Posts tagged ‘united states’
Autumn is one of the best times of year to take a vacation. The kids are back in school, the temperatures are very comfortable (and sometimes still very warm), and the tourists are also largely gone from many of the most popular vacation destinations across the globe. If you’re thinking about planning a fall vacation, here are twelve fall vacation destination ideas that you can read more about right on this blog:
Active volcanoes, spectacular marine life, and some of the best tropical views and beaches on the planet make the Philippines a growing vacation destination. Underwater wrecks and diverse sea life, as well as one of the biggest coral reefs on the planet make this South Pacific vacation destination perfect for this fall.
When the summertime temperatures give a slight reprieve in Paris, it also coincides with grape harvest time in the French countryside. In the city, fall is one of the most active times of year for festivals. The brilliant fall foliage only adds to the beauty of this city.
For such a small country, The Netherlands has an immense tourism industry. Between Belgium and Germany, The Netherlands experiences some of its most comfortable temperatures in the fall season. Visit some of the popular destinations in the city like the Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, or the Floating Flower Garden. A trip to the country also wouldn’t be complete without a trip to historic (and sometimes notorious) Amsterdam.
A lot of people don’t know this, but the best time of year to see the southwest USA is in the autumn. Like the rest of the country, there is some foliage, along with much cooler, drier temperatures. Days are still warm, but not as hot and unbearable as in the summer months. Nights are cool and comfortable, but sometimes can get into the near freezing range. Zion National Park explodes with color in the autumn, as the birches lining the Virgin River invite you into the difficult water hike, The Narrows. It’s not for the novice hiker, and you’ll need some special equipment, but it’s entirely worth the bother. This is one fall vacation you’d never forget.
The kids are back in school, so this is the time to really get to the park if you want shorter lines and comfortable temperatures! Sure, they just got back in school, but this time of year is great for a vacation (maybe you want to pull them out for a long weekend?). The only downside is that it’s hurricane season, too, so along with the comfortable weather once in a while comes a tropical storm or hurricane. Luckily, Orlando is far inland, so you won’t have to deal with coastal flooding.
Napa is best seen in the fall months. The area experiences great fall foliage, as well as the annual wine harvest. Along with the harvest, many wineries have parties to kick off the season. Grape leaves turn to orange-red hues, contrasted by vibrant purples.
The Southern California region is known for its year-round warm weather, palm trees, and laid back attitude. So why is autumn the best time of year to visit Southern California? The temperatures see their peak in late summer in California, but the air still stays very warm into October. While the area may not see fall foliage, it also doesn’t see nearly as many tourists. That means less lines, less traffic, and lower prices on hotels. Check out cities like Palm Springs, Irvine, Santa Monica, and San Diego for warm weather and views all to yourself.
Just as the wine flows in the autumn in Paris and Napa, the beer starts to flow from taps everywhere in the fall during Oktoberfest. This celebration is an age old tradition where you can sample some of the best beer Germany has to offer, as well as the culture of the German people. Head to the city of Trier to see the historic sites, to the capital of Berlin to check out the fall foliage, or base your entire trip along the best festivals.
While the Northern Hemisphere experiences its end phase of warm weather and sun during the fall, the Southern Hemisphere countries like New Zealand and Australia are experiencing rebirth in the form of spring. This is the perfect time of year to see beautiful floral blooms and fresh snowcapped mountains in cities like Auckland, or in the beautiful National Parks of New Zealand.
When you think of fall foliage, one place probably comes to mind for U.S residents: the northeast, specifically New England. If you think it’s all a bunch of hype and the colors aren’t as spectacular as people say, you’re wrong. Vermont, New Hampshire, and also Western Massachustts, Upstate New York, and Maine experience tremendous fall color. The rest of the New England states, too, experience beautiful foliage just a few weeks later than the northern states.
Sure, Cape Cod does reside within New England, but unless you’ve been to the Cape during the summer, you have no idea what it’s like to fight Cape Cod bridge traffic on the busy Sagamore and Bourne Bridges, as well as on the congested highways of Route 28 and Route 6. There are nothing but positives for planning a fall vacation to Cape Cod. No annoying tourists, no fighting over a spot at the beach, and you might not even have to pay to go to the beach. Also, no waits at the best restaurants, and there’s still warm ocean temperatures, especially on Nantucket Sound throughout September and into early October sometimes. One other huge plus is the rates are nearly cut in half (sometimes more) after Labor Day and even more after Columbus Day. The Cape doesn’t experience fall foliage as colorfully as destinations in northern New England, but the color is still there and still impressive to see.
Post monsoon season in October-November is a great time to head to India. Drier air means less bugs, and a more comfortable trip for you. Check out the post on taking an India Sabbatical on this blog (link in the header for this section) for travel tips, recommendations, and places to see during any time of year.
The fall foliage doesn’t stop at the Canadian border, it keeps on moving north through New England and into the province of Quebec. In the heart of the province, you can find historic Quebec City, which is one of the most European inspired cities west of Europe itself. Fall temperatures are comfortable in the city, and the autumn foliage provides a stunning backdrop to the buildings along the St. Lawrence River.
What is already an impressive National Park in Northern California becomes even more splendid in the fall. With a drop in temperature comes a change in leaf color, as well as a change in the shades of grass, the hue of the sunsets, and the amount of tourists in the park (that’s a theme of this post, and a definite benefit to traveling in the fall!). The park is open until late October, so get your vacation in before then. The park has been known to have brutal snowstorms even in late October that can shut down the park entirely. Plan your trip in September, and then plan to head to Napa on the way back to enjoy wine country. After that, don’t forget about San Francisco, which experiences its highest temperatures in the month of September.
Out looking for leaves this autumn? Leaf peepers, stop by this page for the best fall foliage spots in the United States collected onto one page!
A lot of places in Massachusetts get plenty of attention for what they have to offer in terms of scenic attractions, beaches, mountains, big cities, and historical sites. You’ve probably heard of Cape Cod, and you’ve no doubt heard of Boston. The South Shore of Massachusetts, however, sometimes gets ignored. Beyond the town of Plymouth, what else is there? Plenty. The South Shore of Massachusetts has lighthouses, scenic views of the Boston skyline, some of the best beaches in the state, great restaurants, and one other thing: a lack of crowds. That’s the biggest difference.
We’ll start north and head south on this trip, and begin with the town of Quincy.
Quincy is just south of Boston, so it’s a city, not much of a beach town. Quincy does have its own beaches, particularly Wollaston Beach, but these are no match for the beaches further south. What it does have is a lot of history. The town is the home of former Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, as well as the famous signor of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock. Quincy boasts some of the best restaurants on the South Shore, as well as the beautiful seaside community of Marina Bay.
Normally just a stopping point along Route 3, Weymouth doesn’t seem like it has much to offer in terms of scenic views, however, you may not have visited the Weymouth Back River along Route 3A. This scenic area has its own park, Abigail Adams Park, with plenty of space for dog walking and enjoying the fresh air. Like Quincy, this is a city style town with plenty of businesses and restaurants. You’ll also find Wesagusset Beach along the relatively small Weymouth shoreline.
Hingham is one of the South Shore’s wealthiest communities, and one of the prettiest. Like Weymouth and Quincy, there isn’t all that much shoreline in town, but what is there is memorable. What’s most memorable about Hingham’s coast is the peninsula park called World’s End. This hilly land is made up of several hills overlooking Quincy, Hull, and Hingham. Nestled away on this tip, it’s easy to find yourself as the only visitor in this scenic park, strangely enough.
Located on a peninsula in Boston Harbor, Hull is connected by land to the towns of Cohasset and Hull. There is no land route to Boston, except for a long 1-hour drive back down the peninsula south, and north to Boston. This scenic town of the South Shore boasts its most popular beach, Nantasket Beach. With miles of white sand, Nantasket has little rocks and plenty of stretches of soft sand to walk on. Much of Nantasket also has a giant sea wall, which is another popular place to go walking or running. Further north in Hull, you will reach some of the hills for which the town is famous. To the north, you can view Little Brewster Island and Boston Light. At the very end of Hull, you’ll find Pemberton Point, looking out at Peddocks Island, the Boston Harbor Islands, and the skyline of the city of Boston. Get here early if you’re heading here in the summer, because the beach parking fills up fast.
Cohasset, like Hingham, is a beautiful community that has many spectacular, high priced homes on the water. Cohasset’s Jerusalem Road is a must drive for the South Shore. When you’re done with that, drive through the center of Cohasset, and to the tribute to the former lighthouse in Cohasset at Government Island. Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse can clearly be seen from the park, which stands alone in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, protecting ships from the rocky shoal to this day.
Scituate is located south of Cohasset. Scituate has its own lighthouse and harbor. Scituate Light can be seen as the introductory photo for this post. From the coast of northern Minot, you can spot the Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse, along with a small beach (and sometimes tidal pools). In Scituate Center, you’ll find plenty of shops, art galleries, and local restaurants featuring seafood, Irish food, and ice cream. South of the center, you’ll find the cliffs area of Scituate. These four cliffs have spectacular views of the ocean. The Fourth Cliff of Scituate is located in Humarock. This coastal village is only accessibly by first traveling through Marshfield. Scituate and Humarock were once connected, but a storm moved the mouth of the North River between Third and Fourth Cliff to its present entrance.
At the coastal center of the South Shore is the town of Marshfield. Like many coastal towns in Massachusetts and Cape Cod, Marshfield contains several “villages” that make up the town. Fieldston, Ocean Bluff, Brant Rock, Rexhame, and Marshfield Hills are some of those villages. The busiest of those villages in the summer is Brant Rock, which has extensive parking for summer strolls along the waterfront and for a day trip to the beach. You can find the Marshfield Hills section of town near Route 3A. Marshfield Hills has many historic homes and scenic backroads that are worth the drive.
Duxbury has some of the South Shore’s most impressive scenery. Much of the town is located on the ocean, and the town has one of the busiest beaches in Massachusetts, Duxbury Beach. If you have the time, spend a couple of hours exploring the main roads of town like Washington Street, Powder Point Avenue, and King Caesar Road. These all have incredible views of Manoment and Plymouth, along with tidal creeks, small sailboats, and waterfront homes. Near Duxbury Beach, you’ll find the Powder Point Bridge. This bridge leads to the peninsula of Gurnet, which leads to the village of Saquish. This is four wheel drive access only, and you’ll need a beach permit sticker to get here. Once you reach Saquish, you’ll need to turn around. It’s residents only. The ride to Saquish, however, is unforgettable. On one side, there’s the open Atlantic Ocean. On the other side, you’ll see dunes, shorebirds, and Plymouth Harbor. Bring your camera so you can remember this beautiful spot forever. If you’d rather not spend the extra money on a permit, you can park at the other side of the Powder Point Bridge and walk over. The walk is long, but the views are grand.
The town of Kingston is located just south of Duxbury. Much of the shoreline of Kingston is dominated by the Jones River. Kingston has the small beach that overlooks Kingston Bay called Gray’s Beach, along with beautiful historic homes located on Main Street (Route 27). Much of Kingston’s shoreline can be seen by traveling first via Washington Street in Duxbury, to Bay Road. This will lead eventually to the Jones River and Bay Farm, a large open pasture that leads to the ocean.
Plymouth is the South Shore’s most well known town, and also the largest town in the state of Massachusetts by land area. There’s no question that you should definitely make Plymouth part of your journey across the South Shore. Plymouth has some great seafood restaurants and shopping in Plymouth Center, but also has stunning beaches and deep history (which you probably already knew). There are many historic buildings and parks in Plymouth, but make Plymouth Rock, the Plymouth waterfront, the Mayflower II, and Plimoth Plantation “must-sees” on your trip. There are some beautiful beaches in Plymouth, many of which are private. For a better view of some of them, take the Captain John Boats, which offer great whale watches. A trip on one of these boats will give you great views of Kingston, Duxbury, Saquish, and sometimes Provincetown (not to mention the whales themselves).
A trip across the South Shore will take all day, if you start early. Otherwise, it could take two days. Popular towns to stay in include Rockland, Hull, and Plymouth. Be sure to plan your trip around bridge traffic on Cape Cod as well. Bridge traffic is heavy on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as Saturday and Sunday mornings.
I love to travel, especially by car, so it was only a matter of time before I started up another blog on road trips. The Road Trips Across the 50 States of America blog will feature some of the great sightseeing destinations across the United States, all of which are accessible via the good old automobile. Over the past month, 30 of the best National Parks, The Grand Circle of the southwest, and some road trip preparation tips have been given as a little teaser of some of the things to come on this blog.
So what’s coming up in the next month? Here’s a sneak preview:
- Palm Springs
- The Everglades
- A road trip to Rhode Island
- Blue Ridge Parkway
Back here on the ExSquidition Travel Journal, next up will be a lens on Hawaii.. from a kid’s point of view. That’s all I’m saying right now, but expect to see it soon!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
- Mount St. Helens: The Eruption and Recovery of a Volcano
- How Volcanoes Work, The Mt. St. Helens Eruption
- A Complete Guide to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument: For Hiking, Skiing, Climbing & Nature Viewing
- Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens
- In the Blast Zone: Catastrophe and Renewal on Mount St. Helens
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. In 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:
- Sea to Summit SN240 Ultra-Light Siliconized Cordura Pack Cover
- Pentax Optio W60 Waterproof 10MP Digital Camera with 5x Wide Angle Optical Zoom (Ocean Blue)
- Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottles
- Hammers HP5 Anti-Shock Hiking Pole with Compass & Thermometer
In 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.
Buy Posters at AllPosters.com
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.