Month: February 2019

Tour St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands!

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Spectacular Panoramic Views

Tour St. Thomas for Pleasure, Peace, Paradise

Tour St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, for the epitome of paradise. This island wonderland in the Caribbean, and United States territory, is a playground of crystal clear waters dotted by lush, jade islands, all viewable from an endless supply of scenic mountain overlooks – each one more spectacular than the last! So you can basque in the beams of sunshine, be refreshed in the surf of the ocean, and inhale the essence of intoxicating Yellow Trumpetbush and Frangipani flowers as you explore the wonders of St. Thomas!

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Magen’s Bay Beach

Magen’s Bay Beach

Magen’s Bay Beach consistently ranks in the world’s top ten for beaches. With spectacular views, sand the consistency of baking powder, water so clear you can see your feet – and so warm it feels like bathwater… lounging out here will leave you feeling super spoiled while the sun soaks you in warmth amidst the sea-salt scented breezes. Clearly, it’s the perfect place to relax… and escape! The beach carries on for a mile, and there is also over six acres of arboretum, coconut groves, and mangrove preserves. In summary, It’s an amazing place to get lost in the natural beauty of the Caribbean.

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Pirate Castles!

Danish Colonial Architecture

The United States purchased St. Thomas from Denmark in 1917 for the unbeatable bargain of $25 million in gold, or, what would be the equivalent of $489 million today. This transaction allowed the island to remain free from adversarial hands and boost Denmark’s coffers during the hefty expenses of World War I fighting. Because of St. Thomas’ Danish heritage, much of the old Danish colonial architecture remains in the capital of Charlotte Amalie. Overall, it is indubitably charming. And equally endearing are the Blackbeard and Bluebeard castles near the harbor and believed to be from the eighteenth century! If you ever wanted to know how the pirate half lives – now’s your chance!

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Charming Colonial Danish Architecture

Panoramic Paradise

St. Thomas is a varied landscape of crystal clear waters, island formations big and small, and mountains and hilltops boasting amazing views of the expanse below.  As a result, It is truly one of the greatest jewels in the string of islands adorning the Caribbean! If you still have time for shopping in Charlotte Amalie, I highly recommend seeking out the paintings and photography by local artists in the AH Riise outdoor mall. The locals’ sources of inspiration are numerous, and talent enviable! Thus, St. Thomas local art is my favorite souvenir to leave this beautiful place with. There are many other boutique shops in the area to shop until you drop, all conveniently accepting the U.S. Dollar!

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More to Tour, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Undoubtedly, when you tour St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, you can NEVER get enough! So come and explore some more, with my video tour of St. Thomas here!:

Finally, there are many nearby Caribbean islands that are also well worth a visit! So I hope you’ll check out my post on Nassau here!:

Tour Nassau Bahamas!

And for more exciting travel around the world, visit the Ultimate Travel Adventures YouTube channel, so you can get your travel fix today!:

Ultimate Travel Adventures on YouTube

I hope you enjoyed the chance to tour St. Thomas today! Importantly, thank you for reading!

See Seattle, Washington!

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Seattle Skyline

Bohemian Playground

See Seattle when you’re ready for a free-spirited, bohemian paradise! Seattle is laid-back and fun, as I quickly discovered trekking up and down the boisterous bumps of its many hills, encountering its coffee culture, starving artists, and plumes of pot smoke along the way! (Yes, it’s legal here.) The grunge culture popularized in the 90s by local bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana is alive and well here as well. Seattle is vibrant, vigorous, and vaporous!

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Views from the Space Needle

Space Needle Observatory

A trip to the top of the Space Needle is high on many visitors’ Seattle bucket list, and for good reason. The observatory provides outstanding views of the booming skyline and surrounding natural beauty of ocean and forest, and, if you’re lucky enough to be here on a clear day, the brilliant white snow-cap of Mt. Rainier. I daresay it’s worth the dreadfully long wait in line to have this experience. Yes, be prepared to stand and wait over an hour… and then have no regrets. When you reach the top, make sure you stand on the glass floor as it turns high above the safety of solid ground – even the least height-averse person can feel a tad uneasy looking straight down up here! The observatory is a great way to see Seattle, with a bird’s eye view!

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Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

The iconic Pike Place Market is exhilarating in all of its commotion and excitement! Here humungous crowds of people gather and stroll amid shouting fisherman playing “catch” with their catch, people in tie-dye selling hemp-infused wares, artists displaying the colorful fruits of their creative efforts, and so much more. Endless varieties of foods quickly get you drooling as you bask in the gloriously gourmet culture. There are so many distractions here to peak your interest – sights, smells, and sounds. Here you can be surrounded and spoiled by the spirit that is Seattle.

