All posts by MoralCompass

Karen Rubin, Editor & Publisher, is a veteran travel writer and publisher, who is devoted to the mission of travel: to engender understanding – of self and others – and break down the barriers and borders dividing people, while creating the economic underpinnings to sustain environment, heritage and culture and a base for uplifting, fulfilling jobs.

Time-Stressed Workers Will Benefit from These Epic Rafting ‘Shortcations’

Western River Expeditions and its Moab Adventure Center division, gurus of epic rafting vacations in the American West, offer a potpourri of wilderness immersions for time-stressed souls who can commit only a few days to their well-being.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – The gurus of epic rafting vacations in the American West offer a potpourri of wilderness immersions for time-stressed souls who can commit only a few days to their well-being.
 
Western River Expeditions and its division Moab Adventure Center, recently selected as two of the top rafting companies in the U.S. by the readers of Newsweek Magazine, have fine-tuned their “shortcations” that offer most — if not all — of the time-out benefits of longer escapes.
 
“Recent findings show that 40 percent of working Americans take only 4.4 vacation days a year,” reflected Brandon Lake, CMO and co-owner. “With this in mind, we have ‘shortcation’ river rafting trips that even for a day or two will help set your batteries on high-speed recharge.”
 
Following are adventures of only three or fewer nights available for the upcoming 2024 rafting season. These journeys begin and end in the red rock playground of Moab, Utah, except for one home-based from Las Vegas, Nevada, and one leaving from Merlin, Oregon. 

Cataract Canyon Express 2-Day/1-Night Rafting Trip: Cataract Canyon, the section of the Colorado River that flows through the heart of Canyonlands National Park, may be the nation’s premier river trip in terms of excitement and diversity. This 2-day adventure is offered May through July when traditionally the river offers the most thrilling rides. Customized, high-speed rafts add to the excitement of dropping through the canyon into a series of nearly 30 whitewater rapids along this 100-mile journey. The $955 per person rate (ages 12 and up) includes transfers, rafting, hiking, one night of camping under the stars, and meals. For details on the 2-day trip, please see https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/cataract-canyon-express 

Cataract Canyon 4-Day/3-Night Rafting Trip: This longer version of the 100-mile river adventure is offered May through September with a choice of conveyance depending on the level of thrill-seeking: J-Rig, Oar Boat, or Paddle Raft.  On off-river excursions there’s time to explore Native American ruins and pictographs.  Guests seal memories of the canyon with a stunning return flight over Canyonlands National Park. The per-person rate is $1,935. The youth rate is $1,425, minimum age 12 in May and June; age 10 July through September.  Rates include transfers (including the scenic flight), rafting, hiking, three nights of camping under the stars, and meals. For details on the 4-day trip, please see https://www.westernriver.com/cataract-canyon-rafting 

Lower Grand Canyon 3-Day/2-Night River Trip:  This April through September adventure that is based out of Las Vegas traverses 89 of the river’s lower miles with enough class II and III rapids to keep everyone on their toes. Hidden waterfalls and pools carve their way down to the river frequented by Blue Heron, hawks and eagles. The per-person rate is $1,895 for ages 9 and up. Rates include a flight to the river, a scenic helicopter flight into the depths of the canyon; bus transfers from the river back to Vegas; rafting, two nights of camping under the stars, hiking, and meals. For details on this 3-day trip, please see https://www.westernriver.com/grand-canyon-river-trip 

4-Day/3-Night Moab Vacation Southwest Sampler:  This adventure, available from June through August, combines the best of the red rock playground of Moab, Utah, with a 2-night stay at the Moab Marriott and one night camping on the Colorado River. This is one of Western’s most popular family experiences. First up is a morning exploration of Arches National Park with a van and walking tour alongside knowledgeable guides. Then comes an afternoon exploration of red rock country in an off-road Hummer Safari. The following two days guests will raft through class I and II rapids on the Colorado River and experience the fun of camping overnight on the river. This adventure is open to families with children ages 5 and up. The per person rate is $895; $765 for ages 5-15. Rates include transfers to listed activities, two nights of hotel accommodations in Moab, rafting, one night of camping under the stars, and meals while on the rafting adventure.  For details, please see https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/southwest-sampler 

4-Day/3-Night Rogue River Lodge to Lodge Raft Trip, Oregon: This journey, available from May through September, offers the advantages of lodge – instead of tent – accommodations. The Rogue begins near Crater Lake in the Cascade Mountains and runs westerly through southern Oregon to the Pacific Ocean. This river remains so remote that boats still deliver the mail in some regions where the river is the only road. Wildlife sightings may include river otters, deer and black bears. Guests raft this legendary waterway along 45 miles, with whitewater classified class II-IV. There is a choice of Oar Boat, Paddle Raft, or Inflatable Kayak. The per-person rate is from $1,990 for adults and $1,920 for ages 7-16. Price includes rafting, hiking, meals, and lodging. For details, please see https://www.westernriver.com/rogue-river-lodge-trip

For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2024 catalog, for questions, availability and reservations, call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669) or visit the website at: http://www.westernriver.com/. For information on Moab Adventure Center programs, call 866.904.1163 or visit https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/.
 
Founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey, Western River Expeditions annually escorts more people on rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon.  In 2023 it was chosen by the readers of USA Today 10Best as the #2 rafting company in the nation. In 2024 it was selected as one of the Top rafting companies in the U.S. by the readers of Newsweek Magazine. The company is also the proud recipient of the “Best of State” award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for the past nineteen consecutive years (2004-2022).
 
Moab Adventure Center is the largest single tour provider in Moab, Utah. Located at 225 South Main St. in Moab, the center has a 2,000-square-foot space booking tours and selling adventure related gear, clothing, maps and souvenirs. In April 2024, it was also voted as one of the Top Five rafting companies in the nation by the readers of Newsweek Magazine.

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5 Montana National Parks Tours

The phenomenal Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National Park. There are a variety of ways to experience one of America’s most popular parks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Here are a 5 exciting ways to explore Montana and its most popular National Parks. 

Explore Yellowstone and Glacier by RV: Discover the natural beauty of Yellowstone, Glacier, and more with the comfort and convenience of a new Winnebago RV, you’ll have the freedom to travel at your own pace and experience the great outdoors like never before. Based in Bozeman, MT, Blacksford’s brand new, luxury RVs and camper vans are low-mileage and impeccably maintained, ensuring a safe and worry-free trip. They offer flexible pick-up and drop-off times, all the amenities you’ll need for a fantastic vacation, and support to ensure a seamless rental experience. 

Saddle and Paddle Yellowstone: Flying Pig Adventures’ 3-night Yellowstone tour gives guests the opportunity to experience the park like never before. The thrill of witnessing one of nature’s most iconic environments, tackling rough terrain on horseback, and battling Class III rapids cannot be found anywhere else. From fly fishing, to horseback rides, to Yellowstone whitewater rafting, guests will be talking about their unique experiences for years to come. 

Cycle Glacier National Park: The Big Sky meets six days of big smiles on Escape Adventures’ epic Glacier National Park/Going-to-the-Sun Road bike trip. Based in Montana’s 1,583-square-mile Glacier National Park, with its 375 historic properties plus six historic landmarks, riders will cycle into some of North America’s most breathtaking landscapes, including Going-to-the-Sun Road. At each stop, each slow pass, guests will learn a little more about the “Crown of the Continent” ecosystem. 

Big Sky Luxury Adventure: In Big Sky, Montana, The Wilson Hotel serves as a base camp for adventure whether it’s winter or summer. Guests can ski and snowboard Big Sky Resort’s expansive 5,850 acres of terrain in winter, and hike nearby shaded forests and wildflower-filled meadows, raft or fly fish the clear waters of the Gallatin River, and experience the adrenaline rush of lift-served mountain biking in summer. At the end of the day, The Wilson offers spacious, sophisticated accommodations steps from on-site amenities and Big Sky Town Center. 

Glamping Cowboy Retreat:  Ranchlands is excited to formally open the 80,000-acre Paintrock Canyon Ranch in the Bighorn Mountains. Guests will immerse themselves in ranch life, explore the surrounding areas on horseback, fly fish, hike, and experience the natural world in this unique landscape. Accommodations are designed for guests to be as close to nature as possible, but with all the comforts of home. Large, safari-style tents are stylishly furnished with full-sized beds, bedside tables, dressers, and chairs. Meals are prepared by a private chef and incorporate Ranchlands beef, local produce, and dairy whenever possible. The ranch makes a great base camp for a Yellowstone National Park adventure.

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KURU: Top 10 National Parks for Hiking in 2024

Yosemite National Park, California, ranked highest for hiking in KURU Footwear’s list of Top 10 national parks for hiking © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

With Memorial Day around the corner, many are planning their summer travel. In fact, 48% of Americans say visiting a National Park is on their bucket list.  KURU Footwear has analyzed all 63 U.S. National Parks to rank the top 10 based on number of trails, miles of trails, average trail rating, and park crowd levels. 

Highlights from the report:

  • Three of the top 10 best national parks for hiking are in California.
  • If you tried to hike every single National Park trail in the United States, it would take 11 years if you did one trail per day!
    • 325.5 million Americans visited a national park in 2023, up more than 13 million people than the previous year.

Top 10 National Parks for Hikers in 2024:

  1. Yosemite National Park (CA)
  2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NC/TN)
  3. Yellowstone National Park (WY)
  4. Olympic National Park (WA)
  5. Shenandoah National Park (VA)
  6. Glacier National Park (MT)
  7. Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
  8. Sequoia National Park (CA)
  9. Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
  10. Kings Canyon National Park (CA)

Methodology: KURU used data from the National Park Service and AllTrails to find the number of available trails in all 63 National Parks in the United States, then ranked each on a scale of best to worst based on number of trails, miles of trails, average trail rating, and park crowd levels.

See the full ranking and report: https://www.kurufootwear.com/a/blog/best-national-parks-for-hiking

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Juneteenth Celebrations in Williamsburg, VA

Wednesday, June 19 is Juneteenth, the national holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States. This year, Visit Williamsburg is again partnering with the Juneteenth Community Consortium to promote the significance the destination played in this Black experience in American history. (Photo from Colonial Williamsburg)

Wednesday, June 19 is Juneteenth, the national holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States. This year, Visit Williamsburg is again partnering with the Juneteenth Community Consortium to promote the significance the destination played in this Black experience in American history.

