Travel Outside the Country, Safe and Sound There is an undeniable fact that most people have this great chance to travel abroad for some time in their lives. For some reasons, others go abroad for work. Whatever the purpose of that travel abroad is, see to it that you make yourself safe from whatever hassles and be prepared for the whole trip. These are the tips you have to bear in mind so that you would not have a hard time for traveling is intended to be coated with fun and excitement. What are these tips? See to it that you have signed the right passport and visa, double check everything for these are the most important things you have to secure before anything else. And be sure to fill in the information intended for the emergency page. More readings would definitely help you out. Get to know the country you want to visit. The Consular information sheets would surely be very essential as a reading material. You really have to get to know the country you choose to go As you are in the other country, of course, you have to be under the rules and law of the country you are paying a visit at. For it would surely decide your total stay there. Stay out of the hassles and troubles by being of knowledge. Be aware of their custom as well. Do not get yourself that feeling of being an outcast or do not hurt others just because you have gone against their usual beliefs and their usual acts. When you know the culture and the custom, the more you sow seeds of respect to the place and its people. Make another copy of your important travel papers. And of course, contact the nearest offices that are very helpful to you. These are the reminders you have to carry with you whenever you go around and see the world. Traveling is indeed fun but you could turn it into a disaster if you do not how to handle and enjoy it with the right steps, information and guide. As you visit places and meet people, make this as your guide. This would definitely lead you to the places you more than dreamed of. Travel With Kids, Travel Prepared It is good to have your kids with you when you travel; this would surely open their eyes to a lot more of new knowledge and discovery. When you bring along your kids in your trips, this is not only a way of bringing them close to your heart but also through this, your child would definitely make him or her more aware about the world around him or her. Well, when kids are with you, you need to be more prepared because as we all know they have special needs and we have to respond to such needs. With the tips provided below, it would surely help you get yourself prepared for the entire travel. You have to bring with you some of the most useful things you could carry with you as you travel and as you reach destinations: - Band-Aids - antiseptic hand gel - small tissue packs - sun screen - Dr.'s phone numbers - Tylenol -- children's & adults - a rubber door stop can provide extra security for a hotel room door small plug in nightlight, to help find the bathroom in the middle of the night * These things are for the activities you could have together in order not get bored and to get their attention fully - Crayons - mechanical pencils - highlighter (good for word search games) - paper - deck of cards - zip lock bags (collecting shells, storing food, wet clothes) * These are other things for travel uses: - sun glasses - hats/visors - light weight wind breaker - umbrella - camera with extra film Keep a photo of your child in your wallet -- in case you loose them in a crowed area extra copy of birth certificates, photo id, travel reservations, airline tickets. With these pointers in mind, you would not surely miss the thrill and the fun, you would also be able to good at preparing for traveling like from the simple trips to those that require loads of planning. Travel and Sleep in the 5 Biggest Hotels in the World! Does size really matter? For food, it really does. The bulky it looks, the fuller you may become. Well, not at all times, right? There are these small yet heavy-for-the-stomach foods. For things, size is not really a big deal. Nowadays, the smaller your gadgets are, the hippest they may be. For people, the smaller you are, the more adorable you can be. For hotels? IT DOES. Ever wonder if what are the best and largest hotels around the globe? We know that you do. If you are out for traveling or a tour, where do you think is the best place you can call home for a span of time? It is of course good to sleep at the most comfortable bed, to eat at the finest table, to meet new faces in the biggest hotels on earth. The largest hotel is at the womb of Asia. It can be found in Thailand, the Ambassador City Jomtien. It is a paradise away from home. Just try to imagine a 40-acre beach singing you waves of lullaby. The mountains also embrace you with its green. All your anxieties are sure to vanish into thin air. You just need a ten-minute boat ride from Pattaya. If you crave for the city-way of relaxation and leisure, you need not worry about it. This is also a complex which has tennis and sports center, business service for those who need one and convention center for those who gather for assemblies, reunions, forums, and so forth. Not to forget, this hotel has the largest swimming pool in Asia. The biggest trivia is that it has a total of 5,100 guest rooms and suites. If you are around Las Vegas for some casino or whatever, it will make your trip complete if you try sleeping at MGM Grand Hotel Casino. It holds the title of the second biggest hotel in the world and the biggest in the North American region. You will say nothing but praises when you will see right in your very eyes its four 30-storey towers. What more if you treat your sight with its massive video screens? A huge gold lion is outside while live lions dwell inside the place. Feed your appetite with nine restaurants and two food courts. Go and get one of its 5,005 guest rooms. Are you still in Las Vegas? If the MGM is not the hotel for you, try the second biggest in Las Vegas and the third biggest in the whole world, Luxor Hotel Casino. The adjoining tower house and the pyramid-like structure have 4,408 guest rooms and suites in it. Las Vegas also owns in its midst the fourth largest hotel in the world Mandalay Bay (including THEhotel). Ever since 1999, it has become popular due to being one of the hippest night spots. Numerous concerts are held here. When the sun is out, one can savor the enigma of its rich heritage for it has a unique coin museum. A walk-through aquarium is also another delightful spot. Your stomach and your spirit alike will enjoy the trendy restaurants. It has all in all, 4,341 rooms. Do you love Italy? Well, if Europe is just too far, Las Vegas will be happy to let you in. Yes, the next biggest hotel is still at its area. A replica of St. Mark's Square does the trick. You will experience Italy on its Renaissance period. For music-adorers, this the right place. Strolling musicians are almost out 24/7. The Venetian has the largest standard rooms. Their size is at 700 square feet. Have a reservation from one of its 4,049 guest rooms and suites. Size does matter in some cases. If this remains a hypothesis, why not let these hotels tell you the truth. Travel the world and stay at the biggest hotels of the world. Travel and Cruises: Searching for LOVE? Nostalgic but she is gone? No arms to hold, no eyes to stare at... loveless or maybe broken-hearted? Do not be too hard on your self. Take a break, stay away from the so busy city streets, free your spirit and meet new people. Go cruising down the smooth blue waters of the earth. Explore love the way nature tells it. Your sentiments will surely fade away... feelings of resentments will change into the excitement of meeting a new "mate". Through cruises for singles, there are organized cocktail parties, games, group dynamics, one-on-one dining and an access to their singles chat site where one can get to know other singles. This is a venue for meeting new people and a prospect partner in the future. All you need to do is drop off your hesitation and actively participate in the process of match-making. Romance blooms in the most unexpected places, right. These are three of the most popular Singles Cruise: * 7 Night Greek Isles Cruise You could sail from Venice Italy to Bari, Italy, same with Santorini, Mykonos and Corfu Greece and Dubrovnik Croatia. Spend money from $1,622. * 7 Night Hawaiian Islands Cruise For $1,990 or more, one is able to join the singles cruise to Hawaii. It sails from Honolulu to Kauai to Maui. * 8 Night Exotic Western Caribbean after Thanksgiving Cruise In just a cheap $749 or more, one can have at his hands the marvelous Western Caribbean Cruise. Cruises for singles were created to cater the needs of the single community of individuals in the world. If you are just willing to spend some amount, sincere time, pure intentions, this project must continue going to school. Not only socializing activities is being stressed but also single cruises prepare activities that would enhance skills like teamwork, self-confidence and establishing of good intrapersonal relationship. The cruises for singles prepare sports activities. Professional cruise directors are the ones who organize these activities. Lectures and other worthwhile sharing of thoughts are also significant parts. Indeed, not merely all-fun. Deposit commonly ranges from $250-$300 and all are charged according to double occupancy. Actually, couples do not stay on the entire ship, but