Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Shoreline Highway

Shoreline Highway, Marin County, California

Executive summary by darmansjah

Shoreline Highway—Marin County’s winding, two-lane stretch of Highway 1 from Sausalito to the Sonoma County line—snakes through the Marin Headlands, hugs stunning coastal bluffs, and passes through Stinson Beach, a classic California beach community. Off-road mountain biking was born here—and on-road cyclists are ubiquitous—so take it slow, preferably in a hybrid vehicle to limit emissions and avoid running out of gas. Temps can be 10-to-15 degrees cooler than in nearby San Francisco, so bring a jacket, even on hot days. To enjoy the most expansive Pacific views, wait until the morning fog clears before making the drive north from the Golden Gate Bridge. Fuel up in Sausalito, and then stop at Muir Woods National Monument to walk among thousands of giant, old-growth redwoods. Before nightfall—since the scenic curves can be deadly in the dark—check-in at the Inn at Roundstone Farm, located within Point Reyes National Seashore. Spend a day exploring the seashore’s dramatic rocky headlands, 150 miles of hiking trails, and 2,600-acre tule elk reserve, where the fall rut (the late-summer to early-fall breeding season) inspires magnificent bull elks to bugle, battle, and butt antlers for affection.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

White Mountains

White Mountains, New Hampshire

Executive summary by darmansjah

While peak fall foliage varies annually, the 100-mile White Mountain Trail typically delivers brilliant fall colors from the end of September through the second week of October. Yet, even after the leaves have faded and the leaf-peeping crowds have gone home, meandering this National Scenic Byway reveals classic New England fall scenes—historic covered bridges, granite mountain peaks, dramatic gorges, rushing cascades, and bucolic Colonial-era farmhouses and barns. Each section of the loop displays a unique personality. Drive the 37-mile Kancamagus Highway—“the Kanc”—for mountain vistas, moose sightings, and bird-watching; visit North Conway for tax-free outlet shopping, the trail’s largest concentration of restaurants, and Conway Scenic Railroad train trips; and travel the Crawford Notch-to-Bartlett stretch to ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway to the 6,288-foot summit of New England’s highest peak, or drive to the top via the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The iconic New Hampshire tourist attraction celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2011 and, weather permitting, is scheduled to remain open for passenger car travel until October 23 this season.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Executive summary by darmansjah

Sultans, sailors, slaves, and spice traders have all passed through this mystical Indian Ocean archipelago on East Africa’s Swahili Coast. Located 22 miles from mainland Tanzania, semi-autonomous Zanzibar consists of two main islands—Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba—plus numerous smaller islands. The diverse human history (dating back at least 20,000 years to the Paleolithic Age) and natural beauty (turquoise water, coral reefs, and white sands) create an exotic backdrop for a fall beach or diving vacation based at a small-scale resort like Chumbe Island Coral Park, a private nature reserve featuring palm-thatched bungalows. Skies typically are clear through the end of October, with “short rains” returning in November. Supporting the islands’ geotourism efforts includes respecting the majority Muslim population’s modest dress code, particularly when wandering the beguiling maze of cobbled lanes in Zanzibar's ancient trading port, Stone Town. Join a living history tour to learn the stories of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Top stops include the haunting slave memorial erected on a former auction block, and Beit al-Ajaib, a 19th-century sultan’s palace that's now the House of Wonders Museum of History and Culture of Zanzibar and the Swahili Coast.