While it may be fun to make up an extra excuse to eat tacos and drink tequila, we've been missing the point when it comes to the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo. In the U.S., the historical significance of May 5 has been largely passed over in favor of a massive spike in beer sales (in fact, in 2014, more beer was sold on Cinco de Mayo than on Super Bowl Sunday or St. Patrick's Day!), and it's time to set the record straight.
Let us teach you about the real Cinco de Mayo and where to honor this celebration in the U.S.
Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not the celebration of Mexico's independence, which is actually celebrated annually on September 16. 40 years later, Cinco de Mayo came to be.
The story goes that, in 1862, Mexico found itself indebted to a number of European countries, so Napoleon III decided it was the perfect time to take advantage of Mexico's weakness and set up a monarchy in North America. Thus, French troops attacked the town of Puebla, Mexico, but General Ignacio Zaragoza was prepared.
Pleading for the help of all able-bodied men available, Mexico rallied together that May 5 and got the French to surrender, with the French suffering a loss of 500 troops, while General Zaragoza only lost less than 100 of the 2,000 men that showed up to fight that day.
From this day onwards, May 5 is recognized as a day of Mexican pride and resilience, and it has only increased in national significance over time, though it is not a national holiday in Mexico.
Extra credit reading:For an extremely thorough breakdown of important historical facts before, during, and after the Battle of Puebla, check out this article by National Geographic.
Where and how to celebrate
Many travelers head straight to the source and go to Puebla for the most authentic Cinco de Mayo celebration. In Puebla, you'll get to enjoy colorful and joyous parades, in addition to a reenactment of the battle. As an added bonus when you're in Puebla, be sure to visit the city's beautiful and well-maintained cathedrals, which are what have turned the city into a UNESCO World Heritage Center.
Heads-up:If you're planning a trip to Mexico for Cinco de Mayo, heading anywhere other than Puebla will lead you to find people just going about their daily lives!
Denver, Colorado, holds a two-day festival called "Celebrate Culture" that is put together by a local non-profit organization, NEWSED Community Development Corporation. On the morning of Cinco de Mayo, there is a large community parade, complemented by three different stages, where everyone can enjoy all different types of Hispanic music groups, as well as the well-known Hispanic Fiesta Colorado Folklorico Dancers.
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California, boasts the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the U.S., starting the last weekend of April with Fiesta Broadway. At this street festival, you'll get to enjoy popular Latin American artists and nibble on authentic dishes. Fiesta Broadway, however, is just the tip of the iceberg; TripSavvy has got you covered with a full Cinco de Mayo itinerary.
If you've got time to do additional sightseeing in L.A., pepper some more historical value into your trip with a detour to El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the original Spanish and Mexican neighborhood in the city, and Olvera Street, where you'll find great restaurants, food trucks, and street vendors.
Extra credit reading:For more ideas on where and how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, USA Today has a great rundown from the West Coast to Washington, D.C.
No matter what time of year you decide to explore Mexico, be sure to check out our travel guide on everything you need to know before you go.
With Earth Day approaching, it's time to think about the ways we can all help support this incredibly important mission. Protecting the beautiful planet we have been gifted while getting to go on vacation sounds like the perfect pairing and will keep your carbon footprint low this spring.
Blooming flowers, migrating birds, and milder climates allow you to enjoy this picture-perfect season. While tourism produces 5% of the world's carbon emissions, committing to ecotourism can help sustain and protect all of those natural wonders across the globe.
Go green along with the season, and read on to find your perfect eco-conscious accommodation for a spring escape!
Iceland holds some of the most stunning natural scenery in the world. It's location in the mid-Atlantic ridge means the country produces an abundance of geothermal energy that powers almost the entire country. Their use of renewable energy makes Iceland one of the greenest countries in the world.
Interested in seeing how the geothermal energy is procured? Head to the world-famous geyser sites throughout Iceland. These natural hot springs are impressive both in beauty and in practicality.
Costa Rica produces 93% of it's electricity from renewable sources—prioritizing keeping the country's carbon footprint as low as possible. In fact, in 2017, Costa Rica broke its own world record and ran on renewable energy for 300 days! What's more? Their goal is to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021, as well as eliminate single-use plastics entirely.
Heading to Costa Rica in spring is the perfect opportunity to see nature come to life. With a little more rainfall this time of year, the country's ample landscapes come out to play, creating magnificent views for miles. Over 25% of Costa Rica is home to wildlife refuges and national parks, so there is no shortage of stunning backdrops and exotic animals.
New Zealand has a plethora of places that will coincide with your commitment to the environment. From the marine reserves and natural caves to the protected national parks and breathtaking mountains, the country's sensational landscapes are sure to take your breath away. Through geothermal energy production, even New Zealand's cities are green, with electric modes of transport and sustainable accommodations.
The mix of rainfall and sunshine in spring allows a diverse ecosystem of both plants and animals to thrive in New Zealand—a true nature lover's paradise! Hike through the evergreen forests to see the vivid flora or catch a glimpse of the native birds soaring through the skies, as well as soak up some rays along the beautiful coast.
A few favorite eco-friendly accommodations
We love how so many of our hosts make sustainability a priority at their glamping sites—from the products they clean with and the amenities and toiletries they provide guests with to the accommodation structures themselves...and more! Here are a few of our favorite eco-friendly rentals from across the globe.
This eco-friendly elevated cabin in North Carolina makes for the ultimate environmentally-friendly vacation. Utilizing recycled paper products, solar lighting, a composting toilet, and so much more, this cabin does the utmost to protect it's beautiful surroundings.
Located on Phillip Island in Victoria, this glamping tent offers off-grid solar power, and all of the utilities throughout the accommodation are energy efficient. Here, you can guarantee minimal environmental impact on your getaway, while still having all the necessary comforts of home!
High in the trees, surrounded by vibrant greenery, near Villersexel, France, this tree house stay comes with biodegradable plastics and is committed to using organic waste for compost. Past the trees, you'll also have a beautiful lake view to wake up to!
Feeling inspired? Check out more of our eco-friendly accommodations in the U.S. and abroad!
