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13 National Parks Worth Visiting

With travel put on hold indefinitely due to COVID-19, National Parks have been the perfect refuge for local road trips. These are a few of the 62 National Parks worth making the trek for, and to help temporarily fulfill our wanderlust.

Arches

When you think of a landscape in the American Southwest, Moab, Utah, easily fills that image. With over 2,000 arches to explore, this sandstone saturated setting is an adventurer’s dream. Delicate Arch, Balanced Rock, Double Arch, and Park Avenue are just a few of the many recommended sights that will awe you in the desert.

Badlands



It might feel like you landed on a different planet when visiting Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The built-in walking paths spill out into expansive contours of unique rock formations. Take in the impressive spires and spend the day feeling out of this world. There’s a good chance you might even run into Bighorn Sheep, but hopefully from a distance.

Bryce Canyon


Walking among the hoodoos on the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail is a surreal experience. You will be thrust into the thick depths of the orange canyon, all while taking in the up close and mesmerizing perspectives of the crusted compositions. It all culminates to a jaw-dropping view of Thor’s hammer.

Canyonlands


It’s all about the dramatic views. “Island in the Sky” is a very suitable name for an area of this park. Overlooks will have you peering into the cores of craters that look like huge imprints left behind from something extraterrestrial. For one of the most epic settings in the National Park System, make sure to take in the scene of Mesa Arch, an easy 0.7 mile trail.

Grand Canyon

When you ask someone where they want to travel, one of the answers will likely be, “The Grand Canyon.” As you amble towards one of the rims, you will take in one of the most monumental panoramas you’ll ever see. The first thing one does when seeing the Grand Canyon is to simply stare and marvel at this wonder. Take things to the next level with a rafting trip on the Colorado River.

Grand Teton


If you are seeking solitude and yearning for the mountains, Grand Teton might be the perfect escape. The Teton mountain range naturally shows off its snow-capped stunning beauty via mirror reflections in its many majestic lakes. Close to Jackson Hole and adjacent to Yellowstone, it’s a park for all seasons but is particularly striking in the Fall. You might even experience a chance encounter with a moose, and where better to do that than in Moose, WY, where the Tetons are located.

Joshua Tree


These famous trees dot the desert landscape in southern California. It gets hot in this arid climate so it’s always most pleasant to visit in the winter, or spring, which is a notably great time to wander about as wild flowers are in full bloom. The Cholla Cactus Garden makes for a memorable sunset site while Barker Dam, Skull Rock, and Wall Street Mill are other hotspots to uncover.

Rocky Mountain


The Rockies are a quick ride from Denver, and makes a perfect day trip. There are bounds of nature sights, impressive lakes, and mountains to seek out. Elk will be plentiful and like to take their time crossing the streets in nearby Estes Park. It starts snowing early in Colorado so if you don’t feel like snowshoeing on the sometimes ice-covered trails, it’s recommended to visit before winter arrives.

Sequoia


Easily accessible from Los Angeles or San Francisco, this is where to go if you want to be wowed by huge trees. The impressive giant Redwoods will make one feel teeny-tiny when taking in the scope of their size. If a change of scenery from trees is needed, there are endless meadows to discover. Home to the world’s largest tree by volume, this is where the famous General Sherman tree lives. Crescent Meadow, Tokopah Falls, and the Congress Trail, are other must-see spots.

Shenandoah


One of the only accessible National Parks to east coasters, Shenandoah is an underrated gem. Popular with those who live in Washington, DC, a drive on Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge mountains is a necessity when visiting this park. It’s also perfect for leaf peeping, where one can enjoy the changing autumn colors. From easy to challenging, there are some great hiking options. Old Rag is the summit to ascend, which at 10.2 miles, will take a full day. Stony Man and Dark Hollow Falls are easier ones to climb, and should be added to your list.

Yellowstone


There’s a reason why Yellowstone became the first National Park in 1872. It’s beauty, diversity, and vast landscapes easily makes this park a one-of-a-kind experience. Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful might be famous geysers, but there are 500 hot springs in total. Waterfalls and wildlife are in abundance and the best spot to get your bison fix (from a distance) is in Hayden Valley.

