Chicago Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

Chicago is situated in the Great Lakes region of the American Midwest, in the state of Illinois. Rising from the edges of Lake Michigan, Chicago began as a tiny trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River, and has boomed into a modern global center of commerce and culture. The Windy City has always been driven by an unshakable optimism and can-do attitude. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed half the city, was seized upon as an opportunity for the metropolis to reinvent itself. What followed was the biggest building boom in US history and a skyline that is almost beyond beautiful. Start your visit in The Loop – the central business district encircled by the ‘L’, Chicago’s elevated train line. The streets within The Loop are a showcase of architecture, from the world’s first high-rises, to the cloud-piercing towers of today. Willis Tower held the title of world’s tallest building for almost 25 years.

Take the 60-second ride to the Skydeck. On a really windy day you might even feel the building sway a little, but don’t panic, it was designed to do just that. The Loop also contains some amazing outdoor sculpture and an historic theater district which makes the area feel like a cross between a museum and a film set. Running north from The Loop is the Magnificent Mile, where you’ll be able to gaze up at even more wonders from the Chicago School of architecture. Looking a little out of place is the Old Water Tower, a lone, but much-loved survivor from the Chicago Fire. Shop ’til you drop in the upscale boutiques which line The Magnificent Mile’s wide boulevards.

And when it’s time to refuel, sink your teeth into a deep dish pizza – an old Chicago favorite. Following the south bank of the Chicago River and winding between the canyons of glass and steel, The Riverwalk offers a relaxing change of pace from the downtown bustle. Still within The Loop is Millennium Park. Once the site of railway yards and car parks, the area has been transformed into what critics have hailed as ‘the future of parks’.

The centerpieces of this visionary space are the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the BP Footbridge. The park showcases a number of public sculptures, including a futuristic stainless steel archway to the city, Cloud Gate, or as it’s affectionately known to locals – ‘The Bean’. Just across the road is The Art Institute of Chicago whose exterior is a work of art in itself. Set aside at least a day to explore this treasure-house of European, American and Asian masterpieces. There are plenty of treasures to be found outside The Loop. Just to the west is one of Chicago’s hidden gems, the Garfield Park Conservatory, an inner-city haven for nature lovers and a first-date favorite for Chicago couples. In nearby Oak Park, step inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio, where for 20 years he pioneered an entirely new architectural vision for America.

Unity Temple is just a short stroll away. Completed in 1908, this Lloyd Wright masterpiece is widely regarded as the world’s first modern building. While you’re in Oak Park, stop by the birthplace of one of Chicago’s most famous sons, Ernest Hemingway. In the nearby museum, fans of the novelist can read from his childhood diary and original manuscripts. Down by The Loop’s waterfront, the historic Navy Pier offers entertainment for all ages. The pier is also the place to climb aboard one of the many lake and river cruises on offer. Just south of Navy Pier, The Field Museum houses over 20 million specimens from the world of natural history. Say hello to Sue, the largest and most intact skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex ever unearthed. The museum might look a little familiar, after all, it was the home base for Indiana Jones in the blockbuster movie series. A little further south along the waterfront you’ll find the Museum of Science and Industry – known by generations of school children as ‘the best field trip ever!’. Here you’ll get to explore the inner workings of man and machine, and discover the secrets of natural phenomena like tornadoes, lightning and avalanches.

Chicago’s largest green space is Lincoln Park, a seven mile stretch of shoreline which runs north from The Loop. It’s home to nature reserves, a conservatory, and monuments to many of the nation’s heroes, including the park’s namesake – Abraham Lincoln. The park also features the Lincoln Park Zoo which has been entertaining and educating visitors since 1868. The zoo features two sections specifically designed for children, and best of all it’s free. The park is also home to the Chicago History Museum. From gangsters to baseball, this is the place to visit if you really want to know what makes this unique city tick.

As the sun sets, Chicago truly lights up. But don’t plan on going to bed early, the city offers some of the best jazz, blues and theater in America. So come on over to Chicago, the memories you’ll take away will last a lifetime – no matter how hard the wind blows. .

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Dublin Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

Dublin stands resolutely on Ireland’s East Coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey. Although it is home to more than a third of the population, Ireland’s dynamic capital city retains a lyrical village magic and a playfulness few other cities can match. Despite a long and sometimes tragic history of invasion and resistance, this thriving business capital has poetry, music and literature percolating through its cobblestones. Dublin’s ancient streets are compact enough to explore on foot or by bicycle. The River Liffey separates the city into two neat halves. It is criss-crossed with historic bridges, many of which are tributes to Dublin’s finest moments and heroes. Dubliner, Oscar Wilde once said “life is too important to be taken seriously.” While Dublin proudly honours its past, it is equally passionate about enjoying each and every new day. Nowhere is life celebrated more than in the city’s nearly 700 pubs.

