Interesting Facts About The United States

The United States of America, the land of the free consists of 50 states. Over 327 million people reside in America making it the third most populous country in the world. The US is also the fourth largest country in the world by total area. This vast country is well known across the world and has a cultural imprint that is driven by technological innovation, popular movies, television, and music. Discover all the amazing and interesting things America has to offer with these 20 interesting facts.

1. America Is Home To Many Natural Wonders

America is home to many natural wonders of the world. In fact, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recognized many heritage sites in America. According to UNESCO, a world heritage site is a place of special cultural or physical significance.

Some examples of the UNESCO world heritage sites in America are the Grand Canyon National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and a few others. Check out the full list of Natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the USA.

Source: Shutterstock

 

2. The US Has The 4th Longest River System In The World

The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. The river derives from Montana, located at the base of the Rocky Mountains and flows for approximately 2, 341 miles (3, 767 kilometers) before it empties into the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis, Missouri. The Missouri River and the Mississippi River combine to create the 4th longest river system in the world.

For thousands of years, many people have depended on the Missouri River. From drinking water to transportation, irrigation, flood control and now even for the generation of hydroelectric power. As you can see this long body of water has played an important role over the years.

Source: Shutterstock

 

3. The US Has The Largest Economy In The World

The United States has maintained its position of being the world’s largest economy since 1871. The economy is so large that the US is often noted as an economic superpower and this is due to the fact that it makes up almost a quarter of the global economy.

The US economy is connected to the country’s enormous population, technological innovation, high consumer spending, high average incomes, as well as a moderate unemployment rate.

Source: Shutterstock

 

4. The American Flag Has Had 27 Versions

The first American flag only displayed 13 stripes as well as 13 stars that were arranged in a circle. The stars and stripes represented the 13 colonies that declared independence from Great Britain. While the origins of the first American Flag are unknown, some do believe that is was designed by a New Jersy Congressman, Francis Hopkinson and sewn by a Philadelphia seamstress, Betsy Ross.

Since the founding of the United State, there have been 27 versions of the American flag. Each new flag represented the addition of new states. Today, the American flag displays 50 stars that represent the 50 states that make up the US.

Source: Shutterstock

 

5. Home To Some of The Best Musical Artist Of All Time

Not only is America a huge country, but their musical impression has made a big impact on the world too. America dominates the music industry as there are so many talented musicians that call America home.

Some of the best musical artists include Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Hendrix, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, and many many more.

Source: Ralf Liebhold / Shutterstock.com

 

6. Center of Entertainment

America has a huge impact on global culture and a portion of that stems from entertainment. Many romance and action movies we enjoy are filmed and produced in the United States.

Hollywood is globally well-known as the center of entertainment and some would consider that it is one of the most famous places on earth. Hollywood attracts tourists from all over the world with landmarks such as the brass star embedded Walk of Fame and the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Source: Shutterstock

 

7. Washington, DC Wasn’t Always The Capital Of America

Many recognize Washington, DC as the capital of the United States but that wasn’t always the case. Washington didn’t become the capital until 1790.

Believe it or not, from 1785 until 1790, New York City served as the countries capital. While it may not be the capital today, over 8 million people reside in New York City, making it the most populous city in America.

Source: Shutterstock

8. Las Vegas Is The Gambling Capital Of The World

Las Vegas, Nevada is the 28th-most populated city in the United States and is the most populous city in Nevada. This famous city is renowned for its nightlife, entertainment, gambling, shopping, and fine dining. Las Vegas has the largest strip of casinos which has earned this city the Gambling Capital of the World title.

The city is also famous for its mega casino-hotels which has also earned Las Vegas the title of Entertainment Capital of the World. Further, Las Vegas is one of the world’s most visited tourist destinations as well as one of the top destinations for business conventions in the United States.

Source: Shutterstock

9. There Is More Bourbon Than People In Kentucky

The bourbon industry is growing at a fast pace. This is great news for Kentucky, as they produce 96 percent of the world’s bourbon. Due to the high demand, Kentucky stores about 4.7 million barrels filled with bourbon. Surprisingly the number of barrels outweighs the population of Kentucky as there are 4.3 million residents.

Some speculate that this booming industry has the American drama series, Mad Men, to thank for making bourbon cocktails cool again. Nonetheless, whether you like bourbon because it’s trendy or because you simply enjoy the flavor, we all have the State of Kentucky to thank for this delicious beverage.

Source: Shutterstock

 

10. There Is a City Named Boring And It’s In Oregon

When you hear the word boring, nothing exciting comes to mind. So you might be asking yourself who would ever want to reside in a city name Boring. Believe it or not, tucked away in the state of Oregon about 20 miles from Portland, is a city named Boring with a population of over 7 thousand people.

While this may sound like an obscure name for a city, the name was chosen for a reason. The city was named after its founder, William H Boring, who farmed the land in the 1870s. To make things more exciting, Boring, Oregan partnered with Dull, Scotland and have even declared August 9 as the annual Dull, Boring Day. This newfound partnership has sparked tourist’s interest and is putting Boring, Oregan back on the map.

11. The US Doesn’t Have An Official Language

While English is predominantly spoken across the United States, on a federal level there are no laws stating that English is the official language. However, even though there are no federal laws, 31 states have declared English the official language.

Further, there are only a few states that are officially bilingual. For example, in New Mexico, the official language is English and Spanish, whereas, in Louisiana, the official language is English and French, and finally, in Hawaii, the official language is English and Hawaiin.

 

12. Alaska Has The Longest Coastline In The US

In comparison to other states, Alaska has the longest coastline. By definition, the coastline is the length of land bordering the ocean and Alaska borders both the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean.

To explain further, if you only measure the coastline, it is 6, 640 miles long whereas if you measure all the bays, and inlets, you’ll discover that Alaska stretches across 47, 000 miles, which is longer than all the states combined.

Source: Shutterstock

13. The US Is Called Many Names

The United States is by far the most famous country in the world. It’s famous for its attractions, such as the Grand Canyon, tech innovation, sports, and it has a large imprint on the global culture thanks to famous movies, television shows, and music.

However, did you know that the United States of America is referred to several different names? Some of these recognizable names are the United States, the U.S., the US, and America. Thankfully, all of these names are considered appropriate.

14. The US Has Many Hotels Featured In Famous Movies

Have you ever wondered what it would be like walking the halls of hotels that are featured in famous films? Well in America you can experience it! Many films use real hotels and resorts to shoot their scenes and this means we can visit and even stay overnight in them too.

Swim in the pool at The Fontainebleau, in Miami, Florida and relive the scenes of Scarface. Or perhaps you’d enjoy walking the halls of The Plaza hotel, in New York, NY where scenes from The Great Gatsby were shot. The Plaza is also featured in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Sleepless in Seattle as well as several other films too. Check out these other famous movie hotels where you can live like a star!

Source: MISHELLA / Shutterstock.com

15. There Are Many Free Museums In The Country’s Capital

Washington, D.C., America’s capital is the heart of American history and culture. There are many things to see and do in Washington DC including many free museums. The Smithsonian Institute museums are a must-visit and many of them are located on the National Mall.

In fact, 11 of the 20 Smithsonian Institute Museums are located in Washington, including the National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of American History, National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as several others.

Source: Kamira / Shutterstock.com

16. Full Of Beautiful Landscapes

While America is famous for the hustle and bustle of its major cities, this beautiful country also offers stunning picturesque landscapes. As mentioned previously, the Grand Canyons is one of the most popular tourist destinations when it comes to picturesque views but there are many others too.

Consider checking out America’s highest mountain, Mount Mckinley located in Alaska. Or perhaps you’d like to head to Utah and take in the view of Zion Canyon at the Zion National Park. For more beautiful landscapes be sure to check out the most picturesque views in the United States.

Source: Shutterstock

17. Iconic Food In America

Like other countries, America is famous for a few dishes. To begin, the iconic Twinkies were invented in Illinois in the 1930s by a baker named James Alexander Dewar. Legend has it that the name for this sugary snack was inspired by a billboard that was advertising for “Twinkle Toe Shoes”.

The inventor of corn dogs is uncertain, but it was definitely invented by someone in America in the later 1930s. Since then this popular State Fair food has made its way into the many freezers across North America and beyond. A few other iconic American foods include cheeseburgers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, s’mores, BBQ ribs, and more.

Source: calimedia / Shutterstock.com

18. The Statue Of Liberty Was A Gift

The Statue of Liberty, formally known as “Liberty Enlightening the World”, was a gift from France. This gift was sent to celebrate 100 years of Franco-American friendship. The statue was sculpted by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi while the framework was designed by a French engineer, Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower.

The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island in New York, NY. The torch is a symbol of enlightenment and lights the way to freedom by showing us the path to liberty.

