The Six Best Island Vacations in Europe 

Guest post

How about slowing down the pace and opting for an island vacation in Europe?

 

Surprisingly, Europe has an excellent collection of islands that are perfect for a barefoot leisure holiday or an adventurous expedition. They’re also an ideal way to escape from daily realities of life and the hoards of tourists that frequent Europe’s most popular cities. So, why not head to these exquisite islands to experience a unique European holiday?

Islands of Greece

Best Island Vacations in Europe

When it comes to planning an island holiday in Europe, Greece is on top of the list. This gorgeous nation is made up of a cluster of islands scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas. The moment someone mentions Greece, images of endless stretches of azure waters lapping on white sandy beaches and sunny blue skies surface in one’s mind.

Set in the southeastern Europe, Greece is a fabled land filled with rich culture and ancient civilizations. The country’s the Ionian Islands or the Seven Islands are known for their breathtaking panoramas, while the islands of Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Cephalonia, Zakynthos, and Cerigo are steeped in culture and historical influences from many European settlements.

A cruise visit to each of these islands is a great way to explore the unique experiences they have to offer. An expedition into diverse landscapes, sheltered bays and caves, and serene lagoons with a backdrop of soaring cliffs are mesmerizing to behold. Santorini is one of the best islands to visit in Greece. Here, take in a sunset from the coastal township, and a stop for a photo opportunity on one of the picturesque whitewashed lanes lined with churches.

Isle of Skye, Scotland 

Best Island Vacations in Europe

Spectacular sceneries of rugged cliffs and clear lochs wait for you at Isle of Skye in Scotland. With a unique landscape of jagged cliffs and mountainous terrains dominating the panorama, Isle of Skye offers some of the most dramatic vistas in Scotland. Not the usual sight of open bright blue seas or white sandy beaches, Isle of Sky surprises you with misty brown mountains and clear waters.

If you’re interested in an island vacation that includes wilderness adventures, the Isle of Skye offers amazing hiking trails and walks of varying levels of difficulty. Hardcore adventurers can push their limits with challenging climbs. Those who love to stroll through nature can opt for pictorial walking tours to Coral Beach, Cuillin Mountains, Boreraig, and Talisker Beach to name a few places. On the way, you may even spot white-tailed sea eagles, puffins, otters, seals, whales, dolphins, and red deer. Stop by the Scottish villages of Portree, Dunvegan, and Trotternish for a pint of the finest Scottish malt whiskey. Have a pleasant time mingling with locals and savoring some Scottish meals.

Canary Islands, Spain

Best Island Vacations in Europe

A fusion of stunning beaches, spectacular natural sceneries, charming culture, and pleasantly warm weather, the Canary Islands are your answer to a tranquil Spanish holiday without the chaos of tourists. Considered as one of Europe’s best winter sun destinations due to their moderate climates, the Canary islands offer a thrilling island adventure amid extraordinary scenic settings. An archipelago set deep in the Atlantic Ocean, away from the Spanish borders, the islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, El Hierro, La Gomera, and La Palma offer sanctuary for those seeking tranquil escapes and cater to all kinds of beach lovers.

The unspoiled beaches, turquoise waters, and glorious sunshine coupled with tropical forests that are dotted with waterfalls, quaint seaside villages teeming, and charming locals, the islands allure their visitors with spectacular natural vistas and a vibrant verve.

There is always an event or celebration going on throughout the year. For leisure seekers, relax on laid-back sunny beaches after a dip in the tepid waters or set sail into the ocean to spot dolphins and whales. For outdoorsy adventurers, hike on meandering trails, or try scuba diving beneath the deep blue waters. Take some time to visit the seaside hamlets and historic townships, and don’t forget to watch a superb sunset along the horizon or stay at the beach late into the night for an awe-inspiring star-gazing experience.

Madeira, Portugal

Best Island Vacations in Europe

Deemed one of Europe’s most exotic places to visit, Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago consisting of four islands that lie far away from the European coast. Located in the Atlantic Ocean north of the Canary Islands, Madeira is a mountainous region rather than a beach destination.

Rich in verdant foliage, soaring cliffs, and mountain peaks, Madeira is a haven for adventure lovers. There are many activities to do here, such as taking a cable car ride that gives you wonderful aerial views of Funchal, exploring the historic sites, or taking in the colonial architecture. Take a self-drive tour to check out the beautiful churches overlooking the cliff edges and the vast expanses of water, try surfing one of Europe’s best surf zones, or gear up for an adventure trek on the misty Pico do Arieiro.

Madeira is a spectacular epicurean destination that is famous for its wineries. A haven for keen food lovers, it is a delight to delve into a delectable range of cuisines made out of fresh farm produce and seafood that is complemented perfectly with an array of the finest sparkling wines from the region. Tourists flock to Madeira during New Year celebrations for its warm weather and astounding fireworks display that is certified as the largest fireworks show in the world by Guinness World Records.

Sicily, Italy

Best Island Vacations in Europe

Italy is undoubtedly well known as a destination drenched in art, history, and culture, but the country also offers amazing experiences of blissful island living. Italy’s assorted islands and its coastal towns are quite famous for providing insight into the quaint lifestyle steeped in authentic Italian culture and cuisine amid spellbinding scenic vistas. Sicily is the largest Italian island, offering an intense blend of unspoiled sceneries that are reminiscent of a bygone era, refreshing scents, and delectable flavors.

The colorful coastal settlement of Taormina perched right the border of the gleaming deep blue Mediterranean waters is a sight worth taking in. Mount Etna is another must visit attraction that offers stunning nature park, and grottos to explore. The UNESCO sites of the Noto Valley and Villa Romana del Casale take you back in historical times, while the refreshing sights of rolling green vineyards, olive groves, and citrus orchards are enough to confirm that the palette of food you will be relishing in will be fresh and delicious. Forget about piling up calories and let yourself loose on an amazing array of delicious Sicilian dishes, such as pastries, croquettes, ricottas, breads, tomatoes, meats, and genuine extra virgin olive oil.

Iceland

Best Island Vacations in Europe

Iceland is a one-of-a-kind experience that needs to be visited at least once in your lifetime. In contrast to its name, Iceland isn’t a country covered in sheets of ice, but its sheer natural beauty is attributed to its glacial fields. Other landscapes include volcanic mountains and lava fields, making Iceland a place where ice and fire coexist in harmony. The landscape is marvelous and distinct. There are no lush forests or tall trees, just shrubbery and moss-covered uneven topography.

The natural splendor of Iceland is astounding and surreal. The island is speckled with magnificent waterfalls, volcanic terrains, gorgeous fjords, stunning beaches, and clear lakes. The long days here give you a feeling that tomorrow may never come, and you have loads of time in one day to explore the country. The black beaches of Laugarvatn Lake, Reynisfjara, and Vik, the icy blue glaciers of Jökulsárlón and Vatnajökull National Park, the dramatic multi-hued vistas of Westfjords, the natural hot pools at Krosslaug and Deildartunguhver are some of Iceland’s extraordinary sights that will be etched in your memories forever. If you are traveling in the right season, you can even catch the gleaming Aurora borealis in Iceland.

The beauty and warmth of these European islands act as a rejuvenating salve for the tired soul. Though set apart from the mainland, a trip to these islands is an unparalleled experience and is sure to leave you wanting for more of the European island lifestyle.

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Things to do in Kuta, Bali, in One Day — Beaches, Barong, and Temples

Kuta, Bali, is known for its exciting nightlife and beautiful beaches.

 

If you love to shop, party, and surf, then Kuta is the perfect place for you. Located just a 15-minute drive from Bali’s only international airport, this former fishing village town was one of the first major tourist spots to crop up on the Indonesian island of Bali. Today, it’s part of a sprawling urban area that’s renowned for beautiful beach sunsets and party vibe. There are so many things to do in Kuta and the surrounding area that it’s hard to decide where to begin.

Things to do in Kuta

Where to Stay

If you want to be smack dab in the heart of the action, stay at one of the massive beachside resorts along Jalan Pantai Kuta, such as the luxurious Hard Rock Hotel Bali or Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort. During the day, simply wander across the street and rent a lounge chair on the beach. If kicking back and soaking up the sun isn’t for you, perhaps stroll along the avenue to check out the vast variety of shops, including popular international name brands and local boutiques. At night, enjoy the rhythmic sounds of local bands as the street comes alive with energy.

For my short stay in Kuta, I chose to make my nest a little off the beaten path at the divine Grand Mega Resort & Spa. The four-star hotel offers spacious, modern rooms equipped with every comfort your heart could desire, including both a bathtub and separate shower, plush bathrobes, coffeemaker, and more. An expansive outdoor pool and bar, relaxing spa, and delicious restaurant round out the resort’s amenities.

Things to do in Kuta

Things to do in Kuta

The Grand Mega is just a 15-minute from the airport, and everything you need for an enjoyable stay is available on site, which is a good thing since there’s not much nearby aside from a small mall across the street. I didn’t plan on spending much time at the hotel, so it suited me just fine. And because of its location away from the beach hubbub, it was extremely affordable. How often can you find a four-star hotel for under $40 per night? Considering equivalent hotels along the beach cost more than three times as much, the Grand Mega is an ideal choice, especially if you plan to spend most of your time touring beyond Kuta.

