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The second installment of The Hunger Games franchise...
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Friday, January 18th, 2008Vacation Rentals — Gotta Love ‘em! »
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Wednesday, April 27th, 2011The Cape in a Clamshell - Wellfleet Oysters »
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The second installment of The Hunger Games franchise entitled “Catching Fire” premiered November 22 in theaters across the US. This extremely popular book series has captured the hearts and minds of all ages, and has bled into popular culture at all turns. It also launched the careers of both Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence.
The country of Panem (where the story is set) is split up into 12 districts, each with its own exports, and each existing to serve the needs of the wealthy Capitol. The districts are in chronological order starting with District 1, which is the wealthiest and closest to the Capitol. District 12 is farthest away and exists in abject poverty. After the First Rebellion, it is rumored that District 13 was bombed and completely destroyed. As a further penalty for rebelling, the “Hunger Games” were created, but that’s another story for another day.
We here at FlipKey are big fans of the franchise, so we created a gallery of properties that match up with each distinct district (yes, even the mysterious District 13 and the dastardly Capitol). We thought, if you traveled to each district in Panem, where might you stay? Enjoy the gallery and feel free to click through to the property itself and see even more pictures of these gorgeous vacation rentals.
Name: Venushill Underground B+B
Where: Coober Pedy, Australia
SPOILER ALERT! Despite reports to the contrary, District 13 actually does exist. It’s an underground, massive military bunker. This property in South Australia could double as District 13. With sleeping availability for up to four people, you don’t have to hide out alone.
Name: Wilderness Edge Cabin
Where: Ashford, Washington
District 12 is home to the book/movie protagonists Peeta Mellark and Katniss Everdeen. A mining community, District 12 is flanked by vast wilderness where Katniss and alternate love interest Gale hunt frequently to feed their families. This cabin in Washington state is surrounded by woods and, we assume, game for dinner.
Name: Apple Orchard Country Villa
Where: Melrand, Brittany, France
District 11 provides agricultural supplies for the country. Orchards and fields surround this district, namely fruit and cotton. This villa in France offers the same orchard views as District 11, but you will be able to eat the spoils, instead of sending everything off to the Capitol. This gorgeous, four bedroom home would make your French vacation unforgettable.
Where: Guffey, Colorado
District 10 raises livestock for the Capitol’s needs. Horses, cattle, sheep – all types of animals are born and bred in this area. This FlipKey property located in Guffney, Colorado would fit right in that particular district. With access to horses and plenty of grazing fields, this farmhouse can sleep up to 18 people.
Name: Woodland Cottage
Where: Cartmel, Cumbria, England
This cottage in England, surrounded by farmland and grain fields is a spitting image of homes in District 9. For $115 per day this is a cottage even someone in District 9 could afford. This two-bedroom property is located on its own farmland, flanked by fields with a large walled garden and lockable storage for cycles.
This Italian flat is fashioned out of an old factory, which is perfect to match with District 8. This district provides textiles for the Capitol including the uniforms of the armed guards known as “Peacekeepers”. The apartment, designed by a Milan-based architect, is an open space flat on two floors, incredibly bright, quiet and charming. It sleeps up to four guests and is only $136 per day.
Name: Lumber Jack Lodge
Where: Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Lumber Jack Lodge matches well with District 7, the province that produces lumber for the country. This one bed, one bath listing can sleep up to four guests and only costs $159 per WEEKEND. Located in bustling Gatlinburg, Tennessee, this wood-based home comes complete with a pool table and a Jacuzzi which is much more than any District 7 citizen would ever receive.
Name: The Centennial Inn
Where: Livingston, Montana
District 6 is in charge of the transportation needs for Panem and this featured property is made out of a former train car. The Centennial Inn is located in Livingston, Montana and can sleep up to four guests. Located in a natural wildlife corridor along the Yellowstone River, visitors may view wildlife, swim or fish in the blue ribbon waters, sit around the campfire, BBQ, picnic, hike and enjoy the magnificent scenery. This unique train car designed in the late 1800’s was Montana’s entry into the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York.
