Category Archives: Summer Vacations

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 and new Travel Experiences

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.

In 2024, New Brunswick, the Atlantic Canadian province just over the Maine border, unveils novel experiences for visitors including new ways to explore the capital city of Fredericton, dining the bottom of the ocean floor at the Bay of Fundy, a revitalization of a favorite gathering spot in Canada’s oldest city, Saint John, and 60th anniversary celebrations of the FDR International Park on Campobello Island.  

Visitors to Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park this year can not only observe the natural phenomenon of low and high tides alternating as much as 40-plus feet, they can also dine on the ocean floor © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Dining on the Ocean Floor: Visitors to Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park this year can not only observe the natural phenomenon of low and high tides alternating as much as 40-plus feet, they can also dine on the ocean floor. In 2024, Hopewell Rocks will offer its new culinary adventure: “Dining on the ocean floor”. Travelers will relish in the magic of dining among some of the most extraordinary rock formations in the world with a private, locally sourced three-course meal and specialties served from Magnetic Hill Winery in Moncton. After enjoying cuisine by the sea, park-goers can return the next day at no additional admission cost, which starts at $15.85 CAD, to behold both high and low tides. For more information about Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park and updates about dining on the ocean floor, visit https://www.thehopewellrocks.ca/.  

Coffee Connoisseur Tour with Barista Brian: Home to top attractions like Odell Park, Boyce Farmers Market, and Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, New Brunswick, is also an ideal location for coffee lovers wishing to expand their knowledge and taste buds. For a new way to explore the city, visitors can join internationally celebrated latte artist Barista Brian on the new “Coffee Connoisseur” walking tour. Brian has earned his title while decorating lattes for attendees of the Sundance and Toronto International film festivals and for multiple Hollywood celebrities. Participants will sip, savor, and learn about locally roasted coffee at four independent coffee shops in the capital. Barista Brian is famous for his renowned latte art creations and has produced multiple latte portraits of celebrities including Meryl Streep, Conan O’Brien, Jennifer Lopez, Kristen Stewart, and more. While touring, Brian will provide education about everything from single origin beans to sustainable coffee, the history of coffee, and how to properly taste. Attendees will enjoy tastings of several coffee drinks such as a blend, delicious espresso, single roast, and will finish off with a latte displaying the handcrafted art of Brian. For more information about Barista Brian and his work, head to https://www.baristabrian.com/. To purchase tour tickets and view available dates,  https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/coffee-connoisseur-tour-with-barista-brian-tickets-764462898107.  

Campobello Island’s FDR International Park Celebrates 60th Anniversary: A symbol of international cooperation, the Franklin D. Roosevelt International Park on Campobello Island is jointly administered, staffed, and funded by the people of Canada and the United States. In 2024, the landmark is celebrating its 60th year standing as a representation of global collaboration. Throughout the month of July, special anniversary festivities will unfold amidst the breathtaking views of the New Brunswick Island connected to Maine by bridge. The former U.S. president and his family would spend their summers on Campobello Island, and visitors can now experience the former 34-room summer mansion firsthand. Given as a wedding gift to Franklin and Eleanor in 1908 by Franklin’s mother Sara Roosevelt, the cottage quickly became a key piece of the couple’s beloved island. Activities include “Tea with Eleanor” in the backyard and guided tours. For further details and event updates, visit https://www.rooseveltcampobello.org/.  

Market Square Boardwalk Revitalization: In Uptown Saint John, Canada’s oldest incorporated city, the Market Square Boardwalk will show off a new look in 2024. It is now known as Ihtoli-maqahamok (The Gathering Space), chosen through a community process between Saint John citizens, the Civic Commemoration Committee, Common Council, City of Saint John staff, and consultation with First Nations’ leaders from The Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick. The boardwalk has undergone a rejuvenation that includes a larger 360-degree stage with increased public space for live performances, tidal steps leading to the Bay of Fundy, and the installation of a winter outdoor skating surface that will convert to a verdant green space in the summer. The restaurants of Market square were also upgraded with glass-panel installations, creating patios with year-round dining. Ihtoli-magahamok (The Gathering Space) draws its design inspiration from the three foundations of Saint John: its people, the water, and the rugged rocks that define the city’s character. To learn more about the reimagined Market Square Boardwalk, head to https://saintjohn.ca/en/parks-and-recreation/ihtoli-maqahamok-gathering-space

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.  

Family owned and operated since 2009, Sea of Whales Adventures offers three-hour whale watching tours daily

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

________________

© 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 atfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

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)

________________

© 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 

Summer in the City Opens with Museum Mile Festival, Finishes with US Open

The Guggenheim Museum is one of eight major institutions that are free to explore during the annual Museum Mile Festival © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

New York City’s summer cultural season kicks off with the 46th Annual Museum Mile Festival – the Big Apple’s “biggest block party” –on Tuesday, June 18, from 6 to 9 pm, rain or shine. Walk the mile on Fifth Avenue between 82nd Street and 104th Street while visiting eight of New York City’s finest cultural institutions, open free during these extended hours: The Metropolitan Museum of ArtNeue Galerie New YorkSolomon R. Guggenheim MuseumCooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design MuseumThe Jewish Museum; Museum of the City of New York; El Museo del Barrio; and The Africa Center. Several neighborhood partners, including the New York Academy of Medicine, the Church of the Heavenly Rest, Asia Society, and AKC Museum of the Dog will also join in this celebration. 

The Museum Mile Festival is the Big Apple’s biggest block party, with street entertainment and free admissions to museums © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

It’s an electric, eclectic festive atmosphere, with live music and street performers all along the avenue, plus special exhibitions, works from permanent collections and special family-oriented activities inside.

One of our favorite stops is the Museum of the City of New York (celebrating its 100th anniversary this year), where you can visit its newest exhibition Changing the Face of Democracy: Shirley Chisolm at 100 and the send off of its centennial exhibition This is New York: 100 Years of the City in Art and Pop Culture . Grab a Kids’ Activity Guide for the little ones.

Dancing to the 1920s Hot Jazz of Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island (June 8-9 and August 10-11, 2024, 11 am-5 pm), starts with a magical ferry ride from Battery Park or the Brooklyn Navy Yard. People come dressed to the 9s in 1920s/Gatsby-style outfits, bringing picnics and take part in the music and zeitgeist of the 1920s. With music and dancing led by festival founder and host Michael Arenella & His Dreamland Orchestra, the merriment continues with a score of other entertainers: the bedazzling Dreamland Follies, a 10-lady Art Deco dance spectacle evoking the Great Ziegfeld, the fantastic Queen Esther paying tribute to jazz royalty of yore, Peter Mintun tickling the ivories with his incredible piano skills and the Gelber & Manning band. Enjoy the renowned and fun-loving dance troupe, Roddy Caravella and The Canarsie Wobblers with their scandalous Charleston numbers and rebellious and exuberant spirit of the Roaring ‘20s. Entertainments are interspersed with fun events like dance lessons and a period bathing suit contest. This isn’t free – it’s a ticketed event. Tickets and info at www.jazzagelawnparty.com. (Reserve a ferry ride to access the location.)

The New York Philharmonic returns to Central Park for its free summer concert series © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, have become an iconic New York summer experience since they began in 1965, transforming parks throughout the city into a patchwork of picnickers enjoying friends, family, and priceless music under the stars, for free! This summer, Thomas Wilkins conducts the Orchestra in a program that ranges from classics by Beethoven, Elgar, and Rimsky-Korsakov to Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, with Randall Goosby as soloist, to new music by Carlos Simon and NY Phil Very Young Composers. All outdoor performances begin at 8 PM and conclude with fireworks! (The Free Indoor Concert in Staten Island begins at 4 PM.): June 11 Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx; June 12 Concerts in the Parks: Central Park, Manhattan; June 13, Concerts in the Parks: Cunningham Park, Queens; June 14, Concerts in the Parks: Prospect Park, Brooklyn; June 16 Free Indoor Concert: St. George Theatre, Staten Island.

The New York Philharmonic Summer in the Parks performances finish with a dramatic fireworks display© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The cherished Shakespeare in the Park, traditionally held at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, this year is a traveling show while the Delacorte is undergoing its most significant revitalization of its 62-year history. Instead, this year the Public Theater (Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis; Executive Director, Patrick Willingham) is offering  a “GO PUBLIC!”  festival of of free summer programming taking place across all five boroughs. Its Mobile Unit is presenting a joyful, bilingual (English/Spanish) musical adaptation of “The Comedy of Errors,”  May 28-June 2 – The New York Public Library and Bryant Park on the Fifth Avenue Terrace (Manhattan) June 6-9, June 13-14, June 20-21 – Hudson Yards (Manhattan). Also: A.R.R.O.W. Field House (Queens) J. Hood Wright Park (Manhattan) Maria Hernandez Park (Brooklyn) Roy Wilkins Park (Queens) St. John the Divine (Manhattan) St. Mary’s Park (Bronx) Sunset Park (Brooklyn) Wolfe’s Pond Park (Staten Island).

Next up is Movie in the Parks (July 11–September 6), bringing free screenings of Shakespeare in the Park’s version of Much Ado About Nothing to parks throughout the City. (Can’t make it to any of them? This recording and other Shakespeare favorites are available to stream for free.) Visit the website for specific dates and locations (https://publictheater.org/programs/shakespeare-in-the-park/summer-24/go-public/).

In summer, all the city is a stage, and every lawn a picnic table © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Bryant Park is also hosting picnic performances of New York City Opera’s full production of the perennial favorite, Puccini’s Tosca on May 31, June 1, August 23 and 24, at 7 pm. (New York City Opera: Puccini Celebration) as part of a summer-long arts and culture festival, sponsored by Bank of America, from June 6 to September 13, featuring an amazing series of dance, music, theater, movies, plus eateries, shops and a carousel. (https://bryantpark.org/activities/picnic-performances for schedule).

The Hudson River Greenway is a whole destination in itself, and one of the best places to bike. In fact, it is part of the Empire State Trail Network, that goes from Lower Manhattan up to the Canadian border © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Hudson River Greenway is a whole destination in itself, with every imaginable sport (tennis, pickleball, basketball, kayaking), fabulous eateries, even a sand beach, plus along the way, historic and cultural places like the monument to the Irish famine, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Whitney Museum, Battery Park and ferry access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, plus concerts such at two venues within the enchanting “Little Island.”

From June through September, Little Island presents a series of all new work across dance, music, theater and opera in the Amph  ($25, tickets and schedule, https://www.littleislandtickets.com/). In addition, there are free concerts Wednesday-Sunday in the Glade.

Little Island is a unique green space unlike any other in New York City. The award-winning public park is located in Hudson River Park and features two performance venues where visitors can experience cultural events all summer long © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The newest experience on the Hudson River Greenway is Gansevoort Peninsula. Located in Hudson River Park between Gansevoort Street and Little West 12th Street, and opposite the Whitney Museum of American Art, which affords an actual sand beach (1200 tons of sand, beach umbrellas, Adirondack-style chairs, even misting stations, and boardwalk)  for lounging. Also look for “Day’s End”, a public art installation by artist David Hammons, donated to Hudson River Park by the Whitney Museum of American Art.  See the full events calendar, https://hudsonriverpark.org/, https://hudsonriverpark.org/the-park/piers-and-places/

New York City has been named the most cultural city in the USA. Here’s what’s of note happening this summer, compiled by the New York City Tourism + Conventions, the official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau:

NYC The Metropolitan Museum of Art is presenting “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism” through July 28 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Through July 28, The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism, an exhibition exploring how Black artists portrayed everyday modern life during the 1920s–40s in Harlem and across the United States amid the Great Migration. Featuring 160 works including painting, sculpture, photography, film and ephemera, it’s the first art museum survey of its kind in New York City since 1987.

The Whitney Museum of American Art has unveiled the roster for Whitney Biennial 2024: Even Better Than the Real Thing, featuring 69 artists and two collectives. This edition marks the 81st installment of the museum’s esteemed exhibition series, the longest-running survey of American art. The program is now open and runs through August 11. Beginning September 25, The Whitney will unveil Edges of Ailey, a comprehensive exhibition celebrating the life and impact of American dancer Alvin Ailey, featuring daily performances, workshops and a diverse range of artworks and archival materials.

Experience a surreal journey inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at the Bronx’s New York Botanical Garden, with Wonderland: Curious Nature, from May 18–October 27Follow iconic characters through whimsical scenes in the garden and explore imaginative horticultural displays inside the Haupt Conservatory, featuring installations from renowned artists including Yoko Ono, Alyson Shotz and Abelardo Morell.

A tribute to Ming Dynasty architecture, the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Staten Island—one of just two authentic classical outdoor Chinese gardens in the US—is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Crafted in Suzhou, China, its elements include roof tiles, pavilions and bridges. Inspired by ancient poetry and paintings, the garden features magnificent rock formations resembling mountains. Visitors can explore pavilions, a bamboo forest path, waterfalls and a koi-filled pond.

The Morgan Library & Museum, which is marking 100 years since its establishment as a public institution by Jack Morgan as a repository of fabulous documents, is exhibiting Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature and Walton Ford: Birds and Beasts of the Studio. The next exhibition in the campaign will be Liberty to the Imagination: Drawings from the Eveillard Gift, on view beginning June 7.

Since its inception in 1824, the Brooklyn Museum has become a global cultural center, driven by the innovative spirit of its borough. As it celebrates two centuries of groundbreaking initiatives, the museum invites audiences to explore special exhibitions and events showcasing its vibrant artistic community. Highlights include the launch of immersive exhibitions like Solid Gold and Brooklyn Made. Notably, the museum boasts an in-residence composer, Niles Luther, who scores music for various exhibitions and artwork on-site, making it the only museum in the United States to offer such an immersive experience. Visitors can expect a year of discovery and celebration in honor of its bicentennial—kicking off with a 200th Birthday Bash on October 5.

A destination that takes you to other worlds, Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at the American Museum of Natural History offers fabulous innovative exhibitions. Admission by timed entry, reserved online. Open daily, 10 am–5:30 pm. American Museum of Natural History,200 Central Park West, 212-769-5606, amnh.org.

Be prepared to be dazzled and fascinated when you visit the American Museum of Natural History and the Gilder Center © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

New performing arts offerings are revitalizing New York City’s cultural landscape with the expansion of iconic venues and the emergence of new stages. The historic Apollo Theater recently debuted the Victoria Theater, its first expansion in 90 years, which introduced two new stages and created an arts campus in Harlem. The inaugural season promises a diverse lineup including Alex Harsley, Stefon Harris and David Hammons. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, the newly restored Brooklyn Paramount, now a concert hall, hosts various shows featuring acclaimed acts like Sting, Liam Gallagher, St. Vincent, Orville Peck and many more in its 2024 lineup. Across the East River, the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC) stands as a beacon of artistic expression in Lower Manhattan, welcoming emerging and established artists across various disciplines since its launch in September 2023. The PAC’s inaugural 2023–24 season continues this summer with the opening of An American Soldier, The SurvivalCats: “The Jellicle Ball”.

One of New York City’s newest performing arts venues, the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center, in Lower Manhattan © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Jackie Robinson Museum commemorates the groundbreaking contributions of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play Major League Baseball and one of the most celebrated baseball players of all time. Robinson’s legacy extends far beyond the baseball diamond, as he also made significant strides in civil rights, economic empowerment and social justice. From now through December 31, the museum is offering a free self-guided walking tour, Jackie Robinson’s Harlem, for visitors looking to dive deeper into Robinson’s connection to the neighborhood.

