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    5 reasons to stay at the re-opened Mount Royal Hotel in Banff

    The Mount Royal Hotel has always held a special place in Banff’s history.
    Located on the historic corner of Caribou Street and Banff Avenue, the hotel has always been a popular meeting place for locals, off-duty park wardens and those new to town. But despite its century-long history, the hotel has moved with the times and is due to re-open this July with an exciting offer of modern amenities. Here are just five reasons you should stay there.
    1. The hot tub lounge
    The most talked about amenity at the new Mount Royal Hotel is outdoor hot tub lounge. Found on the fifth floor, it is a place where you can grab a drink and relax in a hot tub – while enjoying views of the peaks like Cascade, Rundle, Sulphur and the Sundance Range. It is also guests only so you won’t need to fight for space either.
    2. It blends the modern with the new
    Banff boasts a strong heritage, and this can be seen through the town’s ranch-like hotels. You can relax by a log fire while enjoying a cocktail, and wander through the hall with tartan carpets before relaxing in your room with a smart TV and kitchenette.
    3. Four room types to choose from
    Choose from the Centennial Room View, Centennial Room, Heritage Room, and Junior Suite. All come with plush bedding, a kitchenette, smart TV, desk area, and two queens or one king-sized bed. Plus, the Centennial room View and Junior Suite come with unobstructed views of the surrounding peaks.
    4. Two restaurants
    While Banff itself is not short on tasty dining experiences, there’s a restaurant and pub conveniently located within the hotel. Tony Roma’s Restaurant is a casual dining family restaurant where you can bite into BBQ ribs, slow-roasted chicken and AAA Alberta beef. While Toque is the perfect place to socialise with friends over a game of pool with craft beers and heart-warming Canadian poutine.
    5. And other touches that make your stay comfortable
    Including concierge desk, complimentary Wi-Fi, outdoor parking, bell service, hotel library and 24-hour reception. Your stay at the Mount Royal Hotel is guaranteed to be just what you need for a relaxing stay in Banff.

     

    10 of the best historical attractions and museums in Boston

    Visiting Boston is like opening an American history book.
    All around you will find sites of important historical events, landmarks paying homage to US history and some of the world’s most celebrated educational institutions. If you’re looking for a holiday that enriches and feeds the mind then Boston is definitely the destination for you.
    But where to start? We’ve rounded up 10 of the best historical attractions and museums to get you going. Let us know if we’ve missed your favourite.
    1. Freedom Trail
    Start your day off with a leisurely walk round Downtown Boston. This 2.5 mile trail will take you past 16 significant historical sites. This includes the sites of the Benjamin Franklin statue, U.S. Constitution and the Bunker Hill Memorial.
    2. Boston Light
    Massachusetts and Boston (plus New England has a whole) has a strong maritime history. You’ll find lots of lighthouses dotted along the coast but Boston Light, found on Little Brewster Island in outer Boston Harbor, is the oldest lighthouse in the USA.
    3. Harvard University
    Harvard is America’s oldest university and is still renowned throughout the world as one of the world top educational organisations. But you don’t need to be a student to wander around the grounds. Student-led tours are common and stop by Widener Library, Memorial Church, University Hall, Fogg Museum and the John Harvard Statue.
    4. Old State House
    The Old State House is the oldest surviving public building in Boston, and one of the most important. It was the centre of politics in the colonies, and The Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony on the east side of the building. The Boston Massacre also took place just outside its doors. It’s already a stop on the Freedom Trail, but well worth a special visit.
    5. Museum of Fine Arts
    The Boston Museum of Fine Arts if the fourth largest museum in the United States, and the 55th most-visited art museum in the world. Its collection is one of the most comprehensive with more than 450,000 works of art. Some highlights include Egyptian artefacts, paintings by Monet and Van Gough, imperial Chinese art and The Rothschild Collection.
    6. The institution of Contemporary Art
    Founded in 1936, the Institution of Contemporary Art primarily concentrates on visual art and performances. In 2006, the museum established a permanent collection and features work by Louise Bourgeois, Mona Hatoum, Nan Goldin, Doris Salcedo, and Cindy Sherman.
    7. Boston Public Library
    If you’re looking to carry out some serious research while in Boston, you’ll find plenty of resources at the Boston Public Library. It is the third largest public library in the USA, behind the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library. Its collection boasts over 23 million items and covers all media formats from books, DVDs, CDs, maps, music scores, microfilm, manuscripts, prints and electronic resources.
    8. Boston Children’s Museum
    Boston is a great city break for a family, and the Boston Children’s Museum is one of the best attractions for young people. It is the second oldest children’s museum in the United Sates, and its collection includes Arthur & Friends, Countdown to Kindergarten! And Science Playground.
    9. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
    Found on Columbia Point, this museum celebrates the life, leadership, and legacy of President Kennedy. Permanent exhibitions include the 1960 Presidential Election, The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy, and The U.S. Space Program.
    10. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
    This award-winning museum invites guests on an immersive one-hour tour to one of America’s most revolutionary time periods. Your 18th Century host will take you through an interactive colonial town meeting, onto one of our ships to “dump the tea”, and through the wider museum experience. Make sure you also stop for some cake at Abigail’s Tea Room.