Source: Shutterstock

19. The Gateway Arch Is The Tallest Monument In The US

The Gateway Arch, also known as the “Gateway to the West” is a monument in St. Louis, Missouri and sits along the west bank of the Mississippi River. At 630 feet tall, the Gateway Arch claims the title of the tallest man-made monument in the US.

The monument commemorates the westward expansion of the United States and is officially dedicated to “the American People”. The Arch is internationally recognized as a symbol of St. Louis and because of this, it is a popular tourist destination.

Source: Shutterstock

20. The Most Visited Museum Is In Washington

Have you ever been curious about the space shuttle, astronomy, or the Wright Brothers? Well, you can learn about these popular aviation and space topics at the most visited museum in America, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Located in Washington, D.C., this museum sees about 9 million visitors annually.

The admission to this museum is FREE and is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. The only day the Museum is closed, is on December 25.

Source: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

The Top Things to See and Do in Bend, Oregon

Bend is the largest urban area in central Oregon. With a permanent population of around 77,000 people, the modestly sized city is a testament to just how sparsely developed and unspoiled this beautiful region of the Pacific Northwest really is. Bend makes an excellent base for visits to the area, which draws large numbers of tourists each year. Central Oregon has a wealth of outdoor activities to enjoy, with Bend also serving as a noteworthy hub of local history and culture.

If you’re planning a visit, here are 12 activities you’ll want to make room for in your itinerary:

12. Trek Through Smith Rock State Park

This 651-acre state park is open all year round, and features a network of gorgeous hiking trails that offer stunning views of the unspoiled wilderness that extends for miles in every direction. Part of Oregon’s high desert plateau landscape, the park has an elevation of around 3,000 feet, delivering incredible vantage points you’ll remember for a lifetime.

Smith Rock State Park is also a rock climber’s paradise, with well over 1,000 climbing areas. Bear one thing in mind as you plan your visit: conditions can be very hot in the summer, and daytime temperatures can break the 100-degree barrier. Spring and fall are generally the best times to visit.

11. Drive the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

Also known as Forest Route 46, the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway is one of the most beautiful drives in the western United States. This 66-mile route passes eight beautiful lakes, where you can pause to take pictures or spend a few hours exploring. Breathtakingly beautiful Cultus Lake is a particularly appealing place to spend some time, as it has well-developed tourism and visitor facilities including a lodge and restaurant as well as boat rentals and overnight cabins. If roughing it is up your alley, you can also pitch a tent and camp.

10. Hit the Slopes at Mount Bachelor

The Mount Bachelor skiing area is a short drive from Bend, and is reachable from the scenic Century Drive Highway. With a total area of more than 1,000 acres, the Mount Bachelor ski area is Oregon’s largest, and it features one of the most generous skiing seasons of any resort in the country. Visitors can hit the slopes anytime between the middle of November and the end of May, though weather conditions can affect slope availability, especially in spring.

Mount Bachelor is well-known for its high-quality, naturally dry snow, and the mountain averages over 450 inches of snow per year. During the summer, the Mount Bachelor ski area transforms into a mountain biking hotspot, so you can enjoy its beauty no matter what time of year you visit.

9. Head Out on the Water at Elk Lake

Once you’re finished at Mount Bachelor, you can head about 11 miles further down the road to Elk Lake, which offers some of the most beautiful mountain scenery you’ll find anywhere in the world. The lake’s crystalline waters are ideal for sports and boating, and it is a particularly popular place to go fishing.

If you’re looking for a laid-back good time in a peaceful natural setting, Elk Lake is perfect. Motorboats are banned to help maintain the lake’s sense of calm tranquility. Elk Lake also boasts a beach with excellent swimming, amazing sunsets, miles of hiking trails, and a convenient on-site restaurant that serves some of the best burgers in Oregon.

Photo by: Elk Lake Resort and Marina Facebook

8. Check out the Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Designated in 1990, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument is housed within the beautiful Deschutes National Forest area. It covers about 50,000 acres of unique landforms, including volcanic caldera lakes and obsidian lava flows. Its Lava River Cave and Lava Cast Forest are especially popular tourist draws, with the forest resting atop a lava flow that’s about 6,000 years old. Its haunting molds make excellent photo opportunities.

The site’s Newberry Caldera serves as a camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation base. Campgrounds, indoor lodgings, and an excellent trail network encircle the scenic volcanic lake, which is accessible throughout the year.

7. Tour the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Area

If you want to experience another area filled with fascinating landforms, the Oregon Badlands Wilderness area beckons. Part of the National Landscape Conservation System since 2009, the Oregon Badlands Wilderness is a desert area that houses ancient Native American pictographs, arid canyons, centuries-old juniper trees, and formations of ancient igneous rocks that bear uncanny resemblances to castles. You can also enter the Oregon Desert Trail from the park, as its western end point exits into the badlands.

6. See Stars at the Pine Mountain Observatory

About 25 miles southeast of Bend, you’ll find one of the region’s premier places for gazing up into the heavens. The University of Oregon’s Pine Mountain Observatory serves as one of America’s leading astronomical research centers, and it is open to the public during the summer months. Several powerful telescopes deliver wondrous close-ups of celestial objects, which you can experience for yourself on weekends. The observatory is accessible on Saturdays and Sundays between Memorial Day and the final Sunday in September.

Photo by: Pine Mountain Observatory Facebook

5. Experience the Dreamlike Serenity of Mirror Pond

Central Oregon is brimming with natural lakes, but this artificially created pond is one of its most interesting places. Well worth a visit, Mirror Pond was formed by construction activities dating back to the early years of the 20th century, when the Bend Water, Light & Power Company built a dam to power Bend’s first electricity services. Mirror Pond is now a serene, quiet place to relax, and is surrounded by deciduous and evergreen scenery with snow-capped mountain peaks rising in the background.

4. Enjoy Local Food and Shopping in the Old Mill District

If you’re looking to head indoors for a little while, Bend has a wide range of shopping and dining options, especially considering the city’s relatively cozy size. Its Old Mill District is a great place to start, as this historic quarter of town occupies a pretty perch on the banks of the Deschutes River and houses an intriguing lineup of restaurants, locally owned shops and boutiques, galleries, and bars. Many of the area’s original buildings have been preserved and repurposed into award-wining and innovative mixed-use facilities.

Photo by: Old Mill District Facebook

3. Visit Bend’s Educational Museums

Bend has a long and interesting history, and the city’s story is well-told at the Deschutes Historical Museum and the High Desert Museum. The Deschutes Historical Museum is housed in a heritage schoolhouse, and features exhibits that cover the region’s history from prehistoric times to the pioneer era and beyond. The High Desert Museum is an excellent place to learn more about central Oregon’s deserts and badlands, and it’s a great place to visit either before or after you visit these unique geological regions in person.

Photo by: Deschutes Historical Museum Facebook

2. Attend the Bend Film Festival

If you’re in town during October, the Bend Film Festival is a highly recommended cultural activity. With screenings featuring the latest offerings from the region’s most renowned independent filmmakers, the festival also prioritizes cinema education through a fascinating lecture series.

Known for its staunch support of artistic expression over commercial objectives, the Bend Film Festival is a breath of fresh air on the annual movie circuit. Screenings take place in a range of interesting venues, including state-of-the-art projection rooms as well as historic theaters and eclectic performance spaces.

Photo by: BendFilm Festival Facebook

1. Delve into Oregon’s Storied Past

Bend has 10 sites that are part of the United States’ National Register of Historic Places, with several standouts that reward curious visitors. The Drake Park Historic Neighborhood district is a fantastic place to go for a walk if you want to see some great residential architecture, while the one-of-a-kind Goodwillie-Allen House is the oldest house within Bend’s city limits. Other noteworthy entries on this list include the N.P. Smith Pioneer Hardware Store, which dates to 1909 and stands as a rare and authentic glimpse into the old ways of bygone years, as well as the Gothic Revival-style Trinity Episcopal Church.

Photo by: Ian Poellet via Wikimedia Commons

7 Awesome Things to do with Kids in Oregon

Oregon is truly a visitor’s paradise, offering an abundance of things to see and do. But its not just grownups who have a great time in this state. There are a plethora of fun things for kids too, and we aren’t just talking your typical science centers and zoos. The state of Oregon encourages you to get outdoors with its towering ski hills, outdoor adventure centers, national parks and outdoor markets. You won’t find the kids telling you they are bored with any one of these 7 awesome things to do in Oregon.

7. Ski at Mt. Bachelor

Central Oregon’s most eligible ski gem Mt. Bachelor rises impressively over the high desert’s lava beds and pine forests. It hosts the highest-elevation ski runs in Oregon at just over 9,0000 feet and features 88 runs, seven high-speed quad lifts and a host of other activities that cater to the entire family. There are daily lessons to sign the kids up for, as well as adult lessons for the grownups.

