May 2015
Beach Bumming on Majorca: Top 5 Places to Dig Your Toes into the Sand

Majorca boasts more than 550 km (340 mi) of shoreline, a huge draw for nearly 8 million annual visitors flocking here from around the world. Create your ideal Majorca vacation by exploring the island’s golden beaches, which offer huge swaths of soft golden sand backed by palm trees or dramatic cliffs. Add these sights to your Majorca itinerary.

1. Es Trenc

Es Trenc by: Cayetano (CC)

If your Majorca holiday dreams are made of white sand beaches gently lapped by turquoise water, you’ll want to add Es Trenc to your Majorca trip planner. Sandwiched between a protected wilderness area and the ocean, this beach attracts pleasure seekers eager to discover the untouched natural beauty of the island. Located in the southern section of Majorca just a short drive from the village of Campos, Es Trenc’s white dunes sweep across 2 km (1 mi), unhindered by commercial developments found elsewhere on the island. There’s little natural shade here, but you can rent umbrellas and lounge chairs at any of the nearby bars.

2. Playa de Muro Beach

Playa de Muro Beach by: Sandra (CC)

Located on the northern coastline less than an hour’s drive from Majorca’s international airport, Playa de Muro Beach serves as one of the island’s family-friendly spots, known for its shallow water and pristine sand. You can wade out quite far into the clear sea before getting out of your depth,  making this a prime option for small kids and inexperienced swimmers. Perfect your windsurfing skills here or rent a jet ski for a daylong tour of the island’s coastline. Bordered by protected wetlands, the beach also provides easy access to shady areas tailor-made for long nature walks. End your day at one of the beach cafes, where you can enjoy a cold drink or a light meal at sunset.

3. Cala de San Vicente

Cala Barques by: Andrew Gustar (CC)

The former fishing village of Cala de San Vicente sits near the island’s northwestern tip and offers three scenic beaches built into the rocky coastline. Cala Molins, the largest of the three, remains a hotspot for vacationers seeking little more than a tranquil location ideal for basking on the warm sand. The smallest, Cala Clara, offers outstanding conditions for snorkeling and searching for crabs hiding in the rocks. If you’re looking for more challenging things to do in Majorca, head to Cala Barques, where you can rent a paddle boat and embark on an adventure along the rugged coastline.

4. Sa Calobra

The Coast at Sa Calobra by: Kai Schreiber (CC)

Sa Calobra offers two relatively small beaches nestled between two huge cliffs. Reaching this slice of Majorcan heaven requires a drive down a steep road with hairpin bends, but if you prefer to get there in a more stress-free manner, you can also approach it from the sea. Once there, you can spend the entire day swimming, snorkeling, or relaxing on the white sand. More adventurous visitors can try hiking up the surrounding hillsides, providing many quiet hideaways made for romantic picnics. You’ll find very few facilities in this remote location, so bring your own towels, food, and plenty of drinking water.

5. Platja de Palma

Platja de Palma by: Cristian Bortes (CC)

Platja de Palma by: Cristian Bortes (CC)
Made up of several beaches, Platja de Palma offers approximately 6 km (3.7 mi) of soft golden sand. Served by a long pedestrian-friendly promenade lined by bars, cafes, and restaurants, the beach draws active vacationers interested in jet skiing, waterskiing, and paragliding. The wide stretch of sand offers plenty of space for playing beach sports like volleyball or soccer, making this a popular spot for mingling with the locals and making friends with other tourists. Artificial breakwaters built to create small bays along the coastline ensure calm water, an added bonus for families with small kids.

Europe’s Beach Paradise

Majorca has dozens of beaches and bays dotted along its coastline, each with its own personality and picturesque location. With so much to choose from, it can’t be hard to find a beach getaway to suit every traveler’s taste and interests. Explore the island’s diverse coastline, and find your very own slice of paradise.

May 2015
Summer in the Big Apple: Top 5 Things to Do in New York City

Although New York is a city for all seasons, summer provides perhaps the best opportunities for exploring some of its popular outdoor attractions and activities. From sprawling parks and gardens to pristine beaches and lush islands rich in history and culture, the Big Apple offers you a chance to build your own New York City vacation and experience summer on a truly grand scale. To make your experience unforgettable, consider adding the following attractions to your New York itinerary.

1. Coney Island

Coney Island by acidpolly (CC)

Located on a Brooklyn peninsula packed with museums, arcades, and sideshow-type establishments, Coney Island started as a working-class resort at the turn of the 20th century. The area drew big summer crowds as early as the mid-1800s, when factory workers began using this area to escape their hot and sweaty city tenements. Today you can still scream your head off on the famous “Cyclone” roller coaster, originally opened in 1927. Native New Yorkers flock here on warm days to grab a few hot dogs and wander along the boardwalk, while foreign tourists visit to soak up some of that air of nostalgia preserved by the old rides and beachfront shops and cafes.

2. Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach by Garrett Ziegler (CC)

New Yorkers once called Rockaway Beach the “Irish Riviera” because of a large immigrant population living in this part of Queens. One of the longest urban beaches in the United States, Rockaway now counts among the city’s favorite seaside destinations. Ideal for mini vacations and long weekends away from the city noise and traffic, the beach offers sun and sand without the fuss or the prices of the more famous Hamptons. Include the beach in your New York trip planner to experience the local surf culture and catch some of the best waves on the Atlantic shores. For a taste of some popular beach foods, explore the lively boardwalk eateries.

3. Governors Island

Lower Manhattan & Governors Island 2 Images Panorama II
by Nestor Rivera Jr (CC)

Made for summer picnics, Governors Island offers unbeatable views of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the island remains a major green space near the heart of the city. Situated just 700 m (2,300 ft) from the southern tip of Manhattan, the island includes about 70 hectares (170 acres) of landscaped parklands and public spaces providing a verdant playground for residents and visitors seeking a quiet respite from the urban hustle and bustle. The island includes a star-shaped fortification from the American Revolution and a circular castle from the turn of the 19th century, both designated as national monuments.

4. High Line

High Line park NYC – Manhattan – New York City
by David Berkowitz (CC)

A breath of fresh air in the middle of one of the world’s biggest cities, High Line is a linear park built on a short section of an abandoned railway that once ran along Manhattan’s lower west side. Redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway in 2009, the elevated park features a series of lush gardens that provide panoramic views of the city and the Hudson River. Buy an ice cream treat and enjoy a leisurely summer stroll from the Meatpacking District all the way to Chelsea. As you walk through this world of wildflowers and tall grasses, look for mirror sculptures designed to reflect the surrounding greenery.

5. New York Botanical Garden

DSC_9479 by Mary Petersen (CC)

A perfect escape from skyscrapers and traffic-congested streets, New York Botanical Garden features 50 different gardens and thousands of plant species spread over more than 100 hectares (250 acres). Established in 1891, the vast garden offers city dwellers a window into a plant kingdom filled with many varieties of roses, azaleas, herbs, daffodils, lilies, peonies, lilacs, orchids, and magnolias. If you’re looking for some educational and outdoorsy things to do in New York, explore this Bronx attraction’s 20 hectares (50 acres) of old-growth forest–the largest remaining tract of the original woods which covered the area before the arrival of European settlers.

A Warm-Weather Paradise

Although there’s no wrong time to plan a trip to New York City, summer provides perhaps the best opportunities for exploring some of its popular outdoor attractions and activities. From sprawling parks and gardens to pristine beaches and lush islands soaked in history and culture, the city offers you a chance to build your own dream vacation and experience summer on a truly grand scale.

May 2015
The Heaven of Red-Tiled Roofs: Provence’s Top 5 Most Charming Neighborhoods

Powerful enough to capture the imagination of Picasso and Cezanne, the sun-kissed Provence countryside makes an ideal setting for a romantic vacation in the south of France. Nevertheless, until you discover the region’s urban neighborhoods you cannot claim to know the real soul of this land. Here are a few of the most charming quarters to consider for your dream Provence itinerary.

1. Old Town (Vieille Ville) – Nice

Le Vélo Bleu by Alice (CC)

A maze of narrow streets and alleyways, Nice’s old town remains one of the French Riviera’s main urban attractions. Though packed with modern shops and restaurants popular among a trendy crowd of visitors, the old quarter retains much of its original medieval feel. Scarcely changed since the 18th century, the “Vieille Ville” boasts a treasure trove of well-preserved architectural gems, from lavish private mansions to opulent churches. You can lose yourself for days here, retracing the history of the city and discovering the hidden corners of one of France’s most colorful neighborhoods. Begin your adventure at the old town’s daily flower and fruit market, the beating heart of the city’s social and commercial life.

2. Old Port – Marseille

The old port of Marseille (“Le Vieux Port”) by Ivan Herman (CC)

Marseille’s old port provides a perfect setting for watching local fishermen unload and sell their daily catch as impatient fishmongers jostle for good positions and bargain prices. For centuries the city’s history played out in this lively area, once protected by two massive forts. Renovated in 2013, the neighborhood remains one of Marseille’s busiest sections, though with far less traffic and noise than before. Large semi-pedestrianized areas make the neighborhood popular with foreign visitors, who throng this part of the city in search of that Mediterranean atmosphere characteristic of the south of France. Soak up some history and see the old port’s major sights on a ferry tour, the best way to sightsee without tiring your feet.

