Category Archives: Outdoors Adventures

Coast to Coast, Canada’s Heritage, Culture, Wilderness Beckon Ecotourists in Summer

Celebrating a birthday at Salmon n’Bannock, Vancouver’s original indigenous restaurant © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Edited by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

From coast to coast, Canada’s heritage, culture, wilderness beckon ecotourists this summer.

Experience Indigenous Cultures in British Columbia

June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada, culminating in National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, but all summer long, British Columbia offers any number of ways to experience histories, traditions and values of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples. Indigenous tourism encourages visitors to understand and respect different perspectives of the world, and to experience histories, traditions, and values in an authentic and unfiltered way.  

British Columbia has the greatest diversity of Indigenous cultures in Canada: of the 12 unique Indigenous language families in the country, seven are located exclusively in BC. Together, there are 204 unique Indigenous communities in BC. Here are 11 ways to engage in Indigenous experiences in British Columbia this summer. 

A Three-Hour Song, Dance & Cultural Experience  During festivals, weddings, and potlatches, the Tla-o-qui-aht People come together to share a wholesome meal while exchanging wisdom and stories, with the belief that good food facilitates an easier reception to teachings. Visitors can join the tradition at the Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort in Tofino, where the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation will host naaʔuu (which means “feast” in the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation language), an immersive experience taking place on select dates in June. The three-hour experience tells stories from the Nation’s history through song, dance, and traditional carvings, presented during a symphony of cultural delicacies and foraged ingredients. Proceeds go back to the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation to support language and cultural resurgence. Tickets start at $199 per person and can be purchased here. (Get there: From Vancouver, fly into Tofino-Long Beach Airport with Pacific Coastal Airlines, or right into Tofino Harbour with Harbour Air. Alternatively, you can take a ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo or Comox and drive approximately 3.5 hours to Tofino).

naaʔuu expereince at Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort in Tofino (photo: Indigenous Tourism BC/Melissa Renwick) 

Indigenous tour operators lead visitors into their traditional territory, providing a new perspective of local wildlife, plants, and waters:

Guided nature adventures led by the local Nation – Explore Ahousaht territory with Ahous Adventures, which is owned by a nation that has stewarded the lands and waters of Vancouver Island since time immemorial. The popular hot springs tour cruises the coast and inlets of Clayoquot Sound, with guides pointing out wildlife along the way. Once onshore, guests take a 30-minute walk via wooden boardwalk through old-growth rainforest, leading to the healing mineral waters of the hot springs. Throughout the journey, guides will discuss the history and cultural significance of Hot Springs Cove, a site that has been used for centuries by the Ahousat Nation for medicinal and spiritual benefits. Dates: Tours are available throughout summer and beyond. 

Cruise an Island Archipelago – Sidney Whale Watching, serving Sidney (just 30 minutes from Victoria, BC) and the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island, is owned and operated by the Tsawout First Nation, with whale-watching experiences taking place on the traditional territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation. The three-hour whale watching tour cruises through the Gulf Island Archipelago, winding past orcas, sea lions, and bald eagles hunting for salmon. Sidney Whale Watching has a 95% whale-sighting rate throughout the year; if guests don’t spot a whale, they are welcome to join another tour free of charge, anytime. Dates: Whale-watching tours take place daily between March and October. 

A group with Takaya Tours, rowing a traditional First Nations canoe in Deep Cove (photo: Destination BC/Hubert Kang)


Take a cultural tour in a 35′ canoe – Takaya Tours, based in Whey-ah-wichen, or Cates Park, in North Vancouver, leads guests through the territory of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Guests can paddle the protected waters of Indian Arm in replica ocean-going canoes, while guides share songs and stories of ancient villages. There’s also an option to add a rainforest walking tour to your paddling adventure. Dates: The Cates Park location is open between May and September for guided tours, as well as rentals of kayak, surf-skis, and stand-up paddleboards. 

BC Tourism Industry Awards Best Indigenous Tourism Operator Winner 2024 – Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours, which stewards the grizzly bear population in Bute Inlet—the ancestral home of the Homalco Nation—welcomes visitors to discover the area’s longstanding cultural and historical significance. The company’s full-day bear-watching and cultural tour leads guests to viewing areas that showcase grizzlies feeding on spawning salmon, along with plenty of opportunities to whale watch and bird watch. Guests can also wander through Aupe, an uninhabited Homalco village site. Dates: Tours are offered between August and October.

2023 Yelp Travelers Choice – Sea Wolf Adventures, which leads tours in the Broughton Archipelago and the Great Bear Rainforest, on Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw Nation territory, combines cultural experiences with grizzly- and whale-watching safaris. The Grizzly Bears of the Wild tour connects guests with the iconic grizzly inhabitants of the Great Bear Rainforest, with bonus viewings of Pacific white-sided dolphins, eagles, orcas, and other wildlife. The full-day tour departs from Port McNeill, and includes Indigenous interpretations of local landscapes, as well as stories about the Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw People. Dates: Tours run from May 31 through October. 

Skwachays Lodge, Canada’s first aboriginal art hotel, affords the nearest thing to staying in a First Nations community you might find in a major modern city © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Try Plant Medicine Lemonade  Opened in February 2024, The Ancestor Café in Fort Langley brings traditional Indigenous nourishment to locals and visitors while supporting Indigenous food sovereignty. The eatery is owned by Chef Sarah Meconse Mierau, a member of the Sayisi Dene Nation. On the menu: bison and elk Bannock tacos, handcrafted plant-medicine jams and lattes, and other delicacies made with traditional Indigenous ingredients. Beyond the food, the café features a fair-trade gallery displaying works by local Indigenous artists and brands. 

Indigenous-owned and operated accommodation welcome visitors come into their community to experience warm hospitality alongside stories and culture—all with a deep-rooted respect for nature: 

Gorge Harbour Marina Resort – One of the most desirable cruising destinations in BC – Located at the edge of Desolation Sound, on Klahoose Nation land, Gorge Harbour Marina Resort offers an idyllic home base for adventurers eager to explore the sound, Cortes Island, and the Discovery Islands. The resort offers a multitude of overnight options, including a rustic lodge with four rooms, a cottage enclosed by lush gardens, and two self-contained trailers. Summer-specific options include 21 full-service RV sites, six glamping domes, and six tent sites—open for the season now. Summer activities span live music on the waterfront, yoga at the harbour, family movie nights, as well as whale-watching tours offered between May 1 and October 15. (Get there: Take a ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo, then drive 1 hour and 45 minutes to Campbell River. From here, take a 10-minute ferry to Quadra Island, then a 45-minute boat trip to Cortes Island. You can also fly direct to the resort from Campbell River, Vancouver, or Seattle, Washington.)   

Nemiah Valley Lodge – Off-grid & highly requested – Open year round, Nemiah Valley Lodge is located in the Chilcotin region, on Tŝilhqot’in Nation land. Here, guests are immersed in the food, history, and traditions of the Xeni Gwet’in community through local events, cultural experiences, and wildlife viewing. The all-inclusive packages include lodge activities such as lakeside yoga and meditation, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, archery. Note: Nemiah Valley is taking bookings for 2025. (Get there: The lodge is a 30-minute floatplane ride from Whistler. Alternatively, take a flight from Vancouver International Airport to Williams Lake (available throughout the summer), and drive 2.5 hours to your destination. The lodge also offers a transfer from Williams Lake.) 

Talaysay Walking Indigenous Tours experience in Stanley Park in Vancouver (photo: Destination Vancouver/Kindred & Scout)

Tsawaak RV Resort – A 2024 Indigenous Tourism Award Winner – Whether you’re seeking a cozy wilderness cabin or a place to park your RV, Tsawaak RV Resort— located in Tofino, on Tla-o-qui-aht Nation land—offers a tranquil space for rest and rejuvenation. Guests can choose from 34 RV sites and 13 longhouse-style cedar cabins—all situated close to Mackenzie Beach and a 30-minute walk from town. The central amenities building offers laundry facilities and vending machines, while the visitor center houses an art gallery and retail shop. The resort provides easy access to Tofino’s most popular adventures, including surfing, hot springs, and hiking. (Get there: From Vancouver, fly into Tofino-Long Beach Airport with Pacific Coastal Airlines, or right into Tofino Harbour with Harbour Air. Alternatively, you can take a ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo or Comox and drive approximately 3.5 hours to Tofino.)

Spirit Bear Lodge – Located in the largest, temperate coastal rainforest in the world – Wildlife viewing and cultural experiences take centre stage at Spirit Bear Lodge, located in Klemtu, on Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation land. The lodge’s all-inclusive adventures are anchored by visits to cultural sites of the Kitasoo Xai’xai People, who have lived for thousands of years in the Great Bear Rainforest—the largest temperate coastal rainforest in the world. Guests can search for the elusive Spirit bear, watch grizzlies roam lush estuaries, see whales and other marine life, and explore the remnants of ancient villages. Open from August to October, with limited reservations available. (Get there: Board a flight at Vancouver International Airport with Pacific Coastal Airlines to Bella Bella. You’ll be met by Spirit Bear Lodge staff and shuttled to the dock, where a lodge boat will take you on the two-hour journey to Klemtu.)

Wildlife viewing experience at Spirit Bear Lodge (photo: Indigenous Tourism BC)

For more authentic Indigenous experiences in British Columbia visit www.indigenousbc.com

Nova Scotia Hosts Worldwide Celebration of Acadian Heritage

This August 10-18, Nova Scotia will host the Congrés mondial acadien (CMA), a worldwide celebration that takes place every five years and brings together the Acadian diaspora from around the world for musical events, culinary and cultural attractions and family gatherings. Several major outdoor concerts featuring noted Acadian artists are scheduled, including Canada’s National Acadian Day on August 15. From the brightly painted houses of Yarmouth and picturesque views of seaside villages like Belliveau Cove and Pointe-de-l’Eglise, visitors will find vivid reminders of the French settlers who first claimed Nova Scotia as their home in the early 1600s. The CMA reunites and welcomes communities, families, and visitors to the province to honor Acadian history and to commemorate the thousands displaced in 1755 when the Acadian people were expelled from the province by the British for not taking a vow of loyalty to King George III. (https://cma2024.ca/en/).   

Throughout the summer, there are important Acadian historic sites to visit in Nova Scotia:

Grand Pré National Historic Site: Open from May 17 to October 14, the Grand Pré National Historic Site is a powerful way to discover the history of l’Acadie (a historical Acadian village in Nova Scotia settled from 1682 to 1755), its people and its culture. The location is a monument that unites the Acadian people, and for many, it is the heart of their ancestral homeland. Guided tours lead visitors through the center of this Acadian settlement and where they can learn about the history of the mass deportation of the Acadians, “Le Grand Derangement,” that began in 1755. This tragic event continues to shape the vibrant culture of modern-day Acadians across the globe. Tours are available in July and August. 

Explore the oldest Acadian region still inhabited by descendants of its founder in Le Village Historique Acadien de la Nouvelle Ecosse.

Le Village Historique Acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse: Explore the oldest Acadian region still inhabited by descendants of its founder in Le Village Historique Acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse. Founded in 1653 by Sieur Philippe Mius-d’Entremont, the village is a breathtaking, 17-acre space overlooking Pubnico Harbour. Attractions include historical buildings and original 19th century wooden homes like Duon House and Maximin d’Entremont House, a lighthouse and local cemetery, nature trails with natural fauna and flora indigenous to the area, and opportunities to learn about the historic Acadian fishing and farming traditions.  

Rendez-vous de la Baie Visitor Centre: Open year-round and located on the campus of Université Sainte-Anne in Clare, Rendez-vous de la Baie Visitor Centre is an Acadian cultural and interpretive center. Attractions include an artist-run gallery, a souvenir boutique, a 263-seat performance theatre, and an outdoor performance area. Travelers can experience the interpretive center and museum which delve into the Acadian peoples’ history through multimedia displays of music and language with free guided tours available. The venue is also a trailhead for a three-mile network of walking trails leading to the breathtaking Nova Scotian coast (guided walking tours available). 

More information: Nova Scotia, www.novascotia.com  

New Brunswick’s Acadian Heritage

Another place to experience Acadian heritage is in New Brunswick, just across the strait from Nova Scotia:

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.

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. (hotelchateaualbert.com, 506-726-2600).

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

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

Also in New Brunswick, 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.

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, metpark.ca.

Travel planning assistance from Tourism New Brunswick, 800-561-0123www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca.