Name: Green Lodge
Where: Haleiwa, Hawaii
We’ve come to District 5, where the power and electricity is produced for Panem. Since we don’t have any “power plants” featured on FlipKey.com we wanted to go in another direction and showcase a more “green” vacation rental. Also, if that vacation rental can be located in beautiful Hawaii, all the better. This property has four bedrooms and can sleep up to eleven guests. They provide solar energy (solar hot water), access to local/organic produce, bikes, laundry lines, ecological soaps/cleaners, some green fabrics/linens, water filters and reusable bags to help you reduce your plastic use and facilitate your recycling and composting.
Name: Daffodil Villa
Where: Fish Bay, St. John
District 4 is the home of handsome hero Finick Odair and the primary fishing village in The Hunger Games universe. Finick would love this villa in Fish Bay, St. John that features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and breathtaking views of the harbor. With an entertainment system complete with DVDs and CDs at your disposal, set the mood for your day of fishing or the evening sunset. The pictures of this property should not be missed.
Where: Park City, Utah
District 3 produces general electronics and firearms. This Park City, Utah condo has everything you want if you’re interested in those two areas. Featuring four steam showers (just in case you want to take four showers per day, each in a different bathroom) and seven TVs (for those who can’t miss any shows at all) this condo sleeps up to fourteen guests. By far the most impressive feature of this home is the game room which features 80s style arcade games and three pool tables. This would be an ideal fit for an adventurous family.
Name: Hocking Hills Retreat
Where: Hocking Hills, OH
District 2 supplies masonry and weaponry. This area is pampered by the Capitol and deservedly so. We’ve chosen to feature a chalet in Ohio due to the gorgeous masonry and tile work inside and outside the home, along with the shooting range a short distance away for any gun enthusiasts. This four bedroom home features a $6,000 shower because… why not? Sounds relaxing already.
Name: Rancho 9
Where: Punta de Mita, Mexico
Luxury goods. That’s what District 1 is all about, and that’s what this villa in Punta de Mita, Mexico is all about too. Do yourself a favor, click through, and look at all of the pictures of this magnificent space. At $10,000 per day, it’s quite an expense but the property manager describes it saying, “Racho 9 is one of the most sought after and prestigious luxury villa rentals in Punta Mita. With over 25,000 square feet of immaculately kept oceanfront footage and a full staff, this villa ensures that guests will experience one of the most exclusive vacations to Mexico that they could ever imagine.” Sign us up.
Name: Palladian Mansion
Where: Athy, County Kildare, Ireland
So we’ve made it all the way to the Capitol. In The Hunger Games, the Capitol is filled with vain, selfish citizens who live to be accepted by others and look down on those with less. The leader of the hated Capitol is President Snow, a murderous conniving ruler who wants nothing more than to destroy the hero and her followers. He lives in a lavish mansion with white roses that smell like blood (don’t ask). This mansion in Ireland can accommodate up to 29 guests and resembles the mansion where President Snow resides. At a $75 nightly rate, I would avoid telling any Capitol citizens the price you’re paying to stay here, or they may judge you.
No time is better than the present to take a trip to these destinations that are slowly, but surely disappearing right before our eyes.
1. Glacier National Park, Montana
Global warming may seem like a distant danger, but for an area names for the glaciers that carved it millions of years ago, it is a very pertinent issue. Human-stimulated global warming is one of the main causes of the destruction of Glacier National Park’s biggest draw. One hundred years ago there were over 150 glaciers in the park and today there are just 25 left. The glaciers are expected to fully disappear by 2020, which would disrupt the ecosystems around the park and change the environment of the park completely.
2. The Maldives
The world’s lowest nation is also going to be the first nation swallowed up by the Indian Ocean. The Maldives is the smallest Asian county of about 1,190 islands and has over 600,000 tourists each year. Rising sea levels and global warming are the main reasons why the Maldives may be completely underwater in less than 100 years. In the past 100 years, the sea level has risen by about seven inches causing the President to start buying land in other countries, like India, Sri Lanka, and Australia, so that residents can relocate. According to the Daily Mail, in the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting, former President Mohamed Nasheed said,
“If the Maldives cannot be saved today we do not feel that there is much of a chance for the rest of the world.”