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Port of Seattle

See Seattle Port!

With so many cruise ships sailing to Alaska out of Seattle, a dynamic port scene has built up around them. With a Ferris wheel, restaurants, bars, shops, this area can easily keep you busy for hours. Soak it all in before you set sail!

Seattle is a great destination for the visitor looking to get laid back and let their free-spirited beatnik loose!

You can view my Seattle video tour here!:

In my opinion, the way to see the most of a city possible in the limited time you have is to go for a tour that will whisk you from attraction to attraction – and, more importantly, whisk you through the long lines! I recommend Viator as I’ve had wonderful experiences with them, and they serve the city of Seattle!:

Save time and money with the Seattle CityPass

Want to tour another iconic American City? Check out my New York City article!:

New York City Tour!

And for more tour videos from the U.S. and around the world, check out my YouTube video!:

Ultimate Travel Adventures YouTube Channel

Disclaimer: ultimatetraveladventures.blog is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. There is absolutely no cost to readers, and all proceeds will be strictly applied to covering the costs of maintaining this blog so that it can continue to serve readers for years to come! And at ultimatetraveladventures.blog we do not promote ANY product or service we do not endorse and personally use.

Upper Peninsula Michigan!

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Magnificent Mackinac Bridge

Upper Peninsula Michigan Mackinac Bridge

No one can deny the natural beauty of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Your entry point into the Upper Peninsula, affectionately called the “U.P.” by Michiganders, is the magnificent Mackinac Bridge. This beautiful suspension bridge was opened in 1957. It has a tower height of 552 feet, a length of 26,372 feet, and a $4 toll for cars – well worth the “price of admission”! A wild, wonderful wilderness awaits on the other side! My anticipation escalated as I traversed this awe-inspiring bridge. And when I arrived on the U.P. side I was not disappointed!

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Pictured Rocks Falls

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

The Upper Peninsula boasts many natural wonders! Most notably, a visit is not complete without checking out the Pictured Rocks near Munising. You choose – you can take a kayak or get tickets for a cruise tour. Either way, it’s a win! If you partake in one of the cruises, I highly recommend lining up EARLY if you want to avoid getting a seat in the middle of the boat, for the best view. At least half an hour before sailing or even more is recommended in the summer. The rocky cliffs are described as “painted” or “pictured” because of the brilliant stripes and splashes of different colors composed on them. You will also notice many waterfalls and delightfully strange rock formations, and pine trees that seem to grow out of solid rock! The Pictured Rocks are full of great photo ops… so keep your camera handy!

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Tahquamenon Falls

Tahquamenon Falls

The Tahquamenon Falls are another must-see in the U.P. These incredible waterfalls are located in Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The color of the spectacular falls is derived from the high copper content. Copper is an abundant natural resource in the U.P. The park also features miles of great hiking trails through the woods, for the energetically inclined. And a wonderful restaurant and brewery is also available on-site, where I ordered delicious fresh whitefish ‘n chips, and a flight of craft beers brewed right on site. You can enjoy many different viewpoints of the falls by taking the provided walking paths. Almost as enthralling as the sight of the falls is the sound of the falls. The Tahquamenon falls leave an amazing impression of their power on your senses – the sight, sound, and smell.

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Views from Brockway Mountain

Brockway Mountain

The peak of Brockway Mountain, near Copper Harbor, is accessible to vehicles, and the views are awe-inspiring! If anyone had any doubt that the U.P. is covered in unspoiled wilderness, these views of endless gloriously green forest and brilliantly blue lakes will remove all doubt! Unfortunately, my only regret about visiting this site is that I didn’t do so during the peak of the fall leaf-turning season! Another great way to enjoy the U.P.’s beautiful forests: drive through the “Tunnel of Trees,” which hang over the road in a way that seemingly envelops you in a passage through a leafy pipeline!

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Point Iroquois Lighthouse

Iconic Lighthouses

The U.P. is chock full of lighthouses of all shapes, sizes, and styles! There are over 40 lighthouses in the U.P. mostly from the 1800s. The lighthouse at Point Iroquois is one of many that you can climb to the top of for nice views of the lake. You also can tour the preserved, historic living quarters of former lighthouse-keepers, and visit a small museum on-site. If you’re into lighthouses, you’ll be spoiled rotten in the U.P.! They are a major player in the area’s history and culture. You’ll have no trouble finding them either; the Michigan Tourism Bureau has done an outstanding job with attraction signage throughout the state, and the lighthouses are no exception. Or, you can pick up a lighthouse map at any Michigan tourist center and plan your  adventure!

