Top 10 highlights of Grenada

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By Kevin Smith

Need to get away this holiday season ? Discover 10 highlights for garden lovers on the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada.

I’ve always admired Grenada’s gold-medal-winning displays at the Chelsea Flower Show, so I jumped at the chance to visit the island to see where the famous plants come from. And I wasn’t disappointed. I managed to visit lots of beautiful gardens during my week-long trip, most privately owned and with wonderful owners giving the tours themselves.

While the gardens were a treat, Grenada has so much more to offer. I adored hiking around the Grand Etang Rainforest, and fell in love with the waterfalls and landscape. Grand Anse beach was remarkable, and I visited chocolate factories, nutmeg processing stations, markets and a rum distillery, filling my case with delicious goodies to bring home.

Narrowing down my highlights to just 10 was a challenge, but here they are.


Sunny Side Garden

Sunny Side Garden, Grenada

I experienced pure joy at Sunny Side when I took a turn on a wooden rope swing hanging from a tree. Everyone should give it a go. The setting helped of course, with five acres of gently sloping garden complete with koi ponds and no end of palms, orchids, hibiscus, bromeliads, all adding to the experience. I was shown around by Randy, the son of the garden’s creators, who recommended I take the tour bare food – I did and didn’t regret it.

2

Grand Etang Rainforest

Grand Etang Rainforest, Grenada

I wasn’t expecting to see rainforest in Grenada, so the 300 acres that greeted me came as a welcome surprise. The forest sores 1900ft above sea level, with steep, winding roads making their way through the lush landscape – the driving isn’t for the faint hearted, but it’s worth it. I was lucky enough to go on a short hike led by Simon from Hidden Treasures, and I’ve never seen such large bamboo plants in my life. There’s also Grand Etang Lake in the middle of it all, which is essential for a pit stop.

3

Smithy’s Garden

Smithy’s Garden, Grenada

I met the owner of Smithy’s, Anne Campbell, a few times during my trip so it was a real pleasure to visit her garden too. It was absolutely beautiful, and perhaps the garden I related to the most out of all those I visited – just like me, Anne has too many plants and an endless list of gardening jobs to do! Anne is a talented florist, and grows as many flowers as she can for arranging and donating to Grenada’s Chelsea exhibit.

4

Balthazar Estate

Balthazar Estate, Grenada

I’d read the estate grows flowers commercially, many of which head to Chelsea, so I was expecting to see regimented lines of blooms. What greeted me couldn’t have been more different, with all the plants growing naturally to form an incredibly beautiful landscape. The estate is skilfully cared for, and one of the knowledgeable staff gave me a fascinating tour, but the experience was more akin to trekking in the jungle than visiting a commercial grower. Utterly thrilling!

5

River Antoine Rum Distillery

River Antoine Rum Distillery

I’ll try anything once – and once was enough when it came to Rivers Rum! It’s 75% proof, and I managed a measly sip. How locals drink shots of the stuff, I’ll never know. The distillery where the rum is made is completely fascinating though, with the process unchanged for hundreds of years. Sugar cane is processed in machinery powered by a water wheel, and the distilling equipment is wood fired – it really did feel like stepping back in time.

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Palm Tree Gardens

Palm Tree Gardens, Grenada

It was pouring with rain when I visited Palm Tree Gardens, but that didn’t stop me enjoying a fantastic tour. In fact, the plant-filled veranda of the main building was possibly the garden highlight of my whole trip. Among the myriad gingers, heliconias, bromeliads and more, I spotted resident tortoises and the most enormous toad I’ve ever seen. The gardens creator, Lawrence Lambert, is buried in the garden and it’s now cared for by a team of dedicated staff.

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Grand Anse Beach

Grand Anse Beach, Grenada

A local told me to head to Grand Anse Beach and go for a dip on the afternoon I arrived on Grenada – the perfect refresher after the long journey. What wonderful advice that was. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the never-ending stretch of white sand, palm trees and turquoise water – everything you’d imagine of a Caribbean island and more. The beach wasn’t overcrowded, with tourists and locals happily enjoying the place together. Needless to say, I visited more than once.

8

Gem Rose Eden

Gem Rose Eden, Grenada

I adored Gemma Flemming, the owner of this remarkable garden. Her enthusiasm for plants was infectious, as she checked the progress of each and every one, while showing me her garden’s highlights. Like all the gardens I visited, Gemma’s was bursting with tropical blooms the likes of which I could only dream of growing at home. But there was more than that – I loved her paths, steps, small ponds and the odd garden building dotted about the place. They created beautiful garden views with an intimate feel.

9

Hyde Park Garden

Hyde Park Garden, Grenada

The views from Hyde Park alone, make it worthy of a spot in my top 10. It’s set high above the town of St George’s, making it possible to see the town itself, the sparkling Caribbean sea and beautiful views to the south of the island. The garden is lovely too of course, and owners John and Fay Miller worked with landscape designer Chris Baksh to bring it all together. As with all the gardens I visited, John and Fay donate blooms every year for Grenada’s Chelsea exhibit.

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Sailing with Savvy’s

Sailing with Savvy’s, Grenada

You don’t have to spend long on Grenada to feel the lure of the sea, and I took a sunset sailing trip that will live in my memory forever. Savvy’s boats are wooden and built by hand, drawing on the islands rich sailing heritage, meaning the experience feels every bit authentic – which it is. My trip was a treat, with my boat expertly sailed by Danny and his crew. Add to this a few cold beers and the sun disappearing into the Caribbean sea, and you’ve just about got a perfect evening

 

https://www.gardenersworld.com/travel/top-10-highlights-of-grenada/

 

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Ice Castle, Wisconsin

 

The beginnings of the Ice Castle near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  Mega-tons of ice are used to built it.

This is what it will look like in about 3 weeks.

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Ice Castles is an award-winning frozen attraction located in six cities across North America. The experience is built using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists. The castles include breathtaking LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains and much more.

Ice Castles - AJ.Mellor

Built with thousands of lit-up icicles, the one-acre interactive Ice Castles display is projected to open on Geneva National’s driving range in early January 2020. Featuring tricked-out tunnels, thrones, slides, and fountains, this over-the-top Instagrammable ice kingdom will be yours to discover through early March.

https://www.genevanationalresort.com/ice-castles

The Best Places to Travel for Christmas

Tempted to skip town for the holidays? Here are a few places Town & Country  Magazine recommends:

From Christmas to Chanukah to Kwanza, the month of December is a jumble of holidays. Pair that with the kids being off from school, and many will be looking—and planning now—to get out of town to celebrate Christmas. But where to go? London for the Winter wonderland in Hyde Park? Washington, Connecticut for the chance of a white Christmas? A week relaxing on a beach on the Big Island of Hawaii? Or perhaps the newest ski-in and ski-out hotel in Aspen? We’ve got lots of ideas, including where to stay, to make this time of year what it should be: festive and fun for Christmas 2019.

1 London, England
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courtesy of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

London gets a lot of things right, including the holidays. With special markets, lights galore, and hearty English fare—think warm scones—and world-class shopping, the city screams really festive. To soak it all in, stay at the newly reopened Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in the posh Knightsbridge area—it’s the only hotel to actually sit on Hyde Park—that has floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the park and is a stone’s throw from Harvey Nichols and Harrods, arguably some of the best shopping in the world. Added bonus of being across the street from Hyde Park is that it turns into a winter wonderland with ice skating, performances, and rides and games—all just outside your door.

