Pools are a timeless feature that has been used on residential properties for several decades. As a common product that is used in backyards, they are known to offer plenty of fun for all ages. When you're looking to enjoy the feature, there are a few advantages that come with owning a pool.

Cool Off in the Summer

The summer season is known to have record-breaking temperatures, which can make it difficult to spend time outside in the heat. You can cool off during the summer months by taking a dip in the pool where you can swim, play games, and avoid feeling cooped up indoors.

Entertain

When you want to host parties or entertain your guests, a swimming pool is an ideal item to use to allow your family members and friends to have a fun time while visiting your home. You can welcome your loved ones to play volleyball or wade in the water while hosting an outdoor barbecue. You'll also have an easy way of throwing a birthday party or a celebration that is centered around the pool during certain months of the year.

Improve Your Backyard

You can improve the visual appeal of your backyard with a pool that works as the focal point of the setting and improves the aesthetics of the space. You'll have the freedom to create a custom pool that complements the architecture of your home and looks contemporary with its design. You'll get to explore different options by visiting the website of the contractor. Consider adding rock formations to the pool or a waterfall, which will create a lush outdoor oasis that feels like an escape. The pool can also make the property easier to sell by allowing it to stand out on the market once you list it.

Improve Your Health

Owning a pool can allow you to improve your health by staying fit with the exercise that it will provide. Enjoy swimming laps, which will increase your stamina and make it easy to maintain a healthy weight. Aquatic exercises can also be performed by non-swimmers who live on the property. Swimming and wading in the pool can also improve your sleep each night because it can cause fatigue by reducing your body temperature. You can rest better at night and alleviate different types of sleep apnea.

Pools offer plenty of entertainment and enjoyment for both children and adults. By installing the product, both you and your family will enjoy a higher quality of life.

  flickr // paradisecoastie georgikeith

Published in United Kingdom

Jackson is a unique and famous city. The area, collectively referred to as Jackson Hole, is like a bubble of flat land surrounded 360° by forests, mountains and national parks. The high elevation keeps the entire region cold at night year round and thanks to the rugged yet scenic terrain, the area is also famous for skiing. However there is much more to do in and around Jackson than just that!

Jackson is entirely surrounded by the Grand Teton National Park and National Elk Refuge. Outdoor adventures abound! There are many great land- and water-based activities to be had nearby. Hiking. Wildlife. River-rafting. Fishing. Hot springs. There are countless day-trip adventures to be had -- or better yet check out Jackson Hole cabin rentals to spend an authentic night under the stars but without the work that comes with camping ;)

National Elk Refuge in Jackson, Wyoming
National Elk Refuge

Whatever you end up doing in and around Jackson, don't miss these unique and offbeat activities:

Visit an Intermittent Spring

Old Faithful isn't Wyoming's only time-based water attraction, just its most famous. That reliable hot water geyser has been Wyoming's claim to fame since the late 1800's. However the state also has a cold water feature that operates intermittently, hence the name -- Intermittent Spring. Also known as Periodic Spring, this natural occurance is the largest in rythmic spring in the world.

At Intermittent Spring, the water flows in 18 minute cycles. 18 minutes on, 18 minutes off.

Why the river flows like this is not as much of a mystery as one might first thing. There is a widly accepted as true scientific theory behind Intermittent Spring. Basically, cold spring water collects in underground cave and begins slowly filling up a narrow shaft that leads to the surface. Eventually water pressure builds up too great, forms a funnel and all the water gets sucked out. Incoming air then closes the waterway until water pressure builds up again.

Like Flushing A Toilet

Think of it like flushing a toilet. The funnel sucks the entire basin down a narrow tube in a flash. Only at Intermittent Spring, you get to watch the toilet water coming out, instead of filling back up.

Intermittent Spring, a rare natural formation that starts and stops on its own -- one of the unique and offbeat things to do in Jackson, Wyoming
Unique and offbeat enough for you?

Go to the Range

Growing up in Texas, I'm used to shooting and comfortable around firearms. But if you are not, consider checking out the Jackson Hole Shooting Experience. Here you can not only learn to shoot but also take a firearm education class and understand why so many people support gun ownership. Maybe even begin to grow a little more appreciative of them yourself.

Beginners can learn the basics about gun safety and go for their first shoot. Rather than just pick any random gun, an expert will pair a first-time shooting with the most appropriate gun. Already know how to shoot? Browse the massive arsenal and pick something new.

Those already familiar with handling various firearms at close range can improve their long range skills or learn a new one, such as mastering the shotgun or taking a tactical defense class. JH Shooting Experience even offers ladies-only classes and other specific courses, such as improving your hunting skills.

Still in doubt? Leave all of your precoceived notations and judgements at the door and come try for yourself. As a wise man once said, "Don't knock it until you try it."

See the Abandoned Mansion of Yellowstone

Everyone always talks about how great Yellowstone National Park is -- don't get me wrong, it is beyond great. It's stunning. Absolutely breathtaking. No trip to Wyoming is complete without a visit to the world-famous Yellowstone National Park. This obligatory stop sometimes referred to as "the first and still the best" is on every traveler's bucket list. There's a reason why America's first national park -- and the first in the entire world -- attracts over four million visitors per year. However what most people fail to mention is the unique, offbeat and out of place Smith Mansion, otherwise known as the Abandon Mansion of Yellowstone.