From June 15-22, 2024, visitors can experience, celebrate, and reflect on this holiday’s importance at events throughout Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown such as Prelude to Juneteenth: The Emancipation Proclamation on the Virginia Peninsula at Jamestown Settlement, YJCW NAACP Juneteenth Community Festival at Freedom Park,and numerous special events like the sunrise service and communal quilt project at Colonial Williamsburg.

Among the events marking Juneteenth: talks and demonstrations at the Public Armoury by Master Blacksmith Darryl Reeves, a third-generation metal worker and owner of Andrew’s Welding & Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward. In addition to his contemporary furniture and decorative art creations, Reeves is the most celebrated architectural blacksmith in the Gulf South. He is especially renowned for his meticulous, historically accurate wrought iron restorations of antique fences, gates, balcony railings, and window grilles in the French Quarter and beyond. Reeves is reviving the traditions of New Orleans’ 18th- and 19th-century African American ironworkers by transmitting his vast institutional knowledge and trade skills to a new generation of apprentices through the New Orleans Master Crafts Guild. 

Art Exhibit, “I made this…”: The Work of Black American Artists and Artisans, on view in the Miodrag and Elizabeth Ridgely Blagojevich Gallery, celebrates the lives of eighteenth through twentieth-century Black American artisans and artists through the material culture they created. The title comes from a quote by 19th-century enslaved potter David Drake who inscribed these words on one of his pots despite laws prohibiting literacy for enslaved people. Drake is just one of the many artists represented in this exhibition. Objects from both Decorative Arts and Folk Art collections will be displayed in the same gallery contrasting the aesthetics and designs of men and women from different times, places, and backgrounds. These pieces represent the inspirations, resilience, and legacies of these talented makers.

Free Juneteenth Single-Day Ticket: In observance of Juneteenth, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is offering free admission to the Historic Area and the Art Museums on June 19 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Find more events and detailed information at https://www.visitwilliamsburg.com/events/juneteenth/.

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Bad RagARTz, Europe’s Largest Open-Air Art Exhibition, Opens in Bad  Ragaz, Switzerland

Bad RagARTz Exhibition, taking place May 4 – October 30, 2024, in Bad Ragaz and Vaduz, Switzerland, known as the Swiss Triennial of Sculpture, returns for the ninth edition as Europe’s largest open-air art exhibition featuring the works of 80 artists from around the globe. 

BAD RAGAZ, SWITZERLAND – Grand Resort Bad Ragaz  announced the return of the highly anticipated Bad RagARTz Exhibition, taking place May 4 – October 30, 2024, in Bad Ragaz and Vaduz. Bad RagARTz, also known as the Swiss Triennial of Sculpture, returns for the ninth edition as Europe’s largest open-air art exhibition featuring the works of 80 artists from around the globe. 

“We look forward to welcoming guests to experience our beautiful resort once again during the 2024 edition of Bad RagARTz,” says Milos Colovic, General Manager of Grand Resort Bad Ragaz. “Snow-capped mountain views, the ornate architecture of our three renowned hotels, and the lush greenery surrounding the resort creates the perfect backdrop to showcase this year’s collection of sculptures. Our guests’ experience is also enhanced by the culinary artistry showcased across Bad Ragaz through the collective six Michelin stars. We are thrilled to support this prestigious gathering of artists.”

Under the theme “Present,” Bad RagARTz aims to remove barriers and bring art directly to the public, inviting visitors of all ages to experience the works of these international artists. From the spacious parks of Bad Ragaz to the streets and squares of Vaduz just a 15-minute drive away, the exhibition offers an immersive cultural experience free of charge. Guided tours led by experienced professionals provide in-depth insights into the artworks, enhancing the visitor experience. Special tours tailored for children and teenagers aim to make art education playful and engaging, fostering a love for creativity and expression from a young age. 

The 2024 edition highlights a special piece this year, Brick House by Artist Simone Leigh. The 16-foot-tall sculpture is a bronze bust of a Black woman, which was originally showcased on New York’s High Line. Leigh was the first Black woman to represent the United States at the 2022 Venice Biennale, where she was awarded the “Best Sculpture Award” and the prestigious “Golden Lion” award. The sculpture was previously showcased on The High Line in New York City and can now be found on permanent display in the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz park. The exhibition also features works by acclaimed artists such as Daniel Spoerri, Gottfried Honegger, and Schang Hutter who are known for their iconic work in sculpture and design. Furthermore the exhibition shines a spotlight on young artists through the “Laboratory of Young Art,” offering financial support and a platform for emerging talents.

In addition to the outdoor exhibition, the Festival of Small Sculpture will take place in the historic Bad Pfafers near the renowned Tamina George. This offers visitors the opportunity to engage with smaller-scale artworks by the exhibiting artists. The festival, accompanied by literary, musical, and philosophical events, promises a vibrant celebration of art and culture. 

Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, nestled in the idyllic Alpine foothills of Eastern Switzerland, features 67pieces by 38 artists across its 120-acre grounds. Boasting two five-star hotels and a boutique hotel, the resort offers luxurious accommodations and world-class amenities, including an unparalleled thermal spa experience with multiple bathhouses. To book a stay at Grand Resort Bad Ragaz during Bad RagARTz, please visit the resort website: https://www.resortragaz.ch/en/

For more information on the Bad Ragartz 2024 exhibition, visit https://badragartz.ch/en

Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is located on the Alpine foothills in Eastern Switzerland. The property has two five-star hotels, Grand Hotel Quellenhof & Spa Suites and Grand Hotel Hof Ragaz, along with the boutique hotel Palais Bad Ragaz, offering 247 rooms and suites with styles ranging from historical to ultramodern. With six Michelin stars and a range of culinary offerings, as well as world-class spa and wellness facilities, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz provides guests with a luxurious retreat in the heart of Switzerland. 