they have one common spot where they mingle and try love searching. Most people who have experienced joining the cruise are working professionals from mid 20s to mid 60s. There is this sparkling hope that somebody meant for them is on board, they try cruising the Singles. This is a way of traveling and finding love, both at the same time. Traveling Light on a Cruise On a cruise, you would meet new people and new people means, new impressions. How could be impression be formed? There are factors and though it is shallow to think of, the way a person dresses up affects how people around look at him or her. A well-dressed person is often regarded of as a confident person. But, others are so timid to look at. How could one still be fashionable without having to carry the whole closet? You are on your way away from home; packing is the next thing to consider. As you travel, you must bear in mind that you have to travel light, bring what is only important and what are your must-haves. It will be a big hassle on your part if you carry with you an extremely heavy bag, Instead of giving you the break of your life, it will surely break your shoulders apart. Packing the things you need is so important. How to do it? Casual, formal and informal are things or clothes one must consider bringing as present from them In daylight, shorts tees, Capri pants, sneakers, slippers and simple tees are fine for me. These are sources of comfort and they are much suited for the ordinary days. Your bikinis, sunscreen lotion, flip flops, sunglasses, and your necessities for the beach. For the night time something a little formal will do the trick, try on something strap for women and for men, trousers and blazer may do. Dressing up does not mean that you have to be very fancy, all you need to have is presentable clothes, easy to carry and the most important thing is it is being worn with confidence. Being on a cruise does not mean you have to forget how you look especially if you are out for the singles cruise. There you have to be attractive in some ways because you are there in search for someone. Traveling light while not having to look messy will surely make your cruise unforgettable. Always take care of your belongings when you set out for a cruise, traveling light will help you do this much easier. Moreover, having so many loads to carry along your trip will not help you achieved your purpose of relaxation. It would even resort to stress or anxiety- so beware! It will be hassle- free, stress-free and it may be a wonderful start of something you have been wishing for, with someone you have been waiting for. How to get rid of cruise misconceptions as you travel For the rest of the world, cruising is a great experience no amount of money could afford to alter. On the other hand, there are still people who think that it sucks to go on a cruise and it is not fun travel at all. What are the reasons why some people manage not to like cruising when in fact it is stereotyped as "adventurous way to travel"? One of the most common reasons is that he thinks that a cruise could be very boring travel; this is not at all true. The cruise ship offers everything that is just right for one's enjoyment. There are a lot of things and activities waiting for you so do not get stuck in a corner, go out and meet people- at daylight, you could enjoy the games. Moreover, it is also a reliever from stress and anxiety. The traditional way of relaxing near the pool with eyes set on the star-studded sky or flash one's eyeballs on the beautiful people. Some offer spa and other beauty as well as teenagers. But there are others too. As the night curtains are dropped, there are numerous bars and parties could help you socialize and mingle with others. Others are afraid to try experiencing a cruise for he or she might be seasick. Seasickness is normal back in the past. Nowadays ships are so smooth-sailing, so they do not have large tendency to let you have seasickness. The chance to travel is worth the adventure, you do not have to be very cautious about it. The biggest mistake a person could think is that he or she will not feel comfortable. The reason she tries to evade from cruising is that there are many people who could not drink and those who could. There are people who are like that, but I am like this...is the usual drama. You need not worry about that we could fix it anytime soon. For younger people, they do not consider joining the older population. They think that it is not good to be in a cruise and travel because people there are all old. This is half of the truth- but let us appreciate the fact that you are there and you are unique. Meeting people along the way is not something to be afraid of bridging the differences. The reason of others is that they have a bit of knowledge in ships and they think it is disadvantageous means to travel. You are there to unwind not to look at you an engineer who knows all the parts of their function and enumerate them to people you meet. These are just some of the many misconceptions. These are not that strong for someone who has in his heart what he does. And, sometimes we need to look for other things... When the fact is they are just near our reach. Travel, it is a chance to be savored and not wasted. Travel the world, travel to the best ski sites The snow, the slope, the scene, the chill...these factors are important in considering the Ski site. Some ski-enthusiasts are really making sure that they do not only go skiing because of their hobby but they also check out the Ski sites. They are indeed worth your visit. These sites are also having this race to popularity against each other. As of the present, there are a lot of well-known Ski sites around the globe. You could check for your self the seven most sought-after sites where you could enjoy the thrill, the challenge and the splash of snow. According to Askmen.com these are the seven Ski sites you would not dare miss going to and a travel would be very cherished for you: Vermont, Eastern US is the mother of the Ski resort named Stowe. There are two Ski areas here: Spruce Peak and Mount Mansfield. It has the most picturesque ski resort in the area. It possesses the traditional New England lure and the largest vertical drop. In France, the host of the 1st World Olympic Games: Chamonix Mont-Blanc is one of the world's finest Ski site. It is proud to have a lift-served vertical drop and the longest run. Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise are three Ski sites that could be found in Banff National Park in Western Canada. Be captivated with Vail, also called as the "America's favorite Ski resort. What makes this resort from Colorado, in Western United States so unique is that it does not only hold skiing activities but as well as it give s clients the best art galleries, ice skating, snow mobilingand the like. Switzerland, one of the cleanest in the world, who would have known that in its womb, is the beautiful, it is said to be the cleanest Ski resort. The peace of mind it complementing t6he beautiful country of Switzerland is really a sight. Go to Austria and visit Ktzhubel, the "Peal of the Alps". As the former host of the Olympics, it also has the breath-taking scene that would steal any skier's heart out. It is also the most famous during holidays. The most famous Ski site is the Whistler/Blackcomb which could be found in British Columbia. It has the biggest vertical drop. What makes it so big for those thrill-enthusiasts? Cafes, restaurants that cater foods of the world, stores that are internationally known, make it as the coolest spot for both skiers and non-skiers. The delicious food is the topmost reason why people crave for this Ski site. Discover the snow, the thrill, the fun, the excitement. Unravel the Skier in you- visit the seven of the best Ski sites in the planet. Travel the world, travel around these sites for skiing. Alaska -- Experience the Great Outdoors There are few places in the United States that can boast as much natural beauty and Alaska, and when it comes to untamed natural beauty, this state wins hands down. From magnificent snow capped mountains to serene lakes full of salmon, Alaska offers an outdoor vacation that's hard to beat. If you're flying into Alaska, your main choices are Anchorage in the south of the state or Fairbanks in the north. One way of getting the best from your time in Alaska is to fly into one of the airports and out of the other. Then you have a choice of you'll get from one to other, and part of your vacation will be traveling in the direction of your return airport -- this can be by car or train. For added adventure, you can take the train from Anchorage to Fairbanks (or vice versa) -- this journey of just under 350 miles will give you not only breathtaking views of Mt. McKinley, crosses the 700ft Mears Memorial bridge and clings to the side of Nenana River Canyon, but it also takes you across Hurricane Gulch -- 918ft wide! This is a train journey you won't ever forget! Sports and leisure opportunities abound in Alaska, whether you prefer to go backpacking in Denali National Park, or dog mushing near Fairbanks, you'll find something new to experience -- note however that if you intend to spend the night camping in Denali National Park you will need to make a reservation to do so as the park has strict monitoring processes in place. Fishing, canoeing on the lakes, photographing the natural wildlife, and panning for gold offer more sedate past-times. You'll even find