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The best destinations in the USA for the inexperienced adventurer

The best destinations in the USA for the inexperienced adventurer

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If its adventure you’re looking for you can’t go wrong with a trip to America with its wide-open spaces, grand wildernesses, and beautiful national parks. But you don’t want to wander alone down the Appalachian Trail or raft down the Colorado River until you’ve gotten some practice under your belt and taken the time to see the most iconic sights the country has to offer along the way. So here are some of the best destinations for adventure travellers looking to sharpen their skills and still have a grand adventure. You can find campgrounds to stay at near all of these destinations.

The canyons of the Southwest are fertile hiking ground. The Grand Canyon is a must-see for any tourist, and Yosemite National Park is home to towering granite cliffs, which are no less majestic even if they aren’t as iconic. Speaking of which, Monument Valley on the Utah/Arizona border (which you might recognise from classic films like Stagecoach and Easy Rider) is another breathtaking location and is accessible from the major highway Route 163.

One way to see all these spots is with guided tours from companies like Grand American Adventures, which can take you to otherwise inaccessible spots while always being safe. For those who really want to ease themselves into things, there are even many such packages with nightly hotel stays, so you’ll always have a soft bed to look forward to after a day’s trekking.

Lower Yellowstone Falls, Yellowstone Park, Artists Point

View of Lower Yellowstone Falls from Artists Point

Another great destination is Yellowstone Park. Not only can you brag to your friends that you’ve hiked on America’s largest supervolcano (and really, anything involving the word ‘supervolcano’ is worth bragging about) but you can see the famous geyser Old Faithful or even track down one of the wolf packs that were reintroduced in the 90s—with a guide, of course—along with bears and eagles. Again, package tours are available.

Speaking of animals, you can also head to Alaska to see not just black and grizzly bears but caribou and even a wide variety of whale species with destinations like Kodiak Island and Denali National Park.

If you can find a guide—and in a country with as many great natural adventure hotspots as the US, you can—these are just the beginning. There are countless great trips to be had by the beginner adventurer, but start with one of these and you can’t go wrong.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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North America

The Best Way to Stay in LoDo Denver

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The Mile High City welcomes all comers with open arms. Denver is a unique city, and not just because it is located exactly one mile above sea level. No, Denver is unique because of the amount of fun it contains in one neighborhood. Meet Denver’s Lower Downtown, colloquially referred to as LoDo. LoDo is the most popular neighborhood in Denver, thanks to its incredible location. A stay in LoDo puts you within easy walking distance of Denver’s Contemporary Museum of Art, the historic Larimer Square, and the always impressive Coors Field. To be honest, we don’t feel any pressure to sell you on this, because LoDo Denver speaks for itself. However, we do want to point you in the right direction when it comes to picking a place to stay in LoDo, as that is a much less discussed point. There are a near infinite number of places of various sorts for you to stay in, but today we’re going to compare and contrast two of the most popular venues: hotels and vacation rentals. Let’s begin, shall we?

Travel Apartments

Travel apartments are vacation rentals don’t have to be used by people on vacation. Travel apartments let people who are visiting a new city stay in their own private residence. Rather than having to share space with in-laws or strangers, you can stay in travel apartments, which give you own space while in LoDo. Each travel apartment comes with a private washer and dryer, along with a fully functional kitchen. Let’s examine some of the other benefits.

Pros

  • Privacy. As mentioned, your travel apartment will be yours and yours alone. No housekeeping to worry about, no noisy neighbors; this is your home during your stay in LoDo.
  • Amenities. And even more amenities. In addition to your private kitchen and laundry room, you get a spacious, well-lit, upscale apartment to live in. Take your pick from any of the travel apartments in Denver linked above, because each one will have a sleek design and comfortable layout. There are more small amenities than we have room to enumerate, so we’ll let you discover those for yourself.
  • Location. Every travel apartment is located in the ideal spot for vacationers in a new city. Pick any one of the LoDo travel apartments and you’ll be within walking distance of the best attractions, restaurants, and bars in the Mile High City.

Now let’s look at some of the disadvantages.

Cons

  • You’ll need to book in advance. If just reading this article has convinced you to book a stay in Denver right now, it’s possible there won’t be a travel apartment available for you. Make sure to reserve your spot in advance.
  • You’ll have a specified leave date. Similar to the first issue, you can’t just purchase another week’s stay at the end of your trip, because someone else may have reserved the space. Be sure to book yourself a long enough stay the first time!
  • You’re unlikely to get that native influence. Privacy is great, but talking to Denver natives gives you a fresh perspective on the city. You’ll need to make a point of going out and meeting some locals during your downtime!

Hotels

You know what a hotel is, right? Okay, cool. Here’s the pros and cons of hotel living in LoDo Denver.

Pros

  • Availability. Hotels are everywhere, with a huge range of pricing options. No matter what corner of Denver you wanted to stay in, you could find a hotel there. Moreover, with that many options, it’s easy to find one that fits your budget.
  • Helpers. You have someone to clean your sheets and a concierge to answer questions any time of the night or day. If there’s a place to stay where you can order food straight to your room besides hotels, we haven’t found it.