For more information about Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, visit https://www.resortragaz.ch/en/.

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For Mothers Day, Go Global! Top Mother-Child Immersive Journey Gift-of-Travel Ideas

What could be a better Mother’s Day gift than planning a mother-child trip to explore Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

This Mother’s Day, go Global! Skip the chocolates and offer the gift of travel instead. According to research from Harvard Medical School, mother-child trips taken once a year can help ease stress, improve immune responses, and enhance overall well-being. That’s a powerful justification to bring mom along on one of these engaging excursions. Cultivating relationships with someone close to you can make a positive impact on your life, which means traveling together is a Mother’s Day gift that keeps on giving.

Here are a few immersive journeys from around the world that are the perfect gift for any mom.

For Holistic Healing and Wellness

Ananda in the Himalayas in India offers a luxury wellness retreat in the Himalayan foothills, the birthplace of India’s ancient practices of yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda. Located on a 100-acre Maharaja’s Palace Estate, the resort attracts mothers and children who return to Ananda year after year who can choose from personalized programs based on detox, fitness, rejuvenation, and anti-aging. Hit the spa, do yoga, and meditate together, take cooking classes, trek to an ancient Hindu temple, and white-water raft in the Ganges River. The Rebalance Program focuses on addressing menopause issues for older women while the Renew Program focuses on healthy aging for younger women. Discover the perfect balance between transformation and inner peace as one connects with nature at this idyllic healing sanctuary. // Check out special offer details for stays starting from May 1, 2024 until August 31, 2024.

For Admirers of Timeless Tradition and History

For a gift that’ll be cherished forever, Naya Traveler invites travelers to embark on a transformative journey east to Japan. Experience the delicate beauty of the Sakura season and the nation’s iconic cherry blossoms gracing iconic sites like Tokyo’s Ueno Park and Kyoto’s Philosopher’s Path. Dive into a gastronomic wonderland, indulging in the artistry of kaiseki dining and the freshness of Tsukiji Fish Market’s sushi. Dine at Michelin-starred restaurants and hidden culinary gems, showcasing the country’s culinary prowess and dedication to perfection. Learn about Japan’s rich cultural tapestry, venturing into ancient temples, experiencing traditional tea ceremonies, and encountering the grace of geisha in Kyoto’s historic Gion district. Japan beckons travelers to celebrate the extraordinary women who shape our lives—a culturally-rich journey that promises to be nothing short of astonishing. // Naya Traveler is offering a 15% discount for trips booked before June 30, 2024.

For Fitness and Outdoor Adventure Enthusiasts

Las Catalinas is Costa Rica’s enchanting beach town along the country’s Gold Coast inspired by New Urbanist philosophy. The walkable town boasts nearly 1,000 acres of protected tropical dry forest interlaced with extensive hiking and biking trails. While not on the over 26 miles of trails. moms will love the convenience of the cardio classes and training at CORE by Chakfitness outdoor gym, massage and facials at WAKE Day Spa, wellbeing treatments, yoga, pilates, and sound healing at Center of Joy, mountain bike, kayak and SUP rentals at Pura Vida Ride, healthy food to go, private chef dinners or wine tastings at Copper & Stone gourmet market, fresh smoothies and organic dishes for all dietary restrictions at Pots & Bowls and much more. Treat mom to the artisan ice cream at Coquelicot while shopping at the boutique Las Catalinas Collection and Chunches Luxury Goods & Milkshakes in Plaza Mercado. // Check out the Fourth Night Free promotion with Beach Town Travel. Offer details for Santarena Hotel here and Las Catalinas Collection here.

For Fashionistas and Culture Aficionados

Brian McMahon, Senior Travel Curator for Scenset, a luxury travel-tech company, invites gifting mothers an unforgettable trip through the beautiful landscapes of France. From the opulent halls of Versailles to the charming streets of Paris and the picturesque vineyards of Champagne, this 9-day journey promises an immersive experience like no other. Dine on “The Feast” at Restaurant Alain Ducasse, a recreation of a royal 18th-century banquet. Shop for the latest in French fashion at the boutiques in Le Marais with a personalized shopping itinerary. Create your own signature fragrance at a private perfume-making atelier. Explore art at the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre guided by expert curators who will unveil the masterpieces of renowned artists. Journey through the Champagne region, visiting prestigious champagne houses and boutique producers. // Mention the Mother’s Day promotion and Scenset will waive the $500 trip planning fee and include a complimentary surprise activity worth up to $1000.