Summer is a 5 Sensory Season in Newfoundland and Labrador

From the rolling waves lapping off the coastline to the colorful clotheslines dancing in the ocean breeze, Newfoundland and Labrador is home to the slow way of life, especially when the seasons change. As spring rolls into summer, regular visitors to the province return, including the whales, birds and icebergs that heighten all senses. Visitors can experience the first sunrise in North America, witness the migration and play of whale species that return to the shores each year, and taste food foraged from land and sea. For relaxation, guests can soak in the bounty of the ocean in a bath with seaweed gathered off the coast of Grates Cove, go for a cold-water dip in the many outdoor locations including the North Atlantic Ocean, or sit and listen to the push and pull of the beach rocks as they roll with the waves. 

Sea of Whales Adventures: The Atlantic Ocean surrounding Newfoundland and Labrador boasts as many as 22 diverse whale species. Just off the Bonavista Peninsula, travelers will smell the ocean breeze and be humbled by the spectacle of whale species like humpbacks, sperm, orcas, feeding, migrating, and playing on Sea of Whales Adventures whale watching boat tours. Family owned and operated since 2009, Sea of Whales Adventures offers three-hour whale watching tours daily from May 15 to October 14 and two-hour tours daily from June 15 to September 3. The two-hour tour rates start at $90 CAD for adults and $60 CAD for children, while the three-hour tour rates start at $110 CAD for adults and $80 for children.  

Preserving the Dark Sky: Terra Nova National Park, the first designated Dark Sky Preserve in the province, allows travelers to gaze into the cosmos untouched by light pollution. Under the Dark Sky Preserve Program, the park is committed to protecting and improving nocturnal ecology by adjusting, retrofitting, or eliminating light fixtures while delivering new educational and interpretive programs on astronomy and various dark sky themes. The most popular viewing locations include Sandy Pond, rated to have the darkest skies in the park, Ochre Hill, historically used as a fire-watch station, Blue Hill, the highest point in the park putting guests among the stars, and Visitor Centre, with the starlit sky reflected across the water. New in 2024, UNESCO World Heritage Site Gros Morne National Park is applying to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada for designation as a Dark Sky Preserve, offering visitors even more unaltered space to bask in the celestial views. 

Wild Island Kitchen: Open year round, Wild Island Kitchen offers travelers the chance to dine aside breathtaking seascapes listening to the crashing waves while wild and sustainably caught seafood is cooked over an open fire. The locally owned tour and culinary group provides menus that change daily based on what is foraged and discovered each day, with guides teaching guests how to cook and prepare the cuisine. The “From Sea to Plate” Tour features sustainable, high-quality seafood cooked with water from the sea and cooked over an open fire, and guests can expect four to five courses over a three-hour period. For a shorter, one-hour experience, visitors can book the “Mug-Up” Tour which typically departs at 10 a.m. and includes a trip down the cove for a cup of tea or coffee and an interpretative food journey inspired by traditional coastal delights. Tour rates start at $175 CAD, but guests are encouraged to email [email protected] for specific pricing per tour. Pre-booking is required for both culinary experiences. 

Grates Cove Seaweed Baths: In the northernmost part of Newfoundland and Labrador, weary travelers can soak in a seaweed bath at Grates Cave Co. Known for its healing and rejuvenating properties, seaweed is harvested off the coast of Grates Cove and transformed into 7 Fathoms skincare, producing a high-quality, highly bioactive brown seaweed extract suited for personal care. Grates Cove Co. uses the product, densely packed with essential nutrients and minerals, for the fresh seaweed baths in the comfort of the bathhouse overlooking the North Atlantic. The bathhouse is bookable from Monday to Sunday for two-hour time slots from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2-4 p.m., and 5-7 p.m., and the price per couple is $110 CAD + HST (Harmonized Sales Tax). 

More information: Newfoundland and Labrador,  www.newfoundlandlabrador.com  

See also:

ON THE TRAIL TO DISCOVER VANCOUVER’S REVIVED INDIGENOUS HERITAGE

WALKING TOURS, DINING EXPERIENCES REVEAL VANCOUVER’S REVIVED INDIGENOUS HERITAGE

TRAIL TO DISCOVER BRITISH COLUMBIA’S INDIGENOUS HERITAGE WEAVES THROUGH WHISTLER-BLACKCOMB

NEW BRUNSWICK ROADTRIP: EXPLORING FRENCH ACADIA’S CULTURE, HERITAGE BY BIKE!

NEW BRUNSWICK ROADTRIP: METEPENAGIAG HERITAGE CENTER HIGHLIGHTS MIRAMICHI VISIT

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Best Bike Trips for This Summer’s Travel

Fondest memories of travel are from bike tours like BoatBikeTour’s Bruges-Amsterdam trip, with this memorable scene of biking passed windmills after a rain © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Biking is my favorite form of travel – I love the perfect pace – not to fast, not too slow to be able to really be in the moment – being outside with no window or barrier, going through villages and neighborhoods you would not likely see traveling by car, bus or train, being able to stop and admire the view. And I love at the end of the day, feeling both physically accomplished and exhilarated, with the endorphins sparking. You feel you are an active participant in your surroundings, not a mere spectator. All your senses are activated.

The end of our self-guided bike trip along the Danube Bike Trail from Passau to Vienna © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In decades of travel, the experiences I cherish most include riding the biketours.com’s self-guided Danube Bike Trail trip from Passau to Vienna with my sons; being transformed seeing people and villages in Albania (e-bike recommended); the exhilaration of reaching the top of Cadillac Mountain on Discovery Bicycle’s Maine Coast tour; and the warm feeling after a hot shower, wrapped in a lush bathrobe in a historic inn after a hilly, rainy ride on a hybrid bike (e-bike available)  on Discovery’s Eastern Quebec Townships trip; the sheer delight of biking from Bruges to Amsterdam and sailing on a boat with Boat Bike Tours.

Bike trips have become so popular, they have veered far from the humdrum into the heretofore unimaginable. There is hardly any place in the world where you cannot explore on two-wheels (hybrid, road bikes, gravel bikes, e-bikes), where there are not guided trips, or self-guided trips (where you rent the bike, have vouchers for accommodations, and your luggage is picked up and magically appears at the next inn, much easier now with Ride GPS and similar apps). Also, e-bikes have opened a world and extended your years in the saddle – you no longer have to be afraid when the ride is rated a 4, with major hills.

Jubilant to have made it to the top of Cadillac Mountain, a five-mile ascent (with a hybrid!), a wonderful option on Discovery Bicycle’s Coastal Maine trip© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Also, whether you are a family, a couple, a group of friends, or traveling solo (as I do), bike tours are ideal. Here are some recommendations:

Biking the award-winning Mickelson rail trail on Wilderness Voyageurs’ Badlands and Black Hills trip through South Dakota © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Wilderness Voyageurs has a huge selection of offerings, especially trips that take advantage of rail-trails (the company is based along the Great Allegheny Passage in Ohiopyle, PA).They have trips on 30 rail-trails across the USA (11 are in the Rails to Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame), and have been the operator of RTC’s Sojourn trips on the GAP. They offer a marvelous selection of trips on New York’s Erie Canalway, on the new Empire Trail Network (from Battery Park up to Albany, but the trail network actually goes all the way up to Canada), as well as Missouri’s KATY Trail (longest rail trail in the USA), C&O Canal and Mickelson Rail Trail in South Dakota (I thoroughly enjoyed its Badlands & Black Hills tour). The trip I am looking to do next is the Coeur d’Alene & Hiawatha Trail in Idaho – two Rail-to-Trail Conservancy Hall of Famers, with 10 tunnels including the famous “Taft Tunnel” at 8771 feet long, 7 steel trestles, one 220 feet high). The company has an extensive selection of road bike tours in Michigan, Texas, Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, Gettysburg & the civil War, Shenandoah & Skyline Drive, Kentucky Bike & Bourbon, Colorado, New York’s Finger Lakes and the Adirondacks and a new offering on the Maine Coast & Acadia (I am eying the San Juan Islands, Washington, six-day trip covering San Juan, Lopez and Orcas Islands). It also offers gravel bike tours and two itineraries in Cuba. The trips are well marked for their ability, and the guides, accommodations and meals are superb. (Wilderness-Voyageurs.com, 855-550-7705).-

Feeling tired but exhilarated at the end of a challenging ride (on a hybrid) on Discovery Bicycle’s Eastern Quebec Townships trip © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Discovery Bicycle Tours has actually added departures on four otherwise sold out itineraries this year: GAP Trail Getaway, ride the full Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail in 4 days, from Cumberland, Maryland, to Pittsburgh, PA (Level 1), new departures Sept. 14-17, Sept. 19-22; six days of carefree riding on the P’tit Train du Nord, one of the most scenic rail trails in the lovely province of Quebec, just over the border in Canada (take your passport! Level 2-easier to intermediate, new departure Sept. 17-22); a four-day Appalachian Rail Trails, one of Discovery’s newest tours, offers some of the best trail riding in the Virginia-West Virginia region; new departure Oct. 6-11); and a four-day New York Finger Lakes Getaway trip where you unpack once, stay in a high-end inn, and spin through New York State’s famed winery region filled with delightful farms and villages and perhaps spot Amish buggies (easier-intermediate, departure Sept. 22-25). Discovery Bicycle Tours offers cycling vacations through the US, Canada, New Zealand, Europe,
Chile, Cambodia, and Vietnam. They are already taking bookings for 2025 for its 8-day Bike & Barge Netherlands North tour; 8-day Moselle River Bike & Barge; 8-day E-bike & Cruise Croatia. Discovery Bicycle Tours, which I traveled with on their marvelous Maine Coast and their Eastern Quebec Townships trips, provides excellent value for what is high luxury (inns, dining) – including bike rentals, even e-bikes, in the cost. (800-257-2226, 802-457-3553, [email protected], discoverybicycletours.com).

Catching up to our boat hotel, Royal Princess, as we bike on the path to Kinderdijk on the Bruges to Amsterdam trip with BoatBikeTours © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Netherlands-based Boat Bike Tours, which I traveled with on their fabulous Bruges-to-Amsterdam tour (by boat), has special offers for this summer, with up to 200 Euro savings per person on select tours: Sail & Bike Ijsselmeer & National Parks- 100 euro discount per person, on an elegant three-masted sailing ship, Elizabeth, cycling through dune landscapes, peaceful pastureland and historic fishing villages. In France, get 200 Euro discount per person: Taste Champagne (and brie!) in Champagne (Paris-Eparnay or Eparnay-Paris on the Zwaantje); or visit the best winemakers in Northern Burgundy (on the Zwaantje); the Paris-Montargis tour for beautiful medieval towns and royal history on the Fleur. There is also a 100 Euro discount pp on its Croatia/Greece programs; cycle through ancient landscapes as you explore the Aegean or Ionian islands of Greece, experience the layered history of the Croatian coastline or island-hop the gorgeous Croatian islands. (https://www.boatbiketours.com/all-offers/, boatbiketours.com, NL: +31 20 72 35 400, USA: +1 203 814 1249).

Discover Slovenia’s attractions, like Predjama Castle with Backroads © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Backroads, a pioneer in biking trips since its founding in 1979 by Tom Hale, has branched out to all manner of active, multi-sport programs, and from its California origins, to span the world. It still offers one of the most extensive opportunities for biking – in fact, 143 different itineraries this year, including all the major US destinations (California, New York, Kentucky, Vermont), plus a huge selection of international destinations. Among them: 6-day Bordeaux & Dordogne Bike Tour; Brittany & Normandy Bike Tour; 6-day Tuscany by the Sea Bike Tour; and  Croatia & Slovenia Bike, and eight-day Vietnam & Cambodia Bike Tour, and the trip I am eyeing, eight-day Japan Bike Tour featuring Nikko National Park to Kyoto (https://www.backroads.com/trips/BJNI/japan-bike-tour). (backroads.com, 800-462-2848).

