Camping Hot Spots
Find great places to camp and gain insights into activities to make the most of the top camping hot spots. Get the scoop on where to go next. Discover destinations that offer unique opportunities for you to experience the great outdoors through recreation activities, wildlife viewing, and unforgettable vistas.
1,000 Islands, New York
Dotting the St. Lawrence river and eastern side of Lake Ontario lies a magical wonderland of islands, beautiful views, and amazing wildlife. This unique region spans the waterways between New York state and Canada, offering some of the finest water sports you'll find anywhere. Named for the over 1,000 islands in the lake and river, the area is filled with breathtaking views and miles of water for boating, sailing, fishing, jet skiing, and much more.
Considered by Americans to be the "gateway to the 1,000 islands," this historic village was founded by explorer Samuel de Champlain who visited the area in 1615. It received its name from French Missionary priest Father Dablon, who worked among the Indians with Father Chaumonoit in 1655.
Today, the township includes the islands of Carelton and Linda in the St. Lawrence River; Grenadier, Little Grenadier, and Fox Islands in Lake Ontario; and hamlets like Rosiere, St. Lawrence Corners, Sand Bay, and Millen Bay. Visitors can tour the Tibbetts Point Lighthouse, learn about Fort Haldimand's role in the Revolutionary War, and tour the thirty homes and buildings that are on the State and Federal Historic Register.
Set in Jefferson County, New York, on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, Alexandria Bay was once described as "a fairyland, that neither pen nor tongue of man may even attempt to describe" by French explorer Count Frontenac. Known as the resort center of the 1,000 islands, Alexandria Bay specializes in boat tours, water sports, and fabulous festivals including their Blessing of the Fleet and their incredible July 4th celebration.
While you're here, don't miss a visit to Heart Island, where you'll find an authentic turn-of-the-century Rhineland castle. Take a tour of the 120 room Boldt Castle and see this magnificent structure as it once was. The exhibits and displays are sure to spark your imagination, as are the views from the fairy tale castle walls.
Known to locals as "the Burg," Ogdensburg is the big city of the American 1,000 islands. Set where the gentle Oswegatchie River flows into the St. Lawrence River, this city is rich in natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. In addition, like all of the 1,000 islands, it had a long and fascinating history.
In the summertime, visitors enjoy fishing, boating, and all kinds of water sports. Winter sports include cross-country skiing and all the downhill thrills to be found at White Face Mountain and Lake Placid, the former Olympic site. Be sure not to miss the Frederic Remington Art Museum.
Ogdensburg played a significant role in the War of 1812, then known as the second revolutionary war. Learn all about it at the city's incredible museums and historical sites.
For superb dining, shows, entertainment, and marinas, head to lovely Sackets Harbor on the shores of Lake Ontario. Situated in Black River Bay, this is a fabulous place to go sailing and wind surfing, or to try your hand at white water rafting and water skiing. Trophy fishing is a year-round sport here!
During the summer, Sackets Harbor springs to life with Sunday Concerts on the Waterfront, antique shows, auto shows, and sporting events that range from polo and lacrosse to rugby. Join them for the annual International Festival or the Fireman's Field Days (which includes a carnival, a block party, and fireworks). Each year the town hosts a Can-Am War of 1812 Festival, complete with musket fire and tall ships engaging in battle.
The Bright Lights of Austin, Texas
With the quirkiness of a college town, the amazing food of the capital of Texas, and some of the best live music you'll hear anywhere, Austin is a visitor's paradise. This charming city may be home to the governor's mansion and the state congress, but Austin doesn't take itself too seriously. Its motto, after all, is "Keep Austin weird," a phrase that sums up its eclectic tastes.
You'll find just about everything in Austin. With plenty of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and young people, Austin is a bold and spicy mix of ideas and attitudes. And with over 200 live music venues, you'll find bands of all stripes playing on just about every evening of the year. Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, a title it takes to heart. This is the home city of Willie Nelson, after all, as well as the site of the Stevie Ray Vaughn Memorial.
Austin's music scene is focused around a cluster of districts encircling the downtown area. When you head into the city, pick a district and limit your nightly explorations to that area - you can always try a different district the following night. Don't miss the famous venues of Sixth Street or the Red River District. The Warehouse and Downtown Districts have a special edge, while the University of Texas District sports a youthful flair. Other districts include East Austin, South Austin, and the Market District.
Museums and History
History buffs will find plenty to enjoy about Austin. After your must-see visit to the state capitol, take a tour of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum for a look at the state's colorful past. At the LBJ Library and Museum, you can see records from this famous president's political career, both in Texas and on the national level.
Austin is as family and kid-friendly as a city can get. The young people in your group will love the Austin Children's Museum with its hands-on exhibits and games. They can cool off on the water slides at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark, see the animals at the Austin Zoo, or head to the Aquarena Centerfor a marine life show. And be sure not to miss the fun goings-on at Wonderworld Park.