For the Eco-Conscious and Planet Aware

Hotel Belmar located in Monteverde, Costa Rica is all about offering the most locally sourced flavors, making it an ideal escape for moms looking to reconnect with the Earth. Its menus pay homage to Costa Rica’s agrarian traditions, with the nation’s first carbon-neutral farm at the nearby Finca Madre Tierra. The farm provides the Hotel Belmar with eggs, sugarcane, cheese, and coffee, creating a closed-loop system. Visitors can experience picking coffee beans, grinding sugar cane, and eating a farm- fresh snack on this unforgettable farm trip as part of the Belmar Gastronomy Program. Other sites like Restaurante Celajes, the Juice Bar, and the Belmar Brewery celebrate Hotel Belmar’s commitment to sustainable cuisine. Nearly four decades since its opening, Hotel Belmar has become a world-class example of eco-tourism that has protected and regenerated the Monteverde cloud forest and its biodiversity while providing educational and professional opportunities to the local community. // Learn more about Hotel Belmar and its sustainable practices that are waiting to be explored.

For Lounging on a Private Beach

Calabash Cove Resort and Spa, in Saint Lucia, offers its “Unconditional All Inclusive” package with all meals, beverages, room service, and much more. This adults-only boutique hotel has 26 villas featuring old Caribbean charm coupled with luxurious resort amenities of today. From the heavenly Windsong restaurant offering an Asian-inspired menu with an extensive vegetarian and vegan selection and its lively C-Bar overlooking the infinity pool to the peaceful Ti Spa, guests have everything at their fingertips when vacationing at Calabash Cove. Treat mom to an hour-long aromatherapy massage using essential oils derived from plants widely known for promoting relaxation and better sleep or one of the spa’s many massages and treatments. // Save 35-40% on the All-Inclusive Package and receive many perks. Check out the offer.

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City Experiences Expands Tour Offerings in Europe

An Evening Out in Athens is one of City Experiences’s new tour offerings in major European destinations © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

City Experiences has expanded its one-of-a-kind tours in major European destinations through the award-winning international tour providers Walks and Devour Tours. The brand continues to fortify its robust lineup of tour offerings globally, but especially in Europe with 11 new tours launching. 

In partnership with some of the world’s top museums and monuments, including the Vatican Museums, Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Terminal, Niagara Falls, the Royal Alcazar of Seville, Sainte-Chapelle, and most recently, the Prado Museum and Buckingham Palace, Walks and Devour Tours offer truly unique, often exclusive, tours that travelers cannot find elsewhere. 

“In an era where travel is not just about the destination, but the experience, we are thrilled to announce the expansion of our unique tours in Europe. Walks and Devour Tours immerse travelers in the culture of each city, from major landmarks to mom and pop eateries, and offer an unparalleled exploration of Europe’s diverse tapestry,” said Stephen Oddo, SVP Hornblower Group, President & Founder of Walks. “With the addition of eleven new tours across the continent in the first months of this year alone, we continue to cement our commitment to providing unforgettable experiences for our guests.”

City Experiences will help guests travel smarter and experience more, whether it be an upcoming bucket list summer vacation or simply exploring their own backyard. New this year, City Experiences has rolled out the following Walks and Devour tours in Europe:

Spain (Madrid, Seville, San Sebastian):

  • VIP Alone in the Prado: Exclusive Early Access Museum Tour: It can be hard to appreciate the Prado Museum’s masterpieces fully among the daytime crowds, but that won’t be a problem on this early access tour where the intimate group will be the only people inside besides museum staff. On this VIP tour of the Prado, guests will be welcomed into the museum before the site opens to the public, offering plenty of space to enjoy legendary works such as Velázquez’s Las Meninas, Goya’s Black paintings, Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, and more, complete with fascinating insights from an art historian guide.
    • An Evening Out in Seville: Triana Neighborhood Tapas Tour: On this evening tapas tour, guests join a local foodie expert and a small group of new friends in Triana, Sevillanos’ neighborhood of choice for a night out. As travelers eat and drink their way across four unique styles of tapas bars, they will get a crash course in what it means to eat out in Seville—so they can conquer even the loudest, liveliest bar like a pro during the rest of their stay. 
    • An Evening Out in San Sebastian: Centro Neighborhood Pintxos Tour: Travelers looking for great food at bars they will remember for years to come should join this tour of the Centro neighborhood in San Sebastian. This lesser-visited area is the one the locals choose when making plans. This tour will show visitors a true local experience full of both iconic pintxos and pleasantly unexpected tastes they won’t find anywhere else. 

Vatican City

  • Alone In The Vatican: Exclusive VIP Access Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Tour: Explore the Vatican at its quietest on this exclusive, super-special access tour. Visiting before the Museums open to the public or after they’ve closed their doors for a once-in-a-lifetime tour and rare chance to admire its beautiful galleries completely empty and free of crowds. No matter which option you choose, they’ll enjoy the company of an intimate small group (as well as a knowledgeable Walks guide) and have Michelangelo’s masterpiece entirely to themselves.

Florence, Italy

  • Alone in the Duomo: VIP After-Hours Tour with Dome Climb & Private Terrace Access: Experience the stunning Florence Duomo like a VIP on this once-in-a-lifetime tour. Entering after closing time, visitors get away from the crowds and experience the sacred space at its most peaceful, allowing them the serenity to fully appreciate its magnificence. Complete with a guided dome climb, private access to both terraces, and even an encounter with the Key Master himself, there’s no more privileged way to experience this Florentine treasure.