Things to do in Kuta

Things to do in Kuta

Things to do in Kuta

things to do in kuta

Arranging a Ride

While tour companies offer many opportunities for things to do in Kuta, it’s just as easy to make your own tour. Most hotels will be happy to arrange a driver to take you around for the day. If you have only one day to take in the local sites, you’ll want to make the most of your day, so be sure to make arrangements the night before. My driver had a handy-dandy binder filled with pictures and descriptions of the main attractions. He made recommendations based on my personal tastes, and then we agreed on a price. This is key.

Always agree on the price in advance. Typically, a full day tour costs in the range of 700,000 to 800,000 Indonesian Rupiah, which equates to about $50 to $60. Most drivers allow two to three people in the vehicle for this rate, but keep in mind, there is no discount if you’re traveling alone. You will need to pay the full rate.

Pro tip: The rate you agree on with your driver does not include entrance to any attractions. You will need to pay for those separately upon arrival. This is just the fee for driving you around for the day. Also, you are expected to tip at the end of the day.

Starting Your Day

If you’re staying at the Grand Mega, the buffet breakfast is a lovely way to start the day. There is a wide selection of both hot and cold foods, as well as fresh fruit and an omelette station. It costs about $10 on its own, or it may come included with your room.

Things to do in Kuta

A great way to get a glimpse into the customs and heritage of a culture is to take in a traditional performance of some kind. Grab a buffet breakfast at the hotel, and then head to Sari Wisata Budaya to catch the 9:30 a.m. Barong and Kris show. The show costs about $8 and lasts about 45 minutes. As you enter the theater, you’ll be greeted by a stunning Balinese dancer dressed in colorful traditional clothing. It’s the perfect opportunity to pose for a quick picture. While you can use your own camera, a photographer will also snap a photograph, which you can purchase later for about $8.

One inside the performance area, you’ll immediately notice there are no actual seats. Instead, you’ll find stadium seating on an oversized concrete staircase. Simply sit wherever you like, and wait for the show to begin. Just before it does, the gamelan ensemble to the right of the stage begins playing vibrant music on instruments such as xylophones and bamboo flutes. The tunes are catchy and enchanting. And before you know if the performers take to the stage.

Things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

Things to do in Kuta

As you enter the theater, you’ll be given a pamphlet explaining the story. Based on a twelfth-century tale of good versus evil, Barong, a mystical spirit in the form of a beast, must protect his village from the with queen Rangda. From Balinese dancing to comedy improv, the show has a little bit of everything. Though the entire show is performed in Balinese, you’ll get the gist of what’s going on. While the traditional dancing and music are beautiful, and the costumes are stunning, the show drags on a little long. And it’s a bit raunchy at times. Still, it’s worth the few bucks you shelled out to see something local.

Things to do in Kuta

Alternatively, if the Barong show simply isn’t your style, wake up early, and head down to Kuta Beach for a quiet stroll in the sand before the temperatures rise and the crowds arrive. Aside from the six-foot white sandstone fence built in the traditional Balinese style, there’s not a lot that makes this beach stand out from any other. Still, it’s a nice way to start the day.

things to do in Kuta

When you’re done, head over to one of the many streetside restaurants for a bite to eat. For a couple of bucks, you can get a hearty meal that will keep your stomach sated for hours. For less than $5, I got juice, tea, hash browns, pancakes, fruit, toast, and eggs at the Grand Istana Rama Hotel located just a block or so from the Beachwalk Shopping Center.

things to do in Kuta

After breakfast, head back toward the mall and check out the shops. Then, make your way down Jalan Pantai Kuta, and you’ll get a sense of just how busy Kuta Square gets later in the day. Check out a few more shops, or maybe get a foot massage for a few dollars. Spas are a dime a dozen in this part of the world. You can walk in at any time and expect the royal treatment.

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

Pro tip: Ask to be dropped off and picked up at the Beachwalk Shopping Center. It’s a solid landmark that’s easy to find and central to the action. Give yourself about two hours to grab a bite, dip your toes in the water, and wander through a few shops.

Mid-Day

After you’ve had a chance to see a show or walk along the beach, it’s time to hit the road en route to the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, but not before a quick stop at a kopi Luwak coffee plantation. This is one of the most common things to do in Kuta and other parts of Bali. In fact, a stop at a coffee plantation will be on just about every tour itinerary you read. I don’t drink coffee, at all…ever…so I wasn’t super keen on the idea, but my driver was insistent on it and told me it wouldn’t take long. I figured he got kick backs on any sales, but I decided to do it anyway.

Coffee plantations are abundant in Bali, and once you know what to look for, you’ll see signs for them on many streets. The one we went to was designed to entice tourists. At the entrance, you’ll be greeted by a representative of the plantation who will take you on a short tour. At this particular plantation, from the moment you walk in, you feel as though you’ve found a lush oasis in the middle of a dusty desert. As you wind your way along the garden path, the tour guide explains that kopi Luwak is some of the most expensive coffee in the world, costing hundreds of dollars per pound.

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

Kopi, or coffee, Luwak is not a type of coffee but rather a method for processing it. First, Asian palm civets, nocturnal cat-like creatures known locally as Luwaks, roam through the fields of coffee beans at night, carefully selecting only the finest beans to eat. Their bodies digest the beans so quickly that they don’t have time to breakdown. When they come back out, they are nearly completely intact. From here, the beans are thoroughly washed and roasted.

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

If you’re an animal advocate like me, your first concern will be for the animals. I was very happy to learn the plantation I was at allows the Luwaks plenty of free time outside of their cages to enjoy the outdoors. I had no idea was I was getting into when I went to the plantation and immediately began asking questions. While this particular plantation placed a high value on its animals, not all of them do. Knowing this, be sure to ask in advance if the plantation you’re going to have quality standards for the care of its Luwaks.

After you’re done the roasting demonstration, you’ll be taken to a tasting area. Here, you’ll be given the opportunity to sample no less than 12 varieties of teas and coffees made at the plantation. Tea flavors typically include mangosteen, ginseng, vanilla, and ginger to name a few. You can sample coconut, chocolate, and Bali coffees, among others. If you want to try the good stuff, you’ll have to shell out about $4. Once you’ve discovered your favorite flavors, you’ll be escorted to a small shop where you can make a purchase. There is absolutely no pressure to buy anything if you don’t want to. The entire experience takes about a half hour tops. Even if you don’t drink coffee, it’s an enjoyable experience, so just go with it.

things to do in Kuta

Once you’ve discovered your favorite flavors, you’ll be escorted to a small shop where you can make a purchase. There is absolutely no pressure to buy anything if you don’t want to. The entire experience takes about a half hour tops. Even if you don’t drink coffee, it’s an enjoyable experience, so just go with it.

Afternoon

Finally, you’ll be on your way to Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, or GWK as it’s known locally. This park wasn’t on my radar when I was looking for things to do in Kuta, but my driver suggested in, and I was glad he did. The sprawling 150-acre park is about a half-hour drive from central Kuta, but it feels like longer due to traffic congestion and sketchy driving conditions. Dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu and Garuda, the bird-like creature that Vishnu rides, the park features an amphitheater, shops, restaurants, ATV rentals and more.

When you arrive at the park, your driver will likely drop you off at the ticket counter and leave to find parking. After you’ve paid your admission—about $8—you’ll be given a park map and someone will point you toward the entrance. Then you’ll be on your own. Simply follow the path and the other people, and you’ll be just fine (though I found the map a bit useless, and I’m quite adept at reading maps).

things to do in Kuta

Though still under construction, the main spectacle is the statue of Vishnu riding Garuda. When complete, it will stand nearly 500 feet tall, dwarfing the Statue of Liberty and making it one of the largest statues in the world. Currently, however, only the heads and shoulders of Vishnu and Garuda are in place…and they’re in place a little ways apart from each other. Even though they are only about a quarter complete, both are massive and incredibly impressive to see.  It’s nearly impossible to imagine how these two components will come together as one, but when they do it will be a formidable attraction, to say the least. When I was there, for a small donation, a local man would perform a blessing over you using holy water and rice.

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

Be sure to take in one of the traditional dance performances or Balinese parade that takes place each day. In addition, you’ll want to walk through the Lotus Pond. At a capacity of more than 7,000 people, it’s the largest outdoor area in the park and has played host to a number of special events, including concerts by Iron Maiden and Paramore. Also, make a stop in at the shop and art market at the end of your visit. You’ll have a chance to purchase a greenscreen photo of you with Vishnu for about $10. Allow an hour or two for your visit to GWK Park, which is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. A schedule of events is posted on the park’s website.

