*Places I’ve been to
ROCKY MOUNTAINS. Extend about 5,000kms from the Cassiar Mountains near Canada’s border with Alaska to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico. The highest peak in the Rockies is 4402m Mt Elbert in the Sawatch Range in Colorado.
Natural: 1. Bimini Wall and Bimini Road (diving sites) 2. Blue Holes (Grand Bahama, Central Andros, Great Exuma, Long Island)
Unesco: Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison
Unesco: Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System*
Natural: 1. Blue Hole NP and St. Herman’s Cave 2. Guanacaste NP 3. Barton Creek Cave 4. Thousand-Foot Falls
Unesco: Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Natural: Virgin Gorda Baths (maze of giant granite boulders and pools)
Seven Wonders of Canada. Poll held by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2007. Final picks by 3 judges.
1. The Canoe*
2. The Igloo*
3. Niagara Falls*
4. Old Quebec*, Quebec City
5. Pier 21, Halifax
6. Prairie Skies*
7. The Rockies*
Top Seven as voted by Canadians: Sleeping Giant*, Niagara Falls*, Bay of Fundy*, Nahanni NP, Northern Lights*, The Rockies*, Cabot Trail*. This shows how popular opinion polls become very stilted when one city (Thunderbay) voted in droves for Sleeping Giant and it didn’t even make the short list, ie it didn’t make the top 43!! I’ve been there and climbed to the top – it deserves its rating as it is quite uninspiring. It does look nice from Thunderbay though. The same happened in the world poll to pick the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World. Only one of the original remained and the 6 new ones were the result of heavy national votes.
Short List: Cathedral Grove*, CN Tower*, Confederation Bridge*, Crooked Trees (Thickwood Hills, Saskatchewan), Dawson City*, Dempster Highway*, Drumheller* (Red Deer River), Grand Beach (Winipeg), Gros Morne NP, Haida Gwaii*, Harland Covered Bridge (Newfoundland), Ice Roads*, L’Anse Amour (Labrador), Library of Parliament*, Manitoba Legislature*, Manitoulin Island, Montreal Bagel, Mount Thor (Auyuittuq NP), Museum of Civilization*, Narcisse Snake Dens (Manitoba), Nonosabasut Rock (Grand Falls-Windsor), #5 Road* (Richmond), Perce Rock, Porcupine Caribou Herd, Rankin Inlet Inukshuk, Rideau Canal*, Saguenay Fjord*, Saugeen Shores Sunsets (Ontario), Singing Sands Beach* (PEI), Spiral Tunnels*, Stanley Cup*, Trans Canada Hwy*, Tuktoaktuk Pingos*, Vegreville Egg, Vimy Memorial (France), Wreck Beach*.
UNESCO: 1. Rocky Mountain Parks* 2. Dinosaur PP* 3. Gros Morne NP 4. Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo Jump* 5. Historic District of Old Quebec* 6. Joggins Fossil Cliffs (Nova Scotia) 7. Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay* 8. L’Anse aux Meadow National Historic Site 9. Miguasha NP 10. Nahanni NP 11. Old Town Lunenberg 12. Rideau Canal* 13. SGang Gwaay* 14. Waterton Glacier International Peace Park* 15. Wood Buffalo NP
Natural: 1. Ellesmere Island 2. Mackenzie Delta* 3. Gros Morne NP 4. Gulf of St Lawrence* 5. Western Brook Pond 6. Hell’s Gate* 7. Burgess Shales 8. Cathedral Grove* 9. Banff NP* 10. The Drumheller Badlands* 11. Moraine Lake* 12. Nahanni River 13. Churchill 14. The Bay of Fundy* 15. Niagara Falls* 16. The Great Lakes* 17. Yukon’s Ivvavik and Vuntut National parks host the 125,000-strong Porcupine caribou herd. The major caribou migration is when females head north to the calving grounds across the border in Alaska’s Arctic national Wildlife Refuge. They give birth in early June. June sees the mass migration south with the huge herds dispersing in August. July also has the worst insects.
Islands 1. Malcolm Island, BC* (killer whale rub, dolphins, whales, Sointula, 24kms long, 25min ferry from Port McNeill) 2. Hecla Island, Manitoba (in Lake Winnipeg, limestone cliffs, marsh, Icelandic heritage, birdwatching 3. Manitoulin Island, Ontario (Lake Huron, Bridal Veil Falls, beaches, Turner’s Department Store, annual Wikwemikong powwow, Cup and Saucer Trail) 4. Iles del la Madeleine, Quebec (archipelago of 6 main islands in Gulf of St Lawrence, beaches, red coastal cliffs, lighthouses, harbours, villages, 12,000 people, Acadian-infused French) 5. Grand Manan Island, NB (34km long, ferry twice a day from Blacks Harbour, NB, lobster, scallops, 240 birds, Summer’s End Folk Festival, Hole-in-the-Wall, whales, seals) 6. Isle Madame, NS (in Chedabucto Bay, 30 minute drive from Canso Causeway, Acadians, Arichat deepwater harbour, Fleur-de-lis Trail, lighthouses) 7. Fogo Island Newfoundland (bleak, windblown, villages, berries, locals, Fogo Island Inn, Brimstone Head hike, Flat Earth Society has named Fogo Island one of the four corners of Earth) 8. Dorset Island, Nunavut (prints, carvings, West Baffin Cooperative, Mallikjuaq Territorial Park on Mallik Island) 9. Haida Gwaii
Epic Hikes 1. Chilkoot Trail AK, Yukon 2. Tonquin Valley, Jasper NP 3. The Long Range Traverse, Newfoundland 4. Berg Lake, Mt Robson PP, BC 5. Traverse Bugaboo PP, BC 6.West Coast Trail, BC 7. Alexander MacKenzie Heritage Trail, BC 8. Skyline Trail, Jasper NP
Epic Road Trips:
