Studies have found a strong link between aromas and our memories. This has us wondering, which scents conjure our favorite travel memories? To kick off our Travel Sensations series, we surveyed 1,000 U.S. travelers and asked them to describe the best scents that evoke experiences in their favorite vacation destinations. Here they are, beginning with the most popular scents.
Eat it fresh, mix it in a luscious cocktail, and inhale deeply — pineapple is refreshing any way you slice it.
- Sebastian, Florida: As one of the last commercial pineapple farms in the continental U.S., Nature Farms, Inc. gives beachfront Sebastian its tropical aroma.
2. Pine Trees
Numerous types of pine grow throughout the country, and each one lends its own spice to every space.
- Santa Cruz, California: Stand in the shade of Monterey and Coulter pines and take a whiff as you look out over the Pacific Ocean.
- Helena, Montana: Helena’s famous fresh air is delightfully fragranced, thanks to ponderosa pine and Engelmann spruce, among other flora!
Where there’s water — at the beach, lake, or frozen on the slopes — people are slathering on the SPF to protect their skin from the sun’s rays.
- Chanhassen, Minnesota: On a still day, Lake Minnewashta is like a mirror, so wear your favorite coconut-scented SPF whether you’re enjoying a boat ride in summer or ice skating after a deep freeze.
4. Fresh rain
Who doesn’t love the scent of rain? Fill your lungs with fragrant mists from coast to coast.
- Wells, Maine: Wells receives about 49 inches of rain annually, which is well above the 39-inch national average. Wait out the next downpour at Billy’s Chowder House.
- Olympia, Washington: It doesn’t rain here every day, but 50 inches each year is enough to give the capital of the Evergreen State this signature scent.
5. Carnival food
Whether it’s deep-fried, topped with mustard, or wrapped in wax paper, the scent of carnival food transports us to summer getaways.
- Ocean City, New Jersey: Travelers recall the sweet smell of saltwater taffy and fudge from Shriver’s Salt Water Taffy on Ocean City’s historical boardwalk.
- Santa Monica, California: Santa Monica smells like lighthearted days at the fair. Celebrate Carnival at the Pier at Pacific Park, and get lost in the thick aroma of funnel cake and kettle corn.
The warm vanilla scent is beloved for its calming qualities, but few cities can boast this special essence.
- Menomonie, Wisconsin: Home of the Swiss Miss factory, Menomonie smells like vanilla, milk chocolate, and caramel. The town itself is lush and perfect for sipping a soothing hot cocoa after outdoor adventures.
- Las Vegas, Nevada: Many Las Vegas casinos feature vanilla in their air fresheners, especially the MGM Grand, which has a renowned Polynesian scent profile with vanilla wood notes.
Bonfires and campfires remind us of time with friends, family, and Mother Earth. You can enjoy them safely here:
- Mustang Island, Texas: Now’s the time to imbibe the sea spray and smoldering scents of Mustang Island. The state park was demolished by Hurricane Harvey and reopened March 1, 2018.
- Huddleston, Virginia: Get cozy around the campfire under a starry sky while camping near stunning Smith Mountain Lake, and wake up with the scent of smoke in your hair.
Vineyards smell of mineral-rich soil, chlorophyll in the leaves, and the sweet scent of grapes on the vine.
- Geneva, New York: Your sense of smell plays a crucial role in tasting the delicate notes of the region’s riesling, whether it’s sweet and juicy or crisp and dry. Try a flight at the award-winning Bellangelo North.
- Dayton, Oregon: Dayton is drenched in the exquisite combination of rain and vines. Visit family-owned businesses Domaine Drouhin and Stoller Family Estate to see expert winemaking in action.
9. Orange blossoms
No matter which coast you’re close to, the fragrance of orange blossoms brings us back to our favorite spring destinations.
- Davie, Florida: Visit Spyke’s Grove as the market glows with good vibes and citrus essence fills the town.
- Phoenix, Arizona: On the cusp of spring, the valley smells of orange blossoms. If you miss the blooming season, head to Huss Brewing Company’s Uptown Taproom for a pint of Orange Blossom Ale.
Yes, music has a smell — dusty record sleeves, wooden instruments, money in a busker’s guitar case — and it brings back experiences like a song that’s stuck in your head.
- Nashville, Tennessee: Music City smells like guitars. Each guitar maker constructs their instruments from specific woods. Stop into Carter Vintage Guitars and smell for yourself.
- Omaha, Nebraska: Omaha’s aspiring music community respects their roots with stellar record shops like Homer’s Music & Gifts. Mmn, smells like town spirit.
For more Travel Sensations, stay tuned to our homepage, and share your favorite travel experiences and articles with the #CometoYourSenses hashtag!
Top left:Adriane C./Yelp
Top right:Stoller Family Estate/Yelp
Bottom:Bruce Goerlitz Photo/Shutterstock.com
Bottom left:Jon Kraft/Shutterstock.com
Bottom right:Tiffany B./Yelp
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