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TIPS

It’s August. Let’s Go Somewhere!

There is so much talk about eating seasonally. Why not take that same approach to travel? Destinations simply shine certain times of the year. With that in mind, here’s a few destinations you should consider in August.

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

st john's newfoundland

One of the most eastern places in North America, St. John’s offers history, nature, wildlife and culture. Here’s why you should go.

Why go now? Iceland, Ireland, Norway, England, France and Denmark are travel destinations that are likely on your radar. But what if I told you that you could experience all of these cultures and environments in one place? Add in great weather, and boom! Vacation perfection.

Where to stay: In a city as quaint as St. John’s, you’d expect a few idyllic B&Bs… and you’d be correct. Check out Leaside Manor (link) or the Roses for a more intimate accommodation experience.

Where to eat: Merchant Tavern (link) is a nod to the global merchants that made the original St. John’s settlement possible. Try the fish and chips; pan roasted cod; fresh pasta; and raw bar selections.

Where to shop: Find textiles, pottery, jewelry, paintings and more at the Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador (link), a non-profit shop and gallery all about supporting local artists.

Weird fact: Did you know Newfoundland has its own time zone? Newfoundland Time. And it’s an hour and a half later than Eastern Standard Time.

Get cultured: Modern melds with the historic throughout St. John’s. Experience it for yourself at The Rooms. This public cultural space boasts breathtaking harbor and city views, and houses the province’s most extensive collection of artifacts, art, and archival records.

Candy without the calories: When you think of places with brightly colored houses, you think Caribbean not Canada. Downtown St. John’s is known for its striking Jellybean Row houses, clapboard homes in vibrant reds, yellows, blues and pinks.

Old-timey fun: Quidi Vidi Village feels a world away from modern times, but it’s really a short walk from downtown St. John’s. Lovingly called “The Gut” by locals, this historic fishing village entices locals and tourists with its beautiful sunsets.

Find more info on St. John’s here.

Northern Michigan

michigan

With its rich blue waters, white sand beaches and nothing but water on the horizon, it’s easy to see why this area is called the Caribbean of the North. Here’s how to make the most of your time in Northern Michigan.

Where to stay: So many beautiful places to stay in this area, it’s hard to pick just one! If you’re looking to explore Sleeping Bear Dunes and Traverse City, drop your bags at Sugar Beach. In Petoskey, you’ll find anything from elegant guest rooms to spacious apartments at Bay Harbor. Also, lots of great camping to be had! Explore your options here.

Where to eat: From breakfast at the Grand Traverse Pie Company to Asian-inspired food at Alliance Restaurant, there’s no shortage of great places to grab a bite. Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor offers excellent burgers in a no-frills atmosphere.

Where to drink: If you’re into wine, northwest Michigan is home to over 60 wineries. Check out the Leelanau Peninsula for some lovely vineyards, including 45 North, Big Little Wines and Mawby, known for their bubbles. Across the bay, you’ll find Bonobo Winery, a lovely spot owned by HGTV star Connor Oosterhouse and wife, actress Amy Smart.

Get outside: Good Morning America named Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore the most beautiful spot in America. Who am I to argue? Turquoise water, blue sky and towering sand dunes this 64-mile curve of breathtaking beaches, forests, meadows and lakes can’t be missed.

Cute small town alert! Head to the “Tip of the Mitt” (aka the top of Michigan—you’ll notice locals regularly use their palm to denote locations within the state). Stop in Petoskey’s downtown, which overlooks Lake Michigan and offers terrific shopping, as well as Harbor Springs.

Touristy thing that is soooo worth it: You must must must take the ferry to famous Mackinac Island. It’s one of my favorite places in the country. I adore any place where no cars are allowed (here’s my travel guide to the island). Simply leave your car on the mainland and head over for the day or even overnight.

Quirky stop:  Visit Saint Ignace’s Mystery Spot, an area where gravity, allegedly, seems to have gone haywire. Is it a natural phenomenon… or cheesy tourist roadside stop? Hmm… maybe both.