     

    10 things you’ll find on-board the Disney Magic

    If you’re a Disney-mega fan then visiting the parks is not enough – you also have to take a trip on a Disney Cruise.
    There are currently four ships in their fleet: Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. The Disney Magic was the first one to set sail (way back in 1998) and offers a quintessential Disney experience. She’s currently sailing around the Bahamas and Caribbean, but will occasionally retreat across the Atlantic for cruises around the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.
    But no matter where she visits, she’ll still have the same family-friendly amenities on-board. Here are just ten things you’ll find on-board Disney Magic that make it a great choice for Disney fanatics.
    1. Tangled: The Musical

    See this modern classic come to life in front of you with this magical live performance – only available on the Disney Magic. The live show remains true to the Disney movie, reuniting the characters of Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Mother Gothel, and, of course, the palace horse Maximus.
    2. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

    Don’t just meet your favourite characters – become them. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is owned by Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and offers both Disney Princess and Knight Packages. Little ones can choose between Disney Diva and Fairy-Tale Princess, or they can opt for something more dapper like a noble knight or sea-loving captain!
    3. AquaDunk

    Definitely for the braver members of the family! This waterslide is found at the Forward Funnel on Deck 13 and takes passengers over the edge of the ship in a 20-foot curvature. Oh, and it’s see-through (height restrictions apply).  
    4. Animator's Palate

    Treat your taste buds and eyes to a sensory overload at this unique dining experience. As you sit down to dine, you’ll be surrounded by large screens that take you through the journey of designing your favourite characters – from initial sketch to final animation.
    5. MARVEL Day at Sea

    This is only available on selected 5-night Western Caribbean cruises from Miami in early 2018, and on select 5-night cruises to The Bahamas and the Western Caribbean in early 2019. But is worth it for the meet-and-greets, stunt shows and unique youth club programmes.
    6. Wide World of Sports
    If you want to keep up your fitness while on holiday, head to the top deck where you’ll find the Wide World of Sports. Here you’ll find a massive open-air basketball court, ping-pong tables, and general areas for moving around. Elsewhere on the ship, you’ll also find a Shuffleboard and a Running Track.
    7. Senses Spa Salon

    Unwind from the activities across the rest of the ship at this high-end luxury spa. Treatments include Swedish massage, ELEMIS facials, Cellulite Reduction, acupuncture, cut & blow dry, and manicures.
    8. Disney's Oceaneer Club

    On-board the Disney Magic kids between 3-12 get to choose between four different areas at the onboard children’s club: Andy’s Room, MARVEL’s Avengers Academy, Mickey Mouse Club and Pixie Hollow.
    9. Adults-only dining at Palo

    While the younger members of the family are enjoying the many child-friendly activities on-board, the parents can treat themselves to some adult-only dining. Named after the signature long poles used by gondoliers in Venice, Palo serves up the best in northern Italian cuisine. Main dishes include butternut agnolotti, seared sea scallops, and piquant Dover sole. Palo is also open for brunch. Additional fees apply for this dining option.  
    10. Keys Piano Bar

    Another venue for the adults to unwind in, this dimly-lit space is inspired by the famed piano bars of Hollywood’s heyday. The drinks menu is also delectable, offering Martinis, scotch, single malt, tequila, cognac, port, Madeira and speciality coffees like espresso, cappuccino and café mocha.

