Great Lakes Destinations to Consider for Your Next Big Adventure

Updated:

Great Lakes Destinations – During the Late Pleistocene Era (roughly 126,000 to 11,700 years ago), the Laurentide Ice Sheet dominated the majority of northern North America.

The hulking ice sheet (reaching more than two miles high in specific areas) gouged and transformed the earth beneath.

Once the glaciers receded (12,000 to 10,000 years ago) the diverse and beautiful Great Lakes Region was born.

Covering eight states and Canada’s Province of Ontario, the Great Lakes contain roughly 20% of the planet’s fresh surface water.

Combined, the Great Lakes have more than 9,500 miles of coastline making it the perfect location for a host of outdoor activities.

From activity packed metropolises to unique coastal communities, the Great Lakes Region has the ideal destination for your next big vacation.

Great Lakes Destinations to Consider

Traverse City

Featuring a small town atmosphere, activities during all seasons, and a vibrant natural landscape, Traverse City is an excellent spot for a relaxing Michigan excursion.

Established in 1852 and home to more than 15,000 residents, this is the largest and one of the oldest cities on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find a nearly never-ending list of activities to enjoy, regardless of the season.

Warm weather months bring ample opportunities for hiking, fishing, boating, or just relaxing on the beach.

During the winter snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and skiing are the most prominent activities.

Great Lakes Destinations to Consider for Your Next Big Adventure at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Great Lakes Destinations to Consider for Your Next Big Adventure at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Make your way to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore for a variety of things to do and natural vistas.

The city also features a thriving artistic and performing arts community.

At the City Opera House (built in 1891) travelers can see performances by the Traverse City Orchestra, talks with luminaries, plays, musicals, and more.

The Interlochen Center for the Arts is ideal for anyone curious to learn about a new art form, and it features hundreds of concerts and events throughout the year.

With the local climate partially controlled by the waters of Lake Michigan, the area has become a hotbed for growing grapes and wine production.

The Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula are epicenters of the Traverse Wine Coast and boast more than 30 total vineyards.

Visitors taking a trip on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail can sample wines and try pairings at more than 20 vineyards.

The relaxed atmosphere of Traverse City ensures visitors can set the pace of their experience.

There are few lines or waits, and the attractions and activities are in reasonable proximity to lodging providers.

After one trip to this community, you’ll find out why it’s visited by more than three million people annually.

Great Lakes Destinations to Consider for Your Next Big Adventure at Duluth
Great Lakes Destinations to Consider for Your Next Big Adventure at Duluth

Duluth

Perched on the shores of Lake Superior (the largest freshwater lake on the planet), Duluth’s pristine natural surroundings, attractions for all ages, and unique culture make it one of Minnesota’s top travel destinations.

The city was named Duluth in 1857 to pay homage to French explorer Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut who helped to establish the area as a trading outpost during the mid-17th Century.

The natural beauty of the area has attracted a variety of artists, performers, and art collectors.

Sprinkled around downtown and surrounding areas visitors will find an impressive collection of art galleries including Waters of Superior, Siiviis of Sivertson Gallery, and Art Dock.

Those in search of performance art venues are in luck, The Duluth Playhouse offers a year-round schedule of world-class live theater, and the Minnesota Ballet performs a variety of full-length story ballets.

Visitors to the Zenith City will encounter a diverse culinary scene.

Whether you’re into duck confit or an All-American hamburger, the city has it all and more.

The Duluth Grill was featured on the Food Network program Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and its menu is diverse.

Visitors will encounter a unique gourmet specialty market and eatery at the Northern Waters Smokehaus, a  restaurant that utilizes local and sustainably raised meats and fish.

Located on and around the bluffs that rise high above Lake Superior, the city’s surrounding natural landscape and opportunity for outdoor recreation attract people from across the world.

Duluth offers outdoor activities for every season and interest.

This winter wonderland features an abundance of trails for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, as well as a handful of excellent downhill skiing areas.

The summer months treat visitors to lush landscapes, open waters, and about every warm weather outdoor activity that you can imagine.

Duluth’s small-town vibe combined with its cosmopolitan attractions make it ideal for anyone.

Visitors will find plenty of room to operate as they experience all the city has to offer.

Once travelers get a taste for what the city has to offer, it won’t take long to realize why Outside Magazine named Duluth as the “Best City Ever.”

Niagara Falls

Separated by the Niagara River, Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York, are ideal locations to begin a Great Lakes adventure.

The area’s origins date back 12,000 years ago to the end of the last Ice Age when the Clovis People inhabited the region.

Since then, the War of 1812 helped set a permanent border between the U.S. and Canada, and the building of the Hydraulic Canal in 1852 brought an influx of people, commerce, and industry to the region.

Exploring The Niagara Falls From The Wrong Angle
Exploring The Niagara Falls From The Wrong Angle

Niagara Falls is the namesake of both cities and the most recognizable natural attraction in the region.

The Falls formed 12,000 years ago when a large mass of water was released from the Laurentide Ice Sheet.

This torrent of water drained into the Niagara River and eroded the rock away to create the falls.

Visitors can stop by the Niagara Falls State Park which features incredible views of this natural marvel.

Those looking to get a bit closer should take a ride on the Maid of the Mist, a 600-passenger boat that drives directly to the base of the falls.

Aside from the falls, the Niagara Region offers a variety of attractions and fun things to do.

Anyone interested in the history of the area should visit Old Fort Niagara, which is the oldest continuously occupied military site in North America.

The Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens offers travelers 99 acres of beautifully manicured gardens and a world-famous rose garden with more than 2,400 roses.

For a one-of-a-kind view of the falls and the surrounding landscape, take a ride on the 175 foot-tall Niagara Skywheel.

Regardless of which side of the border you’re on, the area delivers with world-class cuisine.

On the American side, foodies will love The Griffon Gastropub, Savor, and Third Street Retreat.

New Life Hiking Spa Green Mountains of Vermont Vacation

Over on the Canadian side, food lovers flock to Casa Mia, Taps on Queen Brewhouse and Grill, and Weinkeller.

No matter your cuisine preference, you’ll find it all here.

With so much to offer, you may need a couple of trips to get the full Niagra experience.

From experiencing the falls and its surrounding parks to shopping the day away at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA, this region has it all.

Honorable Mention: Chicago!

Wonderful things to do in Chicago.

Exploring Niagara Falls – “The skiing in Ontario is great!” earnest people told me when I announced my plans to get acquainted with Canada’s east-central province last January.

“Oh, and you should check out the golf courses – sublime!”

That may be the case, but I can’t ski, I had no immediate desire to learn (or more specifically, I had no desire to pay for lessons) and I was fairly sure the golf courses would be up to their flags in snow.

Plus, I don’t like golf.

Various other suggestions were mooted – most of them entirely predictable – but oddly none involved the most predictable thing of all: Niagara Falls.

Exploring Niagara Falls

Unashamedly unoriginal, yet magnificently majestic, I had wanted to view these colossal cascades for as long as I can remember.

It didn’t bother me that everyone went there – sometimes you have to swallow your nagging doubts about venturing on to the dreaded beaten track and just accept that popular things are popular for a reason.

Exploring Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls

The Niagara Falls are as synonymous with Ontario as Ayers Rock is with Australia, or as the Eiffel Tower is with Paris, or as the pyramids are with Egypt, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Namely, a very large, very powerful, very scenic waterfall.

And, with a gluttonous dose of posing tourists, that’s pretty much what I got.

Something wasn’t right though.

Something was missing.

Here before me lay the most iconic waterfall on the planet.

A sweeping horseshoe of turquoise plunging into a seething cloud of white mist; momentous, beautiful and lethal in equal measures.

Yet I didn’t feel a thing.

Not a hint of excitement and a level of interest that could best be described as mild (unlike the freezing temperatures, which could best be described as vicious).

The problem, of course, was that there was no sense of discovery – the catalyst for any meaningful travel experience.

So when I overheard a young couple whispering something about going behind the falls, I did what any self-respecting journalist would do.

Exploring Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls

I eavesdropped.

Unfortunately, their conversation branched off into other unrelated matters soon afterwards, and that’s all I wish to say about that.

My interest, however, was now primed.

New opportunities had emerged and I began to ponder the marvelous possibility that there was a secret passage known only to wise locals.

There was, as it turned out, except the passage wasn’t secret and although the wise locals were probably aware of its existence, so was everyone else within a 10,000 mile radius.

None more so than the people running Niagara Parks, who wouldn’t let me in until I’d handed them the best part of $15.

Still, not to worry, I got my discovery fix.

Observing the waterfall from the ‘wrong’ way was a peculiar experience.

A series of gloomy tunnels led off the main corridor at right-angles, and it was through these – at considerable distance – that the falls could be observed.

So not much to report on the visual front – imagine looking out an open window during a ferociously heavy downpour, and then multiply it several times – but it was the thunderous noise that grabbed me.

The kind of noise that’s so loud you can feel it vibrating in your bones.

Exploring The Niagara Falls From The Wrong Angle
Exploring The Niagara Falls From The Wrong Angle

The kind of noise that seems to have metamorphosed into a physical being.

It was like the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse had paid their $15 entrance fees and were galloping about the place, or to use a more up to date analogy, like a Boeing 747 had lost its way disastrously on its descent into Toronto.

I felt satisfied leaving Niagara Falls.

Not because the trip behind the waterfall was particularly life affirming, but because it was unexpected.

So I suppose the overriding point I’d like to leave you with is this: do as little research as is humanely possible before going to a place.

The more familiar it is, the bigger the anti-climax.

But if you’re the organised type and you’re thinking of heading over this way, you should probably have a look at My Destination Ontario just to be safe.

Jack Jones – This quote from Pete McCarthy pretty much sums me up… “He instinctively understands that the purpose of travel is to be able to tell your friends about it and make them feel that staying at home was the poorer option, even if it wasn’t.”

(photo credit: farlane – charlottes333 – nick farnhill – Janine Curry)

Top 10 Things to See in Central Park New York City

Updated:

Things to See in Central Park, there are dozens of major attractions in this New York City Park.

One day is not enough to explore them all but you can try and explore the top ten things to see in Central Park.

Exploring the City with Kids Tips for a Memorable New York Getaway
Exploring the City with Kids Tips for a Memorable New York Getaway

10 Things to See in Central Park

Bow Bridge

The sixty feet long Bow Bridge celebrates Classical Greek refinement architecture.

Calvert Vaux designed the bridge along with Jacob Mould and it was constructed in mid nineteenth century.

Bow Bridge has been featured in films including Manhattan, Keeping the Faith and The Way We Were.

It is just three hundred meters northwest of Bethesda Terrace.

Bow Bridge is made from cast iron and the walkway is ipe, which is a hardwood found in abundance across South America.

The wood tends to develop a deep red hue when it is wet.

Known for amazing views of Fifth Avenue and the picturesque landscape, Bow Bridge is definitely one of the top ten things to see in Central Park.

Strawberry Fields

It is around five hundred meters west of Bow Bridge, between 74th Street to the north and 71st Street to the south.

The two and a half acres lush garden is dedicated to iconic peace activities, musicians and singers including John Lennon and The Beatles.

Lined with shrubs, rocks, flowers and elm trees, the quiet zone was designed by Italian artists.

The Strawberry Fields are a symbolic protest against war.

The nearest entrance is near 72nd Street, across Central Park West.

Things to See in Central Park The Ramble
The Ramble Things to See in Central Park

The Ramble

The Ramble is a wild garden, lush woodland with thirty eight acres of winding paths around there hundred meters northeast of Bow Bridge.

The trails with distinct flora & fauna offer convenient access to a few other major attractions in Central Park, such as Bethesda Terrace.

The Ramble is popular among birdwatchers.

The woods are home to over two hundred species of birds.

Naturists would love this place filled with Black Locust, Black Cherry, American sycamore, oaks, the Hackberry and Kentucky coffee tree, Cucumber Magnolia and Yellowwood, Sophora and Phellodendron.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland is an eleven feet bronze sculpture adjacent to Conservatory Water.

Alice, as described by Lewis Carroll, can be found here with Mad Hatter and White Rabbit.

New York Obelisk Cleopatra's Needle
New York Obelisk Cleopatra’s Needle

Designed and constructed by Jose de Creeft in 1959 using funds granted by George Delacorte, the sculpture is primarily an attraction for kids, who are welcome to climb and crawl over the sculpture.

Obelisk

Obelisk or Cleopatra’s Needle is an ancient artifact dating back to 1450 B.C.

There were two such obelisks that were moved to Alexandria from Heliopolis.

Subsequently, one of the two was moved to New York City and another was moved to London.

Situated just west of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, actually behind if you are taking the entrance at 5th Avenue, the Obelisk is definitely the oldest man-made feature in the park.

The seventy one feet tall structure weighs around two hundred tons and it took four months for laborers to move the artifact from Hudson to its present location.

Reservoir

The Reservoir, also known as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, spans a hundred and six acres.

The water body has a mile and a half long track encircling it, which is quite popular among joggers.

The Reservoir offers an immersive view of the skyline of the great city and it is also popular among birdwatchers for they can spot egrets, herons, loons and coots.

The Reservoir was originally a source of clean water for New York City but it no longer serves that purpose.

However, it does provide water to the Lock, Harlem Meer and the Pool.

The Loch

The Lock was originally intended to be a large lake but it has transformed into a narrow stream today.

Nevertheless, it is one of the most tranquil places in Central Park.

Birdwatchers can rejoice and so can anyone looking for an idyllic time in a busy city.

Bethesda Terrace Fountain Things See New York Central Park
Bethesda Terrace Fountain Things See New York Central Park

Developed by Vaux and Olmsted, the Lock is half a mile west of the Museum of the City of New York.

Bethesda Terrace

Bethesda Terrace is around three hundred meters southeast of Bow Bridge.

There are many attractions nearby including Bethesda Fountain, Cherry Hill Fountain, Bethesda Arcade and The Lake.

Bethesda Terrace was one of the first features to have been completed in Central Park.

Construction started in 1859 and was completed by 1863.

There is an upper terrace and a lower terrace with grand staircases.

The structure is made of New Brunswick sandstone, the steps and landings are granite and the paving is of Roman brick.

The terrace was designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted.

The place was intended to be the heart of the park, where people could get together and socialize.

Conservatory Garden

Conservatory Garden is less than two hundred meters from the Museum of the City of New York.

You can explore the garden from 8 a.m. till sunset.

The formal garden has a calm setting.

There are no bicyclists or joggers.

New York City Belvedere Castle
New York City Belvedere Castle

You can take leisurely strolls here, explore the natural grandeur of the seasonal plants and if you are lucky to be here when the flowers blossom then it would be one of the rarest experiences you would have in the city.

Belvedere Castle

Belvedere Castle is adjacent to Turtle Pond, half a mile west of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The place is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the exception of Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

The castle offers majestic views of Central Park and you can spot Delacorte Theater, the Ramble and the Great Lawn among others.

The castle was not developed bearing in mind any specific purpose.

It was simply designed to be a fascinating backdrop with splendid views.

However, Belvedere Castle is used for various purposes today, both for public and private events.

The best way to explore the top ten things is by Central Park Pedicab Tours.

And Gossip Girl Tour can save you time, the ride would be convenient and the whole expedition will be affordable too.
Top 10 Things to see in New York Central park

Exploring the City with Kids Hacks

Memorable New York Getaway – For many, travelling to a big, busy city like New York with kids may seem like a daunting task.

Below are a few tips that will help you minimize the anxiety and maximize the fun along the way.

Hacks for a Memorable New York Getaway Exploring the City with Kids
Hacks for a Memorable New York Getaway Exploring the City with Kids

Keep the Arrival Day Simple

Start your Big Apple vacation by visiting a park. You could possibly take your children to Flushing Meadows the same day you arrive at NYC.

Here, they will have an opportunity to relax as they explore the Queens Zoo, Citi Field, the Queens Botanical Garden and six playgrounds.

Apart from your children having time to relax, you also get an opportunity to interact with the locals and get some important advice on what to see and do in New York.

Talking with locals will also give you an idea of where to find valuable treasures that are less known in the tourist circuit.

Stay Like a Local

When traveling to a big city like New York with kids, it is preferably better to rent a home via Airbnb.

The main goal being to fine a family-friendly flat in a great neighborhood.

While staying at a hotel is nice, the luxury will definitely get lost on your kids who find the greatest joy in the simplest of things.

Staying at an Airbnb flat makes it much easier for kids to sleep in their own bedroom, giving mom and dad time to relax.

New York farmer's market
New York farmer’s market

One of the best things to do with your kids in the city is to visit the local farmers’ markets for vegetables and fruit, yogurt and cheese, pastries and bread.

Head home to make a simple home meal.

This not only gives your kids the chance to gain that real New York experience, it is also less expensive, more relaxing and healthier than dining out every night.

Ditch the Car

The last thing you want to do is to waste time in a city where you will be for only a couple of days.

One of the best ways to experience NYC is by taking long walks.

You can also schedule a hop on hop off tour bus that makes it easy to plan your city adventure.

If you are looking for a more relaxing environment, you can explore the various parks in the city by renting bikes.

However, remember that kids tend to get hungry after an entire day of walking.

It is a good idea that you bring along a few snacks, as well as sunscreen, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.

Have a Rainy Day Plan B

Kids love the outdoors, but it may not be so much fun when it is all wet and cold.

In addition, summer is a great opportunity to do something indoors while taking a break from the sun.

In New York, you will find a great assortment of incredible natural history and art museums that your children will enjoy visiting.

However, let your children take the lead and go at their pace.

Look for exhibits that have a hands-on approach and ask your kids what they want to see next and skip the rest.

Before stepping going, find out how much it is going to cost, if it’s appropriate for kids, and whether you can bring along a backpack or stroller.

Help Your Kids Preserve the Trip Memories

Once you get back home, talk about the trip.

You can even help your kids choose pictures to hang or create a scrapbook with pictures of monuments and museums from tourist pamphlets you collected during your stay in New York.

The scrapbook will act as a summary of each day of your trip, including the food you ate, places you visited and friends you made along the way – a great way to remember a vacation!

New York’s Folk Music Revival

Folk, roots, old-time revival – whatever you want to call it, there is something stirring in the music dens of New York.

Encompassing bluegrass, old time, blues and more, the music and melodies are woven into the fabric of a rich American culture.

But don’t think of it as static, stuck in the past, or confined to the hinterland.

The Coen brothers are tapping the scene for their anticipated film ‘Inside Llewn Davis’ due out next year, whilst bustling New York has plenty of places to run the hoedown, tap the washboard, and find a bit of country in the city.

New York flights are also cheap and widely available, so if music’s your thing why not plan a visit to the Big Apple?

Listen Learn - New York’s Folk Music Revival
Listen Learn – New York’s Folk Music Revival

New York’s Folk Music Revival

Squeeze In & Listen

If it’s big venue entertainment you’re after and you want to explore the US’s rich blues heritage, check out the free live music every night at Lucille’s Grill at BB King Blues Club and Grill on West 42nd.

You’ll find local talent performing soulful blues, and there’s great food on offer too.

Plus it’s on Manhattan Island itself, so it’s a great way to wind up a day out downtown.

New York’s Folk Music Revival Squeeze In & Listen
New York’s Folk Music Revival Squeeze In & Listen

But to get under the skin of traditional music in New York, it’s worth heading further afield to find those lesser known gems:

Small venues which are not only intimate, but where you’ll find communities of artists and musicians happy to share their knowledge and passion with you, particularly if you’re doing more than just passing through.

Expect a variety of up and coming acts, genuine undiscovered talent and a feeling of being right at home in the vast metropolis.

Here are three to get your feet tapping:

Small’s Jazz Club, 183 W 10th St, Greenwich Village

The name describes the venue, but not the history, or the music: Small’s Jazz Club is archetypal:

brick and cobblestone in a basement, and lots of surprise performances.

The club used to charge $10 for entrance and folk would bring their own drinks to stay and play until dawn or until they fell asleep.

Now you can pick up a drink there too, but the cover charge still lasts until closing so you can enjoy their jam sessions from just after midday until 3 am.

Jalopy’s Theater and School of Music, 315 Columbia Street, Brooklyn

Jalopy’s Theatre and School of Music
Jalopy’s Theatre and School of Music

The endearingly named Jalopy’s Theater, as well as running all kinds of classes with the most friendly, skilled and talented teachers you might find anywhere, is literally a prayer hall for talented fiddlers, pianists, and more, with wooden pews facing its theatrical stage.

Roots ‘n Ruckus nights every Wednesday give you a free taste of the most authentic folk in New York City, with tub-basses, kazoos and harmonicas galore, but they also have ticketed events hosting talents such as Cynthia Sayer and Paul Geremia.

There’s also a café, and an instrument store in case you get really inspired.

Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, 513 Henry Street, Brooklyn

Whether or not you want to watch or join in, the acoustic Old-time Jam with Alan Friend every Tuesday at Brooklyn Farmacy Soda Fountain is a friendly place to enjoy music.

The place’s motto, “fresh, friendly, local” could be said to apply to its music just as much as to its artisanal foods and selection of sodas.

They also offer some great desserts in this charming historical venue.

In fact, it’s a great place for a sweet treat for the whole family during the day.

They also have other family-friendly events from time-to-time, such as morning jams and sing-a-longs.

Learn To Play

Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain
Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain

If you’re inspired and want to get involved, you can try learning an instrument.

The classes at Jalopy’s cover everything including klezmer fiddle, off-beat banjo tunings, Kentucky fiddle bowing techniques, country harmony singing, ukulele, mandolin, and banjo stylings.

You learn in songs, in groups, and can rent an instrument too, which is particularly handy if you’re just trying out.

Alan Friend who organizes the jams at the Farmacy, teaches banjo, guitar, concertina and fiddle.

Also at Jalopy’s is the New York City Barn Dance.

They teach and walk-through all the dances, so you don’t need to know before you go – but it’s not a class.

Everybody’s keen to get on with the dancing and they welcome participation regardless of experience.

Probably the most fun way to learn a staple of American culture, and listen to the calls of the traditional square dance.

Christmas in New York City, New York

New York City is probably the most popular destination for the Christmas holidays.

There’s so many events in the city it might be hard to enjoy them all, for example, the traditional Nutcracker Ballet on Broadway is a big must.

holiday destinations

The ballet has been around for many years and continues to be a Christmas favorite for many.

Tradition holds true with the “big tree” lighting at Rockefeller Center.

This traditional tree lighting ceremony takes place during the first week of December.

Don’t forget to stop by Central Park for some ice skating and Radio City too as it continues to put on the Radio City Spectacular each year. Enjoy 90 minutes of dance, song and comedy while visiting New York City.

And for sure you will want to enjoy shopping in New York City.

(photo credits: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4)

Relocating To New York City Hacks

Updated:

Relocating To New York City Hacks – Have you ever visited the wonderful state of New York?

If you have, you probably felt the urge to stay for a little while.

Visiting the city as a tourist is amazing but residing there permanently is even better!

As a resident of New York City, you’ll receive a wealth of benefits.

You’ll always be in close vicinity to exciting sporting events and music concerts.

Plus, you’ll be able to mingle with people from a variety of backgrounds.

The best thing about the nightlife in this city is that there is such a huge variety of options.

There are a million ways to spend your evening in New York, from sipping Cosmos in a trendy bar to grabbing a beer in a small corner-pub listening to live-music, or even spending the evening at a dazzling Broadway Show.

The great thing about New York is that it’s easy to get to from almost anywhere.

These days you can find really cheap flights to New York even from as far away as Europe, and today many Europeans take longer weekend trips to New York and enjoy some of their famous partying, something which was very unusual just a few years ago.

Within this guide, you will find tips for relocating to New York City more conveniently.

Relocating To New York City Hacks

Plenty Of Help Available Relocating To New York City

One of the best things about New York City is the businesses.

There are tons of amazing businesses in the city and they’re all willing to aid tourists and newcomers alike.

If you intend to relocate to the Big Apple, you’re going to need a little assistance.

After all, you won’t be able to haul that couch or sofa by yourself!

Movers from New York will be more than happy to assist you.

Plus, they’ll offer a great price.

No matter what you need, you can guarantee that a business in the city will be there to accommodate those needs.

So Many Activities To Enjoy in New York City

When locating to New York City, you will be absolutely stunned by the sheer number of activities at your disposal.

They’re pretty much endless.

You could always enjoy a game at Madison Square Garden.

Or, you can visit one of the local theaters.

As a resident of the city, you should try exploring some of the lesser known attractions.

Be sure to space out your New York entertainment activities, so you don’t experience everything at once.

Visit a different establishment each weekend to keep New York City fresh and exciting.

Relocating To New York City Hacks
Relocating To New York City Hacks

Cost Of Living in New York City

According to government statistics, the cost of living in New York is “higher than the nationwide average.”

In fact, New Yorkers earn on average $67,940.00 each year and when compared to the U.S. average annual salary of $14,310.00, the difference is fairly significant.

However, you should expect to shell out between 7 percent and 12 percent in income taxes from your paycheck.

Even though you should expect to earn higher wages once you relocate to New York, you will be spending more for housing, groceries and other living expenses.

However, the state has a lot of offer singles, couples and families, so if you are looking to expand your business or career, you will not find another state more welcoming than New York.

Before you start packing your bags, you should conduct thorough research the cost of living in New York.

And remember, a cheap moving company will provide you with the necessities to pack your belongings and relocate them to the “Big Apple.”

Explore the Different Neighbors

As a resident of New York, you owe it to yourself to explore New York City’s numerous neighborhoods.

They’re plentiful and each one is totally unique in its own right.

