North America

Colorado Great Sand Dunes National Park
8 quirky and utterly unique things to do in Colorado
From the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains, Colorado is a place for unparalleled adventure. Now all you need is an itinerary… Bordering Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Utah (it also touches Arizona at the famous Four Corners), Colorado is a Middle American state with immense character and an exhilarating history, with a rich Gold Rush heritage dating back to the 1800s and strong lineage to the Old Wild West.   However, where Colorado truly stands out from the crowd is within its picture-perfect landscape. Bountiful in mountains, forests, canyons, river plains and deserts, it’s an adventurer’s dream destination.   Shining a big spotlight on Colorado, we made it our mission to discover what makes America’s eighth-largest state well worth a visit. [caption id="attachment_46237" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hike the peaks of the Rocky Mountains National Park.[/caption] Take a hike… …in one of Colorado’s four national parks or 42 state parks or eight National Monuments. The National Parks are like giant playgrounds for visitors, especially in the summer. Rocky Mountain National Park boasts peaks that overlook vast plains, while the ancient dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park and the grand mountains of sand in the Sahara-esque Great Sand Dunes National Park will leave you speechless. [caption id="attachment_46238" align="alignnone" width="600"] Explore Mesa Verde National Park's ancient dwellings.[/caption] A shout goes out as well to the seemingly never-ending rock walls of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – truly a must-see.   The National Monuments are also worth working into your itinerary, especially the newest of the eight, Browns Canyon National Monument, which was awarded its prestigious spot by President Barack Obama in 2015. The stunning 8735-hectare spot provides fresh water and habitat for wildlife like bobcats, bighorn sheep and black bears, and is truly breathtaking to clap eyes on. [caption id="attachment_46239" align="alignnone" width="600"] No one photograph can capture the sheer scale of Gunnison National Park's Black Canyon.[/caption] All aboard a mystery rail trip [caption id="attachment_46237" align="alignnone" width="600"] Jump aboard the Durango Silverton[/caption] Colorado’s 10 historic and scenic rail routes will not only take you on a tour through history; they’re as entertaining as they are informative. For a thrill, hop aboard the Murder Mystery Train operated by Royal Gorge Route Railroad and find out who dunnit over a theatrical dinner.   Also for the history buffs out there, travel on the historical Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train for some of the most spectacular scenery in Colorado.  The rail road was originally constructed for miners to transport silver and gold ore around the San Juan Mountains.  These days you can enjoy the views from the steam locomotive without any of the hard labor. Climb a mountain, or 58… [caption id="attachment_46237" align="alignnone" width="600"] Smell the fresh air - Image from Colorado Tourism Office[/caption] With 58 peaks in Colorado reaching well over 4000 metres (14,000ft) above sea level, these ‘fourteeners’ are a prominent natural feature of the state. The perfect spots to position yourself to view Colorado’s famous wildlife, the state boasts more ‘fourteeners’ than any other in the union. So the question is, how many can you do? Raft the rapids [caption id="attachment_46237" align="alignnone" width="600"] Adventure, river style![/caption] While it has mountains and picturesque landscapes aplenty, Colorado also boasts bodies of water perfect for whitewater rafting or casting a lazy line, for those hoping to reel in the catch of the day. Seven major rivers have their headwaters in Colorado, providing a nature lover’s playground, no matter what your speed. Get a dose of culture – and craft beer Dating back to the Old West era, Denver is a cosmopolitan, charming city that still boasts ties to its storied origin, giving guests a taste of the old and new in one gulp. To experience the best of Colorado’s outdoor capital city like a local, there are three things any visitor must tick off their list: western art, shopping and craft beer. [caption id="attachment_46330" align="alignnone" width="600"] Culture Vulture - Courtesy ofDenver Art Museum photo by Stevie Crecelius[/caption] Packed with museums like the Denver Art Museum and the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which hosts celebrated music acts, there’s no better way to wrap up a Denver day than with a pit stop at the Strange Craft Beer Company, or Freshcraft for a tipple of the best this town has to offer. [caption id="attachment_46328" align="alignnone" width="600"] The always stunning Red Rocks Amphitheater - photo Courtesy of Denver Arts & Venues by Stevie Crecelius[/caption] Head back to the Old West [caption id="attachment_46240" align="alignnone" width="600"] Visit the town of Victor and get a taste of what the Old West was really like during the Gold Rush of the 1800s.[/caption] With 1500 ghost towns scattered across it, visitors can easily find traces of the Old West as they take a walk down deserted streets and peek through dusty windows. Towns like Carson, Victor and St Elmo give an insight into life during the Colorado Gold Rush of the 1800s.   