Tangerine, rose, ruby and gold are just some of the colors that carpet the tree tops of New England in autumn. More »
Tangerine, rose, ruby and gold are just some of the colors that carpet the tree tops of New England in autumn. More »
It’s the heart of August in Big Sky, MT, home to some of North America’s most incredible ski slopes and majestic mountain scenery — but the resort town is hardly shut down for the summer season. Incredibly, Big Sky springs to life during the so-called “off” season. The resort town offers a seemingly endless array of outdoor activities — from hiking to fishing, and zip lining to horseback riding — to an ever-increasing number of warm weather visitors.
What to Do
Hiking: The region in summer is downright heaven for outdoors lovers who take advantage of seemingly endless miles of hiking trails, like the famed Beehive Basin, Ousel Falls and Storm Castle trails. While August might be late to view wildflowers in various other regions of the country, many fields here are still awash with the vivid reds, yellows and purples of the regional flora.
Experience the Gallatin: Not to be missed is a trip to the Gallatin River, which winds its way through along the Canyon and through the Meadow, as the lower regions of Big Sky are known. The river has become a mecca of sorts for fly fishermen as well as rafters and kayakers. Remember the iconic film, A River Runs Through It? Parts of the movie were shot here along the Gallatin. A number of outfitters around town can help visitors organize fly fishing trips or guided rafting tours.
Explore Moonlight Basin: Also known for its epic skiing in winter, this luxe mountain resort offers families and couples a veritable world of onsite summer activities. Popular favorites include horseback riding tours with Cedar Mountain Corrals along some of the resort’s stunning 8,000 acres of land, as well as the Tuesday evening Hike, Bike & BBQ. Sign up for this weekly event and choose to explore the property’s 16 miles of trails on foot or mountain bike, then cap it off with a celebratory barbecue overlooking the mountain vistas. Good thing you’ll have worked up an appetite for the slow-roasted ribs. Guests of the resort also have access to a swimming pool and hot tub — perfect for a relaxing post-hike dip.
Visit Big Sky Resort: Neighbor to Moonlight Basin, Big Sky Resort is a must-visit. Take a tram tour to the top of 11,166-foot-high Lone Peak — it’s a stunner. On a clear day it’s possible to see 2 national parks, 3 states (Montana, Wyoming and Idaho) and many mountain ranges. The resort’s Basecamp can also organize activities such as zip line courses, mountain biking and hiking with lift access, a bungee trampoline, disc golf, a climbing wall and even paintball.
Explore Yellowstone National Park: A trip to America’s first national park, Yellowstone, is a must for visitors to Big Sky. The nearest park entrance lies a mere hour outside of town, and it is possible to take the popular Grand Loop Road drive to see the park’s major sights, such as Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Lake Village.
Two Sumatran tiger cubs were born at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC, on Monday evening. Not only are these cubs the cutest new zoo babies around, but they are also a huge conservation success for the zoo, since Sumatran tigers are critically endangered – there are only 400-500 left in the wild.
Don’t run to the National Zoo just yet to see the lil’ cubs. The zoo is giving the first-time mother – 4-year-old Sumatran tiger Damai — time to bond and care for her little ones, so the cubs will most likely not be on exhibit until the fall.
In the meantime, you can watch the newborn tigers grow (they haven’t even opened their eyes yet) on the zoo’s live webcams. And their dad, 12-year-old Sumatran tiger Kavi is holding down the den as usual at the Great Cats exhibit.
“It’s taken more than 2 years of perseverance getting to know Damai and Kavi and letting them get to know each other so that we could reach this celebratory moment,” Great Cats curator Craig Saffoe said in a release.
“All I can do is smile because the team has realized our goal of producing critically endangered tiger cubs. Damai came to us as a young tiger herself, so it’s really special to see her become a great mom.”
In addition to these rare cubs, there are only 65 Sumatran tigers living in accredited zoos in North America.