     

    10 things to do in Wellington, New Zealand

    Wellington in New Zealand is a city with character. Home to incredible nightlife, restaurants, art exhibits, museums, activities, and a beautiful harbour – it makes an excellent base for exploring the southern areas of the North Island. But if you’re staying here, you definitely need to give yourself a day to explore the city, starting with these 10 things to do in Wellington.
    1.Treat your taste buds
    Wellington is considered the foodie capital of New Zealand and actually boasts more restaurants per capita than New York City! With this amount of competition for customers, chefs are forced to maintain a high standard. You’ll find everything from bakeries, to British pubs, to Asian street food.
    2. Hop on the Wellington Cable Car
    You can’t visit this city and not take a trip on the Wellington Cable Car. This iconic Wellington landmark runs from Lambton Quay to Kelburn – with a lookout, the Cable Car Museum, and Carter Observatory waiting for you at the top!
    3. Walk along the waterfront near Oriental Bay
    If you’re looking for a relaxing day out, head to this scenic spot. Here you’ll find cafes, parks, sculptures, bars and ice cream vendors. There’s occasionally also a market at the weekends.
    4. Learn about Maori and colonial history at Te Papa
    Not only does this museum exhibit the biological, cultural, and social history of New Zealand in an interactive way – it is also free!
    5. Learn more about the city itself at Museum of Wellington City
    If you’re looking to learn more about Wellington itself, then head to this museum instead. It is also free, but guided tours are available for 2 NZD per person.
    6. Soak up the atmosphere on Cuba Street
    If it’s bohemian artists and hipster cafés than you’re looking for, then head to Cuba Street. Here you’ll find all the trendy nooks you have come to associate with a fashionable district filled with young people – including fire dances!
    7. Head to the lookout points
    Wellington is surrounded by lush green hills, providing plenty of vantage points for a great view of the city. You can reach these points via foot, bus and cable car so you don’t even need to hike your way there.
    8. Admire the wildlife at Zealandia
    It would be a shame to never leave the city in a country as beautiful as New Zealand. Head to this wildlife sanctuary just west of the city and keep your eye out for several native birds, including the kiwi, hihi and saddleback.
    9. Tour the Beehive and Parliament House
    Although parts of these buildings are closed to the public, it is still a very beautiful building and very Instagram worthy.  
    10. Relax in the Botanical Gardens
    After all the dining, learning and walking – you’ll want to unwind. Located near Lambton Quay, you’ll find everything you need for a calm day out including great views, colourful flowers, and well-preened lawns.

     

    What’s new in Dubai? Upcoming events and recently opened attractions

    Dubai is a city that never stops thinking of new ways to cater to its guests. It might already be home to theme parks, beaches, waterparks, deserts, shopping malls and traditional souks – but Dubai wants to make sure it has something for everyone. Below we’ve rounded up two new attractions as well as three events happening this month that will keep new visitors on their toes. 
    New attractions
    Dubai is already home to many exciting attractions (such as Dubai Mall and Dubai Parks and Resorts) but the city is still adding to its list. Below are two attractions that are newly opened.   
    Heritage district of Al Seef
    Modern buildings might dominate the skyline but the city of Dubai actually goes back 1833. The best way to get a feel for the old Dubai is at the new Al Seef development, which blends old Arabian buildings into modern shops (which all have a strong Emirati focus). You’ll find this new tourist area of Dubai stretching along Dubai Creek.
    Al Marmoom Desert Reserve
    When you visit Dubai remember to step outside the city boundaries and enjoy a day out in the majestic sand dunes. At the new Al Marmoom Desert Reserve you’ll find an array of fascinating wildlife from onyx, gazelle, geckos, lizards and a whopping 170 bird species. You’ll also have the option to cycle through the dunes, book yourself a desert picnic and finish the evening with a spot of star gazing!
    Upcoming events
    Dubai is also never short of an event (or ten). Here are just three events worth checking out if you’re visiting any time soon.
    Art Dubai (21st – 24th March)
    Back for its twelfth year, Art Dubai is a celebration of contemporary and modern art from across the globe. Aside from the main exhibition (held at Madinat Jumeirah) there are also workshops and lectures on offer.
    Dubai World Cup 2018 (31st March)
    This is considered to be the ‘world’s richest horse race’ with roughly 10 million USD going to the overall winner. So it’s no wonder that it draws in the crowds – including celebrities who mingle on the private terraces. The whole event concludes with an A-list concert and a larger-than-life fireworks display.
    Van Gogh alive (11th March – 23rd April)
    The Middle East isn’t where you’d expect to find an exhibition dedicated to the Netherland’s most famous painter – but Dubai isn’t most cities. The exhibition has already been around the world and is currently in Dubai until the 23rd of April. There will 3,000 images on display – some of them in full while others will have certain details highlighted via magnifying glass. 
    What’s your favourite thing to do in Dubai? 