If the kiddos don’t feel like strapping on the skies or snowboard, why not head over to the Snowblast Tubing Hill where kids and adults can slide down the 800ft hill. There are also free interpretive tours with a forest service naturalist on snowshoes. For something a little different why not head over to Oregon Trail of Dreams, a company offering winter sled dog rides. In the summertime Mt. Bachelor offers kids bike camps, disc golf, scenic chairlift rides and hiking.

6. Explore Crater Lake National Park

Traveling to Crater Lake National Park with kids is one serious volcano adventure that will thrill both the kids and the adults. The color of the water will surprise you, as it shines a brilliant blue, due to the fact that no streams flow into it and there is no sediment or other things to cloud the water. Head to the Rim Village Visitors Center where the kids can grab Junior Ranger booklets and check out the junior ranger activities that happen throughout the day.

Take the Rim Drive which offers many different outlooks as it loops around the lake, just make sure not to stop at every outlook as the kids will get bored. The two-hour boat trip around the lake is the perfect activity for kids, as they will learn about the different formations and history of the lake, or head to Cleetwood Cove which has access to the Lake, just beware the water is cold!

5. Play at Cannon Beach

This beautiful beach is known as the gem of the Oregon Coast, beckoning visitors from all over the world, along with a slew of locals who come to play here. The massive beach is a total of nine miles long and provides visitors with views of the Pacific Ocean and incredible sea stacks, including the iconic 235-ft. Haystack Rock. Cannon Beach is also full of tide pools featuring crabs, sea stars and other fascinating specimens.

Bonfires are popular amongst locals and visitors when the sun starts to fade and it’s an epic spot to watch a colorful sunset. In the sleepy town of Cannon Beach, visitors will find a handful of restaurants, galleries, cafes and a quaint small town feel.

4. Shop at the Portland Saturday Market

Head to the beautiful city of Portland where craft beer flows freely and the people are friendly. But there is more than that here in this wonderful city, including a plethora of awesome things to do with the kids. Besides the typical playgrounds and child-friendly activities, the Portland Saturday Market offers families the perfect outdoor outing. It is the largest continuously operated outdoor market in the United States.

This outdoor arts and craft markets are packed full of street entertainers, magicians and plenty of food trucks. Kids activities vary from week to week but include things like visitors from the Oregon Zoo, face painting, a puppet theatre and more. The main stage features a variety of local musicians and entertainers each week.

3. Explore Mt. Hood

There is endless fun for kids in the Mt. Hood area whether you are heading here in the winter or summer. Summertime brings free fishing clinics and guided hikes in the Mt. Hood National Forest, along with thousands of miles of hiking trails, with plenty of them family-friendly. Trillium and Frog Lake are the perfect canoe or kayak destinations and there are plenty of shops that offer rentals to visitors.

The Mt. Hood Adventure Park is open both summer and wintertime and provides endless hours of fun for all ages. In the wintertime plan on the kids sliding down the hills on tubes, riding kiddie sized snowmobiles, and an indoor heated play zone. In the summertime at this resort kids will have a blast mountain biking, bungee trampoline jumping, mini-golfing, rock climbing and more.

2. Visit Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

This 32,000-acre wonderland was created by ocean currents mixing with powerful winds, turning this landscape into more sandy hills and valleys then you can ever imagine. It is the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America and there is no place like it on earth. Wind-sculpted dunes tower over 500-feet above sea level and provide a playground like no other.

Thousands come to drive these sands, whether on a motorcycle, quad 4X4 or sand rail. There are numerous rental shops in the area in case you don’t happen to have your own off-road vehicle. Besides whipping across the dunes, there are a plethora of other activities here such as hiking, fishing, canoeing, horseback riding, and camping. With over 30 lakes, ponds and streams and some awesome coastal forest to explore, get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air.

1. Whitewater Raft on the Deschutes River

There are plenty of outdoor adventures to be had in Oregon, especially when it comes to the town of Bend. From this town, families can book an exciting whitewater rafting excursion on the Deschutes River. Sun Country Tours have been running whitewater rafting excursions since 1978 and offer a number of family-friendly rides.

The Big Eddy Thriller is a favorite amongst families as the little ones don’t even have to paddle! Splashing through rapids that range form class I to class III, there is plenty of float time in-between for little ones to catch their breath. You will get all the gear you need, experienced guides, life vests and one heck of a good time!

The 12 Most Unique Movie Theaters in the World

Forget watching Netflix at home or going to a regular movie theatre, all around the world from the United States to Norway to the UK there are some extremely unique theatres to visit. Some take credit for being hundreds of years old while others use new technology to wow moviegoers. From an elementary school turned brewpub/theatre to an outdoor cinema set up in a cemetery; here are our top 12 choices for the most unique movie theatres in the world.

12. Kennedy School, Portland, OR

This one time elementary school has been turned into a 35-room hotel, restaurant, and movie theatre, all thanks to McMenamins, a local empire of brewpubs and entertainment venues. The movie theatre located in the school’s old auditorium is a mix of comfortable sofas, armchairs, and tables for two. It can fit up to 300 guests inside where second-run feature films are shown nightly.

Mommy matinees are shown during the day from Tuesdays to Thursday s where kids and their parents can come enjoy the first show, and it won’t matter to anyone if the wee ones fuss. Admission here is a steal, at just $4 per person and just $2 a child. There is a special theatre lounge and lobby to grab a drink and bite to eat before the show, or put in your order, as servers will come to your seat throughout the movie so you don’t have to miss a minute of it. Not surprisingly there are a number of McMenamins Craft Beers on tap here!

Via Lonely Planet

11. Colosseum Kino, Oslo, Norway

It is the largest cinema in Northern Europe and the largest THX cinema in the world and is dominating in structure due to its large spherical dome. The grey and cream dome looks more like a futuristic spaceship rather than a movie theatre but it was actually built in 1921.

Throughout its 90 year history, the Colosseum Kino has managed to keep up with technological advances such as sounds systems, and ticketing systems. In 1998 the theatre closed down for a period of time in which major interior and exterior renovations were made.

Via Cinemaholic

10. The Castro Theatre, San Francisco

Built in 1922 by pioneer San Francisco theatre entrepreneurs, this is one of the last remaining movie palaces in the nation that was built in the 1920’s that is still in operation. Both outside and it is breathtakingly gorgeous with the inside being just a touch more luxurious. Expect to see foamy balconies, wall-mounted busts of heroic figures and an auditorium that seat over 1,400 guests in a fantasy setting that is both lavish and intimate.

On either side of the screen are large organ grills, a large art deco chandelier hangs from the room and two dramatic staircases lead to the mezzanine and balcony. Showing here are foreign films, classic revivals, festivals and some of the most intense audiences in town.  In recent years the sound quality has been improved, new stage lighting was installed and larger and more comfortable seats were put on the main floor.

9. Electric Cinema, London

Visitors to the Electric Cinema in London should expect luxury service in this adults aimed hideout in the chic Notting Hill Neighborhood. It is one of the oldest working cinemas in the country, opening in 1910 and has run almost continuously since that time. The interior of the theater is made up of 65 leather armchairs with footstools and side tables, three 2-seater sofas at the rear and six double beds in the front row.

To make things even better, individual cashmere blankets are provided for guests. The bar opens 10 minutes before screening time, whereas the movie starts 30 minutes after screening time. Offering wine, beer, champagne and a variety of snacks; one must get their food and drinks ahead of time. On Monday mornings babies and their caregivers are invited to Electric Scream, a screening designed especially for them.

Via YouTube

8. Raj Mandir Cinema, Jaipur, India

It is nicknamed the “Pride of Asia” and is considered the crown jewel of India’s cinemas, and certainly lives up to its reputation. The theatre was created to make guests feel as though they were royal guests of a palace, a place full of style and elegance. Walking into this theatre is an experience unlike any other, high ceilings hung with huge chandeliers, lighting that changes from white to blue and walls covered in artistic artwork.

The seating here is divided into four sections, Pearl, Ruby, Emerald, and Diamond and once you are seated you will be faced with a huge screen covered by velvet curtains. This is such an experience that every single movie showing over the past 25 years has had a full house, now that is something to brag about. There certainly doesn’t seem to be any better place to take in the colorful sights and sounds of a Bollywood film.

7. Cine de Chef, Seoul, South Korea

This cinema gives a new meaning to “dinner and a movie” with its small luxurious theatre. Couples will begin their night by dropping their car off at the valet and taking the private elevator up to Cordon Bleu café for a quick meal before the show. Think upscale cuisine with a twist. Moviegoers are than put into a private screening room that seats just a handful of patrons.