Among DuVine Cycling’s favorite itineraries for first-timers is the Douro Valley of Portugal © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There’s still time for DuVine Cycling & Adventure Co.’s offer to first-time Duvine travelers to take $250 off any 2024 scheduled departure tour booked by June 9. Among the favorites for first timers: Bordeaux, France; Douro Valley, Portugal; Tuscany, Italy; Costa Brava, Spain; Greek Isles Yacht & Bike Tour. Its catalog of all-inclusive, luxury cycling vacations spans the United States, Europe, Latin America and Africa and include family, adventure, challenge, cycle & sail, specialty, villas, private tours, and, of course, classic itineraries. BTW, 2025 tour dates are live on duvine.com to take advantage of best rates and dates—especially for destinations that sold out fast in 2024: tulip season in Holland, new departures in Norway, and its popular hiking and biking tour in the Italian Dolomites (duvine.com, 888 396 5383)

Butterfield & Robinson offers such exotic cycling trips such as Ultimate Morocco, The Sahara to Marrakech Biking © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The high-end operator, Butterfield & Robinson, offers such exotic cycling trips as Ultimate Morocco, The Sahara to Marrakech Biking (with time spent in bustling souks, historic Kasbahs and indigenous Berber camps hidden among the Sahara’s silky dunes) and Vietnam biking Expedition through lush rice paddies and local villages, discover ancient cities, enjoying delicious Vietnamese cuisine and culture. B&R has released its 2025 offerings, including a new Bali Multi-Active; Japan Tayoma biking. It’s new, limited edition Sri Lanka: Cultural Triangle to South Coast Biking, February 9 – 16, 2025  is an eight-day sojourn that takes you from the port city of Negombo to the sacred city of Kandy, concluding in Galle Fort, and visiting the UNESCO World Heritage sites like Sigiriya Rock. (butterfield.com, 866-551-9090)

VBT Bicycling Vacations’ Prague to Budapest tour is available as an 11-day air-inclusive © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

VBT Bicycling Vacations, an early pioneer in bike trips through Vermont, has long ago spread wings to far-flung destinations, to the far reaches of North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. One trip that has caught my eye is a six-day Utah: Bryce Canyon & Zion National Parks (rated easy/moderate, bike included, offered September to October) and Maryland: Eastern Shore & Chesapeake Bay (easy, bike included, offered June-October), Among the Europe itineraries is an eight-day Danube Bike & River Cruise: Prague to Budapest, available as an 11-day air-inclusive. More exotic: South Africa: Cape Town & the Garden Route, easy/moderate, bike included, available as an 11-day air-inclusive package, or 9-day land-only; New Zealand: The South island, 12-days,Jan 6-17, 2025,air included.(vbt.com, 877-774-1942, 855-443-0719) 

Looking for more hard core?

Biking in Sonoma, California’s wine country, one of Trek Travel’s most romantic bike tours of 2024 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Trek Travel’s trending trips include: Andalucia bike tour (breathtaking views, savor exquisite tapas, taste classic wines, and experience warm hospitality set to the rhythm of passionate music.); Norway bike tour (Pedal past the Nigardsbreen and Bergset glaciers and conquer Sognefjellet Mountain Pass, northern Europe’s highest); Shenandoah Valley Gravel Bike Tour (pedal along pristine unpaved roads nestled in the valley between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains). Cycle through Tuscany, or Explore Coastal Charm of Croatia. Looking for romance on your bike trip? Its top “Romantic Bike Tours in 2024” include Mallorca Island; Loire Valley; Andalucia; Santa Barbara Wine Country; California Wine Country. Trek Travel is also a leader in gravel bike trips, the newest trend in cycling. (There may still be time to take advantage of a $250 discount: use code EXPLORE250 at checkout. trektravel.com, 866-464-8735)

Escape Adventures has a bike tour along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Prominent in active travel, Escape Adventures has a wonderful selection of rides through national parks, including Glacier National park Road Bike tour; Canyonlands National Park; North Rim of the Grand Canyon; Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon Road Bike Tour; Canyonlands, Arches & Moab by Mountain Bike. More exotic: a road bike Tour de France Experience; Vuelta a Espana Experience; New Zealand road trip. With 100 destinations, Escape Adventures caters to the full spectrum of active travelers, respective to fitness level and activity type. From road cyclist to mountain biker to electric biker, hiker, and multi-sport enthusiast, and from first timer to friends and family groups of all ability levels. Escape Adventures is introducing a guided “bikepacking” 5-day camping and mountain biking trip along the 144-mile-long Maah Daah Hey Trail System (MDH). Majestic plateaus, jagged peaks and valleys, large expanses of rolling prairie, and rivers intertwine to offer the adventurous outdoors enthusiast a taste of pure, unadulterated badlands. Located adjacent to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the MDH is one of the lengthiest stretches of continuous trail in America. Hailed as an IMBA epic, the MDH unfolds on 95% singletrack. The guided tour starts at $1,499 per person double. (https://escapeadventures.com/tour/maah-daah-hey-singletrack-mountain-bike-tour/ https://escapeadventures.com/, 800-596-2953)

Discover France is offering cycling trips that combine the exploration of iconic mountain pass and Tour de France routes with daily luxury accommodations and local gastronomy. Available in the Alps, Provence Mont Ventoux, the Pyrenees and the French Riviera, these prestigious cycling adventures lets you discover charming regions while taking on a sporting challenge. Its trip through the Dordogne region lets you ride and discover charming villages, stroll through the narrow streets of medieval towns built on cliffs, such as Rocamadour, experience its rich gastronomy, such as the famous black truffle and finish the trip with an escapade in the Lascaux Caves, one of the many prehistoric sites of the region. Its “Tour de France: Dolomites & Grand Departure Adventure,” is an 8-day VIP Bike Tour that includes a ride through the famous Dolomites and a stop in Florence(Italy) for the grand departure of the Tour de France. During the first few days you will challenge yourself by riding in the Italian mountains. Then enjoy VIP access to the Tour’s historic start in Florence. Riding on the official road of the Tour and crossing the finish line in Bologna will end this adventure on a high note. (DISCOVER FRANCE 427 Rue Hélène Boucher Mauguio 34130 France, discoverfrance.com).

Biketours.com pioneered biking in Albania © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

For excellent value in bike tours, my go-to is BikeTours.com – basically a broker of programs in just about every country in Europe, even Montenegro, Poland, Romania, and Estonia (I took a fabulous boat/bike trip through Greek Islands), plus Japan and South Africa and the United States. They basically represent local operators, so offer much the same itinerary as the high-end offerings, but with more choice of accommodations and opportunities for lower cost. They also offer perhaps the best selection of self-guided trips, which can be 30-50 percent cheaper than guided tours (we’ve done their self-guided Danube Bike Tour Passau-Vienna, and self-guided Venice-Croatia and guided Greek Isles boat/bike trip, and a guided Slovenia trip). The company, under its previous owner and founder, Jim Johnson, opened Albania for biking, which I experienced the trip with Johnson. You appreciate how significant biking is to really understanding a country and its people, when you ride through villages (e-bike recommended). Albania is perhaps Europe’s best kept secret. We were impressed by Albania’s diverse landscapes—snow-capped mountains, deep forests and beaches—its rich heritage and culture and how people in rural areas were actually excited and curious to see visitors in their villages, especially those traveling by bicycle. This also has to be one of the best values in European cycling: experience the 9-day “UNESCO Sites of Albania” guided 1190E or self-guided from 950E. (biketours.com, 833-216-0635, 215-613-0874)

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

Photo Highlights: Total Solar Eclipse Above Long Lake, in New York’s Adirondacks is Stellar

In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

With a huge swath of New York State in the path of totality for the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse, we headed to the Adirondacks, cleverly basing ourselves at The Lorca on Indian Lake, which was scheduled to have totality for two minutes, with a plan to drive 30 minutes further to Long Lake, which was scheduled for totality to last a full minute longer, 3 minutes, 1 second, beginning at 3:24 pm, where we based out of the historic (140 years!) Adirondack Hotel, right on the lake.

That proved fortuitous, because though totality spanned a 124-mile wide path stretching from Chautauqua-Allegheny to the majestic Niagara Falls in Greater Niagara, over the pristine Finger Lakes, mighty Adirondacks, and magical Thousand Islands-Seaway, and while Niagara Falls and Buffalo were scheduled to have totality for as much as four minutes, the weather clouded up for most of it. New York State won’t be in the path of totality again for 400 years.

Meanwhile, we had a magical three minutes of totality on Long Lake, starting exactly at 3:24 pm, experiencing the thrill of night-in-the-daytime where you could see stars, then the Diamond Ring, and hearing a dog howl along with everyone’s collective gasps. Then, only a few minutes after, the sun’s crescent started to reappear, but was hazy behind a thin cloud cover, making us appreciate the experience we had all the more.

Here are highlights of the stellar show:

In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
Day turns to night, stars can be seen, and the moon is a tiny dot in the crown of the sun’s corona, during totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
Day turns to night, stars can be seen, and the moon is a tiny dot in the crown of the sun’s corona, during totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
The Diamond Ring formation lasts mere seconds during totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
The moon is a tiny dot in the crown of the sun’s corona, during totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
The sun begins to reemerge as a crescent after totality, but soon, clouds make it hazy © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
Our family enjoys this once-in-a-lifetime experience of a Total Solar Eclipse in New York’s Adirondacks, on April 8, 2024
The Long Lake community gets set for the Total Solar Eclipse © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 
Long Lake was a setting for Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
The Adirondack Hotel was a fabulous base for watching the Total Eclipse © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
Staying over before and after the Total Solar Eclipse at The Lorca on Indian Lake avoided the traffic coming and going to the Adirondacks  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

The next time you go:

It may be 400 years before a total solar eclipse returns to New York State, and this may have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for millions, but there will be total solar eclipses coming up around the world. If you are now hooked on pursuing totality or if you regret missing out:

Prepare well in advance – even a year in advance. Research ideal locations based on path of totality and duration of totality (in North America, ranged from two to four minutes, so significant difference). Scout out locations and book hotel accommodations, travel to the extent possible even a year in advance for the best locations. (See: Fjords, Pharaohs or Koalas? Time to Plan for Your Next Eclipse).

Make sure you have solar glasses and necessary camera gear (solar filters, long-focus lens, ie 300 mm. Have TAPE to attach a paper solar filter to camera, as I used, if you don’t have the glass filter, check www.bhphotovideo.com). Practice in advance (the hardest part is switching from partial to total eclipse – you have to remove the solar filter and reset the manual settings). Review videos of techniques and get a list of suggested camera settings.

Go to the location at least the day before. Scout where you will be standing. Take sample photo of where sun will be at the time of the eclipse (usually one hour before and one hour after totality). Fill up gas tank, get supplies (food, water for next day).

Day of: download maps/directions (cell service may not be available). Get to the site EARLY to get parking and a position (set up your chair, so you can roam around, use restroom). Plan for extra traffic/time to get to site. Bring chair, camera, lenses, extra memory cards, SOLAR GLASSES, SOLAR FILTER, tripod, hat, sunglasses, jacket, book, charged cell phone, food, water.

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

Experts at NY Travel Show Offer Tips for Satisfying, Meaningful, Purposeful Travel

A wedding couple in Hangzhou, China. Travel is how ideas, innovations and progress, improved living standards and quality of life are spread among peoples, as Marco Polo proved. Travel is humanity’s best hope for peace and cooperation as people from different places see and appreciate that we are more alike than different, and appreciate the differences. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

It’s like this: travel is humanity’s best invention to promote the advancement of civilization. Travel is how ideas, innovations and progress, improved living standards and quality of life are spread among peoples, as Marco Polo proved. Travel is humanity’s best hope for peace and cooperation instead of zero-sum annihilation, as people from different places see and appreciate that we are more alike than different, and appreciate the differences. Travel is a community’s best hope for providing the economic underpinnings that provide jobs, upward mobility and enable people to stay on ancestral lands, have the funds to preserve and protect the environment, culture and heritage, and yes, make the adaptations and mitigations to prevent the ravages of climate change. Indeed, just as the travel industry has led the way with e-commerce, yield management, and  loyalty programs, the industry – the third largest in the world – is leading the way on climate solutions,

Tourism is what provides the economic underpinnings to support jobs and upkeep of such treasures as the Treasury at Petra, Jordan. To avoid crowds, stay overnight and enter the ancient city in the early morning © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Travel also is life-enhancing, enriching, potentially life-changing and among the best therapies against despair – providing a conduit for forging social connections, self-improvement, overcoming fear, anxiety and apprehension by fostering understanding and empathy, broadening perspectives. The experience of travel fosters resilience, self-confidence, self-reliance, adaptability, forges lasting bonds of family and friendship and broadens perspective and outlook.

That’s not just me saying it. It’s what travel experts with collective experience of decades (including myself), have seen and experienced firsthand.