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

 

2 Carmel by the Sea, California
Carmel Valley Ranch

Doug Steakley

A temperate California climate, vineyards, hiking galore, top-notch spa treatments. and a world class golf course, Carmel Valley Ranch, located in the chic Monterey area (this is where Big Little Lies is filmed) is a great destination for a not-so-freezing holiday jaunt. Carmel Valley Ranch, a sprawling resort, puts on a Hanukkah party, nightly menorah lighting, a holiday Nutcracker tea, Christmas caroling, and a family friendly New Years Eve party. And if you want a break from all the holiday cheer, Carmel Valley Ranch has a beekeeping program, chicken coop, goat barn, hatchet throwing, and cheese making class at the property’s recently opened creamery.

Carmel Valley Ranch

3 The Maldives
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courtesy of Vakkaru Maldives

For a destination that can take well over 12 hours to get to, a long holiday break is the perfect time to go to the Maldives. So head for Vakkaru Island, located within the Unesco Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll, lies a reef island composed entirely of sediment produced on the surrounding coral reefs. In addition to all the aquatic activities—snorkeling, diving, whale watching—Vakkaru Island offers a Christmas Market with a multitude of stalls selling boutique items spa, products, and food and beverage. On New Years Eve the hotel puts on a beach carnival with live acts, music, a gourmet menu, cocktails, and fireworks.

Vaakaru Island

 

4 Aspen, Colorado
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World-class skiing, cuisine, retail, and a great nightlife scene—Aspen hits all the right notes for a holiday getaway, whether you want to relax by the fire or go out every evening. The only hitch may be finding a place to stay during this busy time of year. Problem solved. The W Aspen, which opened in August, is the first new luxury hotel opening in Aspen in 25 years and is located on the creme da la creme real-estate at the base of Aspen Mountain. W Aspen will have ski-in/ski-out access to some of the world’s most coveted slopes. Whether you stay there or not, the hotel’s WET Deck, Aspen’s only year-round, all weather public rooftop bar, is poised to become this 2019’s apres ski hot spot.

W Aspen

5 Washington, Connecticut
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Rich Pomerantz

This tony corner of northwest Connecticut in Litchfield County is where many of New York City’s see and be seen crowd retreats for the holidays. If you don’t have your own estate, head to the Mayflower Inn, which was recently taken over by Auberge resorts, and has all the trappings for a perfect long weekend—or week—stay over the holidays. The now kid and pet friendly property hosts a Christmas Eve and cocktail party and dinner in their parlor followed by eggnog made by Arethusa Farms (which is owned by Manolo Blahnik owners). There’s also acres and acres to explore on snow shoes or cross country skis, not to mention one of the area’s best spas.

The Mayflower Inn, Auberge Resorts Collection

 

6 Jerusalem, Israel
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Adi Gilad

A holy city for Jews, Muslims, and Christians Jerusalem will promise an enriching and historical holiday break–from exploring the Western Wall, Holy Sepulcher, Tower of David, Bethlehem (look for a Christmas Eve tour), and the Mount of Olives. But Jerusalem has also become home to a cluster of swanky, five-star hotels, including the Mamilla Hotel Jerusalem. A short distance from Old City Jerusalem and the Jaffa Gate, the property offers luxurious accommodations in the heart of Jerusalem. With minimal design by Italian born Piero Lissoni, travelers can enjoy the old and preserved by day and return to new and sophisticated rooms by night. Other ways to indulge between the sightseeing: there’s a rooftop lounge restaurant and much buzzed about spa.

Mamilla Hotel Jerusalem

7 Donegal, Ireland
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courtesy of Lough Eske Castle

In Northwest Ireland on the wild, ragged coastline sits Donegal, Ireland, filled with rolling hills and seaside views. This is definitely an off-the-beaten path holiday destination, but well worth it for Lough Eske Castle—the only five-star hotel in the area. The sprawling property is nestled at the base of Bluestack Mountain, where you can go hike off all those mince pies. For the holidays, the castle is decorated in lights and holly and offers a Christmas Eve buffet and baking activities for kids. And if you’re lucky, you might catch some rainbows, since the hotel is nestled in the perfect vantage spot—over the mountains—for spotting them.

Lough Eske Castle

 

8 The Big Island, Hawaii
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courtesy of The Four Seasons

There is really no bad time of year to go to Hawaii, but for a 12-hour flight from the East Coast it makes sense to go over a long holiday break. The Big Island, with its rustic, untamed feel, and amazing marine life is a truly unique place to spend the holidays. The Four Season Resort Hualalai, one of the best hotels in Hawaii, pulls out all the stops for the festive season. They do a New Years Eve gala dinner with a different theme every year, provide eight hours of kid programming every day, and offer a special spa and wellness experiences. Then there are the private helicopter tours over volcanoes, snorkeling with sea turtles, and one of a kind sea to dining—think: catching your own dinner—experiences the hotel offers.

The Four Season Resort Hualalai

9 Lapland, Finland
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Is there anything more authentic than spending Christmas in the Article Circle? Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland in Northern Scandinavia, is known as the “Official Hometown of Santa Claus”—and it looks exactly like the Santa Claus’ village you grew up fantasizing about. Kids will encounter elves, play with Rudolf and his reindeer, and decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus; for adults, there’s snowmobile safaris, husky rides, and Northern Light hunting.

 

10 Nantucket, Mass.
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courtesy of Jared Coffin House

While you may think of Nantucket, the small island off of Massachusetts, as a winter ghost town, think again. The annual Christmas Stroll, which this year will take place from December 6th to 8th, is an event that rivals just about anything in the high season. The streets are straight out of a holiday story book and the whole town turns into a block party. You’ll feel like you are stepping into Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Imagine carolers wandering through cobblestone streets, 80 uniquely decorated trees, and shop windows that give New York City department stores a run for their money. Stay in the center of the action at the Jared Coffin House, where Santa holds court, and you are just steps away from all the festive fun.

The Jared Coffin House

Article and opinions by: https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/travel-guide/g12919081/places-to-go-for-christmas/

Prague Christmas Market Guide

 

What is the best thing about December in Prague? Cozy pubs? Mulled wine? Seeing the beautiful buildings covered in a light dusting of snow? While all of these things are great, nothing screams Christmas joy and festive spirit like a Prague Christmas Market.

While the Czech Republic isn’t necessarily a religious country, they are indeed a traditional people and they sure know how to get into the Christmas spirit when the season rolls around.

Prague’s Christmas markets are unlike anything you’ve seen before, even if you’ve explored other Christmas markets around Europe. With traditional Czech food and drink, handmade souvenirs and gifts, and, of course, seasonal alcohol galore, Prague’s Christmas markets will show you a whole new side of the city.

Old Town Square Christmas Market 

prague old town square christ market

  • Location: Old Town Square
  • Dates: December 1, 2019 – January 6, 2020
  • Times: 10:00 am – 12:00 am

No better place to start than the largest Christmas market in Prague! This Prague Christmas market is located right smack in the center of Old Town Square, sprawled around the Jan Hus Memorial in front of the Astronomical Clock. Because of the location, this also tends to be the most crowded market, so be sure to utilize those tricks and tips we gave you for this one, and keep your bags close!