The comfortable reclining chairs were designed by the same people who design seats for the United Arab Emirates Royalty and once you sit down you may never want to get back up. Footstools, side tables, and lamps complete the picture of this awesome yet small venue. Tickets start at just $54 per person for both dinner and a movie.

Via designseoda

6. Rooftop Cinema, Melbourne, Australia

Sitting on a rooftop bar watching a movie play on a large projection screen sounds like a dream come true. In fact, it is actually reality at the Rooftop Cinema in Melbourne Australia. Open daily from 11am-1am it is easy to grab a drink before the movie starts and hang around long after the credits roll. The rooftop cinema is open from December to April and prices start at $22 per person.

The seating up here is incredibly comfortable deck chairs and blankets are available to rent for just $5 for the course of the movie. Showings include art house films, classics, and recent releases. It is fully licensed up on this roof and moviegoers often bring up their cocktails and brews from the bar below. Enjoy the sky above you, the grass beneath you and an incredible view of the Melbourne skyline.

Via Time Out

5. Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA

The outdoor movie screenings here are hard to beat in terms of being unique as they are held on Fairbanks Lawn, an open grassy field inside the Hollywood Forever Cemetery; yes we did just say cemetery. Moviegoers here are responsible for bringing their own low lying chairs, blankets and pillows as well as picnics, wine and beer (note that no spirits are allowed). The Forever Cemetery is the final resting place for many, including John Huston, Peter Lorre, Bugsy Siegel and more.

The showing range from comedies to horror to old school classics and tickets generally cost $10-$15. Guests arriving at the showing will walk through the beautiful and historic cemetery before plunking down in front of the screen. There are restrooms on site to use and there are no in and out privileges. If you thought that watching a scary movie in a normal cinema was scary, wait until you watch one in a cemetery.

Via Hollywood Reporter

4. Alamo Drafthouse, Austin, TX

This quirky indie movie chain was started by a husband and wife team that had no movie qualifications, other than being devoted movie fans. Striving to create the perfect viewing experience for movie lovers there are some strict rules to follow here in order for everyone to enjoy. Some of these rules include absolutely no talking, no cell-phone usage, no unaccompanied children, no babies and no ads before the movies.

What you can expect is high quality and locally sourced food and beer that are served to your seat. This movie chain also runs some incredible events across their theatres. It once showed the Lord of the Rings Trilogy where viewers were only permitted to eat when the characters ate on screen, or how about the events when they call for every viewer to dress like a certain character. Its how movie showing should be, uninterrupted, fun and enjoyable.

Via Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

3. Secret Cinema, Unknown

Once a month moviegoers can be part of a secret audience, secret location and essentially a secret world. Secret Cinema brings together film, music, art, and theatre to create a larger than life experience in abandoned spaces. This is an entirely immersive experience where audiences must dress up as the characters or of the era of the film. They also have the chance to interact with the spectators and actors while having food and drinks, living in the world of the film before setting in to watch the film.

Tickets are not cheap for the event and start around $75 Great British Pounds per adult. Viewers must register online to receive the secret email for which film will be next on the list. Although this is not a standalone theatre, the concept and the delivery of these movies is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Via Stevenfollows.com

2. Hot Tub Cinema, UK, USA, Ibiza

One way to get people talking is to combine hot tubs and movies, because who doesn’t love both! This company started by combining great films with amazing space, lots of hot tubs and incredible people. The mantra here is that they don’t want you to watch films but instead celebrate them. This means your movie experience will be unlike any other you have had before.

Moviegoers are encouraged to dress up, sing, dance, drink and play, as well as spending plenty of time in the hot tub. With movies such as Dirty Dancing, Free Willy, Back to the Future and other classics, tickets sell out fast. Whole tubs can be rented out by buying 6 tickets for a friend or you can buy a pair of tickets and make some new friends as you share a hot tub. There are personalized tub waiters for each hot tub and you can assure this may just be the best night of your life.

Via AWOL

1. Sol Cinema, South Wales

It prides itself as the world’s smallest solar movie theatre and we have to say this may, in fact, be the most unique movie theatre in the world. The Sol Cinema is actually a mobile cinema in a caravan that is powered entirely by the sun. It can accommodate up to 8 adults comfortably and the choice is yours as to which movie is playing. Inside comfortable benches and surround sounds create the perfect viewing experience.

Guests here will get the utmost luxury treatment complete with a red carpet, usherette service and popcorn to snack on. The idea behind this solar movie theatre came when they wanted to reduce their own CO2 emissions but also show what is achievable with solar power. Creating this small cinema allows hundreds of people to be entertained on a daily basis and gives something unique and incredible to both creators and viewers.

Via Digital Spy

America’s 10 Coolest Scenic Caves

Cave’s are truly among Mother Nature’s most fascinating creations. They are worlds of their own, shaped by geological processes over thousands of years. Spectacular formations, underground lakes and waterfalls, cool temperatures and some of the most stunning landscapes known to man lure many people underground. From the largest cave system in the world to one of only three marble caves in the US, these are 10 of America’s coolest scenic caves.

10. Marengo Cave -Marengo, Indiana

This large cave is filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, divided into two different sections, the Crystal Palace and the Dripstone Trail. In the Crystal Palace is where visitors will wind their way through formation filled rooms and past huge flowstone deposits. The Dripstone Trail on the other hand will introduce you to delicate soda straws, totem pole stalagmites, and the unique penny ceiling. This cool upside-down wishing well lets visitors add pennies to the ceiling by throwing them up, where they stick in the thick silt. With eight different kinds of formations throughout, there will be shortage of things to look at. Choose from either tour or experience both and save on admissions.

Marengo Cave

9. Caverns of Sonora -Sonora, Texas

It is known around the world that these show caves are among the most beautiful and visitors can get up close to their beauty on intimate guided tours. The Caverns are famous for their exquisite calcite crystal formations as well as the rare helictites that can be found in abundance. One cavern is even so densely packed with these helictites that it earned the name “Snake Pit”. What is even more marvelous is that the crystals found in the caverns are still actively growing. An extremely rare formation of helictites called “The Butterfly” is one of the main attractions of the Caverns and made the place world-famous, even after in 2006 it was vandalized by a visitor. Choose from the Crystal Palace Tour where you descend 155 feet below the surface for a guided walking tour or get adventurous and sign up for the discovery challenge tour which will have you repelling into the caves.

Caverns of Sonora

8. Jewel Cave, Custer -South Dakota

It is known to be the world’s third longest cave, and with over 177 miles mapped and surveyed, it is thought there is much more to discover. Visitors are required to take one of four guided tours in order to explore this cave and the highlight for many and how it got its name are the sparkling calcite formations adorning its walls. The Scenic Tour takes visitors to various chambers and passages decorated with calcite crystals and other speleothems, up and down 723 steps and not recommended for children under 5. The Historic Lantern Tour is one of the more popular tours as the only light that will guide you is the lantern and visitors have the chance to visit passages to the Dungeon Room or the Heavenly Room. If you want to do some real caving make sure to sign up for the Wild Caving tour where participants experience the cave in its natural state.

Jewel Cave

7. Craighead Caverns -Sweetwater, Tennessee

This extensive cave system is best known for its underground lake, the largest of its kind found in the U.S. It isn’t actually known just how big this lake is but so far it is measured at 800 feet long and 220 feet wide. The lake is just one of the incredible things to see in these caverns as they are known for their remarkable collection of cave flowers which are delicate and spiky crystal formations. The history of this cavern system is fascinating, and nearly a mile from the entrance, in a room now known as “The Council Room,” a wide range of Indian artifacts including pottery, arrowheads, weapons, and jewelry have been found, testifying to the use of the cave by the Cherokees. Open year round, this guided tour takes visitors on a 1-mile journey through the caverns on a wide sloping pathway and then into a glass bottom boat to explore the lake. The temperature remains a pleasant 58 degrees in this cave year round.

By Oydman (talk) - self-made, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
By Oydman (talk) – self-made, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

6. Oregon Caves -Cave Junction, Oregon

Although many people have tried to replicate marble halls, there is nothing more magical than seeing these actual Marble Halls of Oregon. They are nestled deep inside the Siskiyou Mountains, formed as rainwater from the ancient forest above dissolved the surrounding marble and created a special marble cave system. The highly complex geology found here contributes to the unusual and rare plants and animals found. The cave system features rooms such as Paradise Lost, the Ghost Room and Banana Grove; an underground stream called the River Styx; and hunger-inducing formations named for popcorn, bacon and soda straws. It’s one of only three caves in the United States to be made out of marble. The park runs multiple campgrounds and a chalet in which you can stay if you’d like to spend more than a day exploring.