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We love amusement parks as much as the next person. But sometimes a good day of fun can go horribly wrong, as we learned with last Friday’s tragic event at Six Flags Over Texas. This isn’t the time to turn alarmist — but it is time to brush up on amusement park safety tips, say industry experts.
First, keep things in perspective. A whole lot of people, well into the millions, take amusement park rides every year nationwide. And the number of serious injuries is minimal.
Chances of Injury Are Small
“Regardless of where we are on the spectrum, there’s always more we can do [in terms of amusement park safety],” says Dr. Gary Smith, who directs the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH.
It’s true, says Smith, there’s a global issue ahead to face — mainly, the current patchwork of oversight on amusement park safety, with differing standards by state and localities, and no umbrella government agency to oversee it all. Still, adds Smith, “The chances of a serious injury are small and that’s something parents can take comfort in.”
Know Before You Go
Already, states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania — home to a large number of amusement parks — have issued reminders to adventure seekers on how to enjoy rides responsibly. (Late June was Amusement Park Ride Safety Week in Pennsylvania, in fact.)
Check out tips from Pennsylvania authorities on amusement park ride safety here, and from the Ohio Department of Agriculture here. The main takeaway: Stay informed. Know before you go, it’s the best way for you and your family to have fun.
Top Ride Safety Tips
Ken Martin, an independent inspector and amusement park safety consultant with KRM Consulting in Richmond, VA, offers a great roundup of ride safety tips for parents. Also keep in mind the following:
Finally, be sure the ride fits you and your child. “Restraint systems should fit as close to your body as possible, but not tight enough to hurt,” says Martin. “Then sit back and enjoy the thrill — remember we are taking you to the edge and bringing you back safety, if all the rules are followed.”
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Check out Travel Channel’s Travel 911 web series.
Travel Channel’s picks for the most extreme water rides.
Get our guide to US amusement parks.
The world eagerly awaits the arrival of the royal baby and the news of whether the newest successor to the British throne will be a Prince or Princess of Cambridge. With the Duchess of Cambridge’s due date believed to be July 11, the champagne is chilling and the cigars are ready to be lit for the royal baby’s arrival any minute now.
Once again royal watchers have all eyes on London and the royal couple. Royal baby watch reaches a fever pitch with worldwide outlets camping out in tents outside St. Mary’s Hospital in London’s Paddington neighborhood, the expected delivery location for the royal baby; it’s also the hospital where Prince William was born.
How will the world find out if the little prince or princess has arrived? With a little pomp and circumstance, which is only fitting for a royal birth. The palace will announce when Kate is in labor, and then when the baby arrives, the announcement will be signed by medical staff and rushed to Buckingham Palace with a police escort. Royal sources say the official announcement will be displayed on an easel, the same easel used when Prince William was born, inside the Buckingham Palace gates. After the royal family receives the news, royal watchers all over the globe will finally find out if it is a little royal prince or princess. Then the world will go into official baby-mania for the foreseeable future.
The royal baby will not only boost collective “awws” around the world but will also boost the British economy with royal baby merchandise and royal baby celebrations all over London (who couldn’t resist this Born to Rule onesie?) The biggest celebration is expected to be at Green Park, a 40-acre royal park right outside of Buckingham Palace, where the official birth announcement will be displayed for the public.
Pubs all over London are gearing up to toast the little monarch’s arrival. Royal fans who would rather escape the rowdy revelers than join them can head to the Museum of London’s new exhibit, The Royal Arrival, showcasing items worn by Queen Victoria’s children; the show runs through Oct. 13. Also, for a perfectly posh British-style celebration, get the royal treatment at hotels offering Royal Baby Shower Teas, like St. James Hotel and the London Marriott Hotel County Hall.