you can have a round of golf or two if you're missing your usual tee-time! On the other side of the scale, extreme sports -- such as rock climbing, heli-skiing, rafting etc are also available for those who enjoy the thrill and adventure involved. Alaska has a lot more to offer than snow and ice. A vacation here will leave you wishing you had longer to spend in the state, and planning your return visit. Visit Alcatraz, San Francisco's Notorious Ex Federal Prison Converted from a military installation to a federal prison in 1934, Alcatraz is one of America's foremost notorious prisons. Despite the fact it was only used as a prison for 29 years, it's probably the most famous. There are two main reasons for its being so well known; firstly the notability of prisoner which were housed there, and secondly, its image recorded by Hollywood's moviemakers. By current standards, the prison wasn't large, housing only 250 inmates, but because of its island location, there were never any escapes recorded from it -- thus adding fuel for entertainment industry to create movies such as "Escape from Alcatraz" where real life escape attempts were transposed into movies for the big screen. TV's "Mythbusters" have since proved that escape was in fact a possibility, despite Alcatraz's reputation to the contrary. Today Alcatraz, known also as the Rock, is overseen by the National Parks Service who have representatives on the island. Visitors will be able to ask NPS staff any questions they have, but there are no formal tours around the prison. There are self-guided tours -- including the cellhouse audio tour -- however, which together with videos and exhibits make for an interesting trip around this famous building. The evening ferry ride out to Alcatraz offers a greater insight into the island than the daytime ones as it circles the island, and has a narration about the island's history -- this should be balanced against the fact that there are some areas of the island that not open at night because of safety issues. There's no fee for actually visiting Alcatraz, but the ferry companies that transport visitors across the Bay do charge for their services. Whether you are interested in the Alcatraz myth, the celebrity inmates such as Al Capone, and Alvin Karpis, movie locations, or the historical past of San Francisco, you'll find Alcatraz an interesting way to spend a few hours. Animal Kingdom -- Disney's Newest Addition Disneyworld's newest addition, Animal Kingdom is a wonderful place for kids of all ages to learn about animals and the environments in which they live, as well as taking a closer look at the world of dinosaurs -- all in the traditional Disney package of feel good exhibits and varying thrill-level rides. Upon arrival, check out the visitors center for news on any special events happening daily in the park. In the Boneyard play in a maze filled with fun fossils. Any would-be palaeontologist in your family will love this one! Then there's DINOSAUR which will be more entertaining for those who desire more thrills and spills from their visit. Other areas of interest in this Dinoland section of the Animal Kingdom are the TriceraTop Spin, the Cretacaeous Trail and of course, a Disney musical exhibit based around the Finding Nemo movie. Amidst these various attractions are wildlife such as storks and Asian brown tortoises. In the Flights of Wonder section, you can learn how to (and how not to!) handle birds and see such beautiful bird as an American Bald Eagle, and magnificent macaws up close -- but don't get too close! If you're ready for some more excitement, take a trip down the Kali River Rapids -- watch out for the rushing geysers however as you raft down the Chakrandadi River escaping a jungle fire by traveling down a waterfall! If you're up for another thrill, the Expedition Everest ride is a roller coaster ride which has your on a refurbished steam train en route to your Mount Everest base camp taking a yeti guarded short cut! The animals of the Animal Kingdom shouldn't be forgotten, and a trip through the Maharajah Jungle will take you in the Anandapur Royal Forest of Southeast Asia where you can wander around the ruins of an ancient palace, home to many different animals. The Animal Kingdom has its share of Disney rides, but with an overall theme of protecting wildlife, it's a good place to teach kids about wildlife and how to preserve it. The Badlands If you're a geologist, a naturalist, or just someone that's interested in a place a bit off the beaten track, then The Badlands, South Dakota is the place for you. A mixture of spires, valleys, buttes and sharply eroded sandstone, this mixed prairie grass preserve is a great place to go whether you're a fossil hunter, or just interested in natural beauty. Badlands National park is a gorgeous place -- with unique and unusual sandstone rock that layers in ways that has to be seen to be believed. The spires, and erosions formed over several thousand millenia make for a unique skyline. Vegetation and fauna sprinkle crevices and valleys, making for interesting walks, and of course, the badlands are home to all kinds of wild animals, from Bison that graze by the side of the road as you're driving through, to Prairie dogs, Elk, Coyotes, and wild Horses. Many interesting fossils have been found there, since the interest in paleontology kicked up in 1840 or so. Several species of fossils have since been discovered in the White River area of the Badlands -- more than 3/4s of the total found by 1854 had come from that one area. Theodore Roosevelt national park is the most interesting of the Badlands parks, made up of three packages of land that are separate from one another -- and are all connected by The Maah Daah Hey trail. It is said that Theodore Roosevelt associated strongly with the 'dying' way of life of the Western cowboy, and rancher and had his own ranch there to recover from the loss of his mother and later, his wife. His Ranch is set deep within the heart of one of the packets of land and though there's nothing left of it now, he wrote about the peace he found there, before returning to politics later in his life. Bents Old Fort, Colorado Bents Old Fort is a reconstruction of a 1840s trading post. Now under the watchful eye of the National Parks Service, the original adobe fort was one of the few white settlements on the Sante Fe trail west of Missouri. Although the Fort may not be worth a detour to many people, if you are in the area, and have any interest in 19th century US frontier history, Bents Old Fort not only shows the physical layout of how such an establishment was run, but also gives a good indication of the kind of natural elements the people who managed and traded at the fort lived with. With summer temperatures that can go above 100 F, and winter ones that can drop to 0 F during the day, the very brief quarter of a mile walk down the path from the arrivals area, to the fort gates, is a good indicator of how tough people had to be to cope with weather extremes. At the fort today there's a 20 minute video presentation that tells the fort's story, and there are demonstrations and exhibits. You can take either a self-guided tour, or alternatively join a guided tour which in the summer are lead by living history interpreters. There are a number of special events that happen throughout the summer, some of which are specifically aimed at kids, and a visit to the national park website will identify when these take place. Whether you have an interest in military life of the time, the wagon trains, the explorers who opened up the west, or just want to give your kids some kind of "live" history experience to help their school studies -- look around the store to see what kind of diet those who lived in, or travelled through the area lived on -- a trip to Bents Old Fort will have something to interest you. Visit Bryce Canyon -- One of America's Secret Natural Highlights Bryce Canyon, named after Ebenezer Bryce who settled in the area in the 1850s, is situated in the south of Utah. Receiving National Park status in 1928, the park is around 55 square miles of breathtaking natural rugged beauty. Although smaller and quieter (most tourists make their way to the Grand Canyon, or nearby Zion National Park), Bryce Canyon is a park that has much to offer in terms of original natural features. In particular, viewing the hoodoos -- which can reach heights of 200 meters -- and the vibrant color of the natural landscape are worth the visit and admission price. If geology interests you, this is a must do on your travel itinerary if you are traveling through this part of Utah. At the visitor center, you can watch a short film which is a great introduction to the park. Afterwards check out if there are any ranger programs that you can take part in that day, or just hike/drive around and enjoy the spectacular views from the many observation points throughout the park. For those who enjoy winter sports, there are opportunities for show shoeing or cross country ski-ing, or during the warmer months, there are horseback riding tours that last between 2-4 hours -- check with the park in advance to check if you are able to reserve a place on any specific activities you'd like to do. For those who enjoy wandering around and learning from exhibits, current displays in the museum include geology, wildlife and star gazing. For anyone interested in the geology of Bryce Canyon, there are frequent geology talks in the park. Bryce Canyon may not be as expansive