Photo by: National Parks System
Photo by: National Parks System

5. Mammoth Cave -Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Mammoth Cave National Park is the largest cave system in the entire world, thus justifying its name and despite how much has already been discovered; new cave connections and discoveries are still being made. There is over 400 miles of cave to explore here and visitors can choose from a variety of guided tours which range in difficulty, price and length. This is definitely a place where you will want to spend a couple of days exploring and two of the favorite tours are the Historical Tour and the Great Onyx lamp tour. Although cameras are allowed, you will truly get the most out of your experience just by walking through them, feeling the temperatures change, viewing the different geology and learning about the history of this amazing underground system.

Mammoth Cave National Park kentucky

4. Niagara Cave -Harmony, Minnesota

If you have ever wanted to get married underground, now is your chance while visiting this cool cave. Niagara Cave actually houses an underground wedding chapel that has seen over 400 weddings take place. If you aren’t ready to get hitched though, you can still visit this cool cave with a guided tour. On the one-hour guided tour visitors will be taken a mile underground among fossils that date over 450 million years old, along with an abundance of delicate and massive cave formations. One of the highlights of this tour is the underground 60-foot waterfall. The cave is long, with large rooms and thin high ceiling passageways rather than most which are made up of many rooms, making it feel as though you are in a slot canyon rather than a cave. Along with exploring the cave, little ones can pan for gemstones and fossils and families can indulge in a game of mini-golf. Great staff, great gift shop and an incredibly scenic cave made this place a must visit.

Niagara Cave

3. Carlsbad Caverns -Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

It is the most famous of America’s underground cave systems and deserves to be visited, as proven by the 400,000 or so tourists that flock here every year. Hidden beneath the surface are more than 119 known caves – all formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone leaving behind caverns of all sizes. Explore the undersea world that used to be New Mexico and the Big Room that is filled with classic stalactite and stalagmite formations so interesting you can spend a day exploring it by yourself. Visitors of Carlsbad Caverns National Park can take a self-guided tour of the main rooms, or a ranger-led foray into creepily named niches such as the Hall of the White Giant, the Rookery and Spider Cave. If you really want to get spooky head here in the summertime when swarms of bats are seen leaving the cave each evening.

Carlsbad Caverns

2. Glenwood Caverns -Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Caverns is the largest show cave open to the public in Colorado and not only includes a few epic cave tours but also numerous rides and activities. But if its scenic caves you are after fear not, there are many here. Visitors that choose to go through the Historic Fairy Caves will have access to some caves that were only recently excavated. Back in 1897 these caves actually became the first in the US to have electric lighting installed, although you would have to belly crawl to reach them. Today through years of extensive work visitors can walk through them. Highly-decorated rooms and a section of underground canyon with fifty foot ceilings await visitors here. For the more adventurous cave explorer, try the two hour tour which takes you into caves rarely seen by the public, and that you will have to get down and dirty on your belly to discover.

Glenwood Caverns

1. Luray Caverns -Luray, Virginia

It is here where over a million people come every year to experience this amazing cave formation, loaded with a variety of water features and unique formations. It can be called a subterranean wonderland and has paths throughout so people can stroll through the multiple caves. Visitors will be immediately stunned when they enter and see the almost white calcite formations that look more like bridal veil, or the creature’s mouth from Aliens. Towering stone columns stretch the entire length of the massive chambers. The prettiest part of these incredible caves may be the 2 feet deep lake in the middle that reflects all the formations. These formations are often referred to looking like giant church organs and in the 1950’s a contraption was made with mallets that hit the stalactites and makes an incredible sound, a sound that still plays during every tour.

Luray Caverns

The Easiest Places on Earth to Learn How to Surf

So you want to learn how to surf? Let us be the first to tell you that it probably isn’t going to be easy, especially if you make the rookie mistake of heading to some famous beach known for its huge swells. But learning this incredible sport doesn’t have to be that hard, as long as you know where to go. In this increasingly busy world, surfing is providing people with the chance to get back to nature, challenge themselves against the ocean and have a lot of fun. Heading to one of these 12 places will ensure that you are setting yourself up for success as they are among the easiest places on earth to learn how to surf.

12. Frank Island, Tofino, British Columbia

Tofino and beginners don’t often go hand in hand, especially in the winter season when the storms send huge waves crashing in, but head to Frank Island and you will understand why it’s the perfect place to learn. Frank Island is situated on the south end of Chesterman Beach and manages to knock down any powerful breaks and creates little baby waves perfect for learning. The water is cold, year round, after all this is Canada, so expect to wear a wetsuit here no matter what season you are surfing in. It is easy to find board rentals along with lessons in the town of Tofino as it is known as being the surfing capital of Canada. Snow covered glaciers, thousand year old trees, wandering black bears and bald eagles overhead complete this stellar location.

Surfing Tofino

11. Lagos, Portugal

You may not find any waves in the actual town of Lagos itself but a slew of opportunities await beginners with a 30 minute drive. This Algarve town is the base for many surf schools and it has long been know that surfing in Portugal is something to check off your bucket list. Surf Experience is the longest running surf school in the area, operating since 1992 and offers superior instruction and amazing accommodations. Beginner surfers often head to the protected break at Arrifana, a favorite for learning at low tide. In the downtime make sure to explore the town’s delicious eats, cheap cocktails and electric clubs that come alive after 10pm. Avoid traveling here during summertime when it is often crowded and prices are significantly higher.

Arrifana Portugal surfing

10. Taghazoute, Morocco

Since the 1970’s Europeans have been flocking to this destination in the wintertime to get their surfing in. VW campervans used to be parked beside the breaks as hardcore surfers took to the waters. Nowadays though, anyone can learn how to surf here, thanks to the abundance of surf schools that have popped up. Beginners should actually head here in early autumn as the weather is warmed and the swells are smaller. Head to the south where the surf camps almost outnumber the surf breaks for a variety of different options and budgets. Hash Point and the beaches around Agadir put up a good gentle learner wave and offer incredible surf camps. To the most out of your experience here we recommend joining a surf camp for at least 3 days and discovering the multitude of sandy beaches all within a 15 minutes drive.

Taghazoute, Morocco surfing

9. Bundoran, Ireland

Bundoran is known as the surf capital of Ireland and boasts some of the best surf schools in the entire country, making this destination an easy choice for learning how to surf. These waters aren’t for surfers who are looking to get a tan though and hailstorms are known to pummel riders out in the waves. There are a number of beach breaks that are perfect for beginners and hooking up with a local surf camp is the best to discover all of them. Visit here from September to November when the tourists have gone home and the water is warm(ish). Make sure to head to The Bridge Bar, situated overlooking the Peak—Ireland’s most famous reef break. This local hangout is a mix of old-school Ireland and surf culture, making it warm, friendly and a great place to meet locals and surfers.

Bundoran, Ireland surfing

8. Waikiki, Hawaii

It wouldn’t be a list of learning surfing spots without including the home of surfing itself. The ancient kings of Hawaii rode these waves themselves, on crude wooden boards, back before the 19th century missionaries frowned upon the sport. What you will find in Waikiki are gentle rolling waves littered with other beginner riders. For the most part these waves offer long rides and the atmosphere here is easy going and relaxed; something that can’t be said for all of the waters in this state. Canoes, an easy right break near the Royal Hawaiian Hotel is the most popular beginner spot and can become quite crowded, although you are amongst beginners so catching a wave is quite easy. Warm sunny weather, warm water temperature and an “aloha” lifestyle makes this an excellent place to learn.

Waikiki, Hawaii

7. Byron Bay, Australia

It is easily one of the most iconic places to surf in the world, and one of the best places to learn. This sleepy dairy town was turned into a classic surf town in the 1960’s and surfers from all over the world travel here to surf in the legendary waters. The best time to visit is from March to May as the weather is warm and the swell is consistent. Beginners will likely want to head to Watego beach where because of its north facing direction; it’s completely protected from the big south swells and almost always has gently breaking waves. Make sure to check out Byron Bay Surf School for all your lessons and rental needs. They are one of the few companies licensed to teach on all the beaches in the area and will get you up and riding waves in no time.

Byron Bay, Australia

6. Nosara, Costa Rica

The town of Nosara is a little more protected than other popular surf spots in Costa Rica and beginners will find the laid back local vibe welcoming and accommodating. There are a number of accessible beach breaks just a short walk from town which are perfect for beginners. Add in year round warm waters, beautiful weather and incredible scenery and you will wonder why you are the only one on the beach. Finding someone to teach you how to surf is easy around here as there are many excellent surf schools and instructors lining the town. On down days make sure to check out the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, which is famous for its olive ridley and leatherback sea turtle populations.

