Travel restrictions in the new sage grouse rules

Big changes are now affecting travel within Elko County’s sage grouse habitat areas.

They are part of the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service’s Greater Sage-grouse Conservation Effort. Land Use Plans are being amended to protect the bird and the sagebrush habitat. In this third column, of a series, I explain these travel restrictions, with help from Lauren Mermejo, the BLM’s Great Basin sage grouse project manager and Leo Drumm, travel and transportation management coordinator at the BLM state office.

The new travel rules now in place state vehicular travel is limited to existing routes in Priority and General Habitat Management Areas, which cover much of Elko County. They affect both recreational and industry road use. Enforcement is another matter, at least for now.

Travel management plans will be developed for specific travel management areas, one at a time. These areas covering up to one million acres will be prioritized, probably starting with those located in Sagebrush Focal Areas. Since Elko County contains Sagebrush Focal Areas, travel management plans will soon be developed and will take two to three years to complete. An inventory of existing roads is already being performed.

The public will be involved, asked to look at existing road maps, identify routes not already marked and specify their issues with individual roads. Some of the criteria used to identify which routes are closed will be sage grouse related and other resources impacted by routes. Duplicate routes will usually be closed.

Mermejo said the plan is a transportation system that covers resource and public needs and can grow when needed. Mine sites already in place will not be affected until the mine site is closed. Mining companies that need to travel across country for exploration purposes can apply for a permit with the BLM.

Closed roads will usually be obliterated and reseeded (unless needed for administrative purposes), to increase sagebrush habitat. The BLM will try not to upgrade any existing routes although no restrictions are placed on county road maintenance projects.

Seasonal restrictions will be implemented, although Drumm and Mermejo both said they are difficult to enforce. However, snowmobile traffic on existing roads may be restricted in specific sage grouse winter use areas.

The plan calls for restrictions based on noise levels but Drumm feels ATVs and such will not be a problem. Noise restrictions near leks are part of the plan and large trucks could face seasonal restrictions consisting of reduced hours of operation.

Some roads could be temporarily closed even without a travel management plan, such as in the case of a wildfire. The BLM already has this authority so it is not anything new.

Mermejo said “this is not an easy process and will involve a tremendous amount of public participation.” Drumm said a few have been completed on BLM lands within Nevada in places like the Red Rock Canyon and Black Rock High Rock-Emigrant Trail National Conservation Areas. They were completed without much contention.

Both said the process will be an open one and precise documentation will be kept showing the reasons for any road closure so everyone understands why their road was closed.

Article source:

How the sharing economy is taking over the business travel sector

Photo courtesy of Ketzirah Lesser Art Drauglis/flickr

The sharing economy started as an internet-based barter system, usually for adventurous young people with few funds and a big penchant for community-building—think Couchsurfing and early craigslist. But now that we’ve all got smartphones in our hands, the scope of sharing economy has broadened exponentially, and is increasingly taking over the business travel sector.

Now that “sharing” apps—unlike their earlier iterations—involve direct payment, businesses are partnering up with sharing apps and cashing in. Lyft and HotelTonight, for example, have paired with expense reporting app Concur, to make their services ultra-easy for business travelers to use. And Uber’s got a slew of business travel-related partnerships. Uber works with Starwood so that guests can earn Starpoints through rides, with Hilton so guests can easily hail a ride through the HHonors app, and with Bluesmart to deliver lost luggage.

Certify, an expense management software provider, analyzed business expense data and found that business travelers prefer ride-sharing services like Uber over cabs, and in certain cities, like Boston, they prefer ride-sharing to car rentals as well. According to Steffan Berelowitz, VP Digital Platforms at Travel Tripper, a modern hotel reservation system, what’s attractive about sharing apps to business travelers is their ease and convenience:

“In the past, if you wanted a taxi from your hotel, you’d have to ask the concierge to order it for you or wait in a taxi line. You’d have to make sure the taxi driver knew exactly where you wanted to go. You’d have to make sure you had enough cash or that the taxi accepts credit cards. If you’re a business traveler, you’d have to make sure you got a proper receipt, and then recorded the transaction later. Then Uber came along and completely removed all of those stresses from the typical taxi transaction.”

Aside from ride-sharing, Certify also looked at Airbnb, noting that while the platform hasn’t yet become the number one choice of business travelers, it is on the rise. Plus, Certify found some interesting trends: corporate travelers stay twice as long in an Airbnb as in hotels, an average of four nights, versus two. Also, guest satisfaction was higher with Airbnb, 4.3 stars, versus 3.79 for hotels.

Jeffrey Chudy, The Reward Boss, reports that some firms reward employees for booking cheaper accommodation, which may help Airbnb win over the business travel market. In July, the platform launched Airbnb for Business to highlight rentals that offer the same amenities found in business class hotels. Airbnb has also just partnered with BridgeStreet, a rental platform showcasing over 50,000 mid-range and luxury apartments across 60 countries.

Chudy believes sharing apps will increasingly cater to business travelers:

“More sharing companies will continue to pop up in niches we haven’t yet thought of and eventually get consolidated as Uber is already doing — Uber will give you a ride, deliver you food and has a messenger service. I will be able to get a ride (Lyft), have a meal delivered (DoorDash and Postmates), have an item picked up, packaged and shipped (Shyp), get my car parked (Luxe) and gas for my car delivered (Purple Delivery), have my suit dry picked up/dry cleaned/delivered (Washio), all by pushing a few buttons on my iPhone app.”

The merging of these two worlds may not be without flaws, at least according to Suzanne Wolko, travel and points blogger at Philatravelgirl, who posted the bluntly titled “10 Reasons Airbnb for Business Travel Isn’t Good.” According to Wolko:

“There is risk involved in the sharing economy and businesses are responsible for protecting their employees. Airbnb specifically, has a few safety holes in my opinion. Another odd reason that Airbnb uses on their website is that teams can share a house to work. Frankly, I think that is fraught with potential HR issues. I shouldn’t have to share a house with my boss nor do you want co-workers to get an up close and personal view into your personal life.”