1. Dempster Highway.
740 kms from Dawson, Yukon to Inuvik, North West Territories.
Packed Gravel, it is best driven in the summer when daylight is endless. Hike in the Tombstone Mountains. Eagle Plains, almost half way, has a restaurant, hotel and service station (the only gas station). Cross the Arctic Circle into the NWT dropping down passing Fort McPherson into the massive Mackenzie River valley. Cross on a ferry in the summer or on an ice road in the winter. Inuvik with 3,300 people, is the meeting point for the Caucasian, Inuvialuit and Gwich’in people of the Mackenzie Delta. Go in the fall when fall colour is at its peak.
2. Sea to Sky Highway and Duffy Lake Road
133 kms from Vancouver to Whistler, 130 kms on the Duffy Lake Road to Lillooet.
Highway 99, the Sea to Sky Hwy, follows Howe Sound, North America’s most southerly fiord and stops at viewpoints of the Tantalus Range and Paradise Valley, Shannon Falls, Sea to Sky Gondola, hike 700m high Squamish Chief, visit the town of Squamish, see North America’s largest congregation of bald eagles at Brackendale or see views of Blacktusk in Garibaldi Provincial Park before finally arriving in Whistler.
After Pemberton, the road morphs into the Duffy Lake Road passing valleys and mountains. Stop at the glacial Joffre lakes before arriving in Lillooet.
3. Icefields Parkway
230 kms from Jasper to Lake Louise (and 365 from Jasper to Edmonton)
Highway 93 crosses two National Parks as it runs along the Continental Divide with jaw-dropping views along its entire length: Crowfoot Glacier, Bow Lake, Bow Summit/Peyto Lake, Columbia Icefields and the Athabasca Glacier, the most accessible glacier in North America, Athabasca Falls and the Jasper Skytram.
4. Red Coat Trail
1,300 kms from Fort McCleod in SW Alberta, across Saskatchewan and ending in Winnipeg in Manitoba.
Endless blacktop across Canada’s prairie provinces, it follows the path of the RCMP who took the law west in 1874. Detour to Fort Walsh in Cypress Hills Provincial Park.
5. North Shore Lake Superior
690 kms from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie.
Batchawana Bay’s sand beaches, Agawa Rock Pictographs, swim at Katharine Cove, Marathon, Neys Provincial Park, Rossport, Nipigon, Sleeping Giant at Thunderbay.
6. Routes des Navigateurs and Gaspesie, Quebec.
1,220 kms loop on Route 32 between Quebec City and Gaspe Peninsula
Rich in French Canadian history and beautiful towns. Parc National de Bic 3 hours east of Quebec City near Rimouski, seals, St Lawrence becomes the Atlantic, Pointe-au-Pere Lighthouse, Amqui in the ChicChoc Mountains, Lac Matapedia, Parc national de Miguasha (Unesco fossils of fish and plants from 370 million years ago), Perce Rock is one of the world’s largest natural arches. Whales best in June and July.
7. Fundy Coastal Drive, New Brunswick
460 kms between St Stephen (near the Maine border) to Aulac (at the Nova Scotia border)
The highest tides in the world with a vertical range of up to 16 meters (moves more water each cycle than combined flow of all the freshwater rivers on the planet). St John (reversing falls, Prince William Street is one of the best preserved 19th century commercial streetscapes). Route 114 goes through Fundy National Park (wildlife, hiking). Hopewell Rocks. Route 925 and 106 to Dorchester, then 935 to Rockport and Sackville is an alternate wilderness route at the end.
8. Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
395 kms loop beginning and ending in Sydney. Many viewpoints. White Point near Neils Harbour is a highlight viewpoint. 7 1/2 km Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
9. Trans-Labrador Highway
1,310 kms between Labrador City (get there via 389 from southern Quebec) to Saint Barbe on Newfoundland’s Viking Trail (Route 430).
Part asphalt and part packed gravel. Churchill Falls (world’s second largest underground power station). Happy Valley-Goose Bay (Labrador Military Museum). Cartwright (65km detour to stunning coast). Battle Harbour (all-inclusive hotel and historic 18th century fishing village, cod and whales). Red Bay National Historic Site (Unesco site 16th century Basque Whaling station, Saddle Island). Point Amour Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site (tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada, icebergs).