“When we travel, experience the world, it changes us in a deep and profound way,” Pauline Frommer of frommer.com, told a standing room only audience at the most recent New York Travel & Adventure Show at Javits Center. “Right now we live in such a divided word – different facts inform our view but when we travel, we see the truth on the ground, that other countries have something to teach us, we can bring that back, and present an impression of America that is positive in places that may not have positive impression of America. Even with climate change, travel is one of the best tools in our ongoing search for creating world peace. So have wonderful, relaxing vacations, but your trips also can be meaningful and you can make a difference when you travel.”

“Consume news, but don’t let that make you a frightened person,” advises Rick Steves of ricksteves.com. “Be outward looking. If we want world to be peaceful, we have to build bridges. We can be challenged and stimulated by smart people who do things in smart ways. We can celebrate the Moroccan dream, the Bulgarian dream, just like the American dream – there is room for lots of dreams, As a traveler, we get to enjoy them all….[If we want a world of] peace and stability, the most powerful thing we can do as individual Americans is to travel and get to know people.”

Machu Picchu, Peru: travel has the potential to be life-enhancing, life-changing. But don’t put off your “bucket-list” experiences because you never know if there will be a pandemic, a political issue, a climate disaster. “Carpe diem,” says Patricia Schultz, author of “1000 Places to See Before You Die”

The COVID pandemic reinforced the value of travel – the three years of lockdowns and constrained travel upended local economies, while shutdowns that kept people from traveling underscored the human need for connection, for renewal, for new horizons to broaden perspectives.

“A life lesson we took away from COVID and postponed pleasure is that there is never a guarantee that we will be able to travel tomorrow or next year- our health, our need to care for people, political situation, climate disasters. Carpe diem,” says “1000 Places to See Before You Die” author Patricia Schultz.  She reflects on the places that she had included but have had to drop off her list recently – Ukraine, Syria, Iran even Jerusalem. “The lesson from this image [of people at the Western Wall] is carpe diem – if some place is on your bucket list and you think, well, the Pyramids will always be there, guess what? Don’t take anything for granted.”

And so with the pandemic in the rearview mirror (at least for now), people are traveling with furor and we are back to worrying about being crowded out and the potential impacts – and actions to prevent – overtourism. COVID-generated technologies and policies for advance purchase, capacity control are here to stay.

The excitement for traveling to the four corners of the globe and in every style, from decompressing on a beach, to joining an expedition to see gorillas in Uganda, to standing up for Ukraine by showing up in Ukraine, was evident at the New York Travel & Adventure Show, where booths were crammed and talks by experts including Rick Steves, Peter Greenberg, Pauline Frommer, on traveling smart, well and meaningfully were standing room only.

But because there is a whole world out there, you can make choices of where and when to travel. Don’t like crowds? Try to visit a destination when less crowded (though there is less of an “off-season” or “shoulder” season these days); find the “hidden gems” that offer as much atmosphere, experience and character; visit attractions either very early or later in the day (to avoid the hoards of cruise passengers and daytrippers); overnight in those charming, historic cities and villages (preferably in or within walking distance of the historic district) so you are there in the early morning and the evenings to enjoy the stillness and light without the hoards of cruisers and daytrippers; and pre-purchase tickets, city/museum/attractions passes so you don’t waste valuable time and money standing in line to purchase tickets. Climate and weather also have become major issues that should factor into where and when you travel.

Their message: By all means, experience the highlights of a place, but go further afield to seek out local experiences, opportunities to visit or stay in neighborhoods. Be a mindful traveler, a purposeful traveler: enhance the experience by learning the background, the stories and back-stories, hire a local guide, take a “free” walking tour (you basically tip the guide), sign up for some volunteer opportunity to give back to the community; seek out those tour programs that provide immersive opportunities to engage with locals.

The Pont du Gard aqueduct, for example, is the most-visited ancient monument in France. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the best-preserved Roman sites in the world. Most people see it as a pretty photo op and do not understand how innovative the engineering was – how the Romans brought water from 30 miles away – and what a difference it made in the lives of people who didn’t have to spend hours of their day in pursuit of water.

Meet the people who live on Inle Lake, Myanmar © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“For a lot of tour groups, it is just a pretty bridge, a potty break, a souvenir stand. [But learning the backstory], humanizes this site,” says Rick Steves says. “How to carbonate the travel experience is about how to connect with people..Too many tourists sit on folding chairs watching yodeling on stage, but not connecting, and back in the hotel, only interact with other Americans. It’s a vacation, to be sure, but what is missing is what it means to travel.

Steves urges travelers to “get out of their comfort zone, to see culture shock not as something to avoid, but as the growing pains of a broadening perspective.”

“Become a cultural chameleon – physically change from culture to culture because it’s different.” That means going to where the locals hang out in the evening, drinking Ouzo in Greece, whisky in Scotland, tea in England, red wine in Tuscany, beer in the Czech Republic.” Go three blocks off the main drag to find the restaurants popular with locals; for some meals (breakfast, lunch) go to local groceries and markets and picnic. Seek out the family owned two-star hotel, inn, lodge, hostel or AirBnB – that not only saves money but adds enrichment because of a more “authentic” experience.

Pre-planning is the way to mitigate wasting time and money in line or with crowds.

“There are two types of travelers: those who wait in lines and those who don’t. Think carefully of minimizing lines,” Steves notes.

Crowds in front of the “Mona Lisa” in Le Louvre in Paris. Travel experts at the New York Travel & Adventure Show offered tips on how to avoid crowds and the lines, especially in places like Paris, where advance purchase of tickets to major museums and attractions is essential. In Paris, purchase the “Museum Pass.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Before you go: get an idea of the attractions and sites you want to visit (I query “Three days in….” at TripAdvisor and other travel writers to get some idea). Then, go to the attractions’ websites to get all the visitor FAQs (can I take a water bottle into the Vatican; a backpack into Le Louvre – not likely after the latest incident of vandalism against the “Mona Lisa”). As soon as you have your travel dates (that is, your air fare), immediately reserve the tickets– if the attraction is a highlight for you it is a highlight for most others. Your priority places will set the framework for your itinerary, and the time saved by not waiting on line can go to those serendipitous experiences and discoveries. The same with restaurants you have your heart set on frequenting – book a reservation as soon as you settle your dates.

Take advantage of city passes, museum passes (a must for Paris) and attractions passes from companies like GoCity.com and CityPass.com, as well as the passes offered by the cities themselves, like the PragueCoolPass.com. They not only let you breeze through, but give extremely helpful information about current exhibitions, hours, directions, visitor information.

The PragueCoolPass maximizes your enjoyment of this historic city, like visiting its famous Castle © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

Try to book the earliest opening hour of the day in order to minimize the crowds, but in any case, book the earliest time available in order to have the most amount of time.

If you are visiting an outdoor site like the Acropolis in Athens, avoid mid-day when it is not only hot as blazes, but overrun with thousands of visitors who have come off cruise ships or day trippers. Come either as soon as the Acropolis opens in the morning, when it is cool and uncrowded, or at the end of the day (as I did), when the light is a gorgeous golden, the views of the city are amazing, it is cooler and the biggest crowds have left.

Visit attractions like the Acropolis at the beginning or at the end of the day to avoid the crowds and the heat and enjoy the golden light © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

This is also the advantage of overnighting in the most charming cities like Bruges, Strasbourg, Seville, Venice, Prague, Amsterdam, Fez and important sites like Petra – choose a hotel in the historic district that is walking distance to everything but you get to enjoy in the early morning and evening when the lights/lighting/colors are so amazing, the canals like mirrors, the city streets are quiet and empty, before the onslaught of cruisers and daytrippers.

Overnighting in the boutique Flanders Hotel in Bruges’ historic district means you get to have this impossibly picturesque city to yourself at night and in the quiet of the morning before the daytrippers overrun it © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

Take advantage of “free” walking tours in cities – local guides work for tips. These are great way to get an orientation. Search “free walking tours” and read the reviews.

Also, in major cities like Paris and London, you can buy mutli-day transit tickets for the train/bus (you can also do bikeshare), so that instead of paying the price of a taxi or Uber from airport into downtown, you can purchase the pass that includes the train or tram from the airport, and not have to wait on lines to purchase individual tickets from machines and deal with the confusion of zones and station names.

Searching muiti-day tour finders is a great way to get an idea of how to organize your time, what to see, what you should pay, and find tour programs that might best meet your needs. Frommer recommends Travelstride.com and Tourradar.com. These marketplace sites, she notes, can introduce you to local companies instead of the big-name tour operators.

Considerations for choosing the right tour company: price (per diem) is only one consideration, also consider what is inclusions (all meals aren’t necessarily a good thing, you might prefer to be able to go off and find those local favorites instead of a restaurant that caters to foreign groups); traveling companions (it is fun to travel with people from other countries, not just Americans); expertise of the guide; demographics of the tour company (often there are family itineraries; women-only; solo travelers; small groups (EF Tours, Audley Travel); price (luxury versus mass market) and age such as younger travelers (Contiki) versus older (Road Scholar) (visit www.frommers.com: How to pick the right tour company for you”).

Discovery Bicycle Tours stops at a winery at the end of the day’s ride in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Bicycle tours are ideal for women and solo travelers © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

To find day tours, attractions, guides: Getyourguide.com; airbnb.com/experiences; tripadvisor.com. Foodies could look to TravelingSpoon and Eatwith. I like contexttravel.com.

Also be sure to pre-book rail (for example, raileurope.com) and bus transportation (flixbus.com is terrific) between cities. Find schedules at Rome2Rio.com.

Taking the train from Paris to Strasbourg, France. Be sure to book your ticket in advance © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

To find the best airfares (always tricky), Frommer recommends searching Momondo.com/Kayak.com, Skyscanner.com, and CheapoAir.com. Momondo (and Kayak, which are owned by the same entity) tended to consistently find the lowest fares, and have filters that let’s you select for everything from the type of plane (if you wanted to avoid a Boeing 737 Max 9, or if you wanted to find the airlines with the cheapest fares with a checked bag.

But the experts also recommend that after searching for the best fares, you book directly with the airline, ”because if you book through a third party, you can’t rebook as easily as directly through the airlines” if there is some delay, cancellation or need to change. “Search but don’t book,” Frommer says.

Frommer also railed against “drip pricing” – the extra fees that airlines attach (even though Biden has waged a campaign against junk fees.) US airlines average $78 in added fees; European airlines average $58. So for United, the average is 122% of the base fare; for jetblue it’s 147%; but for Sun Country its 201% and for Frontier, its 376%, so the added fees can be higher than the fare.

When you search for an airline, Frommer consistently recommends you “Hide your identity” “Use a privacy setting on the browser, or use a different browser and different computer if you return to search fares” because the airline will track you, gauge your interest and post higher fares.

Also, there are optimum times to search and book:

  • Purchase airfare on Sundays (6% cheaper domestic travel, 13% cheaper international)
  • Book 28 days out (“the sweet spot”) for domestic travel (24% savings), 2-4 months out for international (10% savings)
  • Start your trip on a Thursday (16% savings over flying on a Sunday)
  • Fly before 3 pm (to avoid the 50% increased risk of being cancelled or delayed)

For best hotel rates, book 3-plus months in advance for resorts like Hawaii, Mexico, Caribbean, Florida but just one week before in business cities (New York, London, Paris, Denver). “It takes courage to wait to book one week before travel, so book a refundable room in advance, then search a week ahead of travel.”

“For first time in 20 years, I am having to research New Jersey hotels for people coming to New York City, because on September 18, the city got rid Airbnb, and all the cheap hotels are filled with migrants. Hotels were  charging $900 in December compared to $129 in January for the same room.”

Welcome to Riad el Yacout, built in 1347 for Professor Laharchi, philosophy who taught at the famous Al Qaraouvine university, which stayed in the family until 2000, when it was converted to a 33-room guesthouse, Fez, Morocco, booked on hotels.com © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

To find “secret hotel discounts, Frommer is recommending seeking out travel clubs like RoomSteals, the new Travel & Leisure Club, professional associations’ travel clubs – some which have fees to join – and @Hotel on Instagram (no fee to belong).

How do clubs have “secret: rates? “Hotel companies have contracts with Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity etc. and are not allowed to offer publicly deeper discounts (more than 5-10%) than they give to expedia, orbitz). But if they can’t fill their rooms, they turn to the clubs.”  On the other hand, the clubs often do not show as much information as you need about services and the like.