Smith Mansion, one of the coolest unique and offbeat things to do while visiting Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

This handmade wooden structure tells the story of a man who loved a lady, but seemily loved carpentry more. In 1970 Lee Smith began making a house for his wife. After the first floor was complete, Lee kept building, kept adding on new floors, new balconies, and eventually even giant elaborate exterior staircases. He never stopped. After the divorce he kept building. It was not until his death in 1992 that construction ceased. Lee was only 48 when a strong gust of wind blew him off the roof while he was (you guessed it!) working on his house. He fell twelve feet and passed away from his injuries.

The Smith Mansion is truly one-of-a-kind. There are no blueprints. Everything came from Lee's mind. Unfortunately after he died the house became neglated and began rotting. Efforts are currently underway to preserve and repair the mansion by Lee's daughter, Sunny, and her husband. Although public tours are not regularly scheduled due to the disrepair the house has fallen into, the family is trying to raise funds to help pay for the preservation. Give them a shout and perhaps you can score a private tour.

It is impossible to miss the Smith Mansion if you are entering Yellowstone from the the eastern entrance. It is less than hour drive from Yellowstone Lake, and regardless of which entrance you used, definitely worth the drive just for the photos. Read more about the history of Smith Mansion.

  More Offbeat Travel Guides

  Any other unique or off the beaten path things to do/see/eat in Jackson?

  flickr   //   kenlund usfwsmtnprairie jimmydcanondslr

Published in United States

Montego Bay may not be the largest city in Jamaica, but it's certainly one of the most well-known, thanks to the classic 1970 song by Bobby Bloom, "Montego Bay." The city has been a popular tourist destination for decades, and for good reason. With year-round warm weather and gorgeous white sand beaches, Montego Bay calls!

Hit the Beach

After dropping off your luggage at the hotel, the obligatory first thing to do is hit the beach. Although Cornwall Beach and Doctor's Cave Beach are both nice spots, their central location right in the heart of Montego Bay means that they're also crowded. If you want to escape the herds and find a beach that feels more like a deserted paradise, head east just a few miles past Falmouth to Burwood Beach. Odds are that there will only be a couple dozen people there, and you can bet that more than half of them are locals.

Kiteboarding Jamaica in must do when in Bounty Bay!

Get Out on the Water

Although you can do water-based activities like Jet Skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and parasailing throughout the island, there's only one place in Jamaica where you can go kiteboarding: Bounty Bay. Kiteboarding Jamaica is located 20 minutes east of Montego Bay towards Falmouth. Here, kiteboarders of all skill levels can take to the water and get their adrenaline pumping. Never been kiteboarding before? Don't worry. The instructors can teach you all that you need to know with a five-part beginner's course.

Kiteboarding Jamaica in must do when in Bounty Bay!

Get Underneath the Water

Fun in the sun is nice, but exploring the underwater world is better! Chukka's Underwater Sea Trek can best be described as an underwater walk on the Caribbean Sea floor. Unlike scuba diving, which requires training and certification, anyone can do this sea trek after a few minutes of safety training. You'll receive a large helmet that fits over your head and sits on your shoulders. It contains a spacious air-filled chamber that's connected to the surface via a small oxygen cable. The helmet doesn't sit flush against the skin but rather nestles your shoulders like a suction cup. That allows you to walk unencumbered around the sea floor with a full view of the sea life around you. It's perfect for those who want an intimate underwater experience without the hassle or risks associated with diving.

Escape the Bay and Explore the Island

Scattered around the island are tons of other amazing adventures, such as the wildly popular Dunn's River Falls and Park in Ochos Rios. No trip to Jamaica is complete without a stop here. Ochos Rios is also home to Mystic Mountain, where you can explore the jungle three different ways: zip line, chair lift, or bobsled. Now you can get your "Cool Runnings" on in Jamaica!

Exploring Ochos Rios is one of the top things to do in Jamaica
Ochos Rios

Sometimes the best vacations happen when you do absolutely nothing. If that's the case, make sure to find yourself a top-rated hotel or resort and prepare to relax. With massages and poolside or beachside food and drink service, you can enjoy your days basking in the sun without a care in the world. What more can you ask for on a Caribbean vacation?

  flickr   //   Evgenii Klebanov (featured)   peter_trudelle   etnad2   smilla4

Published in Jamaica

A hugely popular favorite with cruises and resort dwellers, you could be mistaken for believing that there is no stone left unturned in The Bahamas. However, these islands have a wealth of hidden gems which make them a must for anyone’s traveling bucket list.

Swimming around an underwater airplane wreck in the Bahamas
Photo via WikiMedia

Underwater Plane Wreck

If you’ve ever wanted to explore deep sea wreckages, head to the island of Norman’s Cay where the remains of a smuggling plane lie under 6 feet of warm Bahamian waters. The wreckage can be easily explored with a snorkel, just watch out for the nurse sharks who like to sleep under its wings!