For couples who are patiently awaiting their own baby’s arrival, we’ve selected the best babymoon destinations to get away before your buddle of joy arrives. Yes, if you are expecting your own little prince or princess soon, we suggest taking a romantic and relaxing trip while you can, before it’s you and your partner plus one. For the moms ready to pop any moment, if your baby arrives the same day as the royal baby, you will be honored with a commerative coin from the Royal Mint.
The downside if your child shares a birthday with the royal baby? Just think of the pressure to top the royal birthday parties every year!
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Travelers visiting Washington, DC, will notice something different about the city’s skyline. Although it’s closed for repairs, the Washington Monument is now lighting up the night sky. The National Park Service has installed 488 lamps on the scaffold surrounding the monument.
The rehabilitation is part of a welcome change. On Aug. 23, 2011, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the 555-foot-tall monument, cracking and chipping stones near the top and shaking the mortar loose. The lights are expected to stay on until the popular tourist attraction reopens in spring 2014.
The Big Apple more your style? If you’re heading to NYC, there’s exciting news for tourists who want to check out Lady Liberty. Yep, after being hit by Superstorm Sandy last fall, the Statue of Liberty has once again opened to the public after a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 4th.
You may recall that the National Park Service closed Liberty Island following Hurricane Sandy; however, the Statue of Liberty’s crown reopened after a year of renovations. Last October’s storm flooded and damaged New York Harbor docks and Liberty Island’s walkways, buildings and electrical systems, but the 126-year-old iron statue made it through the storm unscathed.
Las Vegas vacations are hotter than ever. Popular shows and hotels, like Aria, make the famed Vegas Strip the place to get your party on. From trying your luck in the casino or hitting the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace to seeing Cirque de Soleil or scuba diving inside Mandalay Bay, there isn’t anything you can’t find on the Strip.
Don’t worry if casinos aren’t your thing –there is still plenty to do outside of the Strip that is sure to get your adrenaline rushing. From horseback riding through Red Rocks to checking out one of the US’s 7 wonders at the Hoover Dam, you definitely won’t find yourself with nothing to do in the Entertainment Capital of the World.
And tonight at 9|8c, on an all-new episode of Toy Hunter, Jordan and his assistant Julia head to Sin City in hopes of tracking down several vintage toys from the popular 1979 TV series, Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century.
Dolly flipped the switch, and RiverRush welcomed its first riders at Dollywood’s Splash Country.
“There’s a lot of fun in store at my Dollywood’s Splash Country in 2013,” Dolly Parton said. “Growing up, playing in the creeks and streams here in the Smoky Mountains, I could only dream of something like a water coaster. But look at us now!”
Thanks to cutting-edge hydromagnetic technology and linear induction motors, RiverRush defies logic. Guests ride a 4-person boat 237 feet in the air and race down a 25-foot, 45-degree drop. Moving water continues to propel them up hills, through twists and tunnels, hairpin turns, rapids and 3 more scream-inducing drops along the 1,176-foot track.
Named America’s Must-See Waterpark in 2009 by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, Dollywood’s Splash Country also features Fire Tower Falls, the state’s tallest twin-speed slides, a 25,000-sq-foot wave pool, a 1,500-foot lazy river and more than 25 speed slides and white-water rafting adventure rides.
In preparation for the highly anticipated RiverRush, Dollywood’s Splash Country introduced Time Saver, a convenient line reservation system. The system reserves a rider’s spot in select lines, freeing them to experience other attractions. A waterproof wristwatch device indicates when it’s time to return to the ride.
Dollywood’s Splash Country, located next to Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, TN, is open 10am-6pm daily through Labor Day.
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Check out our Postcard From … Dollywood.
Relive the extraordinary life (and small-town roots) of Dolly Parton.
You read that right. So don’t find yourself standing in a grocery store Sunday morning staring blankly at the picked-over cards and flowers. Whether you meant to get her a gift last week, just made a brunch reservation yesterday or completely forgot (whoops), we’ve got you covered.
