Posts tagged ‘travel’

Things Kids Can Do in London

I don’t know much about London, but lensmaster Lou1842 lives there, and has given us an excellent list of things to do with your kids in London. One of the best parts is that she’s found activities that aren’t too expensive, so everyone can afford to do these.


The London Aquarium is one activity that she recommends. While it’s more than some of the other activities, it might be worth going, and she tells you how you can get a discount.

Orange Octopus Over the Entrance to the Aquarium, County Hall, London, United Kingdom

Other kid friendly destinations included on the lens are the Science Museum, Coram’s Fields, Diana’s Memorial Playground, and Mudlarks at the Museum of London Docklands. These are all cost conscious places that have interactive exhibits and fun things children will definitely enjoy doing. Read the entire, informative list of useful kids activities in London that Lou1842 has compiled here.

Tower Bridge at Night, London, UK

May 12, 2009 at 3:07 pm 1 comment

Take a Road Trip Across the United States

Road trips are just the best way to see the United States, plain and simple. There’s too much stuff to stop and see off the highways, the backroads and interstates to fly instead of drive. I’ve taken quite a few cross country road trips, from Massachusetts to California and other spots on the west coast and back. I’ve also driven to Key West, Florida, and to Washington state. There’s a lot to see, but you need to plan ahead.

The Northern Route:
The Northern Road trip route runs from Maine to Washington state, and will afford incredible views of Acadia National Park, the granite peaks of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, upstate New York, Ohio, Chicago, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Washington. Highlights along the route are Yellowstone National Park, Devil’s Tower Monument, Badlands National Park, Niagara Falls, and the lush rainforests of Olympic National Park. The trip takes around 10-14 days if you’re moving fast, but can be done in around 7 days if you don’t stop much.

Acadia National Park located in Maine, USA

The Southern Route:
Planning your trip across the southern states is a lot of fun, and it’s almost guaranteed that it will be warm or comfortable. Drive across the panhandle of Florida, the harbors of Alabama, the history of New Orleans, across the gigantic state of Texas, into the desert land of New Mexico, across the desert city of Tucson, and into the sunny state of California. When you take this route, it’s easy to go quick on I-10, but don’t forget to stop and some of the destinations off the main route like Carlsbad Caverns, Big Bend National Park, and Saguaro National Park.

Moon Over Skyline, Los Angeles, CA

California Road Trip:
When you enter California from I-10, one of the first desert cities you’ll encounter is Palm Springs, along with the beautiful and strange Joshua Tree National Park. A drive along the coast will take only 4 days at the most, but you’ll want to stop and enjoy it. The southern side of the state has the incredible warm beaches of San Diego, and the famed piers of Huntington and Manhattan Beach. Further north, you’ll visit Los Angeles, Malibu and Santa Barbara, and the spectacular cliffs of Big Sur, immediately followed by Monterey and San Francisco. Just north is the isolated peninsula of Point Reyes National Seashore and the Redwoods. Further inland, head to Yosemite National Park, Lassen National Park, Napa Valley and Sequoia National Park. Of all of the places in the United States, California is one of the easiest to plan. Everything is relatively close together, and there are so many incredible sites to see that you can spend 2-3 weeks traveling the state and not see everything.

Sailboat at Sunset, Key West's Old Town Harbour, Florida Keys, Florida, USA

East Coast Road Trip
A trip down or up the east coast offers a giant difference in temperature and culture, as you traverse the bridges over the Florida Keys and up to the craggy coastline of Maine. In between, you’ll see the nation’s capitol, Washington DC, the southern charm of Charleston, the pristine beaches of South Carolina and Georgia, long stretches of barrier islands in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and the rolling dunes of Massachusetts and New England’s beaches. I-95 runs mostly inland along the east coast, but will most likely serve as your major route for much of the trip. A trip down can take as short as two days, or as long as 2 weeks, depending on your pace. Comfortably, you can get the trip down done in 5 days. Of course, on your way down, you probably don’t want to forget Disney World and Orlando.

Delicate Arch and Surrounding Slick-Rock with La Sal Mountains in Distance, Utah

The Grand Circle of the Southwest:
The Grand Circle includes some beautiful destinations like Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Zion National Park, and the famed Grand Canyon. This road trip covers the states of Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, hugging close to the four corners region. Old Native American ruins, stunning canyon views, odd formations like the spire formations of the hoodoos (like Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks National Monument), and unforgettable hiking will make this one trip you’ll never forget. Plan to spend at least ten days on this trip. Destinations may look closer on the map than they are in reality. Many of the roads are backroads, or criss cross and wind around large mountains and buttes.