Over two hundred years ago, a courageous group of 48 pioneers set out on an epic journey, battling through a severe winter, rugged mountains, and vast wilderness to cut a new trail westward from Massachusetts to Ohio. These bold American heroes started the expansion of the modern day United States, opening up new routes through the Northwest Territory. They were the bravest of the brave, and now it's your turn to follow in their footsteps and carve your own route through the unknown.
Release the adventurer inside you with one of our remarkable road trip ideas through a U.S. national park!
1. The Grand Circle Tour
With its awe-inspiring canyons and seemingly endless skies, the Grand Circle Tour in Utah offers 1,500 miles of incredibly scenic highways, six national parks, and huge lakes in the desert—meaning it's no wonder that this stunning region is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the states.
Start your tour by visiting Zion National Park, hiking Canyon Overlook Trail and watching the sunset light the entire canyon. On the second day, explore the spectacular Zion Canyon by taking the handy shuttle bus. Bryce Canyon National Park is then just an hour's drive away and boasts more majestic overlooks from Sunrise Point and Bryce Point.
The famous All-American Road, Scenic Byway 12, will then lead you through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument into Capitol Reef National Park and its unique rock formations. Be sure to add Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point, and Canyonlands National Park to the itinerary, too.
To end the vacation on a high, soak up the awesomeness of the Grand Canyon's mile-high cliffs from the South Rim, while wondering how on earth four Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other could fit within its monumental walls!
2. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park
As the world's first National Park, Yellowstone contains more than 290 waterfalls, over 500 active geysers, and 67 species of mammals amid its sprawling 2.2 million acres. The vibrant and bizarre scenery at this one-of-a-kind spot means a road trip here is sure to evoke the senses.
Grand Teton National Park makes a great starting point for the road trip and the vistas of Phelps Lake from Death Canyon Trailhead are simply astounding. Jenny Lake, Hidden Falls, and Inspiration Point should also all make the list before getting back on the road to Yellowstone for terrain that seems like it could be from another planet.
Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, and Mammoth Hot Springs are all a must-see while on a scenic drive through Lamar Valley, where you'll see the bison at their watering hole for the ideal end to the road trip.
3. Yosemite National Park
The iconic valley of Yosemite is a photographer's dream, as well a paradise for rock climbers. With its towering waterfalls, giant Sequoia trees, and thousands of plant species, the area is a true natural wonder steeped in dramatic scenery.
Driving through the Wawona Tunnel to Tunnel View, the unrivaled beauty of the valley makes its instant and unforgettable impression on all its visitors. The majestic granite rock formation of the famous Half Dome and the panoramic views of the distant horizon at Glacier Point are the perfect way to start the vacation while the Four Mile Trail, which makes its way up to a 3,200-foot peak, is the ideal way to take in the diverse ecosystems and wildlife habitats in the park.
The Yosemite Valley Loop lets you burn some rubber while taking in the landscape and make some well-earned pit stops for more breathtaking sights, like climber's obsession and adversary El Capitan, Vernal Falls, and the tallest waterfall in North America, Yosemite Falls. As the Scottish-American influential naturalist John Muir once so aptly put it, this area really is "one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples."
4. The Great Smoky Mountains
Generally regarded as one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, with rock formations dating back over 200 million years, the rolling valleys and dense forests of the Smoky Mountains are home to more native trees than the whole of Europe combined.
Encompassing 244,000 acres in Tennessee, 276,000 acres in North Carolina, and a 70-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail, this region is an outdoor adventurer's playground that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Cades Cove offers a scenic 11-mile loop road, where travelers can embrace the rich wildlife, historic buildings, and access to trails to delve deeper into the enchanting terrain.
The popular Newfound Gap Road also winds its way from Cherokee to the center of the park, crossing the 5,000-foot mountain pass of Newfound Gap and ending in Gatlinburg. The 66-mile round trip offers visitors a 3,000-foot ascent up through the backbone of the Smokies, with extraordinary mountain and forest views. Balsam Mountain Heintooga Ridge Road, accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway, gives drivers even more sweeping vistas, while Cataloochee Valley gets you up close to majestic elk grazing, all from the comfort of your car.
5. Joshua Tree National Park
Covering 1,235 square miles, Joshua Tree National Park is an ecological crossover, in which the Mojave Desert and the low Colorado Desert meet, resulting in two distinctly different ecosystems. The rugged mountains and broad valleys covered in twisted Joshua trees create an unfamiliar and extraterrestrial landscape.
Having previously lay hidden deep underwater for 250 million years, the area now offers a paranormal expanse that is perfect for an unforgettable road trip with friends and family. Starting off in the town of Joshua Tree and heading south on Park Boulevard will lead to mythical Hidden Valley, with its iconic massive boulders, and a short trip back on the road will leave you at Keys View. The 5,185-foot lookout point has panoramic views of the Coachella Valley below, as well as San Jacinto Peak and San Gorgonio Mountain.
Jumping back in the car for a short cruise through the desert gives you the chance for some photo ops at famed Skull Rock and Arch Rock, while driving south on Pinto Basin Road places you in the intriguing Cholla Cactus Garden, with its unusual strands of cacti sprawling across the barrens for as far as the eye can see.
Located in northwestern Europe, the Netherlands is best known for its interconnected canals, fields of tulips, and iconic windmills. This flat and low-elevation country borders Germany, Belgium, and the North Sea, and everything you'll stumble upon is bound to be picturesque...the famous cities, the quaint towns, and even the beaches! Approximately 15 million tourists visit the Netherlands each year, yearning to be immersed in its modern culture and relaxed way of life.
We've created this travel guide to give you some top tips on how to have the best trip possible in this famed European country!
Good to know before you go
Getting there and getting around
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the main international airport in the Netherlands and the third largest in Europe. If you're planning on traveling to the Netherlands from outside of Europe, this airport puts you just 6 kilometers away from the busy capital of Amsterdam. Conveniently accessed by train, Dutch Railways has a service that goes directly to Amsterdam Central Station, allowing you to access all that the city has to offer in just 15 minutes.
The public transportation here is second to none—ranked fourth in the world!—and is the best way to travel with ease, both inside the cities and across the country. Alternatively, you can rent a bike and experience the Netherlands' cycling culture.