3. The Alps
These mountains that were formed millions of years ago stretch across eight different countries today. The Alps have lost 20% of their size since the 1980s and it is likely that they could completely disappear in the next 40 years. The cause? Global warming. Temperatures have increased twice as much as the global average and will continue to increase by .72 degrees Fahrenheit every 10 years. This loss would not only alter the supply of water in the area, but would also severely cripple the European ski business.
If sea levels in Bangladesh rise by one meter, 50% of the country would be completely flooded and the country is experiencing some of the fastest recorded sea-level rises in the world. Kutubdia is one of the many Bangladesh islands that are sinking rapidly from erosion and climate change. Adding to the already disastrous situation, neighboring country, India, is using up all of the country’s water supply making the area become increasingly uninhabitable . The Guardian quoted devastated schoolteacher, Nural Hashem,
“We lost everything. We are not happy, because we must move again. Climate change is making thousands of people homeless.”
5. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
One of the seven natural wonders of the world and the world’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef is the only thing on Earth that can be seen from space. Unfortunately, 60% of the world’s coral reefs will be lost by 2030 and we won’t have this beautiful phenomenon for much longer. Coral reefs get their color from tiny algae that live in their tissues, but when temperatures get too hot the algae eject themselves and the corals appear bleached. Starfish also contribute to 42% of the destruction, because they eat coral and survive on growing agricultural pollution.
6. Venice, Italy
The Floating City, The City of Canals, The City of Bridges… Whatever you may call it; Venice is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, but it faces an inevitable destruction. Sea level around the city is rising by 4 – 6 millimeters (mm) per year and in the last 100 years, Venice has sunk by 9 inches. Scientists discovered that is also tilting at a rate of 1 – 2 mm per year right into the water. Each year thousands of tourists come on what may be their one and only visit to the sinking city since it is expected to be inhabitable for another 70 years.
7. The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea, which is 8.6 times saltier than ocean water, is evaporating and being used as a main industry water source for fertilization companies in the area. In the last 40 years, the sea lost a third of its mass and is receding by an average of 13 inches per year. It is dangerous for the surrounding area because sinkholes are popping up and caving in villages as the water shrinks and destabilizes the ground. Business that were once on the shore of the sea are suffering because they are now set back a mile from the shoreline. The life expectancy of the sea is dwindling and is down to less than 50 years.
8. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The ecosystem in the Galapagos Islands is being completely destroyed as tourism increases each year. People are carelessly annihilating the islands by running over animals, catching animals in fishing nets, and bringing over invasive species that wipe out animals already facing possible extinction. Seventy five percent of the species on the islands are found nowhere else in the world and they are being wiped out by rats, goats, ants, dogs, and cats that are brought over by cruise ships, boats, and planes. The Telegraph quoted Martin Wikelski, biologist at Princeton University,
“The government needs to be stricter on what is allowed there. It is one of the world’s most unique ecosystems… and continues to be one of the most important laboratories for evolution studies.”
The world’s largest island is being demolished by forest logging, burning, and poaching of the animals on the island. As a result, desertification, degradation, and soil loss have affected 94% of the land. Over 80% of the flora and fauna on the island are found nowhere else on earth so destroying them would end their existence completely. Madagascar is home to over 20 species of lemurs that would also be wiped out if the island were to be completely destroyed. Out of the original 120,000 miles of forest, there are 20,000 left, expected to last about 35 years.
10. The Congo Basin
The world’s second largest rainforest has over 10 million acres of forest that are being degraded each year from mining, logging, farming, and guerilla warfare. This is a problem for the plants, animals, people, and the world. There are over 10,000 species of tropical plants in the Congo Basin and about a third of them are only found there. The area is also home to over 75 million people whose livelihoods are threatened the destruction of the Congo. Tropical rainforests produce 40% of the world’s oxygen, so the destruction is a pandemic issue. By 2040, up to 66% of its forests, plants, and wildlife could be gone.