     

    10 must-visit natural monuments in Fuerteventura

    Did you know that the whole island of Fuerteventura has been declared both a Biosphere Reserve and a Starlight Reserve? That’s more than 48,000 hectares of protected area to lose yourself in. Whether it’s natural monuments, natural parks, native flora and fauna or scenic volcanoes – you’ll find plenty of scenic landscapes to admire. Here are just 10 of the best.
    1. Tindaya Mountain Natural Monument
    Tindaya Mountain is visible from any point in north Fuerteventura, but its most fascinating element is its aboriginal podomorphic engravings found on its peak. These are thought to have been of religious significance.
    2. Ajuy Natural Monument
    Ajuy Natural Monument is located on the west coast of Fuerteventura and is primarily composed of the Betancuria Rural Park. This natural monument is formed by the Basal Complex, which is the oldest rock formation in the Canary Islands! You’ll also find caves in the Ajuy area, which you can reach from a walking path that starts on the beach.  
    3. Natural Park on the islet of Lobos
    From the resort town of Corralejo you can spot Lobos Isle, separated only by a stretch of water that is less than 10m deep. The islands coastline is dotted with waterlogged areas that form salt marshes that are of biological importance. On top of that, several species of birds come to nest on the cliff faces of La Caldera Mountain (particularly Herring gulls and Cory shearwaters).
    4. Natural Monument Jandía
    The natural park of Jandia is home to the majority of the island’s endemic vegetation, and animal species that are listed as threatened or protected. It is a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) and is a breeding ground for several bird species.
    5. Rural Park Betancuria
    This is a natural area that protects the coastal range of Betancuria in the west of Fuerteventura. The park is characterised by its mosaic of dry meadows and scrublands, which are home to some fascinating plant species like the leafy King Juba, American agave and the prickly pear.
    6. Protected Landscape of Vallebrón
    Here you’ll find one of the island’s highest peaks, Muda Mountain, which stands at 690m. The area, however, earned its protected status because of its scientific value. This is partially due to the wild animals living here, but also thanks to the archaeological site with a peculiar burial system. You’ll find it roughly 30 kilometers from the touristic centre of Corralejo.
    7. Playa del Matorral Site of Scientific Interest
    This site is a flooded marsh, and has caught the eye of scientists thanks to the rich flora halophyte (also known as salt marshes). It is also a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) as it is a stopping off point for migratory seabirds that use it as a resting place.
    8. Natural Monument Caldera de Gairía
    The island of Fuerteventura goes back millions of years and was originally formed after a volcano eruption. But some of the volcanoes on the island are a little newer. This volcanic cone was actually caused by an eruption in the Middle Ages, and is home to an impressive ecosystem where even vegetables grow.
    9. Natural Monument Montaña Cardón
    You’ll find this volcano south of the city of Pajara, and you can’t miss it thanks to its red colouring and the surrounding flat terrain. There’s an official walking trail, which is well-signposted and you’ll even pass a chapel (Chapel of Tanquito).
    10. Protected Landscape of Malpaís Grande
    This area of Fuerteventura is also known as the Big Badlands, but don’t let that put you off. It is one of the wildest areas of Fuerteventura but it is also one of the most geologically fascinating areas of the island. The volcano erupted many years ago with thick lava which wasn’t able to flow very far, and cooled to create interesting rock formations. It also has the status of Special Protection Area for Birds.

