Yellowstone dip: Visitors enjoy the Boiling River, as bison roam nearby. (Photo: Lisa Singh)
Feeling stressed? Perhaps all you need is a spa day or 2 … maybe even a week. And sometimes Mother Nature has the best idea: a spa treatment in the great outdoors.
That’s what I found on a trip this past week into the remote winter wilds of Montana where hot springs abound, as does the added bonus of being in a state that recently cracked the top 5 in the happiest states index. Maybe being the sixth-least populated state has something to do with Big Sky Country’s “happy” distinction, along with the lack of cellphone coverage, which can’t help but turn a traveler’s attention toward the grand, majestic show all around — the expansive mountain ranges that make up this stretch of the Rocky Mountains, with stories of mountain men and Native American tribes finding reprieve from wind-bitten days in soothing, mineral-rich waters by the base of mountains.
That’s where hot springs come in, lots of them. The western third of Montana is where visitors will find the most accessible, and inviting, geothermal wonders, emerging just below the surface with temperatures anywhere from 85 to 140 degrees. READ MORE
NYT’s Frugal Traveler, Seth Kugel (Photos: Courtesy Seth Kugel)
Because Seth Kugel prefers the unexpected find to online travel reviews, he’s Our Type of Traveler. As The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler, Kugel shares his insights on how to enjoy a destination without breaking the bank — or being a slave to endless online travel reviews — in mapping out a travel itinerary.
For Kugel, it’s all about the delight of discovery, something travelers could use more of, he says.
“We’ve eliminated discovery in travel because places are so well-documented,” says Kugel, from his home in Queens, NY. “I’m not an evangelist for being dumb about a place but there’s something to be said for leaving a little room for discovering a place on your own.”
Here’s how Kugel finds the charm of the unexpected, on the cheap. READ MORE
Temple Bar TradFest, Ireland’s big music bash (Photo: Love Temple Bar)
We at Travel Channel love the Irish. And just when we thought we’d exhausted our list of reasons why, here comes another big event: the annual Temple Bar TradFest. This 5-day event showcases the best in Irish song, music and dance, with the festivities underway this week in Dublin’s Temple Bar area.
Known as Dublin’s cultural quarter, Temple Bar is home to a lively mix of pubs, like the Porterhouse, as well as local cultural institutions, such as art house cinema and music venues. Added to the mix is the annual TradFest event. Since 2005 the festival has grown into one of Ireland’s biggest music and cultural festivals, showcasing more than 200 events, including dance shows, pipe bands and street performers.
How far did Martin Luther King Jr. travel in his life?
Over the course of the civil rights leader’s 39 years, MLK marched with tens of thousands of civil rights activists from Selma to Montgomery; spoke before tens of thousands more on DC’s National Mall; and in an eerie premonition, told an audience at Mason Temple church in Memphis that “we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” MLK was shot the very next evening, on a balcony, at Memphis’s Lorraine Motel.
While MLK’s domestic trips are well-documented, especially through the South, Dr. King was also a world traveler. In the last 11 years of his life, Dr. King traveled some 6 million miles. READ MORE
Waikiki Beach (Photo: Reuters)
Congrats, you survived the holidays. Now it’s time for a real vacation, and here’s the good news: The first few weeks after the New Year are a great time to snag some killer travel deals, says travel deals expert Johnny Jet.
“Not only is it cheaper, but all the resorts are going to be empty — you won’t have to fight for a beach or restaurant chair,” says Johnny Jet. (The other good window for travel deals is the week after Thanksgiving, he adds). “Everyone is offering huge discounts,” says Jet, whose site offers up-to-the-minute listings of post-New Year’s travel deals.
Fans gather at Graceland to celebrate Elvis’s birthday (photo: Reuters)
Seventy-nine years ago today, in the Mississippi town of Tupelo, the future King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was born. This morning, in celebration of the life of Elvis Aaron Presley — the singer, actor and legend who turned rockabilly into a sound all his own and forever changed how we view slicked-back hair, leather pants and Hawaii’s shores – Graceland kicks off a 3-day Elvis Birthday Celebration.
Santa’s on his way (Photo: Getty Images)
Once again a time-honored Christmas Eve tradition is underway, as Santa Claus makes his way around the globe delivering gifts to good little boys and girls everywhere. If NORAD’s current calculations hold steady, Father Christmas’s reindeer route is unfolding as planned, with one of the latest Santa sightings made in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Barring navigational forces, Santa’s journey, which usually starts in the South Pacific and hits New Zealand and Australia before moving on to Japan and Asia, will take Kris to Africa and Europe, followed by North America and South America, as he delivers the goods — at last count, nearly 2 billion — to kids everywhere by Christmas Day.
Winter solstice at Stonehenge (Photo: Getty Images)
Welcome to the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The winter solstice kicks off this Saturday, and with it, thousands of visitors from around the world have gathered at Stonehenge — the mysterious standing set of stones dating between 3000 B.C. and 2000 B.C., in Wiltshire, England — to mark the grand astronomical event when the monument aligns on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunset.
Of course, who are we fooling? On Saturday morning, most of us would probably prefer to snuggle up under the covers than brave the gathering crowds at Stonehenge (even if the new $44 million visitors center, which opened this past Wednesday, sounds interesting, with an exhibition that includes a forensic reconstruction of a Neolithic man). We’ll leave it to the druids, pagans and astronomical diehards currently gathered at Stonehenge to fill us in on the grand event, which, on the flip side, ushers in the longest night of the year.
A rodeo in Wilsall, MT. (Photo: Lisa Singh)
Remember that scene in City Slickers, where Billy Crystal finds himself in a bit of a slump and says, “Do you ever reach a point in your life where you say to yourself, ‘This is the best I’m ever gonna look, the best I’m ever gonna feel, the best I’m ever gonna do’ … and it ain’t that great?”? His wife soon tells him, “Go and find your smile.”
Somewhere out west.
Personally, the west has always held a special allure for me; and for months, I’d been keeping my Pandora station on old western soundtracks (don’t judge). There was only one place to go, some place like … Montana. Upon the recommendation of some friends, I set my sights on the Metcalf Ranch. It’s here, on a fifth-generation, 4,800-acre working cattle ranch in the heart of south-central Montana, that a couple named Susan and Remi Metcalf offer guests an authentic cattle ranch experience.
Ain’t they sweet: Bonnie and Clyde (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Bonnie and Clyde, there’s just something about this gun-toting, crime-loving pair of love birds that continues to intrigue. The 3-network, 2-night event that kicks off Sunday is just the latest example of the decades-long affair with this spunky Texas duo.
Over the years, crooners from Merle Haggard to Mel Torme have sung about them, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway offered a ’60s-chic spin on them, and in recent years, the famed La Jolla Playhouse staged an award-winning musical about them, entitled, aptly enough, Bonnie & Clyde.
But let’s get real. The real Bonnie Parker didn’t look like Faye Dunaway or Holliday Grainger, and Clyde Barrow didn’t look like Warren Beatty or Emile Hirsch. This duo did more than pose in chic photo stills with guns — they actually robbed banks … and killed people, a total of 12, during some of their bungled robberies. But we just can’t let this story go, thanks, in no small part, to the black-and-white images from the early 1930s showing Bonnie in a really cool-looking beret, as she points a gun in jest toward her fedora-wearing guy pal, Clyde. So sweet.