Paris, France: 

  • From Orsay to Giverny: Skip-the-Line Museum Tour & Exclusive Monet House Day Trip: This full-day art experience won’t just give travelers an up-close look at these legendary works within the museum, they will also see the stunning scenery that inspired Monet and other Impressionist masters on a day trip from Paris to Giverny! From the halls of the Orsay (complete with perfectly timed, skip-the-line entry) to the peaceful gardens at Monet’s Giverny retreat, this impeccably planned, expertly guided experience is perfect for anyone who wants to dive deeper into French art and culture—or who just wants a relaxing escape from the busy capital in beautiful surrounds.
    • Exclusive Montmartre Experience with Private Vineyard Tasting, Skip-the-Line Museum Tour, & Sacré-Coeur: On this relaxed early evening Montmartre walking tour, guests will explore the neighborhood with a local, following in the footsteps of artists, musicians, and activists who left a lasting mark on its cobblestoned streets. From the top of the hill at the magnificent Sacré-Coeur to a private stroll among the vines at a hidden urban vineyard, this is the Montmartre many visitors seek out, yet few can claim to have truly found.

London, England:

  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter & London Walking Tour: This tour combines a city stroll to several famous landmarks in central London with private transport to and from Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, where they will walk in Harry Potter’s footsteps. Impeccably crafted sets, original props and costumes, and more magical encounters await, making the Studio Tour one of the most in-demand locations in the UK.
    • Best of Buckingham Palace: Skip-the-Line Tickets & Royal London Walking Tour: With skip-the-line access to either the palace’s breathtaking State Rooms or the fascinating Royal Mews, visitors  spend an enjoyable morning getting to the heart of royal life in the UK without any of the hassle of trying to get tickets or figure out a route on their own. At every step of the way, experienced guides will regale tour goers with stories they will have to hear to believe about the fascinating sites and the household-name monarchs.

Athens, Greece:

  • Delphi Small Group Day Trip from Athens with Honey Farm Visit & Homemade Lunch: As the most important archaeological site in Greece outside of Athens, Delphi has attracted countless travelers throughout the ages. While trying to get there on their own can be challenging, this carefully curated Delphi day trip from Athens comes with all logistics handled, including round-trip private transport for guests and their small group of 15. Together with a knowledgeable guide, they will explore the Delphi Archaeological Site on the slopes of Mount Parnassus before venturing off to a family-run honey farm, where they will meet the owners and indulge in a homemade lunch.
    • An Evening Out in Athens: Koukaki Neighborhood Food & Wine Tour: Tucked away in the shadow of the Acropolis, the Koukaki neighborhood is the place where locals go out for dinner and drinks in Athens. Along the way, they’ll get a crash course in all things related to Greek food culture—from how to choose a great spot to what to order when they get there—so they can make every meal memorable throughout the rest of your stay.

For a full list of offerings, visit www.CityExperiences.com.


About City Experiences

City Experiences represents Hornblower Group’s expansive portfolio of water- and land-based experience companies and includes two sub-brands: City Cruises and City Ferry.  City Cruises companies operate dining, sightseeing and private events across 22 destinations in the U.S., Canada and the UK.  City Cruises companies also operate cruises on behalf of the National Park Service and the Niagara Parks Commission and currently hold service contracts to provide ferry service to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, Alcatraz Island and Niagara Falls.  City Ferry companies offer specialized  knowledge and expertise required to transport passengers, vehicles and other cargo safely across inland and coastal waterways, serving as operator of NYC Ferry and Puerto Rico ferry system, among others.  City Experiences’ portfolio of companies also offers a range of water- and land-based experiences including shore excursions, partner-offered experiences, multi-port packages, with companies including Venture Ashore, Walks and Devour Tours. For more information visit cityexperiences.com.

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GeoCultura Unveils Cultural, Geological Summer Tours in Ireland

GeoCultura’s summer tours to Ireland experience the Wild Atlantic Way, exploring the geological and historical stories while focusing on the Dingle Peninsula and the iconic Ring of Kerry.

GeoCultura, a leading provider of immersive travel experiences, introduces two new captivating tours for summer 2024 that promise a deep dive into Ireland’s fascinating landscapes, blending discovery and immersion led by local experts in geology, history, and culture.

South-West Ireland – Dingle Peninsula and Ring of Kerry Tour, July 9-14: Embark on a six-day exploration along the Wild Atlantic Way of southwest Ireland, beginning in Cork and venturing through the Dingle and Iveragh Peninsulas. This journey unveils the rich tapestry of Irish history, folklore, and deep-time geological features shaping the present landscape.

Highlights:

Experience the Wild Atlantic Way, exploring the southwest coast’s coastal gems and cultural offerings.

Immerse in the landscapes, deep-time history, and folklore of southwest Ireland.

Unravel geological and historical stories while focusing on the Dingle Peninsula and the iconic Ring of Kerry.

Expert guides lead participants to dramatic coastlines, mountains, castles, and harbors, revealing the layers of history embedded in the rocks and landscapes.

Enjoy authentic encounters with traditional Ireland, from meeting native speakers to experiencing folk music and savoring top Irish cuisine.

Stay in charming country retreats and coastal hotels, offering comfort and character.

The tour commences at Ballymaloe House, outside Cork, concluding in the center of Cork (or Cork airport).

Overview: Embark on a six-day, five-night journey through southwest Ireland’s history and culture, starting in Cork and uncovering natural wonders in the Dingle and Iveragh Peninsulas. Gain new insights from expert tour leaders, exploring the geological mysteries behind Ireland’s landmarks.