This market is the biggest and the most popular for a reason. It’s got a lot of extras that the smaller markets simply don’t have.

First off, this market hosts the Prague Christmas Tree and nativity scene. The huge, real tree is the centerpiece of the market and stands in front of the Church of Tyn so you can get some great photos. The tree is beautifully decorated with lights and ornaments and really comes to life after sunset, when you can see it in all its lit up glory.

 Prague Old Town Square Christmas Market evening

We recommend checking out the first tree lighting, which takes place the first day the markets are open and starts at 16:30 with the lights animated to music, and is repeated on a loop after that until 21:30.

The Prague Xmas market in Old Town Square also has a stage to host caroling, concerts, dance performances, and other live Christmas shows for visitors of all ages to enjoy. There are also some special events for kids as well as St. Mikuláš (or St. Nicholas to Westerners) and New Year’s celebrations.

This year, the market at Old Town Square will be open from December 1, 2019 until January 6, 2020. You can buy gifts and other trinkets from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm and you can enjoy the food and drink from 10:00 am until midnight.

 Prague Christmas Market Old Town Square

Wenceslas Square Christmas Market

Praha Vánoce 2018 7
PC: Karelj [CC BY-SA 4.0]
  • Location: Wenceslas Square
  • Dates: December 1, 2019 – January 6, 2020
  • Times: 10:00 am – 12:00 am

Located just a short walk from the markets in Old Town Square, the Prague Christmas market in Wenceslas Square is another one of the most popular and crowded ones in the city. The main part of this market is located in the larger space at the lower end of the square opposite the National Museum, but slowly over the years the stalls have begun to trickle further down towards the museum.

The Wenceslas Square markets also have a Christmas tree, although not as big as the one in Old Town Square. The tree also has light animations though, running from 17:00 until 21:00 every night. In front of the tree you will also find a nativity scene. As for gifts, there aren’t as many options as there are in Old Town Square but the vendors here typically specialize in handmade wooden and steel gifts, so you’re still able to find something unique.

This market in Prague is also open from December 1, 2019 until January 6, 2020 with the food and shop stands having the same opening hours as the ones of Old Town Square: refreshments open from 10:00 am to midnight and goods open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Havel’s Christmas Market

  • Location: Havelská 13, 110 00 Staré Město
  • Dates: Year-Round
  • Times: Monday – Friday (6:00 am – 7:00 pm), Saturdays (7:00 am – 7:00 pm), Sundays (8:00 am – 6:30 pm)

Located right in between the Old Town Square markets and the Wenceslas Square markets, this year-round shopping center dates back to the 1200s and is one of the oldest shopping markets in Prague. While you can shop at it all year round, it really dedicates itself to Christmas when December in Prague rolls around so it makes it on this list.

Because this market is permanent, you’ll probably find some different products at this one than you will at the other Christmas markets in the center. For example, they won’t have the same hot food options and alcoholic drinks available, but there is a produce section where you can get some healthy snacks if that’s what you fancy.

As for souvenirs, you’ll find a lot of the typical touristy stuff like mugs, jewelry, and toys but they will add Christmas ornaments and other decorations during December in Prague. And of course, they will still offer the toys they’re famous for: the screaming witches.

Havel’s Market is open daily Monday through Friday from 6:00 am until 7:00 pm, Saturdays from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, and Sundays from 8:00 am until 6:30 pm.

Náměstí Míru Christmas Market

namesti miru prague christmas market

  • Location: Náměstí Míru, Vinohrady
  • Dates: November 20, 2019 – December 24, 2019
  • Times: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

Located in front of the Church of St. Ludmila, this is usually the first Christmas market of the season, opening even before the main markets in the city center. This year, this Prague Christmas market will open on November 20 and shut down on December 24 and will be open from 10:00 am until 7:00 pm each day.

This Christmas market is one of the bigger ones in the city, usually hosting about 60 stalls full of all the traditional Christmas necessities: Advent wreaths and calendars, candles and candle holders, gifts and souvenirs. This market also has a beautiful tree and a hand-painted nativity scene and holds events for families of all ages.

It is also located on the very edge of one of our favorite neighborhoods in Prague, Zizkov. We highly recommend visiting Zizkov if you want to experience a bit of Prague off the beaten path.

Tylovo Náměstí Christmas Market

  • Location: Tylovo Náměstí near I.P. Pavlova metro

Located just a short walk from Náměstí Míru close to the I.P. Pavlova metro station, this is the smallest Christmas market in Prague – which means less people! This is the perfect place to go to find some Christmas gifts without having to fight your way through a crowd to see the stalls. You can still get the basics: wooden toys, jewelry, glass figurines and Christmas decorations, as well as some delicious food and warm drinks to enjoy while you browse.

Jiřího z Poděbrad Christmas Market

  • Location: Jiřího z Poděbrad Square, Vinohrady

A bit farther away from the central markets, this Prague Christmas market will be cheaper than the ones in the center with a lot of the same products. Jiřího z Poděbrad hosts a popular farmer’s market during most of the year, and during December in Prague it is transformed into a festive Christmas market.

Less crowded than the center and a bit more family-oriented, the Christmas market at Jiřího z Poděbrad also hosts a regular program of events, including concerts, theater performances, workshops for kids, celebrations, caroling, and even some creative workshops where you get to create your own Christmas decorations.

Anděl Christmas Market

  • Location: Pedestrian area outside Anděl metro station
  • Dates: Nov 30th – Dec 25th

Located right on the pedestrian strip outside the Anděl metro station, this smaller Prague Christmas market is a bit less dressed up and therefore a bit more authentic than the ones in the center.

At this market, you’ll find a wide variety of goodies and treats just like at the other markets, but you’ll also most likely find something we haven’t mentioned yet: carp! There is a Czech Christmas tradition where they kill and eat carp for Christmas dinner, and so the Christmas markets can sell them. The carp stands aren’t terribly common as they’re a bit gruesome and smelly, but it’s definitely an authentic Czech experience.

Výstavište Holešovice

  • Location: Exhibition grounds at Výstavište in Prague 7

Located at the exhibition grounds at Výstavište in Prague 7, this Prague Christmas market is less well-known since it’s a bit farther off the beaten tourist path, but it’s big! This is the only Christmas market with an admission fee, though: 25 Kč per person and the official name is Advent na Výstavište.

This market also hosts an entertainment program for both kids and adults on the weekends. Usually opened with a festive procession at the start of the Advent season, it includes markets, Christmas workshops, live music, and more.

Be sure to check out each of these Christmas markets to make the most out of December in Prague! It might be cold, but it’s beautiful and you won’t want to miss out on Prague in all of its winter glory.

Article by Just a Pack Contributor: Brittany Muldoon

https://www.justapack.com/prague-christmas-market-guide/

Taking a Southern California Road Trip ?

 

Southern California is home to some of the most iconic places in the country. With so much to see and do, you don't want to miss out on these 11 So Cal sites. Here's our favorite things to see in Southern California.

11 Spots Not to Miss On Your SoCal Road Trip

Southern California is home to some of the most iconic places in the country, and possibly even world. From San Luis Obispo to San Diego, and countless places in between, there are some seriously fabulous spots you must check on while you’re road tripping through the area.

