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Some people only dream of exploring Australia’s prized gem: The Great Barrier Reef, with its crystal clear blue waters and countless species of fish that call it home. But getting to Australia, let alone the natural heritage site (and one of the seven natural wonders of the world), isn’t easy. Aside from the numerous hours on a plane, hotel expenses, activity fees – the list goes on – there are plenty of reasons to just save it for “later.” Until now.
Defying scientific explanation, the waters of Lake Hillier are distinctly rose-pink. Located on Middle Island, the largest of the islands that compose the Recherche Archipelago in Western Australia, the lake’s beautiful pink color is neither a reflection of the floor of the lake, like many colored lakes and rivers, nor influenced by the dye of organisms and bacteria. The pink hue is permanent, even when placed in a container. Almost 2,000 feet long, the lake and its bubblegum hue can be seen clearly by air passengers flying above it. Read more
Glowing a brilliant red at both dawn and sunset (above), Uluru, a giant sandstone rock formation in Australia’s Northern Territory, provides nature’s version of an optical illusion. Though the rock itself is actually grey (which can be seen when it rains), its coat of red oxide combined with the reflection of the sun causes the inselberg (an isolated rock structure) to appear a different striking red or orange hue at different times of the day.
Also known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is located in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The rock is made up of arkose and conglomerate, and is 1,141 feet high (to put it into perspective, that lump is taller than The Shard in London). There are many species of flora and fauna that live near Uluru, as well as the group of aboriginal people native to the area, the Anangu, and Uluru is a sacred site for them, as they believe that it is the home of their ancestors. Read more
It’s officially summer in the northern hemisphere, which means holidays, road trips, and the urge to visit national parks. But if you’re craving a cooler sort of escape this season, consider a ski trip…to the southern hemisphere. With winter just settling in, places like Chile and New Zealand offer incredible skiing at a time of year when most North Americans are hitting the beach. The best part? Skiing in these destinations can be a bargain. Here are our favorite “summer” skiing destinations.
New Zealand: Cardrona Alpine Resort
Visiting New Zealand is a dream for lots of Americans. If you head down there to see the epic landscapes used as backdrops in the Lord of the Rings movies, consider hitting the slopes, too. Cardrona, New Zealand is easily accessible from Queenstown on the south island. Skiers will find plenty to love, and snowboarders will have a tough time finding better terrain anywhere. At under $100 for a lift ticket, it’s actually cheaper than many of the venues surrounding Vail, Aspen, and other high-end mountains in the U.S. Read more
If you’re the type to travel for golf (or just golf while you travel), check out our top ten list of the best golf resorts around the world. Get ready to tee off in some seriously amazing destinations.
1. PGA National Resort and Spa Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
It’s the stuff of legends. Home to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, the PGA National Resort and Spa is steeped in golf history. Boasting signature courses like “The Palmer” and “The Squire” (designed and named after Arnold Palmer and Gene Sarazen, respectively), an on-site Golf Academy offering lessons from certified PGA pros, and a newly renovated golf complex, it’s easy to see why this resort is a favorite among golf buffs. Treat dad to the Gold Golf Package, which includes resort accommodation, daily breakfast at the Palm Terrace restaurant, one round of golf daily on selected courses, and unlimited balls and bag storage. Room rates start from $129 per room per night. Read more
I turned up in Brisbane thirsty. The kind of thirst that only a stiff drink or well-poured brew could possibly quench. While it’s no secret that Aussies are a generally hop-happy breed, this laid-back Queensland capital takes its swill rather seriously, turning the act of casual beer drinking into a veritable art form. A bevy of new boutique beer bars and microbreweries have recently cropped up about town, with top taps turning out specialty suds and respectable bar bites in stylish, yet unpretentious, settings. Read more
Sydneysiders are spoiled when it comes to leisure options. When they tire of the beach, culture, and nightlife that brims within their city limits, a world-class mountain escape is nearby. The breathtaking Blue Mountains – harboring a series of national parks and conservation areas that have earned a UNESCO World Heritage designation – are set within easy striking distance of Sydney. They’re close enough to taste in a scratch-the-surface day trip, but are best enjoyed over a couple of active days. Just back from my own budget-friendly Blue Mountains escape, here are some tips for this sensational Sydney trip. Read more
Think of Melbourne as Sydney’s shy but sexy little sister, who doesn’t scream out for the spotlight, but once you get to know her, va va voom. I tacked on a couple of days in Melbourne at the tail end of my recent Australian travels, and regretted not having more time to idly explore the subtle charms of this captivating cosmopolitan capital, pulsing with creativity and cultural flair.
While lacking the major blockbuster attractions that typically reel in the international tourists, Melbourne’s real allure is uncovered while exploring its city-within-the-city, on its tucked-away “laneways” that sneak away from the wide, well-ordered, and trafficked streets of Melbourne’s polished facade. Here, a rich-in-character back-door world of bustling back alleyways brimming with quirky bars, trendsetting boutiques, cozy cafes, edgy art galleries, and multicultural restaurants is unveiled, all overseen by a vibrant and unrivaled street art scene. Read more
If you don’t know what Bulgaria, London, Milwaukee, Montana, and New Zealand have in common, it’s my pleasure to remind you that they’re all places some of my well-traveled colleagues identified as worthy family vacation destinations for 2012.