     

    A beginner’s guide to Prince Edward Island

    Last summer we shared our beginner’s guide to Nova Scotia – and now it’s time to introduce you to one of Atlantic Canada’s other great provinces: Prince Edward Island.
    Aptly nicknamed the Garden of the Gulf thanks to its calming landscape, Prince Edward Island is one of the best provinces in Canada if you’re looking to relax and get away from it all (while still having plenty of outdoor activities to sample). Here’s a quick guide to get you started!
    Things to do
    Explore its capital

    Prince Edward Island only has two urban areas, one being the capital of Charlottetown. It is however only home to 34,000 people and you’ll find church turrets punctuating the skyline rather than skyscrapers. When visiting Prince Edward Island this will likely be your base for exploring the wider island and it’s well worth taking a day to wander around (especially in the evening when the sun sets over the harbour).
    Visit the Anne of Green Gables house

    Anne of Green Gables is a classic piece of Canadian literature, and deep within the Prince Edward Island National Park you’ll find the very house that inspired the book. Here you can wander through the Green Gables House, stroll around several museums, and take an afternoon walk along the Haunted Woods and Balsam Hollow trails as described in the book.
    Listen to sand sing

    No, you didn’t misread that. The sand found along Basin Head is a unique white silica sand that makes a “squeaking” noise when walked on. The cliffs also boast a beautiful red hue thanks to the high iron concentration that oxidises upon exposure to the air.
    Acadian Forests

    Technically the Acadian Forests stretch across Atlantic Canada and into New England – but they’re every nature lover’s dream no matter which state or province you are in. The Acadian Forest Region is actually a combination of the Northern Hardwood and Boreal forests – creating a unique blend of hardwood and softwood trees found nowhere else on earth.
    Play a round of golf

    There are 27 golf courses on Prince Edward Island. Which is no surprise given the natural beauty of the island – the island is also small enough that it’s not impossible to play more than one course in one day.
    Food & Drink
    With a landscape barely touched by urban development and the Atlantic Ocean right on its doorstep, it’s no surprise that Prince Edward Island is a world of wonders for foodie travellers. The island is very proud of its farm-to-table ethics, where any dish you eat could have easily been caught or harvested only 10 minutes away from the restaurant. They are also a variety of food tours and experiences on offer for anyone who wants to learn more.
    Seafood is especially popular with lobster, oysters and mussels on almost every menu. If it’s vegetables you prefer, then you’ll find potato farms everywhere you turn. Potato farming is actually one of Prince Edward Island’s primary industries (McCain chips originated on Prince Edward Island!) and you’ll even find a potato museum!
    If you also enjoy a good tipple, you’ll love the several wineries and distilleries on the island. They range from fruit wine, to craft beers to local vodka (again, the potato industry) – and most offer tours.
    Getting there and getting around
    Prince Edward Island is best when slotted into a wider Atlantic Canada itinerary. Halifax in Nova Scotia offers direct flights to the UK that only take 6 hours. After landing you can then take an internal flight to Charlottetown, hop on the PEI Express Shuttle, or hire a car and drive across the Confederation Bridge (or hop on the ferry). Top tip: when leaving the island via the Confederation Bridge you’ll be asked to pay a toll-tax.  
    The island is only 120 miles long, and you can easily explore it in a week – no matter your mode of transport. The pace of life is much slower on Prince Edward Island and is somewhere where you’d even be encouraged by the locals to slow down your car and take in the view.
    Other important information
    Prince Edward Island’s tourist season is during our summer – if you go outside of the summer month you’ll find some attractions aren’t open Prince Edward Island is in the Atlantic Time Zone and is four hours behind the UK They use the Canadian Dollar, which you can obtain in most Barrhead Travel branches and on our website

     

    What island is your perfect honeymoon destination?