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Shipwreck Museum, Whitefish Point

Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point

The Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point provides a fascinating look into the mysterious world of shipwrecks! As an Art History major, I have a lot of education on museums and their curation, and in my opinion the installations here are very well done. The displays are very interesting and informative, and include many fascinating historical artifacts. For example, there are underwater explorer suits, parts of shipwrecked vessels, historic articles found at shipwreck sites, and more. The Shipwreck Museum is well-worth the detour!

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Interesting tree in Calumet…

Off the Beaten Path

You’ll never know what you’re going to find when you wander the back streets of U.P. towns. For example, this house in the above photo! There’s something particularly rewarding about stumbling on something quirky and unusual like this taking the time to get off the beaten path – often some of the most rewarding travel experiences of all. I found this house taking the back roads in Calumet.

More Outdoor Delights in Upper Peninsula, Michigan!

The Upper Peninsula, Michigan is a wild wonderland of natural beauty. There is an abundance of things to see and do in the U.P., and I can’t wait to return!

You can view my video tour of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula here!:

Can’t get enough of Michigan’s natural beauty? I don’t blame you! Check out my post on mainland Michigan here!:

Travel Michigan! (Part 2: the Mainland)

And if you want to know about the authentic log cabin I bought in northern Michigan, you can read about it here!:

Michigan Vacation Cabin Tour!

Finally, for more travel videos of Michigan and all around the world, visit my YouTube channel here!:

Ultimate Travel Adventures YouTube Channel

Scintillating Skagway, Alaska: a Wilderness Wonderland!

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White Pass railway train

Skagway, Alaska is a remote wilderness wonderland, and frequent port on Alaskan cruise itineraries. Nicknamed “gateway to the Klondike,” Skagway has an illustrious history of people embarking on a risky but exciting adventure with the ambition of getting rich during the Gold Rush. Today it’s a sleepy town that resembles an Old West movie set combined with tourist commercialism in response to the large number of cruise ships that dock here throughout the summer. I visited while on the Alaska itinerary for the Norwegian Bliss. Luckily, the commercialism does not significantly detract from the historical interest of the architecture in town.

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“Downtown” Skagway today

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Skagway in 1898, during the Gold Rush (public domain image)

My highest recommendation for what to do in Skagway after a stroll through town to observe the Old West late 1800s architecture is a ride on the White Pass train. This train ride affords spectacular views of the White Pass Mountains, including remote wilderness, vast forests, waterfalls, wildlife, and glaciers (including during the summer.)

 

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White Pass train engine

Besides the scenic views, it is fascinating to contemplate, as you listen to the whistles and chugging of the train and feel the vibration of its powerful motor, the efforts involved in building this rail track through these steep, imposing mountains. You traverse over massive bridges, through long tunnels, and on the edge of the mountain. (Afraid of heights? Consider yourself warned!)

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Views from the train

There are a variety of train routes you may take in varying lengths, the longest making it’s way up into the Yukon Territory of Canada. You may purchase tickets for the train ride directly from the operator in town, or purchase an excursion or tour that includes the train ride as one of the included attractions, as I did.

 

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Gold panning lesson

Another attraction included on my tour ticket was a gold panning lesson. During this experience, a very animated woman in period costume explained and demonstrated the process of panning for gold. Following the demonstration, I was handed a pan and given a trough out of which to pan for my own gold. Staff make the rounds to help anyone in need of assistance, but I was still confused… when turning in my gold for an appraisal, it was appraised at about $5. (You do get to keep the gold as a souvenir.) Others did better than I did! The experience was very touristy, but I learned a thing or two about the Gold Rush culture and process of panning nonetheless.

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Iditarod racer lecture

The other portion of the tour I participated in included a sled dog lesson and demonstration. This began with a lecture given by an Iditarod racer, who showed and explained her equipment and discussed what the experience of participating in the Iditarod entails and what life is like for both racer and sled dog. Her presentation was, albeit somewhat touristy, engaging and informative. A short video presentation was also given.

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Sled dogs on a dry run in the summer

After the lecture, a sled dog “race” was simulated on dirt (given it was summer) on a dry run. The audience was introduced to the sled dogs on the team, and allowed to pet both the sled dogs and the puppies on site.

The train experience was definitely the highlight of any trip to Skagway, but if you can overlook the touristy veneer of some of the other offerings in the area much can be learned about history and culture in Alaska!

You may view my full video tour (including all of the above listed attractions!) here:

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