It will be interesting, indeed, to see what happens now that a format originally intended to, well, share, is becoming the next big market. If I had to predict, I’d say increased safety checks will likely be put in place.

Jessica Festa is the founder on the solo and offbeat travel blog, Jessie on a Journey, and the online responsible tourism and culture magazine, Epicure Culture. She’s constantly searching for local experiences beyond the guidebook. You can follow her travels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Article source:

Russian plane crash: An anomaly in era of safer air travel

A Russian plane carrying 224 passengers crashed on Saturday morning while flying over the Sinai in Egypt, raising questions about aviation security. 

The plane, an Airbus-321 operated by Kogalymavia, a private Russian airline, reported technical difficulties just before it lost contact with air traffic controllers. Authorities are still investigating the causes of the crash, one of the worst in the history of Russian airlines. 

Due to worldwide publicity, it may seem like this is one of a growing number of commercial plane crashes in recent years.

For example, an Indonesian military transport plane crashed into a residential area of Indonesia in June, killing all 122 on board and 19 on the ground. A few months earlier, a German Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps, killing all 148 on board.

In 2014, six major crashes were reported: an Indonesian flight to Singapore and its 162 went missing over the Java sea in December, 116 passengers on Air Algerie died on a flight to Mali in July, pro-Russian rebels shot down a Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 298 passengers above eastern Ukraine, and debris was recently found from the Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared in the south Indian Ocean.

These events are tragic, but statistics show that air travel is significantly safer now than ever before. In fact, according to a report by safety analysts at Ascend, 2014 was the safest year ever, with one major accident for every 2.4 million flights.

That represents a tremendous improvement over the early years of air travel. 1944 saw the highest-ever number of plane crashes in one year, with more than 900 fatal crashes, followed by 1943, with 781 crashes. But those planes were small; larger planes mean more fatalities per crash. Statistically, the least safe time to fly was in the 1970’s, which had a median casualty rate of 2,500 deaths per year.

Then came stricter global standards for airline safety.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) raised international standards for safe aviation and created a registry of airlines that met them. Currently, the IATA has cleared 256 airlines in 117 countries.

In part, aviation safety has improved because technology has improved: a past generation of crashes has birthed a new generation of airplane models. Additionally, a series of more stringent measures and security checks pre-boarding has reduced the risk of in-flight terrorist attacks, though critics denounce some measures as “security theater.”

While the causes of this weekend’s Russian crash are still being investigated, a branch of the so-called Islamic State is claiming responsibility.

“We live in an increasingly complex world where the threat of terrorism is a fact,” acknowledged Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, at an aviation safety conference earlier this week.

“This year airlines will move 3.5 billion passengers and over 50 million tonnes of cargo,” he said. “Doing that safely means not only getting from A to B without technical incident, it also means keeping the network secure from those who would do it harm.”

And the vast majority of the time, Mr. Tyler noted, they succeed. “As an industry we can be proud that there is no safer form of long-distance transport.”

Article source:

Weekend Freeway Travel Advisory (Oct. 30-Nov. 2)

Eastbound Loop 101 closed from Cave Creek Rd to SR 51

Loop 202 (Red Mountain) closed from Loop 101 to Country Club 
PHOENIX – Freeway-improvement projects will require closures or lane restrictions in the Phoenix area this weekend (Oct. 30-Nov. 2). The Arizona Department of Transportation recommends drivers plan ahead, consider alternate routes or adjust travel schedules and use caution in work zones while the following restrictions are in place:

  • Eastbound Loop 101 (Pima Freeway) closed between Cave Creek Road and State Route 51 (Piestewa Freeway) from 11 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday (Nov. 2) for bridge work. Westbound Loop 101 HOV lane also closed near SR 51. DETOUR: Please consider alternate routes. Eastbound Loop 101 traffic exiting at Cave Creek Road will travel south to eastbound Union Hills Drive and can reconnect with Loop 101 via State Route 51.
  • Northbound State Route 51 ramp to westbound Loop 101 closed from 11 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Saturday (Oct. 31) for bridge work. DETOUR: Consider exiting northbound SR 51 to westbound Union Hills Drive and using northbound Cave Creek Road to access Loop 101.
  • Eastbound Loop 202 (Red Mountain Freeway) closed between Loop 101 and Country Club Drive in Mesa from 10 p.m. Friday to 10 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 1) for widening project. Both Loop 101 ramps to eastbound Loop 202 closed. Eastbound Loop 202 ramps to Loop 101 will be open. DETOUR: Eastbound Loop 202 traffic can exit to southbound McClintock Drive and use eastbound Rio Salado Parkway.
  • Northbound Loop 101 (Pima Freeway) narrowed to two lanes overnight between Loop 202 (Red Mountain Freeway) and Chaparral Road from 10 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday (Nov. 2) for widening project. Both Loop 202 ramps to northbound Loop 101 closed. DETOUR: While Loop 202 ramps to northbound Loop 101 are closed, consider alternate routes, including northbound McClintock Drive/Hayden Road or northbound Scottsdale Road. 
  • Westbound Interstate 10 narrowed to one lane overnight between Riggs and Queen Creek roads from 9 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday (Oct. 31) for shoulder improvements. DETOUR: Please allow extra travel time and be prepared to merge safely in work zone.
  • Northbound Loop 101 (Agua Fria Freeway) on- and off-ramps at Northern Avenue closed from 10 p.m. Friday to 3 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 1) for maintenance. DETOUR: Please use alternate routes, including northbound ramps at Glendale or Peoria avenues.

Additional freeway-restriction information will be listed on ADOT’s website,, under ADOT News. Visit the site to also subscribe to ADOT email updates, including weekend restriction information. 

For a complete list of highway and freeway restrictions in the Phoenix area and around the state, visit ADOT’s Travel Information site at or call 5-1-1. Another great way to find out more about ADOT’s projects and programs to improve Arizona’s transportation system is the ADOT blog at 

Copyright 2015 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Article source:

Save money on travel plans

When you’re traveling, you know that one of the biggest expenses is airline tickets. If you buy at the wrong time, or don’t do your research, you can pay hundreds more than you need to. That’s money you can’t spend on the rest of your vacation.