Flamingos in the Bahamas
Photo via WikiMedia

Lake Rosa

Located on the island of Great Inaguas, Lake Rosa (also known as Lake Windsor) is home to some 80,000 West Indian flamingos, making it one of the largest flamingo sanctuaries in the world. The birds feed in the wetlands of Rosa Lake which is within the Inagua National Park 287-square-mile reserve. Stretching 12 miles, Lake Rosa is also home to a vast array of other species including herons, ducks, pelicans and roseate spoonbills, making it the ideal destination for bird watchers.

Mount Alvernia

Complete with a medieval style monastery, Mount Alvernia (also known as Como Hill) is the highest point in the Bahamas. Although only 206ft above sea level, the view from the top is stunning so make sure to pack your camera. The monastery was built in 1939 by a Catholic Priest, Father Jerome, who named the hill Mount Alvernia, after a mountain in Tuscany which was given to St Francis of Assisi.

Look at the size of this seashell
Photo via WikiMedia

Doc Sands’ Conch Stall

There are so many places to eat out in the Bahamas, but none quite as awesome as Doc Sands’ Conch Stall. Proprietor Nicola Sands treats customers to the preparation of their meal, as she shucks the conch flesh and chops it into the salad right in front of them. Located by the Paradise Bridge, Doc Sands’ Conch Stall is a must for anyone traveling the Bahamas on a budget.

Clifton Heritage Park

Hidden away on the island of Nassau, Clifton Heritage Park is most definitely off the beaten track, as it is not even accessible by public transportation. With historical ruins such as the Pirate Steps, as well as three stunning secluded beaches, a sacred circle and an underwater sculpture garden, this park is perfect for anyone wanting to get away from the crowds.

Glass Window Bridge

Originally a natural stone arch connecting the northern and southern parts of the island of Eleuthera, the Glass Window Bridge is an amazing example of nature at its best. Though the natural arch was destroyed by hurricanes many years ago, the bridge has been rebuilt since and still goes by the name given to it by artist Winslow Homer in 1885. Also known as the “narrowest place on earth”, the bridge provides a panoramic view of the striking contrast between the rich navy blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the calm turquoise-aqua waters of the Caribbean Sea, separated by a strip of rock no more than 30ft wide. Stunning!

Published in The Bahamas

These days, more and more people are realizing that taking a bike tour is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors, spend time with friends, and travel. If you've recently decided that you want to take a bike tour, now is the time to learn how you can make the event absolutely incredible. Use some or all of the information found in this quick reference guide to ensure that your bike tour will be absolutely amazing:

1. Get In Shape.

If you're serious about making your next bike tour a blast, make sure that you get in shape. Huffing and puffing your way through your bike travels can be embarrassing, and it will also prevent you from enjoying the scenery and the organic group conversations that tend to surface during such events. With all of this in mind, make sure that you are getting in all of the exercises necessary to ensure that your body can handle a long-distance ride.

Vietnamese man exercising in the street early one morning
Vietnamese man exercising in the street early one morning. One can only assume he was working those quads so eloquently to get ready for some intense hiking and mountain biking.

The best way to get in shape so you can enjoy your bike trip to the fullest is by doing a combination of cardio, weight-lifting, and stretching. You can typically complete each of these forms of exercise within the gym setting. You may even want to work with a personal trainer as you prepare for the bike travel event. Fitness experts will generally be able to devise a dynamic, customized exercise routine that enables you to build strength and increase cardiovascular endurance.

Bicycling Central Park in New York City
Bicycling around Central Park one day...

2. Find The Perfect Bike Rental Company.

In addition to getting in shape, make sure that you take time to find the perfect bike rental company. This strategy will empower you to ensure that you have the best bike equipment on the block. There are several attributes that you'll want to look for in a rental company. Some of them include:

  • positive online reviews
  • a great Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating
  • industry experience (preferably five years or longer)
  • perks and benefits (discounts, referral programs, etc.)

When you start looking for the ideal company, be sure to keep the professionals of Bike Rental Central Park in mind. These industry experts provide clients with equipment they can use for Central Park bike tours.

Bike tours are great, especially when in beautiful destinations like Hawaii
Bicycling in Hawaii

3. Book Your Flight And Hotel In Advance.

One final technique that can help you enjoy your bike trip to the fullest is booking your flight and hotel in advance. This strategy will empower you to attain competitive rates on your room and plane. Also consider the value of doing a group booking to attain even deeper discounts.

Don't Delay: Start Preparing For Your Bike Tour Today!

If you're ready to go on a bike tour, don't procrastinate. Instead, start preparing now to ensure that you can have an absolutely amazing time. Three preparation strategies that can help you make the most of your event include getting in shape, finding the right bike rental company, and booking your flight and hotel in advance. Implement these strategies now to ensure that your bike tour is incredible!

Published in Travel Inspiration

By means of a strange acculturation process while growing up, I'm more connected to the American culture than I am to the Portuguese. As a result, the United States is high on my list of countries to visit (and the list of offbeat attractions grows with it). I'm still in the romancing phase, but I'm already liking my odds in Arizona and in Pasadena. I have my eye on several attractions in these areas and more, and I'm interested in the best hotels in each area.

