Princess Cruises to Alaska ~ What to Know for a Great Trip

Ruby Princess view

Updated:

Princess Cruises to Alaska – We just came back from an Alaskan cruise with Princess Cruises. After having one of the best vacations ever, we wanted to share what we learned, offer tips for packing, and answer some questions we had before we went.

We went on the Ruby Princess Cruise to Alaska from Seattle. It was seven nights. 

I knew my family would love being on the ship — who wouldn’t?! There is so much to do, even once the novelty of being on a cruise ship wears off. What’s not to love?

I also knew the food choices would be incredible. The food on the Ruby Princess way surpassed my high hopes and expectations.

In addition, the perhaps once-in-a-lifetime chance to go to Alaska is incredible. I knew we would enjoy seeing the scenery and having fun spotting marine life off the ship. It would be fun to explore the Alaskan ports.

Alaska Shore Excursions Guide

Ruby Princess Cruise to Alaska Princess Cruises 

We had a lot of questions when we booked our Alaska cruise. Then after we booked it, we had even more. What to do, what to pack for an Alaskan cruise, what time can we board the ship, and what will we do on the ship?

Alaska cruise glacier bay

I also wondered if there was anything we would need to pay for once on the ship. What is free and included when you go on a Princess cruise to Alaska? When is the first meal on the ship?

We also wondered about what excursions to take and if there were other things to do in the towns. Would we have to book an excursion (aka spend money) in every port in order to have fun?

When to go on an Alaskan cruise

If you’ve been researching cruises to Alaska, you will have learned it’s a short season: mid April – September. We were bringing our kids so we needed to work around the school calendar.

Is weather a factor?

We worried less about chasing ideal weather and more about the price and the week that worked best for us (right after my kids got out of school before their camps and sports started).

We knew the weather in Alaska might not be the warmest; however, we all know enough about weather to know that anything is possible. So we took that out of the equation completely.

Different months you can see different wildlife

Also, depending on when you go, you will see different wildlife. We also took this factor out of our decision. We would be happy with whatever wildlife we would be able to see.

But if it’s important to you to be able to see humpback whales, seals, or salmon, then you should research to see which is the best time to increase your chances of seeing them. However, like the weather, there is no guarantee you will, so it may not be worth it to plan your trip around it.

While it’s probably not the best plan, we booked our cruise with 32 days out. We went online through Costco Travel to research cruise lines, dates, ports, and prices. We chose a week in May on Princess Cruises.

What cruise line is best for Seattle to Alaska

We hadn’t done any real research before booking. I was going off of the positive reputation Princess Cruises had.

Once we decided on Princess Cruises, we didn’t know enough about the different ships to pick one over the other. Princess Cruise lines has many ships that go to Alaska. 

It didn’t matter to us which ship we took because we believed they would all be relatively the same. They are all supremely dedicated to the passengers, providing amazing service, entertainment opportunities, and exceptional food.

Ruby Princess view
Walking along Ruby Princess, enjoying the view.

When we booked, it also seemed the prices were very similar. It seemed to have to do with the date, how far out or how soon you book.

Once we started comparing the dates and the ships, we learned seeing Glacier Bay National Park was an option. Being not many cruise lines and ships have authority to cruise there, we chose the Ruby Princess cruise which did. 

What to consider when booking a Princess cruise to Alaska

So ultimately, we chose our Princess cruise based on:

  • Port it was leaving from: We wanted to leave from Seattle.
  • Price
  • Date
  • Glacier Bay National Park

But even if we didn’t see Glacier Bay National Park (GBNP), it still would have been wonderful.  If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have used that as criteria. 

And again, as far as which Princess ship to go on, it didn’t matter to us. I was hoping there would be a swimming pool and basketball court but we didn’t research that until after we booked on the Ruby Princess. We were happy to learn the ship had both.

What type of room to choose when booking a cruise?

On Princess Cruises, you will have four types of rooms — cabins — to choose from. 

For most people, it likely comes down to price. We chose the Ocean View which is the second least expensive room type. 

 When you book the cruise, you will be able to see a layout of the rooms on the ship. 

Looking at this diagram of the ship’s cabins didn’t tell us anything or help us in any way because we didn’t have a reference point. Now that we’ve been on the ship, we will have a better understanding for future cruises. 

Given the chance, you want to be toward the center of the ship. In this way, there will be less rocking and movement. However, we were near the front of the ship and only on one night did we experience any type of turbulence.

Not knowing what we were doing, and booking last minute, still worked out perfectly fine for us. We were happy with our rooms and where they were located. 

There were five of us: grandma, mom, dad, two children.

Grandma, mom and one child shared a room with twin beds. Dad and another child shared a queen bed in the second room. We chose two Ocean View Staterooms.

Inside Stateroom

This will be the most inexpensive room. You won’t have a window. Given I worried about being seasick without being able to see the horizon, I didn’t want to choose this room but it probably would have been fine.

Ocean View Stateroom on the Ruby Princess

We were on the Emerald Deck which is Deck 8. We were very happy with our cabins. They were six rooms apart which made it fun and still convenient to go back and forth. 

These rooms exceeded my expectations in every way. I expected them to be much smaller and more basic. 

Even with an obstructed view for one of the rooms, we still could see the ocean and had privacy. 

After booking, we saw online there were options to choose how to configure our cabins.

In the cabin with three of us, we opted for a ‘family cabin’, which we configure with twin beds and it came with two bunks that folded down. We could have chosen to have a queen bed in this cabin but the twin beds worked great with the bunks as well.

They set the room with four twin beds; two on top, and two on the regular ground level.

 In the cabin with my husband and other son, we chose a queen bed. We also used this cabin for our overflow storage of suite cases, clothes  and gear.

Ruby Princess twin bed configuration
Two twin beds plus there are two fold-down twin beds above.

We didn’t hear noise from anyone in the corridor or next to us or above us. This was a big surprise. We just had the gentle rocking of the ship to fall asleep to. 

Balcony Stateroom

I’ve been convincing my in-laws to go on an Alaskan cruise and am encouraging them to get a cabin with a balcony. I’m sure they will love sitting out on their own private balcony.

If you have the extra money to enjoy a balcony, do it. It can really open up the space and gives the feeling of more space. 

Suite Stateroom

I can only dream of how wonderful suites must be! NOT in our budget! And quite frankly, given our experience, I’d be concerned we (or the kids) would want to hang out more in the cabin than take advantaged of everything the cruise ship has to offer…which is A GREAT DEAL!

Our cabins were strictly for sleeping and showering.

Booking a Princess cruise

Then we called the agent to book it. It was easy.

Then we were given access to a portal and trip itinerary that we managed directly. This is where we needed to give them our names, birth dates, and other information. We paid for the fees — listed clearly so we knew what to expect.

We also paid the gratuity fee (Highly recommend to do prior). My husband was a little reluctant to do this prior to the cruise (he was reluctant to go on ANY cruise), but was very happy he did. Husband, “What I like about the cruise is that everything is done, taken care of, including the tips…no need to manage our choices or budget, it’s all done and I can just relax.”

What do you pay for in advance?

While cruises overall may seem expensive, you have to remember you are paying for everything upfront. On traditional vacations, you tend to pay as you go. Oftentimes, you don’t realize how much you pay. 

We paid for the cruise, government fees, and gratuity in advance.

What’s included in the cruise price?

With the cruise price, you will enjoy plenty of food, lodging, transportation on the ship to the ports, and recreation and entertainment on the ship. Our trip was in May, and my husband stated more than once “Don’t ask me if I’m hungry until July”.

For the majority of the cruise, the free drinks we had on the ship were on the Lido Deck, which is the 15th floor. They  include:

Self-serve drinks:

  • Water
  • Coffee with sugar, milk, cream
  • Tea — hot water; tea bags
  • Iced tea

Table service in the cafe; server pours drinks:

  • Orange juice – saw for breakfast
  • Lemonade – saw for lunch and dinner

If you choose to prepay for a drink package, you will have access to soda, specialty coffees, and alcohol. Otherwise, you can order a drink and give them your cabin number. You can pay at once at the end of the cruise. (We didn’t do this and happily drank water, coffee, and tea. One night we ordered wine.)

Kids can also get a drink package which includes soft drinks and lemonade. (Our kids drank water and didn’t do this.)

Government fees per person

There is an add-on fee as well. This will be stated clearly before you book. This is a fee which covers government fees, taxes and port expenses.

This is a per person fee.

Even if you get a good last-minute deal on the cruise price, this price won’t change.

Gratuities

It may seem like a lot that you are paying a certain amount per day, per person, for gratuities. However, the wonderful thing is that like with the food, you have already paid, so you don’t have to worry about it. 

Once you are on board the ship for a couple of days and see all the service staff helping you, you will realize this was a small price to pay.

The service we had on the Ruby Princess was amazing. There were always employees around trying to ensure you have what you need. 

The gratuity fee is based on your room. As an example, our room with the Ocean View Stateroom, it was $15 per day, per person. It’s less for the Inside Stateroom (no window) and more for the Balcony Stateroom and Suite Stateroom.

It’s just a few dollars more per person in gratuity fees for the “better” rooms.

