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National Park season is about to kick off, and with gas prices low across the country, a road trip to your closest wilderness area is certainly in order. But don’t forget about our neighbors to the north, who also boast a wild range of national park adventures, from mingling with polar bears in Manitoba to island hopping in Ontario. Here, four Canadian parks many know and love — and four of the country’s more underrated, best-kept secrets.
If you’re headed to New York City on your next getaway, why not get out on the water? Manhattan is an island, after all, and the city offers a wealth of boat tours and packages that will give you breathtaking views of the skyline and the harbor. Here are three of our favorites.
As convenient as airlines can be, the act of flying often sucks the joy out of getting there, wherever ‘there’ might be. After enduring the endless security lines, the tedious boarding process, and the subpar airplane food, we arrive at our destination cranky, tired, and often a little disoriented. Not so with train travel. Assuming you have the luxury of time, trains can be one of the most enjoyable ways to explore a new country, with their slower pace and more civilized atmosphere.
More and more travelers are now rediscovering the magic of trains, and luckily, supply is meeting demand. Countries are investing in their rail networks as a viable source of tourism revenue, and promoting off-the-beaten-path destinations as stop-offs along the way. Want to wander through Vienna en route to Stockholm? Or spend two weeks visiting natural wonders in western USA? These new train routes could be worth looking into.
Since 1911, intrepid passengers have cruised inland along the Noyo River aboard the California Western Railroad, a 40-mile route between Fort Bragg, CA and Willits, CA. The rail service was originally created to ferry timber to and from the Pacific Coast, and indeed the route itself winds through stunning redwood forests in the Noyo River Canyon. These days, the ‘Skunk Train,’ as it’s commonly known (thanks to a pungent odor emitted by the old trains’ exhaust gases), is one of the state’s most popular train routes, despite its brevity. A tunnel collapse earlier this year forced a temporary closure, but as of this month, the one-of-a-kind historic rail service is open to passengers once more. Choose from a Saturday evening “Sunset BBQ Excursion,” ($70) which involves a stop-off in Northspur Station, or a simple 4-hour trek between Fort Bragg and Willits ($49). Read more
Even if you hold an annual pass to your local aquarium, it’s hard not to be awestruck by the sight of a slick-backed whale gliding through its natural habitat. The supersize creatures have fascinated travelers and scientists alike for eons, and the whale watching industry has benefitted greatly from all the intrigue.
Part of the mystique is the continual game of hide-and-seek whales play with us, their observers. Much like the Northern Lights, spotting a whale requires you to be in the right place at the right time. If you’re looking to spot a pod on your next trip, here are a few places where you stand a better-than-average chance at getting splashed. Read more
We’ve all read the doom and gloom surveys: Americans are less likely to travel this summer because of the high price of gas, the state of the economy, or maybe because Venus is in retrograde (can’t be too careful with your horoscope). It seems hotels have read these surveys, too, and have devised ways to entice you to stay by footing part of your gas bill or even doling out cold hard cash.
Perhaps the most generous offer comes from InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), which will give you a $75 prepaid MasterCard for every stay of two consecutive weekend nights (Friday-Sunday) through September 3. You will have to wait 6-8 weeks to receive the gift card, but the deal applies to all IHG brands, from InterContinental to Holiday Inn.
The capital of Nova Scotia is gearing up to commemorate the Titanic tragedy’s centennial anniversary in 2012 with a series of concerts, museum exhibitions, tours, and more. Halifax, set on Canada’s Atlantic coast, has profound ties to the legendary ship’s ill-fated maiden voyage on April 15, 1912 – it ended up serving as the final destination and resting place for some 150 of the bodies recovered at sea. More than 1,500 passengers and crew perished in the tragic wreck when the “unsinkable” ship plowed into an iceberg at high speeds. Read more
It’s hard not to love summer. With some of the longest days of the year, temperatures warm enough to spend all day outside, and the laid-back vibe that comes along with the season, it’s no wonder kids and adults alike count late June through early September as their favorite time of year. Seven-day summer vacations are classic, but we contend that a long weekend away can be just as satisfying. For some, that means jetting to an exotic local (we like Portugal’s Azores Islands); others opt for fast-paced city scenes (we chose Chicago, for its urban beach and robust festival schedule); and still others retreat to peaceful mountain resorts (Jackson Hole is our top pick). Whatever your ideal vacation, we’ve rounded up 10 places that are just a quick flight from many U.S. cities, and we’ve even included information on how to get there. After all, everything about this season should be easy – including your quick summer getaways.
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