As one of the largest travel sites in the world, Travelocity is a great source for deals on travel and accommodations. We like this site particularly when you’re creating travel “packages,” combining your airfare, hotel, rental car, etc.

Surprisingly, many people don’t plan their trips this way, but if you’re not using rewards points to fly, this is one of the best ways to save money on the overall cost of your trip. According to Travelocity, people who combine even just their flight and hotel save $525 on average.

Travelocity has service called Farewatcher that monitors deals on locations you’re interested in. Just set your parameters, and you’ll receive notifications as prices drop.

One downside, there have been reports that Apple users actually score better deals on Travelocity than those booking through Android. This is great news if you have an iPhone. But, Android users? Not so much.

Article source:

Lonely Planet’s top travel destinations for 2016 include Transylvania and Kotor

As 2015 nears its end, you may be starting to think about resolutions for next year. One of those goals might involving seeing more of the world, but how do you decide where to go?

Luckily, the team at travel-guide publisher Lonely Planet just released their annual survey, “Best in Travel 2016,” rounding up the must-see destinations and experiences for the new year.

“Best in Travel highlights not the places travelers are headed to next year, but the places our team determined they should visit,” said Tom Hall, Lonely Planet’s editorial director in a released statement. “We picked a mix of up-and-coming destinations and places we anticipate will have buzz around them, based on special events and attractions, anniversary celebrations, new openings and more.”

RELATED: Orlando tops the list of best U.S. cities for a staycation

The travel media company sends its experts to scour the globe discovering the ins and outs of locations and came back this year with some surprising suggestions. Sure, booking a trip to Paris or Fiji is always a safe bet, but how about venturing to Transylvania? It was named the No. 1 region to visit.

giusepperizzo / Giusepperizzo © Getty Images/Flickr RF

“Transylvania is experiencing a renaissance, with cutting-edge art scenes, emerging nightlife, excellent skiing and rich wildlife watching including bison, wolves, lynx and bears,” said Hall. “More and more, there’s a charming mix of old and new — visitors will still see horses and carts in the countryside, but soon they will be sharing the road with Uber drivers as the company launches in Bucharest.”

RELATED: US South attracts more interest from foreign tourists: Here are the top 10 cities

Botswana topped the list as the best country to visit, beating out Singapore in 2015 with its “unusual combination of desert and delta that draws an immense concentration of wildlife.” Hall writes, “Celebrating its 50th year of independence in 2016, Botswana has remained off the radar for most people, who believe it’s too expensive, too difficult to get to or doesn’t cater for families, but there are many options for all kinds of travelers year-round — self-guided tours, luxury camps, award-winning family safaris, community projects — and plans to start direct international flights in the next year.”

Thomas Retterath © Getty Images

And Kotor, Montenegro, was named the No. 1 one city of 2016 for its tasty food, charming alleyways, and postcard-worthy views. “With its dramatic landscapes, historic city walls and much-loved, stunning sapphire bay, Kotor deserves to be recognized and we believe it is a must-see for any traveler,” said Hall. “2016 is the time to see this stunning city — get there while you can still experience its traditional way of life.”

Stoneography © Getty Images/Moment Open

The United States makes the list as well as the third best country to visit, with Nashville named the ninth best city in the world to take a trip. TripAdvisor simultaneously recognized the country music haven as being one of the leading U.S. cities gaining popularity among international travelers. There are a few national other winners this year including Hawaii as No. 7 in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Regions and New Mexico as No. 4 in their Best Value Destinations.

f11photo / Shutterstock

Along with their three main categories of best countries, regions and cities, Lonely Planet compiled a few more lighthearted thematic lists including Best Places for Silence, Best Places to Meet Mythical Beasts, Best Burger Experiences, and, of course, the Best Mustache Destinations.

Their entire compilation is available in their yearly Best in Travel book, but we’ve rounded up their top 10 picks below.

Lonely Planet’s Top 10 countries for 2016

1. Botswana

2. Japan

3. U.S.

4. Palau

5. Latvia

6. Australia

7. Poland

8. Uruguay

9. Greenland

10. Fiji

Top 10 Regions

1. Transylvania, Romania

2. West Iceland

3. Valle de Vinales, Cuba

4. Friuli’s wine regions, Italy

5. Waiheke Island, New Zealand

6. The Auvergne, France

7. Hawaii, U.S.

8. Bavaria, Germany

9. Costa Verde, Brazil

10. St. Helena, British Territories

Top 10 Cities

1. Kotor, Montenegro

2. Quito, Ecuador

3. Dublin, Ireland

4. George Town, Malaysia

5. Rotterdam, Netherlands

6. Mumbai, India

7. Fremantle, Australia

8. Manchester, U.K.

9. Nashville, Tennessee

10. Rome

More video

Article source:

FREDERICA DUNN: Travel Switzerland’s Lake Country by train

After flying into Zurich, I boarded a train to Lugano near the Swiss-Italian border. Traveling with Swiss trains is an experience just as fascinating as your destination. It is the best way to get around. Always on time, the train takes you through a unique diversity of landscapes. With rivers and lakes winding around the snow-capped mountains, the scenery is something your eye will never forget.

Experience it all with only one train ticket. With the Grand Train Tour ticket you can discover Switzerland within a couple of days. You can hop on and hop off the trains wherever you want, and stay as long as you want at each destination. For instance, the Bernina Express connects the chilly north with the warm and sunny south. Setting off from St. Moritz, Chur or Davos, you head for the palms of Ticino (Tee-CHEE-no) close to the Italian border. Nothing beats the first glimpses of glacier ice breaking the horizon!

There are three Cantons (states) in Switzerland German, French and Italian. My first stop was the city of Zurich located in the German Canton. Hopping a train to Baden about a 15-minute ride from Zurich brought me to my first destination.

Baden is a city of about 18,000 inhabitants and founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD, under its former name Aquac Helveticae. It was at this time that the Romans discovered springs of sulphur hot water gushing at the exceptional temperature of 47C or 115F. This is the hottest and richest in mineral thermal waters of Switzerland.

