The Best Places in the World to See Cherry Blossoms www.casualtravelist.com

The Best Places in the World to See Cherry Blossoms

After a long, gray winter it seems like everyone is ready for spring. The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and the world awakes with blooms of every color. The most celebrated sign of spring is the arrival of the cherry blossoms, whose blooms vibrantly paint cities in shades of pink and white drawing visitors from far and wide. I asked a bunch of my travel blogging friends for their favorite places to view the blossoms; while Japan and and the Washington DC area were popular choices there are a few surprises here as well. Here are the best places inn the world to see cherry blossoms. Read More

Whale Watching in Virginia Beach

“Whale watching in Virginia Beach?”

The looks from my friends were incredulous as I told them about my experience whale watching a few years ago. Every winter, from December to March, several pods of humpback whales migrate from their summer homes of the coast of Maine and Nova Scotia and spend the winter months feeding in the rich waters where the Chesapeake Bay opens into the Atlantic Ocean. Whale sightings have been plentiful and frequent the past few years but despite this,  one of Virginia’s greatest winter experiences remains a secret even to many locals. On a clear but chilly January weekend I brought my friends down to the Virginia Aquarium for a winter wildlife boat trip so they could see the whales for themselves.

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A Winter Weekend in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

“Four score and seven years ago……..”

This famous speech from Abraham Lincoln is the introduction to Gettysburg most of us get in elementary school. Lincoln’s speech and the events that inspired them also inspire many people to visit this area of southern Pennsylvania. With a year round population of only 7,000 people Gettysburg has a staggering 4 million visitors a year with the bulk of them coming in the spring and summer. Winter? Well, that’s another story. On a quick weekend trip in January we practically had Gettysburg to ourselves. No traffic clogging the bucolic country roads and no fighting the crowds at the monuments. A weekend is just long enough to get a taste of Gettysburg, with one day focused on Gettysburg’s past and one day focused on Gettysburg’s present.

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Tips for enjoying cherry blossoms in Washington DC. www.casualtravelist.com

Tips for Enjoying the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC

While Washington DC is great destination any time of year, it is particularly magical in the springtime when the cherry blossoms bloom in a burst of pinks and whites highlighting the beauty of our nation’s capital. One of my favorite cities, I try to get to Washington DC as often as I can but I always try to plan a springtime trip in hopes of seeing the cherry blossoms in all of their glory. A gift of friendship from Japan to the American people in 1912, the pastel blooms that line the Tidal Basin explode with color and signal that spring has arrived to the Capitol. Planning a trip during cherry blossom season can be a bit tricky, here are a few tips for enjoying the cherry blossoms in Washington DC.

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When the winter months roll around most cities bundle up inside waiting for the warmer weather and bright blooms of spring, but Quebec City celebrates winter with a joie de vivre that can be found nowhere else. Here are 10 reasons to make Quebec City your next winter destination. www.casualtravelist.com

10 Reasons to make Quebec City your Next Winter Destination

When the winter months roll around most cities bundle up inside waiting for the warmer weather and bright blooms of spring, but Quebec City celebrates winter with a joie de vivre that can be found nowhere else. Here are 10 reasons to make Quebec City your next winter destination.

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Visiting the Hotel de Glace, Ice Hotel in Quebec. www.casualtravelist.com

Cooler than Cool- Visiting the Hotel de Glace, Ice Hotel in Quebec

Quebec’s Hotel de Glace, or Ice Hotel, is located just 10 minutes from Quebec City and is the only hotel in North America to be made of ice and snow. Over the past 16 years, the Ice Hotel has welcomed over one million visitors with nearly 50,000 braving a frosty overnight stay. Each year the hotel is newly constructed with over 500 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of man-made snow. Once temperatures are cold enough (usually when the thermometer dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for a week straight) it takes crews  about 6 weeks of working 24/7 to fully construct the hotel from the ground up. Most years the hotel is open from early January through the end of March, but exact dates vary year to year based on the weather.

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For much of the world the months of January and February are a chance to recovery from the the holiday festivities of December, but for some cities the party is just getting started.New Orleans has Mardi Gras, Rio has Carnivale and Quebec City? Well Quebec City has its Winter Carnival and it may be the most fun you can have in the snow. www.casualtravelist.com

Frosty Fun at Quebec’s Winter Carnival

For much of the world the months of January and February are a chance to recover from the the holiday festivities of December, but for some cities the party is just getting started.New Orleans has Mardi Gras, Rio has Carnivale and Quebec City? Well Quebec City has its Winter Carnival and it may be the most fun you can have in the snow.

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Welcoming Christmas in Alexandria, Virginia; how this thoroughly American city welcomes the holidays in European style. www.casualtravelist.com

Welcoming Christmas in Alexandria, Virginia

Brick paved streets lined with eighteenth century buildings, shop doors graced with Christmas greenery and scores of Scottish gents and lasses clad in tartan kilts bustling around town. Was I in Scotland? No, I found a bit of European holiday tradition a little closer to home in Alexandria, Virginia; where on the first weekend in December you’re as likely to hear a Scottish brogue as a southern drawl.

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