The Top Things to See and Do in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a popular seasonal destination that attracts thousands of visitors during the warm-weather months. Located about 60 miles north of Boston on America’s northeastern Atlantic coast, Portsmouth is a charming and historic city of about 22,000 people. It makes for a popular day trip from points throughout the region, and it ranks as one of the oldest surviving cities in the United States. Its founding dates back to 1623, just three years after the famous early colonial settlement in nearby Plymouth, Massachusetts was established.

Beyond its highly walkable historic city center, Portsmouth offers a long list of unique activities to visitors. The city is a unique mix of the historic and the modern, which you can see on full display in these 10 itinerary suggestions:

10. Get Oriented at Discover Portsmouth

Operated by the Portsmouth Historical Society and located in the city’s downtown core, Discover Portsmouth is an ideal first stop for first-time visitors. The information center has a wealth of resources and lots of suggestions for unique things to see and do during your stay. Its knowledgeable staff can point you in the direction of attractions and sites that match your interests, and they can also help you book tours or secure tickets to shows and events.

Photo by: New Hampshire Museum Trail

9. Take a Cruise to the Islands

Enjoying ferry cruises to Portsmouth’s scenic offshore islands is a popular option for visitors. You can visit the Isles of Shoals, Peirce Island, and more.

The Isles of Shoals are made up of six small islets that straddle the border of New Hampshire and Maine. Desolate but beautiful, each of the six members of the Isles of Shoals also has its own unique story, which you can learn more about during a guided boat tour. On the other hand, Peirce Island is a 27-acre island just off Portsmouth’s south end. Owned and operated by the city, Peirce Island is a perfect place to take a stroll or enjoy a beautiful view, as it features a surprising variation of landforms including meadows, tidepools, cliffs, and salt marshes.

8. Stroll Through Moffatt-Ladd House and Garden

Constructed in 1763, Moffatt-Ladd House is a charming manor property that now resides on the United States’ National Register of Historic Places. This idyllic home was opened to public visitors in 2011, and is conveniently located in downtown Portsmouth near the city’s Old Harbor area.

Inside, visitors can view perfectly preserved antique furniture, as well as an eclectic collection of period documents and artifacts. Outside, you can traipse through the site’s beautifully manicured gardens, with spring, summer, and fall visits each offering their own unique rewards.

Photo by: Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden Facebook

7. See a Show at the Music Hall

The Music Hall is the oldest theater still standing in New Hampshire, and there are only 13 theaters in the entire country with longer histories. Over the decades, the Music Hall has hosted performances by some of the world’s leading musical and literary luminaries, including Tony and Grammy Award winners as well as Pulitzer Prize laureates. Shows come in a wide range of styles and formats, including concerts, abstract and interpretive dances, poetry and prose readings, and cinematic exhibitions. It is an excellent place to kick off a romantic evening in this charming New England city.

Photo by: The Music Hall Facebook

6. Tour the USS Albacore Submarine

Designed during the World War II era, the USS Albacore submarine became the prototype upon which many later American underwater vessels would be designed. Fast and agile, the USS Albacore served as a research U-boat, and is now open to the public for tours and visits.

Inside, you’ll see how crew members lived during their time aboard the vessel, learn how the ship was operated, and discover the important contributions the boat and its personnel made to the American war effort.

Alizada Studios / Shutterstock.com

5. Enjoy a Meal or Drink at the Book and Bar

Nestled into the street level of a heritage building that dates to the mid-19th century, Book and Bar is a Portsmouth institution. Filled with shelves upon shelves of books, this bar-restaurant combination feels more like a library than a pub. It serves bistro-style fare that features a tasty lineup of locally inspired soups, sandwiches, and light meals, and offers an excellent selection of beer and wine. The venue doubles as a café, and visitors can pop in any time of day to enjoy a tea or coffee in its welcoming atmosphere.

Photo by: Portsmouth Book and Bar Facebook

4. Head to Prescott Park

Situated just a few blocks outside Portsmouth’s historic downtown area, Prescott Park is a 10-acre preserve with quiet views, beautiful lawns, dock access, and charming pier boardwalks. It’s a great place to enjoy an outdoor meal, as there are picnic tables dotted throughout the park and grills available for visitor use. During the spring and summer, Prescott Park becomes the focal point of the city’s cultural scene, hosting a long list of festivals, concerts, and outdoor events.

Photo by: Bostonian13 via Wikimedia Commons

3. Delve into the Past at the Strawbery Banke Museum

Portsmouth’s fabled South End is the city’s oldest remaining neighborhood from its colonial era, and it is where you’ll find the famous Strawbery Banke Museum. This outdoor museum is made up of 40 buildings, which date back as far as the 17th century. Members of the public can venture into 10 of these buildings, which have been carefully restored and outfitted with genuine period furniture. The museum’s staff also dress in authentic centuries-old garb, creating a fun and lively historic atmosphere.

Photo by: Strawbery Banke Museum Facebook

2. Explore Portsmouth Harbor

Portsmouth’s harbor heritage lives on in the form of boat tours that cover more than four centuries of local and national history. Visitors can book with a range of tour operators, who deliver up-close views of sights like the city’s charming lighthouses and its historic dockyard. The best of these tours also help you learn about the region’s storied past through informative narration.

If you’re not sure which of the many options to pursue after doing your own research, the friendly folks at Discover Portsmouth will be more than happy to help.

1. Soar Above the City

The Dream Flights experience at Seacoast Helicopters is a unique way to take in amazing bird’s-eye views of the city and surrounding area. These 90-minute adventures deliver soaring vistas of Portsmouth’s historic downtown core, its Atlantic coast, the Isle of Shoals, and a group of four historic lighthouses in the harbor area. You’ll also have the opportunity to steer the ride by taking over the controls for a few minutes…with your experienced pilot close by, of course.

Photo by: Seacoast Helicopters Facebook

North America’s Coolest Indoor Waterparks

Indoor water parks promise endless summer, a perfect getaway as the winter months are quickly coming. These water parks are only getting bigger and better, featuring huge wave pools, wild water slides, ziplines, arcades and even spas inside. From Niagara Falls, Canada all the way to Galveston, Texas we have rounded up 15 incredible indoor water parks across North America.

15. Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park -Erie, PA

This park is loaded with a ton of water slides and rides, along with a tropical colorful atmosphere that sets the stage for the perfect getaway during the long cold winter months. At just over 100,000 square feet, Splash Lagoon is full of exciting thrill rides for the adventurer. Among the unique features here are two bowl rides, The Cyclone which accommodates one and two rider tubes and Hurricane Hole, which sends you flying down at over 40 mph. Watch out for the tipping bucket on top of Tiki Tree House which dumps on unsuspecting riders on the The Cyclone. If you are looking for something a little more relaxing head on over to the Frog Pond Whirlpool where giant lily pads, tall amphibians and splashing fountains set the stage. A large arcade, mini-free fall ride and onsite restaurant compliment this awesome water park.

Photo by: Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort
Photo by: Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort

14. Schlitterbahn Indoor Water Park -Galveston, TX

Although this water park is an outdoor park most of the year, it actually transforms into an indoor park during the colder months and with over 70,000 feet of indoor play, it is one of the best in North America. With four tube slides, three speed slides, a heated pool, a man-made wave and a tidal wave river, there is no shortage of things to do here. The Torrent River is a favorite among visitors as it sends inner tubers along a quarter mile long, 20 foot wide wave filled river, twisting and turning riders throughout. Kids will love their own beach section that is full of tipping buckets, a beached boat, smaller slides and spraying jets. Although this indoor water park is one of the smaller on the list, it deserves recognition for the ability to change from an outdoor park to indoor park, and still offer amazing fun.

Photo by: Schlitterbahn Galveston
Photo by: Schlitterbahn Galveston

13. Palmetto and Palm Water Parks at Dunes Village Resort -Myrtle Beach, SC

There are actually two water parks located at the Dunes Village Resort in Myrtle Beach and guests to this resort get access to both. Palmetto caters to the younger guests with a 250-foot lazy river, a Kiddie Adventure pool with tons of spray features and a lagoon pool with basketball nets. Adults will also enjoy this park with two water slides and two hot tubs. Over at Palm Water Park there is something for everyone to enjoy including a lap pool, teen pool, three hot tubs and more. The Wild Winding Slide and Speed Slide are there for the more adventurous riders. Little ones will love the Silly Submarine, a water play structure that is loaded with spraying water features. The parks are open from 9am-11pm and while there are no lifeguards on duty, there are attendants at the top of each slide to ensure each rider descends safely.

Photo by: Dunes Village Resort
Photo by: Dunes Village Resort

12. Fallsview Indoor Waterpark -Niagara Falls, Canada

It boasts itself as the largest indoor water park in Niagara Falls and visitors will delight in the sheer number of thrilling water slides here. A total of 16 water slides make up this water park, along with a massive wave pool, adult-only whirlpools and a massive beach house play area. From extreme racing slides where riders will shoot down on mats to four different tube slides and one gigantic super bowl; there are enough slides to keep any adrenaline junkie happy. Planet Hollywood Beach Club is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat and is located on the main floor of the water park. Little ones can head to the Tiny Tots Splash Park where they can swim, splash and slide down kid-sized water slides. Don’t forget about the year-round outdoor sun deck which is heated in the winter and operates an outdoor pool in the warm months.

Photo by: Fallsview Indoor Waterpark
Photo by: Fallsview Indoor Waterpark

11. Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark -Boyne Falls, MI

Michigan’s largest indoor water park resort offers plenty of thrills and excitement for the whole family. Always at 84 degrees and open all year around it is easy to make your way here any time of the year, especially in the cold winter months when you are looking to escape the cold. One of the latest additions to this park is The Big Couloir, a water slide which begins in a capsule and shoots riders down a narrow tunnel into a super loop, with powerful g-forces keeping them glued to the sides the entire time. The lazy river on the other hand will lead riders throughout the park, while flowing water features hide around corners. The amazing 800-gallon water avalanche though is perhaps the highlight of this park and when the horn blows you will want to look out below! This climbing structure with its bridges, buckets, slides and climbing wall provides hours of endless fun.