Baden is full of attractions: industry with Nestle Chocolate, ABB robotics, tourism with the Grand Casino of Baden, the spas, the museums, the green areas, the walks along the Limmat River and the surrounding forests. This is only a selection of the numerous wonders of Baden.

Travel in Switzerland by train offers spectacular views amid the mountains and … more 

A highlight of the trip was the Swiss Knife, factory where every conceivable type of knife was on display and for purchase. Before returning to Baden, we boarded a nostalgic paddle steamer for a tour of the lovely Lake Lucerne. A delicious lunch of Swiss sausages, cheeses, dark bread and wine was provided while we viewed the picturesque landscape.

Before leaving we had a not to be missed shopping expedition in Lucerne with elegant shops and always the incredible Swiss chocolate — a must for gifts back home. Having studied in Luzern many years ago, the trip brought back some wonderful memories.

Moving from the German to the Italian Canton, we came to the Lugano region whose history goes back to the Roman era. Only in 1803 did Lugano become part of the new Swiss Confederation. Through the centuries Lugano has grown from a small fishing village to the largest and most important town in the Italian-speaking Ticino. Due to its pleasant climate, Lugano is one of the all-time favorite year-round resort areas in Switzerland.

We started our visit at the Piazza della Riforma, Lugano’s main square surrounded by inviting bistros, restaurants and is closed to traffic. In the heart of the city center lies the chic Via Nassa, the principal shopping street. In this piazza, you can enjoy an “espresso” or cappuccino coffee and soak up the ambiance and Mediterranean way of life. One can window shop for hours and always see something new and creative.

The little museum dedicated to the German writer Hermann Hesse above Lugano is well worth a visit. A permanent exhibit is set up next to the Nobel Prize winner’s first home and introduces us to the 40 years that Hesse spent in the South of the Alps from 1919. Collected are objects and works of the author, one of the most widely read in the world.

The next stop is my favorite resting spot, the Parco Ciani on the shores of Lake Lugano. This 63,000-square-metre park constitutes the city’s green lung. You can leave the hustle and bustle of the city as you walk along paths with magnificent old trees and beautiful gardens. One can admire the rose gardens and the diverse species of plants.

A tiny gem is the little village of Gandria, which lies at the foot of Monte Bre on the shores of Lake Lugano. The boat ride over is lovely and the nostalgic atmosphere has remained unchanged for a hundred years. It has steep staircases, courtyards with walls and arcades and is a car-free zone. One wouldn’t fit anyway. Sipping one of the best cappuccinos I’ve ever had at a little café overlooking the harbor was the best way to begin the walking tour of Gandria.

Some of the houses date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Gandria is connected to Lugano by boat and two very enjoyable walks. The Sentiero di Gandria trail develops from the village and is well known for its grottos (taverns). The walk back to Lugano takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes through spectacular scenery.

It is said that Monte Bre way above Lugano is Switzerland’s sunniest spot. It offers a superb scenic view of the Alps and Lugano Bay and is accessible with the cable car. The charming village of Bre is a short walk from the funicular station. This is a particularly interesting cable railway system in which an ascending car counterbalances a descending car.

Mount San Salvatore towers majestically over Lugano, offering a unique perspective of the lake Ceresio, the Lombard plain and the magnificent mountain ranges of the Swiss and Savoy Alps. The church roof with its lookout point offers a stunning panoramic view. The museum unveils the history of Good Death and Prayer, displaying remarkable works of art and objects over the centuries.

Story Continues →

Article source:

Travel bloggers share their essential airplane reads for 2015

Photo courtesy of Alejandro Escamilla/Unsplash

Looking for some travel entertainment during trip downtime? Check out the following great titles, each recommended by top travel bloggers, so captivating you’ll actually look forward to your next long plane ride.

1. Alyssa Ramos of My Life’s A Movie: Up in the Air is (an) interesting read about a man whose job is basically to fire people, and he has to fly all over the place to do it. Even though he hates his job, he enjoys the traveling aspect of it, and eventually aims to quit and accomplish his goal of reaching a million frequent flyer points.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

2. Gretchen Healey of Safarious: Just when you thought every last ounce of enjoyment was gone from air travel, Mark Vanhoenacker comes along and rekindles the romance of flying. In Skyfaring, he shares his story of becoming a pilot, his love of flight and the nearly forgotten magic of being up in the air – and he does it poetically.

3. Stephanie Yoder of Twenty-Something TravelOn my last flight I devoured The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, which was fun, bubbly and had surprising depth for a book that is essentially fan fiction about the British royal family. Super entertaining for anglophiles like myself.

4. Katie Foote of Gypsy Soul, Itchy Feet: My go-to travel writer is Paul Theroux, who writes about his long overland train journeys. I’d recommend starting with his classic, The Great Railway Bazaar. One of my other favorites is Eric Weiner’s Geography of Bliss, which describes a journalist’s journey around the world to see how other cultures define happiness.

5. Tim Leffel of The Cheap Destinations Blog: My latest read was The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-to-5 by Taylor Pearson. It outlines, in a convincing fashion, how drastically the work world is changing from one where most people work for others to one where the majority could soon be working for themselves. As a blogger and travel writer who has been supporting his family for a decade working as a solopreneur, it was interesting to see how this is becoming a growing trend. It’s a good read for those who dream of leaving the “commute to a cublicle” life with two lousy weeks of vacation.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

6. Ethan Gelber of The Travel Word: My hands-down favorite travel classic is Bruce Chatwin’s dazzling The Songlines, in which he overlays fact and fiction during a research trip in Australia to study Aboriginal culture and its connection to nomadic travel.

7. Anne Lowrey of Part Time Traveler: For any plane journey, I try and pick up a book set in the destination I’m heading to. For more general travel reads, I recommend The Way of Wanderlust, a newly-released collection of Don George’s writing.