    There’s always been something romantic about a secluded island. Maybe it’s the lack of other people. Maybe it’s the nightly sunset. Maybe it’s the sunrays slipping through the windows in the morning. Whatever it is, islands have always been one of the most popular honeymoon destinations.  
    The world is not exactly short of islands, however, so it can be difficult to decide what one is the best fit for you. Whether you’re looking for complete seclusion, somewhere same-sex friendly, food adventures, or an island-hopping extravaganza – we have you covered.
    If you want complete relaxation

    It has to be the Maldives. With overwater villas that lead into the warm Indian Ocean, it’s not hard to understand why this one of the world’s top honeymoon destinations. The overwater villas are not the only romantic thing about the Maldives – most of the resorts on the island are home to delicious food, sumptuous spas and perfect beaches.
    If you want same-sex friendly

    The island of Mykonos is one of the most welcoming islands in the world for same-sex couples. And even better: the island boasts many different sides. There’s the buzzing nightlife on one end, and then there’s secluded coves at the other. So no matter what kind of honeymoon you and your sweetie are after you’ll find it on this Greek island.
    If you believe food is the way to the heart

    Thailand is always popular with travellers seeking exotic flavours – and the islands dotted along its shore are no exception. Even more, these islands come with a side-serving of luxury resorts and beautiful beaches.
    If you want all-inclusive

    The Caribbean is always going to be the top destination for couples who want to leave the wallet at home. Across these warm islands you’ll find plenty of resorts that include multiple restaurants, watersports and cocktails within the upfront price.
    Another option in the Caribbean is a cruise. Many cruises offer all-inclusive packages (or even packages where you can bolt on what you know you’ll definitely use) and offer you the chance to explore multiple islands.
    If you want adventure

    For some couples, romance is getting up at the crack of dawn and embarking on a hike to watch the sunrise. If you’re one of these couples, then we recommend the Azores. A hidden volcanic gem in the Atlantic Ocean, couples can dip their toes into vivid blue crater lakes, take a boat trip out to spot whales, indulge in outdoor activities and relax in thermal spas.
    If you want something really adventurous

    If you and your sweetheart don’t mind some snow, head to the island of Svalbard. Found right up north in Arctic Norway – there is something eerily romantic about the snow-capped mountains and sparkling glaciers. And remember to book yourself a snow safari – the island is actually home to more polar bears than people!
    If you want to island hop

    Like variety in your relationship and travels? Jet off to the Pacific Ocean and explore the islands of Hawaii. Each one has its own distinct personality and it would be a shame to stick to just one. With flights regularly connecting the islands you can explore high-energy Oahu, secluded Kauai, beachtastic Maui, and the volcanic Big Island.
    If you want to take the kids

    If you and your other half already have a family, why not make your honeymoon about family time? If this is the case try the island of Mauritius. This Indian Ocean gem offers a better-rounded holiday than the Maldives (or Seychelles) that is sure to keep every member of the family happy.
    If you’ve been on honeymoon already, let us know in the comments where you went!

     

    A beginner’s guide to Philadelphia

    Philadelphia is a city that will excite and inform you in equal measures. Full of history and culture, there are no shortages of fascinating historical landmarks and museums. But it’s also got all the modern flair you would expect from any large American city – with shopping, delicious restaurants and distinctive neighbourhoods. Here’s everything you need to know before your first trip to America’s birthplace.
    Things to do
    Explore American history

    Philadelphia played a crucial role in the creation of the United States – it was even the temporary capital while Washington DC was built! Historic attractions include Independence Hall – where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted, the Liberty Bell, Independence National Historical Park, The Betsy Ross House (where the American Flag was designed!) and the former house of George Washington.
    Wander between the neighbourhoods

    Philadelphia is home to vibrant – and distinct – neighbourhoods. Eat delicious dim sum in Chinatown, explore the cobbled streets of Old City, soak up the Italian vibes of South Philadelphia or go for a relaxed walk in Rittenhouse Square.
    Treat your taste buds

    While you’re in the city you need to try the famous Philly cheesesteak. But there’s more to the city’s rich foodie scene. The Reading Terminal Market and Italian Market are both iconic landmarks and definitely worth a visit. The city is also home to a wide mix of restaurants thanks to the city’s rich cultural mix.
    Admire some art