Playa Avellanas Costa Rica

5. The Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area, Otter Rock, Oregon

Although you will have to squeeze your way into a wetsuit and booties, this sandy beach is the perfect location to learn to surf, especially if you are looking to stay in North America. Unlike the rest of the coast which is full of jagged rocks and high winds; this beach is protected by a huge headland. Known as the “Waikiki of Oregon”, everyone from this state who surfs has probably learned here and the locals are well used to beginners in their waters. The vibe is a mix of tourists, families, body boarders and beginners with no bad vibes to be seen. There are a number of surf shops in the area to rent a board or pick up a few lessons. Just make sure you are ready for the water temperature as it ranges between 48 and 52 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the year.

The Devil's Punchbowl Oregon

4. Inch Marlow, Barbados

If you have never thought of Barbados as a surf destination, you would be highly misinformed as the protected southern side of the island offers incredible year round waves, and some of them just happen to be perfect for beginners. What makes this location so special is the consistent trade wind which makes for long clean waves, perfect for beginners. Zed’s Surfing Adventures is where most people head to learn as it is run by former competitive surfer Zed Layson and offers both private and group lessons, designed to get you up and riding waves in no time. Along with excellent instructors there is a photographer on hand that will capture all you special moments. Rates are cheaper in the summer, alas it is the rainy season but if you don’t mind not getting a tan, there are great deals to be found.

Barbados beach

3. Playa El Sunzal, El Salvador

There is a lot of resistance in visiting El Salvador as it isn’t known to be the safest country in the world, but if you can get past the dangerous and violent crimes that often happen here, it’s an awesome place to learn how to surf. There are 300 days of surfable waves here, water temperature that stays in the 80’s and waves that roll on for hundreds of feet. It is the perfect place to learn with a longboard and learning, eating, drinking and lodging are incredibly cheap. You will have to be careful here of the rock bottom and paddling out can be long in the rainy season as currents pick up. Playa San Diego is another beach to hit for some beginner waves and features a huge sandy beach and very few people. Choice of accommodation is limited here but if you can rent a board and find room at the one hostel, you will find peace in the desertedness of this beach.

Playa El Sunzal, El Salvador

2. Piha Beach, Auckland, New Zealand

The awesome weather, the warm water temperature and the lagoon-like setup makes this an awesome spot to learn how to surf. The scenery isn’t too bad either with stunning black sand beaches. What makes this location so unique is the lagoon-like setup inside the beach’s outer sandbank. It allows beginners to stand in chest-deep water and catch “reform” waves—whitewash surf that has reformed into a second, mellower wave. It is entirely normal for complete beginners to catch 70- to 80-meter rides from the get-go, something entirely unheard of anywhere else. There are a number of surf schools around to get you up and on your way, or join a surf tour. If you want to avoid wearing a wetsuit make sure you visit between December and April. The best part about this beach, there are never any crowds to contend with, making your learning experience that much better.

Piha Beach, Auckland, New Zealand

1. Bali, Indonesia

From March to July, Bali is the number one best spot to learn the sport of surfing. The combination of warm weather, warm water and consistent waves makes this the ultimate spot for beginners. If you are learning you will want to head to Kuta Beach where there is a soft sandy bottom and small waves ranging from two to six feet. Although it can be a bit crowded at times, it is easy to hire a private instructor or join a surf school, for half of what it costs at home. If you want to stay away from Kuta Beach make sure to head over to Nusa Dua, which features a protective reef and good beginner waves. Seminyak is another good option if you are learning and offers many options for schools.

Bali, Indonesia beach

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

The Best Places to Live in America

From sea to shining sea, America is a beautiful country filled with varied landscapes, eye-popping attractions and friendly people everywhere you go. Imagine being a new-comer to America and trying to decide where you’re going to call home, a tough task considering there are so many great options. Thankfully the readers of Outside magazine have done the tough work for us, Outside surveyed American’s from all walks of life to find out exactly what makes their hometown so special in order to come up with this list of the 16 best adventure places to live in America this year:

16. Seattle, Washington

Seattle natives aren’t shy to tell you why their city is so special, but spend some time there and you’ll figure it out for yourself pretty quickly. A world-class city in a location that’s abundant with trees, mountains and water, that’s something pretty special. Seattle, known as the Emerald City, has 465 city parks along with Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic National Park, plus six ski resorts within a three-hour drive. Seattle is truly an outdoor-lovers paradise.

Seattle washington

15. Durango, Colorado

Three-time Olympic mountain biker and Durango resident Todd Wells says that people don’t move to Durango for a job. They move here for the world-class biking, kayaking or other outdoor activities and they figure out a way to make it all work. Considering that the average home cost is around $360,000, it will take a bit of work, but Durango is certainly more affordable than many other Rocky Mountain meccas. Whether you’re into hiking, biking, rafting or just appreciate being in the great outdoors, Durango has it all.

Hiker Colorado Trail Durango, Colorado

14. Grand Marais, Minnesota

With a population of only 1,327, Grand Marais doesn’t seem like much at first, but once you understand its location it all starts to make sense. The tiny one-stoplight town sits between Superior National Forest and Lake Superior and is the only municipality in all of Cook County. This makes it the gateway to the 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness which lies in the forest to the North. Name pretty much any outdoor activity and you’ll find it going on somewhere, but Grand Marais also has plenty of shops, restaurants and microbreweries for those days when all you really want to do is relax.

Grand Marais, Minnesota

13. Ketchum, Idaho

If you’re a skier, you’ve likely heard of Sun Valley, America’s first ski resort and site of the world’s very first ski lift. Well, Sun Valley is right next door to the town of Ketchum, so naturally it’s a snow-bunny’s paradise. The local’s don’t just stick to the tourist-packed ski areas either; the Pioneers, the Boulders, the White Clouds and the Sawtooth mountain ranges all surround Ketchum providing endless opportunities for world-class skiing of all varieties.

Ketchum, Idaho

12. Bend, Oregon

Imagine a small-scale version of Portland, except with less hipsters and more outdoor adventurers, this is the kind of vibe you’ll get from Bend, Oregon. The city has grown to a population of almost 90,000 and now has 16 microbreweries, a whitewater park and an $11.4 million dollar recreational center, not to mention the resident volcanoes in the Cascades Range. In-town, a hike up Pilot Butte is always a popular activity, while a short drive outside of town will bring you to Mount Bachelor, South Sister and a little further north, Mount Washington. Skiing, mountain biking, hiking and more, Bend provides small city amenities in a picture-perfect outdoor setting.

Bend, Oregon

11. Gunnison, Colorado

When a town’s elevation is higher than its population, you know there’s going to be some great adventures to be had here. Gunnison is located 30 miles north of the famous Crested Butte Mountain Resort, so naturally skiing is a big draw for this town, but it’s not the only activity to be found. the nearby Hartman Rocks is located only a few minutes from town and offers over 8,000 acres of prime hiking, biking and climbing land while Gunnison Whitewater Park is a mecca for paddlers. Recover from all those activities with a beer at High Alpine Brewing Company in town.

Gunnison, Colorado

10. Hanalei, Hawaii

If alpine skiing and snow isn’t really your thing, perhaps the tropical paradise of Hanalei, Hawaii will sound a little more appealing. This town of only 450 people doesn’t have a lot of amenities; you’ll find a grocery store, some cafes, a few board shops and not much else, but what it does have is a lifestyle centered around the ocean. Surfing is a way of life so it’s not uncommon to see locals getting a session in before and after work, but there’s also plenty of other vacation-esq activities like SUP, horseback riding, hiking to waterfalls and of course there are plenty of beaches where you can just sit back and relax.

Hanalei, Hawaii

9. Bellingham, Washington

This small, west-coast city’s nickname doesn’t do it much justice; Bellingham, aka the ‘City of Subdued Excitement’ is actually surrounded by amazing things to see and do for adventurers of all varieties. A short ferry ride away you’ll find the San Juan Islands which provide excellent whale-watching and sea kayaking opportunities, while a 90 minute drive East will get you to the peaks of North Cascades National Park. Combine that with the city’s proximity to other outdoor meccas like Seattle and Vancouver and you can see why this small city has big appeal.

Bellingham, Washington

8. Boise, Idaho

Idaho isn’t all about the spuds, in the city of Boise you’ll find a population over 200,000 and many residents live there strictly for the amazing outdoor options. With a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, the Boise Foothills provide residents ample opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors and the Ridge to Rivers system makes it easy. This interconnected network of trails and roads courses through the Foothills linking neighborhoods and public lands. with over 190 miles of trails there’s a perfect route and degree of difficulty for everyone.

