• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton
    Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

Time to start thinking of your next summer holiday…

Posted on:
Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

USA and Canada

Everyone’s situation is different as to what they need to think about when booking a holiday. Do you have children at school, are you in a job that restricts you from taking time off when you like?

Early planning is a must to avoid disappointment in these situations. Booking early also means you can take advantage any early booking discounts, which can save significantly sums for your holiday.

We are here to assist you make those plans and to help take the stress out of organising your trip. Once booked you can simply sit back and look forward to a wonderful holiday!

We are experts in the USA and Canada priding ourselves on the fact we have stayed in and visited many of the places we send our clients, helping you to make the best choices. The USA and Canada are well worth booking early in high season and they both offer something for everyone, from big city glamour to small town charm but can have limited availability.

 

USA – first thoughts

For the USA ‘big city glamour’ try the city of Chicago in Midwestern USA, a metropolitan hub for dining, shopping and entertainment. The Magnificent Mile is one of Chicago’s most famous shopping districts, and you’ll find flagship stores — from high street favourites to high fashion stores — along the stretch of shops. Nearby, wander along State Street, where you can visit the original Marshall Field’s, now Macy’s. For boutique shopping, head to Chicago’s 77 neighbourhood, where you’ll find unique, one-of-a-kind items you simply won’t want to leave without.

Chicago is bursting at the seams with theatrical talent. Broadway in Chicago and many Tony Award winning companies bring in big names and blockbuster shows, while more than 200 storefront, experimental and neighbourhood theatres bring you pioneering contemporary performances. Chicago is also a city that loves to laugh —after all Chicago invented improvisation comedy. See where Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell performed at world-famous ‘The Second City’. If stand-up comedy is your thing, grab your tickets for The Laugh Factory or Zanies. It is also a hub for all kinds of music and well worth experiencing.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For small town charm, we would recommend Jackson in Wyoming USA, sitting 15 miles from the Idaho border and approximately 12 miles from the entrance of Grand Teton National Park and 60 miles from the famous Yellowstone National Park. Offering you an adventure holiday exploring the wildlife and immersing in the local culture. You can explore on skis (in winter), mountain bikes, rafts, horse drawn stagecoaches. Add in exquisite cuisine, world-renowned art, and unique shopping to make a holiday to remember.

 

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Canada some places to consider

For ‘big city glamour’ consider a visit to the vibrant city of Vancouver, British Columbia with its skyline of glass buildings and the surrounding ocean and coastal mountains. Here you can swim from the beach and then go off to explore a mountain all in one day.  This is such a versatile city with so much to do. The city is the largest in British Columba, but manages to hold on to its rustic charm and natural beauty nonetheless. Visitors can enjoy bike riding, shopping, visiting a local museum or just relaxing in Stanley Park. Take the free shuttle service out to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Originally built in 1889, Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River. Cliffwalk is the park’s newest attraction – a cantilevered walkway clinging to the granite cliff high above Capilano Canyon. Treetops Adventure, seven suspension bridges through the evergreens taking you up to 100 feet (30m) above the forest floor, offers a unique squirrel’s eye perspective of the forest. See the jaw-dropping majestic nature of British Columbia unfold as you ascend via aerial tram to the summit of Grouse Mountain. Rising 4,100 feet (1,250 metres) above Vancouver and just 15 minutes from the city’s downtown.

You can dine at a world class restaurant or join a Vancouver foodie tour which allows you to visit a wide variety of highly recommended restaurants trying varied cuisine and enjoying the nightlife. A visit to Granville Island is a must for true foodies looking to sample the best of this coastal city. This gastronomic-focused district offers everything from elegant waterfront restaurants to small ethnic eateries. The Granville Island Public Market is a must see, an indoor market featuring a fascinating assortment of food and produce, displaying handcrafted products and unique gifts.

 

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For small town charm in Canada, we suggest Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – an attractive town with an underground network of bootlegging tunnels connecting buildings. The tunnels were created in 1908 for a steam system that never happened, but it is rumoured that Al Capone gambled and made deals in them. You can get around this historic town on trolley buses and guided tours, stopping to visit one of the many attractions and museums, or you can simply relax in one of the many spas around the town. Summer in Moose Jaw is always bustling with activities such as Sidewalk Days, Park Art, the Motif Multicultural Festival, Farmers’ Markets, events in Crescent Park and much more.