1. Experience Space, the Final Frontier

  Flagstaff, Arizona

I love a good alien story, especially if it mixes an “X-Files” vibe with some futuristic storytelling like H.G. Wells' “War of the Worlds”. However, you can visit some “other-worldly” attractions without leaving this planet. The Lowell Observatory and the Cinder Lake Crater Field are two offbeat must-sees in Flagstaff. I wonder if I can find an alien-themed hotel in Flagstaff? Or at least one with a mysterious alien story behind it.

Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona
Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona via James Jones

2. The Most Famous Canyon in Arizona

  Page, Arizona

The Antelope Canyon is hardly a secret and it's very high on my list of beautiful sights. The most photographed rock formation in the American Southwest is one guided tour away when you visit Page. To continue exploring the scenery beyond the canyon, check with your hotel in Page for tour recommendations.

Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona
Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona via Todd Petrie

3. A Bridge (Not) Over Troubled Waters

  Yuma, Arizona

Do you know the Talking Heads' song “Road to Nowhere”? Well, in Yuma, things go a little further with a “bridge to nowhere”. No, it's not a metaphor. The Gila River was diverted in 1968, and today the McPhaul bridge crosses (oddly) over sand and rocks. I have a series of postapocalyptic-themed photos for that bridge in mind, meaning the visit could be emotionally draining. Finding a hotel in Yuma for some well-deserved R&R would do the trick.

4. A London Bridge in Arizona?

  Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Did London Bridge really fall down like in the nursery rhyme? Technically, it was sinking due to structural problems, and in the late 1960's, the city sold the bridge to the highest bidder — a local entrepreneur in Lake Havasu City. Booking a romantic stay at a Lake Havasu City hotel and a stroll on the bridge shipped overseas, block by block, sounds like a great story to tell.

London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona
London Bridge in Lake Havasu City via Ken Lund

5. Doc's House and Strange Sodas

  Pasadena, California

Hoverboards are not a real thing (yet) but Dr. Emmet Brown's house is. Fans of “Back to the Future” wouldn't the Gamble House be an offbeat must-see? This could (probably) only be topped by a Buffalo Wing soda. I'm not entirely sure I would handle the sugar rush at the Rocket Fizz, the place where these strange soda flavors come from. Tasting wouldn't be a problem; narrowing down the weirdest ones to taste would. How do you top this off? Perhaps with a stay at a Hollywoodesque hotel in Pasadena, where you can pretend to be a star with a quirky taste for strange sodas.

The Gamble House in Pasadena California
The Gamble House in Pasadena, California via Ken Lund

  Cover Photo by Ken Lund via flickr.
  This is a post written in collaboration with the Hipmunk Hotels campaign. It was originally published on Tripper by Sandra on June 29th.

Published in United States

When planning family trips, it's best to keep kids busy with activities from crafting and music lessons to hiking and swimming. (No one wants to hear, "Mom, I'm bored" while lounging beach side with a cocktail in hand.)

Travel is one of the most fun ways for a parent to share the cultures and natural wonders of the world. These destinations are safe for kiddos, catering to the picky eaters, adrenaline junkies, nature lovers, and beach bums too. Not only will kids be welcome, they'll find programs and excursions designed just for them on each of these global adventures.

Adventurous Resorts

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, Koloa, Hawaii

While it may sound like a lazy beach vacay, this beautiful resort is on one of Hawaii's most exciting islands – and one of the world's top resorts for families. The resort offers tons of kid-friendly activities (think ukulele lessons and lei making) in-house. But families can also find breathtaking hikes, ziplines for the token daredevil, horseback riding and kayaking to name a few. For something more low key, splash in a two-tiered pool or the saltwater lagoon that meanders through the hotel's property. By nightfall, kids will definitely be ready to crash.

Waterfalls at Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

River Kwai Floating Hotel, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

For the boy (and girl) scouts who are looking for a back-to-nature experience, this Thai getaway won't disappoint. Thailand is one of Asia's best destinations for kids. With a drive and boat ride to this hotel, they may start to feel a bit like Mowgli in The Jungle Book. Bamboo guest rooms float on top of the River Kwai and offer visitors a taste of Mon culture. It's a bit rustic (as in there are wick lamps instead of electricity. But don't worry, in-room bathrooms are a part of the deal). Kids love exploring the nearby jungles atop of a gentle elephant, or visiting natural wonders such as the Lawa Cave or the Sai Yok Waterfall. Get a few thrills without leaving River Kwai by river jumping or bamboo rafting — something to excite even the most adrenaline-seeking tweens.

Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Nicaragua makes for an affordable, and adventure-filled, Central American trip (and many parents are choosing it over the equally kid-friendly Costa Rica). Visitors won't see nearly as many expats and will get a great taste of the local culture, plus tons of hiking and swimming! In a bungalow at Morgan's Rock, guests are nestled in the treetops and have easy beach access. One of the more exciting excursions to make is to Ometepe Island, formed by two volcanoes, which can be reached by ferry. Explore ancient rock art and petroglyphs and brave the hike up the dormant Maderas Volcano. Parents will appreciate the beaches known for waves that are safe for first-time surfers, zip-line excursions, and an insider look at the lodge's sustainable farm where kids get to collect farm eggs and milk the cows for an awesome family breakfast!