as Grand Canyon, but it has a rugged charm of its own and is well worth a visit if you're in the area. Busch Gardens, Florida -- Where America Welcomes Africa Situated about 75 miles west of Orlando is the home of the Busch Gardens. Located in Tampa, Florida, this theme part is inspired by the sights and sounds of Africa, and provides an aesthetic contrast to the sugar/sweet images of Orland's Disney parks. The Busch Gardens are set around 10 different themed areas that include savannahs, jungle and even pyramid features, so there's something for the whole family to enjoy here. Although animals are a great focal point in the park, it is home to one of America's top zoos, there are rollercoasters for those who want a little more excitement in their day, or areas for those who prefer a bit of calm to take a gentle stroll in the afternoon. For those who aren't quite up to the daring rollercoaster rides, there's the Seregenti Express railroad that will take you through some areas of the park, and an 8 minute land rover experience that will leave you exhilarated but not shaking! If you aren't afraid of heights, the Sky Ride Cable Car will give you a wonderful overview of the park below you. Younger members of the family will love the Animal Nursery located in the Nairobi sector of the Busch Gardens. Here they'll find baby birds, and other animals plus a petting zoo -- there are primates in this area also with apes and chimps vying for visitor attention. For anyone who wants a closer experience with the animals, check out the daily schedule for visitor participation feeding and training encounters. Another must do for those who like to get off the main beaten track is a behind the scenes tour -- these take approximately 4-5 hours and you'll find information about times and locations in the park, or ring the park in advance for more details. As with all theme parks, entrance isn't cheap, nor is refreshment once you get inside, but it's a great day out with a very authentic feel and if you intend going to other parks such as SeaWorld and/or Universal in Orlando, then you could considering buying a pass that will allow you multi-park entry at a reduced cost then paying for all entrance fees separately. Discover Solitude in Ancient Surroundings at the Colorado National Monument If your travels take you anywhere near Grand Junction or Fruita, Colorado, then make sure you take the time to visit the Colorado National Monument. Compared with the larger canyon type national parks, the Colorado National Monument is small, but this makes the experience less impersonal. It also means that it's less likely to be overflowing with other tourists -- making it a great "get away from it all" retreat for anyone needing a little solitude. What the semi-desert Colorado National monument lacks in overall size, it makes up for in content. Packed within its boundaries are some of America's most impressive hoodoos, whose vibrant colors are hard to match anywhere. Alongside the geological wonders and juniper trees, is a spectrum of wildlife that includes golden eagles and desert bighorns. The Monument Canyon is the monument's largest feature as it covers the entire length of the park and holds incredible rock formations. Return to various observation points throughout the day, particular sunset and sunrise, to see how the light reflects across the canyon's natural structures. For any couple with a passion for the great outdoors, or an interest in geology, or even just a desire to organize a wedding with a difference, the Colorado National Monument allows couples to be married at certain locations within its boundaries -- remember to allow 14 days for the processing of your special use permit application. Choose your location well to have wedding photos that will be second to none as regards the spectacular backdrop provided by nature. Close the world's largest flat topped mountain, Grand Mesa, the Colorado National Monument allows activities such as horse riding, biking, and of course hiking. It's also possible to camp in the area at the Saddlehorn Campground if you wish to spend longer in the park. Discover the Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado Divided between two states, with Colorado having the majority holding, Dinosaur National Monument is a "must see" park for anyone interested in Dinosaurs, and especially any family with a budding paleontologist in their midst. Before entering Dinosaur National Monument, remember that you are in a desert area and stock up accordingly! Although you may be able to purchase refreshments within the park, this isn't a theme park and so there may be quite a drive between the visitor centers. Also ensure that everyone in your party has a hat and that you leave an itinerary of where you intend to be exploring in the park with someone who will raise an alert if you don't return by nightfall. Also observe all safety recommendations that are posted by the park personnel. This is especially important if you intend to be hiking in the park. Having observed the safety requirements, visit the visitor center and find out what activities are happening in the park that day, and pick up a map so that you know what there is to see and the best way to get there. If you are just passing through the area, you could leave your proposed itinerary with the center staff so that they know where you are heading. One of the most interesting sections of the park for visitors is the Dinosaur Quarry. This is actually located in Utah, close to the town of Jenson. Here, in the Dinosaur Quarry building, you'll see hundreds of dinosaur fossil bones exposed from the rock. The quarry itself was proclaimed to be the largest single collection of dinosaur bones found. Although it's possible that visitors could be lucky enough to find a previously undiscovered fossil, it's illegal to remove any such item from the park and if you are fortunate enough to be the first person to discover a fossil, you must have it in to the appropriate authorities in the park. Other points of interest in the park are the petroglyphs along Park Drive, and cabins that are reported to have belonged to homesteaders. For those looking for a more physical thrill amongst the ancient history, there are river trips of various lengths and skill levels on the Green and Yampa Rivers. Dinosaur National Monument is a "in the field" museum which shows ancient history in the shape of the Dinosaur remains that have been uncovered there, the Indian art that was discovered and also the more modern history of settlers. It's a unique experience to record for your vacation photo album.
Discovery Cove, Orlando, Florida -- Swim with Dolphins Family vacations are times for bonding and memory building. They're also a time when dreams of exotic locations, or one in a lifetime opportunities/challenges are realized. All of these are possible at Discovery Cove, Florida. Situated beside the more typical theme park of SeaWorld, in Orlando, this isn't a cheap excursion, nor is it a park full of rides, shows and tours. Instead, here you will experience something that you won't find in many other places. You'll get to swim with dolphins. Another contrast to the larger parks is that at Discovery Coves visitors are put into small groups, each with its own staff member to lead it around the park. There's an age limit to the dolphin swim so if you've got under 6's you'll need to consider that before deciding on a visit to this park. Another "housekeeping" tip is that trips to Discovery Cove must be pre-booked, and lunch is included -- as is all of the equipment hire such as wet suit, snorkel and even a towel if required. Apart from being taught how to communicate with the dolphins and being allowed to swim with them in your small group, you will be able to spend the rest of the day enjoying the birds that fly over beautiful beaches on the property, together with snorkeling off the various reefs packed with marine life, and exploring hidden grottos. It's an unforgettable experience! For anyone who is interested in working in this kind of environment, Discovery Cove offers a Trainer for a Day program where the limited number of visitors who are on the program are allowed a closer connection with the animals and get to work alongside the regular staff members for that day. Discovery Cove may be missing the wilder exhibits that its neighboring theme parks are noted for, but it more than makes up for this in terms of sheer magic, beauty and wildlife. The Disney MGM Studios -- Where Disney Stars are Made If you're visiting Orlando, Florida, you probably have a trip to Universal Studios on your list, and therefore may decide to skip MGM Studios, however you may find that -- especially if you have younger children -- MGM is a better alternative as there are less attractions with height restrictions than Universal. Although there are a few more thrill-seeking rides, most of the MGM Studio park is at a more gentle pace making it a good destination for families, or those who are a little mobility impaired. Upon entering the park, you'll be on Hollywood Boulevard. This is a place to shop merchandise of both a traditional souvenir nature, and also more limited edition collectors pieces, as well as find restaurants and other kinds of retail outlets. Walk to the bottom of the Boulevard however and you'll find the Great Movie Ride. Although the queue for this may be long, it does move quickly and the journey through well known movie scenes is well worth the