Nothing matters more to Dubliners than having a good time or, as locals call it, the craic. Pubs and music are at the very heart of Dublin’s traditions and society. Just south of the river is the Temple Bar area, where locals and tourists have been meeting for generations. This is the place to find art galleries and colorful shops and immerse yourself in the spirited and often improvised traditional folk music. Irish emigrants have taken their music all around the world but there is nothing like hearing it played live.

Entertainment is also important a little further south on Grafton Street, a lively shopping precinct known for its buskers and proud to be a launch pad for many international musical acts. At the other end of the spectrum and a little further to the east is the architecturally spectacular Aviva Stadium. Time your visit to catch an international superstar here. Of course, any local will tell you that music and a pint glass go hand in hand. The history of Guinness, one of Ireland’s most famous institutions, is on display at the Guinness Storehouse. Also known as “the Black stuff”, “black custard” and “Irish champagne,” this world famous tipple is said to have been born in the 18th century when water from the Liffey became too polluted to safely drink. The brewing process removed the germs and also provided sorely needed nutrition. Today the river is cleaner, but Dubliners’ thirst for Guinness has remained undiminished. The picturesque Grand Canal was built around this time, connecting Dublin to the west of Ireland, allowing Guinness to be exported marking the beginning of one of Dublin’s great success stories.

Visit the Old Jameson Distillery, and discover the magic of how three simple ingredients are transformed into a smooth whiskey that is enjoyed all over the world. But of all the gifts, Dublin has given to the world, perhaps the most intoxicating are its stories. Originally built for the sons of the Irish gentry, the stone buildings of Trinity College are home to some of the oldest remaining manuscripts in the world, including the 1000-year-old Book of Kells. This ancient manuscript is only a small part of Dublin’s literary history.

This city is famous for its authors, playwrights and poets and tributes are dotted all over the city. Visit the flamboyant statue of Oscar Wilde, decorated with precious stones that reflect his love of beauty. Or, pay your respects to James Joyce, one of Dublin’s literary giants. There are more tributes to the past just a stroll away in St Stephen’s Green which holds a special place in the heart of Dubliners. While today it is an oasis of calm in the centre of the city, the park has witnessed many turbulent episodes of Irish history.

During the 1916 Easter Rising, a pivotal battle took place here which reignited the long and passionate fight for Irish independence from English rule. The ghosts of Ireland’s battle for independence also feel very real at the Kilmainham Gaol, in which many of the rebellion leaders were brutally executed. Right at the centre of Dublin’s historic heart is Dublin Castle. Originally built on a viking site, it has been a prison, a fortress and a treasury. From within these stone walls, the English administered Irish rule for more than 700 years. Famously, the Irish Crown Jewels were stolen from the castle in 1907 and their whereabouts remain a mystery to this day. The National Museum of Ireland – Archeology on Kildare Street showcases other early treasures which illuminate Dublin’s history throughout the ages. A little further from the centre of town is Phoenix Park, one of the largest walled parks in Europe. Visit the Wellington Monument, a tribute to the 1st Duke of Wellington, a Dubliner known as the Iron Duke who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Of all Dublin’s heroes, perhaps none are as important as St Patrick, who is credited with many miracles including, converting Ireland to Christianity.

The site of St Patrick’s Cathedral is said to be where he first baptised the pagan chieftains and altered Irish history. The nearby Christ Church Cathedral was founded almost 1000 years ago and has born witness to the lives of warriors, kings and saints. Dubliner Jonathan Swift, once said, “May you live all the days of your life.” There is no better way to define Dublin. Its passion for life is contagious, captivating and sure to stay with you for the rest of your days. .

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Jersey Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia (4K)

100 miles from the coast of Britain, and just 14 off the coast of France, is Jersey, the largest of The Channel Islands. A Crown Dependency of the U.K., self-governing Jersey is a little slice of Britain, with a Gallic twist. With an area of just nine miles by five miles, Jersey packs in more history, scenery and character than destinations one hundred times its size. History looms large at every turn, from Neolithic architecture that predates the pyramids, to centuries of coastal defenses, which look as though they were abandoned only yesterday. Jersey’s coastline is epic too, swept clean by some of the most extreme tides on the planet. Twice each day the waters rush out to sea, exposing miles of golden beaches and rock pools which stretch off into the horizon. Jersey’s capital, St Helier, embodies all the things that make Jersey so special, the history, the incredibly tasty produce, the tax free shopping, and the picture-perfect scenery. History’s footsteps echo throughout these streets. From the hobnailed boots of the Jersey Militiamen and English Soldiers who repelled French Raiders in the Battle of Jersey, to the jackboots of the 25,000 German soldiers who occupied the Island from 1940 until its liberation in 1945.