Yosemite




In the land of waterfalls, there seems to be an impressive one in every direction. Some of the most famous viewpoints in the National Park System call Yosemite home such as Tunnel View, and Glacier Point. There’s a lot of ground and distance to cover in this park so a few days spent exploring is recommended, especially if you want to see past Yosemite Valley in the picturesque but less busy area of Tuolumne Meadows, and the many alpine lakes peppered throughout the park.

Zion


Visiting Zion feels like you were suddenly transported back in time to the Mesozoic Era. The spectacular overlooks commonly have astounding canyons that include varied red sedimentary rocks. Less commonly known, are the ample water features ranging from waterfalls, rivers, and creeks. This is a park for thrill-seekers as the two most popular hikes are Angel’s Landing and The Narrows, though there really is something for everyone.

There are so many amazing National Parks that are worth your time and these are just a few that will impress and bring some much-needed solace to your inner travel itch. With Fall quickly approaching and leaves soon to change, it’s the perfect time to jump in the car, hit the road, and surround yourself in nature amongst sensational surroundings.

North America Photography

Don’t Miss These Stunning Seattle Views

Many visitors travel to the western coastal city of Seattle to enjoy the culture, history, and stunning views. With rugged rocky shorelines, pristine mountains, and a unique shoreline, the Emerald City is host to many of the most iconic views in the country.

Seattle is equally stunning from the viewpoint of the harbor or from atop the Space Needle. Locals enjoy many well-known spots hidden within the city to enjoy the view from many perspectives.

Whether you want to take in the cityscape from Puget Sound on an evening cruise on a yacht moored at emeraldlanding.com or you want to enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many rooftop restaurants in the city, these views of Seattle should not be missed.

Space Needle

Seattle’s most famous landmark is one of the best places to get a 360-degree view of this gorgeous city. At a height of over 500 feet, visitors to the Space Needle can enjoy panoramic views of the city streets, the Olympic Mountains, and Elliot Bay. Get out on the rotating observation deck and take in the whole city.

Smith Tower

Built in 1914, Seattle’s first skyscraper is one of the best places to get a stunning view of the skyline. Located in the popular Pioneer Square, you can climb to the 35th floor to the open-air Observation Deck. Enjoy some snacks and cocktails at the Temperance cafe, a speak-easy style restaurant that envelops you in the rich Seattle history.

Kerry Park

Some of the most famous photographs of Seattle have been captured at Kerry Park. This charming park is nestled in the Queen Anne neighborhood where you can stroll through shops, galleries, and cafes. Kerry Park gives you one of the few unobstructed views of the downtown city lights and Mt. Rainier.

Sunset Hill Park

This gem overlooking the lovely shores of Elliot Bay is the perfect place to take in the sunset. Watch the activity of the bay as the sailboats and ships make their way in and out of port. Located on the edge of Ballard, this public park is a spot that can’t be missed for a unique view.

Great Wheel

If you are looking for a unique way to see Seattle, you need to take a ride on the Great Wheel. This 175-foot famous Ferris wheel is the perfect place to get a bird’s eye view of the city and the harbor. Ride in comfort in the climate-controlled enclosed gondola pods while you take in the stunning views. On a clear day, you can see the mountains and Puget Sound.

Alki Beach

If you are visiting Seattle in the summer, you can’t miss out on a visit to Alki Beach. A favorite of locals and tourists, this two-mile stretch of pristine beach has something to offer everyone. Volleyball courts, tidepools for splashing, restaurants, and shops line the strip and keep the area lively and a must-see destination with stunning views.

Whether you want to see Seattle from the rugged shores or from the air, there is plenty to see in every direction. This versatile city has everything you could want with an iconic skyline to rugged mountain ranges in the distance. Visit Seattle today to take in the views yourself.

North America Road Trippin

Which National Parks Should Be on Your Bucket List This Year?

When you think about your list of perfect destinations, are you considering traveling domestically this year? If this sounds like you, then it’s time to refresh your travel bucket list and think about what places you want to visit.

Given that city escapes are a little too overpopulated right now (and most of us have been stuck in a city metropolis for what feels like too long), then expansive and outdoorsy sounds exactly right this year. A visit to a National Park is certainly going to be high on the list of easy decisions for travel.

Here are four National Parks that shouldn’t escape your attention if you’ve never been to them before (or are up for a follow-up visit now).

