Let’s Go There!


While there are many styles of vacations you can take your family on, many still favor the tried and true family road trip to destinations important to the history and culture of our country.

Boston, Massachusetts

While many coastal cities, east and west, are significant to the birth and growth of America, Boston stands out as particularly significant to the early struggles of our great nation. Beacon Hill in Boston was home to the descendants of early English colonialists whose elegant, gas-lit streets are well worth wandering through. And of course no trip to Boston would be complete without a visit to the famous Boston Harbor which includes a fantastic interactive museum and two replica 18th century vessels. Boston is also home to America’s first college, Harvard, which was established in 1636, student lead walking tours are available.

New York City, New York

While the Big Apple has so much to offer one couldn’t possibly see it all in one trip, the historically minded will want to visit some particular locations: Ellis Island, landing spot of some 12 million immigrants is as fascinating as any place you might visit in the city and features a stunning museum; the Brooklyn Bridge is a must see landmark—it took 600 some workers 14 years to construct one of the world’s first steel wire suspension bridges which was the longest of its kind at completion in 1883; architectural buffs won’t want to miss Brooklyn Heights, one of the first areas of the city to be deemed a historic district.

San Antonio, Texas

While the Alamo is certainly a main point of interest, the entire city is a treasure trove of Spanish colonialism. The Alamo itself is one of only five missions that have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site (i.e., don’t miss!). The new River Walk Mission Reach Trail will allow you to explore the grounds and buildings in which priests and Native Americans worked and lived together.

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While many in the United States might be sick of the cold, some of the coldest regions in the world have their own awe-inspiring natural beauty to warm the heart and soul. For anyone planning a cold weather adventure, you may consider one of these prime viewing locations, because while there are many places where one can see the Northern Lights, they are best viewed in particular parts of the world.

CNN Travel writer Maggie Wong compiles the 11 top viewing spots in her recent article: Jokulsarlon, Iceland; Fairbanks, Alaska, United States; Paatsjoki, Finnish Lapland; Unstad, Lofoten, Norway; Cairngorms National Park, Scotland; Kangerlussuaq, Greenland; Yellowknife, Canada; Tromsø, Norway; Abisko, Sweden; Muonio, Finnish Lapland; Southern Hemisphere, End of a Contentment.

The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon that many people are familiar with, but not everyone understands. Better known as “the Northern Lights” the natural event is referred to by scientists as an aurora. Wikipedia describes an aurora:

“Auroras are produced when the magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the solar wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere), where their energy is lost. The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emits light of varying colour and complexity. The form of the aurora, occurring within bands around both polar regions, is also dependent on the amount of acceleration imparted to the precipitating particles. Precipitating protons generally produce optical emissions as incident hydrogen atoms after gaining electrons from the atmosphere. Proton auroras are usually observed at lower latitudes.”

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CNN Travel reported on the Europe’s first underwater museum Wednesday. Two years in the making, the museum is located in the deep waters off the shores of Spanish island Lanzarote. It is only accessible to snorkelers, divers and, of course, sea creatures.

The museum, named Museo Altlantico, features the sculptures of artist Jason deCaires Taylor. The 300 sculptures are submerged at depths between 12 and 15 meters on the sea floor of Coloradas Bay.

These sculptures will be more than just art, however. These sculptures are made from environmentally friendly concrete and are part of an artificial reef, which will serve as a breeding site for local aquatic wild life. The sculptures are meant to raise awareness about ocean-related environmental issues by portraying scenes from everyday life.

The Victor Crew

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The Wanda Reign on the Bund has created itself as the first “seven-star” hotel in Shanghai. The exterior is made of glass and steel designed by Foster and Partners and Heather Wick Studio. The lobby is Art Deco inspired with jade inlaid floors and a wall sized original painting by renowned Shangai artist Shi Qi. Other commissioned artworks are nestled among the hotel’s 10 meter high marble pillars.

