Cheeriest Driveable Destinations for Celebrating Winter Holidays

With scores of dazzling light displays, holiday markets, festive shows and seasonal attractions like the light show on City Hall, the holidays are a magical time in Philadelphia © Karen Rubin/

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate,

Let the spirit of the holiday season enwrap you and carry you on a scintillating getaway to these cheeriest of driveable destinations:

Philadelphia Offers Potpourri of Holiday Festivities

With scores of dazzling light displays, holiday markets, festive shows and seasonal attractions, the holidays are an especially magical time in Philadelphia.

This year’s new holiday attractions include Yuletide at Devon, while staple, beloved Philadelphia attractions like Christmas Village and LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo are also back to delight.

Those enjoying the holiday sights and festivities can easily stay the night with the Visit Philly Overnight Package, scoring great perks like free hotel parking (valued up to $100) and tickets to must-see attractions including The Franklin Institute or the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Looking to make a weekend out of it? With the Visit Philly 3-Day Stay package, stay two nights and get a third for free.

New Holiday Attractions for 2023

Yuletide at Devon (Devon Horse Show and Country Fairgrounds, 23 Dorset Road, Devon, select dates thru Dec.31: A European Christmas market, a live music festival, a community carnival and a gourmet farm-to-table dining experience. Experience free fair rides (including a 65-foot Ferris wheel), lots of live music, craft drinks (hot chocolate, cocktails and more), locally sourced eats, and over 35 high-end holiday fair vendors.

Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular in FDR Park (South Broad Street, select dates thru Jan. 1, 2024: Take in the sights as you skate along a winding ice trail or glide down a 160-foot-long ice slide, pop into the Mistletoe Marketplace, grab a bite and adult beverage inside the Union Forge Lodge. Timed tickets are required, with optional add-ons available for the Ice Trail and Independence Blue Cross ice slide.

2023 Philly Holiday Experience (Multiple locations and events, dates vary):  This annual tradition features more than 35 holiday attractions and events, including the annual tree-lighting celebration at City Hall, a multicultural holiday parade on Market Street. New for 2023: Free Museum Day series (December 1-28), when some of Philly’s top museums, attractions and cultural institutions open their doors for free (or pay-what-you-wish).

Must-See Philadelphia Attractions

A Philadelphia iconic holiday experience: Macy’s Christmas Light Show ” © Karen Rubin/

Macy’s Christmas Light Show and Dickens Christmas Village (Macy’s, 1300 Market Street, thru Dec. 31): The Grand Court in the National Historic Landmark Wanamaker Building has hosted the iconic Christmas Light Show since 1956. This quintessential holiday tradition continues in 2023 with daily displays featuring thousands of twinkling lights in the shapes of snowflakes, candy canes and dancing snowmen accompanied by seasonal sounds from the famed Wanamaker Organ. Five free shows, Mondays-Saturdays at 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m.; three shows on Sundays at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. The Wanamaker Organ is played live during the noon and 6 p.m. showings (except Sundays); recorded music accompanies all other shows. Families can also book a visit to see Philly’s vintage retelling of A Christmas Carol in the Dickens Christmas Village and snap pics with Santa.

Winter at Dilworth Park (1 S. 15th Street, next to City Hall; dates vary by attraction) Free events and cool attractions include:

  • The Wintergarden: This open-air wonderland brings a festive touch of greenery, featuring holiday lights, reindeer topiaries, rustic woodland décor and an on-site Chaddsford Winery kiosk selling warm mulled wine (thru March 17, 2024);
  • Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market: Shop local and support more than 40 small businesses selling handmade crafts, jewelry, artwork, treats and so much more (thru Jan. 1, 2024).
  • Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink thru February 25, 2024 (tickets required).
  • Rothman Orthopaedics Cabin: seasonal dishes, cocktails, beer; outdoor terrace with cozy fire pits (thru Feb. 25, 2024).

Christmas Village in Philadelphia (LOVE Park, 15th & Arch streets, select dates thru Dec. 24,): free-to-explore, pay-as-you-go annual open-air European-style marketplace with 100 vendors in wooden huts offering local and international gifts.

LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo (Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 W. Girard Avenue, select dates thru Dec. 31): This immersive display transforms the Philadelphia Zoo into a nighttime multimedia spectacle with 1 million holiday lights in 16 distinct zones, seasonal snacks, live performances, hot chocolate and adult beverages. Timed tickets are required.

Holiday Garden Railway and Nighttime Express at Morris Arboretum & Gardens (Morris Arboretum & Gardens, 100 E. Northwestern Avenue, select dates thru Dec. 30): One of the country’s largest outdoor model train displays. Mini locomotives wind their way through a 1/3 mile of loops, tunnels, bridges and Philly landmark replicas, all built with natural materials and beneath a canopy of sparkly lights. Included with admission to Morris Arboretum. Want more bells and whistles? See it at night – illuminated trees and all – by purchasing tickets to the Nighttime Express.

Independence Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest (Independence Blue Cross RiverRink, 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard): Glide around an enormous ice skating rink, snap a photo by the festive holiday tree, play games on the boardwalk and warm up with pay-as-you-go seasonal treats next to a fire pit (or inside a cozy cabin). Entry is free, tickets  required to ice skate, and cabins and fire pits must be reserved in advance.

American Heritage Credit Union Grand Illumination (2060 Red Lion Road, thru Dec. 31): The regal campus of the American Heritage Credit Union in Northeast Philadelphia shines brightly each holiday season with two 40-foot Christmas trees, hundreds of wreaths and more than 400,000 twinkling lights. The lights flick on at dusk each night when visitors are invited to stroll the campus for free and take in the lights at their leisure.

Winter in Franklin Square (Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street, thru Feb. 25, 2024, dates vary by attraction), including Chilly Philly Mini Golf (thru Jan. 28, 2024, tickets required); Electrical Spectacle Light Show presented by PECO, free nightly shows – inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s kite and key electricity experiment – every half hour (thru Feb. 25, 2024); Street Curling (thru Feb. 25, 2024, rent in advance).

New Year’s Eve in Philadelphia (Penn’s Landing, 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard), with two fireworks displays over the Delaware River at 6 p.m. and midnight.

Mummers Parade (Monday, January 1, 2024): One of Philly’s most famous traditions, when more than 10,000 costumed marchers — many of whom practice all year for this one-day celebration — strut their stuff on the streets of Philadelphia.

Can’t-Miss Holiday Shows

The No Name POPS: A Very Philly Christmas at the Kimmel Center, Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street, select dates Dec. 1-23.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at the Academy of Music, Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad Street, select dates Dec. 8-30:

The Philadelphia Orchestra Presents: The Glorious Sounds of Christmas at the Kimmel Center, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 S. Broad Street, December 14-16, 2023

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad Street, December 17, 2023

The Philadelphia Orchestra Presents: Elf in Concert at the Kimmel Center, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 S. Broad Street, December 22-23, 2023

Disney on Ice Presents Magic in the Stars at the Wells Fargo Center, Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad Street, December 24, 2023 – January 1, 2024

Cirque Dreams Holidaze at the Miller Theater, Miller Theater, 250 S. Broad Street, December 26-31, 2023

Visit Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website,, to explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages.

A Capital Christmas in Washington DC

An unforgettable winter experience in Washington DC: Skating on the National Mall in front of the National Archives © Karen Rubin/

From sparkling sights like the National Christmas Tree to festive local shopping, classic performances and enticing hotel deals, ‘tis the season to make memories in DC. Discover more at

Dazzling Displays

National Christmas Tree (thru Jan. 1) free to enter, enters its second century on the White House Ellipse, surrounded by trees decorated with handmade ornaments from 58 U.S. states and territories.

National Menorah  (on view Dec. 7-15): world’s largest menorah on the White House Ellipse.

CityCenterDC’s Holiday Tree, thru Jan. 8: a jaw-dropping 75-foot tree with over 155,000 lights and 4,500 ornaments, as well as gorgeous décor along Palmer Alley.

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, thru Jan. 1: A 53-year tradition on the West Lawn, this year’s tree comes from the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.

ZooLights, thru Dec. 30: Environmentally friendly LED lights and dozens of glowing animal lanterns transform Smithsonian’s National Zoo into a winter wonderland. ($6 admission is required this year, supporting animal care and conservation science.

Season’s Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Garden (thru Jan. 1): Tour America’s magnificent landscapes recreated in plants.

Enchant (thru Dec. 31), one-of-a-kind installation at Nationals Park.

Georgetown Glow (thru Jan. 7): Set against the historic backdrop of DC’s oldest neighborhood, works by international artists on display for this free outdoor public light art experience.

Tudor Lights (Dec. 2-15): Stroll through Tudor Place Historic House and Garden, decked out with holiday lights, plus guided candlelit tours, holiday teas and a holiday wreath-making workshop.

Holiday Events and Performances

A Winter’s Tale (thru Dec. 17): A tribute to the magic of storytelling at the Folger Theatre, Shakespeare’s romance presents a rich tapestry of love, strife, hope, human folly, and resurrection.

A Christmas Carol (thru Dec. 31) Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future as they lead Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation for Charles Dickens classic at Ford’s Theatre.

The Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker (Dec. 2-30) at the Warner Theatre: The reimagined ballet is set amidst the charming streets of Georgetown and cherry blossom trees.

Winter Activities, Holiday Shopping

Public Ice skating rinks around the city including the National Gallery of ArtWashington HarbourThe Wharf and Canal Park at Capitol Riverfront.

Downtown Holiday Market stretches across two blocks in Penn Quarter. Scope out eclectic crafts from 70 pop-up tents, including minority-owned businesses, with light bites and live music, thru Dec. 23.

The Holly Days: An Eastern Market Main Street tradition celebrating its 150th anniversary, enjoy shopping, dining and window displays (thru Dec. 31).

Festive and Historic Hotels

Steeped in history: The Willard Intercontinental Hotel, where Abraham Lincoln stayed after completing an arduous ten-day journey, before his inauguration, and which gave us the term “lobbyist.” © Karen Rubin/ 

Stay in History: Befitting the nation’s capital’s important history and heritage, there are a multitude of Historic Hotels of America members to provide a special ambiance to your visit, include The Willard InterContinental (famously transforms into a magical holiday wonderland, complete with nightly caroling), The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection; The Morrison-Clark Inn; Riggs Washington DC (boasts a bejeweled tree by a celebrated designer), Georgetown Inn, Hotel Lombardy, Omni Shoreham Hotel, Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square, Phoenix Park Hotel, The Capital Hilton, The Churchill Hotel Near Embassy Row, The Graham Georgetown (see

Sampling of Seasonal Hotel Deals

Whoville Hideout – The Hotel Washington offers Grinch-themed rooms with holiday amenities, valet parking and holiday DVDs and books, valid thru Dec. 31

Grand Opening – Receive 10,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points per stay at the rebranded Westin Washington, DC Downtown. Valid thru Jan. 4.

Royal Debut – Be among the first to experience the new Royal Sonesta Washington, DC Capitol Hill with 50 percent off the third night when booking a two-night stay.

Sakura Club – When you book two nights in an exclusive Sakura Club room at the Conrad DC, you’ll receive the third night free. Valid thru Dec. 31; The Conrad Washington DC’s decorations include an Instagram-worthy mistletoe arch.

Find more and book at and more visitor information at

Christmas in Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley

The beloved holiday experience, “Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens” © Karen Rubin/

Enjoy the grandest holiday festivities at the top attractions that make Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley, Delaware, so special:

Yuletide at Winterthur (5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, DE 19735, thru Jan. 7, 2024): Experience a celebration of American elegance in holiday style, inspired by Ann Lowe: American Couturier. This year’s Yuletide features custom fashion by local designers Shawn Pinckney and Asata Maisé Beeks, whose creations reflect the history of Winterthur and the design sensibilities of H. F. du Pont and Ann Lowe. Explore the house decorated with signature traditions, including the show-stopping Dried-Flower Tree, artistic Christmas trees inspired by Ann Lowe gowns and spectacular table set for Christmas dinner. Special holiday programs will take place throughout the season. Included with admission. Open New Year’s Day. Closed Christmas Day. (

Holidays at Hagley (298 Buck Road, Wilmington, DE 19807, thru Jan. 1, 2024) Themed “Treasures and Traditions,” features Holiday Home and Garden Tours, the 6th-annual Gingerbread House Competition, Santa Days, Holiday Nights Tours; included with regular admission (

The Brandywine Railroad (1 Hoffman’s Mill Rd., US Rt. 1, Chadds Ford, PA 19317, thru Jan. 7, 2024), a holiday favorite since 1972, features trains running on 2,000 feet of track and contains more than 1,000 pieces, including locomotives, passenger and freight trains, and trolleys that pass through a small village, a farm, factories, a drive-in movie theater and even a carnival. Dazzling array of toy and scale model trains chugging through the varied scenery include Lionel, Williams, Atlas, Mike’s Train House and K-line, plus interactive components.

Holidays at Nemours Estate: Alfred I. duPont built “America’s Versailles” for his wife on a 3,000-acre plot in Wilmington in the early 20th century and they started opening their home at Christmas from the year they moved in. Today, the estate celebrates the holiday season with a blend of original decorations – including 19th-century German crèche – and modern design, with 17 Christmas trees, 19 wreaths, and garland throughout.

A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens (Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024): “A Very Retro Christmas,” turns back the clocks for this retro celebration of holiday seasons gone by at Longwood Gardens. The horticultural haven lights up with hundreds of trees trimmed in throwback fashion. Think classic baubles, tons of tinsel and iconic childhood toys. Adding to the festive feel, the botanical garden’s illuminated fountains dance to the sounds of the season. Timed tickets are required.

See more at

Gilded Age Christmas in Newport, R.I.

Sparkling Lights at the Breakers (photo by Dave Hansen)

Each year since 1971, December 1 has marked the kick off of Christmas in Newport, a month-long celebration complete with festive events and happenings to honor the season and give back to charities throughout the community. Experience events for nearly each day throughout December as part of the celebration (

Holiday Sparkle Returns to the Newport Mansions:The opulence of Newport’s Gilded Age mansions meets the sparkle and magic of Christmas during the return of Holidays at the Newport Mansions through January 1, 2024. Holidays at the Newport Mansions brings a festive holiday atmosphere to the interiors of The Breakers, Marble House and The Elms. These National Historic Landmarks come alive with beautiful seasonal decorations, themed Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands, and fresh floral arrangements. Mannequins dressed in elegant Gilded Age fashions match the décor in Gertrude Vanderbilt’s bedroom at The Breakers, Alva Vanderbilt’s bedroom at Marble House, and the conservatory at The Elms. The mannequins have been created by Karen Corinha of Corinha Design.

For the fourth straight year, “Sparkling Lights at The Breakers” casts a warm glow over the 13-acre landscape of this iconic Gilded Age landmark on select dates thru Dec. 30.  Walk though dazzling tunnels of light and marvel at the illuminated displays and sparkling surprises along the way, including a striking, 50-foot long, 26-foot-tall light display on the back lawn in the outline of a train from the Vanderbilts’ New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. Admission requires a special ticket with specific date and entry time (but you can stay as long as you wish until closing), and includes interior access to The Breakers during the same visit. Tour times are 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. The gates close at 6:30 p.m. and the house and grounds close at 8 p.m.

Located on the back lawn of Marble House and perched above the historic Cliff Walk, the Chinese Tea House provides an unmatched setting for a three-course holiday brunch © Karen Rubin/

Holiday Brunch Offered at Chinese Tea House: Located on the back lawn of Marble House and perched above the historic Cliff Walk, the Chinese Tea House provides an unmatched setting for a three-course holiday brunch by Stoneacre Brasserie. (Saturday and Sundays in December and Christmas Week, December 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31; Seatings at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; $55/adult, $35/child 2-12). Make reservations at

Details at

Experience the holiday traditions and winter caretaking practices at Rough Point Museum, Doris Duke’s mansion home-turned museum, during the coziest and merriest days of the year, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 10 am-4 pm (excluding December 24).

See full list of holiday happenings in Newport,


© 2023 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit,, and Blogging at and Visit and Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at 

Give the Gift of Travel to Spark that Wanderlust, Check Off that Bucket List, Have a Life-Enhancing Experience and Memory to Last Lifetime

Looking through the giant clock at Musée d’Orsay to Montmartre. A great gift for a traveler headed to Paris: the Paris Pass (, which bundles admissions to this extraordinary city’s major attractions including the Musée d’Orsay, an Eiffel Tower tour, a scenic cruise down the Seine, at up to 50 percent savings, and you skip the walk-up ticket line © Karen Rubin/

By Karen Rubin,Travel Features Syndicate,

What could be a better gift than giving a part of the world, some memorable, life-enhancing, life-changing experience, something from their bucket-list, perhaps? Give the gift of travel.

The gift of travel can be everything from the trip itself (even create a registry so that lots of friends and family can contribute), to pre-arranging some experience or activity to enhance a trip: a dining experience; a spa visit; admission to a museum, attraction or cultural event; a cooking, baking or jewelry making class; a hot-air balloon ride; rock-climbing adventure; walking tour; bike rental, to purchasing a gift-card or gift certificate that can be applied to the bigger-ticket items and give flexibility for when. And what trip doesn’t require some special gear? And if you time it right, you might also be able to benefit from holiday savings, even on the more open-ended gift cards or certificates.

Gift cards can open up doors to travel, or take the sting out of the pinch to a traveler’s, couple’s or family’s wallet. Gift cards can be that extra spark that gets your loved one to finally depart on their bucket-list experience. And more and more travel companies – hotels and accommodations, cruises, tours, theme parks, sightseeing, spa visits, restaurants and dining, and even transportation companies from airlines to Amtrak to Uber to a Maine Windjammer Cruise – now offer gift cards. The beauty is you can give the amount that works best for you and the recipient can choose the date. (And check if you can apply Black Friday/Cyber Monday discounts.)

Here are some examples:

Globus family of brands Gift Certificates, redeemable for tours and cruises, come in denominations of $50, $200 & $500. Gift Certificates may be used in conjunction with any promotion offered at time of booking and they are transferable (

Tauck Tours eGift Cards, available in any amount, are valid for any Tauck land journey, river or small ship cruise and Tauck Bridges family adventures. They can be redeemed by phone or online at

Contiki’s gift card can be used on any Contiki trip; the voucher certificates include a personalized message, can be sent electronically or printed, and do not expire. 866-266 8454.

