Am I really the last person to "discover" Minneapolis? Until recently, I probably knew more about the religious capital of Kandy, in the central highlands of Sri Lanka, than I knew about Minneapolis. Turns out that this bike-friendly metropolis has a lot to offer visitors beyond Grain Belt Beer, long winters, and Mary Tyler Moore reruns. Here are just a few of the activities I tried during my recent visit.
Expert advice from our friends at Beach Tomato: The perfect beach isn't always about undiscovered sands in far-away places. Sometimes, tucked in the most frenetic of cityscapes there's that paradisiacal pocket of bliss. The urban buzz makes the sands come alive—for after-work sundowners, to do your morning workout, or to meet friends as the weekend arrives. As coastal capitals the world-over show us, beach-life and city-life can go hand in hand. Here are our favorite city beaches right now:
1. Hat Jomtien near Bangkok, Thailand
A 90-minute taxi ride from downtown Bangkok drops you in the upbeat beach town of Hat Jomtien. Just a few km south of its big brassy sister Pattaya, Jomtien feels a world away. The vibe is calmer and the waters clearer, attracting a host of water-sporties and in particular windsurfers who ride on the light coastal breezes. A long, straight stretch of sand with plenty of shade it has all essential elements of a typical Thai beach town. Without the go-go bars.
Do you suffer from office ennui? Is walking around the block your idea of getting “fresh air”? Green a color you only see on weekends? If yes, then we invite you to kick back in your cubicle for a taste of a different kind of job: meet Kerry Clasby, professional forager.
Associated Press | A prolonged heat wave in the central U.S. has fostered the growth of a dangerous form of algae in lakes and ponds, threatening swimmers and livestock and scaring away tourists during the busy summer season.
Blue-green algae are actually bacteria that produce toxins harmful to humans and livestock. It flourishes in warm, stagnant, sunlit water, and this year's heat wave combined with Oklahoma's worst drought since the Dust Bowl have created what one water official called a "perfect storm" for its growth.
Officials have issued a series of warnings, telling boaters and swimmers at lakes in northeast Oklahoma, southern Kansas and Nebraska to avoid contact with the toxic gunk. The issue attracted national attention earlier this month when Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe blamed a respiratory illness on a swim in Grand Lake in Ketchum Hollow.
It's one thing to watch a herd of wildebeest thundering across an obscenely large, 3D flat screen dangling precariously from your living room wall. It is quite another to witness the Great Migrations in the flesh, accompanied by the sweet smell of your morning coffee swirling with the kicked-up dust from the Serengeti plains as the high-pitched trumpets of young elephant calves (or grunts from those numberless gnu) waft into your bedroom.
Toss away that remote. Two new properties, new to Tanzania and Kenya, obliterate the "Channel" and key in on the "Discovery" of the African wild.
The giant purple starfish had me trying to say “wow” in my snorkel mask. The big, spiky red sea urchin looked like dinner. The long, wavy sea kelp reminded me of TV “housewives” with flowing blonde hair extensions.
The colorful undersea delights might have seemed less surprising in a warm weather climate, say the Caribbean. But this was in Alaska.
Looking for some inspiration for your next summer road trip? Take advantage of the warm weather and head out west to check out the six new national natural landmarks!
Named on June 15 by the National Park Service, the newly dubbed landmarks are part of Obama’s "America’s Great Outdoors" initiative, which aims to conserve the natural beauty of some of the most beautiful areas of the country for future generations. Highlights of the newest batch of national treasures include Golden Fossil Areas, which are internationally-renowned for having unique fossil footprints, and Hanging Lake, a stunningly gorgeous lake that plays home to both a rare wetland ecosystem and hanging gardens. (Both are in Colorado.) However, if these don’t trip your trigger, there are over 500 other national natural landmarks to choose from.
For a complete listing of the new national landmarks, check out the National Park Service’s website.
Kirsten Stamn is an ASME intern at Travel + Leisure.
NPS photo courtesy of J.B. Bell
The Big Apple just got a lot more user-friendly for those who like to throw their leg over a two-wheeler, hit the bike paths, and take in the sights. The NYC Parks Department and Bike and Roll—a bicycle rental group that started seven years ago and now operates in five U.S. cities—cut the ribbon last week on their new Hop On/Hop Off program, which allows renters to pick up a bike at one of the easily recognizable 11 mobile Bike and Roll centers in Manhattan and drop it off at a totally different location, eliminating the need for a round-trip and encouraging exploration. Rates range from $12-20 per hour to $39-69 per day; child seats and tagalong attachments for kids are also available.
I know most people in the U.S. are head over heels for spring right now, breaking out the shorts, the bikes, even thinking about the bathing suit. But I can’t quite let go of ski season. It was a record one this year and, of course, I wish I had gotten out on my board just a few more times. If, like me, you are holding on to the dream of just one more outing into the white stuff, there are a few places where you can make it come true.
As someone who has lived and worked in three national parks, I know there are some things most tourists will never visit—from hidden hikes and waterfalls to the best happy hours. I turned to ranger Scott Gediman to find insider secrets about California’s Yosemite National Park, an Ansel Adams photograph sprung-to-life.
Q: What’s a surprisingly little-known hike in the park?
A: Yosemite Valley gets a bad rap for being so crowded, but on the 13-mile Valley Floor Loop Trail, you’ll stroll past Yosemite Falls, the base of El Capitan, and Bridal Veil Falls—all with nobody in sight. It’s an old bridle path for horses, so very flat and easy to get to.