8. Kate McCulley of Adventurous Kate: The fourth book of Elena Ferrante‘s Neapolitan Novels was released in September. (It’s) a thrilling conclusion to a series with a fascinating setting. The book takes place in a rough neighborhood of Naples, Italy, and I’ve never read a book with a more richly depicted setting. In Ferrante’s Naples, men punch each other in the face over looking at someone’s sister for half a second too long. Men throw their daughters out the second story window for disrespecting them. Murder and abuse are commonplace enough to be accepted nonchalantly. While the true strength of these books is the uncanny depiction of friendship between Lenu and Lila, it’s the wild setting of Naples that makes it a jarring travel read.

Photo courtesy of Shambhala Publications

9. Anna Kate of The Legendary Adventures of Anna: Recently I’ve felt inspired by The Kindness Diaries: One Man’s Quest to Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives Around the World by Leon Logothetis, a man who leaves his job to travel the world on his motorcycle. It’s about the many people who change his life through their generosity and the ways that he finds to repay their kindness as he continues his personal journey

10. Maria Russo of The Culture-IstFavorite travel reads for 2015 includes A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda, a memoir by Josh Ruxin that shares the surprising story of how he and his wife travel to Rwanda for philanthropic work and end up opening the country’s most popular restaurant.

Jessica Festa is the founder on the solo and offbeat travel blog, Jessie on a Journey, and the online responsible tourism and culture magazine, Epicure Culture. She’s constantly searching for local experiences beyond the guidebook. You can follow her travels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Article source:

Michigan travel bucket list: 50 must-see places

Michigan is the home of many splendid things — we know it, because we live here. Beautiful scenery, majestic lakes, fabulous food, quirky locales and hidden gems just barely scratch the surface of what Michigan has to offer.

We asked staff members of the Detroit Free Press to share some of the best things to see and do in Michigan, based on our personal experiences. Here are 50 ideas you may want to add to your bucket list.

Think we missed something? Add your bucket list item here and be sure to explain why it’s great.

The Call of the Wild museum

This quirky Gaylord museum is a relic from the days of local roadside attractions, when long rides Up North were punctuated by corny and kitschy tourist stops in small towns along the way. The museum features dozens of animals preserved years ago by local taxidermists, but it’s also a museum of a lost era of tourism, before highways like I-75 enabled tourists to bypass the towns they once drove through.

Maple Syrup Festival in Vermontville

For many rural places in Michigan, local weekend festivals are celebrations of small-town life, an occasion for a town to trumpet its distinctiveness and to advertise itself to the rest of the state. The annual Maple Syrup Festival in mid-state Vermontville is the quintessential small-town event. It offers arm-wrestling contests, a pancake derby and Bovine Bingo, which involves betting on a square drawn on a football field where a cow is allowed to roam free until it leaves a dropping on the winning number. A Maple Syrup Festival queen is crowned at the end of it all. Held every year on the last weekend in April.

Oswald’s Bear Ranch

Want the terrifying thrill of seeing a grown man standing next to a full-grown bear that could kill him with one swipe yet prefers to snuggle instead? Oswald’s Bear Ranch in Newberry features dozens of rescued and orphaned bears on 240 acres of Upper Peninsula woodlands, plus the opportunity to have your photo taken with a fuzzy bear cub.

40 Mile Point Lighthouse

Located on the northern shores of Lake Huron, the century-old 40 Mile Point Lighthouse in Rogers City offers more than just beautiful views and leisurely self-guided tours. There’s also a real shipwreck poking out of the sands on a beach that’s just a short trail’s walk from the lighthouse.

Submitted by John Carlisle, Columnist

Canoe/kayak the Pine River

The Pine, located about a half hour west of Cadillac, offers a challenge that you won’t find on more popular rivers, like the Au Sable or Rifle. Yes, you can tip from the fast-moving water and obstructions.

Taste best Upper Peninsula food not named pasties: Trenary Toast

This cinnamon toast is made in the U.P. town of the same name. Sold in brown paper bags, the hard-crusted Trenary Toast will last until the next millennium.

Visit the Upper Peninsula’s hidden waterfalls

Many of the best waterfalls don’t have signs or directions and can be found only by getting directions from a local (or a good Google search). For example, take County Road 510 west from Marquette County’s Big Bay, park by a small bridge, hike a half mile to see the Yellow Dog River Falls. Go a little farther on County Road 510 and bag the Big Pup Creek Falls.

Submitted by Steve Spalding, Content Coach/Business

Log Slide Overlook at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Seven miles west of Grand Marais inside Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is the Log Slide Overlook, a 300-foot-high sand dune that provides stunning views over Lake Superior and the Grand Sable Banks and Dunes. This alone is a magnificent sight, but the real treat is along the trail from the overlook that leads west to the Au Sable Light Station. As you descend the trail that follows the Lake Superior shoreline, it becomes nearly level with the water. At any point, you can jump off the trail, make your way to the beach and enjoy the afternoon pretending you are on your own private island.

Submitted by Kathy Kieliszewski, Visuals Director

See a concert at St. Andrews Hall

Over the course of years, everybody from Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Tom Morello and Liz Phair has played this former parochial school gym/auditorium on the edge of Greektown. Hot and sweaty, it’s the best kind of dive. Decades of music still reverberates through the floorboards.

Submitted by Mark Phelan, Auto Critic 

Visit Isle Royale 

Remote and virtually inaccessible during the winter, Isle Royale earned its status as the least visited national park honestly. But there are lots of good reasons to go, the night sky (unparalleled in the continental U.S.) among the best.

Submitted by Brian Dickerson, Columnist 

Pay the $10 for Grand Hotel’s front porch

Best $10 you ever will spend in Michigan: The entry fee to the Grand Hotel’s front porch on Mackinac Island. You can rest your feet on a hot summer day (remember, no automobiles are allowed on the island), order a drink or 2 or a bite to eat and enjoy breathtaking views of the hotel’s signature geraniums, Lake Huron, the Mackinac Bridge and ferries carrying visitors to and from the island, all from a white rocking chair that’s as comfortable as it is big. The $10 fee also buys you access to shops and other public places of the hotel. The best part is there is no hurry. Stay as long as you like during business hours.