1. The Rooms, St. John’s Newfoundland. Brings Newfoundland’s archives, art gallery and museum together under one roof. therooms.ca
2. Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, Lunenburg, NS. Bluenose exhibit, fishing, aquarium, touch tanks, perfectly preserved fishing vessels. fisheriesmuseumnovascotia.com
3. Anne of Green Gables Museum, PEI. Author Lucy Maude Montgomery memorabilia, carriage ride. annmuseum.com
4. Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa*. In castle built in early 1900s, research on Canadian species, mixes learning and fun. nature.ca
5. Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. Canada’s largest museum of natural history and culture. rom.on.ca
6. Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Social, cultural, and economic role of footwear in civilizations spanning 4,500 years. batashoemuseum.ca
7. Itsanitaq Museum, Churchill, Manitoba. Inuit artifacts dating from 1700BC. A hidden gem.
8. Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta*. One of the best dinosaur museums in the world.
9. Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver*. Arthur Erickson designed building, totem poles. moa.ubc.ca
10. U’mista Cultural Centre, Alert Bay, BC*. Dozens of masks and artifacts from potlatch ceremonies in 1920s. umista.ca
Unesco: 1. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site 2. Carlsbad Caverns NP* 3. Chaco Culture* 4. Everglades NP* 5. Grand Canyon NP* 6. Great Smokey Mountains NP 7. Hawaii Volcanoes NP* 8. Independence Hall 9. Fontaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico 10. Kluane / Wrangell-St Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek* 11. Mammoth Cave NP 12. Mesa Verde NP* 13. Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville 14. Olympic NP* 15. Papahanaumokuokeo 16. Pueblo de Taos* 17. Redwood NP* Tallest trees in the world are redwoods in the NP: Hyperion at 115.5m (40 stories high), Helios at 114.5m and Icarus at 113.1m. Nobody will tell you where they are. Stratosphere giant in Rockefeller forest was the previous tallest tree at 113.1m. 18. Statue of Liberty* 19. Waterton/Glacier International Peace Park* 19. Yellowstone NP* – Has geysers, thermal areas, fossil forests and craggy peaks, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Yellowstone Lake. Has the greatest concentration of wildlife in the lower 48 and half the world’s geysers. See elk, grizzlies, moose, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and many bison. Bison have poor eyesight but excellent hearing and smell and can run up to 55km/hour. Best from the Hayden Valley off the Grand Loop Road. Lamar Valley, in the north of the park, is best for spotting wolves, as this where hey were reintroduced. Has 85 trailheads and 2000kms of hiking trails, backcountry camping in 300 sites. 20. Yosemite NP*
Natural: Alaska: 1. Brooks Range 2. McNeil Falls – In July and August, 150 brown (grizzly) bears fish salmon here. Only 10 permits per day over just four days available only through a random draw (wildlife.alaska.gov). 3. Mt Katmai (in 1912, the summit blew off leaving an 8 mile wide caldera, 3,700′ deep. Valley smothered in 700′ of ash leaving a desert) 4. Bear Glacier (one of the 30 glaciers of the Harding Icefield in Kenai Fjords NP. Terminates in fresh water lagoon filled with icebergs, Best seen by boat, 16 km from Seward) 5. Mendehall Glacier* (One of the 36 glaciers of the Juneau Icefield, covering 3,885 sq miles. 13 miles by road from Juneau) 6. Portage Glacier (80 km south Anchorage, originates Chugach Mts and end Prince William Sound. Easy road access. Ends in ice berg filled lake) 7. Alexander Archipelago (Area in SE Alaska where large numbers of humpback whales feed using bubble nets) 8. Glacier Bay* (in 1794, bay filled with 300′ high wall of ice. By 1879, retreated 77km leaving Glacier Bay. 16 glaciers, fjords, forests, high mountains) 9. Mt McKinley* (rises 18,000′ in 12 miles, highest mountain in NA. Many large mammals) 10. Bering Strait. 11. Aleutian Islands stretch 1750km to with 800km of Russia. Are the most productive seas on the planet. Vast swarms of krill attract humpback whales, orca, bowhead, minke and gray whales and an incredible variety of animals. Shearwaters migrate 16,000km from Australia to feed on the krill and are the oldest recorded wild birds, up to 55 years old. The ferry MV Tustumena sails the chain monthly from April to October calling at Kodiak island, Chignik, Sand Point, King Cove, Cold Bay, False Pass and Akutan on the 4-day voyage to Dutch harbour. Dutch Harbour is the end of the ferry line with WWII remnants. Go to www.ferryalaska.com 12. Kodiac Island (second largest island in the USA after Hawaii’s Big Island, is 9000 sq. km, for grizzlies found only on Kodiak, a subspecies of brown bear and comparable in size to the polar bear, because of the abundance of spawning salmon during the summer. Can weigh over 650kg. 13. Lake Clark NP and Preserve – Paddle on the rapids of 3 rivers with white water and calm.