Biking around the city is truly the best mode of travel, not only for viewing the city, but also to skirt around quickly. You are sure to see thousands of them on your trip, but be sure to keep an eye out when crossing the roads, as it's likely a bike will becoming your way instead of a car! A bike can be rented for anywhere from 10€ to 40€ per day, depending on how long you're renting for and from which shop.
Traveling across the country is made easy, thanks to Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the national railway, which connects almost every town in the nation and boasts over 400 stations. To cover long distances, the high-speed trains are recommended, as they allow you to get to a different city or town very quickly. The prices are dependent upon how far you're traveling—the further you go, the more expensive! Be sure to snag a window seat to enjoy the serene views of the Dutch countryside.
The most effective way to travel on trains is to buy a 7.50€ OV-chipkaart that you can use for all trains in the Netherlands. The card acts as the ticket and can be topped up at the machines that are conveniently located at every station. As you start your journey, swipe in at the barriers and swipe out when you arrive at your destination; this calculates your route and deducts the correct amount from your card.
Food and drink
One of the best experiences of visiting a new country is tasting all the different foods and drinks it has to offer. The Netherlands has a very traditional way of cooking and serving food, and every dish you try is
guaranteed to be hearty and wholesome, with ingredients grown by skillful farmers or freshly caught on the coast. Stamppot is the traditional dish usually eaten on a cold winter's day: a mix of mashed potatoes, kale, carrots, sauerkraut, and rookworst sausage.
The Netherlands is one of the most secular countries in the world, with just over half of the population not identifying as being of any religion. The most predominant religion, however, is Roman Catholicism, dating back to the 16th century.
The Tulip festival in Amsterdam sees the streets being filled with vibrant colors every which way you glance. The tulip is the symbol of the Netherlands dating back to the 17th century and the Ottoman empire, withstanding economic impact for the country, both historically and in present day.
Amsterdam celebrates this through the thousands of tulips throughout the city, diverse in both color and variation. The motto of the annual Tulip Festival is "A tulip for every citizen," and there are 85 locations around the city that boast over 500,000 flowers total. The unique sea of colors create natural beauty in the middle of a built-up city and is not a sight to be missed.
Places to visit
Most people visiting the Netherlands head straight for Amsterdam. While it's definitely a city you'll want to check off your bucket list, make sure to hit up other cities to experience even more of the Dutch culture, architecture, and artistic jewels.
Head to The Hague, the third largest city in the Netherlands, for a number of sites rich in history and politics. If your heading there in summer, even better, as you'll get to relax on the serene beaches lining the coast of the North Sea.
Rotterdam is far from a traditional Dutch city. After being destroyed in WWII, it was rebuilt with a totally unique architecture. You can check out the unconventional cubed houses and the city's art scene, both on the street and in the museums. This is sure to be different from anything else you will visit on your travels in the Netherlands!
Outside the city
If big cities aren't your forte, make sure to check out the incredible natural sites scattered throughout the Netherlands, ensuring a more tranquil sightseeing experience.
Hoge Veluwe National Park
Become acquainted with nature in the largest continuous nature reserve the country has to offer. The landscape is so diverse that you can choose to either hike or cycle, all while looking out for the abundant wildlife the park holds.
The Windmills of Kinderdijk
Located in the wetlands of Dordrecht—the oldest city in Holland—these windmills were built in 1740 to help control flooding. Now declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the long-standing windmills are one of the most photographed places in the whole country.
The Garden of Europe
Nicked name "The Garden of Europe," Keukenhof is the world's largest flower garden. The garden holds more than 7 million flowers all diverse in color, lining streams and waterfalls. A peaceful meander of this vibrant landscape sounds heavenly for a little bit of relaxation.
Safety while abroad
Luckily, the Netherlands is one of the safest countries in Europe. You can never be too careful, though, and adequately preparing before visiting a new country makes travel plans a lot smoother.
The worry of traveling to different countries can be the long-winded visa processes and documentation. The Netherlands, however, is a Schengen country, which means traveling there is made straightforward for most.
Due to the Netherlands forming part of this agreement, the country is completely visa-free. This means American, Australian, and Canadian citizens can visit without obtaining a visa, as long as their stay does not exceed 90 days. EU citizens also have the freedom of travel without the hassle of any visa processes.
What you'll need:
Documentation with purpose of stay and proof of sufficient financial means
Any citizens traveling from one of the other 25 Schengen countries are granted free movement, with no internal borders in the whole of this area!
These are our top tips, but don't forget to consult your home country's government websites for updates on travel and more information:
While the U.S. is home to an impressive 58 national parks for a single country, it would be remiss of us to not acknowledge the stunning natural landscapes that exist all across the rest of the world—from South America up to Europe down to Africa and over to Australia. In order to get the most out of your national park of choice, the perfect place for you to set up your home base is most certainly a glamping site—even better if the accommodation is inside of the park itself. Without further ado, let us take you on a trip around the globe to some of our favorites of the world's best national parks.
Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada
The peaks of Banff National Park, located near Calgary in Alberta, Canada, form part of the well-known Rocky Mountains—could you ask for a more beautiful backdrop for your vacation? Throughout this vast National Park, which spans 2,564 square miles, you'll be able to wonder about what it must have been like before the glaciers came through and formed the park that you see before you as you wander. In fact, Banff National Park is home to the largest uninterrupted glacial mass in the Rockies, the Columbia Icefield.
Where to stay: Come nightfall, you'll most certainly have worn yourselves out enough that nothing will sound better than curling up in this mountain cottage in the town of Nordegg, just an hour away from the park.
Arenal National Park in Costa Rica
Hiking goes hand-in-hand with any getaway where you plan to be outdoors as much as humanly possible, and a trip to Arenal National Park in Costa Rica is no exception. Home to one of Costa Rica's five active volcanoes of the same name, there are two main hiking trails in the National Park, and the two meet to form a perfect loop that is only 2.5 miles in total—meaning doing both trails in the same day is more than feasible. Be sure not to miss La Peninsula, an area of the park that just opened in 2017 and boasts incredible views of Lake Arenal.
Where to stay: If you happen to be hiking with your significant other—perhaps on your honeymoon?—a stay at one of these romantic elevated cabins is both cozy and convenient, at less than 30 minutes by car from the park.