When you’ve grown bored of your area, you should consider visiting the Bronx or Queens.

You’ll feel like you’re entering an entirely new city.

The experience is one that simply isn’t available anywhere else in the United States.

Best Shopping New York City

New York is packed with every type of cultural attraction, countless entertainment options, as well as the best shopping experience on the planet.

Coming to this city means getting to visit famous places like Times Square (New Year’s Eve Fireworks), Central Park, the Empire State Building, and Grand Central Station.

Here are just some of the great things you can see and do during your visit to this amazing city:

New York City
New York City

Non-Stop Entertainment in New York

The main entertainment areas in the city are to be found in Midtown Manhattan, and this is where you’ll find the Theater District and Times Square.

Madison Square Garden is considered New York’s event arena, with about 320 events per years, and this can be found at Pennsylvania Plaza.

Some of the best venues in the Theater District are to be found on Broadway such as the Winter Garden Theater, Ambassador Theater, and Lincoln Center Theater.

Some of the most talked-about productions in the world can be seen on Broadway, and many visitors come from around the world just to see them.

Going to a show can be expensive, but you can cut costs significantly by getting to the theatre early.

Most theaters have rush tickets which are discounted tickets for the first 20 people to arrive.

Time Square is the heart of Manhattan, and it is sometimes referred to as ‘The Center of the Universe’.

Many of the best entertainment venues are in easy reach of here – this is where Broadway, 42nd Street, Seventh Avenue, 47th Street intersect.

Times Square is most famous for its New Year’s Eve celebrations, and its amazing billboard display.

Some of the best bars and nightclubs in the city can be found close to Times Square, and it is a great place to start a night on the town.

New York New Years Fireworks
New York New Years Fireworks

New York is known as the city that never sleeps, and if it is fun you are after, you have come to the right place.

There are over 18,000 restaurants to choose from, serving every type of food imaginable, and if you are in the mood to party, there are around 2,700 bars and nightclubs.

Cultural Attractions in New York

New York American Museum Natural History
New York American Museum Natural History

The number of cultural attractions in New York is staggering, and you could visit the city many times and only scratch the surface of what is available.

There are over 2,000 museums and art galleries, and walking around Manhattan can mean getting to see something interesting around every corner.

The American Museum of Natural History at Central Park West is one of the largest museums in the world with over 32 million artifacts.

It covers an area of 1,600,000 square feet, and there are displays focusing on ancient history, local history, and popular culture.

It take a lot of time to explore this museum, so you might want to come here more than once.

New York City Metropolitan Museum Art
New York City Metropolitan Museum Art

If you want to get a better understanding of the history of New York, you need to visit Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

It is usual to visit here as part of a tour that also includes the Statue of Liberty.

Over 12 million immigrants came to the US through Ellis Island when it function as an immigration checkpoint, and the museum tells the story of those people.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (better known as The Met) is the biggest art museum in the US.

There are over 2 million pieces in this collection, and it covers every style of art from around the globe including European Art, Islamic Art, African Art, Asian Art, ancient Art.

This is another venue where you need to go more than once in order to fully appreciate it.

Best Shopping in New York

Best Shopping in New York City Madison Avenue Shopping
Best Shopping in New York City

If you love shopping, you are going to adore New York. New York USA – A Dream for Shoppers,

All of the top brands have large stores in the city, and there are many famous department stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Saks, and Tiffany’s.

This is also a great city to come to if you are looking for a bargain – many visitors from the UK and elsewhere save money by shopping here instead of at home.

Madison Avenue is the place to go if you are looking to splash out a bit of cash on luxury items.

Some of the most expensive shops in the world are to be found here, and this is where the elite do their shopping – if you enjoyed the series ‘Sex in the City’, you’ll have a reasonable idea of what Madison Avenue is all about.

Some of the most popular stores here would include Prada, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, and Jonathan Alder.

This might not be the best place to go if you have fresh credit card and poor impulse control.

If bargain hunting in markets is more your type of thing, you will find plenty of opportunities to do this New York.

Most of the flea markets, where you find the cheapest deals, are only open at the weekends, and this would include venues like West 25th Street Market, Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, Brooklyn Flea, and East 67th Street Market.

There is also a nice selection of Farmer’s Markets in the city including Union Square Green Market and Grown NYC (various locations around the city).

Adventure in New York

New York Hudson River Park
New York Hudson River Park

If you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie, you will be able to find plenty of adventurous things to do in New York.

For a unique view of Manhattan, you might want to try kayaking on the Hudson River.

Alternatively, you could enjoy the delights of the city from inside of a helicopter.

If you want something that is both fun and adventurous, you could join in one of the organized scavenger hunts.

There are also places like Central Park where you can get some exercise and escape the madness of the city for a few hours.

Off the Beaten Track in New York

It is a nice feeling to leave New York in the knowledge that you have done more than just visit the most popular tourist attractions.

Getting off the beaten track is your chance to better get to know the city, and see things that other visitors usually miss.

Some of the places that are less visited by tourists would include Governor’s Island, Fort Tyron Park, Roosevelt Island, and Bryant Park.

Most of Manhattan is safe to walk around during the daylight hours, and just doing some exploring is probably the best way to get off the beaten track.

Getting the Most Out of New York

We’ve only had time here to scratch the surface of some of the stuff you can see and do during a trip to New York.

There are so many options that it is tempting to try to fit too much in, but this can make your visit less enjoyable.

It is a much better idea to think about the delights of New York you most want to enjoy and choose a few of these. New York Dining Guide For All Budgets

New York USA – A Dream for Shoppers

New York USA is A Dream for Shoppers. There are few more exciting places to shop than this Cornucopia-on-the-Hudson in New York, with its boutiques, department stores, and discount outlets all jostling for a piece of the sales action.

When the city’s wealthy began migrating from Lower Manhattan to the north, New York stores followed suit.

From the 1860s to around 1920, shopping was concentrated in what is now the Ladies Mile Historic District.

The heart was roughly from 14th to 24th streets along Sixth Avenue.

The opening of the Sixth Avenue elevated line in 1878 provided access for shoppers from all over the city.

But as the better residential areas continue moving north in the early 1900s, the stores again followed, opening quarters in Midtown, where the larger stores remain today. Shopping, however, is not limited to any one area.

Every neighborhood has its share of lures, suited to the tastes and budgets of its residents.

A general rule of thumb is that the most elegant boutiques are Uptown, the big department stores are in Midtown, and the funkier boutiques are Downtown.

Wherever you roam in New York, shopping is part of the fun. Exploring the City with Kids ~ Tips for a Memorable New York Getaway

If you are traveling to New York from abroad, make sure that you check out compliance with regards to various visa requirements.

If you live in a participating country you may qualify for ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) approval which means that you don’t have to go through the usual visa approval process. Get more information at www.estafasttrack.org.uk

New York City USA Department Stores

New York is still known for its department stores, selling everything from dishes to designer fashions.

Macy’s bills itself as ‘the world’s largest department store.’

New York USA Shopping Experiance
New York USA Shopping Experiance

Lord & Taylor, a few blocks north, and Bloomingdales at 1003 Third Avenue at 60th Street, cater to a slightly more upscale market.

A notch higher still are Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, both luxury stores selling mostly clothes and accessories.

Barney’s at 660 Madison Avenue and 61st Street is the ne plus ultra for pricey cutting-edge fashions.

New York City Fashion

Look to 57th Street between 5th Madison avenues and Madison Avenue above 60th Street for elegant, expensive boutiques, to Soho for high-end fashion, to Fifth Avenue for reliable labels, and to NoLita and the Lower East Side for cutting-edge designs and valuable vintage.

The Meatpacking District is home to many high-profile designers. For high fashion at low prices, head for Century 21 Department Store (22 Courtland Street between Church Street and Broadway in Lower Manhattan) where designer labels can be had at substantial discounts. Daffy’s is another discount chain with several locations around town.

New York City Art and Antiques

The city has hundreds of art galleries, from major auction houses like Sotheby’s to the avant-garde galleries in Chelsea.

Traditional galleries tend to be found on East 57th Street on the upper East Side.

Only a few galleries remain in Soho.

A good neighborhood for antiques is 10th and 12th streets between University Place and Broadway, Manhattan Art & Antiques Centre (1050 Second Avenue at 56th Street) has dozens of dealers under one roof, as does the Chelsea Antiques Building (110 West 25th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues).

ABC Carpet & Home(888 Broadway at 19th Street) has several floors of unique furniture, accessories, and carpets from all over the world. For flea-market finds, check the weekend offerings at Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market (West 39th Street between Ninth and Tenth avenues), Antiques Garage, and the Green Flea Market (Columbia Avenue between 76th and 77th streets).

New York City Books

Barnes & Noble dominated the market with its many superstores. Stores usually have cafes and book-readings.

Greenwich Village is a great place to shop for books and records, for second hand and antiquarian titles pay a visit to the Strand Book Store, which claims to have 2 million volumes in stock (there’s a second branch at 95 Fulton Street).

Some unusual specialty shops include the Drama Book Shop (250 West 40th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues), Books of Wonder for children (16 West 18th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues), Mysterious Bookshop for mysteries (58 Warren Street between West Broadway and Church Street), and Kitchen Arts & Letters for chefs (1435 Lexington Avenue between 93rd and 94th streets).

Find Electronics in New York City

One of the best places to buy cameras and photographic equipment is bustling B&H Photo-Video at 420 Ninth Avenue at 34th Street.

Another good bet is J&R Music World at 23 Park Row, across from City Hall.

And if you want to indulge in the latest iPod visit the city’s fabulous flagship Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, there’s also a store on 103 Prince Street at Mercer Street in Soho and on Broadway at 67th Street.

Some smaller places don’t offer warranties on electronic goods, so check before you buy.

New York City Gifts

Museum shops are reliable sources for unusual gifts, and don’t forget the Public Library gift shop.

London vs New York Which Offers the Better Experience
New York Dining Guide For All Budgets

Christmas Sales in New York City

Sales are held after the Christmas holidays and in mid-July.

Department stores in New York tend to offer the best markdowns.

Holiday weekends – Fourth of July etc – are also prime sale times.

Barney’s legendary warehouse sale in mid-August draws big crowds.

New York Dining Guide For All Budgets

New York is a city famous for so many things, which is the reason why it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

One of these reasons is undoubtedly the food, which, some say, is the best in the world.

As well as being famous, New York is also big, meaning there are many, many options for food.

There are high priced restaurants offering luxury and a chance to celebrity spot as well as cheap and cheerful cafes and, of course, the well loved hot dog stand, all available on the same street.

However, there are some that are simply better than the rest and are certainly worth a visit.

New York Dining Guide
New York Dining Guide

New York Dining Big Budget

For those on a big budget, the ’21’ Club offers delicious traditional American cuisine inside a prohibition-era speakeasy.

This midtown restaurant is certainly not for the casual diner and the dress code strictly states no jeans or sneakers.

However, it’s definitely worth it for a visit to a restaurant that was once a favorite of Richard Nixon’s and still remains popular with the rich and famous of New York.

Another exclusive taste of the city is offered in Asiate, which is located on the thirty fifth floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

The restaurant provides a fantastic view across the city served with delicious fusion food, with some of the best seafood the city has to offer.

New York Dining Smaller Budget

Earl's Beer and Cheese
Earl’s Beer and Cheese

Don’t worry if you’re on a small budget, because there are some fantastic restaurants at the other end of the price range, including the wonderfully bizarre Earl’s Beer and Cheese.

The name of the place is only a small hint of the restaurant’s madness, serving dishes such as Foie Gras on Eggo waffles and English muffin with dill pickles, Miso mayonnaise and Kettle chips.

Both these dishes sound like a disaster but are actually delicious, incredibly cheap and totally unique, making it the perfect place to eat.

For a more conventional cheap eat, Inoteca provides delicious Italian food including antipasti and traditional Panini’s, which are deliciously filling.

Also, the restaurant gives an excellent view of the busy Rivington street, making it the perfect place to people watch whilst taking a break.

New York Dining Family Friendly

One other concern for many travelers is not just the price, but also whether the restaurant is family friendly, particularly whether it is suitable for children or not.

In a big cosmopolitan city, this can be difficult but New York amply provides for little visitors.

One child friendly venue is 63 Bites, which offers a number of foods featuring ‘hidden vegetables’ that make it easy for parents to ensure that kids get their five a day without a fuss.

For adults, there are a number of delicious dishes including their famous scones and food that has been inspired by local landmarks.

71 Irving Place Coffee and Tea bar
71 Irving Place Coffee and Tea bar

Of course after a long day with children, you need to recharge and one excellent child friendly café is the 71 Irving Place Coffee and Tea bar.

This cosy cafe offers several unique blends of coffee as well as delicious sandwiches and cakes.

For something that the kids will truly enjoy, 16 handles offers an incredible range of ice cream flavors with over thirty toppings to choose from.

The restaurant also offers a system whereby the ice cream is paid for by the ounce, meaning you can control how much you have and are not limited to a particular flavor, ideal for the adventurous.

The Essential New York Dining Experience – Hot Dog

An absolutely essential New York dining experience is, of course, the humble hot dog.

Whether it’s covered in mustard, ketchup, heaped with fried onions or even chili, it’s bound to satisfy even the hungriest visitor.

For an up market version of the classic, Crif Dogs in East Village offers a variety of deep fried hot dogs, as well as the chef’s special all beef frankfurter.

These hot dogs are also available at night in the bar annex, providing an ideal counterpart to a cocktail.

A cheaper option is Bark Hot Dogs, which offers delicious lard grilled Austrian Frankfurters topped with oak smoked sauerkraut.

It also offers a chili cheese dog with locally sourced ingredients, which ensures that it is the freshest frankfurter in town.

International
International

Of course for a quick option, there are also vendors across the city offering cheap hot dogs which, although may not be the best quality, will certainly slake momentary hunger.

New York Dining International

New York, as well as being famous for its hot dogs, is also famous for its huge range of international food, including African, Korean and eastern European food.

This is not surprising with so many cultures standing side by side in the massive city, but one of the most popular international food types is Chinese and with its own Chinatown, there is certainly a lot of choice.

One of the best Chinese restaurants is the tiny A-Wah restaurant, which as well as being excellent value for money, offers over three hundred dishes including curious specialty dishes such as deep fried minnows.

London vs New York Which Offers the Better Experience

Vegetarian
Vegetarian

It is also well known for rice dishes cooked in clay pots, which come in a rich soy sauce with either meat or vegetables.

If you have a larger budget, the Chinese fusion restaurant Lair is a good choice.

The restaurant serves delicious modern cuisine in a relaxed and stylish setting.

New York Vegetarian

Although many of these restaurants will offer vegetarian options, there are also a number of exclusively vegetarian restaurants in the city that are good enough even for meat eaters.

One of the best is Chennai Garden, which offers a colorful array of Indian cuisine.

At lunch time, the restaurant has a reasonably priced buffet meaning you can sample everything as many times as you like.

Another excellent vegetarian restaurant is Dirt Candy, which certainly dispels any notion that vegetarian food is boring and bland.

The menu offers delicious treats such as grits with pickled shiitakes and tempura poached egg, as well as tantalizing desserts such as popcorn pudding.

With such a wide range of culinary delights, these are just a range from thousands of brilliant restaurants on offer in the city.

The majority of these restaurants are based in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but one of the best ways to discover brilliant food is simply to explore the hidden places and venture off the tourist track.

Is it Better to Book a Hotel or Serviced Apartment in New York?

Serviced apartment in New York – Anyone who has ever been to New York knows it’s a pricey destination.

One of the most expensive components is the hotel.

When compared with hotel prices in other cities, New York’s are certainly at the upper end of the spectrum.

What’s more, it’s difficult to find decent-quality lodgings in a good neighborhood that isn’t going to blow the entire budget.

Are there other options?

Is it a good idea to consider a serviced apartment in New York?

Serviced Apartment in New York
Serviced apartment in New York

Serviced apartment in New York

Rather than deciding to look for a cheaper destination, a number of people are turning to serviced apartments.

These convenient and cost-effective arrangements tend to be better known in other areas of the world, but it’s a concept that’s definitely catching on in the U.S. and in New York in particular.

A serviced apartment may offer several advantages over a hotel stay.

At one time, these alternative accommodations were mainly the domain of the business or other long-term travelers.

However, more people are being drawn to serviced apartments as accommodations for shorter stays.

That means that in cities like New York there is a growing number of available apartments for stays that may only last a handful of nights.

Advantages of staying in a New York City serviced apartment

Many people who try them quickly discover that serviced apartments are a wonderful hotel alternative because of the price.

The per night rate is simply lower with an apartment.

Additionally, there tend to be fewer add-ons like resort fees, surcharges for using the safe, and costs for using WiFi or the phone.

Cost-conscious travelers who are planning a New York getaway should try an online service like Hotels Combined and at very least explore the idea of a serviced apartment because it can make their overall trip far less expensive.

Despite costing less it’s not unusual to actually get more when staying in a serviced apartment.

The typical hotel provides guests with a cramped studio with a bathroom.

The décor is questionable, the towels may be threadbare and privacy is essentially a fantasy.

Serviced apartments are completely different.

For a lower price than a hotel room, the entire apartment is at the disposal of the traveler.

Many of these apartments feature more than one bedroom, a full kitchen, two or more bathrooms and a spacious living area.

This makes it possible for groups of virtually any size to spread out and make themselves at home.

The kids can stick to their bedtimes while the adults stay up watching television without disturbing each other.

All that space is a wonderful thing after the stress of traveling.

Even those traveling on their own might appreciate having some extra room to make it really seem like a vacation.

Travelers who choose a serviced apartment also appreciate the unique and original décor.

Many of the available properties are tastefully decorated and provide the guest with a real home-away-from-home feeling.

Who wouldn’t want to have all the comforts of home during their New York stay?

New York Dining Guide
New York Dining Guide

The full kitchen is one of the biggest perks of choosing a serviced apartment in New York.

Anyone who has ever looked for a hotel in New York knows that a full kitchen or even a kitchenette is incredibly rare.

However, a serviced apartment always comes with a fully-equipped kitchen where it’s no problem to prepare three meals a day.

Considering the high cost of eating every meal in a restaurant, this represents a significant savings for most travelers.

Since apartments tend to be located in areas where grocery stores are nearby it’s no problem going out to find provisions.

Even travelers who aren’t interested in making meals will still appreciate the ability to reheat restaurant leftovers, enjoy ready prepared meals, or make a bag of microwave popcorn while watching television.

Lots of advantages In staying in a New York serviced apartment

Another reason to choose a New York serviced apartment is the ability to do laundry.

Of course, many hotels provide a laundry service for guests.

However, those services come with a premium price and the schedule isn’t always the most convenient.

Many serviced apartments are equipped with a washer and dryer, which makes it far easier for guests to pack light.

Families in particular appreciate the ability to do laundry whenever they like.

It’s never been easier to keep kids clean and presentable no matter how long the stay.

A serviced apartment may actually resemble an upscale hotel in some important ways.

Housekeeping services are available, though they probably don’t provide daily cleaning like a hotel does.

Most travelers are fine with having housekeeping come in just once or twice a week.

Guests are also able to request additional services if they run out of something or if there is some kind of repair that needs to be made.

Many of the buildings where these apartments are located feature wonderful amenities like swimming pools, hot tubs and state-of-the-art fitness centers.

Guests have free access to these amenities just as a resident would.

Some buildings may even have a lounge or clubhouse room where visitors and residents can gather and meet new acquaintances.

Travelers who want to get to know some locals can definitely make that happen with a serviced apartment.

In fact, choosing a serviced apartment instead of a hotel is a great way to have an authentic New York experience.

Guests of these apartments get to find out what it’s like to live like a local.

For a few days or weeks, they get to live like New Yorker’s even as they discover new sights and locations on a daily basis.

Things to see and do in New York Central Park

They’ll get familiar with public transportation, the corner market and the man who runs the newsstand.

Some of these encounters can easily become the most memorable of the stay.

Best Shopping in New York City
New York USA – A Dream for Shoppers

Hotels do have a few benefits as well as they tend to be centrally located.

This may put them closer to major attractions and a wealth of restaurants.

Plus, they may offer room service, which is indispensable to some travelers.

However, those who are more flexible about location and for whom price is a paramount concern may find that a serviced apartment in New York or any big city is the way to go.

It just might be the best way to experience New York like a local for an affordable price.

(photo credit: 1 – 2  – 3 – 4 – 5)

4 Great Southern Towns for a Family Vacation

Updated:

Great Southern Towns – Face it, family vacations can be tricky and planning a family vacation can be stressful.

You have to find a place that offers something for everyone in the family.

That’s hard enough for couples travel, and even more complicated when you have kids and teenagers.

Mom and dad may want some downtime, while the kids just want some playtime.

To keep everyone happy, you need a family vacation destination with lots of options for all ages.

Relax, we’ve done your homework for you.

Why not consider a vacation in one of these four Southern towns?

Each of these towns has something for everyone in the family.

In addition, they all offer lots of vacation rentals.

A vacation rental can be a family-friendly (and budget-friendly) alternative to staying at a hotel.

Plus, at the end of the day the kids can be inside watching a movie, while mom and dad relax on a porch with scenic views.

Great Southern Towns Like Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Great Southern Towns Like Gatlinburg, Tennessee

4 Great Southern Towns for a Family Vacation

Great Southern Towns Like Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg is a mountain resort community nestled at the foot of the Smoky Mountains.

It’s also the gateway to the popular Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

If you want to have a real Smoky Mountain experience, a Gatlinburg rental cabin is the place for you.

Your family can feel like they’re staying in a mountain lodge, while having deluxe amenities like a game room or home theater in their cabin.

Besides getting some great mountain views, you also have easy access to the national park and its many hiking trails.

Take a scenic wildflower walk or take the family for a thrilling whitewater rafting excursion.

Gatlinburg has a walkable downtown with fun family attractions, like Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and the Guinness World Records museum.

Plus, you’re right next door to Pigeon Forge, a town filled with theme parks and kid-friendly attractions.

There’s lots of fun and action available for the entire family.

Dine at the numerous fine and family restaurants.

Learn about the mountain’s heritage from the craft fairs, concerts, retail shops, and festivals.

Take a trolley ride or a stroll along the river. There is something for every member of your family to have a great time.

Great Southern Town of Orlando, Florida

With so much for families to do together, and so much fun available for everyone, it is no wonder that Orlando is one of the most family-friendly vacation locations.

There aren’t enough hours in a day to be able to do everything in Orlando, so plan your day to get in as much fun as possible.

Great Southern Town Orlando Florida Disney World
Great Southern Town Orlando Florida Disney World

There are four separate theme parks, resorts, water parks, entertainment districts, and shopping at Orlando’s Walt Disney World.

Within Disney World there are more places to have fun:

The Magic Kingdom is where the magic Enter the kingdom through Cinderella’s castle and start your magical journey.

Watch movies come to life with shows and movie sets in Disney MGM Studios.

Disney’s water parks are climate controlled so you and your family can enjoy them all year long

Celebrate the many cultures of the world, including the future at Epcot Center.

Visit with the animals of the world with rides, story-telling, and shows in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Experience the many activities and excitement in SeaWorld Orlando.

See animals up close and personal, become a “trainer for the day” and work with the animals.

Have fun in the various Adventure Camps, get sprayed with water by a killer whale, and enjoy so many other fun and adventurous programs offered at SeaWorld.

Williamsburg, Virginia is an Awesome Southern Town

When you visit the history-themed park at Colonial Williamsburg you will be greeted by politicians, townspeople, and shopkeepers.

Choose from over 20 tours including city itineraries, garden tours, ghost walks, and carriage rides.

Williamsburg, Virginia is an Awesome Southern Town
Williamsburg, Virginia is an Awesome Southern Town

In Jamestown, your family can walk in the steps of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas and see how the first American colonists lived.

The park offers historical stories on display in exhibits, living museums, and monuments.

History comes alive with intriguing attractions all within one captivating and interesting space.

For even more colonial history, drive along the scenic 23-mile Colonial Parkway from Jamestown to Yorktown.

It’s a beautiful drive that crosses 200 years of Colonial American history.

Visit Yorktown Battlefield and see where the American Revolution was won.

On this spot in 1781 General George Washington defeated General Charles Lord Cornwallis’s British army and guaranteed America’s independence.

Enjoy the wave pool at Surfer’s Bay, ride down the 75-foot tower slide at Vanish Point, have fun on the inner tube slide called the Jet Stream, and take a ride on the whitewater rapids on Big Daddy Falls.

You will find all of these attractions and more at Water Country USA.

Busch Gardens is located southeast of Williamsburg and has attractions that appeal to all ages.

Sesame Street Forest of Fun, rides and animal shows, roller coasters, and themed country lands are among a few of the many sites to visit.

You will be doing a lot of walking so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Southern Town of Seaside, Florida

Seaside is a quaint beachfront community nestled between Panama City Beach and Destin along Highway 30A.

It’s a wholesome, picture-perfect beach town known for its vacation cottages, walkable town center and sugar-white beaches.

In fact, Seaside and the Northwest Florida Panhandle have become famous for its warm waters and some of America’s prettiest beaches.

If you are looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life, emerald waters, great dining, and picturesque cottages,

Seaside is where you want to be.

It is also known for its bike and pedestrian way of life and locally-owned waterfront dining.

Seaside has a quieter pace than some of the other destinations in our list.

The town feels like a step back in time to a simpler, quieter America characterized by small towns and happy families.

You won’t find amusement parks here.

It’s about family time at the beach, or a bicycle ride the kids along the shore.

Ultimately it’s time together that makes a family vacation great.