Submitted by Cindy Burton, Senior Content Planner 

Tunnel of Trees

Check out the Tunnel of Trees, the narrow, canopied section of M-119 from Harbor Springs to Cross Village. The drive offers stunning fall foliage, but you can stop along the wooded way year-round and peek out at stunning views along Lake Michigan. At the end, check out the wider view from the Legs Inn restaurant, which is open from May to October.

Submitted by Matthew Dolan, Reporter

Tour the wineries of Old Mission Peninsula 

The views are spectacular, as are the wines. Or make a day of it and swim at the beaches toward the end of the point and dine at nearby restaurants.

Flower Day at Eastern Market

There’s fantastic people watching and tons of choices for your yard or garden at Flower Day in Detroit’s Eastern Market. Grab ribs at Burt’s while you’re at it.

Submitted by Matt Helms, Reporter

Go mountain biking in Copper Harbor Trails

As one reviewer wrote, “This network is pretty much everything it’s reputed to be. Remote, rugged, gnarly, scenic, and tons o’ fun. One of a very select few 5 star systems in the Midwest, and well worth every star.”

Submitted by Brian McNamara, Page Designer

Play golf at A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort near Traverse City

Play a round of golf at A-Ga-Ming golf resort near Traverse City. The Torch course and the clubhouse feature spectacular views of Torch Lake that are especially impressive in fall or at sunrise or sunset.

Submitted by David Darby, Print Planner/Sports 

Selfie between two countries

Very few people can do what metro Detroiters can do on the south end of Belle Isle. You can position yourself or loved ones for a photo that puts you in view of an international border and two behemoth countries. Say cheese with the Detroit 
River in the background and you in the middle between the Windsor, Canada, shoreline and downtown Detroit marked by the Renaissance Center towers. So few people understand how close we are to Canada and most Americans can’t take this selfie.

Submitted by Patricia Montemurri, Staff Writer

Fort Custer State Park in Augusta

Just outside Battle Creek, Fort Custer State Park offers large campsites surrounded by trees, making it one of the best campgrounds in the state. During the day, enjoy the bike trails, beach and fishing.

Submitted by Tanya Wildt, Web Editor 

Witness a Great Lakes sunrise

Great Lakes sunsets are rightly prized, but sunrises deserve more respect. The beach towns along Michigan’s index finger offer the best view. When the bluebirds start their loops in the darkness, the early show is about to begin. First comes the light radiating from where the water meets the sky. Next is a parade of orange, amber, red and pink. Within moments, the water and sky offer competing interpretations of blue. Sleeping folks have no idea what they’ve just missed.

Submitted by John Wisely, Reporter

Cross in the Woods National Shrine

You don’t have to be Catholic or particularly religious to find this one of the most peaceful, yet powerful places in Michigan. On M-68 in Indian River (Exit 310, less than two miles off I-75) you will find the largest crucifix in the world – the statue of Christ weighing in at a mere 7 tons – surrounded by a small forest. The 55-foot-tall cross was made of a single redwood tree. There’s simply no place like it to sit and take a moment. Oh, and for a Detroit connection, the sculptor is Marshall Fredericks, the man who created the Spirit of Detroit.

Submitted by Christie Innes, Web Editor

Find a Petoskey stone (preferably not one in a store)

Michigan’s state stone is fossilized coral that lived about 350 million years ago. Glaciers scattered the stones throughout the state, but they can especially be found along the shorelines of Lakes Michigan and Huron. The honeycomb pattern is easiest to see when the gray stones are wet. Don’t be tempted to buy a polished beauty from a store. Part of the thrill is in the hunt.

Submitted by Michele Siuda Jacques, Web Editor

Spend the day at Greenfield Village

Step back in time and spend a day at Greenfield Village, Henry Ford’s historic outdoor park. Ford had dozens of historic buildings moved to Dearborn, offering visitors an immersive experience. You can stroll through Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory, take in an old-time baseball game, ride a steam engine or a Model T. You can check out Orville and Wilbur Wright’s bike shop, see the first home in the United States wired for electricity, pet some sheep at the Firestone Farm and ride a carousel that dates to 1913. At Halloween, thousands of jack-o’-lanterns light up the paths as the village turns spooky for Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village. And at Christmastime, it turns into a beautiful holiday wonderland with caroling, roasted nuts, ice skating and more.

Submitted by Kristen Jordan Shamus, Columnist

Tour Detroit’s Eastern Market

What’s unique about Detroit’s Eastern Market is that it’s the oldest farmers market in Michigan. There, you can enjoy not only some of the best fresh produce from area farmers, but also take in specialty shops and restaurants. Eastern Market is open Saturdays year-round, drawing large crowds for local produce. It is also open Tuesdays usually July through October to make the most of peak produce season. On Tuesdays, the market is smaller and less crowded. For the winter holidays, you can shop for locally grown trees, wreaths, homemade holiday treats and other gifts on Tuesdays Nov. 25 and Dec. 22 and Sundays Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 this year. Be sure to check out DeVries Co. 1887, a specialty cheese shop that also has plenty of other specialty food items. You can buzz on into Rocky Peanut, another Eastern Market mainstay for dried fruits, nuts, candies and specialty food products. Rocky’s also has several aisles of bulk spices and seasonings.

Submitted by Sue Selasky, Food Writer and Reporter 

See a movie at the Redford Theatre

As much as I enjoy the modern comforts of stadium seating and Dolby sound, there’s something special about seeing a movie at the Redford Theatre in Detroit. I’ve seen the idea of an old-time cinema showing classic movies done in many places, but never as well as at the Redford. It’s set apart by big things like the organ concert during intermission and small things like the starry-night painting on the ceiling. Add in the decor and smell of the popcorn and it’s not just a movie, it’s an event.

Submitted by Patrick Byrne, Senior Digital Planner

Venture beyond Joe Louis for competitive hockey

Hockey fans in Michigan are treated to so many different levels of competition, including the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL and the various college hockey teams (everyone should see a Michigan-Michigan State game at both Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor and Munn Ice Arena in Michigan State at least once in their life). There’s also the U.S. National Team Development Program in Plymouth and Muskegon Lumberjacks of the U.S. Hockey League and the Saginaw Spirit and Flint Firebirds of the Ontario Hockey League. Plus, all the youth hockey programs.