Torres del Paine National Park in Chile
In Chile's southernmost tip, those looking for a great adventure will find the Patagonia region—home to Torres del Paine National Park. Averaging 252,000 visitors a year, over half of which are international tourists, this National Park is a grab bag of all the best nature has to offer, from mountains and glaciers to lakes and rivers. The pièce de résistance is the Cordillera del Paine, which is formed by a group of three granite peaks—Torres d'Agostini, Torres Central, and Torres Monzino—throughout which you'll find all of the aforementioned natural elements...and then some!
Where to stay: You won't find a more authentic glamping experience anywhere after a stay at this eco-friendly dome inside the National Park's borders, where the hosts will guide you on an action-packed, six-day mountain getaway.
Snowdonia National Park in Wales, U.K.
Outside of Scotland, Snowdonia National Park has the highest mountain you'll find in the U.K., but that's not the only thing that makes it so unique. This National Park is actually a living and working area for over 26,000 Welsh citizens! Throughout Snowdonia, you'll find find a treasure chest of natural landscapes, including Wales' largest lake, 37 miles of coastline, and a number of beautiful villages to explore. Mount Snowdon, the aforementioned mountain, is the most popular among tourists who come to hike, but the trek can get crowded, so be sure to plan accordingly, and don't forget about the other peaks that are perfect for climbing, such as Tryfan, Y Garn, Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd, and Moelwyn Mawr.
Where to stay: Given how special this National Park is, why not sleep directly in it? This riverside cabin will put you at the heart of the action and allow you to enjoy lovely views of the cabin's private garden, the nearby river and waterfall, and the mountains off in the distance.
Added bonus: The fastest zip-line in the world—and the longest in Europe!—is right next to Snowdonia at a local adventure park called Zip World. There are also unique caverns to be explored and a ride called the Fforest Coaster, which is a one-of-a-kind woodland rollercoaster. We highly recommend factoring it into your travel plans!
Serengeti National Park in Tanzania
Best known for the yearly migration of 1.5 million wildebeest and 250,000 zebra, Serengeti National Park boasts 5,700 square miles in northern Tanzania and is situated close to the Kenyan border, where you'll find another famous national park, the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The Serengeti is characterized largely by its seemingly never-ending plains, smattered with kopjes, which are granite formations often used by predators as an observation point. There are two other main landscapes inside the National Park, however, that are not to be missed: the Western corridor, with its black clay soil and the Grumeti River, and the Northern Serengeti, where you'll find woodlands and hills, as well as have your best shot at seeing an elephant or giraffe.
Where to stay: What could be better than the opportunity to sleep at the nearby Maswa Game Reserve in a spacious safari tent? It doesn't get more luxurious than having your own personal attendant to make your vacation as comfortable as possible.
Fiordland National Park on South Island, New Zealand
At a whopping 1.2 million hectares in size, there's space in Fiordland National Park for a whole lot of variety when it comes to natural landscapes, including mountains, lakes, rainforests, valleys, and, of course, fiords. Doubtful and Milford Sounds are the most famous of the park's glacier-carved fiords and are a must-see while visiting, in addition to Lake Te Anau—the second biggest lake in all of New Zealand. Avid hikers will be keen to focus at least part of the trip on the famed Milford Track; this three-day hike is roughly 33.5 miles in total and requires plenty of advance planning, as camping is not allowed and you must book one of the specified Milford Track huts.
Where to stay: If you don't opt for one of the multiple-day hiking trails, you'll have no qualms about getting your hands dirty exploring the park all day knowing you have this modern cottage to come home to.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Queensland, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park doesn't just protect the majority of the Great Barrier Reef from harm; it also has a myriad of other uses, including tourism, fishing, and scientific research. The Great Barrier Reef is best known for its large coral reef ecosystem—in fact, it represents roughly 10% of the world's coral reefs. As such, you'll have a unique opportunity to see a wide range of biodiversity, including over 1,500 different types of fish and over 30 distinct types of marine mammals, as you plan your snorkeling and scuba diving adventures.
Where to stay: The coastal town of Port Douglas will give you prime access to the Great Barrier Reef, and from this luxury villa, you'll be able to relax like royalty after spending all day in the water.
Khao Yai National Park in Thailand
Head to central Thailand to find the country's first national park, Khao Yai National Park, which is also the most-visited. At two hours and 30 minutes from Bangkok, it's a reasonable and worthwhile trip for all who seek outdoor exploration and natural beauty—from its rainforests and waterfalls to the plethora of fauna that call the park home. Those with a passion for birdwatching will be in heaven at Khao Yai National Park; there are roughly 300 different types of birds, both migratory and resident, as well as the largest population in Thailand of hornbills.
Where to stay: We've got your accommodation covered with this cozy cabin—complete with a hammock on the front porch for optimum relaxation—but be sure to plan your park activities in advance to ensure the visit of a lifetime. (Travelfish has some great tips!)
The beat of the surdo may still be ringing in your ears, but Carnaval is over, and summer is drawing to a close. Not to worry, as many regions in Brazil enjoy average winter temperatures of 65 degrees, so you don't have to put away your swimsuit just yet. With almost 7,500 kilometers of coastline stretching from the equator to the Tropic of Capricorn, Brazil boasts thousands of great places to swim and explore the marine life hiding underwater.
Check out our list of the five best places to go snorkeling in Brazil below!
1) Parrachos de Maracajaú
The Parrachos de Maracajaú are located in Maxaranguape, which is known as the Brazilian Caribbean and can be accessed in just under an hour from the northeastern city of Natal, the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte. The Parrachos themselves are located 7 kilometers offshore and consist of 1.5 square kilometers of beautiful and healthy reef formations and abundant tropical marine life.
Due to its location far from the coast, you will have to organize some form of transportation. Luckily, several companies organize day trips out to the reefs, some even as early as 6 a.m.! As you can see in the photo, the water is crystal clear, even on a cloudy day, and visibility is excellent, so make sure to bring an underwater camera! Why not stay here for your snorkeling adventure?