Discover how natural and human forces have shaped the Irish landscape, visiting castles, cliffs, towns, and towers. Take to the sea for a new perspective on the coastline and hear tales of resilience on remote islands. Learn how southwest Ireland has evolved from deep time to its historical traditions, native language, and music.

See Ireland’s most spectacular sights, including the Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Blasket Islands, and Inch Beach. Stay in highly-rated accommodations, including a country house and a hilltop manor in County Kerry.

Pricing: $4,125 pp for the five-night tour, Single Supplement for solo travelers $530 

https://www.geoculturaworld.com/tours/37-south-west-ireland-dingle-peninsula-and-ring-of-kerry-tour

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way: Galway Bay to Cliffs of Moher, September 1-7, 2024: The seven-day journey from Dublin to County Clare, explore the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark. Stay at the Wild Honey Inn, nestled in the Burren Geopark, and discover the natural wonders that define this iconic region.

Highlights:

Explore Ireland’s deep-time origins with expert guides behind West Ireland’s famous landmarks.

Delve into the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, exploring its highest point and intricate cave systems.

Uncover human stories as you sail to an Iron Age fort on the Aran Islands and recognize landscapes featured in Hollywood movies.

End each day at The Wild Honey Inn with comfortable accommodations and delicious meals using locally sourced produce.

Enjoy Irish hospitality with pub visits and music sessions.

Overview: Embark on a seven-day, six-night tour starting in Dublin and venturing to the Burren and Cliffs of Moher. Relax at the Wild Honey Inn, a Michelin-starred haven within the Burren Geopark, and explore the surrounding wonders.

Expert Tour Leaders and local guides explain the region’s unique rocky landscape, its karst ‘pavements,’ and intriguing cave systems. Visit landmarks such as Dun Aonghasa, Poulnabrone Dolmen, and the towering Cliffs of Moher. Experience early medieval forts, hidden churches, coastal villages, and market towns set to the soundtrack of traditional Irish music.

Price: $4,500 for the seven-day, six-night tour. Single supplement for solo travelers:  $745.  

https://www.geoculturaworld.com/tours/35-ireland-s-wild-atlantic-way-galway-bay-to-cliffs-of-moher

GeoCultura’s 2024 tours offer an immersive experience led by knowledgeable guides, providing a voyage of understanding, connection, and appreciation. Tours range from three to seven days and can be fully guided, partially guided, or self-guided for those seeking a more personalized experience.

GeoCultura’s small group tours range from two to nine days, blending earth science with local history and regional guides to explore the world’s most important landscapes. The tours aim to immerse participants in local culture, cuisine, and natural wonders. 

More information at www.geoculturaworld.com, phone 713 400 6326.

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Rails to Trails Conservancy Invites You to Celebrate Trails Day April 27 & Win Prizes!

On Celebrate Trails Day, Rails to Trails Conservancy calls on America to walk, bike and be active outside to showcase the joy and impact of trails

Biking the Great Allegheny Passage trail with Rails to Trails Conservancy, which hopes to connect 150 trail networks into a Great American Trail, 3,800 miles across the continent © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

WASHINGTON, DC—Rails to Trails Conservancy, the nation’s largest trail, walking and biking advocacy organization, is calling on people across the country to get outside on trails this spring to celebrate the many ways that trails and connected trail networks bring joy and impact to people’s lives. Central to RTC’s call to action is Celebrate Trails Day on April 27, 2024, with hundreds of events nationwide to inspire more people to make trails, walking and biking part of their everyday lives.

Held on the fourth Saturday of April, Celebrate Trails Day was started by Rails to Trails Conservancy in 2013, to encourage people across the country to get outside and enjoy the nation’s exceptional trails and trail systems.

Celebrate Trails Day is more than a day outside, it is an opportunity to experience and share the joy and impact of trails. The nation’s 41,000+ miles of multi-use trails  bring incredible value to our everyday lives, contributing to the well-being of people, places and the planet. It is RTC’s ultimate goal to link the 150+ trail networks that currently exist into a Great American Trail, spanning 3,800 miles across the continent.

Around the country, Rails to Trails’ partners are planning group rides, nature walks, family-friendly festivals, volunteer cleanups and other community events for Celebrate Trails Day. Explore these events and find more inspiration for your day on the trail, including ideas to help you design your own trail adventure and our virtual event series where we host conversations with partners about the ways trails contribute to big issues in our lives.

So far, more than 150 events are planned along trails, but you can also create your own celebration.

“There is unmatched potential in trail networks to make walking and biking part of our everyday lives, unlocking all of the good that happens when we are active outside, in the places where we live,” said Brandi Horton, RTC’s vice president of communications. “That’s why RTC is uniting everyone in a common appreciation for trails—and the impact of connecting trails in our communities. Our time on the trail is so much more than a day outside.”  