Great Southern Towns for a Family Vacation
Overlooked destinations in America for discovery and adventure
Top 5 Family Friendly Destinations in the United States South
Top Places to Visit in Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida – The Venice of America

Must See Cities In United States

Must See Cities In United States – Traditionally, travelers coming to North America are told that New York City is the place to be.

While of course, NYC is considered the center of culture and diversity in the United States, there are a few other cities (and Great Lakes Region) in good ‘ol America that are worth looking into.

At the very least, they’re a whole lot cheaper.

New Orleans

Even though this city has experienced its fair share of disaster, from Hurricane Katrina to the latest BP offshore oil spill, it hasn’t lost its sense of charm.

One of the oldest cities in the United States, New Orleans has much to offer to any budget traveler.

NOLA, as it is endearingly called by its inhabitants, is home to the inimitable Cajun cuisine, culture, and language.

It’s also the birthplace of jazz music, and is clothed in a very unique French Creole architecture.

New Orleans also is the setting of famous works of literature, including the Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire and the John Kennedy Toole’s novel Confederacy of Dunces, which perfectly captures the cosmic weirdness of this great southern city.

Austin

Not many first time travelers to the United States consider Texas as a prime location to go for a romp, if only because Texas has an exaggerated reputation of being all about backwardness and cowboys throughout much of the world.

However, Austin is very much a diamond in the rough.

Must See Cities In United States
Must See Cities In United States

It’s surrounded by the rolling hills and pristine lakes of the Texas Hill Country, it’s famed especially for its live music scene, which achieves its zenith during its annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, and the nightlife rivals many bigger U.S. cities.

Come to Austin for a laid back and relatively inexpensive good time.

Austin has self-proclaimed its title as the ”Live Music Capital Of The World”, and it might not be far from the truth.

Austin has some awesome music festivals during the year, and the event calendar is jam packed with fun music events and shows all throughout the year.

You’re guaranteed at least one big event or festival every month of the year, and you can always spend the rest of the time bar hoping between pubs and music venues.

The city’s motto pretty much sums up the quirky attitude of the city: Keep Austin Weird…

The great thing about the US is that you can live in one part of the country and easily find many last minute flights to all of these major cities so you can actually fly in for the weekend and spend two nights partying before heading back home.

Memphis

Not as tourist-ridden as Nashville, Memphis is a quaint U.S. city with lots of charm and history.

It is most famous for its music scene.

Many of the most influential American blues, gospel, and early rock n’ roll singers got their start in Memphis, including Elvis Presley, B.B. King, and Johnny Cash.

Memphis has two established visual arts areas and is home to the Brooks Museum and Dixon Gallery.

Memphis is also a great place for foodies, and has many authentic barbecue joints, among other restaurants featuring a variety of cuisines.

Although the United States has much to offer to visitors of all stripes and interests, these four cities are a great start if you want to sample a variety of distinct places that are scattered across the map.

Northern Lights – The Best Way to See the Aurora Borealis

Updated:

The Northern Lights, a.k.a. the Aurora Borealis, is one of those things that manages to make it onto everybody’s must-see list. It’s for good reason.

The Northern Lights live up to all the hype.

But you only have so many days off in a year.

How can you maximize your chances for catching the Aurora Borealis?

Where should you go? Which Arctic cruise should you take?

What are the Northern Lights and what causes them?

Best time of year to see the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights are, as you would imagine, something that requires a night sky in order for them to be appreciated.

Remember, the Arctic receives almost around-the-clock sunlight at the height of its summer months.

Therefore, you’re going to want to skip the summer cruises. We didn’t see the Northern Lights but had a great time on our Alaska cruise

Another consideration, know that Arctic cruises can only run while the waters are ice-free.

Therefore, you’re going to want to book a sailing that lands somewhere between December and March.

This is very important.

Cruises can only sail when the waters are open and ice-free, allowing ships to pass.

Aurora borealis, Northern lights, North Norway Lea Ponzle; Oceanwide Expeditions
Aurora borealis, Northern lights, North Norway Lea Ponzle; Oceanwide Expeditions

What are the Northern Lights?

When you see the Northern Lights shimmering overhead, you’re actually seeing a kind of force-field at work protecting the surface of the Earth.

The sun has cycles (about 11 years long) where it ups and then descends in the amount of particles in sends out in waves.

These waves flare out from the sun in all directions.

Some of them naturally cross the path of Earth.

These Coronal Mass Ejections (a.k.a. “solar winds”) are made up of charged particles.

These particles meet with our magnetosphere (the magnetic “force field”) that lays in our atmosphere at anywhere from 80 m to 400 km above sea level.

The magnetosphere causes the solar waves to bend and break around the Earth.

This mixes them up with oxygen or nitrogen particles in the sky.

The different colors of the waves are a result of the different particle interactions and the height they occur at.

Northern Lights Cruises Antarctic Peninsula, Port Lockroy, gentoo penguins, ship "Plancius" in the background, travel, cruise, polar cruise, expedition cruise, polar
Northern Lights Cruises Antarctic Peninsula, Port Lockroy, gentoo penguins, ship “Plancius” in the background, travel, cruise, polar cruise, expedition cruise, polar

The best Northern Lights cruises

For the very peak of Aurora Borealis efficiency, you’re going to want to try to get into the strip of geography known as the Auroral Zone.

It is found between 66° and 69° north.

The Lights have the possibility of being seen anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere.

However, this Zone is a much more active Auroral hotspot than other locations.

That being said, here are a couple of spots around the world that not only offer a good chance of seeing the Lights but also have many charms of their own in case the overhead clouds aren’t cooperating.

Spitsbergen & North Norway

Spitsbergen, part of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, offers up some of the Arctic’s beauty in its most natural state.

As you sail under the blue and green curtains of light overhead, you’ll also be treated to pristine icebergs and glaciers along with starkly beautiful snow-capped mountains.

Antarctica Cruise Tips

There are your typical cruises, and then there are adventures. Antarctica cruises definitely fall into the second category.

So what’s the difference between an Antarctic adventure and your everyday cruise sailings?

Well, if you’re in the mood for overcrowded tourist towns that are barely distinguishable from each other no matter what country you’re in then an Antarctic cruise is definitely not for you.

Northern Lights Cruises: The Best Way to See the Aurora Borealis

Antarctic adventures are exactly that – an adventure.

You’re not paying to move from one tourist t-shirt shop to another.

Instead, you’re taking a trip to explore one of the most remote and pristine regions left on the planet.

Not only that, but Antarctica is the only place you won’t find mosquitoes.

Of course, taking a cruise that pushes further means that you’re going to have to be a little more prepared than you would have to be for your typical tourist-trap sailings.

Let’s take a quick look at some Antarctic cruise tips that will help you make sure you’re going to get the most out of your expedition.

What will I see on Antarctica Cruise

What will I see on Antarctica Cruise
See Emperor Penguins Antarctica Expedition

Antarctica is a huge region, claiming some 14 million km2 (5.4 million miles2). It’s simply too big to take it all in during one cruise, especially when you consider that A) some of its interior is pretty unreachable due to distance and B) various Antarctic voyages have different/alternative/additional stops along the way (e.g. the Georgian Islands, the Falkland Islands, etc.).

Your best bet is to list out what draws you the most to an Antarctic cruise.

Some of the biggest draws include:

  • Bird watching
  • Meeting penguins
  • Antarctic landscapes
  • Icebergs
  • Seals
  • Whales
  • Camping out
  • The Aurora Australis
  • Diving
  • Tortoises
  • Various activities (mountaineering, ski trekking, etc.)

And so on. Even within these points you’re going to have sub-categories.

For example, if you’re looking to check specific birds off in your bird book you’re going to have to choose between different destinations.

So don’t pick an Antarctic cruise at random.

Sort your list until you know what’s most important to you, and then do a little reading to make sure you choose the cruise most suited to what you’re looking to experience.

Will I get seasick on Antarctica Cruise

This depends on both you and your destination.

If you’re taking a cruise to Antarctica itself (as opposed to one that visits the remote island regions of the southern oceans) then you’re going to cross the Drake Passage.

Sometimes the Drake Passage is completely calm, but you shouldn’t count on it. Instead, prepare as if you’re fully expecting the Passage to be at its roughest.

If you’re prone to seasickness then visit your personal physician ahead of your trip and get him or her to hook you up with some Dramamine (or other motion-sickness drug).

Antarctica Cruise Motion sickness Pro tip

Motion sickness drugs are not cures, they’re preventative. You take them ahead of time and they build up in your system, preparing you for rougher days at sea.

Antarctica Cruise Tips
Antarctica Cruise Tips

Are Antarctic cruise ships like regular cruise ships?

Antarctic cruise ships run the gamut from luxury-oriented (including spas and hot tubs) right down to simple sailing vessels.

It’s really up to you to choose which kind of ship you want to board.

Keep in mind though that the more meat-and-potatoes ships have the advantage of being geared towards pushing into bays and fjords that the more luxurious ships can’t reach.

What activities can I participate on Antarctic cruise ship

Just like with your list of things that you want to see, you should take a moment to figure out what kinds of activities you want to participate in.

Some cruises won’t have certain activities because of their routes.

Or they may have a variety of activities that you have to pay for individually.

And some activities require previous experience and log-books/certifications (i.e. diving, mountaineering).

Some of the activities you’ll be able to book include:

  • Hikes of varying difficulties
  • Snow-shoeing
  • Mountaineering
  • Ski treks
  • Bird-watching
  • Kayaking
  • Camping out
  • Shoreline and iceberg exploration via a Zodiac (a small outboard-motor boat)
  • Photography
  • Visiting historic sites
Polar Diving Antarctica Adventure Cruise
Polar Diving Antarctica Adventure Cruise

If this is your first time heading to the Antarctic then you might want to see what cruise-lines offer “basecamp cruises.”

These cruises tend to offer a wide variety of activities suitable for beginners under one blanket price, allowing you to try a little bit of almost everything.

Do I have to be in good shape?

You don’t have to be an athlete to take part in an Antarctic cruise, but you should at least be mobile and in good enough shape to enjoy easy hikes.

Aside from the onshore activities, you’re also likely going to have to be limber enough to get in and out of Zodiacs in order to get from ship to shore.

How should I dress?

Most decent Antarctic cruise lines will send you specific information about what kind of clothing you should bring when you sign on with them.

The short version of that information is to bring layers, with back-ups for when your clothing gets wet.

Layers help trap air between them that gets warmed by your body, which in turn helps keep you warm.

Also, it allows for much easier temperature control if you’re heating up thanks to taking part in a hike or a kayaking session.

Depending on the cruise, you might be provided with rubber boots.

If that’s not the case, you’re going to want waterproof rubber boots with good grips on the soles and a high enough top to keep water from sloshing in as you make your way to and from the Zodiac while on shore.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely.

If you’re looking for a trip that’s going to truly push into regions not seen by the vast majority of the human race then an Antarctic cruise is the way to go.

Yes, it does take a little more prep-work than tourist cruises, but it also comes with a much higher level of satisfaction and adventure.

Checkout some ideas to get your trip and traveling sponsored.

Here’s a pro Northern Lights photography tip.

When taking a picture of the lights, it helps to have something relateable in the shot to emphasize just how sweeping the Northern Lights truly are.

Line up a mountain, your ship, or one of your friends in the picture.

This will give the whole frame a sense of scale.

Scoresby Sund

Ittoqqortoormiit, the city found on the east coast of Greenland, is located right next door to the world’s deepest and biggest fjord system, Scoresby Sund.

Also, this means you’ll get the added treat of experiencing the planet’s most beautiful landscapes.

And if you are in luck, you will be able to capture its whale inhabitants.

Whales and the opportunity to zone out on the light show overhead.

Does it get any better?

Hotel Kakslauttanen, Finland

Hotel Kakslauttanen can be found in Kakslauttanen, Finland and is just 80km from the Russian border.

Accommodation options at the hotel include log cabins with their own saunas and snow igloos.

Most notable for those chasing the northern lights, however, is the hotel’s glass igloos.

These heated glass igloos give guests the opportunity to lie back in their polar sleeping bag and gaze at the northern lights from the comfort of their own bed.

North Iceland

A round-trip Arctic cruise sailing expedition from the top of Iceland to the island of Grimsey and back is another chance to meet up with the gentle giants of the deep (especially Minkes, as well as White-beaked Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises) while sailing completely clear of any sort of man-made light pollution.

Ready to enjoy the vacation of a lifetime.

When planning your trip around seeing the Aurora Borealis, be sure to maximize your vacation by going the right season.

If you choose a cruise, this is important as well.

The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Northern Lights
Northern Lights

Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is the perfect choice for those wishing to warm up their northern lights experience.

The lake is a light, opaque blue and its mineral waters provide an idyllic spot from which to lie back and observe the spectacle of the aurora borealis.

The Blue Lagoon is not the most common place for the Northern Lights to occur.

Those who luck out at the Lagoon can easily take short night-trips to several nearby destinations where the lights are more frequently seen.

Many package tours involving northern lights sightings are available and gift experiences are very popular.

For those trying to find a gift for someone adventurous who’s into everything from zorbing to ice-skating, giving the gifting of a trip to the northern lights is sure to be a present that won’t disappoint!

The Icehotel, Sweden

The Icehotel, Sweden
The Icehotel, Sweden

The Icehotel in Swedish Lapland has gained international fame, and you can see why:

Built entirely from ice and snow, this frosty marvel is completely deconstructed and reconstructed every year as the seasons change.

Located in Jukkasjarvi, visitors from the UK can take a direct flight to nearby Kiruna.

The Icehotel is located in the part of Sweden that, during January, has the highest number of clear days, making it well placed for viewing the northern lights.

The hotel now offers guided northern lights tours for its guests.

Leaving the hotel every night at 11, the guides take guests to the most active spot for the lights on any given evening.

Where To Get The Best View of The Northern Lights – Fairbanks, Alaska

Over the centuries, the aurora borealis (or, northern lights) have been interpreted as everything from the ghosts of virgins to walrus spirits to the dancing spirits of the dead.

The scientific explanation for the northern lights is somewhat less romantic: the stunning, multi-colored lights are electrically charged particles that have been blown from the sun and get pulled towards the magnetic north pole.

Though modern science means the veil of mystery has been lifted, the northern lights still continue to fascinate.

The mystery now lies in deciding where they can best be seen. Below is a guide on some of the top spots for gazing.

The Best View of The Northern Lights Fairbanks, Alaska
The Best View of The Northern Lights Fairbanks, Alaska

For those coming from Canada or the United States, Fairbanks in Alaska, is a great destination for laying eyes on the northern lights.

The advantage of Fairbanks is that once you’ve arrived in the city, you don’t have a long and complicated trek ahead of you to find a spot where the lights are visible.

They can, in fact, be seen from the city, but most choose to take a trip away from the distraction of the city lights.

There is a beautiful viewing area in the hills of Fairbanks just 32 km away from the city.

One of the reasons Fairbanks is so popular is because of its proximity to the highly active area over the Arctic.

The aurora borealis is often brightest and most frequent at Fairbanks and the long nights there mean there’s plenty of time to take in the show.

(photo credits: 1 – 2 – 3)

National Parks in the USA That Should Be On Your Travel List

Updated:

America’s National Parks are filled with natural treasures that deserve appreciation.

United States currently has a total of 59 National Parks, each very unique and magnificent, offering its own special gifts to visitors from all over the world.

National Parks are found in almost every corner of the United States.

They offer camping, hiking, education and awe-inspiring vistas, and when it comes to family vacations, few destinations can compete with these parks.

These parks are popular travel destinations, specially for any outdoor lover…also consider the Great Lakes.

Read on to discover a handful of the National Parks that should be at the top of your bucket list.

National Parks in the USA and one Honorable Mention

Rocky Mountain National Park

This park boasts over 400 square miles of gorgeous scenery that includes 17 mountains that rise above 13,000 feet.

Hundreds of miles of trails allow visitors to spot mule deer and the park’s signature bighorn sheep.

Rocky Mountain National Park

You’ll find this park in northern Colorado with most people driving from Estes Park and taking the majestic Trail Ridge Road.

The Emerald Lake Trail is a highlight as is the Alpine Visitor Center which describes life at this extreme elevation.

Zion National Park

One of Utah’s best loved attractions, Zion provides diverse landscapes ranging from desert to mountains with plenty of spectacular rock formations.

This is a wonderful destination for canyoneering, kayaking or rock climbing. Hiking is also popular.

Zion National Park

Try the Archeology Trail from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to see where prehistoric buildings once stood.

There are nine different formations in this park, some of the most popular being Angel’s Landing and The Narrows.

Crater Lake National Park

This breathtaking spot in Oregon is best visited during the summer when the roads are open.

A dormant volcano with a deep blue lake in its caldera is the main attraction.

Crater Lake National Park

People come here to hike, camp and fish, often while staying the historic lodge or camping in one of the campgrounds.

Many visitors can’t resist hiking down the Cleetwood Trail to get close to the lake’s shore. Others choose a leisurely boat tour.

Winter activities include snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

Yellowstone National Park

Perhaps America’s best known park, Yellowstone was also the country’s first National Park.

Most of its 3,500 square miles are located in Wyoming, with small bits of the park extending into Idaho and Montana.

The park is famed for its geysers and other geothermal features.

National Parks - Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park

It’s easy to take a look at Old Faithful, which sits just outside two of the park’s most notable lodges.

There are beautiful hikes in the area too.

The Mammoth Hot Springs are another must see thanks to their spectacular travertine formations.

Denali National Park

Located in Alaska, Denali is America’s most remote park – a magnificent place for wildlife viewing.

Its untamed wilderness is unique in the park system since access by humans is limited.

Only one road goes through the park, and it’s closed to all traffic except for approved tour buses.

National Parks - Denali National Park
Denali National Park

The result is an unspoiled landscape where the wildlife lives just as it has for many centuries.

One of the best experiences to be had is simply getting off the bus to stroll through the tundra.

It’s an adventure that would be difficult to replicate anywhere else.

Visitors might also climb Mt. McKinley or raft the Nenana River.

Are any of these National Parks on your travel bucket list?

Have to give an honorable mention to Gulf Island National Seashore.

Gulf Island National Seashore

includes mainland areas and multiple islands located along the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Visitors enjoy the white sandy beaches, many recreational opportunities, boating, camping, great cuisine, fishing and of course awesome golf packages.

Along with many nature preserves and historic sites present great affordable family vacations.

Checkout Top 50 Long Distance Hiking Trails In The USA

Things To Do In Washington DC

Traveling can be an expensive hobby, not only because of the accommodation or flight ticket, but all those small extra costs such as admission fees and tickets to attractions that you never planned before your trip really add up over time.

A great way to explore a city and make the most of your time while still keeping to your budget is to visit the free attractions and things to do instead.

While in many cities this can be almost impossible to find, travelers planning to do some sightseeing and attractions in Washington DC are spoiled for choice.

Here are just a handful of hundreds of free things to do in Washington DC…

National Mall & Memorial Parks

National Mall & Memorial Parks

Of all things to do in Washington, the most famous is by far a tour of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

Most monuments and attractions are free, and there are numerous interesting museums, monuments and historic sites to see.

Some of the top sights include the Capitol Building (tours run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – free of charge), the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, National WWII Memorial and FDR Memorial.

A good tip is to visit in the evening as it won’t be as crowded then, and most monuments are open until midnight.

Watch Free Concerts

Watch Free Concerts

Washington has plenty of free performances year-round, from theater plays to music events and puppet shows.

The Kennedy center’s Millennium stage has free performances every evening at 6 pm, from Jazz musicians to classical music to dance groups.

Every Monday the National Theater features local actors, comedians, musicians, singers, and dancers in free performances.

During summer this program switches and instead they show free movies on a large cinema screen.

Summer is a great time for free events and performances; the National Zoo also host musical performances every Thursday evening, Capitol Riverfront holds a variety of free concerts every Friday and you can enjoy free music shows at the Washington harbor on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

These are just a few of many free concerts and events held in the city, for more free concerts and events check out the city’s official event page.

Relax in Rock Creek Park

Relax in Rock Creek Park

A great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy capital is to escape to the urban Rock Creek Park.

There are many activities possible in the park, from an 18-hole public golf course to hiking trails, kayaking, biking or visiting the National Zoo (which is also free).

Bring a pic nic and spend a few hours relaxing in the green park and gardens of the 1754 acre park.

Visit National Zoo

Visit National Zoo

The National Zoo is one of the most child-friendly attractions in the city, and it’s free, making it a popular place for families.

Among its 400 something different species of animals, they have some unique ones like the endangered New Zealand Kiwi bird and a giant octopus.

Take in the Views

Take in the Views

While the Washington Monument surely offers some spectacular views, the long lines might not be worth your time.

Instead, climb the 315 foot-tall Old Post Office tower which provides equally beautiful (free) views over the city.

For more

Other Popular Free Things To Do in Washington:

US Botanical Gardens

Tour The White House (you must make a request through a member of Congress)

Library of Congress

Walk along the C&O Canal Towpath

Visit the Pentagon

National Gallery of Art

Free festivals such as the Kite Festival and Cherry Blossom Festival.

What would you recommend for someone looking for free things to do in Washington DC?

(photo credit: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5)

Overlooked destinations in America for discovery and adventure

Updated:

Overlooked destinations in America – In its wonderfully diverse landscape, America is pretty much unrivaled.

There are many great southern towns as well.

There are few other countries in which you can see mountains, deserts, turquoise beaches, lush forests, glaciers and still be close to civilization and a thriving cultural scene.

Home to several National Parks, from the deserts of Nevada to the lush volcanic Yellowstone, magnificent Great Lakes and from iconic cities such as the cool and cosmopolitan New York (New York City’s Central Park) to the beating heart of Las Vegas, America is a land of discovery and adventure.

Friendly people, staggering scenery, and nominal landmarks are just some of the things you are guaranteed to discover when travelling in the US of A.

Many people consider a trip to America to be the trip of a lifetime, and getting everything you want to see into your itinerary can take weeks. Months, even. We know!

Whether you choose to hire a car and drive Route ’66, hitchhike à la Holly from Lou Reed’s ‘Wild Side’, or join an organised tour such as those created by Grand American Adventures, you can be sure that as well as some of the more obvious choices, you will encounter some overlooked destinations.

Alaska Overlooked destinations in America
Alaska Overlooked destinations in America

Overlooked destinations in America

Alaska

OK, this is a whole state, and OK, it is not entirely overlooked.

Even the Simpsons have been there, but Alaska is sometimes relegated to ‘other’ because of its location.

It is the largest and most sparsely populated of US states with a huge diversity, both culturally and in its landscape.

Known for its salmon fishing, Alaska and water sports are pretty synonymous:

kayaking, spearfishing and white water rafting to name a few.

Alaska is great for whale watching in the right season, as well as canoeing in some of the clearest glacier waters.

Beautiful wilderness and of course the fun husky rides are some of the key features of trips to Alaska, and since it is so vast and diverse, we recommend taking a couple of weeks to really acclimatize and discover everything this stunning scenery has to offer.

Speeding past miles of glacier on a dog sled is sure to create a lifelong memory of this unique and majestic state.

Pahoa, Hawaii

Like Alaska, Hawaii is sometimes a forgotten part of the US, and it has so much more to offer than the usual spots of Honolulu and Waikiki. At Pahoa lies the world’s most active volcano.

A curtain of fire belches from the belly of the earth, which can be viewed at the bottom of the volcano, in its skirts.

This is an adventure that requires some stamina, and is not for the faint of heart.

It’ll get hot, windy and arduous at times, but seeing something so unique is a once in a lifetime opportunity on a Hawaii vacation.

Kauai & Oahu - Hawaii
Kauai & Oahu – Hawaii

Kauai & Oahu – Hawaii

What’s great about the Hawaiian islands is that there is something for everyone.

Some people like Kauai the best because it’s less touristy and perhaps the most beautiful island of them all.

Because it’s the island which gets the most rain it is also one of the lushest and greenest, full of waterfalls and rain forest.

Other people prefer Oahu, an island where you can be guaranteed not to get bored.

While Oahu hotels are easy to find, it’s a little bit more difficult with hostels, so I would probably recommend having proper Hawaii vacations and splurge a little.

Portland underground smugglers tunnels
Portland underground smugglers tunnels

Portland – underground smuggler’s tunnels

Known as Shanghai Tunnels, this series of underground networks in Portland, Oregon are just one of its many attractions as an offbeat, alternative place to visit.

Interconnected tunnels lying underneath the city are also all connected to the docks, meaning that ship’s cargo could be protected from savage weather.

However, there was a grimy underbelly that operated in the tunnels back in the 1840’s – until around 1941, during World War II.

The term ‘Shanghai’ was used to describe a process by which men were captured and sold to crew on boats.

Often, the techniques used were underhand, such as drugging them with opium or waiting until they were inebriated and could be dragged through the underground tunnels to the ship’s captain.

Women were advised not to walk alone in these areas too, where the kidnapping of several daughters was documented.

Accessible by foot, there are tours of the tunnels at weekends.

Rush, Ghost Town, Arkansas

Historically a town that flourished as zinc mining capital, Rush is a ghost town that shows the decline of mining in Arkansas.

Officially declared a ghost town in the seventies, it has become a part of the Buffalo River National Park, and as such, the buildings and mines are maintained by the Park Service.

However, the mines could still be dangerous and visitors are not permitted to enter them.

You can, however trek a trail around them and visit the surrounding houses, which are all eerily empty.

Carhenge Alliance Nebraska
Carhenge Alliance Nebraska

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska

If the original Stonehenge in England isn’t curious enough, then this replica made by artist Jim Reinders sure is.