Alternatively, become a cowboy (or girl) for a day by jumping in the saddle at a dude ranch to take the experience one (exhilarating) step further. Travelling 26 scenic and historic byways throughout Colorado on horseback is an increasingly popular way to explore the state’s four National Parks. Hit the fresh powder [caption id="attachment_46237" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hit the slopes![/caption] With 28 world class ski resorts, Colorado could well offer up the epic ski trail you’ve always wanted to hurtle down. In fact, Colorado’s slopes have been named America’s best and claim to be home to the most thrilling trails you’ll find country-wide. Challenge accepted! Soak your troubles away [caption id="attachment_46241" align="alignnone" width="600"] Take a soothing dip in Glenwood Canyon's hot spring. One of the 30 mineral-rich baths in Colorado.[/caption] The breathtaking natural features of Colorado don’t stop at mesmerising mountain peaks and rivers that stretch on as far as the eye can see. Oh no. One of the state’s most popular natural offerings are its hot springs. The coolest part about accessing these naturally heated pools, is that you’re never far from one. With 30 soothing mineral-rich baths scattered across the state, you’re just as likely to stumble across one in a luxurious resort as you are at a hike-in hideaway.   To find out more about Colorado and to plan your trip, visit Colorado.com  
You’ve heard of tiny houses – introducing the tiny hotel
As the tiny house movement gains pace across the globe, Rob McFarland checks out some small spaces in Portland, Oregon that are big on style and fun. Once upon a time, hotels were all about lavish indulgence. They’d have giant spa baths, luxury toiletries and towering stacks of fluffy white towels. Of course, some still do, but most properties pay at least lip-service to guests’ increasing concerns about the environment. Baths have been replaced by showers; towels are no longer changed daily and toiletries are refilled rather than replaced.   It’s a good start but many would argue that to really reduce your footprint you need to do something more drastic – take up less space. The tiny house movement has been slowly gaining momentum in the USA, with people trading in their sprawling McMansions for smaller, more eco-friendly properties. Predictably, it was only a matter of time before someone did the same with a hotel. The founders of Tiny Digs spent eight months looking for the right location for their hotel of ‘tiny houses’. Eventually they settled on an old car lot in Portland, Oregon’s vibrant Kerns neighbourhood, six kilometres east of the city centre. After launching in September 2016 with six houses, they now have eight and plan to add more.   I stayed in the Cabin, which is an adorable homage to all things woody. The interior is made from tongue-and-groove cedar, the outside is covered with cedar logs and the bathroom door is fashioned from beetle-damaged pine. Miraculously, the designers have crammed a queen-size bed, a kitchenette, a dining table, a sofa (which converts into a second bed) and an en suite into a floor space of just 14 square metres. Make no mistake, it’s cosy – you wouldn’t want to throw a dance party or attempt to cook a six-course meal – but it just shows what’s possible when you apply clever design to a compact space.   All but one of the houses was designed by one of the hotel’s four founders: each has a different theme and the attention to detail is utterly charming. The Gypsy Wagon (the one exception – it was purchased) is a bohemian riot of brightly coloured fabrics, the Beach is all soothing pastel blues and the Barn has a sink fashioned out of an old whisky barrel. My log cabin is decorated with suitably outdoorsy pictures of grizzly bears and rutting stags, plus there’s an eclectic reading selection that includes a tongue-in-cheek wilderness survival guide with a chapter on how to negotiate with a hippie. The houses are arranged in a semi-circle around a communal fire pit and the compound is illuminated by strings of twinkling lights. It’s a homely, welcoming set-up and guests often congregate around the fire over a drink. Of course, a hotel is only as good as its location and Tiny Digs is ideally situated one block from NE 28th Avenue, known locally as ‘restaurant row’. Within a 10-minute stroll are more than 50 restaurants and brewpubs, offering up everything from Cuban to Thai to classic American comfort food. If you want to explore further afield, there’s a Biketown rental station nearby or downtown is only a 10-minute cab ride away.   To be fair, Tiny Digs wasn’t Portland’s first tiny house hotel. That honour goes to Caravan, which opened in 2013 in the Alberta Arts District. The property is still going strong, with six themed houses clustered around a cosy communal fire pit. [caption id="attachment_41930" align="alignleft" width="1500"] An ingenious solution for sleeping and lounging in the Modern tiny house[/caption] Head an hour east of Portland and you’ll find another collection of tiny dwellings in the Mt Hood Village RV resort. From here you’re well-positioned to explore the spectacularly verdant Mount Hood National Forest.   I’ll confess I was a little sceptical at the prospect of squeezing myself and my suitcase into such a compact space. But by the end of my stay I was a convert. I loved the ingenuity, the irreverent decoration and the sheer, irresistible cosiness of the place. It also made me think seriously about how much space and stuff one person really needs. Which, presumably, is the whole point. Tiny top spots: Tiny Digs Hotel 2646 NE Glisan Street, Portland. From $230 per night. Caravan 5009 NE 11th Avenue, Portland. From $220 per night. Mt Hood Tiny House Village 65000 E. Hwy 26, Welches, Oregon. From $185 per night.