This weekend’s debut of The Hobbit has been talked about so much that we have round doors and furry feet on the mind. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, then there’s a good chance that you’ll be on a quest to see the latest installment in the next day or two. But what if a trip to the movie theater isn’t enough? We don’t have a secret way to get to Middle Earth, but quite a few vacation home owners have fashioned their properties after the cottages of the Shire. We put together a list of our ten favorite Hobbit Homes, so that you can vacation like Bilbo Baggins…
1. Enchanted Hobbit House
Dubbed the “Hobbit House,” this home is furnished with antiques, custom designed iron beds, comfortable sofas and chairs, and lounges on the patio. The home has a guest suite to fit your entire fellowship.
2. Hobbit’s House Bellac
Built on the site of a 10th century chateau belonging to the Counts of March, this hobbit hole commands a spectacular view over the Vincou Valley. The house is 15th century, with original oak spiral staircase and its original treads (rather worn and wonky).
3. Hobbit House on the Hill
Built of ferro-cement, this newly constructed house is perfectly sited on the top of a hill from where one can see every island in the Grenadines. Wake up to the sunrise over the Atlantic, and end your day with the sun-setting over the town of Hillsborough and the Caribbean.
4. Santa Fe Hobbit House
Santa Fe Hobbit House is a luxury vacation rental, but it is more than that… It is a live-in art gallery with a very private feeling that is centrally located only minutes from the Historic Santa Fe Plaza, Canyon Road and the Rail Yard District.
5. Magical Hobbit House
Orcas Island is one of the most beautiful islands to visit in Washington State. The natural beauty here is colored by the Madrona trees, the sparkle of the water and the abundant wildlife. The spot is absolutely spectacular and a pure joy to witness.
by Isabel Eva Bohrer
It’s no secret that Canada has a successful formula to superb skiing during the winter. Mont Tremblant has been a sensation in Canada’s Eastern region for years. In fact, the area has been honored with Ski Magazine’s title “Best snow skiing in Eastern North America” for 12 consecutive years.
To reach the stunning alpines of Mont Tremblant from Montreal, head north on the main thoroughfare of Autoroute Laurentienne (Hwy 15 North) – it’s about a two hour drive (80 miles/130 km). You’ll arrive at a winter wonderland, where you can exercise up and down on more than 94 runs, and some 600 skiable acres. To be exact, one of the longest ski trails in the country at nearly 4 miles long is located at Mont Tremblant.
After years of the same old hat of just conventional skiing, take a leap this year and try something new. Here’s a few adrenaline-spiking activities for you to indulge in this season at Mont Tremblant:
A heart of gold lies beneath Aspen’s glittery exterior, but most people are too busy celebrity watching to notice. The story of Aspen is a story of the dreams of two men fulfilled: Walter Paepcke and Friedl Pfeifer. Working together, these innovators took a small Colorado town and turned it into a destination not only for winter sports, but for year-round culture as well.
In 1945, Chicago industrialist Walter Paepcke and his wife Elizabeth envisioned a cultural center in a mountain environment. His wife, Elizabeth, was an avid skier, and suggested the heart of the Aspen Valley. The mountain setting was perfect, and so was the existing architecture. During the 1880s, Jerome Wheeler, a former Macy’s executive, had built the Jerome Wheeler Opera House and the Wheeler Hotel. The Paepckes saw the obvious potential of a theater, an existing culture-oriented group of locals and vistors, and a hotel within a spectacular mountain environment. They began purchasing real estate in the area, with hopes of fulfilling their dreams.
During World War II, Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division helped fight the Germans. Their skis were their only form of transport. Ski instructor Friedl Pfeifer went against his Austrian heritage and fought along with the 10th Mountain Division. When the war ended, he decided that he wanted to stay in the US and open his own ski resort. He hoped to finance the resort with the help of mining engineer Harold Klock, but when they were unable to raise funds, Pfeifer arranged a meeting with Paepcke.
These two ambitious men met in 1945 and struck a deal. In exchange for his help in raising $300,000 in start-up funds, Pfeifer agreed to let Paepck run the resort. The Aspen Skiing Corporation was founded in January of 1946. Today, Aspen is a playground for both the mind and the body. Make the most of your Aspen vacation and participate in both aspects of the Aspen experience. Here are some of the ideas that developed.