The beaches of Queensland, Australia are a great way to relax

One&Only Hayman Island, Queensland, Australia

A trip to the Great Barrier Reef is an incomparable adventure. While a flight to the Aussie coast may not be ideal for many faraway travelers with tiny tots, the experiences offered through resorts like One&Only can change a nervous parent's mind. If your bucket list includes snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, water skiing or a helicopter adventure above the reef (which is the largest living thing on Earth, mind you), then book a few tickets to Hayman Island. Of course One&Only also offers an entirely kid-centric program called KidsOnly full of excursions and meals from 9am to 6pm if parents need a break.

Traveling Adventures

Camping and cruising may appeal to families that seek adventure on-the-go. Many of these trips welcome first-time campers and those who are especially interested in learning the lay of the land, whether that's in sunny California or rugged Maine. Nature lovers, budding botanists and eager explorers will get animal interactions, sparkling night skies and a new set of skills when signing up for one of these trips.

Trekking the Appalachian Trail in the United States of America

Appalachian Trail

For North Easterners, this trip will make an exciting escape from the bustling city, but any visitors will be in awe of the natural beauty of the Appalachian Trail. Eager hikers can find programs like the Appalachian Mountain Club's Family Camps, which take families with kids as young as five years old around New Hampshire and Maine, near beautiful mountains and full of sleepaway camp-style fun. Expect canoeing, fishing, stream exploration and a classic campfire sing-a-long.

Galapagos Islands

While this isn't exactly a family vacation, road trip style, there is so much kids can learn by a trip to this incredible archipelago. National Geographic is one of the few to organize a cruise to these islands near South America that is geared specifically at budding scientific minds. In the day, kids can snorkel in crystal blue waters and hike the shores among animals like giant tortoises and sea lions, all of which are completely unphased by the presence of humans. Parents will leave with zoologists and nature photographers on their hands.

Klamath River, California is perfect for family camping and trekking

Klamath River, California

This is a fabulous spot to dive into the world of camping as a family for the first time. Whether you're interested in nesting up in an unassuming lodge or setting up a tent under the stars, a trip to this natural Cali beauty guarantees great views and swimming. Several programs like Orange Torpedo and Oars set up multi-day whitewater rafting ventures, but there are hikes to take and plenty of beach lounging to be done as well. On Orange Torpedo's Klamath River Wild and Scenic trip, kids will get to swim in warm water and calm side creeks (the rapid on this trip is exciting, but never dangerous) and the guides will introduce anyone from five years old to the basics of both rafting and camping. These trips can also be as short as two or three days, ideal for any locals or those not wanting to commit to any extensive travel with kids.

  This post was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on July 19th.

Published in Travel Inspiration

Of all the reasons to travel the world, “to see a staircase” likely doesn’t show up on many lists. But it may be time to reconsider. The globe is dotted with remarkable staircases that are breathtaking to look at and exhilarating to climb, and each makes for a quality destination in its own right. Here are just seven of some of the world’s most trek-worthy staircases.

16th Avenue Tiled Steps in San Francisco, California, one of the most beautiful staircases in the world

1. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, San Francisco

Truly a team effort, the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps project is the result of collaboration among neighbors around the intersection of 16th and Moraga in San Francisco. Work on the 163 mosaic paneled stairs started in 2003 under the leadership of artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher, and more than 500 neighbors contributed funds and/or labor to complete the project by August 2004. The stairs are now overseen by the San Francisco Parks Trust.

Bueren Mountain, Belgium, one of the most beautiful staircases in the world

2. Bueren Mountain, Belgium

Despite its name, Bueren Mountain is no mountain at all. Instead, it’s a 374-step staircase in Liège, Belgium that was built in 1881 as a pathway for soldiers. The stairs are named after Vincent de Bueren, a 15th century aristocrat who reportedly defended the city of Liège from an affront by the Duke of Burgundy. Those who make it to the top will reap their reward in the form of stunning views of the city and the Meuse River. The stairwell is also an hour’s drive from popular Brussels.

Haiku Stairs (also known as the Stairway to Heaven) in Hawaii, one of the most beautiful staircases in the world

3. Haiku Stairs, Hawaii

Also known as the Stairway to Heaven, the Haiku Stairs on the island of Oahu are beloved by thrill seekers despite the fact that it’s technically illegal to climb them (at least not without a permit and a $1 million insurance policy). Installed during World War II and deemed off limits in the 1980s, the 3,922 steps rise to the summit of Puu Keahikahoe, from which those who sneak to the top can gaze out over the Koolau mountain range. Sadly, a powerful storm damaged the stairs earlier this year—they’re now more treacherous than ever, and their fate (along with that of the interlopers who climb them) hangs in the balance.

Moses Bridge Stairs, Netherlands, one of the most beautiful staircases in the world
Photo: Flickr user Forgemind ArchiMedia

4. Moses Bridge Stairs, Netherlands

The Fort de Roovere, a 17th century Dutch fort surrounded by a moat, was originally classified as an island. But in recent years it found itself in need of an access bridge as part of a restoration project. In order to preserve as much of the island appearance as possible, an architectural firm designed the Moses Bridge Stairs, a “sunken” bridge that immerses pedestrians in the moat (without anybody getting wet). A dam sits at each end of the moat in order to ensure that water never spills onto the bridge.