2) Fernando de Noronha
Further out into the Atlantic, Fernando de Noronha is a small group of islands about 350 kilometers from the mainland and can only be accessed by flights leaving from Recife or Natal. It boasts incredible beaches, waves, and an ecosystem so important to scientists that it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001.
Because of its isolation and the fact that tourism is regulated, snorkelers here will enjoy enjoy crystal clear waters and undisturbed marine life. Some of the creatures you can expect to see here are sea turtles, spinner dolphins, and even humpback whales. The best time to visit is from March to November, when the waves are smaller and the ocean is calmer.
3) Ilha do Campeche
An island found just over a kilometer off the coast of Florianópolis, another island in the area, Ilha do Campeche is a relatively unexplored gem—and one of the most beautiful islands in the region. Towards the left of the main beach that faces the mainland, there is an enormous natural pool, which is ideal for swimming and snorkeling, due to its crystalline waters and variety of colorful fish and marine life.
The local government is keen to preserve the delicate ecosystem there, and only permits 800 visitors a day—all of whom are expected to take their trash back to the mainland with them. There is no infrastructure on the island, so make sure you take your snorkeling equipment, because there isn't anywhere to rent it on the island. Once you've got your gear on, there are plenty of places to snorkel on the island, as well as places to stay!
4) Ilha de Boipeba
The Ilha de Boipeba in the state of Bahía is only separated from the mainland by a couple of river mouths and canals, making it much more easily accessible than the previous entries on this list. Recognized as a biosphere preserve by UNESCO, it has managed to preserve its pristine beaches and clear blue waters.
There are many gorgeous beaches, but the best (and most popular!) for snorkeling is Praia de Moreré, with its rock pools and coral reefs, which appear during low tide and shelter creatures like sea urchins, moray eels, sea turtles, and lots of colorful fish. Depending on the season, and further out to sea, visitors might even catch a glimpse of a school of manta rays. If you're looking for somewhere nearby, this gorgeous tree house is only an hour and a half away!
5) Angra dos Reis/Ilha Grande
Angra de Reis, a bay containing beautiful little islands and gorgeous natural beaches, is located just over 150 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro and provides crystal clear waters and warm temperatures all year round—perfect for getting the snorkel gear out to observe the abundant marine life that call this bay home. Visitors also come from far and wide to enjoy the vibrant night life. This suite in the jungles of Paraty is just an hour away and makes the ideal home base for exploring the bay.
More experienced divers might want to try their hand at scuba diving off the coast of Ilha Grande, a large island at the mouth of the bay. The waters off the coast of this island have the highest density of shipwrecks in the world, mostly due to the skirmishes between European merchant ships and pirates between 1500 and 1900. Thankfully, pirate raids are a thing of the past, so no need to bury your valuables!
Planning a trip to Brazil? For the best ideas about what to bring and what to do in Rio de Janeiro, check out the latest in our travel guide series!
As the Earth rattles through space on another epic orbit at nearly a million kilometers an hour and the northern hemisphere begins to warm up, spring brings with it a time of rebirth, regrowth, and revitalization.
While the birds return, the flowers start to bloom, and newly-born animals take their first steps, spring is also the perfect opportunity for us to head out into the glittering wilderness and enjoy the milder climate. These fabulous vacation destinations are the perfect way to inspire you to take that first big trip of the year in spring 2019.
If astonishingly clear lakes and seemingly impossible mountain paths indulge your senses, the pristine beauty of Slovenia's Alps is the place to head this spring.
Triglav National Park is quickly becoming a prime tourist destination, and it's no wonder why. With the majestic peaks rising up to 2,864 meters, the area is full of incredible views and mirror-like lakes, making it ideal for both a relaxing escape and outdoor sports alike. Lake Bled, which lies in the the heart of the park, offers the perfect spot to wind down after a day in the mountains and take a romantic boat trip to the fairy-tale church located at the center of the iconic waters.
Returning to your whimsical tent secluded in the forest and taking a dip in the bubbling waters of the hot tub will leave you feeling at true peace with this alluring area of the world.
2. Greece, Crete
Steeped in ancient history and Greek mythology, Crete, Greece's largest island, is famous for its fine sand beaches, rising mountain ranges, and captivating archaeological museums.
With the astonishingly beautiful coastal areas of the Balos Lagoon, the iconic pink sand of Elafonisi Island, and the Neolithic city of Knossos dating back to 7000 B.C., it's no surprise that this enthralling island is regarded as the birthplace of Zeus.
What could be better after a day spent walking in the footsteps of the Olympian gods than retiring to your own beachfront paradise to watch the sun make its descent over the vast Aegean Sea? By the beard of Zeus, make Crete your next adventure!
Generally accepted as one of the best value destinations in Western Europe, the breathtakingly beautiful coastline of the Algarve in the south of Portugal is a beach lover's dream.
In contrast to its Spanish neighbor, the charming coastal towns of Lagos, Portimão, Praia da Marinha, and Carvoeiro offer a more rugged territory, full of jaw-dropping cliffs, hidden coves, and, of course, spectacular golden beaches. The foodies in the group will love having their pick of freshly-caught seafood and traditional Portuguese delicacies in the inviting bars and restaurants.
4. Catalonia, Spain
Those looking to combine a beach getaway with a location brimming with culture and tradition need look no further than the Catalan region of northeastern Spain. Tarragona's Costa Dorada, or Golden Coast, with its 15 kilometers of sandy coastline, offers the chance for lazy beach days at sites like El Miracle, L'Arrabassada, and Playa Larga.
Meanwhile, just an hour's drive up the coast will lead visitors to the winding streets and Gothic cathedrals of Barcelona. Antoni Gaudí's fascinating Sagrada Família and Park Güell are sure to evoke your creative side, while the feisty Catalan culture is an experience in and of itself.
There's nowhere quite like the barren terrain of an alien-esque landscape to put life's tribulations into perspective, and Morocco during springtime is just the place to clear your mind and remember what's really important.
Exploring the endless deserts of the Agafay and Sahara by camel, traversing the steep cliffs and canyons of the soaring Atlas mountains, and soaking up the rich history of the ancient city of Aït Benhaddou are voyages that will be remembered a lifetime over.