wait. Around the rest of the park there are shows such as the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular which shows how stunts are performed and re-enacts scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark, a car and motorcycle stunt show called Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, and Fastasmic! A night-time show in the Holywood Hills Amphitheatre. For the young, and young at heart, there's such things as the Jim Henson's Muppet Vision 3D show, the Little Mermaid show, the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, Beauty and the Beast show, and Playhouse Disney live on stage. Thrill seekers aren't forgotten completely however with the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Aerosmith's indoor Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. With the Journey in Narnia, and the Disney-MGM Studios Backlot Tour, there's a great day of entertainment to be had at Disney's MGM Studios. If you love Disney, it's well worth a visit! The Empire State Building -- One of New York's Most Famous Buildings Situated at 350 Fifth Avenue is one of the most famous of New York's impressive buildings. Instantly recognizable from such movies as King Kong, An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle, the Empire State Building stands as one of the most well known skyscrapers in the world. With its art deco architecture, the Empire State Building's observation deck on the 80th Floor is where most visitors head. There's a charge to enter the observation deck but it's not too expensive, especially considering the unique view of New York and the surrounding area you'll get from the top. There are 73 elevators in the building -- these can take you from ground level to the 80th floor in a matter of seconds -- but those who are more active, or like a challenge, the alternative is a 1,575 step climb -- of course you could just take the elevator up and walk down if you prefer! The Empire State Building is open daily from 9.30am until midnight -- make sure you arrive in time to be allowed access as the building may shut at midnight, but they like the observation deck cleared prior to then. Despite its closing time, it's just as good an experience to see New York from the Observation Deck at night as it as by day. Although you can't see as far as you can in daylight, the lights of New York make the night visit special in its own right. Although the Empire State Building is mainly for those who like to look rather than do, there is a hidden gem on the second floor for those who enjoy a thrill ride. The New York Skyride is a flight stimulator which will have you hanging to your seat as the images take you on a fast paced virtual reality aerial tour of the "Big Apple". For its celebrity, architectural beauty, spectacular views and not forgetting the incredible Skyride tour, a visit to the Empire State Building should be on every visitor's itinerary. Epcot -- Entertaining and Educational Orlando, Florida's Epcot is a tourist attraction that will take a full day to explore, but if you want to sample all of the rides and exhibits, you have a multi-park ticket and find a spare half-day on your hands, then you may find you need to come back to Epcot to "finish off" what you don't manage to see the first time -- this is especially true in summer where queues for some exhibits can be quite long. Split into two main sections Epcot consists of "Future World" and "World Showcase". These two sections are then fragmented into different individual exhibits on all a theme which fits the overall theme of the section. Future World is divided up into sections such as Spaceship Earth which is about the history of communication and technologies, Innovations with its interactive technological exhibits, Test Track a high speed ride on an automotive factory testing grounds, Universe of Energy which shows how to generate energy and the Land and Seas Exhibitions where the attractions give fun ways of learning about our natural environment both on land and in the sea. Space enthusiasts will love with Mission: SPACE ride which simulates space program training! In the World Showcase you can travel around the world in as little time as you have available. Each of the countries in the showcase has a interactive exhibit, a gift store selling produce and goods from the country, and food/drink traditional to that part of the world. Some of the exhibits are more fact (such as the 360 Circle Vision movies for Canada and China) than fun (such as Norway's Maelstrom boat ride, and America's audio-animatronics American Adventure), but there's something for everyone -- and none of the rides in the exhibits are wild, making them good for all age groups. Refreshments in Epcot are expensive, but apart from that, Epcot is a tourist attraction that's primarily entertaining, but which also educates in a fun way at the same time, making it a great place to bring the kids to learn about the world in which they live. Experience Nature in the Everglades National Park, Florida As the 3rd largest national park in America, the 1.6 million square miles of the Everglades National Park is teeming with natural beauty. Its swamplands are as familiar a sight as the alligators and airboats used to promote the area. The ecosystem of the park is what draws many of the visitors here. Although there's plenty of waterways, swimming isn't an option because of the unfriendly wildlife who live there, but canoeing is one way of enjoying the water from the relative safety of a vessel. There are guided tours around the park by staff who will talk about the wildlife of the park, and the various sites to see within it. These tours can be on foot, or by a regular tram, or even by boat -- obviously one of the best ways to see the Everglades which are noted for their grasses which grow up through the shallow waters in much of the park. As with most nature reserve/national parks personal safety must be your priority in the Everglades. This isn't a superficial theme park. The wildlife here is real, the teeth are real, and they do bite! If you take children, especially younger children, make sure that they are aware of the dangers and that they must listen to what people tell them. This is even more important if you take them out on a boat tour where they must sit still and not trail their hands in the water. The Everglades is one of the most astounding national parks in the US, one which is unrivalled as far as it's particular brand of natural wildlife and scenery is concerned, but it's also a place where safety is vital -- so read the warnings carefully, keep to the rules of the park as told to you by the park staff, and you'll have an unforgettable time for all the right reasons -- oh and don't forget the mosquito spray! Gettysburg, Pennsylvania -- for American Civil War Enthusiasts Anyone familiar with the American Civil War will be aware of the part that Gettysburg played, and the amount of lives that were lost during the historic 3 day battle that took place there in July 1863. The area was the later that year to be the scene of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Although the final outcome of the battle at Gettysburg was a Union victory, the amount of fallen soldiers who lie in the Union burial site at Gettysburg National Cemetary (actually located on Cemetery Hill) is evidence that victory came at a high human cost to both sides. Today the Gettysburg National Military Park is a silent witness to the military strategies, human heroism, and the loss of life sustained during its history. You should start your visit with a walk around the visitors center, even if you are familiar with the events of the battle, as it will help you to orientate yourself "on the ground". You can take advantage of joining a guided tour around the park, or pick up a map for a self-guided auto tour. A film in the Cycloarma Center will also help with your orientation to the area before you set off exploring. The Cyclorarma Center also shows other educational films as well as displaying civil war exhibits so you may like to spend time back here once you've taken your drive around the park, if not before. If you are visiting Gettysburg to give your children a living history lesson about the Civil War, check out the programs of special interest to younger visitors -- in particular, the summer months usually sees a program where 7-12 year olds enlist in the army for an hour, to learn what life as a solider was like during the period. Another favorite is the Civil War storytelling which shows the roles children played during the time. Whether your family was involved in the American Civil War or not, Gettysburg is an interesting place to visit. Many of the names such as Cemetery Hill, and Devil's Den are familiar from Hollywood's adaptation of history, but here at Gettysburg you can separate the fiction from the fact, and see how life really was for the men who fought and died here. Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee -- The Legend Lives On Home of the late King, and his final resting place, his beautiful home of Graceland gives an insight into how the man lived when not on stage. From the beautiful entrance to the famous Jungle Room, Graceland is everything you imagine it to be. Tours of Graceland start across the road from the grounds themselves. Here you will find everything Elvis from the tacky to the collectible. From record stores to museums housing Elvis memorabilia such as his collection of cars, and the Lisa Marie, his private jet, there's bound to be something that will tempt you into parting with your dollars. One of the simplest mementos is to send a postcard home from the Graceland post office, this will have a Graceland postmark on it and so becomes an instant souvenir. Your ticket into Graceland doesn't usually include admittance to the other Elvis museums so if you want to see "everything" be prepared to pay for it. One Graceland attraction that's free to tourists is the sight of those famous musically decorated gates. Which Elvis fan can forget the fans that lined up hoping to get a glimpse of what was happening on the days immediately following his death? As the bus that takes you across to the house approaches, the gates open and you are admitted into this once very private estate. Apart from the main house, there's also an exhibition of Elvis's stage clothes and other personal items, including his wall of "Records", and the grounds behind the house where Elvis is laid to rest. Even today, many years after his death, there are fresh floral tributes regularly sent to the estate by various Elvis fan clubs and associations and which are put on display. Graceland is a home where a King once ruled, but even though his body may have long since past, his presence amidst the contrasting beauty and garishness is still felt today. If you're an Elvis fan, this is one place you must see if you're in the Memphis area! Grand Canyon, Arizona -- A Sight Not to be Missed! The Grand Canyon National Park was one of America's first National Parks, and it's one of the country's most popular tourist destinations with visitors from across the world being inspired by its breathtaking beauty every day. The Canyon, which the Colorado River has cut through the gorge, is approximately 275 miles long and between a quarter of a mile to 15 miles wide (average is approximately 10 miles), depending on where you are standing. It's also about a mile deep which means that it's a challenge that many people enjoy to hike (or ride) down into the gorge. There are two different sides of the Grand Canyon, the more tourist orientated South Rim which is open year around, and the more secluded North Rim which is closed during the winter season. On the South Rim, there are many opportunities for learning about the Canyon, and ways of experiencing it first hand -- whether a bus tour around the rim stopping at observation points to for photo opportunities, hiking down the trails, rafting along the river, or even taking a flight through the gorge. On the North Rim however, you will find the Grand Canyon more fiercely guarded against the trapping of commercialism, with most of the thrills coming from the light patterns on the Canyon walls as day turns into night. The South Rim has wheelchairs available for visitors, and many of the areas/facilities -- although not the shuttle buses (anyone requiring a shuttle bus with wheelchair access should call the day before they visit the Grand Canyon to ensure one will be running the next day as these are operated on an "on demand" basis) -- are wheelchair/mobility impaired accessible although assistance may be required. Accommodation is limited in the Grand Canyon, especially on the North Rim so if you intend to stay overnight in the park to experience both a sunset and a sunrise be sure to make a reservation far in advance of your vacation period. Whether you prefer the South Rim with its array of opportunities and challenges for experiencing the Canyon, or the more solitary and intimate "back to nature" atmosphere of the North Rim, the magnitude of the Grand Canyon is an forgettable experience. Hollywood Boulevard -- The Street of Stars Anyone visiting California who is even remotely interested in movies and celebrities can't fail include a visit to Hollywood Boulevard on their itinerary of holiday activities. But the reality of what Hollywood Boulevard falls quite a long way short of most people's expectations. The main problem is that when people think about this famous location, they immediately associate it with the glamour of the celebrities whose stars adorn the footpath. They don't associate the area with the movie industry work place where make up, costumes and scenery take shape. That's not to say that you won't bump into a celebrity on the Boulevard, it's just that if they are in their "street" clothes as opposed to their celebrity uniform that adorns magazine covers, you might not recognize them! Over the years Hollywood Boulevard has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair, but more recently the area has started to be transformed once again so that there are now a number of things for tourists to do. One of the more fun things is a look around Fredericks of Hollywood's Lingerie Museum. Here you'll find an exhibition of undergarments that have been worn throughout the ages, as well as some more modern examples that have been worn by some of Hollywood's familiar faces. For those who are interested in television sets, a tour around the Hollywood Entertainment Museum will reveal familiar sets from shows such as the X-files, and Cheers. If you go to Hollywood Boulevard for the purpose of having your photo taken next to your favorite actor's "star", then you will probably find it saves you quite a bit of time if you buy a map which tells you where each celebrity "star" is located. There is still a touch of old style glamour on Hollywood Boulevard however. No trip to this area would be complete without a visit to the Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards. You'll need to get there early to make sure you get a ticket to go inside, but once you're in, it won't matter what you thought of the Boulevard itself -- the charm of the theatre is everything a movie lover could hope to find, and more! Visit the Kennedy Space Center, Florida For anyone who is enthusiastic or curious about space travel, past and present, a trip to the Kennedy Space Center a little west of Orlando will be a day out not to be forgotten. This isn't going to be a cheap day out, so make sure you check out in advance the current entrance fees plus any additional budget requirements for additional rides, etc just before you make your trip. Another thing to check in advance is the space shuttle launching schedule -- what greater day could there be to go the space center then on a day you will see a shuttle actually take off? Of course, all shuttle schedules are subject to change so even if you arrange your trip to coincide with a scheduled take-off, it's not necessarily going to happen. There's more to see at Kennedy Space Center than just the space shuttle launching however. There are exhibitions of rockets and spacecraft from the years when space travel was in its infancy. There are rides to simulate space travel for those with the nerve to try. There's the launching pad area where Apollo 11 was once launched placing men on the moon for the first time. There are tours of the site which are narrated and have photo stops. Two must see parts of the Kennedy Space Center experience however are the Imax theatre presentations (capture the thrill of a close-up launch in the "The Dream is Alive" feature), and then the Astronaut Encounter where an astronaut takes to the stage to talk about traveling in space, and also answer questions from the audience -- a great experience for any families who have a budding astronaut in their party! Kennedy Space Center isn't a theme park but rather a working site that allows visitors a glimpse into the romance, and work, of space flight, as well as an up close and personal insight into the many things that come together in that moment when a space shuttle launches. In an area known for thrills and spills of a manufactured kind, Kennedy is a real life thrill that you can experience without your feet leaving the ground! Las Vegas, Where Luck Shines on the Fortunate Few At one time Las Vegas was little more than a tiny town in the desert, then came the boom time of the big casinos and the reputation of being a fun place to visit began to grow. Today, many of those original big casinos that once boasted performers such as Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr, have been torn down and in their place stand entertainment complexes that are part hotel, and part theme park. Today the Las Vegas strip is a strange place by day; an imposing array of awkward looking high storey hotels on either side of the road. But as the ugly ducking transformed into a swan, these buildings transform into a magical land of colored lights and fancy special effects once darkness falls. Each of the main hotels has it's own signature and often these are programmed to run at set times every night, so check with your hotel concierge if they have a list of the times -- or visit the websites for each hotel prior to starting your vacation. As the best time to see the strip is after dark, keep the daylight for taking part in the various other activities such as shopping, museums (such as Liberace's), and even taking a peek in one of the famous wedding chapels, but make sure you save most of your energy for once the sun goes down and Vegas really comes to life. Gambling at Vegas is almost mandatory -- not by the establishments, but by human nature! To make sure you get home in one piece, set a limit to how much you can afford to lose in any one night, and don't go over that amount. Pace your budget by taking in a dinner show at one of the hotels -- check the local