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

By now, it will be early afternoon and time to head for the final leg of your tour, Uluwatu. Located on the southwestern tip of the Bukit Peninsula, Uluwatu is one of the top things to do in Kuta. This picturesque place is known across the globe as one of the world’s best surfing spots, as well as for its cliffside temple, Pura Luhur Uluwatu. The drive from GWK takes less than half an hour.

things to do in Kuta

Once you’ve paid your entrance fee—about $2—you can walk all along the cliffside to the left or right to take in the spectacular views of waves crashing against the rocks. Be sure to walk both ways since the panorama is vastly different in each direction. The entire trip will take you about an hour, with plenty of time to take photos and enjoy the fresh air.

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

things to do in kuta

You’ll find a few local vendors on your trek selling handmade items. I picked up a hand-woven friendship bracelet for a little less than $1. It’s nothing fancy, but it serves as a reminder of my special day every time I look at my wrist.

things to do in kuta

If you happen to be visiting Uluwatu later in the day, consider staying for sunset and enjoying the Kecak show that takes place at 6 p.m. daily. Though I didn’t have a chance to check it out, I’ve heard from others who did that it was a wonderful experience.

Pro tip: When you arrive at Uluwatu, be sure to leave any loose items in the car. Uluwatu is famous for the Macaque monkeys that inhabit the temple and steal from tourists. Hold onto your phones, cameras, and sunglasses, or you’ll be brushing up on your bartering skills in an attempt to exchange a banana for your belongings.

Evening

After your visit to Uluwatu, you may want to drive over to nearby Jimbaran Bay for a seafood barbecue. I chose to head back to the hotel for a bite to eat at the restaurant and then an extensive spa treatment. I was told I could get a better deal outside the hotel, but I thought $25 for nearly three hours was a great price. I was treated to a full-body massage, an exfoliating green tea body scrub, a soothing facial, and a relaxing milk bath. It was the perfect way to cap off a long, lovely day.

Things to do in Kuta

If you’ve still got some extra energy to burn off, you can always check out the nightlife at Kuta Beach. A taxi will set you back only about $5 each way at most.

These are just a few of the many things to do in Kuta. With so many exciting area attractions, it’s hard to decide which ones to choose.

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things to do in kuta

5 Amazing Cycle Routes Around the World

Guest post by Diana Smith

Cycling is an ideal way to blow off some steam and stay in shape.

 

But have you ever considered using your bike to travel the world? Although the average person will be more than satisfied with the usual sightseeing tours around famous locations, there are those who prefer to get to know the culture they’re visiting in a more personal way. If you are one of those people, then you should definitely consider experiencing the thrill that is traveling the world with nothing more than your bike and a backpack.

From relaxing cycles along the shoreline to exhilarating mountain biking through the various mountain ranges and national parks, there are numerous breathtaking cycling routes you probably haven’t heard of. Some might be rather difficult to access, let alone travel there with a bike, while others can be found right in your geographical neighborhood without you even realizing it. However, these five breathtaking locations scattered throughout the world will surely leave you asking for more.

Cycling around the world

North Sea Cycle Route, Europe

North Sea Cycle Route, also known as Euro Velo Route 12 claims to be one of the world’s longest cycle routes spanning over 6,000 kilometers and 8 countries. It starts in the northern part of Scotland, particularly the Shetland Islands and stretches across the coasts of England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

This is a long and arduous journey which is best attempted during the summer, as most of these countries tend to have rather cold climates. The official NSCR website offers some useful tips regarding the route itself, but also offers information about the countries, their currencies, and laws regarding passing the borders between them.

Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, North America

This mountain bike route stretches from Alberta, Canada, all the way down to New Mexico. It’s 4,400 kilometers long and has around 61,000 meters of climbing. This route will take you through remote woodlands and Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, as well as Great Basin’s wastelands and the Anasazi culture of New Mexico.

It is one of the most difficult biking routes in the world, and as such, requires a significant amount of preparation and willpower to actually be completed. This route is as remote as it is diverse and it is ideal for those looking to get away from the city and enjoy all the marvels nature has to offer.

The Shimanami Kaido, Japan

Unlike the previous two, the Shimanami Kaido is a short route – the shortest route on this list, being only 64 kilometers long. Separating away from the main roads, this route will take you through a series of wonderfully small scenic islands found in the Hiroshima prefecture. The Shimanami Kaido is actually a segregated cycleway which is also used by pedestrians. You don’t have to worry about taking your bike with you, as bikes can easily be rented at several locations along the route. Completing it in a single day is honestly not that difficult, as long as you don’t get distracted by numerous beautiful sights along the shoreline.

Salzach Valley, Austria

Austria’s Salzach Valley is home to one of the most serene biking routes in the world. It’s little under 250 kilometers long and offers breathtaking views of the Grossglockner Mountain, the Hohe Tauern National Park, as well as the highest natural waterfall in Europe. The route is mostly comprised of downhill pedaling, as it starts in Gerlos Pass and finishes all the down in Salzburg. Besides the cycling route, Salzach Valley is packed full with different activities such as rafting, summer skiing and taking scenic rides using a cable car.

Easter Island, Chile

One of the most expensive locations to travel to, Easter Island in Chile, has an amazing cycling route that encompasses the entire island. Hailed as the most remote inhabited island in the world, Easter Island is home to the famous monolithic Moai statues, some of which weigh more than 80 tons. Taking your bike with you might be rather difficult, but fortunately, there is a bike rental service in the main town of Hanga Roa. You can easily cycle through the entire island in a single day, or you can spread it out over the entire week and enjoy the numerous sights tourists rarely get to see. Besides the statues, make sure you visit the Rano Kau volcano crater and enjoy the sunset over the archeological site of Ahu Tahai.

These are just some of the most beautiful and interesting locations you can cycle through. Some routes can be easily traversed with a granny bike, while others might require a professional mountain or even an electrical bike such as gepida. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you make sure you’ve packed all the necessities as some routes will take you far away from modern civilization.


Author Bio: Diana Smith is a full-time mom of two beautiful girls, great animal lover, and a passionate traveler.


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Cycling around the world

 

Star Clippers — What’s it Like Sailing on a Tall Ship

Have you ever dreamed of sailing on a tall ship?

 

Thanks to Star Clippers, you can make this dream a reality. This luxury cruise line gives you the opportunity to sail the seven seas aboard a real life tall ship. Whether you fancy the warm, azure waters of the Caribbean or the picturesque seaside villages of the Mediterranean, Star Clippers offers exciting itineraries all over the world. And the best part is that you’ll feel like you’re sailing on your own private yacht…for real.

sailing on a tall ship

Sailing on a tall ship was truly a dream come true for me. Several years ago, I wrote a feature story about a high school girl who had taken part in a tall ship sailing challenge. Her story resonated with me, and I longed for my own tall ship sailing opportunity. It has been on my bucket list for years, so when Star Clippers invited me on board for one of their first Indonesian sailings, I jumped at the chance to be part of this premier opportunity. As an avid cruiser, I had done a lot of research on the company and was eager to give it a try. I was not disappointed.

From the moment you step on board a Star Clippers ship, you’re treated like family. Since each of the ships in the fleet carries fewer than 230 guests and about 75 crew, there’s an inherent intimacy that envelopes you from the minute you step on board. And even though you’re getting a five-star experience, the atmosphere is casual and laid back. It is a working ship, after all, and you will be a part of the action — even if only as an observer.

So let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we? I know you’re curious about what it’s really like to be sailing on a tall ship and if it’s right for you.

sailing on a tall ship

Will I Get Seasick?

I’m going to start with the topic I know is on everyone’s mind because the first question people ask when they hear I’ve sailed with Star Clippers is, “Will I get seasick?” And the short answer is not likely, unless you usually do, then maybe.

While tall ships maintain Old World charm in terms of style and experience, their systems are marvels of modern technology. Equipped with stabilizing gear and operated by extremely experienced crew members, there’s not a lot of rocky motion. Like any of the large cruise ships, you will feel the boat move from side to side. And, of course, there is the chance that you may hit some rough waters. So, if you’re someone who is prone to seasickness, come prepared. But for the most part, once you get your sea legs, you won’t feel a thing. Not knowing what to expect, I brought along a few didn’t find it to be any different than any other sailing experience I’ve ever had, from river cruises to massive ocean liners.

I’ve got a stomach of steel, but not knowing what to expect, I brought along a few over-the-counter remedies, just in case. In the end, it was a waste of money — the seals are still on the jars. I didn’t find sailing on a tall ship to be any different than any other sailing experience in terms of seasickness, from river cruises to massive ocean liners. It was, quite literally, smooth sailing for me.

Is the Ship Well Designed?