Coming to grips with Jersey’s incredible tangle of historical threads can be daunting, so be sure to spend an hour or two at the Jersey Museum before you head off to explore the island. If you like your history served up with salt, wander down to New North Quay to the Maritime Museum, and learn about the waves, vessels, mariners and legends that shaped this island. Right next door at the Occupation Tapestry Gallery, locals have woven their memories of World War Two into an innovative diorama, created to celebrate the island’s 50th year of liberation. Between history lessons, you’ll find plenty of places to relax, dine and shop. If you like your shopping upmarket, take a walk up King Street. Or if you prefer things the old way, The Central Market serves up produce that has helped make Jersey a byword for quality and flavour. After you’ve explored the town, sit back and watch the tide roll out, then walk across St.

Aubin’s Bay to Elizabeth Castle. And should the tide roll back in while you’ve been wandering the battlements and smelling the gunpowder, you can always ride Charming Betty back to shore. Jersey is compact, making it easy to explore. Country lanes and walking trails lace the island, ensuring Jersey’s views, attractions and surprises are never far away. Hop on a bus, rent a car, or walk the endless ribbons of coastal tracks which string together tiny fishing villages, bays and beaches. Just to the east of St Helier is the parish of Grouville, home to one of the world’s ten oldest buildings, the 6,000 year-old La Hougue Bie. As is the case all over this island, history is layered upon layer here. During the 12th and 16th centuries, medieval chapels were built on top of this burial site. While on a nearby mound, a German bunker now houses a modern museum commemorating the thousands of forced laborers brought to the island to build German defenses. At the adjoining geology and archaeology museum, learn about Jersey’s Neolithic, Celtic and Roman times, as well as the hoards of gold coins and ancient treasure that has been unearthed from the island’s soil.

Take a ten-minute drive eastward through the quiet country lanes to Gorey, one of the island’s three main harbours. Casting its protective, medieval shadow over Gorey is Mont Orgueil. Built in the early 13th century, the castle served as a Britain’s first line of defense during its periodic wars with France until it was superseded by Elizabeth Castle in the late 1600s. Lose yourself in the twisting corridors, staircases and tunnels which lead to artworks like The Dance of Death and the Tree of Succession. Each of Jersey’s four coastlines has its own distinctive personality. Be sure to take in a few sections of the North Coast Path, which offers some of the island’s most dramatic views as it winds past coastal ruins and cliff tops blanketed with wildflowers.

The path dips down to old smugglers coves like Bouley Bay, a beach now popular with scuba divers, and rises to windswept headlands like Sorel Point. If you’re travelling with young’uns, sheltered Gréve de Lecq is the perfect beach to relax as lobstermen and crabbers come and go. And when the tide’s out, make your way down to the secluded sands of Plemont Beach and explore the rock pools and hidden caves.

The atmospheric ruins of Grosnez Castle mark the end of the Northern coast, and from here the scenery changes again. Head south along the west coast, where craggy hills and patchworks of fields drop away to the warm sands of St. Ouen’s Bay and some of Europe’s best surfing. St. Ouen’s is home to an enormous sea wall that formed part of Hitler’s 2000-mile-long Atlantic Wall defense system. Here you’ll find the Channel Islands Military Museum, a bunker complex crammed with military and civilian artifacts which tell the story of the island’s long five year occupation, and the struggles of 41,000 islanders who were left by Britain to fend for themselves. Back on the southern coast, the sheltered sands of St Brelade is a favourite with sandcastle-building families. It’s also the home of St Brelade’s Church, a medieval chapel whose foundations were first put down over a mile away.

Legend has it that the work so upset local fairies, they moved the stones each night down to the shoreline until the workmen finally got the message. Just next door, take in the views from the old German command bunker at Noirmont Point, before taking the stairs down to Portelet Beach and the tiny islet of Janvrin’s Tomb. On your way back to St Helier, stop in at St Aubin. Relax along the Bulwarks with an ice cream. And when the tide leaves the boats high and dry, wander across the harbour to St Aubin’s Fort. While the coastline serves up Jersey’s finest views, the island’s interior offers plenty for visitors too. Deep beneath the woods of St Lawrence, step again into the island’s wartime past at the Jersey War Tunnels, one of the many German underground complexes which honeycomb the island.