If sleeping in an enchanting tent under a crystal clear sky sparkling full of distant stars and galaxies is your thing, don't miss out this spring, as, after all, the sands of time wait for no man or woman!
1. Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island is a prime location for those who are looking for a relaxing getaway full of water sports and picturesque sunsets. The area comes to life in the spring, and the opportunities for jet skiing, fishing, waterskiing, and parasailing are endless.
Booking a chartered tour will bring you close to the brimming sea life in the area, with many tour companies offering dolphin and whale watching cruises to get up close to these magnificent aquatic beasts.
The many pristine golf courses, historic buildings, and museums also offer a way to soak up some culture and mix with the locals. With a charming Southern getaway just a few blocks from the beach, pool days will also be on this South Carolina vacation's agenda.
2. Texas Hill Country
Full of great vineyards, small-town charm, and enchanting natural attractions, the wide-open views and gorgeous hills of Texas allow visitors to leave their city stresses behind and enjoy a fun-filled family getaway.
Garner State Park located in Concan, offers 1,774 acres of rolling hills, making it ideal for a day of hiking or kayaking on the winding waters of the Frio River. Evenings can be spent at the award-winning wineries of Fall Creek Vineyards in Tow, which also boast picture-perfect vistas.
When evening rolls in, there's nothing better than heading back to your own magical tree house nestled high up among the sights and sounds of the surrounding wilderness.
3. Vancouver Island
Located off Canada's Pacific Coast, the mild temperatures of Vancouver Island make it an ideal spring destination for nature lovers, beach-goers, and food connoisseurs alike. Port Hardy, found in the northern part of the island, is a haven for whale watching, salmon fishing, and kayaking, as it boasts a wild terrain of forests, lakes, and misty mountains.
After some exploration, get your taste buds tingling at one the “boat-to-table” food events held during Feast Tofino from May 3-5, where renowned chefs use local ingredients to make dishes that pay homage to the region and its famous fisheries.
At the end of your day out and about, retire to this unique cottage for a cozy evening curled up around the fireplace, cold drink in hand.
4. Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee need no introduction and its endless mountains make an exceptional place to take in the resurging beauty and color that springtime kindly brings with it. As temperatures rise and the frosty ground thaws, trekking through the entrancing terrain offers beautiful awakening wildflowers, powerful waterfalls, and a wide variety of wildlife.
The friendly towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge also hold a number of spring events, ranging from arts and crafts shows, wine tasting weekends, and even trout tournaments.
With views like this from your very own private hot tub back at the cabin, a getaway in the Great Smokies is one heck of a catch this spring.
5. Southern California
Whether you're looking for a peaceful retreat surrounded by the soaring mountains of the San Jacinto or a week of wild partying in the Colorado Desert, Southern California makes a fantastic spring getaway.
Easily accessible from Los Angeles, families will love the nature trails, diverse desert wildlife, and one-of-a-kind stargazing opportunities in Joshua Tree National Park. Alternatively, the party animals out there can make the annual homage to the Colorado Desert for the hipness, bohemian outfits, and popular music of one of America's most famous festivals—Coachella.
Be it recovering after a week of dancing the night away or just a quiet family retreat, this stunning cabin is the perfect spring respite.
If you've decided it's time to take a camping trip this year and completely disconnect in the beautiful outdoors, you've come to the right place. It's time to pry all electronic devices away from the clutching grips of the kids and achieve the quality family time that you've been hoping for!
With no phones or Internet to distract you from the serene views or wildlife, this is the best way to truly take in the natural wonders that the world has to offer. We're here to give you some tips on how to get the most out of your camping (or glamping!) trip—giving you and the kids some memorable adventures in nature you'll never forget.
What to pack
Packing for a camping trip with kids takes a lot of planning ahead, which usually involves a lengthy checklist to help keep you on track. There are the obvious things that all camping trips need, including appropriate clothing, snacks, and more, but we don't want you to forget other items that will ensure the kids are entertained and safe, ultimately making the trip easier and more enjoyable for everyone.
Check out this essentials list to ensure the trip goes of without a hitch:
S'mores ingredients: Make the ultimate camping trip treat with a few simple ingredients that are easily packed: graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars. The kids will love hunting for sticks to roast the marshmallows on!
Outdoor games: A bat and ball or water games will provide some healthy family competition.
Card games: Before bedding down for the night, play some family card games for a relaxing finish to an adventurous day.
Those essentials give you the entertainment factor of the trip, but keeping safe is also important. A trip to the emergency room should never be on the agenda, so be sure to pack the following, too.
First aid kit
During outdoor adventures kids are bound to fall over and graze their knee, possibly get sunburned, and are definitely are going to get muddy. These three crucial items will keep you prepared for all possibilities.
Where to go
When choosing where to go, there's one crucial thing to keep in mind: there should be places for the kids to explore or take part in activities. Kids love to have something to do or focus on, and watching them discover a new piece of nature or wildlife or achieve something in the outdoors is sure to be one of their favorite memories—and definitely yours.
For an ambitious camping trip head to a national park, where waking up surrounded by diverse natural wonders is a unique experience in and of itself. Most national parks boast millions of acres of land to curiously explore, and with something different to discover every day, the kids will never get bored.
Have you considered Yellowstone National Park in particular? Spanning Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, you can choose the perfect backdrop for your family trip. Whether it be mountains, lakes or waterfalls, you'll be spoiled for choice with all of this National Park's incredibly distinct landscapes.
Alternatively, spend a night under the towering redwood trees in Redwood National Park. Located on the coast of Northern California, there are a number of accommodations and campgrounds tucked in and around the trees, giving you a truly nature-based experience in the private and peaceful woodlands.
If your looking for a more rustic camping trip and national parks or forests don't appeal to you, a summer trip is sure to be the most successful at a local lake. You can cool off with a delightful afternoon swim or search for some adrenaline-filled water sports the kids will love trying their hand at.
Upstate New York may be your ideal camping destination if you go this route—thanks to the fact that it's home to over 7,600 freshwater lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. It even has part of two of the five Great Lakes, too! One of our family-friendly favorites is Lake George, which is located at the southeast of the famous Adirondack Mountains.
