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These stories are perfect for lazing on the beach or picnicking in a park.

The longest part of summer is upon us, which means we all need good reads to help us power through the hot days. Thankfully, the world of travel writing has responded in recent weeks with a variety of superb features. Here, in no particular order, are some of our faves.

An inside look at the Sonoma coast
When the Los Angeles Times sent reporter Steve Lopez to travel the California coast and write about it, he was looking forward to one destination above all others: Sonoma County. In a recent feature, Lopez spins a complicated yarn about how Sonoma’s shorelines avoided becoming the Atlantic City of the West. The answer: a late conservationist by the name of Bill Kortum. In the piece, Lopez mixes history with color and describes a meeting with Mary Kortum, Bill’s widow. The story is informative and fun—the perfect combination for summer.

Tromping for booze in Scotland
We love the very premise of Jill K. Robinson’s recent feature for the San Francisco Chronicle—a hike to the most remote pub in the British mainland. It turns out the narrative is up to the task. The piece is resplendent with details about the 18-mile hike around the Knyodart Peninsula to get to the Old Forge pub in Inverie. One of the most delicious: the author’s realization that she hikes from Loch Hourn (Loch Hell, for those of you scoring at home) to Loch Nevis (Loch Heaven). At the end, of course, our Virgil gets her dram of whiskey. It’s how all good stories about hiking in Scotland should end.

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Fishing Guantanamo Bay
Love him or hate him, Anthony Bourdain creates compelling content. How else to sum up his new partnership with Roads & Kingdoms, a food/travel narrative effort? One of the site’s recent features—a piece by Ed Augustin—spotlighted fishing on Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The piece is one of the most comprehensive and well-researched features on Cuba since the United States’ relations with the island nation have normalized. What’s more, Augustin’s penchant for description is second to none—he writes about everything from busy streets to cacophonous animals in a way that still seems mystical.

Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com