    Philadelphia is home to the oldest art gallery in the USA, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The city was also home to Thomas Eakins, whose portraits of 19th Century Philadelphians make him arguably the greatest American painter. Plus, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the third biggest art museum in the world.
    Shop ‘til you drop

    Make sure you book a sizeable luggage allowance as Philadelphia offers plenty of shopping opportunities – the clothing and shoes are even tax-free! The King of Prussia Mall is also one of the biggest in America and boasts eight department stores including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. But if you prefer something unique, wander around the side streets and you’ll find an infinite number of independent owner-run boutiques.
    How to get to Philadelphia and find your way around

    Philadelphia International Airport is a twenty-minute drive from the city centre and offers 4 non-stop flights to London a day. There’s also a railway line that connects the airport to Philadelphia’s downtown area (plus taxis charge a flat rate of $28.50 between the airport and Centre City).
    If you’re planning a multi-centre break, Philadelphia is only two hours from New York City, 90 minutes from Baltimore, and three hours from Washington D.C via car. Philadelphia also sits on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail track, which connects the city to Boston, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and New York City.
    Philadelphia is very easy to navigate and is rated as one of the USA’s most walkable cities. The city centre is compact and uses the grid system, with many notable attractions less than 20 minutes away from each other by foot.
    Other important information
    Like all of the USA, English is the official language, the currency is US Dollars and visas needs to be arranged in advance. Philadelphia also has a similar climate to the UK, with the same seasonal pattern. The 4th of July is considered one of the best times to visit with fireworks and street parades but other months still have a friendly atmosphere (with smaller crowds).
    If you’ve been to Philadelphia before, what would advise would you offer first-time travellers?

     

    Why Clearwater should be next on your list

    If you haven’t already been to Florida, chances are it is on your list. And while the thrilling rides and attractions of Orlando definitely steal the limelight, the beautiful coastline should be on your list as well.
    One of the best stretches of coastline has to be Clearwater Beach. Set on the west coast of Florida, it overlooks the warm waves of the Mexican Gulf, where beach-bums and water sports enthusiasts can both enjoy their chosen pastimes. Not only that, but the city itself boasts indie shops, restaurants and quaint attractions to see you through into the evening. Here are seven reasons why Clearwater should be on your travel bucket list.
    1.       Award-winning beaches
    Have you really been to Florida if you didn’t stop by one of many white-sand beaches? The beaches in Clearwater are an excellent choice and are even award-winning. Clearwater Beach and Sand Key Park are two main ones, with white sands, the warm currents of the Gulf and on-duty lifeguards.
    2.       Marine Life
    It’s not just beach-bums and water sports enthusiasts that love the exploring the Gulf coastline. Whether it’s bottle-nosed dolphins, turtles or the elusive manatee – you’ll find lots of beautiful creatures swimming around the shores. The best way to see them is to take a boat trip.
    3.       The Dolphin Trail
    The water isn’t the only place where you’ll find dolphins in Clearwater. On land, take the “Dolphin Trail” that showcases one hundred, six-foot tall, fiberglass dolphins – each one decorated by a local artist and sponsored by a local business. See how many you can find.
    4.       A festival every night at Pier 60
    Pier 60 throws a party two hours before the sun goes down – every single evening. Each night is different, where you might be greeted by local musicians one evening then a fire-breather the next. These events are also family-friendly, and there’s a playground very close to Pier 60.
    5.        Fishing and boating opportunities
    The Gulf shoreline lends a hand to any holidaymakers or locals who enjoy fishing. There are a number of fishing and scuba diving tours that take people out regularly.  
    6.       Tasty food
    You’re going to be hungry after a long day at the beach – and Clearwater is not short of restaurants. Seafood is especially popular and one of the best places to try a fish-platter is Nauti-Nancy’s. But you’ll also find plenty of All-American diners and Caribbean inspired cuisine.
    7.       It’s the perfect end to an exhilarating Orlando break
    Orlando is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, but a week exploring the parks tires most families out. So there’s no better way to relax than to hire a car and drive down to Clearwater and enjoy a few days on the beach before catching a flight back to the UK.

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