3. Cours Mirabeau – Aix-en-Provence

Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence by Andrea Schaffer (CC)
Some of the largest of Provence’s emblematic fountains sit right on Cours Mirabeau, a graceful boulevard stretching nearly 500 m (1,500 ft) through the city center. Named after the revolutionary hero Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, the pedestrian-friendly avenue features wide sidewalks lined with double rows of plane trees. Laid out in the mid-17th century, it quickly became one of the city’s major symbols, whose hectic sidewalk cafes were a huge inspiration for artists like Cezanne and Zola. Just north of this street lie the irregular alleyways and elegant mansions of the old town, while to the south and west stretch the modern neighborhoods of the new town.

4. Le Suquet – Cannes

Le Suquet by Night by Tiziano L.U. Caviglia (CC)

You may know Cannes only for its film festival, yet the real spirit of the city remains hidden in the hillside Le Suquet, a dynamic neighborhood of cobbled streets and sweeping views of the sea. The city’s oldest district, Le Suquet sits on the site of an ancient Roman military settlement. Practically unchanged for the last four centuries, the neighborhood provides plenty of pleasant distractions in the form of small shops and pavement bistros, ideal for catching your breath and watching the world go by. Visit the area in the morning, when a noisy fruit market offers a glimpse of Cannes’ less glitzy side.

5. Medieval Walled Village – Tourrettes-sur-Loup

Cycle Tour of Provence 2011 – Tourrettes-sur-Loup
by velodenz (CC)

A pleasant detour on the road between Cannes and Nice, the medieval settlement of Tourrettes-sur-Loup perches on a rocky outcrop surrounded by the verdant countryside of southeastern France. Small and quiet, the walled village manages to remain unblemished by mass tourism, preserving its slow pace of life and easy-going atmosphere. The notoriously shy violets thrive here, dotting the steep streets of the village with delicate but vibrant explosions of color. Villagers honor the gentle flower each March, when they use it to decorate huge floats and stage mock flower battles. If you miss the violet festival, explore the village center’s artisan workshops and galleries, where you can learn about local art and pick up handmade souvenirs.

Where the land meets the sea

The sun may feel bigger and brighter on your Provence vacation, but it’s only when you glimpse the first few red-tiled roofs of the region that you know you’re in the south. Explore the coastline’s beaches and resorts, but don’t miss a chance to discover the region’s urban neighborhoods, soaked in history and exuding a typically French joie de vivre.

May 2015
San Diego for Families: 5 Top Things to Do with Kids

Millions of families plan a trip to San Diego each year, drawn by its abundance of kid-friendly tourist attractions. There’s plenty to do and see here regardless of whether you plan to devote just a few hours or an entire week to the city. Start with San Diego’s world-famous theme parks and zoo, but also consider making room on your travel itinerary for some of the city’s kid-friendly museums and sprawling nature reserves.

1. SeaWorld San Diego

The Power of Shamu by Nathan Rupert (CC)

SeaWorld San Diego boasts 26 different animal habitats and dozens of interactive exhibits designed to depict sea life in its many forms. Explore the theme park’s underwater tunnels for an up-close look at the world of giant sea turtles and great white sharks. SeaWorld is spread over an astounding 77 hectares (190 acres). You can spend an entire day here, going from aquatic-themed rides to educational and entertaining live shows featuring trained dolphins, sea lions, and killer whales.

2. San Diego Zoo

Panda Cub Xiao Liwu “Little Gift” at the San Diego Zoo
by Ricky Brigante (CC)

Home to nearly 4,000 of some of the rarest animals in the world, the famed San Diego Zoo shelters pandas, gorillas, antelopes, koalas, and orangutans, to name just a few of the park’s best-known residents. Renowned for pioneering the concept of cage-free exhibits to recreate natural animal habitats, the zoo covers a total area of almost 40 hectares (100 acres). To see as many different species as possible in a single day, take a guided tour on a bus, or hop on the zoo’s overhead gondola, which offers a bird’s-eye view of the animal kingdom. Get the most out of your family’s day at the park by starting at the visitor center, where you can arrange for guided tours and pick up free maps.

3. San Diego Air & Space Museum

San Diego Air & Space Museum by tataquax (CC)

The world-famous San Diego Air & Space Museum, one of the many kid-friendly museums in Balboa Park, houses a collection of both original and reconstructed aircraft and spacecraft. Add the museum to your San Diego itinerary to discover dozens of exhibits featuring memorabilia from legendary aviators like John Glenn and Charles Lindbergh. Start with the displays of space capsules, one of the most exciting features of the museum and a favorite with kids of all ages. From there you can head to the museum’s renowned education center, known for hosting regular family-oriented activities.