Which of these routes are for you? The northern route will carry you across more mountains and colder climates, along with some of the eastern and northern cities. The southern route will give a good taste of southern living, the desert, Texas, and Florida. The Grand Circle will provide some spectacular National Parks trips and views, away from any big cities. California offers a good variety of everything, beautiful beaches, parks and cities. You can pick one, or drive the entire distance, or just choose a single route. I’ve done all of them at once, and it took approximately 3 1/2 weeks, or 6 weeks if you take your time. Figure out how much time you can take off and go for it!

May 11, 2009 at 4:24 pm 1 comment

Take a Trip to the Philippines!

Fishing Boat Moored on the Beach, Palawan, Philippines

Visit a few of the 7,107 islands known as the archipelago of the Philippines and you’ll soon find out why the area is known as one of the most ecologically diverse areas of the world. Active volcanoes like the Taal Volcano provide unique contrast to the rainforest below, and the impressive coral reefs that lay just offshore.

Resort on El Nido Miniloc Island, Philippines

Lensmaster The_Bard has taken the time to point out some of the best resources, websites, beaches, and destinations within the Philippines on his lens Trek-Philippines. It’s full of colorful pictures of the islands, tips on where to find the best reefs, some background and statistics on the marine biodiversity, and information on the cities and culture of these beautiful islands of the South Pacific.

Bacult Archipelago Islands at Dawn, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

The Philippines shares part of the “coral triangle,” making it one of the most popular diving destinations on the planet. Offshore shipwrecks remain from World War II at Sangat Island Reserve and Coron Bay, while other islands offer an array of underwater creatures like barracuda, sharks and rays.

Shipwreck on Tubbataha Reef

El Nido Pangulasian Island at Dusk El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

Soft Corals of Many Hues Cover a Reef, Malapascua Island, Philippines

Pair of Mandarinfish Swim Close Together Prior to Spawning, Malapascua Island, Philippines

The Philippines is a very active zone seismically and volcanically. In 2001, Mount Mayon erupted, and in 1991, Mount Pinatubo famously erupted after some 500 years of being asleep. Intrigued? Check out the The_Bard’s lens on The Philippines for more information on this incredible vacation destination!

Mount Pinatubo eruption

Some of this information was found on Wikipedia.

Books on the Philippines:
Philippines Travel Guide
Culture Shock! Philippines: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette
Philippines: The Land (Lands, Peoples, and Cultures)
Authentic Recipes from the Philippines (Authentic Recipes Series)

April 23, 2009 at 11:55 pm 1 comment

Travel to Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens, today
Mount St. Helens, as it looks today. It’s recovered quite well.
Photo by Skedonk on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

The world never experienced a volcano erupting and exploding live on TV before the Mount St. Helens eruption of May 18, 1980. The incredible power of mother nature was realized, as it claimed 58 lives and devestated surrounding forests. The sheer height of Mount St. Helens even decreased by 1,300 feet!

Mount St. Helens

Lensmaster MobyD chronicles some of the eruption day’s events, and has some interesting photographs of the devestation caused within the blast zone on his Mount St. Helens lens. If you’re planning a visit to the area, there are useful tips on when to go, what else is in the area, directions on how to get there, and information on the admission prices. This will certainly give you some ideas and trip planning material for your trip to this monument of Washington state.

More Mount St. Helens Resources and Books:

Ryan Lake and Some of the Millions of Trees North of Mount St. Helens Flattened by the Eruption

April 21, 2009 at 3:31 pm 2 comments

Zion National Park — Hiking the Narrows

Zion National Park

One of the most challenging and most interesting hikes in the United States can be found in the amazing Narrows section of Zion National Park. A Woman Walks Along a Narrow Slot Canyon in the Park, Zion National Park, UtahIn the southwestern portion of the state of Utah, in appearance, Zion is a long, forested canyon, with the beautiful Virgin River running through the middle. As the river gets slimmer in parts of the canyon, the walls also get closer together. This is where the challenge of hiking the Narrows becomes so difficult and interesting. The Narrows aren’t accessible during the entire year. You’ll have to stop by the Visitor’s Center to see if the current conditions are acceptable for hiking, which usually occurs in the late summer months as the river becomes less active and forceful.