Arizona: 11. Oak Creek Canyon* (Sedona) 12. Petified Forest NP* 13. The Painted Desert* 14. Saguaro NP* 15. Grand Canyon* 16. Antelope Canyon* 17. Canyon de Chelly NM* 18. Chiricahua NM* 19. Kartchner Caverns 20. 21. Meteor Crater* 22. The Sonoran Desert*
California: 23. Monterey Canyon (deepest sea canyon on NA Pacific coast, rich feeding ground) 24. Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary* 25. San Andreas Fault* 26. Yosemite NP* 27.Glacier Point* (viewpoint in Yosemite) 28. Rancho La Brea Tar Pits* 29. Sentinel Dome (Yosemite) 30. Half Dome* (Yosemite) 31. Bridalveil Falls* (Yosemite) 32. Kings Canyon (canyon, sequoia) 33. Sequoia NP. Sequoia are a redwood species, are the largest living things on earth. The President is the 3rd largest, the General Sherman, by volume is the largest organism on the planet at 83.8m tall and 11m in diameter and weighs as much as 10 blue whales. But redwoods can be much taller. 33. Lake Tahoe* 34. Joshua Tree NP* 35. Giant Redwoods* 36. Mono Lake and Craters* 37. Channel Islands 38. Death Valley NP* – Not a true valley, but a 250km long basin created by earthquakes. It is consistently the hottest place on earth (second highest temp ever 56.7C and averages around 47C in summer. After rain (less than 5cm per year, zero in 1929 and 1953, 15cm in 1997), in the spring, flower bloom can be sensational. From Badwater at -56m, it is only one valley away to the base of Mt Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48. Climb 3367m Telescope Peak on a 22.5km round trip with Badwater over 2 miles below. Racetrack Playa is a difficult drive in the north part of the park. Eureka Dunes in very north are highest sand dunes in California. 39. Vernal Pool (pools with great wild flower show in spring, best Mather Field near Sacromento and Jepson Prairie Reserve) 40. Bristlecone Pine, White Mountains* Methuselah is the oldest tree in the world at 4700 years. Just 100km north of Sequoia NP. 41. Mount Lassen* 42. Beaches of southern California*
Colorado: 43. Black Canyon of the Gunnison* 44. Great Sand Dunes NP 45. Florissant Fossil Beds (near Colorado Springs. petrified trees)
Delaware: 46. Cave of the Winds Delaware: 47. Delaware Bay (horseshoe crabs May/June)
Idaho: 48. Massacre Rocks: (valley on Oregon Trail where a wagon train was attacked by Shoshone)
Kentucky: 49. Mammoth Caves
Florida: 50. Big Cypress National Preserve* 51. Everglades NP* 52. Ponce de Leon Spring
Maine: 53. Mahar Point (reversing falls of Cobscook Bay) 54. Old Sow Whirlpool (NB, Canada. 250′ diameter whirlpool, second largest in world)
Montana: 55. St Mary Lake* (Glacier NP) 56. National Bison Range (Flat Head Lake McDonald* (Glacier NP)
Nebraska: 55. Agate Fossil Beds*
New Mexico: 56. Bisti Badlands* and De-Na-Zin Wilderness* 57. White Sands NM* 58. City of Rocks (40km from Deming in SE part of state) 59. Shiprock Peak* 60. The Kneeling Nun (32 km east of Silver City) 61. Blue Hole (Near Santa Rosa, large sinkhole filled with water) 62. Cimarron Canyon (granite cliffs, river, rock climbing) 63. The Valley of Fires (thick lava flows) 64. Lechuguilla Cave (closed to public) 65. Carlsbad Caverns* 66. Las Huertas Canyon 67. Slaughter Canyon Cave 68. Soda Dam
Oregon: 69. Crater Lake* 70. Multinomah Falls* (620′ high in Columbia Gorge) 71. Mount Hood* (11,329′ volcano east of Portland) 72. The Columbia River Gorge* (high winds produce one of best wind surfing places on earth)
South Dakota: 73. Badlands* 74. Spearfish Canyon (4 NA plant biomes converge here)
Tennessee: 75. The Lost Sea (large underground lake in cave system)
Texas: 76. Natural Bridge Caverns (entrance is a sinkhole) 77. The Basin of the Chisos Mountains
Utah: 78. Monument Valley* 79. Arches NP* 80. Great Salt Lake* 89. Canyonlands NP* 90. Dead Horse Point State Park* 91. Zion Canyon* 92. Natural Bridges* 93. Hoodoos* 94. Bryce Canyon* 95. Thors Hammer* (Bryce Canyon) 96. The Mittens* (Monument Valley) 97. Dinosaur NM*
Virginia: 98. Natural Bridge (Shenandoah Valley, 215′ high, span 150′)
Washington: 99. Mt. Ranier* 100. Grand Coulee* 101. Dry Falls* (the largest waterfall of all times – dozens of separate brief waterfalls 1000′ high with a volume 10x Niagra) 102. Upper Skagit River (hundreds of bald eagles congregate peaking late Dec-early Jan) 103. Mt St Helens* (1980 eruption took off 1,320′ top of mountain producing largest landslide ever. Need permit to climb)
Wyoming: 104. 105. Yellowstone NP* 106. Mammoth Hot Springs* (in Yellowstone) 107. Grand Teton NP* 108. Grand Prismatic Spring and Firehole River* (Yellowstone) 109. Devil’s Tower*
Epic Hikes: 1. Sierra High Route, CA. 2. Yosemite Grand Traverse, CA. 3. Pacific Crest Trail, CA, OR, WA. 4. Continental Divide Trail 5. Dosewallips to Lake Quinault*, Olympic NP 6. Oregon Desert Trail 7. Hayduke Trail, UT, AR. 8. Kings Peak, UT. 9. Grand Canyon Hike* 10. Yellowstone NP* 11. Falling Water, PA. 12. Freedom Trail*, Boston 13. Solomon Gulch Trail, AK. 14. Caribou Tracks, AK. 15. Benton MacKaye Trail, GA, TN, NC. 16. Shipwreck Coast/Shi Shi Beach, Olympic Peninsula, WA.
