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Across the Cumberland Plateau

By Linda Tancs

Regarded as Tennessee’s largest and most visited state park, Fall Creek Falls State Park features 26,000 acres of woodlands, gorges, waterfalls and streams across the eastern portion of the Cumberland Plateau. As the name implies, falls are a signature feature of the park. Fall Creek Falls, at 256 feet, is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States. Other waterfalls within the park include Piney Falls, Cane Creek Falls and Cane Creek Cascades. More than 34 miles of trails can be explored, including two long distance overnight trails. The park is located 11 miles east of Spencer and 18 miles west of Pikeville and can be entered from Highway 111 or Highway 30.


Park Country

By Linda Tancs

Chances are, if you’ve visited St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, then you’ve encountered Virgin Islands National Park. That’s because two-thirds of the island is parkland, with key attractions like Annaberg Plantation and Trunk Bay in its borders. With so much area to explore, you needn’t fear going it alone. Ranger-guided tours abound in the park, covering hikes, shore walks, bird walks and even snorkel tours. The Reef Bay Trail is a year round hiking tour, where the island’s oldest and tallest trees are found amidst sugar plantation ruins, stone walls from cattle grazing and ancient rock carvings left behind by the pre-Colombian Taino. The L’Esperance Hike (available November thru April) follows an old Danish road that leads to a scenic transition from shady tropical forest to a desert-like landscape. Along the way you’ll find the island’s only baobab, a sacred tree species that was brought to the Caribbean by enslaved Africans. Both hikes end with a 40-minute boat ride back to the Cruz Bay Visitor Center.

Aurora Capital of North America

By Linda Tancs

Yellowknife is the capital city of Canada’s Northwest Territories, an old mining town known for its aurora views, dogsled rides and ice castle. This month marks the Snowking’s Winter Festival, an annual event when a huge castle made entirely of snow and ice is created on Yellowknife Bay by the Snowking and his hardy helpers. While you’re there, don’t miss out on an aurora-viewing tour. This time of year is when the skies tend to be clearest and darkest for the best glow.

A Crystalline Adventure

By Linda Tancs

Swarovski Crystal Worlds was opened in 1995 to mark the centennial anniversary of the company’s founding. Located in the town of Wattens (about 20 minutes northeast of Innsbruck), its crystal art exhibitions allow you to experience every facet (no pun intended) of this popular adornment. The Chambers of Wonder include a nostalgic and technological view of the company from its founding through to magical moments on stage, screen and runway. All of the chambers are entered through a “green giant,” an imposing structure that forms the focal point for the multi-sensory installations housed within it.

From Fjord to Sky

By Linda Tancs

Loen Skylift will bring you from Norway’s Nordfjord to the top of Mt. Hoven (3,316 feet) in only five minutes. One of the steepest aerial trams in the world, the reward is a panoramic view from the cliffside Hoven Restaurant. Pair that with snowshoeing, ski touring, cross country skiing and winter walking. The skylift is six hours from Oslo by car or take Nettbuss.

Under the Microscope in Prague

By Linda Tancs

At the Museum of Miniatures in Prague, Czech Republic, the exhibits are meant to be viewed microscopically. How else would you see a flea with golden horseshoes or the Lord’s Prayer written on a strand of human hair? Microminiature is an art form featuring works that typically range from a couple of millimeters to just a couple of tenths of a millimeter. Boasting one of the largest collections of microminiatures in the world, the museum can be reached by taking tram 22 to Pohořelec station.

A Good Walk in Wales

By Linda Tancs

The town of Crickhowell, Wales, offers a nine-day walking festival every year—a chance to put your best foot forward, as the saying goes. Offering dozens of guided walks, there is an activity level to match every taste, from trekking all day across the tops of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons to keeping to paths and the lower slopes. All walks start at CRiC Centre on Beaufort Street. The weather may prove challenging this time of year, but don’t let that stop you. This year’s festival runs from February 24 to March 4.

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