The Alice Austen House,Staten Island © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

New York City is the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ+ movement. The Stonewall Inn, site of the historic 1969 riots, stands as a symbol of resilience and is soon to be complemented by a dedicated visitor center opening in June. Other cultural sites include theLeslie-Lohman Museum of Art, which celebrates LGBTQ+ identity through exhibitions and programs that showcase the ever-evolving queer experience, as well as the Alice Austen House Museum, which features the pioneering photographer’s work and has been a National Site of LGBTQ+ History since 2017. On the Upper West Side, the forthcoming American LGBTQ+ Museum at the New-York Historical Society, set to open its doors in 2026, will be the nation’s first museum dedicated to LGBTQ+ history.

One of the best parts of the US Open at the Billie Jean Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, is getting to see tennis greats like Rafael Nadal practice © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

If Summer in the City starts with the Museum Mile Festival, for me, the end of New York’s summer comes with the US Open Tennis Championships, the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament of the year. The tournament dates back to 1881, and since 1978, the tournament has found its home at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens’ Flushing Meadows Corona Park, a magnet for the best tennis talent worldwide such as reigning champions Coco Gauff, Novak Djokovic, Diede de Groot and Alfie Hewett. The tournament takes place August 26–September 8, 2024. Insiders tip: the week before, it is free to watch the thrilling play of the qualifiers’ tournament, and see the tennis stars practice.

New York City Borough Pass, Citywide: a new sightseeing pass designed to showcase the beauty of the neighborhoods and cultures across all five boroughs. The pass features a diverse roster of popular attractions, museums, performing arts venues, including the Alice Austen House Museum, MoMA PS1, New York Botanical Garden, Van Cortlandt House Museum, Staten Island Children’s Museum. (888-921-5333, https://www.nycboroughpass.com/)

The Go City Pass for New York City offers 100 different options in all five boroughs. For example, the two-day all inclusive pass, giving access to as much as you want/can do from among 105 attractions is $134 – regardless of how much the actual attractions charge (GoCity.com, 800 887 9103).

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

________________

© 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 

Bethpage Memorial Day Weekend Airshow at Jones Beach Kicks Off Long Island Summer

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

US Navy Blue Angels headline the 20th anniversary Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

One of the best airshows in the world happens right in our own backyard each Memorial Day weekend: the Bethpage Jones Beach Air Show, celebrating its 20th anniversary, cannot be beat for spectacular aeronautical feats amidst the ambiance of Jones Beach, where you see the action right in front of you, just above the ocean and stretching to the horizon. The intense action is so close, you often can see the pilots in the cockpits, and so fast and daring, it takes your breath away. The event takes place from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26 (insiders tip: there is a rehearsal/practice run on Friday).

US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets demonstrate their legendary precision at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The show this year is headlined and climaxed by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels – a team of six performing their heart-stopping maneuvers in their F/A-18 Super Hornets. They are famous for the Diamond formation, when they fly as close as 18 inches apart, but what most excites me is when the two solos fly extraordinary maneuvers, including coming at each other at 300 mph. Don’t blink or breathe or you will miss it!

US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets demonstrate their legendary precision at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets demonstrate their legendary precision at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The airshow traditionally opens with the United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, who launch out of a plane some 25,000 feet high, stream down at 200 mph, and float down into the crowd on the beach carrying the American and POW flags. The Golden Knights portray the image of being the most formidable parachuting competitors and demonstrators in the world today

The U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachute team opens the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach this Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

American Airpower Museum Warbirds, flying vintage WWII fighters and patrol planes, pay homage to Long Island’s historic role as the nation’s arsenal of democracy. Republic Aviation, the complex in Farmingdale where the AAM stands now, produced over 9,000 P-47 Thunderbolts, and today the museum’s collection preserves the heritage and history.  The Warbird performance will conclude with a precision aerobatic demonstration of one of the museum’s legendary WWII Fighters.

Three World War II planes from The American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale circle over the crowd including a Douglas C-47, a supply and troop transport plane with stripes on its fuselage so allies knew not to shoot it down. The others were a British Curtis P41 Warhawk and a P-51 Mustang © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The American Airpower Museum has events scheduled from Friday through Sunday, and is where you can even see participants in the air show take off and land, and even take flights in vintage aircraft. (More details below, www.americanairpowermuseum.org, 631-293-6398.)   

The US Navy’s F-35 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning II Demonstration Team and Legacy Flight shows off the capabilities of this 5th Generation fighter. The F-35C is the world’s most advanced multi-role fighter. With a top speed of 1,200 mph, the F-35C is even capable of setting off sonic booms. The F-35C has the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history, giving pilots 360-degree access to “real-time” battlefield information. The demo will feature a Legacy Flight formation, providing a unique comparison between the past and present.

U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team and Heritage Flight showcases the combat capabilities of the A-10 “Warthog”  by performing precision aerial maneuvers.  Additionally, the team brings attention to the Air Force’s history by flying formations with historical aircraft in the Air Force Heritage Flight.

Long Island’s own David Windmiller performs at the Memorial Day weekend Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Long Island’s own David Windmiller, who began flying when he was just  14 years old, soloing for the first time on his 16th birthday, performs aerobatics in his Zivko Edge 540, thrilling spectators with seemingly impossible feats. Equipped with a custom built project engine of Teledyne, thrust to weight ratio over 1:1,  Windmiller’s plane has a climb rate of 3,700 feet per minute, and a rote rate of 420 degrees per minute, making his plane the ideal aircraft for aerobatic flight.

Mike Goulian, the most decorated aerobatic pilot in North America, performs at the Memorial Day weekend Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Mike Goulian earned the distinction of becoming one of the youngest pilots to ever win the United States Unlimited Aerobatic Champion at the age of 27. His signature air show performance combines the heart-stopping gyroscopic tumbling of modern display flying with the crisp, aggressive, demands of precision competition aerobatics.

Warbird Thunder’s formation aerobatic routine is fast paced and entertaining © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Warbird Thunder features the North American SNJ Texan, an aircraft used to train “The Greatest Generation” for WWII and Korean Conflict. The performance features two SNJs, performing formation aerobatics offering a great spectator experience due to the aircraft’s large physical size, beautiful radial engine sound, and fantastic smoke presentation. The SNJ was nicknamed “Ol Growler” because of its distinct deep and throaty roar. Warbird Thunder’s formation aerobatic routine is fast paced and entertaining. The two aircraft perform formation loops, aileron rolls, barrel rolls, and Cuban Eights and thrilling opposing aerobatics.

The world-famous Skytypers, who are based at Republic Airport (and basically invented and patented skytyping) demonstrate thrilling combat maneuvers in their flight squadron of vintage WWII aircraft © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Skytypers – my personal favorite – is a flight squadron of vintage WWII era U.S. Navy SNJ-2 trainers that perform low-altitude precision-formation maneuver mimicking the tactics and maneuvers utilized during WWII air battles. The Skytypers may be most famous for their skytyped messages in the sky which can be seen for nearly 400 square miles.

The world-famous Skytypers, who are based at Republic Airport (and basically invented and patented skytyping) demonstrate thrilling combat maneuvers in their flight squadron of vintage WWII aircraft © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Farmingdale State College Aviation Center students demonstrate the prowess learned at  the largest collegiate flight school in the Northeast region, and the only SUNY School to offer a 4 Year Degree Program in Aeronautical Science, the Aviation Center averages 5,800 Flight Hours a Year in Solo and Dual Flight Instruction.

106th Rescue Wing, NY Air National Guard HC – 130 / HH 60 Formation provides a demonstration of how it provides combat search and rescue coverage for U.S. and allied forces worldwide. In December 1994, the 106th established the record for the longest over water helicopter rescue mission when it saved a Ukrainian sailor in the icy waters off the North Atlantic. The 106th may be best known for a mission during a 1991 storm made famous by the movie “The Perfect Storm”. The HH-60 is tasked to perform day and night personnel recovery operations in hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war, civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, security cooperation/aviation advisory, NASA space flight support, and rescue command and control.

Take advantage of the Bethpage Air Show Mobile App. Text ‘Airshow’ to 516-842-4400 to download the app for performer and sponsor information, a site map, helpful FAQs. (Available from the App Store and Google Play.)

The event has drawn as many as 444,000, and last year attendance totaled 351,000, so arrive early (parking fee is $10).

Alternate the experience with a visit to the American Airpower Museum, right across from Republic Airport, where many of the air show participants fly from to the show, where you can see the vintage aircraft in the Heritage Flight and where all weekend long there are special events, including an opportunity to meet members of the USAF A-10 Demo Team from.

American Airpower Museum Offers Close-Up Views, Activities During Memorial Day Weekend Jones Beach Air Show

American Airpower Museum’s “Warbirds” take off for the Memorial Day Bethpage Air Show © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Farmingdale, NY– Memorial Day Weekend kicks off American Airpower Museum’s summer with its “Legends of Airpower WWII Warbirds” performing in the Bethpage Jones Beach Air Show, on Long Island, with activities that begin on May 24 (practice day) and continue through the festival weekend May 25-26. 

AAM’s legendary warbirds including the WWII B-25 Mitchell bomber, North American P-51D Mustang, Grumman TBM-3E Avenger Torpedo Bomber, and Curtiss P-40M Warhawk “Flying Tiger,” will take to the skies over Republic Airport on Friday, May 24th, (practice day) plus Saturday to Sunday, May 25th/26th, for the Jones Beach Air Show.  Additional aircraft will be in the air including AAM’s WWII North American AT-6 Trainers, Vietnam era AT-28D Nomad and our Cold War era L-39 Jet Fighter/Trainers. 

Military aviation enthusiasts can share AAM’s WWII C-47 80th Anniversary D-Day Living History Experience, when WWII Airborne reenactors interact with visitors on Saturday, May 25th.

Flight experiences are also available each day on one of AAM’s AT-6 Texans, plus its red WACO Biplane.

Watch AAM’s awe-inspiring aircraft take off to perform practice flybys over Republic all day Friday, May 24th.  Get up close and personal with these historic bombers and fighters of yesteryear.  Then come to AAM to catch more aerial action Saturday and Sunday, as AAM’s warbirds lift off to perform in the air show. 

Throughout the weekend, visitors will be enthralled as US Navy Blue Angels, USAF A-10 “Warthog” and the ever-popular Skytypers, take off and return at Republic Airport. Blue Angels practice on May 24th.  You can witness the museum’s Warbirds and US military aircraft take off and land from its flight line on Saturday and Sunday for the Jones Beach Airshow. 

Visitors to AAM will also have opportunities to meet members of the USAF A-10 Demo Team. The team is appearing at the Jones Beach Air Show for the last time this year before being disbanded, as A-10s are retired from the USAF inventory.  The USAF A-10 Demo Team will operate out of their home base on the American Airpower Museum’s Ramp off New Highway, in Farmingdale, taking off and landing on May 24 (practice day) plus May 25 and 26 for their Jones Beach Airshow performances.  

The A-10 takes off from the American Airpower Museum © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Of historical significance is that these Warthogs will be operating from the very grounds they were developed and built on – and with this final performance, they honor the legacy of all those from Long Island who worked at Fairchild Republic.

AAM President Jeff Clyman says the goal for this three-day extravaganza is two-fold.  “To honor the men and women of the ‘Greatest Generation’ who built, maintained and piloted the iconic warbirds of yesteryear, in a bold defense of freedom during WWII, as well as active-duty military, reservists and the national guard, who continue this mission today.”  Clyman said that public support strengthens AAM’s mission to educate the next generation about American military aviation history, and will also help maintain the Museum’s iconic aircraft.  “Help keep ‘em flying,” he added.

As a special promotion, every paying Museum guest (18 and over) Friday through Monday, is entered to win a Cockpit USA “made in the USA” leather flight jacket.  Cockpit USA, sponsor of the American Airpower Museum, is official supplier to the United States Air Force of A-2 leather flight jackets.  Various genuine leather flight jackets and other militaria specially priced and on sale all weekend, can be purchased at AAM’s gift shop.

Park for FREE in AAM’s lot or along New Highway.  Food and Ice Cream trucks are available onsite.  AAM is also open Monday, Memorial Day, closing at 4:00 p.m.

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday 4 p.m.). Tickets and preregistration not required.  Regular admission is $15 for Adults, $12 for Seniors and Veterans and $10 for children ages 3 to 12.  

American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport, Hangar 3, 1230 New Highway, Farmingdale, NY 11735, (631) 293-6398,  www.americanairpowermuseum.org.

The American Airpower Museum, Long Island’s only flying military aviation museum (“Where history flies”) is located on the landmarked former site of Republic Aviation at Republic Airport, Farmingdale, NY.  The Museum maintains a collection of aviation artifacts and an array of operational aircraft spanning the many years of the aircraft factory’s history.  The Museum is a 501 (c) (3) Nonprofit Educational Foundation Chartered by the New York State Board of Regents.

Summer on Long Island

Jones Beach State Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Jones Beach Airshow is Long Island’s kick-off to summer.

Jones Beach State Park is a world-class beach destination, with 6.5 miles of white-sand beach,  oceanfront, miles-long boardwalk for biking and walking, 2,400 acres of maritime environment. Eat at the Boardwalk Café and at the Gatsby on the Ocean Restaurant and ice cream shop; swim in the pool, enjoy the new WildPlay Adventure Park with zip lines (https://wildplay.com/jones-beach/, 800-668-7771); play miniature golf, shuffleboard, basketball, corn hole, paddle tennis, table tennis, pickleball, playgrounds, splashpad and concerts on the boardwalk and the Northwell Theater; learn about the marine environment at the Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center.

Biking the path along Ocean Parkway from Jones Beach to Captree State Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Jones Beach is also at the middle of Bike Long Island’s premier bike path, from Cedar Creek Park in Seaford, 5.4 mile ride to Jones Beach’s East Bathhouse on the Boardwalk, then 9.4 miles along Ocean parkway to Captree State Park. (You can also connect with the Bethpage State Park bike path.)

Biking on the Bethpage State Park trail © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Other stellar Long Island attractions and events this summer:

Cradle of Aviation Museum was established to commemorate Long Island’s part in the history of aviation and offers 75 air and space craft and galleries chronicling 100 years of aviation on Long Island. a digital planetarium and theater (films “Superhuman Body” and “Cities of the Future”). Charles Lindbergh Blvd, Garden City, NY 11530, 516-572-4111, www.cradleofaviation.org.

The lunar module built on Long Island by Grumman is on view at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Uniondale © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Long Island Children’s Museum offers 14 interactive exhibits plus live theater, art spaces and daily activities to provide hours of exploration, engagement, and enchantment for children. At LICM, a 40,000 sq. foot facility, children discover their passions and their relationship to the world we share through creative educational programs and cultural experiences that accommodate all backgrounds and abilities. Also enjoy the historic Nunley’s Carousel, one of three intact Stein & Goldstein carousels still in existence. (Long Island Children’s Museum, 11 Davis Ave., Garden City, NY 11530, 516-224-5800, www.licm.org)

Creative play at the Long Island Children’s Museum, Uniondale © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Old Bethpage Village Restoration, one of my favorite places in the world, is a living history museum, where costumed interpreters and artisans and every home and structure tell a story. Upcoming events include Decoration Day (May 25-26); Revolutionary War encampment Weekend (june 1-2), Marching through History (June 15-16); Cowboy Mounted Shooting Show (June 29, 10 am-2:30 pm); 1864 Independence Day Celebration (July 6-7); Grand Army of the Republic Encampment (July 20; raindate July 21); Olde Time Baseball Tournament (Aug. 3-4); Olde Time Music Weekend (Aug 17-18); Long Island Fair (Sept. 13, 15); 1880s Haunted Halloween (Oct. 26-27). For information and tickets, https://www.oldbethpagevillagerestoration.org/events. (Old Bethpage Village Restoration, 1303 Round Swamp Road, Old Bethpage, 11804, 516-572-8409, Email: [email protected]).

Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame is where you can see and appreciate the artistic accomplishments and heritage that have come from Nassau, Suffolk, Queens and Brooklyn, through permanent collection and special exhibits at its first permanent location in Stony Brook. To date, LIMEHOF has inducted more than 120 musicians and music industry executives, and offers education programs, scholarships, and awards to Long Island students and educators.  (97 Main St., Stony Brook, NY 11790, [email protected]631-689-5888, www.LIMEHOF.org)

Adventureland, Long Island’s destination amusement park since 1962, offers 30 adult and kiddie rides, including FireBall, North America’s first and only rollerball coaster, and Turbulence, Long Island’s only spinning roller coaster, and water rides and kiddie rides. Two new rides were unveiled this 2024 season: Moon Chaser and the Jr. Pirate Ship. (2245 Broad Hollow Road (RT. 110), Farmingdale, NY 11735,  631-694-6868, Email: [email protected], https://adventureland.us/).

Splish Splash, with 96 acres of slides and attractions, is the largest waterpark in the tri-state area, offering 20 water slides including high-speed slides like Bombs Away, Riptide Racer, and Bootlegger’s Run, the first water coaster in New York with breathtaking drops), two wave pools, a large Kiddie Area, lazy river (Located just off the Long Island Expressway, Exit 72 West, Calverton, www.splishsplash.com).

For more summer adventure: Long Island’s Wine Country with more than 75 wine producers along the North Fork, South Fork, and western Suffolk County; Montauk Point, the Hamptons,  Fire Island, plus Long Island’s historic lighthouses and mansions.

More ideas from Discover Long Island, 330 Motor Parkway, Suite 203, Hauppauge, NY 11788, 877-386-6654, Email: [email protected], www.DiscoverLongIsland.com

________________

© 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 

The World is Your Oyster: Summer Vacations with Pizzazz

The dramatic reward after a four-day 26-mile trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Bucket List Summer Adventures

For those who want to ditch the tame in favor of a series of thrilling experiences you can complete on your summer break, here are trips with pizzazz for you:

1. Central Utah Backcountry Cycling: Central Utah has one of the largest stretches of true backcountry left in the nation. Escape Adventures’ six-day cycling tour goes eastward through contrasting desert scenery and high alpine forests along Utah Highway 12 (one of America’s most scenic highways) to Capitol Reef National Park. (https://escapeadventures.com/tour/utah-escalante-and-capitol-reef-national-park-road-bike-tour/)

2. Yellowstone Ranch Getaway: Get away and give back during a stay at the historic O.T.O. Dude Ranch on the edge of Yellowstone National Park. Montana’s first dude ranch offers classic adventures like hiking, horseback riding, fly-fishing, archery, sport shooting and more, as well as locally inspired cuisine and cozy cabins. Proceeds from every stay go to preservation efforts at the National Register of Historic Places-listed ranch. (https://trueranchcollection.com/yellowstone-pop-up/)

3. Galapagos, Andes + Amazon: Discover the enchanting Galapagos Islands at Scalesia Galapagos Lodge, explore the Amazon Rainforest at Sacha Lodge and experience the Ecuadorian Andes at Hacienda Piman, all in a 15-day tour. Learn about endemic flora and fauna, hike near active volcanoes, paddle tannin-rich blackwater creeks and explore the highlands of the Andes. (https://www.sachalodge.com/programs/#galapagos-programs)

4. Wine + Bike Piedmont: The Langa and Monferrato regions of Piedmont are in one of the most important wine production areas in Italy and received UNESCO World Heritage status in 2014. Tourissimo’s Piedmont Barolo cycling tour takes you into the heart of these regions, over rolling hills covered with vineyards and past ancient castles and hidden hilltop hamlets. (https://www.tourissimo.travel/piedmont-wine-region-cycling-tour)

The amazement of seeing the Grand Prismatic at Yellowstone National Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

5. Jackson Hole Glamping: Fireside Resort offers luxuriously outfitted tiny house rental units designed by Wheelhaus a short distance from Grand Teton National Park, making it the perfect basecamp for summer adventures. Experience whitewater rafting, hiking through the Tetons and revel in the wonder of Yellowstone National Park’s geothermal features. (https://www.firesidejacksonhole.com/)

6. North Cascades Traverse: A new five-day trip from Wildland Trekking combines iconic North Cascades National Park backpacking and a stay at a remote lodge with no road access on Washington’s Lake Chelan. Backpack over alpine passes and through pristine wilderness to the lodge, then hike to views of the Stehekin Valley before returning to civilization by boat. (https://wildlandtrekking.com/trips/stehekin-lodge-backpacking-trip/)

7. Patagonia Fjords Cruise: Book a nine-day voyage through Chilean Patagonia with Adventure Life and set sail among stunning fjords, islands, glaciers, peaks and wildlife. Visit Puerto Cisnes, San Rafael Bay and Glacier, the Gulf of Penas, the isolated village of Puerto Eden, the Strait of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego and the Beagle Channel, ending in Ushuaia, Argentina. (https://www.adventure-life.com/patagonia/cruises/17283/patagonia-chilean-fjords)

Go whitewater rafting in Big Sky, Montana © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

8. Big Sky Summer Fun: A stay at The Wilson Hotel in Big Sky, Montana, offers proximity to Yellowstone National Park’s natural wonders and wildlife, plus opportunities to hike through shaded forests and wildflower-filled meadows, float or fly fish clear, cool waters, experience the adrenaline rush of lift-served mountain biking. (https://thewilsonhotel.com/)

9. National Parks RV Trip: Blacksford rents fully stocked Mercedes-Benz Sprinter overland adventure vehicles from Winnebago with an all-inclusive pricing model that includes unlimited miles, bedding, kitchen and bath supplies, a free annual pass to the national parks, 24-hour roadside assistance and no generator fees. (https://www.blacksford.com/)

10. Yellowstone Family Rafting and Riding: This three-day whitewater rafting and horseback-riding package from Flying Pig Adventures offers families the opportunity to experience the Yellowstone National Park area like never before. The thrill of witnessing one of nature’s most iconic environments, tackling rough terrain on horseback and running class III rapids cannot be found anywhere else. (https://www.flyingpigrafting.com/3-day-yellowstone-adventure)

Looking for more adventure? Check out the itineraries in the U.S. from REI Adventure Travel (rei.com, 800-622-2236) and G Adventures (gadventures.com, 888-800-4100).

Biking Holidays

Biking trips are my favorite for the combination of experiences they offer: seeing destinations close-hand, most often off-the-beaten track out of busy urban areas; at a pace where you see a lot and do a lot but slow enough to really see and do; where there is a physical and emotional satisfaction having pedaled the distance.

Operators today offer guided tours (ideal for solo travelers) as well as self-guided (where they give you the route, the inns or hotels, and ferry your luggage point to point but you are on your own) all over the world. And don’t be deterred by concern for the distance or the hills – many operators offer e-bikes as an option.

Bike the scenic Bruges-Amsterdam route and stay on a boat, with Boat Bike Tours © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Boat Bike Tours, based in Amsterdam, (we took their Bruges-Amsterdam tour last summer) offers a selection of itineraries in Holland, but also the region, and in addition to boat-bike trips, have sail-bike trips, and cities and nature tours (US tel.203-814-1249
 [email protected], www.boatbiketours.com).

Discovery Bicycle Tours (we took their Maine Coastal trip, and this year their Quebec Eastern Townships) has a long list of cycling vacations in the United States (Idaho Trails tour is one of its most popular), Canada, Europe, Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand & Chile including one that is particularly interesting to me, England: Cotswolds & Stonehenge Bike Tour. As we write this, there were still spaces left on Lake Champlain Islands, Empire State Trail, Stowe Bike & Brew Weekend, Minnesota Rail Trails, Washington Cascades Trails, Idaho Trails departures,  ([email protected], 800-257-2226, discoverybicycletours.com).

Wilderness Voyageurs (traveled with them on their Mickelson Trail & The Badlands Bike Tour in South Dakota; they’ve introduced tours on New York’s own Empire State Trail bike tour as well as Olympic Peninsula bike tour in Washington State), plus New Mexico, , [email protected], 724.329.1000, 800.272.4141, wilderness-voyageurs.com)

Biking through Badlands National Park, South Dakota, with Wilderness Voyageurs © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

BikeTours.com specializes in European itineraries, including guided, self-guided, and boat-and-bike tours, with excellent value. Among the more unusual is the UNESCO Sites of Albania (which I took some years ago with an e-bike); active tours like Southern Fyn: A Tour Around Denmark’s Fairytale Island and Pearls of Dalmatia by Bike and Boat, Romantica and leisure tours like Poland’s Masurian Lake District (Upscale Lodging). BikeTours.com is showcasing six 6 and 7-night self-guided bike tours showcasing Europe’s most beautiful vineyards and wine-growing regions: Rioja: Hidden Spain – Land of Wine, Burgundy Wine Trails: Beaune to Macon on the “Voie Verte”;  German Rivers, Wines & Cycle Paths by Bike and Boat; Wine & Bike in Hungary’s Balaton Uplands; Croatian Vineyards and Villages of Undiscovered Istria;  Tuscan Wine Classic: Pienza to Castellina via Siena. They have also introduced a new series of day trips. (biketours.com, 833-216-0635)

Biking among UNESCO sites in Albania with BikeTours.com (e-bike option recommended) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. is appealing to scholars, curious explorers and lifelong learners on these three bike trips, with every mile imbued with history. Not only do the landscapes of ScotlandNormandy, and the Cotswolds feel frozen-in-time, but each place played a part in shaping the world as we know it—through theaters of war, royal revolutions, ruins of the Roman Empire, and powerful clans and castles. Duvine has an expansive catalog of up-scale bike tours (888 396 5383, duvine.com)

Butterfield & Robinson has always been known for high-end, elegant biking trips. Itineraries include Burgundy Wine Country Biking; Piemonte Wine Country Biking; Chile Wine Country Biking; Vienna to Budapest Wine Country biking; Spanish Wine Country; Tuscany wine Country (seeing a pattern?) (866.551.9090, www.butterfield.com)

Backroads was founded in 1979 by Tom Hale and has been a leading innovator in active and adventure travel every since. Active adventures highlight the special character of each destination. The company offers Biking, Walking & Hiking and Multi-Adventure Tours; Active Ocean & River Cruises, Active Safari, Active Culinary and Snow Adventures; and Dolce Tempo trips for travel at a more relaxed pace. Also Private Trips and Family Trips designed for three distinct age groups: Families with Teens & Kids (best for ages 9+), Families with Older Teens & 20s and Families with Young Adults (backroads.com, 800-462-2848)

Trek Travel is more for hard-core, offering mountain, off-road, gravel trips (Girona, Swiss Alps, Tuscany, Vermont), Ride Camps, and even experience the Women’s Tour de France with VIP race viewings and access to one of the best women’s professional teams, Trek-Segafredo, and get to ride on the route New 3 & 4-day bike tours in places such as San Diego, Santa Barbara and Vermont. Also, self-guided and trips with a boost, e-bike (Croatia, Mallorca Island,Glacier) (trektravel.com, 866-464-8735) 

On the Water

Cruising is fun but we prefer cruising with a twist: small ship, river cruises, barges, canal boats, houseboat experiences.

European Waterways, a luxury hotel barge cruising company, offers an immersive and all-inclusive “gentle voyage of discovery” focusing upon the culture, history, fine wine, and gourmet cuisine of the cruise regions in nine countries. With a 6-to-20-person capacity and 1:2 crew ratio, European Waterways cruises inland waterways that are inaccessible to larger vessels. This fascinating network of smaller canals allows for flexibility, spontaneity, and ample opportunity to hop off and explore the beautiful surroundings via bicycle or on foot, plus daily, chauffeured excursions “off the beaten track” to a wide variety of attractions and activities, from wine tastings to private tours of stately homes. 877-879-8808 in the U.S., 1-877-574-3404 in Canada, or visit www.europeanwaterways.com

UnCruise Adventures operates boutique yachts and small boats carrying 22-86 guests on voyages in Alaska, Hawaiian Islands, Mexico’s Sea of Cortés, Columbia & Snake Rivers, Coastal Washington, Galápagos, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, and Colombia. (uncruise.com, 888-642-6745).

You also can’t beat Lindblad Expeditions for expeditionary-style cruising and soft-adventure trips, famous for pioneering Galapagos and Antarctica, Georgia and the Falklands, on its specially designed ships, National Geographic Orion, and National Geographic islander II. (expeditions.com, 888-667-2830).

GoGalapagos’ cruise aboard the 100-passenger Legend affords a sensational family adventure experience © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

For the most perfect family cruise/travel/adventure experience we have had, set your compass to the Galapagos. Go Galapagos is a cruise and tour operator offering excellent price/quality value for 3, 4, 7 and -night inclusive cruises (two guaranteed weekly departures), You can also combine the cruise with land packages in the Galapagos, in Ecuador, and in Peru. In addition to the 100-passsenger Galapagos Legend, Go Galapagos also has two yacht-style ships, Coral I and Coral II. (www.GoGalapagos.com, 888 50 KLEIN).

Swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos on the GoGalapagos Legend cruise © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Want to skipper your own yacht, or charter a boat with a captain and crew? Dream Yacht Worldwide, a pioneer in making sailing and sea travel accessible employs more than 600 people in 31 countries and operates in 50 destinations worldwide, with a fleet of more than 900 monohulls and catamarans. Dream Yacht Charter offers one of the most diverse fleets of sailing, yacht and boats, If offers skippered and crewed charters (dreamyachtcharter.com)

The marvelously scenic and special time-travel experience of sailing one of the historic Maine Windjammers, like the Stephen Tabor, on Penobscot Bay © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Another really special cruise experience is sailing on one of the historic vessels of the Maine Windjammer fleet that sail the Penobscot Bay. Each is distinctive (and on a few occasions during the season (Windjammer Gam – June 12, Great Schooner Race- July 7, Camden Windjammer Festival – Sept 1-2, and WoodenBoat Sail-In – Sept 12, they gather together in scenes that evoke the Great Age of Sail. Each vessel and each cruise is different (many are themed): Windjammer Angelique, Schooner American Eagle, Schooner Grace Bailey, Schooner Heritage, Schooner J. & E. Riggin, Schooner Ladona, Schooner Lewis R. French, Schooner Mary Day, Schooner Stephen Taber ([email protected], www.sailmainecoast.com, 800-807-9463.)

Enjoy cruising at your own pace, exploring the iconic (and calm) Erie Canal, captaining your way through locks, docks, and under lift bridges. Erie Canal Adventures, out of Macedon, NY,provides completely equipped 34 foot Lockmasters, ideal for 1 couple (some prime summer/fall dates available to charter) and 41 and 42 foot Lockmasters that sleep 4-6 people (limited dates available in September). These are set up like a floating houseboat with bedroom, bath/shower, fully equipped galley kitchen, remarkably easy to operate. (www.ErieCanalAdventures.com, 315-986-3011)

Cruising New York State’s Erie Canal on one of Erie Canal Adventures’ Lockmasters © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Solo Travel

Traveling solo is one of the big trends in travel. Bike tours are an excellent choice (I can attest). So are rafting trips, river, expeditionary, and small-ship cruises and canalboats.