Santorini Stairway, Greece, one of the most beautiful staircases in the world
Photo: Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons

5. Santorini Stairway, Greece

Originally constructed in 1715 and renovated in 1930, the stairway was first built so that Santorini residents could climb to the summit of their island home. The stairway switchbacks from the sea to the city for a grand total of more than 4,000 feet (or 657 steps). A cable car was installed in 1979, but you’ll get a better workout if you walk (many tourists also choose to ride donkeys up or down). Rest your feet at any of Santorini’s budget-friendly hotels.

Stairs Above the Sea, Spain, one of the most beautiful staircases in the world
Photo: AnuskaCM via Wikimedia Commons

6. Stairs Above the Sea, Spain

What better way to connect the small islet of Gaztelugatxe in Spanish Basque Country to the mainland than by creating a human-made bridge of stairs. More than 200 steps lead to a 10th century monastery on the upper portion of the islet, and those who traverse the rocky stairwell report feeling like they’re walking above the ocean (hence the staircase’s name). The church is closed in winter and the islet is packed with tourists in the summer, so the best time to visit is in the spring or fall.

Traversiner Steg, Switzerland, one of the most beautiful staircases in the world
Photo: Paebi via Wikimedia Commons

7. Traversiner Steg, Switzerland

It’s a bridge; it’s a stair; it’s a bridge-stair! The suspension bridge (also dubbed “The Bridge-Stair at Traversinertobel”) spans the length of the Traversinertobel gorge, connecting two different elevations on either side of the abyss. There’s a difference of around 72 feet between both sides, so those brave enough to ascend the staircase will get a workout in addition to an adrenaline rush. The staircase is only an hour and a half’s drive to Zurich, so travelers can take in both urban culture and natural wonders in the same day.

  This article was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on December 10th.

Published in Travel Inspiration

Colorado is one of the best states in the USA to visit. Not only is it beautiful and historic, but it is also full of some of the nicest people in America. Although I still call Asia home, If I ever move back to America it would be somewhere in Colorado. Never been? Colorado is amazing, you have to visit! Here are seven unique and offbeat travel destinations to help get your Colorado vacation started:

  Check out the entire Offbeat Travel Guide collection!

Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour

   Silverton
  $10-20/person depending kid/senior/adult
  Official Web Site

With history dating back to the 1870s, the Old Hundred Gold Mine hit pay dirt just after the turn of the century when they began supplying gold bars to the Denver Mint for use in coining. However the ever-increasing yields from the mine were the begin of the end and before long it was officially "mined out".

Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour
via wwworks

All-in-all the tour lasts almost an hour. After getting loaded up (and bundled up, it is a little chilly underground) you board the railcars and proceed underground. There we explored a couple of the original veins with a guide who gave us a firsthand history lesson of both the mine and mining processes. But the scenery does not stop there; even outside of the mine shafts the backdrop of the local mountains is breathtaking. One neat part of the tour includes a view of the original miners' cabin, which if I remember correctly dates back to 1904. The thing is perched way up on the mountain and just barely is hanging on. As a matter-of-fact, when they first built the cabin they had to secure it to the nearby rock face with metal cables to prevent it from falling down the mountain. Wild!

Gold panning at the Old Hundred Mine in Silverton, one of the top offbeat things to do in Colorado
via wwworks

And of course no tour of a gold mine would be complete without a stop at a real-life sluice box where you can take your turn at panning for gold, silver, and other semi-precious stones just like the gold-panners of the past did. And, yes, no worries: you get to keep whatever you.

Due to the local weather this tour only operates during the warm season, from May to October. And, as with any decent tour, there is also a gift shop selling all sorts of related souvenirs and trinkets as well as snacks and drinks. Check the official web site for more information on directions, rates, and operating hours.

Royal Gorge Bridge & Park

   Canon City
  $19-25/person depending kid/senior/adult
  Official Web Site

Wow, where to start. Think amusement park combined with natural wonder and you might be headed in the right direction. Covering 360 acres and featuring nearly two dozen rides, shows, and attractions to keep you amused, it is hard to get in and out of this place in less than a couple hours -- but then again, why would you want to rush it.

The Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado

The prime attraction and namesake of this park is the Royal Gorge and its sky high suspension bridge, one of the highest in the world. It was built in 1929 for only $350,000 but the cost today would exceed $15,000,000. You can walk or drive across it but I definitely recommend walking, as that allows you to better enjoy the scenery as well as take some fantastic pictures using the 360° view. There is also an aerial tram that is apparently the world's longest single-span tram.

After enjoying the view from above, you can also admire it from below by riding down the 45° incline railway. Seeing it from this angle really puts it all in perspective; the towering bridge you just walked across is nothing more than a thing string stretching across the canyon like the tight-wire of a circus performer.

But the sights don't stop there! You can explore the gorgeous countryside by taking a mule rule ride through the pines and evergreens or strolling the Wapiti Western Wildlife Park. There is one of those free-fall skycoasters and a plaza theatre, a Mountain Man Trading Post (not sure what that is actually, I skipped it), and even a mountaintop lodge for those wanting to stay overnight.