Historic Hotels of Europe, an exclusive collection of independent and unique hotels, castles, palaces, country houses and other properties handpicked for historic importance, quality and unique story, throughout Europe, offers a gift voucher, valid for five years, in amounts from 50-1500 Euros ([email protected],

Rarely do you find a historic hotel that played such an integral role in a nation’s history as the Sofitel Legend Grand Hotel Amsterdam, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide © Karen Rubin/

You can purchase gift cards for stays or amenities at Historic Hotels of America, Historic Hotels Worldwide, Beyond Green and Preferred Hotels & Resorts (all brands of Preferred Hotels & Resorts), through the Gift Cards can be used for services, experiences, and stays at participating hotels and resorts in hundreds of destinations around the world. Gift cards do not expire. Purchase online at

Noble House Hotels & Resorts gift cards may be used at its collection of hotels, resorts, spas, restaurants, marinas and adventures across North America, among them, the Jekyll Island Club Resort, Jekyll Island, Georgia. (

Jekyll Island Club, Jekyll Island, Georgia, one of the Noble House Hotels & Resorts © Karen Rubin/

Small Luxury Hotels, with over 500 hotels in more than 90 countries, makes it simple to send an SLH Gift Card – just choose the occasion, select the amount, and finish with a personalized message.

New England Inns & Resorts Association gift cards can be redeemed at 300 lodging properties all over New England and can be purchased in any amount you choose. The cards never expire. Make a reservation directly with the property of your choice and let them know you will be using a New England Inns & Resort Gift Card.  Present the card at check-in.

Independent Collection Hotels & Resorts, a division of HHM which manages 240 properties across North America, offers gift cards for its portfolio of independent Luxury and Lifestyle, Resorts, Premium Branded and Branded Select. Among them: The Rittenhouse, Whiteface Lodge in lake Placid, MacArthur Place, Sonoma,

With a Gift Card from Historic Inns of Savannah, choose from six award-winning boutique hotels in Savannah’s famed historic district

Loved my stay at the Hotel Hannong, ideally situated walking distance to everything in Strasbourg, France, booked on © Karen Rubin/ (an Expedia company) gift cards unlock hundreds of thousands of places to stay worldwide, including major hotel chains. The gift cards are available in denominations from $10 to $2,000 and there are no expiration dates or fees. Also, also has a secure gift registry where friends and family can contribute toward a eGift Card – great for honeymoons, babymoons, graduation, or any other group-gifting occasion. Here’s fine print: Usable up to balance only for new hotel bookings at Only one gift card can be redeemed per online booking, but multiple gift cards may be combined into one gift card with a maximum value of $2000 by visiting the balance transfer tab found at Not redeemable at hotel locations or if you choose the Pay at Hotel option online. Not redeemable toward existing bookings or Packages. (For balance or information, visit or call US Toll Free 1-888-999-4468.)

Use a NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation gift card to book a campsite at Watkins Glen State Park © Karen Rubin/

New York State’s Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation gift card is usable at 8,500 campsites, 850 cabins, 135 cottages and 18 golf courses throughout the state. Use for fees associated with camping walk-ups, golf reservations and greens fees, camping supplies, boat rentals provided by NYS Parks (not for vehicle entrance fee, concessionaires, or Department of Environmental Conservation facilities). Purchase online at for any dollar amount and have no expiration date. They can be used with the NYS camping reservation system (Reserve America),, 800-456-2267.

Cruiselines also make it easy to purchase gift cards, and even gift registries so that family and friends can contribute to purchasing the cruise:

Major cruise lines including Royal Caribbean make it easy to purchase gift cards © Karen Rubin/

The Royal Caribbean pre-paid gift card is similar to a gift certificate. These digital funds can be used for Royal Caribbean International or Celebrity Cruises cruise bookings and redeemed by booking online. The gift card will be sent to the recipient via email on the delivery date you choose. For same-day delivery, most gift cards are sent within an hour of your purchase. Royal Caribbean (, 866-562-7625)

Norwegian Cruise Line makes it possible to gift onboard credit, wine, gourmet treats, spa visits, or create a registry so that bunches of family and friends can contribute toward a cruise (

Also: Disney Cruise Lines (; Carnival Cruise Lines (; Princess Cruises (; Holland America (

Maine Windjammer Association provides e-gift certificates that will be honored by any member of the fleet © Karen Rubin/

Maine Windjammer Association provides e-gift certificates that can be ordered in any denomination, and will be honored by any vessel in its fleet. The gift certificates never expire and can be customized with a special message. Order online. You can have your e-certificate sent immediately or schedule it for a future day. ([email protected],800-807-9463

Gift of Experience

Give experiences that turn a trip into a wonder that lasts a lifetime.

See more of Prague with the Prague Cool Pass © Karen Rubin/

You can pre-purchase a city-sightseeing pass that provides admissions to the most popular sights in cities like Prague (; Amsterdam; Berlin; Dresden; Paris (; New York City; Philadelphia. Wilmington, Delaware & the Brandywine Valley’s 2024 Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport provides access to 12 of Greater Wilmington’s top cultural attractions. Check out Go City, which sells passes in over 30 destinations from major metropolises like London and New York to oceanfront oases like Sydney and Oahu – 1,500 attractions, tours, and activities worldwide, saving money over purchasing individual tickets, connected on your smart phone (, 800 887 9103).

Gift certificates from can be redeemed for tickets to any Broadway or Off-Broadway show currently playing in New York City (

Drive an exotic car, learn to fly, rock climb, skydive, bungee jump, take a hot-air balloon ride. Virgin Experience lists some 5000 different experiences in 122 regions from 600 “best in class” partners that their gift card can be applied to: Go to Food & Wine Gifts, Adventures Experiences and other listings. Easy return, no expiration, free exchange (, (for Black Friday, use GIFT20 for 20% off).

Context offers walking tours with experts of dozens of destinations including Athens © Karen Rubin/

Context Travel offers personal walking tours with experts in 60 cities across 6 continents. Skip the line and off-hours access to popular sites in the world’s cultural and historical capitals. Tours range from half-day to 7-days plus. Context Travel also offers the “gift of learning” – virtual and in-person sessions with top experts– you can explore the Colosseum with an archaeologist, uncover masterpieces of the Louvre with an art historian, or explore the palaces of Istanbul with an architect — from home, or in person. Gift cards are redeemable for 100s of tours and experiences in any city, can be e-delivered immediately or at a future date and can be personalized with your message (

Spafinder, a compendium of resorts, wellness centers and day spas, makes it easy to purchase giftcards.  Take 25% off $200+ with promo code VIP25; get $20 off $80,

Theme parks can be a very, very pricey vacation for families. Gift cards can put the vacation in reach or enhance the experience. Disney’s gift cards can be purchased in denominations of $25 to $500 and used for “practically” all things Disney – theme park tickets, resort stays, merchandise, dining and experiences at Disney destinations. Redeemable at, Disney Store locations in the U.S., participating locations at Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida, Disneyland® Resort in California, Disney Cruise Line®, and Adventures by Disney®.

Also consider gifting some of the really special experiences, like Zookeeper for a Day at Busch Gardens (, or sleepover “Night in the Museum” experiences at places like National Air and Space Museum, International Spy Museum, American Museum of Natural History, Cincinnati Museum Center, California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

A great gift is purchasing admission to a major attraction like Harry Potter: The Exhibition, now on view in New York City © Karen Rubin/

Also think about pre-purchasing tickets to museums and attractions, like Harry Potter™: The Exhibition (50 W. 34th St.,; The Museum of Broadway(145 West 45th St.,, “Billy Joel- My Life, A Piano Man’s Journey” exhibit at Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (97 Main Street, Stony Brook,

For the skier/snowboarder, consider purchasing lift tickets, lessons, rentals, perhaps even a multi-day, regional or local pass (,,, Get Ski Tickets is an online marketplace to purchase date-specific discounted lift tickets, lessons, rentals, group lift tickets and season passes (, 970-233-7040, [email protected]) and gift certificates (

Fantasy Camp!

There are any number of fantasy camps to satisfy, well, every fantasy. If you can fantasize it, there is likely a fantasy camp to realize it.

Want to play baseball like a major leaguer? There are baseball fantasy camps with teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Atlanta Braves ( Basketball: 76ers Fantasy Camp is the inaugural NBA fantasy camp,

Hockey goal, Jim Craig’s goalie stick and equipment from the 1980 Olympic gold-winning ‘Miracle on Ice’ on display at the Olympic Museum in Lake Placid, NY. In the Miracle On Ice Fantasy Camp, join players from the gold medal winning 1980 USA Hockey Team and skate and compete in the 1980 Rink © Karen Rubin/

Join players from the gold medal winning 1980 USA Hockey Team for this annual Miracle On Ice Fantasy Camp, in magnificent Lake Placid, NY – host city of the historic 1980 Winter Olympic Games. Skate and compete in the 1980 Rink – Herb Brooks Arena where USA conquered the Russians and shocked the sports and political world. (

Space Camp, an educational camp on the grounds of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center museum near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama, provides residential and educational programs for children and adults on themes such as space exploration, aviation and robotics (, [email protected], 800-637-7223).

Also: Broadway theater (Broadway Fantasy Camp,, Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, an interactive musical event that takes place in various locations worldwide involving various Rock Stars on various dates.(; gift cards available, (

For many, being able to participate in important science research is also a fantasy. Earthwatch makes it possible to support research that responds to global challenges – from climate change to human-wildlife coexistence to sustainability – while engaging local communities, and offers more than 40 field research expeditions around the world, with opportunities for teens and adults and no prior experience needed (, [email protected]).

Getting There or Coming Here

Several airlines, such as Southwest Airlines, have gift certificate programs © Karen Rubin/

You can purchase gift cards on many airlines: the Delta Gift Card is redeemable for any Delta Air Lines flight worldwide and for any Delta Vacations package that includes airfare, no expiration date ( and Southwest Airlines (no expiration date, fully transferrable,usable for passenger travel,

Prefer riding the rails to boarding flights? Amtrak gift cards are available in an amount up to $500. No fees. Never expires. Have it emailed or sent through the mail. Redeem for travel online, in the app, by phone or in staffed stations. (May not be used for onboard purchases)

Memberships Have Benefits

Gifting family memberships in a favorite museum, zoo, aquarium, preserve, historic site or attraction gives a sense of “ownership” and encourages multiple or multi-day visits as well as giving access to benefits – from special access to events and openings, discounts and promotions, magazines.

Think about gifting membership in such stellar institutions as the American Museum of Natural History that transport near and far, back in time and into the future, and ignite a love of travel © Karen Rubin/

Support important institutions – and find unique gifts – from the American Museum of Natural History (members enjoy free admission, special access and previews of new exhibitions, and discounts on purchases with member ID (get $20 off membership with code MEM22); the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chicago Museum of Art, any and every important museum, hall of fame, attraction, zoo such as the Wildlife Conservation Society which operates the Bronx Zoo among others (

Smithsonian Institution, not only has an excellent store and catalog of excellent expeditionary trips (, but I treasure the Smithsonian Magazine, which also provides membership benefits, access to gifts; subscribe to the magazine and get gift subscriptions to share with someone else,

Also check out the memberships and gift possibilities at: Sierra Club (produces an excellent catalog of trips,; Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (also check out the trail shop for gear like jerseys, trail guides and such,, Parks & Trails NY  (which hosts the annual Cycle the Erie 8-day, 400-mile camping/biking trip,; Audubon Society; Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation; World Wildlife Federation).

Not able to visit? Many of the great museums, iconic institutions and organizations offer some of the most interesting, innovative and creative items in their gift shops and you can support their mission by shopping online or through catalogs (check out holiday specials, discounts). It can be the way you bring home a real NASA astronaut’s outfit from Kennedy Space Center (

Travel Gear

Also appreciated: the gear, special clothing, photo equipment that a trip (expedition, voyage, journey) entails, but may feel guilty about purchasing or simply tapped out.

Our favorite go-to places (especially when you catch holiday deals, sales and closeouts): REI (top trending gifts, gifts by activity, by price,, 800-426-4840) LL Bean, 888-610-2326,; Sun & Ski,, 866-786-3869 (gift cards available); Eastern Mountain Sports, 888-463-6367,; Tennis Express (gift guide online,, Bass Pro Shops,; Patagonia (; Paragon Sports ( And of course, luggage – one great site (Save 15%, 888-958-4424).

A bucket-list, once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Galapagos is all the more memorable with the gift of a waterproof camera © Karen Rubin/

What trip doesn’t involve photos! B&H consistently has best inventory, prices and holiday specials, efficient delivery, excellent customer service, delivery and return policies,, 800.606.6969212.444.6615).

Great stocking stuffers so appreciated by travelers are socks for hiking, running, endurance, skiing, biking, hunting, work and lifestyle: Bombas (get 20% off, and Darn Tough (

A subscription to a travel magazine like Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler ( is also a great gift to inspire and inform. National Geographic; there is also a National Geo Kids edition. (

See also:




© 2023 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit,, and Blogging at and Visit and Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at 

It’s the Magical Time of Year! Holiday Festivities Get Underway in NYC

Santa Claus comes to town! The 97th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the official kick-off to New York City’s season of holiday festivities and happenings. © Karen Rubin/

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate,

New York City’s holiday season officially kick off with the 97th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 23. From November to January, the city is a wonderland of holiday lightings, festive performances, winter exhibitions, special attractions and happenings across all five boroughs that surprise and delight the seven million travelers expected between Thanksgiving and New Years.


Radio City Rockettes performing their iconic Wooden Soldiers routine is always a highlight of the Christmas Spectacular © Karen Rubin/

Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, Nov.17-Jan. 1. Revel in the timeless and beloved holiday tradition as it once again graces the stage of Radio City Music Hall. With a history spanning nearly a century, this musical extravaganza features dazzling costumes, joyful songs, synchronized high kicks, innovative acts, and multiple daily shows.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker Presented by New York City Ballet, Nov. 24-Dec. 31 at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center, Nov. 29-Dec. 31 isa cherished tradition at New York City Center, now in its 65th annual winter season. This season features world premieres like CENTURY by Amy Hall Garner and Me, Myself and You by Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, along with Ronald K. Brown’s Dancing Spirit.

Twas the Night Before… by Cirque du Soleil at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Dec. 7-28.  Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever holiday production is sure to become a new NYC holiday tradition.

The Magic Flute Holiday Presentation at The Metropolitan Opera, Dec. 8-30. The Met Opera  presents an abridged, English-language adaptation of Mozart’s magical fairy tale, ideal for all ages, delivering a captivating narrative and delightful melodies. Guided by conductors Patrick Furrer and Gareth Morrell, a standout cast takes the stage in Julie Taymor’s imaginative production.

Holidays with the New York Philharmonic, Dec. 12-17. NYPhil is teaming up with the Handel and Haydn Society Chorus, conducted by baroque expert Fabio Biondi for a performance of Handel’s beloved masterpiece, Messiah. Additionally, the annual Holiday Brass tradition is back.

Candlelight Holiday Concert Series, Brooklyn Heights. Select dates from December 13-21. Enchanting Candlelight live, multi-sensory musical performances take place at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, the Church of Heavenly Rest and The Williamsburg Hotel.

The magnificent new performance venue at Perelman Arts Center in Lower Manhattan is featuring a holiday concert series © Karen Rubin/

Circle Songs: A Holiday Concert Series at Perelman Arts Center (PAC NYC), Lower Manhattan, Dec. 20-23. During PAC NYC’s inaugural season, experience a four-evening holiday concert series featuring world-class artists, including countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo with The Knights, Toshi Reagon’s circle of sonic experiences, Time for Three’s innovative transformation of Western music, and the dynamic Broadway duo; Orfeh and Andy Karl

The Best Christmas of All with Norm Lewis at Carnegie Hall, Dec. 22-23. The New York Pops’ annual holiday tradition returns for a merry night of classic carols, contemporary favorites, and a few surprises with Broadway baritone and Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis.

Holiday Programming at the Apollo Theater, Dec. 9 and 30, Harlem. The world-famous Apollo Theater is presenting several special events this season, including the annual Kwanzaa Celebration on Dec. 30, led by choreographer Abdel Salaam and Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, Apollo Amateur Night Holiday Special December 9 highlights accomplished alumni, echoing stars who began at the Apollo like Ella Fitzgerald and H.E.R. The theater also welcomes families for festive activities, Santa photos and performances, hosted by the Apollo Theater’s Tour Director and Ambassador, Billy Mitchell.

The Brooklyn Nutcracker at Kings Theatre, Flatbush Brooklyn, Dec. 16, offers a fresh take on the cherished holiday favorite. Brilliantly weaving in the tapestry of Brooklyn’s varied traditions and dynamic culture, the show pays homage to the historical Dutch influence and the iconic Flatbush Avenue through its innovative and skillful performance.

O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi at Queens County Farm, Glen Oaks, Queens, Dec. 16. Join Queens County Farm Museum for a free, outdoor reading of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi by acclaimed actor Kevin R. Free. The program takes place in the farm’s three-acre pasture, where Free will recount the heartwarming tale of selfless love and Christmas spirit, with its everlasting significance since its publication in 1905.

Works & Process Rotunda Holiday Concert at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Dec. 17. Charles Turner & Uptown Swing, joined by the accomplished Asian drag artist and Juilliard-trained tenor Jasmine Rice LaBeija, will fill the museum’s iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed rotunda with the joyous sounds of holiday music as part of an annual tradition beloved by all.

The Christmas Show at St. George Theatre, Staten Island. Dec. 8-10, celebrates its 20th anniversary of its beloved Christmas Show.


Saks Fifth Avenue always excites with its decorated windows and light show © Karen Rubin/

Fifth Avenue Holiday Window Displays & Second Annual Open Streets Program, Midtown Manhattan. throughout the holiday season, at iconic shopping venues including Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Bergdorf Goodman. This season marks the return of the popular Open Streets program, where Fifth Avenue will close to all vehicular traffic and also open the sidewalks to a variety of food vendors and musical performers from local choirs and instrumental ensembles.

Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche at The Metropolitan Museum, Fifth Avenue, Nov.  21-Jan. 7. An NYC tradition, The Met’s Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche display features a beautifully decorated tree with a nativity scene encircling its base. This ensemble originates from an assemblage of 18th-century Neapolitan figures generously contributed by American artist and collector Loretta Hines Howard back in 1964. Hurry to see the “Manet/Degas” show before it ends, Jan. 7 (You must join the virtual exhibition queue via QR code once inside the Museum. No advance or timed tickets required. Access is first come, first served and subject to capacity limitations. The virtual queue closes daily when capacity is reached.) There is also a superb special show, Vertigo of Color: Matisse, Derain, and the Origins of Fauvism, thru Jan. 21, 2024. (New Yorkers pay what you want admission;

The Met’s Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche display features a beautifully decorated tree with a nativity scene encircling its base © Karen Rubin/

A Christmas Carol: The Manuscript at The Morgan Library & Museum, Murray Hill, Manhattan, Nov. 21-Jan. 7. Every holiday season, the Morgan displays Charles Dickens’ original manuscript of A Christmas Carol in J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library. Bound in red goatskin leather, the manuscript was gifted to Dickens’ solicitor, Thomas Mitton, and later came into the possession of Pierpont Morgan in the 1890s. This season, the manuscript will be turned to page seven.