The hotel took three years to build and cost over $500 million dollars. The hotel sits along with other super high end hotels and hospitality options along the famous Bund waterfront of the Huangpu River. Its peers included the Peninsula, Waldorf Astoria, the Shangri-La and Grand Hyatt.

In less than six months the Wanda Reign has become the new home of China’s traveling elite. And appropriately so as it is owned by Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man. It is the 51st hotel in his Wanda Hotels and Resorts group.

A must see for high-end hotel lovers!

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There are plenty of urban legends about the friendliness or rudeness of many popular travel destinations around the world. Like many myths, there is a probably a seed of truth to it planted somewhere in the shadows of history. However, for those of us who prefer somewhat more empirical evidence, travel magazine Conde Nast asked its readers in its 29th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards.
More than 100,000 readers responded to the travel magazine’s reader survey of favorite cities, hotels, resorts, islands, airlines, cruise lines, future travel destinations and, for the fourth year in a row, reader opinions of the world’s friendliest cities.

1. Charleston, South Carolina
2. Sydney, Australia
3. Dublin, Ireland
4. Queenstown, New Zealand
5. Park City, Utah
6. Galway, Ireland
7. Savannah, Georgia
8. Krakow, Poland
9. Bruges, Belgium
10. Nashville, Tennessee

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Sydney Helicopters, Hunter Valley Pub Tour
Approx. US $750

This helicopter pub crawl departs from Sydney, Australia — whirling above the city’s famous waterfront for a checklist-notching aerial view of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge before soaring into the wild, bucolic yonder of outer New South Wales.

Rosehill Heliport-based Sydney Helicopters’ roster of full-day heli-pub tours includes excursions into the state’s rugged Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands, where multiple touchdowns at out-of-the-way bars and charming country inns factor in enough vintage Aussie drink stops to keep the propellers spinning even when they’re not.

Our top pick is the Hunter Valley Pub Tour, a seven-hour journey into one of the country’s prime, picturesque wine-producing regions.

Highlights along the way include stops at quirky rustic ale houses, boutique wineries and elegant vineyard estates for a wine-paired multi-course gourmet lunch — capped with a late afternoon visit to the historic Settlers Arms Inn in St. Albans for one last pint or two of counter fuel before the curiously blurry ride home.

Orbic Air, Mountain Top Landing Tour in Los Angeles
$349 per person

In sprawling, traffic-choked L.A., sitting pretty above all the tailpipes on Laurel and Coldwater Canyons, Sunset and Sepulveda Boulevards and the Freeway Interchange in a sleek whirlybird is a perch usually reserved for cops and car chase reporters.

Orbic Air’s standard 15 to 25-minute L.A. flyovers lift off from Burbank Airport and cover all the standards — from cool close-ups of the Hollywood Sign to vital views of celebrity home rooftops in Beverly Hills and Bel Air.

For the real California dreamin’ “Romance Package,” Orbic’s Mountain Top Landing Tour covers several Tinseltown landmarks en route to the city’s most natural charms along the coast — featuring a climactic landing on a secluded Malibu plateau with complimentary bubbly, dessert and a rose.
Diamond ring not included.

The London Helicopter, London MAX Tour
Approx. $2,000 (for up to six passengers)

Gazing down upon London’s spectacular cityscape from St Paul’s dome, the London Eye, The Shard, or (at a pinch) a double decker bus seat may be a jolly good start.

Upping the vantage point over 1,000 vertical feet over the River Thames via bright yellow G-ORKI helicopter takes urban sightseeing to an entirely different level.

Lifting off from southwest London’s Battersea Heliport (only recently opened to tourists), The London Helicopter’s London Buzz and London Sights tours cover a range of riverside essentials in and around the city center — from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace to St. Paul’s Cathedral and Canary Wharf. All crammed into 12 or 18 breathless minutes.

The London MAX Tour clocks a full half-hour of airtime, offering private groups of up to six an extended flight-seeing odyssey that includes nearly forty iconic London landmarks.
For an encore, book a package heli-trip from London to Highclere Castle (a.k.a. “Downton Abbey”) or Stonehenge.

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