Meet the heroes (and the villains) of the wondrous L.A. Arts District
Thought Los Angeles was all California girls and Hollywood stars? There’s actually a vast art history, influenced and continually curated by some of the most interesting characters you’ll ever come across…
The wandering goose, seattle, foodie guide, breakfast, capitol hill
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If you’re looking for a true taste of the golden-tinged, palm-fringed good life, it’s hard to beat Southern California. Here, you’ll discover perfect stretches of coastline, unique cuisine, an incredible range of cultural attractions and influences, non-stop nightlife and – most importantly – the intangible, laidback SoCal vibe that imbues this sought-after, sunbathed region with a special kind of magic. Let the good times roll. [caption id="attachment_40758" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Time to tick surfing off your bucket list in So Cal[/caption] Witness West Hollywood’s cool factor Ironically, the best way to tap into true LA-style cool is to technically leave it – heading instead to West Hollywood, a tiny (approximately five square-kilometres) city perfectly located in the heart of Los Angeles. Founded in 1984 to protect its unique social fabric (think LGBTQ activists, senior citizens and Russian immigrants), West Hollywood’s compact nature and status as ‘most walkable city in California’ mean there’s something cool around every corner. What you can't miss... West Hollywood’s original cultural eclecticism pulsates through today’s lively scene of Instagrammable rooftop bars (don’t miss the SkyBar at the Mondrian LA), mash-up clubs (think ‘opium den vibe meets karaoke lounge’ at Blind Dragon, or ‘retro jazz club meets intimate restaurant’ at The Nice Guy), and super-chic boutiques.   The Design District boasts luxe retailers, concept stores, art galleries and world-class restaurants and bars (E.P & L.P is an Aussie-owned hot-to-trot-spot, dishing up modern Asian dishes against a backdrop of neon signage and rooftop views). Meanwhile, recent hotel openings and refurbs – the new, sleek and glamorous La Peer; Le Montrose Suite Hotel, set for a 2018 rebranding to Montrose West Hollywood; or The Jeremy West Hollywood’s eco-luxe reinvention as 1 West Hollywood – are also keeping things cutting-edge. [caption id="attachment_40757" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Kick your feet up in the shinshine by the ocean[/caption] Ride the Huntington Beach wave Surf City USA™ is calling, and you’d be mad not to answer. Huntington Beach is the place to tap into SoCal’s famously chilled surf culture, with a reliably sunny outlook and a host of ways to get your beach fix along this stunning stretch of coastline.   Hit the picturesque pier and Main Street for retro-chic mementos, or flex the credit card at one of the excellent shopping hubs offering everything from vintage to high-street fashion (try Pacific City, which also hosts artisanal markets and pop-up events). Nature-lovers can lose themselves in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, which has eight kilometres of walking trails from which to spot its almost 200 regular bird species, and another 116 species that use the wetlands as a migration stopover. What you can't miss... Huntington Beach also offers up a feast for foodies, including the weekly Surf City Nights Farmers’ Market showcasing the freshest fruits of the local land (not to mention a weekly night fair). Indulge in fresh ocean delicacies at Ways & Means Oyster House; try the famed lobster rolls at Slapfish; or kick back with cocktails and ocean views at The Bungalow. Of course, the simplest things are often the best – think toasted marshmallows over a beach bonfire to make your own s’mores, as the sun sets on another perfect day by the Pacific Ocean. Get more animated at Disneyland Resort Sure, it’s established itself firmly as the Happiest Place on Earth. Now Disneyland Resort is bringing some of the most-loved animated characters of modern times to join the fun. Starting 13 April 2018 until 3 September 2018, Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure Park will play host to Pixar Fest, a celebration of all things Pixar – think Woody and co. from Toy Story; the loveable ruffians of Monsters Inc., and the accidental adventurers of Up.   