Untamed mountains, green forests, pristine lakes, and wide-open spaces. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than at a U.S. national park? Facebook agreed and put together a list of the top 2013 check-ins from national parks around America.
Top US National Parks:
1. Grand Canyon 2. Yosemite 3. Yellowstone 4. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts 5. Great Smoky Mountains 6. Zion 7. Rocky Mountain 8. Everglades 9. Acadia 10. Joshua Tree
Interestingly enough, 12 percent of those who checked into a park on Facebook in 2013, live in another country, with the United Kingdom in the lead.
The U.S. cities whose residents are the top visitors to U.S. National Parks are from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Denver.
Wherever you are in the world, Earth Day is the perfect excuse to get outside and enjoy, well, the earth!
Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.
As an editor of Travel + Leisure’s Global Vision Awards, I’m always on the lookout for travel companies that can raise the bar for both sustainability and luxury. In honor of Earth Day, here are five new properties that are getting it right. (If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to celebrate by booking a stay, stat.)
1. Pikaia Lodge, Galapagos: Think of the Galapagos as a cruising destination? Pikaia puts the traditional model on its head, with 14 stunning rooms (think floor to ceiling windows, private plunge pools, and enormous bathrooms) perched atop an extinct volcano crater. When it opens in September, it will have already spent four years rehabilitating the surrounding land—previously deteriorated from cattle farming—and trained locals in sustainable tourism practices to replace the debilitative trade of shark fishing.
2. The Brando, French Polynesia: Just 30 miles north of Tahiti is Tetiaroa, a pristine archipelago of a dozen islands surrounding an incredible lagoon. It’s also the site of The Brando, where 35 thatched-roof villas each get private pools and secluded beach access. Sound over the top? It’s impressively sustainable—the whole property was built with local materials, air conditioning comes via a unique seawater-powered system, and a blend of solar and coconut oil-based energy grids have brought the resort to near carbon neutrality.
3. Ion Hotel, Iceland: Set against the dramatic lava fields of Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park, an hour north of Reykyavik, this ultra-minimalist, geothermal-powered resort is a dreamy backdrop for the Northern Lights. A sprawling list of nature-based activities await (hot spring and glacier tours; snorkeling; hiking)—but you’d find me at the ten-meter-long pool with views of the surrounding valleys.
4. Kittitian Hill, St. Kitts: Meet the Caribbean’s latest eco-resort: Its colonial-inspired guesthouses are spread among 400 acres of working farmland. The spa is set in an ancient mango forest. Original crops and fruit trees have been preserved as natural obstacles for the golf course—dubbed the world’s most edible. And with a quarter of the island doubling as protected national park, it’s a haven for tropical birds, flora, and fauna. It officially opens later this year (we hear December).
5. Kestrel Camp, Montana: This new lodge on the site of the American Prairie Reserve’s giant conservancy offers a clutch of high-design yurts (yes, yurts) with a decidedly Wild West feel. Expect geologist-led hikes, bison sightings, and exceptional sunsets over the prairie—best witnessed from your private wraparound deck.
Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Fifty years ago today the New York World’s Fair opened its doors to the public along with one of the featured attractions, Walt Disney’s “it’s a small world.” (Yes, those lower-case letters are there on purpose.) In the ride, water-borne passengers drift through an enchanted world of audio-animatronic dolls dressed in national costume, singing the eponymous song. And in 50 years people still can’t get that darn song out of their heads. But if you’re one of those goofballs who really, really loves that tune, you can record yourself singing along and have it broadcast on Disney’s site devoted to the anniversary.
Meantime, while you’re warming up your vocal cords and focusing your laptop cam, here are 10 facts that you probably didn’t know about the most famous travel-related ride in the world.
Earth Day News: Just outside the Dutch city of Oss is a 500-meter stretch of highway that glows in the dark. Like a set from a sci-fi film, the photo-luminescent road markings illuminate the lanes with an otherworldly emerald light.
The technology is part of interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde’s vision to bring innovative, sustainable designto everyday infrastructures. In a partnership with Dutch engineering firm Heijmans, he created a revolutionary paint with the ability to absorb daylight for energy, and radiate an eye-catching hue at night.
Wrigley Field will celebrate its 100th anniversary on April 23. The 2014 Cubs will wear replica 1914 Chicago Federals jerseys and—good sports!—the Arizona Diamondbacks will be sporting Kansas City Federal League uniforms in honor of the occasion. (Even if you can’t make the game, listen to some of Ernie Banks’s memories of Wrigley.)