Rocky Mountain National Park

The Rocky Mountain National Park is simply perfect if you’re looking for impressive landscapes, wildlife, and interesting trails to explore.

There are alpine overlooks to get the best views, trails that lead to lake destinations, and plenty of waterfalls to see. Anyone who loves forested areas will also particularly enjoy a visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park.

The park is just one of the featured places from the National Park Foundation that focuses on protecting the natural beauty of these national parks for centuries to come. Their guide to Rocky Mountain notes that this is the perfect place to camp, as they have 5 established campgrounds to choose from. Just make sure you book early as it fills up fast!

Biscayne National Park

When you want tropical heat and lush surroundings, it’s difficult to find somewhere better for it than Florida.

While the trails are minimal because of the landscape, this National Park is best explored by boat or using boat tour facilities to get around. Still, you can try your hand at one of the five hiking or walking trails in the park, but once you’ve done this, it’s sensible to get on the water for the best experience.

The trail that starts at the Dante Fascell Visitor Center is perhaps the easiest to walk because the walkway is paved along the coastline. It’s not much more than half a mile, so most reasonably fit people can make it, despite the warm Florida weather.

Whether you take a trip on the water or walk for a bit, we’d recommend wearing sun sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the Florida heat.

Zion National Park

The Zion National Park features epic landscapes dating back centuries.

The park is situated between the Mojave Desert, a Plateau, and the Great Basin. This provides for an incredible ecosystem with canyons, arches, monoliths, rivers, and mountains.

There’s plenty of hiking in nature here. Also, horse ranches are scattered about if you fancy getting on horseback and covering some distance that way.

It’s worth noting that some of the hiking lasts for several hours duration and will require a good degree of fitness. For instance, the Angels Landing hike covers considerable undulating ground over 4 hours. There are also some lifts in elevation along the way, which can cause shortness of breath for unfit people or those with asthma.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

To escape some of the midday sun in the summertime, another national park worth looking at is the Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

The Carlsbad Caverns has become a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique structure. The interior gets down to 56 degrees at times, which is a lovely respite from the outdoor summer heat. The caves are great for kids to explore and for parents to get the “Indiana Jones” feeling of exploration and adventure.

There are plenty of National Parks to visit and get away from it all. And even when those are all ticked off your bucket list, there are recommended State Parks that are interesting in their own right.

Food Hotels Insider Tips Instagrammer's Guides North America

A Portland Photo Diary & Insider Guide

What to Do

Powell’s Books

A visit to Portland is not complete without stopping by one of the most iconic independent bookstores, Powell’s City of Books in the upscale Pearl District. One could easily spend an entire day here with the many floors and stacks of books in this massive bookstore. We even found our hardcover book, Dame Traveler: Live the Spirit of Adventure on the shelves! You can also grab a copy on their website.

Portland Japanese Gardens

The gardens made me feel like I teleported to Kyoto. The Portland Japanese Gardens are located in the West Hills and are incredibly peaceful. On a clear day, you can even experience spectacular views of Mount Hood. You can pre-purchase timed tickets online. $18.95 per adult.

Catch the Sunset from Portland City Grill

Great spot for almost 360 views of PDX from the 30th floor.

Alberta Arts District

This was one of our favorite areas in Portland. Thanks to how multicultural the Alberta Arts District is, the neighborhood is super vibrant with tons of colorful murals and endless trendy restaurants and boutiques. Every inch of the place is photogenic. Explore the area on your own or on a good tour with Eat Adventures!

Day trip to Portland’s Wine Country, Willamette Valley

With over 200 wineries, tons of farmer’s markets and beautiful scenery, the Willamette Valley is the perfect place to spend a day sipping on some of Portland’s best wines and it’s only quick 30 minute drive from downtown. Our favorite wineries were Domaine Roy & fils and Fairsing Vineyard.

Day Trip to Multnomah Falls

This stunning waterfall is an Instagram favorite and is so easy to get to from PDX. You can get there by car or take a shuttle from Portland’s Gateway Transit Center to the falls. Round trip fares are $10.

Where to Eat

Bollywood Theater

In the Alberta Arts District, this spot serves up very authentic Indian street food and Instagrammable interiors.

Bunk Sandwiches

Your go-to spot for a sandwich fix, especially their grilled cheese.