Fascinated by the mystery of Stonehenge, Reinders used a series of cars to recreate the structure in metal.

First erected in 1982, the sculpture has attracted people to an otherwise overlooked area of the great plains.

Anyone can visit the site any time of day, although the imposing silhouettes at dusk make for interesting photography.

Nearby, there is also a cute frontier town, which depicts life in Nebraska some 150 years ago, mixing the modern with history.

Devil’s Kettle, Minnesota

An aquatic mystery and beautiful waterfall lies within Judge Magney State Park in Minnesota.

Viewed from the top, it appears like any natural waterfall, and yet half of the water cascades 50 feet down into the Brule River, to end up forming part of Lake Superior.

However, the mysterious part is what happens to the other half, which falls into a sort of ‘cauldron’ basin and ultimately disappears.

People have tried putting dye into the potholes to track where the water goes, but its ultimate destination has never been discovered, earning it the name Devil’s Kettle.

Overlooked destinations America Apostle Island Sea Caves Wisconsin
Overlooked destinations America Apostle Island Sea Caves Wisconsin

Apostle Island Sea Caves, Wisconsin

In summertime, this incredible network of underground caverns can be explored by foot, underneath Lake Superior.

But what happens in winter when they become temples of ice is truly unforgettable.

When the lake freezes over, its caves underneath also freeze, forming amazing icicles along the cave walls.

A trek through the ice caves can be arranges during the winter months, although it is best to check with the Apostle Island Park Service whether it has been cold enough for the lake to freeze over sufficiently.

Similar to the concept of cherry blossoms in Japan, the ice caves are revered for their fleeting appearance, and need to be caught at just the right time.

Your first inclination is obvious: “why do I need to worry about bringing food back from Europe?

It’s not like I’m visiting any third-world countries it’ll be fine!”

Indeed, that’s what many Americans think.

Europe To America

The reality is a little more complicated than judging the safety of food importation based on the GDP of the country of origin.

Europe To AmericaIn 2007 alone U.S. customs officials seized 4,300 items from airline passengers and other visitors unaware of current regulations regarding the bringing of certain plant and animal products across the border.

Many of those seized items were European in origin, no doubt ranging in expense from a candy apple to a wheel of Brie.

It’s important to know what you can bring back BEFORE you buy it.

The vacation in France or time spent in Italy almost always comes with the assumption that a bottle of wine can be brought back.

Wine, along with most liquor, is generally acceptable to bring back without incident, though travelers are limited to one liter each.

In general baked and processed goods are safe to bring back that includes most packaged chocolates and snack foods.

Jarred items, things that are pickled or preserved or overall lack the environment for dangerous pathogens to breed in are for the most part acceptable.

The government concerns itself primarily with making sure that dietary staples such as cheese, meat, and potatoes are not grown or processed in conditions that are drastically different than those under U.S. standards.

The higher the risk a product has for contamination IE the rawness or lack of proper packaging, the more likely officials are going to reject it.

That means most moist cheeses, cured meats, and the majority of raw produce.

In Europe these items can be tantalizing gifts for those back at home.

They can also be incredibly expensive.

Food To AmericaYou certainly want to make sure that you don’t purchase $100.00 worth of Hungarian salami only to be forced to throw it away when you enter customs.

It’s worth noting that you should never attempt to deceive customs officials.

The penalties can fines as high as $10,000 depending on what you tried to sneak into the country.

When in doubt, consider the following: Before you depart, consult the USDA website on the issue.

Once you are in Europe, revisit the guidelines the government makes available to you before making a purchase.

Upon your return, if you suspect you may have brought back something that is illegal, make sure you make customs officials aware of the situation.

If you’ve set aside a fund for food to bring back, do the right research – it’ll save you money when you’re traveling and heartbreak when you return – enjoy Europe! 😉

Going Retro In America, Retro Things To Do

While you can’t really travel back in time, there is nothing stopping you from pretending that you are, and in America, getting a taste of the old days is actually easier than you think.

These days, retro is “in”, and cafes, shops and cinemas are popping up all over the world.

Here are a few of Americas gems that I would not want to miss on a visit to the States.

Drive-In Theaters
Drive-In Theaters

Retro Drive-In Theaters

Getting cozy in a retro drive-in theater watching some old school movies has to be among the best ways to travel back in time to the good old 50’s.

Bengies Drive-In Theater in Baltimore, opened on June 6 in 1956 – and is still operating – with triple features on Fridays and Saturdays, vintage trailers and FM or AM radio car speakers, this place gives you the true original drive-in movie theater experience.

Another old-school drive-in theater is The Wellfleet Drive-In Theater in Wellfleet, MA – the theater opened in 1957, and is still today a favorite spot for those mild summer evenings.

Retro Restaurants
Retro Restaurants

Retro Restaurants

When it comes to dining in retro style, there are plenty of options all over the country.

With red leather booths, milkshakes, burgers and juke boxes – places like Pann’s restaurant on La Tijera Blvd in L.A, are the perfect classic diners for retro lovers.

Many people swear by this place, and whenever they return for holidays to California and visit Los Angeles, this is where they head first.

If you’ve wanted to know what it would’ve been like to eat at a diner in the 1950s, Pann’s is the place to find out.

They’ve been in the business since 1958, and aside from the staff, nothing else seems to have changed…

Roller-Skating Rinks

Dress up in your best and most colorful 80’s outfits, sing at the top of your lungs to Journey and other 80’s classics, and work those gluts for all you’re worth under the spinning disco balls at White Rock Skate Center in Dallas.

When you’re exhausted, grab a Hokey Pokey from the snack bar and rest while checking out the photos of the place taken in the early 70’s.

Historical Amusement Parks
Historical Amusement Parks

Historical Amusement Parks

The Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz has been a popular place for over 100 years, and today this classic park still thriving.

Take a ride on the carousel from 1911, or the Giant Dipper, a wooden roller coaster that is also a historical landmark, built in 1924.

On the highest point of the ride you get an amazing view over the boardwalk.

Another highlight of the parks attractions is the free entertainment shows, oh, and the admission to the boardwalk itself is also free.

These are just four out of hundreds of things to do and places to visit on holidays to America in retro-style.

The best way to top this off would be to rent an old-school convertible for the trip!

Where are your favorite retro places in USA?

Quick Travel Guide To California

Looking at California on a map doesn’t really do it justice – it’s difficult to get an idea just how vast and diverse the state is.

Visitors to California come from across the world for a chance to cruise down the Big Sur coastline, stroll the San Francisco waterfront or discover the breathtaking Yosemite National Park.

Most USA holidays have a reputation for size, scale and adventure, but there’s such a staggering amount to see and do in California, that planning exactly how you’ll spend your time can be a tough proposition.

To make it easier for you to plan a trip to California, here is a quick introduction to the different parts of the state and what they have to offer…

Quick Travel Guide To California
Quick Travel Guide To California

San Diego

In the southern city of San Diego, you’ll find shops, gardens and a bustling metropolitan atmosphere.

The city is close to the border, so don’t be surprised to get a taste of Mexico and central America as you take in the sights!

Known for its near-perfect climate and impressive beaches, it’s also a great destination for all sorts of water activities, from surfing to whale watching to scuba diving.

The famous SeaWorld theme park is also located in San Diego.

You can choose to stay in the action of San Diego’s cosmopolitan city, but few things beat a San Diego vacation rental right by the beach, watching the sun set over the ocean from your balcony.

Palm Springs

Further inland, Palm Springs is a desert oasis and a resort town that has hosted its fair share of Hollywood stars over the years.

You’ll you have the chance to relax in spas and restaurants, or explore spectacular nearby canyons and mountains.

Yosemite National Park

You’ll find opportunities for adventures and exploration all across California – nowhere more so than in Yosemite National Park.

Gigantic and sprawling, you could spend weeks walking the trails of the park, home to crystal lakes, snow-capped mountains and miles of dense pine forest.

Tours take visitors on a dramatic journey through Yosemite’s unspoiled natural beauty.

In what promises to be an unforgettable portion of your Californian experience.

From the natural splendor of Yosemite, California cities offer a superb urban contrast.

San Francisco teems with culture and a thriving art and music scene set against famous landmarks like Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Embarcadero.

Los Angeles

Further south, Los Angeles is a spectacular Metropolis stretching as far as the eye can see: from the golden Hollywood Hills, to the colourful piers of Santa Monica and Venice beach.

It’s hard to get bored in L.A – you’ll be able to take trips around Hollywood studios and theme parks, before wining and dining in one of the most glamorous urban environments in the world.

These are just a few of many amazing places in California, I hope I’ve inspired you to go there and see it for yourselves!

Scenery, Culture and History You Can Only Find in Oklahoma

With 39 Native American Indian tribes in Oklahoma, the heritage continues to be rich in Native American customs.

With many true western experiences such as rodeos, country music, historical landmarks and national parks, Oklahoma is a state with a history you’ll not want to miss.

Check out the top 5 activities that will provide the best experience of Native American Culture:

Cherokee Tribal Villages

Located in the beautiful foothills of the Ozarks in Tahlequah is a Cherokee village that displays the life and customs of a mysterious, yet very spiritual tribe.

Scenery, Culture and History You Can Only Find in Oklahoma
Scenery, Culture and History You Can Only Find in Oklahoma

Join in the tribe’s cultural dances, powwows, parades and the rich cultural customs of everyday life in a Cherokee village.

Sequoyah’s Cabin, Sallisaw

Sallisaw was a Cherokee silversmith who developed his tribes native written language.

Living in a small one room log cabin east of Sallisaw, the cabin is a historic landmark.

Sallisaw worked tirelessly on this amazing task- writing the Cherokee’s alphabet while residing in the cabin that was built in 1829.

Rodeos Reign in Oklahoma

The 101 Wild West Rodeo in Ponca City is believed to be the birthplace of the rodeo in Oklahoma.

The Miller Brothers Ranch is where bronco riding and roping calves and horses came into existence and is still enjoyed by many who love the sport.

There are several rodeos throughout the state of Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma City, the International Finals Rodeo Competition is held at the State Fair Grounds.

Cowboys compete in the U.S. Team Roping Competition events held throughout the year.

Rodeos Reign in Oklahoma
Rodeos Reign in Oklahoma

Head on over to Vinta where Will Rogers Rodeo is known for its bull riding competitions.

The World’s Largest Calf Frying Festival is also held in Vinta, Oklahoma.

Country Music, Bluegrass Music in Nowata

Nowata, Oklahoma is home to musical entertainment for the whole family.

Known for its Grand Ole Opry style music, the Nowata Country Jubilee takes to heart, not only its love for many types of music, but welcomes guests from near and far with live entertainment and great food.

Country Music, Bluegrass Music in Nowata
Country Music, Bluegrass Music in Nowata

Nowata got its name from a Lenape tribesman who gave it its name that means “friendly.”

Oklahoma’s Lakes

In Oklahoma there are more than 200 lakes.

Their beauty is astounding and many visit Oklahoma purely to enjoy the many water activities such as fishing, canoeing, sailing, scuba diving and swimming.

Oklahoma's Lakes
Oklahoma’s Lakes

Lake Arbuckles, located in Chickasaw Country, is situated in the states oldest national park.

It is known as the best lake for bass fishing and ranks number one for water sports.

Enjoy camping, rafting, fishing, scuba diving and more in this lovely scenic park on Lake Arbuckles.

Grand Teton National park receives around 2.7 million visitors each summer; and for those who aren’t traveling there this year, the parks are likely on a life bucket list.

Grab your camera and don’t miss out on any of these experiences of the Grand Tetons.

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park

Enjoy the Grand Teton National Park Mountains

It’s all about the mountains in Grand Teton National Park.

Twelve snow-capped peaks surround the park’s namesake and act as a stunning backdrop for the entire region.

Hardcore climbers scramble up icy moraine for an epic summit view, and hikers enjoy well-maintained trails that wind through fields of sagebrush and dense evergreen forests.

Four visitor centers and six campgrounds operate during the summer; these are excellent starting points for exploring the area.

Take a Scenic Drive

The park is immense, and the best way to see it all is to take a scenic drive.

TravelStorysGPS is a free resource that allows people to listen to GPS-enabled audio tours of the local history, ecology, and geology as they drive through the park.

Teton Park Road follows the base of the range, while the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive has spectacular views of the peaks from across the lake.

Signal Mountain Summit Road provides valley views and stunning panoramas of the mountains.

Grand Teton National Park Bison
Grand Teton National Park Bison

Occasional bison crossings hold up traffic — Grand Teton National Park is not as busy as Yellowstone, so visitors have a better chance of glimpsing wildlife.

Thousands of migrating elk pass through the region, and the National Elk Refuge is the place to watch the wapitis’ journey.

Look for the Rifle Optics of hunters in the area.

Enjoy the Water

Floating the Snake River is another popular way to see the sights, and more adventurous paddlers can tackle class III whitewater.

You can also enjoy the water on a stand up paddle board.

Stand up Paddle Boards Grand Teton National Park
Stand up Paddle Boards

Horseback riding, mountain biking and even aerial tours provide unique perspectives on the park’s natural wonders.

Roam the streets like a Cowboy

Perched at the edge of the wilderness, Jackson Hole may seem like a relic of a bygone era: Cowboys at heart will love its daily, old-fashioned, town square shootout.

Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole

But behind this gruff wild western facade is a truly modern town.

Jackson Hole offers world-class dining and entertainment.

The Grand Teton Music Festival features a series of concerts performed by internationally renowned musicians.

Each winter, skiers flock to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for its challenging runs and reliable powder.”

Shops in town sell everything from souvenirs to snowboards, and outfitters organize trekking tours and provide all the necessary equipment for outdoor adventuring.

Grand Teton National Park and neighboring Jackson Hole
Grand Teton National Park and neighboring Jackson Hole

There’s no better way to get outdoors than to visit Grand Teton National Park.

Four million visitors a year can’t be wrong: Grand Teton National Park and neighboring Jackson Hole are world-class destinations all year long.

What To Do In Boston City Guide

Boston City Guide – Boston is one of the United States’ most energetic and cultural cities – the capital of Massachusetts, it is a historical New England city, rife with art exhibits and museums.

Sports lovers, especially Red Sox fans, run rampant, flaunting their jovial rivalry with nearby New Yorkers.

Boston is large and packed with things to do, so unless you’re in town for a few weeks, you’ll have to choose your activities and events wisely…

Where To Stay in Boston

The Back Bay Hotel in Boston is one of the city’s landmarks and is located near the Charles River.

Originally, the building was the Boston Police Department.

For travelers, this hotel is in a great location, whether you’re touring the area for fun or in town for business.

What To Do In Boston City Guide
What To Do In Boston City Guide

What To See in Boston

Close by to the Boston Common public park is the Boston Public Garden.

Well known for its swan boats from 1877, the Garden’s lake is not to be missed.

Near Faneuil Hall you’ll find Quincy Market, which has both indoor and outdoor shops and restaurants, all set up as a marketplace.

While you can walk to many of the sights around Boston, you may also want to take a Duck Tour.

If you have the kids along or want a romantic day date with your sweetheart, head to the New England Aquarium.

Historical Sites and Walking Trails in Boston

Take a stroll down the two and a half mile Freedom Trail.

You’ll visit sixteen historical sites as you go.

Start off with the oldest public park in the U.S., Boston Common.

You’ll also visit the Bunker Hill Monument.

To ensure you’re heading in the right direction, follow the red-marked path.

You can also snag a guidebook to help you figure out where to go and what to see.

Other notable sites you’ll pass include the Old State House, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere’s home and several churches.

A second walking trail is the Black Heritage Trail.

While you won’t pass it on the Freedom Trail, history buffs will want to pay a visit to the New England Holocaust Memorial.

When in Boston, you can also see the USS Constitution, which is the United States’ oldest commissioned ship.

If you visit Boston Harbor National Park, you’ll see the Confederate landmark of Fort Warren.

Pop Culture Attractions in Boston

If you’re a TV or movie lover, events in Boston is the place for you.

There are two Cheers bars, both a nod to the popular television show.

One of the Cheers bars was used for the outdoor shots for the TV show.

The other bar, found in Quincy Market, is a copy of the show’s set.

There’s also an interactive, Indian Jones-themed TOMB attraction with excellent special effects.

Shopping in Boston

If you’re interested in shopping, I’d highly suggest you check out Beacon Hill, which is chock full of charming townhouses and cobblestone streets.

This neighborhood has many shopping opportunities, too, like stylish Newberry Street.

You can also visit Filene’s Basement, which has been a leader in retail since the 1900’s.

Museums in Boston

Boston has tons of museums for both art and history lovers.

There’s the Museum of Science, the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and also the Museum of Afro American History.

Bring the kids to the Children’s Museum of Boston, too.

What’s missing?

Share your best tip below!

When it comes to US destinations that are rich in culture, I think it’s pretty hard to beat events in Boston.

The city has so many cultural things to offer, from historic buildings and the fascinating Freedom Trail to iconic breweries and great galleries.

This year, the city will be further adding to its already impressive list of attractions with the inaugural Out of the Box Festival – and you can find out all about it with my guide …

Guide to Boston's Out of the Box Festival
Guide to Boston’s Out of the Box Festival

What Is Out Of The Box?

Out of the Box is a free music festival scheduled to be staged in Boston for the very first time this year.

The festival promises to provide a good mix of free and cheap outdoor performances, and unlike a lot of other festivals which only focus on a specific music genre, this festival aims to celebrate the arts much more broadly, and to get both locals and visitors alike involved in it.

So, you can expect a pretty eclectic mix of performances!

While the official program is (at the timing of writing, at least!) yet to be announced, the organizers have promised ballet, modern poetry, Shakespeare, folk dance, circus, culinary arts and much more.

Boston's Out of the Box Festival
Boston’s Out of the Box Festival

Why Should You Go?

You might be wondering why you should choose to attend the Out of the Box festival as opposed to some of the city’s other free events (of which there are many!).

Obviously it’s largely a matter of personal taste, but I find there’s something uniquely appealing about Out of the Box – partly because it’s totally new.

Indeed, as this will be the first incarnation of the event, attending it will give you the chance to experience a momentous occasion – and to mingle with locals.

Another good reason to stop by is that it’s free.

Now, this might sound a little silly at first, but what I mean by this is that if you’re planning to visit Boston in the summer months anyway, it makes for a fantastic extra.

And, because it’s free, if you don’t like it, you haven’t lost anything by going.

A fabulous thing to do if you want to explore the main sights is follow the famous Freedom Trail (a 2.5-mile walk), while you can visit Hostelbookers for more ideas of things to do, as well as places to stay.

When and Where Is It happening?

Boston Box Festival
Boston Box Festival

Running from July 13th to 20th, the Out of the Box festival is scheduled to be centered around Boston Common.

While this’ll act as the event’s hub, there will be a host of outdoor venues taking part, including Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park and Copley Square.

These venues all promise to showcase a mixture of upcoming and independent voices, as well as performances from established institutions.

I hope this mini guide inspired you to go and check out this new Boston event to see what all the fuss is about!

Best Events In Boston – Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest

Best Events In Boston – I never let the colder months stand in the way of a holiday – in fact, I particularly love city breaks in the winter because of the magical atmosphere created by Christmas and lots of special gatherings.

One destination perfect for a winter getaway is Boston – here are my picks of the top events in Boston to check out in the city during December:

Revere Hotel, November 30th and December 1st

Best Events In Boston
Best Events In Boston

As a huge fan of the UK’s various real ale festivals, this is one event I can truly appreciate.

The Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest offers up plenty of locally made beers that will warm up anyone suffering in the cold weather, with more than 70 tipples from around 25 brewers to try.

If you’re concerned about the prospect of spending an entire day (or even the whole weekend!) simply drinking, don’t be.

You can line your stomach with seasonal food sold by local companies throughout the event.

Holiday Pops

Symphony Hall, December 5th to 24th

This classic Boston tradition is a brilliant event to attend if you’re heading to Boston with the kids.

Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops put on a festive show to remember for the whole family each year, with lots of singing along and even a visit from Father Christmas himself.

Look out for the special kids’ matinees on Saturdays, which offer a real treat for children through photo ops with Santa, child-friendly menus and much more.

This might be a good option if you’re travelling to Boston with very young children and are on a tight budget, as under-twos get in for free.

Christmas by Candlelight

Old Sturbridge Village, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between December 7th and 23rd

You’ll have to head out of the city proper into Greater Boston to enjoy this event, but this is definitely my idea of a wonderful Christmas celebration.

Old Sturbridge Village is a living history museum featuring costumed historians and buildings, and is transformed into a festive attraction in December.

The Christmas by Candlelight events celebrate the season in true traditional style, complete with sleigh rides, Victorian carol singers, a Punch and Judy show, and much more besides.

It’s a great way to escape the stress that the modern age’s Christmas festivities can bring!

First Night Festival of the Arts

Citywide, December 31st

Anyone planning a break in Boston around Christmas and the turn of the year should definitely make this festival a priority on their itinerary.

The event celebrates the impending new year with a day of exhibitions at venues across the city, showcasing the work of an amazing 1,000 artists.

There are also lots of performances to see, as well as film screenings and workshops.

I can’t think of a better way to spend New Year’s Eve before enjoying the huge fireworks display that’s part of the festivities at midnight.

Holiday planning tips

If one or more of these events in Boston sound appealing, you might be thinking about organizing a holiday to Boston pretty soon.

Make sure you follow my top tips before you do!

Book early Traveling to Boston

Like pretty much any other major city, Boston is a hugely popular place to visit in the run-up to Christmas as everyone looks to get in the festive mood and pick up some presents.

Make sure you book your Boston flights and accommodation as soon as possible to avoid paying a premium on your airfare and hotel room.

Plan ahead

You’ll want to take in some of the major attractions between the events in Boston.

Make sure you know exactly when and where the festivals you want to attend are taking place so you can map out the rest of your itinerary accordingly.

Pack the right clothes For Boston Weather

Temperatures in Boston average out at just over zero degrees C in December – so don’t forget to pack those woolly jumpers, hats and gloves!

Fourth of July – The 4th of July – When any country commemorates its independence, you can be sure of extravagant celebrations and festivities.

However, for the United States of America, the fourth of July is a truly momentous occasion, with millions of citizens up and down the country taking to the streets to display their undivided patriotism.

Even so, there are still plenty of opportunities for tourists to take part in the day’s events, with numerous traditions and activities on offer for the whole family.

No matter what part of the United States you’re in, when the calendar hits the 4th of July, you’ll be more than ready to celebrate America’s birthday with the rest of the nation.

The 4th of July is huge everywhere in the country, and it’s something many Americans look forward to even months and months before.

There are some Fourth of July Traditions however that have existed ever since, and these are the traditions that make this holiday extra special for many:

Fourth of July Fireworks
Fourth of July Fireworks

Fourth of July Fireworks

Even though fireworks can be used at any old party or festival, America’s night sky on the fourth of July is far from an everyday occurrence.

Numerous households are sure to buy their own display for the backyard, but the best fireworks will be seen at the nation’s major tourist attractions.

It’s never the 4th of July without fireworks, and this is true no matter what state you live in.

Whether you’re headed to the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Show in New York, one of the top things to see in Central Park.

Or you’re in a cruise ship by the San Francisco Bay watching the sky light up, fireworks are the most traditional way to celebrate America’s independence.

Each key city has its own dazzling display of fireworks for everyone to enjoy, but even smaller neighborhoods also set up their own fireworks displays.

It is said that this tradition dates back to 1777, when Congress wanted to use fireworks to celebrate the first anniversary of American independence, a year after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia.

Since then, fireworks have been used to commemorate this very important day in history.

Known for the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco is a holiday hot spot throughout the year.

But for the best views of the Independence Day fireworks here, head out to the bay on a Red & White Fleet Cruise.

Fourth of July Block Party
Fourth of July Block Party

Block Party, BBQs and Picnics

Independence Day is a chance for the whole street to get together, show some neighborly love and pay tribute to the country’s forefathers.

Although the popularity of suburban block parties has declined in recent years, organised events in major cities look to recreate that community spirit.

The nation’s capital Washington DC will be hosting its annual block party just steps from the White House, while Los Angeles’ Grand Park hosts live music, traditional food and maybe even the occasional drink.

Celebrating the 4th of July doesn’t have to be elaborate and commercial.

It can be as simple as a BBQ or picnic with your friends and family in the comfort of your own backyard.

What’s important is keeping the spirit of people gathering together and enjoying the holiday with the best food.

There’s also added fun when you grill the burgers and hot dogs by yourself.

There’s also no stopping you from getting together with the entire community, with a bigger picnic, say in the park.

Some other communities also mount their own fairs, concerts, and booths in an outdoor location, and everyone is welcome to participate.

Fourth of July Attractions
Fourth of July Attractions

Independence Day Parade and Other Colonial Attractions

It is easy to get carried away with the celebrations and forget why the fourth of July is such a significant event.

With numerous colonial attractions taking place, tourists can learn about America’s history alongside the locals.

From the Gettysburg re-enactment, to the Boston Pops performance of the 1812 Overture, adults and children alike will enjoy these educational activities.

The 4th of July, first and foremost, is a historical day that sparks patriotism in every American.

It’s a celebration of the day that the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Second Continental Congress.

Many states have their own parades because it’s a great way to bring people together and celebrate the day, but Philadelphia always takes it a notch higher, especially because the Declaration was signed there.

Celebrating the 4th of July in America’s birthplace is unlike any other, with a 1.2 mile parade joined by around 6,000.

The parade starts in front of the historical Independence Hall, continues on towards Market Street and all the way down Delaware River.

