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By Jennifer Billock for Yahoo! Travel
The Sámi watched the northern lights with reverence. Traditional beliefs among northern Scandinavia’s indigenous population say that the aurora is actually the energy of departing souls. According to folklore, if someone whistled underneath the lights, the aurora would swoop down, pick them up, and carry them away into the swirling colors.
But while a whistle may not really spark a show, we thankfully don’t have to go arctic to see the fire. That’s right — you can view the aurora’s dazzling display throughout the U.S., too. As long as conditions are right, the night sky will be ready to wow you.
Find Your Spot
We love lacing up our skates in the winter — it’s a great way to stay active and warm up even as the temps drop below freezing. Even more, we love doing so at rinks with great views, whether it’s mountain vistas, starry skies by the beach, or historical monuments in the background. Here are some of our favorite places to try to land that triple axel. (Remember to layer up and bring some thick socks!)
Remember when it seemed like you could reach up and touch the Milky Way, the ribbon of stars that make up our galaxy? Thanks to light pollution, it’s becoming harder and harder to see — unless you get yourself out to dark and remote locales. Here are seven stargazing sites, all recognized by the International Dark Sky Association for their inky-black nights, that offer stellar views of the heavens above.
Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? We’ve got the latest on luxury sales, a great idea for crowd-funding your next vacation, holiday itineraries, and more.
Now here’s a great idea for newlywed travelers: Rather than asking for home appliances, why not have friends and family contribute to your post-nuptial trip? Princess Cruises‘ Honeymoon Wishes Registry allows others to chip in for everything from cruise fare and shore excursions to specialty dining and drinks by the pool to relaxing spa treatments. All gifts are applied as an onboard credit to the couple’s stateroom account to use during their honeymoon cruise, and the bride and groom can create an accompanying website to share wedding details and personal photos.
Napa and Sonoma both offer great wines, great food, and incredible experiences, but because there’s so much to do in each county that visitors usually focus on one or the other. Which is the best option for you? Here’s a guide for how to choose.
The last thing you want to think about on vacation is how to eat well. But overindulging while away can mean extra work to get back in shape when you return home.
The good news? There are lots of little things you can do to minimize the damage and take advantage of your destination’s local fare at the same time. Registered dietician Cheryl Forberg — who’s the nutritionist for NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and a brand nutritionist for Omni Hotels and Resorts — offers specific tips for different types of escapes.
The Hamptons may steal the vacation spotlight during the summer season, but once autumn arrives, it’s all about the North Fork of Long Island — where farm stands and wineries offer peak-season products. If you crave fresh produce and local wines, this area is the perfect destination for a quick getaway. Weekends in October draw extra traffic, so consider a weekday stay to relax and enjoy the area like a local.
Home to just over 108,000 residents the small, multi-cultural island of Aruba draws visitors with its white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters. Its convenient location just outside of the hurricane belt also means there’s no bad time for an escape to this tropical paradise. Check out our slideshow of the island’s highlights here.
Fresh off a large-scale renovation earlier this year, the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba is not what you’ve come to expect from the global mega-chain. The brand’s standards are still there — its signature green sprinkled throughout the property and commitment to family-friendliness — but the resort’s spectacular oceanfront views and longest stretch of beach on the island are just as inviting to those looking for a romantic escape or group getaway. No matter which three of these categories your vacation falls into, you’ll return home dreaming of the soft white-sand beaches. Read more
Sure, Napa and Sonoma are stunning, but the United States is chock-full of smaller wine regions worth a visit — in particular, the North Georgia Mountains. This hamlet of America offers hiking, river rafting, and dozens of vineyards and wineries that makes for an ideal romantic weekend or girlfriend getaway from Atlanta. Pack your bags for a tasting and be sure to save room to bring back a bottle (or three).
Wineries to Visit
Crane Creek, pictured above, is a stunning 1886 farmhouse-turned-winery and event venue. You’ll feel like home when sipping a glass of Sweet Sally, the fruity dessert blend named for the winery’s pup.
Hightower Creek is a family-run winery that fully celebrates the area’s heritage, particularly with their Deliverance red blend. Soak up inspiring views of the Blue Ridge Mountains as you sip a robust red.
Cavender Creek in Dahlonega hosts wine tastings and live music every weekend — it’s the perfect time to sample their Farmhouse Peach, a blend that incorporates local peaches and muscadines for a tart and sweet dessert wine.
Where to Stay
If you’re staying for longer than a day, base yourself in Helen, Dahlonega, or Young Harris, as these picturesque stowns have the most options in terms of accommodations. We recommend the range of choices at Unicoi State Park and Lodge, which boast camping and hotel rooms, as well as the luxurious suites at Brasstown Valley Resort.
Driving the area is your best bet if you can manage it, as most of the towns and wineries are 20-30 minutes apart. But if you prefer the ease of a tour with the benefits of a designated driver, you can visit with VIP Southern Tours, which visit many of the wineries in full- or half-day tours.
Autumn in the Southeast is a glorious time to visit as summer’s humidity dies down to make way for cooler days. And there is nowhere more posh than Jekyll Island Club Hotel, a former private retreat turned tony hotel on its namesake barrier island off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia, midway between Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia.
Captain’s Manor Inn isn’t a full-fledged hotel, but the label “bed and breakfast” hardly seems to do it justice. Don’t get us wrong — we’re huge fans of B&Bs, so we don’t mean it derisively by any means. The intimacy and character of an independent inn, after all, is something that big hotel chains are actually trying to emulate. But when’s the last time you stayed at a bed and breakfast with a dedicated housekeeping staff, with a regular afternoon tea hour in its “bistro” and rain showers in guest bathrooms?
As the days continue to get colder, you may find yourself fantasizing about your next tropical getaway. While the Caribbean islands are a popular choice, it’s worth the extra hours on the plane to head to the South Pacific instead.
Of the thousands of postcard-perfect islands in this vast region of the Pacific Ocean, it quickly became clear to me on a recent trip why Fiji is one of the most popular tourist spots here. You’ll discover the white sand beaches, turquoise waters, top rate scuba diving and snorkeling among vibrant coral reefs — and so much more. With 333 islands, only a third of which are inhabited, Fiji is diverse not only in its environment, but also in its culture.
Here are some reasons to consider Fiji the next time you’re craving a real escape.
Just a 90-minute drive from Boston, Falmouth and its neighbor Wood’s Hole are two of the most accessible destinations on Cape Cod. While Wood’s Hole is largely characterized by its ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and the academic presence of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Falmouth boasts a historic downtown area that’s laid-back but not boring. Between these towns, their endless stretches of beach and ocean, and nearby day trips, you’ll have plenty to do — whether you’re staying for a day or a week.
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