Breathtaking natural beauty and enchanting sunsets. Iconic landscapes and rich Native American history. Welcome to New Mexico, also known as The Land of Enchantment. No state better captures the true essence of the American Southwest than New Mexico -- and the best way to experience this is to go off the beaten path in Ruidoso, New Mexico.
Certain Ruidoso spots are obligatory visitor destinations, such as Ruidoso Downs and the Lincoln National Forest. However make sure not to miss out on these unique and offbeat things to do in Ruidoso:
Ziplining gets exponentially more fun as the elevation increases, it's a scientific fact*
* may not be "scientific" or a "fact" but it is the truth
Like any good ski company, Ski Apache offers plenty of adrenaline-pumping outdoor summer activities as well. These include mountain biking, hiking, a 9-hole disc golf course, and of course the star of it all, their impressive ziplines.
Ziplining at Ski Apache is an unforgettable experience. Located over 11,000 feet above sea level (3,500 metres), this three-part zipline tours covers nearly two miles in distance (over 2.7 kilometres), offers "the most spectacular view in Southern New Mexico" and hits speeds of up to 65 MPH! (105km/hr!) Now tell you me that you don't want to experience this ;)
I have an unhealthy fixation with strange, unique and one-of-a-kind museums. No museum is too small or too quirky. Few museums are worth a second visit but every museum is worth one.
The Museum Of The Horse in Ruidoso changed its name to Hubbard's Museum of the American West but the museum is no less interesting, especially to anyone fascinated by horses or the history of the American West.
"Free Spirits at Noisy Waters" by Dave McGary is a collection of eight giant horse scupltures located on the grounds of the Museum of the American West. Photo via pamwood707
The Hubbards were a racing family, which explains why the museum is located next to the race track, Ruidoso Downs. It focuses on a wide variety of regional history, from wild horses and horse racing to Native Americans, pioneers and frontier life.
Although small, a lot is packed into the museum. Scultpures, horse carriages, weapons, art and a plethora of antiques, all of which have detailed descriptions. There are also seasonal exhibits as well.
Entrance to the grounds is free, but the museum costs $7.
During summer there is horseback riding, disc golf, hiking, mountain biking, cycling tours (on the road), fishing, ziplining, horse racing, camping and more. Pick one (or more) of these that you have never done before and give it a go. What better way to create some unforgettable memories in Ruidoso?
Cold weather means skiing, snowboarding, winter ziplining, tubing, sledding, and all sorts of other snow-filled activities. Decide on one that you've never done and make sure put it on your Ruidoso to-do list.
Ruidoso has nearly a dozen lakes, parks and recreation areas -- one for every 700 residents -- so outdoor activities abound. However the hiking trails around Grindstone Lake are some of the most relaxing, beautiful and enjoyable of all these activities.
There are 18-miles of multiple use trails around Grindstone Lake and on into the neighboring Lincoln National Forest designed by the International Mountain Biking Association. In other words, sure they are suitable for hiking, but they were designed for mountain biking. ;)
screenshot from discoverruidoso.com
Grindstone Lake also offers fishing and has a 27-hole disc golf course.
Go karts, bumper boats and miniature golf, oh my! Pillow's Funtrackers is a unique theme park that is fun for kids of all ages -- including our inner kid. (When was the last time you released that guy?) ;)
Open all year round, Pillow's Funtrackers attracts thrill-seeking guests from all of New Mexico, not just visitors to Ruidoso.
All three go kart tracks, the bumper cars, miniature golf course and mountain maze are open year-round, however the bumper boats and gemstone panning are seasonal activities.
Prices are suprisingly affordable as well. For $100 you can get 20 tickets, each good for one admission on any of the 20 rides.
This article was sponsored in part by Discover Ruidoso, however it should go without saying that all experiences are my own opinion and were not influenced in any way.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ;)
Whatever you end up doing in and around Jackson, don't miss these unique and offbeat activities:
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
Photo via WikiMedia
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!
Photo via WikiMedia
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.
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.
Photo via WikiMedia
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.
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.
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!
Want more offbeat things to do? More Offbeat Travel Guides
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
Bicycling in Hawaii
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.
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!
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.
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 via James Jones
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 via Todd Petrie
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.
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 via Ken Lund
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 via Ken Lund
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photo: Flickr user Forgemind ArchiMedia
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.
Photo: Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons
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.
Photo: AnuskaCM via Wikimedia Commons
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.
Photo: Paebi via Wikimedia Commons
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.
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:
$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".
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!
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.
$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 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 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.
$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.
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.
Fort Collins, Longmont, Boulder, Golden, & others
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
Kids will never want to leave this place, but even for adults it is worth at least one visit. Just one though.
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.
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.
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 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.