Given that a new year is upon us and my friends are still well traveled, I called on them again to identify destinations that family travelers might want to add to their short lists in 2013.
Kangaroo Island: Yes, Things Are Hopping There
If Hobbit tourism catches on the way John E. DiScala (aka the very frequent flier better known as Johnny Jet) predicted last year, the New Zealand town of Matamata will still be a destination to watch for 2013. If Tolkien travel is not your family’s thing, but you’re still intrigued by the Southern Hemisphere, DiScala has another nomination for you: Kangaroo Island. “It’s in south Australia, just a 15 minute flight from Adelaide,” he points out, “and it’s known as Australia’s ‘zoo without fences.’” As you might expect, you’ll get an eyeful of kangaroos and wallabies there, as well as koalas, seals, and the whimsical-looking echidnas (spiny anteaters). DiScala also says the island’s Southern Ocean Lodge is one of the world’s best places to stay.
Perhaps the best news is that Kangaroo Island is not yet on the radar of U.S. family travelers. “I was there in October, so no U.S. families were traveling,” DiScala says, “but they will be there, as it’s just now getting known. It’s the new Tasmania.” Read more
Train travel, whether for commuting or vacation, can be delightful. It’s slower than air travel, but it offers breathtaking scenery and a trip back in time to a more romantic era of adventure. Of course, traveling by train has its dangers. This video from Metro Trains Melbourne offers a not-so-subtle but incredibly cute reminder that you need to be aware of your surroundings and make good decisions when you’re away from home. They’ve built an equally adorable website to reinforce their message.
Be safe when riding the rails…and good luck getting this song out of your head. Sorry!
The Philadelphia Zoo’s resident orangutans were recently awarded some newfound freedom to roam. Using a set of enclosed trails, called the Great Ape Trail, the orangutans can travel around the zoo property at will, suspended above visitor walkways. Lemurs and small monkeys at the zoo have been doing this for a year on their Treetop Trail. The Philadelphia Zoo is not alone in letting some of their tenants roam the grounds. Other zoos around the world have made similar concessions to their primate inhabitants. In fact, some let their animals roam freely among their human guests.
You might have been waiting all summer for that perfect sunny day, but in the U.S., those rays have turned into a scorcher. With America currently experiencing the hottest summer on record, some of us are wishing for a cooler front. What better time, then, to dream about the Southern Hemisphere, which is going through its winter months? While it may not be easy to book a last minute getaway to these destinations, just lusting over them will hopefully cool you down.
Angel Falls – Venezuela
Venezuela is mostly tropical due to its location just north of the equator, but thanks to its varied geography, pockets of microclimates exist. One such area is the Guiana Highlands, a southern region of the country characterized by imposing plateaus and vast upland plains. From June to early September, the average temperature hits 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 35 degree at night, making this the best time to visit the Angel Falls in Canaima National Park. Renowned as the world’s highest waterfall at 3,212 feet, winter’s torrential rains causes the rapids to swell to their full glory. However, if storm clouds shroud your view, Canaima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a destination in itself, with impressive geological formations and lush greenery.
While we’d all love to travel more than we do, silly things like money, jobs, children, and crippling anxiety keep us trapped in one place (often our homes that are filled with old newspapers). Thankfully, modern technology allows us to experience the world more easily than ever before. We can Skype with our friends on other continents, tour museums on our phones, and experience just about anything online. But what if you want to explore other cultures and places more tangibly and can’t hop around the globe like Indiana Jones? Well, if you have space in your yard (and don’t mind your home resembling the SkyMall Tuesday headquarters), then SkyMall has everything you need to bring the world to you. Rather than break the bank and exhaust all of your vacation days on constant travel, why not surround create a menagerie of handsome lawn sculptures that allows you to live internationally without ever leaving your house? Read more
As you might have noticed, we’ve been a bit obsessed with the beach lately thanks to the East Coast heat wave. We’ve looked at the worst people at the beach, the crazy things that beachgoers do, and The Definitive Guide to Going to the Beach. This all started a few weeks ago when we asked you to share your favorite underrated beaches with us. We put the call out on Twitter and Facebook, as well. It’s clear that you all have firm opinions on the best beaches in the world that don’t get enough attention. With summer in full swing and everyone looking for ways to beat the heat without dealing with obnoxious crowds, traffic snarls, and boring routines, it’s time to take a look at some of your favorite underrated and lesser-known beaches. Read more
My globetrotting ambitions should have been clear to my parents when at age 13 I chose as my bat mitzvah theme “Around the World with Liz.” The place cards looked like miniature passports, and each table represented a different country. Now that I’m twice as old as I was when I was called to read from the Torah for the first time, I decided to look back on that fateful day and count off how many of those “tables” I’ve actually visited:
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