Be sure to visit the “Invisible World” at the Gilder Center The American Museum of Natural History © Karen Rubin/ 

The Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History, Nov. 22 throughout holiday season. Showcasing more than 1,000 hand-crafted models, the delightfully decorated Origami Holiday Tree, the theme of this year’s 13-foot tree is Elephants, featuring models inspired by the museum’s new exhibition The Secret World of Elephants, debuting November 13. Be sure to spend time exploring the Gilder Center, especially “Invisible World.”

Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection at New-York Historical Society, Nov. 24-Feb. 4. New-York Historical Society’s annual wintertime favorite, the Jerni Collection, displaying handcrafted and hand-painted toy trains spanning the years 1850 to 1940. Alongside these, an assortment of toy train stations illustrates the design evolution from the early 20th century to the era of World War II.

This way to the Holiday Express at the New-York Historical Society © Karen Rubin/

Seaport Celebrations, Lower Manhattan.  Embrace the holiday season as the historic cobblestone streets of The Seaport and Pier 17 transform into a festive haven. Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s latest culinary delight, the Tin Building, is located just steps away, ready to welcome visitors for the holidays.

Holiday Train Show at New York Botanical Garden, Bedford Park, The Bronx, Nov. 17-Jan. 15.
For over three decades, the beloved Holiday Train Show has captivated holiday-goers with model trains zipping through a magical exhibition featuring over 190 replicas of iconic NYC landmarks. These charming creations are meticulously crafted from materials like birch bark, lotus pods, and cinnamon sticks, which will be presented on an all-new outdoor train display this year.

Holiday Wreath Workshop at Wave Hill, Riverdale, The Bronx,  Dec. 1-3. Take part in wreath making workshops with professionals and learn simple techniques for designing one-of-a-kind decorations, as well as strolling through an artisan market on site.

Christmas in Historic Richmond Town, Staten Island, Dec. 9-10. Experience the magic of the holiday season as Historic Richmond Town undergoes a charming Dickens-style makeover. From engaging living history demonstrations, unique gift shopping, crafting and exploring the tinsmith, carpenter and general store, to encounters with Santa, delectable local cuisine and many more joyful attractions, this two-day event promises a jolly ambience for all ages to enjoy.


Saks Fifth Avenue always transfixes with its decorated windows and light show © Karen Rubin/

Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, Nov. 17-Jan. 1, returns to Brooklyn Botanic Garden with a longer illuminated trail, more works of art from around the world, and new, immersive experiences. Dozens of monumental light sculptures, a million lights, curated music playlist create a winter wonderland along a one-mile outdoor trail.

Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights, Nov. 17-Jan. 7. With more than 390 lanterns representing nearly 100 animal and plant species, the Bronx Zoo’s family-centric holiday lights festival will connect visitors with real wildlife and wild places. During the evenings, the park comes to life with holiday cheer as immersive light displays, custom-designed animal lanterns and animated light shows sparkle across the zoo. The celebration is complete with seasonal treats, classic holiday music, the Holiday Train, new interactive experiences, and other festive entertainment.

NYBG GLOW, Bedford Park, The Bronx, Nov. 17-Jan. 13. Discover the beauty of the New York Botanical Garden’s landscape and historic buildings, breathtakingly illuminated. Returning for its fourth year with special evening events, the Garden’s iconic sights and architecture, including the Haupt Conservatory and the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building, become dramatic, glittering canvases.

Holiday Lights & Movie Sites Tour with On Location Tours, Manhattan, Nov. 25-Jan. 2. Explore the holiday charm of New York City with On Location Tours, visiting iconic landmarks and hidden gems while discovering filming locations from popular holiday movies like Elf, Home Alone 2, Scrooged and more. Starting at Columbus Circle and Central Park West, the tour includes stops at Bloomingdale’s, Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park’s famous ice-skating rink. 

Rockefeller Center is decked for the holidays © Karen Rubin/

Shine Bright Only at Hudson Yards, throughout the holiday season. Presented by Wells Fargo, Shine Bright Only at Hudson Yards will once again mesmerize the neighborhood with  2 million twinkling lights, 725 adorned evergreen trees, 115 miles of string lights and impressive 16-foot illuminated hot air balloon structures positioned throughout the Public Square and Gardens.

Astra Lumina at Queens Botanical Garden, Flushing, Queens,  Nov. 24-Dec. 31. This one-mile-long night walk with captivating projections, dazzling lights and celestial tunes.

NYC Winter Lantern Festival: Illuminate the Farm at Queens County Farm Museum, Glen Oaks. Queens, Nov. 17-Jan. 7. Enter the whimsical world of NYC Lantern Festival lighting up the holiday season with unique light displays throughout six acres of historic farmland. This stunning array of artisanal lanterns creates an unforgettable immersive experience featuring a dazzling display of lights and illuminated Chinese lanterns, all handmade by artisans with decades of dedication to their craft.

The Original Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heights with A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, Brooklyn, December, takes visitors through Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights area, famous for its extravagant Christmas decorations. Led by locals who know the homeowners and their decoration stories, this 3½-hour tour starts in Manhattan, includes festive music and showcases spectacular holiday homes in Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst. The tour offers both on- and off-bus views of dazzling lights, features vintage Christmas TV specials and provides a commemorative souvenir fridge magnet at the end.


Bank of America’s Winter Village at Bryant Park is an entire entertainment complex offering the City’s largest free-admission skating rink, a holiday market comprising nearly 200 merchants. rinkside bar, food hall and carousel © Karen Rubin/

The Rink at Bryant Park, Midtown Manhattan (behind the 42nd Street Library), Through early March. Returning for its 22nd season, the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is an entire entertainment complex offering the City’s largest free-admission skating rink, a holiday market comprising nearly 200 merchants. rinkside bar, food hall and carousel.

The Rink at Rockefeller Center, Midtown Manhattan, through March. The world-famous ice-skating rink is back for the holidays, offering the classic NYC experience of skating under the iconic Christmas tree. Santa joins skaters on the ice in December.

Rockefeller Center offers the classic NYC experience of skating under the iconic Christmas tree © Karen Rubin/

Wollman Rink, Central Park, through March 15. Enjoy skating in Central Park with the picturesque Manhattan skyline in the background. Wollman Rink is continuing its partnership with Culture Pass.

The Rink at Manhattan West, Midtown Manhattan, throughout the holiday season, offers daily public skating and upscale ice skating programs hosted by Olympians Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov. Located a block away from Madison Square Garden, this 60×80 rink provides a skating experience amidst skyscrapers in Manhattan West’s expansive public plaza, steps away from Moynihan Train Hall.

Sky Skate at Hudson Yards, throughout the holiday season. New York City’s highest skating rink take in New York’s sights while gliding on a 1,024 square foot Glice® rink, a zero-energy ecological and synthetic ice rink positioned in the indoor portion of Edge’s sky deck.

Glide at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Heights, Nov. 15–March 1. Skate beneath the historic Brooklyn Bridge while taking in the stunning Manhattan skyline views at Glide. After enjoying the city’s newest ice rink, savor a diverse selection of café and beverage options.

Classic Harbor Line Holiday-Themed Cruises,  throughout the holiday season. Themed cruises include four-course holiday brunches, Cocoa and Carols, and Holidays Jazz. Set sail across the East and Hudson Rivers, treating yourself to captivating views of the NYC skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

City Cruises Holiday-Themed Cruises, Manhattan,  throughout the holiday season. Delight in the festive decorations, delectable meals and breathtaking city views from the comfort of the glass-enclosed deck as the cruise glides across the East and Hudson Rivers.  Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s dining cruises.

Enjoy festive shopping at Bank of America’s Winter Village at Bryant Park, offering a holiday market comprising nearly 200 merchants. rinkside bar, food hall, carousel and the City’s largest free-admission skating rink, © Karen Rubin/

Festive shopping at New York City’s Holiday Markets, Manhattan & Brooklyn. Throughout the holiday season. The biggest holiday markets are:  Holiday Shops at Winter Village at Bryant Park; Columbus Circle Holiday Market; Grand Central Holiday Fair

Also: Brooklyn Flea (Sundays, Nov.–Dec.); Chelsea Flea (weekends only, year-round); Grand Holiday Bazaar (Sundays, year-round); Brooklyn Borough Hall Holiday Market (Nov.–Dec.).

The Peninsula Hotel on Fifth Avenue decorated for the holidays © Karen Rubin/

NYC Hotel Week: Give the Gift of an NYC Hotel Stay this Winter: NYC Hotel WeekSM returns as part of NYC Winter OutingSM. Give the gift of New York City with a 24% discount on hotel stays at more than 100 hotels. Reservations open November 14; valid for stays over January 3–February 4, 2024.

For all there is to do and see in New York City, visit


© 2023 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit,, and Blogging at and Visit and Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at 

It’s the Best Time of Year – for Snatching Savings on Vacation Travel in 2024

Kinderdijk, Netherlands. Discovery Bicycle Tours is offering a $500 pp savings for bookings on its Bruges-Amsterdam boat-bike tour through Dec. 15 © Karen Rubin/

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate,

Lock in your 2024 vacation and turn travel dreams into actual dates at incredible discounts by taking advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Travel Tuesday deals and perks from scores of travel companies. Here’s just a sampling of what is available:

Cruise Deals

Holland America Line’s passengers can take advantage of its Black Friday Sale, Nov. 17-Dec. 1 on more than 800 departures, from December 2023 through select 2025 cruises. Value of gratuities ranges from $112 for a seven-day cruise to $688 for a 43-day sailing, per person. Reduced cruise fares of up to 30% off are available on itineraries spanning Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, South America and Antarctica. The reduced fare also applies to the cruise portion of an Alaska Cruisetour, combining an Alaska cruise with an overland tour to Denali and the Yukon. Guests who book the Have It All premium fare receive even more amenities included in their booking. (

Other major cruise lines offering Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals include: MSCCarnivalNorwegian and Royal Caribbean. Also check luxury, river, and expedition cruise lines for their incentives. See more deals at is now also booking cruises on 30 lines and 10,000 routes with a 110% best price guarantee, and is offering Black Friday savings on several lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises. You can get up to $100, $200, $500 up to $2000 to spend at sea by booking a cruise before Nov. 30.

Quark Expeditions, a leaders in polar cruising,  is offering up to 50% off select Antarctic 2023/24 departures; 40% off select Arctic 2024 voyages; free cabin upgrades on select Antarctic 2024/25 bookings; an additional 10% off all Arctic 2024 and Antarctic 2024/25 voyages when paid in full at time of booking and as much as 30% on all other seasons for Black Friday sale bookings Nov. 13-27 (limited cabins available). [email protected], 833-435-1900,

European Waterways is offering a Black Friday Special of 25% off on whole boat charters on two of its popular hotel barge cruises in France © Karen Rubin/

European Waterways is offering a Black Friday Special of 25% off on whole boat charters on two of its popular hotel barge cruises in France. Book Nov. 24-Dec. 1 for the April 7, 2024 departure of the 12-passenger La Belle Epoque in Burgundy and the March 31, 2024 departure of the eight-passenger Enchanté on the Canal du Midi. With the Black Friday Special, the charter price for La Belle Epoque is $54,375, a saving of $18,125 off the original $72,500 price. The charter price for Enchanté is $42,375, a saving of $14,125 off the original price of $56,500. Barge cruises are all-inclusive and include gastronomic meals with wine pairing, luxury accommodations, and wine tasting excursions. visit

Piloting Le Boat on a canal in France, getting ready to go through a lock. Le Boat, a leader in self-piloted boat rental experiences in Europe and its newest destination, Canada, is offering “Let’s Go Boating in 2024” deals © Karen Rubin/

Le Boat, a leader in self-piloted boat rental experiences in Europe and its newest destination, Canada, is offering “Let’s Go Boating in 2024” deals. Valid for new bookings made Nov. 16-28, 2023 for rentals for 7 or more nights for travel in 2024, get savings of 20-25% depending on boat type, duration of travel and destination: in France, save 25% on select budget and comfort boats; save 20% in Canada on the Rideau Canal and Trent-Severn Waterway boat rentals on Horizon 3, 4 and 5.  Call 1-800-734-5491 or visit

Erie Canal Adventures has a fleet of 11 self-piloted canalboats (easy to pilot, like an RV on the water), based out of Erie Macedon Landing to explore New York State’s magnificent Erie Canal on your own. Take advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday savings of 10% off the boat rental. Besides saving up to $550, booking early gives you your pick of dates and boat layouts before they sell out. Use Promo Code ERIENOW10 when booking, 315-986-3011, info@eriecanaladventures,

Eric Canal Adventures is offering up to $550savings  on self-piloted canalboat on the Erie Canal in upstate New York  © Karen Rubin/

Save on Tours

CIE Tours is offering savings of up to $600 this Black Friday on more than 20 popular guided vacations to Ireland, Britain, Iceland, and Italy. Book Nov. 19- 25 for all 2024 departures with no blackout dates. Examples: Jewels of IrelandIcelandic ExplorerHighlights of BritainTuscan Treasures with Cinque Terre. Book here:  For Cyber Week bookings online, Nov. 26-Dec. 2, save up to 15% per couple for travel from June 1 through August 31, 2024. . Book here:

Rome at night. Perillo Tours is offering $250 off per person for new bookings made Nov. 20 -27 for tours in Italy, Hawaii, Spain, and Greece © Karen Rubin/

Perillo Tours is offering $250 off per person for new bookings made Nov. 20 -27 for tours in Italy, Hawaii, Spain, and Greece. Book online at Additionally, travelers booking Italy Custom Trips can receive $150 off per person with the promo code BFITALY23.

Discovery Bicycle Tours is offering $500 off per person on bookings of two of its stellar cycling holidays booked by Dec. 15: Bike & Barge Bruges to Amsterdam (, a delightful trip that maximizes relaxation with sensational, scenic cycling; and E-bike New Zealand Trails, mostly off-road, car-free cycling through the spectacular scenery on the South Island ( Mention “Holiday Sale 2023” in your online reservation comments, or when you call 800-257-2226.

Escape Adventures is offering a Black Friday discount of 25% off $1099 regular price ($824) on this 4-day White Rim Mountain Biking Tour in Utah. Book at, with code WR25.

Ride & Seek is offering $1,000 off its France cycling tour from the culinary capital of Lyon to the wine mecca of Bordeaux as a Black Friday special. The price of the 20-day tour before the discount is $10,471.

Resort Stays

Club Med, a pioneer of the all-inclusive resort holiday, is offering 50% off plus up to $500 Instant Credit when booking a getaway to favorites like the 5-star eco-chic Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda, and the Club Med Québec, its only North American mountain resort for an all-inclusive ski holiday. PLUS: kids under 4 stay free and no single supplement. Book Nov. 16-29, 2023, for travel Dec. 2, 2023-June 28, 2024.

Club is offering 50% off plus up to $500 Instant Credit when booking a getaway to one Club Med’s all-inclusive favorites like the 5-star eco-chic Club Med Miches Playa Esmeralda.

Saint Lucia resorts are going all out for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, with every offer on the island listed on a dedicated page at (click Specials), and at Two dozen properties, from family resorts to ultra luxe boutique hotels, are taking up to 76% off, and adding perks. Among the top deals: BodyHoliday (up to 40% off this wellness mecca); Caille Blanc Villa & Hotel (up to 40% off plus $150 dining credit), Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa (save 65% on this family favorite), East Winds Resort (a charming waterfront resort 30% off) SoCo House Saint Lucia ($400 all-inclusive rate for two guests at one of Saint Lucia’s newest hotels), Stonefield Villa Resort (20% off a locally-owned upscale hidden gem), Ti Kaye Resort and Spa (up to 45% off, plus perks like 30% off massages, a best-kept luxury secret) and Zoetry Marigot Bay, St. Lucia (up to 76% off this newly launched luxury all-inclusive resort).

Fairmont Banff Springsis offering a 15% off bookings made Nov. 13-27, 2023 for stays through June 30, 2024 © Karen Rubin/

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is offering up to 30% off stays through June 30,2024 booked by Nov. 27, 2023 to unlock savings of up to 30% off your stays through June 30, 2024 at participating properties. Fairmont is part of ALL Accor Live Limitless, Accor’s loyalty program. Join and enjoy an additional discount up to 10% with the Members’ Rate, among other perks & benefits. Book:

Velas Resorts in Mexico is offering discounts and perks for stays through 2024 for bookings made Nov. 22-26: Save up to 20% on nightly rates, complimentary stays for kids, 50% off for teens, airport transfers, unlimited access to the spa’s hydrotherapy, suite upgrades. The new Grand Velas Boutique Los Cabos, opening in December, sweetens the deal with a $100 credit for romantic experiences. Mar del Cabo by Velas Resorts includes daily breakfast and 2-for-1 offers on select Cabo Adventure activities. Visit or call 1-877-418-3059.

Canopy by Hilton Cancun La Isla, Cancun, Mexico. Book Nov. 23-27 for special room rate of $190 including breakfast for two (20% off) for travel from Dec. 1, 2023-June 30,2024 (blackout dates apply)

Atlantis Paradise Island is offering a Cyber Week Sale, Nov. 22-Dec. 1 in The Coral, The Royal, The Cove, and The Reef Towers. For stays from Jan. 2 through April 30, 2024, get the 5th night free PLUS a $500+ in Resort Credit. For stays from May 1 through Nov. 30, 2024, get the 4th night free PLUS a $400+ in Resort Credit. For every $100 purchased in Beverage Marine Adventure Experience Credits, $20 is added. Book with flexible payment options and cancellation policies by visiting or calling 1-800-ATLANTIS.