Once a treatment centre, today this half-mile stretch of tunnels houses an incredible collection of wartime relics. Just up the road, return to a far gentler time, at the Hamptonne Country Life Museum. The past comes roaring back to life too, at the Pallot Steam and Motor Museum, which lovingly preserves the island’s mechanical heritage. While just a ten minute drive away is the Jersey Zoo, which has been helping save species from the brink of extinction for over 50 years. If you’re looking for history, adventure, incredible food, and total relaxation, Jersey weaves it all together into something truly magical. It’s not quite British and it’s not quite French, but Jersey is 100% unique. .

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Denver Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

Rising from the western edge of America’s High Plains, and shadowed by the Rocky Mountains, is Colorado’s capital, Denver. The city sprang up in 1858, right were the first flakes of gold in the state were discovered. As it turned out, there wasn’t that much gold around Denver, the real riches lay up in the mountains, but ever since, The Mile High City has continued to grow, thanks partly to its incredible weather. Denver is blessed with over 300 days of sunshine per year; that’s more than Miami! Just an easy walk or bus ride from Denver’s modern downtown is the Golden Triangle, an area filled with grand civic architecture, museums and public art.

Climb the stairs to the Capitol Building, where at the 13th step, you’ll be exactly one mile above sea level. Spend some time in the Denver Art Museum, which celebrates the region’s landscapes and peoples. The museum houses 18 000 Native American treasures, making it one of the most important First Nations’ collections in the country. Not far from the Golden Triangle is the Children’s Museum of Denver, where little adventurers can discover the world of kinetics, explore nature, and climb aboard a big ol’ firetruck. There are plenty of other natural wonders to explore, at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and Butterfly Pavilion. Denverites have always enjoyed the great outdoors, and believe their animal friends should too. Denver Zoo pioneered the use of natural habitats, so its guests can feel right at home, whatever the weather. Uncover the region’s prehistoric past at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature.

But to really walk in the footsteps of giants, hit the Triceratops Trail at Dinosaur Ridge. Here, on Denver’s western outskirts you’ll find the Morrison Fossil Area, one of the most extensive dinosaur track and fossil sites in the world. Just up the road is the historic mining town of Golden. Mosey on into the Buffalo Bill Museum on Lookout Mountain, dedicated to the life and times of America’s greatest Wild West showman.

Just outside, his final resting place sits high on a ridge where the winds whistle through the Ponderosa Pines. Down the hill at the Clear Creek History Park, peer into the lives of the pioneers who carved out a life in shadows and snowdrifts of the Great Divide. Golden is also home to the Colorado Railroad Museum which lovingly maintains the locomotives, cars and cabooses that once traversed the region’s High Plains and mountain passes. For many in these parts, the mountains become an obsession. Golden’s Mountaineering Museum is dedicated to the technology and spirit of those who answer the call of those lofty peaks. Denverites can’t seem to get enough of the great outdoors. While you’re in the Golden area, call into to one of the world’s most beautiful natural amphitheaters, Red Rocks.

Go for a run with locals, or time your visit to take in a show. Many of the worlds great artists, from the Beatles to U2 have performed here under the blood red rocks. If all that sightseeing and history builds up a thirst, you’re in luck. The area around Denver is known as the Beer Triangle. Take a tour of the Coors Brewery, before exploring the regions dozens of brewpubs and microbreweries.

Denver is surrounded by places of incredible beauty. Just over an hours drive south are the ancient sandstone formations that have been attracting travelers and dreamers for thousands of years the Garden of the Gods. Nearby, is the pretty town of Manitou Springs. From here you can hike, catch the cog railway, or drive to Pikes Peak ~ weather permitting! This is where Colorado’s real high country begins. Try your hand at prospecting, keep an eye out for the legendary Bigfoot, or just soak up the views from 14 000 feet. When the sun starts to drop, it’s time to head back to Denver. Warm up by the fire, then make tracks to the Buckhorn Exchange, a Denver institution spanning three centuries. Order up a rattlesnake dip, an alligator tail, or an elk steak. But don’t miss the house specialty, Rocky Mountain Oysters, mmmmmm…. The Rockies loom large over Denver, turn any street corner and there they are.

Maybe that’s why folks here are so relaxed; living this close to nature’s majesty has a knack of keeping things in perspective. So, if you’ve got a hankering for best of big city comforts and clear mountain air ~ there’s a warm, wild, welcome, waiting for you, in Denver. .

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