Magical Journeys to the USA

Monday, May 30, 2016

Getty Center Museum - Los Angeles, California

In its billion-dollar in-the-clouds perch high above the city, the Getty Center presents triple delights: a stellar art collection (Renaissance to David Hockney); Richard Meier's cutting-edge architecture; and the visual splendor of seasonally changing gardens. On clear days, you can add breathtaking views of the city and ocean to the list.


Even getting up to the museum aboard the computer-operated tram is fun. From the sprawling arrival plaza, a natural flow of walkways, stairs, fountains, and courtyards encourages a leisurely wander between galleries, gardens, and outdoor cafes. Must-sees include Van Gogh's Irises, Monet's Wheatstacks, and Rembrandt's The Abduction of Europa.

When not wandering the galleries, take time to visit the lovely Cactus Garden for those amazing Los Angeles city views. Sunsets create a remarkable alchemy of light and shadow and are especially magical in winter, when the orange orb drops straight into the Pacific.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Skagway Overlook - Skagway, Alaska

For stunning views over Skagway and its environs, take a scenic drive along the road to Dyea and follow the turnoff to the Overlook.


The viewing platform at the Skagway Overlook takes in the town of Skagway, waterways and surrounding peaks dusted with snow.

Bring your camera and set it to panoramic to capture wide-angle shots of the Skagway River, and inlets and waterways like neighboring Smugglers Cove.

Tours heading to the White Pass summit take time so visitors can appreciate the views over Skagway from the Overlook observation platform.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Field Museum of Natural History - Chicago, Illinois

With more than 20 million artifacts, the Field Museum of Natural History is an engaging museum filled with both interactive and imaginative displays. The big attraction is the Tyrannosaurus rex named "Sue," a 13 foot (4 meter) tall, 41 ft (13 m) long beast who menaces the grand space with ferocious aplomb.


The most complete T-Rex ever discovered, it takes its name from Sue Hendrickson, the fossil-hunter who found the 90 percent complete skeleton in South Dakota in 1990.

Dinosaurs loom large in the Field Museum. At the Evolving Planet exhibit, you can also watch staff paleontologists clean up fossils, learn about the evolution of the massive reptiles, and even learn about Homo sapien's evolutionary ties to the extinct beasts. Away from the prehistoric giants, the “Inside Ancient Egypt” exhibit recreates an Egyptian burial chamber on three levels. The mastaba (tomb) contains 23 actual mummies.

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John G. Shedd Aquarium - Chicago, Illinois

The world's largest assortment of finned, gilled, amphibious, and other aquatic creatures swims within the marble-clad confines of the John G. Shedd Aquarium.


Permanent exhibits include the multilevel Oceanarium, which mimics ocean conditions off the northwest coast of North America. The beluga whales inside are remarkably cute creatures that come from the pint-size end of the whale scale. Their humped heads and natural “smiles” make them look eerily human. You'll also see Pacific white-sided dolphins, harbor seals, and sea otters.

Don't linger only on the main floor; you can go underneath the cement seats and watch the mammals from below through viewing windows. The “Wild Reef” exhibit will have sharkophiles and sharkophobes equally entranced; over a dozen sharks cut through the waters in a simulation of a Philippines reef ecosystem. And the “Amazon Rising” exhibits offer a captivating look at a year in the Amazon River and rain forest.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Na Pali Coast - Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai’s Na Pali Coast is famous for its seaside beauty, marine life and water sports. The 15-mile (24 km) length of coast is lined by cliffs, white-sand beaches and turquoise sea.


Come here to whale watch or spot dolphins and monk seals on an eco-cruise or sailing adventure. Follow the Kalalau Trail to go hiking across the cliff tops to Hanakapiai beach and waterfalls.

Say hello to the local marine life on a snorkeling excursion, with the opportunity to see tropical fish and green sea turtles.

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Big Island, Hawaii

raction on the Big Island is Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii’s sole World Heritage Site. The volatile park’s centerpiece is Kilauea Volcano, which continues to blow its top and spout molten lava, ash and steam.


The mega attCrater Rim Drive is a spectacular driving route, skirting the rim of the caldera, stopping at lookouts and taking you from rainforest to desert. The eerie and easily accessible Thurston Lava Tube is a long hollow cave-like formation, created by flowing lava.

Another driving route to follow is the winding Chain of Craters Road along the slopes of the volcano to the coast, where lava has pooled from recent eruptions.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

El Capitan - Yosemite National Park, California

Yes, it's a big rock, but what makes El Capitan a must-witness sight in Yosemite is the fact that it's the largest exposed-granite monolith in the world. Oh, and people climb it. Rising 3,593 feet (1095 meters)—more than 350 stories—above the Valley, El Capitan was once considered impossible to climb.


However, since Warren Harding first conquered the "nose" in 1958, El Capitan has become the standard for big-wall climbing.

Take binoculars to spot the little bits of color that pinpoint adventurous climbers tackling the smooth and nearly vertical cliff.

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