SB Winemaker’s House & Spa Suites in Mendoza, Argentina is offering 30% off its new Nature, Wine & Art Experience (starts at $4,235 pp/double before discount), when booked Nov. 23-27, 2023 for travel in January 2024. Guests at this boutique estate from Argentina’s first female winemaker start enjoy a 50-minute in-suite massage upon arrival and in-room spa amenities and nightly in-suite aromatherapy and private garden; Chef’s Table dinner at La Vida restaurant featuring bold Argentinian cuisine paired with Susana Balbo’s wines; immersive winery tour and private lunch overlooking vineyards at the foot of the Andes. Art enthusiasts can craft their own ceramic pieces at a local studio before a dinner at renowned artist Sergio Roggerone home. A day in Potrerillos offers water activities and glamping. Visit or call: +54 9 261 417 1144

Aqua-Aston Hospitality, which manages more than 25 hotels and resorts on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island is offering 20% off for bookings Nov. 21-28, 2023 for travel Nov. 21, 2023-Dec. 20, 2024. Enjoy condo-style properties with resort amenities at Aston Kaanapali Shores, Aston Waikiki Beach Tower, and Aston at the Whaler on Kaanapali Beach.  Book at using Promo Code CCYBERSALE..

The Meritage Collection is offering 30% off best available rate and a $30 daily resort credit for bookings made through Nov 30, 2023, for travel through Nov. 30, 2024 (blackout dates apply) at its properties: Koʻa Kea Resort on Poʻipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii’s closest hotel accommodations to the waterfront, with views of Poʻipu Beach, intimate guestrooms, and renowned Red Salt restaurant led by Kauai native and Executive Chef Noelani Planas. Paséa Hotel & Spa, Huntington Beach, California,  in a vibrant coastal community, with 250 rooms and suites (most are ocean-facing),iconic Ninth Island Pool perched over the Pacific Ocean, Balinese-inspired Aarna Spa and 1,100 square-foot Paw-séa Pup Play Park. Book at or using promo code PROCYB.

The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, Waikiki, offers a quintessential Hawaii experience, lounging in vintage-inspired rooms with mid-century aesthetic and the swoon worthy “Wish You Were Here” pool. Indulge in award-wining cuisine at the onsite Mahina & Sun’s. Deal: 21% savings off 1-Room Bungalow, 1-Room Bedroom, & 2-Room Bedroom; Book Nov 17-30 for travel Nov 17, 2023-Dec. 31, 2024 (subject to blackouts). Book at and use code CYBER2023 

ADERO Scottsdale Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona,a modern desert sanctuary located in one of 60 Dark Sky Communities in the world, is known for exceptional stargazing, hiking and biking trails and wellness amenities including on-site spa and pickleball Save 25% in addition to $50 resort credit (rates start at $179/night before discount); book thru Dec. 10 for travel through Jan. 21, 2024. Book:

The Virginian Lodge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming provides easy access to
Grand Teton National Park © Karen Rubin/

The Virginian Lodge, Jackson Hole, WY is offering up to 30% off the best available rate for bookings made now through Dec. 1, 2023 for travel now through September 2024 (72 hr-7 day cancellation policy applies). The dog-friendly property features two hot tubs, seven built-in fire pits, an all-season pool, the iconic Virginian Saloon, and over 4,000 square feet of event space. The Virginian Lodge is the ideal base camp for access to world-class national parks (Grand Teton, Yellowstone), wildlife refuges, museums, hot springs, local distilleries and wineries, and authentic dude ranches. Book:  

Limelight Hotels in Aspen, Snowmass and Denver, CO and Ketchum, ID is offering up to 30% off best available retail rate booked Nov. 24-29, 2023 for stays through March 31, 2024 (blackout dates apply):  he Mountain Town Getaway Deal offers up to 25% off on a four-night stay at any mountain destination properties – Aspen and Snowmass, Colorado or Ketchum, Idaho, subject to availability for deluxe rooms and higher. Limelight’s newest property, Limelight Hotel Denver is offering up to 30% off BAR). Book: using code CYBER23.

Outbound Mammoth, Mammoth Lakes, CA is offering up to 30% off the best available retail rate for bookings made now through Dec. 1, 2023, for stays now through September 2024 (48 hr cancellation; blackout dates apply). Outbound Mammoth is a six-acre respite with convenient access to the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Mammoth Lakes Hiking Trails, and the Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite National Park. Outbound Hotels has reimagined this Mammoth Lakes icon with fully renovated rooms and chalets plus 10 new cabins and 20 villas, a new pool area, on-site restaurant, steam room, dry sauna, fire pits and offerings for pets. In the winter, the snow-covered slopes call to ski and snowboarding enthusiasts; in the summer, Mammoth Lake beckons with fishing, swimming, hiking, biking, hot springs and boating. Book: 

Brewery Gulch Inn, a charming, luxurious inn in Mendocino California is offering 30 percent savings for Black Friday/Cyber Monday © Karen Rubin/

Brewery Gulch Inn, a charming, luxurious inn on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Mendocino California, is offering 30% off new bookings made Nov. 24-27, for travel through May 24, 2024; and 35% off reservations Dec.1-21 (minimum two nights, blackout dates include holidays).

Southernmost Beach Resort in Key West, Florida is offering 50% off bookings made Nov. 24- Dec. 1 for stays through Dec. 31, 2024. Boasting three palm-fringed pools with private cabanas, a signature restaurant, and three bars, full-service spa, group fitness classes, live entertainment, and unique programming including cocktail tastings and painting classes,  this oceanfront oasis sets the tone for a tranquil stay in Key West’s Historic District. Book:

Watching the sunset is always a highlight of travel to the Florida Keys © Karen Rubin/

Hawks Cay Resort, the Florida Keys, offers fishing excursions, dolphin encounters, and snorkel trips on-site. The new Pilar Bar hosts rum tastings and cigar pairings inspired by longtime Keys resident Ernest Hemingway.  Deal: up to 45% off accommodations and $50 resort credit, plus daily breakfast for two during stays booked Nov 14-29 with code CYBERW, for a 2-night minimum stay at the hotel and a 3-night minimum stay at its villas (subject to availability, blackout dates apply).   

Caribe Royale Orlando, Orlando, FL, an all-suite resort catering a stones throw from DisneyWorld and other top theme parks, just underwent a $140 million renovation. It offers 1,215 one-bedroom suites (sleep up to5) and 120 two-bedroom villas (sleep up to 6), seven on-site culinary venues, family friendly activities including outdoor pool with 75 foot waterslide, catch-and-release fishing, kiddie splashpool and playground, and outdoor movie program. Deal: 30% off with $25 nightly F&B credit when booking direct for 2 consecutive nights or more, booked Nov. 16-29 for travel Nov. 16, 2023-Dec. 31, 2024. Book at

Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, Hollywood, Florida  a family-friendly tropical escape with 369-rooms, eight bar and restaurant concepts, two pools, FlowRider surfing simulator, year-round live entertainment, the St. Somewhere Spa, kid’s club, paddle boarding and kayaking. Deal: Save up to 20% when booking Nov. 20-28, 2023 for stays Nov. 21, 20223-June 30, 2024.

Sanderling Resort, Duck, NC is offering up to 40% off the best available retail rate for bookings made Nov. 9-29, 2023 for travel Nov. 9, 2023-August 31, 2024 (blackout dates apply. The AAA Four-Diamond full-service resort on North Carolina’s Outer Banks spans 13 acres between the Atlantic Ocean and serene Currituck Sound. Enjoy three pools, oversized fire pits, dining at the Lifesaving Station and the on-site Spa at Sanderling with award-winning services. Book:

The Art of Living Retreat Center, Boone, North Carolina, a wellness experience in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is offering 25% off Signature Retreats (Happiness, Stepping Into Silence, Meditation) and R+R Retreats, booked Nov. 17-27 for stays from Dec. 2023-March 2024. To book: with code BLACKFRIDAY2023.

Rock Springs Retreat Center, located 45 minutes from Nashville, Tennessee, offers transformative retreats focused on holistic wellness, combining fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle to help individuals achieve sustainable, long-term results. Deal: From Nov. 20 – Dec. 1, book one week and get the second week at 60% off the weekly rate for stays through Feb. 29, 2024 (based on availability and blackout dates apply). To book: call Rock Springs Retreat Center at 615-437-6524.

Makeready Hotels, a Dallas based experience-driven hospitality company, operates an independent and diverse collection of  restaurant, retail and hotel brands across the US such as Dallas, Nashville, Charleston, Denver, Savannah GA, Charleston SC, Cape Neddick ME, Nashville TN, Columbus OH.  Deal: This collection wide Cyber Sale, Nov. 17-29, offers guests up to 24% off guest rooms, $24 dining credit and 24% off retail. Book: Visit the offers webpage of any Makeready Hotel, the full list of properties can be found at

Three Charlestown Hotels properties in Charleston, S.C. are offering deals of 23 to 25% off on bookings made Nov. 28-Dec. 3 for travel by Dec. 31, 2024:  

HarbourView InnCharleston’s intimate, 52-room waterfront retreat in the heart of the Historic District From customized gourmet artisanal breakfast delivered in-room to complimentary afternoon wine and cheese hour on the hotel’s private rooftop (the only remaining in downtown Charleston) the hotel emulates warm Southern hospitality. (Rates start at $289/night before discount). To Book:

The Spectator Hotel, Charleston, is offering 23% off stays. With 41 residential-style rooms, this Holy City high-design, Art Deco boutique property is the only hotel in Charleston with personal butler service for coordinating anything from developing itineraries and making hard-to-get reservations to dream restaurants to drawing candlelit rose petal baths and delivering handcrafted cocktails from The Bar, the hotel’s Prohibition-era themed cocktail lounge (rates start at $299/night before discount). Book at

French Quarter Inn, a 50-room luxury boutique hotel (Charleston’s most awarded hotel), showcases the southern charm the city is known for with a comfortable upscale design, famous locally sourced artisanal breakfast and refined turndown service complete with complimentary port wine, freshly baked cookies with milk, locally handcrafted chocolates or “sleepy tea” and curated pillow menu (seven options for all types of sleepers). (Rates start at $289/night before discount). Book at

The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa, Manchester, VT  is offering up to 40% off best available rate for bookings made now through Nov. 29, 2023 for travel now through August 31, 2024 (blackout dates apply). Nestled in the Green Mountain National Forest in historic Manchester, VT, The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa has welcomed guests for over 250 years, including four U.S.  presidents. The expansive resort features over 195 guestrooms with several suite categories; a full-service spa, 75-foot indoor pool and fitness classes; five dining outlets, including the fabled Marsh Tavern (a destination since 1769) and an award-winning par-71, 18-hole championship golf course. The Equinox Resort is a year-round playground for lovers of the outdoors with something for everyone, delicious dining, history, four seasons of adventure & of course spectacular skiing with easy access to Bromley & Stratton mountains. Book:

The Wentworth, in Jackson, NH, is offering 30% off the Dinner and Breakfast Package which includes accommodations, breakfast, and a four-course meal in the 1869 Room for 2024 bookings made Nov. 23-29 using the code BLACKFRIDAY (full payment required, non-refundable, blackout dates apply). (   

The Menhaden in Greenport, NY offers 25% savings and a bottle of local red wine for new bookings made Nov. 24-Dec. 1. Travelers enjoy a special discount of 25% off and a hand-selected bottle of local red wine, for stays Nov. 24, 2023-Feb. 1, 2024. Use code CYBER to book at

Campspot, a camping and outdoor adventures platform, has Black Friday/Cyber Monday Camping Deals for up to 50% off* on some of the top campgrounds. Here’s a sampling: Broad River Campground (Mooresboro, NC)- 40% off: escape winter in your own heated cabin or dome with an outdoor fire pit at this pet-friendly campground, which offers various activities and nearby hiking, biking, and horse trails. Wild Fox Cabins & Campground (Lakeville, ME)- 40% off: Snuggle up in a cozy cabin and enjoy the spectacular woodland and lake surroundings at this campground perched along the legendary ‘chain of lakes. Lake Hemet Campground (Mountain Center, CA)- 30% off: This award-winning campground offers stunning mountain views and is a top spot for camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Riverbend RV Park & Cabins (Montrose, CO)- 20% off: Enjoy riverfront living at this campground, which offers cabins and RV sites perfect for floating and fly fishing adventures. is inviting subscribers to get notices of deals worth 30% or more off stays in their inbox, for booking between Nov. 16-29, 2023 for stays anytime until Dec. 31, 2024 (free cancellation and flexible payment options). is offering 20% off $150 gift cards purchased through Nov. 30 (use promo code HOLIDAY23).

See also:


Coming up: Gift of Travel


© 2023 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit,, and Blogging at and Visit and Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at 

Travel Companies’ Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Travel Tuesday Deals Put Bucket List Destinations, Experiences Within Reach

Death Valley National Park. Being able to stay within the park lets you take advantage of amazing sunsets and sunrises. Xanterra is offering discount at the luxury Oasis and family-friendly Ranch © Karen Rubin/

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate,

Travel companies – airlines, cruiselines, hotels and resorts, tour companies – are going big for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, putting bucket list destinations and experiences within reach. We’ve gathered some of the deals to provide a snapshot of what you can expect – it can be a discount on the package price, upgrade, or special features added on. But if you don’t see a travel company you are interested in, search for the website and “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” deals to find offers and get any necessary code. Here’s a taste of the goodies to snatch:

Xanterra Travel Collection® “Thankful for Travel Sale” 

From Nov. 21-Dec. 1, 2023, save up to 30% on national park stays, luxury, yacht-style cruises, a historic train ride to the Grand Canyon, walking and biking tours in Europe, and legendary resorts. Xanterra owns or operates the lodges in Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park, Glacier National Park, and Grand Canyon, South Rim; Windstar Cruises, the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel, The Oasis at Death Valley, Holiday Vacations, Country Walkers and VBT Bicycling Vacations.  The affiliated legendary Five-Star, Five-Diamond Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs and the longest-running Five-Star award-winning Sea Island resort in Georgia are also participating in the sale. (Visit Highlights include:
National Parks

View of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim at sunset. Xanterra’s ”Thankful for Travel” sale includes special offers on National Park stays, including Grand Canyon’s South Rim hotels © Karen Rubin/
  • The Oasis at Death Valley – Save 30% on hotel stays at the beautifully renovated and historic AAA Four-Diamond Inn at Death Valley and the newly revitalized, family-friendly Ranch at Death Valley, including new, cozy cottages, spring fed pools and the lowest elevation golf course. Valid for select overnight stays between Dec 2023 and Feb 2024. 
  • Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel – Save 30% on roundtrip train tickets on an entertaining journey in fully restored historic train cars to the Grand Canyon’s fabled South Rim when booking a two-night Thankful for Travel package for select travel dates January-March 7, 2024.
  • Grand Canyon South Rim – Save 30% on in-park lodging at Maswik Lodge, Kachina Lodge, and Bright Angel Lodge and 20% at the historic El Tovar Hotel for stays between December 2, 2023, and March 7, 2024. All lodges are in the Historic Grand Canyon Village within walking distance of the rim of the Grand Canyon, Lookout Studio and Hopi House. Take advantage of the secret season at Grand Canyon, South Rim and enjoy the park without the crowds. 
  • The Grand Hotel – Save 30% at the only AAA Three-Diamond hotel near the Grand Canyon in Tusayan (just one mile from the South Rim entrance) on select dates Dec 2, 2023- March 7, 2024. 
  • Zion National Park – Save 30% on overnight stays inside the park at Zion National Park Lodge on select dates between Dec 2023 and Feb 2024. 
  • Cedar Creek Lodge, at the gateway to Glacier National Park – Save 30% on rooms for select dates between Dec 2023 and April 2024.
  • Yellowstone – Save 30% on select room types at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel from Dec 15 –21, 2023  and Jan 2 – Mar 3, 2024, and at Old Faithful Snow Lodge from Dec 16 –22, 2023, and Jan 2 – Mar 2, 2024. Save this spring at Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel on stays between April 26 – May 9, 2024, and save at Lake Yellowstone Hotel May 10 – 22, 2024.
The Grand Prismatic, Yellowstone National Park. Take advantage of Xanterra Travel Collection’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday national park hotel sales to put your family in the picture © Karen Rubin/

Luxury Hotels

  • Sea Island – Book between November 24-November 28, 2023, to receive: up to 25% off standard rate at the Cloister or The Lodge  for stay s Jan-Mar, Sept-Dec 21, 2024; 15% off for stays Apr-Aug; 10% off stays at Cottages Jan-Dec 21, 2024; $250 resort credit per stay at The Cloister and The Lodge and $100 resort credit per Cottage stay.
  • The Broadmoor – 15% off all-inclusive Wilderness Experience stays for select dates in the 2024 season (April-October); Broadmoor exclusive of $269 nightly rates & suites available at 25% off of published rates valid for select dates in January through April 2024. Book between Nov 14 – Dec 1, 2023. More details and booking information here.
    • Situated at the gateway to the Colorado Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, The Broadmoor and its Wilderness Experience properties – The Ranch at Emerald Valley, Cloud Camp and the Orvis-endorsed Fly Fishing Camp – encompass 5,000 acres. The resort campus has 784 rooms, suites and cottages. It includes two championship golf courses, an award-winning spa and fitness center, a nationally recognized tennis staff and program, 20 retail boutiques, plus 20 diverse restaurants, cafes and lounges. Other activities include falconry, mountain biking, hiking, rock-climbing tours, fly-fishing, Wild West Experiences and more.
    • The Broadmoor Wilderness Experience properties are three all-inclusive boutique facilities that highlight an authentic Colorado experience while offering mountain rustic luxury along with The Broadmoor’s legendary service: an upscale dude ranch, a fly fishing mecca, and  a relaxing and glamorous Western mountaintop camp. Open May-October.
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, grand, historic resort

Guided Travel/Tours

  • Bicycling Tours (VBT) – Book any 2024 departure of a Guided Biking tour to France with an Air Package and save $250.
  • Walking Adventures (Country Walkers)– Book any 2024 departure of a Guided Walking tour to Italy with an Air Package and save $250.
  • Holiday Vacations – Join a Hawaii Three Island Holiday tour on either Feb 24 or March 2, 2024 to save $300 pp


  • Windstar Cruises – Pick Your Perk! Select one: free pre- or post-cruise hotel nights, up to $1,000 onboard credit, OR premium suite guests may select a free upgrade to an All-Inclusive Fare featuring Wi-Fi; unlimited beer, wine & cocktails; and all gratuities. PLUS reduced deposits of just 5%.  