Playboat Boise, Idaho

7. Ludington, Michigan

This small city of just over 8,000 occupies some of the best waterfront real estate on Lake Michigan and the idyllic lighthouses and sandy beaches are only the beginning. Ludington State Park and the adjoining Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area have a combined ten miles of lakefront property perfect for exploring sandy dunes, camping, hiking, biking, swimming and paddling. In town, the 64-mile Pere Marquette River is a blue-ribbon fishery that flows through Manistee National Forest before reaching the Great Lakes.

Ludington, Michigan

6. Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Colorado has some pretty notable ski and adventure spots, so while you might not have expected a smaller city like Steamboat Springs to appear in this list, residents say it’s the city’s laid-back approach to adventure and the outdoors that has the biggest draw. Of course there is skiing, though Steamboat’s hills are a bit mellower than places like Jackson Hole or Telluride, and the city is also adding to it’s increasing network of bike trails and singletrack. Outdoor companies like Big Agnes, Smartwool and Moots all call Steamboat Springs their home, which should be proof enough that this is someplace worthwhile.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

5. Taos, New Mexico

Residents of this Norther New Mexico town say “It’s all about the landscape” and when you’re bounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains how could it not be? Located were the high desert meets the Rockies, Taos has outdoor fun happening no matter the season. In winter it’s the bone-dry powder at Taos Ski Valley that draws locals and visitors alike, while summer provides it’s own kind of adventure in the form of class IV boating on the Rio Grande or mountain biking on the famous South Boundary Trail.

Taos, New Mexico

4. Yachats, Oregon

Yachats is a significant step down the population ladder from the previously mentioned city of Bend, but don’t let this town of just over 700 fool you, there’s still plenty of action to be found here. If living along one of the most amazing stretches of Pacific Northwest coastline sounds like your kind of thing, or you enjoy fat biking on the beach or strolling the shores at low tide, Yachats is definitely the place for you. After a hike with ocean views along Cape Perpetua, you can head back to enjoy a pint at the newly formed Yachats Brewing and Farmstore.

Yachats, Oregon

3. Denver, Colorado

The capital city of Colorado happens to be one of the fastest growing cities in the country with transplants being drawn to the big city appeal and eye-popping natural setting. There are few places where you can find the amenities of big city life within easy reach of the Rocky Mountains and their world-class skiing, biking and hiking.

Denver, Colorado

2. Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson, Wyoming admittedly has a few negative things stacked against it; the winters are long and cold, it’s a bad area for farming and ranching and the average housing price is north of a cool million. Negatives aside, it’s a small price to pay for living in a place that acts as the gateway to two of the greatest national parks in America. Grand Teton National Park is a mere 7 minute drive from town and the famed Yellowstone National Park is under a 2 hour drive away. With skiing, hiking, mountaineering, fishing, hunting and whitewater all easily accessible, it’s no wonder Jackson lands at number two on the list.

Jackson, Wyoming

1. Billings, Montana

The scrappy city of Billings, Montana comes out on top defeating prime adventure meccas like Denver, Jackson and Bend to be ranked as the Best Adventure Place to Live in America. There’s good reason for this of course, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area is only a short drive away as is the legendary skiing at Granite Peak. the Bighorn and Stillwater Rivers provide plenty of opportunity for fishing, boating and kayaking and Yellowstone Park is less than a three hour drive away. Locals say the charm of Billings comes from that fact that it’s still really a small town dressed up like a big city. Average housing prices here are still under the $200,000 mark, but don’t expect them to stay there for too much longer. Sorry Billings, your secret is out.

Billings, Montana

EscapeHere’s Top 12 ‘Parkitecture’ Masterpieces

The accomplished American documentary filmmaker Ken Burns has called the U.S. National Parks system “America’s Best Idea.” Some of the most divine natural real estate in the world has been protected by statute from the onslaught of development. American icons like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone remain as pristine as can be in the modern world. But less celebrated and equally less well-known are the hotels, inns and lodges that have, over the last century, been built to allow nature lovers to not just visit the parks but actually stay in them. The most historic and traditional have earned the nomenclature of “Parkitecture” -notable architectural buildings within the confines of the National Park Service. None are lavish but they present a stark contrast to the contemporary tourist love affair with all-inclusive destinations in hot-spots like the Caribbean. They are largely exercises in “Rustic Chic” and echo an era of travel at the speed of trains when simply escaping the heat and grime of the city was bliss for those who could afford to. They remain a remarkable bargain in the vacation marketplace. Several media publications have published their favorites in the past few years so we thought it was high time that we weighed in on the subject as well. Here is Escape Here’s 12 best National Park-architectural wonders.

12. Chateau Lake Louise -Banff National Park, Alberta

What better way to begin a list than with a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Banff National Park boasts the Victoria Glacier and the famous emerald green waters of the lake named after Queen Victoria’s daughter who married a Canadian Governor General. It is 350 miles due north of Spokane or 110 west of Calgary depending on your national point of view. It began as a simple wood chalet in 1890, expanded and burned to the ground. Much of the current structure dates from 1925. The activities are year-round but the skiing is truly world-class. The train station might look familiar if you’ve seen the movie Dr. Zhivago, but for a more current reference, The Bachelor also shot an episode at the hotel. The luxury extra 7th floor is called a hotel within a hotel with furnishings like you’ve never seen before.

Chateau Lake Louise

11. Prince of Wales Hotel -Waterton National Park, Alberta

One of Canada’s iconic railway hotels right on the Montana border, the Prince of Wales Hotel was actually built not by Canadian Pacific but by an American railroad company for well-heeled visitors traveling to Glacier National Park (see below) by horseback. The trip cost $1000 then, over $13,000 today. A gorgeous design like an over-sized alpine chalet jutting out into the lake, it has unfettered views of some of the best scenery in the history of scenery. Built in 1927 in the teeth of a hurricane-force blizzard, it is now a Canadian National Historic Site.
Mingle with wild elk herds that also like to stroll on the town’s streets. At current exchange rates this hotel will run about US $162 per night.

Prince of Wales Hotel

10. Chisos Mountains Lodge -Big Bend National Park, Texas

Situated remotely on the Texas-Mexico border, 300 miles southeast of El Paso and 5,000 feet in elevation, Big Bend National Park is named in honor of the meander of the Rio Grande. The natural beauty is gob smacking and the Lodge is ultra-convenient for hiking trails and prime bird-watching points. It’s also nicely isolated and at least until the publication of this article, away from the maddening crowds of the National Park superstars. The Lodge itself is no architectural gem but there are more handsome stone and adobe cottages that can be booked up as much as four months in advance.

Chisos Mountains Lodge

9. The Majestic Yosemite Hotel -Yosemite National Park, California

Likely the finest work of art in the system, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel is a uniquely imaginative amalgam of Art Deco, Native American and even a dash of Middle Eastern and it has been welcoming park lovers since 1927. It also has the virtue of being in the middle of nowhere in the Sierra Nevada; 93 miles east of Fresno, which is the very definition of the middle of nowhere. Luxuriously appointed rooms have ridiculous views of Yosemite legends like Glacier Point, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. Inside, a dining room with a soaring ceiling and the Great Lounge are memorable sights to call home even for eyes spoiled by the Park’s natural beauty.

EarthScape ImageGraphy / Shutterstock.com
EarthScape ImageGraphy / Shutterstock.com

8. Paradise Inn -Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Completed in 1916, this classically rustic Inn built in Mount Rainier National Park is both on the National Register of Historic Places and even better, on the small side with 117 guest rooms. Interestingly the interior was built with timber from Alaskan cedars that died from a fire and roasted to a silver color. The handiwork including furniture, giant clock and piano (which Harry Truman liked to play) is all original from a German artisan in 1919. The lodge provides spectacular views of majestic Mount Rainier, though it might be asked if there are any views of Mt. Rainier which are not. Massive beams and fireplaces adorn the lobby. The Inn’s website calls it a mountain paradise with “spectacular views of massive glaciers, meadows lush with wildflowers and breathtaking waterfalls.” Perhaps best of all, there are rooms from $117, the same price as breakfast at a luxury hotel in the city.

Paradise Inn Mount Rainier National Park

7. Old Faithful Inn -Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Imagine looking out your hotel room window in Yellowstone National Park and seeing Old Faithful the geyser spouting about a 3-iron shot away. It seems almost impossible to top that but the lobby takes a decent shot. A lovely composition in handcrafted stone and wooden beams that support the fantastic vaulted ceiling which is almost 80 feet high. The first part was finished in 1903 and the survey results note it has hosted “six Presidents and all Three Stooges.” One review says rooms are straightforward and furniture ordinary, as if a sane person would go to Yellowstone for the décor. The Inn’s website also repeats over and over “Televisions, radios, and air conditioning are not available in park lodging.” Now that is the 21st century version of Paradise. Or for millennials, Hell on Earth.