Ropes and knots, wooden wheels and brass compasses…these are the kinds of objects that come to mind when you think of sailboats, and they abound on Star Clippers. Star Clippers doesn’t cave to contemporary design standards. There is no over-the-top artwork or supersize seating areas. Rather, what you see is what you get. It’s a working ship, and much of its charm comes from the fact that you’ll need to walk around booms and sails as you navigate the upper deck. As you lay in your lounge chair by one of the small pools, you can watch the crew at work as they raise the sails, wind up ropes, and swab the decks.

sailing on a tall ship

sailing on a tall ship

It’s likely you’ll spend most of your time on the upper deck of the ship since there aren’t a lot of places to sit around inside. These ships are pretty compact, so most of the interior space is reserved for cabins, the dining room, and a small shop. There is a lounge area with a bar and several banquets where you can enjoy a drink with friends. There is also a small library where you can relax and read a book, or if you must, catch up on work. From the sketchings of sailing ships hanging on the walls to the antique-looking velvet banquets and navy blue carpeting that’s woven with a rope pattern, every detail of the ships’ decor harkens to old-school nautical traditions. It’s quaint and endearing and exactly what you’d expect from a tall ship sailing experience.

sailing on a tall ship

What are the Cabins Like?

Like the rest of the ship, they’re designed with a nautical theme. Star Clippers offers a five-star experience, but it’s only classified as a four-star because of the size of its cabins. They’re modest…most rooms have a queen bed (or two singles, depending on your needs), a small bathroom, and a small closet (that has a surprising amount of storage space). You can get larger suites  — some even include a full-size jetted tub, but they’re limited, so you’ll want to book early to get your hands on one of those. That said, once you learn the space, you and your cabin mate will get into a rhythm that has you maneuvering around each other with ease.

sailing on a tall ship

sailing on a tall ship

Each cozy cabin is designed for efficiency — making the most of the limited space. If you’re looking for extravagance or opulence, you won’t find it here. The rooms are wee, but they’re comfortable and have everything you need to make the most of your stay. My motto when I’m on vacation is, “If you’re spending all your time inside your room, you’re doing something wrong.” And this is especially true of tall ship sailing. This is an experience that’s meant to be enjoyed from the upper decks rather than inside your suite.

Pro Tip: There are some interesting room configurations, so be sure to let your travel agent know at the time of booking if you have any special requirements, such as mobility issues. One configuration requires guests to climb up a few steps to get into bed, for example. While you’re rewarded for your efforts with a porthole staring straight out into the seas, it may be a challenge for some guests. (I personally think these rooms are kind of cool if you don’t mind a little extra effort.)

Are the Meals Good?

They say a picture speaks 1,000 words, so I took a ton of pictures of the food. It’s exceptional.

sailing on a tall ship sailing on a tall ship

Need I say more? Okay, maybe a little bit more…each day, there are several options for breakfast. If you’re an early riser — like me — you can grab a pastry in the lounge area to tide you over until the buffet begins. Most mornings, it starts around 8 a.m., but if there’s an early morning excursion, it will open earlier.

Throughout the day, there’s a constant supply of cold water to wet your whistle. You can also make yourself a cup of joe or a spot of tea anytime you like. Everything you need is always available. And there’s always a basket of fresh fruit on hand for anyone who has the midnight munchies or needs a pick-me-up between meals.

Each evening during happy hour, a delicious spread of both savory and sweet treats is laid out for everyone to enjoy. This is a great time to snag a few extra cookies to take back to your cabin for later, but you didn’t hear it from me.

While there is a lunch buffet served daily in the dining room, it’s quite likely you may never have a chance to enjoy other than on sea days. There’s a good chance you’ll be exploring the local flavors while in port. But if you do get a chance to eat on board, you’ll be treated to soups, salads, a carving station, several side dishes and dessert options, and more.

Dinner is served in the main dining room at about 7:30 p.m. each night. There are several options for entrees, including a fish, poultry, and vegetarian meal. This means that everyone can find something to their taste (see what I did there?). In addition, there are always a couple of options for appetizers, salads, soups, and desserts. Everything is perfectly cooked, seasoned, and plated. You won’t be disappointed.

Beverages other than water, tea, and coffee are available for a nominal fee. The prices are in Euros and are comparable — and maybe even a bit cheaper — than some of the larger cruise lines. We paid the equivalent of $8 for a drink that would have been $12 on other ships. Drink packages are available for groups of 10 or more.

Are There Onboard Activities and Entertainment?

If your favorite thing about cruising on the massive ocean liners is the Broadway-style entertainment, sailing on a tall ship may not be right for you. But, if you like sharing intimate dinners with new friends from around the world, watching local entertainers perform traditional music and dances, and staring at the stars, then you’ll love Star Clippers.

Throughout the day, you can attend story time with the crew to hear about places they’ve been or take part in a workshop about astronomy, knot tying, towel folding, and more. You can even take a tour of the ship, climb up to the crow’s nest, relax in the bowsprits, or try your hand at steering the ship.

sailing on a tall ship

Before dinner each night, the crew performs what feels like a sort of ritualistic ceremony as they raise the sails. Watching the crew working like a well-oiled machine to the sound of  Vangelis’ 1492: Conquest of Paradise never gets tired. It was always my favorite part of the night.

Most nights, there is some form of entertainment after dinner, from a talent show put on by the crew to locals who come on board for a few hours to showcase their culture. There is a piano man on board who performs nightly and also acts as a DJ for anyone who feels like cutting a rug after the show. Dinner typically lasts well into the evening, ending well after 9 p.m., so the entertainment doesn’t start until about 10 p.m. By the time it ends, most people are ready to call it a night. For those who aren’t quite ready to settle into slumber, simply staring at the stars as you sail along is a serene and surreal experience that comes a close second to watching the sails unfurl each night.

What Kinds of Ports and Excursions Can I Expect?

Star Clippers has several ships in its fleet, and they voyage all over the world, from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean and Asia. You can expect to visit some very traditional ports, and you can also expect a few unconventional extras. I happened to be on one of the first sailings out of Benoa, Bali, in Indonesia. Most of the places on our itinerary were very off the beaten path. In some cases, there were no docks, and we had to disembark our tender boats a few feet from shore or climb across fishing boats. It was an adventure for us, as well as for the locals who were not accustomed to tourists. Many wanted to take their pictures with us. Others were eager to sell their wares.

Other itineraries venture to more traditional locales, such as Corfu and Monte Carlo or St. George’s and Phuket. If you’d like to experience the open water, you can even take a transatlantic sailing.

At every port, Star Clippers typically offers at least one shore excursion. I took part in some incredible experiences that were truly one of a kind, including climbing to the top of a bubbling volcano after riding a horse through a sandy desert landscape. And if you happen to be visiting a beach port, Star Clippers will bring all sorts of watersports gear ashore for you to use, including canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. You can even rent snorkel equipment on board.

What Should I Wear?

From the moment you step on board a Star Clippers ship, you feel like you’ve been transported to a different world, a preppy one where penny loafers, a polo shirt, and khaki trousers…that’s right, I said trousers…are the kind of clothes you wear for an afternoon on the top deck navigating the high seas. But the great thing about Star Clippers is that there’s no need for dress clothes for formal attire. Simply slap on a swimsuit and head to the upper deck — no trousers required.

And at night, anything goes. Most women wear a sundress or a pretty blouse paired with dress pants, but there’s certainly no need for anything more formal than that. If you’ve had a full day of fun in port, you can come as you are to dinner, and no one will blink an eye. It’s truly casual and carefree environment. Wear whatever makes you happy.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind your itinerary when packing, and be sure to bring along the necessary items if you happen to be visiting places, such as religious sites, that require your legs and shoulders to be completely covered.

What was the Overall Impression?

So what’s the verdict, you ask? Would I ever take another Star Clippers cruise? In a heartbeat. In fact, I can’t wait to share another tall ship sailing experience with my friends and family. If you enjoy river cruising, then sailing on a tall ship is likely also for you.

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sailing on a tall ship

Oregon Girl Around the World

Things to Do in Richmond, Virginia — Canal Cruises to the Capitol Building

As the capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, Richmond, Virgina, is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Steeped in rich history, it’s got plenty of museums and historic markers for anyone interested in taking a trip back in time. In recent years, Richmond has also become known for its modern attractions. With so many great things to do in Richmond, it’s the ideal place for a fun city break.

To make the most of your stay in Richmond, consider booking one of the budget-friendly hotels near the Virginia State Capitol, the oldest continuously operating legislature in the nation. For something a little different, you can take a Segway tour of the grounds to learn more about the many exciting events that have occurred at this National Historic Landmark throughout history.

Historical Sites
Things to do in Richmond
Image via Flickr by Ron Cogswell

History buffs will want to stop by Monument Avenue to pay tribute to some of the greatest Civil War heroes, including Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. Next up, visit the Confederate White House to take a tour of the official residence of Jefferson Davis during the Civil War. Then, head next door to the Museum of the Confederacy to view some of the best-preserved artifacts of the war, including several flags.

Afterward, make a stop at Historic Tredegar, a private museum dedicated to Civil War history. The museum shares its grounds with Richmond National Battlefield Park, the site of many Civil War battles. Encompassing 80 square miles of land, the park includes 13 battle sites, several original fortifications, the Confederacy’s largest hospital, and four visitor centers. You can take a tour of the park, watch a living history demonstration, or attend one of the many special events that take place here each year.