Philadelphia is home to many colonial attractions during this day, but so is Boston.

The USS John F. Kennedy will usually sail into the harbor while the orchestra is playing on the riverbanks.

This is sure to give you a dose of history and nationalistic pride.

Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest

Another well-loved tradition that only happens once a year is Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

Here you will find thousands gather to cheer on the contestants eating as many hotdogs and buns as they could in 10 minutes.

Red, White, and Blue

You will be seeing these 3 colors together the most during this time of year, and you should embrace it.

During the 4th of July, expect red, white, and blue everywhere: from the flags on the streets to decorations in restaurants and shops.

You can even use these colors to decorate your own home and car to show off your patriotic side.

During picnics and BBQs, you get themed cups, paper napkins, paper plates, and even party hats.

You will have balloons, streamers, and confetti of this color, and it’s the perfect way to show your patriotic spirit even in your own backyard.

No matter where you plan to be on the 4th of July, just remember that these well-loved Fourth of July Traditions are there for a reason, and everyone is more than welcome to try them out.

It’s good to plan your 4th of July holiday beforehand, so you can either stage your own party and gathering or participate in the best parties with your friends and the bigger community.

If you’re planning to visit other states to check out what they have to offer, this is also an option that may prove to be the most memorable 4th of July for you yet.

Getaway to Lovely Port Washington Wisconsin

Taking a few days away from the everyday bustle is so worthwhile.

That’s certainly how I felt after my getaway to lovely Port Washington, Wisconsin.

With the turning of the seasons, I wanted to get out and explore somewhere new.

A friend of mine suggested Port Washington, which is just 30 minutes north of Milwaukee.

She’s been going there with her family for years.

When I heard about the historic downtown, the lighthouse, and the beautiful scenery on Lake Michigan, I was hooked.

From my first glimpse of the city, I was awestruck by how picturesque Port Washington is.

It reminded me of a charming New England fishing village, yet there I was on the shores of Lake Michigan!

Port Washington Bay
Port Washington Bay
Port Washington Rotary Park
Port Washington Rotary Park
Port Washington's historic downtown
Port Washington’s historic downtown

My first order of business was to check into the Port Hotel.

This elegant bed and breakfast is in the perfect location for exploring the city.

It features 10 unique and beautiful rooms, many with gorgeous views of the harbor.

I can’t say enough about these wonderful accommodations.

Between the fireplace and the whirlpool tub, I had everything I needed for a relaxing stay.

The room service breakfast was superb.

I can personally recommend the eggs Benedict prime rib and the kailua pecan waffles, but I’m certain that anything they serve is delicious.

After a big breakfast, it was time to get out for some exercise.

Fortunately, the weather was amazing.

I asked at the front desk about renting a bicycle, and was pointed in the direction of a local shop.

After finding a rental bike for my size, I was off to explore the Ozaukee Interurban Trail.

Riding along the 30 miles of the trail just might be the best way to get acquainted with Port Washington and neighboring communities.

It’s fully paved, and offers some great opportunities for seeing birds and wildlife.

After a nice long ride, I was ready to explore on foot.

I headed into Port Washington’s historic downtown.

The shopping here is quaint and incredible.

I love that all of the stores are housed in 19th century buildings.

It really is a charming area for finding unique, one-of-a-kind shops.

I included the harbor area in my explorations, and enjoyed seeing schools of fish, ducks, seagulls, and a few fish jumping.

I stopped for a wonderful lunch at the Dockside Deli.

I was completely intrigued by this beautiful town, so I decided to spend some time looking into its history. A guided tour of the Judge Eghart House demonstrated how people lived in Port Washington during the Victorian era.

I also wandered to the nearby town of Saukville to visit the fascinating Ozaukee County Pioneer Village.

The village features 24 historic buildings from the area.

With plenty of costumed re-enactors on hand, visiting here was a lot like stepping back in time.

Whether I was cycling on the trails or walking the boardwalk, I encountered many friendly faces.

Port Washington is very welcoming of visitors, and the people all have wonderful recommendations for things to do and places to go.

I’m already planning a return trip so I can be there for one of the community festivals.

Reasons Why San Francisco – Cultural Immersion

If you haven’t been to San Francisco yet, start researching.

Then do whatever it takes to get there – whether that means by train, plane, ferry, car or air charter.

You’ll enjoy a special experience and really get a sense of the culture while there.

San Francisco is a unique city well worth exploring, with a fascinating international flair to it.

Best Wineries a Short Drive from San Francisco

Reasons Why San Francisco - A Cultural Immersion
Reasons Why San Francisco – A Cultural Immersion

The Neighborhoods

Very few American cities possess an identity based on the composite of their neighborhoods.

Much of America is inundated with strip malls, suburbia and sterile, commercial culture.

Cities like New York City, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans and of course San Francisco are leading examples of the depth and breadth that unique neighborhoods offer to a metropolis.

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest outside of Asia and the oldest in America.

North Beach in San Francisco has a European flair with its many cafes, street side trattorias, beatnik history and innocuous red light district.

Chinatown and North Beach sit right next to each other.

Therefore, in a matter of blocks, you’re transported between two worlds.

Food culture in Reasons San Francisco
Food culture in Reasons San Francisco

The Food Culture

Many people outside of America think the quality of American food isn’t great.

However, when your perspective is limited to McDonald’s (which are almost nonexistent in San Francisco), hot dogs and pizza, you’re unaware of true American culinary pleasures.

These iconic foods misrepresent America’s gastronomic talent.

In contrast, San Francisco features regional dishes where you’ll find magic at the end of a fork.

Eating here is done with sophistication and purpose.

San Franciscan chefs continually stretch the boundaries of their trade.

They create decadent, original dishes you’ll only find here.

San Francisco offers some amazingly delicious fresh seafood.

There’s any kind of Asian food you could ever imagine.

You can easily enjoy fabulous Mexican.

And given its access to the rich, diverse California growers, there’s locally sourced, artisanal food products: milk, cheese, mushrooms, meat and many more.

Street culture San Francisco
Street culture San Francisco

The Street Culture

Much like bustling European cities, San Franciscans love to be on the streets.

People greatly enjoy walking here, and why not?

With so many neat places to discover, tucked all over the city, the only way to uncover them is to get intimate with the city and walk.

The many bicyclists, street vendors, trolleys, cable cars, even the elderly Chinese men pushing around their hand trucks in Chinatown translate into an unmistakable lively and boisterous atmosphere on the street.

The streets have a pulse that ebbs and flows.

You will feel it and become a part of it.  As a result, San Francisco has some world class “people watching.”

Pull up a street side chair and a beer in the financial district to watch the locals, or go to North Beach and enjoy a cappuccino while life soothingly settles into a slow drip.

The music scene in San Francisco is also top notch.

You may well enjoy some tunes as you wander the streets.

Foreigners call San Francisco home
Foreigners call San Francisco home

The Foreigners  

A lot of people from around the globe call San Francisco home.

Sure you’ll undoubtedly see lots of foreign tourists in Fisherman’s Wharf and along the Embarcadero.

However, you’ll be surprised by how many you encounter off the beaten tourist path.

Whether it’s a French couple on BART (the local metro service), a Russian coed heading across the bay to Oakland, a lovely Italian woman that can barely speak English working in a bakery, or a Mexican mother doing her produce shopping, San Francisco’s diversity astounds.

Usually this kind of diversity owes to a city being a vital transportation hub.

The port of San Francisco deserves credit for attracting an impressive multicultural assortment.

Many things to do in San Francisco

Also, be sure to check out all the attractions at Golden Gate Park where you can experience even more culture and insight into this engaging city.

Have you been to San Francisco – did you enjoy your visit?

Attractions at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park

If you’re wondering what to do in San Francisco, start with Golden Gate Park.

This enormous, beautiful green oasis in the middle of the city is stuffed with fun attractions and activities.

It wasn’t easy to choose only a handful, but here are five that you just can’t miss.

Attractions at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Golden Gate Park Carousel
Golden Gate Park Carousel

Take a ride on the Golden Gate Park Carousel

The enchanting Golden Gate Park Carousel was built in 1915 and retains all of its original beauty and charm.

The glittering menagerie boasts 62 carved wooden animal figurines, from the beloved horses to frogs, dogs, and more exotic creatures!

A magical whirl on the carousel is a sweet adventure for adults and children alike, and it’s hard to stop after just one ride! 

Where: 320 Bowling Green Drive, between John F. Kennedy Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

When: The carousel is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and then Friday through Sunday from the day after Labor Day through the day before Memorial Day, from 10 am. The last ride of the day is at 4:15 pm

Admission: Adults, $2 per ride, children ages 6 to 12 years $1 per ride. Children 5 and under are free when accompanied by a paying adult.

DeYoung Museum
DeYoung Museum

Explore the DeYoung Museum

This beautiful fine-arts museum showcases treasures from all over the world, and is one the most respected San Francisco attractions.

You could spend days poring over the permanent collection, but the incredible textiles and costumes holdings are an especially spectacular sight.

Spanning two millenia and featuring textiles of all types, from birchbark to beading, there are more than 12,000 pieces to enjoy.

High fashion is well represented, with amazing 20th century couture pieces from all the major houses.

Outside the statue garden is a peaceful spot to unwind while admiring contemporary sculptures.

Where: 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, within Golden Gate Park.

When: Open Tuesday – Sunday, 9:30 am to 5 pm. Late opening until 8:45 p.m. on Fridays.

Admission: Adult,; $10, seniors 65 and over, $7, college students with ID; $6. Children 13 and under are free.

There is no admission fee charged for visiting the museum courtyard, sculpture garden, tower, cafe or store. 

Conservatory of Flowers
Conservatory of Flowers

Wander through the Conservatory of Flowers

The building itself is unique: the beautiful traditional glass and wood framed conservatory was completed in 1878, making it the oldest building in the park as well as the oldest wooden conservatory in the country.

As you stroll from room to room beneath the glittering glass, you will encounter almost 2000 species of exotic plants from around the world.

It’s a peaceful escape from the bustle of the city, and your senses are soothed by the glorious natural scents and colors which surround you.

The existing collection has been lovingly curated for generations, while special exhibits bring fresh and exciting specimens to the public all year round.

It’s a place to relax, to learn, and to relish the very special beauty of flowers.

Where: The Conservatory of Flowers is located on JFK Drive.

When: Open Tues – Sunday, 10 am – 4:30 pm. Last entry admitted at 4:00 pm. Conservatory is closed on Mondays but open on many major holidays.

Admission: Adults: $7.00. Seniors, students w/ I.D, and youth 12-17: $5.00. Children 5-11: $2.00 (Children under 4 are free)

On the first Tuesday of every month, the Conservatory offers free admission to all..

Visit the Buffalo Paddock

The name is a bit misleading. You’ll actually be paying a visit to the noble American Bison, who have graced Golden Gate Park since 1890.

They don’t get up to much, grazing peacefully throughout the day, (with the occasional head-scratch or wallow to break up the afternoon!) but their enormous size and strange beauty make them a can’t miss attraction.

The sight of these majestic creatures is a stirring reminder of the glory of the American west.

It’s also one of the most iconic Golden Gate Park activities, with fabulous photo ops!

Where: The Buffalo Paddock is with Golden Gate Park, just off John F. Kennedy Drive in the north/west corner of the park.

When: Any time!

Admission: Free!

Philippine Coral Reef at California Academy Sciences
Philippine Coral Reef at California Academy Sciences

Expand your mind at the California Academy of Sciences

This is one spectacular museum, encompassing sea to sky and everything in between.

The name might sound a bit stuffy, but this cutting-edge, eco-friendly natural history museum is a thrilling place to visit for the whole family.

It’s one of the largest and most comprehensive museums of its type in the world, with more than 400,000 square feet of display space and thousands of eye-popping exhibits.

Part museum, part zoo, and encompassing the Steinhart Aquarium, a rain forest dome, and the largest digital planetarium in the world, this attraction is utterly not to be missed!

Where: 55 Music Concourse Drive (located right between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and JFK Drive).

When: Open Monday – Saturday, 9:30 am – 5 pm, and Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm.

Admission: Adults $29.95, senior (ages 65 and over) and students, $24.95, youth (ages 12-17) $24.95, children (ages 4-11) $19.95. Children 3 and under admitted.

You’ll want to check out the concerts and music scene in San Francisco at Golden Gate Park as well.

With so many amazing things to see and do in Golden Gate Park, you probably won’t be able to visit all of these places in just one day, but that’s okay.

It’s a great excuse to extend your visit!

Music scene in San Francisco

Every part of American life has had an impact on modern, popular culture.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with its popular music.

The music scene in San Francisco a part of that.

America has turned out the biggest stars in recording history throughout the decades.

There’s Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry to Miley Cyrus and Madonna.

Every part of the United States has its own defining music.

There’s the competing rock and hip-hop scenes of Los Angeles and New York.

Think of Chicago with it’s rich jazz and blues roots.

There’s Appalachian bluegrass, New Orleans jazz, and Nashville’s country music.

San Francisco is no different.

Think of this iconic city on California’s Pacific coastline.

San Francisco’s famous streets and bay area landmarks was, for a time, the most innovative and significant exporter of American music to the whole world and continues to have a strong presence today.

Music Scene in San Francisco

San Francisco music history

Almost anybody with an idea of pop music’s evolving family tree will be able to tell you that the high point of the San Francisco music scene must surely have been in the middle part of the twentieth century.

Nothing typifies the San Francisco scene better than the mellow and harmonious sound of the music of the 1960’s, and the summer of love.

Perhaps then, the perfect place to begin your complete immersion in the San Francisco music scene experience would be at the famous Fillmore Auditorium.

It’s on the intersection of Fillmore street and Geary Boulevard.

Music Scene in San Francisco

The list of rock and roll luminaries who have played here is indeed longer than the names of those who haven’t.

There’s Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and The Grateful Dead among the faces that were familiar for their repeated appearance on the hallowed stage.

The venue itself has shifted its location a number of times since its flower power heyday.

Yet, the original location is still known as The Fillmore.

And whilst it now plays host to contemporary bands, it continues to honor its own psychedelic-era roots.

Music in San Francisco

There is still so much more to discover within this Californian coastal city’s musical offerings than the memories of past glories.

The modern music scene of San Francisco is defined by its numerous contrasting subcultures.

From twee pop to punk rock, and from freak folk Americana to an intense and competitive hip-hop underground, there is more than a little something of everything to keep the modern music fan’s ears occupied in this city.

Music in San Francisco

How can a visitor make the most San Francisco in the short time they have there?

Any vacation to the San Francisco bay area will no doubt involve spending at least a few hours taking in the landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and time to enjoy the attractions at Golden Gate Park.

If you’re there in August, you can enjoy alternative rock, hip hop, heavy metal, and more at the renowned Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival.

You’ll find the city of San Francisco comes alive –its steep streets and undulating roads are all easily accessible.

Options for San Francisco music

Just don’t try to recreate any of those Steve McQueen jumps from Bullitt, and you’ll be fine!

Options for San Francisco music

There’s all types of music in San Francisco.

Depending on which time of year you find yourself in San Francisco, you’ll enjoy concerts, festivals, performances and events.

San Francisco concerts

Come during Memorial Day weekend in May to the SF Popfest.

Here, you’ll enjoy three days of carefree tunes.

Or, if you are looking for an authentic slice of west coast blues, then the Saloon bar is the place to be, with live music every night of the week.

With an 150 year history, this blues bar is one of the mainstays of the city’s ever-changing music scene.

And, for a special night out, the Davies Symphony Hall is the permanent home of the San Francisco Symphony, guaranteeing every music fan a once-in-a-lifetime show.

San Francisco Symphony

America is a lot of things.

It’s the land of the free, and the home of apple pie.

There’s miles and miles of open roads, muscle cars and the Wild West.

Music has been a staple in all parts of America.

It’s been at a level which most other countries could never hope to emulate.

Experience the music scene in San Francisco

From hippies to head bangers, every music lover will find their ideal spot in San Francisco’s vibrant music scene.

What’s your favorite part about the San Francisco music scene?

US Cities to Visit Over Labor Day Weekend

Americans typically have less vacation time than their European counterparts, but nineteenth century workers who fought for fair work hours and vacation time earned Americans a three day weekend at the end of August.

The long weekend marks the “end of summer” for many returning from school holidays, and traditionally it’s a huge weekend of travel in the States.”

Visiting one of the following classic American cities ensures a Labor Day Holiday to remember:

New York

New York is always a top destination for tourists on Labor Day, as there’s so much to see and do:

Visitors can see the famous sights such as the Statue of Liberty and Times Square, take in a Broadway show, and relax in Central Park.

Tennis US Open Tennis
Tennis US Open

The Electric Zoo dance festival takes place over the weekend, as does the West Indian-American Day Carnival in Crown Heights, and lucky tennis fans can snag tickets to the US Open.

Overlooked destinations in America – Chicago

The 35th annual jazz festival in Millennium Park is a fantastic way to wind down the summer – visitors should be sure to check out their reflection in “The Bean” sculpture while in the park.

Chicago Millennium Park
Chicago Millennium Park

Other musts while visiting Chicago include riding the “L” and eating some deep dish pizza or a Chicago-style hot dog – perhaps at Wrigley Field while enjoying a Cubs game?

Social Media savvy travelers can pick up highly discounted hotel rooms by letting their friends on Facebook know about the great deals they got.

Overlooked destinations in America Seattle

Home of the Space Needle, and boasting endless mountain and water views, Seattle is a great place to enjoy the last days of summer.

Its most famous musical exports include grunge and Jimi Hendrix, but its annual Bumbershoot music festival draws big attractions from all over the world and from all genres.

Seattle's Pike Place Market
Seattle’s Pike Place Market

Watch fishmongers toss their wares with precision at the bustling Pike Place Market, drink a perfect cup of coffee, and enjoy the sunset over Elliot Bay from the new Ferris wheel installed on the waterfront.

Great Southern Towns for a Family Vacation
Overlooked destinations in America for discovery and adventure
Top 5 Family Friendly Destinations in the United States South
Top Places to Visit in Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida – The Venice of America
Boating Trip to Seattle

Overlooked destinations in America Atlanta

Sports fans will be in heaven over Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, as Alabama’s Crimson Tide takes on Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome on Saturday the 31st.

There will be no shortage of tailgating and boozy pre-game festivities.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying & Sprint Car Shootout

Visitors can embrace their inner redneck by checking out the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying & Sprint Car Shootout, but shouldn’t be alarmed by any zombies, klingons, and superheroes walking down the street – the Dragon Con parade also takes place this weekend.

Midtown Atlanta is a great place to stay, and visitors won’t be far from any of the action.

Overlooked destinations in America, Discover a Different Side of Ocean City Maryland

To most people, Ocean City, Maryland is all about Ferris wheels, roller coasters, bumper cars, and carousels.

What visitors often overlook is the wealth of activity that lies virtually hidden in close proximity to the popular resort town.

Here are some surprising things to do near Ocean City, Maryland:

Discover a Different Side of Ocean City Maryland
Discover a Different Side of Ocean City Maryland

Become Acquainted with Local Wildlife

Nature lovers can explore Chincoteague National Wildlife Reserve on Assateague Island, located just south of Ocean City.

The park, open year-round for swimming, fishing, bicycling, and boating, is home to a vast array of flora and fauna, including the famous Chincoteague pony.

Each year, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department holds a fund-raising carnival during Pony Penning Week.

The highlight of this event is the herding of over 50 ponies across the Assateague Channel.”

The animals are then put up for auction the following day.

Visit the Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center for details.

Ocean City beach
Ocean City beach

Think you know all there is to know about sharks, knot tying, beach safety, or the feeding of fish?

The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum is a fun center of educational activities and attractions for kids.

Stroll the Famous Boardwalk
Stroll the Famous Boardwalk

Stroll the Famous Boardwalk

Of course, summer is when the city really comes to life.

Stroll along the three-mile boardwalk and just try to run out of things to see and do.

Trimper’s Amusements features the country’s oldest continuously-running carousel.

At night, enjoy movies, concerts, and fireworks, all right on the beach, and free for the entire family.

Head on over to Sunset Park on South Philadelphia Avenue for the Sunset Park Party Night.

Bring your beach chairs, kick back, and watch the sunset. Admission to the park is free as well.

Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum
Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum

Enjoy the Local Art Scene

If you’re looking to tone things down a bit, local artists come down to the Ocean City Fishing Center Marina for Arts on the Dock, a showcase of diverse talent on Thursday nights during summer.

Maryland has been called “America in Miniature” for good reason.

A little of everything likable is well represented in this neat little place.

Ocean City is Maryland in miniature.

Photos:  (1, 2, 3, 4 – 1, 2, 3, 4 –  1 –  2 – 3 – 4 – 1 – 13 1 – 3, –1 – 1 –  2 – 3)

Things to Do in Anaheim – Besides Disneyland

Updated:

Things to Do in Anaheim – When planning a trip to Anaheim, Disneyland has become the first spot for any tourist.

It is, after all, the happiest place on earth!

While that famed amusement park can easily take a day or 2 (or more!) to fully explore, there are other places in this area that can make your trip even more worthwhile and fun, even for families and kids of all ages.

Anaheim has so much to offer, and there are a lot of options for not only amusement parks, but interesting, unique activities as well. Here are a couple of recommended things to do in Anaheim.

The Walt Disney World Resort spans over an area that is bigger than the island of Manhattan, as such, it serves as the main attraction for tourists to come to Anaheim.

While many visitors never venture beyond the six theme and water parks, there’s really a lot more that you can do in Anaheim. Disneyland Paris vs Walt Disney World Orlando – Which Is Better?

Things to Do in Anaheim
Things to Do in Anaheim

Things to Do in Anaheim – Besides Disneyland

Enjoy The Orange County Beaches

Orange County comes with over 42 miles of beautiful coastline. During your stay in Anaheim, you can take a drive to any of the lively beach towns.

Whether you’re on a family vacation or on a romantic getaway with that special someone, the warm California sun is an ideal place to relax.

Take surf lessons during the day, and have a bonfire cookout at night, there’s always something to do.

Hit the ballpark at Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Sometimes’ a good ol’ ball game is really what you need to make your weekend extra exciting.

Catch the Major League Baseballs’ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as well as Rally Monkey, their famous mascot who is well loved by the kids.

The stadium offers deals that can make it cheaper for you to bring the entire family on a game.

Angel Stadium is one of the older stadiums, but it is well maintained and beautiful.

It even has a waterfall in the center field, and fireworks displays on selected occasions.

The stadium is also known for their extensive selection of meals and alcohol, which delights everyone.

They sell several kinds of alcohol, from craft beer, to gluten-free beer and cider, and tastefully selected imported beers.

Bring the little ones to Adventure City

If you didn’t get enough of Disneyland, or you would like to seek for alternatives for amusement parks for children, Adventure City is worth considering.

It’s a wholesome, interactive children’s museum that has 12 attractions, an arcade hall, a petting zoo, and a pizza party hall.

While this place is quite small (the whole area can be explored within 30 minutes or so), it’s a great place for younger children as the rides here are for the younger set.

There are a lot of things to keep the kids occupied for a fun day out.

The Thomas the Train play area and Rescue 911 are a must.

Adventure City is affordable, and at around $17 only per person, it’s a great place to bring the whole family without spending more than a hundred dollars.

Food and drinks are fairly priced, unlike a lot of the concessionaires in most amusement parks that have inflated prices.

Savor Some Wine In Temecula
Savor Some Wine In Temecula

Savor Some Wine In Temecula

If you enjoy wine tasting, the Temecula Valley is the place to go. It is considered the heart of California’s South Coast wine region, and just an hour drive from Anaheim.

Here, you can take in the beautiful landscape – rolling hills covered with vineyards, – and taste wine at over 30 world-class wineries.

There’s special events related to wine and food held year-round, too.

Spend some time with nature at Yorba Park

Located along the Santa Ana River, this park is a great place to spend a relaxing day in nature.

There are beautiful walkways, picnic grounds and trees, and ponds to kick back and unwind in on a sunny day.

This is also the perfect venue for having picnics and barbecues (they have barbecue pits in the park).

Yorba Park has an expansive selection of play areas, too, which the whole family will surely enjoy, and perfect for active kids.

Since the area has trails, you can rent a bike and ride over a mile long of paths.

For sports and recreational activities, there are baseball fields, volleyball courts, playgrounds and horseshoe pits.

You can also spend some time on the river, as they have paddle boat rentals and model sail boating.

You can also bring your dogs as well!

Get a dose of local culture at Muzeo

culture at Muzeo
culture at Muzeo

Anaheim is home to numerous museums, including the MUZEO, which regularly features eclectic art.

It has had exhibits on topics such as “Rome” or “Chocolate.”

Interactive programs always accompany each exhibit so that the art comes to life.

Ideal for art lovers and families alike.

On the other side of the fun-filled Anaheim is its cultural side that’s worth checking out if you’d like to balance out all the amusement park adrenaline with a quiet, introspective visit at Muzeo.

This is an accessible place for tourists, that’s great to add to your itinerary and give your trip some variety.

Muzeo showcases art and culture, and is a regular venue for such kinds of events that range from educational to artistic (travelling exhibitions).

If you’d like to delve deeper into history, they have a Heritage Center. Admission fee is at $10 for adults, and $6 for children.

Soak up on local sights and sounds at Art Crawl Experience

Held only four times a year, this quarterly gathering takes place at Anaheim Boulevard, Harbor Boulevard, and Center Street Promenade, and gathers the community of artists and foodies.

If you are travelling to Anaheim, it’s best to schedule it during the dates of the Art Crawl if you’d like to do something different from amusement park hopping and baseball games.

