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USA travel Archives - Page 2 of 2 - Air Canada Vacations

21 Nov

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Hawaii Highlights for the First-Time Traveller

November 21, 2014 | By |

Aloha Hawaii! Pristine beaches, active volcanoes, quaint towns… Hawaii seems to have it all. So where to begin exploring this series of islands? What makes each island different? Whether you want to island hop or stick to one island only, a look at some of Hawaii’s highlights will certainly help. Here is a look at some of the best ofs on 4 of the main Hawaiian Islands.

Kauai: The Oldest of the Hawaiian Islands

Hanapepe: When visiting the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, it’s only fitting to explore its history and culture – both present in the small town of Hanapepe. Historic plantation-style buildings, shops and art galleries abound here. The town’s charm is so palpable that it is often used as the setting for Hollywood films, like Lilo and Stitch and The Thornbirds.

Old Koloa Town is another must-see for history buffs; this town helped shape the sugar cane industry in the 1800s. It’s accessible via the Maluhia Road Tree Tunnel, a stretch of road lined with eucalyptus trees that were planted over a century ago.

The great outdoors: Kauai, deeply rooted in the environment, has outdoor spots that beg to be explored as well. In addition to hitting up Kauai’s beaches, you can visit remote waterfalls and kayak along the Wailua River, hike through the Waimea Canyon and cruise along the scenic Napali Coast.

Oahu: The “Heart of Hawaii”

Surfing: Located on Honolulu’s south shore, Waikiki Beach’s calm waters set the tone for a first-time surfing lesson. The North Shore’s bigger waves are perfect for more seasoned surfers.

Pearl Harbor: The 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan is what brought the United States into World War II. This US naval base is now a designated National Historic Landmark with a total of 5 memorial sites.

Leahi Peak (Diamond Head): If hiking and taking in coastal views are on your Hawaii to dos, then reaching the top of Leahi Peak is a great way to get the best of both worlds. Waikiki and Honolulu are visible from here.

Maui: Foodie Favourite and Tropical Paradise

Lahaina: Hawaii regional cuisine is the pièce de resistance in Lahaina, a Maui hotspot. Known as farm-to-table cuisine, this type of fare combines local specialties like seafood with international influences. This town is also a great place to witness a luau, a traditional Hawaiian feast with eating, drinking and Polynesian dancing.

Kula: Many of the ingredients used in Hawaii regional cuisine come from the produce farms of Kula. Besides taking a farm tour, you can also visit the Kula Botanical Gardens.

Natural beauty: Maui’s food is not its only highlight – there are lots of natural sights to take in too. Head to Iao Valley State Park to see the famed Iao Needle, a protruding green-mantled volcanic rock that looks like, you guessed it – a needle.  Haleakala National Park, with its numerous hiking trails, is also an ideal location to see natural wonders like the Nene, an endangered species of Hawaiian goose.

Hawaii, the Big Island: Adventure Island

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park definitely deserves a visit if you’re heading to the Big Island. It is home to 2 volcanoes: Maunaloa and Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. In addition to hiking volcanic craters, you can visit the on-site museum or snap photos of some petroglyphs (lava rock carvings).

Sailing the Kona Coast: Several boat tours depart from Historic Kailua Village and Hilo. Diving with manta rays, whale watching, scuba diving and fishing excursions are also possible from Honokohau Harbor and Kawaihae Harbor.

Horseback riding in Waimea: Experience the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) lifestyle by horseback riding through Waimea. Head along the waterfall trails of Waipio Valley or make your way towards Kealakekua Bay to cap off your day with a quick swim.

 

Want to discover more Hawaii highlights? Check out our section on Hawaii travel.

 

12 Sep

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Off the Strip: 6 Sightseeing Musts from Las Vegas

September 12, 2014 | By |

Las Vegas may be known for its bright lights and entertainment-filled nights, but truth is there are even more dazzling sights if you are willing to venture past the Strip. From man-made marvels to natural wonders, here are 6 sightseeing musts from Las Vegas.