Outdoor Activities
Things to do in Richmond
Image via Flickr by Ron Cogswell

Anyone who enjoys taking a walk through nature will want to check out Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. With 50 acres of gardens, dining, and shopping, it’s one of the most-visited attractions in Richmond and the ideal place to enjoy flower displays, learn about plants, or take a gardening class.

If you love a little adventure in the outdoors, be sure to check out the James River. Try rafting, swimming, kayaking, or tubing in Virginia’s largest river. Spanning 1.25 miles along the James River and the Kanawha and Haxall Canals, Richmond’s Canal Walk is one of the city’s top outdoor attractions. Stroll or bike along the walkway to enjoy the many natural and historical sites found here. For a memorable afternoon, you can take an informative 40-minute cruise along the Canal Walk.

Food, Shopping, and Entertainment
Things to do in Richmond
Image via Flickr by Gamma Man

Richmond is known for its more than 25 breweries. One of the most popular, Hardywood Craft Brewery, offers tours and the opportunity to sample some of its brews. The brewery often hosts festivals, food trucks, and musical events. For a little retail therapy, make your way to Short Pump Town Center, which is home to more than 140 shops, restaurants, and more. From high-end brand names to local boutiques, this outdoor mall has something for everyone.

If you’re planning to take a trip to Virginia, there are many exciting things to do in Richmond. Whether you’re looking to learn more about American history or you simply want to spend some time outdoors, you’ll find it here.

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6 Beautiful and Peaceful Beaches in Sydney, Australia

Guest Post By Roxana Oliver

Sydney’s beautiful beaches attract tourists from all over the world because of their laid-back vibe, stunning blue waters, and gentle white sands.

 

However, with hordes of tourists at Bondi and Manly beaches, the city’s most famous ones, you cannot really savour that relaxing Aussie atmosphere. Luckily, Sydney has more than a few hidden gems where you can escape the hustle and bustle of this metropolis. Just head down to one of these secluded beaches to soak in the sun away from the crowds.

Store Beach

Since Store Beach is accessible only by boat, your travel down there will be just as exciting as the exploration of this harbour gem. Once you reach Manly Wharf by the Manly Ferry, rent a kayak and start peddling to Store Beach. Stop for a swim in the clear blue waters along your way to the 650-foot-long sandy beach. The moment you lay your eyes on this secluded area surrounded by the lush vegetation of Sydney Harbour National Park, you’ll feel as if you completely left Sydney. Pick a perfect spot for a picnic, and enjoy the view of the scenic landscape.

beaches in Sydney

Milk Beach

As one of Sydney’s least known beaches to tourists, Milk Beach is a perfect spot for a relaxing day of basking in the sun, snorkelling, fishing, and swimming. Located below Strickland House, a Heritage-listed site, it will provide you with stunning views of the city and its surroundings. Whether you want to surf, hang out with your friends, play with your kids, or simply chill, you will be able to do so in peace at Milk Beach.

beaches in Sydney

Wattamolla

Its Aboriginal name brings a sense of authenticity, contributing to the uniqueness of Wattamolla Beach. An open beach, small inlets and a freshwater lagoon will delight you with their beauty right within the Royal National Park. After relaxing in the deep shade of cabbage palm trees and swimming in the sea, you can embark on a hiking journey, following the famous coastal path from Bundeena to Otford.

beaches in Sydney

Palm Beach

Located an hour away from the center of Sydney, Palm Beach will provide you with tranquillity and relaxation away from the prying eyes of the public. The stretches of golden sand and stunning views of the blue horizons are simply enchanting. To capture the true spirit of the Aussie laid-back lifestyle, get yourself a nice secluded Palm Beach holiday house and forget about the world. Here, you can ride the Aussie waves, bask in the bright yellow sun or savour a refreshing cocktail while enjoying the breathtaking views from your own balcony.

beaches in Sydney

Shelly Beach

Just a short walk away from Manly’s most popular beach lies Shelly Beach, a quiet oasis of peace and serenity. On your way to this beach, you can explore the natural life of the region, including unique marine species, plants and other natural attractions. Just follow the Shelly Beach Walk from Manly. Enjoying the reputation of being a magnificent snorkelling spot, Shelly Beach will provide you with an opportunity to discover the underwater world and its inhabitants. Afterwards, you can unwind while soaking in the stunning panorama of the Northern Beaches and North Head.

beaches in Sydney

Congwong Beach

As one of the most beautiful beaches in Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Congwong Beach is a perfect spot for a day of fun with your family. If you visit it on a weekend, keep your eyes open for an ice-cream boat that will delight both you and your kids. A 30-minute walk away from this calm sanctuary is pristine Little Congwong Beach, one of Sydney’s nudist beaches, so keep that in mind if you decide to go for a relaxing stroll with your little ones.

Instead of elbowing your way in the attempt to find a private spot on Bondi Beach, get away from the crowds and visit some of these hidden sanctuaries. This way, you’ll be able to experience the true spirit of the laid-back Aussie lifestyle.

 


Travel Benefits for Mental Health

Author Bio: Roxana is a travel enthusiast and lifestyle consultant from Sydney, and she loves to write about her adventures. She is all about the healthy lifestyle, loves to run with her husband and dogs, and has fun cooking exotic meals for her family. Being a typical Aussie, she often hits the waves and loves beaches and sunshine! You can find out more about her writing by following her on Twitter and Facebook. She is also one of the editors at High Style Life Magazine.


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beaches in Sydney

Things to Do in Brooklyn — Coney Island to the Brooklyn Bridge

When most people think of New York City, images of the Manhattan skyline come to mind.

 

But there are so many things to do in Brooklyn that it’s worth a visit across the East River to spend some time there. From outdoor spaces and amusement parks to markets and museums, Brooklyn is a top-notch tourist destination.

things to do in Brooklyn
Image via Flickr by thomasbonte

Consider booking budget-friendly hotels in the trendy Columbia Street Waterfront District for your stay in Brooklyn. The up-and-coming neighborhood is known for its vintage shops, unique boutiques, live poultry markets, hip restaurants, and old industrial buildings that have been converted into residential living spaces. The location is ideal for getting around Brooklyn, and being near the waterfront and iconic Brooklyn Bridge makes it convenient for anyone wanting to spend some time in Manhattan, too.

Outdoor Spaces
things to do in Brooklyn
Image via Flickr by Teri Tynes

If you’re looking to spend time outdoors, Prospect Park is the place to be. Ideal for everything from bird-watching to skating and nature programs, the park is open from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily. In addition, you can check out Prospect Park Zoo or catch the summer concert series at the Prospect Park Bandinelli.

Another great place to take in Brooklyn’s natural beauty is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Founded more than 100 years ago, the public garden boasts a number of flower displays, as well as educational programs and research projects about regional plants.

Romance is on the menu at Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which has been featured in many major motion pictures, such as “Moonstruck” and “Annie Hall.” With unparalleled views of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s the perfect place to pop the question. Also be sure to check out Brooklyn Bridge Park. This lush green space spans more across 85 acres and is known for its impressive views of the Manhattan skyline.

Arts and Culture
things to do in brooklyn
Image via Flickr by danimp

Just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, you’ll find the Brooklyn Museum. Home to more than 1 million pieces of art, it’s one of the most important cultural centers in the United States. Other popular Brooklyn-based museums include the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Toy Museum of NY, and the Waterfront Museum.

At BLDG 92, Brooklyn Navy Yard Center, celebrate New York’s rich naval history. Once one of the most active military shipbuilding facilities in the nation, it’s a popular museum today. Visit the Brooklyn Historical Society for a look at the borough’s 400-year history. This urban history center is home to a museum, exhibitions, educational programs, and more.

Shakespeare buffs will want to visit Theatre for a New Audience. Over the past 30 years, the award-winning theater company has produced more than 60 classic and contemporary plays, including nearly 30 Shakespeare plays.

Food, Shopping, and Entertainment
things to do in brooklyn
Image via Flickr by Sarah_Ackerman

Since its launch in 2008, Brooklyn Flea has become a top area attraction. Each weekend, hundreds of vendors and local artisans gather to sell their wares. Touted as one of the best flea markets in the world, it’s also known for its impressive food scene. Each weekend, as many as 30,000 people flock to Smorgasburg, the largest weekly outdoor food market in the United States.

A trip to Brooklyn wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Coney Island. This community in the southwestern part of the borough is best known for its beach and the Luna Park amusement park, which includes more than 50 rides and attractions. Coney Island is also home to the New York Aquarium, where you can get up close with a variety of marine animals.

If you’re planning a trip to New York City, You’ll find plenty of things to do in Brooklyn. With its plentiful green spaces, numerous museums, unique shopping experiences, and exciting entertainment, Brooklyn is a great place for a city break.

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Things to do in Brooklyn

Things to do in Drumheller, Alberta: Spend a Day With the Dinosaurs

If you're looking for things to do in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, look no further.