Artists showcase their work in public through pop up galleries, as well as crafters and indie makers who run pop up shops where you can purchase unique creations.

It is also an event for foodies, as food trucks are aplenty, providing a variety tasty meals and drinks all throughout the event.

There are also local performers to keep things alive and buzzing.

Race Some Italian Carts

At K1 Speed, you can experience the thrill of wheel-to-wheel racing in high-performance Italian karts.

It’s the largest indoor karting facility on the west coast, spanning over 100,000 square feet with over 3,000 feet of racing excitement.

So get ready for an adrenaline kick.

Step on the pedal at Speedzone

This 10-acre activity park is a large entertainment center that has a lot to offer in terms of excitement.

First off, you get to race several types of cars across several racetrack.

Imagine an advanced bump cars game, where you can actually speed off and feel the wind in your hair whilst competing with your family and friends.

There are Go Kart races suitable for small children as well.

Aside from car racing, they also have mini golf for those who would like to relax a bit.

They have 18-hole miniature golf courses, an activity suitable for groups.

Lastly, they have a bowling alley for a classic, fun and competitive experience with no age restrictions.

They don’t require special shoes, and the ball sizes are just one, so they’ve made the bowling experience less fussy.

Lastly, they also have an arcade, perfect for killing some time in between races and mini golf.

Fly a jet at Flightdeck Air Combat Center

If you are really looking for something quite extraordinary to do in Anaheim, where you’d find difficulty finding the same experience elsewhere, then Flightdeck Air Combat Center will be for you.

Perfect not only for those who are enthusiasts of military combat and warfare, but also for the genuinely curious and adventurous enough to try an authentic military flight simulator.

The graphics and simulation, as well as special effects, go hand in hand in providing a unique and unforgettable flying experience.

You’ll learn how to fly a jet from start to finish, and even engage in air combat with other jets.

You can also try the Boeing 737 simulator if you’d like to experience flying a commercial airliner.

It is also said that real pilots also go here for practice when they’re assigned to fly other types of planes.

While this might sound complicated, there’s no experience or skilled required.

There will be short training sessions beforehand, so you are sure to get the thrilling experience you are hoping for.

This place is highly recommended for the big boys, too!

Take a wild ride at Knott’s Berry Farm

Located at Buena Park, Knott’s Berry Farm is one of the quintessential amusement parks in Anaheim, aside from Disneyland.

This place has grown a long way, from what used to be a family berry plantation, to know a place that will guarantee an all-out amusement park experience.

They have 10 roller coasters, and the most notable one is the Silver Bullet.

They have a couple of thrill rides such as La Revolucion, Supreme Scream, and Rip Tide, to name the most popular ones.

This is great for thrill seekers both young and old.

This place also features high-class family rides.

Step back in time and experience the Calico Gold Mines and the Calico Railroad, or you can also opt for water log rides, and even 4D interactive games.

Lastly, they do have a water park, too!

What’s great about Knott’s Berry is the variety of fun things you can do here.

Stroll around Anaheim Garden Walk

For a leisurely time, Anaheim Garden Walk is a great place to unwind, catch up with friends, and a great destination for a romantic date.

Restaurants are aplenty and nightlife is vibrant here.

It is also a convenient place to do some shopping for travelers and tourists situated in the Anaheim Resort District.

As for activities, there are cinemas, children’s playgrounds, and bowling alleys.

Jump high at Sky Zone Trampoline Park

For highly active folks, this trampoline park is a must-see destination that’s sure to keep your energy high.

It is actually the world’s first indoor trampoline park, and it’s equipped with quality trampolines.

This park is guaranteed to give you that insatiable high from jumping and bouncing around high up in the air and then landing on foam cubes.

And, did you know that jumping around in trampolines can actually be healthy?

It improves circulation, and boosts your cardiovascular health!

While this destination is generally heaven for people who like to stay active, there is a wide range of things to do at Anaheim that will suit every tourist.

It’s a great idea to mix up your activities with not only the many amusement parks here, but also add some culture, nightlife, and nature to your trip.

If you are heading to Disney World, Orlando is a great southern towns as well.

How To Find The Best All Inclusive Vacations

Free Things To Do In Los Angeles – When we think of Los Angeles, we generally see long stretches of beach meeting urban sprawl, sunny skies, famous people and a big Hollywood sign.

The city is full of a great sites and attractions, restaurants with all types of cuisine, and it is the world capital of film entertainment.

Cheap LA hotels and hostels can be found spread across the city.

Despite a reputation of being expensive, there are lots of things you can do for free – check out the stuff below for some ideas…5 Free Things To Do In Los Angeles

Free Things To Do In Los Angeles

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Free Things To Do In Los Angeles
Free Things To Do In Los Angeles

One of the most popular things to do in LA is to visit Hollywood’s walk of fame.

15 city blocks make up the black sidewalk within which the pinkish stars are embedded.

This is the best way to appreciate the talents that have brought us film, television and music for many decades.

Some 10 million people visit the Walk of Fame a year, not counting the locals who walk over the stars daily.

You will find some 2,400 stars, many of which have names you might not recognize.

But don’t worry; there are tons that you will recognize, from Frank Sinatra and Charles Chaplin to Matt Damon, Mickey Mouse and Michael Jackson.

Griffith Observatory

Free Things To Do In Los Angeles Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory

Located atop the hill park of the same name, the observatory is a great place to check out for all ages, but especially for kids. Inside you’ll not only find a free astronomy museum, but also a giant telescope.

The telescope is called Zeiss, and in the evenings they offer the option to look through the telescope.

There’s really nothing like seeing the stars through some of the thickest smog in the country!

California Science Center

If the observatory sparked your interest, head over to the California Science Center, another superb place for people of all ages.

The place is very interactive, which makes it popular for families with small kids, but adults who are not afraid of letting their inner child come out will have a good time as well.

California Science Center
California Science Center

It’s one of the best science museums in the United States, and the exhibits change regularly to provide fresh reasons to return.

There is also a large 7-story IMAX theatre inside, though you’ll have to pay to enter.

Venice Beach

Finally, and without further ado, the Venice Beach boardwalk is a must-see and free attraction.

The vibe the neighborhood gives is comfortable and different, and the roller-skating bathing suited bodies make for a distinctly Southern California atmosphere.

You simply can’t see LA without checking out Venice Beach.

The Getty Center

The Getty Center
The Getty Center

If fine art is your cup of tea, then head to one of the most involved galleries in the world, The Getty Center.

The building itself is beautiful to look at, and inside you’ll find plenty of priceless works of art.

The collection is quite impressive, with works from Van Gogh and Monet, and the gardens are wonderful to stroll around in.

This place also has concerts on some nights, so if you plan to visit it’s always worth checking out if there is any event happening.

Another good reason to visit is the spectacular view you get from there, overlooking LA and the ocean.

On a side note, another way to get a good view is to hike to the Hollywood sign, which might take a bit more effort, but it’s also free, and totally worth it.

What’s your favorite things to do in Los Angeles for free?

Why Working Remotely is Harder than You Think
Best Apps for Traveling
How Do I Get Internet While Traveling?
Using My Cell Phone While Traveling to Europe
Best Mobile Hotspot for Traveling to Europe and Overseas

Top Beaches To Visit In Los Angeles

Los Angeles has many beaches – in fact, if you have to choose, there are almost too many to choose from.

If you are planning to visit and don’t know where to get started – here are five beaches to check out:

Point Dume State Beach

Have you seen Planet of the Apes or The Big Lebowski?

Well, both of them were filmed here at Point Dume State Beach.

It is uniquely sheltered between sand dunes and the ocean, and from the top of the sand, you can enjoy some great views.

In fact, the first piece of land directly south of its tip is Antartica.

Especially if you like swimming, scuba diving, tide pooling, rock climbing or whale-watching (from December to March), you will find delight at Point Dume State Beach – it’s a good destination for all of them.

The fact that it is further out from the LA metro area also means that it is usually less crowded than many of the other Malibu beaches.

Paradise Cove 

This beach is what its name already says it is: a paradise cove.

A private beach in the 28,000 block of the Pacific Coast Highway, Paradise Cove charges you $25 to park and $5 per person if you walk in.

If you dine at the Paradise Cove Restaurant, you automatically get validated for four hours.

But all this exclusivity doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get crowded; quite the contrary, be sure to arrive before noon on weekends because it fills up fast.
The Strand, Manhattan Beach

The Strand, Manhattan Beach

If your time is limited, head to The Strand.

It’s an easy drive from the city and its strip comes with some serious real estate.

When you stay at one of these impressive homes, you can stare out into the Pacific (while thinking about Keanu Reeves in the surf board-buying scene from Point Break, which was shot nearby).

The paved pathway is also an ideal place to walk, run, jog, rollerblade or bike.
Heavens Beach

Heavens Beach

Another beach that is what its name entails.

It is uniquely situated in Leo Carrillo State Park.

Here, you can grill a relaxing BBQ after a day of surfing, the waves are pretty consistent and great for all levels.

All of this against a stunning backdrop; giant sycamores shade the main campgrounds throughout the park and there’s plenty of tide pools, coastal caves and reefs for exploring, too.
Top Beaches To Visit In Los Angeles

Best Wineries a Short Drive from San Francisco

Santa Monica Beach

With 3.5 miles of Southern California beaches and over 300 days of sunshine, the Santa Monica Beach is a prime piece of California coastline and a welcome retreat for vacationers and locals alike.

There are countless activities you can pursue here year-round, including swimming, surfing, fishing, volleyball and biking.

Those who enjoy people-watching, can catch some of the finest views here, too.

The beach is considered a natural asset, and the city cleans and rakes the sand every day – lifeguard stations are also staffed 24-hours a day.

Family Fun Ideas in Northern Arizona and New Mexico

Updated:

There are many family fun ideas in Northern Arizona and stretches for Amarillo across New Mexico and into Arizona.

The desert vistas of Northern Arizona are enchanting.

They are sights that my family and I love to see often.

We recently got back from a road trip there.

It was spectacular.

We had been to the Grand Canyon — obviously synonymous with Arizona — a few times.

This time, we wanted to explore other things to do in this great state.

Family Fun Ideas in Northern Arizona

PAINTED DESERT

We began our journey in the breathtaking Painted Desert.

But I must admit, I never heard of the Painted Desert. Nor did I know what to expect. It was amazing.

These rocky badlands are just layers and layers of colors.

It’s an enormous place, stretching from the Grand Canyon at one end and to the Petrified Forest at the other.

We learned a host of natural events shaped the Painted Desert over the millennia.

Earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, and more all made their contribution when it came to forming these magnificent natural sculptures.

Family Fun Ideas in Northern Arizona Painted Desert
Family Fun Ideas in Northern Arizona Painted Desert

We combined our Painted Desert visit with the adjacent Petrified Forest National Park.

It’s easy to do, especially starting out at the Painted Desert Visitor Center. It’s located within the Petrified Forest area.

There is hiking available.

However, we did most of our exploring in the Painted Desert by car, just getting out at the lookout points.

And my new Gobi HoboRoll was so convenient and perfect for this type of activities.

Due to time constraints, we did not stop at the Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark.

It’s a museum now, but it’s been many things over the years, including a trading post and a hotel.

We regret not making it to see what we learned was an interesting silversmiths demonstration.

Exploring the Petrified Forest
Exploring the Petrified Forest

PETRIFIED FOREST

Exploring the Petrified Forest was next.

Family Fun Ideas in Northern Arizona Petrified Forest
Family Fun Ideas in Northern Arizona Petrified Forest

We’d already been to the Visitor Center and Gift Shop (and bought some geodes and boxes of petrified wood) so we were ready to explore.

There are strict rules to not remove any of the petrified wood from the park which is why we bought some for our rock-loving sons in the gift shop.

Here we did do some easy hiking in order to see some of the wood up close.

Having never seen petrified wood before, it was very interesting to all of us.

I was glad we brought our stainless steel water bottles along because it was hot.

petrified wood
petrified wood

One of the highlights of our visit was the hike out to Agate House.

We were amazed by the number of things the ancient Pueblo people were able to make out of petrified wood.

They crafted all kinds of tools, but the Agate House is probably the most impressive thing they created.

Archaeologists think the original structure was about 900 years old.

The structure that’s on the site today was built in the 1930’s, but it’s still an impressive feat and an amazing sight.

We also spent some time at Puerco Pueblo, a larger ancient settlement.

The number of structures here, some underground, is really breathtaking.

Petroglyphs adorn a few of the walls.

Even if you don’t want to or are unable to get out to touch the petrified wood and explore, you can easily drive through both the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest and be able to appreciate the wonder and beauty of them both.

Painted Desert
Painted Desert
Meteor Crater in Arizona
Meteor Crater in Arizona

METEOR CRATER

We had been seeing a lot of billboards for the Meteor Crater, which is located just outside of Winslow.

So the next day, we traveled there.

Meteor Crater Arizona
Meteor Crater Arizona

I have to say, I didn’t know what to expect as it really is kind of in the middle of nowhere.

We had only ever heard of it from the billboards and weren’t sure if it was a gimmicky tourist lookout spot or what it was going to be.

We hadn’t researched this in advance and were a little taken aback by the price.

It is $18 for adults, $16 for individuals over 60 years old, and $9 for children ages 6 and older.

We were pleasantly surprised though that once inside there was a LOT to do. This is a “real” site.

There is an Interactive Discovery center which includes many displays and exhibits, a movie, tours and presentations.

My kids absolutely loved the gift shop which included a large “rock shop” area.

It was really cool to see the huge variety of interesting rocks they had.

About 50,000 years ago, a meteor traveling at an enormously high speed collided with Earth, creating this incredibly well-preserved crater.

It’s nearly impossible to conceive how large this meteor was.

It left a hole that’s a mile across and more than two miles in circumference.

Its greatest depth is 550 feet.

You can see the crater from inside their facility or by walking on one of their trails to their observation points.

There are quite a few steps to get to the top of one of the lookout points.

The kids had a fantastic time on the observation trails.

At the closest site, there are free telescopes which were really helpful because without them, I wasn’t able to see the objects from that far away.

In total, we spent about two hours here, but easily could have stayed longer.

There is a Subway restaurant onsite as well.

Four Corners Monument
Four Corners Monument

FOUR CORNERS MONUMENT

Our next stop was Four Corners.

My husband and sons had never been. My only trip there was in 1996.

It had changed a lot since then, when it was much less commercialized.

There were rows and rows of benches as well as booth spaces outlining the perimeter of the park.

Most of the stations were filled with Native Americans selling their wares.

It was $5 per person; ages 6 and under are free.

You must bring cash.

This is a place that everyone should try to visit at least once in their lives as it is the only place in the United States where you can stand in all four states at the same time.

Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico all intersect.

(My younger son “stepped on” Utah first… the only state he has been to “before” his brother.)

If there is an empty moment when you can get a picture with your group standing on the “x,” don’t wait, take it.

There are often a lot of people here, especially in the summer.

There area is very remote, and there isn’t much to do in the surrounding areas.

Before driving to Four Corners, make sure you fill up your gas tank. 

Plan to bring your own food and drinks.

There are outhouses but no water.

Four Corners Monument
Four Corners Monument

JEROME, ARIZONA

Our itinerary included another classic road trip destination.

Jerome, Arizona has a number of nicknames.

It’s been called the “Largest Ghost Town in America” as well “America’s Most Vertical City.”

In its heyday, most people just referred to it as the wickedest town in the west.

It was a boom town created by a nearby copper deposit.

At its height, it boasted a population of more than 15,000.

Unfortunately, the good times didn’t last.

The Great Depression hit the area hard.

Eventually, there were only about 50 people living in Jerome.

The population has stabilized at around 450 today.

It’s a tourist destination and an artists’ colony.

Most of the buildings date back to after the devastating fire of 1899, so it is certainly picturesque.

This place is loaded with colorful characters and sights.

It was raining hard when we were there.

We walked for a bit and stopped at the Sliding Jail.

There are several museums, shops, and tours of the area, even haunted tours.

But because of the rain, our boys didn’t want to stay, so we didn’t spend much time here, unfortunately.

We look forward to returning to see Jerome State Historic Park, Douglas Mansion, and the mine museums.

Monument Valley
Monument Valley

MONUMENT VALLEY

Eventually, we had to get back in the car for our final destination.

Technically, this park is located in Utah, but we included it on our tour of northern Arizona.

On a road trip filled with great places, this one just might be my favorite.

We made our way to Monument Valley, a place that is already familiar to many thanks to the countless movies, television shows, and photographs it has appeared in.

However, nothing compares with seeing these amazing rock formations in person.

It extends from Arizona to Utah.

Like Four Corners, Monument Valley is also part of Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation.

It is $20 per car for admittance for up to four people.

There is a visitor’s center as well as a scenic drive.

This area’s official name is Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.

That’s because it’s actually contained within land owned by the Navajo nation.

We began our visit at the Visitor’s Center, which has some really wonderful exhibits.

In addition to illuminating how all of these amazing rock towers and mesas were formed, it also provides a lot of information about the Navajo people and their history.

It’s really a very good introduction for visiting nearby Merrick Butte and Mitten Buttes.

We picked up a map to help us find our way, and then we were off.

The light and shadows are truly one-of-a-kind.

Northern Arizona – a great destination

We never seem to have enough time while on our vacations.

Still, with the six days we had, we were happy we were able to see and do so much.

It is fun on road trips being able to go at our own pace, allowing for the kids’ schedules and interests.

Visiting these sites in Northern Arizona, even at the peak of tourist season in July, were not terribly crowded, and were a lot of fun to explore.

Family Road trip from Amarillo, Texas to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Our favorite type of vacation is the good old-fashioned road trip.

Being on the road it’s the perfect antidote to the usual routine.

I’m all for anything that keeps my family out of the airport and allows us to travel at our own pace, seeing lots of things along the way.

We had a perfect opportunity to take a road trip while we were visiting family in Texas.

We had planned to extend our trip to head further out west, taking things as they came.

In just a few days, we covered a lot of ground, saw things we usually wouldn’t see, and learned a lot.

Cadillac’s, Dinosaurs and Missions: Our Amazing Road Trip

We recently drove from Amarillo, Texas to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and it was a fun couple of days.

The landscape between the two cities definitely has its breathtaking moments.

Plus, there are a lot of fun attractions along the way that we all loved.

Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas

We started at a must-see site in Amarillo Cadillac Ranch.

Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas
Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas

We learned that Amarillo has a long history of ranching, but I think those early settlers wouldn’t know what to make of this place.

Basically, it’s one of America’s most famous roadside attractions.

It sits to the west of Amarillo along famed Route 66.

If you ever get to see it in person, you may not believe your eyes.

That’s because there are 10 Cadillac’s partially buried in the desert, their tail fins reaching for the sky.

It began as an art installation in the 1970s with assistance from a local oil tycoon.

Since those early days, countless people have stopped to admire the Cadillac and also to leave behind their own mark in the form of paint.

Amarillo Cadillac Ranch
Amarillo Cadillac Ranch

The artists and their benefactor actually encouraged the practice of painting the Cadillac’s, and that’s exactly how we started our trip.

First, I explained to my kids that spray painting cars is never appropriate in any other situation!

Then, we had fun putting our own spin on an American tradition.

What we spray painted will probably be painted over soon enough, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us.

We were lucky that there were discarded bottles of spray paint left on the ground because we didn’t know to bring our own.

We each used a bit. If we come back again, I would definitely plan ahead, and “pay it forward” by bringing and leaving some cans for others to enjoy.

I felt there were two drawbacks to the place. One still very much bothers me.

There were a lot of kids who were spray painting the yellow caterpillars who were crawling around.

We always do our best to protect nature and especially “wildlife” so this was very disturbing to my family.

Another downside was that there weren’t any recycling opportunities for all of those metal spray paint cans.

I would love to have been able to collect the empty ones and put them in a recycling bin somewhere.

This stop is free.

Tucumcari, New Mexico - Dinosaur Museum
Tucumcari, New Mexico – Dinosaur Museum

Tucumcari, New Mexico – Dinosaur Museum

Dinosaur Museum Tucumcari, New Mexico

Back on the highway, we were soon heading west toward Santa Fe and approaching the small city of Tucumcari, New Mexico.

A lot of people will say they’ve never heard of this charming little place, but the truth is that they are probably more familiar with it than they know.

It’s been featured in countless movies, television shows and songs.

However, we were there for the dinosaurs.

On the campus of Mesalands Community College we found an amazing dinosaur museum.

I know my boys aren’t the only kids who are fascinated with these ancient creatures, so I’m willing to bet it’s a popular stop for a lot of families.

We all enjoyed it.

Dinosaur Museum Tucumcari
Dinosaur Museum Tucumcari

Within about 10,000 square feet of space, the exhibits take you through the Mesozoic period, also called the “Age of the Dinosaurs.”

We were the only ones there, and were able to spend time as we wanted.

My kids spent a lot of time in the kids’ “dig” area and also enjoyed the other hands-on activities.

We all enjoyed the Torvosaurus skeleton.

Measuring 40 feet in length, this massive creature was related to the better known Tyrannosaurus rex.

This is one museum that’s worth a repeat visit.

There was just so much to see and learn about.

They also had a very impressive gift shop, filled with lots of rocks, minerals, science kits, and so very much more.

Overall, we were stunned to have randomly found such a high-quality museum and considered it to be quite a find.

Santa Fe, New Mexico – Loretto Chapel and San Miguel Mission

San Miguel Mission
San Miguel Mission

Soon we were back in the car and heading into Santa Fe.

Our first stop was the gorgeous Loretto Chapel, which was built in the 1870’s.

It’s no longer a church, but serves as a marvelous museum instead.

The crowning glory of the structure is the miraculous spiral staircase that leads up to the choir loft.

Despite appearing to have no support structure, the staircase makes two complete turns and is indescribably lovely.

We moved on to the San Miguel Mission after that.

It’s Santa Fe’s oldest mission, with the earliest structure dating back to 1610.

Moreover, this small building is loaded with interesting artifacts.

The enormous bell is a Spanish relic from 1356.

Deerskin and buffalo hide paintings that were used in the 17th century by missionaries teaching Native Americans about the Bible are also on display.

This place provides an amazing history lesson for kids and adults.

Even if you aren’t religious, you’ll be impressed by the beauty, peace and sheer age of the mission.

Afterwards, we admired many of the shops and ate lunch in a cute restaurant.

It was the Fourth of July when we were there, so later that evening we enjoyed the fest they had in town.

When we visit next time, we plan to attend the Museum of International Folk Art and to ride bikes in town.

This was a part of the country we had been to before, and probably will be again.

It was interesting and fun to see and experience some of our nation’s history.

Arizona Trail Cyclist

There are a lot of reasons to like REI.

One of the most relevant today is their always-inspired (and inspiring) ad series about amazing athletes from around the United States.

But rather than profiling the kinds of athletes that appear at the Super Bowl or on cereal boxes, REI picks athletes who don’t have million dollar sponsorship’s.

In most cases, you won’t have heard of these people before you watch the short film.

“Fast Forward” is the latest in this series, and it profiles a cyclist named Lael Wilcox, as she journeys down the Arizona Trail.

The Arizona Trail is a race – technically.

It has no formal start time, and is the furthest thing from a media event.

Participants keep track of their own performance time, all based on an honor system.

Lael Wilcox takes on the Arizona Trail hoping to finish the 800 mile course faster than any woman before.

This endless single-track doesn’t make it easy for anyone.

Featuring many different terrain types, elevations, and climates, many people who start do not finish.

But Lael wants to set the record.

REI Profile of a Long Distance Cyclist on the Arizona Trail
Profile of a Long Distance Cyclist on the Arizona Trail

Lael hasn’t always been a racer.

She started traveling the world with her partner, working 6 months at home and traveling the remaining 6.

They lived off of their bikes during these journeys, and it was only while she was out exploring the world in this way that she learned she could ride fast and long.

Back on the Arizona Trail, things start out well but quickly go south.

Lael’s throat starts to close up, and before long she is terribly sick.

She drops out.

Though she wishes she could have continued, she expresses determination that this challenge will one day be behind her, like so many other long journeys around the world.

For Lael, it’s not about money or recognition, but being able to surpass personal struggles.

These are themes REI loves, and ones they try to elevate in their advertising.

What You Need to Know to Move to Montreal Canada

Updated:

This article contains general information needed to smoothly transition for your move to Montreal Canada.

Information included here tackles the requirements for acquiring a visa, healthcare insurance, a driver’s license, as well as information on education and the general background of Montreal.

Planning to move to Montreal, Canada?

While it’s always fun to just pack your bags and go it is a smarter move to prepare yourself for what’s to come.

Montreal is a beautiful place to live in but there are a few things you’ll want to know to make your transition smooth and easy.

Securing Your Visa Before Your Move to Montreal Canada

Move to Montreal Learn Language

The first thing you’ll want is to secure your visa for legal entry.

The common visa is for professional/skilled workers and to qualify for this you need to complete the forms proving you will not be a problem to the region of Quebec (the governing province over Montreal City).

There is an examination that generalizes your eligibility, with things such as your occupation and age taken into account as well as your number of dependents and you want to score 67 or higher to attain a valid visa.

Other than the eligibility examination you will also be required to undergo and pass a medical examination.

You must also prove you can financially support yourself and your dependents while in Montreal.

To further check if you are eligible for visa application you will want to visit the official website for Canadian Immigration.

When you’re ready, it’s time to learn a bit more about your destination.

Basic Information About Montreal

Montreal is not the capital of the Quebec province of Canada; that honor goes to Quebec City but there are many astounding facts about the city.