4. Legoland California

California by Michael Li (CC)

To build your own Lego experience, add Legoland California in nearby Carlsbad to your San Diego trip planner. Opened in 1999 and modeled on the original Lego-based park in Denmark, this venue was the first of its kind outside Europe. The park features several themed sections constructed entirely out of the Lego brand’s popular building blocks, as well as about 60 rides and other attractions designed primarily with kids under 12 in mind. Young visitors and their parents can spend hours immersed in the Lego fantasy by taking roller coaster and boat rides through models of medieval castles and islands inhabited by giant dinosaur toys.

5. Torrey Pines State Reserve

Torrey Pines Reserve In Early Morning Light – Explored
by Bill Gracey (CC)

The sprawling Torrey Pines State Reserve represents one of the largest and wildest stretches of southern California coastline with over 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of land. The park features eight trails that offer varying length, difficulty, and scenery, so you can easily choose something that best suits your family’s interests. Animal lovers come here to spy bobcats, rabbits, foxes, and even whales, while picnickers head to a scenic beach set against high cliffs–the only place within the park where visitors can bring their own food. Large and uncrowded, the beach provides plenty of nooks and crannies for kids to explore, while you can enjoy sea views offered by this tranquil setting in the upscale La Jolla community.

May 2015
Hampshire Holiday Idea
Following Jane Austen's Footsteps

Jane Austen spent most of her life in the south of England, and a well-planned Hampshire holiday offers fans of this prolific writer a chance to discover what inspired classics like “Emma,” “Mansfield Park,” and “Pride and Prejudice.” To follow in Austen’s footsteps, visit some of her favorite places in Hampshire.

1. Jane Austen’s House

An ideal start to a literary tour of Hampshire, Jane Austen’s House tells the personal story of one of England’s finest authors. The celebrated writer spent the final eight years of her life in this 17th-century house, creating some of her most popular dramas. Austen wrote “Persuasion” while living here, and revised “Sense and Sensibility” and “Northanger Abbey.” Today, the modest red-brick house serves as a museum, known for its collection of Austen’s music books complete with notes in her own hand. The museum’s reference library holds different editions of Austen’s novels, as well as a collection of translations.

2. Beaulieu Abbey-Palace House

Karen Roe

Known as one of the most haunted buildings in England, Beaulieu Abbey-Palace House sits on the site of a 13th-century Cistercian monastery. Add the estate to your Hampshire itinerary to explore some of the rooms in the main house, originally designed in the Gothic style but now decorated in full Victorian splendor. The ancestral home of Lord and Lady Montagu, who graciously keep their home and gardens open to the public, the former abbey occupies a scenic location near the Beaulieu River. Take a moment to listen for the eerie sounds of chanting Gregorian monks, supposedly haunting the grand palace.

3. Winchester Cathedral

Include Winchester Cathedral on your Hampshire trip planner to see one of the largest religious structures in England. Known for boasting one of Europe’s longest naves, the cathedral features a blend of both Norman and Gothic architectural elements and brings together more than a thousand years of English history. Established in the 11th century, the cathedral now holds one of the country’s finest illuminated manuscripts, medieval carvings, 12th-century wall paintings, and contemporary art. Take tours of the ground floor, crypt, and tower, or explore the free children’s trail to learn about the structure’s rich history in a fun and informative way.

4. Buckler’s Hard

Karen Roe

A tiny shipbuilding village seemingly untouched by the passage of centuries, Buckler’s Hard allows visitors to discover what it was like to live and work in an 18th-century riverfront settlement. Originally intended as a free port of trade with the West Indies, the small village became the birthplace of several ships constructed to serve Nelson’s triumphant fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. In the 20th century, the former shipyards played a key role in the secret preparations for the D-Day landings. Today, the little hamlet is a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors with its maritime museum and modern yachting marina.

5. The Vyne

Barry Skeates

If you’re looking for some things to do in Hampshire that combine history, art, and nature, head to The Vyne. This Tudor-era country estate initially served as the private residence of Lord Sandys, one of Henry VIII’s top court officers. The mansion now houses Majolica tiles and Renaissance stained glass, as well as a huge collection of period furniture, tapestries, paintings, silk wall hangings, and wood carvings. You can walk through history-infused rooms where Anne Boleyn and Horace Walpole once dined, or explore some of the estate’s 5 hectares (13 acres) of landscaped and wild gardens. The estate also features a long stretch of natural woodlands, with walking trails leading past centenarian trees and medieval fishponds.

Austen’s Inspirational Home

For Jane Austen, Hampshire represented more than just a pleasant place for living and writing. The rural landscapes and medieval manors of southern England provided her with an infinite source of inspiration, encouraging her to create some of the world’s most beloved novels. Experience the energy of Hampshire’s big cities, but don’t forget to explore the county’s secluded corners of tranquility, preserving the old-world charm so unique to this part of England.