I have been writing travel articles for more than seven years and almost every day someone asks me about my favorite vacation destinations.
I thought I would name some in this article. I’ll begin with those in North America first.
Wandering up the West Coast
Driving or taking the train from Los Angeles up to Seattle is one fine vacation. From Southern California you pass through ranches, farms and I suggest you take the coast route 101 so you can view miles of the Pacific Ocean. There are many interesting cities, towns and villages you will pass through on your way north to the Bay area of San Francisco. If you like, you can visit wineries, interesting eateries and end up in the City by the Bay.
In San Francisco you can either bed down for the night, or take time to see the many sights offered here. Be sure to ride one or two cable cars as they ding and clank their way up and down the hills of the city. There is Fisherman’s Wharf for a walking tour and it’s also a great place for either lunch or dinner.
I recommend a crab or shrimp Louie. Any seafood here is fresh from the sea and worth the money. You can dine looking out on the Bay and all the activity around the wharf. There will be fishing boats being attended to as well as many tourist shops, a museum and interesting people. You will find a chocolate factory, cookies being baked and hundreds of other sights around the wharf. You can see fishermen cooking crab in large pots and many locals take a cooked crab home for dinner wrapped in newspaper. At your hotel or motel you will find brochures of things to do and points to visit.
You also want to include the old Ferry Building. It now is a wonderful mall with many interesting shops to browse and shop. Pick up a loaf of sourdough bread here and take it back to your room to munch on.
From the Bay area, continue to head north through the beautiful mountains stopping along the way at the small towns to walk around a bit and take in the sights. Portland will be your next main city stop.
Portland is an amazing, friendly city with much to see and do. The city is positioned on the Columbia River. Here, you can take a river boat ride, visit the interesting shops near and in downtown and stop into the several book stores that offer hard to get publications. Portland has everything. Good evening entertainment, fine restaurants, and theatre. Give it at least two days.
Now, on to one of my favorite cities – Seattle. Here, you want to take one of the ferries out to an island or two just for the ride and the scenery you will view from the boat rail. See and experience as much of the San Juan Islands as your time permits.
There is shopping at the waterfront as well as downtown. Be sure to have some smoked salmon at a recommended restaurant before leaving the area. Almost anyone you speak with will recommend their favorite seafood restaurant. Some restaurants even smoke the fish in back of their establishment. The mountain range in back of the city is a mind blower. I hope the sky is clear for you when there.
If time is not an issue, from Seattle drive north to Vancouver, Canada. It’s not that far and well worth the visit. Be aware that you must now have a passport card or passport to enter and depart the U.S. and many other countries. Vancouver is very beautiful with wonderful parks, high-rise buildings, an interesting bay with activities and friendly people to help you along the way. Take a city tour here so you won’t miss the main sights.
Meandering along the Mississippi
I have written several times about seeing the Old South with New Orleans as one of the main focuses. A paddleboat trip would be a great way to see this part of the Mississippi River. Your travel agent will be able to recommend trips that will interest you. In New Orleans you want to spend at least two days to walk Old Town, sample a few recommended restaurants (there are many) and visit a museum or two. You may find interesting taking a Hurricane Katrina Tour showing what happened that fateful day.
While you are in this area of the world, also visit nearby Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Natchez, Vicksburg and Biloxi. This is really the Old South and wonderful to experience.
National Parks, the nation’s capital, New York
Our National Parks should be seen at least once. You want to visit the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, and Yosemite. I suggest this trip to be in the spring or fall when the parks are not so crowded. Some of these parks close for winter; so be sure to check with the park service to obtain the months the National Parks are open.
If you have not visited Washington, D.C. and New York City at least once, you should plan to do so. You can do these visits by organized tour or on your own. In both New York and Washington, D.C. plan to take a tour of the city. They will not be that expensive and will show you the highlights and do the parking. It’s the only way you will enjoy the experience.
Fun, fabulous Florida
I think you would find Orlando, Fla. interesting, after visiting there, rent a car and drive south to visit Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, doing an Everglades tour and heading up the West Coast of the state to Tampa, visiting the many fine towns along the way. It’s a different part of the U.S.A. there and fun to explore. Some time ago I joined the AAA Auto Club and use their maps and travel books to plan driving trips. You might look into joining yourself if you plan to do a lot of driving in the next couple of years.
The Northeast and beyond
The Northeast of the United States is colorful and interesting especially with its fall colors. New England is full of early American history, interesting towns and cities.
October is a good month to see the blaze of gold, browns, reds and greens throughout the area. A tour might be the best way of seeing this part of our world.
Alaska and Hawaii are always interesting; Hawaii for its wonderful tropical scenery and climate and fine hotels as well as fantastic beaches to sun and relax on. You can see mountains and volcanoes in one day’s drive.
Alaska is best seen in the spring, summer and fall of the year. A cruise on the inside passage for seven days is a good starter visiting interesting towns along the way and perhaps Glacier Bay.
Outside the U.S.A.
Recently we drove through the Canadian Rockies to visit Jasper National Park along with Lake Louise and Banff. Everyone, if they possibly can, should visit this part of the world before cashing in. The mighty mountains, valleys and rivers are almost beyond belief. It’s expensive, but worth the time and money.
New Zealand is special with its 1,100 miles of coast, beautiful farms, cities and villages. The North and South Island have their treats for the eye and belly and you should try and make this trip if at all possible. It’s a special place.
While in the Pacific, try also to stop off on your way to New Zealand in the Islands of Tahiti. Visit Moorea and Bora Bora at least. These are some of the most beautiful tropical spots on earth.
The Norwegian Fjords should be seen from the deck of a cruise ship. Select a cruise that visits several fjords and spends a little time in Norway, which is a wonderful and scenic country and worth the time to visit.
Many cruises that visit the Norwegian Fjords also stop at St. Petersburg, Russia. This city is special because of its heritage of palaces and museums containing some of the most treasured art and craft collections in the world.
Visiting the palaces is awe-inspiring. They are well kept and you can see how the royal families of Russia lived. Some of these palaces have more than 1,000 rooms. This is probably one of the most interesting cities in the world.
Western Europe should be seen because of its history and because so many American families originated from there. We’re talking about the British Isles, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Holland and more. These countries have become modern while retaining some of the Old World trappings. Many travelers choose one country at a time to fully explore each. If you are thinking of one big shot, take a tour that will take you to the important locations in each country.
Travel is one of the pleasures in life. Get the most out of it and have fun!