Be prepared on your hike up the narrows, as you’ll
need a good set of Outdoor Water Hiking Shoes to get you through the canyon. The deeper you progress into the canyon, the slimmer the crevice becomes (at some points being only 30 feet wide!). Expect to swim short distances where the water becomes deep (you thought I was kidding about those challenges?). You’ll be rewarded with the stunning scenery that the Narrows offers, and an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience you can look back on and be proud of.

Wondering what else you might need for the trip? Here’s a few things that are necessary and useful:

Zion SinawavaIn 2005, I was lucky enough to stay overnight in Zion. Right outside the park in Springdale, there are a number of beautiful accomodations in the midst of the canyon, and right outside the gate of the park. Only one hotel is within the park boundaries, a rustic lodge that’s been open since the early 1900’s. Here’s a list of recommended hotels in Zion, like the Cliffrose Lodge and Bumbleberry Inn.

April 20, 2009 at 8:03 pm Leave a comment

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Buy Posters at
If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t heard of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. This deep, vast canyon is over 40 miles long in the southwestern corner of Colorado. The closest well known town is Aspen, to the northeast. The canyon plummets over 2,000 feet in some places, with beautiful black marbled granite rock. The descent is nearly vertical, making a giant gash in the surface of the earth dating back to 1.7 billions years ago.

It’s an intriguing place that’s rather isolated, but upon closer research, the area has some beautiful scenery all around it. For one, Grand Junction. This town near the border of Utah has wineries…

Black Canyon of the Gunnison postcard

…yes wineries! Surrounded by the Rockies, these lush, green mountains provide the perfect temperature to grow wine. The “playground of the rich,” Aspen, is located to the northeast. A popular ski destination, this town has boomed in the past two decades, with average home prices now in the millions. Directly to the west, the town of Moab offers Utah’s best selection of tightly packed National Parks for your buck. Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Arches are all within just a few miles of each other. Monument Valley is to the southwest, and New Mexico directly south. Some of these destinations may not be all that close together, but they would make an incredible road trip experience.
Here’s more information on the area around Black Canyon:

Arches National Park
Things to Do in Denver

April 6, 2009 at 2:32 pm Leave a comment

Floridian Beauty at Jupiter Lighthouse

Jupiter Lighthouse photo by MBGPhotoThough lighthouses are man made, they seem to be one with their surroundings. Lighthouses tell a story of maritime history, a time when it was much more dangerous to head out to open water. Once widely used to help ships navigate their way to safety, these towering lighthouses have now become tourist attractions.

More prominent on the east coast than the west coast of the United States, you’ll find hundreds of old light stations dotting the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida (and beyond, to Texas). Some of the more colorful lighthouses belong to the southern states like North Carolina like Bodie Island and Cape Hatteras Lighthouses.

Florida, too, boasts a large number of large brick light towers. Lensmaster mbgphoto has put a spotlight on one in particular, Jupiter Lighthouse. This bright brick red lighthouse is located near Palm Beach, and about 85 miles north of Miami.

Stop by MBGPhoto‘s beautiful Jupiter Lighthouse lens to see all of the incredible photos she took herself. She also features these very same photos for sale on beautiful products in her store like framed tiles, coasters, greeting cards, t-shirts and ceramic mugs. Some of the other lighthouses she features in her store are Maine’s Nubbles Lighthouse, Hilton Head Lighthouse of South Carolina, and Tybee Island Lighthouse of Georgia.

January 27, 2009 at 7:53 pm Leave a comment

Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs runs hot and cold with people. If you love warm weather and constant sunshine, you will love Palm Springs. However, if you can’t stand extreme heat, then don’t go during the summer months between June and October. It can reach a staggering 110 degrees during the day at times, while the average daytime peak summer temperature is around 102.

What Palm Springs has to offer besides just heat is remarkable scenery, ancient Indian rock canyons, and some of the best steakhouses in the USA. There’s rock climbing in the Indian Canyons, an impressive zoo at the Living Desert, and some of the best golfing opportunities in the country.

Located about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs has its own International Airport. It’s also one of the biggest producers of clean wind energy. Upon entering the city by car, you’ll see row upon row of windmill producing energy for the nation.

Palm Springs and Coachella Valley sit on the San Andreas Fault line, the infamous point at which two massive plates meet each other. What’s startling is you can actually see the fault line above the ground!

Learn more about Palm Springs from lensmaster Kiwisoutback.

January 25, 2009 at 10:12 pm 2 comments

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