Note if there are extras you pay for, such as the spa, you will need to tip. But you will have an account, similar to a hotel, that you can charge purchases and tips that at the end of the cruise will be charged to your credit card on file. No need to bring a lot cash.

Getting to the ship and back home again

You will have to get from your home to the ship. You will also need to find a way to get from the ship back to your home.

We drove to the airport from our home and left our car in the airport parking lot.

Once in Seattle, there are options. You can take a $29 per person shuttle from the Seattle Tacoma International Airport to the cruise ship. 

Because there were five of us, it made more sense for us to take a Lyft ($73 with tip) from the airport. 

If you are staying at a hotel in Seattle, make sure to book one that has a shuttle to the port to save money and hassle.

When our cruise (sadly) was over, we ordered another Lyft to get back to the airport. We did hear someone advertising rides for $15 per person but we had already called for a car.

Optional things to pay for on the cruise

Know that once you’ve booked your cruise, paid for the cruise price, the government fees, and the gratuity charges, everything else becomes flexible.

After that, there isn’t anything you HAVE to pay for once you are on the cruise to Alaska.

It will be your choice to spend money elsewhere.

Specialty restaurants and menu items

Once on the ship, it’s your choice to pay additional for food in a specialty restaurant or from the main menu.

We were thrilled with all of the “free food” on the ship and couldn’t imagine what more we could possibly want to eat that would be worth paying for. 

In addition to the specialty restaurants, there is a small section on the menu in the “included” DaVinci and Michelangelo dining rooms that you could pay additional for. Really, we had so many choices that were free/included and wonderful, we didn’t even read those options. We certainly didn’t miss them.

Cruise Drink packages and drinks

See above where we discuss the drinks that are “free” on the cruise. While they offer different drink packages, if you don’t purchase one, you can still order specialty coffees, coffees, and alcoholic beverages and charge them to your cabin.

Spa

They have a spa on the Ruby Princess. We didn’t inquire about services or prices but saw it. It looked really nice.

Casino, bingo, etc.

They have a casino on the ship. There were also some Bingo and other games of chance on the schedule activities.

Art gallery

They had a silent auction with paintings. You can enjoy walking through the galleries to see the beautiful pieces (for free). 

Other purchases on the ship

They have a little shop on the ship. There is also a jewelry store which ran a lot of promotions and events. 

We did quite fine not making purchases on the ship with the exception of buying the Princess Cookbook. In addition, one evening we had wine.

All of the extra spending will be your choice. We didn’t do any of it other than walk through the art gallery a few times, so I can’t really comment or provide insight on the value of doing so.

Spending money in the Alaskan ports

Yes, you may want to pay for excursions in advance or in the Alaskan ports. You may want to buy souvenirs or go out to eat somewhere other than on your cruise ship.

But all of these are extras and not mandatory. While the excursions are very fun and a great way to experience the Alaskan city, you will have lots to explore either way.

We spent WAY more on excursions that the cruise itself. Not sure if this is the case on all cruise to other parts of the world, but to Alaska it is to be expected.

After years of finally convincing my husband to go on a cruise, his one stipulation was he wanted to do at least one memorable excursion with his sons. The three of them took a helicopter to the top of a glacier and went dog sledding.

After booking Alaskan cruise ~ what to do

Remember to think of the cruise as you would an all-inclusive resort. You pay upfront instead of as you go.

It’s nice to not always have to be paying for a meal and transportation like travelers often do with other types of vacations.

We were excited for our round-trip cruise to Alaska from Seattle. It was 7 nights. We were going to be cruising on the Ruby Princess Alaskan cruise.

That evening, we looked for and booked flights to Seattle.

Flying in the day before the cruise

Most cruise experts will say to fly in the day before. This makes perfect sense due to the unpredictability with flights and weather.

However, we didn’t do that. We were trying to save money and the hassle of getting a hotel room the night before. 

We also were going with my mother who was flying in from another state.

So, while we got lucky it worked out, it probably better to fly in the day before, get a hotel, and then make your way to the ship later that morning.

Instead, we flew from Tucson to Seattle on an early flight before 7am. My mother flew in from Chicago on an early flight a well. We met up easily at the baggage claim area in the Sea-Tac Airport and made our way to the cruise terminal. 

It worked out really well for us but note we took a big chance doing this. As you can see, I’m nervous about travel issues that come up. But my husband is clearly not. He planned, managed and took care of everything to get us to the ship and then back home…on the ship was me.

He is always great and awesome about this. He sets a goal and doesn’t get sidetracked or upset about issues that do happen. He’s very organized and just keeps us moving and as unaffected as possible. He shoulders it all.

Boarding Princess Cruises the first day

We did our check-in process online at home. This made it easy to get through the cruise terminal as all we had to do was show our paperwork and identification (husband had it all organized for each of us).

Be sure to do this at home before your cruise.

Once we made it to the cruise terminal, we waited outside in line. We arrived around 11am. It was a little cold and rainy. We were able to take out our waterproof jackets and hats to stay warm.

The line went quickly and soon we were inside the terminal. Again, mu husband having everything organized and copies of all our paperwork, Id’s, passport, etc. in packets for each of us really made this a breeze and uneventful.

The staff in the cruise terminal were very positive and pleasant, making it an easy process to get through. They really helped to start our trip positively.

They will take your luggage from you and have it waiting for you outside your cabin. We were able to take out a few items we didn’t want to leave in our suitcases. 

We were on the ship within 45 – 55 minutes from getting out of our Lyft. 

Eating lunch the first day on the cruise

It was a great surprise that once boarding the cruise, we able to eat lunch. We went up to the Lido Deck on 15 to enjoy a buffet lunch.

Alaska cruise from Seattle

There was so much to choose from, including carving stations, fruit, vegetables, salads, fish, rolls, desserts, and more. There is something for everyone, and you get to enjoy the beautiful views of downtown Seattle, including the Space Needle.

Our rooms were ready around 1pm, and all of our luggage was outside the door. We rested a bit before going to the Safety presentation.

The entire process was seamless. A bonus was we were able to enjoy more time on the ship that first day of what turned out to be a wonderful cruise vacation.

What to do after booking cruise and flights

We booked our cruise and our flights, now what? 

While we didn’t do a tremendous amount of research before booking, we had some questions as we started getting excited about our cruise. 

I wondered about packing for the cruise and also what excursions to do at the Alaskan ports. 

What to pack for an Alaskan cruise

The five of us all brought a carry-on suitcase and a backpack or duffel bag. Because we didn’t want to pay to check bags meant we had to pack smart.

Packing for an Alaskan cruise is different than packing for a Caribbean cruise and more predictable climates.

Cold weather clothing takes up more room. Also, for a warmer climate, women’s clothing is more versatile. You can wear a sundress during the day and dress it up for dinner. 

I was also worried about what to pack  a formal night on the Alaskan cruise.

Packing layers for Alaskan cruise

Layers. That’s all I heard when I researched packing for an Alaskan cruise. I was sick of seeing that word. What does that mean in Alaska? How do I maximize my wardrobe with layers for the ship, including days at sea and for dinner?

I was tired of hearing about bringing layers. I wanted to know what it mean in the context of this trip.

With a few key items — these three below — I’m thrilled to say I accomplished dressing in layers AND packing light:

Rain jacket with hood

I bought a Columbia waterproof jacket with adjustable hood. I bought an unlined one because I live in a hot climate and wanted to be able to get more wear out of it. 

This jacket protected me from the wind. I could cinch the hood when it was windy. On the first day as we waited in line to get through the process to get on the ship, it was raining and cold. This jacket served it’s purpose right off.

It was easy to fit my puffy vest underneath. I wore a long sleeve shirt under it. These pieces made it easy to shed layers as it got warmer throughout the day. 

Then at night, it was easy to start putting them back on. 

Puffy vest

I already owned a packable zippered vest. I made sure the long sleeve shirts I brought matched the vest. It was versatile to wear with my jeans, leggings, athletic pants and even my black skirt. I had a scarf that also made it more versatile and warmer.

It had a zippered detachable hood but I didn’t bring it.

Good walking shoes

Something about wearing gym shoes with my jeans and black stretch pants/leggings makes me feel like a slob. I found amazingly comfortable black Sketchers without laces. I wore them for the entire trip.

They went with everything except for formal night. I wore them on the plane and packed my heels for the special dinners.

I was so happy with how comfortable they were and how I was able to wear them around Alaska, including hiking, and all around the ship. They looked nice with jeans as well for dinner. 

They were versatile enough to slip on when I went between our two cabins. I was able to wear them for hours walking around Alaska — we walked a lot in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan — and was equally comfortable walking around on the cruise ship, on the track, to play basketball with my kids, etc.

Packing for Alaska cruise

In Alaska during the day, we all wore pants. At each port, I walked around in jeans, black stretch pants or yoga pants and a short sleeve shirt under a long sleeve shirt and my rain jacket.

I took off my rain jacket as the days were warm. Actually, I was fine in my short sleeve shirt most of the time. It was handy to put the unneeded layers in my backpack.

Things to bring on cruise to Alaska

Sunglasses

Having polarized sunglasses isn’t necessary but it made everything sharper and clearer.

