Tag Archives: Miami

Knockout national parks near American cities

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photo by CC user Tiner Ralph, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (image in public domain)

As much as America’s best urban environments offer, sometimes the call of nature is too alluring to resist. When you seek to answer its call, do so in some of the best national parks near American cities…

1) San Francisco: Yosemite National Park

Renowned worldwide for its spectacular granite massifs (like El Capitan and Half Dome), waterfalls, and massive sequoia trees, a trip to Yosemite National Park has long been a way for many from the Bay Area and across America to cast off the stress of the city in order to reconnect with nature on their holiday time.

Gawk at the power of Yosemite Falls, scale Half Dome via the assistance of via ferrata cables, and do some day hikes that will get you away from the tour bus crowds and deep into this park’s amazing nature … any of them will get you hooked on seeing more of America’s natural heritage.

2) Denver: Rocky Mountain National Park

Within sight of Denver’s downtown core are the Rockies, which is arguably America’s most famous mountain chain. While any place west of the city will put in their midst, the best place to experience their nature in a protected state is within the appropriately named Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Continent Divide passes through the centre of this park, which makes for a drier eastern section, and a moister and more lush western section. Those that are into mountaineering, rock climbing and wildlife spotting will be at home here, while those wishing to drive the highest paved road in America will find it along the Trail Ridge Road, which peaks at 12,000 feet above sea level.

3) Miami: Everglades National Park

Fixing to leave the socially competitive scene of Miami behind for a weekend of exploring South Florida’s complex nature? If so, the biodiverse wetlands of Everglades National Park are but a short drive away from the sands of South Beach, where you will trade sun loungers for swamp boats. From crocodiles to manatees, the waters of the park are filled with amazing animals that are just waiting to be discovered.

4) Boston: Cape Cod National Seashore

In the sweltering heat of a New England summer, many overheated locals do the only sensible thing on weekends and on their time off from work: they load themselves into the family car and head off toward Cape Cod National Seashore.

In addition to harboring a large quantity of high quality beaches, it also protects cliff dunes, salt marshes, and pine and oak forests inland. While camping is not available on Seashore lands, many private campgrounds are situated outside park boundaries, making for a fun weekend (or week) during the height of summer in the Northeast.

White Out in South Beach

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Unbeknownst to me, this trip was about to change my traveling preferences forever. Prior to our trip to South Beach, I could never fathom why anyone would spend hundreds of dollars for a place to rest. I used to promise myself that no matter how much wealth I accumulated, I would NEVER abuse my money like that. I swore I’d always stay in simple, mainstream hotels. You know, the Marriott, Holiday Inn, etc. Not anymore. 

The plane ride to Miami really set the “ritzy” tone of our trip. We met an older, wise, and seemingly wealthy Chilean artist across from us. He started small talk and then Marc and I really pushed the conversation forward. We typically dislike small talk with strangers, but when we travel, we LOVE to engage others in conversation. Fellow travelers always seem to enlighten us.

Anyway, this Chilean fellow must have thought we were pretty awesome. He ended up buying us two drinks each. He was a real charming old man until he told me (in reference to Marc), “He’s a keeper. Don’t let him go.” Woah, what? Call me old-fashioned, but shouldn’t he have told Marc not to let ME go? Yes, I’m still bitter at him, but he was right, Marc is a keeper.

We said farewell to our Chilean (sort of) friend and hailed a cab (not a limo, we’re not that yuppy) to the Delano Hotel. This was my first introduction to luxury hotels. OH MY GOSH. Standing in the lobby almost seemed surreal. I felt a bit like a princess.

The hotel lobby was exquisite. It featured lush, oversized furniture and the decor was quite unlike anything I had ever seen. The elevator had neon lights and the walls were mirrors (probably for all the self-absorbed people who routinely visit the Delano). When we stepped out onto our floor, we were greeted by another mirror that displayed the time and temperature. Pretty cool.

We opened the door into our room and I felt like I was entering my first all-white party. The only splash of color in our room was a green apple. The bathroom was tiny with nearly no counter space, but the rest of the room made up for it. The bed was plush and the furniture was sleek and modern.

The next day, feeling a bit like a wealthy celebrity, I strolled out of the Delano on a mission to find some Tom Ford sunglasses. I like to say the moment I purchased my Tom Fords is when I entered into yuppyhood. They go everywhere with me and when I forget them, I miss them like crazy. I believe in splurging on items I really want and I don’t regret that purchase a bit.

Once I was looking glamorous in my new shades, we made our way straight to the beautiful pool lined with palm trees. Within minutes,the humidity was about to kill me. Luckily for me, there was a sweet pool boy who came to my rescue with frozen grapes. Sounds boring, but they were absolutely a-m-a-z-i-n-g. If you ever stay at the Delano, you absolutely have to sweat by the pool just so you can get a taste of these little things. Although, if you’re a complete conservative, I strongly suggest you forgo the pool. You won’t appreciate the many topless European women. On that note, leave the kids at home. Oh, and if you’re dating Tiger Woods, leave him at home, too.

The frozen grapes were the only freebies at the Delano. Want beach chairs? Around $50 a day. Four drinks and an appetizer served to you on the beach? Incredibly expensive. I won’t mention the exact amount because my mother may be reading this and I’d hate for her to go into cardiac arrest (you’re welcome, Mom). Oh by the way, we didn’t even get a buzz. Smuggle your own drinks onto the beach.

All criticisms aside, the Delano sparked my desire to never stay in another monotonous hotel. I absolutely loved it (minus all the additional charges) and would stay there again if I didn’t have the rule to never stay the same place twice. Next time we go to South Beach, we’ll stay at Fontainebleau because Regis stays there.

~ Lyndsi