Also, Frommer notes, Airbnb isn’t necessarily a bargain over hotel rates. “Now because so many extra fees, a recent study showed in 48 of 50 states you pay more at Airbnb than hotel (two exceptions are Nevada and Louisiana). But AirBnB is great for groups, families, if you need a kitchen (and want to save money cooking), but on average, you no longer save money on a rental vs. hotel.”

On the other hand, Frommer has always been a big booster for home exchanges – where you actually trade the use of your home for someone else’s – a way to save money but also really live like a local.

“You can go anywhere in the world – a Paris apartment, a houseboat in Sausalito.” Among the exchanges are HomeExchange.com.

Pauline Frommer cautions about getting too cautious – fearful – of traveling abroad,

Pointing to the recent US State Department’s worldwide travel advisory in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war, she notes that Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Uruguay, and Venezuela all have travel advisories against coming to the US because of the gun violence epidemic. “Venezuela thinks it is too dangerous to come here.”  The State Department’s worldwide caution for Americans, is as if to say, “’Don’t travel anywhere, the world is too dangerous. That’s mind boggling. Yes, listen to the US State Department, read the cautions, but understand the rest of the world is terrified to come here.” There is a lot to listen to, though – such as where women of child-bearing age should be mindful of Zika, or where there is political instability or widespread crime, and urges travelers to enroll in the State Department’s “Smart Traveler” program.

The experts advise purchasing travel insurance and soon after you purchase your flights, so that you are covered if for some reason you have to cancel.

Pauline Frommer suggests looking for travel insurance that covers “Cancel for any Reason” (CFAR), includes medical evacuation and covers pandemics (policies do not necessarily cover “fear of travel” if there is a pandemic but a destination isn’t closed by authorities).

“Say the destination has a new strand of COVID but didn’t shut down, and you decide not to go – if you cancel with regular insurance, it won’t be covered – because ‘fear of travel’ is not included. A CFAR policy allows you to cancel for any reason – it’s more expensive, but will repay 75% of costs.

All the experts discourage purchasing travel insurance from the travel provider (tour operator, cruiseline), but to use apps that give you different policy recommendations based on your needs (date of travel, who traveling, age, destinations) such as Squaremouth.com, Insuremytrip.com and Travelinsurance.com.

“Inevitably the most expensive policy covers the least, but the best is usually in the middle,” Frommer advises. “Never ever buy from the travel company you are going with – if they go belly up, you’ve lost insurance too.”

Angel Castellanos (www.angelestravellounge.com) offered more tips on traveling smart with technology, like Google Fi (which makes its own SIM cards and has free international data roaming in most countries) and T-Mobile (which do not charge roaming fees for international calls; calls are 25c/minute; unfortunately, it is rare to get internet service with T-mobile abroad; you use the available WiFi) instead of having to pay for an international phone/data plan. Also, consider purchasing an international SIM card for $2.

For digital safety, he recommends installing a VPN (a virtual private network) on to mask your identity when you are on a public network, with digital thieves trying to steal passwords. He recommends ExpressVPN which works all over the world.

Flying, definitely register for TSA Precheck (costs $75, good for 5 years, and some credit cards rebate the charge), and CLEAR, which uses biometric data to verify your identify, and let’s you go directly from the kiosk to the front of the line “like a VIP. In certain airports that can make the difference in making the flight.” And several business credit cards like American Express Platinum rebate the cost of Clear.

Denver International Airport. Use TSA PreCheck, CLEAR, MyTSA, to breeze through the airport © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

You can also install the MyTSA app on your device, a free app that gives real time information for what is happening at airport – how long the security line is taking, if one area of the airport is closed and you need to go through TSA in a different location.

Now, the Homeland Security department offers mobile passport control, even if you are not registered for Global Entry (which is similar). You can enroll by submitting passport information and responses to CBP (Customs & Border Patrol) – the free version requires you to enter passport information each time – answer the questions, then you get to whisk through a third line (the regular line, the Global Entry kiosk, and now the Mobile Passport control).

“Google is one of biggest game changers for international travel,” he notes. You can download maps in advance so they are available when you do not have access to WiFi.

The same is true for languages. “Language is no longer a barrier. You can program a phrase like ‘I’m allergic to peanuts,’ and it will show it written as well as speak. You can download the language in advance so it can translate even when offline. You can use the camera function to translate foreign languages into English.”

Of course this eliminates the delight and satisfaction of finding a local person who can either speak English or mime an answer to “I’m lost, Can you tell me how do I get to….?”

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

Best Viewing Spots in New York State for Total Solar Eclipse April 8 – Plan Now

A gigantic swath of New York State will be in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse. Miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience when the moon completely covers the sun, turning day into night and sparking all sorts of eerie reactions and you’ll have to wait 400 years for the next total solar eclipse in New York State. (Map:  I LOVE NY/NYS Dept. of Economic Development)

Edited by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

A gigantic swath of New York State will be in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse. The total solar eclipse will begin around 3:20 pm (the time will differ depending what part of the state you are in), and last up to 3 minutes and 38 seconds depending on your vantage point, with about an hour before and after totality when you see the moon begin to cover and then recede.

The regions, cities, towns and villages where the viewing is most ideal – a 124-mile wide path stretching from Chautauqua-Allegheny to the majestic Niagara Falls in Greater Niagara, over the pristine Finger Lakes, mighty Adirondacks, and magical Thousand Islands-Seaway are taking on a festival atmosphere, and attractions, from the Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory to the Rochester Museum & Science Center  are hosting events even days before.

(See Part1: NYS WILL BE IN PATH OF TOTALITY: BEST PLACES TO VIEW SOLAR ECLIPSE ON APRIL 8)

Grab your eclipse glasses and head to upstate New York State for the best viewing of the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024. Many places are hosting three-day festivals. Plan early and book now. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Best Eclipse Viewing Spots in Greater Niagara

Curated by Emma Frisbie, Digital Content Coordinator for ILOVENY.com

Imagine viewing the total solar eclipse while overlooking the roaring waters of Niagara Falls, surrounded by the 14,000-acre “Grand Canyon of the East,” or enjoying all kinds of festivities leading up to lively celebrations on the big day. At most of these sites, trained staff will be on site with proper equipment for safe viewing including telescopes with specialized filters and eclipse glasses.

Niagara Falls: Elevate your total solar eclipse viewing experience from one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, Niagara Falls State Park. The park itselfhas 400 acres of stunning landscapes, so you’re sure to find a prime location for this once-in-a-lifetime event. Prospect Point and Goat Island offer waterfall vistas with unobstructed skies. Not only will Niagara Falls prove to be an exceptional vantage point, but whenthe eclipse is viewed through the perpetual rainbow that lingers just above the falls, the color of the light will change from rainbow to monochromatic pink. About a 10-minute drive north is Whirlpool State Park where you can watch the event alongside the roaring Niagara River Rapids. On the days leading up to the eclipse, NASA will be providing free public programming and exhibits throughout the area, including Niagara Falls Public Libraries, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, the Aquarium of Niagara, the Niagara Power Vista, the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, and Niagara Falls State Park.

Beaver Meadow Nature Center: Watch the eclipse surrounded by the natural beauty of the Beaver Meadow Nature Center with 324 acres of meadows, ponds formed by glaciers, boardwalk trails and wooded forests. Significantly, this spot is known for its breathtaking clear skies, ideal for viewing our galaxy at night throughout the year so is sure to be an amazing spot for the bigday-turned-to-night event. The center will also be hosting a family-friendly viewing event so everyone can safely admire this celestial phenomenon. Book a stay at the rustic and cozy Beaver Meadow Cabin on-site for a more secluded experience. For the days leading up to theevent, check out the Buffalo Astronomical Association Observatory’s schedule for monthly public nights where you can learn more about the eclipse, take a tour of the solar system, and pick up solar eclipse viewing glasses for a $2 donation. 

Fort Niagara State Park offers unobstructed skies combined with waterside views of the Lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario. The 504-acre park is home to gorgeous scenery, woodland hiking trails, year-round living-history programs and the historic Old Fort Niagara, which controlled access to the Great Lakes during monumental wars. Check out the museum and 18th-century military architecture including the oldest building in the Great Lakes area: the French Castle. (Parking: $8/car.)

Buffalo Harbor State Park, 10 minutes from Downtown Buffalo, offers gorgeous viewing spots from sandy beachside vistas of Lake Erie to the outdoor patio at Charlie’s Boatyard restaurant. Also, the 264-acre Tifft Nature Preserve is next door with five miles of hiking trails, boardwalks, and hands-on exhibits. 

Genesee County, with its sprawling rural landscapes and low light pollution, makes for an ideal eclipse viewing experience, plunging the county into a deep twilight revealing stars, planets, and a level of darkness larger metropolises won’t be able to rival. Plan to spend the weekend for four days of eclipse festivities throughout the county. The Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel is planning an eclipse-themed party complete with on-site hotel packages, themed menus, live music, gaming promotions and giveaways and viewing glasses to watch the eclipse from the infield race track. The Genesee County Park, Forest, & Interpretive Center will be presenting informational videos, self-guided activities, crafts and activities for the kids, and a telescope with a solar filter special for eclipse viewing.    

Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium at Buffalo State College, which has been holding public programs focusing on the eclipse’s main players – the sun, moon, and earth, and the mythology, history, and safety behind it all is hosting a watch party complete with special viewing glasses.

At the 14,000-acre Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East you can revel at totality alongside one of the three magnificent waterfalls, named Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

At the 14,000-acre Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East, you can revel at totality alongside one of the three magnificent waterfalls, named Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls. Scenic views are accessible by bike or car throughout the park and on 66 miles of hiking trails.Make it an eclipse weekend and stay at one of Letchworth’s 19 cabins and cottages, which can be booked now at ReserveAmerica.com. The Glen Iris Inn is also within the park and provides a special viewing experience next to Middle Falls where it might even get a little misty.​ (NOTE: While Letchworth State Park will be open for public viewing, space will be limited. For public health and safety, no new visitors will be admitted once capacity is reached.)

You can also view the Eclipse at: Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel, Genesee County Park, Forest & Interpretive Center, Lakeside State Park, Orleans County Marine Park

Campgrounds such as Four Mile Creek State Park with 50 campsites and Golden Hill State Park with 25 campsites make for great eclipse stays that can be booked now on ReserveAmerica.com.

See the full blogpost: https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-greater-niagara/

Best Eclipse Viewing Spots in Chautauqua-Allegheny

Curated by Marta Zielinska, Managing Editor of ILOVENY.com

Chautauqua-Allegheny region offers the chance to experience solar eclipse totality amid enchanting mountains, tranquil lakes and bountiful vineyards.

Many of the best solar eclipse viewing sites are in New York State parks which have campgrounds, like Letchworth State Park, adding to adventure to the experience © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Allegany State Park Red House and Quaker areas: Allegany State Park offers 65,000 acres of primitive forested valleys, two sandy beaches, pristine lakes, miles of hiking trails, and picnic spots under the open sky for viewing the celestial spectacle. With 165 campsites, cabins and cottages open for booking, you can turn your eclipse adventure into an extraordinary eclipse getaway, giving you more time to experience the park’s natural beauty and its two museums and restaurant.

Griffis Sculpture Park, one of America’s oldest and largest sculpture parks, features 250 enormous structures of steel and other materials that set in the woods, fields, and even ponds of this sprawling 450-acre art wonderland, creating a spellbinding setting to witness the cosmic dance of the sun and moon. Typically open from May through October, the park will welcome visitors for this rare celestial spectacle. 

The 360-acre Long Point State Park, a moraine left long ago by a retreating glacier, juts peninsula-like into Chautauqua Lake and is popular for fishing, hiking, and picnics. Head over to the marina or beach on April 8, 2024 for the park’s best views of the total solar eclipse over Chautauqua Lake. After the main event, explore the quaint shops, restaurants, and charm of the lakefront village of Bemus Point.

Jamestown Riverwalk: Jamestown, the hometown of the iconic comedienne Lucille Ball, is the first city in New York State to achieve totality on April 8, 2024, happening justseconds shy of 3:18 pm. Experience the cosmic phenomenon from a bridge or bench on the Jamestown Riverwalk, a five-mile urban trail system that winds its way through downtown along the Chadakoin River. The trail connects to the National Comedy Center and is an easy walk to the Lucy Desi Museum

Views from Lake Erie:  The 355-acre Lake Erie State Park in Brocton is located on a high bluff that offers breathtaking views of the sky and water. Evangola State Park’s beautiful arc-shaped shoreline and natural sand beach lined with low cliffs of Angola shale makes for another great spot for eclipse and Lake Erie views; the park has 25 campsites that can be reserved for eclipse weekend. The historic Dunkirk Lighthouse has some of the most stunning views of Lake Erie. Pick up lunch from the Boardwalk Market in Dunkirk Harbor and settle in for an eclipse watching picnic in the park grounds surrounding the 60-foot tower.