Good camera

Unless you have an updated cell phone that takes wonderful pictures, bring a decent camera. Bring extra batteries, a charger, an additional memory card… whatever you might need so you don’t feel yourself holding back from taking pictures.

Beanie ski hat

At times it will be windy and cold. You don’t want to have to hold down your baseball cap and worry about it blowing away. Bring a ski hat which will keep your ears warm. You can easily put it in your pocket as the day warms up.

Small purse

I saw a lot of people walking around with their room key in a lanyard around their necks. We didn’t do that.

I carried a small black purse for dinner and around the ship to hold my phone, room key, ID, and camera. This also fit easily in my backpack when I was in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria.

Binoculars 

We only had one pair at home, and I’m glad my husband thought to bring them. I wish we had at least one more pair.

When we were in Glacier Bay National Park (a day at sea) we spent hours looking out at the scenery and looking for marine life. Often times we shared the binoculars and missed seeing some activity. 

It would have been great to have each had a pair. 

You will want these to better see the humpback whales, seals, sea otters, orca whales, and other wildlife in the distance. 

Scarf

I got a lot of wear out of my thin scarf. It worked as a fashion piece with my long sleeve tee shirts, and changed up the look when I was wearing my puffy vest. It also kept me warm on our first day when it rained in Seattle.

Kindle or book

If you are a fast reader or plan to read and relax once on the ship, you will want to download more than one book. For us, we read on the plane and for only about 30 minutes on the ship.

We sure wish we had more time to relax but there was so much to do, plus we went with our kids and spent a lot of time exploring and playing cards, etc. with them. 

Alarm clock

I am thrilled I brought my alarm clock. It’s very easy to get hooked on using a cell phone for an alarm and to know the time.

However, I didn’t want to worry about my phone on the trip — especially because we gained an hour at the beginning of the cruise and then moved the clock back again toward the end. Would my phone reset? I didn’t want to worry figuring out what time it was.

My alarm clock was perfect. It’s small and easy to pack. It’s battery operated. To see the time in the dark, I press a button. I like that it remains dark.

Small thermos

I saw a few people with slim Thermos-type bottles. There were signs in the beverage area to not refill you water bottle from the water spouts. 

I did see people refill their small leak-proof coffee/tea holder — most of the people I saw do this used it for tea. I didn’t miss having this; however, my mother would have enjoyed the convenience of being able to carry around tea or coffee.

Reusable bag

Bring a nylon reusable bag that doesn’t take a lot of room. We used ours a lot on the ship. It’s easy to tuck into a backpack, jacket pocket, or purse. I used it a lot for carrying games and my kids sweatshirts around the ship. 

Ketchitkan port
Totem pole in Ketchikan

Small backpack

I carried a backpack to all of the Alaskan ports and to Victoria, Canada. 

It was a convenient way to bring water bottles, sweatshirts, etc. It came in handy every time, especially as it got warmer throughout the day. I also packed the reusable bag in the backpack and used at when we shed more of our layers.

Sunscreen stick

We didn’t bring a face sunscreen stick but would have used it if we did. The days we were in Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan were sunny and warm. 

Dramamine

I bought Dramamine before we went on the cruise. Our rooms were toward the front of the ship — known to be more rocky than being in the middle. 

Be sure to buy non-drowsy Dramamine. 

My husband and I were a little seasick walking around the ship the first afternoon. However, a lot of that probably had to do with being very tired. After we arrived on board, ate lunch, walked around a bit, we tried resting in our cabins for an hour and felt much better afterwards. 

We needed lip balm while we were in Skagway and found a great IGA store. 

They do have a store on-board where you can get necessary items as well. We didn’t see it until the middle of the week.

Gloves

I brought stretchy gloves for all of us but we didn’t wear them. These were small to pack, and I’m glad I brought them and would again just in case.

Phone chargers

While I didn’t want to use my phone on the trip, I did carry it with me to communicate with my teen and husband. We didn’t buy the internet package. For free, we were able to use the messaging / texting to reach each other. 

Alaskan cruise packing list

Aside from wishing we had more than one pair of binoculars and a small carafe for coffee, there wasn’t anything I wish I brought.

The best thing I brought was my unlined waterproof jacket.

What to wear on formal night on Princess cruise to Alaska

The Ruby Princess has two formal nights on the 7 night cruise.

The dress code is probably the same for all the Princess Cruises to Alaska. We attended the two formal nights.

Our ship left on a Saturday and returned the following Saturday. The formal nights on our cruise were Monday night and Thursday night.

After seeing what everyone wore to these dress up nights: 

It seemed like you were meant to make an effort.

What’s great about this is that it can be different for everyone. It may depend on what you already have at home. A big factor for us was space in the suitcase. Do you have room for formal attire? Will you pack a garment bag with a suit or formal gown? 

Anything “nicer” goes on formal night. Just making an effort will make you feel a part of the excitement.

Women dressing for formal night on Alaskan cruise

Because we were only bringing carry-on bags, we went more simple. I packed heels and a sleeveless sheath dress with a dressier necklace — not expensive/real jewelry.

For the second night, I had a fancier top with the same necklace and a simple black skirt. I wore the sames heels both nights.

Women were in a variety of outfits. Some were in gowns, some in nice dresses, and other women paired blouses and sweaters with nice pants or a skirt. 

Men dressing for formal night on Alaskan cruise

My husband decided not to pack dress clothing and wasn’t going to attend formal night.

At that time, we thought there was just one formal night on the cruise. We didn’t know there were two formal nights.

So, had he known there were two — and that he would have gotten two “wears” out of his nicer shirt, pants, and shoes, he may have brought them.

Several men were in suits, many were in collared, button-down shirts with ties, and others had nicer shirts. Again, it seemed everyone “made an effort” in some way. 

Kids dressing for formal night on the cruise

My sons wore nice pants — dark twill pants — and polo shirts. They wore their tennis shoes.

They were perfectly fine and looked handsome. 

Going to formal night on Princess Cruises

You really don’t want to miss formal night. The wait staff dresses up; the food is (even more) extra special; and there is a featured dessert in addition to the other wonderful choices. 

For our first formal night we enjoyed duck. On the second, we enjoyed lobster tail. As with all the evening meals in the Michelango and Da Vinci Dining Rooms, there is a lot to choose from on the menu.

Formal night on Princess Cruises

For both of the formal nights, we arrived earlier, around 5 – 5:30pm. It was less crowded. 

On the second formal night, one of the waitstaff recognized my husband wasn’t there and asked about him. I said how he didn’t bring clothing for formal night. He said how he should have come anyway, that it would have been fine… everyone wears anything. It was nice of him to take the time to note my husband wasn’t there and seemed to feel badly my husband missed out. 

My husband was fine but would have loved going to the formal nights and definitely will should we have this opportunity again. Instead, he enjoyed eating somewhere else, reading and relaxing until met up afterward. 

How many formal nights on Ruby Princess?

Our 7-night cruise had two formal nights. Go to both of them. You will be thrilled with the evening.

While the dinners in the DaVinci Dining Room and Michelangelo Dining Room are incredible any day, on formal night, the foods are even a step above. The waitstaff will be even more dressed up. You can expect the same professional, attentive and polite service as the other evenings.

The second formal night on the Ruby Princess involves the waitstaff in a really fun way. We loved it!

Packing tips for Alaskan cruise

You never know the interesting things you might find in the ports, so be sure to leave room for souvenirs. We packed some snacks for traveling to and from the cruise ship so we had extra space in our backpacks for Alaskan souvenirs. 

If you need toiletry items, the ship’s store probably has them. We didn’t go into the store until later in the trip.

Packing for kids for Alaskan cruise

My kids brought two pairs of athletic pants. However, my kids both wore the same pants most of the time. My older teen wore his dark twill blue pants and my tween wore his skinny jeans (which is funny because he never wore them at home).

They brought one pair of pajama bottoms and slept in a dri-fit type tee shirt. Each of them brought a waterproof jacket and a sweatshirt. They brought two long sleeve dri-fit type shirts as well for layering but didn’t wear them.

The ski caps they packed were perfect. They wore their gym shoes on the plane and only packed their slides. They wore their slides a lot on the ship (except for dinner) and gym shoes to the ports. 

Ruby Princess Alaskan cruise

We enjoyed family time, sightseeing, taking in the scenery, looking for marine life, and having fun exploring all there was to do on the ship.

Electronics on Princess Cruises

We were looking forward to screen-free time on the cruise.

The only electronics we brought were my older son had his phone. This was helpful for when he went down to the Teen Room in the Kids Club. He has a good sense of direction, so we let him have a little independence and meet us a few times.

Both kids brought their Kindles.

We set up the Princess Cruises app which was free. It enabled us to send text messages for no charge. In addition, we were able to pull up the daily schedule of events, etc. on our phones.

We walked past an area with desktop computers and saw a few people in there using them.

Will there be a lot of kids on the Alaskan cruise

We went on our Alaskan cruise from Saturday, May 25th to Saturday, June 1st. Our kids got out of school on the Wednesday before Memorial Day, and we left that Saturday. 

We hardly saw any children the entire cruise. Throughout the cruise, we saw a few toddlers. There were a few tweens and teens in the Kids Club. 