Western River Expeditions suggests rafting itineraries – Grand Canyon, Colorado River, Salmon River – that have proved popular for solo travelers (https://www.westernriver.com, 866-904-1160).

Tour operators are also embracing solo travelers, offering departures that do not add the single supplement, for example, or matching up travel companions. EF Go Ahead Tours (GAT), a premier provider of culturally immersive travel experiences, announced it is introducing four new tours, for a total of 14, to its increasingly popular Solo-Only portfolio. EF Go Ahead Tours, is running its Semi-Annual Sale through June 29:  Book a 2023, 2024, or 2025 tour by June 29 to lock in the lowest price and take up to $400 off of the cost of their trip.  June 20 and 21, the Summer Solstice Flash Sale will offer Up to $800 off remaining 2023 tours.  To make travel even more accessible, EF Go Ahead’s flexible booking policies including AutoPay lets you hold a spot with $99 down and wait 60 days before your first interest-free payment. (www.goaheadtours.com, 800-590-1161).

Skyscanner Savings Generator

Global travel site Skyscanner has launched the new and expanded summer edition of its Savings Generator tool to help travelers save big this summer. 

The global travel sitecurrently searches 80 billion prices every day, so Skyscanner’s experts have crunched the numbers to share some simple dos and don’ts for grabbing the best bargain this summer. 

Put your desired route into the Savings Generator to see if it’s available. If not, bookmark the page and check back because Skyscanner adds new destinations to the list.

To provide a comparison, the Savings Generator starts by displaying the average monthly flight price for your destination. From there, it shows you the best time to book your flight and the cheapest day to travel on. If you’d like to consider a less-expensive alternative, the Generator displays different destinations, their average monthly flight price for travel, and the best day to go in order to save money. (See more: https://www.skyscanner.com/tips-and-inspiration/best-time-to-book-savings-generator)

Getting there: Skyscanner has beefed up its Savings Generator to find the best fares for summer travel © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Travel the last week of the school summer holidays (instead of the first) and save 31% 

To save big this summer, travel on a Sunday (most of the time)! 

Travelers who are flexible and can fly on less popular days of the week can save up to 5% on the cost of their flights this July and August according to Skyscanner’s Summer Savings Generator. An added bonus is that airports are likely to be less crowded too. As 73% of Americans share, they would be willing to change the day and/ or week of their summer vacations to save this year, it really pays to do your research by Use Skyscanner’s Whole Month view.   

There are still inexpensive deals – just search EVERYWHERE for the very best prices  

To let Skyscanner’s algorithm find the cheapest deal, just type in ‘Everywhere’ with your travel dates.  

_____________________________

© 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 

Summer in the City: Festivals! Events! Happenings! Make the City Hot, Hot, Hot and Cool Man, Cool

The iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the anchors of the annual Museum Mile Festival, this year, with eight major museums opening their doors for free admission and special programs, June 13 6-9 pm © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

New York City’s summer cultural season kicks off with the 45th Annual Museum Mile Festival – the Big Apple’s “biggest block party” –on Tuesday, June 13, from 6 to 9 pm, rain or shine. Walk the mile on Fifth Avenue between 82nd Street and 104th Street while visiting eight of New York City’s finest cultural institutions, open free during these extended hours: The Africa Center, El Museo del Barrio, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Jewish Museum, Neue Galerie and the Museum of the City of New York (which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year). It’s an electric, eclectic festive atmosphere, with live music and street performers all along the avenue, plus special exhibitions, works from permanent collections and special family-oriented activities inside.

The Museum Mile Festival is the Big Apple’s biggest block party, with street entertainment and free admissions to museums © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

It is also an opportunity to see the major exhibits underway throughout the summer:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Van Gogh’s Cypresses, thru August 27: Vincent van Gogh’s most famous artworks, Wheat Field with Cypresses and The Starry Night, take center stage at Van Gogh’s Cypresses, the first exhibition to focus on the trees immortalized by one of the most beloved artists of our time. Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty thru July 16, highlighting the designer’s body of work spanning from the 1950s to his final collection in 2019, the show will have approximately 150 pieces on display.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: Sarah Sze: Timelapse  thru September 10: For this solo exhibition, Sarah Sze created a series of site-specific installations that weave a trail of discovery through multiple spaces of the Guggenheim’s iconic Frank Lloyd Wright building.

100th Anniversary of The Museum of the City of New York: The museum has amassed a collection of over 750,000 objects including photographs, prints, costumes, paintings and more to celebrate, document and interpret the City’s past, present and soon-to-be-announced future. These major exhibits are on view: This Is New York: 100 Years of the City in Art and Pop Culture exhibit explores how the City has served as a muse for storytelling over the past century; through a variety of mediums such as film, music, literature and visual arts, the exhibit presents a diverse and engaging portrayal of NYC. Food in New York: Bigger Than the Platethru September 17, highlights the City’s raucous and diverse food culture all while examining the various challenges of NYC’s food systems. From sustainability to equitable access to food, the exhibition explores the ways artists and designers are creating solutions to address the global and local challenges we face when it comes to the food system.

El Museo del Barrio: Something Beautiful: Reframing La Colección, thru March 10, 2024. One of El Museo del Barrio’s most ambitious presentations to date features a complex and culturally diverse permanent collection of 500 artworks, including artist commissions and acquisitions, focusing on the contributions of Amerindian, African and European cultures, through rotating displays over the course of a year.

The Museum Mile Festival is just the first of a whole series of festivals, special events, cultural happenings that make the city hot, hot, hot, or cool man, really cool. Here’s a roundup:

New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks: priceless music for free © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, have become an iconic New York summer experience since they began in 1965, transforming parks throughout the city into a patchwork of picnickers enjoying friends, family, and music under the stars, for free! This summer Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts two iconic masterpieces — Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man — plus a potpourri of overtures by Rossini and J. Strauss II, and works by NY Phil Very Young Composers. June 13, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx; June 14, Central Park, Manhattan; June 15, Cunningham Park, Queens; June 16, Prospect Park, Brooklyn; – these concerts begin at 8 pm followed by fireworks. Also, June 18, Staten Island at 4 pm. For weather and updates, call Concert Info Hotline at 212-875-5709, https://nyphil.org/

Picnicking in Central Park, a tradition before the start of the New York Philharmonic concert © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Shakespeare in the Park presents: Hamlet by The Public Theater, Delacorte Theater, Central Park, Manhattan, June 8–August 6, 2023 directed by Tony Award–winner Kenny Leon and featuring Tony Award–nominee Ato Blankson-Wood in the title role. Same-day tickets can be obtained by lining up (early) at The Delacorte or at a borough distribution site (2 tix pp), or by  an in-person lottery in the lobby of The Public Theater at 425 Lafayette Street, or through a digital lottery via the TodayTix mobile app or website. A limited number of advance reservation tickets can be had by making a contribution in support of Free Shakespeare in the Park. Info at 212-967-7555 or visit publictheater.org.

More free Shakespeare! New York Classical theater company is performing Shakespeare’s Richard III, Tuesday through Sunday, 7-9 pm (Central Park West & 103 St., June 13-25); Brooklyn Commons (Myrtle Avenue & Bridge Streets, June 27-July 2) and Carl Schurz Park (East 87th St., July 4-9).  You can also watch the rehearsals taking place in Central Park, 10 am-3:30 pm Tuesdays through Sundays until June 9. (You can also watch the rehearsals taking place in Central Park, 10 am-3:30 pm Tuesdays through Sundays until June 9.) Make a FREE reservation and receive pre-show notice of weather cancellations at https://nyclassical.org/richardiii.

Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island, NYC with Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Jazz Age Lawn Party, now celebrating its 18th year, is one of the world’s most authentic Prohibition-era-inspired gathering, taking place this year June 10-11 and August 12-13, on Governor’s Island. Hosted by Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, one of the world’s premier Jazz Age dance orchestras, specializing in the Hot Jazz of the 1920s. Featuring Dreamland Follies, a ten-lady Art Deco dance spectacle evoking the great Ziegfeld; Queen Esther; Peter Mintun; Gelber & Manning band; Roddy Caravella and The Canarsie Wobblers, with their scandalous Charleston numbers and rebellious and exuberant spirit of Roaring ‘20s youth. Plus dance lessons, bathing beauty contest. Purchase tickets in advance. Governor’s Island (a getaway destination in itself), reached by ferry from Lower Manhattan (Battery Maritime Building located at 10 South Street, adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry)and Brooklyn. (https://jazzagelawnparty.com/)

Free Summer Programming at Little Island, Chelsea, Manhattan, June 7–September 3: The award-winning public park on the Hudson River Greenway, hosts an array of free programming including performances from Tony-, Grammy-, and Emmy Award–winners and nominees; drag bingo; DJs; dance parties; Teen Night; Broadway performances.

Free concerts and programs are underway at Little Island, the award-winning oasis off the Hudson River Greenway © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!, Brooklyn, June 7–August 24, celebrates its 45th anniversary, with a lineup of artists from around the world honoring the diversity of Brooklyn and the broader BRIC community. This year’s lineup includes Corinne Bailey Rae, Kelela, Liv.e, Robert Glasper, NxWorries (Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge).

Bargemusic free concerts, Saturdays, 4 pm through August, Music in Motion” Series — a one hour performance (no intermission), including a Q & A session with the musicians. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1; close to the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn (https://www.bargemusic.org/admission-free-concerts/).

Forest Hills Stadium’s 100th Anniversary Concert Lineup, Forest Hills, Queens, thru September 30: music and comedy performances from some of the biggest names in music and entertainment, including The Strokes, Fall Out Boy, Kevin Hart, Steve Lacy, LL Cool J’s Rock The Bells Festival, Duran Duran, Maggie Rogers, Toro y Moi, Weezer, Arctic Monkeys, LCD Soundsystem, Dave Matthews Band.

Carnegie Hall Citywide, Citywide, June 9–August 4: Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the beloved free concert series highlights renowned local artists from an array of musical genres. 

SummerStage 2023, Citywide, June 3–September 30: now in its 37th season, hosting free and benefit live performances in 13 parks across the five boroughs from a range of musical genres including salsa, jazz, country, opera, Afrobeats, hip hop. The annual concert series will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with concerts featuring artists from NYC.

Blockbuster Exhibitions

“Invisible Worlds” at the American Museum of Natural History’s new Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation puts you inside the body’s nerve system © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at the American Museum of Natural History: The newly opened $465 million addition to the museum has been hailed internationally as a soaring architectural achievement, and houses world-class research facilities and scientific collections and innovative exhibitions. Admission by timed entry, reserved online. Open daily, 10 am–5:30 pm. American Museum of Natural History,200 Central Park West, 212-769-5606, amnh.org. (See: AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY’S NEW GILDER CENTER IS LIGHTYEARS FORWARD IN IMMERSING, ENGAGING UNDERSTANDING OF THE SECRETS OF LIFE )

The imaginative architecture of the new Gilder Center at the American Museum of Natural History sets the tone for the experience that awaits within © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Harry Potter: The Exhibition, Herald Square, Manhattan, opened May 2023 for a limited time: Fans can celebrate Harry Potter and the entire Wizarding World with the most comprehensive touring exhibit in world. Featuring favorite moments, props, costumes, characters, and locations, the exhibition delights visitors with powerful storytelling married with interactive technology to explore iconic film scenes, creatures and characters from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films as well as the Tony Award–winning Broadway production Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Harry Potter™: Tickets (for timed entry, but you can stay as long as you want) start at $29 for adults. 50 W. 34th Street (34th Street and Broadway). www.harrypotterexhibition.com. (See: IMMERSIVE WORLD OF HARRY POTTER EXHIBITION ENCHANTS NEW YORK BUT ONLY FOR LIMITED TIME)

Fans and superfans alike will be ecstatic to be immersed in the newly opened Harry Potter: The Exhibition, the most comprehensive touring exhibition ever presented on Harry Potter and the entire Wizarding World, is on view in Herald Square in midtown Manhattan but only for a limited time © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Africa Fashion at Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, June 23–October 22 180 works celebrating the global impact of African fashions from the 1950s to present day; 180 works are presented. 

Gardens & Works by Ebony G. Patterson at New York Botanical Garden, The Bronx, thru September 17: known for her lavishly detailed mixed media installations, this major site-specific exhibition showcases her breathtaking and provocative displays of art and nature. 

Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch at National Museum of the American Indian, Lower Manhattan, through January 1, 2024, examines and celebrate more than 50 years of Shelley Niro’s paintings, photographs, films and more. Filled with humor and references to pop culture, the exhibition offers a glimpse into the artist’s timeless cultural knowledge and generational history of her Six Nations Kanyen’kehá:ka (Mohawk) community. 

New Photography 2023: Kelani Abass, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Yagazie Emezi, Amanda Iheme, Abraham Oghobase, Karl Ohiri, Logo Oluwamuyiw at Museum of Modern Art, Midtown Manhattan, through September 16. The return of its beloved series, New Photography for the first time since 2018, the new exhibition will explore the photographic work of seven artists united by their critical use of photography and their ties to the artistic scene in Lagos, Nigeria. This is also the museum’s first group exhibition in its history engaging in the work of living West African photographers. 

Hispanic Society of America,Washington Heights, Manhattan, reopens its Main Building June 2023 after six years of renovations and improvements. Since 1904, the museum has been the home to over 750,000 objects including rare books and masterpieces from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries. 

Armstrong Corona Campus (formerly the Louis Armstrong House),Corona, Queens, Summer 2023, after undergoing a physical and programmatic expansion debuts a new cultural center with an interactive exhibit, archival collections, a 75-seat performance venue and store, all dedicated to celebrating and preserving the life and legacy of the legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong.

Ukrainian Institute of America, Upper East Side, Manhattan, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the art, music and literature of Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora, celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2023.

Malibu Barbie Café New York, The Seaport, Manhattan, thru September 15: Barbie fans will be transported to a 1970s Malibu California café filled with the beloved doll’s signature colors and casual, family-friendly fare including Pacific Paradise Pancakes, West Coast Wedge Salad and a California Dreamin’ Club Sandwich, all made by Master Chef finalist Chef Becky Brown. The pop-up will also be complete with photo ops inspired by Malibu Barbie including a life-size doll box, exclusive merchandise and more.

New York City is the epicenter of the art world and not just the famous, prominent, important museums but a plethora of galleries tucked into neighborhoods like The Lower East Side (who would have expected such magnificent art around the corner from the Bowery Mission, where you will also find the New Museum of Contemporary Art), Tribeca, Chelsea and the Meat Packing district under the High Line, and East and West Village. You get to experience the works of artists who should be displayed in the major museums, and perhaps will be. David Barnett’s “Collectomania” is on view at Ivy Brown Gallery through June 6 (artist talk on June 6, 6-8 pm) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Under Cover: J.C. Leyendecker and American Masculinity at New-York Historical Society Museum & Library, Upper West Side, Manhattan, thru August 13 explores the work of J.C. Leyendecker, a prominent American illustrator, and his influence on shaping ideals of masculinity in the early 20th century. Through a collection of his iconic magazine covers, the exhibit examines Leyendecker’s depictions of stylish, confident and athletic men, highlighting their impact on shaping cultural perceptions of masculinity during that time. 