 

Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Badlands in central Alberta, Drumheller is the ideal day trip from Calgary. It's rugged, desert landscape and rich history—which dates back to prehistoric times—provide a unique backdrop for an exciting adventure. 

things to do in drumheller

With a population of fewer than 8,000 people, the community is small, but it has some very big attractions. Also known as Dinosaur Valley, the Drumheller region is known as a hotbed for archaeological activity due to its abundant fossil finds. In fact, thousands of people flock here each year to spend a day walking where the dinosaurs once roamed.

There are a lot of sites to visit in Drumheller, so if you're planning a day trip to the area, you may want to spend the night in town rather than make the drive from Calgary. There are a handful of chain hotels, like the Ramada, Travelodge, and Quality Inn, that offer a decent place to rest your head for the night. You can also find a selection of bed and breakfasts in town if you like a cozier experience that lets you get to know the locals. It can also be fun to spend the night camping under the stars.

There are several campgrounds right in town, including Dinosaur RV Park and River Grove Campground and Cabins. The sites are located within walking distance of some of the main attractions, but they're small. If you don't mind a bit of a trek, Handhills High Country Hideaway offers spacious, well-treed sites, mini golf, fishing, and more. It's located in Delia, just a 25-minute drive from Drumheller.

things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller

Morning

From the moment you enter the area, you'll feel like you've taken a time machine to the Jurassic period. With the rocky cliffs rising up around you, you can almost envision a time when towering reptilians roamed the land. 

Start your day with a visit to the World's Largest Dinosaur. Standing nearly 90 feet tall, the Tyrannosaurus Rex looms over the Red Deer River valley like something out of a 1950s horror flick. You literally can't miss it. For a fee of $4, you can walk the 106 stairs to the top of the T-rex to take in the views of the vast expanse of the surrounding badlands.

things to do in drumheller

When you're done, head back downstairs to check out the souvenir shop and pick up some brochures at the tourist information center. When you're done, be sure to relax a while in the adjoining park and check out the fossil shop across the street. 

things to do in drumheller

Downtown Drumheller is just a five-minute walk from the dinosaur, and it seems to have been frozen in time. The houses, shops, and restaurants all have a mid-century vibe that's reminiscent of the Twilight Zone. Keeping with the town's theme, every business has at least one concrete dinosaur on the front lot—perfectly posed for a prehistoric selfie. 

If you're into antiques, you'll find several shops to suit your fancy. There are also a few clothing stores and gift shops, as well as at least four tattoo parlors. If you're thinking of getting some ink, this might be the time to do it. A triceratops, perhaps?

Grab a bite to eat in town or wait until your back on the road headed toward your next pit stop, the suspension bridge, to dine at one of the greasy spoons along the way, like Asteroid or Rosedale Cafe & Market. 

Afternoon

When you're exiting the parking lot of the World's Largest Dinosaur, you'll notice a street sign indicating the direction and distance to all of the areas major attractions. Make a left, and drive along South Dinosaur Trail toward the Star Mine Suspension Bridge.

Built in 1931 for local coal miners to get to work, the nearly 400-foot-long bridge is only a 10-minute drive from the T-Rex. Walk from one side to the other and back, if you dare, and enjoy the scenery as you cross over the Red Deer River.

Next, continue in the same direction along Dinosaur Trail for about 10 minutes, until you reach the Hoodoos Trail. Hoodoos are tall, thin rock spires that rise out of the rocky badlands terrain. Made of soft rock and ranging in size from 5 to 150 feet tall, hoodoos are typically capped by a harder rock that balances at the peak and helps protect the spire from erosion. Park your vehicle, and spend some time wandering around the unique rock formations. Climb up the man-made platforms to check out the area from a different angle. You can be in and out in 10 minutes, but it's also a great place to relax and have a picnic if you've got the time.

things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller

Once you're done hiking through history at the hoodoos, head south on Dinosaur Trail for another five minutes, and you'll find the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site. Here, you can take a guided tour that gives you the opportunity to climb up the wooden tipple—the last of its kind in Alberta—and learn all about the history of the mine. There are a variety of tours you can take, and each one lasts about an hour.  

By now, it will be late afternoon, and though you've already put in a full day, you've yet to visit the pièce de résistance, the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Head north on Dinosaur Trail for about 25 minutes, and you'll reach the highly esteemed home of countless amazing archeological finds. Drumheller is said to be the dinosaur capital of the world, and it's at the museum that you'll find out why. 

things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller

Housing one of the world's largest collections of dinosaur bones, the Royal Tyrrell Museum is a premier destination for paleontology enthusiasts. Even if you're not a fan of museums, check this one out. The creative exhibits are fun, educational, and interactive. You won't be disappointed. 

The museum is open until 9 p.m. in the summer and 5 p.m. in the off season. If you're just breezing through, you'll need about one to one and a half hours to walk through the entire museum. There's also a cafeteria—and Starbucks—on site if you're feeling a bit peckish. The food is actually really good.

things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller

Evening

It will be five or six o'clock by the time you're done taking a trip back in time at the Royal Tyrrell. Drumheller is a pretty sleepy little town, so there's not much to do after the sun goes down. If you're camping, tune into one of those old-time radio shows while you roast marshmallows around the campfire. Or if you're staying at one of the local hotels, now might be a good time to relax in the hot tub after a long day of walking. Then, if you're up for something a little more, maybe check out a movie at the Napier Theatre in the heart of downtown. It may look like something from a bygone era, but it shows all the latest blockbuster hits.

things to do in drumheller

If you happen to be in Drumheller in July, you may want to consider buying tickets to the Canadian Badlands Passion Play. Considered one of the top 100 shows in North America, it tells the story of Jesus' life. The stage and surrounding seats are built into the surrounding Badlands, helping to immerse the audience into the story and lending it a greater sense of authenticity. Even if you're not a Christian, it's a unique experience you won't find anyplace else on Earth. 

Pro Tip: If you opt to take in the Passion Play, it shows at 4 p.m. or 6 p.m. Opt for the earlier showing and go there right after the coal mine tour. You'll have time to take in the museum after the play instead.

What are your favorite things to do in Drumheller? Leave a comment to let us know how you would spend a day with the dinosaurs. To catch a glimpse of my perfect day in Drumheller, check out my Facebook Live video from the base of the World's Largest Dinosaur, and be sure to "like" my page to experience more of my adventures live.

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Things to Do in St. Louis, Missouri — Gateway Arch to The Loop

Known as the Gateway to the West, St. Louis, Missouri, boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene, beautiful parks and gardens, and a host of entertainment options.

Whether you’re planning a city break with friends or a family-oriented getaway, there are plenty of fun and exciting things to do in St. Louis. In fact, aside from Washington, D.C., no other city in the United States has more free activities than St. Louis.

Jefferson Expansion National Memorial Park
Things to do in St. Louis
Image via Flickr by Northfielder

Located on the western bank of the Mississippi River, Jefferson Expansion National Memorial Park is the ideal place to set up residence for your stay in St. Louis. Nearby, you’ll find a range of budget-friendly and high-end hotels offering exceptional service and a variety of amenities.

The popular park is home to the city’s most famous landmark, the Gateway Arch. At 630 feet high, the shining stainless steel arch is the tallest manmade monument in the United States. Rising like a beacon through the city skyline, it symbolizes the nation’s westward expansion during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency. Take the short tram ride to the top to of the arch to experience unparalleled views of the city.

In addition to the iconic arch, Jefferson Expansion National Memorial Park is home to the Old Courthouse where the infamous Dred Scott trial took place. The building features exhibits on pioneer life in early St. Louis and is the meeting place for daily ranger-led talks and a host of other free activities.

Arts and Culture
Things to do in St. Louis
Image via Flickr by Brick Haus Photography

Jefferson Expansion National Memorial Park is just one of the amazing places to take in arts and culture around St. Louis. The City Museum, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, and Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts are just a few of the places where you can immerse yourself in the arts scene.

Located on the grounds of the 1904 World’s Fair, Forest Park gets more than 12 million visitors each year. The sprawling public park is the perfect place to have a picnic or catch a live theater performance at The Muny. As one of the largest urban parks in the country, Forest Park also offers facilities for sports, such as golf, tennis, and rugby, as well as fishing and boating. In addition to being a natural recreational space, Forest Park is home to the Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Science Center, and the Saint Louis Art Museum, which all offer free general admission.

Outdoor Activities
Things to do in St. Louis
Image via Flickr by ChrisYunker

A National Historic Landmark, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a must-see destination southwest of downtown St. Louis. Comprised of 79 acres of horticultural displays, including a Japanese garden and Henry Shaw’s estate, Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the oldest gardens of its kind in the country.

In addition to the botanical garden, St. Louis is just a short drive away from dozens of state parks, such as St. Francois, Castlewood, and Meramec. For everything from camping to rock climbing, you’ll find it at one of these parks.

Entertainment
Things to do in St. Louis
Image via Flickr by Francisco Diez

From Major League Baseball games to brewery tours, St. Louis has no shortage of entertainment to keep you on your toes. Take a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, where you can take pictures with the Clydesdale horses and sample Budweiser for free. Just north of Forest Park, you’ll find The Loop on Delmar Boulevard. Stretching for six blocks, this trendy area boasts a bevy of bars, galleries, boutiques, and restaurants, including the famous live music spot Blueberry Hill. After dinner, head over to Busch Stadium to watch the beloved St. Louis Cardinals take a run around the bases.