Epic Road Trips: North East: 1. Cape Cod, MA 2. Hallowed Ground, PA 3. Brandywine Valley, PA and DW; Florida and South East: 1. Florida Keys* 2. Forgotten Florida* 3. Creole Country, LA; Appalachians: 1. Great Smokey Mountains 2. Cherola Skyway, TE, NC 3. The Blues Highway, TE and MI; Great Lakes: 1. Shipwreck Coast 2. Northern Minnesota; Centre: 1. Black Hills of S Dakota* 2. Route 66* 3. Beartooth Highway*, MT 4. Borderlands of Texas 5. Ghost Towns of Colorado 6. NE New Mexico; West Coast: 1. California Coastal Highway* 2. Cascades Lakes, OR 3. Olympic Peninsula*, WA; Alaska: 1. Seward Highway 2. Dalton Highway
1. Smithsonian Institution*. 1000 Jefferson Dr SW, Washington DC. www.si.edu
In true US style this complex is ginormous; in fact it’s the largest museum complex in the world. Made up of 19 museums and galleries and a National Zoological Park. A visit requires at least three days of your time and some military-grade organisational skills. The information centre can help you plan but it’s generally acknowledged that the museums of Natural History, the American Indian, American History, and Air and Space are not to be missed. Here’s what’s hot at the Natural History Museum: the ‘Hope Diamond’, the 8-tonne model of an African elephant, the Neanderthal man reconstructions, the mummies, and the live coral reef. At the American Indian Museum don’t miss the Navajo paintings and the photographs by Leuman M Waugh. Get a taste of American History by seeing Edison’s light bulb, George Washington’s uniform and Dorothy’s red slippers. Finish your whistle-stop tour at the Air and Space museum where you’ll see planes piloted by both the Wright brothers and Amelia Earhart, an Apollo command module, and a model of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise.
2. Whitney Plantation. 5099 Louisiana Highway 19, Wallace, Louisiana. www.whitneyplantation.com
Not every museum tells a happy story. This is one such place. However despite the serious subject matter this is a fascinating, illuminating and historically significant memorial to the practice of slavery in America. The museum began as a passion project of trial attorney John Cummings and his director of research, Ibrahima Seck. Cummings spent 16 years and close to US$8 million of his personal fortune to build the museum and educate visitors on the realities of slavery and its impact on modern America. This is an open-air museum, a 1700-acre property designed to allow visitors to experience the world of an 1830s sugar plantation through the eyes of the enslaved people who lived and worked here. There are restored plantation buildings, including the French-Creole main house, slave quarters and cages. One of the most moving exhibits is the recorded stories of residents of the plantation.
3. American Classic Arcade Museum. 579 Endicott St N, Laconia, New Hampshire. www.classicarcademuseum.org
They’re so addictive. There are more arcade games here than anywhere else in the world, and it’s not a stay-behind-the-rope-please museum. It’s a go-for-a-high-score kind of place. So many, it’s hard to talk about it. Pac-Man is calling me, Tetris, Star Wars, Frogger, Galaga, Pole Position, Donkey Kong, the list goes on and on and on. There are around 300 arcade and pinball machines in the collection. It’s the arcade of your life history, every pimply period of your gaming life covered. Play every game and relive all those high moments of teenage fame.
4. Burlesque Hall of Fame. 520 Fremont St, Las Vegas. www.burlesquehall.com
Only in Las Vegas. Actually, this museum used to be on the site of an abandoned goat farm in California, but we’re thinking those bucolic surrounds didn’t sit well with the museum’s subject matter. So it swiftly moved to the bright lights of America’s sin city. Despite the exotic connotations, the once-private collection of retired dancer Jennie Lee is a fascinating historical account of the evolution of burlesque in America. Covering the early 19th century to the present day, the collection is a celebration of burlesque as art – the comedy, dance, music and costume – more than it is a glimpse into erotica. If you want to see burlesque in action you can head to any one of the numerous casinos on Las Vegas’ iconic Strip or beyond. But if you want an insight into its famed costumes, jewellery, choreography, pioneering performers and much more, then you’re in the right place here.
5. Grammy Museum.. 800 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles. www.grammymuseum.org
Rock, pop, R&B, hip hop…here there’s no stone left unturned. There are 160 genres of music to explore right from the get-go. It’s a powerhouse museum, thoughtful, creative and engaging. It’ll reignite your love of music and your admiration for those who make it. Go, explore! If you have an interest in music, you’re going to be blown away by this place. Creating music, recording music, the stars themselves, the instruments they play…you can see, experience, hear and touch your way through decades of popular culture as revealed through music. There are special exhibits as well, often focusing on particular artists, so you could visit a few times and experience something different on each occasion.
