Tag Archives: USA

Stunning seaside national parks in the American Southeast

Standard

photo by CC user BrianDBell  on wikimedia

While the front porch to the American South offers much in the way of hospitality and soul satisfying cuisine, its outdoor spaces are similarly inviting as well.

While the Appalachian Mountains are an obvious draw, the coastline of the states of the Southeast have a subtle beauty that will speak to you and your traveling companions.

If you are looking for some stunning seaside national parks in the American Southeast, the following spots will make your trip a fulfilling one indeed.

1) Assateague Island National Seashore

Situated on a series of barrier islands spread across Maryland and Virginia’s frontage on the Atlantic Ocean, Assateague Island National Seashore’s salt marshes, oceanic forests and wild beaches is an excellent place for the outdoors enthusiast that loves coastal environments.

Join region residents fishing in the surf for species that swim close to shore, or walk the park’s many trails in search of a pack of feral Chincoteague ponies, as they have roamed this sandy isle for centuries since their introduction to the wild.

2) Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Positioned well out into the turbulent expanse of the Atlantic, Cape Hatteras National Seashore experiences its fair share of storms over the course of a year.

Even when the weather is good, the winds are blowing at a stiff and decent clip, making it a spot that is ideal for those that draw energy from nature’s rawest places.

The constant and consistent wind swell here has created a mecca for area’s surfers, while those looking for something more tame to do will love the fact that this portion of the Eastern Seaboard is a haven for waterfowl on their way north or south when the seasons are changing.

3) Cumberland Island National Seashore

Georgia’s biggest barrier island, Cumberland National Seashore is located in the southern portions of the state, giving it a long warm season throughout the course of the year.

While it might be lamentable that many seaside getaways in the Southeast can get unbearably crowded throughout the summer, access to Cumberland Island is restricted to no more than 300 visitors at a time by the national park service, which maintains its serene nature even during the peak of high season.

In addition to the outdoor activities available here (which include hiking, biking and camping), there is a long human history here as well, which involved the long existence of the Timucua Indians and plantation owners during the Antebellum period.

Those into culture will love the museum on site that is dedicated to the backstory of this pristine island.

Knockout national parks near American cities

Standard

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.

Best Bars To Hit On A Manhattan Pub Crawl

Standard

image by CC user endymion120 on flickr

With the school year well underway in New York City, the student bars on the island of Manhattan are brimming with young patrons from Columbia, NYU, and other institutions of higher learning. If you are among those in this large student body, you are likely getting stressed out these days, as finals creep closer with each passing week.

There is no better time than now to blow off some steam, so get some of your friends together and plan a Manhattan pub crawl. However, there’s no denying it: alcohol prices in NYC are a little cray cray, so you’ll need to pick your spots carefully to avoid blowing the remainder of your loan money in one night.

With that in mind, here are three selections for your Manhattan pub crawl that will maximize your fun, while keeping the total bill to a reasonable level.

1) Lion’s Head Tavern

Named in part for the mascot of nearby Columbia University, those looking to meet with and potentially hook up with local college students will do well to come here. Sport lovers will enjoy catching action of any of New York’s eight pro sports teams while getting their night off to a rollicking start.

With pitchers of draft being priced at $7 on Sundays and pints of it going for a paltry $1 on Wednesdays, you’ll be able to get a buzz going without cleaning out half your bank account, which is a task that is easier said than done in New York City.

2) McSorley’s Old Ale House

A pub crawl isn’t a pub crawl if you don’t spend at least part of it inside an authentic Irish drinking establishment. In New York City, no place exudes it quite like McSorley’s Old Ale House. Being in business for over 150 years, it is one of the oldest bars in the entire city, so it is obvious that they know that they are doing when it comes to serving the thirsty young patrons of NYC.

If you are hungry at this point in your alcoholic voyage, slay it with a cheese and onion plate. While it won’t make your breath any more appealing to potential mates, it doesn’t matter: you’re on a mission to get messed up!

3) Mehanata Bulgarian Bar

When it comes to a successful end point for a pub crawl, no place does better than one where you can let loose on the dance floor with nary an inhibition. Mehanata Bulgarian Bar fits this description to a T, as its downstairs dance floor plays host to DJ’s from around the world that spin a wide variety of eclectic music that will get your body moving in no time flat.

Those looking for a more chill way to wind up their night can take to the balcony, where one can sit with a hookah and puff away until their spirit settles down.

Top Leaf Peeping Destinations in North America

Standard

2yaap_falcolinver

While summer may be drawing to a close, the fall has plenty of attractions that make it a well-loved season in its own right. The oppressive heat and humidity that plagues us all will be departing, leaving behind cool and crisp mornings and pleasantly warm afternoons, the chill of the night will begin to kill off those pesky mosquitoes, and soon, farmer’s markets will be overflowing with healthy produce as the time to harvest the crops rapidly approaches.

The best part of all though, comes when the leaves on the trees begin to transform into a kaleidoscope of hot colors, breaking out in various shades of yellow, orange and red. With each succeeding weekend getting chillier than the next, high season for leaf-peeping in North America will soon be upon us.

Why not take to the roads and take in the splendor of this breathtaking time of year before the season’s first big storm blows this natural masterpiece away? The following three routes represent the top leaf peeping destinations in North America, so whether you decide to book an overnight or do it all in one big day trip, you’ll be taking in one of the aspects that make fall the great season that it is!