Tour Operator Specials

EF Go Ahead Tours, a premier provider of education-based group travel experiences, has been offering a month of deals, that climax with Black Friday/Cyber Monday. The sales, which include select discounts of up to 20% and lightning deals of up to $1,000 off per traveler, coincide with a record increase in consumer demand for immersive travel beyond  historically-favorite destinations. Week 4: Nov. 17-22: Save up to $600/$1,200 per couple on Bucket List destinations (Africa, Asia, Latin America, like Bali & Java: Culture & Landscapes of Indonesia, priced from $3,039). Black Friday: major savings on all destinations plus an extra $100 off on all tours and special Lightning deals and extras such as free excursions. Cyber Monday: Buy more, save more & get an extra $50 off when booking online.  Flexible Travel Policies. Book & Rebook with Confidence. AutoPay financial planning with $99 down and interest-free payment plans.  Visit

Biking through Custer State Park, South Dakota, where the buffalo roam, on Wilderness Voyageurs’ Badlands and Black Hills inn-to-inn bike tour © Karen Rubin/

Wilderness Voyageurs, which operates fully supported, inn-to-inn bicycle tours across the United States, is offering savings of $75 off 3-day tours, $100 pp off 4-day tours, $125 off 5-day tours and $150 off 6-day tours for any bike tour booked by Dec. 14. (800-272-4141,

G Adventures’ Cyber Sale, through November 30, provides 30% off per person on guaranteed departures of small-group tours, for select dates departing before April 30, 2024. To book:

Resorts Around the World

Club Med, a pioneer of the all-inclusive resort, offers deals, discounts, specials all year long. Check out the all-inclusive deals to ski resorts and beach destinations (photo from Club Med).

Club Med: Book by Jan. 8, 2024 for travel by June 28, 2024 to get an extra 10% off all-inclusive beach and mountain getaways. Get up to 40% off plus: Up to $200 additional instant credit per person; Kids under 4 stay FREE; Bundle with air & save 10% extra. For solo travelers, the Single Supplement is waived on select dates. Visit:

Borgo San Vincenzo, Montepulciano, Italy: Tuscany’s newest luxury boutique hotel, , is a reimagined 18th-century borgo named for the patron saint of winemaking, offering sophisticated wine-driven experiences inviting guests to immerse in the region’s vibrant culture, breathtaking views, historic wine scene and culinary excellence. Located in the heart of Montepulciano, Italy, in the Vino Nobile vineyards, Borgo San Vincenzo offers 21 luxury studios and suites and personalized experiences like tours of the region by foot, horse, e-bike, Vespa, or hot air balloon, cooking classes in a winery, truffle hunting and olive oil tasting, among others. Borgo San Vincenzo’s Escape to Tuscany specials from  Nov. 23-27  include  20% off on all suites in any season (4-night minimum stay), daily breakfast for two, complimentary e-bike rental for two days and €100 euros ($106) food & beverage credit. The hotel can also be booked for exclusive use €30,000 euros ($31,857) for a 4-night stay (excluding May-September) including 1 night of exclusive use of the Il Ciuchino restaurant $2,654 value). Direct bookings only, mention Black Friday Specials/Escape to Tuscany. Book at

Cayo Espanto, Belize

Cayo Espanto, Belize,  located three miles off the coast of San Pedro, Belize, is home to seven villas, helipad, private yacht, and endless opportunities to enjoy a barefoot luxury escape in a naturally beautiful setting.  The private island resort is offering guests a free airfare credit (up to $750 per person) with the booking of a 4-7 night stay this Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Travelers looking to take advantage of this offer must complete their reservation online at  Nov 24 – 27. Use the codes for FREEAIR outlined in the booking calendar when making a reservation. Blackout dates apply.

Sonesta Resorts St. Maarten, St. Maarten  is a duo of stunning oceanfront, all-inclusive resorts in the Dutch Caribbean, comprised of the family-friendly Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa and five-star, adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort. Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino and Spa is a 420-room fun-for-all ages resort, while Sonesta Ocean Point Resort is a spectacular adults-only 130 suite “resort within a resort” featuring all-access to the adjacent all-ages Maho Beach Resort. From Black Friday, Nov. 24 through Cyber Monday, Nov. 27, take 50% off standard room rate for future stays between Dec. 1, 2023-Dec. 21, 2024 (three-night minimum; blackout dates) when booking with code BLACKFRIDAY online at

Ocean Club Resorts, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, two all-suite resorts located along the pristine Grace Bay Beach, provide spacious accommodations, full kitchen or kitchenette, screened-in patio, and onsite activities including complimentary bikes, tennis, kayaks, SUP boards, beach/pool loungers.  Book a six-night stay at Ocean Club Resorts (East or West location) this Black Friday through Cyber Monday and receive the seventh night free for stays April 1 – 30, 2024. Valid on accommodations ranging from Studio to One-Bedroom Suites. Reservations are based on availability, blackout dates apply. The promotional offer must be booked here online, use promo code BFCM. Offer cannot be combined with any other promotion.

Andaz Mexico City Condesa, in Mexico City’s trendy Condesa neighborhood, has emerged as a chic urban enclave since opening in January 2023. Book Nov. 16-29, 2023 to get 25% off on all stays from November 16, 2023 to August 31, 2024. The city’s newest lifestyle hotel boasts 213 distinctly designed rooms and suites, the neighborhood’s tallest rooftop pool on the 17th floor, three distinct dining venues, including signature restaurant Cabuya Rooftop and pet-friendly Wooftop Beer Garden & Canine Club with its brand new Bulldog Sports Bar,as well as Pasana Spa and Wellness that offers relaxing massage services and beauty treatments. 

Fairmont Mayakoba, nestled in the heart of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, is a newly renovated, 401-room AAA Five Diamond resort set on 45 acres within a private luxury community. Surrounded by a lush mangrove forest intersected by water canals, the property offers 46,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space, an energizing Fairmont Spa and El Camaleón Golf Course. Now through March 29, 2024, take 20% off stays through April 30, 2024  booking directly on Fairmont Mayakoba’s website, HERE.  

Casa Kimberly, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico,  once the love nest of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, is a luxurious nine-suite boutique hotel in the heart of Puerto Vallarta with stunning views of Banderas Bay and the red clay rooftops that dot the Sierra Madre Mountains. Originally Burton’s gift to Taylor for her 32nd birthday, the hotel consists of two gorgeous casitas, connected by the Bridge of Love, where the star-crossed Hollywood icons could escape the paparazzi in the streets below. Today the carefully preserved hotel consists of a fine dining restaurant and tequila bar, original azure-tiled pool and elaborate, individually designed suites with expansive terraces with outdoor private Jacuzzis. Lovers are welcome to ignite their passion while draped in the historic luxury of old Hollywood.  Book Nov. 24-27 to save 50% off suites for stays between December 1, 2023, and May 31, 2024 (blackout dates apply).  Use code CYBERCK to reserve at the discounted rate. Visit here to book. 

Curacao Marriott Beach Resort

The renovated Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort occupies six-acres of beachfront property in the historic capital of Willemstad. Located outside of the hurricane belt, the island is safe from the tropical storms and delivers 300 days of sun per year. Curacao is now more popular and accessible than ever as a result of new and additional nonstop flights from New York, Miami, Charlotte and Atlanta (coming soon). The resort presents an ideal combination of active adventure and luxurious relaxation, with direct beach access, two pools, four dining concepts, meetings and events spaces and recently opened an on-site dive shop, Goby Divers, where guests can learn to scuba and earn PADI certification or dive based on their experience level. Deal: Save up to 30% off for 4 nights or 35% off for 7 nights (rates start at $234/night before discount). Book Nov. 24-27, 2023 for travel Jan. 2-Oct. 31, 2024 (blackout dates apply).  Book Via Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort’s page on Marriott.comExpedia, or during the booking window.

Botánika Osa Peninsula, Curio Collection by Hilton, Costa Rica is a newly opened eco-resort offering luxurious accommodations and world-class excursions and wildlife adventures in the rainforests of the Osa, led by certified guides. Deal: Four-night getaway for two in one bedroom suite, complimentary breakfast, welcome cocktails and spa credit (rates start at $184/night before the discount), minimum 4-night length of stay; children under 12 stay free; Additional nights can be booked for $199+ tax and fees). Book Nov. 20-27, 2023 for travel Nov. 20, 2023 to May 31, 2024. To book: visit

Vakkaru Maldives, located in the heart of Baa Atoll on a secluded reef island with idyllic ocean views, powder-soft white sand and marine biodiversity, is a timeless resort sanctuary. Deal: Book direct Nov. 15-Dec. 6 for stays from Nov. 15, 2023 to May 15, 2024 (black out dates Dec. 23, 2023-Jan. 10, 2024, Mar 23-Apr 7, 2024) to get resort credit of $100 per villa or $200 per residence; 30% off Merana Spa treatments; 40% off on Ayurveda treatments and packages;  20% off on selected watersports including Jetski, Seabob & Jetboard;  Sunset champagne and Canapés on the beach for two. To book: here or email [email protected],use offer code BLACK

Sun Siyam Resorts’Siyam World (  and Olhuveli Resorts ( in the Maldives are offering up to 40% savings, plus discounts on activities, diving, 50% off room upgrade charges, and stay a minimum of five nights for a one-way complimentary airport transfer for two.


Coming: Gift of Travel


© 2023 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit,, and Blogging at and Visit and Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at 

NYC Village Halloween Parade Marks 50 Years with ‘Upside Down’: Photo Highlights

The Village Halloween Parade in New York City is celebrating 50 years with this year’s theme, UPSIDE/DOWN © Karen Rubin/

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate,

The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years since it began as a small neighborhood “promenade” and has become one of the largest Halloween events in the world, was themed UPSIDE/DOWN, reflecting the tumult of the last few years, and inviting self-reflection.  

“The Halloween Parade has always been a night of transformation, but this topsy turvy year feels even more-so in terms of realizing a dream, being who you are most authentically in your imagination,” said Jeanne Fleming, Artistic and Producing Director.

The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years, gives New Yorkers an opportunity to show off their creativity, artistry and humor © Karen Rubin/

Hundreds of thousands of spectators packed the streets along the mile-long parade route from Canal Street to 16th Street along Sixth Avenue,  to thrill at hundreds of puppets, 50 bands representing music from around the world, dancers, artists, and thousands of other New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation in the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world – the biggest crowds since 2019.

“I’m astonished by how many people are here,” said a justifiably proud and delighted Fleming. “We invite people to come out and they did!”

Village Halloween Parade Director Jeanne Fleming was delighted with a huge turnout of  costumed parade goers and spectators © Karen Rubin/

Spectators thrilled at seeing hundreds of puppets, 50 bands and dancers representing music from around the world and New York’s melting pot, and tens of thousands of New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation, in the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world.

The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years, gives New Yorkers an opportunity to show off their creativity, artistry and humor © Karen Rubin/

Started by Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee in 1973, the Parade began as a walk from house to house in his neighborhood for his children and their friends.

After the second year of this local promenade, Theater for the New City stepped in and produced the event on a larger scale as part of their City in the Streets program.

Fogo Azul NYC, an all-women Brazilian drumline, is one of about 50 bands joining the Village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/

Today the Parade is the largest celebration of its kind in the world and has been picked by Festivals International as “The Best Event in the World” for October 31.

Now, 50 years later, the Parade draws more than 70,000 costumed participants and some 2 million spectators, including television-viewing audience, live on NY1 beginning at 8 pm.

Parade marchers really interact with the spectators, to everyone’s delight © Karen Rubin/

In 1994, the Mayor of the City of New York issued a Proclamation honoring the Village Halloween Parade for 20 years of bringing everyone in the City together in a joyful and creative way and being a boon to the economic life of the City. “New York is the world’s capital of creativity and entertainment. The Village Halloween Parade presents the single greatest opportunity for all New Yorkers to exhibit their creativity in an event that is one-of-a-kind, unique and memorable every year. New Yorkers of all ages love Halloween, and this delightful event enables them to enjoy it every year and join in with their own special contributions. The Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village is a true cultural treasure.”

The irony is that while Halloween is about taking on a completely different persona, at the Village Halloween Parade, we see New Yorkers’ true selves.

And that’s true to the Upside/Down-Inside/Out theme.

Here are more photo highlights:

The Village Halloween Parade in New York City marks 50 years © Karen Rubin/
Giant puppets are a hallmark of the New York City’s Village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/
The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years, gives New Yorkers an opportunity to show off their creativity, artistry and humor © Karen Rubin/
Giant puppets are a hallmark of the New York City’s Village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/
The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years, gives New Yorkers an opportunity to show off their creativity, artistry and humor © Karen Rubin/
The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years, gives New Yorkers an opportunity to show off their creativity, artistry and humor © Karen Rubin/
Parade marchers really interact with the spectators, to everyone’s delight © Karen Rubin/
Village Halloween Parade marchers enjoy interacting with spectators much to their delight © Karen Rubin/
The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years, gives New Yorkers an opportunity to show off their creativity, artistry and humor © Karen Rubin/
All you need to march in the Village Halloween Parade – the people’s parade – is a costume © Karen Rubin/
The Village Halloween Parade in New York City marks 50 years © Karen Rubin/ 
Village Halloween Parade showcases the many cultures of New York’s melting pot © Karen Rubin/
The Village Halloween Parade in New York City marks 50 years © Karen Rubin/ 
Grand Marshal of the Village Halloween Parade Laurie Anderson © Karen Rubin/
 Fogo Azul NYC, an all-women Brazilian drumline, is one of about 50 bands joining the Village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/
L Train Brass Band brings its joyful music to the Village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/
All you need to march in the Village Halloween Parade – the people’s parade – is a costume © Karen Rubin/
The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years, gives New Yorkers an opportunity to show off their creativity, artistry and humor © Karen Rubin/
Thriller at the Village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/
Village Halloween Parade features some of the best bands in New York City© Karen Rubin/
Village Halloween Parade features some of the best bands in New York City© Karen Rubin/
Music is in the air at the village Halloween Parade © Karen Rubin/
The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years, gives New Yorkers an opportunity to show off their creativity, artistry and humor © Karen Rubin/
The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years, gives New Yorkers an opportunity to show off their creativity, artistry and humor © Karen Rubin/
Costumed Village Halloween Parade enjoy interacting with spectators much to their delight © Karen Rubin/
Costumed Village Halloween Parade enjoy interacting with spectators much to their delight © Karen Rubin/
Costumed Village Halloween Parade enjoy interacting with spectators much to their delight © Karen Rubin/
The Village Halloween Parade in New York City is celebrating 50 years with the theme, UPSIDE/DOWN © Karen Rubin/


© 2023 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit,, and Blogging at and Visit and Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at 

New Brunswick Roadtrip: Exploring French Acadia’s Culture, Heritage by Bike!

Biking the beautiful boardwalk in Shippagan, New Brunswick © Karen Rubin/

By Karen Rubin, with Dave E. Leiberman & Laini Miranda

Travel Features Syndicate,

Our New Brunswick roadtrip that has so enthralled us with the natural wonders of the Bay of Fundy, now takes us to the Acadien Peninsula, where its French heritage is most pronounced and you really feel you are in another country. We are also excited to explore a portion of a marvelous new cycling trail, the Veloroute Peninsule Acadeienne, which opened in 2019, consisting of 14 cycling circuits, totaling 379 miles, that go through 14 coastal French fishing villages and communities. 

Because the Veloroute is so new, it seems, it is not well set up for a supported, self-guided multi-day trip, so we stitch together our own, with the help of Neil Hodge at New Brunswick Tourism. Neil arranges a multi-day bike rental for us from the Villegiature Deux Rivieres Resort (more geared for day rental), and an itinerary that follows the C15 circuit. Fortunately, Laini prefers to spend the day painting, so volunteers to drive the car to the next stop and then take my bike for a shorter ride with Dave at the end of the day. And we have to ferry the bike back to the rental shop (not really difficult, it is less than one hour’s drive back to Tracadie, and we’ve prepared by taking our bike rack). It is exciting to feel like we are pioneering a new biking destination.

This is an opportunity to take advantage of what is best about cycling (and clearly, this is an extremely popular activity throughout New Brunswick and Quebec): you ride at a perfect pace through local communities, small villages, see where and how people live. And there is such freedom during the day, to stop and explore, and really be immersed in a place.

Biking the New Brunswick’s new cycling trail, the Veloroute Peninsule Acadeienne,  from Tracadie to Shippagan © Karen Rubin/

This first day, we bike on the trail 22 miles from Tracadie at one end of the circuit, to Shippagan, riding mainly through woods and then along marshes, arriving at Shippagan at about 2:30. We have a delightful late-lunch in a Mediterranean-style restaurant, Chez Aicha (197 Bd J. D. Gauthier, +1 506-336-8989), then Dave and I continue exploring Shippagan, picturesquely set between Saint-Simon Bay and the Chaleur Bay inlet that goes into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, stopping at its most popular beach, Le Goulet.

Shippagan, New Brunswick’s beautiful boardwalk © Karen Rubin/

We discover the boardwalk along Shippagan’s waterfront, and that we can bike all the way to Point Brule, the road that leads us to the cottage Laini has booked for two nights on Airbnb. We calculate we cycled 40 miles for the day.

Our charming Airbnb cottage on Point Brule, Shippagan © Karen Rubin/

Dave and I are giddy with delight when we see the sweet, cozy aquamarine-colored cottage and how it is poised on the tip of Point Brule, perched on a ridge with our own ladder to the beach into the bay.

Who can resist? We quickly change and play in the water (surprisingly not too cold), then set out to watch the sunset on Miscou Island, which sits between the Bay of Chaleur and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, at its magnificent historic lighthouse.

The picturesque Miscou Lighthouse © Karen Rubin/

We reach the Miscou Island Lighthouse on the northeastern tip of the island, just before sunset. The lighthouse was built in 1856 and designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1974.

The picturesque Miscou Lighthouse © Karen Rubin/

It is surprising how long (how far) Miscou Island actually is (24 km long by 16 km wide – small for an island but a good distance by bike), because this is the route we are supposed to bike tomorrow. Even on our itinerary, the route is 26 miles each way, hilly, on a two-lane, windy road. But Miscou is fabulous to explore – for birds and wildlife (we see a family of foxes), peat bogs, and not to be missed.

Steve of the popular Terasse a Steve restaurant on Miscou Island © Karen Rubin/

Our plan is to have dinner at Terasse à Steve a fun, rustic place so beautifully set overlooking the Miscou wharf that is legendary in the community, but when we pull up, we discover Steve has closed early (for mosquitoes!).

That means we have to race back to Shippagan before the restaurants close (at 8:30 pm). We’ve called ahead to Pinokkio’s who tell us to just get there by 9 pm. We race back, arriving at 9 pm on the dot, and sure enough, they seat us. The wood-fired pizzas (fungi pizza, margarita), with the freshest, most flavorful ingredients, are fantastic. ((Pinokkio Pizzeria Resto-Bar, 121 16e rue, Shippagan, 506-336-0051,

Sunset from our cottage on Point Brule, Shippagan © Karen Rubin/

Instead of biking back to Miscou Island (Veloroute map shows the Miscou route as 41 km just on the island), Dave and I decide to explore Lameque Island, which is in between Shippagan and Miscou (so glad we toured by car).