listings to see who's appearing where during your vacation, then ask your hotel reception if they can get you tickets. Las Vegas is more than just casinos, but if you enjoy bright lights, cabaret and the sound of poker chips being restacked, then there's no better place to spend your vacation. Mount Rushmore National Memorial -- Where Past Presidents Rule the Landscape Located near Keystone, South Dakota, is the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Originally commissioned as a way of encouraging more visitors to an area where the local economy needs tourists, the 18m sculpture was started in 1927 and completed in 1947. The memorial depicts facial likenesses of past Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, and is responsible for bringing around 2 million visitors to the Dakota area each year. Although there doesn't outwardly appear to be much to keep visitors at the area for a day, be prepared to spend a while there as Mount Rushmore is more than just a historical carving in the face of a mountain. During the day, take advantage of the beautiful area to do some hiking or biking. There's plenty of wildlife in the Black Hills area to provide photograph opportunities and excite younger members of the family. If it's a hot day, cool off a little in the Lincoln Borglum Museum which shows a 13 minute movie about Mount Rushmore. Afterwards take a stroll along the Presidential Trail which begins at the Grandview Terrace (above the theatre), which is one of the best viewing areas of the memorial, and ends at the Sculptor's Studio. Here you can learn more about the process involved with creating a memorial on such a huge scale. If you have children in your party, there's also a children's program led by a ranger which lasts about a half an hour, but they must be accompanied by parents. Once dusk falls the rangers lead a evening lighting ceremony. This is held in the amphitheatre and is more information about how the sculpture was created. Immediately following the presentation, Mount Rushmore is illuminated and remains lit for two hours. If you only have a few hours to spend, then try to organize your visit so that you not only enjoy the memorial in sunlight, but also can experience the magic of seeing the huge sculpture illuminated against the dark evening sky. Must See Places for your Visit to Denver, Colorado Denver, Colorado, is one of America's most beautiful cities. It's also a city where within minutes you aren't just out in the suburbs, you are out in the mountains in the middle of nowhere! This city of strong contrasts is a great place to spend a vacation as it has something to offer everyone from the very young to the not so young. The fact that gold is the foundation on which Denver was built is very much in evidence around the city with various landmarks being the product of the gold boom era -- from the house in which Molly Brown lived (now a museum that recounts her rags to riches story through narration and artifacts), to the cathedral that she helped finance with the money made from the gold her husband discovered in his mine. The capitol building is a beautiful piece of architecture but if you have enough energy to walk up to the top of it's dome, you'll be rewarded by being able to stand on the spot where Denver's "mile high" city nickname originates -- you'll be standing one mile above sea level. The view from the top is well worth the climb! Most cities have malls; Denver takes it that one step further. The 16th Street Mall is a mile long, and even has its own shuttle bus to transport you up and down as you shop. The mall isn't closed in as most malls are, and with cafes and fountains it's a great place to sit outside and people watch in the afternoon. Home to the Denver mint (no samples given), Denver museum has a dinosaur skeleton as one of it's major exhibits and if the weather isn't playing nice, the Children's Museum of Denver is a fun place to take the kids until the sun comes out again. When the weather changes, the Denver zoo and Six Flags Amusement Park will help keep boredom at bay! Whether you're interested in architecture, history, thrills or the natural environment, you'll be sure to find it in Denver. Myrtle Beach -- the Vacation Capital of South Carolina Nestled, on the eastern edge of South Carolina, lie the beautiful sand of Myrtle Beach. Here you'll be sure to have a vacation that will suit the entire family. Whether you prefer to camp or stay in a resort type hotel, there's accommodation to suit everyone and activities that will ensure that everyone has something to do that they love. For the kids, the beach is the place to be. Here they'll enjoy clean beaches that reach down into the Atlantic Ocean, some of the beaches have entertainment so it's just a matter of finding the one that fits your kids the best, then you can settle down to relax whilst they play. Once they've had enough sand and sea for the day, you can take them into the shopping areas. Myrtle Beach is home to a number of retail outlet malls offering bargains to take home as your vacation souvenirs. Apart from the sand, Myrtle Beach has something else in abundance -- golf courses! It's difficult to go anywhere in the Myrtle Beach area without driving past a golfing green. There are golf courses to suit every kind of player from beginner to tournament standard, so whatever your handicap, you're sure to find a game somewhere. Once the sun goes down, tourists in Myrtle Beach can turn their attention to the nightlife of the area. As with many tourist dominated locations, there are a number of dinner shows that are sure to leave a lasting memory with the whole family -- whether it's a musical extravaganze at the Carolina Opry, or the Alabama Theatre, or a four course feast and floor show at the Dixie Stampede, you're bound to return to your accommodation with some familiar tunes in your head. Myrtle Beach is a great old fashioned holiday for the entire family, so if you haven't decided where to go on your next family vacation, this could be the perfect choice. The National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC In a city where there's so much to see, you need to plan your visit carefully to make the most of the time you have available. If you have any interest in flight and/or space travel, then one of the must do items on your Washington DC itinerary is a visit to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Even those with little more than a passing interest will find themselves caught up in the magic of space travel when they come face to face with aircraft that have actually been into space or are able to touch a rock that once belonged on the moon. Many of the exhibits at this museum, which has no obligatory entry fee, are either the real artefacts that went into the air or space, or are the back-up ones which would have went on the missions had the first equipment failed. There are two main areas to the museum, the National Mall Building, and the newer Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. In the National Mall Building you can find exhibits as historically diverse as "The Spirit of St Louis" in which Charles Lindbergh made the first transatlantic solo flight, and the Apollo 11 Command module. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is home to items such as the Enola Gay, and the space shuttle "Enterprise" (you can find the original filming model of the starship USS Enterprise in the lower level of the museum gift store!). With hands on teaching exhibits on such subjects as planetary science, as well as the artefacts, the National Air and Museum is not only interesting to adults who have lived through many of the flight achievement firsts noted at the museum, but it's also educational and fun for kids, making it a perfect family destination. Visit Charming Historical Springfield, Illinois When you first arrive in this city, you could be forgiven for not realizing that this is actually the state capital of Illinois -- it lacks the hustle and bustle usually associated with most state capitals, and certainly lacks the energy of Illinois's most famous city, Chicago. However, the gentle sereneness of Springfield are in keeping with its history, for this is Lincoln's town. He was part of the group of people responsible for making Springfield the state capital, and this is his final resting place. Apart from the limestone built capitol building from where Abraham Lincoln gave his "House Divided" speech, there's also a Lincoln Home Visitors Center which shows a short movie on the Springfield that Lincoln loved, and where you can obtain free tickets to take a walk around the restored Lincoln home on 8th and Jackson Street. As a visual lesson in how people lived "back then" the home is an interesting place to visit. For those who don't think that it's morbid, a visit to Lincoln's tomb isn't to be missed. Situated in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Lincoln's tomb contains not only his remains, but also those of Mary Todd, his wife, and their three sons. If the Lincoln memorial gets a bit too much, have a change of pace by visiting the preserved home of another famous Springfield resident, Frank Lloyd Wright. Named the Dana-Thomas House, this is only a few blocks from the Capitol building, and still contains some original fixtures from his time there. As a destination, unless you're a history buff, or enjoy wandering around some of America's more charming towns, Springfield's probably not the best place