1) Agawa Canyon, Ontario, Canada

Our pick for Central Canada’s top leaf peeping destination of 2014 isn’t actually a highway like our other two selections, but a railway that runs within a river canyon that has carved out a spectacular route through the study bedrock of the Canadian Shield near Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.

This train trundles alongside the Agawa River, and boasts incredible views of maple tree studded bluffs on either side, causing these steep slopes to catch fire with shades of crimson red.

2) Route 100, Vermont, USA

As a whole, New England has a world famous reputation for fall colors, but the best mix of leaves and rugged topography can be found in the charming rural state of Vermont. Route 100 takes you across this small but beautiful state, combining brilliant oranges and reds with bucolic farmland and the subtle but gorgeous Green Mountains (which by October, it will be anything but!).

3) Florence-Eugene Highway, Oregon, USA

Many people write off the western part of North America as a whole, due to the fact that maple trees aren’t native to this portion of the continent. However, the flora that can be found central portions of Oregon challenge the notion that leaf peeping can’t be done in the west.

Dogwoods take up the slack on the red portion of the color scale along the Florence – Eugene highway, which is a route that takes you from the farmland of the interior, to the misty and moody environs of the Oregon Pacific Coast.

Experiencing San Diego In Style

Standard

2yaap_balparsandiecal

California has long been a favored destination by many travelers craving the abundant Californian sun, its ever-present surf creating a pleasant din in the background, and its many soul rejuvenating vistas. Of all the cities in the state, San Diego best exemplifies all three of these qualities, and as a result of this, its stock has been rising among travelers.

The time for you to experience this stylish city has arrived, as it offers a wide variety of inspired activities for the culturally attuned. In the following article, we have picked out what we feel are the best aspects of San Diego that you should experience if it is a peak experience that you seek.

It may be not a be all, end all list of things to do here, but it will ensure that your time here will be filled with highlights.

DO: Balboa Park

If your time here is restricted to a quick weekend or business trip, do take the time to experience Balboa Park, if only for a few hours. It is San Diego’s most celebrated greenspace, as it is beset with many well-tended gardens and shady palms, but there is so much more to this place than that. It is also home to art galleries, the San Diego Zoo, and structures like Casa de Balboa that date back to the founding of this relatively young city.

EAT: Addison

Critically acclaimed as one of the best restaurants in San Diego, this fine dining establishment elevates French cuisine to a place where you be begging for extra courses, despite their six to eight plate offerings. Traditional continental offerings such as Risotto Balls meet fusion dishes like Kobe Beef Short Ribs to create an evening that your tastebuds won’t soon forget!

STAY: Hotel del Coronado

Your stay in San Diego won’t be complete unless you at least visit the Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian style beach resort that has been welcoming guests for well over one hundred years. Its massive wooden frame has harbored presidents, royalty and the top flight ranks of the wealthy over the years, and continues to do so to this day.

Even if you aren’t willing to shell out the $611 it takes to stay in its most basic rooms, a stroll through its gorgeous lobby with its massive chandelier and a long walk along its inspired waterfront will make you feel like you’ve been magically transported back to the gilded ages when this hotel was in its prime.

The Hippest Hotels In Manhattan

Standard

2yaap_loboftheacehotnewyorcit

Containing nationalities from just about every significant country on Earth, New York City is often considered to be the crossroads of the world. It seems like every nook and cranny of this intensely urbane metropolis has something going on, but the locus of all attention seems to be undeniably focused on the island of Manhattan.

Resembling a massive forest of concrete, steel and glass, this heavily populated and capitalized borough where where locals and visitors come to see and be seen, and while many commute in from other corners of NYC or the suburbs, it is the desire of many of stay in the heart of action.

Not content to cut corners to sleep in a roach hotel for a price that would get you a 3 and a half star room back home, you’re ready to step to the plate financially to ensure that your New York city break is one that is done in style, as a center of this caliber deserves nothing less.

In that spirit, the following three hotels are thought of by many as the hippest places to stay in the heart of the Big Apple.

We’ll start by virtually checking into the…

1) Gansevoort Park Avenue

This lively spot is situated within one of New York’s most famed luxury shopping districts. When you’re aren’t busy trolling Prada or Louis Vuitton for the latest styles, this boutique pad offers avant garde Italian fare at its house restaurant, Ristorante Asellina, cutting edge artwork in all of the rooms, and the piece de resistance, a rooftop pool and bar that will keep you celebrating well into the sultry summer evenings that New York is famous for.

2) Ace Hotel

Situated on Manhattan’s West Side, Ace Hotel has many outstanding features that will make it tough to leave after your New York vacation has concluded. The spacious and uniquely designed lobby makes for an inspired place to get caught up on e-mails or work, or to finish off the latest chapter in the book you haven’t been able to put down lately.

Whether you wish to grab a quick snack or sit down for a luxurious meal, Ace has you covered, as there are no less than four spots to chow down (coffee, sub, and seafood spots await you in the lobby area, and the well-appointed Breslin Restaurant has a variety of dining experiences on its menu that are just awaiting your indulgences!)

3) The Marcel at Gramercy

If you’re looking for a place with loud and bold colours/designs, then get on over to the East Side, where The Marcel at Gramercy doesn’t do subtlety when it comes to interior décor. From the hotel bar that does its best impersonation of a European cellar pub, to the rooms with their love me or leave me zebra print pillowcases, reinforced by a banana yellow vinyl headboard, the look of this boutique spot is almost worth the price you pay all by itself. The clincher is the rooftop terrace, as it grants an unparalleled view of Midtown after dark.