Scenic Vineyards in Lake Erie Wine Country: The oldest and largest Concord-grape-growing region in the world, is where you can raise your glass as you raise your gaze to the skies at any of the more than 20 wineries nestled along the southern shore of beautiful Lake Erie. Toast to the total solar eclipse at any of these fine choices including Johnson Estate WinerySparkling Ponds, and Noble Winery, which delivers stunning panoramic views of Lake Erie from its expansive porch.

Audubon Community Nature Center, a 600-acre wildlife sanctuary, has five miles of easy hiking trails that wind through fields, woods, and wetlands with observation towers and an accessible overlook offering ideal views of the natural landscape and spectacular celestial show.

You can also view the eclipse at: Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, Chautauqua Lake Rest Area, Dunkirk Harbor, Point Gratiot Park and Lighthouse, Barcelona Lighthouse State Park

See the full blogpost: https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-chautauqua-allegheny/

Best Eclipse Viewing Spots in the Thousand Islands-Seaway

Curated by Emma Frisbie, Digital Content Coordinator for ILOVENY.com

That spot on the right is the International Space Station passing by the sun as the moon finishes its eclipse, during the Great American Eclipse, August 21, 2017 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Thousand Islands-Seaway offers awe-inspiring lighthouses, historic battlegrounds, and celebratory atmosphere in which to experience this once-in-a-lifetime cosmic phenomenon on April 8, 2024. Here are some of the best places to view the total solar eclipse from the Thousand Islands-Seaway. 

Historic Thompson Park in Watertown. has a Total Eclipse of the Park weekend of festivities starting April 5 with the grand finale viewing event on April 8. The park is 574 acres and sits atop a hill that overlooks the city of Watertown which means you’ll be able to look up and look out across the city (www.watertownnewyorkeclipse.com). 

Tibbetts Point Lighthouse: Frame your eclipse experience at the point where the sparkling St. Lawrence River meets the powerful Lake Ontario at the Tibbetts Point lighthouse in Cape Vincent. Get a closer look at the lake and river through the telescope or explore the historic lighthouse which was built in 1827 and features the only working fresnel lens on Lake Ontario. 

Witness this star-studded celestial occasion from the star-shaped fort dating back to the 1840s at Fort Ontario State Historic Site. This clear sky viewing spot is right on Lake Ontario and offers 36-acres of open air and waterside views. The fort was the site of many monumental battles from the French and Indian War and War of 1812, as well as a WWII US Army base. Take a guided tour where you’ll get to see officer quarters, the Enlisted Men’s Barracks, and the Storehouse. (Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors 62+ and students, free for children under 12 and active military.) 

Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, 70 acres of open fields and lookouts of Lake Ontario makes for excellent eclipse viewing. Afterward, follow the Battlefield Historic Trail through Centennial Grove and the Navy Yard, with sweeping views of Black River Bay. For more history, follow the trail to the village’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Trail connection for a six-mile circuit.

Robert G. Wehle State Park offers 17,000-feet of Lake Ontario shoreline from which to view the eclipse. The 1,100-acre parkfeatures unobstructed skies and waterfront views, some visible from 80-foot limestone cliffs overlooking the lake. Once the estate of Robert G. Wehle, who was an avid conservationist, sculptor, and lover of English pointers (hence the canine sculptures you’ll find throughout the park), you can explore the Wehle residential compound and even make a reservation for up to eight people to stay at the cottage overnight for the ultimate secluded eclipse weekend. 

Peer up at this cosmic event while you peer out at the sparkling waters of the St. Lawrence River at Wellesley Island State Park, with 2,600 acres boasting sandy beaches, miles of scenic hiking trails, and breathtaking Thousand Islands views. Plan an eclipse weekend at the campground with 21 cabins and cottages (book your reservation now at ReserveAmerica.com). Stop by the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center, one of the largest nature centers in the NYS park system.  

You can also view the eclipse at Fort de La Présentation/AbbéPicquet Trail.

See the full blogpost: https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-the-thousand-islands-seaway/

More information at iloveny.com

See also: NYS WILL BE IN PATH OF TOTALITY: BEST PLACES TO VIEW SOLAR ECLIPSE ON APRIL 8

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

NYS Will Be in Path of Totality: Best Places to View Solar Eclipse on April 8

Grab your eclipse glasses and head to upstate New York State for the best viewing of the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024. Many places are hosting three-day festivals. Plan early and book now. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Edited by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

A gigantic swath of New York State will be in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse. Miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience when the moon completely covers the sun, turning day into night and sparking all sorts of eerie reactions and you’ll have to wait 400 years for the next total solar eclipse in New York State.

The total solar eclipse will begin around 3:20 pm (the time will differ depending what part of the state you are in), and last up to 3 minutes and 38 seconds depending on your vantage point, with about a half-hour before and after totality when you see the moon making its dramatic pass to cover and then recede.

Look closely and that spot you see is the International Space Station passing by the sun during the August 21, 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The regions, cities, towns and villages where the viewing is most ideal – a 124-mile wide path stretching from Chautauqua-Allegheny to the majestic Niagara Falls in Greater Niagara, over the pristine Finger Lakes, mighty Adirondacks, and magical Thousand Islands-Seaway are taking on a festival atmosphere, and attractions, from the Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory to the Rochester Museum & Science Center  are hosting events even days before.

A gigantic swath of New York State will be in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse. Miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience when the moon completely covers the sun, turning day into night and sparking all sorts of eerie reactions and you’ll have to wait 400 years for the next total solar eclipse in New York State. (Photo:  I LOVE NY/NYS Dept. of Economic Development)

Editors at New York State’s tourism bureau, ILoveNY, have curated the best places in each of the regions to go. You should plan early and book accommodations (and check the weather three days before), and remember to bring your eclipse glasses (though some festivals and events will be handing them out) and filter for your camera:

Best Viewing Spots in the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks Region is going all-out for the Solar Eclipse, with many venues and festivities.  More than half of the Adirondack Park will be in the path of totality, when the entire face of the sun is obscured by the moon.

Because there is likely to still be snow on summits in the Adirondacks, unless you are an experienced hiker with crampons, steer toward fields or parks (especially the ones that are hosting special events).

Rachel Dymond, Editorial Project Manager of ILOVENY.com, has prepared this curated list of destination-worthy sites that offer ideal vantage points for the rare astronomical event.

Olympic Legacy Sites in Lake Placid: Lake Placid, home to four distinct Olympic sites used in the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympics, is hosting “Glow for the Gold” where you can marvel in the eclipse for free from historic venues including the James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval; Olympic Jumping ComplexMt Van Hoevenberg; and at Whiteface Mountain (a free event, but discounted lift tickets for a once-in-a-lifetime ski day, then party at Cloudspin Bar & Grill deck, eclipse glasses included). Festive events will feature eclipse sunglasses, glow sticks and music (www.lakeplacid.com/events/glow-for-the-gold-at-lake-placid-legacy-sites).

Tupper Lake is in the center of the path of the Solar Eclipse and will experience 3 minutes and 35 seconds of totality. Totality in Tupper, a free community event at the 115-acre Wild Center in the Adirondacks, will feature free solar viewing glasses, telescope and binocular view stations, make your own pinhole viewers, XL Solar viewing glasses, livestream of NASA coverage, special programming in Planet Adirondack, live creature features that focus on how the sun affects animals’ lives, circadian rhythms, and yearly behavior, solar-powered maple tastings, tours, tapping demos, special themed foods, food trucks, New Forest Music composition, live glass-blowing demonstration from reps from the Corning Museum of Glass, live community mural creation, solar-powered silent disco with live DJ, and opportunities to get commemorative eclipse tattoos from hand poke tattoo artist Jane Romm (wildcenter.org/eclipse).

Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory is hosting free family-oriented activities include a 36’ mega-screen that will provide numerous multimedia experiences, live music, food, NASA live streaming, guest speakers, demonstrations, and crafts.

Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center: The VIC’s 25 miles of trails, including six miles of interpretive nature trails, showcase the natural beauty of the Adirondack Mountains and provide unparalleled opportunities to view, hear, photograph, and enjoy nature– and the Eclipse! Connect with nature, astronomy and weave through woodland and marshland, by ponds, brooks, and bogs. Eclipse events are being hosted on campus at Paul Smith’s College.

Saranac Lake: Head downtown on April 8, 2024 for “Saranac Lake Solar Fest” where there will be live music, art exhibitions, food and drinks, and a supreme vantage point to view the eclipse surrounded by scenic mountains and lakes. The Village Main Street is the venue for the community wide viewing party. Additional viewing points downtown include: Hotel Saranac Terrace, Saranac Waterfront Lodge’s waterfront yard, Riverside Park extending to Riverfront Park, and Berkley Green.

Lake Placid, with the sparkling Mirror Lake, is in the path of totality. Pack a picnic and settle in at Mid’s Park, a grassy area along the shore with Adirondack chairs and a pavilion, where there will be live music and activities throughout the day. Additional activities will be held at nearby John Brown Farm, and Marcy Field. The Lake Placid Horse Show Grounds and North Elba Athletic Fields are also fantastic wide open viewing areas to catch the Eclipse.

Nestled along the picturesque northwestern shore of Lake Champlain, Point Au Roche State Park is an ideal destination for viewing the Solar Eclipse. This stunning location perfectly aligns with the path of totality, and the combination of its protected beach area, expansive open shorelines, and diverse network of walking and hiking trails makes it an exceptional setting for observing celestial phenomena.

Ausable Chasm, touted as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, makes for an extraordinary place to view the Eclipse along any of its five miles of well-maintained hiking trails © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Ausable Chasm, touted as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, makes for an extraordinary place to view the Eclipse along any of its five miles of well-maintained hiking trails. As you walk along you’ll reach multiple scenic vistas that provide different perspectives of the natural beauty of Ausable Chasm, while interpretive signage describes the native flora, wildlife, and geologic history. Immerse yourself in geological and astronomical splendor, all in the same spot! (This is a private attraction so expect to pay admission fee to go on the trails but there is viewing on a bridge as well before you enter the attraction.)

Blue Mountain Lake: Total Solar Eclipse Experience at The ADKX (Adirondack Experience): The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake ($25 admission includes live music, eclipse glasses, food trucks, museum exhibits, commemorative photos.)

High Peaks Resort on the shores of Mirror Lake in the heart of Lake Placid is offering a Total Solar Eclipse package . In addition to the eclipse viewing on April 8, 2024, High Peaks Resort is throwing a lawn party from 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM with food, drink, and entertainment at Lake House. (Book: https://www.highpeaksresort.com/events-at-lake-placid/total-solar-eclipse).

Also, The Lodge at Schroon Lake (210 Registration Way, Schroon Lake, (www.lodgeatschroonlake.com) is hosting a community watch party on the resort’s property.

Another lodge that can serve as an excellent base is Lorca Adirondacks, Indian Lake (thelorca.com, 518-300-3916).

More lodging: https://www.adirondackhub.com/lodging

You can also view the Eclipse at these Adirondack sites: Cadyville Recreation Park, City of Plattsburgh Beach. Byron Park, Arrowhead Park – Inlet, Mt Sabattis Recreation Area, Makomis Fire Tower / Sacandaga River Community Park, Newcomb Overlook, Crown Point State Historic Site, Jay Village Green, Westport Golf, Powerhouse Park – Port Henry Public Beach, “The Grove” municipal park, and Frontier Town Gateway.

Visit Eclipse ADK 2024Lake Placid 2024 Total Solar EclipseAdirondack Coast Eclipse, and ​Tupper in Totality to stay up to date on the latest events, deals, and other eclipse offerings in the Adirondacks.

More information at www.2024-eclipse.com.

 (See the full blog at https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-the-adirondacks/)

Best Viewing Spots in the Finger Lakes

Curated by Emma Frisbie, Digital Content Coordinator for ILOVENY.com

The Finger Lakes offers the perfect pairing of picturesque views with the total solar eclipse experience on April 8, 2024. Witness this once-in-a-lifetime event from the sandy shores of Lake Ontario, at multi-day magical eclipse celebrations, alongside a 96-foot Rochester High Falls. Here are some of the Finger Lakes’ best viewing spots:

Seneca Lake, the largest of New York State’s Finger Lakes, will afford plenty of sites to view the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Rochester Museum and Science Center is hosting a four-day ROC The Eclipse weekend festival featuring music and food, 200 hands-on activities and exhibits, live science shows and programs at the museum or travel through the universe under the 65-foot dome theater of the Strasenburgh Planetarium (www.rochestereclipse2024.com). 