6. Musical Instruments Museum. 4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, Arizona. www.nim.org
This Phoenix-based museum stakes its claim as one of the best by showcasing musical instruments from every country in the world. There are more than 15,000 instruments on display throughout five geographically arranged galleries. From an antique European charter horn to mechanical zithers to the iconic modern-day Fender guitar and everything in between. There’s also an entire gallery devoted to world-famous artists. You can see instruments played by Elvis, John Lennon, Johnny Cash, cellist Pablo Casals and Taylor Swift. Visitors are given the opportunity to speak the language in the ‘Experience’ gallery: try your hand at playing guitars, Southeast Asian tribal drums, Japanese gongs – and even the quirky, electronic theremin.
7. Bicycle Museum of America. 7 W Monroe, New Bremen, Ohio. www.bicylemuseum.com
This museum combines great exhibits and interested, interesting staff – before you know it, you’ll be a spoke spotter yourself. The museum has a couple of hundred years of bicycle history covered. There are 300 bicycles on display and many, many more on rotation. Bicycles have come a long way since their mysterious first appearance (there’s no verified claim to ‘inventor of the bicycle’). From the awkward big front wheel of penny farthings to the tough (tuff?) stability of a BMX, you won’t believe the designs that have pedalled out of showrooms over the years. And you can see many of them here. The curators reckon that with about 1000 bikes in the collection, you’ll probably see your own first machine here; prepare for a little nostalgia as you recall that first tumble off your bike…”
8. Exploratorium. Pier 15, The Embarcadero, San Francisco. www.exploratorium.edu
The stated mission of the Exploratorium is to ‘change the way the world learns’. It’s a funhouse full of experiential science experiments; an immersive journey into the world of physics, human behaviour, and living systems. The museum, originally set up by Frank Oppenheimer (younger brother of Robert Oppenheimer, of atomic-bomb fame), is designed to encourage informal learning by allowing direct participation in the exhibits. Since the museum opened, there have been over 1000 participatory displays – 600 of which are open to the public at any one time. Tackle the Tactile Dome – a pitch-black chamber that asks you to crawl, slide and bump your way through using only your sense of touch. Or explore the Monochromatic Room – a colourless world lit like an old sepia photograph. In the Tinkering Studio you can do things like make clothing out of old plastic, take apart your favourite toy, build digital jewellery or make electrical circuits on flat paper. Endless entertainment that just happens to make you smarter.
9. New Mexico Museum of Space History. 3198 State Rte 2001, Alamogordo, New Mexico. wwwnmspacemuseum.org
Rocket sleds, space shuttles, satellites, suits…in the middle of the New Mexico desert in a space-age (ie ’70s!) building. This region was home to a significant amount of development work for the space program. And, you know, Roswell is just 100 miles away: there’s heritage here. Did you know Ham, the astrochimp, first ape in space, is buried here? He lived out his retirement in a zoo in Washington – nothing adventurous. But he’s an inspiring little guy. There are four floors of exhibits and they will keep you busy. There are exhibitions on what it’s like to live and work in space; there’s a section on the history and development of rocketry. And the Space Hall of Fame remembers and celebrates the crazy, er, brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to exploring space. It’s a blast!
10. New York City Fire Museum. 278 Spring St, New York City. www.nycfiremuseum.org
The deal is almost 400 years of fire-fighting history brought to life with equipment and stories. New York’s big-city nature was there from the start; many people and many buildings in a small space meant fires had catastrophic potential. This museum celebrates their bravery, most notably in its 9/11 memorial to the 343 who lost their lives that day. It’s also staffed by retired firefighters who can provide first-hand accounts of an NYC fireman’s working life. Fire engines! Hand-pumper engines, horse-drawn carriages, motorised – you name it, they got it! Plus all the tools of the trade – tell me you’re not keen to see the Jaws of Life in action. The museum also aims to educate its visitors on fire prevention.
11. Clown Hall of Fame & Research Centre. 102 4th St, Baraboo, Wisconsin. www.theclownmuseum.com
It’s safe to say that this museum is certainly not for those who suffer from coulrophobia (fear of clowns).
The Hall of Fame celebrates the art of clowning and all the antics and historical significance that go with it. There are performances from actual clowns during the scheduled tours. This clowning stuff is serious business. The museum documents clowns through the ages, from the earliest circus performers to representations of clowns in modern TV and cinema. There’s particular mention of famous and long-standing members of the clowning elite – 25 years’ experience in the industry is needed in order to even be considered as an inductee into the Clown Hall of Fame. You remember Nat Wills, the Happy Tramp? Or Bruce Johnson, the Juggling Clown? Perhaps not, but that won’t matter; the scores of fantastic photos and detailed historical footage is endearing and entirely entertaining.