Each has their own personality and much like the entire state of California, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re into the bustling city life or the quiet beauty of nature, you will find a place you love in Southern California.

Here, our top picks of spots you don’t want to miss on your road trip.

The Must-See SoCal Road Trip Stops

Sequoia-National-Park

1. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Though these are technically a bit outside of the SoCal range, they are close enough and fabulous enough for us to make an exception and include Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park in our spots to check out.

Why are these places worth it? Because they are full of stunning nature. Here you can come to see the famous California Redwoods (without having to trek all the way up to northern California), and really get to take in the splendor that they offer.

Head to Sequoia National Park to see General Sherman Tree, the tallest tree in the entire world. You’ll also have a blast driving through a Sequoia tree, thanks to the Tunnel Log attraction. Take advantage of the opportunity to see a house that’s been built into a fallen tree, called Tharp’s log as well.

The drive through these national parks will really give you perspective on how incredible our planet is, and give you an idea of how diverse nature in southern California really is.

KOAs nearby:
Visalia / Sequoia National Park KOA Journey

san-luis-obispo-1

2. San Luis Obispo

This charming beach town offers up both mountains and the ocean, as well as some fabulous wine and beer to go along with it. With over 100 wineries within the county limits, you’ll have your fair share to choose from.

In addition to the wine, there are some activities in SLO that you definitely don’t want to miss out on.

The first of those is kayaking in Morro Bay. This is a great way to see the area and get some exercise while you’re at it.

You’ll also want to put Pismo Beach on your list of things to do where you can partake in a variety of things: horseback riding, fishing, surfing and more. Or, if you prefer, you can just sit on the beach and soak up some sun in this nice but not overly crowded spot.

Visiting the iconic Hearst Castle is something you cannot miss out on during your road trip. What once was William Randolph Hearst’s estate is now available for visitors to tour, with its 165 rooms and massive gardens that seem to span for eternity. This castle is also known for its incredible art collection, so make sure you give yourself some time to explore all Hearst Castle has to offer.

If speeding through dunes in a buggy is something that sounds like your cup of tea, than San Luis Obispo is a great place to do this. It’s made even more fun when you learn that a scene in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies was filmed here.

KOAs nearby:
Santa Margarita KOA
Avila / Pismo Beach KOA

santa-barbara

3. Santa Barbara

Quickly climbing up to the top of the list as one of California’s top wine destinations, Santa Barbara is a less busy version of Napa that has a lot of things to offer aside from more vino than you’ll know what to do with.

The hiking in Santa Barbara is pretty fabulous, and we have some favorite spots that you’ll want to check out. If you’re looking for a kid-friendly hike with some great views of the city and the ocean, then Inspiration Point is perfect. Lizard’s Mouth is another hike that is a bit easier than Inspiration Point, and another kid-friendly spot.

Clearly you’ve gotta put in some beach time while you’re here, and the local favorites are Butterfly Beach and Hendry’s Beach. Butterfly Beach is a great spot to go if you plan to bring your own lunch and things you’ll need for the day, while Hendry’s has great food and drinks to offer.

Santa Barbara also offers to travelers a look at the city’s 80-acre Botanical Garden. You can opt for a guided tour or instead explore the grounds on your own. There’s also a beautiful Japanese teahouse that is the perfect afternoon hang spot.

KOAs nearby:
Ventura Ranch KOA Holiday

Santa-Monica

4. Santa Monica

The city of Los Angeles can be quite overwhelming with all it has to offer, all the people, and all the traffic. Thus, we suggest you stick to calling Santa Monica your homebase while you’re visiting this major metropolitan area.

There are a number of reasons we love Santa Monica. First of all, the beach. Arguably the best part about California is its beaches, and Santa Monica is no exception. Though a bit more crowded than the other beaches this state has to offer, there is no doubt that there is plenty of fun to be had here.

One of the top things to do in Santa Monica is visit the pier. Here you can take a ride on a ferris wheel that overlooks the ocean, visit the Santa Monica Aquarium, take in an epic sunset, and enjoy some perfectly tourist eateries before closing out your night with some churros bought from a cart.

Santa Monica is in close proximity to some great hiking, which many people are surprised to find in Los Angeles. Temescal Canyon is a great spot that offers a number of different hikes with varying levels of difficulty so you can choose how much adventure you want to get in. Just a short drive from Santa Monica with plenty of parking available, Temescal Canyon is somewhere you’re sure to love.

Head down the road just a bit further and you’ll hit Malibu where there is some stellar hiking with some wonderful views.

While you’re in LaLa Land you also may want to hit up the Griffith Observatory for a unique look at astronomy (and some fabulous 360 views of the city). This is a very photo-worthy spot, especially because it’s where everyone’s favorite scene of LaLa Land was filmed. Who wouldn’t want to stand where Ryan Gosling once stood?

The Getty Villa and Getty Museum are both worth checking out if you’re into art and architecture. Not only is the art here spectacular, but the spaces themselves are absolutely stunning.

And Los Angeles is also home to some epic food. We recommend making a stop in K-town, Sawtelle’s Japanese district, and downtown for some mind-blowing food that won’t break the bank (well, by Los Angeles standards, at least).

KOAs nearby:
Acton / Los Angeles North KOA
Los Angeles / Pomona / Fairplex KOA

catalina-island

5. Catalina Island

Just a short boat ride from the busy and buzzy Los Angeles you have a completely different experience in Catalina Island. Though it doesn’t have the craziness that Los Angeles does, there is still plenty going on here to keep you having a blast.

Think ziplining, dolphin tours, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, horseback riding, boating, and off-road tours that will have you flying by the seat of your pants.

If you’re feeling a bit more relaxed, then you’ll love the Skyline Tour of Catalina Island and the plenty of opportunities for boating and sunbathing.

Whatever your speed, Catalina Island has you covered for a nice break from the norm, with plenty of fabulous photo opps.

KOAs nearby:
Acton / Los Angeles North KOA
Los Angeles / Pomona / Fairplex KOA

joshua-tree

6. Joshua Tree National Park

Speaking of photo opps, Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most photographed national parks in the country.

Why?

Well, the gnarly Dr. Suess-like Joshua Trees after which the park was named take all the credit for the massive snaps on people’s cameras. The trees, coupled with the giant boulders spread out throughout the park make for a unique setting, and one that you will surely love.

These interesting sights make for great viewing while you hike through the park’s many trails, and also while you bike through its desert-like grounds. Our recommended hike is the Ryan Mountain hike, which will take you on a 3-mile trek that gains 1,000 feet in elevation. The views at the top are fabulous, and work the moderately challenging hike.

Joshua Tree National Park is also a great place to hop on your horse and trot around. All you need is to bring your own horse and you are ready to go, cowboy. The park offers over 250 miles of horseback riding trails, most of which are open year-round.

If rock climbing is up your alley, then you will be in heaven in Joshua Tree National Park. There are over 8,000 different climbing routes throughout the park that offer up some of the best in crack, slab, and very steep climbs.

Be sure to stick around at night if you can to catch the absolutely epic stargazing in the park. Shooting stars zip through the sky at very high rates, and in the summer this park becomes the best spot to witness August’s Perseid Meteor Shower.