Craft Front & Center: Exploring the Permanent Collection at Museum of Arts and Design, Columbus Circle, Manhattan, thru January 14, 2024, featuring a collection of over 3,500 objects, as well as a fresh installation of more than 60 historic works and new acquisitions dating from the golden age of the American Craft movement to the present day. 

Yayoi Kusama: I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers at David Zwirner Gallery, Chelsea, Manhattan, thru July 21: In one of her largest gallery exhibitions to date, celebrated contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama features new paintings, sculptures, flowers, and an Infinity Mirrored Room. 

Collections of Culture: 50 Years of Hip Hop Inside Libraries, Museums and Archives at Queens Public Library, Flushing, Queens, thru August 21, a celebration hosting an array of in-person and lived-streamed programs.

Oceanic, Portal at Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, Soho, Manhattan, thru August 13, through various mediums and perspectives, the exhibit invites viewers to contemplate the fluidity, liberation and transformative power represented by the vastness of the ocean and its connection to LGBTQ+ identities. 

Vulnerable Landscapes at Staten Island Museum, Randall Manor, Staten Island, thru December 30, highlights the Staten Island shorelines at the forefront of climate change in NYC, examining the past while navigating the route forward. 

Darrel Ellis: Regeneration at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, South Bronx, thru September 10, the first comprehensive, scholarly survey of pioneering artist Darrel Ellis, the exhibition highlights Ellis’s body of work that combines painting, printmaking, photography and drawing before his untimely passing in 1992, co-organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art, 

Uniquely NYC Tours

Brooklyn Chocolate Tour – A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, Brooklyn: Enjoy chocolates from some of the finest traditional and artisanal chocolates out of Brooklyn on this recently resumed tour. Guests can learn more about the history of chocolate and watch demonstrations as they explore many of the borough’s most beloved chocolate shops, including the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, The Chocolate Room, Raaka Chocolate and Li-Lac Chocolates. 

Sustainable Harlem – Like a Local Tours, Harlem, Manhattan: support hyper-local and community-based organizations in the historic neighborhood of Harlem with this socially impactful tour. Guests will learn about many of the sustainable movements within Harlem and the people behind them such as the New York Fair Trade Coalition at the Sustainable Fashion Community Center, Simone from Green and Blue Eco Care and more. 

Culinary Tour in Washington Heights – MAD Tours & Events, Washington Heights, Manhattan: Explore this culturally rich neighborhood (featured in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights”) on a special food tour. Known as one of Manhattan’s Latino hubs, Washington Heights is home to some of the City’s best Dominican, Mexican, and Cuban food. 

Food Cart Tour: Jackson Heights – Turnstile Tours, Jackson Heights, Queens: Explore many of the local flavors in one of the City’s most diverse neighborhoods right in the heart of Queens on a two-hour walking and tasting tour. Sample delicious favorites from around the world while learning more about the people and organizations helping the City’s street vendors continue to thrive. 

Retail Store Tours, Brooklyn & Manhattan: Explore the driving forces changing the retail landscape and the best of retail innovation in this two-hour tour led by industry professionals.  

The Alice Austen House,Staten Island © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

New York City Borough Pass, Citywide: a new sightseeing pass designed to showcase the beauty of the neighborhoods and cultures across all five boroughs. The pass features a diverse roster of popular attractions, museums, performing arts venues, including the Alice Austen House Museum, MoMA PS1, New York Botanical Garden, Van Cortlandt House Museum, Staten Island Children’s Museum.

The Go City Pass for New York City offers 100 different options in all five boroughs. For example, the two-day all inclusive pass, giving access to as much as you want/can do from among 105 attractions is $134 – regardless of how much the actual attractions charge (GoCity.com, 800 887 9103).


During US Open Fan Week, which takes lace the week before the US Open Tennis starts, you get to watch the qualifiers, as well as a front-row seat to watch tennis stars, like Nadel, working out  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The grand finale to New York’s summer sensations: US Open Tennis Championships, Corona, Queens, August 28–September 10: It begins with US Open Fan Week, August 23-28, when the grounds are open to the public with free admission, so you can watch the (thrilling) US Open Qualifying Tournament, watch open practices of the tennis stars, and additional scheduled exhibitions. This year, there is the first ever US Open Food Event Thursday August 25, 2022, 7pm-9pm; special appearances by athletes like former Top 5 ATP Player James Blake, and entertainment. (https://www.usopen.org/

For more New York City visitor information, visit https://www.nycgo.com/

_______________

© 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

Mill Falls Emerges as Destination Resort on New Hampshire’s Famed Lake Winnipesaukee

Mill Falls’ rustic elegance invites guests to immerse in the gracious tranquil ambiance of New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Lake Winnipesaukee, “The Smile of the Great Spirit,” gets its name from a charming and romantic legend of the Abenaki Native American tribe who lived in this New Hampshire Lakes region for 11,000 years. The tranquil setting here indeed, immediately brings smiles to generations of visitors.

And Mill Falls at the Lake, in Meredith, proves a fabulous base for immersing yourself in the pleasures of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region.

With a most picturesque setting on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire’s largest lake, Mill Falls is a most unusual sort of lakeside resort complex, with four distinct inns – Bay Point and Church Landing on the water, connected by a lakefront boardwalk, and The Inn at Mill Falls and Chase House across a busy boulevard. Mill Falls also offers a full-service Cascade Spa, EKAL Activity Center, five restaurants, 12 shops in a four-story Marketplace housed in the historic mill with a 40-foot waterfall, and a vibrant Main Street community to complete the experience.

Mill Falls invites guests to immerse in the gracious tranquil ambiance of New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Mill Falls’ name pays homage to its heritage – the story told in historic photographs that grace the walls. Meredith started as a mill town powered by the flow of water.

In 1983 Meredith Bay Corporation bought the mill property, raising most of the buildings, but reconstructing the historic old mill into a four-story “Marketplace” shopping experience. Most of the original hand-hewn beams and wide barn boards remain; a half-ton copper cupola acquired from the North Woodstock church tower was hoisted to a new perch on the mill roof. A shopping plaza with three new retail buildings was created and the lovely 54 room Inn with swimming pool was added. The area was beautifully landscaped, incorporating the waterfall.

The opening of the Inn at Mill Falls and the Mill Falls Marketplace was the end of the industrial chapter for Meredith, but the beginning of a new era for the town.

In 1993, the company acquired an office building on the lake, which was reconstructed into the Inn at Bay Point.

Chase Landing at Mill Falls on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Then, in 2003, after St. Charles parish moved, HHH acquired their old church and waterfront property – a spectacular promontory that juts into Meredith Bay. Rather than raze the church, HHH incorporated the structure into its stunning design in the style of the great shingled camps of the 1880s. Church Landing opened in May 2004.

The Boathouse at Chase Landing is set right on Lake Winnipesaukee shore © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In addition to a spectacular new inn, Church Landing added 1,000 feet of boardwalk to create a three-quarter mile contiguous public walkway along Lake Winnipesaukee’s waterfront, connecting Church Landing with The Town Docks Restaurant, The Christmas Loft, two public parks, and the existing walkway system that extends past The Inn at Bay Point. It also includes two 60-foot docks and a public gazebo and pier, which are attached to the existing town docks system. The final and crowning touch to Church Landing is the full-service Cascade Spa.

Three-quarter mile of connected boardwalk and walkways lead from Chase Landing to the Town Dock restaurant to the Inn at Bay Point and beyond © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Yet another incarnation has taken place with the acquisition of Mill Falls at the Lake in 2019 by Procaccianti Companies, a New England-based, second generation privately-held real estate investment and hospitality services organization. The property is managed by its hospitality management affiliate, TPG Hotels & Resorts.

The new owners acquired the activities center, EKAL (lake spelled backwards), so has control and access to the rental bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, aquacycles, canoes that are now incorporated into a new daily schedule of programs, including both free activities as well as fee-based ones.

The EKAL Activities Center is central to Mill Falls’ new activities program © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The new General Manager Nick Squire and new activities director, Sharon Wells, are turning this lakeside gem into a full-fledged destination resort, and even a wellness retreat.

“Everything I do is sharing wellness,” the aptly named Sharon Wells (her motto, ‘Sharing wellness”) tells me during the ice cream social she is hosting on the Boathouse patio on a Saturday afternoon.

Sharon, who has spent her entire career in wellness, came to Mill Falls in April to create an activities program. Her idea is to expand it with creative and clever ideas.

She organizes a schedule of daily activities that are provided at no extra charge to guests – like pilates, yoga, cardio kick boxing, or meditation on the boathouse lawn; paddleboard yoga, a fun ice cream social on the boathouse patio, jump rope, water balloon toss on the boathouse lawn, Art at the Lake (paint in plein air), a campfire or a fire spinning demonstration. She invites the Coast Guard to give a talk on reading navigation charts, local fisherman to talk about their life, an herbalist to do a plant walk, wild animal demonstrations by the Squam Lake Science Center, a presentation by the Loon Center (there are 26 loon pairs on the lake).

Fire-spinning demonstration, one of the nighttime activities in Mill Falls’ program © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

A score of activities are available to guests at extra fee – guided hikes, guided bike rides, guided kayaking trips, a sunset cruise on the Mill Falls’ pontoon boat (also available for charter) and in winter, skiing at nearby Gunstock Mountain – that take in the spectacular nearby preserves, mountains and lakes.

Sharon is developing weekend programs organized around wellness, hiking, leaf-peeping and the like, and plans to add Winter Wonderland activities, ice skating for when the lake freezes, snow shoeing, micro-spiking, Nordic skiing, winter hiking (check the website for dates). A group can request customized programs.

“My background is wellness, fitness, health. I came here in a time of need to be healthy. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental illness, obesity, drug addiction, alcoholism – these are top killers in US. The only way to become healthy is to be educated – get outdoors, eat better, meditate, work body-mind-spirit.”

A small beach for swimming in Lake Winnipesaukee at Chase Landing at Mill Falls © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

She adds, “’Winnipesaukee’ means Smile of the Great Spirit – it’s about experience, memory, enjoying one’s family, exploring and discovering lakes region. True experience is gained through exploration – nature, beauty. I want people to appreciate the larger world beyond you. Let people feel calm, serenity, peace of wilderness. This place offers Yesteryear Simplicity – a place to de-stress, refresh, eat well, live well. We teach how to live a healthy lifestyle,” as she offers returning kayakers her cucumber, ginger and mint smoothie.

After leaving the ice cream social, following Sharon’s suggested route, I take my bike for a 10-mile ride following the lakeshore to get a taste of these neighborhoods.

Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire–25 miles long, 15 miles wide at its widest point, it has 72 square miles of surface, 182 miles to circumvent the lake, and contains some 244 islands, some as small as a quarter acre. (Neighboring Shaum Lake was where “On Golden Pond” was filmed).

Lake Winnipesaukee is 45,000 acres – about as big as Lake Tahoe, but because it is not deep (as Lake Tahoe is) and as little as a few feet deep near the shore, the water is in 70s, comfortable for swimming, and there are beaches.

Mill Falls invites guests to immerse in the gracious tranquil ambiance of New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The setting is incomparable: crystal clear waters of the spring-fed Lake Winnipesaukee at the foothills of the White Mountains, surrounded by three mountain ranges and a the wooded shoreline.

It’s a haven for boaters – and if you don’t have your own, there are many places to rent any manner of boat or watercraft. There are ports all around the lake where you can just tie up and go ashore to enjoy restaurants, go to shops, buy ice cream.

There is much to explore on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee by boat or by car. Meredith is a restored mill village, where you can browse through antique, art and craft galleries. Weirs Beach has arcades and boardwalks, waterslides, a public beach and an activity center. Wolfeboro is a picture perfect village, right down to its historic Main Street. Center Harbor, Moultonborough, Tuftonboro, Alton, Gilford and Laconia all have their own special flavor. All communities have public parks and docks, and feature varied activities such as fireworks displays and band concerts throughout the year.

Mount Washington Cruises, a New Hampshire tradition since 1872, offers scenic and sunset dinner dance cruises on the 230-ft. M/S Mount Washington and two smaller vessels, the US mail boat, Sophie C., and M/V Doris E.

You can cruise along on the M/V Sophie C – the oldest and one of only two floating United States Postal Service post offices still operating – as it makes its deliveries to eight of Lake Winnipesaukee islands © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

It is a special experience to cruise along on the M/V Sophie C – the oldest and one of only two floating United States Postal Service post offices still operating – as it makes its deliveries to eight of the lake’s islands.

Floating post office service was started on Lake Winnipesaukee in 1892. The Sophie C. was built by Boston General Ship & Engine Works in 1945 to temporarily replace the Mount Washington, when the Navy commandeered its engines and boilers during World War II and took over the mail route from the Uncle Sam II in 1969. Sophie C. delivers mail Monday-Saturday, June to September, sells postage, and collects and postmarks outgoing mail. Sophie C. also operates as a sightseeing boat, carrying up to 125 people on her two cruises a day as she delivers mail, and sells ice cream and snacks to residents of the islands she serves.

Gazebo on Lake Winnipesaukee © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There are any number of places nearby for hiking, biking, mountain biking: Belknap Mountain, Mt. Major, Chamberlain-Reynolds Memorial Forest, West Rattlesnake Mountain, Red Hill, Gunstock Recreation Area, Abenaki Tower, Cotton Valley Trail and Russell C. Chase Bridge Falls Path.

Wakefield, which prides itself on being a bicycle-friendly community, offers six loops ranging from 11 to 52 miles long.

(More information from the New Hampshire Lakes Region Tourism Association including Lake WinnipesaukeeSquam LakeOssipee Lake, Lake Opechee, Mirror Lake, Newfound LakeLake Winnisquam and the White Mountains, 603-286-8008, lakesregion.org.)

Gunstock Mountain, 15 minutes away from Mill Falls, offers hiking trails, treetop adventures, mountaintop yoga classes, and electric biking; ski lifts, which in winter, access217 acres of skiable mountains, are open year-round.

Hermit Woods Winery offers wine tastings and tours (Food & Wine Magazine included it in its 2017 “500 Best Wineries in America”).

The 18-hole Waukewan Golf Club course,designed and opened by Dr. Melvyn Hale in 1958, is a few minutes away from Mill Falls.

Funspot, founded in 1952 by Bob Lawton  offers 600 games including 300 classic arcade games, a 20-lane ten-pin and candlepin bowling center, indoor mini-golf, restaurant and tavern (it was named the largest arcade in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008). Lawton, who reportedly still works at Funspot, is a former representative to the New Hampshire legislature and revived the Weirs Times in 1992.

The timeless all-seasons resort on Lake Winnipesaukee, Mill Falls offers 171 rooms across all four inns, each with its own special ambiance – Church Landing, Bay Point, Chase House, and The Inn at Mill Falls – with all the elements for a family gatherings, destination wedding, corporate event or wellness retreat.

Indoor/outdoor pool at the Boathouse at Chase Landing at Mill Falls © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Church Landing (which includes the Boathouse where I stay) is a luxurious lakefront lodge with 70 rooms and is the best choice for a family or resort stay. It has two indoor/outdoor pools, the full-service Cascade Spa and Salon, stunning grounds and landscaping that just invite you to sit with a book or just gaze out to the lake, a small beach from which you can swim to a dock. You wander through Chase Landing, through lovely libraries and sitting areas, the walls covered with bookcases, stone fireplaces, a stunning mural depicting the lakefront, pool room, a patio with a stunning stone fireplace, wicker furniture, old wood beams. There is also the Lakehouse Grill which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a lovely bar/lounge, with a lovely Adirondack feel and stunning views to the lake. The atmosphere is just wonderful.

