The aurora borealis is the colorful phenomenon created when electrically charged particles within the earth’s magnetosphere collide with particles in the solar wind. The Northern Lights, as they’re also known, are best seen in late August through April from countries near the North and South poles. These neon ribbons of light are not always visible, and the colors present depend on altitude and which elements are in the air. The most common color is green, while red is more rare. Glows of yellow, pink, blue, and ultraviolet are also possible.

Weather, lunar cycle, and proximity to the sea make some cities and regions better than others for viewing. But if catching a spectacular display is on your bucket list, here are Hipmunk’s top destinations for seeing these natural wonders!

1. Fairbanks, Alaska

  United States

Located within the auroral oval — a ring-shaped region around the North Pole — Fairbanks lends itself to a steady frequency of Northern Light activity and clear climates. But travelers will have to travel a bit outside of the city limits to see nature’s fluorescent curtains. Stay at the Best Western Plus Chena River Lodge or the Springhill Suites by Marriott Fairbanks, both short drives from the city’s other attractions should the lights not cooperate. (We’re fans of the University of Alaska Museum of the North, the Alaska House Art Gallery, and the Fairbanks Community Museum.) Alaska Tours will pick up stargazers from their stated hotel and transfer them to the outskirts of the city. Dress warmly to experience the rippling auroras outdoors, or sip a complimentary warm beverage to stay cozy inside the vehicle. Make sure to monitor the University of Alaska’s aurora forecast to get a better idea of when there is auroral activity.

2. Whitehorse City

  Canada

Canada’s Yukon Territory makes for great viewing of the undulating light curtains. Head to Whitehorse City and stay at the Skky Hotel, only 0.4 miles from the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport. View the aurora from a custom-built location by theArctic Range northern lights tour company. Or, drive 18 miles north of downtown Whitehorse and view them from the Takhini Hot Springs for a memorable evening. The pools, which have been in operation for more than 100 years, are between 36 degrees and 42 degrees Celsius, offering a soothing experience. Check out the pool rental rates, which are based on number of guests.

3. Saariselka

  Finland

The Northern Lights are best viewed away from city lights, making national reserves like Urho Kekkonen National Park a good option. Stay at the Holiday Club in the town of Saariselka for easy access to the park, as well as downhill and cross-country skiing. For those with a higher budget, have a distinctive experience at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort while hunting for the elusive lights. The resort, located a nine-minute drive south from Saariselka and also near Urho Kekkonen Park, offers its signature glass igloo for two or four people, a log cabin or a hybrid accommodation, which is a log cabin that also has a glass igloo. There are various other options, including staying with in the home of Mr. and Ms. Claus, which Kakslauttanen calls Santa’s Home. For extra fees, Kakslauttanen offers husky and reindeer safaris, sleigh rides and ice fishing, among other activities.

4. Karasjok

  Norway

Northern Norway is an ideal location to catch both the Northern Lights and star constellations. The town often has clear skies due to its inland location, and little light pollution. Even if the capricious lights don’t show, visitors will be impressed by the clearly visible star constellations. Stay at the Scandic Karasjok, which has two restaurants and a sauna to get a complete Norwegian experience. The DenHvite Rein Motell offers cross-country and downhill skiing, as well as snowshoeing to stay active.

5. Abisko

  Sweden

The typically clear climate of Abisko makes this small town an optimal place to catch the Aurora Borealis. Stay at the Abisko Guest house or the Abisko Mountain Lodge, both offering easy access to the Aurora Sky Station within Abisko National Park. Abisko.net offers three distinct northern light tours to choose from. Snowshoe to the top of a small hill overlooking lake Tornetrask, as well as wild animal trails. Rest near the fire while drinking warm drinks as onlookers stare at the sky. Or, learn how to best photograph nature’s dancing lights. Visitors have to provide their own SD memory cards, but Absiko.net provides the high-quality camera and lens, as well as detailed instructions from a professional.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on January 8th.

Published in Travel Photography

Amsterdam was once a place where college kids and marijuana aficionados flocked in order to enjoy herb out in the open, eliciting no more than a glance from passersby. But the times, they are a-changin'. Now that marijuana is legal in five U.S. states and the District of Columbia, American pot smokers need not cross the pond for the experience.

According to Hipmunk airfare search data, Amsterdam has fallen from the #7 most-searched international destination in 2014 to #10 in 2015. We speculated it has something to do with domestic cities like Denver and Portland (both of them) joining the small group of pro-ganja cities.

We took a look at Hipmunk data to see if there was an increase in flight searches shortly after Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. legalized marijuana back in November 2014. And there was.

Increase in Share of Searches on Hipmunk From November 2013 to November 2014

Alaska 37%
Washington DC 21%
Colorado 19%
Oregon 15%

 

With so many more options and the Amsterdam government imposing stricter regulations on herb, we thought it’s time to outline all of your pot tourism destination options along with estimated budgets for each.

Pot-Friendly Vacation Destinations by Price

Destinations Average Flight Price Average Nightly Hotel Price Estimated Cost of a Weekend Trip for Two
Colorado $300 $174 $948
Oregon $362 $150 $1,024
Washington $370 $182 $1,104
Amsterdam $1269 $182 $2,902

 

We dug even deeper to bring you estimated weekend getaway pricing for popular cities in each of our domestic pot-friendly states.

Pot-Friendly Domestic Vacation Cities by Price

Cities Average Flight Price Average Nightly Hotel Price Estimated Cost of a Weekend Trip for Two
Yakima, WA* $317 $110 $853
Denver, CO $275 $184 $918
Spokane, WA $395 $125 $1,039
Boulder, CO $275 $249 $1,048
Portland, OR $349 $178 $1,054
Colorado Springs, CO $424 $114 $1,076
Eugene, OR $419 $121 $1,080
Bend, OR $449 $130 $1,157
Seattle, WA $362 $241 $1,206
Aspen, CO $715 $310 $2,049
Vail, CO $715 $365 $2,160

 

Did we miss your favorite 420 destination? Or have you traveled to one of these locations to take a toke? Let us know in the comments below.

*It's illegal to operator a pot shop, sell, and purchase marijuana in Yakima, WA. However it's legal to possess and consume a certain amount within Yakima. The purchase of pot is legal in Union Gap, WA–only 3 miles outside of town.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on October 7th.

Published in United States

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