Many bartenders are also part time writers (though they probably think of themselves as part-time bartenders…), but few have the advantages of Aspen bartender Kurt Brown. Brown used his elite connections to create the the first Aspen Writer’s Workshop. He convinced Aspen locals to put literati mentors up in their elegant homes, and he persuaded local restaurants to donate free meals to these stars of the literary world. People arrived from all parts of the globe to spend two weeks studying with their favorite authors. If you are not ready to make a full, two-week commitment, consider Winter Words, known as “Apres Ski for the Mind.”
The event takes place every winter season, and features a series of lectures by well-known authors. This year’s line-up includes Ann Patchett, Kathryn Stockett, Geraldine Brooks, Michael Chabon and others. The Wheeler Opera House, in its splendid Victorian glory, hosts the readings.
Who says you have to choose between a skiing and theater on vacation? You can have both at Aspen. The Wheeler Opera House, established in 1892 by Macy’s Department Store magnate Jerome Wheeler, hosts theatrical, dance and musical performances. Events for 2012 include performances by Judy Collins, Kim Carnes and the David Bromberg Quartet.
Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke founded the Aspen Institute in the 1950s, as a means of promoting intelligent discourse about political and social issues. Panel members use the Socratic Method of dialectics to analyze issues of importance to humankind. Participants receive a discount lift ticket.The program administrators describe their program as being geared toward “emerging leaders ages 28 to 45.” The program is open to anyone interested in the subject matter, and the Institute arranges special activities for children. The Aspen Institute is located at 1000 North Third Street in Aspen.
The Anderson Ranch features an artist in residence program, along with an eclectic variety of painting, drawing, sculpting and crafts workshops. The Ranch holds special exhibitions throughout the season.
Not every Aspen restaurant requires expensive evening attire. Boogie’s Diner is a classic 50s diner, with photos of Elvis and other 50s icons on the wall. They serve the best hot open turkey sandwiches, milk shakes and burgers. Fun fact: Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass,” the character portrayed by Mickey Rourke in the movie Diner, owns Boogie’s Diner!
Plato spoke of a sound body and a sound mind. These words describe the Aspen experience in a nutshell.
by Alice Kemp
The Great Smoky Mountains. Just the name conjures up images of magnificent mountain peaks with “smokes” rising from their flanks. It’s easy to see why this is the most-visited national park in the United States with all that it has to offer, from activities that appeal to the outdoorsy, adventurous types to those looking for world-class shopping to the younger set wanting to fill their days with theme parks, game rooms and water parks.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, makes an ideal base camp for partaking of all those activities with the literally thousands of hotel/motel rooms, overnight rentals and campgrounds available. The location, near the middle of the northern boundary of the national park, provides access to anything you would want to do while in the Smokies. Just 27 miles west of Gatlinburg along the Little River Road (allow a good hour to drive this extremely scenic but slow road) lies the 6800-acre Cades Cove. Settlers came into this beautiful valley in the 1800’s; the National Park Service has restored some of the original buildings to give visitors an idea of what life was like back then. Seven cabins have been restored along with three churches and the Cable Mill area which contains a number of buildings as well as an operational grist mill and a visitors’ center.
Near the beginning of the 11-mile loop road and accessed by a short, well-maintained and traveled trail sits the John Oliver cabin, the first to be built in the valley.
I had an astounding bit of luck one day when I chaperoned a small group of mentally challenged adults around Cades Cove on their annual vacation. We walked the trail to the cabin when, lo and behold, a juvenile black bear crossed the trail just a few feet in front of us! As a matter of fact, another small group of tourists were just a little further ahead, and the bear actually passed between our groups, not paying the slightest attention to us.
Most ski enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest will think back fondly on the winter of 2010. Five months of massive snowfalls kept runs skiable well beyond the usual dates, much to the delight of ski resorts and skiers from the Cascades to the Rockies to the Sierra Nevadas.
In fact, I’d bet that Nina will be a most popular name for baby girls born this year in the western states… in honor of La Niña, that magical ocean-atmosphere phenomenom that graced the west coast with all that snow.
In a nutshell, the La Niña weather pattern starts with slightly lower surface water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. Air currents blow cool, moist air across the western states, and voila! Powder on the summits from Tahoe to Sun Valley to Vail. Last year, during the 2010-2011 ski season, La Niña graced ski resorts with epic snow accumulations: a record-braking 524 inches in Vail, 783 inches in Snowbird, and 810 inches on Squaw Valley (that’s over 67 feet – enough to bury a six story building!)