However, around the ship, we could go an entire day and see just one or two children. 

Know that the earlier the season you go on an Alaskan cruise, the less kids you will see. Schools are still in session in April and throughout most of May. Many don’t get out until June. 

In addition, going toward the end of August and all through September will mean less kids as well. In the United States, most schools are back in session right after Labor Day at the latest. So if you go after Labor Day, you will most likely see less children on the cruise

Is it crowded on the cruise ship?

The only day that seemed a bit crowded was the first day. People were all arriving and using the elevators for lunch as soon as they boarded. There was a little bit of a wait for the elevator.

However, after that first afternoon, once everyone’s rooms were ready and people could go to their cabins, it wasn’t crowded at all. 

With the exception of seeing the service staff, we didn’t we see the same people over and over. Only once do I remember seeing the same person twice!

Most people will get off the ship to visit the ports, making the ship even emptier-feeling. 

Alaska ports

Our ship stopped in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Glacier Bay National Park, and Victoria, Canada. The Glacier Bay National Park was a day at sea; we didn’t get off the ship. We were able to go 65 miles in to see the famous glacier, enjoying the scenery there and back. 

We weren’t far enough north to see the Northern Lights; however, everything we saw was stellar and magnificent. 

Days at sea on Ruby Princess

We loved our days at sea. 

Before booking our trip, we looked at different itineraries online. Some had more days at sea than others. While I wanted to see what we could in Alaska, I was especially excited to spend as many days at sea as possible. 

Princess cruise ships are fun! There is so much to do on a cruise — it’s a vacation itself on the ship — plus all of the gorgeous scenery and extensive eating. I know my kids and family would be enthralled with all of it.

And while I went in with high hopes and expectations, the Ruby Princess was even better than I imagined. 

We thoroughly enjoyed what Princess Cruises had to offer. We took advantage of so many things: swimming pools, hot tubs, huge theater, basketball court, putt putt mini golf, spontaneous entertainment and planned entertainment, and so much more on the ship. 

We sat in different areas and played cards. There was even a Library on the Ruby Princess. You can check out books and games. 

Time flies when you are having fun so be sure to think about what you want to do and be sure to fit it in. We wish we had another week to continue the cruise ship fun.

We would have loved more time to relax on the lounge chairs to read, eat, and enjoy the scenery. 

Lots of scheduled activities on board Princess Cruises

Each day there is a calendar of events. Each evening, when we returned from our evening of fun — dinner, walking around, playing cards, taking in a show, etc. — we would come back to our cabin. On the bed is a list of scheduled activities for the next day.

You can also access this from the Princess Cruises app. 

You can choose to take part in something or not. Many times were there overlapping things we wanted to do. 

Demonstrations

We happened to be walking by a Fruit Carving Demonstration in the Piazza and stayed to watch.

Later in the week, we saw there was an Ice Carving Demonstration on the Lido Deck which we enjoyed.

ice carving on Princess Cruises

In addition, we went to a Culinary Demonstration in the Princess Theater followed by a walk-through of the kitchen. 

Lots of things to do

My kids enjoyed the basketball shootout competition.

We hung out at night with a dance crowd to watch the balloon drop. 

Another time, we walked past a ping pong tournament against some of the cruise ship staff. Once we walked past passengers gathered around for a game show.

You just show up! If you go, enjoy! If you don’t and choose something else, that’s fine too.

There was also a Family Night at the Youth Center and Teen Lounge. The entire family is invited to hang out and play skee ball, air hockey, board games, video games, etc. It was a fun way to acquaint ourselves and our kids with the rooms. 

Shows in the Princess Theater

While we wish we had time to see more the performances in the Princess Theater, we were glad we saw Libby Riddles present. She was the first woman to win the Iditarod.

In addition, we attended the talk from the National Park Service while we were in Glacier Bay National Park.

We attended a culinary show with a cooking demonstration followed by a kitchen tour. 

Later that day, we attended the 50-minute finale of a singing competition which had been going on throughout the week with the passengers. It was tons of fun. My kids loved being able to vote for the winner. It was really well done. 

Fitness and recreation on the Star Deck

On the 19th floor — the top floor — there is a sports deck. There is a lot to enjoy. My family went up there many times.

Princess Links mini golf

There is a mini golf course with four holes. You can use the putters and golf balls and return them when you are finished.

Basketball and pickle ball court

There is a net above the sports court to keep the balls from going overboard. At times it was windy and chilly. We always brought our hats just in case.

There is a basketball court with two nets. There were four balls there to use. 

In addition, the court doubles as a pickle ball court. There was a net, paddles and balls there to use.

Is the sports court crowded? No.

There was one time we went up to play basketball but adults were playing pickle ball. We played miniature golf instead.

Another time, we were playing basketball, and adults came hoping to play pickle ball. They went to play putt putt until we finished.

A few times we shared the basketball court and the putt putt course but everyone was respectful.

Check the schedule because sometimes Princess Cruises has a planned activity on the court you might want to do. My kids did the basketball shootout. Sometimes we saw pickle ball on the schedule.

Track

On floor 19, there is also a small track. If you walk 16 times around, you will have walked one mile. You will be lapping the putt putt area and enjoying looking out at the water.

It’s also fun to walk on decks 7 and 8 (Promenade and Emerald decks) to enjoy the views. You can walk around the ship 2.5 times, and you will have walked a mile.

Fitness center

After we got home, my husband mentioned something about a fitness center on the cruise. There was so much to do and see, I didn’t even know there was one.

Swimming pools on Princess Cruises to Alaska

We wondered if the swimming pools were inside or outside on Alaskan cruises.

The swimming pools are outside on a Princess cruise. If you luck out with the weather like we did, you will enjoy swimming in the sunshine, and you might forget you are in Alaska! It was beautiful.

There are several swimming pools and hot tubs on the ship. There are beach towels nearby so you don’t have to worry about packing them. 

I didn’t pack my swimsuit due to space in my luggage and because we have a pool. However, my husband and kids enjoyed time in the pool one day when we got back from a port. The sun was shining and because the ship was docked, it was that much warmer. 

We saw people enjoying the swimming pools and hot tubs throughout the week. There was the day we were at sea when we were in Glacier Bay National Park, and it was so warm and sunny. There were a lot of people enjoying the lounge chairs, hot tubs and swimming pools. But even then, it wasn’t crowded, and I saw just three children.

Opportunities to be active on the Ruby Princess

Whether you enjoy swimming, exercising, walking, or being active on the sports court on the Sky Deck, you will be able to get exercise if you want to. At times, my kids and I took the stairs instead of the elevator to get more steps in. 

Nightlife on Ruby Princess

There are a lot of restaurants and lounges on the Ruby Princess ship. You can enjoy bands, singers, dancing, special gatherings, and more.

While we did partake in the balloon drop — which turned out to be a fun night with an announcer, band, and singer, we spent most of the other evenings in the lounges, playing cards and hanging out.

balloon drop on Princess Cruises
balloon drop dance party on Ruby Princess

You could order a drink or not. Oftentimes, they brought us water. There wasn’t any pressure whatsoever to order to do anything yet the staff was attentive if you wanted something.

There is a casino and the Princess Theater for additional entertainment.

Keep in mind, you can do whatever you feel like doing. You can go to one of the top decks and sit on a lounge chair with coffee. You can go get more to eat. Go dancing if you want. It’s your vacation, and you can spend your days and evenings as you wish.

Outdoor movies on the cruise

Enjoy a movie on the lounge chair watching a movie on the big screen. 

We didn’t have time to take advantage of this. We saw the staff putting cushions and pillows on the lounge chairs for a cozy evening movie experience. They even had blankets you could use.

The next time we go — if we can be so lucky as to go again — we will definitely be watching a movie!

Looking for wildlife on Alaskan Cruise

The Ruby Princess cruise we took had a day at sea while we had the chance to see Glacier Bay National Park. We spent a lot of time watching for marine life which was very fun. 

Bring binoculars and a decent camera so you can get some good shots. 

Again, we went Memorial Day week in May. During our cruise, we were lucky enjoy to see humpback whales, orca whales, sea otters, and seals. One seal came right up to the ship. It all happens fast though so you need to be watching. 

At times, there was an announcer who was spotting the marine life making it really helpful for passengers who were interested in spotting them.

The binoculars make it even better. 

Waking up early when in Glacier Bay National Park

Do be sure to wake up early some mornings. It’s important to wake up as early as you can the day your cruise ship is in Glacier Bay National Park.

While a lot of the time on the water may be the same — we loved it! — the time you spend in Glacier Bay National Park or any area with the glaciers such as Hubbard Glacier on other Princess Cruises to Alaska — will be unique.

At times you will see ice floating in the water. We saw a lot of wildlife, including birds. You can enjoy the views and may have a better chance to see marine life. We saw a lot of whales, sea otters and seals. 

Take advantage of your time spent in these glacier areas. It’s a magical time. 

Ruby Princess cruise review

Amazing food

We didn’t need to spend any money once we were on the ship to eat well. The food was outstanding. We ordered so many different foods, including duck, salmon, surf & turf, crab legs, mussels, scallops, prawns, and shrimp cocktail. If you don’t eat seafood, you will have so many other wonderful choices.