Texas is famous its unique cuisine, and Austin provides its own special additions to the mix. You'll find outstanding BBQ, flavorful Tex-Mex and international food, organic restaurants, and plenty of local treats.
This gateway to Texas Hill Country is surrounded by picturesque lakes and rolling hillsides. With plenty of sunshine and over 200 city parks, it's easy to get out and about in Austin. You'll find miles of hiking and biking trails, excellent golf courses, and much more. Each year Austin hosts the annual AT&T Marathon, which brings over 5,000 world-class runners into the city. Even if your fitness level isn't marathon-ready, you can have plenty of fun rambling down the Barton Creek Greenbelt with its 7.8 miles of hiking, walking, and biking trails. Several endangered wildlife and plant species call the Greenbelt home.
Be sure to pay a visit to Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin, where you can stroll along the 10 mile trail that encircles the waters. At Barton Springs Pool, swimmers can enjoy 68-degree, spring-fed waters year round. And you won't want to miss the trails and view points at 360-acre Zilker Park.
No visit to Austin is complete without a trip to see the city's famous bats. Every evening, 1.5 million bats take flight from under the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. Spectators line up daily to watch this impressive sight, as a cloud of winged creatures sails out into the sky in search of mosquitoes and other insects. At dawn, the bats return to their sleeping spot, where they rest peacefully until the following evening.
Santa Fe, Culture and Art
The vibrant, colorful artists' community of Santa Fe has history and beauty to spare. Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the foothills of the Rockies, Santa Fe is graced with 325 days of sunshine a year and a rich blue desert sky. With hundreds of art galleries, plentiful arts programs, luxurious spas, and a calendar filled with festivities, you'll enjoy the getaway vacation of your dreams in Santa Fe.
Begin your tour with the historic Plaza de Santa Fe that marks the end of the eight-hundred-mile Santa Fe Trail. Here you will see the La Fonda Hotel, which once served as headquarters for the Confederacy, and The Palace of the Governors, which was built in 1609-1610 by the Spanish and is the nation's oldest government building. This will give you a firm footing in Santa Fe's past, an element that plays a part in nearly every piece of art and design you'll see here.
Art is the blood that pumps through the heart of Santa Fe. Though it's a small town, Santa Fe has over 300 art galleries showing works by local artists and craftspeople. It's also the home of the world-class Santa Fe Opera, which is famous for its grand productions. The city is also a popular foodie destination. With its unique blends of international, Southwestern, and Mexican cuisine, this the place to enjoy a true tour of senses.
This high desert town has plenty to offer outdoor enthusiasts. Set at 7,000 feet in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, this is the ideal place to go hiking and biking. Other outdoor sports like river rafting, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, fly-fishing, ice-skating, and swimming are popular here. You'll find plenty of yoga, Pilates, and other fitness classes in town, and many people flock here for the great downhill skiing between Thanksgiving and Easter.
You won't want to miss the St. Francis Cathedral, the San Miguel Mission, and the Santuario de Chimayo Church. Explore Santa Fe's cultural past with a visit to one of the eight Native American pueblos located nearby and see the past and present day life come together. Be sure to make time for the Nambe Pueblo, Ohkay Owingeh, the Picuris Pueblo, the Pojoaque Pueblo, and the San Ildefonso Pueblo.
If you're interested in New Mexico's desert wildlife, look no farther than Santa Fe's Randall Davey Audubon Center. You'll enjoy bird walks, nature talks, and plenty of wildlife at this 135-acre nature sanctuary in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos. Don't miss the historic buildings and the works of art by the late Santa Fe master. (1800 Upper Canyon Road, 505-983-4609)
Santa Fe may be known as a place to buy art, but it's also a center for people who want to make art. Even if you aren't a skilled painter, potter, or drawer, you'll find plenty of classes here that can help you improve in any art form you choose, from calligraphy to photography. And be sure not to miss museums like the New Mexico Museum of Art (formerly the Museum of Fine Arts), the three sites on Museum Hill, the Institute for American Indian Arts, and the ever-popular Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.
Natural beauty abounds in Burlington, a quiet college town that has plenty going on. Among other delights, it’s a terrific place to come for ice cream! This home of Ben & Jerry’s specialty ice cream is famous for dairy products of all kinds, from cheese and cream to flavored milk. But ice cream reigns supreme in Burlington, where Ben and Jerry opened their first ice cream shop in 1978 at the corner of St. Paul and College Streets. Today Ben & Jerry’s is a world-wide phenomenon, known for its unique flavors like Phish Food, Cherry Garcia, and Chunky Monkey..
When you visit, be sure to take in a Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour, so you can learn all about ice-cream making and sample new flavors and products. If you visit in the summer, check the dates for the annual One World One Heart Festival, put on by Ben & Jerry’s, and the Vermont Maple Festival. You’ll go home with plenty of real maple syrup and candies to share as gifts all year long.