Hoover Dam

hoover-dam

Built between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression, Hoover Dam was one of the largest US government projects of its time and remains an engineering wonder. It’s located between Arizona and Nevada and spans the Colorado River in the Black Canyon. Architecturally beautiful, the structure stands out for its curvilinear arch and art deco design. The dam is also home to Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US.

How to get there: hop on a Hummer or bus tour, rent a car, or take a helicopter ride

How far from Vegas: approx. 1-hour drive; flight times vary depending on chosen tour

Grand Canyon

Considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon is a spectacular sight for the eyes. If heading to the West Rim on a ground tour, you’ll likely travel through the Joshua Tree Forest, while an aerial tour will provide views of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. Key highlights of the West Rim include Hualapai Market at Guano Point and the Grand Canyon Skywalk at Eagle Point.

Grand Canyon Skywalk

Grand Canyon Skywalk

Going to the South Rim instead? As part of the Grand Canyon National Park, the South Rim offers picturesque trails and views at Mather Point. Bright Angel Lodge, a historic hotel complex located directly on the edge of the Canyon itself, is another must-see. A helicopter ride of the South Rim offers views of Dragon’s Corridor, the Tower of Ra, Kaibab National Forest and the Colorado River.

grand-canyon-afternoon

How to get there: hop on a Hummer or bus tour, rent an SUV, or take a helicopter ride

How far from Vegas: approx. 2.5 hour drive (West Rim) or 5-hour drive (South Rim); flight times vary depending on chosen tour

Death Valley

Don’t be fooled by its name: Although Death Valley is the hottest area in all of North America, if offers tons of natural and historical riches (just make sure to see them in an air conditioned vehicle or during cooler hours of the day). Among its hidden treasures is Scotty’s Castle, a Spanish-style villa that was built in the 1920s after a conman successfully convinced a millionaire to invest in his “goldmine.” Death Valley’s mysterious aura is also attributed to the Ubehebe Crater (all that remains from a violent volcanic eruption thousands of years ago), Badwater Basin (a saltwater basin and the lowest spot in North America) and Rhyolite Ghost Town.

How to get there: hop on a bus tour, rent a car, or take a helicopter ride

How far from Vegas: approx. 2-hour drive; flight times vary depending on chosen tour

Red Rock Canyon

red-rock-canyon

A scenic 21-kilometre drive along Red Rock Canyon is perfect for a day of sightseeing: take in views of the sandstone Calico Hills, marvel at the limestone roasting pits used by the Native Indians and study the petroglyphs at Willow Springs. A Red Rock Canyon trip would not be complete without seeing Spring Mountain State Park, a ranch previously owned by Howard Hughes, eccentric millionaire extraordinaire. The canyon also offers 19 hiking trails, as well as opportunities to observe plants and wildlife.

How to get there: hop on a bus or Hummer tour, or rent a car

How far from Vegas: approx. 35-minute drive

Zion National Park

Known for its red, white and pink rock formations, Zion National Park is a feast for the eyes. Located in Springdale, Utah, the park offers a stark contrast between desert areas and pockets full of waterfalls, ponds and lush greenery. Some major points of interest include Virgin River, Checkerboard Mesa, Weeping Rock and Emerald Pools.

How to get there: hop on a bus tour, rent a car, or take a helicopter ride

How far from Vegas: approx. 2.5 hour-drive; flight times vary depending on chosen tour

Laughlin

laughlin

Laughlin is no Vegas, but this gambling city’s smaller-town-feel and lower costs make it an attractive alternative to the glitz and glam of the Strip. In addition to casinos, you’ll find shopping, spas and golf courses. Its location on the banks of the Colorado River and its proximity to Lake Mohave also mean opportunities for fishing, swimming, boating and other aquatic activities.

How to get there: hop on a bus tour, or rent a car

How far from Vegas: 1.5 hour-drive

Ready to make the trip from the Strip? Learn more about your options for sightseeing tours from Vegas so you can get started on planning!