Submitted by George Sipple, Sports Reporter

Catch a set at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge

With an 81-year history of presenting music dating to 1934, Baker’s has a legitimate claim on the title of World’s Oldest Jazz Club. Its storied history, cozy intimacy, deco furnishings and hipster vibe make the ideal spot to contemplate Detroit’s remarkable jazz legacy.

Hear the DSO at Orchestra Hall

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s glorious history continues under current music director Leonard Slatkin, whose tenure has been marked by an emphasis on new American music, festivals and a push to make the DSO the most accessible orchestra in the country with initiatives ranging from weekly webcasts to an extensive menu of neighborhood concerts. But Orchestra Hall, the DSO’s historic home on Woodward, known for its legendary glowing acoustics and intimacy, remains the best place to hear the band. (Orchestra Hall is part of the recently renamed Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center.)

Tour the DIA

Art lovers from all over the planet, but particularly in Michigan, breathed a huge sigh of relief when the Detroit Institute of Arts emerged from the city’s bankruptcy with its collection intact. The museum’s world-class holdings are remarkable, including landmark treasures by Van Gogh, Matisse and Bruegel, as well as works spanning thousands of years of human history, from ancient civilizations to contemporary art. And, of course, there are Diego Rivera’s awe-inspiring “Detroit Industry” murals, the Mexican artist’s finest works, powerful symbols of Detroit’s sweat and soul and monuments to the transcendence of art and the human imagination.

Submitted by Mark Stryker, Arts Reporter and Critic

Hike Sleeping Bear Dunes

Hike all the way to the end and to beautiful Lake Michigan and its shore (a note to the wise: take bottles of water and crackers). The view at the end of that fairly lengthy hike is spectacular. The first time we saw it was before we lived in Michigan, in the early 2000s. We lived in Toledo and heard about this area in Michigan around the dunes, Charlevoix and Traverse City and decided to check it out for vacation. After making the trek around the area and the hike, it was “Wow, this is Michigan?”

Submitted by Christina Hall, Reporter

Lilac Festival on Mackinac Island

Step back in time to experience a horse-drawn parade during the annual Lilac Festival on Mackinac Island. Draft horses whose typical job is pulling carriages and wagons are fitted out to pull floats down the main street. It is one of the highlights of a week dedicated to the island’s lilacs, which are usually in full bloom during the event. Many of the original trees were planted during the colonial era. The Grand Parade is led by descendants of Chief Mackinac, Chief Pontiac and Chief Okemos. It’s one of the best times to see the island, in spite of the large crowds. If you stay on the island you get the luxury of enjoying quieter streets when the ferries leave for the mainland in the evening.

Submitted by Martha Thierry, Assistant Graphics Editor 

Hop aboard the Keweenaw Star

Take a 3- to 4-day voyage to see lighthouses and freighters on the 110-foot Keweenaw Star, which sails out of Charlevoix. It’s an affordable way to see Michigan and Ontario sights that can only be seen by boat. Travel by day on northern Lake Michigan, northern Lake Huron, the Soo Locks and eastern Lake Superior. Stay at night in hotels. And bring your camera.

Submitted by Mary Schroeder, Photo Editor

Go night fishing in the Pere Marquette River

For 25 years, this gorgeous body of water has been the site of our annual Salmon Slam, and the salmon have always delivered. Try the 140-plus stairs at Claybanks to descend to one of the best publicly accessible waterways in Michigan. It’s flies-only and no-kill, and the giant brown trout bite, too, when the sun goes down. Get a headlamp and fish after dark. The salmon fight like they’re in a football game on water. Baldwin itself was better before Edie’s Log Bar closed, but you can still get a cold brew in town.

Submitted by Jim Schaefer, Staff writer/Columnist

Sail the Mackinac Race

Each July about 3,000 sailors embark on the Port Huron-to-Mackinac Island sailboat race in roughly 250 boats of various sizes. Most take about 48 hours to reach the finish line at the island. The journey through Lake Huron involves sailing through at least one and usually two nights on little sleep in sometimes rough seas, but those who do it once often come back year after year. Old Goats are those who have completed 25 races, and some participants have sailed more than 50. It’s definitely not for everyone, but for those who love sailing and have a taste for adventure, the race creates indelible memories of a unique Michigan experience.

Submitted by John Gallager, Business Reporter

Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse in Port Hope

The still active lighthouse on Lake Huron in Michigan’s Thumb is one of the most photogenic, interesting lighthouses in Michigan. Climb the 89-foot structure built in 1857 or just enjoy the museum and gift shop. In addition to the history of the lighthouse itself, the museum also is notable for its poignant artifacts of the Daniel J. Morrell, the ship that sank in 1966 just off the coast in a storm, leaving only one survivor.

Submitted by Ellen Creager, Travel Writer

Go for a coney

You can’t get a true taste of Detroit without stopping for a coney dog. The hardest part is deciding whether to visit American or Lafayette, a point of contention among Michiganders. Or, what the heck, visit them both and join the debate. #TeamLafayette

Submitted by Elissa Robinson, Web Editor 

Salmon fishing on Lake Michigan

It just takes a bite, and some patience, to get hooked while fishing for salmon on Lake Michigan. A salmon latches on and line rushes from the reel, pitting fish —sometimes weighing 15 to 25 pounds—against fisherman. Find a charter and hop aboard. Ludington is a great place to check out.

Submitted by Elisha Anderson, Reporter 

Arcadia Bluffs

A world-class golf course, Arcadia Bluffs sits above the shores of Lake Michigan and offers amazing views seven days a week, weather permitting, from mid-April to mid-November. If you’re lucky, you may even hear the bagpiper who plays at sunset on Fridays and Saturdays.