Cons

  • Noise. Hotels are loud, nothing to be done about it. When you’ve got people living above, below, and to the left and right of you, things are bound to get a little noisy. All you can do is hope that the kids don’t start crying…
  • Unreliable advertising. Hotels all seem eager to advertise their tranquil oasis of a pool area. Sorting out which pools will actually fry your hair with hyper-chlorination can be exhausting.
  • No privacy. Between housekeeping, your four sets of neighbors, and that one guy from the next room over drunkenly swiping his key card at your door, it can be hard to find space that’s yours and yours alone.

So, what’s the right way for you to stay in LoDo Denver? Hotel or travel apartment? Ultimately, the choice is yours and yours alone. Of course, if you hate being indoors, maybe glamping in Denver would be more your speed? No matter what you choose, you’ll have the time of your life flying high in LoDo Denver.

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City Guides

The Best Dog-Friendly Attractions in Portland, Oregon

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With a green focus and an animal loving attitude, a superb collection of pet-friendly hotels and many fantastic pooch-welcoming bars and restaurants Portland is one of the most dog friendly cities in the USA. Check out our top dog-friendly attractions…

1 Sellwood Riverfront Park

With a 1.5 acre off-leash area which extends to the river this is a great place to bring your dog especially if yours loves to run and play with other dogs. You’ll need to put your dog back on the leash to use the connecting paths which take you through the forest, parks and neighborhood areas but there’s plenty of places for them to enjoy sniffing around. Make sure you bring your own poop bags and drinking water for your dog. The park provides picnic tables where you can rest after your walk.

Funny Jack Russell Terrier Dog Walks Down Street On A Leash. Dog Looks Directly Into Camera. Wide Angel Lens Shot.

2 Wildwood Trail, Forest Park

Situated at NW Germantown Road, this wilderness area is for serious hikers and canines of a high fitness level as its 30-mile hike takes a couple of days to comfortably get around. It is recommended that you consider getting a map of the Forest Park to find the best way to get around the trails as some are more challenging than others. You’ll need to keep your dog on a leash the whole time and you’ll have to bring your own water and poop bags as these are not provided.

3 Portland Saturday Market

If you and your pooch are the socializing kind then the open-air arts and crafts Saturday Market and Farmers Market at 2 SW Naito Parkway is the place to be. You’ll have to keep your dog on the leash at all times while you’re browsing for delicious baked goods, meats and cheeses but dogs are made welcome with plenty of drinking water stations and lots of shady spots when the weather gets too hot.

4 Portland International Raceway Dog Park

If you’re looking for somewhere you can let your canine really stretch their legs, the fenced off dog park here has got to be the best place to go. This is a very well maintained area where the grass is kept short and neat and garbage is constantly cleared away so take poop bags with you at all times. Portland International Raceway is the home of drag racing, auto racing, motorcycle racing and motocross as well as Cruise-in specials and all these are held at various times throughout the year so why not make a weekend of it and enjoy plenty of thrills, excitement, music and great food and drink. Remember though that your pet must be properly supervised, on-leash at all times and must be cleaned up after. Some events do not allow pets so check before you book.

group of dogs in the park walking with professional dog walker

5 Plum Hill Vineyards

How about this for something a little different? Plum Hill Vineyards, situated between Forest Grove and Gaston this family-owned concern brews its own wines and not for nothing do they say it’s ‘your dog’s favorite winery’! It has to be one of the very few places where you can enjoy the company of your canine friend and at the same time sample some of the delicious wines the Plum Hill Vineyard has to offer. This place is genuinely dog-friendly as well-behaved dogs (and their humans) are allowed into the tasting room and onto the outside patio area. There is a large fenced dog run right next to the Vineyard where you and your dog can play. Poop bags, water and treats are thoughtfully provided for you.

6 International Rose Test Garden

If you love to walk around well tended gardens that are full to the brim with the sweet aroma of more than 10,000 beautiful roses, other plants and attractions then this is well worth a visit. The International Rose Test Garden, the oldest public garden in the US, is pet-friendly and extremely easy to get around on paved paths. You can take one of the free public tours or just stroll around at your own pace to enjoy the fountain, statue and gardens. Why not bring a picnic lunch and sit a while to enjoy the superb view, provided it is a clear day, over the city and Mt Hood in the distance. The garden is open all year round but to see the roses at their best you should visit in June. There is free admission and a gift shop on site as well.

Four funny cute dogs ex abandoned homeless adopted by good people and having fun on the pillows in the pet shop enjoying new life selective focus

7 Sandy River Delta, Thousand Acres Park

Although known to locals as simply Thousand Acres, and located just off I-84, 20 minutes from downtown Portland, this is actually 1,400 acres of doggy paradise. Consisting of open fields, wetlands, hiking trails, two rivers (the Sandy River and Columbia River) and numerous blackberry bushes you and your pooch can enjoy as much off-leash fun as you can handle. If your dog loves to swim, run or just take a leisurely stroll at your side you should come here to appreciate all that the Thousand Acres has to offer. It isn’t solely for dog walkers either – the Park is popular with birders, waterfowl hunters, horseback riders and mountain bikers. There is one part of the park that you won’t be allowed into however as one third of it is an off-limits wildlife habitat so be aware of this. The park is open all year round from dawn until dusk and there is car parking on site. The US Forest Service is responsible for the upkeep and development of the Park as well as maintaining the off-leash regulations for doggy visitors. These state that dogs should be kept on-leash at all times in the parking lot and within 100 feet of the Confluence Trail.

8 Hotel Monaco

Canine and human visitors to Portland will need a dog-friendly place to stay and the Hotel Monaco is one of the best. The hotel welcomes all dogs whether large or small, pure-breed or mutt. On arrival you and your pooch are greeted by the hotels’ own canine, a Golden Retriever, to make you all feel at home. You can order up a dog bed, food and water bowls and mats if you don’t want to take your own. The hotel’s nightly wine reception welcomes guests and their pups and you’ll be glad to know there are a good number of dog-friendly restaurants nearby.

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North America

What to Do on a Day Trip to Niagara Falls

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Millions of people have added a visit to Niagara Falls to their bucket list. While some have the time to spend a whole weekend or even longer in this part of the world, which sits on the Canadian-United States border, others are short of time.

If you can only squeeze in a day trip to the Niagara area, there are ways to make the most of your trip and have a fabulous – if long – day. Whether you’ll be traveling from Toronto, Buffalo, Rochester or elsewhere, there are certain key things to do.

Journey Behind the Falls

Seeing the famous waterfalls is no doubt one of the main reasons why you’re planning a day trip to Niagara Falls. As such, buy a ticket to the Journey Behind the Falls experience. This option will get you up close to the Falls but from behind and below, as the tour takes visitors underground. You’ll travel down approximately 150 feet via an elevator and end up in purpose-built tunnels.

The hundred-year-old tunnels take you to Observation Decks that offer safe cocoons to see and hear the powerful waterfalls as they launch over the cliffs above and thunder down. As you complete the tour, check out the various posters on the tunnel walls. These detail the history of the Falls and the hallways.

Take a Boat Cruise

No trip to Niagara Falls is complete without seeing the waterfalls from the front, from a boat. Take a ride on a vessel operated by Hornblower Niagara Cruises if you’re on the Canadian side of the Falls, or hop on the Maid of the Mist when on the American side.

Both companies take passengers up close to the waterfalls, so you’ll hear the roar of the water and get drenched unless you’re wearing the supplied rain ponchos. The cruise lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes and will ensure you truly witness the wonder of Niagara Falls.

Picnic in the Botanical Gardens

Within the Niagara area, there are many excellent restaurants where you can stop for lunch and digest what you have seen. However, one way to take in more of the region while also refueling and learning something is to have a picnic in the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. Take a packed lunch with you and eat it within the 40-hectare site. The only problem is deciding where to set up your picnic.

The rose garden is particularly popular with visitors. There are approximately 2,500 different rose bushes here, which not only look lovely but also provide a delicate floral scent to take in while you relax. After finishing your meal, explore the Butterfly Conservatory. This enclosed space is home to over 2,000 butterflies, hailing from over 45 butterfly species.

If your legs are tired from all the walking during the day, hop on the Gardens’ horse and carriage tour. This way, you can conserve energy while seeing more of the gardens. This tourist attraction is found ten minutes’ drive from the center of Niagara Falls.

Explore Clifton Hill

Next, head to the fun suburb of Clifton Hill. It’s on the Canadian side of the waterfalls, only a block from Horseshoe Falls. Clifton Hill is a happening spot bursting at the seams with entertainment, shops, museums, and other attractions. There is, for example, a 36-hole mini-golf adventure course, a massive bowling alley, Canada’s biggest entertainment complex (it boasts 300-plus interactive games), and a haunted house.

Pick up souvenirs at the Canada Trading Company, and novelty gifts at the Fun Factory. If you need a sugar hit to keep you going, stop by the Fudge Factory for a vast array of sweet treats. When you’re ready for dinner, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Clifton Hill, too. There are dozens of excellent restaurants here, with something to suit every taste.

Ride the Niagara SkyWheel

Also located in Clifton Hill is Canada’s tallest Ferris wheel. Round out your day with another look at the waterfalls from 175 feet in the air. Ride the Niagara SkyWheel once the sun goes down so you can watch the Niagara Falls fireworks and light show. This stunning show lights up the Falls in every color of the rainbow.

The SkyWheel has air-conditioned and heated gondolas for comfort no matter the weather, and each ride includes at least four rotations. You’ll get expansive views of the Falls plus the surrounding region.

While Niagara Falls is famous around the world for the waterfalls that gave the city its name, there is much more to do in this area. Prepare yourself for a full day of activities and you’ll be ticking off items on that bucket list in no time.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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