12. International Cryptozoology Museum. 11 Avon St, Portland, Maine. www.cryptozoologymuseuim.com
The name makes it sound like a museum dedicated to death – au contraire, this place is a celebration of life. If you ever had any doubt about the existence of Bigfoot, or the yeti, or even the elusive Iceman, this museum will make you… well, slightly less doubtful. Cryptozoology is the ‘study of hidden animals’, from the Greek word ‘kryptos’, meaning hidden. Here, at the world’s only cryptozoology museum (we know, the only one – weird, right?) there are exhibits including ‘actual hair samples’ from the Abominable Snowman and foecal matter from everyone’s favourite elusive cryptid, Bigfoot, but also displays about our lesser-known rare and extinct creatures like the coelacanth and thylacine. That’s a type of fish and the Tasmanian tiger, for those not up on their strange creatures knowledge. It’s totally kid-friendly. The life-sized sculptures of the Crookston Bigfoot, for example, and life-like models of a Sasquatch baby and FeeJee Mermaid are more fun than freaky.
Unesco: 1. Area de Conservacion Guanacaste 2. Cocos Island NP 3. Talamarca Range-La Amistad Reserves 4. La Amistad NP
Natural: 1. Venado Caves (Alajuela) 2. Poas Volcano 3. Sand Dune Volcano 4. Barra Honda Caves 5. Playa Ostional 6. Cocos Island 7. Mount Chirripo 8. Turtle NP 9. Corcovado NP* 10. Peace Waterfall (Heredia)
Unesco: 1. Alejandro de Humboldt NP 2. Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the SE of Cuba 3. Desembarco del Granma NP 4. Historic Center of Camaguey 5. Old Havana and its Fortifications* 6. San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba* 7. Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios 8. Urban Historic Center of Cienfuegos 9. Vinales Valley (Santo Thomas Cave)
Natural: 1. Bellamar Caves 2. El Nicho Falls
Unesco: 1. Morne Trois Pitons NP
Natural: 1. Waterfalls of Dominica (St George, St David, St Patrick) 2. Boiling Lake
1. Morne Trois Pitons, Dominica.
Reach via Antigua.
2. Waitukubuli National Trail.
114 mile trail divided into 14 segments. Virgin forest, waterfalls. plantations, coastal cliffs, villages. Explore culture.
Unesco: Colonial City of Santo Domingo
Unesco: Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site
Natural: 1. Santa Ana and Izalco Vocanoes 2. Alegria Lake and Tecapa Volcano 3. Montecristo-Trifinio Cloud Forest (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador)
Natural: 1. Stingray City (North Sound) 2. Blow Holes (East End)
Natural: 1. Grand Etang 2. Mount Carmel Waterfall
Unesco: 1. Antigua* 2. Archaeological Park and ruins of Quirgua 3. Tikal NP*
Natural: 1. Pacaya Volcano 2. Fuego Volcano 3. Lake Atitlan* 4. Santa Maria Volcano
5. Guatemala Basin (9 degrees North) – In the eastern Pacific between Mexico and the Galapagos, is an immense chain of underwater volcanos that produce superheated water at temperatures of more than 400C and a toxic mineral cocktail. Clouds of sulphides solidify into towering chimneys as tall as a 3-story house. It is home to some 50 species of incredible marine life including giant tubeworms, the world’s fastest-growing marine invertebrates that reach astounding lengths. Bacteria live at the razor-thin interface between the extremely hot and the very cold water. They can photosythesise in the absence of sunlight, using nothing more than the dim light coming from the hydrothermal vents. Only a few can come here – a degree in marine biology or oceanography plus training in deep sea exploration and the engineering of manned submersibles, Spanish language.
Ocean vents are typically located near areas of tectonic plate movement known as ocean ridges. Below ocean depths of about 2200m, water reaches critical pressure and can no longer boil. Underwater eruptions account for more than three-quarters of the planet’s total magma output. Bacteria at deep ocean vents thrive on hydrogen sulphide, a highly toxic chemical to most known organisms. Tubeworms are capable of absorbing life-sustaining nutrients directly into their skin.
Unesco: 1. National History Park – Citadel, Sans Souci Ramiers
Unesco: 1. Maya Site of Copan 2. Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve
Natural: 1. Cockpit Country (forest clad karst, conical hills, steep valleys, thousands of limestone depressions called ‘cockpits’, caves with bats, biodiversity) 2. Dunn’s River Falls (several falls on limestone terraces landing on beach and sea) 3. Blue Lagoon (Portland)
Epic Road Trips: 1. Pirate Route
Natural: 1. Diamond Rock (ancient lava dome symbol of Martinique) 2. Mount Pelee Volcano
Unesco: 1. Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila* 2. Ancient Maya City of Calakmul* 3. Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco 4. Archaeological Zone of Paquime, Casa Grandes 5. Camino Real de Tierra Adentro 6. Central University City Campus of the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico 7. Earliest 16th century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl 8. El Tajin* 9. Franciscan Mission in the Sierra Gordo of Queretaro 10. Historic Center of Morelia* 11. Historic Center Oaxaca and Monte Alban* 12. Historic Center of Puebla 13. Historic Center of Zacatecas* 14. Historic Fortified Town of Campeche* 15. Historic Monuments Zone of Queretaro 16. Historic Monuments Zone of Tlacotalpan* 17. Historic Town of Guanajuato* and adjacent mines 18. Hospico Cabanas, Guadalajara 19. Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California 20. Luis Barragan house and Studio 21. Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve* 22. Pre-Hispanic City and NP of Palenque* 23. Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza* 24. Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuancan* 25. Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal* 26. Prehistoric Caves of Uagul and Mitla in the Central Valley of Oaxaca 27. Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesus Nazareno de Atotonillco 28. Rock Paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco* 29. Sian Ka’an 30. Whale Sancutary of El Vizcaino*
Natural: 1. Paricutin Volcano* 2. Yucatan Peninsula* 3. La Bufadora* 4. Garcia Caves 5. Copper Canyon* 6. Sistema Cheve (cave in NE Oaxaca) 7. Butterfly Trees* 8. Baja California Peninsula*
1. Urique-Batopilas Trail, Copper Canyon,
Length: 30 miles
The Trip: Yes, Copper Canyon is larger than the Grand Canyon, but it’s a system of six major river-carved canyons in Chihuahua that include everything from pure wilderness to villages inhabited by the native Tarahumara people to a railroad running down in the middle of them.
