Day Trips: Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Day Trips- Day Trips are very valuable for those who do do not have plenty time or extra money to go on a long vacation. Day trips can be enjoyed close to home or short away. When it comes to adding extra fun and spice to your life, they are surely ideal.So many fascinating sites are just a short drive or train ride from major metro areas.

Day Trips

Day trips can serve to supplement your summer vacation or they can be the perfect answer to an otherwise boring or lazy day around the house. Day trips come in all shapes and sizes, and they can cost a lot of money, or little to none at all.
The only downside to this day trip is that you’re going to wish you’d allotted more than a day to see what is without a doubt one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Here are some great ideas for what to see not far from 14 world-class cities.

Day Trips: Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

Carved more than 14 million years ago, the Grand Canyon inspires awe in even the most jaded of visitors. From Las Vegas, the most logical day-trip itineraries are to the South Rim or the West Rim. The South is more expensive to get to by helicopter or bus, but because the views haven’t been marred by a large, glass skywalk — a misguided addition — it’s the better visit.
The Grand Canyon is approximately 250 miles from Las Vegas.

Day Trips: Paris to Chateau de Fontainebleau

A royal residence for more than 700 years, Chateau de Fontainebleau is more impressive than Versailles, in my opinion, because it suffered a less thorough sacking during the French Revolution. Napoleon, who once called it “the house of the centuries; the true of home kings” is partially to thank for its good looks. He helped to restore the chateau, using it to host — and sometimes imprison — visiting dignitaries, such as Pope Pius VII. Today, visitors walk through halls of exquisite frescoes, elaborate stucco and boisseries (carved woodwork), royal apartments stuffed with period furniture, and exquisite formal gardens. The chateau is about 45 minutes from Paris by train. 

Day Trips: New York City to the Hudson River Valley

Few areas are as storied. Dotted by many of the country’s first colonies, the region’s beautiful landscapes inspired the first school of American painting — the Hudson River School; see images — and persuaded the tycoons of the Gilded Age to build opulent mansions here. Spend the day touring one of these American palaces — my favorite is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and home in Hyde Park. Or head to Dia:Beacon, America’s most important museum for the conceptual and minimalist art of the 1960s and 1970s. At lunch, kick back for a meal with a future top chef at the Culinary Institute of America.
Hyde Park is a two-hour drive north of New York. 

Day Trips: San Francisco to Muir Woods

Just 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, this redwood forest was designated as a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt. Back then, the redwoods — the tallest living things on Earth — were so abundant in this area that people thought they’d never run out of them and used them extensively for construction. Alas, Muir Woods is one of the last groves in the world. Explore these handsome woods via three well-marked hiking trails. In summer, a free shuttle runs from the Sausalito ferry stop so even those traveling without cars can get here easily from San Francisco.

Day Trips: Boston to Cape Ann

Cape Cod is the famous name, but Cape Ann may well beat it in looks, and it’s a sight easier to get to from Beantown. Head to this cape and you’ll find a rugged, unspoiled coastline with a “greatest hits” of New England icons from moody lighthouses to sandy beaches to gabled houses with widow’s walks atop. Fishing, bird-watching, attending clam bakes and browsing artists’ galleries are just a few of the activities that keep Cape Ann popular. Allow about an hour to drive the 44 miles from Boston. 

Day Trips: London to Oxford

Ah, the tweedy charms of Oxford! Wandering its cobbled streets, ducking into the quad of a college as robed students rush by, watching the boaters glide by on the River Isis, taking in the antiquities at the Ashmoleon Museum — these are just a few of Oxford’s many heady delights. And the city’s 39 colleges boast the loveliest collegiate architecture anywhere. Harry Potter fans take note: Oxford’s Christ Church College stood in for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies and it can be toured. Oxford is about 60 miles northwest of London.

