One of the greatest parts of our national heritage is diversity: of people, places and cultures. With international travel becoming easier and the popularity of luxury vacations the family road trip has lost popularity. With the nation park system celebrating its centennial birthday, this is the perfect time to help our young people experience and connect with the beautiful and varied landscapes all over our country.
Travelers might also consider Lonely Planet’s top ten must-see destinations in the United States. As one will see, this list suggests cities and regions that will provide very different experiences for travelers.
Lonely Planet’s Best in the United States for 2016
1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2. Natchez, Mississippi
3. Yellowstone National Park (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho)
4. Birmingham, Alabama
6. Somerville, Massachusetts
7. Northwest Arkansas
8. San Antonio, Texas
9. Southern New Mexico
10. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Well, winter has finally kicked things into high gear and many of experienced quite the winter storm recently. However, this is no reason to keep our thoughts buried under inches of snow. Skip spring entirely, let us think summer. Think beaches!
Trip Advisor recently released its Traveler’s Choice list of Best Beaches in the World in additional to regional rankings. Here are their findings after spending a whole year collecting data on the quality and quantity of user reviews and ratings of beaches over a year-long period.
With two and a half miles of white sand, Florida’s Clearwater Beach topped the U.S. rankings. In Europe, Playa de Ses Illetes in Formentera, Spain, was the top-ranked beach. Asia’s No. 1 beach, according to TripAdvisor reviews, is Ngapali Beach in Myanmar.
The top 10 beaches on the global list:
1. Grace Bay — Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
2. Baia do Sancho — Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
3. Playa Paraiso — Cayo Largo, Cuba
4. Anse Lazio — Praslin Island, Seychelles
5. Cayo de Agua — Los Roques National Park, Venezuela
6. Flamenco Beach — Culebra, Puerto Rico
7. Playa de Ses Illetes — Formentera, Spain
8. Ngapali Beach — Ngapali, Myanmar
9. West Bay Beach — Bay Islands, Honduras
10. Nacpan Beach — El Nido, Philippines
Yellowstone National Park is America’s first national park, established in 1872. It is spread out over three states; Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Preserved within Yellowstone National Park are Old Faithful and a collection of the world’s most extraordinary geysers and hot springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Of course no trip to Yellowstone would be complete without visiting the most popular geyser in the world, Old Faithful. There are also hundreds of other geysers and hot spring in the park. Hiking, camping, fishing, enjoying exhibits and films, and attending Ranger-led programs are among the many ways to experience Yellowstone.
Be prepared for the weather – the climate is one of cold winters and moderate summers. Accommodations range from rustic cabins to luxury suites. All of the developed areas in Yellowstone offer services such as gas stations, stores, medical facilities and campgrounds. There are an array of restaurants there too. Anything from the Mammoth Hotel Dining Room to the Old Faithful Geyser Grill; full service to light meals and fast food.
Services in the park include: boat rentals and charters, camping inside and outside the park, horseback riding, stores and gift shops, bookstores, daycare and kennels. Fun things to do include: photo tours, bicycling, hiking and backpacking, nature hikes, boating, fishing, and much more.
If you are looking for a great family trip you can’t beat Yellowstone – the kids will love it and so will you!
If you are ever on the coast of Florida in winter,and have the chance, go to a State Park or wildlife preserve that has mantees. These huge water mammals are interesting, gentle, and protected. Here’s some more info on them.
West Indian manatees are large, gray aquatic mammals with bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail. The have two forelimbs, called flippers, with three to four nails on each flipper. Their head and face are wrinkled with whiskers on the snout. The manatee’s closest relatives are the elephant and the hyrax (a small, gopher-sized mammal). Manatees are believed to have evolved fro a wading, plant-eating animal. The west Indian manatee is related to the West African manatee, the Amazonian manatee, the dugong, and Steller’s sea cow, which was hunted to extinction in 1768. The average adult manatee is about 10 feet long and weighs between 800 and 1,200 pounds.
Manatees can be found in shallow, slow-moving rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays, canals, and coastal areas – particularly where seagrass beds or freshwater vegetation flourish. Manatees are a migratory species. Within ghe United States, they are concentrated in Florida in the winter. In summer months, they can be found as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts, but summer sightings in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina are more common.
Manatees are gentle and slow-moving animals. They can swim upt to 20 miles per hour in short bursts but they usually only swim about three to five miles per hour. Most of their time is spent eating, resting, and traveling. Manatees are completely herbivorous. They eat a large variety of submerged, emergent, and floating plants and can consume 10-15% of their body weight in vegetation daily. Because they are mammals, they must surface to breate air about every three to five minutes. When resting, they can stay under water as long as 20 minutes.
West Indian manatees have no natural enemies, and it is believed they can live 60 years or more. Some die of natural causes but a high number of additional fatalities are from human-related causes. These occur mainly from watercraft collisions, ingestion of fishing equipment, and loss of habitat.
Manatees are an endangered species and are protected by federal and state laws. If you ever get to see them, you will understand why they are so interesting and worth saving for future generations.
Yes, my friends, there is a town named Christmas! It is Christmas, Michigan, an unincorporated area having a couple of motels, resorts, lakeside cottages, a casino and restaurant. It is also home to the Christmas Mall and the world’s largest Santa.
The Christmas themed village was given its name by an enterprising man in 1938. He started a roadside factory to make holiday gift items. Unfortunately, the factory burned soon after opening, but the name and the giant roadside Santa that inspired it all, still survives to this day.
If you are into gambling, the newest attraction is the Kewadin Casino (owned by the Sault St. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians), located on the main drag – Highway M-28. Right next door is an all-new 40 room Paradise Inn Motel. Christmas Michigan is also home to the Christmas Michigan Paradise Cottage Rental – cozy vacation cottages located on the shoreline of Lake Superior.
Michigan is full of towns with interesting names – most of them just dots on the map. They are all great places that should not be over-looked during your travels in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in summer or winter.