to choose, but as an overnight stop, or a day trip, there's plenty to look at and it's definitely worth the visit. The Napa Valley, California California is usually synonymous with beautiful beaches, beautiful people and the glitter and glitz surrounding the movie world, but there's another side to this beautiful state, a gentler more natural side. The Napa Valley is within easy driving distance of San Francisco and offers a tranquil alternative to the bustle of the city. One of the fun things to do in the Napa Valley is to take a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train. As one of the top train rides in the world, you'll enjoy a relaxing journey in lovingly restored carriages all dated pre-1950. Whether you enjoy a romantic evening meal in the dining car as you travel through the valley's beautiful countryside, or you take the daily tour that allows a stop at two of the local vineyards, this is a local "attraction" that shouldn't be missed. Another idea to make your Napa Valley break memorable is to take a hot air balloon ride. This breathtaking view of the vineyards in the early morning light will be an experience you won't forget and will soon make you forget how early you had to get up! There are many vineyards that you can visit during your stay in the Napa Valley area. Some of them will give you a tour, others allow you to taste, and yet others have demonstrations, so check with a local guidebook about what is available at each the vineyards open to the public so you know what to expect when you get there. If you are taking a trip to California, and are a little concerned that the constant barrage of high energy attractions, and crowded stores will be too much, consider a trip to the Napa Valley, even if you don't drink wine, you're sure to enjoy the slower pace and relax in the beauty of the area. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island -- Not to be missed on Visit to New York! One of the most recognizable statues in the world, the Statue of Liberty stands on Liberty Island in New York. It's one of the most popular tourist attractions in the US, as well as one of America's most prized reminders of the ideals it represents. Many of present day Americans can trace their roots back through the generations and find a relative who first sailed past Lady Liberty's welcome before disembarking in New York harbor. As part of stricter security measures, tourists are no longer allowed access to the statue's crown and torch, but there are two ranger guided tours around the island. The first of them lasts between 30 and 60 minutes and is a gentler informational tour that doesn't require much exertion. The second tour however is a little more strenuous but if you've got the energy, the view from the 10 story high pedestal observatory will be a memory you will carry with you for the rest of your life. It's only possible to travel to the Statue of Liberty by ferry. The return visit allows visitors the opportunity to disembark at Ellis Island before returning to the mainland. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum is an interesting array of artifacts, and photographs, which have been displayed amidst personal oral history stories, and which together create a great overview of what awaited most of the immigrants who arrived at America's shore. For most of them, they would eventually be allowed admittance to the mainland, but not all. The archives allow those who are interested in researching their family history access to records which may help them discover more about their origins. A trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is a must see if you visit New York. Not only will you get to stand near one of the most treasured American landmarks, but you'll have a greater understanding of those who came seeking a new life in America. When Evening Falls on New York, it's Time to Visit Times Square and Broadway Although you can just as easily visit both Times Square and Broadway during the day, you won't experience the magic of those world famous neon signs until darkness falls and they light up the night sky. Times Square has been upgraded in recent years. The seedy reputation it had in the 1990s has gone, and new legislation has meant the adult industry has had to make way for more family familiar franchises. That doesn't mean the adult industry has gone altogether, but it isn't as prominent as it once was in this area. Today big name stores and restaurants vie for space beneath the giant billboards and tourists flock here to stand in the famous square and have their photos taken to show everyone back home that they've been to New York! Broadway isn't a place where you can take a photo of and have people instantly recognize where you are, but it's an experience not to be missed nevertheless. Whether you're a regular theater goer back home, or someone who's never seen a live show, catching a show on Broadway is part of the New York experience. One of the main problems is getting tickets for the theaters. Tickets are often in short supply for popular shows, and none of the shows are cheap. However, if you aren't too fussy about what you want to see, there are discount ticket booths in Time Square (your hotel should be able to help you locate one) where unsold tickets for that days' performances are sold at discount prices. If you want to see a live taping of a television show, the best place to try and get tickets is usually through the show's official website. If this is your first visit to the "Big Apple", Times Square and nearby Broadway are two parts of New York's past and present that are definite "Must Sees" on your New York itinerary. Visit Yosemite National Park in your California Vacation Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful natural parks in the United States. With its abundance of diverse sights, from the impressive granite cliffs, to the spectacular waterfalls, there's nature at her best everywhere you look. One of the best known must see features of Yosemite National Park is Glacier Point. This isn't open year round, but usually between June and November you can guarantee access up to enjoy the magnificent views from the top. There are many waterfalls in the park, with Yosemite Falls being the highest at just under 2,500 feet. The best time to see the waterfalls is early summer. Whilst some of the falls are easily accessible; others take more time and effort in order to be able to appreciate their beauty. Another popular area of Yosemite is the Yosemite Valley. This is an area full of breathtaking views -- including the El Capitan Meadow, Bridalveil Meadow (with its views of Bridalveil Fall), and the Sentinal Brudge. If you're inspired to take a hike amidst all this natural wonder, there's a gentle 1 mile walk in the Tuolumne Meadows which will take you about 30 minutes. History lovers will be enchanted with the Pioneer Yosemite History Center where they can walk across a covered bridge, and see exhibits such as horse drawn carriages. In the Yosemite Valley there are a number of museum/buildings that provide an interesting diversion from the beauty of the outdoors scenery! Although you aren't likely to find many bears around Yosemite, it's not unheard of, but you are more likely to see deer -- especially in the early morning. There's so much to take in on a visit to Yosemite you'll need to make sure you have plenty film for your camera, or space on your digital camera card, to record it all. One thing's for sure, it's a place you'll always remember, and most likely want to return to at a future date! Zion National Park Zion National Park in Utah, is a naturalist's dream. Containing some 290 or so species of distinct animals it is an amazing place of sandstone red and deer tan contrasts sharply against the coniferous trees, cottonwood, Cacti, and willow. Its a diverse, and unique area of the world with an abundance of plant and animal diversity. The plant and animal life in the park is partially due to the diverse merging distinctly different areas -- the Great Basin, the Mojave desert, and the Colorado Plateau, its filled with close to 300 bird species, 20 types of bat, more than 30 reptiles and seventy five different mammals, including the Mountain Lion, The Golden Eagle and the recently reintroduced California Condors. The most prominent feature, cut by the Virgin River, is the 15 mile long canyon, the Zion Canyon. Inhabited for over 8000 years by Indian tribes of various kinds, it was settled by Mormons in the 1860's it became a national park in the early 20th Century. The Zion Canyon and the Kobold arch (so named after the nearest star to God, according to Mormon religion) are two of the most stunning sites of the park, and are breathtaking and amazing and well worth the visit. There are various hikes that you can take through the grounds ranging from gentle hikes that you can take in a morning, to all day walks that challenge your stamina and fitness and takes you through the best parts of the park. Its name means 'protection' in Hebrew, and its peace and tranquility is evident whether you're hiking, driving through on the shuttle bus or exploring within the bounds of the lower steppes. Tourism is encouraged throughout the year, but from April to October, the roads are closed within the park to all but shuttle buses. In part, this is to protect the roads running through the park, but its also to keep an close reign on where the visitors go.
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