What to do
Another benefit to planning your camping trip ahead of time is the ability to avoid hearing the ever-dreaded, "I'm bored," during your time away. Here are some of our top tips of how to ensure you hear nothing more than "Thank you for this amazing trip!" and some gentle breathing from fast-asleep kiddos at the end of the day.
1. Involve the kids
Kids love to be involved in all aspects of a camping trip, including meal planning. Make a plan that allows them to be a part of the fun, no matter if that's helping you gril out over a fire or on the barbecue or going to pick some fresh seasonal fruit for dessert.
2. Fun and games
Brainstorm some ideas that truly immerse the kids in the surrounding nature, such as a scavenger hunt. With so many printable, ready-to-go lists available online, it's easy for you to prepare in advance, and the kids will be able to spend hours of excitement in search of every last item on their list.
3. Go on a hike
There is bound to be a hiking trail near your accommodation or camping site, from which you can spend the afternoon exploring at your family's pace. Observing the children's faces as they take in the natural wonders will be a better sight than the actual view.
4. It's the little things
It's usually the little things that get ingrained into a child's memory about their family's outdoor trips and helps them be able to recount these stories as they get older. The innate curiosity within them allows kids to get immense joy from simple things, like skimming pebbles on a lake for hours, jumping in muddy puddles, or spotting wildlife they've never seen.
While camping with kids may come with a lot of preparation, once the trip is in full swing, it will be well worth the planning, for all the smiles, memories and laughter that is sure to be had.
The month of March brings with it a number of events—the beginning of Lent, the first day of spring, and the ever-festive St. Patrick's Day. Wherever you may be in the world, this festival is a chance to indulge in a pint of Guinness, dress up in green, and celebrate all the things that we love about the unique Emerald Isle.
We're not the only ones getting excited at the prospect of a full day of hanging out with our friends and enjoying a pint or two of delicious dark beer, though. Our four-legged pals are more than ready to do a puppy pub crawl with us! Before you get your green t-shirts out, and your green collars ready, it's time to find some dog-friendly pubs and bars to enjoy together. After all, Fido doesn't want to be left home alone!
Here are just a few of our favorite places to enjoy Yappy Hour with your dog on St. Patrick's Day.
The Morrison in Los Angeles, California
Never mind a doggy bag—this fabulous bar has doggy platters! With burgers to make their humans drool, pups can rest easy in the knowledge that they can happily tuck into a burger dish of their own. At $6 for the dog-friendly menu, this is an affordable place to spend St. Patrick’s Day. From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., you can enjoy Happy Hour and choose from a wide range of beers, ales, and lagers. If you're in need of a spot to relax after a long day at work and you don't want to make your dog feel melancollie by leaving them behind, why not bring your pup down and treat them to a meal out?
Rogers Park Social in Chicago, Illinois
Is your dog a bit fancy or little on the pawsh side? Rogers Park Social may be perfect for your pup. While St. Patrick's Day is a popular day for the avid beer drinker, some of the more pampered pooches out there may prefer something a little less heavy. Sadly, the drinks on offer here aren't designed for Poodles and Pomeranians, so they'll have to make do with water while you enjoy a wide range of seasonal cocktails designed by the owners of this beautiful bar.
If beer is your beverage, then you're in luck! As well as the delicious cocktails on the menu, there are lots of craft beers to sample while you relax in the lounge or play a board game. When happy hour comes around at 4 p.m., be sure to give the extensive drink menu a look!
The Dog Bar in Charlotte, North Carolina
This human-friendly bar is the perfect spot for pups and hounds to bring their two-legged friends. The Dog Bar is ideal if you want your dog to have a bit of freedom while you "sit, stay, and drink" on St. Patrick's Day.
Dogs are allowed to run around and explore both inside and outside, where there is a covered AstroTurf that has a misting system for summer, so there won't be any hot dogs on a sweltering summer day. Your pooch will also be wonderfully warm in the winter, thanks to the outdoor heaters!
For the two-legged guests, there is a wide range of beer, liquor, and wine options to enjoy. The Dog Bar requires a $10 annual membership fee, but let's be honest, even if you take those wagging tails, there for a day, 10 bucks is a pretty good price for such a unique experience.
Yard Bar in Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas, is home to some of the country's most famous BBQ restaurants and a number of awesome rock and blues musicians, and now, it's also the home of this perfect, pet-friendly watering hole, too. The Yard Bar will leave it's guests, both two- and four-legged, grinning ear to floppy ear!
“Impawsible”, you say? We assure you this no tall tail! Once your pup is over four months old, they can come here and enjoy a day out in the spacious outdoor bar area—all for the bargain price of $5.50 per day! While owners tuck into some tasty food and refreshing beers, the aptly named Bark Rangers keep an eye out on the playing pups.
MUTTS Canine Cantina in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas
MUTTS Canine Cantina is the perfect spot to unleash your dog for a day of ruff and tumble fun with some new puppy-pals, while you get your St. Patrick's Day pawty going. As you enjoy a cool beer or a margarita in the beer garden, your dog will be having the time of their life in the one-acre dog park. This establishment throws a range of events for their clientele, including yoga classes, visits from Santa and the Easter Bunny, and a big outdoor screen for movies.
Going to the source: Ireland
There's no way we can talk about St. Paddy's Day, though, without acknowledging St. Patrick's motherland. If you're lucky enough to find yourself in this uniquely beautiful country on March 17, you're definitely going to want a pint of Guinness after exploring the coastline of Wexford, wandering the rolling hills of Kilkenny, and staring out across the Cliffs of Moher. Here are a couple of pet-friendly pubs to make the most of your time on the Emerald Isle!
MVP in Dublin, County Dublin
With great food, and craft cocktails, this is the ideal spot to bring you dog for a fun day out in the lively city of Dublin. If you head down there on St. Patrick's day, you'll be able to catch the final day of the Women's Six Nations and then join in an Irish-themed sing-along.
The Hollywood Inn in Hollywood, County Wicklow
Why not give your hound a sniff around the garden? The Garden of Ireland, that is! Wicklow's unsurpassable natural beauty has to be seen to be believed. Once you've finished exploring the green hills, or the lake at Glendalough, let your pup rest his or her paws at this great pub. The Hollywood Inn, just half an hour from the historic Glendalough, is a traditional Irish pub with a dog-friendly patio. It also has a great range of beers and a wonderful menu to fill you up after exploring this incredibly beautiful county.