Mum and dad, rest assured – you may have had these movies on repeat at home, but this is an entirely new experience! Pixar Fest helps celebrate the beauty of friendship – central to each of these films – in true Disney fashion. Don’t miss the new ‘Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular’ and the ‘Paint the Night Parade’.   Don’t fret if you aren’t here for the festival dates – you can still get your Pixar fix long after 3 September. The former Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure Park will get a brand new look as the new and permanent Pixar Pier; four new Pixar-themed neighbourhoods are filled with characters from Inside Out and Toy Story; plus, our favourite superhero family is making California Screamin’ more incredible with the high-speed action of the Incredicoaster!   Pixar Pier opens 23 June 2018 and adds to existing Pixar attractions and entertainment available throughout Disneyland Resort, including Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters at Disneyland Park, and the five-hectare Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park.  Did someone say ‘non-stop fun’? [caption id="attachment_40756" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Palm springs is more than palm trees and model 's by the pool[/caption] Lose yourself in Greater Palm Springs It’s one of those places you feel like you’ve been, if only in your dreams: those iconic palm trees, perfect pools populated by margarita-sipping glamazons, and achingly cool mid-century modern architecture.   A visit to Greater Palm Springs brings all this to life, and more. It may flood social media feeds each April when the celebs, boho-beauties and bands of the moment hit the Coachella music festival, but with nine desert resort cities in the region – from Palm Springs itself to the old-world charm of La Quinta; and the authentic Mexican cuisine of Coachella, to the wellness retreats built around natural hot springs in Desert Hot Springs – there’s a lot more to this chilled-out destination. What you can't miss... The dramatic desert landscapes and mountainous scenery play host to stunning weather. With 350 days of sunshine a year, Greater Palm Springs couldn’t be better for getting out and exploring – whether that means teeing off on one of the destination’s 120 picture-perfect golf courses, immersing yourself in the Palm Springs Art Museum, or taking a day trip to the world-famous Joshua Tree National Park. This oasis in the desert is all about getting off-grid and indulging your heart’s desires in an extraordinary setting. San Diego – something for everyone Its reputation as ‘America’s Finest City’ is a major hint: San Diego’s like that charming, funny all-rounder from high school who was good at everything from art, to history, to sports (and probably a whiz in the kitchen, too). This city’s got it all going on.   Families can knock themselves out across an enviable range of attractions: from the world-unto-itself of Balboa Park (host to the San Diego Zoo, Air and Space Museum, and Natural History Museum amidst other cultural centres, all set amongst beautiful gardens) to SeaWorld, where the new Ocean Explorer realm features four new rides and new animal encounters alongside the park’s renowned roster of exhibits and performances. What you can't miss... Foodies will be scrambling to get around the smorgasbord of incredible food on offer here. There’s the dozens of farmers’ markets and global cuisine markets (from Korean to Middle Eastern to Mexican), to San Diego’s signature Cali-Baja cuisine (try Galaxy Taco for gourmet inventiveness in laidback taco format), and high-end dining with a laidback vibe (Herb & Wood, George’s at the Cove). Then, of course, there’s the surf, the spa scene, nine amazing arts districts, the shopping… is there anything this city can’t do?
Palm Springs Modernism Week Frank Sinatra Ava Gardner California Celebrity House Tours
Inside the Palm Springs homes of Hollywood royalty (hello Leo DiCaprio!)
With Palm Springs’ Modernism Week in full flight, Kristie Hayden tours celebrity homes and reveals how you can get a glimpse inside.
Emerald Lake aqua Yukon
48 long, hot summer hours in Whitehorse
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Atlantic Provinces Map
Plan your Atlantic Provinces journey with our downloadable map and itinerary
Take as long as you like to meander your way through these stunning provinces. Our guide below will help you string the perfect journey together.