 

Picture courtesy of Tourism Saskatchewan Greg Huszar Photography

Picture courtesy of Tourism Saskatchewan Greg Huszar Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information and help with organising and booking your holiday please contact us.

Dine your way round the USA from Dirt Dog to Muffaletta…

Posted on:
Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

When it comes to dining in the United States they sure know and love their food. Each state has it own specialties and a great way to explore America is through its food.

Austin, Texas

We might like to stoke up a barbecue on the weekend, but in Texas they live and die by the practice. Mesquite smoked meats and tenderising rubs are common obsessions.  For excellent brisket, head to the Dallas Farmers Market. Also good are the pork links, pulled pork, beef ribs and collard greens. Basically everything! Also in Austin you can find Franklin’s Barbecue. This is a very popular eat house especially with the locals who arrive as early as 5am on weekends, and is well worth the wait for mouth-watering food.

Picture courtesy of Shelby Sorrel

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is best known for its glitzy casinos and sequin-spangled shows. But past the casinos, slot machines and neon glare of the Strip you can also enjoy an amazing food scene that is full of inventive, innovative cuisine. The city is full of every kind of food with something to please everyone. If you are an indecisive eater, then visit Café Hollywood and try the High Roller Sampler. This includes tasters of the restaurant’s most popular appetizers: chicken tenders coated in Cap’n Crunch, shrimp tempura, buffalo wings, and barbecue tostadas.  Another favourite is the Housedog at Dirt Dog.  You will know Dirt Dog is open when you see the huge line of hungry people stretching around the block. Here you will find a bacon-wrapped hot dog covered in cream cheese, cheddar, roasted green chilles, thousand island dressing, grilled peppers, and onions.

 

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown is located at the tip of Cape Cod and is a ‘must’ when visiting the Cape. Here you will not beat the fresh seafood with plenty of seafood shacks to serve you your favorite lobster roll, or fresh oysters, clams, scallops and crab.

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

New Orleans

One of New Orleans most famous ‘must try’ dishes is Crawfish étouffée (pronounced eh-too-fey) which comes from the French word “to smother.” This dish resembles a very thick stew, seasoned to perfection full of delicious, plump crawfish (or shrimp) served with rice. It’s a unique taste you won’t soon forget! Also a ‘must try’ is the Muffaletta, a sandwich that is never just a sandwich. This is all about the meat but with the olive salad dressing and the bread being important too. The Muffaletta is full of cured Italian meats, such as ham and salami topped with Provolone cheese. The olive dressing sports chopped green and black olives with onions and olive oil and spices, and the bread is a round sesame-seed roll like a bagel that can be big enough for sharing. Why not try it in one of the many restaurants in New Orleans, with plenty to choose from.

 

San Francisco, California

San Francisco is often hailed to be the best food town of the United States. The regional produce is grown on surrounding small farms, resulting in lots of fresh, clean flavours, with most ingredients locally reared and sustainably sourced. Most restaurants tend to be casual – even some of the Michelin-starred eateries.  San Francisco loves its’ bread and pastries, so take a visit to the old-school donut shop, Bob’s which is open 24hrs. The donuts are great, but the apple fritters are perfectly crisp-soft and laced with plenty of cinnamon. The other ‘must try’ food that comes to mind is a clam chowder (Fisherman’s Wharf) which was an East Coast invention, but in a world famous sourdough bread bowl that makes it that much better.  Chinatown is another must see place with lots of dining options, and the best way get the most out of your time here is to book a walking tour which will take you to all the tea shops, dim sum restaurants and back alleys.

Old Fisherman’s Wharf – Credit Visit California Carol Highsmith

Why Wyoming..

Posted on:
Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

If your someone who likes space with peace and amazing scenery, then this state’s vast size and low population which could allow each person living in Wyoming to have 111 acres all to themselves could be your perfect get away. Here are 10 places to get you started…………..

 

Lander – Hiking, mountain biking, fishing and world-class climbing await in this secluded mountain town along Wyoming’s Wind River Range. Most of Lander’s outdoor fun can be found in Sinks Canyon State Park a beautiful park with a natural phenomenon known as The Sinks. Jump on one of the 500+ area climbing routes or explore the park’s stunning scenery via trail.