Submitted by Grace Bennett, Director of Newsroom Administration and Budget 

Attend Opening Day in Detroit

Nothing – not robins, not crocuses, not St. Patrick’s Day parades – is a more welcome sign of springtime in Michigan than Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers. OK, so it’s usually 51 degrees and gray outside. But still, baseball is BACK! And summer warmth can’t be far behind. Fans’ hopes always are high heading into the home opener, and their revelry starts in parking lots and bars at the break of dawn. Sometimes it can feel more like a party than a game, which offends baseball purists. But there are 80 other home games for Tigers die-hards. Opening Day is for the masses.

Submitted by James Jahnke, Sports Editor

Hit the beach

That’s one thing Michigan residents can do every summer without high-tailing it to Florida or California: Lake Michigan feels just like being on an ocean. My recommendation: The Coast Guard City, Grand Haven. Spend the day sunbathing, check out the lighthouse, walk the boardwalk, watch the Musical Fountain, pick up a burrito at Butch’s Beach Burritos and, if you can, visit for the annual Coast Guard Festival. Fun fact for you millennials: “American Pie 2” is based on a summer in Grand Haven. It’s a blast.

Submitted by Brian Manzullo, Sports Editor

Run the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon

Run the Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon: It was easily one of the best moments of my life, running up the Ambassador Bridge as the sun came up last October, and it’s something I’ll never forget. But more than that singular scene was all the hard work that went into running the Free Press/Talmer Bank half marathon and the inspiration from all the runners I had talked to over the previous year in our series of “Long Run” profiles each week. I can’t put into words how much running has changed my life and what it meant to stand up to the 13.1-mile challenge. You can do it!

Submitted by Anthony Fenech, Sports Writer

The Belt alley

Officially, it’s called the Belt. I call it the Art Alley.

Downtown Detroit’s latest treasure is a block-long alley running from East Grand River to Gratiot Avenue that is full of awe-inspiring street art by national and international artists. The Belt alley is next to the Z parking garage, with its own eye-pleasing adventure of colorful murals decorating its walls.

Among the artists whose works are featured in the Belt are street artist Shepard Fairey and fine art painter and muralist POSE (Jordan Nickel). My personal favorite, though, is the towering geisha painted by London artist HUSH.

The good news is the alley is only getting better with plans for a bar, restaurants, shops, live entertainment and live events, such as gallery openings.

Submitted by Steven Pepple, Content Coach

The Little River Railroad in historic Coldwater

Take a 1.5 hour tour to see the gorgeous fall colors on a 1911 steam locomotive train. The train also runs tours featuring Santa at Christmas and trips in spring. If you go, stay in town and take in the amazing architecture in the city’s (est. 1861) National Historic District. And it’s within a 15 minute drive of Allen, Mich., “antique capital of Michigan” and the state line, where you can tour Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve in Angola the same day.

Submitted by Maryann Struman, Director of Communities

Head to Windsor

Head to Windsor and seek out ethnic food, in particular East Indian fare. A wave of immigration from the Far East came to Canada and Windsor before the U.S. and Detroit. Just like in London, there are fantastic ethnic offerings just across the river.

Submitted by Christopher Kirkpatrick, Director of Business News

Go beer tasting

Go beer tasting at the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival in July in Ypsilanti. More than 100 Michigan brewers share some of their most creative concoctions, like Short’s Brewing Company’s Key Lime Pie beer and Saugatuck Brewing Company’s Neapolitan Milk Stout. It’s the state’s most celebrated beer-tasting event, complete with live music and the chance to try beers from across the state.

Paddle Detroit’s canals on a sunset kayak tour

Take a trip down the Detroit River between the city and Canada, then veer north into canals that wind through neighborhoods on the city’s east side. It’s a chance to see some historic homes and parts of Detroit otherwise unknown. Detroit River Sports regularly offers tours.

Submitted by Robert Allen, Reporter and Spirits of Detroit alcohol columnist

Get medieval at the Renaissance Festival

Step through the gates of Hollygrove and enter a world of knights, fairies and medieval adventures of all kinds. From mid-August through early October, the Michigan Renaissance Festival has performances for all ages, unique food and beverages and a wide-variety of Renaissance-themed shops. Bring the kids for rides and games, or leave them behind for a pub crawl and a bawdy comedy show. Whatever you do, don’t miss the jousting throughout the day. It’s definitely a highlight.

Submitted by Alicia Secord, Page Designer

Try the chicken at Frankenmuth

You haven’t experienced the splendor of the Great Lakes State until you’ve gorged on a chicken dinner in Frankenmuth, our very own little Bavaria. Together, Zehnder’s and Bavarian Inn restaurants serve more than 2 million chicken dinners a year.

Submitted by Georgea Kovanis, Columnist

Visit Stony Creek Metropark

Whether it’s summer or winter, there’s always something to do at the 4,461 acre park, which extends into both Oakland and Macomb counties. You can spend the day boating and lounging around on Stony Creek Lake or take a leisure hike on one of the several trails at the park. In the winter, families often ski and snowshoe across marked trails.

Submitted by Katrease Stafford, Reporter 

Ice climbing at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

That’s right — it’s cold, you’re tethered to a rope, and the only thing between you and a vertical wall of ice is the sharp metal of ice axes and crampons. There’s no arguing that ice climbing takes a whole lot of determination and a pinch of courage, but there’s also no better way to experience winter along the frozen sandstone cliffs of Lake Superior. One of the best ways to try this sport safely is at the annual Michigan Ice Fest, which offers demo gear and a wide range of classes, as well as nightly slideshows from some of the best climbers on Earth. Simply put, it’s an experience not to be missed. Sign up early as the Michigan Ice Fest grows in popularity every year.

Submitted by Brian Kaufman, Executive Video Producer

Backpacking and camping on North Manitou Island

Hike to see old orchards and remains of buildings from days’ past; explore the island’s wilderness; walk along the beach; or lounge around reading a good book. There is a ferry to both North and South Manitou islands from Leland. The ferry has stopped for the season, but will pick back up in May, according to Manitou Island Transit. For more information about North Manitou Island, part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, follow this link.

Submitted by Gina Damron, Reporter

Take a photo tour of the most beautiful places in Michigan: 

Article source: