Destination Spotlight: Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a natural wonder throughout each season. For single travelers, summer is truly an ideal time to visit there.

Situated across almost 3,500 square miles, Yellowstone was the world’s first national park. It is indeed the flagship national park of the United States. Yellowstone is larger than both Delaware and Rhode Island combined, something somewhat inconceivable to natives of the Mid-Atlantic and New England. The park mostly sits within Wyoming though it reaches into both Montana and Idaho as well, with the Continental Divide traversing through it.

Within the vast boundaries of Yellowstone, travelers will find a splendor of nature: wondrous canyons, deep forests, rushing rivers, thundering waterfalls, and, of course, hot springs and geysers, the most famous being Old Faithful. As one of the most predictable natural things on Earth, Old Faithful will erupt basically every 60-90 minutes, guaranteed.  It’s been delighting visitors of all ages for generations.

Throughout the great lands of Yellowstone National Park, majestic animals roam. Think: bison, bears, antelope, elk, moose, and more. The once endangered gray wolf was reintroduced to the park in 1995 after a 70-year absence. They have thrived, and their howls echo throughout all of Yellowstone. If seeking out packs of wolves is not your thing, the park also is home to more than 1,000 species of native plants and flowers. This includes beautiful lilies, roses, sunflowers, buttercups, and clovers.

With so much to see and do, planning a trip to Yellowstone can seem overwhelming. Some travelers opt to go rustic, camping in a tent overnight and exploring by hiking. Not everyone that enjoys nature enjoys being rustic — nor has the necessary gear to do so. (My place in the city just doesn’t have the storage for camping equipment.) As such, some visitors, especially single travelers, like the idea of taking a guided group tour of Yellowstone, for convenience as well as the educational, social, and safety aspects of the experience.

One option is to join a “bus camping” tour of Yellowstone, designed especially for those without camping experience. Founded on the principle that getting to a destination is more than half the fun, bus camping trips offer a radical twist on the classic bus tour. Campers both travel and sleep in a lounge-style converted bus. We roll through towns and the park, enjoying the beauty of nature, hiking or participating in other activities on stops, cooking mouth-watering meals at the campfire, and relaxing all along the way.

Another option is to combine a trip Yellowstone with a resort destination. There are five entrances to Yellowstone National Park in both Wyoming and Montana. Within just a short drive (less than an hour) from the West Entrance of the park is Big Sky, Montana — the base camp to a great Yellowstone vacation. Big Sky is one of the American West’s greatest resort destinations. It is known for its rugged natural beauty and abundance of wildlife. The resort area is also known for its wide variety of outdoor sports and recreational activities in the summer — horseback riding, whitewater rafting, zip lining, golfing, hiking, fly fishing, high ropes courses, and more.

A popular option for travelers that are visiting this part of the country for the first time is to combine a few days in Big Sky with a guided tour of Yellowstone National Park. Here, visitors get the best of both worlds — and can indulge in some luxury pampering as well (spa time, anyone?) while in Big Sky.

Interested in joining one of our trips to Yellowstone? Contact us.

Destination Spotlight: Paris

The famous song is April in Paris, but it’s magnificent always. At any time of the year in Paris, hearts sing and embraces are warm. I wish that I could say that I’m being overly sentimental or romantic, but this city does charm. When you visit once, the City of Light never quite leaves you.

Must-see sights in Paris

  • Musée d’Orsay — Housed in a converted railway station with amazing Belle Époque architecture, this is my favorite museum in Paris. Not that the Musée du Louvre isn’t spectacular with the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and its Glass Pyramid designed by I.M. Pei. The grand Louvre is on everyone’s list of must-sees in Paris. But the Musée d’Orsay, with its wonderful collection of art that spans from 1848 to 1914, is a gem of Paris. Here you will find the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in the world (think: Monet, Degas, Manet, Renior, Cézanne, Van Gogh) in a unique left bank setting.
  • Montmartre — Sitting high on a right bank hill in the 18th arrondissement, this historic district is the center of Paris’ Bohemian past. Many of the artists whose paintings you will find at the Musée d’Orsay lived and worked in this area during the turn of the last century (and perhaps visited the famed Moulin Rouge). With its tiny, winding streets, small squares, and beautiful panoramic views of the city, Montmartre is also home to the magnificent Sacré Coeur, a Roman Catholic basilica that was built as a memorial to fallen soldiers.
  • The Ile de la Cité and Ile St-Louis — Connected to one another by a small bridge, these two islands in the Seine are full of charm and history. The larger Ile de la Cité was the site of the first settlement in Paris in 300 BC and is home to two landmark gothic churches: the spectacular Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the smaller and even more stunning Sainte-Chapelle. Visit these in the morning before the crowds gather and when the sunlight beams most beautifully through Sainte-Chapelle’s famous stained-glass windows. You can then spend the afternoon strolling through the utterly charming Ile St-Louis, which is filled with shops, galleries, and cafes (hint: order the crepes).
  • Eiffel Tower — The Tour Eiffel is an icon, the quintessential monument of Paris. It can be seen from all over the city, and it’s a site to behold from no matter where you are standing. I spent one New Year’s Eve hanging out on Pont Neuf, drinking champagne, and watching the tower dance in a million lights at midnight. The photo above was taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and it’s well worth the stairwell climb to the top just to see that vista. But you cannot visit The City of Light without going to see the Eiffel Tower up close. Once there, wait in line and take the elevator to its third-level viewing gallery. The views from there, at night or day, are breathtaking, and to see Paris from this vantage point is something you’ll always remember.

As you can tell, I love Paris, and you will, too. If you are a single traveler thinking about visiting Paris, please join us on our singles group tour.  Simply contact us for more information.

Destination Spotlight: London

Set on the River Thames, London Town is a modern world city with a history that spans two millennia. Not only is London the capital of England, but it is also a global center for finance, healthcare, the arts, education, culture, fashion, and entertainment. When you combine the city’s rich history with its modern offerings, and add in that it is home to a certain royal family known as the Windsors, it is no wonder why London was named in MasterCard’s annual travel study in both 2014 and 2015 as the world’s leading travel destination.

When you visit London, you can feel like you’ve stepped back in time at one moment and then leapt far ahead into the future at the next. The picture above is of the futuristic Millennium Bridge, connecting pedestrians from London’s South Bank (home of both Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and the Tate Modern) to the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral, built at the turn of the 18th century and later the location of the wedding between Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. See what I mean?

This paradox of London, however, is what makes it a truly fascinating place to visit. And when you do, here are some sites that are not to be missed:

  • The Museums. London is home to some of the finest art and artifact collections in the world. At the British Museum, which is the oldest museum in the world, you’ll find more than 6 million treasures, including the Rosetta Stone and a Mummified Cat, that span over a million years of civilization. Art lovers must visit the National Gallery to view paintings from the Renaissance to the Impressionists as well as the neighboring National Portrait Gallery for exquisite portraiture, including famous paintings of both QE1 and Willy Shakes.
  • The Royal Palaces and Parks. No trip to London would be complete without a visit to Buckingham Palace. Be sure to time your visit to see the Changing of the Guard which happens at 11:30 am in the spring and summer. From there, you can explore London’s gorgeous royal green spaces, including St. James’ Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens. Within Kensington Gardens is the beautiful Kensington Palace, once home to Princess Diana.
  • The Churches. Along with St. Paul’s, London’s other most famous church is the medieval Westminster Abbey, founded in 960, and the location of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the funeral of Princess Diana, and the Coronation of QE2. Music lovers will not want to miss the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, known for its rich tradition of musical liturgy.
  • The Towers. Perhaps most famous as the place where Henry VIII sent not one but two wives to be executed, the Tower of London is a massive riverside fortress that now houses both the Crown Jewels, including the Imperial State Crown, and group of six famous ravens. From the Tower of London, it’s a short walk to Tower Bridge, one of London’s most known landmarks, and a true feat of engineering. It now has a glass walkway if you are feeling daring.
  • The Entertainment. From the performing arts to live music to theatre in London’s West End, there is no shortage of entertainment options, which, of course, can be preceded or followed up by a pint at one of London’s many (many) pubs.

And then there’s the London Eye. Sitting right on the banks of the River Thames, this giant wheel is the largest in the world and offers breathtaking vistas over all of London. Some of the best views are of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, which sit directly across the river.

London is truly a city for the ages – at once historical but modern, royal but accessible. For single travelers, one of the best ways to see London is part of a group tour.

Interested? Contact us.