My room, a spacious king suite with a balcony overlooking the lake, in the Boathouse, is a charming stone building with gorgeous wood rafters, and an old timey Adirondack-style rustic elegance  that instills tranquility.

Bay Point is a 24-room inn perched at the end of Meredith Bay with gorgeous views; completely renovated in 2018, it has a nautical ambiance.  

Bay Point at Mill Falls on Lake Winnipesaukee © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The original Inn at Mill Falls, with 54 rooms and an indoor pool, is set within a restored 19th-century linen mill with a tumbling 40-foot waterfall.  It is adjacent to the Marketplace shops, restaurants and main street activities.  (Pet friendly rooms are available.)

The newly renovated Chase House, across the street from Meredith Bay, offers 21 guest rooms and the Camp Restaurant with a cabin-style atmosphere, servers embodying camp counselors, and specializes in comfort food. (There is no actual children’s activity camp at Mill Falls)

Town Docks on Lake Winnipesaukee © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There are delightful restaurants in each of the lodging buildings – Camp, Lago, Lakehouse Grill, Waterfall Café, Giuseppe’s Pizzeria and Ristorante – are run by The Common Man company.  I thoroughly enjoy breakfast in the charming Lakehouse Grill, in Chase Landing, with a wonderful Adirondack ambiance and views of the lake. There is also the Town Docks restaurant in the midst of the complex– a bustling place each evening, with outdoor lakefront seating.

Mill Falls tent is popular for summertime weddings © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Mill Falls on the Lake is exceptionally well set up for wedding, meetings and conferences with several ballrooms (and now, in summer, a permanent tent on the lawn) and meeting rooms.

Mill Falls is very much a four-seasons resort – I see how marvelous it is in summer, I can only imagine how magnificent fall foliage is here, when the colors turn to crimson and gold, then winter white with the lake frozen enough to skate, and then, the pastel colors of spring’s renewal.

Mill Falls at the Lake, 312 Daniel Webster Highway, Meredith, NH 03253, 800-622-6455, 844-745-2931, [email protected], www.millfalls.com.

______________________

© 2021 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. Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Wyoming’s Red Reflet Ranch Provides Unmatched Experience for Families

Trail ride on the Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming. The horse riding program at is the one of the best anywhere. Red Reflet Ranch owners Laurence and Bob Kaplan invite their guests to live a contemporary Wyoming ranch life – in high style © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Eric Leiberman, David Leiberman & Laini Miranda

All the things that brought such delight when you were a kid – what theme parks and adventure parks try to emulate –are right outside our doorstep. But the real thing. This is the Red Reflet Guest Ranch, in Ten Sleep, Wyoming.

And what a doorstep! Our chalet is nestled amid red rock bluffs, overlooking a pond and green pasture and designed with windows to bring the breathtaking outside scenery inside. Every luxury and convenience to make you feel comfortable. At home. Even the breakfast fixings of fresh eggs from the chicken coop, pancake mix, tastiest bacon ever, freshly baked bread.

Enjoying breakfast on our porch at The Ponds chalet amid the red rocks of Red Reflet Ranch © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Red Reflet Ranch is the perfect antidote for families separated over the past year, a perfect place to come together, play together, share new experiences, as our family did, coming from opposite coasts.

Red Reflet is most certainly not a “dude” ranch, which connotes some rustic cowboy fantasy. When Bob and Laurence Kaplan bought the 28,000-acre cattle ranch 20 years ago and decided to welcome guests into their home five years later, Bob deliberately set it up so that every guest would feel personally invited, and have the opportunity to merge into their ranch life. It’s a Western-version of being invited to someone’s country estate.

The Ponds chalet just below the lodge at Red Reflet Ranch © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

With only four guest chalets available, for a maximum of some 28 guests at one time, the main purpose of the ranch, I suspect, was to provide a constant stream of new people to entertain, share life stories with.

“It was a personal decision, never a business decision, to open the guest ranch,” Bob says. “If it was, we would have 50 guests. I never visited a guest ranch – I knew what I wanted.”

What Bob wanted was for guests never to be nickled-and-dimed, but for all the amenities and activities of the ranch (the list goes on and on, and when you book they send you the list so they can be prepared to offer you the activities you select) to be included. This includes horseback riding (best riding program I have ever experienced on any guest ranch) – even riding clinics for those who might want to learn roping or barrel racing – plus activities you would never expect, like each of us having an ATV to drive around the ranch for the length of our stay as well as the use of mountain e-bikes to explore 100 miles of trails, and zip-lining.

ATVs are your transportation around the 28,000-acre Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

I never imagined myself driving an ATV (I got on the back to ride with Eric on the nail biting trails up to the cliff ridge); Laini had her first experience zip-lining and David and Eric had their first experience riding e-bikes up mountain trails. We all found new self-confidence and satisfaction in being able to take that “leap of faith” to try new things and conquer other challenges, and in the process, had these extraordinary experiences to share and enjoy together.

Bob shows us to his substantial wine collection, explaining his coding system (all the wines he buys are rated 90 or higher by Wine Spectator) – just help yourself. Beer is kept in a cooler and served in frosted mugs.

A portion of Bob Kaplan’s wine collection, available to Red Reflet Ranch guests © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The invigorating feeling is about place to be sure – the red-rocks and green pastures dotted with horses or cattle, not to mention 5,000-feet altitude, are breathtaking – but even more, it is about experience – the things you do and share. The Red Reflet Ranch is about creating opportunities to engage, immerse.

And not just with each other, but learning about the lives of the other guests and, of course, the ranch’s staff, like Nate Smith, the executive chef, a fifth-generation Wyomingite, born near Yellowstone Park who grew up hunting, fishing, working on the farm, and eating off the land by necessity, whose father is a butcher who runs a roadhouse, bar and restaurant called Cassie’s in their hometown of Cody; Penny Ready, the general manager who oversees the horses and riding program and relates how her great grandfather homesteaded here; and Bryley, who works with the horses and just graduated high school and bought her first horse.

Laurence Kaplan welcomes us to the Red Reflet Ranch © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

It’s a guest ranch – emphasis on guest –with an extraordinary level of luxury and hospitality, of warmth and welcome. Everything from the design, accommodations and amenities in these magnificent chalets, to the exquisite dining and stellar culinary creations. But while everything is topnotch, sophisticated quality, there is no pretention, the atmosphere is completely relaxed.

After dinner conversation, games and music around the fireplace at Red Reflet Ranch © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The style reflects owners Laurence and Bob Kaplan’s zest for life. Both are jet pilots (they fly their Cessna 500 from the Ranch’s airport, WY00), have traveled the world, speak multiple languages, and are philanthropists. After successful careers in business, they made the ranch their full-time home opening a new chapter in their lives and a place to welcome the world.

We feel it as soon as we arrive – welcomed in the lodge commanding the most spectacular view through a wall of windows, to have cocktails together before an elegant dinner (not your cliched ranch fare) served family style, with Bob and Laurence at the table in the magnificent dining room in a lodge perched with the best view of the red-rock canyon.

Executive Chef Nate Singer introduces each course and its clever combination of ingredients. “We don’t have same meal all summer,” Bob Kaplan says © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Executive Chef Nate Singer presents each course, each prepared with farm-to-table ingredients and delectable flavor pairings – as much as possible sourced from the ranch or locally, but also flown in from friends’ farms and other places.

It’s early in the season for Laurence to harvest what she grows on the ranch, so tonight’s asparagus was flown in from Bob’s friend in Michigan, the lettuce homegrown in Ohio. The watercress, though, was foraged from the creek bottom.

“We’ve never had this meal served tonight before,” Bob tells us, admiring Nate’s creativity. “We don’t have same meal all summer.”

During the course of our all-too-brief stay, we have elk (seared, sauted, tenderized) served with shitake mushrooms (Bob explains how he bow-hunts elk in September); rabbit ragout, marinated in red wine and served with homemade egg-yolk pasta, which Nate says is an old-world Italian recipe from one of the chefs he studied with, and the most delectable rib eye ever.  

The desserts, prepared by pastry chef Deth Dijon Kaiaphonr, feature a scrumptious chocolate mousse concoction, Deth by Chocolate; a Yuzu tart with Chantilly cream; a Basque cheesecake with white chocolate and black cherry compote, all presented with exquisite flare.

Pastry chef Deth Dijon Kaiaphonr prepares “Deth by Chocolate” dessert © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Lunches are light yet so satisfying. Executive Sous Chef David Oulette prepares a chicken with wild mushroom soup, salad with walnuts, black grapes, balsamic vinegrette.

After dinner, Bob shows us to our chalet, The Ponds, pointing out our breakfast fixings (and how to prepare the grocery list) and all the aspects of this exquisite vacation home.

Our first morning, we are scheduled for a 10 am horseback ride – horseback riding is a stellar feature of the ranch. It’s been literally decades since any of us have ridden. Penny Ready, who manages the riding program as well as serves as general manager of the ranch, shows us the indoor riding arena (great in winter) and fits us for cowboy boots that we get to keep with us for our stay, then matches us to horses (they have 40) that will give us the best riding experience based on their personality and our experience.

Penny Ready gives David horseriding pointers © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 

We get familiar with our horse in the corral and get tips on holding the reins properly, the correct way to have our feet in the stirrups, and how to control the horse. David, who hasn’t ridden in years and years, looks like he was born on a ranch, and soon is trotting, cantering, loping around the ring, with Penny fine-tuning his technique. We go out for our first trail ride, swooning amid the scenery of the red rocks and grey-green sagebrush.

Red Reflet Ranch has 40 horses available for guests; in addition to trail rides, guests can take clinics and even help wrangle cattle © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Our next ride is even more sensational and more extensive – the absolute prettiest trail and most fun ride ever – that takes us much further onto the ranch amid the cattle (probably the most contented Angus anywhere).

Penny Ready leads us on the most fun, scenic trail ride ever at the Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Penny Ready leads us on the most fun, scenic trail ride ever at the Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Penny Ready leads us on the most fun, scenic trail ride ever at the Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

If you are inclined, when there is cow work to be done, you can “cowboy” the herd – ride with the wranglers to look over the herd, moving them as needed. From cattle drives to branding and gathering, they offer opportunities to experience what real ranching is about. In spring this might include branding, checking newborns and giving inoculations, sorting and pairing cattle.

After our first ride, we walk over to pick up our own ATV to use to get around the ranch and explore their trails into the hills (100 miles of trails for ATVs, mountain biking, hiking on property; guided tours are available). There have a fleet ATV’s and Side-by-Sides (SBS’s), even two kiddy ATVs. 

Red Reflet Ranch has 100 miles of trails for ATVs, mountain biking, hiking © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Our second morning, Laurence has organized zip-lining for all of us – which requires the assistance of several staff. She shows us in how to use the system, sets us up, then flies down herself showing off masterful techniques with a twinkle in her eye and a mischievous smile (like flipping upside down). There are four ziplines in the course which the ranch installed a few years ago and is ideal for team-building and family bond-building – and also affords the most amazing views of the ranch.

What a way to see Red Reflet Ranch! Laini has her first zip-lining experience © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Laurence Kaplan shows off her upside down flip on the zip-line © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The ranch affords any number of opportunities for simple relaxation. Our favorite is the natural “Cowboy Waterpark”– a great swimming hole fed by a 3,000-foot deep Artesian well, which constantly refreshes the water at a natural 76-degrees temperature. There is a suspension bridge to a small island (we dubbed “Peter Pan island”), giant rope swings, zip line into the water, paddle boards, kayaks, a water slide and canoe and a sand beach and beach chairs – as ideal for team building as for giggling sibling bonding.

David and Eric enjoying the Cowboy Waterpark © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
David and Eric enjoying the Cowboy Waterpark © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We make time to swim in the gorgeous pool with the most spectacular view and the tennis court (rackets and balls are available) and check out the well-equipped fitness center,  climbing wall, playground  and basketball hoop – all atop this stunning bluff. You can also do riflery on the shooting range and archery.

Bob invites me to accompany him to the far reaches of the ranch where he built a Mountain Cabin, as he collects memory cards from motion-operated cameras that photograph when a black bear comes by (!), elk and other animals.

Bob Kaplan collects his memory cards from his motion-operated cameras that capture images of wildlife, including a black bear, in the far reaches of the 28,000-acre Red Reflet Ranch © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

And I get to learn more about ranching – the intricacies of growing alfalfa, irrigation, water rights, and what’s involved in leasing pasture for cattle. It brings me back to my most meaningful college course, Ecological Anthropology (I wrote my final paper on how raising rabbits could solve poverty in Appalachia and at the ranch I get my first taste of cooked rabbit).

Driving from the lodge, we see the stunning changes in topography – from the rolling red hills to rolling grey-green sage hills, to a landscape dotted with Aspens (best for wildlife, the leaves are highly nutritious, Bob explains) and Lodge Pole Pine. It’s wildflower season and the hills explode with color of Spring Beauty, Lupines, Buckwheat, Yellow Bell, Columbines, Alpine Wallflowers, Balsam Roots, Black-eyed Susans, Larkspur, Showy Fleabane and Blanket Flower. Bob says he has to wait for the Larkspur, a brilliant purple flower, to wilt before cattle can be brought here because the flower is poisonous.

Idyllic scene just outside The Ponds chalet © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We arrive at the mountain cabin, at some 3,000-feet altitude higher than the ranch, which is lovely, and powered by solar panels and a propane-fueled generator. It is used as a ‘rest stop’ for hikes, horseback rides, and ATV adventures by Ranch guests.

We switch to the side-by-side vehicle to travel around this pristine wilderness. I see what remains of the devastation of a tornado with 130 mph force that felled 5,000 trees. I get a glimpse of a 10-day old antelope running after its mother.

While Eric and David do mountain biking, Laini paints the stunning scene at the Red Reflet Ranch © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Meanwhile, David and Eric have taken mountain e-bikes to explore trails while Laini paints. We come together to swim and play tennis before dinner.

Relaxing in the Red Reflet Ranch pool © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In the night, I get up to do another of the ranch’s signature activities: star gazing. I just have to walk out onto the porch and see stars so striking, you feel you can pluck them with your hand. The Milky Way is laid out before your eyes. Serious star-gazers, can use the Meade Telescope set up in the lodge.

On our last day, after the most magnificent horseback ride, we take our ATVs back onto the trail that goes along the red rock rim. I am terrified to drive myself so I ride with Eric to have this amazing adventure.

On the back of Eric’s ATV as he drives  the rim ridge trail at the Red Reflet Ranch © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There is so much to do on the ranch that we don’t get to take advantage of some marvelous attractions nearby (in Wyoming terms), so I have on my list for when we return:

This is an area that dinosaurs roamed  – in fact, a nearby ranch was the site of a dozen complete dinosaurs that were excavated, and there is paleontology ongoing in the area (the ranch hosted paleontologists from the American Museum of Natural History). One ongoing excavation is at Dana Quarry, part of the Morrison Formation near Ten Sleep, where, weather and scheduling provided, you can view a live dinosaur dig where paleontologists are unearthing bones that date back 150 million years.  