The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park in Silverton, Colorado

The park is open year-round but some of the attractions may be seasonal or weather-permitting. I'm sure the official web site provide you with up to date information.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Keenesburg
$10/person, $5/kids ≤12 yrs
Official Web Site

Located just 30 miles northeast of Denver and covering a grand total of 720 acres and sheltering around 300 lions, tigers, leopards, mountain lions, bears, wolves, and other large carnivores, the Wild Animal Sanctuary of Colorado is the first sanctuary of its kind to create large acreage species-specific habitats for its rescued animals. Since 1980 the Wild Animal Sanctuary has responded to nearly 1,000 requests from private citizens and government agencies to rescue animals from across the United States and even in Mexico.

Keenseburg Wild Animal Sanctuary is one of the best offbeat things to do in Colorado
via Mark

After breaking free of the Welcome Center & Gift Shop, with a guide book in hand, you'll be set free to wander. They have huge closed-off habitats surrounding the main complex but by far the best thing is the observation ramps and decks that stretch over the animals in the center of the park. Walking up ramps and along observation decks suspending above the animals you can get a birds-eye view of some of nature's most impressive and majestic mammals.

Each of the main observation decks was thoughtfully designed with picnic tables and chairs, as does the small garden area at the foot of the main ramp. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch, or if all else fails the gift shop does also sell a few drinks and snacks.

This is a great family expedition, absolutely perfect for the kiddos.

Beer? I like beer.

Colorado Breweries

   Fort Collins, Longmont, Boulder, Golden, & others
  Varies; Mid-range
  Colorado Brewers Guild

Craft beer is something that every real man should appreciate. It is something to be proud of, unlike that mass-produced swill that relies on a multi-million dollar advertising compaign to get you to buy their crap. It is said that pairing beer and cheese is akin to holding hands, whereas wine and cheese is like arm wrestling. If you are drinking a good craft beer then that is so very true. And if you are like me you'll be happy to learn that Colorado has a lot of microbrews, good microbrews. Colorado is one of the best states for craft beer lovers. As a matter-of-fact they have more breweries per capita than any other state in the USA. And for those that like the [ugh] mass-market beer, you probably already know that Colorado is where Coors proudly calls home. They even offer tours. I didn't go on one. Nothing fany about mass production. Craft breweries however are always cool and quirky!

The Phantom Canyon Brewing Company in Colorado Springs always has fresh, homebrewed craft beer on tap

Almost all of the larger cities have breweries. If in doubt just inquire in a local bar. I even found a restaurant in downtown Colorado Springs that has a glass-encased brewery right in its main dining room. The food was good and the beer was better. If you are in the area, definitely look up Phantom Canyon Brewing Company.

The Phantom Canyon Brewing Company in Colorado Springs always has fresh, homebrewed craft beer on tap

  Have you been to any of the breweries in Colorado or tried any of the local beers? Share your thoughts and/or recommendations at the end of the article!

    Other notable breweries include:
  • New Belgium Brewing Company (Fort Collins)
  • Boulder Beer Company (Boulder)
  • Twisted Pine Brewing Company (Boulder)
  • Crabtree Brewing Company (Greeley)
  • Left Hand Brewing Company (Longmont)
  • Golden City Brewery (Golden)

Casa Bonita

   Denver
  Entrees @ $15 - $20
Official Web Site

Forever immortalized by an episode of South Park, Casa Bonita offers an eating experience unlike any other and I just had to check it out for myself. True to the episode, this restaurant actually features shoot-em up gunfights, cliff divers, strolling mariachis, puppet shows, magicians, games, prizes, and more.

Casa Bonita is the Colorado restaurant famous for it's elaborate jungle interior and one of the quirky things to do in Denver. And yes, it's the same place from South Park.
via Rob Lee

The restaurant is huge, covering over 50,000 sq ft and seating well over 1,000. Hell it has a 30-foot indoor waterfall. You pay for the show though with the cost of the food. Casa Bonita specializes in Mexican cuisine, but their menu is very limited and stereotypical. Everything except the kids meals is over-priced and none of what we ordered stood out or overly impressed us. But the sights, now that was a different story!

United States Mint in Denver, Colorado

Kids will never want to leave this place, but even for adults it is worth at least one visit. Just one though.

United States Mint

   Denver
  Free!
  Official Web Site

How can you beat free? You can't! So why not visit the Denver location of the US Mint and learn a little bit about the coin and currency we Americans use every single day.

Tours are fairly short, only about thirty minutes, but the the guides are very knowledgeable in all aspects of the Mint from the gold rush days up to its present day production of coins. There wasn't too much crazy stuff to see as far as the machinery that actually produces the coins, but there are some interesting displays and videos. And of course the mandatory gift shop.

Take a tour of the Denver Mint, one of the best free things to do in Colorado
via Ken Lund

However, there are a few warnings: first off, you must make a reservation online first or you will not be allowed entry. Additionally, don't plan on taking any pictures for obvious security reasons. And as security is just as tight as at the airport, don't bring with you what you do not need. Finally, there is no public parking. Not a big deal but noteworthy nonetheless.

Pike's Peak

   Manitou Springs
  $10/adult & $4/kid or $35/vehicle
  Pike's Peak Guide by Derek Freal

Colorado has 54 "Fourteeners," otherwise known as mountains with peaks over 14,000 feet above sea level. One of the most well-known however is Pike's Peak. With a 19-mile paved road that winds and stretches all the way up to its 14,110 foot summit, it is no wonder this is the most visited mountain in North America.