Does your mom already have the travel bug? Help her take her yoga practice on the road with a eKO SuperLite Travel Mat or stay warm on the plane with the Sofia cashmere travel set. Our Mother’s Day gift guide is chock full of travel products sure to bring a smile to her face.
Or treat her (and yourself) by planning an escape you’d both enjoy. What better way to spend time together than on a gourmet chocolate tour of San Francisco or at a formal tea at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia?
And those of you who are mothers yourself, our hosts have a very special message for you:
My amazing adventure in 2012 was an adventure … that was almost not meant to be. Due to an intense 10U travel baseball schedule, my family was not planning on a 2012 vacation, beyond a visit to beautiful Omaha, NE, for a baseball tournament and to pay a visit to the NCAA Men’s College World Series. Unfortunately, the team, and ultimately our plans for that trip, fell through and we were faced with time, and money, still left to spend. When in doubt, go Disney, or go home!
Along with my parents, we were able to find a time share available close to the Disney property. Within 2 weeks, the van was packed up and we were ready to start our adventure! Traveling with a 10 year old, 6 year old and a 2 year old, we had TVs hooked up and iPods charged to get us through to Valdosta, GA, where we stopped for the night, outlasting 6 rush-hour car accidents in the Atlanta metro area. The next morning, we set out for the last few hours of our drive into Orlando. We met my parents, who flew in from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), at the resort and settled in, each with our own unit (we learned THAT lesson the hard way!). Our resort was packed full with miniature golf, pools, cabanas, batting cage, paddle boats and a huge inflatable waterslide.
On this trip, I decided we were going to play it by ear. We chose Sunday to visit SeaWorld, which is actually my kids’ park of choice. The crowd was minimal, I’m guessing due to travel weekend and others choosing to start their vacation at the Disney theme parks. My 2 year old got to see Elmo & Friends in a live show, while my 2 older children decided to sit in Shamu’s “Splash Zone” and found that description to be accurate! That show turned into the purchase of a couple of beach towels to dry off. We ventured on to other shows: dolphins, walruses, sea lions and more.
We did stop by Dolphin Cove. However, we played by the rules and did NOT hold our plates over the water for the dolphins to jump at! We fed stingrays some dead fish (yick!) and were able to pet them as they zipped past us in their tank. We moved on to the water ride Atlantis and then to the Kraken and Manta, which my 10 year old declared the “BEST ROLLER COASTER EVER!” We ended our night with Shamu Rocks, and rock we did!
We took the next day off and hung around our resort. Pretty low-key. The following day was Magic Kingdom day! As expected, we shared the park with over 100,000 of our closest friends, many coming from far and wide. Our Fastpasses were a huge success for rides like Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The little ones enjoyed It’s a Small World, again and again and again. We visited with Disney princesses and the stars of the park, Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
The day ended with an extended stay in the parking lot due to a diaper bag snafu whereby my parents left the park to take the 2 year old back to the resort, along with the car keys! A family leaving at the same time was kind enough to offer us drinks/snacks from their cooler in their car to get us through the wait.
Again, the following day was an off day, and we visited more family staying at Bonnet Creek resorts. The boys golfed at the Waldorf Astoria, while the girls hit the pool and lazy river. Poolside entertainment included an adult women vs. men trivia game, of which I was on the losing end. (Who knew I would ever need to know the words to the Flintstones theme song?!) Our last day in Orlando was spent at Downtown Disney, where we ate at the Rainforest Café (and were served by someone who is from our hometown and had my brother as a teacher!). We also had a Louisville Slugger bat engraved, and turned my 6 year old into a Fairy Mermaid Princess.
At the end of the long week, we packed up the van and headed home. We drove through the night to take advantage of sleepy children. While impromptu, our adventure made memories to last us a lifetime. Every single day, my now 3 year old asks me, “Mama, are we going on bacation today? I want to see the whales.” And every day I shake my head gently and say, “No, not today, but maybe soon.” Just maybe …
- Written by Susan Balsley