Aurora borealis Blachford Lodge Northern Territories Canada Yellowknife wilderness
Yellowknife: the best place to see the Northern Lights
It’s worth heading into the wilderness from Yellowknife for a few nights to enjoy the silence, get a crick in your neck – and witness the Northern Lights cosmic light show like you’ve never seen before, says Birgit-Cathrin Duval. There is really no reason to fly to Yellowknife. This oddly named city is not on any well-trodden tourist route, being north of the 60th parallel in the Canadian Northwest Territories and pretty far away from everything.   Life is lonely here all year long, and ice cold during winter, but Yellowknife has one very special, otherworldly talent to show off to those who make the pilgrimage.   Nowhere else in the world are the Northern Lights as intense, vibrant, and spectacular as in the Northwest Territories – well, so reads the travel guide anyway – especially if you visit in the peak viewing time of late August through to mid-April.   I’m going to find out for myself. What causes the light show? The phenomenon is caused by the aurora belt, an electromagnetic field floating like a halo over the Earth, hundreds of kilometres above the North Pole.   When the charged solar-wind particles reach the atmosphere, they cause the air molecules to illuminate.   Polar light activity is highest in this belt, which stretches from the 60th parallel to the Arctic Circle, and the city of Yellowknife is right in the middle.   While I’m preparing for the night to come, I meet Goota Ashoona, an Inuit artist who practises the centuries-old family traditional sculpture in her Ashoona gallery, based in a small, rickety cabin in Yellowknife. [caption id="attachment_26421" align="alignnone" width="1000"] The spellbinding Aurora Borealis seen from Blachford Lake Lodge in Yellowknife, Canada (photo: Martina Gebrovska).[/caption] She tells me about being touched by the Northern Lights as a child. She claims to have even heard the gusts of heavenly wind. Can you actually hear the Northern Lights?   I can’t wait until night falls to find out. The legend Even more mystical is the indigenous legend that claims that the Northern Lights come from the eyes of deceased animals that granted their eyes to the heavens in order to light the way for mankind.   But as night falls, and wears on, no glowing wolf eyes appear in the night to light my way.   The sky remains pitch black. The following night pulls the same trick.   After two nights remaining awake without any sign of the lights on the horizon, I want to finally see the Aurora Borealis dance across the arctic sky – outside of the city, in a special place only accessible by seaplane. Where to stay? There are numerous ‘fly-in’ log cabins around Yellowknife, which cater specially to hobby fishermen.   For the most part, these cabins are simple, yet functional. Blachford Lake Lodge, on the other hand, is a five-star facility in the middle of this pristine wilderness.   A 45-minute flight from Yellowknife, it perches on a rocky outcrop of an island like a castle, surrounded by nothing but water and forests.   When Blachford’s owner, Mike Freeland bought this land 30 years ago, there was nothing here but a few cabins.   He built the lodge himself and opened it to the public in 1999, offering numerous cabins to allow self-sufficient trappers to structure their own trips. [caption id="attachment_26423" align="alignnone" width="1000"] A crackling campfire keeps visiters to Blackford Lake Lodge toasty warm (photo: Tessa MacIntosh).[/caption] Mike and his wife Tessa place special importance on ecological management, beginning with their meals and ending, so to speak, with composting toilets.   But there is no need to give up comfort. There is wireless internet, a bar, a lounge, even an outdoor jacuzzi, plus a chef and full culinary team standing by to tend to the guests.   It is luxury in the heart of the wilderness, and the lodge has become popular as a corporate retreat – no mobile phone service can help relax the most stressed-out manager.   There is pure wilderness here – wild bears and wolves included – and the list of activities is long, from hiking to fishing in summer, to dogsled tours, snowmobiling, and snowshoe hikes in the winter.   Late in the evening, Mike lights a campfire in front of the cabin.   Once again, I have to be patient. The starry sky unfolds above me like a glittering panorama, almost intoxicating but still blacker than black.   Stars glitter like diamonds embedded in black silk as the hours pass, and it isn’t just the fire that is waning. The guests retreat sleepily into the building. Mike promises to wake them if the Northern Lights appear.   Then I sit there, alone under the sky, so large, so broad, so dark, and almost fear that it could come crashing down and swallow me whole. The moment hits It is long past midnight when something appears in the sky – a mist so thin, at first I think my eyes are playing tricks on me.   And then the sky seems to explode. My cry echoes through the night, and everyone wakes up and rushes outside.   “They’re here, they’re here!” I shout.   Veil upon veil of light darts across the sky, reflecting its brilliance in the water.   Sometimes they hesitate as if watching us, and then suddenly change shape and take flight. Spirals and ornaments appear, as if drawn by spectral hands, and dance across the horizon.   Then they collapse and reappear in a new place. An inferno of light, milky white to sparkling green, glitters in its course across the skies in a magical collision of the elements, an overture of the North, a window into a new dimension.   We stand there, agape, finding no words to describe what is unfolding before us.   My skin tingles. It feels as if the air is crackling with electricity.   Or is that just the excitement of being a silent observer to this phenomenon?   Could Goota Ashoona be right? The Aurora Borealis seems to have got under my skin. It feels as if I’ve been kissed by the heavens, and I wish the daylight would never come. Looking for more amazing things to do in Canada? If you'd like to read more about other unique experiences in Canada, here are some of our favourite picks from our list of 100 things to do in Canada before you die: Go orca spotting off Vancouver Island Spend a storied evening in a First Nations longhouse Stand in awe for the mass Canadian reindeer migration Buggy a Canadian tundra in the world’s largest polar bear show var axel = Math.random() + """"; var a = axel * 10000000000000; document.write('');

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