We really loved we could eat so many different foods. And even as we enjoyed a fabulous meal in the Michelangelo Dining Room for dinner, we knew there were fantastic foods in the Horizon Cafe on Deck 15, and in the International Cafe on Deck 5, as well as many other options. It just went on and on. 

Service

The service was outstanding. When we were eating dinner in the Michelangelo Dining Room, I would easily see five waitstaff at any time.

The waitstaff was attentive, professional and polite. They made it an exceptional dining experience each time we were there. 

The Head Waiter, was absolutely fantastic. He handled our son’s food allergies so well.

It’s always stressful when we eat out and this man went ABOVE and BEYOND making it safe and special for my son. If you have a child with food issues, you know how much it means to have them included in — rather than left out of — meals.

Relaxing vacation

So many times on vacation, we are worrying about where to eat and driving here and there. We have to check into hotels and leave again to see something else. With a cruise, you show up and it’s done! You can actually enjoy your vacation in a safe and carefree way. 

Get to do something in your down time

On other vacations, we usually spend the days sightseeing and the evenings in our hotel room. There is nothing to do but watch television.

On a cruise, it’s completely different. You can spend the day exploring one of the Alaskan ports and then come back to enjoy dinner and continue on with an entire evening of fun.

Eating dinner on the cruise

Anytime dining versus Traditional dining

We chose Anytime dining. On the Ruby Princess, this meant we could eat in the Michelangelo Dining Room anytime after 4:30pm.

When we booked our cruise, we were told anytime after 5:30pm so we didn’t know we could have gone earlier until midway through our cruise.

We liked going earlier — even 5:30pm was good — because it enabled us to have more time with our incredible Head Waiter, who helped us immensely with our son’s food allergies.

Traditional dining

On the Ruby Princess, this meant you choose a dining time and have the same table, same waitstaff and same table mates (people you then dine with throughout the cruise) in the Da Vinci Dining Room on the 5th floor.

If you want to dine alone, you can. Be sure to state this when you book your cruise.

While the Da Vinci Dining Room is for passengers who selected Traditional Dining, after 7:30pm, anyone can eat there. 

Food allergies on Princess Cruises

When we booked our cruise through Costco, the agent asked us about food allergies. We told them about my son. His is an uncommon intolerance which makes it difficult for him to have desserts as well as foods with vegetable oil.

On our first night at dinner in the Michelangelo Dining Room, we asked to speak with the Head Waiter. I gave him a list of all the ingredients my son couldn’t have. Most of them would be in breadings, French fries, and desserts. 

The Head Waiter was exceptional. He took the time to learn about it and the ways he could work around the allergies so my son could still try new foods and have desserts. Though the intolerance/allergy is uncommon, he took the time to investigate on his own and was proactive about speaking with the chefs, reading ingredients, etc. 

The chef made this cake safe for my son.

He gave my son the menu each night for the next day. My son pre-ordered his food. This was a lot of work because our Head Waiter had to work with the kitchen staff and chefs to sure everything was safe for him. 

In addition to that, he went out of his way to bring raw vegetables as an appetizer for him. After that, he worked with the chefs to come up with desserts he could have. This was amazing as they had to make these special for him. 

Throughout the cruise, the Head Waiter made my son feel very special. He was professional, knowledgeable and took pride in his work. He is a huge asset to Princess Cruises and my family will be forever grateful for the way he cared for our son. We had one of the best vacations ever not having to worry about food. My son tried new foods, had tremendous desserts, and didn’t get sick at all. 

Another amazing and safe dessert they made.

I’m sure the Head Waiter had a long list of special food accommodations for other passengers. We always saw him working with staff and guests, and despite his workload, always seemed calm and professional.

Yet, despite the amount of responsibilities he had, he worked so hard for us, he made us feel like we were the only ones.

Princess Cruises staff on Ruby Princess cruise to Alaska

From our experience on the Ruby Princess, all of the employees work very hard to give you every opportunity to enjoy yourself in a carefree manner. 

The staff was service-focused, not just service-oriented. (There’s a difference!)

Every single employee we encountered was professional, polite, and (amazingly) always seemed happy to be doing their jobs. 

The service employees were always doing something. They were always working hard while putting the customer first. 

None of us wanted our vacation to end. We would love to go back. 

Princess Cruise Alaska

We loved our vacation. While the weather was perfect, even if it wasn’t, there’s so much to do on the ship, you will have a great time. It’s a true vacation — without all the planning, figuring out food, driving and dealing with transportation, worrying about where you are and whether it’s safe, etc. 

Whether you take an Alaska cruise from Seattle or from a port in Canada or Alaska, it’s a unique vacation in so many ways. 

Ruby Princess Cruise Alaskan cruise review

We were thrilled our choice of taking an Alaskan cruise. We didn’t “choose” the Ruby Princess — it’s the ship that worked best with our dates and price. However, we loved it and will recommend it again and again. 

Know you won’t have enough time to enjoy all the ship has to offer. Once you’re back after exploring the ports, you can do as much or as little as you want.

So many times on vacations, we are stressed out and have to do so much planning, driving, and worrying. On a cruise, all you have to do is do the preliminary work to get on the ship and then enjoy. It’s truly a vacation. 

You don’t have to worry about getting from Point A to Point B. It’s a very safe way to travel. It’s truly a stress-free, “real” vacation. 

And the food! Typically on vacations, there’s always discussion about where to go, when to eat, etc. You don’t have any of that with a Princess Cruise. 

Reasons to Book Small Ship Cruise to Alaska

Cruise to Alaska 

We can only hope to cruise to Alaska again or cruise to a different destination. I would go as often as possible and stay as long as possible. It’s such an easy vacation to go on with kids. We weren’t glued to our phones — we were in the moment, exploring, enjoying, etc. 

There’s something for everyone on the Ruby Princess. That’s the great thing about it. Options. There are plenty of options for whatever you want to do, whether it comes to eating, recreation, entertainment, relaxing, exercise, scenery/wildlife, learning, etc.

We have many more pictures and lots of videos we will be adding to this post, so check back. Have you traveled on a cruise to Alaska? What are your tips? Please leave your Comments below. 

5 Places to Visit on Your Next Boating Trip to Seattle

Port Washington Bay

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Boating Trip to Seattle is one of the top tourist destinations in the US.

Other than foreign tourists visiting this magnificent seaport city, many local tourists flock Seattle waters to enjoy the city as much as outsiders.

Soaking in the sun while riding on a boat with family or friends is an activity that many crave for when visiting this city.

But riding on the water all day or night isn’t fun if there are zero destinations to explore in between the water rides.

Places to Visit on Your Boating Trip to Seattle

With the increasing popularity of Boat rentals in Seattle, below, we explore 5 places to visit on your next boating trip to Seattle:
Places to Visit Next Boating Trip to Seattle

Bell Harbor Marina

The Bell Harbor Marina sits pretty in the middle of the downtown Seattle waterfront district.

Tourists can come to the Marina with a charter boat or in their boats.

If you come on your boat, you’d be wise to make reservations prior, but almost always you’ll never miss a spot.

The Marina has reliable Wi-Fi and clean bathrooms and is secure.

The docks are secure, and the staff at Bell Harbor are not only friendly but accommodating.

The Marina is adjacent to the Anthony’s Seafood Restaurant as well as the Bell Harbor Convention Center.

You will enjoy the numerous waterfront activities that you can reach with ease.

Walking short distances to get to each venue one of the main attraction pieces in the Marina is the Ferris wheel, known as “The Seattle Great Wheel,” that hosts 42 gondolas, which each ferry eight passengers.

The Marina is set up at Bell Street Pier/Pier 66, and close to shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, and the famous Pike Place Market.

You can walk to the Space Needle, Seattle Center and the Seattle Aquarium all spots that are worth visiting as you spend your time in the Bell Harbor Marina.

Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island sits on the west side of Seattle.

The island is surrounded by saltwater.

The island is accessible by boat, and as you near it, you will be wowed by its breathtaking beauty, that will introduce you to the island’s rustic character.

The island can be accessed by private charter or through the Washington State Ferries.

The 35-minute cross gives you ample time to soak in the spectacular Seattle skyline across Elliot Bay.

It will give you an opportune chance to gaze at the Space Needle set up in the Puget Sound area.

Once on the island, you can take a walk down the waterfront trail to explore.

Taking the western trail will lead you to historical sites, parks, and restaurants.

Within the distance are picnic sites that you can visit to have your packed lunch or take a breather as you soak in what the island has to offer.

If you’re a water sporting enthusiast, you can rent sporting gear at the Back of Beyond store that is a short distance from the ferry pier.

You can rent a paddle board, kayak or canoe.

You can hire experienced guides to give you a lay of the water and the best places to partake the sporting activity of your choosing.

Lake Union Restaurants

The Puget Sound area is America’s best dining by boat destination.

A plethora of restaurants placed all over this area, allowing boaters to come in from their boats and into the restaurant to have their meals.

One major area of interest is the Lake Union area that is home to the following restaurants:

Chandler’s Crab house has a slip where you can leave your boat and get in for some of the best Crabmeat.

