eagles-Broncos)
The Flatirons are a series of massive jagged rock formations roughly 300 million years old jutting into the sky just west of Boulder, only about half an hour north of Denver. There are some treacherous climbs in the Flatirons but also plenty of leisurely hikes up into the hills that provide incredible close-up views of the Flatirons to the west and the University of Colorado down below to the east.
4. Bellingham, Wash. (Eagles-Seahawks)
South Bay Trail.
I’m a bit of a train buff, and with an off day in Seattle before the 2016 Eagles-Seahawks game, I thought it would be fun to take the Amtrak Cascades up the Pacific Coast from Seattle to Bellingham, Wash., a coastal village about 20 miles south of the Canadian border that also happens to be Doug Pederson’s home town. The train ride is fantastic, and so is Bellingham. There’s an amazing trail that runs several miles along the banks of Bellingham Bay and a quaint downtown where after several hours of hiking and exploring I found a brewery where they were happy to put the Villanova-Temple game on for me. It was such a great getaway I did it again when the Eagles played the Seahawks again in 2017.
5. Portsmouth Harbor, Hampshire, England (Eagles-Jaguars)
A schooner docked at Portsmouth Harbor.
There wasn’t any media availability the day before the Eagles-Jaguars game at Wembley in 2018, so I figured the best way to see the country was to take a train across England (theres that train theme again). I booked a train from Waterloo Station in London down to Portsmouth Harbor, a coastal town along the English Channel. Portsmouth Harbor itself was just what you’d expect from a small town along the Southern England coast, but the real star of the trip was the train ride. The trains in England are fast, clean, comfortable, quiet and on-time and the 2 ½-hour train ride afforded incredible views of the countryside and the picturesque villages dotting southern England.
6. Northern Wisconsin Lighthouse Tour (Eagles-Packers)
Fisherman's Road Lighthouse, Malone, Wisc.
This was the handiwork of my colleague Dave Zangaro, who had learned that there are six historic lighthouses around 30-mile-long Lake Winnebago. The day before last year’s Eagles-Packers game at Lambeau, we set out from Appleton to find all six. We lucked into a spectacular sunny day in Central Wisconsin and made our way along the west coast of the lake and down to Fond du Lac, then back up the east coast back to Appleton, stopping to explore each lighthouse along the way. This was a typical Dave Zangaro road trip. Ridiculously random but ultimately fascinating. The six lighthouses were all different and all striking. A couple were inaccessible, but three were open to the public. If journalism doesn’t work out, Dave would make a heck of a tour guide.
7. Niagara Falls, N.Y. / Canada (Eagles-Bills)
The first time I visited Niagara Falls was the day before a 1990 Eagles-Bills game (the Randall-Fred Barnett 95-yard TD game) with a bunch of other beat writers. We parked on the U.S. side and walked across the 200-foot Rainbow Bridge into Canada, where we marveled at the views of the falls for a couple hours and then wandered into a local watering hole, where Phil Anasasia of the Courier-Post – now writing for the Inquirer – proceeded to beat all the locals on the pool table.
8. Coronado, Calif. (Eagles-Chargers)
Coronado is a popular beachfront resort town situated on an island across the bay from San Diego featuring the legendary turn-of-the-century Hotel Coronado, where rooms go for up to $3,500 a night. Why were all the beat writers so disappointed when the Chargers left San Diego? Because of Coronado.
9. Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland (Eagles-Browns)
Muddy Waters' guitar at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
I fully expected to hate the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. It just seemed like a Hall of Fame goes against everything rock ‘n’ roll stands for. But the actual musuem is a mind-blowing place, just jammed with memorabilia and history covering everything from bluegrass to prog to emo. Coolest thing I saw was Muddy Waters’ 1958 Fender Telecaster, the legendary Hoss, which I saw him play at my small college in Ohio in 1979. Chills.
10. Manhattan Beach, Calif. (Eagles-Rams)
Manhattan Beach, a relatively sleepy oceanfront town, has to be the most relaxing place in the world. It’s a different sort of beach town because there are no commercial establishments along the ocean, just spectacular beach-front mansions, with a scenic walking path weaving its way between the ocean and the homes. There’s also a cool shopping area with cafes, restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques, plus the world’s best 24-hour diner, the Kettle, where several Eagles beat writers who will remain unnamed once entered by scaling a brick wall because they couldn’t find the entrance. Manhattan Beach is the perfect beach for people that don’t like beaches.
All images courtesy of Reuben Frank.
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