All across the country, firefighters are pillars of strength in our communities. It's certainly no surprise that their bravery and dedication have inspired travel destinations centered around these hometown heroes. Here are some of our favorites.
There are a number of firefighter museums around the U.S., including Memphis, New York City, and Los Angeles. In the Mile-High City, visitors will find the Denver Firefighters Museum, which is housed in the historic Station One fire station. From 1909 to 1976, the building served as Engine Co. No. 1's headquarters; it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, before turning into the museum a year later. There are collections dedicated to fire protection gear and equipment, how reporting a blaze has changed over time, uniforms, and extinguishing methods. Kids can slide down a firepole, dress up like firefighters, and play on retired trucks. Admission is $5-$7.
Firehouse Inn (Barre, VT)
Here's a fascinating place to lay your head. Built in 1904, this was a working firehouse for more than 100 years. After closing in 2007, the building was refurbished and opened as the four-bedroom Firehouse Inn in 2013. The owners kept much of the firehouse's original features -- including the red-arched double doors and interior subway tile. There are two studios and a pair of one-bedroom suites; all have WiFi, air conditioning, and cable TV. One-bedroom accommodations have living and kitchen areas, too. On site, there's also the Ladder 1 Grill and Pub, serving brick-oven pizzas and burgers. Nightly rates are from $165.
Forest Fire Lookouts
Did you know that the U.S. Forest Service offers overnight rentals at dozens of fire lookout towers, including ones that are retired or in the off-season? The towers were constructed on mountaintops so that watchmen could spot smoke and report to firefighting personnel. Many are in remote, mountainous locations that you may have to hike, cross-country ski, or snowshoe to -- but you're met with spectacular 360-degree views. Sights at the popular Little Guard Lookout in Idaho Panhandle National Forests, for example, include the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River, the Bitterroot Mountains, and Downey Peak from 6,031 feet up. Note that these are rustic retreats, so while you'll find they have living spaces, most don’t offer indoor bathrooms or water; be sure to check individual listings for complete amenities. Rates are from $20 per night, depending on the location.