Set up in 1988, the restaurant serves Dungeness Crab that lives in the Washington waters.

There are eight crab varieties seasonally, and you can order from the twenty different crab dishes featured on the menu.

Duke’s Restaurant & Bar is located on the South Lake Union; the place has a comforting atmosphere and serves both cold beers, tasty cocktails, and delicious meals.

Many people come from all over Seattle on their boats to enjoy the restaurant’s Seafood & Clam Chowder recipe.

When you are in the area, you should give it a try!

Poulsbo City

If you enjoy traversing the waters, you will enjoy a visit to Poulsbo City.

It is located 20 nautical miles from Seattle in Liberty Bay.

The city is regarded as “little Norway” and is an ideal cruising destination.

The city retains the Scandinavian theme, which makes it a popular tourist destination.

You arrive on your trip to Seattle by boat and can spend the day visiting the three marinas located in the city.

A walk around the city will introduce you to the early settlers’ livelihoods and how their culture is still preserved in these modern times.

San Juan Islands

Taking a leisurely ride on a Washington State Ferry or private boating means exposes you to the archipelago’s beauty.

There is four islands setup in the archipelago that you can choose to visit; they’re; Lopez, Orcas, Shaw, and San Juan.

The best boating routes you can take include the Victoria Clipper that allows you to visit the islands from Seattle’s waterfront, or you can settle for the seasonal Bellingham or Port Townsend ferries.

Any route you prefer will make it possible to look at the staggering beauty all around the waters as you leave Seattle and approach the islands!

Wellness Retreat Gem in the Green Mountains of Vermont Vacation Like No Other

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Wellness Retreat Gem in the Green Mountains of Vermont Vacation – Founded in 1978, New Life Hiking Spa has been organizing wellness vacations in the Green Mountains of Vermont for over four decades.

From the very creation of New Life, the mission has been to offer affordable, all-inclusive healthy retreats using hiking and nature as the focal point of the program.

New Life Hiking Spa is located in the lush mountains of Killington, Vermont where the famous Long Trail and Appalachian Trail meet offering some of the most incredible hiking in the country. National Parks Travel List

New Life Hiking Spa in the Green Mountains of Vermont Vacation

Three levels of professionally guided hikes are offered every day during the season to accommodate the guests varied levels of fitness.

That’s twenty-one weekly hikes and nature walks to provide guests an authentic Vermont hiking experience with professionally trained hiking guides who live, love and breathe Vermont.

Getting back to nature and using mountains instead of a treadmill, is what sets this wellness and weight loss retreat apart.

This all-inclusive wellness getaway starts off with a healthy, fresh breakfast, takes you on an invigorating morning hike, gets you back to the lodge for a farm-to-table lunch and has massages and fitness classes all afternoon.

A delicious but healthy dinner ends the day with massages or evening activities afterward.

On a typical day at New Life Hiking Spa, you’ll meet downstairs after breakfast with fellow guests and collect your gear.

There are 21 treks, and the terrain is hiking level appropriate that challenge according to your fitness level:

The Nature Walk, (flat or rolling hills 2-4 miles in length capturing Vermont scenery at a more relaxing pace).

The Classic Hike, (4-6 miles on wooded trails, beautiful lookouts and serene waterfalls).

The Advanced Hike, (Covers steeper more challenging terrain at a more vigorous pace).

Some elevations are over 4000 feet.

Local Vermonters are hired who know every inch of the terrain who are attentive to their hikers’ needs.

Guests hike from 9 until lunchtime, the perfect time to be outside.

There is no getting up at 5 a.m. to hike before the heat hits…think–cool mountain breezes!

Hiking Green Mountains Vermont Vacation
Hiking Green Mountains Vermont Vacation

Hiking Green Mountains of Vermont

Each morning you’ll choose from three trails; and with three levels of hikes being offered each day, every guest’s fitness level is accommodated as they enjoy nature and the great outdoors.

Beginner hikes are nature walks that take guests along picturesque country settings, mountain streams, and working farms.

The nature walk will be flat or rolling hills two to four miles in length.

This will provide a good workout for the beginner hiker while enjoying the beautiful Vermont scenery at a more relaxing pace.

Solo Road Trip in America for Women

Intermediate hikes lead guests along the diverse terrain of the famous Appalachian and Long Trails.

Intermediate hikes provide a scenic workout for the advanced beginner, intermediate or experienced hiker, covering anywhere from four to six miles on wooded trails and ancient ways.

Visit beautiful lookouts, ancient mines and serene waterfalls.

A ratio of no more than 6:1 hikers to hike leaders insures that guests feel comfortable at their own pace while being appropriately challenged.

Advanced hikes challenge guests further up some of the highest peaks in Vermont with breathtaking views.

Advanced hikes cover steeper more challenging terrain and longer distances at a more vigorous pace.

Not for the faint of heart, the rewards are inspirational views from the very top of Vermont.

Some elevations over 4,000 feet will be reached where guests experience a different climate and Vermont’s unique high elevation alpine tundra environment.

For intermediate and advanced hikers, the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail aim to please with inclines leading to Pico or Killington Peak.

Atop hikers can rest on a flat boulder and take in the panoramic beauty of green pine.

Green Mountains Vermont Vacation
Green Mountains Vermont Vacation

Nature is food for the mind, body, and soul.

Exercising outside improves concentration, boosts memory and serves as an antidote to a stressful life.

New Life Hiking Spa Vermont

The theme of getting back to nature carries over into New Life Hiking Spa’s food philosophy.

The program advocates a respect for the nutritional value of whole food, as well as its origin, seasonality, availability and freshness.

Three meals a day are prepared fresh, on site, and created by a team of professional chefs who specialize in whole foods and work with Vermont farmers to source ingredients for meals.

In addition to their award-winning hiking program, healthy food, fitness, and wellness programming, New Life also offers their guests holistic massages set in a casual, accepting, come-as-you are environment.

The company has become widely known over the past 40+ years as an unpretentious “destination spa,” but many return guests who know and love the program also refer to it as “grown-up camp.”

Guests have commented that eating together in the dining room, bonding with the hiking guides and participating in carefree, outdoor activities, make them feel “like a kid again.”

Science tells us that spending time with Mother Nature helps benefit both our brains and our bodies.

Most of New Life Hiking Spa’s guests are solo travelers, duos or small groups.

Because of the affordability of New Life’s all-inclusive extended stay wellness retreat, many guests are looking to lose weight and take charge of their health and wellness.

Anyone looking to take a retreat vacation to de-stress, lose weight, or recharge would feel comfortable selecting New Life.

Recognized as one of the most affordable, all-inclusive retreats in North America, the atmosphere makes it extremely comfortable for guests to visit on their own and the longer stays tend to be the most popular.

New Life Hiking Spa Wellness Retreat Gem in the Green Mountains of Vermont Vacation
New Life Hiking Spa Wellness Retreat Gem in the Green Mountains of Vermont Vacation

Three different pricing options are available, depending on the length of stay.

New Life Hiking Spa offers

The three to ten-night Jump Start Getaway is priced from $249 per night, per person for double occupancy.

The 11-20 night Weight Loss Retreat is priced from $239 and the 21 night (or longer) Extended Stay Wellness Retreat begins at $229. (All prices are based on per night, per person, double occupancy.)

The minimum stay is three nights, and all rates include a private room with a private bath, three meals a day, healthy snacks, daily guided hikes, use of hiking poles and backpacks, all fitness and wellness classes, evening activities, and one massage for each three-night stay.

From delicious healthy meals to the best hiking in the country, to rejuvenating holistic spa treatments, New Life Hiking Spa has become one of the most popular wellness retreats in North America.

It’s no wonder it just placed in the #1 spot on the annual Spas of America list for the fifth consecutive year and was Travel + Leisure’s #1 destination spa in 2016.

The 2019 season dates are May 16 – September 30. www.newlifehikingspa.com

Best Wineries a Short Drive from San Francisco

Reasons Why San Francisco - A Cultural Immersion

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Best Wineries around San Francisco.

The wine country in San Francisco’s backyard is a place that’s ideal for group travel.

The very famous Napa and Sonoma Valley are practically made to be experienced with friends, especially once you count the amazing wine in the equation.

A lot of these wineries offer the full visitor’s experience, so you’ll get to taste fine wine and see how it’s made.

There’s just so much to see and experience that you’ll definitely want to be back over and over again.

How to get to Napa Valley

While it’s possible to visit the wine country without a car, it’s not always the most effective solution.

The main problem with driving on your own is that there will always be at least one person that won’t get to enjoy the good wine.

In that case, the most effective solution would be to charter a coach bus or minibus out of San Francisco.

That way, the group could stay together the whole time and experience the road trip, too.

No one would be left out due to driving duty, so you might want to consider chartering a bus.

Better yet reserve an RV rental San Francisco.

Napa Valley Wine Tasting
Napa Valley Wine Tasting

Ridge Vineyards

There are few spots near San Francisco that offer the entire package like Ridge Vineyards.

It’s located in the slopes of Cupertino, and one of the first things you’ll notice are the breathtaking views.