Wind River Canyon Credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Star Valley – Wyoming’s Star Valley is a community of 12 towns that span a 45 mile stretch of valley nestled against the Salt River Mountain Range – just one hour south of Grand Teton National Park. This often-overlooked part of the state is also one of the most beautiful, with rolling hills, snow-capped mountains and rushing rivers serving as the backdrop to your outdoor adventures.

Saratoga – For the ultimate mountain rejuvenation, head to Saratoga and take a soak in the hot springs. Hobo Hot Springs features several free pools, including a few along the North Platte River. Make your way to nearby Medicine Bow National Forest to hike along the Snowy Mountain Range.

Hot Springs Credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Sundance – Break away from the stresses of modern technology in the place where the Sundance Kid got his name. This Western town is located in the heart of the Black Hills, offering plenty of trails for the enjoyment of hikers, horseback riders and off-road vehicle enthusiasts alike. Explore Devils Tower America’s first national monument by hiking around its mile-long base or climbing up its 900-foot face.

Alcova – Technically part of Casper, Wyoming, Alcova is an unincorporated town near Fremont Canyon that offers rest, rejuvenation and adventure on the water. Get away from the noise of everyday life by staying at a campsite along the canyon’s Alcova or Pathfinder reservoirs; or book a rustic cabin in the town of Alcova. Rent a pontoon boat, kayak, stand-up paddleboard or water toy of your choosing at Alcova Resort and spend your days gazing at the canyon’s towering walls from its refreshing blue shores. Grab your fishing pole and cast a line into Alcova Reservoir, or try your luck at fly fishing on the nearby Platte River. Rock climbing, hiking and mountain biking offer even more fun on shore.

Seminoe Alcova Wyoming Backway Cedit: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Guernsey – Step off the grid and into a time when the West was a new frontier. Just south of Guernsey you will find remnants of travel from those heading West on the Oregon Trail during the mid-1800s. See the Oregon Trial ruts – the tracks worn into sandstone from pioneer wagons – some of which are now five feet deep. Then head to Register Cliff to find names carved into rock wall by emigrants passing through. Continue your deep dive into history with a trip to Fort Laramie, a national historic site that transformed from a fur trading outpost to a military post protecting westward travellers from local American Indian tribes.

Fort Laramie NHS Buildings Credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Fort Laramie NHS Barracks Credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovell – This quaint town in northern Wyoming offers a doorway to both Western history and outdoor adventure. Spot wild horses at the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, discover ancient American Indian History at Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark or stroll through downtown Lovell, known for its beautiful rose gardens. While in town, take a few days to explore the nearby Bighorn Lake and Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, an area that spans into Montana and features stunning, 1,000-foot-tall canyon walls carved by the Bighorn River.

Medicine Wheel Credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Green River – Discover southwest Wyoming’s beautiful buttes and other worldly rock formations in the area surrounding Green River. Toss your phones aside as you search for wildlife at the beautiful Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, where moose, pronghorn and over 200 species of birds can be spotted year-round. Or drive the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop for the chance to see members of the area herd, which consists of about 1,500 wild horses. Drive the Flaming Gorge-Green River Basin Scenic Byway for breath taking views of Green River and Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, leaving ample time to stop and explore.

 

Buffalo – Tucked just east of Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains, Buffalo offers a wide range of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed during any season. Take a hike in Cloud Peak Wilderness, cast a line in Clear Creek or saddle up for an hourly, daily or overnight horseback trip at one of several nearby ranches. When the snow starts falling, hit the slopes at Meadowlark Ski Lodge or snowmobile pristine trails in the Bighorns. For a touch of Wild West adventure, step back in time at the Historic Occidental Hotel, where infamous guests such as Butch Cassidy and Calamity Jane once stayed. Then venture down to Hole-in-the-Wall near Kaycee to get a first-hand look at one of the West’s best outlaw hideouts.

Buffalo Occidental Hotel Credit: Buffalo, Wyoming Chamber of Commerce

Dubois – Located near both the Wind River and Absaroka mountain ranges, you can hike to the peaceful Lake Louise or challenge yourself with a hike up Whiskey Mountain, both of which aren’t far from Wyoming’s tallest mountain at 13,809 feet: Gannett Peak. During the winter months, head west to Falls Campground or Deception Creek to snowshoe or cross-country ski. These areas are protected from snowmobilers, allowing you to have a quiet experience on pristine snow.

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