Shalom y’all

We absolutely loved the vibe of this location downtown. The space is small and cozy but the best spot to have lunch is at the gorgeous bar. The service was friendly and the food is just sublime.

1927 s’mores co.

Located downtown, 1927 s’mores co. is the most charming little slice of heaven. The moment you walk in you feel like you’re entering summer camp and the s’mores take you right back to your childhood.

Tusk

Dinner at Tusk elevates the Middle Eastern dining experience. The romantic and trendy ambiance is incredible and the delicious dishes are creative while also maintaining the authenticity of the Mediterranean cuisine.

Hey Love

Fun spot for drinks and group friendly.

Where to Caffeinate

Stumptown Coffee Roasters

We love the location inside the Ace Hotel thanks to its retro ambiance, cozy couches and delicious coffee. Pictured here: Dame Traveler: Live the Spirit of Adventure book.

Case Study Coffee

We absolutely loved this cozy coffee shop in the heart of downtown. Gorgeous interior, friendly service and delicious coffee.

Where to Stay

The Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Portland

This luxury hotel in the centrally located, Downtown PDX has one of the most beautiful views of the city from their rooftop, Departures. The excellent service is consistent with the Luxury Collection hotels and the posh aesthetic makes for a perfect stay.

Ace Hotel

One of our favorites in PDX, the Ace Hotel is a classic. The hipster and vintage style is perfectly aligned with the PDX vibe. It’s located in the Pearl District, making it super easy to explore the area by foot with easy access to some of the city’s top restaurants, bars and shops.

Woodlark Hotel

The interior design of the Woodlark is an Instagrammer’s dream. Light and airy spaces, vintage vibes and lovely attention to detail. Located Downtown.

Trip sponsored by Hotel Tonight.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. All opinions are my own.

 

Food North America Travel Health & Wellness

A Wellness Girl’s Guide to San Diego

We’re not as woo-woo as LA, but San Diego is a health and wellness mecca in its own right. There’s no shortage of fresh pressed juice, boutique fitness studios and holistic spas in this city. For those planning a weekend getaway with wellness top of mind, San Diego is one of the best places to go. Here are a few tried and true local restaurants and activities to make your trip a breeze, from one wellness girl to another. 

Eat & Drink

Donna Jean

The best things in life aren’t very complicated. Donna Jean has a simple menu that happens to be 100% vegan. Best known for their thin crust pizzas, Donna Jean also has handcrafted pastas, salads, and sweets on their seasonal menu. Their plant-covered front patio feels like a secret hideaway, a quiet reprieve from the nearby bustling city and Balboa Park. A glass of wine with crusty focaccia bread under twinkling string lights…it’s the perfect atmosphere for a casual, comfortable and cozy dinner. 

GOODONYA

Everything at the organic North County eatery GOODONYA will feel good in ya, thanks to high-quality ingredients. Stop in for breakfast, lunch or dinner: with a menu this nice you might want to drop by twice! Morning meals include eggs and scrambles, avocado toasts, a coconut yogurt parfait and more. Nosh on organic Mexican dishes, bone broth and soup made from scratch, giant colorful salads, wraps, and similar fare. Wash it all down with biodynamic wine, beer, kombucha, low sugar cocktails, or the restaurant’s own electrolyte and mineral hydration blend. They’ve also got a daily happy hour, as if there wasn’t enough to feel good about.  

Parakeet Cafe

If probiotics and adaptogens often make their way into your vocabulary, you’ve come to the right place. Parakeet Cafe has three locations in San Diego, all overwhelmingly pretty in pink. Start your morning with a specialty coffee, ranging from turmeric and beet lattes to mushroom elixir and cacao blends. Personalize your coffee with almond, coconut or oat milk, collagen, MCT oil, and more…all this all before the food menu! Breakfast is served all day, so you can enjoy matcha waffles or shakshuka anytime. Lunch includes salads, soups and bowls, all packed with organic greens, vegetables, and add-on sides to make your meal just the way you want it. 

JuneShine

Hard kombucha is taking over the city, and it all started with JuneShine. Their honest alcohol is made with honey, green tea, organic spices, and juice to make delicious flavors like blood orange mint, pomegranate basil, and chili mango. Grab a glass or try a flight at their beach-inspired tasting room near the city. Or drive twenty minutes North to JuneShine Ranch, featuring brewery tours and a full food menu created by certified nutritionists. 