KOAs nearby:
Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA
Banning Stagecoach KOA

salton-sea

7. Salton Sea

What was once a hot vacation spot over 50 years ago is now likened to a ghost town. Where resorts used to host travelers from all over to enjoy summer fun is now just a memory that sits present-day as abandoned buildings. Runoff from nearby farms was what put the Salton Sea’s fun to rest, and it’s never recovered.

While Salton Sea doesn’t sound too appealing, it is certainly interesting to check out, especially if you experienced this destination during its heyday.

This area is also home to the highly-photographed Salvation Mountain — a hill-turned-art that is painted all the colors of the rainbow, and filled with sayings such as “God is Love.” Certainly worth a stop and a few photo memories.

KOAs nearby:
Temecula / Vail Lake KOA

palm-springs

8. Palm Springs

If you’re in search of sun, Palm Springs is exactly what you’re looking for. This destination boasts 350 days of sun a year, and during the summer, that sun shines extra bright. This desert offers much more than meets the eye, and we know you’ll love it here.

One of the best ways to see this city is via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This classic mode of transportation dates back to the 1960s and is a hot spot for visitors to get stellar views of the Coachella Valley that lay below. Once you reach the top you’ll have the option to relax, get some food, or explore more of the San Jacinto Mountains with a hike.

While we are on the subject of hiking, the hiking in Palm Springs is great, especially when you opt for the Tahquitz Canyon that takes you to a waterfall. Yes, a waterfall in the middle of the desert. This two-mile hike is very doable, just be sure you have lots of water as it does get hot out there.

The Moorten Botanical Garden is another great Palm Springs nature spot to check out. Though it is small and measures in at just one acre, it has varieties of cacti we are guessing you’ve never seen before, and may never see anywhere else. With over 3,000 different desert dwelling plants, there is no shortage of things to see here.

If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a Jeep and go off-roading through Palm Deserts less-traveled areas for a fun ride and some great views.

Or, if you’re feeling like moving a bit slower, head to one of the city’s many great golf courses and play a round in the sun. Though on the pricey side, many of them are worth the price tag. And with weather like that in Palm Springs, your chances of getting rained on are slimmer than almost anywhere else.

The food here is something worth mentioning as well, so make sure you take some time to tour the main area of town and try some of the great desert eats.

KOAs nearby:
Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA
Banning Stagecoach KOA

ojai

9. Ojai

Think pools, wine, hiking, and biking, and you’ve dreamt up Ojai.

Let’s start with the hiking. You’ll want to head to Los Padres National Forest for over 1,200 miles of trails that take you through all sorts of terrain. From redwood forests to more desert-like conditions, you’ll get a little bit of everything at Los Padres. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick hike or a longer, more challenging one, you’re covered here.

And if biking is your thing, then you’ll love the Ojai Valley bike trail. This one is great for all levels of riders. It takes just about one hour each way and takes you through some great views of Ojai’s mountains as well as the town’s rural parts. The major plus about the this trail is that there is a lot of shade, so you won’t get too overheated, but be sure to bring some water with you to get through those stretches of in between stops.

Stroll your way through town to check out some great book stores, some cute shops, and wine tasting rooms as well as citrus and olive groves.

And when you want to relax, pop into the Ojai Valley Museum for a look at some Native American history that includes beautiful art, baskets, and much more. Also check out Ojai before it was a poppin’ spot with the historical photographs here.

If you happen to be traveling through late spring/early summer, time it so you can attend the Ojai Valley Lavender Festival to enjoy all-things lavender and a taste of the local Ojai culture.

KOAs nearby:
Ventura Ranch KOA Holiday

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10. San Diego

This city is a sun-filled, fun-filled spot that will be a favorite stop on your SoCal road trip. From hiking, to shopping, to surfing, and so much more, you will definitely be planning a return trip here.

First off, you must go to Balboa Park. It’s a beautiful place to enjoy a nice walk or a great picnic amongst the park’s beautiful gardens and stunning architecture. Central to the park is the Botanical Building which is home to over 2,000 plants of many different kinds. Your mind will be blown by it. This park is also home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, which will cost you a pretty penny to check out, but is worth the money in our opinion.

For some great hiking head to Torrey Pines State Reserve where over 1,700 acres of land await exploration. The trails along this reserve take you through the different terrain of the reserve that include sandstone ravines and salt marshes. However, note that the trails can get pretty packed here, as it is one of the top spots to go in the San Diego area. So, once you’re there, be sure to make your trek worth it by spending some good time exploring. Your adventures should definitely include a walk down the Torrey Pines State Beach to take in the stunning sandstone cliffs and ocean combo.

When you’re craving a bit of city life, head to the Gaslamp Quarter for some fabulous shopping, great eats, art galleries, and your fill of bars. They are all housed in Victorian buildings that make this a unique experience. This place really comes alive at night, so be aware of that if you prefer a more quiet evening. Parking is hard to come by here, so plan to drive in circles for a bit before securing a spot.

If you want that SoCal surf experience, head to Pacific Beach. Here you’ll find all the surfers and sunbathers with a nearby boardwalk full of fun shops and people.

KOAs nearby:
San Diego Metro KOA Resort

carlsbad

11. Carlsbad

Carlsbad is a more relaxed version of San Diego that just so happens to be right next door. And there are plenty of things you’ll want to check out here.

One of those things is a bike ride along the beach. Rent a bike and cruise the views of the iconic Pacific Coast Highway.

Another thing you’ll love is the State Street Farmers Market that happens every Wednesday. Here you’ll find everything from flowers to jams, cookies to vegetables and so much more.

While in Carlsbad, it’s pretty hard to miss LEGOLAND. With over 60 rides and attractions, this place is not just for kids — adults will have a blast here too. There are plenty of interactive experiences that make this a fun place to spend the day.

Always wanted to learn how to surf? Why not give it a shot here in Carlsbad. Kids or no kids, people of all ages will love learning how to surf in these waters with some of the great teachers in the area.

If music is your thing, head to the Museum of Making Music where the evolution of music is on display for all ages to enjoy. However, kids will really have a blast here learning more about instruments and getting the chance to take a closer look at a number of different instruments, and play them too.

KOAs nearby:
San Diego Metro KOA

There is so much to see in southern California that it can be overwhelming. With that said, this is clearly not an all-inclusive list of spots to visit when you’re road tripping through SoCal — it’s just a list of our favorite spots that we think you’ll love too. We helped narrow down the daunting SoCal area into hotspots that are undoubtedly worth a visit.

We hope you enjoy your travels through the wonderful state of California and make some great memories that will stay with you forever.


Leslie, a.k.a. Copy Girl, is a copywriter who gets butterflies from telling stories through words and wrote this article for the Kampgrounds of America.

https://koa.com/blog/11-spots-not-to-miss-on-your-socal-road-trip/?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=blog-pins&utm_content=so-cal-road-trip

Instagram Guide to Hawaii

@gohawaii/Instagram

We’re just going to say it: Hawaii is the most beautiful state in the entire U.S.

Made up entirely of islands in the Pacific Ocean, it provokes daydreams of Mai Tais enjoyed under palm trees as the sunset turns the sky pink and orange, and exploration of natural landscapes so unique they may as well exist on another planet.

Before you pack your floral patterned shirts and sunscreen, check out the top Instagrammable spots in Hawaii, from surfer-friendly breaks to verdant rainforest to stark black-sand beaches.

Let the fantasizing begin.