Old Faithful Inn

6. Crater Lake Lodge -Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Locals claim that Crater Lake to be the most beautiful lake in America. While that may be debatable, two things are not; it is certified as the deepest and it’s ungodly beautiful, the thought occurs that when that vastly superior intelligence from another solar system decides to drop by it will most definitely be here. More seriously and importantly, it is an important part of Native creation belief systems and it radiates an intensely spiritual feeling. Dating from 1915, the Lodge itself actually underwhelms from the outside but a 1995 renovation marries Northwest rustic with the Jazz Age opulence, though the Lodge is adopting a modern mantra of sustainability and the dining room stresses locavore values and dishes. Oregon Valley grass fed beef, Oregon mussels and of course in a state that worships the University of Oregon football team, they dare not print a menu without duck.

Wollertz / Shutterstock.com
Wollertz / Shutterstock.com

5. Lake Crescent Lodge -Olympic National Park, Washington

This historic main lodge in Olympic National Park (built in 1916) is not lavish by any stretch but it fits the surroundings as rustically handsome with stands of evergreen and second floor views of the lake. Speaking of which, if you go to the website and see the view of moon-rise on the lake with peaks in the distance you will truly understand how it got to be our number five choice. There are adorable little cottages and even an excellent impersonation of a motel. If it weren’t in jaw dropping countryside, sitting in the Adirondack chairs by the lodge reading or doing Sudoku would be idyllic. Better used as a base camp for sightseeing or something more strenuous, it still retains the charm of the resort of long ago.

Photo by: Olympic National Park
Photo by: Olympic National Park

4. El Tovar -Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Perfectly perched on the rim of the Grand Canyon, El Tovar opened for business in 1905 before the Canyon was a National Park. At the time it was so remote, drinking water had to be brought in by train. It was designed by Charles Whittlesey, then the Chief Architect for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad so some may say El Tovar has an architectural pedigree. Whittlesey was from the then design capital of the U.S. -Chicago, and despite location, he wanted to cater to the Europhile taste of the American masses at the time. For the longest time it was considered the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi and has been a Historic Landmark since 1987. Morning coffee or evening cocktails overlooking the South Rim after a day taking in the natural wonders is a sublime experience. Eminent guests include Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton, Sir Paul McCartney and Teddy Roosevelt. Winter rates start from US$89?? This must be a typo on the website.

OLOS / Shutterstock.com
OLOS / Shutterstock.com

3. Jackson Lake Lodge -Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

This large lodge is more resort-like than most of the others in our list with and things like a heated outdoor swimming pool, golf and boat rentals. There are excellent hikes of varying degrees of difficulty to be found that can bring you face to face with the 4 massive peaks in the Grand Teton range. Only some of the 400 rooms have prime views but the huge lobby with floor to ceiling windows lets everyone get the postcard-worthy view of the mountains and nearby lake as the elk, bison and even moose wander not far off.
At only 22 miles away from Yellowstone, whichever place you stay, there’s an unequaled double-your-National-Park-fun option.

Photo by: Tripadvisor
Photo by: Tripadvisor

2. Many Glacier Hotel -Glacier National Park, Montana

Built by the Great Northern Railway at the onset of the First World War, Many Glacier Hotel is set on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake surrounded by the Rockies in Glacier National Park. It is like a giant Swiss chalet and like others has a lobby that is the centerpiece of the building, three stories high with wooden beams, interior balconies and a cone shaped fireplace actually suspended from the ceiling. The website says rooms are rustic yet comfortable and are “old-world style in keeping with the era in which the hotel was built,” which primarily means no TV or AC. Take an evening glacier tour, try some fly-fishing (it’s renowned) hey, it’s the Rockies after-all; there is lots to do and see. It isn’t our number two pick for nothing.

OLOS / Shutterstock.com
OLOS / Shutterstock.com

1. Pisgah Inn -Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville North Carolina

Bible experts know the name Pisgah from the Book of Deuteronomy as the mountain from which Moses first saw the Promised Land, and honestly no other spot in all the New World is more aptly named. Words cannot express the beauty on view from The Inn on this 5,000 foot high peak that looks out over the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachian Highlands. The National Park Service says “The Parkway was the most visited unit of the National Park Service every year from 1946-2012.” The 51 rooms are comfy but plain, though they come with everything from Adirondack rocking chairs to LED lighting, solar panels, satellite TV and WiFi. The area is rich with natural, cultural and historic sites to visit. For the more active, the hiking in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, a hundred miles to the west is ranked in the Top Ten in the entire National Park Service. then at the end of the day, the renowned kitchen’s specialty, walnut-crusted fresh mountain trout with blueberry butter attracts many out-of-staters. Spring to fall rooms start from US $138. Seriously.

Photo by: National Park Planner
Photo by: National Park Planner

The West Coast: What They’re Known For and Why You Should See It

California, Oregon and Washington State – they’re all about the beautiful sights and the good times. Landscapes that are like nowhere else, and range tremendously, from the very southern portion of the U.S. border, to the very northern tip where we meet with Canada. Each of which is absolutely worth seeing. Landscapes don’t gain reputation without merit, and the West Coast is no different. From beaches, to foggy coves, to buildings that are worth a sight all on their own (even though they’re man’s addition, not all natural), they’re all worth a visit throughout one’s lifetime. Here are some of the most beautiful sights along the West Coast:

5. SoCal (AKA Southern California)

When you hear about this Western state, it’s often the go-to thought. California = southern California for so many tourists. Where the beaches are plentiful, sunshine is on the regular, and it almost never rains. In fact, when it does, it’s something to be talked about – locals are ill-prepared and out of their element. A fact that is more than enticing to any visitors. It’s not just the weather bringing in visitors, it’s the sights. Water is blue and green – clear and in places, quite calm. While waves help bring in surfers and wake boarders alike. (And if you’re not into these sports, they’re certainly worth watching.) Other SoCal sights include topography, like steep hills and trees, tropical plants, and simply walking along the beach. Here visitors can see for miles on end in multiple directions, like the beach, the ocean, and other happy folks who are excited to see the beautiful outdoors. (For anyone who loves people watching.) And of course, there are plenty of man made items worth seeing as well, including some world-famous landmarks.

Southern California

4. The Redwood Forest

You haven’t seen big trees until you’ve visited these incredible trees. Huge in both width and height, they’re breathtakingly large. In fact, travelers come from hours, if not days, away in order to see this famous forest. Those who enjoy hiking can make their way through the hills and see what all the landscape can provide its visitors (that is, if you can take your eyes away from up), while others can view these trees from afar. Known for their age and beauty alike, it’s a trip that’s definitely worth taking. Oh, and don’t forget to get a “inside the tree” photo – they might be overdone, but they’re just that impressive. You won’t want to miss out on the experience, after all.

The Redwood Forest

3. The Rivers Up North

There’s still a coast up on the Northern end of the West Coast, but it comes with entirely different views. Ones that are every bit as beachy, but far less stereotypical all at the same time. Which is to say there’s still sand and waves, but the temperatures are cooler and more moisture is present. What’s also available, however, is some far different views that take place inland – not just on the coast. There are incredible rivers and waterfalls that can be found all throughout Oregon and Washington (check a site to find the best ones). What makes them worth seeing isn’t just that they’re rivers, but the rocks that are underneath them. Following steep hills and hard surfaces, these rivers host large bridges, power electrical plants, and simply sit in post card-worthy fashion. Restaurants are built with falls in the background, and cities plan walking and driving tours around each watery being. Oh and did we mention these are massive rivers? Combined with its speed from the gravity behind it, and you won’t soon forget these Western rivers.

Oregon

2. Mount St. Helens

Not technically on the coast, Mount St. Helens is just a short drive away from the ocean. It’s one of the largest mountains (or volcanoes) in the United States, and still a very present danger, should she ever decide to erupt. The volcano is considered active, and has become one of the most beautiful, yet feared landmarks in the entire country. The last eruption took place in 1980 and is considered the largest, most deadly volcano event in the history of the entire country. Smoke was still spewing from its vent as late as two years after the fact – a scary event that allowed for some beautiful photos. Mount St. Helens is also part of an entire slew of volcanoes, known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. (Johnny Cash, anyone?) Anyone in the area should take advantage of this beautiful sight – whether up close, or admired from miles away.

Mount St. Helens

1. The Coffee

This might be less than a sigh to see, but for anyone who does love coffee, they’ll likely beg to differ. After all, Seattle is known as the king to all coffee cities, with roasteries, shops, home-grounds, specialty blends, and more – all for miles around. Even the occasional coffee drinker is bound to be impressed with these massive bean-based offerings. Take an entire trip based on flavors of coffee and what they have to offer, or simply take in the Seattle sights (while sipping a fresh cup of Joe, of course), in order to get the overall experience.

coffee