Want to make a getaway out of it? Find out the best places to take your dog here, and check out some of our amazing pet-friendly rentals on Glamping Hub!
Rio de Janeiro is a vibrant gem on the eastern coast of Brazil, drawing 2.8 million international tourists each year. With 80 kilometers of beaches, countless natural wonders, and a strong sense of culture, Rio is a dream getaway. This large metro area, with 12 million residents, is located in the southeastern part of Brazil, in the State of Rio de Janeiro, on Guanabara Bay. Surrounded by mountains, ocean, forests, and more, a visit to Rio is a nature-lover's paradise, while still allowing you to turn to the city for music, dancing, food, and festivals for an amazing cultural time.
With so much to do and see, we've created a travel guide so you can experience it all. Read on and see what's waiting for you in Rio!
Good to know before you go
Getting there and around
Galeão International Airport, otherwise known as Rio de Janeiro–Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport, has international connections with 19 other countries, as well as domestic flights within Brazil. Located conveniently on the island of Galeão right in the bay, this airport is accessible and super convenient.
Within the city, buses are the main form of public transportation, along with Rio's three subway lines and 60 Bike Rio bicycle sharing stations. Public transportation in Rio is extremely affordable, with bus rides costing only $3.80 reals (BRL), or $1 USD. Rio also boasts the Santa Teresa Tram, the oldest operating electric tram in all of South America, which is a popular tourist activity.
Food and drink
What better way to see a city than to eat your way through it? Try some of the street food that Brazil is known for, like pão de queijo (cheese bread), picanha, cassava chips, and feijoada—Brazil’s national dish. Açaí, the mega-popular, millennial smoothie ingredient, originates from the Amazon and is available all over Rio, especially by the beach. Have a pastel for breakfast from the local market, commonly filled with meat, cheese, and other tasty treats. Sardines are the most popular fish in Rio and are best served grilled with lime.
When you think of Rio, you immediately think of its most famous event—Carnaval. This six-day party, which culminates the day before Lent begins, is known for it's outrageous costumes, parade floats, and all-night celebrations. Rio is said to have the largest carnival celebration in the world and draws insanely large crowds.
The largest parade is held at the Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí, a huge amphitheater that seats 90,000 people, all craning to see the outlandish parade floats and scores of dancers and musicians. Local neighborhood groups, which are called "samba schools," put together displays and parade down through the Sambadrome with music, dancing, and celebrations for huge cheering crowds. Outside the "samba parades," there are rowdy street fairs near Ipanema, lavish balls at Copacabana, and other parties just about everywhere you turn.
Other than Carnaval, New Year's Eve is a huge celebration at Copacabana Beach. Dressed all in white, people crowd the beaches for shows, music, dancing, and an enormous fireworks display. It also wouldn't be complete without the traditional spraying of champagne at midnight!
The majority of the population of Rio is Christian, with the larger part of that identifying as catholic, which stems from the country's Spanish and Portuguese roots. Catholicism traveled to these colonies in the early 16th century, when the city of Rio de Janeiro was established.
Places to visit
Voted the best city beach in the world by CNN in 2012, Ipanema is famed for more than just the woman in Frank Sinatra's legendary song. This beach has surfing, perfect sand, walking trails, and amazing sunset views—all within walking distance of the city.
Another location enshrined in song with local bossa nova flair, Copacabana is one of the liveliest neighborhoods in Rio. It's famous, crescent-shaped beach and lovely boardwalk lined with mosaics are loved by locals and visitors alike.
Christ the Redeemer on Mount Corcovado
At almost 100 feet tall and perched atop the most visible mountain the Rio, this iconic statue has become a symbol both for the city and Brazil as a country. Accessible only by train, visiting Christ the Redeemer, named one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World," is a must-see.
Another remarkable natural feature within the city, Sugarloaf Mountain offers unbeatable views of the bay, the city, and the ocean. Named after piles of sugar cane exported out of the country in the 16th century, this peak is accessible by cable car and known as the best view in all of Rio.
Tijuca National Park
The world's first urban forest and an UNESCO Environmental Reserve, Tijuaca is the perfect place to visit for nature lovers. Offering super accessible hiking, view points, waterfalls, and wildlife, this park is an easy drive from the city and shouldn't be missed.
Outside the city
Large sprawling parks abound outside of Rio, like Juarez Frotté Municipal Park, offering waterfalls, rainforest views, and hiking—a total nature immersion for adventurous travelers.
Remote beaches are also a must-do in this area of Brazil, and Paraty-Mirim Beach is one of our favorites. With gorgeous sand, tropical fjords, and amazing lookouts, this area is a perfect spot for a getaway.
Safety and essentials
The CDC recommends typhoid, malaria, and yellow fever vaccinations for those traveling to Brazil, especially if planning to head into the forest or other natural areas.
Mosquitoes are common and can carry harmful diseases. When traveling out in forested areas, wear long pants and sleeves and bring along a strong insect repellent.
Brazil's visa requirements are reciprocal, so if your country requires Brazilian citizens to obtain one for your home country, then you need one to visit Brazil. U.S., Canadian, and Australian citizens need to obtain visas in advance for tourism purposes, but U.K., New Zealand, French, and German citizens do not.
Important emergency numbers are 190 for Police, 193 for Fire and Ambulance, and 021 for Tourist Police.
Tap water may be safe to drink in larger cities but is generally known to taste awful. In remote areas, the water quality is questionable. We recommend that you stick to bottled or boiled water only.
Be cautious of petty crime and theft. Walk with purpose and in groups, don't carry large amounts of cash, and always stay alert.
Remember to always consult your home country's travel agencies and websites for more information, too:
Armed with this guide, you're now ready to get on out there and explore Rio and the surrounding area. Whether you choose to celebrate Carnaval or go hiking in the Amazon, you're bound to have an amazing time—enjoy!
Keep exploring on Glamping Hub to find your perfect Brazilian getaway! Be sure to check out a few of our other guides here and here for even more options.