The North Shore on Oahu

@brentbielmann/Instagram

While Honolulu and its vibrant Waikiki Beach get most of the attention on Oahu, the island’s North Shore is equally inviting. Specifically, this is the place to go if you want to watch the best surfers in the world ride waves that average an astonishing 16 feet in height.

Oh, and the sunsets are pretty amazing too.

Kakaako District on Oahu

@happy_misae/Instagram

This district hosts an incredible arts festival every spring with a name you can’t forget: “Pow! Wow!” The event brings in artists from all over the world, who turn blocks of the urban area into splashy murals that stay up for a year.

Hanalei Valley Lookout on Kauai

@kamalphotoguy/Instagram

Stop along the road at the Hanalei Valley Lookout to see the bright green valley floor, taro fields and, if you’re lucky, a rainbow or two looming above. For good measure, you’ll also see the Namolokama mountain standing watch in the background.

Chain of Craters Road on the Big Island

@hawaiivolcanoesnps/Instagram

The Chain of Craters Road is part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a must-visit on the Big Island that is truly unlike any other national park. The 19-mile long paved road offers coastal views and examples of where lava has flowed over the roadway across the years.

Makena Beach on Maui

@prince_mds/Instagram

Maui has what feels like countless beaches to check out, but Makena Beach, aka Big Beach, is the favorite of many locals and tourists. This mile-long stretch of sand met by blue-green water is quintessential Hawaii, in the best possible way.

Go early in the morning if you want to enjoy a sun-kissed swim before the wind picks up.

Onomea Bay/Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens on the Big Island

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With its waterfalls, black-rock beach, palm-tree-shaded hiking trails and expansive views of the Pacific, Onomea Bay fulfills every expectation you have for a scenic Hawaii destination.

The bay, located on the Hamakua Coast, also features the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, with over 2,000 types of flora. Zoom in for a shot of a brightly colored flower that typifies the Hawaiian landscape.

The Cliffs of Molokai

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Molokai is a small, remote Hawaiian island that offers spectacular views of sheer cliffs dropping into the ocean. The natural features were left behind when the island’s two volcanic ranges, East Molokai and West Molokai, collapsed.

Hookipa Beach on Maui

@lille17/Instagram

Watch the sunset as monk seals nap at Hookipa Beach. Just make sure to keep your distance, as the species is endangered.

Honolulu Museum of Art on Oahu

@halepunawaikiki/Instagram

In addition to housing stunning pieces of art, the Honolulu Museum of Art is Instagram-worthy itself. Intricate tile work, gardens and sculptures are just a few of the property’s standout features.

Lahaina Banyan Tree on Maui

@longbeachulagirl/Instagram

One of the most charming towns on Maui, if not all of Hawaii, Lahaina features restaurants located directly on sandy shores and historical attractions like a small former prison from the 1850s. But what revelers love most is its banyan tree.

Planted in 1873, the tree looms large over town, and makes for a dramatic backdrop in Insta shots.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Molokai

@kalaupapanps/Instagram

On the oft-overlooked island of Molokai, you’ll find this off-the-beaten-path historical park, where you can take a guided tour, camp or ride a mule down 2,000-foot sea cliffs.

Spouting Horn on Kauai

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Spouting Horn Beach Park is one of the most visited spots in all of Kaui. When waves crash into the lava tube, water is sent as high as 50 feet into the air, a truly astonishing natural feat.

Akaka Falls on the Big Island

@theislandofhawaii/Instagram

Take a short hike on the northeastern Hilo Coast to see Akaka Falls dropping 442 feet into a deep gorge. On the trek through the rainforested state park it’s named after, you’ll also see Kahuna Falls — at 100 feet, not quite as impressive as Akaka, but still striking — alongside bamboo, orchids and ferns.

Waikiki Beach on Oahu

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While people often complain that Waikiki Beach is too crowded, you can beat the masses by visiting in the early morning. Plus, this beach on the south shore of Honolulu is beloved for a reason: It’s gorgeous.

Napali Coast on Kauai

@bluehawaiianhelicopters/Instagram

You’ve likely seen photos of the Napali Coast all over Instagram. But what you might not know is that one of the best ways to see this state park is via helicopter. Gaze upon sea cliffs, streams, waterfalls and beaches from the sky, enjoying a new perspective on one of the most photographed places on Earth.

Waipio Valley on the Big Island

@maxwellengelmann/Instagram

You might recognize the Waipio Valley from the ending of the cult-classic movie “Waterworld.” The abundant valley is home to epic waterfalls and captivating black-sand beaches. And rainbows are also, but of course, a common occurrence.

Kualoa Ranch Jurassic Valley on Oahu

@joeyduck1/Instagram

The Kualoa Ranch Jurassic Valley has everything you could want for an adventurous day out, from ziplines to horseback riding to rough-and-tumble ATV tours. You’ll recognize the Ka’a’awa Valley on the ranch from its role in “Jurassic Park,” “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0.”

Diamond Head on Oahu

@queenkapiolanihotel/Instagram

For views of the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu, head to Diamond Head State Monument. The park is one of Hawaii’s most popular and picturesque spots. It is equally stunning from afar, as shown in the photo above from the Queen Kapiolani Hotel, where Diamond Head meets Waikiki.

Anini Beach on Kauai

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If you find yourself on Kauai, make sure to check out Anini Beach on the north shore. From here, you can see one of Hawaii’s largest coral reefs, protected by unusually calm waters.

The island is also famous for its windsurfing, should you be in the mood for a more thrilling experience.

Pipiwai Trail on Maui

@roxdaly/Instagram

Waterfalls and cliff-side views of the ocean wow, but the real star of this trail is its bamboo forest, featuring stalks that tower over tourists who wander through.

Waikolu Valley Lookout on Molokai

@_josephjk/Instagram

Check out the deep ravine in Molokai’s rainforest at the Waikolu Valley Lookout. On a clear day, you’ll see the ocean in the distance. After a rainstorm, you’ll see waterfalls.

Wailea Beach on Maui

@lille17/Instagram

Don’t be shocked if you see a celebrity on this wide beach flanked by several high-end resorts. From the sand, you can sometimes see the smaller islands of Kaho’olawe, Molokini and Lanai. During the winter you might spot whales from the shoreline.

Lanai City on Lanai

@alissadredd/Instagram

Lanai City used to be the center of the pineapple industry, at one point producing 75% of the fruit consumed worldwide. Nowadays, you’ll find shops, restaurants, galleries, cultural centers and local businesses in the bustling city.

Go here to connect with locals in a part of Hawaii not yet overrun by tourists.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences on Oahu

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Influencers and more casual Instagrammers alike make their way to this uber-posh property for pics of its adult-only infinity pool, perched above the sea.

Keahiakawelo on Lanai

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Pass by boulders, spires and rock towers at this rock garden that also touts sweeping ocean views. Go at sunset to see the rocks painted in vivid shades of orange, red and purple.

They don’t call this “Garden of the Gods” for nothing.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on Oahu

@halepunawaikiki/Instagram

Enjoy sandy beaches surrounded by verdant green cliffs at this picture-perfect nature reserve. Rumor has it that Hawaiin royalty loved using the bay for fishing and relaxing in the 1800s.

Time to pack your bags ?

https://www.farandwide.com/s/instagram-guide-hawaii-c33c3b547b324d56

 

 

 

Top 10 Most Haunted Places

Just in time for Halloween, Whether you’re a believer or not, America’s towns are filled with spooky stories passed down through time. From haunted fortresses to grisly tales of suffering and death, here’s a list of some of the spookiest spots in the US.

Moundsville Penitentiary

 

During its more than 100 years in operation, the Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia was one of America’s most violent correctional facilities and the final stop for almost 1,000 criminals. The prisoners lived in cramped quarters, which led to riots. Many men were hanged or killed in the electric chair, while others were murdered by other prisoners. The prison closed in 1995, but according to some, the tortured spirits are still behind bars and in the bowels of the prison and may be seen or heard on a tour.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Once known as the Weston State Hospital, this asylum was home to thousands of people with mental illness, starting in 1864. Hundreds of people died here before the facility closed in 1994. The spirits that are said to haunt the site today date back to the Civil War era, when the asylum’s grounds served as a military post. Paranormal tours of the facility feature 2-hour visits to the asylum’s 4 main hot spots. The more intense Ghost Hunt is an 8-hour, overnight paranormal adventure with experienced ghost-hunting guides.

Villisca Axe Murder House
On June 10, 1912, the old white frame house at 508 E Second St became a grisly crime scene. The heinous murder of Josiah B. Moore, his wife, their 4 children and 2 young girls who were overnight guests rocked the small town of Villisca, IA, and the murderer was never identified. Over the years, residents of the home reported visions of a man with an ax, children crying and unexplained paranormal activity. In 1994, the home was restored to its original condition with no indoor plumbing or electricity. These touches add to the chilling ambience during a lamplight tour from April through November or an overnight experience available by reservation for groups.

Sammie Dean

Jerome, AZ, is a former copper-mining town with a paranormal reputation that dates back to the Wild West. The town is now home to just 400 residents (down from 15,000 in its heyday), but legend has it there are plenty more ghostly residents from the days of mining accidents and gunfights. One well-known spirit is the working girl Sammie Dean, a prostitute who was strangled by a customer in the old Crib District. Her beautiful spirit roams the alleys looking for her killer, who was never found.

Cuban Club

Cuban Club, also known as Circulo Cubano de Tampa, can be found in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood. In 1917, this spot was a popular hangout for Cuban immigrants who enjoyed the ballroom, outdoor band shell and cantina with a stage and dance floor. Today, the compound, which is protected by the National Historic Register, hosts concerts and special events and is the setting for many ghost stories about spirits playing the piano and riding the elevators.

Fort Mifflin

 

Built in 1771, Fort Mifflin is the country’s only Revolutionary War battlefield that is still intact. There are 14 restored buildings on the grounds on the Delaware River and reportedly plenty of spirits from the past. Among the ghosts said to haunt the fort is a screaming woman whose cries are so loud that the Philadelphia police have been called to investigate, only to find no one there. Other characters in the local ghost stories include a faceless man wandering around the fort, a tour guide dressed in revolutionary garb and numerous children and dogs.

Moon River Brewery
The Moon River Brewery brought its beloved beers to Savannah in 1999, but the building is one of the oldest in town, dating back to 1821. In its original incarnation, it was the City Hotel, a high-end hotel with a history of violence during the Civil War. Men were killed in the hotel during heated skirmishes, including a Yankee who was beaten to death by locals in 1860. Some bar patrons today say they’ve seen bottles mysteriously fly through the air and have witnessed guests being pushed, touched and even slapped by unseen forces. One resident apparition, Toby, is said to skulk around the billiards room looking for the next great bar brawl.

The Sultan’s Palace
The house at 716 Dauphine St is a classic French Quarter beauty with classic wrought-iron balconies and a large courtyard. But in the 1800s, this residence was a house of horrors for the Sultan, a wealthy man with a depraved lifestyle, multiple wives and children, and a harem of women and young boys held against their will. Neighbors complained about the mysterious habits of this man who had a predilection for partying, opium and torture. But the greatest mystery in the house was the Sultan’s demise, when he was buried alive in the courtyard after his family and harem were hacked to pieces in a bloodbath by an unknown perpetrator. Today, his angry spirit is thought to be responsible for the unusual noises, loud music and strong incense smells that waft from the home, as well as unwelcome advances on past female residents who swear the Sultan is still up to his old tricks of groping female visitors.

Calcasieu Courthouse

Toni Jo Henry has been the talk of the small town of Lake Charles since the 1940s, when she killed a man in cold blood. Just as notorious were her stunning good looks. The former prostitute charmed a gentleman in a pickup truck to give her a ride while she was walking the highway with a friend en route to spring her true love from a Texas prison. It took 3 trials for a jury to convict the wily Toni Jo, who had charmed the courtroom and jail staff and divided the town over her presumed guilt. In 1942, this murderous beauty known as Tiger Girl was the first woman in the state to die in the electric chair. Her spirit lingers in the courthouse today, and workers there swear they feel her presence, hear her screams and even smell her burning hair. Many believe that she tinkers with office equipment, locks doors and meddles with everyday office life at the courthouse.

 

A few places to visit if your nerves and heart can stand it !

https://www.travelchannel.com/interests/haunted/articles/top-10-most-haunted-places

Top 10 European Countries

OK, so someone had more time on their hands than usual and spent that time on making a top ten list of the best Euro countries.  Not France, Not Vatican City, not Switzerland.  So what countries did make the top ten list ?

10. Germany

There are many things that make Germany great, from its boots of beer to its divine cuisine (Pretzels! Spätzle! So many sausages!) to its distinctive mix of fraught history and progressive present.

But all that pales in comparison to its really big words.

We’re big fans of Germany mostly because of its language and the many awesome singular words that describe something more complex. Everyone knows schadenfreude and wanderlust, but how about kummerspeck and backpfeifengesicht? Respectively, they mean the weight gained from emotional stress and the need to slap someone in the face who definitely has it coming.

The German language is the best language, basically.

9. Hungary

You definitely need an appetite when you travel in Hungary, as it easily has the most underrated food scene in all of Europe. It might not be as refined as French food or as creative as Spanish cuisine, but it checks off all the boxes when it comes to simple and flavorful, starting with perfectly satisfying cheeses and breads.

Add to that a wine industry that’s also massively overlooked and enough urban-rural interplay to satisfy everyone, and we’ll pretend those centuries of autocracy were just a phase.

8. Italy

Italy has its quirks — half a million exorcisms take place there annually, wine flows freely from fountains in town squares and locals drink an unseemly amount of caffeine every day.

Then again, it has the best wine and food in the world and some of the oldest, most interesting cities you’ll ever see, from arts-hub Florence to history-mecca Rome to fashion-forward Milan.

So really, it doesn’t matter how weird Italy can be. We’ll still never want to leave.

7. Sweden

They put blonde hair dye in the water here and only eat cured fish, so how could it rank so high?

Because of its global contributions to those little things called prosperity, equality, science and technology, and health, that’s why.

Locals know how to treat strangers well, they actually give parents time off to raise their kids, and if the economy isn’t humming along, the government will pay you to leave your job and relax for a while.

Actually, forget visiting Sweden. Can we move here instead?