02 Dec

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4 destinations to kick-off the New Year

December 2, 2013 | By |

Crack open the bubbly It's New Year's!

by Ilona Kauremszky

Every holiday has its traditions. Why not start the New Year with your own? I did and haven't looked back. Over the years I've been to amazing places with blockbuster year-end celebrations. So get ready to fasten your seatbelt for this ultimate New Year's party list.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Banderas Bay is the place to be. Just as the clock strikes midnight, spectacular fireworks burst into the sky along this popular hotel strip. Each resort prepares a memorable medley of Technicolor, all vying for the best displays. It's a symphony of fire in the sky. I also like how the pubs are packed along the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta. It's sheer mayhem.

Cancun, Mexico

Cancun's all about the ultimate sun vacation and makes a great stress-free getaway. With so many direct flights, you can opt to travel with family and friends and be on the beach with your favourite umbrella drink. Be prepared to be mesmerized by the ample New Year's Eve celebrations too. I like staying at the hotel for New Year's madness because of the convenience factor. You can dance for hours and make an easy return to your room.

Las Vegas, USA

They don't call it the Entertainment Capital of the World for nothing. Just when you thought the celebrations can't get any bigger in Vegas, they get bigger. I can't get over how the Las Vegas Strip packs in the revellers, and fireworks light up the Nevada sky. Meanwhile A-listers attract their own following as they perform their greatest hits on stages across the city.

New York City, USA

I kept my round-rimmed 2000 glasses as a souvenir of my rocking good time in New York City when we blew our party horns there. Head to Times Square where traditionalists converge. Others find party madness across the boroughs or go all Woody Allenish and sit beside their paramour by the Queensboro Bridge with a glass of bubbly.

27 Jun

By

Viva Las Vegas!

June 27, 2011 | By |

 

How I wish there were more

Than the twenty-four hours in the day

Cause even if there were forty more

I wouldn’t sleep a minute away

Elvis Presley

Much has been said, sung and written about Las Vegas; with good reason. It’s the ultimate escape where time is irrelevant and adrenaline-fuelled nights dissolve into sun-soaked days. Not to mention the fact that it’s the fastest growing metropolis in the United States.

Never one to pass up an opportunity for great food, awe-inspiring hotels and some of the best shopping in the world, two girlfriends and I recently made our mark on Sin City. And how!

Our three-day escapade started at Planet Hollywood, a Caesars Entertainment hotel with star-worthy accommodations. Our room featured a display case with the dress worn by Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest as well as a variety of Bonnie and Clyde memorabilia, including Faye Dunaway’s famous fedora!

We dined at the Strip House on our first night and I literally fell in love with my meal: Maine lobster linguini. Mmm. My friends Judith and Joelle equally enjoyed their meals, sesame crusted yellow fin tuna and pan seared red salmon, respectively. Executive Chef John Shenck created the menu which is a tasty mix of surf and turf, fresh from the sea and with all of the best cuts. The rich, red, burlesque-like atmosphere was also the perfect precursor to our next stop: Holly Madison’s Peepshow.

Peepshow is a sophisticated burlesque show led by Holly Madison, best known for her television shows Holly’s World and The Girls Next Door. It was a fun and sexy romp through Madison’s world which is ripe with beautiful, and talented, dancers and singers. And Timber! After Peepshow the good times continued at Gallery Nightclub, where we skipped the line, enjoyed complimentary drinks and danced the night away.

After checking-in at Caesars Palace I did a little dance when I saw the heavenly Jacuzzi in our room. After spending some down time at the pool, soaking up the rays and the tunes, we ordered takeout from the Beijing Noodle No. 9. From its dramatic entrance flanked by giant fish tanks to its authentic Northern Chinese cuisine, it did not disappoint.

A delicious, casual noodle shop, we especially enjoyed the mouth-watering handmade, knife-cut noodles and dim sum, which we ate while watching television in our room. Thank you Executive Chef Li Yu!

Later that night, after a long soak in the Jacuzzi and a tasty dinner, we made our way to PURE, Caesars’ hottest nightclub. With a great view of the Strip and four different atmospheres on two storeys, it was definitely a night to remember. But you know what they say? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!

Our third day was taken up by shopping at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino where we pillaged Bettie Page, a vintage-inspired clothing store.

 

As the King sang “Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire… Viva Las Vegas.”