Yesterday, Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 carried an extra passenger in the plane’s wheel well. But it wasn’t until the flight landed in Maui that the 16-year-old boy was discovered relatively unharmed. Aviation experts are dumbfounded as to how he could have survived.
If you're planning a trip to NYC, you may have already heard about the city's hot ticket of the moment: Queen of the Night. A follow up to Sleep No More by the same immersive theater experts—along with progressive food artist Jennifer Rubell and acclaimed Canadian aerialist troupe 7 Doigts de la Main—the production takes a completely unconventional approach to dinner theater. Set in the old Diamond Horseshoe space at the Paramount Hotel, and loosely based on Mozart's Magic Flute, the sexy, avant-garde show blends interactive elements, contemporary circus acts, and a soundtrack that’s equal parts classical and indie rock tunes (not to mention a communal feast that may require some bartering). Already intrigued? It's only the tip of the iceberg. Here, five secret details that could take your experience to a whole other level:
Outside of Miami and L.A., there are few places in the world where fake is better than real. Germany's Tropical Islands Resort, the planets's largest indoor water park in Krausnick, is definitely one of them.
From the beaches of Biarritz to Italian hotels and Istanbul’s Old City, our May Europe Issue will boost your desire to explore new corners. We’re discussing how to travel within Europe, secret stylish hotel brands, and insider tips for saving money in our Affordable Europe Twitter Chat this Tuesday, April 22nd from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. Whether you want to know about cultural experiences for less, standout restaurants, or the best new European destinations to visit, join our chat and ask the experts for their advice!
The crab donuts at the Chiltern Firehouse in Londonare already the stuff of legend. Just two months old, hotelier Andre Balazs's first venture outside of the United States has celebrities like Bono, Prince Harry, Chloe Sevigny, and Gordon Ramsey bumping elbows, while mere mortals desperately try to snag a reservation in what is a cleverly repurposed Victorian-gothic red brick fire brigade building in London’s tony Marylebone neighborhood.
Because the easiest way to score VIP treatment at a hotel is to either be rich or the ONLY guest, here are eight exclusive accommodations around the world that boast one single room – and your host's undivided attention.
Five culinary adventures that put a new spin on the traditional food tour.
Ho Chi Minh City: See (and taste) Saigon from the back of a vintage scooter with Vietnam Vespa Adventures. Kicking off at sundown, the four-hour drive digs into the city’s finest street food, from chili-rubbed crab to sizzling banh xeo pancakes.
Paris: Unravel the mysteries of Paris à la Inspector Clouseau in a chauffeured Citroën 2CV. Your retro ride, courtesy of Experience Paris, will whisk you away on a tour of iconic patisseries to sample pains au chocolat and brioches au sucre.
Chinese authorities are getting creative in combatting graffiti at popular tourist sites. At the Great Wall, they've designated specific areas where graffiti is permitted. And at the famous Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan, visitors can leave their mark on large electronic touchscreens.
Having lived four years, from the age of 5 to 9 on a ranch in Taxco, Guerrero, I was happy to return to Mexico for a business trip allowing me two extra days to visit tow museums of contemporary art and take a day trip to Taxco.
Walking out of the airport I was met by the familiar faces of Mexicans speaking their own form of Spanish which I loved. For my hotel, I made a reservation at Las Alcobas, a luxury boutique property perfectly situated near fashionable shops and great restaurants in the chic Polanco neighborhood. As soon as I walked in I was struck the elegant atmosphere. The lobby was small intimate and very well designed. Behind the counters the staff welcomed me warmly with big smiles.
Cognac is one spirit that grants its drinkers instant gratification. Produced in the Grande Champagne region of Cognac, France, strict distillery guidelines distinguish the drink from brandy—and the history of Louis XIII de Remy Martin sets the brand apart from its competitors. One sip and each layer of complex, century-aged flavors emerge: smoky oak wood, ripened figs, Cuban cigars, dried apricot, sweet vanilla.
Eighty percent of San Francisco was destroyed by the April 18, 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire. Some notable structures survived to be renovated and brought back to glory, including the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. (This Persian-tiled billiards room is part of the hotel’s 6,000-square-foot penthouse suite, added in 1926.)
Travel + Leisure’s Sarah Spagnolo presents three destinations to celebrate spring and the holiday weekend.