We set out again from the cottage on the road that leads to the entrance to the beautiful wooden boardwalk and connects to our biking routes, winding passed the colorful marina, then over the bridge to Lameque.

Biking around Lameque, on the Acadian Peninsula, New Brunswick © Karen Rubin/

We first find a lovely bike trail in the woods that parallels the busy Route 113, cross another small bridge, and then find a beautiful, if short, trail along the water. But when that ends, we ride on the shoulder of Route 113, which serves as a bike path. We come upon an eco-park on Lameque, and explore that before continuing our cycling,

Enjoying a meal at Steve’s Terrasse on Miscou © Karen Rubin/

We are determined to dine at Steve’s Terrasse on Miscou, which is just on the other side of the (high) bridge from Lameque. Laini pulls away from her painting and meets us there for a late lunch – a sensational meal of lobster with spaghetti, pesto and parmesan; steamed clams; and a whole lobster (9650 route 113, Miscou, +1 506-344-7000)

Biking around Lameque, on the Acadian Peninsula, New Brunswick © Karen Rubin/

Biking back to Lameque (back again over the steep bridge!), we follow a route that takes us along the eastern side of the island along the road (with ups and downs, unlike the bikeway) – it is marked in purple on the map – that give us some lovely views of the water as we ride through neighborhoods. (Amazingly, we don’t find actual stores or restaurants, absolutely nothing for the people to do except for some churches).

Each day, our ride begins and ends on the Shippagan boardwalk, my favorite part of the ride.

Enjoying a second dinner in a row at Pinokkio, Shippagan © Karen Rubin/

By the time Dave and I get back to our cottage in Shippagan, we calculate we’ve biked 45 miles. But now we have to race back into town to find a restaurant. The recommended places we call are all booked solid (it’s graduation day), so we (happily) call again to Pinokkio, and sure enough, they are booked too, but make room for us. The mushroom risotto is sensational. (Pinokkio Pizzeria Resto-Bar, serving up wood-fired pizzeria, appetizers, salads, pasta, seafood, steak, international cuisine, wine list, selection of domestic and imported beers, and decadent desserts, 121 16e rue, Shippagan, 506-336-0051,

Biking Shippagan, New Brunswick’s beautiful boardwalk © Karen Rubin/

We really have to pull ourselves away from Shippagan (regrettably we don’t have time to visit the Aquarium which we keep passing on the boardwalk, 100 Aquarium St., Shippagan, 506-336-3013, [email protected],

(Shippagan,, 506.336.3900).


Biking the new cycling trail, the Veloroute Peninsule Acadeienne, along New Brunswick, Canada’’s Acadian Peninsula, from Shippagan © Karen Rubin/

Today’s ride takes us back onto the delightful Veloroute to Caraquet, 20 miles on the trail. Basically we back track from Shippagan 10 miles to a fork in the trail and then back up 10 miles to Caraquet, most of it in the trees (so refreshing).

We find our way to a charming waterfront village of cute shops, a small artist’s collective, eateries and a picturesque wharf and marina, where we have lunch.

An artisan village within Caraquet © Karen Rubin/

We consider biking back the 20 miles from Caraquet to Tracadie to return the bikes, but realize we would be doubling back 20 miles on the trail we had already taken, and prefer instead to spend the afternoon exploring the rest of the trail, 7 miles further along Caraquet Bay to where it ends at Bertrand.

Biking along the shore from Caraquet © Karen Rubin/

It is the best choice! This part of the trail is particularly scenic, hugging the coast along Caraquet Bay (an inlet of Chaleur Bay), passing some gorgeous houses and views of the water, adding about 14 miles to our total for the day. We then drive the bikes back Tracadie, racing to get to the rental shop by closing time.

(Veloroute de la Peninsule acadienne, 506-336-4116, [email protected],

Caraquet is an extremely nice place to live, and clearly, very popular for tourists, judging by the string of hotels along the main street.

My hotel is the Super 8 By Wyndham (9 Avenue du Carrefour, 506-727-0888), is ideally located right in the waterfront village, alongside the coastal trail.

Returning the bikes the afternoon before works out superbly for me, because it gives me time to visit Caraquet’s major, not-to-be missed attraction, the Historic Acadian Village, which proves such a highlight of our New Brunswick roadtrip.

“Leave the 21st Century behind at Historic Acadien Village”

“Leave the 21st Century behind at Historic Acadien Village” a highlight of our visit to New Brunswick © Karen Rubin/

Historic Acadien Village is an open air living history museum with costumed (fully bilingual) interpreters who recreate the roles of real people. What makes this place so extraordinary, though, is that you walk a 2.2 km circuit through 200 years of history – the 40 buildings represent a different time, the oldest from 1773 up to 1895, then, you walk through a covered bridge built in 1900 into the 20th century village where the buildings date from 1905 to 1949.

As you walk about, you literally feel yourself stepping across the threshold back in time.

Walking through this idyllic village, looking at the goats, the sheep, the cows which supply the milk, meat, fiber for clothes, the fields and streams for fish, you would imagine they had everything they needed, life was tranquil, sustainable. But I soon learn from my conversation with the interpreter in the 1852 Cyr house that it was a daily struggle for survival.

An idyllic Acadien village masks how hard life would have been like for the Acadiens Brunswick © Karen Rubin/

This arises when I watch her sewing and she says she baked 25 loaves yesterday, enough that would have lasted her family of 8 including grandparent and a farmhand, a week (but actually supplies the village restaurants which serve menus appropriate to the time). I suggest that must be a lot of work. She tells me that her children help. Don’t they go to school? “The children don’t go to school, they are needed at home. It’s a question of surviving. We would have been too isolated to go to school in winter, and they are needed in summer.” Homeschool? “We cannot read; we depend on the priest to read any letter that might come.”

On the stove, she is preparing a pie with pork, onion, turnip, potato. “The pot is on legs so it doesn’t burn; we put wood chips on top so the food cooks from the top and bottom.”

This house came from Saint-Basile, New Brunswick, near the St. John River near Maine/Quebec. I observe that it seems quite large. “We’re not rich, but there was enough wood to build.”

What she tells me next seems to explain why the French Acadiens are so fiercely French (and why, as we travel, we see many flags of French Acadia but few of New Brunswick or Canada):

It was during the French and Indian War, when Britain battled France for control of the New World colonies. “In 1755, the British took the French men in one boat and women and children in another – they didn’t want families together. They felt there were too many Acadiens in same place and would be able to fight British. They made the Acadiens sign a contract to be British, not French, and those who refused were sent away. The boat took them far away – they didn’t know where they were going- some were sent to Charleston, South Carolina, to Louisiana.”

Seeing how life would have been like over 200 years at the living history museum, Village Historique Acadien, Bertrand, New Brunswick © Karen Rubin/

The war ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763, with France giving Great Britain its colonial possessions in North America, except the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, off the coast of Newfoundland (which remain French colonies even today). In 1764, the British allowed Acadians to return in small isolated groups, but by then as many as 18,000 had been forcibly removed and thousands more killed. (See:

Seeing how life would have been like over 200 years at the living history museum, Village Historique Acadien, Bertrand, New Brunswick © Karen Rubin/

She says that when the French colonists were kicked out of Nova Scotia, they would send word to each other to come “a Cadia” (“to Cadia”), a name derived from an Indian word meaning “the place.”

Indeed, all these buildings were collected from other places in New Brunswick during the mid-1970s, creating a what appears to me to be an idyllic “Pleasantville” community.

I continue my walk through these fascinating homesteads. You also get to visit the chapel (1831), post office, general store (1889), tavern (1880), blacksmith’s shop and forge (1874), all with interpreters demonstrating their crafts.

The 1867 printing office at the living history museum, Village Historique Acadien, Bertrand, New Brunswick © Karen Rubin/

My personal favorite: the newspaper/printing office (1867), which had been owned by Israel Londry who had five employees putting out 2000 copies of a four-page weekly paper (delivered to the post office), that would cost $1 for a six-month subscription. There are copies you can read.

There is also a one-room schoolhouse (1869), where the teacher tells me that on any day, she might have 20 students or 2, depending upon whether they were needed at home. “Before 1941, there were no mandates to attend school – children stayed home as free labor. It was a matter of survival.”

The one-room schoolhouse where the teacher could have 2 or 20 children a day depending if they were needed on the farm © Karen Rubin/

I love seeing the machinery of the 1895 grist mill. Originally it would have milled flour, sawed wood, made cedar shingles, serving a 50-mile radius. The miller would keep 10% of the flour, which he would trade for something else. “There was not much currency,” the miller tells me.. But in 1918, the miller closed the flour mill over a dispute of $125 from a bill for repair parts that went back to 1890, when new repairs were needed in 1914, and the $125 was again added to the bill, he shut it down, but kept the saw mill, carting machine and cedar shingles.

Cross the Kissing Bridge into the 20th century to visit the Irving Gas Station at the living history museum, Village Historique Acadien, Bertrand, New Brunswick © Karen Rubin/

Then you walk across the covered bridge (1900), called “the Kissing Bridge,” and you are in a 20th century town. There is an Irving Gas Station with antique cars; a saw mill (1949), general store (1924), tinsmith’s shop (1905) where you can buy a stove, cobbler’s shop (1945), a railroad station (1930). The Thomas Cooperage that dated from 1937 actually made barrels until 1980, employing 60 people who made 200 a day, until plastic barrels made the wood ones obsolete.

The Irving Gas Station at the living history museum, Village Historique Acadien, Bertrand, New Brunswick © Karen Rubin/

You not only visit but can actually book a room to stay at the Hotel Chateau Albert (1910). Albert opened hotel in 1870 but had financial problems from the beginning and was put out of business by Canadian Pacific railroad.. The building was destroyed in a fire in 1955, and restored using the original plans. It now offers 14 rooms (with bathrooms) that you actually can book to stay overnight. (, 506-726-2600).

You can stay over in the Village Historique Acadien, at the Hotel Chateau Albert © Karen Rubin/

There is a really nice café in the (modern) visitor center before you go back in time, plus a restaurant in the historic village serving a menu appropriate to the period.

Plan on staying at least three hours. Open June through mid-September.

Historique Acadien Village, 5 rue du Pont, Bertrand, NB, 1-0877-721-2200, [email protected],  

Travel planning assistance from Tourism New Brunswick,

See also:







© 2023 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit,, and Blogging at and Visit and Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at 

New Brunswick Roadtrip: Metepenagiag Heritage Center Highlights Miramichi Visit

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate,

Metepenagiag Heritage Center has artifacts that show 3,000 years of habitation of the Mi’kmaq people in Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada © Karen Rubin/

So often the best travel experiences happen by serendipity. I had left the Bay of Fundy coastal trail behind in Moncton this morning to continue our New Brunswick roadtrip, driving 90 minutes to Miramichi, a small city that’s the gateway to northern New Brunswick, Canada, renowned for hunting and fishing. I meet up with Amanda Craig, from Miramichi’s tourism office who was taking me to hike a mile-long trail to Fall Brook Falls (at 108 feet high is the highest in New Brunswick). It’s located in Irving Woodlands private preserve, but alas, the access road is closed. I had spotted a sign along the highway to the Metepenagiag Heritage Park and was really excited to learn more about New Brunswick’s First Nations history and so we head there.

Metepenagiag is so much more than a museum exhibition – it preserves, documents, honors and resurrects the Mi’kmaq heritage and culture.

Metepenagiag is an active archaeological site and research center where artifacts unearthed have provided proof the Mi’kmaq have been occupying this land for at least 3,000 years. When you first walk into the exhibition building, you can look into the lab where researchers examine artifacts. Some of the items, like a 1200-year old Earthenware pot, arrowheads and other items are on display.

Earthenware 1200 years old is on display at Metepenagiag Heritage Center, Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada © Karen Rubin/

The significance of this place is clear when you learn that it was after decades and generations of a national policy to eradicate First Nations’ cultural heritage, when even speaking the language, so critical to passing along its oral history and tradition, was banned and children were forced from their community into residential schools to strip away their native identity, that in the 1970s, a Mi’kmaq member, Joe Augustine, discovered the Augustine Mound and Oxbow.

“When a company was planning to expand its gravel pit in our community, our beloved and respected Elder Joe Augustine remembered being told from his Elders before him of an old burial ground in the area,” state the notes accompanying a photo of Joe Augustine and Yvonne (Paul) Meunier digging at the pit state. “He went to the site they described and found what was to become the Augustine Mound – a cemetery dating back to over 600 BC.

Mi’kmaq Elder Joe Augustine discovered the Augustine Mound and Oxbow archaeological sites in the 1970s which provide evidence of 3,000 years of habitation in Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada © Karen Rubin/

The concept of preserving, protecting and presenting the rich Mi’kmaq culture is expressed by our Elder and lives on in our community.”

In 1977, archaeological work began on another site Elder Joe Augustine uncovered: the Oxbow, a village site situated at the head tide, showing Metepenagiag has had over 3,000 years of continuous settlements right to the present day.

Artifacts uncovered at the Augustine Mound and Oxbow show that for the past three millennia, aboriginal people have repeatedly come to this oxbow in the Miramichi River to fish, hunt and gather plants © Karen Rubin/

Constructed about 2500 years ago, the circular Augustine Mound is a rare example in the Maratimes of the elaborate burial tradition associated with the Adena culture, which originated in the Ohio River Valley and then spread throughout eastern North America. The rich archaeological record found at the site includes well-preserved textiles and basketry, ornaments of Lake Superior native copper, Ohio fireclay pipes, and distinctive Adena-type stone tools dating back 7000 years.

The types of objects retrieved from the Augustine Mound are exceptional for this area of Canada – copper beads on leather, small pieces of baskets, textiles, animal hides, moose-hair work, porcupine quills, feathers and wooden-handled tools. The salts from thousands of copper beads helped save the raw natural fibers from decomposing.

Artifacts uncovered at the Augustine Mound and Oxbow show that for the past three millennia, aboriginal people have repeatedly come to this oxbow in the Miramichi River to fish, hunt and gather plants © Karen Rubin/

The earth mound, the types of burials and the artifacts suggest that the Mi’kmaq of Metepenagiag probably carried on complex trading and cultural relations with other Aboriginal societies as distant as central Ohio.

Oxbow is one of the largest pre-contact archeological sites in the Maritimes and remarkable for its rich and deeply stratified record of almost continuous human occupation. The artifacts uncovered show that for the past three millennia, aboriginal people have repeatedly come to this oxbow in the Miramichi River to fish, hunt and gather plants. Seasonal flooding covered their camps with silt, preserving evidence of their everyday life, including stone tools, ceramics, and fire pits.

Archaeological research is actively underway at Metepenagiag Heritage Center, Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada © Karen Rubin/

Known today as the Mi’kmaq (from the word nikmaq, meaning my kin-friend), in ancient times they called themselves Lnu’k, The People. The Mi’kmaq are an Eastern Algonkian-speaking people closely related to the Wolastoqiyik, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and the Eastern and Western Abenaki. Together, these nations formed the Wabanaki Confederacy.

“The findings of these two archeological sites scientifically prove the ancient oral history we have always known, passed down through many generations. This is our legacy and how two national historic sites came to be.”

“Elder Joseph (Joe Mike) Michael Augustine (1911-1995) left an important legacy: the rediscovery of the Mi’kmaq identity and culture as a people and as a nation.” Joe Mike served two terms each as Chief and as a Band Councillor.

Metepenagiag Heritage Center guide Marcus Alexander LaViolette poses with a photo of his great grandfather, Mi’kmaq Elder Joe Augustine discovered the Augustine Mound and Oxbow archaeological sites that proved Mi’kmaq habitation for 3,000 years © Karen Rubin/

“This is archaeological proof of living here 3000 years,” says our guide,  Marcus Alexander LaViolette, heritage interpreter, a 20-something fellow who turns out to be the great grandson of Joe Augustine, making his remarks all the more poignant.  

One room displays how the Mi’kmaq would have lived, season by season (they lived along the river in warm seasons, and moved to the forest in cold).

Mi’kmaq ancestors lived in wikuoms (wigwams), not tipis. Some cone- shaped wigwams could hold up to 30 people; A or V-type usually held large groups, which typically would have been built by women.

Marcus shows us a re-created canoe and the skin of an Atlantic sturgeon, which grew to a size “as long as a canoe.” A main food source for generations, the sturgeon, which could grow over 3 meters long and weigh 400 kilos, are now exceptionally rare – the last one was caught 30 years ago. “Sturgeon are an ancient fish in an ancient river; they haven’t evolved,” Marcus tells us.

Metepenagiag Heritage Center guide Marcus Alexander LaViolette with a canoe and skin of a sturgeon that once provided sustenance to Mi’kmaq, but now is virtually extinct © Karen Rubin/

The birchbark canoe “was likely the most remarkable Mi’kmaq construction.” It ranged from 3 to 8 meters long; with high ends and raised sides, a uniquely Mi’kmaq design, that kept the canoe from taking on water. Using this type of canoe, the Mi’kmaq ancestors traveled out to sea, up streams and down rapids. The canoe could transport large loads but was light enough so one or two people could easily carry it.

“We lost the tradition of canoe making,” Marcus tells us, “so this is a generic style for birch bark canoe.”

The exhibit hall is a portal to ancient history, he tells us, stressing that it is a point of pride that all the notes are equally translated in English, French, and Mi’kmaq, especially since only 5% of Mi’kmaq people can understand their native language. There are about 200,000 Mi’kmaq in Canada and in Maine.

Marcus notes that there the pots do not have a flat bottom but would be designed to wedge into the ground. They would boil or cook using superheated sand – which would form a crust around bread and not get into the bread. When it was done, they would pat it like a drum so the sand comes off, leaving the bread. “That they can recreate the process shows proof of concept – shows can do it, re-creatable.” (In the “Taste of Metepenagiag” package, guests learn how to make traditional bread.)

Metepenagiag Heritage Center displays how the Mi’kmaq would have lived, season by season © Karen Rubin/

The ancient Oxbow village was next to one of the best salmon fishing pools. For centuries the Miramichi River was a river of fish – so many salmon swam up the river that they would keep villagers awake at night as they fell on the water after leaping into the air. The ancestors smoke-dried a lot of the salmon catch for winter or to use in trade.

The Mi’kmaq ancesters knew the names and uses of trees, plants, flowers and herbs. Foods included fiddleheads, cat-tail roots, raspberries and blueberries. The bloodroot plant provided dye. Balsam fir helped to cure wounds. Canoes and containers were made from birchbark, wood and root, and mats from reeds and rushes. Sweetgrass and tobacco are still used in ceremonies.