On any day, Rochester’s High Falls is an extraordinary view – where else can you see a 96-foot waterfall amid a bustling cityscape? But on April 8, 2024, this view will be spectacular and totality will last 3 minutes and 38 seconds. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Rochester’s High Falls: On any normal day, High Falls, the tallest waterfall on the Genesee River, is an extraordinary view – where else can you see a 96-foot waterfall amid a bustling cityscape? But on April 8, 2024, this view will be spectacular and totality will last 3 minutes and 38 seconds. Exceptional angles of the falls can be seen from the overlook in High Falls Terrace Park or the rooftop of one of the largest and oldest continually operating breweries in America, the Genesee Brew House. The 9,200-square-foot former century-old packaging center also features interactive exhibits, historical artifacts, a pilot brewery and tasting room, and pub-style restaurant to explore after the celestial event.   

Sodus Point Beach Park: Witness this celestial phenomenon from the sandy beaches of Sodus Point Beach Park alongside the mingling waters of the peaceful Sodus Bay and the spirited coast of Lake Ontario. You won’t have any trouble finding a great spot on the 1,150-foot pier with views of the original 140-year-old Sodus Point Lighthouse and Lighthouse Museum to the west, the magnificent Chimney Bluffs to the east, and the Sodus Outer Lighthouse straight ahead. Pack a lunch or grab a bite to eat from one of the village’s restaurants and settle into one of the pavilions. (Free admission.) 

Fair Haven Beach State Park offers views from 1,500 feet of sandy beaches at one of the finest public lakefronts on the eastern shoreline of Lake Ontario amid dramatic bluffs, hilly woodlands, and endless scenic views. Enjoy hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, a ball field, an 18 hole golf course.

Green Lakes State Park: Admire the wonder of the eclipse alongside the geological and biological wonders of two deep glacial pothole lakes. Green Lakes State Park has 2,100 acres of forested hiking trails, a sandy public beach with swimming access in the summer, seven cabins, 137 campsites, a playground, an 18-hole golf course (opens mid-April), and the famous Crystal Kayak rentals with glass bottoms (available to rent on weekends from mid-May until early-October). The park’s focal points are the two green lakes which were carved out of bedrock by glacial-melt waterfalls, making them very deep (195 feet!). Because of this, the lakes have a still, mirror-like appearance, revealing ancient plant and animal life and creating an amazing photo and viewing spot. 

Geneva, on the scenic north shore of Seneca Lake, is hosting a three-day “Embrace the Dark Festival” with exciting eclipse-themed events © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Geneva, on the scenic shores of Seneca Lake,the largest of the Finger Lakes is hosting a three-dayEmbrace the Dark Festivalwith exciting eclipse-themed events. Kick the weekend off with a tour of a historic observatory from the 1800s, live music, science-based winery and brewery tours,special viewing hotel packages. For the grand finale on April 8, make your way to the Geneva Lakefront or Seneca Lake State Park, a 141-acre park located on the northern end of Seneca Lake, for an unobstructed view of the beautiful blue waters and wide open skies(www.eclipsegeneva.com).

Genesee Country Village & Museums Solar Spectacle is three days of historical happenings leading up to the eclipse including special programming, performances, and activities. Throughout your journey through the 19th-century village, discover how Americans of this time period viewed, understood, and recorded total solar eclipses, viewing location experiences from the historic village, South Field Drive-In, or one of the other exceptional spots.

Other Eclipse viewing spots: Upper Onondaga Park, Conesus Lake, Hemlock Lake, Genesee Valley Greenway State Park, Livingston County Fairgrounds. Also, the lakefronts of the Finger Lakes will be a prime viewing locations – Seneca Lake, Canandaigua Lake, and Honeoye Lake each have public lakefront parks.

Visit Total Solar Eclipse 2024 in Finger LakesRochester Eclipse 2024LivCo Sol: 2024 Total Solar EclipseExplore Steuben: Experience the Solar Eclipse, and Eclipse Geneva to stay up to date on the latest events, deals, and other eclipse offerings in the Finger Lakes. (www.fingerlakes.org/eclipse-2024)

See the full blog at https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-the-finger-lakes/

More information at iloveny.com

Next:  Best Solar Eclipse Viewing in Greater Niagara, Chautauqua-Allegheny, Thousand Islands Seaway

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

New York State Ski Areas Welcome Beginners to Olympians to Slopes

Gore Mountain is New York State’s largest ski and ride resort with 439 skiable acres spanning four mountains, with expansive views of the Adirondack wilderness © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate,  www.goingplacesfarandnear.com

It always is a surprise to realize New York State has more ski areas (50+) than any other state, and they range from the world-class Whiteface and Olympic venues at Lake Placid, to a small, family-friendly, learn-to-ski area, ThunderRidge, reachable on Metro North, where families can ski into the night.

New York State’s Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) actually owns and operates three of our favorite ski destinations: Whiteface and Gore Mountain in the magnificent Adirondacks, and Belleayre, so easy to reach in the Catskills (orda.org).

Whiteface Mountain, Wilmington

Feel like an Olympian! Ski Whiteface Mountain, site for the 1932 and 1980 Olympics © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

Top of the list for ski areas with a world-class reputation is Whiteface, site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympics, where in addition to skiing, you can visit Olympic venues and even participate (biathalon, anyone? skate on the Olympic Oval, drive a coaster down the bobsled track).

Whiteface offers the greatest vertical (3430 ft. from the summit at 4867 ft.) of any lift-serviced mountain in the Northeast. This is a serious mountain – actually three mountains, Whiteface summit is a 4,867 ft.; Lookout Mountain tops at 4,000 ft.; Little Whiteface at 3,676 ft. – with more expert terrain, more long, rolling groomers (including one of the longest single intermediate runs in the Northeast, the 2.1 mile-long Wilmington Trail) in the East.

This season, Whiteface has a new detachable quad lift, “The Notch,” from the Bear Den learning center to just beyond the Legacy Lodge (the only one of its kind in the East that is two lifts in one operating seamlessly) which will significantly improve the experience for beginners.

Whiteface Mountain also has made snowmaking upgrades including adding150 high efficiency snow guns, and two snow cats, as well as improvements to the Cloudsplitter Gondola.

Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the cross-country and biathlon venue, has upgrades to snowmaking system as well as grooming and trail improvements (mtvanhoevenberg.com).

At Mt. Van Hoevenberg, experience the thrill of what it was like to be an Olympic Bobsledder during the 1980 Winter Games on the Cliffside Mountain Coaster, which boasts one of the longest year-round mountain coasters in the USA.

At Mt. Van Hoevenberg, experience the thrill of what it was like to be an Olympic Bobsledder during the 1980 Winter Games on the Cliffside Mountain Coaster, which boasts one of the longest year-round mountain coasters in the USA © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

Other attractions include the Sky Flyer Zipline  at the Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex, the SkyRide Experience, an 8-person gondola that brings you from the Olympic Jumping Complex’s base lodge to the 90-meter and 120-meter ski jump towers, a glass-enclosed elevator ride to the top of the ski jumps for a panoramic vista of the Adirondack High Peaks (and to experience what the jumpers see as they start to accelerate towards the end of the ramp!), Nordic trails at Mt. Van Hovenberg (where you can try your hand at the biathalon).

The Lake Placid Legacy Sites Passport includes a one-time admission to the Whiteface Cloudsplitter Gondola, The Olympic Jumping Complex Skyride, Skating on the James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval, entry to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum at the Olympic Center, 20% off a cross country trail pass, and admission to both the FIL World Cup Luge and the IBSF World Cup Bobsled & Skeleton at Mt Van Hoevenberg. The pass comes with Legacy Sites branded lanyard, sticker set at each venue, 10% discount on retail and food and beverage purchases at the venues (https://whiteface.com/legacysitespassport/).

There is no lodging on the mountain (it’s a wilderness area, after all), but many lovely inns, bnbs, hotels and resorts nearby, including the Whiteface Lodge Resort & Spa and Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa; The Lake Placid Inn and the Saranac Waterfront Lodge, an eco-luxe independent boutique hotel; and Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort (www.golden-arrow.com).

Also, High Peaks Resort  overlooking Mirror Lake and the Adirondacks offers a traditional hotel with 105 guest rooms and suites; Lake House with 44 guest rooms; and the private and serene Waterfront Collection, with 28 guest rooms including 10 suites on the Lake. (High Peaks Resort, 2384 Saranac Avenue, Lake Placid, NY 12946, 518-523-4411, 800-755-5598, www.highpeaksresort.com

Whiteface Mountain, 5021 Rte 86, Wilmington, NY 12997, 800-462-6236, 518-946-2223, 877) SKI-FACE (snow report). Olympic Center, 518-523-1655; vacation planning assistance at  whitefacenewyork.comlakeplacid.comwhiteface.com.

Gore Mountain, North Creek

Enjoy long, gorgeous blue trails at Gore Mountain with stunning views of New York’s Adirondack Mountains © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

As a perennial blue-trail/intermediate skier, Gore Mountain is one of my favorite places to ski. Nestled in the Adirondacks, it offers expansive views of a real wilderness. You actually feel as if you were in the Rockies.

Gore Mountain is New York State’s largest ski and ride resort with 439 skiable acres spanning four mountains, including Gore, Bear Mountain, Burnt Ridge Mountain and Little Gore Mountain, a vertical drop of 2,537 feet from the summit at 3,600 ft, 108 trails  (longest is 4.4 miles), accessed by 14 lifts.

The big news this year is that Gore opened The Bear Cub Quad, replacing its beginner skier lift. This lift is double the length and unloads at an easiest trail for beginners, significantly enhancing the learning experience at Gore. At their beginner run they added two new conveyor surface lifts to make it easier for newer skiers to learn.

Gore Mountain they have expanded snowmaking at the North Creek Ski Bowl, added snowmaking to the Moxham trail and upgraded to more energy efficient snowguns on 46er as well.

Gore’s North Creek Ski Bowl has a marvelous cross-country ski center, and offers Twilight Nordic Wednesday through Friday (2 pm-6 pm and Day & Twilight Nordic on weekends (9 am -6 pm) where you can do cross-country skiing or snowshoeing after dark. (A valid lift ticket or season pass gives you free access to the Nordic Center.) Check online for the most up-to-date information on Nordic hours and the snow report. (Ski Bowl Road, North Creek, NY 12853, 518-251-0899.)

Exciting news: for 2024-25 Gore plans to construct a new ski bowl lodge, chairlift, zipline and mountain coaster.

Gore Mountain has no on-mountain lodging but there are plenty of charming places throughout the Adirondacks, and marvelous dining in North Creek. Among them, Lorca Adirondacks at Indian Lake, about 40 minutes away, which is owned by a Great Neck native (thelorca.com, 518-300-3916). For a luxurious stay, choose The Sagamore, a historic, grand resort in Bolton Landing on Lake George, 45 minutes away (www.thesagamore.com).

Gore Mountain, 793 Peaceful Valley Road, North Creek, NY 12853, Snow Phone: 518-251-5026, info 518-251-2411, [email protected],  goremountain.com.

Belleayre Mountain, Highmount

Belleayre has natural separation of beginners (from the mid-mountain to the base, with long beginner trails) and more advanced skiers © Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Belleayre Mountain is especially popular with families because of its proximity (just about 2 ½ hours drive) and perfect size, with marvelous beginner trails and learn to ski programs, and a natural separation between beginner and advanced skiers.

Belleayre has made improvements this season including replacing an older triple chair ski lift from the Overlook Lodge to the summit, changing a few trails to expand intermediate terrain high on the mountain, modified the Upper Cathedral Brook trail so it returns to forest, added a hybrid groomer with a winch for better grooming on steeper terrain.

What I love best about Belleayre is its natural separation of beginners (from the mid-mountain to the base, with long beginner trails) and more advanced skiers. It affords a 1404 ft vertical drop from a 3429 ft summit, 63 trails, terrain parks, glades and an X-course. Intermediates will enjoy Deer Run, which meanders through a beautiful part of the mountain. Cross-country skiers can enjoy 9.2 kilometers of ungroomed, unpatrolled trails.

There is no on-mountain lodging, but quaint inns and lodges nearby in Fleischmann’s, Pine Hill, Big Indian, Phoenicia, Margaretville and Shandaken – among them, the Lorca Catskills offering several cabin/cottage-style accommodations (thelorca.com, 518-300-3916).

See more at www.belleayre.com/plan-your-visit/lodging/)

(Belleayre, Highmount, NY 12441, 800-942-6904, 845-254-5600, www.belleayre.com).

More information at the Olympic Regional Development authority, orda.org.

Windham Mountain Club

Windham Mountain, a Catskills ski resort popular for decades, is reborn as the Windham Mountain Club with a plan for $70 million in enhancements over the next several years to the mountain’s amenities and services. © Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfaranadnear.com

Windham Mountain, popular for decades, has been reborn (actually going back to its roots) as the Windham Mountain Club, with a plan for $70 million in enhancements over the next several years to the mountain’s amenities and services.

Though reorganizing as a membership club, the ski resort is still open to the public; daily lift tickets and season passes are available up to capacity limits to ensure minimal lift lines and uncrowded slopes. Also, Windham Mountain Club is continuing its longstanding partnership with the Adaptive Sports Foundation.

Enhancements this season include improved snowmaking and upgraded lifts, a reimagined culinary program, including new food court, Mediterranean restaurant in the base lodge, Italian Alps-style restaurant with wine program at mid-mountain, and The Windham, a private members’ club dining experience.

Windham Mountain Club is a premier multi-generational, four-season resort located in the Great Northern Catskills, 2 1/2 hours north of New York City. Boasting 285 skiable acres across 54 trails and serviced by 11 lifts (four high speed), the mountain offers an award-winning Ski and Ride School, lodging, a tubing park and world-class alpine and freestyle competition teams. Future enhancements to Windham Mountain Club include a new Windham Country Club, an 18-hole golf course designed by award-winning golf course architect Tom Fazio, a luxury spa and fitness center, and expanded lodging  (www.windhammountainclub.com). 

Hunter Mountain

Hunter Mountain, only a 2 ½-hour drive from New York City through the breathtaking northern Catskill Mountains, has been a winter sports mecca for generations.

And now, Hunter is poised to benefit from Vail Resorts’ Epic Lift Upgrades initiative: Hunter Mountain plans to replace the 4-person fixed-grip Broadway lift with a state-of-the-art 6-person, high-speed lift and relocate the existing Broadway lift to replace the 2-person fixed-grip E lift, to substantially improve uphill capacity and access to key terrain. Both projects, targeted for the 2024/25 season, are subject to approvals. As a Vail Resort, it is included on the Epic Pass, plus offers variations of regional and local seasonal passes. Slope-side accommodation is available at The Kaatskill Mountain Club (huntermtn.com).

More New York Ski Areas

Greek Peak’s night skiing. The resort has a 6,000 sq. ft. deck off its Trax Pub & Grill for outdoor dining (photo by Drew Broderick, Greek Peak)

Greek Peak Mountain Resort, Cortland is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2024, has invested nearly $1 million in ski area improvements. Now in year three of a five-year plan to upgrade snowmaking, new snowmaking equipment this year means they can put out the equivalent of 16.5 football fields with a foot of snow in a 24-hour period. They also upgraded the Chair 1 lift, trail lighting, and purchased new rental equipment (greekpeak.net).

Holiday Mountain, Monticello: New owners have invested millions of dollars in renovations and upgrades including expanding snowmaking to trails that had not had snowmaking before, re-opening dormant trails, renovating and upgrading their chairlifts as well as updating the base lodge. Tubing operations are also being expanded for 12 lanes of capacity with a conveyor and 100% snowmaking coverage with lighting (skiholidaymountain.com).

Holiday Valley, Ellicottville, NY (50 miles south of Buffalo) is Western New York’s largest year ‘round resort featuring 60 slopes and trails and features a mountain coaster (photo provided by Holiday Valley).

Holiday Valley Resort, Ellicottville has invested nearly $9 million into the resort for the 23-24 season, including the installation of the new High Speed 6-Pack Chairlift that replaced their Mardi Gras Quad, a new PistenBully 600 groomer, and upgraded snowmaking. Also, the Inn at Holiday Valley has refurbished rooms, resurfaced the pool and renovated John Harvard’s restaurant in the Tamarack Club (holidayvalley.com).

Plattekill Mountain, Roxbury widened its “I Think I Can” trail, to expand beginner terrain, added new snowmaking and improved the base lodge. New ski and snowboard demo equipment can be rented for up to two hours per day. Plattekill has partnered with 25 mountains to offer free and discounted tickets for anyone who purchases a Plattekill Seaon Pass. They have also added “Platty Perks” to their season passes too that will get holders discounts to local area businesses and restaurants when the pass is shown (plattekill.com)

West Mountain, Queensbury has made improvements in the base lodge added more lighting for night skiing, two new snow groomers, and made improvements to the base lodge. (westmountain.com).

Thunder Ridge Ski Area, reachable by Metro North, is really geared for families – from the ease of access, ease of reserving lift tickets, rentals, lessons (book online, since walk-ins are only accommodated if the mountain has not reached capacity), serious snowmaking. ThunderRidge offers private lessons from age 4, family private lessons, group lessons, Mommy/Daddy & Me, and race teams. Open Mon-Fri, 10 am -9 pm, Saturday, 9-9 pm, Sunday 9 am to 5 pm. Located 60 minutes from NYC. You can ride Metro-North ski train from NYC and metro areas, and take advantage of free shuttle service to and from the Patterson train station,(137 Birch Hill Rd & Rte 22,  Patterson, 845-878-4100, ThunderRidgeski.com.)

Hidden Gems in Adirondacks: Uncrowded, Affordable, even Free Skiing

One of the best-kept ski secrets in upstate New York is that The Adirondack Mountains have a handful of hidden gem ski areas ideal for novice to expert skiers, including two ski areas that offer skiing free of charge. Nestled into historic mountain towns with a distinct Adirondack feel, all of these under-the-radar ski areas offer visitors the opportunity to ski, snowboard or snow tube on uncrowded slopes with the spectacular scenery for which the Adirondacks are renowned. Many of these fun, smaller hills also offer ski schools, snowmobile trails, snowshoeing or Nordic skiing.

Adding to the appeal of these charming community ski areas, many offer extremely affordable ski experiences that make snow sports more approachable for all. Ski passes start as low as $15; a couple even offer free skiing!

Some of the less-explored ski areas, with tips on accommodations and local eats include:

Oak Mountain ski area in New York State’s Adirondacks has been delighting skiers since 1948 © Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Oak Mountain, a quaint ski area popular with families since 1948, offers 22 trails (snowmaking on 40%), a 650-foot vertical from base at 1,750 feet to the summit at 2,400 feet, and four lifts (quad, two T-bars and a surface lift). The longest run is 7,920 feet. In addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding, Oak features four lanes of snow tubing and miles of snowshoeing trails that take you through a majestic forest. Oak Mountain is a three-season resort in the Southern Adirondacks, an easy drive from Albany and Lake George. Oak Mountain’s website lists nearby accommodations and “Play and Stay” packages. Check out Lake Pleasant Lodge or Cedarhurst Motor Lodge for accommodations. The Lorca Adirondacks is just down the road (thelorca.com, 518-300-3916). Oak Mountain, 141 Novosel Way Speculator, NY 12164 518-548-3606, www.oakmountainski.com 

McCauley Mountain (Old Forge): A charming resort near the Adirondack wilderness. Get a great night’s sleep at the Adirondack Lodge Old Forge, stop by Keyes’ Pancake House for breakfast and Tony Harper’s Pizza and Clam Shack for lunch/dinner.

Mt. Pisgah Recreation Center (Saranac Lake): A welcoming community ski hill with night skiing and tubing, with half-day weekend ski passes available for $15. Kick off your boots at Traverse Lodge or Hotel Saranac and enjoy dinner at nearby Bitters & Bones.

Titus Mountain (Malone): A family-friendly ski gem a short drive from Plattsburgh, Lake Placid, Watertown and Northern Vermont, with terrain for all levels. Check out the rustic cabins at Deer Valley Trails (and stay for dinner) and stop by The Pines Tap & Table for evening revelry.

Two community ski areas actually offer free skiing:

Newcomb Ski Slope is an ultra-local and community-owned ski hill which offers free skiing. For the last 50 years, the town of Newcomb has owned and operated this two-run ski slope, where generations of residents have learned to ski. The hill also boasts a trail through the adjacent woods along its 200 vertical feet. At this low-elevation summit, skiers are treated to a view of the snowy High Peaks.

Indian Lake Ski Hill also offers skiing free of charge with the local feel and charm of a community-owned establishment. The recreation area comprises a small hill, two ski trails, a t-bar lift and even ice skating.

SKI NY Passport Program-Kids Ski Free

The SKI NY Passport Program-Kids Ski Free returns this season with more ski areas accepting it during holiday periods. The Passport is valid seven days a week except for holiday periods at certain ski areas.

The program is open to 3rd and 4th graders from any State or country and no reservations at ski areas are required.

The program offers free skiing for your third and fourth graders with an adult purchase, it can be used up to two times per participating ski area. A valid adult ticket purchase is one on the ski area website or at the ticket window and includes season passes as well. ($41 processing fee per application; rentals and lessons arenot included).

For info, email  [email protected]; to apply, https://www.e4stores.online/GoPassSANY_UI.

Connect with SKI NY online at www.iskiny.comwww.facebook.com/ISKINY, and www.instagram.com/i_ski_ny/.

See also:

TOPNOTCH SKIING AT NEW YORK’S GORE MOUNTAIN IN THE ADIRONDACKS

A BLUEBIRD DAY OF SPRING SKIING AT WINDHAM MOUNTAIN

WHAT A DISCOVERY! SKIING OAK MOUNTAIN IN NEW YORK’S ADIRONDACKS

NEW YORK’S ADIRONDACKS: DRIVEABLE WINTER OLYMPIC PLAYGROUND

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, www.goingplacesfarandnear.com

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 xanterra.com/thankful). 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/goingplacesfarandnear.com
  • 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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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

Cruising

  • 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 www.goaheadtours.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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, https://wilderness-voyageurs.com/)

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: https://www.gadventures.com/travel-deals/cyber-sale/

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: https://www.clubmed.us/o/best-all-inclusive-vacation-deals

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 https://borgosanvincenzo.com/contact/.

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 aprivateisland.com  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 sonestastmaarten.com.

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 Booking.com 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 https://botanikaresort.com/

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 (https://www.sunsiyam.com/siyam-world/offers/)  and Olhuveli Resorts (https://www.sunsiyam.com/sun-siyam-olhuveli/offers/) 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.

See more deals: IT’S THE BEST TIME OF YEAR – FOR SNATCHING SAVINGS ON VACATION TRAVEL IN 2024

Coming: Gift of Travel

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© 2023 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/KarenBRubin 

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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

Travel Features Syndicate, www.goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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], https://www.baymountadventures.com/

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

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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, https://www.nbparks.ca/en/parks/33/hopewell-rocks-provincial-park

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

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, pumphousebrewpub.ca) 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, 800-561-0123www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca.

Next: New Brunswick Roadtrip: Miramichi and Metepenagiag

See also:

NEW BRUNSWICK ROADTRIP BEGINS IN ST. ANDREWS

NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA ROADTRIP: SAINT JOHN, CITY OF FIRSTS, OLDESTS, AMAZEMENTS

NEW BRUNSWICK ROADTRIP: DISCOVERING FUNDY TRAIL PARKWAY, FUNDY NATIONAL PARK, CAPE ENRAGE

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© 2023 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/KarenBRubin 

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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

Travel Features Syndicate, www.goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 

“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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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, bayoffundyadventures.com) 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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 

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], www.fundytrailparkway.com

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

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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 (www.fundy-biosphere.ca). 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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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, www.capeenrange.ca.

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. (https://parks.canada.ca/pn-np/nb/fundy).

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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 (www.fundy-biosphere.ca).

Travel planning assistance from Tourism New Brunswick, 800-561-0123, www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca.

Next: New Brunswick Roadtrip: Hopewell Rocks

See also:

NEW BRUNSWICK ROADTRIP BEGINS IN ST. ANDREWS

NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA ROADTRIP: SAINT JOHN, CITY OF FIRSTS, OLDESTS, AMAZEMENTS

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