The entire time you’re there, you’ll be treated to some of the finest views of Silicon Valley, all the while sampling some of the most exquisite wine in the region.

Ridge Vineyard’s wine has been considered of superb quality for decades, and it’s a winery that’s been consistently praised by critics.

Loma Prieta Winery

This spot is one of the most group-friendly wineries out there.

It’s been designed to allow several groups to do some picnicking, and pets are fully allowed, too.

You can also play a lot of games there as visitors are actually encouraged to try a game of bocce.

The single most memorable thing about Loma Prieta are the views.

You’ll have unforgettable views of the Santa Cruz coastline.

And if you manage to catch the sunset, you’ll see a scene that you won’t soon forget.

That’s not to say that the wine is bad, because that can’t be further from the truth.

Larkmead Winery Best Wineries Short Drive from San Francisco
Larkmead Winery Best Wineries Short Drive from San Francisco

Antica Winery

For those that prefer to have a rural, relaxing, and unique experience, Antica is definitely the perfect spot.

It’s located at the end of Soda Canyon Road, and while that might mean that there’s a bit more driving, the end result is absolutely worth it.

Antica has a heritage like few other wines in the world.

It goes back to the 14th century, which is why it’s considered as one of the finest today.

While you’re there, you’ll be enjoying your wine outside, if the weather permits, and enjoy some of the most beautiful vistas in Napa.

Larkmead Winery

This is a winery that’s dedicated to complete luxury.

With over 120 years of experience, Larkmead has grown to be the most famous winery that people have never heard of.

That means that while their wines are all well-renowned, the winery itself is severely under-visited.

However, there have been recent changes and development in Larkmead.

There is now a special building that’s made just for tastings, and combined with the wonderful weather, it’s a spot that no one should skip on.

The wines themselves might be on the pricier side, but they’re completely worth the price.

Enjoying a sunset with friends and a glass of wine in one hand is definitely something everyone should aim for.

The wine country in San Francisco backyard is a place that’s made for group travel, and it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

How Kids Can Benefit From Visiting Canada

Trip To Vancouver

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Kids Can Benefit From Visiting Canada, In this day and age, a lot of people sit around too much. This is okay, if you’re an adult.

However, children really need to be given the opportunity to get outside and explore the world.

As a parent, you should do everything possible to ensure that your children are given the opportunity to explore new areas, see new things and meet new people.

How to Find Leisure and Luxury at Niagara Falls

Kids Can Benefit From Visiting Canada

Taking your children on a trip to Canada could prove to be beneficial for many reasons.

Within this guide, you’re going to learn more about the perks of taking your children on a trip to Canada.

How to Find Leisure and Luxury in Niagara Falls
How to Find Leisure and Luxury in Niagara Falls

Exploring New Cultures

Canada and America are very close to one another.

Canadians and Americans share many similarities.

Nevertheless, they have many differences too.

This is something that you need to realize.

When you take your children to Canada, you’ll give them the opportunity to learn more about other cultures.

They’ll see how people in Canada live.

That can help them develop a better understand of life and humans.

That knowledge could prove to be very beneficial in the long run.

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

Developing Social Skills

A lot of children have poor social skills.

This is bad and it is going to haunt them later in life.

Parents need to do everything humanly possible to ensure that their children have good social skills.

These skills are absolutely essential and can help ensure that you’re going to be successful in the future.

By taking your children to Canada, they’ll be able to interact with new people.

That can help them develop their social and communication skills.

In return, that can be very beneficial in the future.

What are you waiting for?

Luxury at Niagara Falls
Luxury at Niagara Falls

Visit https://eta-canada.com/ today to get your ETA so you can visit Canada with your children.

Preparing For Uncertainty

When you’re traveling the globe, there is a possibility that you’re going to run into uncertainties.

This can be frightening, but it can also be a great learning experience.

Learning how to deal with unexpected events can make a huge different.

After all, your children are going to be running into a lot of unknowns in the future.

Taking your kids to Canada will expose them to uncertainties and that could prove to be beneficial for them in the future.

How Kids Can Benefit From Visiting Canada
How Kids Can Benefit From Visiting Canada

Great For Health

You should also know that your children need physical exercise.

If they’re sitting around too much, there is a good chance that they’re going to get obese.

That can lead to an abundance of health problems.

When you’re visiting Canada with your children, they’ll be given the chance to walk around, hike and ride a bike.

That can help them remain as fit as a fiddle.

visiting Niagara falls
visiting Niagara falls

Enhancing Creativity

Creativity is very important in this day and age.

Your children need to be able to think outside of the box.

Traveling to another country, such as Canada, will give them the ability to enhance their creativity.

After all, they’re going to see things that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

This can help them become wiser and more creative.

That could be helpful in the future.

Solo Road Trip in America for Women – Top 3 Destinations

solo road trip in America

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Solo Road Trip in America – Living a solo road trip is a wonderful and mind blowing experience and, even if it may sound a little bit tricky when it comes to planning and finding the best destinations, we got you, girls!

If you want to go for something unique and absolutely life changing a solo road trip is definitely on the table.

Today we are here to help you make your dream come true showing which are the best destinations in America for solo female travelers and how to plan everything in a smart and convenient way.

Let’s do this!

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Prioritizing your solo road trip in America

The first thing to do when you start planning your solo road trip the USA is definitely looking for some car rental service.

Yes, because road tripping could get so expensive and you really want to spend your money on great experiences and moments.

But we know you want to keep things high quality and practical while saving money so we are going to take care of this part of the journey too so we are going to introduce HolidayAutos.com that will provide all this and so much more!

Looking for the safest places for a USA road trip?

We got it and they are stunning too!

Pacific Coast Highway – California

It is not the shortest route between Los Angeles and San Francisco but it is without a doubt the most spectacular.

The Pacific Coast Highway, better known as Highway One, surprises us kilometer after mile: you can travel in two days, with stops in San Luis Obispo and Monterrey, maybe aboard a convertible Chevrolet, with a pair of sunglasses on and the camera always ready.

A stop to wonder at Big Sur is a must. Best Wineries a Short Drive from San Francisco

Compare Rental Cars and Save up to 40%

If you are asking how to find the best ride to make all this happen we recommend the use a comparative site to hire a car like Holiday Autos.com where you can compare and customize your entire adventure from pick up and drops location to extras and even the right model of car for you.

Plus, it is absolutely easy to use and to book stress-free and with no cancellation fees a must when you go for an adventure!

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia – North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway is not known internationally as the iconic Route 66 or the Pacific Coast Highway, American people love it!

It runs through the southern area of ​​the Appalachian Mountains and its highlights are the two national parks, each in a different state: Shenandoah, Virginia, and Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina.

A must for nature lovers!

New England coastal road trip

Exploring Cape Code means embarking on a journey of continuous discovery, which unfolds through villages and small fishing communities, a wild and primordial nature where some of the best beaches on the East Coast flourish, ancient lighthouses, mills and period houses, quaint shops selling fish, scenic trails in close contact with nature and places where art and literature are still lively.

A must if you love culture and nature!

These are the best solo road trip American destination for female travelers.

Make sure you plan everything ahead such as finding your budget car rental so you will be ready to go!

You will see that, once you have the perfect ride you can finally start living your road trip focusing on what really matters: look up for new adventures, places, and experiences.

Solo Female Travelers Adventures

Are you a solo female traveler who’s tired of hearing about the latest spa getaway?

Travelling abroad as a solo lady doesn’t need to mean booking a less exciting trip.

If you love nothing more than hitting the road on an adventure as a single gal, here’s a look at some of the best destinations to add to your list.

Keeping safety at the top of mind, you will find when you want to explore solo travel, you have your pick of locations.

Ways to Stay Safe Whilst Solo Traveling

Solo Female Travellers to Mérida, Venezuela
Mérida, Venezuela

Mérida, Venezuela

Venezuela boasts a beautiful range of diversity, both in its natural environments and its bustling towns and cities.

The Sierra Nevada de Mérida is the highest mountain range in Venezuela.

Today it’s enjoyed as an adventure playground for thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies.

Some of the much-loved activities on offer include trekking through the picturesque Venezuelan Andes and white-water rafting along the Acequia and Siniguis rivers.

The spectacular cliff faces are also perfect for a spot of mountain climbing.

However, if you prefer to keep two feet on the ground, there’s plenty of fascinating wildlife, birds and reptiles to spot, including the infamous anaconda.

Mérida is also a university town so there are plenty of facilities catering to young people, including budget accommodation and cheap-eat options.

Inspiring Adventures For Solo Female Travellers Cusco, Peru
Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru

Located in the south-east of Peru, Cusco boasts a fascinating history as the oldest continually inhabited city on the continent.

It also happens to be the gateway to Machu Picchu and the perfect location for a hiking getaway.

Be sure to visit from May through to September, as this is the driest period and the easiest to navigate as a solo traveler.

If you’re visiting the Incas, make sure you book up well in advance, as you can only visit with a licensed agency.

Always make sure you choose your trekking agency carefully.

Shop around and ask lots of questions, like what you’ll have to carry, how many porters per group and how many people share a tent.