These are just a few of the abundant things to do in St. Louis, Missouri. If you’re looking for a vacation filled with art, culture, outdoor activities, and loads of entertainment, St. Louis is the city for you.

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Disneyland in One Day: Attractions to Entertainment

Think it's impossible to do Disneyland in one day? Think again.

  Who says Disneyland is just for kids? As much as I love to travel the world and immerse myself into new cultures, I also like to let loose and have fun sometimes. Disneyland is magical, no matter how old or young you are. In fact, there are so many things to do at Disneyland that it's hard to know where to begin. And if you only have a single day to take it all in, you'll want to be sure you choose wisely. Take it from someone who visits Disneyland for at least one weekend each year—you can pack in a lot of rides, food, shopping, and entertainment if you know how to plan your day properly. So if you're planning to do Disneyland in one day, and you're overwhelmed by the number of things to do, follow this handy guide to make the most of your fun-filled day.Disneyland in One DayPro Tip: If you've been thinking about trying a solo trip, it's the ideal location. It's safe, there are tons of things to do, and you're never really alone—simply strike up a conversation with the person next to you in line if you're feeling a little lonely. It was where I took my first solo trip back in 2000, and it opened my eyes to a whole new world. Since then, I have traveled solo to countless countries.
Getting Started
First, it's important to understand all of the different parks and attractions that make up the Disneyland Resort. Located in Anaheim, California, it's made up of two theme parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, as well as the Downtown Disney District and three Disney-themed hotels, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Hotel, and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel. For the purposes of this guide, we'll focus on Disneyland Park specifically.Disneyland in One DayPro Tip: If possible, spend an entire weekend in Anaheim, and purchase a Park Hopper Ticket. This allows you to "hop" back and forth between the two theme parks at will. Stay someplace close to the park. There's no shortage of hotels, ranging from the upscale and pricey Disney offerings to the Good Neighbor hotels. While these hotels are officially a part of the Disneyland Resort, they are all endorsed by Disney, within walking distance of the resort, and typically meet certain standards. Some, such as Super 8, are easy on the budget, while others, such as Marriott, come with a loftier price tag. Use Google Maps to check the walking distance from your hotel to the Disneyland Park entrance (not the resort or the Downtown District—it can be a fair distance to the park from here). I've stayed at half a dozen different hotels in the area over the years, ranging from budget to beautiful. Last time I was in Anaheim, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Anaheim in Walnut Street. The staff was extremely helpful, and the hotel as very clean. There is an onsite restaurant, swimming pool, and shuttle service to Disneyland. And it's about a 10-minute walk if you cut through the Downtown Disney District.Disneyland in One DayIf it's in your budget, head to a character breakfast early in the morning. These elaborate all-you-can-eat buffet breakfasts include every kind of food you can imagine. Eggs, waffles (in the shape of Mickey's head), pancakes, breads, cakes, cereals, pastries, and fruit are just a few of the items on the menu. But the real treat is that your favorite characters interact with you while you eat. It's a blast and a great way to get pumped up for your day at the parks.Disneyland in One DayI like to book Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel for 7 a.m. By the time we're done eating, the park will be about ready to open, and we don't waste any time getting right to the rides. But beware...the breakfast doesn't come cheap. You'll pay a pretty penny for the privilege of partying with Goofy and his friends.
Main Street U.S.A.
When you first enter the park, take a few minutes to soak up the atmosphere. It truly is the happiest place on Earth, and the feeling of euphoria that washes over you the minute you walk through the gates is almost surreal. From the seasonal decorations and colorful building facades to the old-fashioned trolleys and barbershop quartets, the energy is infectious. It's like stepping into another dimension where you simply can't keep the smile off your face.Disneyland in One DayOnce you get past the inevitable gush of excitement, it's time to set your feet in motion. The first place you'll find yourself is Main Street U.S.A. Modeled after a typical mid-1900s American town, it's like taking a time machine to bygone days. Only there's a bit of a catch—aside from a few eateries, Main Street is mostly a shopping extravaganza. And all of the stores are open until one hour after the rides shut down. For this reason, skip the stores until the end of the day. This will test your will power. Even if you're not a big shopper, there's something about Mickey Mouse merchandise that reels you in. Not to mention they pump out sweet smells from the bakery to tempt your tummy. But you'll have plenty of time to take them in at the end of the night, I promise.Disneyland in One DayHowever, I recommend on an exception to this rule. If you're planning to purchase a pair of mouse ears, stop in at the first store on the right-hand side of the street if you're facing the castle. It's called the Mad Hatter, and you'll find all shapes styles, and sizes of hats, from mouse ears to ball caps and fascinators to replicas of the hats your favorite characters wear—like Goofy. They'll even embroider your name on the side (remember that when strangers mysteriously greet you later in the day). There will be other opportunities to purchase hats throughout the park, but if you buy it early in the day, you'll get the most bang for your buck. Trust me, the crazy Toy Story topper that seemed super cool in the park won't seem quite so nifty once you get back home. You'll really only wear it in the park, so you might as well wear it all day.Disneyland in One DayPro Tip: Depending on the type of ticket you purchase for the park or where you are staying, you may be entitled to enter the park one hour early on certain days of the week. Magic Mornings, as they're known, are a great way to capitalize on a limited timeline since the park is often fairly quiet in the early morning, and there are few—if any—lines for even the most popular rides. Next door to the Mad Hatter, there's a small theater that features Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. While there's no doubt that Honest Abe was a remarkable figure in US history and the animatronics Disney uses to create a lifelike representation of Abe are also remarkable, it's about 15 minutes long, and it gets stale after about five. Unless you're a huge history buff, keep walking. Before you get too far, take a few minutes to look at the brochure you received when you walked through the gates, and establish a game plan for the day. You can also view the current brochure and park maps online to prepare for your trip in advance.
Entertainment
Things to note are the times for parades that take place at various times throughout the day and the fireworks show that happens in front of the castle. Even if you're not traditionally a fan of parades or fireworks, Disney takes them to a whole new level. You'll want to make sure you make it back to Main Street U.S.A in time to catch these awesome spectacles and any other live shows that might be taking place throughout the day, such as character meet and greets, theater performances, and live bands.Disneyland in One DayAlso, note if the nighttime spectacular Fantasmic! is showing. It typically takes place two times a night on the Rivers of America in Frontierland. Live-action characters reliving scenes from their imaginations, movies playing on screens made from water fountains, and a battle between good and evil play out before your eyes. Words cannot describe this show. Don't miss it if you can help it. Once you've decided the shows you want to see for the rest of the day, you can start making your way around the park. Once you've decided the shows you want to see for the rest of the day, you can start making your way around the park.
Attractions
If you're going to do Disneyland in one day, you need to know which attractions—or rides—are most worthy of your time. Disney does an excellent job of describing each ride on its website, so rather than try to reinvent the wheel, I've put together a list of attractions throughout the park and ranked them by priority to help ensure you can do Disneyland in one day. Some are classics you simply can't miss, even if they aren't as exciting as other attractions. Others are an exhilarating experience you can't replicate anyplace else, while others aren't all their cracked up to be. The Disneyland website does a great job of describing each of the park's "lands" so you can read all about the rides in more detail. For whatever reasons, I always turn left when I get to the end of Main Street U.S.A. and start my day in Adventureland. So, I've listed the attraction sin order of how I typically encounter them. All rides have been ranked according to how classic, cute, thrilling, an unmissable they are up to a maximum of three in each category. If you plan accordingly and follow these recommendations it is possible to do Disneyland in one day. Of course, this itinerary assumes you don't have any young children visiting the park with you—in that case, you'll likely only get through a portion of this plan in one day. ❤️ = classic   🌟 = must see   🐭 = cute   🚀 = thrilling   🚫 = skipAdventureland
AttractionRating
Enchanted Tiki Room❤️
🐭
🚫
Jungle Cruise❤️
🐭🐭
🌟🌟🌟
Indiana Jones Adventure🌟🌟🌟
🚀🚀🚀
Tarzan's Treehouse🚫
The Tiki Room is cute and classic, but it's a lot of time for not a lot of reward. And the treehouse is nothing more than a steep climb up and awkward trek down. Jungle cruise is a classic that's both funny and cute. It's worth a trip. No matter how long the line, Indian Jones is worth the wait. It's an exhilarating thrill ride.Disneyland in One DayNew Orleans Square
AttractionRating
Pirate's of the Caribbean❤️❤️❤️
🌟🌟🌟
🚀
Disneyland Railroad❤️❤️❤️
🌟
Haunted Mansion🌟🌟🌟
🚀🚀