As we watch the skies and the weather reports, anticipating the first real snowstorm of the 2033-2012 season (any day now!) the questions most debated are whether La Niña will return this year: What kind of a snow year will we have? Should we plan a vacation to the mountains, or is this a good year to head to a beach?
Great road trips don’t always involve four-wheeled vehicles—sometimes two wheels are all you need. Traveling by bike has its own set of challenges: more planning is required, shorter distances are covered each day, and a strong headwind can really influence your plans. But in return, road bike travelers get a unique view of the countryside, the satisfaction of miles well-earned, and a great set of strong, defined legs!
The Oregon Coast offers everything needed to create a doable and memorable road biking excursion. The first essential ingredient? Good roads with a defined route. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has developed a coastal road biking map, laying out all bikers need to know for a safe, successful ride. Road descriptions, including shoulder width, alternate routes, and the locations of parks for rest breaks are all included.
Some bikers ride self-supported, meaning they pack all their gear and clothing in panniers, and haul it with them on their bikes. Other biking groups use a support vehicle, meaning that one rider drives ahead to a designated spot, while the bikers hit the road on two wheels. Either way, plenty of vacation rentals along the coast make planning the trip convenient. In September and October, temperatures usually stay in the sixties or down into the fifties, and smart packers will be ready for drizzly days.
The Oregon Coast has no shortage of the second essential ingredient for an excellent biking road trip—gorgeous scenery! After all, bikers spend hours at a time taking it in, and the Oregon Coast has much to offer, from the seals playing in the surf to the craggy, rugged shoreline. If you ride the coast from north to south (which ODOT recommends, to avoid riding into the wind) here are some must-see spots along the way:
Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach
Walk the hardpack sand beach for miles, under the watchful eyes of the seals drifting along in the surf. Haystack Rock is one of many geologic anomalies along the coast, and at sunset, you won’t find a more picturesque backdrop for photos.
Tidepools at Yaquina Head
The coast grows wild and rugged as you follow the route south, with flat sandy beaches giving way to rocky inlets shrouded in mist. The Yaquina Head Lighthouse is worth a visit, just to check out the enormous prism and candlepower. The real treat is at low tide, when the tidepools reveal the community of sea creatures within. Sea stars, urchins, anemonies, and sea grass are just a few of the species that make up this alien-like world. Tidepools are fragile, so take care to do no damage, and take nothing except photos.
Devil’s Churn at Cape Perpetua
The most impressive spot to witness the power of the Pacific. Cape Perpetua is the highest point on the coast, and offers a spectacular view, but the real drama takes place along a fissure in the rock along the Trail of Restless Water, where crash waves explode up through the rock, leaving visitors with a whole new respect for what tidal forces can do.
Our dogs have a sixth sense for when travel plans are in the air. Bust out the duffle bags and they go on high alert, watching carefully to see what gets packed, as a signal for what sort of fun is being planned: Swim suits? Oh joy—they love to chase sticks through the waves! Hiking boots? Yahoo! Evening clothes? Sigh… not so fun.
It’s true, there are plenty of ways to safely leave your dog behind when you travel. We’ve used kennels, dog-sitters, neighbor kids, and even doggie resorts. For many trips, it just makes sense. But what dog doesn’t love a road trip? Most hop right in, ready to be a loyal travel companion wherever you might be headed. Nose out the window, beard flattened by the breeze, catching all the smells that the backroads of America have to offer.
The tricky part of travel with dogs is finding the right destination, with recreation, dining, and vacation rental opportunities that don’t discriminate against the four-legged among us. Bar Harbor, Maine, is such a place, and autumn is absolutely the time to go.
Tiny Bar Harbor (population under 3,000) sits nestled on Mount Desert Island on the Maine coast, about a six-hour drive from Boston. Most of the island is protected, as part of Acadia National Park, and in fact the town of Bar Harbor is completely surrounded by the park. After arriving on the island, one of your first activities should be a drive up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the New England coastline (1530 feet). Take in the lay of the land and work out the kinks from the drive with a short hike in any direction.
The annual show of blazing colors begins in early September as the leaves turn red and yellow, and peaks by early October. I’ve never found a more stunning backdrop for hiking, and there is no shortage of hikes to tackle. Over 100 miles of hiking trails meander through the forested hills of the park, and dogs (on leashes!) are welcome on all but the most steep. For dogs that need to blow off steam before hiking on-leash, head over to the off-leash area at Little Long Pond, a privately-owned tract of land near Seal Harbor, on the southern end of the island.
After September 15th, dogs are also welcome on the public swimming beaches at Sand Beach and Echo Lake. Beyond the swimming beaches, there are miles of rocky shores for walking, retrieving sticks, and chasing waves. The town of Bar Harbor is extremely dog-friendly, and locals seem to bring their dogs everywhere: on buses, into shops, along the harbor, and on the decks of pubs and restaurants as they dine—try the tree-studded deck of the Dog and Pony Tavern for a perfect post-hike spot to linger over some local seafood and wind up the day.
Find more information about traveling with your pets in Acadia on Maine Vacations.
Hvar, Croatia has become a travel fad. Ever since it was on the front page of the New York Times Travel Magazine, this “mountainous, lavender-scented isle set in the blue, sun-blasted Adriatic Sea” has experienced a new level of tourism. It’s no longer just Italians on summer vacation; now the square is full of travelers from all over the world speaking a variety of languages, ready to party all day and all night in paradise.
But there is a different way of experiencing Hvar! The locals choose not to partake in the drunken daytime debauchery, and know where the least crowded beaches with the most shade are. I was lucky enough to visit the island with Brad, who is half Croatian, and a wealth of knowledge about local secrets.
Brad has been visiting his Croatian family in Hvar each summer for the past 15 years. The first few years he came with a skateboard, which gave the local eight-year-olds reason to approach him and ask him where he was from. They thought his American ways were funny and his skating gear was cool, and they’ve been friends ever since.
The first night we arrived, we went out to enjoy the best pizza I’ve ever had at Alviž. This family restaurant by the church has a beautiful outdoor seating area underneath hanging grapevines, and wonderful service. Order a mushroom pizza with a tomato salad, and don’t forget a side of traditional blitva.
Full of food and wine, we went to one of the many corner stores and bought a couple beers to enjoy on the Riva, the walkway along the harbor. Serendipitously, Ivek, Brad’s oldest friend from the town, walked by casually. We called his name and exchanged hugs, and he demanded we come with him to meet up with the rest of the group at Kiva Bar. A young local favorite, this place makes up for its weak drinks with a fun crowd and loud American pop music from the 90s.
After a short nights’ sleep (it’s hard to get much shut eye when there’s so much fun to be had) we stopped for our late morning cappuccino at Cafe Loco in the main square. Carrying some mats for the rocky beaches, lots of water, and a towel, we jumped in a taxi boat. For 30 Kuna (about 6 bucks), these taxi boats will take you from the main square of Hvar to either Jerolim or Stipanska, two smaller islands with beautiful bays and awesome swimming. Many tourists like to pay for expensive sun chairs and wade into the water on the crowded bay beaches, but the more adventurous folks (and locals) take a stroll and find a piece of flat rock to lounge on away from the masses. Once we found a good spot, we spent the day soaking up the sun and jumping in the bright blue water, feeling like we were the only people on the planet.
In Hvar, while enjoying local secrets, make sure not to miss a few more mainstream activities:
- Walking up to the fortress to watch the sunset. Bring 2o Kuna for the entrance fee, some wine and cheese, and grab a bench. You can see the entire town and a breathtaking view of the smaller islands off shore.
- A daytrip to a secluded beach. Take the bus toward Stari Grad, but tell the bus driver you’re getting off at Dubovica. Walk down the path (bring good shoes) and you’ll end up on a pebble beach where you can rent umbrellas for shade and buy an espresso from the nice family that runs a small shop from their home.
- One night at Veneranda. This nightclub is absolutely ridiculous, but they have fun dance parties and serve fancy drinks within the walls of an old fortification. Always crowded, always a good time.