Finally, remember that altitude sickness can be dangerous so avoid flying directly to Cusco and leave yourself plenty of time to acclimatize.

If you go for the cheapest travel insurance and equipment to cut down the cost of your trip, make sure you take precautions and stay sensible.

Copacabana, Bolivia
Copacabana, Bolivia

Copacabana, Bolivia

Located on the southern shores of stunning Lake Titicaca, Copacabana is a fun and lively destination that’s well worth putting on any South American itinerary.

The unspoiled beaches and surrounding hillsides are perfect for a day of hiking.

Lake Titicaca’s beautiful shores are also ideal for a range of water sports.

Adventure lovers are advised to try their hand at paragliding, with a range of excellent take-off sites and equipment providers available nearby.

Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland

Few destinations on earth can compete with the natural awe and wonder of Iceland’s Northern Lights.

The spectacularly rugged countryside features a fascinating mix of glaciers, hot springs and geysers, volcanic craters and lava flows.

Reykjavik boasts a range of must-see destinations, including the Golden Circle Waterfall and the steamy waters of the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.

There are amazing reasons to travel alone.

Whether you plan to explore breathtaking glaciers or trek to the heights of the Venezuelan Andes, it pays to remember that greater adventure attracts greater risk.

That’s why it’s always worthwhile finding the best travel insurance that specializes in coverage for your chosen destination and activity.

If you consider a Solo Road Trip driving tour, be sure to see these road trip planning ideas to make the most of your adventure.

Tips for Traveling Women

Why Is South America Tourism A Heaven For Tourists?

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

(photo credit: 2 – 3 – 4)

5 Beautiful Buildings in Quebec

Beautiful Buildings in Quebec

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Beautiful Buildings in Quebec City, the capital of the province which with it shares its namesake is by far one of the most important cities in French speaking Canada.

Quebec City is filled with architectural history of its colonial fur-trading days.

Whether you are an expert in the world of architecture, or just a traveler who likes to admire beautiful buildings around the world, Quebec City is sure to take your breath away.

5 Must See Beautiful Buildings in Quebec City

With a quick search on sites like Expedia, it’s easy to book cheap Quebec City flights, so you can take the first step towards your newest adventure.

La Citadelle

La Citadelle is the largest military fortification in North America.

Established in 1750 by the French and later finished by the British from 1820-1850, it is a sight to behold.

This fort features star shaped fortifications that are now a home to military memorabilia and artifact.

It overlooks the beautiful St. Lawrence River and features guided tours and a museum area for those interested in learning more about the history of the city.

In the summer months you can experience regular changing of the guard ceremonies.

This is the oldest military building in Canada and now acts as a second home to the Canadian monarch and the Governor General of Canada.

Over 200,00 people come to see the beautiful building each year.

The history that you can experience and sights to take in from this building are endless.

La Citadelle played an important role in the fur-trading colonial days, and plays an even more important role now.

L’Hôtel du Parlement

Considered to be one of the most important historical sites in the city of Quebec, L’Hôtel du Parlament his is one of the very few buildings in North America that features a Second Empire architectural style.

The building contains four wings, measuring at about 100 meters each, that form a large square.

You can take a tour of this building, which includes a close look at the National Assembly Chamber.

24 statues of important historical figures can be seen on the facade of this building.

One of the most unique things about this building is the fact that it is still used for its original purpose.

To this day, the Legislative Council Chamber still holds standing committees, just as it has since 1968.

If you want to dig into the government history of the city, this building is the place to go.

Château Frontenac

Château Frontenac dates back to 1893 and is recognized as one of the most commonly photographed hotels in the world.

The hotel sits at an elevation of 177 ft. and it is a clear part of the Quebec skyline, seen over the St. Lawrence River.

The impressive building was designed by Bruce Price in 1893.

The original goal of the hotel was to promote luxury tourism to wealthy tourists by having a very upscale look and feel.

Towers and turrets cover the building, giving it a picturesque fairy tale appearance.

In 1993, the hotel was featured on a stamp in Quebec and it has also been featured in several notable movies including Alfred Hitchcock’s film “I Confess”.

Although the hotel can be seen from miles away across the skyline, getting a closer look will bring you an even greater appreciation for this great work of architectural engineering.

Place Royale

The Place Royale is one of the most historic landmarks in Canada, dating as far back as the 17th century.

The area is made up of a series of buildings which are now various shops, cafes, and museums, but most notably is the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church.

Built in 1688, this is the oldest stone church in North America.

The Place Royale may be made up of more than one building, but it is a sight to be seen as a whole.

Stepping into the streets here feel as if you’re taking a step back in time to New France in its earliest days.

The magnificent stone work, unique buildings, and old-timey feel offer an experience you’ll never forget.

Ramparts of Quebec City

The Ramparts of Quebec City are the only remaining fortified city walls north of New Mexico. Parts of the walls were built as early as 1620, but have underwent multiple modifications over the years.

The walls surround most of Old Quebec and have been declared a World Heritage Site, as well as a National Historic Site of Canada.

The walls consist of nearly 8 miles of stone ramparts and still contain 4 stone gates.

A visit to the Ramparts will allow you to explore the walls and get a one of a kind view of the city.

These walls are filled with history from both the French and British colonial times and act as a very unique part of Quebec’s history.

If you plan on visiting Quebec City, visiting the Ramparts needs to be on your to-do list.

Not only will you get a birds eye view of the city from the walls, but you’ll get a chance to touch a part of history dating back to the early 1600’s.

There are so many amazing sights to see in Quebec City, and no article could truly do them justice.

What are some of the sights you would like to visit in Quebec?

Leave us a comment with your thoughts in the section below.

Visiting Niagara Falls Hacks – Get the Inside Scoop

visiting Niagara falls

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Get the Inside Scoop Visiting Niagara Falls

Visiting Niagara Falls – The majority of people would love to visit the Niagara Falls.

For more than a hundred years, it has been a must-see destination.

If you are planning a trip, all you need to do is to follow our insider tips to get the most out of the experience.

How to Find Leisure and Luxury in Niagara Falls
How to Find Leisure and Luxury in Niagara Falls

Spectacular Niagara Falls Rooms

When it comes to accommodation you will be spoiled for choices.

There is everything from tents to five-star luxury spa rooms to choose from.

But, our advice is to splash the cash.

Visiting the waterfalls is a once in a lifetime experience, so it really is worth making it as special as possible.

If you can afford to book a room with a spectacular view of Niagara Falls, you really should do so.

Many of the Guest Rooms at Marriott on the Falls provide spectacular views that take in both the Canadian and American Falls.

As an extra treat, choose one that includes a whirlpool tub in the price.

It really is a great way to unwind.

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

How to Find Leisure and Luxury at Niagara Falls

Find the best Niagara Falls deals

The best way to get a good deal on your accommodation is to book as far in advance as you can.

Check out the regular price, pick a few dates for next year and look for the deals.

If you do not see anything that is drastically cheaper it may be worth ringing the hotel and asking for a discount.

Luxury at Niagara Falls 
Luxury at Niagara Falls

Sign up for Niagara Falls deals notification

It is also worth signing up for their website newsletter.

That way you will be notified when special deals become available.

Some of the attractions in the area also notify people of special discounts via their newsletter.

So, sign up for those too.

Buy your Niagara Falls attraction tickets in advance

If you already know which attractions you want to experience, book them in advance.

Doing this will save you money as well as enable you to skip the queues.

Look for family deals Niagara Falls

Traveling as a family can be expensive.

But, if you know where to look there are plenty of package deals available that offer things like free kids tickets.

Niagara Falls Trails
Niagara Falls Trails

Here is just one place you can find family deals.

Load up with Niagara Falls Apps

There are some great apps for Niagara Falls.

They are exactly what you need to know to be able to find your way around quickly and make the most of your stay.

It is well worth taking a look and downloading the ones that are the most relevant to you.

For example, if you are planning to go hiking the Niagara Falls State Park Walking Tour app will prove invaluable.

Where do the locals eat Niagara Falls

When it is time to eat, go one or two street back from the attractions and look for restaurants there.

The eateries that you will find there are more likely to be used by locals.

Usually, the food is good and a little cheaper.

Great examples include Chatters and Fine Kettle-O-Fish, which are both located on Portage Rd.

visiting Niagara falls
visiting Niagara falls

New Life Hiking Spa Green Mountains of Vermont Vacation

The last word on Visiting Niagara Falls

Last but, by no means least, subscribe to our newsletter.

Our guest writers regularly write about the most popular tourist destinations, including the Niagara Falls.

So, if you are looking for up to the minute information our website is a particularly good place to find it.

Great Lakes Destinations to Consider for Your Next Big Adventure

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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.

Great Lakes Destinations

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

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.”

How to Find Leisure and Luxury in Niagara Falls
How to Find Leisure and Luxury in Niagara Falls

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.

How to Find Leisure and Luxury at Niagara Falls

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.

Luxury at Niagara Falls 
Luxury at Niagara Falls

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

Things to See in Central Park The Ramble

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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.

10 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

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

Jalopy’s Theater and School of Music

315 Columbia Street, Brooklyn

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.

Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain
Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain

One of the Things to See in Central Park is Learn To Play

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 Things to See in 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)