For one thing, it is the second city where its main language is French, succeeded only by Paris itself.

As a matter of fact, the whole region of Quebec is primarily French and it is the only region of Canada where French is the sole official language.

This means you will find it difficult to get around – and get a job – if you do not have some previous experience in speaking French.

If you have plans to move to Montreal soon you will find it to your benefit to pick up basic lessons in the language, especially if you are hoping to get a job or to go to public schools.

It is also the Canadian city with the highest rate of bi-lingual residents. Over 56% speak both English and French.

Unfortunately, most employers and public schools prioritize French over English despite of this. Population-wise, Montreal is the 2nd largest city of the country, right after Toronto.

According to the 2011 census, the city had a population of a little over 1.6 Million while the metropolitan area reached just a little over 3.8 Million people, totaling to a little over 4 Million people.

Economy of Montreal

For the longest time Montreal was Canada’s financial center until it was overtaken by the rapidly growing city of Toronto.

It is still recognized as having the 2nd largest economy in the country and it focuses primarily on:

Commerce and finance

Industrial work

Technology

Culture

World affairs

In the city is one of the largest sea ports of the world, Port of Montreal, and the city is also home to Canadian Space Agency and the International Civil Aviation Organization among others.

Montreal is a center for film and entertainment as well, hosting the HQ of Alliance Films as well as different film studios and centers for numerous film festivals.

One of the booming industries in the country is the video game industry.

Ubisoft Montreal opened its doors in 1997 and since then this has been followed by THQ Montreal, Bioware, EA (Electronic Arts), Gameloft, and more recently Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

Move to Montreal
Move to Montreal

Cost of Living Montreal Canada

To put this into contrast, the indices used in this portion are in relation to the cost of living index of New York City, USA.

Therefore if an index is 115% it means that the average cost for that prospect is 15% more expensive than in NYC.

If the index is 90%, it means that the cost is 10% below the costs of NYC.

With that in mind here is a look at the basic costs of living in Montreal, Canada as of 2014:

Consumer Price Index, Excluding Rent Costs – 81.09

Consumer Price Index, Including Rent Costs – 55.39

Rent Index – 28.37

Groceries Index – 89.33

Restaurants Index – 74.49

Local Purchasing Power – 105.08

In general, the cost of living in Montreal is very affordable when compared to other high-economy cities in the world, such as New York City (which was used as the primary basis for comparison here).

As a matter of fact, the Montreal is booming with many option for apartments, condominiums, and low-budget housing.

Obtaining Work in Montreal

Working in Montreal will require you to have either one of two different documents:

A residence permit

A temporary working permit

Many foreign nationals moving to the country interchange the two but they are very different and are used for different occasions, as well as different types of working contracts.

Here’s a little insight on their differences and uses.

A residence permit is for any expat planning to reside permanently in Montreal or has plans to live and work for a long period of time (several years).

This permit will not only allow them to legally work in Montreal but will also entitle them to several of Canada’s social systems.

These include entitlements to healthcare, education programs, and others.

This is quite different from the temporary work permit because this permit is only for a specific type of job to be done on a short-term basis.

This is for a one-time and it will expire after a short period of time.

This permit also does not entitle the holder to the different social systems of Canada and you will have to look for other means to attain a traveler’s health insurance or auto-insurance during your stay.

Temporary work permit you will need to provide the following:

A completed Temporary Work Permit application form

Completed form for temporary residence

2 (passport size) photos

Valid copy of passport information page but only if the employee is not applying for temporary residence

Valid copy of original passport but only if applying for temporary residence

Valid copy of contract form – this must come from the Canadian employer

Proof of job requirements satisfaction (certification of employment, transcript of records, character references)

Bank statements

Proof of pay

Montreal Trains
Montreal Trains

Take note that the visa application official might require additional documents such as a police clearance or a medical examination certificate.

This process will also be required for any relatives that are coming to stay with the employee as well.

Obtaining a Driver’s License and Driving Basics in Montreal

If you are an expat coming from the UK then your international driver’s license valid for the United Kingdom will be valid in Montreal, Canada.

After some time, however, it will be more convenient to transfer to a local Montreal driver’s license.

For holders of a British Driver’s License you can easily transfer without having to take a driver’s test although you might have to provide recent medical certificates.

Whether a British expat or not, you will need to acquire a driver’s license after some time at the SAAQ or Societe de l’Assurance Automobile du Quebec.

For the most part, the rules of the road are quite similar to those found in the US or in the UK; no driving under the influence, seatbelts must be worn at all times, and child passengers must be seated in appropriately sized seats for their age and height.

There is one key difference in driving a vehicle in Montreal than in other countries under the United Kingdom; driving is on the right-hand lane and not the left.

This makes driving much easier to transition to for Americans but not so easily for British nationals.

There is also a key difference when it comes to vehicle insurance.

Unlike countries such as the United States there is no “fault” coverage when it comes to an accident.

In Montreal’s case, the damage on your vehicle will be covered by your insurance company even when the accident was caused by the other party.

Getting Around Montreal

Public transportation is also a viable means of getting around the city.

There are a total of 185 different bus lines as well as 4 subway rails, referred to locally as Metro.

The subway lines cover a total of 68 stations or stops.

Public transportation is, in general, governed by the STM or Societe de Transport de Montreal.

Although rare, if by happenstance you find yourself in a spot not serviceable by bus or tram then the STM also provides the taxibus as an affordable and reliable mode of transport.

To really learn your way around with the different public transportation it is highly recommended to visit the official website of the STM.

There you will find maps, fare rates, locations of different bus and metro stations, as well as an in-depth travel planner.

Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance

Montreal’s Healthcare and Taxes

In comparison to other countries, the tax rate of Montreal – Quebec in general – is only rated on the average line meaning it isn’t too high or too low, despite the fact that residents and citizens alike pay both regional and federal taxes.

Sales taxes have hiked to 14% and annual taxes are seeing slight increases since 2008.

However, the effects of these paid taxes also reflect on the numerous benefits given to the people.

Women may avail of up to 52 weeks of maternity leave and still receive up to 70% of their complete annual salary

Public healthcare is provided at no additional charge (more on this in the section below)

Public education is 100% free of charge all the way from kindergarten to college; do take note that most public educational institutions use French as their primary language and not English

Healthcare in Montreal is governed by the Regie de l’Assurance Maladie du Quebec or RAMQ and this is the general healthcare system of the entire region of Quebec.

However, Quebec still follows the Universal healthcare system of all Canada, ensuring everyone – expats included – can enjoy free or low-cost health insurances.

For people still moving in, you simply have to register at the RAMQ office and get yourself a medical insurance card.

This is then followed by a waiting period that lasts about three months.

During this time you will be responsible for medical expenses with the only exceptions being for: pregnancy emergencies, childbirth, patients with contagious diseases deemed dangerous to the society, and victims of violence.

Foreign nationals coming from countries that have a standing healthcare agreement with the region of Quebec will also be exempted from the three month waiting period.

These countries include:

Portugal,

Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland, Greece, France, Belgium, Norway,

Do take note that the general subsidized healthcare is only valid for expats who move to Montreal and are staying at least 21 days and longer.

For foreign nationals only visiting for less than three weeks separate travel insurances, not universal Canadian healthcare, must be applied for.

Education in Montreal

There are a total of four major universities, seven multi-award degree-certifying academies/colleges, and twelve pre-university institutions within an 8km radius of the city center.

The most prestigious of these educational institutions is the Universite de Montreal – also known for being the 2nd largest research university in the country – and Universite du Quebec a Montreal, an institution prioritizing in the liberal arts.

There are only two major universities that prioritize in English rather than in French.

These are the McGill University and the Concordia University.

The aforementioned pre-university institutions are for a unique education level seated between secondary (high school) and university levels.

In Montreal they are referred to as CEGEP institutions (formerly stands for College d’Enseignement General et Professionnel) and are designed to be preparatory establishments before college.

Taking the Step – Move to Montreal Canada

Montreal has been listed among the Top 10 Happiest Places as according to Lonely Planet and it is also one of the richest places in terms of diverse culture and art.

The economy is booming with low prices for housing and rentals despite the average income rate per house/per family.

If you have any plans on moving to this beautiful and historically rich city then this guide will help prepare you to get on your way smoothly.

What To Eat In Montreal

Montreal was recently named the second best city to eat out in North America, after San Francisco and ahead of New York which came in third place.

But you don’t have to visit Michelin star restaurants or fancy fine dining places to get a taste of what makes Montreal such a great food city.

The many cafes and street side stalls are also reasons why Montreal is a city loved by foodies from all over the world.

It is also my favorite Romantic Things to Do in Montreal and Great Reasons to Visit Montreal This Summer.

Here are a few foods to try when visiting Montreal…

What To Eat In Montreal, Canada
What To Eat In Montreal, Canada

Smoked Meat

Ever since the 19th century, smoked meat has been a traditional staple in Montreal and can be found almost everywhere in the city.

The most popular and authentic place however is Schwartz, a Jewish deli that has been serving smoked meat (with a secret recipe of spices) since 1928.

The large local Jewish population contributed with these as well as the traditional Bagels.

Montreal-style Bagels
Montreal-style Bagels

Montreal-style Bagels

Montreal claims to have the best bagels in the world, and they sell them in a variety of styles and flavors.

The Montreal-style bagels are smaller and sweeter than the New York bagels, and are baked in wood-fired ovens which give the bagels a slight hint of a woody taste.

Before they’re baked, they’re boiled in water sweetened with honey – the most classic bagel places are Fairmount Bagels and St-Viateur’s.

Gelato
Gelato

Gelato

Montreal is often nicknamed Europe of North America thanks to its many European influences – one area in particular is great for European food; little Italy.

Little Italy has some truly spectacular Italian restaurants, but a tip is to try the Gelato.

The Gelato scene in Montreal is huge, and Little Italy is the place to go for a scoop of freshly made, original Italian Gelato.

If you prefer some Chinese, you can always head to Chinatown.

Minutes away from the Palais des congrès, a world renowned convention center in Canada, you can find many authentic Chinese restaurants and shops.

Poutine
Poutine

Poutine

Consisting of a bowl or plate of french fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy, the popular Poutine is the perfect dish when you’re craving for some comfort food.

Poutine can be found just about anywhere in Montreal, and some have mixed them up a bit.

Italian poutine has can have spaghetti sauce and sausage bits rather than brown gravy, and other restaurants offer custom made poutine where you can choose add-ons like beef, chicken, different types of cheeses and sauces.

Sugar Pie
Sugar Pie

Sugar Pie

A traditional dessert of Montreal is the sugar pie, a decadent dish made with vanilla, butter, salt, sugar, flour and cream.

The pie has a delicious caramel flavor, and some bakers use local maple syrup instead of brown sugar.
These are just a few of many food sensations you can find on the streets in Montreal – some other foods worth mentioning are “full dressed pizzas”.

These are just some of many delicious foods to try in Montreal, and a great time to explore the cuisine is during one of the food events and festivals that are held in the city every year.

One of the most popular events for foodies, however, is “The Omnivore Food Festival” and “Street Food Montreal”.

Mini Guide to Quebec Hacks – Romantic Things to Do in Montreal

Quebec is steeped in the history of early French civilization.

This province takes great pride in their love for the arts and winter recreational sports.

Thousands of visitors from all over the world come to the many areas of Quebec each year to enjoy its crisp clean air, fantastic views and its wonderful variety of attractions.

guide to Quebec

Opportunities abound in Canada, with much to do in Quebec.

The city of Quebec has much to offer, from it’s original old city to it’s vibrant historical center, small boutiques, quaint restaurants and of course the majestic Château Fontenac.

Here’s a short list of things you can do and see both in and out of the city:

City Marketplace

This quaint historic marketplace within the Quebec walls dates back to the early 17th century.

Step back in time as you tour Old Quebec’s charming fully restored Church of Victories.

Stroll along European style streets and enjoy the French style homes where residents welcome everyone with open arms.

mini guide to Quebec

Have breakfast at a popular cafe and shop at one of many boutiques.

Remember to visit art galleries and antique shops that line the streets.

The Place Royale has been popular since the founding of Quebec.

Wine Tasting

If you fly into the city, make sure you take a day trip to the area of Victoriaville.

Wine tasting is a big must in this area, and they usually include great cheeses, cold cuts, beers, wines, orchard fruit and more.

Wine Tasting
Wine Tasting

If visiting toward the end of the year, the Gatineau’s Santa Claus Parade is a huge traditional you will want to see.

The Victoriaville Fine Cheese Festival is also a popular annual event.

Terrasse Dufferin

Quebec is a top destination for those who love winter sports, and tobogganing is enjoyed by thousands from mid December to late in March.

This exhilarating ride begins at an elevation of 270 feet with speeds of more than 60 miles per hour.

fun in Quebec Terrasse Dufferin
Terrasse Dufferin

Take your camera for fantastic views of the St. Lawrence River, Old Quebec and beautiful sunsets.

Stroll along the Dufferin Terrace boardwalk or enjoy relaxing on a park bench while taking in a performance by one of many street musicians.

Perfect Views and City Lights

Visit Parliament Hill at night for wonderful panoramic views of the city of Quebec’s city lights.

The the architectural design of Parliament is breathtaking so make sure you take note of it.

Fontaine de Tourny received a gold medal at the World Fair in Paris in the mid 1800’s.

Perfect Views and City Lights
Perfect Views and City Lights

This water-themed sculpture draws people worldwide because of its awe-inspiring beauty.

It is a legacy that celebrates Quebec’s 400th year anniversary.

Quebec travel tips

Quebec’s cobblestone roads make it such an interesting city, and they are often tricky for driving and getting around.

The city also has a complex traffic light system that combines automobiles, bikes and pedestrians.

Be sure to read up on this before you decide to take a stroll or your bike through the town.

If you visit from January to early April, don’t miss out on the “Ice Hotel”.

It’s only a 10 minute drive from the city, you can stay for the night or take a quick tour during the day.

Quebec, Canada - A Mini Guide to Quebec Hacks
Quebec, Canada – A Mini Guide to Quebec Hacks

Quebec foods

Great foods to look for are the traditional meat pie (Tourtière Québecoise) or the very yummy poutine.

Quaint cafés are also a big part of the culture, don’t forget to order a great side of camembert style cheeses.

Food is expensive in Quebec so watch your wallet if you’re on a budget!

Quebec lodging

If you’re looking for that perfect location to sit back and relax, book a hotel with Hotels Villegia in cities such as Victoriaville or even Magog or Orford.

These wine-growing areas will give you the laid-back rural setting without being too far away from the city.

Is Quebec on your travel bucket list? Have you been to other provinces in Canada?

Romantic Things to Do in Montreal

Considered as the second largest city in Canada, Montreal has been known for its romantic sceneries and European flair.

This is why a lot of foreigners and even Canadians love going to the city for weekend romantic dates, family getaways, summer visits to Montreal.

There are several options on which a traveler, particularly a couple can choose from when planning to visit Montreal, but if time is only limited to a weekend, here are the top three romantic things to do:

Romantic Things to Do in Montreal Chateau Ramezay Museum
Romantic Things to Do in Montreal Chateau Ramezay Museum

Be in Awe of Astonishing Museums

Of course, to start the day, a couple must visit the best museums of Montreal;

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Chateau Ramezay Museum.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts displays Canadia art, European art, Amerindian and Inuit art, Decorative art, and Contemporary art.

In addition, it does not only exhibit artworks but it also holds lectures, workshops and concerts, shows films, hosts guided tours, and have special events as well.

The Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art on the other hand, new conceptual art and holds multi media events which includes videos, films, and experimental theatre.

Lastly, the Chateau Ramezay Museum, located in the Old Port Area, is a history museum that exhibits paintings and memorabilia from Montreal from the 1705.

By visiting these museums, the travelers will be able to appreciate the beauty and serenity of art and at the same time spend quality time together.

They may also be able to share ideas and interesting opinions regarding the works of art they could find in the museums, making their relationships even more fun and intellectual.

Sunset Cruising on the St. Lawrence River is Definitely a Romantic Things to Do in Montreal

Second stop would an exciting getaway for the couple.

Considered as one of the best spots in Montreal, Quebec, one can go cruising on the St. Lawrence River and experience the beauty and breathtaking views with their loved ones.

The river is approximately 800 miles long and stretches from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic.

The entire cruise will take about 1 hour and half 2 hrs and more, depending on which trip is chosen.

Lovers will not only be able to see nature from far away, but there are spots wherein the cruiser will stop so that passengers can go down, enjoy the beach areas and even have picnics.

The highlight of the cruise though, is the whale watching.

Numerous kinds of whales can be watched from the ship; including the Great Fin, the Baluga, the Humpback whale, and the Minke whale.

The trip will also be handled by a tourist guide, who will be imparting information about everything and anything about Quebec and the St. Lawrence River, in both English and French.

Another beautiful spot that will be encountered in the cruise is the Montmorency falls.

What’s even more interesting with the St. Lawrence River is the fact that there are a lot of activities that can be enjoyed aside from cruising.

Some of which are the following: White water rafting, wildlife viewing, and surfing.

Intimate Dinner at Bouillon Bilk

What is a romantic getaway without dining at a romantic restaurant?

To end the day, couples should check out romantic restaurants around Montreal.

One recommended café is the Bouillon Bilk, a French named restaurant serving contemporary cuisine.

Bouillon Bilk, although located at a grungy block, is highly suggested in review sites.

On Trip advisor specifically, the restaurant is rated top 12 from almost 4,500 restaurants in Montreal.

The restaurant is designed as minimalist and walls are mostly plain white, with a few beautiful paintings hanging on it.

Basically, the restaurant isn’t focused on the interior design but the excellent taste and presentation of their dishes.

The menu, as described by several reviewers who have visited the place refer to it as “inventive”.

This is because the restaurant is fond of making contemporary dishes with their own twists.

All the dishes are not only plated perfectly, but the various flavors mixed in each dish are all balanced, making it complex and simple at the same time.

The restaurant is always packed but it is not required for customers to call for a reservation to get a table.

Over all, it is undeniable that Bouillon Bilk is one romantic and relaxing restaurant.

Couples who want to experience flavorful dishes and a great ambiance should definitely visit the place.

Romantic Things to Do in Montreal
Romantic Things to Do in Montreal

Canada is a large interesting country, this is why many people from different countries all over world love to visit and even migrate in it.

It is also considered as one of the richest countries worldwide; offering numerous benefits for the people such as educational plans, house plans, life plans and many more.

They have a parliamentary system with the sovereign as Queen Elizabeth II.

Montreal is definitely a place to visit not only because of its tourist attractions but also because of its culture as a whole.

It is interesting to know that Montreal is the second largest French speaking city in the entire world next to Paris.

Also, most shops and restaurants in Montreal are French, making the city even more exquisite.

Visitors would feel like they’ve gone to Europe, but of course, with the American touch.

True enough, Canada as a whole and Montreal, specifically are interesting and educational in a lot of sense.

The city of Montreal is indeed a jaw dropping metropolis that visitors from all over the world should check out.

However, before one visits the place, it is highly recommended to check out all the important things that are needed to know: from where one should stay (hotels, inns), where to eat (affordable restaurants when in tight budget, expensive cafes, diners), the mode of transportation, establishments (shopping centers and etc), hospitals and the likes and how to go about the city.

One can check out online and look for reviews, blogs and websites that talk about the city and the establishments they find interesting.

Also, through these reviews and blogs, one will be able to know if the establishments are worth the price, comfortable, and recommended.

4 Great Reasons to Visit Montreal This Summer

Montreal is one of the most picturesque cities in Canada and it dazzles with its European-style architecture and hundreds of years of history.

Summer is a great time to visit, as the city will be bustling with festivals, events and great food.

The temperature will be warm and the sun will be shining on this beautiful old city – so why not book a flight to Montreal this summer?

This article will highlight the advantages of visiting during the summer and list some ideas for fun summer activities, such as kayaking, outdoor concerts and the Montreal International Fireworks Competition.

Lachine Rapids
Lachine Rapids

Enjoying the Great Outdoors

Montreal is surrounded by beautiful Canadian wilderness and here you will find many opportunities to enjoy the fresh air and gorgeous views.

Summer is the perfect season to get out and explore as the weather will be just right.

A must-try activity is kayaking, just off the shore in LaSalle at the park.

The Lachine Rapids offer major thrills and huge waves — lots of fun on a hot summer’s day.

You could also try river surfing, a sport practiced along the Saint Lawrence River.

While riding the standing waves, you might even spot some surf competitions along the river.

If you feel like exploring on two wheels, you could also try the many cycle path networks such as the Lachine Canal and the Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Montreal International Jazz Festival
Montreal International Jazz Festival

Listen to Some Music Outdoors

In the summertime, Montreal has more than its fair share of excellent outdoor concerts.

There is something about sitting out in the fresh air on a warm summer’s evening and listening to the sweet sounds of a great band that makes for a truly memorable night.

No matter what type of music you are into, you will find it here in Montreal.

The Montreal International Jazz Festival means that throughout late June and early July there will be dozens of free outdoor jazz concerts throughout the city.

The Pop Montreal Music Festival showcases emerging artists and indie music, and the FrancoFolies summer concert series offers free outdoor concerts of traditional French music.

Check the local event listings and you are sure to find several free musical events happening every week of the summer.

You may even want to sign up for French lessons online before coming so you understand the music.

Reasons to Visit Montreal This Summer
Reasons to Visit Montreal This Summer

Soak Up the Vibe of Patio Season

When the sunshine and warm weather come around after a long and cold Canadian winter, Montrealers take advantage of every opportunity to be outside, even when socializing and drinking with friends.

Summer in this great city is patio season, so everyone will be relaxing in the evenings, drinking cold beer on the restaurant patios.

This is a quintessential experience of summertime in Montreal and with so many fantastic pubs and restaurants to choose from in this gastronomic city, you are sure to find somewhere that suits you.

If you want the classic French café feeling, visit La Croissanterie Figaro in the Outremont neighborhood, or for the best view you can visit Terrasses Bonsecours and sip their famous sangria.

Montreal International Fireworks Competition
Montreal International Fireworks Competition

Attend the Montreal International Fireworks Competition

This fireworks competition, held every year since 1985, is a major event in the pyrotechnics world.

This stunning display of lights and fire is known as one of the biggest and best firework shows in the world and it attracts approximately three million visitors every year.

During the festival, eight or nine fireworks companies from around the world will present a huge 30-minute show, complete with musical accompaniment.

The best show will win the trophy, known as a “Jupiter.”

The event takes place from 22 June to 3 August, with fireworks shows taking place every Friday night at 10 p.m.

One of the best places to watch is from a boat on the Saint Lawrence River, but they can also be seen from many other points in the Montreal area including the Jacques Cartier Bridge and Longueuil.

These are just four of the top reasons that Montreal is so much fun to visit in the summertime.

Why not start planning your summer getaway?

And you might want to checkout our What To Eat In Montreal and 3 Weekend Romantic Things to Do in Montreal

Things To Do In Montreal
Things To Do In Montreal

Things To Do In Montreal

Montreal is a vibrant city with things to see and do all year round, from festivals to eating out to partying until the early hours – there is something for everyone in the city that never sleeps.

Visit A Festival in Montreal

Known as the city of 100 festivals, there are festivals and events in Montreal throughout the year.

If you visit in spring and summer you will be especially spoiled for choice; during these months Montreal is buzzing with life and festivals overlap each other.

From small local events to internationally famous “Just for Laughs” and “Jazz Fest”, there is something for everyone.

Many festivals also hold a number of free events, so when you arrive at your hotel make sure to ask the receptionist for some tips of festivals and free events to check out during your stay.

Art & Architecture in Montreal

Montreal is also well known for its architecture.

In 2006, UNESCO designated the city of Montreal as “UNESCO City of Design”.

Examples of great designs in Montreal include the Palais des congrès, a large-scale convention center and Habitat 67, a housing complex, are both design triumphs.

Indulge in Local Specialties & Italian Gelato in Montreal

Named the second best city for dining in North America, Montreal is a true food heaven.

Along with a great mixture of cuisine from all over the world, there are also some local favorites that are a must when visiting Montreal.

The Montreal style bagels and smoked meat sandwiches are two typical Montreal treats, both introduced by the local Jewish population in the 19th century.

Another must-try is of course Poutine, french fries topped with cheese curds and brown sauce – finally, pay a visit to Little Italy and indulge in some freshly made original Italian Gelato – they’re as good as in Italy!

Join the Awesome Nightlife in Montreal

Montreal’s nightlife is top notch and has earned its place as one of the “sin cities” in North America – with a drinking age of 18, “last call” at 3am, a variety of clubs and after-hours houses, there are many reasons why Montreal attracts so many party-goers.

The French-speaking Montrealers mostly hang out on Saint-Denis street, while the English-speaking Montrealers prefer the western part of the Downtown, with Crescent Street being one of the most popular streets in this sector.

Explore The European Surroundings in Montreal

Montreal is very unique with its many European influences, from the culture to the architecture.

Mark Twain once called Montreal the city of 100 bell towers, and the churches are perhaps the most obvious European influenced architecture in the city.

Montreal is North America’s Answer To Europe

If you’re looking for a unique European experience but can’t afford a flight from North America all the way to Europe, Montreal in Canada is just up your alley – a historical city and the second largest French speaking city in the world (after Paris), Montreal has a unique European influence unlike any other place in Northern America.

Montreal is North America’s

With bombastic cathedrals, buildings dating back to the 1600’s, cobble stoned streets and a laid back attitude with emphasis on good food and wine.

One particular church that stands out is the Notre-Dame, a cathedral which resembles the one in Paris with the same name.