While you lick your ice cream cone, you can explore the area around Burlington. Set on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, Burlington is nestled between the Adirondack and Green Mountains, giving the town lovely views in all directions. You can visit the Burlington Coat Factory, head along the Lake Champlain Birding Trail, or enjoy the lovely restaurants and shops. Burlington is known as Vermont’s Queen City, in part because of its historic architecture, fountains, and brick-paved town center.
A number of events keeps Burlington’s social calendar lively. You can take in the annual First Night Celebration, visit in March for the Magic Hat Mardi Gras Parade, or come in summer for the Chew Chew Fest: A Celebration of Local Farming and Fresh Food. Later in the summer months, take in the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival and the annual Marketplace Sidewalk Sale.
A special magic fills the air in Hawaii. Oahu, home to the island-state’s capital and largest city, Honolulu, is also a mecca for brilliant beaches, deep blue waters, and stunning natural beauty. This is where you’ll find world-famous Waikiki beach, iconic places like Diamond Head, and a garden-full of colorful orchids and leis. Whether this is your first visit to the rainbow state or your thirty-first, it’s time to say aloha to Oahu!
Most visits to Hawaii begin with a trip to the beach. On Oahu, there’s no more famous beach than Waikiki, a place where Hawaiian royalty used to relax and play. Today, visitors will find a cosmopolitan scene on the beach, with visitors from every corner of the globe. You’ll see the statue honoring the Father of modern surfing and Olympic athlete, Duke Kahanamoku. Duke is known for having brought Hawaiian culture to the rest of the world through his swimming victories and Hollywood films.
There’s plenty to do on Waikiki Beach. You can take a surfing lesson, swim in the surf, or head to Kalakaua Avenue for a tour of the boutique shops, fabulous restaurants, and cafes. In the evening, Kalakaua is a hotspot for nightlife.
Just beyond Waikiki lies the iconic silhouette of Diamond Head, a 760-foot tuff crater that has become a famous landmark. The crater is covered with sparkling calcite crystals that twinkle like diamonds in the sun. Ancient Hawaiians called the crater Leahi, or “brow of the tuna.” Today it’s a popular hiking destination that offers breathtaking views of Oahu’s south shore. With its stair-step trail and underground tunnels, Diamond Head is an excellent day trip destination. Just remember to bring a flashlight for the tunnels!
If you’re ready to try some serious surfing—or you’d like to watch surfers riding the waves—head to the Oahu’s North Shore, a seven-mile beach that’s famous for hosting surfing competitions. The best surfing waves roll in during the winter between November and February. These thirty-foot waves can be dangerous for amateurs, but when the pros go to work, it’s fun to watch. In the summer months, the calmer waves make this a perfect place for swimming and sunbathing.
For a bit of inland fun, head to the Iolani Palace where King Kalákaua and his successor, Queen Lili’uokalani, conducted the affairs of the kingdom. Tours include the lavish Blue Room, the State Dining Room, the Throne Room, and other restored state apartments. You’ll hear the moving story of how Queen Lili’uokalani was imprisoned in the upper rooms of the palace after the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.
Satisfy your taste buds with a trip to Kapahulu Avenue, home to specialty shops and some of Honolulu’s best food. You’ll find a wide range of international flavors here, from Asian and Mexican to Mediterranean and local Hawaiian. Try the malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery or cool off with some Waiola shaved ice. With all the restaurants to choose from, this is a terrific place to enjoy meal after meal.
One of Oahu’s great historic sites is Pearl Harbor, the port that was bombed by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. Named for the pearl oysters that were once harvested here, this is the largest natural harbor in Hawaii. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark that honors the 2,390 people who died during the attack. Films at the visitor center help explain the sequence of events on that fateful day. The landmark includes five different sites, all related to this tragic event.
Visitors can take a boat shuttle to the USS Arizona Memorial, a floating monument that’s built over the sunken hull of this battleship. You’ll see the poignant shrine room, where a marble wall displays the names of all the men who lost their lives on the Arizona. Next, visit the memorial to the Battleship Missouri, also known as the “Mighty Mo.” It was on the decks of the Mo that General MacArthur accepted unconditional Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945, ending World War II. Mighty Mo is filled with exhibits that cover three different wars and fifty years worth of history.
The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park lets visitors board one of the 288 submarines that went to war in the Pacific during WWII. The Bowfin was also known as the “Pearl Harbor Avenger” because of its action in the Pacific theater. The Bowfin offers tours of an actual torpedo room, engine room, and submarine sleeping quarters as well as a 10,000-square-foot museum. Airplane aficionados will want to tour the Pacific Aviation Museum for a look at an actual airplane hangar and war planes. Last, but not least is the USS Oklahoma Memorial, dedicated to the crew of “The Okie,” a 35,000-ton battleship that capsized within twelve minutes after the December 7th bombing.