Photo by: Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark
Photo by: Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark

10. Klondike Kavern at Wilderness Resort -Wisconsin Dells, WI

This indoor waterpark offers over 65,000 square feet of water fun for all ages. Guests to this water park rave about the famous Hurricane, a ride that sees riders whip down a 45-degree angle in a four person raft, scoot across a funnel at 20 mph, experience weightlessness and then drop into a splash pool. This ride is made even better with sound effects, fog and strobe lights. For those wanting a little less excitement, head over to the lazy river or the indoor hot spa. Little ones will love Bonanza Bluff, a huge structure that features over 50 squirt features and smaller slides, all situated in a shallow pool. A new ride is currently under construction here and promises to combine exciting water sliding with video game technology.

Photo by: Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort
Photo by: Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort

9. Chula Vista Resort -Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wisconsin Dells is known as the water park capital of the world and Chula Vista is among one of the best indoor water parks in all of North America, and perhaps even the world. The most loved attraction at this park is the Fly’n Mayan; an uphill water coaster that is designed to take riders throughout the park on an exhilarating ride. It prides itself on being on the longest and fastest uphill water coasters in the world! The Jungle Adventure complete with lights and sounds is also one of the famous rides here, a bowl ride that will leave you breathless. The never-ending tropical lazy river is great for relaxing while the oversize wading pool is perfect for little ones to splash around in.

Photo by: Chula Vista Resort
Photo by: Chula Vista Resort

8. Kahuna Laguna at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort -North Conway, NH

It is New Hampshire’s largest indoor water park and features over 40,000 square feet of fun and excitement. This water park has gone all out to bring the tropics indoor and comes off more like a large tiki hut with its colorful decorations and faux palm leaves. There are only four water slides here, two tube slides and two body slides, totaling 900 feet in length, which means you will want to try them all out. The 67,000 gallon wave pool is one of the highlights of this water park, with three patterns of powerful three foot waves, perfect for those who want to body surf. The pool also features two waterfalls and is no more than five feet in depth. The Adventure Tower teems with slides, sprayers, rope bridges and one huge tipping bucket, which anyone of any age can enjoy. At the end of the day make sure to head over to the adult and kid 25-person hot tub that overlooks the entire water park.

Photo by: Kahuna Laguna Water Park
Photo by: Kahuna Laguna Water Park

7. Big Splash Adventure Indoor Waterpark -French Lick, IN

A retractable roof covers this awesome 40,000 square foot indoor water park, which means whether it is hot or cold outdoors, visitors here can enjoy this space any time of the year. With an abundance of pools, tube slides, body slides and over 50 interactive features; there won’t be any time to be bored. Favorite activities here include the Treasure Lagoon Vortex, a round pool with fun whirling water, as well as the Jolly Roger Jetty, a tube ride that takes riders through seven curves and can accommodate both single and double inner tubes. The Splish Splash Pool has been designed for the youngest of visitors, and they can choose to sit in the swings and bounce until their feet hit the water, or slide down the mini slide.

Photo by: Big Splash Adventure
Photo by: Big Splash Adventure

6. Wings & Waves at Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum -McMinnville, OR

This ultra-cool water park is both a water park and an educational experience, but don’t fear, kids won’t even know that they are actually learning because they will be having so much fun. The water park includes 10 water slides, 91,000 gallon wave pool and a Boeing 747 plane on the roof. Kids are encouraged to learn about water by building tsunami-proof models in the classrooms and then test them in the wave pool. A favorite of visitors here is climbing the 111 stairs up to the plane and then sliding down one of the four water slides, one of which drops a total of six stories. Aquaplay is a favorite among young visitors as the structure is loaded with smaller slides, water guns, spouts, valves and a 300 gallon firefighter bucket that drops on you. Trained and certified lifeguards are on duty at all times at this incredible and educational water park.

Photo by: Hydro Logic
Photo by: Hydro Logic

5. Water Park of America -Bloomington, MN

It is one of the biggest and the best water parks in all of North America, hence the name and it certainly doesn’t disappoint in terms of activities. It houses the tallest indoor water slide in all of America, stretching 100 feet into the air, along with a scenic and relaxing lazy river, indoor arcade and the Lake Superior Wave Pool. The 7th Floor Body Slides are among the favorites here as riders can race each other as they travel down twin body slides that actually go outside the building before a final splash. Friends and families should check out the Family Raft Ride, at over a mile long and 10 stories high, this ride offers tight turns, big splashes and lot of laughs. Learn how to body board, shoot a game of hoops in the pool or take the little ones to the zero depth activity pool where they can safely splash and slide.

Photo by: Water Park of America
Photo by: Water Park of America

4. World Waterpark, -West Edmonton Mall, Alberta

It is home to the world’s largest indoor wave pool and more than 17 unique water slides and play features. World Water park is also home to two high water slides, both 83 feet high, and favorites of all visitors. The Cyclone is perhaps the most well known water slide here as it is one of the most extreme slides in all of Canada, where riders enter into a capsule and fall straight down, into a gravity defying loop and ending up in a splashdown chute. The world’s largest permanent indoor zipline is also found here and riders will zip across the water park, over the wave pool and end up near the children’s play area. Speaking of the little ones, World Water park is home to an awesome kid’s area with plenty of water cannons, buckets, rope bridges, slides and pipes to play with.

Photo by: Pinterest
Photo by: Pinterest

3. Great Wolf Lodge -Niagara Falls, Canada

The fun never stops at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, especially at the indoor water park that offers thousands of square feet of non-stop fun. From tube rides that can fit the whole family to body slides to an uphill water coaster; the whole family will enjoy this park. The Rapids Run tows tube riders up and sends you plunging down a 15.8 meter vertical drop, along with zipping you through enclosed tunnels and around thrilling curves. An indoor wave pool, lazy river, a multitude of slides and specially designed play areas for the little ones makes this one awesome indoor water park.

Photo by: Great Wolf Lodge
Photo by: Great Wolf Lodge

2. Wild West at Wilderness Resort -Wisconsin Dells, WI

It is the largest indoor water park of four that is located at Wilderness Resort, spanning over 70,000 square feet. Thrill rides are the highlight of this water park, with The Black Hole being at the forefront. This thrilling slide has a huge descent followed by spins and turns, before dumping riders into the unknown. A 4-person raging raft ride provides plenty of laughs and thrills. The four-storey interactive play feature is loaded with body slides, water blasters, cannons and one gigantic tipping bucket! The indoor bumper boats are fun for the whole family where you can battle it out against both family members and other visitors. For a more relaxing activity, make sure to visit the indoor and outdoor hot springs.

Photo by: Wilderness Resort
Photo by: Wilderness Resort

1. Kalahari Water Park at Kalahari Resort -Sandusky, OH

It hails itself as being the largest indoor water park in all of America and at 173,000 square feet, we don’t doubt it is. Kalahari Resort is an African themed resort and throughout the water park this theme stays true with ride names such as Zig Zag Zebra, Cheetah Race and Crocodile Cove. A 920 feet lazy river runs throughout the park crossing through waterfalls and rapids while thrill seekers can head over to Zimbabwe Zipper where they can reach 40mph. A 12,000 square foot wave pool, kids only play area, tons of exhilarating water slides and indoor whirlpools all make up this awesome water park. An uphill water coaster ride and the two FlowRiders are among the most loved activities here. No matter what the weather outside is like; you can certainly play all day here.

Photo by: Kalahari Resorts
Photo by: Kalahari Resorts

Best Snowshoe Destinations for Families

When you are looking for the perfect destination for a winter family getaway (that includes plenty of snowshoeing) there are so many options to consider. We have looked at hundreds of destinations and compiled a list of what we believe to be the best 10 snowshoe destinations for families. We examined factors such as location, ease of access to superior snowshoe trails, amenities for kids and parents and opportunity for guided and non-guided snowshoe treks. From luxury hotels to themed resorts there is a destination here to suit every families needs.

10. Ski Portillo, Chile

The first of two all-inclusive options on this list–Chile’s Ski Portillo resort; this once-in-a-lifetime vacation destination is the perfect spot for families to relax, bond and snowshoe. Overlooking a pristine lake and situated in the Aconcagua Valley in the heart of the Andes, the scenery is enough to make you want to hop on a plane right now. But this destination offers so much more than just magnificent views and a ski hill. Portillo offers two excellent lodging choices for families. They offer two access trails to the mountain, along with numerous opportunities to trek around the base of Mt. Aconcagua. This all-inclusive resort includes meals, lift tickets for your entire stay (we suggest trying your hand at some skiing), accommodations, airport transfers and all amenities on site. From the dedicated tubing hills and outdoor heated pool for the kids to the outdoor hot tub and nightly live music for the adults, this gem should not go undiscovered.

Photo by: Ski Portillo Chile via Facebook
Photo by: Ski Portillo Chile via Facebook

9. Adventure Suites – New Hampshire, USA

Our next destination is truly a kid’s paradise. If you are looking for a relaxing, unwinding vacation, this may not be the one for you. But if you are looking for something totally unique that will have your kids begging to come back, Adventure Suites is the place. Named one of the top 10 theme hotels in the world, this hotel offers more than just really awesome rooms. We first need to talk about the suites they offer. From a prehistoric cave suite that features a five-person hot tub in the suite to a jungle themed suite that offers an upstairs for the kids complete with a flat screen TV and PlayStation…it may be hard to want to leave your room. Adventure Suites offer guided snowshoe treks as an add-on to any stay and offers free trail passes if you stay two or more nights. If you are looking to get on your own, Glen Trails Outdoor Center and Purity Spring Resort offer extensive trails to explore.

Snowshoes

8. Hoshino Resort Tomamu, Japan

A huge resort featuring more than 800 rooms in two magnificent towers, an indoor wave pool, an ice village in the center of the resort (January-March) and unparalleled views of the mountain from your room makes Hoshino Resort Tomamu number eight on our list. Tunnels connect the towers to the restaurants and food court, which allow for warm ease of access during a cold night. Snowshoeing has become quite a popular sport in Japan and visiting the Polar Village Activity Center is where you will find all your snowshoe needs. Equipment rentals as well as maps of the area are provided. Members of the resort’s staff are happy to help and if you tell them what kind of difficulty or length of trek you are looking for they will point you in the right direction. With fresh powder, breathtaking scenery and an experience you won’t get in North America, Hoshino Resort is a fantastic choice for a family getaway.

Photo by: Hoshino Resorts Tomamu via Facebook
Photo by: Hoshino Resorts Tomamu via Facebook

7. Douglas Fir Resort and Chalets – Alberta, Canada

If you are looking for the finest family accommodation in Banff, look no further as Douglas Fir Resort and Chalet is where you want to be. Located a four-minute drive from downtown Banff in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the views from your patio will take your breath away. All rooms include complimentary WiFi, flat screen TVs, plug-and-play panels for personal gaming systems and a fireplace. What makes this resort even more family friendly is the indoor two-story playground, the indoor water park featuring two giant water slides and a “quiet time” for adults only, and an outdoor hot tub with views of the awe-inspiring mountains. There are unlimited snowshoe opportunities in Banff ranging from beginner to experienced. We highly recommend trekking around Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park and the Sundance Trail to Sundance Canyon. Parks Canada offers up suggestions here or check out a tour company for a guided experience.

Photo by: Douglas Fir Resort & Chalet via Facebook
Photo by: Douglas Fir Resort & Chalet via Facebook

6. Firelight Lodge – British Columbia, Canada

The Firelight Lodge, located in the Silver Star Mountain Village, is one of the newest properties to the village; Firelight is located right next to the skating pond and tube park. With access to 16 km of snowshoe exclusive forested trails, Silver Star Mountain is your perfect destinations. Firelight Lodge offers up your choice of rooms that can include anything from a personal outdoor hot tub to a gas fireplace and patio BBQ. An in-resort shuttle runs through the Firelight and Village areas of the resort making it easy to access all amenities and restaurants. Snowshoe rentals and trail passes/maps are available at Ski Dazzle Rentals or the Village Ski shop. The kids will go nuts for the tube park and mini snowmobiles, or perhaps they will try their hand at the indoor climbing wall or ski-in ski-out bowling alley. Parents can relax in the outdoor hot tub, visit one of the pubs or unwind at the Yoga classes offered next door to the lodge.

shutterstock_123342973

5. Crystal Mountain – Michigan, USA

Crystal Mountain Resort in Michigan is a compact resort that offers older kids a chance for independence as condos, restaurants and amenities are within a five-minute walk. For the wee ones with the tired legs, there is a complimentary shuttle to take you where you want to go. With more than 250 rooms ranging from the standard hotel room to bungalows to full houses, the accommodations at Crystal Mountain are superior. Snowshoeing is permitted on the entire Crystal Mountain property, except for the downhill runs and the cross-country ski trails. Equipment rental and trail maps are provided on-site as well as guided tours. For something a little different take a trek Michigan Legacy Art Park where ice sculptures line the way. Moonlight snowshoe tours are a popular activity at Crystal Mountain and a fun way to explore nature in the dark.

Photo by: Crystal Mountain
Photo by: Crystal Mountain

4. The Lodge at Sugar Bowl – California, USA

The Lodge at Sugar Bowl is not your typical family resort. Here you won’t find huge flat screen TVs, gaming systems or world-class children’s programs. Here you will find the country’s only snowbound lodging experience, where you park your car in a garage and whisk up to the lodge in a gondola with your luggage. There are many different room options ranging from standard Mountain View rooms to family suites and adjoining rooms. The lodge also boasts a dining room, bar and new athletic center. But what you are really coming here for is the miles upon miles on snowshoe trails at Royal Gorge. Located right outside your front door you have access to North America’s largest cross-country resort that features an array of exclusive snowshoe trails. Rentals and trail passes are available at the Summit Station Lodge where you can also rent a sled to pull the little ones along the trails with you.

Photo by: Sugar Bowl Resort via Facebook
Photo by: Sugar Bowl Resort via Facebook

3. Waldorf Astoria Park City – Utah, USA

If you are looking for a luxury family getaway, Waldorf Astoria Park City in Utah is where you will want to head. With more than 4,000 acres of varied terrain in the backyard, this resort was meant to be explored. Dedicated shuttles will take you to local dining, skiing, shopping and entertainment. We do recommend this destination for kids 10 and up. Ranging from standard guest rooms to three bedroom suites with full kitchens, this resort offers such pleasures as upscale bathrooms with hot tubs and TVs, a free gondola up to Canyons Resort and free kids s’mores at night. Guided snowshoe tours are provided at Canyons Resort (a free shuttle ride away) where equipment can be rented. You can also go off on your own around the Canyons Resort and follow the marked trails. If you are looking to explore other areas, we recommend checking out Snowshoe Utah where you will find a variety of trail maps.

Photo by: Waldorf Astoria Park City via Facebook
Photo by: Waldorf Astoria Park City via Facebook

2. C Lazy U Ranch – Colorado, USA

If you are looking for a vacation that combines the love of the outdoors, breathtaking scenery and a chance for the kids and you to learn something new, C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado is the perfect destination. From horseback riding to sledding to ice skating to snowshoeing, this dude ranch is the perfect all-inclusive winter wonderland. Choose from cabins that include refrigerators, stone fireplaces or separate bedrooms for the older kids. Enjoy the personal touches such as daily housekeeping service, bed turn down, coffee and tea, plush robes and a fruit basket that is replenished each day. Now let’s talk about the snowshoeing. A popular winter activity at this resort, all equipment is offered for no extra charge and a trail map is provided on request. From beginner to expert, there are trails to suit any level of experience. Other activities include skating, sleigh rides, sledding, snowmobiling, skiing and so much more.

Photo by: C Lazy U Ranch via Facebook
Photo by: C Lazy U Ranch via Facebook

1. Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Vermont, USA

Rated as the granddaddy of all family resorts, it is no surprise that Smugglers’ Notch Resort ranks No. 1 on our top 10 list. From the huge fun zone offering an arcade, slides and after-dark teen programs to the heated indoor pool to the massages for mom and dad, Smugglers’ has gone above and beyond what one expects from a resort. Upon booking your vacation you will have the choice of condominium style lodgings. Each are either within walking distance or an on-demand resort shuttle is available to take you to all the village amenities. The Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Adventure Center is where you want to head for all your snowshoe needs. Here you will find 24 km of dedicated snowshoe trails to explore off the beaten path. If lessons are what you are looking for, they offer both group and private lessons with equipment rental on-site. For a memorable snowshoe experience try the snowshoe adventure dinner; a dining experience atop Sterling Mountain with a 40-minute snowshoe after dinner back to the base lodge.

Photo by: Smugglers' Notch Vermont
Photo by: Smugglers’ Notch Vermont

America’s 12 Most Beautiful College Campuses

America is loaded with beautiful college and university campuses that not only drive students to attend these schools but visitors from all over the world. From a University that has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site to campuses that look more like resorts than schools to breathtaking surrounding landscapes, it’s hard to believe the students here can actually concentrate on their studies. Between the stunning architecture, elaborate fountains, mountain landscapes and amazing students; here are our choices for the 12 most beautiful campuses across America.

12. Kenyon College -Gambier, Ohio

Whether you are a student here, visitor to the campus or happen to be a resident in the tiny town of Gambier; you have one thing in common, you are surrounded by the stunning Kenyon College campus. Placed on the hilltop in the tiny town, the campus features one of the most incredible walkways in America, the famous 10 foot wide Middle Path. The Middle Path spans the entire length of the campus and right into town, surrounded by humungous overhanging trees on both sides. Fall is absolutely the most beautiful time as the leave change to brilliant shades of red and orange, and it is truly like something out of a painting. The rest of the campus isn’t so shabby either, think castle-like halls, stunning columns, surrounding rock walls and beautiful churches. This campus is so pretty and serene; you will have a hard time leaving once you are here.

Photo by: PHS Grads at College
Photo by: PHS Grads at College

11. University of Virginia -Charlottesville, Virginia

This university is the only university in the USA to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was designed by the one and only Thomas Jefferson. Since that time the university’s layout has been copied but none have come close to this incredible campus. Jefferson not only planned the layout of the property but also hired the initial faculty and created the curriculum, a feat he was so proud of it ended up as one of his three proudest moments on his gravestone. The shining star of this campus is the neoclassical domed Rotunda which was created to replicate the Pantheon in Rome. An interesting fact about this building is that it actually burnt down in 1895 so what you see today is a replica. The Small Special Collections Library hosts early printing of the Declaration of Independence and for any history buff, this campus is truly breathtaking.

Photo by: Neighborhood Nomads
Photo by: Neighborhood Nomads

10. Stanford University -Palo Alto, California

Sunny blue skies and warm temperatures help push this campus onto the list of the most beautiful campuses across America, but there are many other factors to consider as well. Even though this university continually goes through expansive growth, they have managed to maintain their cohesiveness and safeguard their beauty. Entering the university through its dramatic entrance via Palm Drive is a one of a kind experience, with its romantic Spanish red-tile roofs and myriad patches of green. Throughout the campus students and visitors will find timeless buildings from the early California Mission Revival architecture combined with tasteful and modern new additions such as the Science and Engineering Quad. While the academics may be rigorous, the campus sends out a feeling of tranquility and with students and staff interacting all over the grounds, you certainly will feel welcome here.

Martin Valigursky / Shutterstock.com
Martin Valigursky / Shutterstock.com

9. Furman University -Greenville, South Carolina

The lush South Carolina landscape at this campus includes Asia-inspired gardens, a sparkling blue lake and a collection of diverse buildings. The campus is spread over 750 acres of wooded grounds and circles the beautiful lake and the landmark Bell Tower, offering miles of walking trails and even an 18-hole golf course. From a former Buddhist Temple to an environmentally sustainable show home to the beautiful Georgian architecture; the landscape here certainly isn’t mediocre. The Bell Tower that stretches out into the lake looks best during fall when the trees leading up to it turns into splashes of red and orange as the leave change with the season. The fountains strategically placed throughout, the rose gardens and the breathtaking sunsets help make this one of the most beautiful campuses across the country.

Furman University

8. University of Washington -Seattle, Washington

If you are looking for a campus with a view, go no further than the University of Washington, which boasts views of both the snow-capped peaks of Mt. Rainer and the shimmering waters of Lake Washington. Spring time is the best time of year here though as the Quad features 31 Yoshino Cherry trees that bloom beautiful, delicate pink pedals, which enthrall visitors in both March and April. One of the favorite buildings on campus here is the Suzzallo Library, featuring 35-foot high stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings that soar up to 65 feet in the air. The glass fronted Paccar Hall puts a modern twist on the campus with its unique levels and abundance of light it lets in and out. Students can be found here at the newly renovated Neptune Theatre taking in some musical acts or hanging out by the Drumheller Fountain.

cpaulfell / Shutterstock.com
cpaulfell / Shutterstock.com

7. Lewis & Clark College -Portland, Oregon

First things first, although the spelling is different, who wouldn’t want to attend a school that is called “Lewis and Clark”? Secondly this college campus is downright breathtaking, partly because of the surrounding scenery and partly because of its pristine location. Located on top of Palatine Hill in the Collins View neighborhood of Portland, Oregon this campus offers students towering trees and trillium lined creeks. The architecture here has won numerous awards for its environmentally sustainable buildings while others buildings have significant history attached to them. 600 acres of wooded trails, an outdoor swimming pool and a reflection pool with views of Mt. Hood only add to the prettiness of this campus. This college is also known for having really attractive students, just adding to the prettiness of the campus.

"L&C Flanagan Chapel" by M.O. Stevens - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
L&C Flanagan Chapel” by M.O. StevensOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

6. Dartmouth College -Hanover, New Hampshire

Not only is the campus here beautiful but the people as well, as this university boasts some of the happiest students across the country. This could be due to the magnificent surroundings that they live in, the fresh mountain air and the sense of community that is felt here. It also happens to be the ninth oldest college in the country. There are huge elms trees here that provide the perfect shady study spots for students as well as beautiful red brick buildings that tower high into the sky. The surrounding pastel mountains and picturesque Connecticut River on the west side of the campus only makes this University even more inviting. Placid forests, the smell of fresh air and students who are always smiling; it doesn’t get much better than this.

Edward Fielding / Shutterstock.com
Edward Fielding / Shutterstock.com

5. Elon University -Elon, North Carolina

It is often described as the campus with the best grass, and as strange as it may sound it truly looks like each blade of grass has been individually cut with a sharp pair of scissors. In fact everywhere you look on this campus is a picture perfect moment. From the classic collegiate architecture of the South to the wide variety of trees to the picture perfect blue skies that always seem to hang overhead, this campus is the epitome of beauty. The fountains throughout the campus must not be forgotten though, the famous KOBC fountain sparkles and sprays in the sunlight, the fountains in the lake shine and everywhere you turn, keep an eye out for these awesome features. The new admissions building stands strong and proud, a beautiful architectural piece of work that provides the perfect entrance to the perfect campus.

Bryan Pollard / Shutterstock.com
Bryan Pollard / Shutterstock.com

4. Berry College -Mount Berry, Georgia

It holds the title of being one of the largest campuses in the world, spread out over 27,000 acres. Each acre is teeming with fields, forests, mountains and/or lakes that provide an absolutely breathtaking setting. This school was founded in 1902, specifically for enterprising rural boys and it wasn’t long before a girls school was added in 1909. Some of the best features about this campus include the numerous fountains and reflection pools located around the buildings which offer a serene and relaxing environment. Breathtaking gardens can be found throughout the entire campus, as are trails for bikers, hikers and even horseback riders. The English Gothic inspired buildings only add more beauty and character to this campus. Make sure to check out the Ford Dining Hall and Ford Auditorium to see some of the prettiest buildings here.

Berry College Georgia

3. University of Hawai’i at Mānoa -Honolulu, Hawaii

It is unsure how any students can possibly concentrate on studying at this beautiful campus located in Honolulu Hawaii. Surrounded by lush green tropical foliage, bright beautiful flowers and wide walking paths throughout the campus, it is easy to understand why most students study outdoors. Dramatic hills and cliffs frame the background as this campus is located in the Manoa Valley. Graduate students especially enjoy it here as they are encouraged to study coral reef at the marine biology lab, built on a coral reef. This campus combines natural beauty with world class research facilities along with a highly competitive sports program, which draws students from all over the world. In addition, and one of the favorite natural occurrences here are the abundance of rainbows that are always filling the skies.

Photo by: University of Hawai’i
Photo by: University of Hawai’i 

2. Cornell University -Ithaca, New York

Set in the Finger Lakes region, the planners that built this campus were both ambitious and geniuses. With beauty in mind they placed the campus on twenty three hundred acres of land which includes lakes, gardens, waterfalls and more. The main quad was placed over the dramatic Cayuga Lake, the longest in the region and was done so to invoke the thoughts of putting education on a high platform and the views are simply stunning. The mix of buildings from historic to modern and dramatic creates the perfect landscape of learning. One of the most impressive features of this campus though is Cascadilla Gorge, where eight waterfalls drop 400 feet from the campus into downtown, along with an array of beautiful gardens and 150-acre arboretum. Students here love to head off the campus as well to the vibrant city of Ithaca, recently voted as one of the top 100 places to live in the world.

Cornell University Ithaca

1. Rollins College -Winter Park, Florida

It is Florida’s oldest post-secondary institution and the most beautiful campus in America, as ranked by the Princeton Review for 2015. The location itself is enough to warrant some attention as it is directly located on Lake Virginia, which leads to some pretty incredible views. Add in lush gardens, the greenhouse oasis, overhanging trees, rose gardens and pedestrian pathways that run through the scenery and you have a pretty incredible place to study. Students love the outdoor classroom spaces, the three-story atrium in the Bush Science Center and Olin Library that offers view of both the lake and the campus. The green grass, the palm trees and the modern buildings make this campus look more like a resort you want to spend a week at rather than a campus. At night when the moon rises and shimmers off the lake it turns the colors into deep blues and combined with the twinkling lights of the buildings, it is a perfect setting.

Photo by: Rollins College
Photo by: Rollins College

8 Best North American Destinations to See the Colors of Autumn

Summer is drawing to a close; kids are back to school and there’s a frosty feel in the air at night. This year’s fall equinox is September 23, marking the official start of the autumn season in the northern hemisphere. One of the most exciting things about fall is the fantastic display in the forests and countryside, as plants turn a myriad of brilliant colors—reds, golds, browns and oranges speckle the vibrant landscape. The following 8 destinations are good viewing points for nature’s radiance; pick a clear and crisp autumn day to get out and enjoy nature’s beautiful hues.

8. Lake Placid, New York

Nestled away in the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid is part of the Tri-Lakes area in Essex County, New York. The village is well-known to outdoor enthusiasts; its renowned for its winter sports scene, including skiing and bobsledding. In fact, it hosted 2 Winter Olympics (1932 and 1980). The area is also great for mountain climbing and hiking. The area, much of it now parkland, is the southernmost part of the Eastern forest-boreal transition ecozones, and includes pine, spruce and deciduous trees. Almost 60% of the Adirondacks park is covered in northern hardwood forest. Tree species include sugar maple, white ash, American beech and yellow birch, which make for a spectacular mix of colors, from the showy maple trees to the reliable colors of the ash trees. Take a hike through some of the mountainous trails and enjoy the scenery rolling across the hills.

Lake Placid, New York

7. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton, part of the province of Nova Scotia, is Canada’s 18th largest island. Its geography is widely varied, including plateaus, headlands and glacial valleys, along with mountains and, yes, forests. The northern part of the island, known as the Cape Breton Highlands, is home to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The forests here are mixed between the Acadian forest and Boreal forest, which is found at higher elevations. You can hike the Cabot Trail or the Skyline Trail, which wrap around the park’s coast line. The forests of the area are home to many species of pine and spruce, but their deciduous inhabitants include birches, beeches, maples and oaks. Cottonwood and poplar species turn brilliant yellow in autumn, adding sunny colors to the canvas alongside the deep reds and oranges of maples and oaks. Visit the Beulach Ban Falls in the Aspy Valley for some spectacular fall colors.

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Cabot trail fall

6. Aspen, Colorado

The west usually isn’t the first stop on people’s list when they think of fall foliage, but the forests of the Rockies put on a good show, giving the eastern Appalachians a run for their money. Aspen, Colorado, is named after a tree and there are plenty of aspens around. Their foliage turns a beautiful golden-yellow hue in the fall and even seems to shimmer in the breeze. They provide a perfect contrast to the background of the evergreens on the craggy mountains. The biggest problem, however, is that viewing season is short: onset happens mid-September and by the first week of October, most of the trees will have shed their leaves. That means you have about 3 weeks to get out and see the colors. If you happen to be in the area anyway, be sure to take the time to appreciate the splendor of Mother Nature’s palette.

Fall Landscape of Maroon Bells Aspen Colorado

5. Ludlow, Vermont

Vermont is renowned for its forests—they give the state’s iconic Green Mountains their name, after all—so it should be little surprise that there’s a number of great places to view fall foliage in Vermont. Ludlow, in the Okemo Valley, is one of those places. Although it’s often passed over for the Green Mountain Byway, Okemo Mountain provides a 360-degree view of the Green Mountains and the valley. Ludlow is surrounded by prime viewing spots: the Scenic Route 100 Byway will take you to Coolidge State Park and the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site with their mountaintop views. The area shares similarities with the Adirondacks and Cape Breton forests, which means the autumn colors are a splendid mix of reds, oranges and yellows, thanks to the mix of trees like maples, birches and poplars.

Ludlow, Vermont

4. Portsmouth, New Hampshire

It’s hard to go wrong picking a fall foliage destination almost anywhere in New England, but Portsmouth, New Hampshire, might be a good selection. Although it is somewhat famed as a historic seaport (and the end of Paul Revere’s infamous 1774 ride), Portsmouth is like many New England towns—awash in early American colonial history and endowed with ample tracts of northern hardwood forests that offer up the colors of maple, oak, ash, beech and birch in the fall. The town has restored 17th-century buildings along its waterfront district and the 10-acre Strawberry Banke Museum, where you can wander as you take in the fall foliage. By car, you can enjoy the fall colors by cruising down the 18-mile Coastal Byway. You could also hop on an inland river cruise; there are a few dedicated to highlighting the fall foliage.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

3. Lenox, Massachusetts

Lenox is an affluent town nestled away in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. The town was once part of nearby Richmond, but because the mountains pass between the 2, they were eventually divided into 2 towns. The Housatonic River flows through the east side of Lenox, and parts of the Housatonic Valley Wildlife Management Area and the October Mountain State Forest line the east banks of the river. October Mountain rises further east and in the west, Yokun Seat is the highest peak at 2,146 feet. The Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is also in the area, to the south of Yokun Seat. What all of this means is that there are a lot of wilderness spaces around Lenox and a lot of trees. Leaf-viewing season usually starts October 1; the Jacob’s Ladder section of U.S. Route 20, a 35-mile stretch near Lenox, is popular for taking in fall foliage.

Fall colors trees

2. Mont-Tremblant, Quebec

Mont-Tremblant, approximately 80 miles northwest of Montreal, is perhaps most famous for its skiing. Long a winter destination for snow bunnies, the area actually hosts a number of sporting events throughout the year and presents great opportunities for activities like hiking, ziplining and cycling. Mont Tremblant, at just under 3,000 feet, is one of the tallest peaks in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. Dense boreal forest in the area promises a mix of evergreens splashed with color from aspens, birches, willows and rowan. Larches, one of the most common trees in the boreal biome, also turn color in the fall, adding a distinctive yellow hue to the forests. Take a tour along the Via ferrata du Diable, which offers a hybrid hiking-climbing experience, in nearby Mont-Tremblant National Park. The path is open until October, making it a unique way to view the autumn colors.

Mont-Tremblant fall

1. Skyline Drive, Virginia

This 105-mile stretch of highway in northern Virginia winds through Shenandoah National Park. It features almost 75 mountain overlooks and forests chockful of colorful sumac, locust, sassafras, scarlet oak, red maple and sweet gum trees—a combination that makes for a brilliant blending of reds and yellows that stretches on for miles. October is prime viewing month for the colors in the park. If you have time, pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway and continue through the southern part of the state, into the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. If you prefer to go on foot, Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The park is about 75 miles from Washington, D.C., making it a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capitol and get back to nature.

Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive

The 15 Most Expensive Airbnb’s In America

Private accommodations site Airbnb all started as a way to provide budget-friendly accommodations to fellow travelers and offer a way to experience the world as a local -all while feeling right at home (in someone else’s home). These days just about any type of accommodation can be found on Airbnb, including entire mansion rentals which rival some of the swankiest hotel accommodations you can find. From countryside estates to pimped out luxury homes that have reportedly housed some note-worthy celebrities, America certainly has it’s fair share of luxury Airbnb’s…and they of course come with hefty price tags.  Let’s take a look at 15 of the most expensive Airbnb’s in America:

15. Spectacular Grand Mansion Sleeps 25

-Manchester, Vermont
Price per night: $2,500 USD

The Wilburton Inn in Manchester, Vermont is promoted as the ideal spot for weddings, corporate events and family reunions. The 1902 historic estate sleeps 25 guests in 10 bedrooms and also has ‘8+’ bathrooms, pool, tennis court and a sculpture garden…how fancy! The 30 acre estate also features other rental houses and can accommodate 125 guests for special events. The price tag might be $2,500 per night with a 2 night minimum but hey, there’s always a price for such elegance.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

14. Dream Weddings, Corporate Get Aways

-Gilford, New Hampshire
Price per night: $2,500 USD

Advertised as the perfect retreat for weddings and family reunions, this New Hampshire property is located just minutes from ski hills and lake Winnipesauke. The 5 bedroom, 6 bathroom home can accommodate up to 16 people with 10 beds and also has a hot tub, heated pool, basketball court and even a grass tennis court for non-stop family fun.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

13. Antietam Overlook Farm Scenic B&B

-Keedysville, Maryland
Price per night: $2,995 USD

While the price per night may seem high, this lovely farmstead B&B in Maryland is located right near Antietam National Battlefield making it a perfect rental for your reenactment troops. The 19th century-style property can also be rented for events like weddings and parties with space to accommodate up to 50 guests. Featuring 6 bedrooms suites with 6 bathrooms on 95 acres of beautiful Maryland country-side.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

12. 3 Bedroom Premium View Unit Solaris

-Vail, Colorado
Price per night: $3,000 USD

This next listing is particularly interesting for those foodies out there who have deep pockets. If you’ve ever wanted to attend the Taste of Vail Food and Wine Festival, but weren’t sure where to stay, consider this swanky rental unit which features 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, over 2,000 sq feet of space, spectacular village views and access to all the amenities if this luxury building including room service, pool, spa, valet, housekeeping and a private chef.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

11. Beautiful, Spacious Beach House

-Narrangansett, Rhode Island
Price per night: $3,255 USD

Rhode Island is a favorite summertime vacation destination with beautiful beaches and quaint towns along the beautiful east coast. Staying in this newly built Colonial Narrangansett beach house featuring 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a third floor deck and ocean views. You can also sip the famous Narrangansett beer while actually being in Narrangansett…all for the not so low price of $3,255 per night.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

10. US Open Chambers Bay Mansion

-Tacoma, Washington
Price per night: $3,500 USD

Compared to some of the other luxury accommodations on this list, this 10 bedroom, 10 bathroom Tacoma, Washington mansion is almost a deal at $3,500 per night. The historic home was once owned by the famous Weyerhauser family and sleeps up to 20 guests. It also features 4 kitchens, 4 decks and a media room. The high price tag is due to the fact that the US Open will be in Chambers Bay in June so a 1 week stay is required then. But, they’re throwing in 3 bottles of Chateau St. Michelle wine and a $250 gift card to a local brew pub

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

9. Executive Indianapolis Home

-Indianapolis, Indiana
Price per night: $3,900 USD

This next listing is somewhat puzzling; OK, we get that being only 6 miles from Lucas Oil Stadium is many football fan’s dream but other than that we don’t really see what’s so special about this “executive home”. The photos in the listing are nice enough and the description indicates the home has 2 fireplaces, a steam shower and flat screen televisions but a $3,900 per night price tag and 4 night minimum? Really?

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

8. Royal Private Estate

-Santa Fe, New Mexico
Price per night: $4,250 USD

This impressive estate in Santa Fe sits on 14 acres and boasts some seriously spectacular mountain views. The home itself is equally impressive and seems like it could have been featured on MTV’s ‘Cribs’ with features like 3 master suites, a library, theater, gourmet kitchen, “museum quality art collection” and 10-car “auto court”. You know you’ve made it when you don’t just have a garage, but an auto court. It’s no surprise this mega mansion comes with a $4,250 per night price tag.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

7. Alaskan Experience on Luxury Yacht

-Juneau, Alaska
Price per night: $5,000 USD

This next luxury listing proves that not all homes (or accommodations) are stationary. Hop aboard this 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom private yacht and set a course for discovery as you explore the wilderness and waters of southeast Alaska. Your luxury yacht comes complete with Captain, crew and your very own private chef. Activities and itineraries are customized and tailor to the preferences of guests. If an Alaskan cruise ship is just too crowded for you (and you have deep pockets) this private option might be just for you.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

6. Sprawling Horse Country Estate

-Southern Pines, North Carolina
Price per night: $5,000 USD

When you’re booking an accommodation that costs $5,000 USD per night, you probably want to know what you’re getting. Unfortunately this listing is lacking in details…and photos, but we do know this North Carolina estate sits on 16 acres of farmland. While there are no photos of the inside of the home, the host does indicate there are 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms, a pool, a pond and an indoor fitness room. Those that are curious about this rental will just have to contact the host for themselves.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

5. Hale Ohana

–Kahuku, Hawaii
Price per night: $5,520 USD

Hawaii is known for luxury accommodations in a picture perfect setting and this lavish rental home is no exception. Hale Ohana O Kekai (which means family house by the sea)  is located on the ocean with private beach access and is a 25 minute drive to historic Haleiwa Town on the island of Oahu. The one-acre property features 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, open air living space, 3 dining areas, infinity pool and a guest house. This slice of Hawaiian paradise has hosted such celebrities as Diana Ross and Bobby Brown -who could easily afford the $5,520 per night price tag and 4 night minimum.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

4. English Country Manor

–West Orange, New Jersey
Price per night: $8,000 USD

Located 14 miles from New York City is this elegant country manor –something you might not expect in New Jersey. The 5 bedroom, 7 bathroom home is located in the gated community of Llewellyn Park –the country’s first planned community, and is just down the street from Thomas Edison’s home. There’s also a televisions in each room, a fitness room, country kitchen and a pool table. Sure, there’s no denying this home is lovely…but $8,000 a night?

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

3. Film Location

–Brooklyn, New York
Price per night: $8,000 USD

If you’re going to spend $8,000 a night to stay in New York, you’d probably expect to be in Manhattan rather than Brooklyn, but one look at the photos of this classic brownstone and you’ll see why the price tag. The 10,000 square foot home was built in 1887 and combines the vintage details and character with modern furnishings. Owned by interior designer Jessica Warren the home is being offered on Airbnb as a film location (hence the price tag). In addition to the 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms is a green room, hang out space and a kitchen that is “perfect for craft service”. All for the starting price of $8,000 for a 12 hr shoot.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

2. Abode at Red Cloud

–Park City, Utah
Price per night: $10,000 USD

If you’re planning on making a trip to next year’s Sundance Film Festival and have very deep pockets, check out the Abode at Red Cloud in Park City Utah. This mountain mansion features a spectacular great room with massive fireplace, 2 master suites, wine cellar, exercise room, steam room, screening room (for private film festival parties) and a ski room which provides direct access to the Red Cloud chair lifts via a heated walkway. While this place would probably be any skiers dream, the price tag of $10,000 USD per night put it comfortably out of reach for most. Oh, and did we mention there’s a 3 night minimum?

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

1. Historical Mansion Garden District

–New Orleans, Louisiana
Price per night: $10,000 USD

This beautiful 4,000 square foot Greek revival style mansion is located in the Garden District of New Orleans. The Airbnb listing claims past guests have been A-list movie stars but doesn’t go as far as to mention any names. The house features 4 large guest rooms each with adjoining bathroom, a kitchen many chefs would be envious of, a pool and gardens. As you can see from the photo, the house is beautiful and decorated in a lavish style that suits the history of the mansion, but at a price tag of $10,000 per night plus cleaning and service fees, this luxury home is reserved for the rich and famous.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

The 10 Coolest Sandcastle Competitions In The World

When you think of sand castles, you might reminisce about your younger years spent by the beach building little ones with buckets and digging holes. The competitive world of sand castles and sand sculpting however is a far cry from those attempts you made as a toddler. Today, there are over 20 amazing sand castle competitions around the world and numerous amateur events and festivals.
At each competition, world renowned sand sculptors compete to build amazing structures based on themes such as dinosaurs, fairy tales or more current topics like climate change. You’ll be blown away by the sheer size and complexity of each design, especially considering they’re only made out of sand and water. Some of these competitions have been running for decades while others are just a few years old. Whether you want to visit one in Australia, Europe or the United States of America, we have you covered with this list of the 10 Coolest Sand Castle Competitions In The World.

10. The Sun & Sea Festival Imperial Beach

-Imperial Beach, California, USA
The Sun & Sea Festival held in Imperial Beach, California, has a long and impressive history reaching as far back as 1960. Over 50 years ago a public festival of the same name was held to celebrate the date of the city’s incorporation. This annual event featured a sand sculpting competition. From 1980 to 2011, Imperial Beach hosted the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, which was a similar success. When that annual contest ended, a new family friendly event was created which is now known as The Sun & Sea Festival.

At this event, world-class sand castle builders will compete for 5 full hours to create amazing and intricate sand creations and battle for the championship. In previous years, giant sculptures spanning meters across were built, so you can expect to be blown away by the creations built. A Kids ‘n Kastles Sand-Building Competition will also be held as well as a Farmer’s Market and an International Food Fair, showcasing the wide variety of events Imperial Beach has to offer. The event will feature a community parade, live music, children’s activities and a pancake breakfast. It’s the perfect place to visit with family and friends and enjoy a world renowned and traditional sand castle competition.

PhotonCatcher / Shutterstock.com
PhotonCatcher / Shutterstock.com

9. Blue Water SandFest

-Port Huron, Michigan, USA
The Blue Water SandFest is less than 5 years old but it’s already cementing itself as one of the best sand competitions out there today. This is Michigan’s first and only Masters sand sculpting event and is held at the foot of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, along the beautiful beaches of Lake Huron. All proceeds raised from Blue Water SandFest contribute towards the renovation and restoration of historic buildings on the grounds of the Fort Gratiot Light Station County Park.

Amateurs and advanced sand artists compete over three days in hopes of winning the championship. The amateur contest involves approximately 3-6 hours of sculpting time while the advanced competition takes 2-3 days to complete with 20 hours of sculpting time. You’ll also find interactive sand sculptures, live music, sand sculpting demonstrations and even lessons from professional sand artists. The Blue Water SandFest features a Quick Sand Speed Sand Sculpting competition (that’s a mouthful!) where two sculptors go head to head for 10 minutes, creating a sculpture based on a suggestion from the audience. It’s a great way to see the skill and complexity involved. There’s also an interactive photo opportunity so you can step in and become part of the sand art, then have your photo taken. There are a lot of activities on that would appeal to family and friends making it a fantastic three day event.

nosonjai / Shutterstock.com
nosonjai / Shutterstock.com

8. Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition

-Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, USA
If you’re looking for a seriously cool sand sculpting competition, this is it. Beginning in 2000, local artist Greg Grady was commissioned to create a larger than life replica of the New Hampshire quarter out of 10 tonnes of sand. It was such a success that the Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition was created the following year and has been going strong since, now attracting thousands and thousands of visitors each year.

This invitation only event has grown in leaps and bounds and is now the largest Masters competition in the Northeast United States. During the three day event, only sand, water and creativity is used to create amazing sand masterpieces. Over 150 tonnes of sand is used each year by the contestants, who are all competing for cash prizes and awards worth up to $15,000. Awards include “Sculptor’s Choice” and The “People’s Choice”.  When completed, the sand sculptures are sprayed with a solution of glue and water to protect them from the elements. This allows them to remain standing for weeks creating a free sand art exhibition which is also illuminated at night. This is certainly a world class competition that should be on your bucket list.

Sean Donohue Photo / Shutterstock.com
Sean Donohue Photo / Shutterstock.com

7. The Hawaii Sand Festival

-Hanalei, Hawaii, USA
As you would imagine on a beautiful island like Kauai in Hawaii, many families and friends enjoy going to the beach to frolic in the sea and sand and spend time together. In Kauai they have taken that tradition one step further and created the largest sand sculpture contest in Hawaii. The Hawaii Sand Festival/Sand Castle/Art Contest is held in the town of Hanalei during the Summer, and it is the only sand castle competition in Hawaii. This is a not for profit event which aims to raise awareness and appreciation for the ocean and the islands.

This free event invites amateur and professional sand sculptors from all over the world. Over one day, contestants are invited to create a sand castle or sand sculpture using only sand, water and the basic tools such as shovels, pails and spray bottles. Individuals or teams of any size are welcome to create their vision and enjoy a day at the beach as sand sculptors. There are four competitive divisions including kids under 12, Youth 12-17, Beginner Level and Competitive Level. Contestants can also enjoy music whilst building their masterpiece, making it a fun, family friendly atmosphere. To top it all off, world renowned sculptors are often invited to provide free lessons to the public on how to build an impressive work of art from sand.

PhotonCatcher / Shutterstock.com
PhotonCatcher / Shutterstock.com

6. European Championship Sand Sculpting

-Zandvoort aan Zee, The Netherlands
An initiative of the World Sand Sculpting Academy (WSSA) in The Hague, the European Championship Sand Sculpture Festival is held in the seaside village of Zandvoort aan Zee -also known as Amsterdam Beach. The sand is brought in from the River Maas near Nijmegen and professional artists from around the world are invited to compete in this event. The WSSA is the leading organisation responsible for initiating sand sculpting activities around the world and oversees this event.

In previous years, the European Championship has seen representatives from Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine, Portugal, Czech Republic and Spain. In 2014 eight sculptors from eight different European countries created an impressive sand sculpture based on the theme ‘Music and Dance’. Don’t expect to see little sand castles here, instead you will be treated to sculptures rising meters high, all created using the basic materials of water and sand. Previous years saw a giant recreation of Elvis as well as huge musical sheets and instruments. This competition truly showcases the craftsmanship and artistry of sand sculpting at its finest. Come wind, rain or hail, this competition will go ahead! Once the competition is finished, the sculptures are sprayed in an environmentally friendly coating, allowing them to be admired by the public for months after.

In Green / Shutterstock.com
In Green / Shutterstock.com

5. Weston Sand Sculpture Festival

-Weston Super Mare, Somerset, UK
The Sand Sculpture Festival at Weston Super Mare had its humble beginnings in 2006 when two sculptors from the Netherlands created a giant King Kong using 30 tonnes of sand. The following year, eight sand artists from around Europe came back to create four incredibly big sculptures to the theme of fairy tales, using a total of 120 tonnes of sand. Each year since, the competition has only gotten bigger and better attracting more visitors each year and has become one of the largest sand events in the UK. In 2015, 4000 tonnes of sand will be used by fifteen of the world’s best sand sculptors.

Each year the competition uses fun and interesting themes such as Under the Sea, The Continents of the World, The Jungle, Great Britain and Hollywood. This year, the organisers invited suggestions from the public, making it a great way to get involved in this family friendly competition. The contestants will build for eight hours a day for nine days, creating huge works of art that will be on exhibition for weeks. Those who encounter the sand creations are amazed by both the sheer scale of the sculptures and the complex detail and skill that goes into each one.

PhotonCatcher / Shutterstock.com
PhotonCatcher / Shutterstock.com

4. Sand Castle Competition at Havre-Aubert

-Magdalen Islands, Quebec, Canada
Havre-Aubert is a tiny sandbar located in the archipelago of the Magdalen Islands, in the Gulf of St Lawrence. The area’s communities are artisans who enjoy participating in the long held summer tradition of building sand castles. The shoreline on Havre-Aubert runs for an impressive 12 kilometers and is characterized by the beautiful golden color of the sand, a fine grain variety caused from erosion of the red sandstone cliffs. This makes it ideal for sand sculpting so it’s no surprise there is a world famous competition held here.

Here you will find the ‘World’s Biggest Sand Castle Contest’ or the Concours de Châteaux de Sable. This competition has been running for over 25 years and is strictly for sand castles, so don’t expect to find any Disney characters or dinosaurs here. Over 500 builders now participate in this event and they have only one day to build their amazingly complex and beautiful castles. There are prizes for the best in the adult category, family, freestyle and even animation. If you want to be blown away by the humble sand castle, this is the place to go. When visiting this competition, give yourself at least three hours to walk along the shore and admire the works of art created.

David P. Lewis / Shutterstock.com
David P. Lewis / Shutterstock.com

3. Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition

-Siesta Key, Florida, USA
The Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition, founded in 2010, has fast become a favorite for professional sand sculptors and visitors alike with over 35,000 attendees each year. Named as one of Americas top beaches, the beauty of the pristine white sand makes it the perfect location for this competition and showcases the complex designs created. Each year proceeds are donated to the Mote Marine Laboratory’s sea turtle research and conservation programs and attendees are able to visit the turtles during the competition.

During the four day event, sculptors have 24 hours to create amazing sand sculptures and create an outdoor sand art gallery. Some creations are over ten feet high and use tonnes of sand to finish the masterpiece. In previous years, the Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition featured many international teams including Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Mexico, Philippines and the United Kingdom, along with multiple U.S. states. There is also an annual Quick Sand competition where two sculptors compete against each other to complete a sand sculpture in only 10 minutes. The audience chooses the sculptor by applauding the loudest and it’s a great way to see how quickly a complex sculpture can be created.

PhotonCatcher / Shutterstock.com
PhotonCatcher / Shutterstock.com

2. Sand Safari, Australian Sand Sculpting Championship

-Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia
Summer in Australia is hot and long and many families enjoy the tradition of visiting the beach and building sand castles. The Sand Safari Competition held at Surfers Paradise in Queensland, takes this tradition to a whole new level as professional sand sculptors create amazing works of art along the foreshore. Each year ten professional sculptors enter the competition for a chance to win the championship.

Each sculpture can reach up to 4 metres high and range from 10-25 tonnes, so it’s no small feat! A total of approximately 180 tonnes of sand is manipulated into the artists’ interpretation of the theme. In previous years the competition saw complex castles, temples and even jungles with animals. In 2015 the theme is ‘Disney’ and each sculptor will be be creating scenes and characters using only sand and water.They will bring Disney’s magical friendships to life and it’s a great opportunity for family and friends alike to come and admire these creations. Running for two weeks each year, there’s plenty of time to visit and Sand Safari also runs additional interactive displays such as a sculpture exhibition where you can have your photo taken or participate in sand art workshops.

GTS Productions / Shutterstock.com
GTS Productions / Shutterstock.com

1. The American Institute of Architects SandCastle Competition

-Galveston, Texas, USA
This competition is one of the largest in the world and has been running for over twenty years in Galveston, Texas. Given that it’s run by the American Institute of Architects, you can expect some pretty complex and creative sculptures to be built over the one day competition. Teams of architects, designers, and engineers have taken their buckets and shovels to the beach each year for some healthy competition and work for five hours non-stop creating their masterpieces. The American Institute of Architects SandCastle Competition is also a fund-raising event for AIA Houston and the ArCH Foundation.

Last year the Golden Bucket award (or first place) went to Matrix Design Inc for a complex sand structure called “Enter the dragon” featuring a detailed 3D dragon and holy temples. Each sculpture is judged according to a set criteria including originality of concept, artistic execution, technical difficulty, carving technique, and utilisation of the site. The awards granted to the teams include Best Traditional, That’s Entertainment, Most Complex, Stars & Stripes, Best Architectural, Most Hilarious and Most Lifelike/Realistic. Some notable entries from 2014 include ‘Muppet Rushmore’ featuring your favourite muppet characters in place of the American presidents. You’re sure to see a wide range of amazing sand castles and sculptures at this event.

Anna Hoychuk / Shutterstock.com
Anna Hoychuk / Shutterstock.com

Lonely Planet’s Best of the U.S. 2015

America the beautiful… so many sights to see, places to explore and winding roads to follow. With all that choice it’s hard to decide where to spend your treasured vacation days but fear not, after reading this article you’ll likely have some new inspiration. As the year wraps up, the people at the ever popular travel guide publisher Lonely Plant have started making predictions and recommendations for your next year of travel.

This list showcases some amazing American locales with a variety ranging from old favorites to new up and coming destinations on the cusp of major tourist booms. With offerings highlighting the best of natural beauty, city life, culture and the rugged west, there’s a destination to suit every kind of traveler. Oh, you’re already asking what about the foodies? Well, all you culinary travelers, no need to worry because the whole country has been going through a sort of local food resurgence, so no matter where you go you can expect something delicious to be waiting around every corner.

10. Mount Shasta Region, California

Tucked away in California’s lesser known northern end lies the majestic Mount Shasta. It’s landscape reminiscent of scenes from such far flung places like Mount Fuji in Japan or Mount Ararat in Turkey. This potentially active volcano lies among Native American tribal lands and has long been regarded as a deeply spiritual place and a center of creation.

Of course climbing the 14,179 ft ascent to the summit is a popular activity during the summer time for both experienced trekkers heading for the top or those just exploring the more leisurely trails, but those not up for that kind of challenge can explore Mount Shasta city which lies at the base of the volcano. This quaint city offers B&B’s, adorable inn’s, cafes and locally owned shops that blend old time charm with new age appeal. Come visit this region for excellent nearby trout fishing, many hiking opportunities, a city teaming with charm and the chance to enjoy one of California’s lesser known natural wonders.

Mount Shasta, California

9. Duluth, Minnesota

Another great American outdoor destination, Duluth lies between the crashing waves of Lake Superior on one side and snow-capped mountains on the other.  Being surrounded by all this natural beauty it’s no wonder that 150 Olympic athletes call Duluth their hometown.

One major highlight of the area is the 290 mile Superior Hiking Trail which runs around the lake enroute to the Canadian border. The trail passes some spectacular sights such as waterfalls, red-rock outcrops and if you’re lucky maybe some wildlife. The trail isn’t the end of the outdoor adventures to be had either, in the winter there’s nearby skiing, zip-ling in the summer and the lake offers the opportunity for watersports like kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing and boating. Another familiar Duluth native is legendary musician Bob Dylan, who’s album ‘Highway 61’ turns 50 in 2015. Visit this Minnesota gem and check out his birthplace or take a road trip on the actual Highway 61 and see where you end up.

Duluth, Minnesota

8. Oakland, California

The city of Oakland hasn’t always been considered a great American tourist destination but thanks to sky-high real estate and cost of living in neighbouring San Francisco, people are moving east of the bay to the more affordable city of Oakland, bring with them the trendy hipster vibe of the bay area.

As the city flourishes, it’s come to host innovative restaurants like the Michelin-rated Commis where you can enjoy an 8-course dinner for $95 or experience a modern twist on soul food at Brown Sugar Kitchen. Aside from eating the city also has a booming arts culture which can be explored during Oakland’s Art Murmur, which is a doors open art gallery event on the first Friday of each month. Or for an amazing live music or performance experience visit one of the city’s historic theaters like the Fox, Paramount, or Grand Lake theatres. No matter how you choose to spend your time in Oakland, we know you’ll see how this city’s come a long way and will surely enjoy some much due tourist attention in 2015.

cdrin / Shutterstock.com
cdrin / Shutterstock.com

7. Greenville, South Carolina

This next entry makes us believe the people at Lonely Planet are really pushing outdoor exploration and activity for 2015! But that’s ok with us, especially when it comes in the form of a place as beautiful as Greenville South Carolina.

Six rugged state parks are within easy driving range of this city that favors those who appreciate natural beauty. Right in the city itself you’ll find one of the best natural attractions around; the Reedy River. With trails and gardens winding along its banks, rent a bicycle from Greenville B-Cycle and take a ride along this picturesque waterfront. Explore the city’s revitalized Main Street area for local shops, cafes, craft-beer restaurants and review-worthy restaurants. Make sure you keep your eyes out for the “Mice on Main”! For the best blend of attractive natural scenery and a city that offers so much for explorers and families alike, make sure you check out Greenville this coming year.

Falls Park, Greenville, South Carolina

6. Indianapolis, Indiana

Reading the next city on this list you might think Lonely Planet is off the mark but believe us when we say Indy has a surprising amount of interesting things to see and do! Race fans can check out the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway where you can actually take a spin around the track. The Indy Zoo also has a great new International Orangutan Center where you can get up close and personal with these fascinating animals. The Indianapolis restaurant scene doesn’t disappoint diners with a range from local farm to table establishments, world class steakhouses and trendy brewhouses.

Families especially have the upper hand here as the kids can enjoy the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the world’s largest museum just for the kiddies. In 2015 the museum turns 90 years old so you can bet there will be appropriate celebrations. Come for the vintage carousel or come for the enormous dinosaur collection but either way come to Indy.

Indianapolis Indiana

5. North Conway, New Hampshire

Alright, so there’s not a lot going on in the small New Hampshire Village known as North Conway, but that’s exactly the reason it’s made this list. A far cry from busy city life, this destination is quintessentially New England with quaint B&B’s, covered bridges worthy of landscape paintings and scenery that just won’t quit.

The best time to visit this area is in the fall when the trees are seemingly ablaze with vivid colors of red, orange and yellow. You can take a hike to see the colors upclose on one of the many area trails, or drive the famed Kancamagus Highway. Alternatively, take a relaxing ride on the Conway Scenic Railway which makes its way through the New England country side and gives guests the opportunity to site back, relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery in comfort and luxury. The village of North Conway celebrates its 250th birthday in 2015 so there’s no better time to visit this quaint countryside.

North Conway, New Hampshire

4. Colorado River region

This choice by lonely planet speaks not to a specific city but to the beauty and natural wonder of the famous Colorado River and the areas it flows through.  Starting in Colorado’s legendary Rocky Mountain National Park, the 1,450 mile waterway then flows through Utah’s Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park before flowing through Arizona and the spectacular Grand Canyon.

While the river itself is more than worthy of your tourism time, the many interesting spots along its route could easily make an amazing road trip. Check out the city of Moab Utah, famous for dessert adventures and once in a lifetime hiking trips in the nearby parks. In Arizona, the 290 mile stretch of the Colorado that flows through the Grand Canyon to Lake Mead features nearly 100 rapids, with amazing sights and some remote beaches along the way. In a world of environmental uncertainty, take advantage of this natural wonder while it’s still here to enjoy.

Colorado River

3. New Orleans, Louisiana

Flash back 10 years ago and New Orleans was under water. The tragedy of hurricane Katrina may be gone but not forgotten and 2015 marks the 10th anniversary so what better time to come to New Orleans and experience the blend of old and new. Yes, the Big Easy isn’t just back, it’s thriving, and it shows in everything from the music, to the food to the cultural celebrations that make this city so special.

The people of New Orleans pride themselves on tradition but they’re not afraid to mix it up once in a while either. Experience this new life fused with old traditions at Pêche Seafood Grill where James Beard Award winning chef Ryan Prewitt prepares modern coastal seafood dishes in an open hearth over hardwood coals. Oh, did we mention the restaurant also won the 2014 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant? Most come to New Orleans looking for nightlife and the city’s live music scene is alive and well so be prepared to experience the best jazz, bounce, rock and brass bands the city has to offer.

Chuck Wagner / Shutterstock.com
Chuck Wagner / Shutterstock.com

2. Western South Dakota

Few places in the country are as ruggedly beautiful as the wild expanse of Western South Dakota. So vastly different to the big cities that one might forget exactly what country they’re in…but just when you might start to forget you’re reminded by the giant rock carvings of 4 noble men.

In 2015 there are a number of events of note happening in this region. First at Custer State Park, they’ll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Buffalo Roundup. This event sees skilled cowboys and cowgirls move 1400 buffalo to their winter grazing home. Witnessing this wild event is definitely a sight to behold. Another parade of sorts is the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which is the largest motorcycle gathering in the world and happens each August. This year the more than 500,000 participants will be celebrating the events 75th anniversary so you can bet the 2015 Rally will be bigger and louder than ever!

Custer State Park South Dakota

1. Queens, New York

It’s a secret that mostly just New Yorkers are clued in to; Queens the city’s largest of the 5 boroughs has been on the rise for a while and is quickly becoming one of the trendiest. It’s a secret that Lonely Planet wants travelers to know about for 2015 as they deemed this New York locale their #1 for Best of the US 2015.

With more and more people relocating to Queens for the (slightly) more affordable living and less congested lifestyle it’s no wonder so many great new things are spring up here, from chic new hotels to craft breweries and innovative local eateries. It’s also home to the city’s largest Chinatown and a flourishing arts scene thanks to places like Queens Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image, and many arts festivals. So forget Manhattan (ok don’t forget it but expand your travel horizons) and come explore Queens this year.

Long Island City, Queens New York

The 10 Best Day Hikes in America

Whatever your experience or location, in America there are so many hikes that you’ll always be faced with a tough choice as to which one you want to tackle.  From swamps in the south to canyons in the west, via the spectacular southern monoliths, giving a definitive list of the best hikes in the country is, quite possibly, an impossible task.  Here’s a few that, given the chance, you definitely should not miss.

1. Letchworth State Park, New York

The park is known  as ‘The Grand Canyon on the East’, and for good reason, as the Genesee River snakes and tumbles its way down the gorge it has cut through the beautiful surrounding forest.  An excellent day hike for all experience levels will take you about 11 km through the canyon past the lower, middle and upper falls, with plenty of places to stop along the way to take in the views, picnic and learn about the history of the Genesee valley area.  If you don’t want to stop at hiking, other activities are readily available, including white water rafting, and snow tubing in the winter.  The park has many campgrounds for overnight visitors.

Letchworth State Park

2. Border Route Trail, Minnesota

The clue’s in the name as the trail hugs the border between Minnesota and Ontario, following the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).  The trail is 65 miles long in all, so unless you’re planning on an impromptu ironman triathlon, taking on the whole thing in a day is probably out of the question.  The Border Route can be accessed by connecting trails though, making a day hike possible along the rugged ridges and cliffs that it follows, which give way to stunning views over the surrounding wilderness.  Be sure to plan ahead and grab the Border Route Trail guide and map before you head off.

Border Route Trail

3. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park’s landscape is a mix of steep sided eroded hills and canyons – where it gets its name – and expansive grass lands, so the trails and hikes here are really as difficult as you want them to be, and there are plenty to take on in a day.  The Castle Trail is a great day hike at 16 km round trip, and passes along some of the badlands formations along the way.  If you’re not looking for anything too strenuous the Door and Fossil Exhibit boardwalk trails give you great views, as well as information about the history and wildlife of the park without too much physical work.  The Ben Reifel Visitor Center has all the information you need before heading out.

Badlands National Park

4. Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm, Washington

The landscape this stunning trail meanders through is somewhat of an anomaly.  When you stop and take in the surrounding scenes you’ll be met with nothing but beautiful, quintessentially rugged mountainous splendour, which doesn’t match the perch you inhabit.  The striking greenery of the trail is made possible through a number of factors and makes for some of the most breathtaking terrain you’re likely to see.  Highlights include the sudden view of Doubtful Lake, with Sahale glacier and mountain climbing high into the background, as well as world class camping at the glacier terminus.  And a good chance of spying a bear.  The hike is a 12 mile round trip and isn’t a casual affair, so be sure to plan ahead, and take all the correct supplies and permits.

Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm

5. Enchanted Valley, Washington

A round trip hike through the famous valley is over 20 miles in total, and is definitely one to take on when time isn’t an issue.  Great day hikes are a possibility though, such as the Graves Creek to Pony Bridge track, which follows a section of the East Fork of the Quinault River through a deep channel to the Bridge.  The walk takes you through imposingly high trees, through a canyon and onto views off the bridge of the river and falls way below.  In winter stay sharp as huge elk herds mass in the area.

Enchanted Valley Washington

6. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

This Northern Californian park is dominated by Lassen Peak, one of the world’s largest plug dome volcanoes, and attracts close to half a million visitors annually. Lassen Volcanic National Park features a range of contrasting scenery, from towering lava peaks to colourful wildflower valleys, joined by rich coniferous woodland. There are a number of great day hikes to take on throughout the park, at varying levels of difficulty, and some of the best are in the Warner Valley Area, which is alive with geothermal activity. The Devil’s Kitchen and Terminal Geyser trails are a manageable distance and take hikers through a maze of bubbling mud-holes and steaming vents.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

7. Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

Around 25 miles southwest of Amarillo lies the second largest canyon in the US, Palo Duro, carved into the landscape by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.  One of the best and most travelled trails in the park is the Lighthouse trail which leads to the eponymous rock formation, just over 5 miles round trip.  You can couple this with a wander along some of the shorter, easy trails scattered through the canyon; the Paeso Del Rio and Pioneer Nature Trail give you staggering views of the surrounding landscape, as well as a peak into the past, passing by cowboy hideouts dating back to the 19th century.  Due to the climate be sure to plan ahead and take a lot of water.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

8. Congaree, South Carolina

Most of the trails at Congaree National Park lie beneath some of the oldest woodland in the US, which includes some incredible pines.  Trails start and spread out from a centralized boardwalk loop separated into two sections – the low boardwalk sits just above the swampy forest floor, while the elevated portion creeps higher through the massive ancient trees.  A variety of trails spiral off into the park, the longest being the King Snake Trail (11 miles one direction) which dives deepest into the surrounding wilderness, increasing your chances of catching a glimpse of the abundant local wildlife.  Lookout for deer, wild pigs and turkeys, and a bobcat if you’re lucky.  Check trail conditions ahead of time as a lot of the park is submerged outside of summer months.

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

9. Angels Landing, Zion Canyon, Utah

Along with a map and food and water, a head for heights is a definite prerequisite for this famous hike.  The trail is about 5 miles round trip and the first section to the foot of the mountain is an easy amble alongside the Virgin River, before the track steepens and starts to hairpin its way up the steep slope.  Before you take on the final ascent, rest at Scout Lookout and take in the amazing views down Zion Canyon.  The last half mile is an intense hike along a narrow ridge, with drops of around 1000m on either side.  Anchored chains are in place for grip at points along the way.  The views from the summit are like nothing else you’ll ever witness, as the sheer red cliffs give way to the meandering river over a kilometre below.

Zion Canyon

10. The Franconia Ridge, New Hampshire

This popular 9 mile loop traverses the three peaks of Mount Lincoln, Mount Lafayette and Little Haystack, and is manageable in a day.  The loop consists of a number of trails, including the Falling Water, Greenleaf and Fraconia Ridge trails, and as the names suggest the scenery on show is gorgeous.  The peaks of the mountains and connecting ridge are pretty exposed making for stunning, uninterrupted views, as well as changeable conditions and cold winds outside summertime, so be sure to pack for all eventualities.  For possibly the best experience take a winter hike, with all the right planning and gear of course.

Franconia Notch Ridge Trail #2