Biking the Wallkill Valley RailTrail over the Rosendale Trestle, part of New York’s 750-mile long Empire State Trail that connects Battery Park to the Canadian Border, and Buffalo to Albany on the Erie Canalway © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Here are five reasons to get outside on trails, says RTC:

  1. It’s one of the best seasons for outside adventures with milder weather across the country—perfect for time on the trail. People can find their perfect trail using RTC’s free trail-finder app, TrailLink.
  2. It’s good for our bodies and the planet. Having spaces to walk and bike near where you live makes it more likely that you will be physically active, which is important for our bodies and our minds. And, when we swap out short car trips for walking and biking trips, we burn calories instead of carbon!
  3. It can be a safe way to get around without a car. Currently, people who walk and bike are increasingly likely to be seriously injured or killed in crashes with cars and trucks. Connected trail networks separate people from vehicles, making it a safer transportation option for more people.  
  4. It’s the right time to let elected officials know that trails matter to you. On Celebrate Trails Day and every day, our time on the trail is an act of advocacy sending a message that trails are important to people across the country. As Congress and local officials make decisions about ways to invest infrastructure resources, getting outside on the trail is an important way to build support.
  5. There are more places to walk, bike and be active outside than ever! With more than 41,000 miles of multiuse trails—where you can walk, run, ride, skate and more—and over 150 trail networks emerging, there are safe places to walk, bike and be active outside in every single state and hundreds of communities across the country.  

Participate for a chance to win a prize pack

Let Rails to Trails Conservancy know you’re planning to participate in Celebrate Trails Day on April 27, 2024, and you’ll be automatically entered to win a prize pack, featuring:

Let RTC Know You’re Participating

Find creative ideas for getting outside, visit RTC’s Celebrate Trails Day website and follow #CelebrateTrails on social media.

Explore the nation’s 41,000+ miles of multi-use trails using TrailLink™, RTC’s free trail-guide website and app.

Celebrate Trails Day is the annual celebration of the spring trail season, recognized on the fourth Saturday in April. The national day of celebration is organized by Rails to Trails Conservancy, the country’s largest trails, walking and biking organization—with a grassroots community more than 1 million strong. RTC is dedicated to building a nation connected by trails, reimagining public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike and be active outdoors.

Follow #CelebrateTrails on social media for updates and connect with RTC at railstotrails.org and @railstotrails on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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Five Must-Visit Spanish-Speaking Destinations Ideal for Solo Travelers

Situated in the heart of the Andes Mountains, Cusco, Peru, serves as the gateway to the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Solo travelers can explore the city’s archaeological wonders, vibrant markets, and lively plazas while soaking in the rich Andean culture and hospitality © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

When you set off on a solo traveling adventure, there’s no need to haggle with your traveling partner over where you’re going – the whole world is your oyster! But if the thought of that makes you freeze up with choice paralysis, here are some recommendations to help you narrow down your options.

James Smith from Learn Spanish With James lists his five must-visit Spanish-speaking destinations that are perfect for solo adventurers: 

Barcelona, Spain

Nestled along the northeastern coast of Spain, Barcelona enchants visitors with its vibrant energy, architectural wonders, and rich cultural heritage. From exploring the iconic landmarks of Antoni Gaudí to strolling along the bustling streets of La Rambla, solo travelers can immerse themselves in the city’s dynamic atmosphere and diverse culinary scene.

James recommends taking a guided tour of the city’s architectural marvels, followed by a tapas tasting adventure in the Gothic Quarter.

Oaxaca City, Mexico

Tucked away in the southern region of Mexico, Oaxaca City beckons with its blend of colonial charm and indigenous traditions, plus a wealth of culinary delights! Solo adventurers can wander through the historic center’s cobblestone streets, visit colorful markets brimming with local handicrafts, and savor traditional Oaxacan cuisine, including mole and mezcal.

James says, ‘Join  a cooking class to learn the secrets of traditional Mexican cuisine and explore nearby archaeological sites like Monte Albán!’

Cusco, Peru

Situated in the heart of the Andes Mountains, Cusco serves as the gateway to the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Solo travelers can explore the city’s archaeological wonders, vibrant markets, and lively plazas while soaking in the rich Andean culture and hospitality. For those seeking adventure, trekking to Machu Picchu via the renowned Inca Trail offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

James encourages solo travelers to participate in a cultural exchange with indigenous communities and embark on a sunrise hike to catch breathtaking views of Machu Picchu.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

With its historic architecture, vibrant neighborhoods, and pristine beaches, San Juan offers solo travelers a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Wander through the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, sample authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, and soak up the sun on the picturesque shores of Isla Verde.

James recommends lounging on the beaches of Condado and indulging in a refreshing piña colada.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Known as the “Paris of South America,” Buenos Aires exudes sophistication, passion, and cultural diversity. Solo adventurers can lose themselves in the city’s eclectic neighborhoods, from the bohemian streets of San Telmo to the trendy bars of Palermo. Tango performances, art galleries, and world-class cuisine await around every corner, promising an unforgettable journey of exploration and discovery.

James suggests, ‘Attend a tango show to experience the passion and rhythm of Argentina’s iconic dance, then visit the city’s vibrant street markets to shop for unique souvenirs.’

For solo travelers contemplating their next adventure, James offers sage advice: ‘Embrace the unknown, be open to new experiences, and trust your instincts. Solo travel is not just about the destinations; it’s about the journey and the stories you’ll collect along the way.’

Learn Spanish With James is a go-to online hub for mastering Spanish led by James Smith, a fluent Spanish speaker with over 10 years of teaching experience. With a rich background of living in Spain, Argentina, and Costa Rica, James brings a wealth of cultural experiences and linguistic immersion to his teaching approach. The platform, with immersive activities and authentic content, offers diverse courses for all levels, from conversations to personalized tutoring, and access to free materials, podcasts, and e-books. (https://learnspanishwithjames.com)

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