New York City: New York City does it up for Easter; there’s the Easter Parade, the Great Faberge Big Egg Hunt display at Rockefeller Center, and the Tribeca Film Festival. Unpack at the W New York Downtown, and you’ll have easy access to it all, plus amazing views of the new One World Trade Center and the city’s glimmering skyline. Price: From $262 a night. Book now: wnewyorkdowntown.com.
Tomorrow marks the start of National Park Week (April 19-27), and to celebrate, the country’s 400-plus parks are waiving entrance fees all weekend long. It’s a big year for the National Park Service, with milestone anniversaries (Yosemite turns 150 this year; Rocky Mountain National Park is 100) and important developments (including major renovations to Yellowstone’s oldest hotel).
The 2014 New York International Auto Show opens today, and it’s stocked with new cars and models that are sure to push your next road trip into high gear. Standouts include the 2015 Jeep Renegade, inspired by the original Jeep Wrangler; the 2015 Chevrolet Trax, another small SUV, complete with a built-in WiFi hotspot; the redesigned Camry with improved handling for quick turns; Chevrolet’s new 625-horsepower ZO6 Convertible; and the 50th anniversary Ford Mustang, which was reconstructed piece by piece on 86th floor of the Empire State Building. See these cars and more in person—the auto show at the Javits Center is open through Sunday, April 27th.
Thanks to the recent U.S. launch of AirHelp, Americans have an easy way of filing claims if a flight from or within the European Union is delayed, cancelled, or overbooked. (Flights from the U.S. to the EU are covered only if operated by an EU-based carrier.) Under EU regulations, compensation can be as high as $800, but according to AirHelp founders Henrik Zillmer and Nicolas Michaelsen, only 2% of eligible flyers make claims—and only .06% actually receives what’s due.
The 5th annual Tobago Jazz Festival runs April 19-27 with a wide range of jazz and non-jazz attractions that includes Earth, Wind & Fire, Keyshia Cole, and John Legend. Don't miss next Tuesday’s Buccoo Goat and Crab Races, an 89-year-old tradition.
It's been a rough week for airlines on social media.
After a Dutch teenager jokingly tweeted a bomb threat to American Airlines—she has since been arrested—the air carrier is now fielding dozens of other fake bomb threats over Twitter.
Meanwhile, U.S. Airways, is in crisis mode after it accidentally included a pornographic picture in one of its tweets. Even though the airline deleted the Tweet soon after, the image had already gone viral, with thousands of responders mocking U.S. Airways.
One bright spot: Southwest Airlines had a hit with its stand-up comic flight attendant delivering one of the coolest safety briefings we've ever heard. (Watch video above.) If you're going to go viral, that's the way to do it.
Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.
I’ve long loved Rome 2 Rio as a transportation guide: it tells you every possible way to get from Point A to Point B, and offers in-line prices and itineraries. Since I started using it, I’ve realized just how efficient train travel can be—factor in security lines and early airport arrivals, and the train can take less time than flying, depending on where you’re going. For the first time, an OTA is in agreement, as CheapAir has announced today that it will be integrating Amtrakrailway reservations into its flight search system. Now, when you search for routes connecting, say, New York and Boston, you’ll see airfares interspersed with train routes, so you can compare prices and schedules. Better yet, you can mix and match airfares and train reservations, so that you can capitalize on a discounted international flight that leaves from a city a few hours away.
With spring's warm winds coaxing the buds on the trees to blossom, a Sunday morning visit to Columbia Road Flower Market in East London couldn't be more apropos. While many go to soak up the atmosphere and buy a cheap armful of flowers, this Sunday morning riot for the senses has just added a foodie destination that's not to be missed. Among the cries of the cockney flower hawkers, a narrow yellow door offers a little piece of France by way of Mississipi. Chef Brad McDonald and his charming wife Molly, currently at the helm of the Southern American restaurant, The Lockhart in Marleybone, are selling Beignet-style donuts brimming with a variety of creamy flavors. Best to follow them on Twitter @1235donutsto find out what flavors will delight your tastebuds that week and what time that yellow door opens. The line forms quickly and only a limited number of perfect sugary treats are on offer each Sunday!
Spaniards celebrate the week preceding Easter with regionally distinctive processions and fiestas. These solemn drummers in Madrid can’t shake a stick at the Tamborada in Albacete province where up to 20,000 drummers play constantly for several days leading up to Easter Sunday.