Day Trips: Portland, Ore., to the Willamette Valley

Think Napa Valley, but less costly and certainly less snooty. That, in a nutshell — or a wine flask — is the appeal of the Willamette Valley 40 miles from Portland, which has been producing some of the world’s finest pinot noirs for the past decade. When you head into the tasting room of a top winery, you may encounter the vintner herself presiding with a baby on her hip, as I did on my last visit. The experience is delightfully laid-back. And if you’re craving a change, head to the tasting room of Sake One, the only American-owned sake factory in the States. 

Day Trips: Rome to Tivoli

The little hill town of Tivoli offers not one, but two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Renaissance-era Villa de Este and the ruins of a villa built by the Emperor Hadrian. Wear sunscreen, because you won’t be spending much, if any, time indoors. The Villa de Este is known for a hillside garden dotted with hundreds of sculptural fountains, some of which were created to emit startling sounds — they hoot like owls and rumble like organs. Five kilometers away, Hadrian’s Villa was the showplace home of ancient Rome’s most well-traveled emperor; some of the structures mimicked those he saw in Greece and Egypt. Tivoli is located approximately 18 miles east of Rome.

Day Trips: Washington, D.C. to Gettysburg

Just 80 miles north of Washington, D.C. — a potent reminder of how close the Confederacy was to winning before this pivotal battle — Gettysburg may well be the most authentic-feeling of all the Civil War battlegrounds. Under an ongoing program, the battlefield is being returned to how it looked when fighting broke out. Travelers view the site via an 18-mile auto tour; private guides are available at the superb new visitor’s center. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the war, so expect many special programs and exhibits during your visit.

Day Trips: Chicago to Oak Park

Architecture fans know this suburb of Chicago well as it has the highest concentration of homes built by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright anywhere. The Chicago Architectural Foundation offers regular tours from downtown to here, or one can independently view the exterior of the 25 buildings he created from 1892 to 1913, during his Prairie School period. Some make the pilgrimage not for Wright, but to see the childhood home of another 20th-century bold-face name, writer Ernest Hemingway. 

Day Trips: New Orleans to Acadiana (Cajun Country)

Swamp tours, zydeco music, boudin joints, historic plantations: There’s a good argument to be made for devoting one or more of your New Orleans vacation days to exploring the 22 parishes that make up the so-called Cajun Country. Stop in Washington to browse its antique stores and gaze at its pretty antebellum houses; stroll through the gardens at Magnolia Ridge; and if you’re lucky enough to be in the area on a Saturday, be sure to visit the Savoy Music Center in Eunice for its weekly jam session. 

Day Trips: Houston to Big Thicket National Preserve

This massive national preserve 60 miles from Houston attracts all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts. Bird watchers flock here in April and May, as the park is situated on two migratory bird flyways. Kayakers and canoeists drift through the area’s many lakes and bayous. And hikers trek the preserve's 40 miles of trails, delighting in the ever-changing landscape and unusually large variety of flora: 85 tree species thrive here, along with almost 1,000 types of flowering plants, including 20 types of orchid.

Day Trips: Orlando to The Kennedy Space Center

Science can be just as much fun as roller coasters and water slides. That’s just one of the many lessons of the Kennedy Space Center, where visitors are offered an in-depth look at the history of the space program. That includes the 30-story-tall Saturn V rocket; the two launch sites used by the space shuttle and the Apollo moon shots; the antiquated control room used for the Mercury missions (how did they use equipment that low-tech for successful space missions?); the Astronaut Hall of Fame; and more. Head 45 miles from Orlando to Cape Canaveral with a kid who wants to become Harry Potter and return with a budding astrophysicist.

Day Trips: Seattle to Victoria, B.C.

You don’t have to cross the pond to get a taste of Jolly Olde England. In Victoria, high tea, showplace gardens, an atmospheric old city, a Wax Museum — along with several other very fine and more serious museums — all make for a veddy, veddy British-feeling day trip. Of course, your visit doesn’t have to be entirely civilized; many visitors spend half the day in the city and the other half on a whale-watching cruise, trolling the waterfront or hiking up into the hills above Victoria for spectacular views.
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