In some parts of the city there are buildings dating back to the 1600’s, and the cobble stoned streets and a laid back attitude with emphasis on good food and wine really enhances the European atmosphere.

What To Eat

But the architecture and French language aren’t the only things that make Montreal feel like a European city.

The food is also quite unique, and since Montreal is named the second best city to dine in North America, you’re in for a real treat!

Some typical foods for Montreal are the smoked meat sandwiches and small crusty bagels, both foods that were introduced by the rather large Jewish residents in the 19th century.

Little Italy is also a great area to explore for hungry travelers, where the streets are lined with high quality Italian restaurants and fresh, delicious Italian Gelato.

Best of Both Worlds

Some people even go to Montreal to get an idea of what Europe will be like to prepare themselves for their upcoming Europe trips, which is not at all a bad idea.

Keep in mind however, that while Montreal surely has many European influences, it’s not exactly like Europe, or like the rest of North America – rather it’s a city with its very own unique style, some would say the best of both worlds.

A good way to sum up Montreal is a city with fashionable locals who love their wine, cheese, bistros and brasseries, two cheek-kisses and beautiful French speaking people.

People’s impression of Montreal is seems to be split when it comes to being compared to life in France.

Some claim that life in Montreal is quite similar to living in France, with all of the advantages and none of the inconveniences, while others don’t agree.

One thing is for sure, Montreal’s architecture was influenced by Classic European style, as you can see in the Old Port.

In addition, Montreal has many modern buildings within the downtown core that have earned high praise, like the Palais des congrès, a world class convention center.

The best way to make up your own mind on the matter is to simply go there with an open mind and take it all in and make your own impression of Montreal afterwards.

(photo credit: 1)

Heli Skiing Vacation – The Slopes Like You’ve Never Seen Them

If you are from a big city, travelling to western Canada is a bit of an unreal experience.

Suddenly beautiful mountains, fresh air and a sparkling ocean are right in front of you.

And if you are a skier, that experience is even more shocking.

For any avid skier who learned how to snowplow on small domestic hills, the first time you experience a more natural snowfall underneath your skis on a huge freshly-powered mountain, you probably had a pretty typical reaction; something like, “What the heck is going on?! This is awesome!”

Now that you know what you’re missing, it’s time to take your skiing to the next level with a heli skiing vacation in British Columbia, the ultimate way to travel and see the slopes.

Maybe you’ve heard of this sport; maybe you’re still in the dark about it; or maybe you’re just plain skeptical, but regardless of where you stand, there’s a good chance that once you learn more about what the sport entails, you’ll be strapping on your skis and booking a plane ticket faster than you can say “powder.”

So, what’s the big deal about helicopter skiing?

And why should you consider it as your next epic winter vacation with your family or friends?

Quite simply, you get to be ferried via a helicopter to what essentially becomes your very own amazing natural slope.

You’ll get flown to a region that is world famous for its quality and incredible terrain.

Even if you’re not the most seasoned athlete, a helicopter ride across the BC wilderness will result in stunning photographs of natural wildlife.

You’ll have access to an area that dwarfs the quality, size and landscape of any other North American or European resort, yet be secure in the knowledge that you are in the care of experts with decades of experience creating bespoke ski and snowboard tours for small, private groups.

Plus, you’ll have nearly unlimited vertical, more than enough for a trip of a week or more.

But, be sure that you’re ready for really serious powder and hip deep snow!

Heli Skiing Vacation
Heli Skiing Vacation

Of course, you’ll have to be prepared when you start planning the best heli ski trip, as heli skiing does require a few bits of gear that aren’t necessary when hitting the slopes at a resort.

You’ll likely need even more layered clothing for sub-zero temperatures and a backpack fit for glacier travel equipment.

Also, you’ll want freeride or “all-mountain” skis because they are less tiring and handle tough terrain more easily.

The same goes for snowboarders, who will need similar wider powder snowboards.

The whole point of trying out a helicopter trip to hit the powder is to lose yourself in snow (not literally!).

Skiers and snowboarders who will get the most out of a heliskiing trip are the ones who go with the flow, forget work, day to day life and stress, while they carve out their own adventure in pure, unpolluted powder on Canada’s most pristine mountains.

And best of all, when you finish a day after getting dropped into the powder, you’re going to be tired…in a good way.

And what better way to take care of that than a private cabin with a hot tub and amazing views of one of the most breathtaking natural scenes in the world?

Have a soak, a drink and world class meal as you rest up for your next day’s adventure!

If you love to travel and like seeking out unusual terrain, this could be the trip of a lifetime.

Road Trip Through Canada

Canada is a huge country with some of the most varied and beautiful landscapes in the world, something that many people miss out on as they tend to fly from city to city rather than traveling over land.

But crossing Canada by car is not only a way of getting from place to place, but also a journey of a life time – the freedom to hire a car and stopping over wherever you like really opens up for some awesome opportunities and experiences.

Here are 6 places to stop along the way on a road trip from coast to coast in Canada…

Montreal

Montreal
Montreal

Nicknamed the “European capital of North America”, Montreal is a place unlike any other in the world with a mixture of North American and European influences.

With cobble stoned streets, European architecture dating back to the 1600’s, and a laid-back attitude with focus on good food and wine really makes it feel as though you’re in France.

Especially when you’re surrounded by French language and people doing two-cheek kisses!

Named the second best city to eat out in North America, Montreal is a foodie’s heaven, and whether you’re looking for street food or fine dining, there is plenty of great places to choose from.

Montreal is also known as a festival city, so make sure to check out which festivals are on during your visit.

Ottawa

Ottawa
Ottawa

Spend a day in Canada’s capital, watching the changing of the guards, hanging out in one of the many parks and wander the streets of the city.

Especially Sparks Street Mall, the Rideau Centre and Sussex Street.

And while you’re at it, get yourself some of that deep fried dough called Beaver trails, a local favorite snack!

Niagara Falls

Road Trip Through Canada Niagara Falls
Road Trip Through Canada Niagara Falls

One of the most popular and famous attraction in all of America, the spectacular Niagara Falls should definitely be on anyone’s itinerary when traveling through Canada.

One of the most popular ways to see the Niagara Falls and experience the powerful gushing falls is to get up close on the ‘Maid of the Mist’ cruise, where the cascades pound, churn and foam right before your eyes – prepare to get soaked!

The Great Lakes

Lake Huron and Lake Superior are two of five lakes that together are known as “The Great Lakes”, with the other three being Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Combined, they’re nearly as large as the whole of United Kingdom – in surface area, Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world – rent a canoe and spend the day on one or two of the lakes, exploring the islands and enjoying the calm waters.

Canadian Rockies

With some of North America’s best ski resorts in winter and the finest mountain scenery on Earth, the Canadian Rocky Mountains is a true winter wonderland during the winter months.

Summer is a perfect time for exploring the beautiful nature, whether you choose to do so on a horseback, bike or just your own manpower.

With five national parks that are all declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you can be guaranteed to see some of the most unspoiled nature in the country.

With its luxury lodges the Canadian Rockies aren’t exactly known to be cheap, but with a car rental you can easily bring down the costs, just go for a small camper van and stay in the many camping grounds instead!

Vancouver

The cosmopolitan city of Vancouver has so many and large green parks and areas that it has been nicknamed “the city within a park”, and for those looking for “the best of both worlds”, it’s the perfect end to a road trip through Canada.

With nature at its doorstep and activities such as kayaking, hiking and skiing, you can also enjoy the good nightlife, shopping and restaurants in the city at the same time.

Vancouver
Vancouver

The list of things to do in Vancouver is endless.

Browsing online for tips you’ll find articles listing the 125 best things to do, which in my opinion are a bit overwhelming.

Usually when visiting a new city, you don’t have time to visit 125 places, and when there are so many different places to read about it’s hard to know which one of them is actually worth it.

So to make things a bit easier I’ll go straight to the point, narrow the list down to my favorite 3 things to do in Vancouver that you just can’t miss!

Trip To Vancouver Getting to Vancouver

Planning a trip to Vancouver in the magnificent city of Vancouver and exploring its treasures on a budget can be a seemingly difficult task.

However, you can avoid burning a hole in your pocket by bearing some money-saving tips in mind.

Trip To Vancouver
Trip To Vancouver

There are numerous online travel agencies that present good offers for discounted flights to Vancouver along with all-inclusive package deals.

For example, Flightnetwork.com specializes in offering highly discounted prices for domestic and International flights including: Air Canada, WestJet, United Airlines, and British Airways.

Stick to the Economy Class and schedule your flight during weekdays to acquire better deals.

If the available flights do not meet your budget, skip to flights that include stopover to reduce the price further.

Alternatively, you can board a flight to Seattle and rent a 2-hour drive to Vancouver.

From the Vancouver airport to the heart of Vancouver

Trip To Vancouver Hacks
Trip To Vancouver Hacks

A taxi ride from the airport to Downtown Vancouver would cost you roughly $25-$35 (CAD).

You can also inquire about airport shuttles offered by hotels that are relatively cheaper than taxis.

Another budget alternative is to board bus #424 near the domestic terminal.

Getting around the Vancouver

Though the city does not have many freeways, it has an extensive and modern metro network called the “SkyTrain”.

This automated train covers most parts of the city.

Vancouver also has efficient bus service.

The transit fare is applicable for both the SkyTrain and buses.

You can also purchase a “DayPass” and gain unlimited access to the train or bus service for a flat charge of $9 (CAD) per day.

Taxis are comparatively cheaper in Vancouver as compared to other major cities.

For short rides in the Downtown area, you would pay a fare of $5 – $10 (CAD).

There is a also ferry service called the “SeaBus” that transports passengers from the heart of Vancouver to the North part of the city.

Vancouver Hacks
Vancouver Hacks

If the weather is favourable, the best option is to hire a cycle.

Vancouver is a very cycle-friendly city with an expanding network of cycle lanes.

Where to stay Vancouver Hotel Hacks

There are many budget hotels in Vancouver along the SkyTrain route and outskirts of Downtown Vancouver.

However, ensure that the hotel is in close proximity to the nearest station or city attractions to save taxi fare.

If you are running on a tight budget, search for budget hostels with shared accommodation that can cost $30 a night.

Saving on Vancouver Attractions

One of the best things to do is to buy the “Entertainment Book for Vancouver” which will help you save on food and admission charges for major city attractions.

Buy the book well in advance to receive discounts of almost 75% on the original purchasing price.

The book is full of buy-one-get-one coupons that slash entry fees by half for attractions like Vancouver Aquarium and Space Centre.

You can also use the coupons for getting discounts for casual dining as well as fine dining restaurants.

Hope you have a great time in Vancouver – already been? What was your favorite part?

(photo credit: markjmsjmvdarrenstone)

Kitsilano/Granville Island

One of the most popular places in Vancouver is Granville Island, where you can shop at the local market, sit down at one of the many picnic spots or browse the art galleries and boutiques beyond the market.

Once a hippie hang-out, Kits now has some of the most expensive properties, and places like Kits Beach is the place to see and be seen.

Other things to do here is to visit the different museums, and eat at the many restaurants (this area has the highest density of restaurants in Vancouver!)

Ski or Snowshoe

For winter enthusiasts, Vancouver offers some great skiing and snow shoeing in the nearby mountains, making it possible to enjoy both the urban city as well as the nature on a visit.

Cypress, Grouse and Seymour are only half an hour out of town, and all provide terrain for skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.

Thanks to the floodlights, the runs are open until as late as 10pm every day of the week during high season.

Another draw to these mountains are the spectacular views you get from the top.

Explore Chinatown

The Chinatown in Vancouver is one of the biggest in North America, and offers some of the best Sushi in the country.

It is also one of the oldest parts of Vancouver and the old architecture which still largely remains gives the place a very unique and charming atmosphere compared to the glass and concrete buildings downtown.

During summer there is a lively night market, and there are plenty of beautiful Chinese gardens that are well worth a visit.

These are just a few of many more things to do in Vancouver, but this should be enough for a short weekend break, have fun!

Top Festivals in Toronto
Top Festivals in Toronto

Top Festivals in Toronto

There is so much to indulge yourself in while in Toronto.

It’s the city where everything happens, where there is not one weekend without a fun event going on.

If you’re planning a trip to Toronto, it’s always fun to plan it around one of the city’s annual events.

Here are three of the best…

The Beaches Festival

My most preferred event of the year is the Beaches Jazz Festivals that is held every summer, this year from July 20th – 29th.

The festival is huge and attracts a big crowd, with people from all over the world.

What makes it exceptional is that the performing bands are exceptionally talented, hence the high quality performances.

Saturdays and Sundays are completely outstanding with lengthy music held at the gazebo.

Bring a blanket, sit down and enjoy the show with some drinks and sandwiches.

The best part of this 10 day jazz, blues and Latin street festival is that it’s free!

Pride Week

Pride Week is Toronto’s premier gay and lesbian event, and everyone is welcome to join the party that lasts for 10 whole days.

The street festival, concerts and of course the famous parade are some of the highlights of the festival

Winterlicious

This event takes place every year during Toronto’s Winter City Festival.

The winter festival has heaps of concerts, theater, street performers, ice-skating parties with famous DJ’s and more, but the highlight of the festival is the culinary event called Winterlicious.

During this time, fancy restaurants offer discounted prix-fixe menus, themed tastings and cooking workshops.

The reservations spaces are limited and you must book early for a specific restaurant.

Stratford Festival

One of the most famous Shakespeare festivals in the world, including at least 5 Shakespeare plays as well as other traditional productions, where famous actors participate.

If you’re a fan of Shakespeare this is definitely something for you.

Banff in the Fall, a New Experience

Banff, in Alberta, Canada, is a fantastic place to see the Canadian Rockies and venture out into the Great Outdoors.

The town is popular with hikers in the summer and skiers in the winter, leaving autumn as one of the best times to visit the town.

The shoulder season offers the peace and quiet that comes with less crowds.

From mountain biking to international film festivals, there is plenty to explore in Banff in the fall.

Natural Wonders

Banff National Park and many of the other parks that border the Rockies are designated UNESCO sites — with glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, forests, canyons, and caves, it’s easy to see why.

The landscape here is stunning, and you don’t have to venture far out of the historic town to appreciate it.

Banff in the Fall, a New Experience
Banff in the Fall, a New Experience

Lake Louise is breathtaking any time of the year, as are the mountain peaks towering beyond.

If you’re looking for a quick day trip, you can hike or take a gondola up to aptly-named Sulfur Mountain, and relax in the Upper Hot Springs upon your return.

Prehistoric Times

Visitors interested in the prehistoric history of the region can take a day trip out to the Burgess Shale Fossil Site until mid-to-late September.

Here you can see some of the amazingly preserved fossils from the Cambrian period, some are as old as 505 million years!

Burgess Shale Fossil Site
Burgess Shale Fossil Site

Outdoor Adventures

Mountain biking is popular and there are more than 118 miles (190 km) of trails in the national park alone.

If the weather cooperates, biking is a fantastic way to take in the scenery and see some wildlife.

wildlife safari
wildlife safari

An evening wildlife safari with a tour guide all but guarantees sightings.

You can also take a horseback ride along the surrounding rivers and valleys, which will transport you back to the early days of Banff.

You can also opt for an overnight trip in the backcountry.

Back Up Plans

If the weather gets cold and damp, don’t despair!

In late October to early November, Banff hosts the Banff Mountain Film Festival, featuring films from around the world that focus on the outdoors and mountaineering.

Banff Mountain Film Festival
Banff Mountain Film Festival

If you’re feeling particularly inspired, you can also take a trip to an indoor climbing gym.

The Banff Park Museum, the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, and the Cave and Basin National Historic Site are all great rainy day attractions and provide insight on the natural history of the area and its original inhabitants.

Cave and Basin National Historic Site
Cave and Basin National Historic Site

Take a train ride through the clouds

Despite being frequently compared to its southern neighbor, it’s true to say that Canada has kept a few of their best bits for locals and tourists only.

Why visit Canada?

Because it’s the only place in the world you can do this…

Canadian Rookies

You can’t visit the beautiful country of Canada without journeying through the Rockies.

Canada Train trip take wannabe adventurers on a train journey like no other.

After passing Hell’s Gate, the Rocky Mountaineer excursion takes passengers to some of the highest peaks in the Rockies so you are literally riding through the clouds from the comfort of your first-class seat.

Eat a Sweet Marie bar

For the native Brit or American, your trip to Canada may be the first time you’ve come across a chocolate bar of this kind.

But despite being produced by our beloved Cadbury, a Sweet Marie can only be tracked down on the other side of the water.

Widely known for providing sustenance during long, frost-bitten winters, the confectionary is an energy-fuelled combination of chocolate and peanuts masking a slab of chewy nougat in the centre!

It is sweet, satisfying and hunger-sating all in one bar; the ideal snack for when you’re exploring the harsh terrain in the wilds or nipping through Ottawa in search of the capital’s sites.

Catch the best ice hockey in the world

As the country’s national sport, ice hockey (or “hockey” in North America and Canada), is a big deal –  and a must-see no matter how long you’re visiting for.

The National Hockey League (NHL) consists of multiple Canadian teams, plus many from the USA as well.

If you are fortunate enough to visit this fine country during April, May or June, try to catch a piece of the Stanley Cup action.

This prestigious accolade is as sought-after now as it was back in 1893 when the Cup was first organized.

Teams from Canadian and American cities compete in the playoffs, sending the crowds into a frenzy with every pass of the puck.

Things To Do in Canada Meet a Moose

Things To Do in Canada
Things To Do in Canada

Canada is the native homeland of a vast number of weird and wonderful creatures, including the Arctic hare, flying squirrel, wolverine and caribou.

View all Canadian animals and make a tick-list to challenge yourself to see them all!

Perhaps the most famous animal symbolising Canada is the moose, the largest member of the deer family.

Residing on the cusp of lakes, muskegs and streams as well as in dense wood forests, this mostly gentle creature is known to occupy vast expanses of Tundra, often seeking-out forests with low snow levels in winter.

Whatever you do while in Canada, make sure you take time-out to enjoy a few “only in Canada” experiences; they are well worth the journey and will provide you with epic tales of ‘living like a local’.

Typical Foods To Try In Canada

Every country in the world will have its own particular style of food that’s typical for the country and its culture.

Food tell a lot about the people, their culture and their history, and is a great way to get to know it better as a tourist.

Canada is no different, and there are some foods which are particularly Canadian in flavor and presentation.

Since the country is populated with people from all over the world, one can expect to find some eccentric but delicious dishes.

Here are 3 popular typical Canadian dishes you must try when visiting Canada…

Poutine

Poutine is a French Canadian dish of French fries, topped with cheese curds and brown gravy.

It’s originally from Quebec, but today you can find it everywhere in Canada, usually in fast food chains (even McDonalds sells them in Canada, but we recommend you try them from a more authentic place for better taste), cheap diners and pubs, as well as by roadside chip wagons.

Rappie Pie

In Nova Scotia, try some Rappie Pie.

This dish is made from grated potatoes which have had all the moisture removed.

Chicken or pork broth is added to wet the potato again and a casserole dish is layered with this reconstituted potato, fried meat with onions and then topped off with cubed pork rinds and baked in the oven until golden brown.

Tarte au Sucre

In Quebec, as one would expect, French cuisine is high on the list of foods to be experienced.

However, this is surely not the place for those who want to eat a healthy and low calorie diet.

Maple syrup is used in sweet treats like Tarte au Sucre, a traditional sugar and maple syrup pie, which is a dieter’s disaster for sure.

Literally translated into Sugar Pie, this single crust pie has a filling made from flour, butter, salt, vanilla, and cream and maple syrup as additional filler.

Maple Syrup is a local Canadian ingredient which you will see used in many dishes in Canada, and whether you choose to use it on your pancakes or indulge in cakes with maple syrup as the main ingredient, make sure you try it.

Because there is nothing more Canadian than maple syrup!

Train Trips in Canada ’s vast territory makes it an especially great place to take a train journey.

When you fly, it’s hard to take in the grandeur of the mountains and plains, and when driving across country we’re often focusing on traffic and navigation rather than enjoying the scenery.

When you travel by train, you can fully appreciate the beautiful vistas of the Canadian country side.

There are many options to choose from.

For some of the longer trips you can sleep on the train, while others are best for day jaunts based on the destinations at either end of your route.

If you want to avoid renting a car, a great tip is to try to find hotel deals near the train station.

Check out some of the available train trips available in Canada:

Traveling By Train In Canada
Traveling By Train In Canada

Traveling By Train In Canada

Canada is one of those vast and amazing countries that can be explored by many forms of transport.

However, exploring the country by train makes it possible for the visitor to sit back in comfort and watch a whole array of vistas as he moves across some magnificent landscapes.

Also, you have the flexibility to stop on the way and stay in hotels for the time you desire.

But Canada is a big country, and there are many great destinations and routes to travel by train, so which ones should you choose?

One of the best train vacation companies in Canada is the Rocky Mountaineer, which offers scenic train journeys in Alberta and British Columbia.

First Passage To The West

They cover 4 principal routes in the Canadian Rockies, the First Passage to the West being the most scenic and historically important one.

You’ll pass Castle Mountain, a small pretty station by a lake, Stoney Creek Bridge (awesome photo opportunity) and the Thompson and Fraser river canyons.

Apart from the wildlife that is seen en route, the visitor gets served up gourmet food in the double deck Goldleaf dome coach.

Indeed, most people will use a train to get from A to B, but with this kind of scenery and service (all the food is included in most packages) the visitor can make the train trip the highlight of the vacation.

There are plenty of different packages to be found and all of them have something unique to offer.

Western Explorer

For example, the Western Explorer takes the visitor on a tour through the mountains, over the ice field parkway and Jasper, and on through Yoho and Banff.

There is even a helicopter ride on offer here to get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding countryside.

Rainforest to Goldruch Route

If you want to venture off the beaten track, then Rainfores to Goldruch route (Whistler-Quesnel-Jasper) is a good option.

You get off the beaten track into gold-rush and timber country, through wonderful scenery where yu may even se bald eagles, bears and ospreys.

The cool thing about this kind of vacation is that there are different levels of service for those who are on a tighter budget.

There is the Goldleaf, Silverleaf and Redleaf level with a difference of around fifteen hundred dollars between the most expensive and the more economic of the three.

(photo credit:  1)

The Rocky Mountaineer

Though often referred to as one train ride, the Rocky Mountaineer departs from Vancouver and actually offers a few train routes through stunningly gorgeous scenery.

Riding the Rails Great Train Trips in Canada
Riding the Rails Great Train Trips in Canada

A fun but quick train ride in British Columbia, the Rocky Mountaineer to Whistler passes through dramatic mountain scenery from Vancouver to ski- and mountain-bike paradise Whistler.

You’ll pass over canyons, rivers and through lush rain-forest before arriving at your destination.

The trip takes about three-and-a-half hours, including the time it takes to get there, a little time to have a look around Whistler, and then head back to sea level.

Whistler
Whistler

If you prefer a longer trip through amazing scenery, take the Rocky Mountaineer to Jasper in Alberta.

You’ll travel two days through the Rockies, past mountain peaks and secluded lakes.

The rails take you places you’d never see if you travel by car.

You’ll dip down into the Thompson Valley and stop for the night in Kamloops before enjoying more mountain passes on the way to Jasper.

Kettle Valley Steam Railway

If you prefer to take a trip back in time rather than over great distances, hop aboard the Kettle Valley Steam Railway.

This steam train only travels 10 kilometers in the Okanagan Valley, B.C., but passengers will travel 100 years back in time, to when the railway was used to transport fruit and passengers in this farming region.

Kettle Valley Steam Railway
Kettle Valley Steam Railway

You’ll see some of the region’s famous wineries and orchards as the train travels along its 90-minute course.

If a ride on steam train sounds like fun, be sure to schedule your trip to the Okanagan Valley during the summer, as the Kettle Valley railway only operates from May to September.

Royal Canadian Pacific Train Trips in Canada

For luxury on the tracks, the Royal Canadian Pacific train’s two routes in the Canadian Rockies provide options for high-class travel through world-class mountain scenery from Calgary.

Royal Canadian Pacific Train
Royal Canadian Pacific Train

Choose between a loop that takes in the best of the Rocky Mountains — north to Golden and south to Elko — or one that highlights fly-fishing opportunities in roughly the same terrain.

Accommodations are five-star, and the train stops at night so the movement of the train doesn’t disturb your rest.

Royal Canadian boasts that the excursions include some of Canada’s “most elite tourism experiences.”

Winnipeg-Churchill

If you prefer adventure to luxury, take Canada’s national train service, the VIA, on its Manitoban routes from Winnipeg to Churchill.

Polar Bear Express
Polar Bear Express

On this route you’ll travel 1,700 kilometres through subarctic terrain over the course of two days.

While this train is used for commuting to rural communities, it’s also a highlight of many travelers’ itineraries because it brings them to polar bear and beluga whale territory.

In the summer, when belugas congregate in the thousands in Hudson Bay near Churchill, visitors can sign up for kayaking excursions when off train.

In winter and autumn, travelers can go on polar bear safaris and marvel at the Northern Lights.

The Polar Bear Express

The Polar Bear Express operates on weekdays between Cochrane and Moosonee, Ontario, on the edge of James Bay.

Canoeists and other outdoor sports enthusiasts can bring their equipment along in the cargo cars and use Moosonee as a base to explore the area.

Canada’s national train service
Canada’s national train service

Strangely, despite the train line’s great name, polar bears are not often seen near Moosonee.

(Photo 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – 1 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – 1 : 1 – 2 – 3 – 1 – 23 – 456 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5)