Pirate's of the Caribbean is one of the park's original attractions and still an all-time favorite. It lives up to the hype of its namesake movies, and don't be surprised if you find yourself back in line for a second, third, or even fourth ride. The same goes for the Haunted Mansion. Also one of the original attractions, it's ghoulish in a magical way, and its magic has stood the test of time. The railroad actually stops in several parts of the park and is a good way to rest your feet if you want to spend some time just kicking back.Disneyland in One DayDisneyland in One DayCritter Country
AttractionRating
Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes❤️
🚫🚫🚫
Splash Mountain
🌟🌟🌟
🐭🐭🐭
🚀🚀
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh🌟
🐭🐭🐭
You have to paddle the canoes yourself, and if you don't you won't get back to shore. It's a lot of work, especially if anyone if your canoe isn't pulling their weight. The Pooh ride is adorable, but if you have to wait more than five minutes to get on, move along to the next ride. But Splash Mountain is a must see. In fact, it's my laughing place (you'll get the reference after you go on the ride). From the outside, all you see is the two-story drop, but inside is an incredible and adorable world of animatronic critters singing, dancing, and telling the tale of Brer Rabbit. It's worth getting wet for!Disneyland in One DayPro Tip: Some rides have a single rider line. If you don't mind being split up from your traveling companions, this is a great way to get on rides faster. On a hot day, the line up for Splash Mountain can take hours, so head to the exit, where you'll find the line for single riders. Often, you'll walk right on the ride. Indian Jones typically has a single rider line as well.Disneyland in One DayFrontierland
AttractionRating
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad🌟🌟
🚀🚀
Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island❤️
🚫🚫🚫
Mark Twain Riverboat❤️
🚫🚫🚫
Sailing Ship Columbia❤️
🚫🚫🚫
Aside from the thrills and spills of the Big Thunder runaway train, you can skip past most of the other attractions in Frontierland. The Pirate's Lair is nothing more than a playground, and the two sailing ships simply sail around the lagoon. It's a slow journey that will keep you from experiencing some of the other more exciting rides.Fantasyland
AttractionRating
Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough❤️
🌟
Snow White's Scary Adventures❤️
🌟🌟
🐭🐭🐭
Pinocchio's Daring Journey❤️
🌟🌟
🐭🐭🐭
Peter Pan's Flight❤️
🌟🌟🌟
🐭🐭🐭
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride❤️
🌟🌟🌟
🐭🐭🐭
King Arthur Carousel❤️
🚫🚫🚫
Storybook Land Canal Boats🌟
🐭🐭
Dumbo the Flying Elephant❤️
🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Casey Jr. Circus Train🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Mad Tea Party❤️
🚫🚫
Alice in Wonderland🌟🌟🌟
🐭🐭🐭
Matterhorn Bobsleds🌟🌟🌟
🚀🚀🚀
"it's a small world"❤️
🌟🌟
🐭🐭
So much of Fantasyland is adorable and classic, but it's also geared toward children. Aside from Matterhorn Bobsleds, Peter Pan's Flight, Alice and Wonderland, and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride are the only attractions truly worth the wait (and you will wait 20 to 60 minutes for them). If you have time, Snow White and Pinocchio are similar in style, and you can often walk right on them. Sometimes at night if we have time, we'll come back to ride the Storybook Land Canal Boats, and "it's a small world" is great if you need a few minutes off your feet or out of the sun. Much to most people's surprise, the castle is not a ride—you literally walk through it—so it just takes a few minutes. Disneyland in One DayPro Tip: FASTPASS is great...in theory. But it's not always all it's cracked up to be in reality. If you get a FASTPASS for a ride in Adventureland with a return time four hours later, you'll likely be on the other side of the park when your time comes around. It's not always practical to return. Since the number of FASTPASS tickets you can hold at any one time is restricted, be sure to choose wisely so you don't end up wasting opportunities.Mickey's Toontown
AttractionRating
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin🌟🌟
🚀
Gadget's Go Coaster🚀
🚫🚫
Donald's Boat🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Chip n' Dale Treehouse🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Goofy's Playhouse🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Mickey's House🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Minnie's House🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Honestly, I don't typically spend a lot of time in Toontown. It's geared toward young children, so there's not a lot for adults to do. Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin is a blast and worth the trip to this part of the park.Tomorrowland
AttractionRating
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage🐭🐭
🌟
Autopia🚫🚫🚫
Star Wars Launch Pad🌟🌟
Space Mountain🚀🚀🚀
🌟🌟🌟
Star Tours—The Adventure Continues🚀🚀
🌟🌟🌟
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters🐭🐭
🌟🌟
Astro Orbiter🚫🚫🚫
There's lots of fun stuff to keep you on your toes in Tomorrowland. Even if you're not a Star Wars buff, Star Tours is an amazing and immersive experience. If you are a fan of the movies, the Star Wars Launch Pad has lots of cool movie memorabilia and interactive activities. Space Mountain is notorious for being one of the biggest thrill rides in the park. Astro Orbiter is a lot like Dumbo, so choose one or the other if you've got some spare time or the line is short. Buzz Lightyear is actually an interactive ride that allows you to battle against the bad guys. It's super cute and a lot of fun. Nemo is pretty slow going but kind of cute. But skip Autopia—chances are you already have a license and can drive on real streets. The kids driving behind you likely do not, and you may get a bit of whiplash if they rear end you. disneyland in one dayPro Tip: On some rides, such as Splash Mountain, your picture will be taken while you're on the ride. When you get off, take a picture of your picture. It's almost as good as if you buy the real one. On other rides, such as Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, you can email the picture to yourself for free after the ride.
Eats
There are so many delicious treats at Disneyland. Some favorites include churros, Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream sandwiches, turkey legs, mint julep's, and pineapple dole whips. For a healthy snack, you can also get fresh fruit and dill pickles at various locations throughout the park.Disneyland in One DayIf you didn't fork out for breakfast with the characters, Carnation Cafe is a great place to grab a bite if you like table service. River Belle Terrace also has a decent, cafeteria-style breakfast selection. The Mary Poppins's themed Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe has plenty of pastries and sweet treats to fill your tummy. If you follow this guide, by lunchtime, you'll likely be someplace in the middle of the park. If so, you'll want to grab a bite to eat in Fantasyland. At Village Haus Restaurant, you can find burgers, flatbreads, and French fries. Walk a little farther in Fantasyland, and you'll find Troubadour Tavern just outside Mickey's Toontown. Here, you can grab grub with a German flair, including bratwurst with sauerkraut or pretzel bites. If you've been snacking all morning and want a later lunch, wait until you get to Tomorrowland. Galactic Grill is a space-themed eatery with a wide selection of fast food offerings. Or there's Red Rockett's Pizza Port, a cafeteria-style restaurant with all kinds of pasta, pizzas, and other Italian favorites. Side note...my personal favorite place for lunch or dinner (or both) is Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland. I'm a pesco pollo vegetarian, and I just love the Chieftan chicken skewer. But what I love even more is the tiger tail bread dipped in the Chieftan chicken sauce—so good that my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Be sure to ask for an extra side of Chieftan chicken sauce just for dipping. You won't be sorry. Of course, all of these places and others offer dinners as well as lunch, but if you're looking for something a little more special for dinner, Blue Bayou is an excellent choice. As you sail on Pirates of the Caribbean, you'll notice people dining under the stars right next to the bayou. Specializing in Cajun and Creole fare, Blue Bayou is a unique dining experience you won't find anyplace else. But be sure to reserve in advance—getting a seat at this exclusive restaurant is no easy feat.
Shopping
Throughout the day, you've likely popped in and out of the various shops in each of the lands and picked up a few souvenirs along the way. Some shops carry special items you won't find in other parts of the park, so it's a good idea to give them a quick once over. I recommend checking out the Adventureland Bazaar, the shops of Royal Street in New Orleans Square, Pooh Corner, Pioneer Mercantile, "it's a small world" Toy Shop, Gag Factory - Toontown Five and Dime, and The Star Trader. Each of these places has some unique and cool items you won't find anywhere else in the park. Now that the day is done, be sure to check out the shops of Main Street U.S.A. that you skipped past when you first arrived at the park to pick up some last-minute mementos of your visit to Disneyland. Most of the shops are connected on the interior, so you can pass right from one to the next without ever stepping foot outside. Some of my favorites include Crystal Arts, which has lots of affordable collectibles, including custom hand-blown glass creations and Christmas ornaments. If you've got a sweet tooth, you won't want to miss the Candy Palace and Candy Kitchen, where they serve up all sorts of tasty treats, including chocolates, lollipops, fudge, popcorn, and more. Emporium is the ultimate one-stop Disneyland shop. It sells just about eery type of Disneyland-themed merchandise you can imagine, such as clothes, hats, mugs, plush toys, trinkets, and more. You'll definitely want to stop here. And if you're a true Disney connoisseur, you absolutely must visit The Disney Gallery. Here, you'll find exquisite collectibles and one-of-a-kind works of art from some of Disney's most talented artists. It may sound like a lot, but it is possible to do Disneyland in one day. Expect to get up early and stay out late, but it will be worth every moment of fun you have. What are your favorite rides, shops, and places to eat? Leave a comment to share your ideas.

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