Metepenagiag Heritage Center displays how the Mi’kmaq would have lived, season by season © Karen Rubin/

“We slowed down First Contact,” Marcus says, then adds, “The Mi’kmaq way of life did not last. With the first Europeans came dramatic changes. The ancestors began to spend more time gathering furs to trade for the prized European goods. They became dependent on Europeans for food. European diseases killed whole Mi’kmaq villages. With few people left to pass on tradition, much knowledge and history was lost.” In fact, the British barred them from hunting or fishing.

This place had always been important for trade – there is even evidence of the Vikings having come. European merchant traders set up a commercial fishery on the Miramichi River in the 1760s that destroyed much of the traditional salmon fishery. “The few Mi’kmaq living at Metepenagiag struggled to survive.”

Local women made this re-creation of the magnificent embroidered, beaded coat made in 1841 for British sea captain Henry O’Halloran who was made an honorary chief of the Mi’kmaq, on view at the Metepenagiag Heritage Center © Karen Rubin/

This is what made a magnificent embroidered, beaded coat that is on exhibit all the more significant, and treasured by the community: it is a re-creation of a fabulous coat, meticulously crafted by local women for a British sea captain, Henry O’Halloran. At a time when the Mi’kmaq were forced onto a reserve and weren’t allowed to hunt or fish, Captain O’Halloran traded with the indigenous people, provided food and formed a close relationship. The coat was made in 1841on the occasion of making him an honorary chief. This one is an exact replica, made by the local women, which if sold, would be valued at $300,000. (Marcus proudly says he got to model it.)

Marcus points to the Treaties of Peace and Friendship, saying, “When our ancestors signed treaties with the British Crown, such as in 1779, they did not give up ownership of our traditional lands. They also kept our rights to fish, hunt, gather and trade.” But these rights were not honored.

In 1994 Metepenagiag signed a historic “loss of land-use” agreement with the government of Canada. But it did not include all of the lands and access to resources that have been taken from our community. Negotiations are continuing in an effort to obtain a fair settlement.” Only recently, each tribal member received $20,000 from the Canadian government as compensation for land.

It is important to note that First Nations people – there are about 2 million in Canada – only received the right to vote without losing their native Indian status in 1960; the last residential school closed as recently as 1995. In 2014, Canada passed the Truth & Reconciliation Act, apologizing for the harm in trying to eradicate indigenous heritage, prompting a policy toward promoting indigenous rights and heritage. Indigenous tourism, a key tool for both economic development and preservation of indigenous heritage and culture, is now Canada’s the fastest growing industry, Amanda says.

At the end of our visit, Marcus says, “First Nations people don’t believe in goodbye – everything is a circle, comes back – even if in next life.”

Metepenagiag Heritage Park has 1800 meters of groomed trails (30 minutes walking time) that let you “walk in the footsteps of our ancestors” to the water.

You can overnight at the Metepenagiag Heritage Center in a tipi, lodge or cabin and be immersed in Mi’kmaq experience © Karen Rubin/

What is more, you can overnight in a tipi (glamping), cabin or lodge, have a First Nations dining experience, storytelling and be immersed in the 3,000-year heritage around a campfire. Or take part in “A Taste of Metepenagiag” and learn about foods and cooking techniques. New experiences are also being developed.

The Mi’kmaq operate SP First Nations Outdoor Tours, authentic indigenous experiences that begin with a traditional welcome, a river tour by canoe or kayak, storytelling; and authentic First Nations dining and accommodations (56 Shore Road, Red Bank NB, Metepenagiag, 506-626-2718).

Metepenagiag Heritage Park, 2156 Micmac Road, Red Bank NB, 506-836-6118, [email protected] 1-888-380-3555,

To get to the Metepenagiag Heritage Center, you go through a Mi’kmaq residential community of about 600 people, where you have to be a community member to own the home (but do not own the land). It looks like a typical suburban neighborhood. with its own school (the federal government subsidizes the public school but teachers are paid less than regular school teachers) and shopping center. After the museum was built, the community opened a woman’s shelter, health center. The community also owns Riverside Entertainment (gaming room, restaurant), downtown.

Sportsman’s Paradise

Miramichi is world renowned as a sportsman’s paradise for fishing, hunting, hiking, kayaking, tubing down the rivers, and the longest zipline in New Brunswick (1200 feet). Indeed, the rivers, filled with salmon, and lush wilderness that provided the food and shelter to sustain the Mi’kmaq even 3,000 years ago, continues to sustain Miramichi today.

Miramichi is so prominent for salmon fishing (baseball star Ted Williams used to invite major celebrities including Marilyn Monroe to his family cottage in Blackville), that there is actually an Atlantic Salmon Museum, founded by the local historical society in 1982, that displays 5,000 artifacts “celebrating the artistry of fly tying, the beauty of a well-crafted rod and, above all, the nobility of that ‘king of fish’ the Atlantic salmon.”

One of John William Keith-King collection of 150 plates on view at the Atlantic Salmon Museum in Doaktown, New Brunswick © Karen Rubin/

Most notably, the museum is the repository for the internationally revered John William Keith-King collection of 150 plates that feature exquisite flies combined with stunning artwork and historic photos, plus artwork, reels, fishing rods, fishing tackle, fish replicas and antique outboard motors. The collection is valued at $500,000 (the plates alone valued at $5,000 each), Believe me, I never thought such a museum could be so fascinating even to someone who has never fished for salmon. This place is pure bliss for fishing enthusiasts. (Admission is free. Check hours. 263 Main St, Doaktown NB, 506-365-7787,

The Ledges Inn, a sportsman’s retreat, Doaktown, New Brunswick © Karen Rubin/

People come from all over for the opportunity to fish and hunt, staying in upscale places like The Ledges Inn,  a 4.5-star outfitter with 10-room lodge, picturesquely set on the bank of the Miramichi River, where you can enjoy salmon fishing, upland bird-hunting, four-wheeling, snowmobiling (30 Ledges Inn lane, Doaktown NB, 1-506-365-1820,; and the historic Wilson’s Sporting Camps, family-owned hunting lodge, offering sportsmen retreats since 1855(23 Big Murphy Lane, McNamee NB, 1-877-365-7962,

Another local attraction is the Priceville Footbridge, which, local lore has it, was built in 1938 to unite two lovers who lived in villages separated by the river. At 656 feet, it’s the longest suspension bridge in New Brunswick, was damaged and rebuilt in 1939, then replaced in 1988 (McNamee Road.

Enjoying a plate of mussels at Vera’s at Richie Wharf, Miramichi, as the sun sets © Karen Rubin/

Back in Miramichi, I spend a pleasant evening at Richie Wharf, a charming waterfront park and historic site, where on Friday nights locals come out for music and dancing, After enjoying this scene, I have a delightful dinner (mussels!) at Vera’s patio with a gorgeous view of the sunset on the river. (84 Norton’s Lane, Miramichi, 506-625-2300)

Other Miramichi highlights: There are loads of historic sites we didn’t have time to visit but sound so interesting: Doak House commemorates Scottish entrepreneur Robert Doak who settled here in the early 1820s (386 Main St. Doaktown, 506-365-2026); Wilson’s Point Historic Site, a provincial historic site, contains the Scottish ancestry of Miramichi, but has archaeological significance for the Mi’kmaq people as well as the French Acadians and Loyalists (8 Enclosure Rd., Derby Junction,, 506-627-0162); Miramichi History Museum (182 Wellington St., 506-778-4050); Tabusintac Library & Museum (4490 Rte 11, Tabusintac); and W.S. Loggie House & Cultural Centre, a Victorian home with artifacts from 1850 to 2000 (222 Wellington St., Miramichi, 506-775-4996).

Also: Miramichi River Interpretive Trail (1.4 km long, 158 main Street, Blackville; 90-min, Miramichi River Boat Tours out of Richie Wharf; Gallan’s Miramichi River Tubing (Doyles Brook,; Escuminac Beach (; Historical Beaverbrook House Haunted Tour.

Rodd Miramichi River Hotel © Karen Rubin/

I overnight at the Rodd Miramichi River Hotel, picturesquely set in the waterfront village (1809 Water Street, 506-773-3111).

The next morning, I meet up with David and Laini at the Calico Café; they have been exploring Prince Edward Island and Shediac, where they had a fabulous dinner at Le Mogue Tortue, a restaurant with an Alice-in-Wonderland like setting (tea cups,clocks!), and we continue on our roadtrip to French Acadia, where we will bike on the new Veloroute (bikeway) along the coast, through French fishing villages.

Miramichi Tourism, 800-459-3131,

Travel planning assistance from Tourism New Brunswick,

See also:





Next: Exploring French Acadia’s culture and heritage by bike!


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New Brunswick Roadtrip: Mesmerizing Hopewell Rocks

Walking on the ocean floor at low tide. No place demonstrates the drama, the power of the “highest tides in the world” as at Hopewell Rocks, the stellar attraction of New Brunswick, Canada © Karen Rubin/

By Karen Rubin, with Dave E. Leiberman, Laini Miranda & Eric Leiberman

Travel Features Syndicate,

What does it mean that the Bay of Fundy “has the highest tides in the world?”  Until you actually walk on the ocean floor one hour, then scurry back to kayak through openings in the sea stacks which have turned into sea caves the next, it is hard to wrap your head around. And no place demonstrates the drama, the power of the “highest tides in the world” as at Hopewell Rocks, the stellar attraction of New Brunswick, Canada.

We have been traveling along the Bay of Fundy Coastal Road, starting in St. Andrews, where the incoming tide nipped at our feet as we stood on breakers; we had to dash off Ministers Island before the sand bridge was submerged; we saw the force of the tide at the Reversing Falls in St. John, boats laying on the ocean floor until the tide returns in Alma; and at Cape Enrage, experienced once again how a rocky beach where we had just been walking, seemingly moments later, was totally submerged. Now at Hopewell Rocks, we see more intensely, what “highest tide in the world” means.

The picturesque country road from Alma to Hopewell Rocks © Karen Rubin/

Depending on where you are on the Bay, the water level difference between low and high tide can be anywhere from 35 to 56 feet (equivalent to a five-storey building). Compare this to the most parts of world, where the average tidal water differential is 6-8 feet. In Hopewell Rocks, the tidal change is 46 to 56 feet, depending upon the season, moon phase, sun and stars, even asteroids, and stormy weather.

There are two high tides and two low tides every day in the Bay of Fundy, with  a tide change every six hours and 12 minutes. It doesn’t come in like a tsunami, but flows in, rising one foot every five minutes which is faster than you realize. Consider this: A six-foot person standing on the beach with the water just up to the edge of their toes will be completely under water 30 minutes later.

The amount of water – 160 million tons – that comes into the Bay of Fundy for one tide change is enough to fill the Grand Canyon twice. With two tide changes each day, that is enough water coming into the bay each day to fill the Grand Canyon four times.

Or consider this: the amount of water that comes into the Bay of Fundy for each tide change is equal to what flows over Niagara Falls  in one year and nine months.

The picturesque country road from Alma to Hopewell Rocks © Karen Rubin/

With this in mind, we know we have to arrive at Hopewell Rocks by 8:50 am, a 35 minute drive from Alma, in order to have time to literally walk on the ocean floor amid the famous “Flowerpot Rocks” – enormous free-standing rock formations or sea stacks that have trees growing on top – and walk through the openings that have been carved out, before the tide comes in. (“Ripley’s Believe It Or Not dubbed them the Flowerpot Rocks,” Neil Hodge at New Brunswick Tourism, who organized our itinerary, said.)

We meet Johnathan, our guide for an interpretive tour, who takes us for a brief visit in the Interpretive Center which explains the geologic phenomenon, but only briefly before we go down to the ocean floor. We will only have access until 11:15 am.

Walking on the ocean floor at low tide. No place demonstrates the drama, the power of the “highest tides in the world” as at Hopewell Rocks, the stellar attraction of New Brunswick, Canada © Karen Rubin/

The first view, from the top of the staircase is dramatic – you see these famous Flowerpot Rocks and sea cliffs, with the people looking so tiny. The beach extends for almost 2 miles.

“The Bay of Fundy is an anomaly – a series of coincidences that have added up to create our miracle,” Johnathan tells us. “The Bay is the perfect length, width, size and shape for this to work, and a perfect storm in the last Ice Age. The glacier formed rock and when it melted, 160 billion tons of salt glacier filled the Bay and over time, pushed the rocks together (conglomerate).

Walking on the ocean floor among the “Flowerpot” formations of Hopewell Rocks at low tide © Karen Rubin/

The shape and length of the Bay (the Bay extends 200 miles) is like a bathtub – the water in the bay doesn’t have enough time to level out with the ocean – the only place to move is up. Other places have a slack tide – when the highest and lowest tide stops. [We saw this in St. John, at the Reversing Falls, where the slack tide would last 20 minutes] Here, there is never slack – a micro second at the highest point when the tide pushes back against the ocean.”

You can walk almost 2 miles along the beach at Hopewell Rocks for three hours before and three hours after low tide; “tide sweepers” are there to corral people back © Karen Rubin/

You can walk on the beach 3 hours before low tide and three hours after (tourists think they can only cross at one time). The tide flows in at the rate one foot per minute, horizontally, one foot per 4-7 minutes vertically, up to a height averaging 46.2 ft., and as high as 56 ft.

These colossal rock formations are actually fairly fragile; areas are marked off where there could be rock falls © Karen Rubin/

The interesting shapes of the sea stacks are because they consist of compacted sedimentary conglomerate that erodes at different rates. “What is inside the conglomerate weighs more on the right than on the left,” which is why it can collapse.

The daily ebb and flow, rush and crush of all this water carves the sea stacks and many seem to precariously balance, likely to collapse within only a matter of a decade or two. Imagine that. These rock formations have been carved over millennia and may be at the end of their life. In fact, we see the crumbling, the cliff face collapse – areas are sectioned off. Geology is an ongoing process, and it isn’t necessarily slow motion over millennia, millions or billions of years, but in a moment.

The day in, day out twice daily flow of 160 million tons of water has shaped the “Flowerpots” at Hopewell Rocks © Karen Rubin/

There are barricades around areas where there have been rockfalls, and we see numerous examples of boulders that have fallen into crevices, and precariously balanced boulders.

Many of these formations have names related to their shape – Elephant (since it split in two, Ella and Phant), Bear, ET, Jay Leno, Dinosaur, Mother-in-Law.

Lovers Arch is the most famous of the Hopewell Rocks formations, named because of the co-dependency of the two sea stacks – if one falls, both will fall © Karen Rubin/

The most popular – and famous – formation is Lovers Arch, named because the two formations lean next to each other and if one falls, so will the other; they are only still standing now because of this co-dependency. “It’s the most romantic spot,” Johnathan says, adding that there is at least one proposal a week here, and sometimes weddings.

The beach extends 2.4 km, depending on the tide. We see Tide Sweepers at cut off points, who begin to herd people back off the beach as the tide begins to roll in. There is actually an emergency tower for those who find themselves trapped.

The fantastical experience of walking on the ocean floor at low tide at Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick’s most famous attraction © Karen Rubin/

We walk through Castle Cove where there are four caves, Diamond Rock, and come to a skinny Sentinel Rock, which Johnathan tells us, may fall in the next 20 years or perhaps 200 years.

These rock formations are not even that old (at least when we compare to the 350 million year old fossils we found just down the road at Cape Enrage.

The fragility of the Hopewell Rocks is seen at how many have collapsed, are precariously balanced, or eroding at their base © Karen Rubin/

Hopewell Rocks were formed from glacial action 6000-10,000 years ago. And it seems that even on a daily basis, they are eroded just a little bit more. Johnathan says that some believe this park will last 2000 years, but some of the formations may be gone in just 20, like Sentinel Rock.

Johnathan, one of the Hopewell Rocks guides, points out the rockweed (you can eat the bulbs– delicious!) and the bladder wrack which contains super-rich moisturizer © Karen Rubin/

Johnathan points out rockweed growing on the rocks – you can eat the bulbs (seed pockets – delicious!). The bladder wrack (seaweed), yields aloe which is the most marvelous moisturizer, with 200 times more collagen than many commercial skin products (we try it).

We see peregrine falcons nesting in the rock faces.

The highest cliffs are 100 feet high. ”Adrenalin –junkie geologist rappel down – so they put up barricade.”

The water is notably brown (not blue) because the motion of the 160 million tons of water, mixing with silt from the mud flats. “The water is brown here but 20 km away, in Moncton, it is blue because of shellfish that filter the soil. You won’t find shells here.

The water off of Hopewell Rocks is brown because the constant tidal action keep churning up the silt. Also, the mudflats have billions of mud shrimp that is food for sandpipers that stop on their migration to South America © Karen Rubin/

But the nutrient-rich mud flats produce another amazing sight: Hopewell Rocks is on the flight path of sandpiper birds migrating from the Arctic to South America for winter – hundreds of thousands of sandpipers, 35% of the world’s population– stop to feed in the Bay of Fundy for three weeks in late August/early September each year. The huge mud flat that extends for miles teams with billions of microscopic mud shrimp. The sandpipers feast and double their body weight, then fly 72 hours direct to South America without stopping. “We are heavy into conservation, sustainability so we don’t want kids or anybody to walk in the mudflats, killing the microscopic mud shrimp, the food source for the birds. A size 10 shoe, if they walk on mudflat, imprint would kill 10,000 mud shrimp.”

It’s an extraordinary experience to take Baymount Adventures kayaking tour among the Hopewell Rocks “Flowerpots” where we had only less than 2 hours earlier been walking on the ocean floor © Karen Rubin/

Speaking of food, we rush back to the cafeteria in the Visitors Center to get something for lunch (you can take a shuttle or walk the 15 minutes) before racing over to get to our two-hour sea kayaking tour with Baymount Adventures by 11:50 am, to get outfitted, get oriented, and get to the sea kayaks on the rock beach (everything is very time dependent) for “The Highest Tidal Paddling Experiences on Earth.”

It’s an extraordinary experience to take Baymount Adventures kayaking tour among the Hopewell Rocks “Flowerpots” where we had only less than 2 hours earlier been walking on the ocean floor © Karen Rubin/

It is the most amazing experience to paddle right up to the giant “flowerpot” rocks, sea cliffs, twisting and turning through small tunnels and narrow passageways in these amazing rock formations which we had just walked around on the ocean floor.

It’s an extraordinary experience to take Baymount Adventures kayaking tour among the Hopewell Rocks “Flowerpots” where we had only less than 2 hours earlier been walking on the ocean floor © Karen Rubin/

Our guides are concerned about the strong winds today, but as we paddle, a fog picks up over Nova Scotia which dampens the wind, so we have a wonderfully calm time on the water, but we still have to paddle vigorously to get back onto the shore.

It’s an extraordinary experience to take Baymount Adventures kayaking tour among the Hopewell Rocks “Flowerpots” where we had only less than 2 hours earlier been walking on the ocean floor © Karen Rubin/

A really marvelous adventure, a highlight of our New Brunswick roadtrip, especially pairing the kayaking with the walk on the ocean floor.

Baymount Adventures, 131 Discovery Rd, Hopewell Cape New Brunswick  E4H 4Z5, (506) 734-2660, [email protected],

Paddling through the Elephant formation at Hopewell Rocks © Karen Rubin/

In the 1950s, Hopewell Rocks was a diner and a campground; it was turned into a provincial park in 1996.

Hopewell Rocks is the most famous attraction in New Brunswick, which before COVID, drew 380,000 visitors a year [this year 350,000 are expected] from around the world. There are especially large groups of fans in Japan.

Truly a highlight of our visit to New Brunswick: walking on the ocean floor, then kayaking through the Hopewell Rocks formations © Karen Rubin/

“A Japanese textbook has a whole unit on the Bay of Fundy and photo of Lovers Arch. Visitors say it was a ”lifelong dream” to come.

Hopewell Rocks is designed to be a self-guided park but there are helpful Interpretive staff throughout the grounds to answer  questions. And the Interpretive Center provides an excellent orientation.

The Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park has three primary access points to the Ocean Floor. Main Deck is a tall metal staircase with a spacious viewing platform, where you descend 99 stairs to the ocean floor and after exploring,  A little further towards North Beach you can access by a ramp with benches strategically placed along the incline (the ramp is suitable for wheelchairs, but the ocean floor is not). You can also take Desmoiselle Beach trail from behind the Interpretive Centre.

Truly a highlight of our visit to New Brunswick: walking on the ocean floor, then kayaking through the Hopewell Rocks formations © Karen Rubin/

Hopewell Rocks park admission is valid for two consecutive days to ensure you have the flexibility to see both high and low tides. Sturdy footwear is recommended for exploring the trails and shoreline (they provide places to rinse your shoes/boots). Be sure to check the tide times prior to your visit to see when it will be safe to explore the Ocean Floor.

Hopewell Rocks, 131 Chemin Discovery, Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick, 1-877-734-3429,

A view of Moncton from the lounge at Delta Hotel Beausejour © Karen Rubin/

When we leave Hopewell Rocks we drive 45 minutes to Moncton, a small city that’s the gateway to Northern New Brunswick (it also has the airport), where we stay at the Delta Hotel Beausejour (750 Main Street, 506-854-4344).

Moncton has a load of great restaurants and we have the best time at the Pump House Brewpub & Restaurant (5 Orange Ln, Moncton, NB E1C 4L6, Canada,+1 506-855-2337, for its great food and fun ambiance.

Moncton is the end of our Bay of Fundy coastal adventure. Next up: Miramichi, gateway to northern New Brunswick.

Travel planning assistance from Tourism New Brunswick,

Next: New Brunswick Roadtrip: Miramichi and Metepenagiag

See also:





© 2023 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit,, and Blogging at and Visit and Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at 

New Brunswick Roadtrip: Discovering Fundy Trail Parkway, Fundy National Park, Cape Enrage

Walking the enchanting trail to Dickson Falls in Fundy National Park, New Brunswick, Canada © Karen Rubin/

By Karen Rubin, with Dave E. Leiberman, Laini Miranda & Eric Leiberman

Travel Features Syndicate,

We set out from Saint John for the 45-minute drive from Saint John to St. Martins. St. Martins, a quaint and charming little village on the Bay of Fundy, is a slow-paced and picturesque community known for sea cliffs, sea caves, two covered bridges and natural beauty. The coastline that starts in St. Martins is one of the last areas of pure coastal wilderness on the eastern seaboard of North America. It’s a popular place to come for cycling, hiking, bird watching, nature walks, rock hounding and sea kayaking.

St. Martins is one of the picturesque communities on the Bay of Fundy with “two faces” depending upon whether the tide is high or low © Karen Rubin/

“Communities on the Bay of Fundy are places with two faces because they have much different looks depending on whether it’s high or low tide,” Neil Hodge of New Brunswick Tourism has advised. “A trip along the Fundy Coastal Drive is an opportunity to get a feel for ‘The People of the Tides’. The tides impact people’s lives – what they can do when.’’

The coastline that starts in St. Martins is one of the last areas of pure coastal wilderness on the eastern seaboard of North America © Karen Rubin/

We are scheduled for a 2 ½ hour sea kayaking tour with Bay of Fundy Adventures (415 Main Street in St. Martins, 506-833-2231, and excited to paddle out of this quaint fishing harbor down the rugged coastline next to sea cliffs and sea caves through two UNESCO World Heritage Sites– the Fundy Biosphere Reserve and the Stonehammer UNESCO Global Geopark. Alas, the company has to cancel because of wind and waves are too great (but we have another sea kayaking experience scheduled, at Hopewell Rocks). We hang out awhile in a small coffee place where some of the “People of the Tides” have also gathered for their morning coffee, even inviting us to come by their house for a better photo of the cliffs.

The coastline that starts in St. Martins is one of the last areas of pure coastal wilderness on the eastern seaboard of North America © Karen Rubin/

We walk the beach, already seeing how the tide flows in so swiftly – not tsunami-like as you might expect before actually seeing it – but pretty much swamping the trail before you realize it.

Had we had our kayaking adventure, we would have stopped for lunch at The Caves Restaurant (82 Big Salmon River Road, St. Martins) and had dessert at Octopus Ice Cream (404 Main Street in St. Martins).

We set out on the Fundy Trail Parkway, a slow cliffside drive, from gate to gate, that offers numerous beautiful views of the Bay of Fundy and its long, rocky coastline (great for biking). All along this magnificent route there are delightful pull-ins, lookouts, picnic areas, rest areas, hiking trails. We pack a picnic lunch with us (no restaurants on the Fundy Trail Parkway),

The Fundy Trail Parkway, 19-miles long from gate to gate, is a coastal, multi-use park with has five beaches, four waterfalls, 22 miles of hiking trails, 21 scenic lookouts and 16 observation decks.

Spectacular views of the Bay of Fundy await along the newly completed Fundy Trail Parkway, a 19-mile long multi-use park that hugs the coastal wilderness © Karen Rubin/

We learn that the Fundy Escarpment is a 2 km-wide corridor (one km of land and one km into the Bay of Fundy), stretching from Fownes Beach in St. Martins (where we start) to the western boundary of Fundy National Park. The 1 km width is essential because most of the ecosystem dynamics of the Bay of Fundy exist within the area, including the nutrient-rich salt marshes, tidal flats and the dramatic Fundy tides. The Fundy Escarpment is one of the last remaining coastal wilderness areas between Florida and Labrador.

Taking the cable ladder to Fuller Falls, one of the highlights of the Fundy Trail Parkway © Karen Rubin/

Traveling from west to east: we stop often to take in the views (there is so much to see and do, thankfully, Hodge at New Brunswick Tourism has given us a list of recommendations): Fox Rock Lookout and Melvin Beach Lookout. We stop to really enjoy Fuller Falls (not to be missed) – this is a gorgeous waterfall that you reach by walking down a cable ladder to a lower deck for the best eye-level view, where David, Laini and Eric are inspired to do yoga.

Inspired to do yoga at Fuller Falls, on the Fundy Trail Parkway, New Brunswick, Canada © Karen Rubin/

We continue on to Pangburn Beach Lookout, Black Point Lookout, and drive in to see The Cookhouse (a lumberjack camp 100 years ago, the workers needed to eat 8,000 calories per day to do the job), but has not yet open for the season. There is also the Big Salmon River Interpretive Centre, where you learn about the logging and shipbuilding history of this once thriving community in the 1840s-early 1900s. (Also not yet open for the season when we visit).

The Suspension Footbridge on the Fundy Trail Parkway, New Brunswick, Canada © Karen Rubin/

From here, we go to Parking Lot 8 (P8) and take the five-minute walk along the river to the 84m Suspension Footbridge. It’s a great view there as you explore the banks of Big Salmon River (once a popular salmon fishing site, the salmon are now protected). From here, we can visit the lookouts at Long Beach (From 2010 until the Parkway opening in 2016, this lookout was the farthest you could drive in the park; the beach showcases a “horizontal tide”, extending 1640 feet at low tide) and Tufts Plateau, and then continue on to Martin Head Lookout and Seeley Beach Lookout, stopping for our picnic lunch with a stunning view.

Enjoying a picnic with a spectacular view on the Fundy Trail Parkway, New Brunswick, Canada © Karen Rubin/

We take an easy 1.5-mile hike from the parking lot through the woods to a viewing platform to see Walton Glen Gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of New Brunswick, and the star attraction of the Fundy Trail Parkway. The Gorge is 1,000 feet across, 525 feet deep and 550 million years old, carved during the most recent Ice Age – you can see the path the glacier took to the sea as it melted, and see waterfalls coming down the rock face on the other side of the gorge.

Walton Glen Gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of New Brunswick, is a star attraction of the Fundy Trail Parkway © Karen Rubin/

It is astonishing to learn that The Fundy Trail Parkway actually was only completed in 2020, during the pandemic, after taking 25 years and $100 million to build. It is operated by a non-profit, The Fundy Trail Development Authority Inc., (admission is $11.50/A, $10/S, $6.50/5-18, $36/family, $40/up to 7 people. Open mid-May to mid-October).

Fundy Trail Parkway, 1-506-833-2019 1-866-386-3987, [email protected],

The Parkway to Alma, New Brunswick Canada © Karen Rubin/

Leaving the parking lot at Walton Glen Gorge, we follow the sign that says Sussex and five minutes later exit the Fundy Trail Parkway. A little further ahead, we turn right at the sign to Alma and then follow this road which takes us on a scenic 45-minute drive through Fundy National Park to Alma, where we will have two-nights stay to explore Fundy National Park and environs, and have a cozy stay at the Parkland Village Inn in Alma (8601 Main Street, 506-887-2313).

Alma, a charming fishing village, is home to Molly Kool, who made history as the first female sea captain in North America. Kool is the nautical equivalent of Amelia Earhart, the American who was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Molly Kool also broke ground for women at a time when females weren’t allowed to be sea captain. (I regret we didn’t have time to stop into the Molly Kool — Albert County Museum & RB Bennett Centre.)

It is a bizarre sight at the Alma wharf at low tide to see boats sitting on the ocean floor © Karen Rubin/

We explore Alma, and quickly realize what Hodge meant when he said these are “communities with two faces.” It is a bizarre sight at the wharf at low tide to see boats sitting on the ocean floor.

Getting a taste of Alma at the Alma Lobster Shop floor © Karen Rubin/

We immediately get to taste Alma – lobster rolls and the best, freshest mussels ever at the Alma Lobster Shop (36 Shore Lane); a delightful dinner at Tipsy Tales Restaurant (8607 Main Street), and the hip ambiance of Holy Whale Brewery/ Buddha Bear Coffee Roasters, housed in a former church.

Holy Whale Brewery is housed in a former church in Alma © Karen Rubin/

Cape Enrage

We set out in the morning to drive 20 minutes along a lovely coastal country road to Cape Enrage, an iconic destination with a historic lighthouse on the Bay of Fundy where you can best appreciate the coastline. Wherever we go along the Bay of Fundy, we have to be mindful of the time, because the tides determine what we can see and do.

Saving the historic lighthouse at Cape Enrage was the impetus to create a center for learning and adventure © Karen Rubin/

We arrive at Cape Enrage, at 9:30 am. This place is famous for its historic lighthouse, which was supposed to be knocked down and replaced by a metal pole. Dennis Tate, a local high school physics teacher (the son of a lighthouse keeper who used to visit by boat as a boy), was so upset, he raised funds to take over the lighthouse, restore it, and turn Cape Enrage into an “interpretive center.” I think it is more accurately an adventure center, offering truly special experiences: taking a fossil tour on its rocky beach, ziplining and rappelling down its 140-foot high cliffs back down to the beach.

We start our visit on the rocky beach with two geology students who are interning here, who show us a literal field of fossils – plant, insect, tree fossils 320 million years old.

“The rocks on cliffs erode and fall away, like turning a page in a book, exposing fossils,” Evelyn, our Cape Enrage guide says © Karen Rubin/

It is astonishing how plentiful the fossils are, just about everywhere we walk we spot one. It’s why Cape Enrage is one of the sites within the UNESCO-designated Fundy Biosphere Reserve ( We find fossils of vascular plants that pre-dated trees even before dinosaurs. “There wasn’t grass when dinosaurs lived, grass is relatively recent, our guide, Evelyn, a second-year geology student, tells us. “The rocks on cliffs erode and fall away, like turning a page in a book, exposing fossils.”  (This beach fossil tour is included in the admission price, but a more in-depth, two-hour fossil tour on a nearby beach is also available).

Walk the rocky beach at Cape Enrage to find 350-million year old fossils of early plants and trees © Karen Rubin/

The activities depend on tide and weather – we have to wait for a lightning storm to pass before Eric and David try ziplining. Then we have to wait for the tide to pull back from the cliffs before we can rappel – it is stunning to walk back toward the beach we had just been walking on, to see it submerged.

Walk the rocky beach at Cape Enrage to find 350-million year old fossils of early plants and trees © Karen Rubin/

We wait out the weather enjoying a delightful early lunch in the Cape House Restaurant, with lovely views of the bay (in clear weather, we would see Nova Scotia). Meanwhile, zipliners swing past the window, so we know the weather has passed.

Walk the rocky beach at Cape Enrage to find 350-million year old fossils of early plants and trees © Karen Rubin/

David and Eric get to do ziplining – a huge thrill and so fun to sail over the water at high tide to a tower next to the lighthouse. They get three runs, with the guides suggesting different techniques each time (excellent preparation for rappelling, as it turns out).

Ziplining at Cape Enrage © Karen Rubin/

Next up: rappelling off 140-foot high cliffs back down to the beach.

None of us have done rappelling before. (David and Laini do rock climbing, and ziplining, especially when Eric and David step off backwards, is excellent preparation.)

Ziplining at Cape Enrage © Karen Rubin/

Our experience starts with training in how to rappel. We are in the hands of gentle, masterful guides, Morgan and Isaac, who manage to alleviate any anxiety whatsoever (I am really, really surprised at myself, but it helped that earlier, I had watched a couple from Indiana rappelling effortlessly).It is that first step backwards off the platform that is the hardest (that leap of faith that seems to crop up often in life). They talk us through, all the way down.

No fear as we try rappelling off the 140-feet high cliffs at Cape Enrage © Karen Rubin/

When we get passed a ledge, we dangle and just let the rope pass through our fingers to lower ourselves down to the beach.  You get two-hours, including the training, to rappel as many times as you like. It starts to rain heavily during our second try, but we are now so confident, the rain doesn’t faze.

This whole activity center was started in order to save the Cape Enrage Lighthouse. First built in 1838 (the light came on in 1840 and the keeper only got half pay because he only had a foghorn), the lighthouse was replaced in 1870 and then again in 1902, which is the one that stands today. When the wooden lighthouse was to be demolished, Dennis Tate and his wife, both school teachers, made a deal to take over the lighthouse, and clearly found ways to sustain it. (The Coast Guard still operates the light and foghorn. It’s been foggy and rainy and sure enough, the foghorn sounds.)

What a difference! The Cape Enrage beach at low tide…. © Karen Rubin/ 

The province owns the park, but Cape Enrage is operated by a nonprofit, Cape Enrage Interpretive Center Inc., and employs 12 paid student interns and volunteers. Jim Campbell (who retired from managing a trucking company), became general manager in 2020.

We wind up staying 6 hours, from 9:30 am-3:30 pm – long enough to see an entire change of the “highest tides in the world”.

… The Cape Enrage beach at high tide© Karen Rubin/

Admission to Cape Enrage is $7.50A, $25/family which includes the guided fossil tour on the beach. You can buy separate tickets for one hour of ziplining (3 runs per person, $53.90, single run, $26.95), and two hours of rappelling (which can be three or four times plus the training, $99.95), or combination tickets that bundle zipline and rappel ($139.95). In addition, there is a separate two-hour fossil tour, Logjam, along a different beach ($19.50). (Prices are in Canadian dollars, which at this writing was about 25% less than the US dollar.)

Cape Enrage, 888-423-5454,

Fundy National Park

Back in Alma, we go to explore Fundy National Park. This beautiful area has 25 waterfalls, 25 hiking trails, the world’s oldest red spruce tree (400 years old), several campgrounds, rivers, and lakes. This park, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is part of the Fundy Biosphere Reserve — an area of 1,062,553 acres that is protected by UNESCO. (

Fundy National Park is huge and it would take a few days to really see it. We get a small taste of it this afternoon:

Point Wolfe Covered Bridge, Fundy National Park © Karen Rubin/

Driving along Point Wolfe Road bring us to the picturesque Point Wolfe Covered Bridge. “There are 141 covered bridges in Canada and 58 of them are in New Brunswick. Covered bridges are part of our historical and cultural identity. We refer to them as Kissing Bridges because back in the days of horse and wagon young couples would stop in the middle of the bridge to kiss in privacy,” Neil Hodge of New Brunswick Tourism said.

An enchanting trail leads to Dickson Falls in Fundy National Park © Karen Rubin/

Just a five minute drive back toward Alma from the bridge we pull into a parking area for one of the true must-see, must-do highlights of the park: Dickson Falls, the most photographed waterfalls in Fundy National Park (for good reason). It’s an enchanting walk on an easy trail through the lush forest with splashes of neon green, then on across a wooden boardwalk and bridges along a gurgling brook. It takes less than an hour to do the trail, and it is so beautiful, that instead of finishing the loop, we back track to do the trail through the forest again in reverse.  

Dickson Falls, a highlight of Fundy National Park © Karen Rubin/

For our second night in Alma, we thoroughly enjoy The Alma Boathouse (8588 Main Street) which graciously stays open for us. (Restaurants close early in Alma.)

Fundy National Park, the Fundy Parkway Trail, Cape Enrage and Hopewell Rocks are all located within the UNESCO-designated Fundy Biosphere Reserve (

Travel planning assistance from Tourism New Brunswick, 800-561-0123,

Next: New Brunswick Roadtrip: Hopewell Rocks

See also:




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