6. Netherlands

You must be doing something right when your country is known for its wooden shoes, mild cheeses, legal cannabis and insanely large flower industry. Bikes rule over cars. Dutch people are direct, tolerant and generally friendly. The cities are organized and clean, and the standard of living is as high as the tourists in Amsterdam’s red-light district.

What’s not to love?

5. Poland

We’re eagerly anticipating the reactions to this one. Yes, Poland is the fifth best country in Europe. Why?

First of all, Poland is likely responsible for the bagel — a food so perfect that God must be Polish. It also has natural beauty, incredible cities, interesting food and tons of history, good and bad. Plus it’s much more affordable to travel there than, say, all of Western Europe.

And it’s on no one’s radar. Shine on, Poland.

4. Spain

The siesta is real and you best not mess with it. In Spain, don’t expect to find a morning bun and coffee unless the morning starts at 1 p.m. What you will find is some of the best cuisine in the world, wines that are too delicious and affordable to be real, and a populace that just wants to party, sleep, party and sleep some more.

There are pretty beaches and fascinating cities, and a ham that takes three years to make from a pig breed that only exists here. Yes, please.

3. Greece

Where would Western Civilization be without Greece? The sentinel of the Mediterranean gave us democracy, the Olympics, sunny days, the Greek Salad, the oldest written language still around and, according to Hollywood, big fat weddings.

Aside from all those statues with the blank eyeballs, this place is magical.

2. Portugal

Portugal has everything people love about Western Europe — food, drink, scenery, sunny beaches, history, memorable cities — in a smaller, cheaper and more accessible package. You’ll never find the tourist crowds of France, Spain and Italy, and none of the smug locals either.

It’s also the third-most-peaceful country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index. And none of its neighbors are remotely close.

Still, there’s one European country that bests even it…

1. Denmark

When it comes to the essentials in life, no one does it better than the Danes. They might not have the museums of France, the cuisine of Italy, the beaches of Spain and Portugal, or the wine of Croatia, but the overall quality of life in this Scandinavian country is tops in the world.

It starts with incredible and affordable health care, housing and transit. But there’s so much more. Jobs are plentiful, education is accessible, pollution and crime barely exist, and people spend very little time feeling sad and depressed about the future.

Danes even have a word called “janteloven” that basically means, we’re all equal and important and deserve each other’s respect. This makes it an awesome place to live in, an awesome place for all to visit, and the best country in Europe.

And that’s just a fact.

 

Here is the publication that is responsible for this article.  What say you ?  True or not so true ?  Oh, the article actually lists 40 countries, 30 of which rank from fair to forget-about-it.  Go, read it for yourselves.

 

How to spend 5 incredible days in Tenerife

By Marta  http://www.wherelifeisgreat.com/5-days-in-tenerife/

How to spend 5 incredible days in Tenerife - Where life is great #tenerife

Where is Tenerife?

Tenerife is the biggest of the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of northwestern Africa and about a 5 hour flight from Manchester.

What to do in Tenerife: 5 days itinerary

Day 1: Visit Puerto de la Cruz

Puerto de la Cruz is a city that overlooks the ocean, surrounded by banana trees, irrigated land, and vineyards, watched over by the great volcano: Mount Teide. Even though Puerto de la Cruz is one of the most popular cities in Tenerife among tourists, it remains Canarian in character, with plenty of Spanish bars and restaurants around the area.

Main sights of Puerto de la Cruz are the old harbor which local women used as a fish market, the promenade and the Lago Martiánez complex of swimming pools designed by the Canary Islands architect César Manrique.

My favorite activity was spotting street art around the city – I felt like in a giant open-air urban museum.

Havana na na na… Oh, wait! It’s Tenerife!

Day 2: Anaga Rural Park, Santa Cruz, La Laguna and Playa Las Teresitas

Anaga is a Biosphere Reserve protected by UNESCO located just a few minutes drive from Santa Cruz. It is home to over 800 endangered species of flora and fauna (for comparison whole Germany has only about 5). There are multiple hiking trails to follow for all levels. Some of them will lead you to its charming black sand beaches.

Important, you need proper hiking shoes for Anaga Rural Park.

Chinamada & Taganana

Truly interesting places to visit in Anaga national park are Chinamada (little village with cave houses) and Taganana, also called the village at the end of the world. That’s where you will be able to fill the real rural life of Canary Islands.

Lost in the village at the end of the World
Kids, don’t try this at home!

Once there, I recommend to take a stroll on its black sand beach and make room in your itinerary for lunch at Casa Africa.

Playa Las Teresitas

Next on my 5-day itinerary in Tenerife with Jet2holidays was visiting the most stunning beach of the island: Playa Las Teresitas. The Teresitas golden beach sand was directly imported from Sahara. All in all, 272800 tons of African desert sand was placed in Playa Las Teresitas. The ocean there is calm thanks to wave breakers which makes it a great beach destination for people scared of waves (umm who can relate?) 😉

Day 3: Casa del Vino & Teide National Park

The volcanic archipelago of the Canary Islands has been one of the most extreme winemaking regions in Spain. I love to try wines from different regions to feel how the natural environment affects its unique flavor. During my 5 day trip to Tenerife, I visited Casa del Vino where I learned about the tradition of winemaking and winery Monje where I was able to pair a variety of wines with traditional Canarian cuisine. My favorite wines from Tenerife are white and fruity from the north part of the island. Also, make sure to try its unique banana wine (made of banana instead of grapes!).

Teide National Park

Teide National Park was definitely the most exciting part of our trip. Not every day, you get to the top of a dormant volcano which by the way is also the highest peak of Spain (12198 ft above sea level). There are more than 300 volcanoes on Tenerife alone, so you can imagine my excitement to see the biggest and most powerful one from up close. Teide National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 and it is the most visited national park in Europe (welcoming 3 million visitors a year!). It is also home to the second most important astronomical observatory after Hawaii.

We stayed until late at night at Teide National Park to watch the sunset and the night sky. Unfortunately for us, the sky was a bit cloudy and it was a full moon so we were not able to see as much as we wanted to see but still were able to learn a lot about astronomy.

Day 4: Icod de los Vinos & La Masca

Icod de los Vinos is home to an ancient Drago tree, the natural symbol of the island of Tenerife. A visit to this tree is a must, as it is one of the top postcard views. In the surrounding area, there are also the World’s largest volcanic tubes.

Day 5: Charco de Isla Cangrejo & Los Gigantes

If there is one thing I love about volcanic islands, it’s the natural pools. The natural pools are enclosed spaces into which, due to their natural formation, the sea water seeps without any human intervention apart from adding steps, walkways and diving points. As you already know, I am not really a fan of waves but I still love to enjoy the ocean. That is why on the last day of my 5-day trip I decided to search for natural pools.

My first stop was Charco de La Laja. Unfortunately, the sea was very rough on that day and I was not brave enough to swim.

The situation has changed, once I arrived at the south part of the island. Charco de Isla Cangrejo looked very inviting to swim.

The last stop on my 5-day itinerary was Giants Beach. Los Gigantes is one of the most attractive natural wonders on Tenerife. The town is protected by impressive rock cliffs (called Giants) up to 800 meters high and which drop down to the sea almost vertically. A very impressive sight.

A great place For Lovers !

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You can check out more about Tenerife accommodations and food at Marta’s web site

http://www.wherelifeisgreat.com/5-days-in-tenerife/