Read up on Michigan travel here.

 

Montreal

Montréal is a city that puts on a show of artistry in practically everything. From hidden alleyway bicycle tours to its world famous Cirques Festivals, the “City of Saints” is full of surprises.

Why go now? Montreal summers may be fleeting, but they’re fabulous. Festivals, markets, concerts—these guys make the most of every minute.

Where to stay: As the first boutique hotel in Old Montreal, the Place d’Armes balances historic beauty with modern luxury and service. Housed in four 19th-century neoclassical buildings, you’ll be right in the heart of the city, across the street from the Notre-Dame Basilica and steps from the Old Port.

What to eat: Founded by Judy Servay, Robin des Bois funnels its earnings right back into the community. Go for Japanese-inspired rice bowls, yummy poutine, and Nordic-style smoked salmon sandwich—it’s a tasty way to support charities working to make Montreal a better place for all.

Best cup of coffee: You won’t find a mustachioed barista in suspenders at Café Italia—it’s as old school as it gets. Owned by the same family since opening in 1956, any renovation has been intentionally reminiscent of the original. Order a cappuccino, mingle with the locals, and play a game of foosball—it’s been a staple at Café Italia for years.

Get your bearings: Want to get a lay of the land? Go on a walk or bike ride.  In Montreal, I opted for a bike tour with Shea Mayer, founder of Fitz and Follwell. These guys organize the best bike and walking tours, year-round.

Where to shop: In all my travels, I’ve never ever been to a place quite like Dante. Open since 1954, this corner store specializes in, well, just about everything. It’s part hardware store, part kitchen shop, and a bona fide gun shop. Where else in the world can you buy a peppermill and a shotgun in the same place (and big box stores don’t count!).

Under the Big Top: Did you know Montreal is the unofficial headquarters of the modern day circus—or cirque, if you want to use the correct terminology. Seven Fingers (or Les 7 Doigts), Cirque Eloize and Cirque du Soleil all typically have ongoing shows in Montreal.

Check out more of my Montreal favorites here.

 

North Cascades National Park

north cascades

Love hiking, kayaking and stunning alpine views? Those are just a few reasons why you should plan a visit to Northwest Washington’s North Cascades National Park, aka the American Alps.

Why visit now? Though the season is short (there’s often snow and ice on the peaks until July!), it’s really where this park shines.

Where to stay: Book a lakeside room or cabin at the Lodge at Stehekin. Accommodations are basic, but the surroundings make this one of the most jaw-dropping hotels in the country. The tiny old-school frontier community (population: 75) is only accessible by float plane, hiking, horseback or boat (book the Lady of the Lake ferry). There’s no cell service and only one public satellite phone available in the valley. You won’t find groceries here (so come prepared!), but the lodge does have a restaurant and general store. There’s also a great pastry shop, ranch, and lots of camping.

Interesting fact:  Though one of the least visited National Parks, it’s a mere 2.5-hour drive from Seattle… why not spend a few days in the city, then head up here for some fresh mountain air?

Claim to fame: With about 300 in its borders, North Cascades has the most glaciers of any National Park outside of Alaska.

Where to hike: 400 miles of trails mean there’s something for every ability. The 1.8-mile trek to Lake Dorothy boasts views of the lake and granite cliffs—there’s a few trails that shoot off from here, offering a little more solitude. Families will love the short hikes from Rainy Pass, including the one-mile long Rainy Lake trail, the two-mile Lake Ann route, plus a handful of other longer loops featuring views into the Glacier Peak Wilderness and Stephen Mather Wilderness areas.

Nightlife: Head to nearby quiet town of Newhalem for a Skagit Hydroelectric Project history lesson. Built in the 1920s, Ladder Creek Falls were illuminated with all the colors of the rainbow, coupled with music. It’s a fun way to spend an evening.

Read more about North Cascades here.

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It’s August. Let’s Go Somewhere!
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