You & Yours

Undoubtedly one of the most Instagrammable places in the city, You & Yours is the perfect mix of trendy and charming. This female-founded distillery makes gin and vodka onsite, which means a fresh-as-it-can-get cocktail for you. You won’t find artificial syrups or mix-ins here; the drink menu offers a unique mix of fruit and veggie inspired cocktails, complete with adorable names. Little Bunny Foo Foo (gin with carrot, turmeric, ginger, and lemon) and Rhubarbie’s Dream House (gin with rhubarb, raspberry, lemon, bitters, and pink peppercorn) are just a few options. 

Rest & Restore 

Encinitas Meditation Gardens

Unwind surrounded by lush greenery and a stunning ocean view at this self-realization fellowship in North County. Look for three large gold dome-topped towers on the Pacific Coast Highway. The nearby meditation gardens are open to the public, offering walking paths and several spots to sit and be still next to koi ponds, cactus, beautiful birds of paradise, and other colorful plants. 

Citrine Spa

Tucked away on an adorable block of Point Loma is Citrine Spa. The setting is sweet and inviting, and the clean beauty facials are just as soothing. The Citrine esthetician Dawn will curate natural products specific for your skin type. Enjoy a series of cleansers, masks, peels, and even gentle microdermabrasion with an essential oil shoulder and arm massage. After your serene facial, keep that refreshed feeling going by visiting the tea bar and plant shop across the street. 

Leo by Liv3

This picture-perfect salon will make sure your nails are ready for a close-up. Offering manicures, pedicures and massages, Leo sources non-toxic treatment products as much as possible. The team here is known for creating expert nail art, both minimalist chic and bright and bold. Following through with their mission statement ‘be good to yourself,’ Leo also offers free postcards: write down a reminder for some self care, mail them to home and smile when you get something other than a bill in your mailbox. 

ALCHEMĒ

A medical spa that offers beauty services for the inside and out, ALCHEMĒ utilizes treatments both cutting edge and ancient medicine. Aesthetic medicine services range from plasma therapies to photo facials and skin tightening technologies. For something a little less futuristic, opt for a Chinese medicine treatment like cupping or gua sha, or simply consult with a functional medicine practitioner. There’s no appointment necessary for a vitamin injection at the shot bar if you’re looking to get an extra boost of energy, ward off an oncoming cold, or even to help prevent a hangover. 

Saffron & Sage

This holistic health club has everything a wellness girl could ever want. Get pampered with acupuncture, cupping or a massage. Get moving with a yoga class, or mindful with a meditation therapy session. Get advice from a nutritionist, psychologist, or life coach. Saffron & Sage also sells clean beauty products, minerals, essential oil diffusers, and more goodies to take home as a reminder of your experience. Spend some time in a calming, multi-sensory space filled with like-minded locals who dive deep into health and wellness. 

Break a Sweat

Babes Who Sweat

This event series makes fitness fun, with indoor and outdoor workouts all over San Diego. Check their Facebook page for information on upcoming events; past sweat sessions include spin classes, bootcamps, yoga classes, and stand-up paddleboarding, and typically include a goodie bag from local wellness brands.  Meet fellow health and fitness lovers through this inclusive, friendly community. 

Convention Center Steps

Looking to really get your heart rate up? Walk or run up the open-air convention center steps downtown: there’s nearly 100 steps on the grand staircase. Your reward is an epic view of the Gaslamp District one direction, and the San Diego Bay on the other.  There are several shorter staircases around the convention center, perfect for working on sprints, lunges, or similar bodyweight exercises. 

Torrey Pines Hike

Get close to nature at Torrey Pines State Reserve, covering around 2,000 acres of coastal land. Open from 7:15 a.m. to sunset, the trails here are great for newbies or more experienced hikers. Bask in dramatic ocean views, scenic overlooks, coastal plants and the area’s eponymous pine trees. Check the Torrey Pines website for more information on parking and entrance fees. 

Stand-Up Paddle-boarding

There are plenty of places to get your paddle-board on. But the most quintessential San Diego spot may be taking to the water around Coronado Island. SUP Coronado offers rentals and group tours, leading around the Coronado Bay Bridge with views of the city skyline. Sit, stand, and hopefully catch a glimpse of sea life during your session. 

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