Castle Gardens which has an outcropping of sandstone which the wind has eroded into fanciful shapes – hoodoos – resembling the turrets and towers of castle. This unusual formation has been luring visitors for thousands of years, and many of them left their mark in the soft sandstone–the area holds a treasure of Native American rock art, or petroglyphs. The site is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (Castle Gardens Petroglyph Site, Wyoming – Recreation.gov)

The Nature Conservancy Preserve of Ten Sleep, an 8,500-acre sanctuary for protected wildlife (open Thursday-Sunday, it was formerly owned by a Pepsi bottler and used for a Girl Scout camp) abuts the ranch.

There are scenic wonders – mountain ranges, canyons, pure mountain streams and lakes – all around the ranch, including the 1,115,000-acre Big Horn National Forest and 200,000-acre Cloud Peak Wilderness.

Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming has 100 miles of trails for ATVs, mountain biking and hiking © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We are also reminded that this land was once the home Indian tribes. The name of the town, Ten Sleep, refers to the number of “sleeps” to travel between two Indian camps on their trade route. The area is loaded with history, as I learn. Local museums include:

Ten Sleep Pioneer Museum has exhibits that show everyday life of pioneer families, tools,  clothing used to carve out a life in the rugged Old West. A special exhibit recreates the Spring Creek Raid that took place on the Red Reflet Ranch which marked a turning point in the rivalry between sheepmen and cattlemen.

Washakie Museum, Worland, tells how early settlers came to Wyoming and created lives for themselves with little knowledge of what to expect; it offers a major historical photograph collection, exhibits made for children to ‘touch’, art exhibits and learning programs focused on the geology, paleontology and archaeology of the region.

Also, The Buffalo Bill Historical Center , in Cody.

The chalets are luxuriously outfitted and decorated. Bob designed each to bring the stunning views inside with big picture windows. The amenities don’t stop: a steam shower in the master bedroom, fireplace, full kitchen, laundry facilities, TV, even walkie-talkies (some parts of the ranch don’t get telephone reception), the refrigerator stocked with all the breakfast fittings anyone could want – farm fresh eggs from their own chicken coup, pancake mix, bacon (best ever), fresh marmalade, snacks, freshly baked bread (and they send us home from dinner with fresh pastries).

Morning light outside The Ponds chalet at Red Reflet Ranch Ten Sleep, Wyoming © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Penny Ready’s dogs help round up the horses at Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Ponds Chalet, where we stay, is located at the entrance of the red rim canyon. It is 1,620 square feet with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and accommodates up to six guests.

The Ponds chalet, Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Bob Kaplan designed the Red Reflet Ranch chalets to bring the outside in © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 
The Panorama and The Couples chalets command the highest perch at the Red Reflet Ranch © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Panorama Chalet sleeps 6 and is 1,856 square feet, commands the most amazing views of sunrise and sunset, canyon vistas and views of the Big Horn, Jim Bridger, Owl Creek, and Absoroka Mountain Ranges.

On the same perch as the Panorama Chalet, the Couple’s Chalet, a 1,400 square feet and sleeps up to 4, is designed around a Great Room with large windows from which to regale the red rock canyon.

The Ranch House sleeps up to 14 and is ideal for large families or groups. It has a large yard, a pond and a tree house in the yard, and is near the greenhouse, garden and chicken coop, a favorite place for young guests who want to help gather fresh eggs.

The ranch is open year-round – I can imagine how magical it is in winter, when activities like tobogganing, sledding, snowmobiling are available as well as horseback riding and snowshoeing.

Red Reflet Ranch is a ideal for a family gathering, reunion, multi-generational getaway, destination wedding (!), corporate retreat, team-building, incentive travel program. It has the best combination of authentic, genuine experience and, yes, luxurious comfort.

The rate puts Red Reflet Ranch into the luxury category, but it is the sort of special vacation experience that is worth saving for.

Red Reflet Ranch, 10 Lodge Road, Ten Sleep WY 82442, 307-366-2340,  866-766-2340, www.red-reflet-ranch.net.

______________________

© 2021 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. Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

From Glamping to Biking to Hiking, New York State Makes it Easy to Get Out There!

After a year’s hiatus, registration for the 2021 Cycle the Erie 8-day, 400-mile biking adventure from Buffalo to Albany is now open for a limited 350 riders. The 350-mile long Erie Canalway is now part of the state’s 750-mile long Empire State Trail Network © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, when so much was locked down and out of reach, New York State parks and outdoors were a godsend, providing needed respite. Indeed, the state’s parks received a record number of visitors, even as measures were in place to control capacity. And throughout the year, the state consistently made improvements and found ways to be available to more people.

The improvements are part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY Parks 100 initiative, which renews the historic commitment to investing and expanding the State Park system by committing at least $440 million over the next four years.

“This critical period of revitalization will culminate in the 2024 celebration of the 100th anniversary of the State Park Act, which first created our nation-leading State Park system in 1924 under Governor Al Smith. NY Parks 100 will continue crucial investments in park infrastructure while enhancing opportunities to reach the full range of New York State’s recreational and cultural offerings, including local parks and trails, regional flagship parks and historic sites, and vast wilderness parks. The initiative will focus on creating places to recreate locally, relieving overcrowded parks, welcoming new visitors, and protecting New York State’s environmental and historic legacy. This new plan will ensure people from all communities and across all ages and abilities can fully experience our outdoors, our culture, and our heritage,” the state said.

Here are some of the improvements that will welcome visitors this year:

New York State has formed a new public-private partnership for a new tent camping service with 45 sites at four State Parks in the Hudson Valley. Tentrr’s fully outfitted campsites are available to reserve at the Sebago and Silver Mine areas of Harriman State Park in Orange and Rockland Counties; Taconic State Park and Lake Taghkanic State Park in Columbia County; and Mills-Norrie State Park in Dutchess County.

The service provides tents, sleeping accommodations and an array of equipment needed for camping at each site. All items are set up and ready to use upon arrival for added convenience and sites are maintained by Tentrr staff.

All locations include a 10-foot by 12-foot, canvas-walled tent atop a raised platform. Each site is outfitted with a queen-sized bed and memory foam mattress, a propane heating source, a solar-powered “sun” shower, a camp toilet, water container, Adirondack chairs, a fire pit, grill, and a picnic table with storage and benches.  

Tentrr camping site at the Sebago area of Harriman State Park, New York. The tenting service has a partnership with New York State to provide 45 glamping sites at four state parks in the Hudson Valley.

Guests have the option of single, double, and triple sites. Singles sleep up to six (two occupants in the main tent and four occupants in a provided pop-up tent). Double sites – or buddy sites – sleep up to 12 (two occupants in each of the two main tents and four occupants in each of the two provided pop-up tents) and triples can accommodate group camping. 

Sites are $135 per night, with a portion going toward the maintenance and stewardship of New York State Parks.

While Tentrr’s sites are naturally socially distanced, Tentrr adheres to state guidelines for maintaining and sanitizing the sites. Tentrr will continue to keep sites clean and wiped down with high-grade sanitizers and encourages guests to follow recommended COVID requirements and protocols. For more details on Tentrr’s COVID-19 protocols, visit here

To make a reservation, visit tentrr.com/nysp. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance.

Camp Rockaway

Through the Reimagine the Canals initiative, Camp Rockaway, a New York State based outdoor excursion company, is managing the site at Lock C-5 on the Champlain Canal in Schuylerville between Memorial Day weekend and September 8, with possible extension through early October. The glamping site will offer vacationing New Yorkers an opportunity to experience the vast history and bucolic landscapes of one of New York’s oldest canalside communities by enjoying luxury camping on the banks of the Canal.

Through the Reimagine the Canals initiative,  Camp Rockaway, a New York State based outdoor excursion company, will manage the site at Lock C-5 on the Champlain Canal in Schuylerville between Memorial Day weekend and September 8, with possible extension through early October.

Reservations are now being accepted for a glamping experience on the Champlain Canal that will attract visitors to the State’s historic upper Hudson Valley and boost the local economy that is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This new glamping experience is the latest innovation from Governor Cuomo’s $300 million Reimagine the Canals initiative that is revitalizing the Canal corridor as a tourism and recreation destination while simultaneously boosting economic development and the resiliency of canalside communities.

Visit https://camprockaway.com/schuylerville/.

Biking, Cycling the Eric Canal

Parks & Trails NY is offering its sensational eight-day, 400-mile biking adventure along the Erie Canalway for a 23rd year in 2021, after a hiatus in 2020. Riders will leave Buffalo July 11 and reach Albany on July 18. Registration is open for spots, limited this year to 350.

The route follows the legendary Erie Canal passing locks and aqueducts and winding through historic villages and rural farmlands. Over the course of the eight days, cyclists enjoy stunning pastoral scenes, fascinating history extending 400 years in which the story of how America came to be unfolds, and some of the best cycling in the United States. Covering between 40 and 60 miles per day, cyclists travel along the Erie Canalway Trail, which is now more than 85 percent complete and the east-west axis of the statewide 750-mile Empire State Trail.

You can’t help but become immersed in history on Parks & Trails NY’s annual Cycle the Erie ride, 400-miles from Buffalo to Albany and 400 years of history © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Designed as a supported camping trip, accommodations are provided with showers, toilet facilities, some with pools or lakes for swimming; eight breakfasts and six dinners; two daily refreshment stops along the route; evening entertainment including music and historical presentations; guided tours of the Canal, historic sites, museums and other attractions including the Women’s Rights National Historic Park, Erie Canal Museum and Village, Fort Stanwix National Monument and a boat tour through the Lockport locks; kick-off reception and end-of-tour celebration; Cycle the Erie Canal t-shirt; baggage transport; SAG wagon and mobile mechanical support; daily maps and cue sheets; painted and arrowed routes; pre-departure info packet including training tips. Other amenities available (at additional fee) include fresh daily towels, gourmet morning coffee, tent and air mattress rental and set up (for those who don’t want to pitch their own tent).

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of riders, volunteers, staff, vendors, and local community members is at the forefront of planning. With this in mind, the tour is limited to 350 participants and volunteers; all registrations will be for the full eight-day option; and to keep everyone safe and meet state and local COVID-19 regulations, registration fees have increased this year.

The price up until June 7 is $1200/adult, $650 youth (6-17); $290 child (5 and under); shuttle is $100.

The PTNY coordinators are following the guidance from New York State, and will be prepared to follow all regulations in place in July. Registrants will be notified of any updates or changes. Visit New York State’s COVID-19 Travel Advisory to stay abreast of restrictions that might impact your travel plans.

Find answers to questions riders may have on the Cycle the Erie Canal FAQ page. If there are questions that aren’t covered, email  [email protected].

Can’t do the Parks & Trails NY’s Cycle the Erie ride? Among the bike tour companies offering the trip, Wilderness Voyageurs offers a self-guided inn-to-inn tour (https://wilderness-voyageurs.com) and Classic Adventures (https://classicadventures.com/) and Womantours (www.womantours.com) offer guided itineraries.

Cyclists ride the Erie Canalway as Erie Canal Adventures’ Lockmaster sails by © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Another way to enjoy the Erie Canal is by boat – and bring a bike along. Erie Canal Adventures’ fleet of 11 custom-designed Lockmasters sail from Macedon, near Rochester, NY, and with enough time, you can cruise some 200 miles from Buffalo to Lake Oneida in Syracuse along the canal. Besides sailing along the Erie Canal (as far as , you can also sail on other waterways, taking spurs south to the Finger Lakes, or north up the Oswego canal to Lake Ontario. Erie Canal Adventures, 315-986-3011, www.eriecanaladventures.com.

With all these marvelous ways to enjoy the Canalway, the trail system was more popular in 2020 than any prior year, according to the 2020 Who’s on the Trail report from PTNY and the NYS Canal Corporation. The system saw a record 4.2 million visits in 2020, with 3.97 million visits made to the 360-mile Erie Canalway Trail between Albany and Buffalo and 288,000 visits to the 90-mile Champlain Canalway Trail between Waterford and Whitehall.

And now, the 353-mile long Erie Canalway, from Buffalo to Albany is linked and part of the state’s Empire Trail Network – 750 miles of interconnected off-road and on-road biking and recreational trails and lanes from the tip of Manhattan to the Canadian border.

Empire State Trail Open

New York’s ambitious Empire State Trail, now the nation’s longest multi-use state trail, is now fully opened. The trail network spans 750-miles total, 75 percent of which is off-road trails ideal for cyclists, hikers, runners, cross-country skiers and snow-shoers. The new recreational trail means you can go from New York City north-south through the Hudson and Champlain Valley to Canada, and east-west from Albany to Buffalo along the Erie Canal on a safe and incredibly scenic pathway, discovering fascinating historic and cultural sites along the way.

Biking over the Rosendale Trestle, 150 feet above the Rondout Creek, on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, part of the New York Empire State Trail © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Empire State Trail website provides quick and easy access to trail information including segment descriptions, access points, trail distances, parking areas, restrooms, and nearby amenities and attractions. The website’s responsive and user-friendly design allows users to access interactive maps from mobile devices, zoom in to specific location of interest, and download/print maps of trail segments. Cyclists can print “cue sheets” with highly detailed directions for following a selected trail segment. The site also features information about the variety of activities and destinations on or near the trail such as campgrounds, parks, historic sites, and popular stops among the local communities. (empiretrail.ny.gov/)

To promote the opening of the Empire State Trail, the state has formed a partnership with the nationally-known Boilermaker race to create the “Empire State Trail Challenge” virtual race where participants can register and log their miles to reach milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail, through July 31.  

Participants can register now and begin logging their miles walking, running or cycling. Participants would complete the mileage of at least one leg of the Empire State Trail: either the Hudson Valley Trail: 210 miles (New York City to Albany); the Erie Canalway Trail: 350 miles (Albany to Buffalo); or the Champlain Valley: 190 miles (Albany to Canada Border at Rouses Point). Participants can sign up as teams or individuals. For more information or to register, visit the website.

Although people are encouraged to the explore the actual Empire State Trail, participants can run, walk, or ride anywhere geographically, on local trails and running/bicycling routes near where they live to log and complete the challenge.

Each entrant receives a t-shirt with their $25 entrance fee for a single leg of the trail. If interested, participants can register for additional legs at the time of registration or any time during the race period at $5 per leg. Challenge participants will enter their mileage on an online platform over the duration of the race window, reaching milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail, and have the ability to share their experiences on social media.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “The Empire State Trail Challenge is one of the ways we are building back better at our state parks and trails. Our parks and trails have been safe and healthy outlets for everyone during the pandemic. Whether enjoying a fun nature break with friends and family, or truly testing their limits, the Empire State Trail Challenge offers participants of all ages and abilities a rewarding and socially distanced opportunity to enjoy New York’s outdoors.”

The Empire State Trail website provides quick and easy access to trail information along the 750-mile route including segment descriptions and an on-line map identifying off-road trails connecting on-road sections, trail distances, designated parking areas, restrooms, and nearby amenities and attractions. (https://empiretrail.ny.gov/)

Discovery Bicycle Tour on Empire State Trail

Here is what well may be the first bike touring company to come out with a guided, inn-to-inn trip along the recently completed north-south section of the Empire State Trail in New York State:  Discovery Bicycle Tours’ has introduced a six-day itinerary that rides from the very tip of Manhattan, to Albany.

The six-day trip rides 200 miles of the newly completed Empire State Trail, which actually extends 750 miles from Manhattan to Canada and from Buffalo to Albany.