Pike's Peak in Colorado

Pike's Peak National Park is open year round, weather permitting. You can see it in the picture above (the red rocks in the picture are the Garden Of The Gods). Be warned, in addition to extreme winds, the temperatures at the 14,110 summit can easily be 40°F less than at the base, which is only at around 8,000 feet elevation. The road to the summit, although just recently fully paved (apparently the last stretch used to be gravel), still features on a couple guardrails, sheer drops, breathtaking views, and scenic view spots you can pull over to park and take pictures.

Pike's Peak in Colorado

  More Offbeat Travel Guides     More photos from Pike's Peak     More American destinations

  Know of any other sights that make Colorado unique? Share them!

Published in United States

Do you find traditional hotels and resorts uninteresting when out on a vacation? Avid adventurists and nature lovers will say ‘yes’ to this question, and this attitude is the reason why the camping culture around the world is on rise. Camps help you to experience nature at close quarters. Be it on mountains, in deserts or be on beaches, camping is an ideal way of exploring the beauty of nature. India and its diverse geography offer a variety of camping sites where you can spend the night under a moonlit sky, sitting with your friends around a bonfire enjoying the beauty of nature. HoliDaze picks from the top camping sites in India include:

Camping in Rishikesh, one of the top places in India for camping

Rishikesh

  Uttarakhand

Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh is a tourist place with deep spiritual connection where tons of adventures await. The place is one of the most sought after camping sites due to its awesome natural beauty and various adventure destinations. Living by the banks of the River Ganga is a great experience for anyone. July to September is the best time for enjoying camping in Rishikesh and perfect for adventure lovers.

Camping in Spiti Valley, one of the top places in India for camping

Spiti Valley

  Himachal Pradesh

Located in the Trans-Himalayan belt of Himachal Pradesh, Spiti Valley is described as “a world within a world” by the famous English poet Rudyard Kipling. Camping here gives you a wonderful opportunity to get close to nature and explore this stunning valley. Spiti Valley is also a well-known adventure destination amongst Indians but has yet to truly catch on with foreign tourists -- all the more reason to visit now, before it does! Camping here in May or June gives you relief from the heat of late summer.

Camping in Mussoorie, one of the top places in India for camping

Mussoorie

  Uttarakhand

Adventure lovers and campers gather in Mussoorie to enjoy the thrills of camping and return home with memorable experiences. You will feel like you are in a different world soaking in the splendid views of the white capped Himalayan peaks from the comfort of your camps. Mussoorie, also known as the gateway to Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines, is the favorite spot of trekkers due to its rugged terrains and scenic beauty. March to June is the ideal time for enjoying camping in Mussoorie.

Camping in Jaisalmer, one of the top places in India for camping

Jaisalmer

  Rajasthan

Camping near to the Sam Sand Dunes in Jaisalmer gives you the opportunity to enjoy local Rajasthani food, cultural dances and more. The camps are lit by Mashaals and campfire to provide a truly royal feel of the bygone era. If you are yet not satisfied, watching stars at night from the deserts of golden city is an experience of a lifetime. You can also enjoy camel safaris in Jaisalmer. Needless to say, winter is the best season to enjoy camping here.

Camping in Ladakh, one of the top places in India for camping

Ladakh

  Jammu and Kashmir

Camping is truly an exciting experience in the land of high passes. Enfolded by the arid mountains, Ladakh offers a variety of camping sites for campers of all types. The banks of Pangong and Tsomoriri lakes are ideal camping sites where you can explore the beauty of Ladakh. Of course some other travelers prefer camping in Markha Valley, another favorite destination among trekkers. July and August are the best months to enjoy camping in Ladakh.

Camping in Chandertal Lake, one of the best places in India for camping

Chandertal Lake

  Himachal Pradesh

Also dubbed as ‘the lake of moon’, Chandertal Lake is an ideal camping site. Located at an elevation of 4300m (14,107 ft) in Lahaul and Spiti Valley, Chandertal Lake offers you a great camping experience right in the lap of nature. A stay in the camps here will surely mesmerize you and bewilder your senses. However, altitude sickness may be an issue.

Camping in Anjuna Beach, one of the best places in India for camping

Goa

  Goa

Known for its beautiful beaches, Goa offers campers a variety of camping sites. Spending a night at a camp on one of the Goa’s most popular camping locations allows you to experience the happening culture and nightlife of Goa. Agonda beach, Ashwem beach, and Anjuna beach are a few of the best camping sites here. You will get to experience something new with a beach party while camping in Goa. And be honest, who doesn't love beach parties?

Arguably the best way to enjoy the serenity of nature, camping is one of the best outdoor activities that anyone can enjoy without intense training or practice. It allows you to escape the city and modern life, and provides an opportunity to explore the unexplored countryside. The next time you are in India, be sure to take some time off the beaten tourist trail to enjoy a little camping.

See More       India Unexplored: 24 Incredible Offbeat Destinations   India HoliDaze Guides

Published in India
Page 1 of 3

Login to The HoliDaze to submit articles and comments or register your blog.