This typically three-day trip without a single trail sign or marker, connects the two local communities of Urique at the bottom climbing to the top of the canyon at Batopilas, a former silver mining hot spot that’s about a five-hour bus ride from the larger town of Creel. You do need to be careful, both of the danger of bandits and, more likely, dehydration.
When to Go: Late fall (October-November) or early spring (March-April), when the temperatures don’t get too hot.
2. Sierra de San Fransisco*, Baja
A gorgeous canyon containing 5,000 year-old cave paintings, the biggest is Pinura, a 100′ long cave painting in an overhang. Requires a guide supplied by the community
1. Museum of Mummies of Guanajuato*. Explanada del Panteon, Guanajuato. www.momiasdeguenajuato.
The mummies at this Guanajuato museum have by no means been treated like kings. The Guanajuato mummies were all evicted from their resting places in the mountains around the town when their families were unable to pay a ‘grave’ tax. In case the families came into a miraculous windfall and were able to afford reburial, the bodies were kept in an underground crypt. When some were exhumed and found to be well-preserved, the crypt gained notoriety; locals began to pay to view the bodies. For many years bodies were just propped up on the walls but as the collection of bodies grew it was decided to exhibit them behind glass (as you see them today). These mummies have not been wrapped, embalmed or made ready for display like the Egyptian mummies – they are as they were found. It can be confronting. There are murdered mummies (some with weapons still embedded in the corpses); babies; corpses still fully dressed in their burial outfits… Generally not one for the kiddies.
2. National Museum of Anthropology. Cnr Paseo de la Reforma & Calz Gandhi, Mexico City. www.mna.inah.gob.mc
If your travel companions are dragging their heels at the prospect of then prepare to play your trump card. This is not another boring anthropology museum, a two-bit, small-scale affair. Expect to be blown away by the world’s largest collection of anthropological artefacts from the Mayan civilisations up to the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Enter the interior courtyard, where a giant stone edifice has water cascading atmospherically into a central pool, and prepare to step back in time. Twelve rooms encircling the courtyard trace the evolution of the Hispanic civilisations. Magnificent artefacts include the Rock of the Sun – an ancient crucifixion table from the Mexico-Tenochtitlan period; the 20-tonne giant stone head from the Olmec civilisation of 1200–600 BC; and the resplendent Mayan frescoes from AD 900–1250. With each room opening onto atmospheric gardens showcasing statues and temples, seemingly in situ, it’s possible to imagine you’re part of these impressively sophisticated cultures from thousands of years ago.
3. Soumaya Museum. Blvd Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 303, Colonia Appliacion Granada, Mexico City. www.museosoumaya.com
The folly of one of the world’s richest men, Carlos Slim, the Soumaya is named after Carlos’ late wife and has some stand-out exhibits housed in an enormous, hourglass-shaped, shining edifice. Money might not buy you love but it can buy just about everything else. Slim’s collection numbers close to 70,000 pieces, at an estimated worth of more than US$700 million. There are works by famous Modernist and Impressionist masters like Picasso, Dalí, Renoir and Monet, as well as the world’s largest assortment of sculptures by Rodin, over 380 pieces in fact. While works by the European masters garner a great deal of attention, there’s actually a large selection of Mexican artworks – everything from musical instruments, furniture, photography, fashion, and decorative and graphic arts. It’s one of the most eclectic collections that money could buy.
Natural: Soufriere Hills Volcano
Unesco: 1. Leon Cathedral 2. Ruins of Leon Viejo
Natural: 1. Momotombo Volcano 2. Lake Nicaragua
Unesco: 1. Archaeological Site of Panama Viejo and Historic District of Panama* 2. Coiba NP and it Special Zone of Marine Protection 3. Darien NP 4. Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo 5. Talamanca Range-la Amistad Reserves / La Amistad NP
Natural: 1. Caribbean National Forest (Canavonas, Juncos, Las Piedras, Luquillo, Rio Grande) 2. Karst Country 3. Guanica State Forest 4. Mosquito and Phosphorescent Bay 5. Rio Camuy Caves
SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS
Unesco: Brimstone hill Fortress NP
Unesco: Pitons Management Area
Natural: 1. Diamond Falls and Sulfur Springs 2. The Pitons
Natural: Mount Soufriere