Discovery Bicycle Tours’ six-day Empire State Trail trip starts on the Hudson River bikeway at the tip of Manhattan and rides up 200 miles on newly connected trails to Albany © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.

The Discovery Bicycle Tour goes through a wide variety of landscapes in New York State. Cycle passed the Freedom Tower and Manhattan skyscrapers, through forests, along lakes and rivers, with a triumphant finish in Albany, the state capital. You can be one of the first to enjoy this full section of the newly finished Empire State Trail, which allows cyclists to traverse the state almost entirely on dedicated hike/bike paths and routes.

Many miles are on dedicated rail-trail. And the riding is fairly flat with gentle hills. Look for vistas of the Catskill and Shawangunk mountains as you follow the gorgeous Hudson River Valley — favorite subject of Hudson River School landscape painters in the mid-1800s. As a bonus, you cycle across the Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge, and the iconic Rosendale Trestle.

Rated Level 1 (easier), daily cycling mileage ranges from 28 to 47 miles.

Accommodations are in casual and historic inns and a stylish boutique bed-and-breakfast.

The tour includes: 5 nights’ lodging, 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners (you are on your own for 1 dinner in Rhinebeck), cycling routes with detailed maps and/or app-based navigation for those interested, plus bicycle, helmet, tour guides and van support, free week-long parking for guest cars in Hawthorne, NY. Free transfer on final day to either the Rensselaer Train Station (Albany) or take the van transit back to Hawthorne.

The trip is scheduled June 6-11, July 25-30, Aug. 1-6, Aug. 29-Sept. and Oct. 3-8, and is priced at $2,495; https://discoverybicycletours.com/empire-state-trail-bike-tour.

Discovery Bicycle Tours, Woodstock, VT., 800-257-2226, [email protected],  www.discoverybicycletours.com.

Adirondacks Preserve Gets Larger

Meanwhile, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the state has acquired 1,263 acres of land in the Warren County town of Johnsburg in the southern Adirondacks. The parcel includes Huckleberry Mountain, an elongated peak that tops 2,400 feet, with spectacular cliffs on the ridge’s south and southwest face.

“Through the Environmental Protection Fund, New York State continues to invest in land acquisitions that conserve open space and preserve the natural beauty of this great state for future generations to visit and enjoy,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.  “Preservation of the spectacular Huckleberry Mountain lands will benefit the region for generations to come, providing new opportunities for visitors to explore the outdoors.”

Hiking in New York’s Adirondack Preserve. The state just acquired 1,263 acres of land in the Warren County town of Johnsburg in the southern Adirondacks. The parcel includes Huckleberry Mountain, an elongated peak that tops 2,400 feet, with spectacular cliffs on the ridge’s south and southwest face. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation purchased this property from the Open Space Institute for $770,000 using resources from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund. Permanent conservation of this land will enhance recreational access in the region and offers opportunities to connect New Yorkers with nature, protect crucial watersheds, and improve important wildlife habitat in this part of the Adirondack Park. The newly protected land adjoins Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, which includes Crane Mountain, a popular, publicly accessible mountain peak that also provides access to exceptional cliffs for climbers. The Huckleberry Mountain parcel contains a wide range of wildlife habitats, including a high quality cold-water stream—Crystal Brook—that is excellent for brook trout, cliff faces that are a preferred nesting place for the endangered peregrine falcon, and a wetland complex home to an active heron rookery.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which were visited by a record 78 million in 2020. To book a spot in a New York State campground, go to https://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com/. For more information, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.parks.ny.gov.

______________________

© 2021 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. Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Driveable Adventures: Bike Tours Are Ideal Vacation Choice This Season

Biking the history-rich, scenic Delaware & Lehigh Trail (the D&L). Pocono Biking has a four-day, 142 mile guided inn-to-inn tour © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

by Karen Rubin
Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Bike tours offer one of the best vacation alternatives in these times when people want to be outdoors in open spaces, and enjoy stunning landscapes, discover heritage and history and have that opportunity for shared experiences that travel uniquely provide. There is still time this season to take advantage of guided, self-guided and private bike tours from companies including Pocono Biking, Wilderness Voyageurs and Discovery Bicycle Tours.

Pocono Biking has space on departures this season on a supported four-day bike tour that takes you 142 miles of the Delaware & Lehigh rail trail, also known as D&L Trail.

I did this ride, anchored by the charming town of Jim Thorpe and the famous historic landmark at Washington Crossing, on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Sojourn, though with camping instead of inn-to-inn along this scenic and history-rich trail (railstotrails.org). The RTC trip also was operated by Pocono Biking, a powerhouse outdoors- adventure company in the area well known for its rafting adventures on the Lehigh River in the Lehigh Valley.

The trip, traveling through 57,600 acres (90 miles) of state park, is designed so you get to enjoy three of Pennsylvania’s award winning quaint small towns: Jim Thorpe, Bethlehem and New Hope. Essentially, we follow the route of Anthracite Coal, from mine to market, which thrust America into the Industrial Revolution. Along the way, we see the geography, the resources, and the technological innovations that made this possible, and how they affected the society, the culture, and the economy of the fledgling nation. The trail, part of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, is so historically significant that it is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate.

Buttermilk Falls, along the Delaware-Lehigh Trail, is a highlight of Day One’s ride through Lehigh Gorge State Park © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Day 1 – 36 miles: The adventure starts in the wilderness of the Lehigh Gorge State Park, riding passed waterfalls and spotting wildlife (deer!), taking advantage of the newly connected D&L Rail Trail into the charming town of Jim Thorpe.  The first night is spent amid mountains in the Inn of Jim Thorpe, circa 1849.

A poster of Native American Olympian Jim Thorpe hangs in the Jim Thorpe Inn, in the town that was renamed for him © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Jim Thorpe – an odd name for a town – was established in 1818 as Mauch Chunk, which means “Mountain of the Sleeping Bear,” the name the Lenni Lenape Indians gave to the nearby mountain. But it was later renamed for an Oklahoma-born Native American, the Olympic hero Jim Thorpe, who is buried there. Thorpe was born in Oklahoma in 1888 and raised on the Sac and Fox Reservation and had never set foot in the borough.  But Patsy Thorpe, Jim’s third wife, cut a deal with two struggling towns in Pennsylvania, that if they would merge, rename themselves Jim Thorpe and build a memorial to honor him, she would present them his remains for burial.

The town played a key role in the emergence of the United States as an Industrial Revolution powerhouse. Here, entrepreneurs led by Josiah White formed the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company in the 1820s (you can still see the brick building), which shipped tons and tons of anthracite coal and other goods to market via the Lehigh and Delaware Canals which they constructed. The town grew in importance when it was named Carbon County’s seat in 1843.

Asa Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe, PA © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

A major attraction here is the Packer Mansion, which I was lucky enough to visit on my trip. Asa Packer’s story epitomizes the rags-to-riches-for-those-with-grit-and-a-good-idea American Dream: Born poor in Mystic, Connecticut, Asa Packer (1805-1879) left home when he was 17, setting out on foot to Brooklyn, Pennsylvania where he apprenticed as a carpenter to his cousin, Edward Packer. In 1828, he married Sarah Minerva Blakslee (1807-1882) and the couple tilled a farm they rented from Sarah’s father.  But after four years, they were just as poor as when they started. So hearing that men were needed to captain coal barges on the Lehigh Canal, Asa traveled to Mauch Chunk, in the winter of 1832. He used his skill as a carpenter to build and repair canal boats. He resettled his family in Mauch Chunk and became the owner of a canal boat that carried coal to Philadelphia, then opened his own firm, A. & R. W. Packer, which built canal boats and locks for the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company.  

He tried to get the company to build a railroad, but was refused. So, in October 1851, risking financial ruin, Packer purchased nearly all the controlling stock and interest for the unfinished Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad (later known as the Lehigh Valley Railroad).  By November, 1852, he expanded the railroad from Mauch Chunk to Easton, Pennsylvania, in exchange for the company’s stocks and bonds, and later into New York State. 

He became the third richest person in the world and parlayed his business success into political success, serving as a Judge, a state representative, a two-term Congressman (1853-7), and even challenged Ulysses S. Grant for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1868. He narrowly lost election to become Pennsylvania’s Governor in 1869.

The Packers settled in their Italianate Villa in Mauch Chunk in 1861 and, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, on January 23, 1878, held a fantastic gala (a newspaper printed in gold described it, and the man who performed their wedding attended). Asa died just 18 months later.

Biking the Delaware-Lehigh Trail © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

This quaint village is a hub for many marvelous attractions including the Packer Mansion; the Old Jail Museum (the eerie dungeon where the Molly McGuires were jailed; Cell 17 with its mysterious handprint on the wall, under the gallows on which seven of the accused Molly Maguires were put to death); the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, St. Mark’s Church, Historic Stone Row, the Mauch Chunk Opera House, Anita Shapolsky Art Center, Mauch Chunk Museum, plus wineries and distilleries (Big Creek Vineyard and Stonekeep Meadery), biking, hiking and rafting.

Jim Thorpe Visitors Center, 2 Lehigh Ave., Jim Thorpe PA 18229, 570-325-3673, jimthorpe.org.

Day 2 – 37 miles:  After a night exploring the shops, museums and restaurants in Jim Thorpe and breakfast at the Inn, cycle beside the locks and canals along the Lehigh River to the town of Bethlehem, PA. Along the way you pass the Lehigh Gap Nature Center with its protected land. There are stunning views of the Blue Mountain and Appalachian Trail. Bethlehem, circa 1741, an old Moravian settlement, has cobblestone streets, quaint shops, and history around every bend.  Spend the night in the Hotel Bethlehem where Presidents and dignitaries have stayed.

Biking the Delaware-Lehigh Trail © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Lehigh Gap Nature Center, a non-profit conservation organization at the foot of the Kittatinny Ridge, is dedicated to preserving wildlife and habitat through conservation programs such as the Lehigh Gap Wildlife Refuge, educational programs such as the Kittatiny Raptor Corridor Project as well as research. I linger in the butterfly garden before setting out again on the trail. (8844 Paint Mill Rd, Slatington, PA 18080, 610-760-8889, http://lgnc.org/)

Along the way, we come upon what is left of the original canal locks – stone walls, wooden gates with metal latches and gears, remnants from the mid-1800s. 

Historic Freemansburg, on the Delaware-Lehigh Trail © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

At Freemansburg, we find a lockmasters house, the remains of the locks and a mill, which, when I visited, was manned by interpreters in period dress. I wonder whether the village was settled by freemen and am told that it was named for one of the original settlers, Richard Freeman.

Freemansburg is a classic example of a canal town with houses and structures built up against the waterway that was the village’s lifeblood in the 1800s. Members of the Old Freemansburg Association (OFA) reclaimed a 1.5 mile section of the Lehigh Canal the Borough owns from overgrowth and debris and restored the towpath which became the D&L Trail. The OFA spearheaded efforts to protect and restore the 1829 Locktender’s House, mule barn, Lock No. 44, gristmill, and coal yard. Volunteers also reconstructed the barn using canal era tools and equipment, a project that took 10 years to complete. The multi-functional building now hosts weddings, educational sessions and interpretative demonstrations. (http://lehighvalleyhistory.com/history-of-the-borough-of-freemansburg)

Riding on, we come to an island that consists of a shuttered steel mill that today stands somewhat surreally like an abstract sculpture.

Bethlehem, PA: A shuttered steel mill looks like abstract sculpture © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Day 3 – 47 miles: After breakfast, the group departs Bethlehem and cycles south following the path of 19th century aqueducts to the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers. Visit the only operating mule drawn canal boat east of the Mississippi. Tour the National Canal Museum and pass through quaint river villages, until arriving in New Hope. New Hope offers bustling nightlife and cultural attractions such as the Bucks County Playhouse.

Two mules pull the Josiah White II canal boat at the National Canal Museum in Hugh Moore Park © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor interprets this fascinating period of American history in the 520-acre Hugh Moore Park through tours of the National Canal Museum and rides on the 110-passenger Josiah White II canal boat. Here you see remnants of the oldest industrial park in the region, a Locktender’s House and one of only three mule-drawn canal boats still operating in America, which plies a two-mile section of the canal that has been restored. The National Canal Museum, with hands-on exhibits highlighting 19th century canal life and technology, normally is open from June until October. (https://canals.org/)

Day 4 – 22 miles:  On day four, after breakfast at the Fox and Hound Bed & Breakfast, ride along the canal trail to Washington Crossing where George Washington crossed the Delaware in 1776.  You also cross the Delaware to the D&R Canal State Park and head north to Bull’s Island where the ride ends with lunch before being shuttled back to your car. 

Washington Crossing Historic Park, 1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, PA 18977, 215-493-4076, www.WashingtonCrossingPark.org.

A bike tour, whether guided or self-guided, is an ideal vacation choice this season © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Available dates at this writing include Sept. 14 and Oct. 5 (up to 14 guests per trip, with 2 guides; the minimum age is 13; e-bike rentals are available, but the trail is easy/moderate crushed gravel trail). The cost is $995 ($225 single supplement); $90 to rent a bike, and includes the overnight accommodations, professional bike guides; sag wagon; basic bike repair (replacement bike if needed to complete the ride); rest stops with snacks and water; breakfast on three days; lunch on two days; luggage transportation to each accommodation; morning trail briefings and transportation back to your car by 4pm on the final day.

If you would rather DIY, Pocono Biking also offers daily rates and shuttle service, Big Day Out & Big Night Out (Multisport Adventures), two-day trips, and Pocono Whitewater Rafting on the Lehigh River.

Pocono Biking, 7 Hazard Square, Jim Thorpe, PA, 570-325-8430, PoconoBiking.com.

Other bike tours available this season:

Wilderness Voyageurs, operating out of Ohiopyle, PA, is offering New York Erie Canal Bike Tour (4-days,Sept. 21); Great Allegheny Passage Bike Tour (4-days, Sept. 21, 28, Oct. 5), Easy Rider GAP Bike Tour (3-days,  Sept. 9).

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Sojourn on the Great Allegheny Passage Rail Trail, operated by Wilderness Voyageurs © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Other upcoming tours: Michigan Islands, Trails & Dunes Bike Tour  (8/30); Cycle Colorful Colorado Bike Tour (9/13); Katy Trail Missouri Bike Tour (9/27, 10/18) and
Kentucky Bike & Bourbon Bike Tour (10/19).

“Bike touring lends itself to a vacationing style that uniquely fits these times: small groups and big open spaces! Although we understand that traveling at this moment is not for everyone and is a personal decision, our goal is to minimize the risks where possible and make traveling as comfortable as possible.”

Wilderness Voyageurs, 103 Garrett St., Ohiopyle, PA 15470, 800-272-4141, [email protected], Wilderness-Voyageurs.com

Discovery Tours is inviting biking enthusiasts to design their own tour: “Pick any of our U.S. locations — or suggest a new one — and we’ll customize an incredible biking vacation just for you.”

Groups of 8 or more get one tour free (or spread the savings across the group). Special pricing is available for groups of 4 or fewer.

Biking with Discovery Tours in Woodstock, Vermont © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The company, based in Woodstock, Vt., has already run private tours this summer on the Mickelson Trail and Black Hills in South Dakota, in Maine and in New York’s Finger Lakes.

For details, contact Scott ([email protected]), [email protected], 800-257-2226, discoverybicycletours.com.

Find more trails through Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 2121 Ward Court, NW, Washington, DC 20037, 866-202-9788, railstotrails.org, TrailLink.com.

______________________

© 2020 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. Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures