With 11,000-foot peaks and an average of 170 inches of snowfall a year, Aspen is the ultimate snow country. And there is more than one exhilarating way to put all that fresh powder to use. While visiting the mountain town for the Winter X Games, the Roaming Gnome tried out Aspen’s ultimate outdoor activities. Here’s his guide to help you figure out how to pack the most outdoor action into your visit:
1. Go Skiing: This is the no-brainer. Aspen Snowmass has four mountains to suit a range of skiing skill sets. Hit Aspen Mountain for expert groomed runs and 76 trails. For gentler slopes perfect for families and beginners, hit the greens and blues at Buttermilk. And to feel the rush of the double-black-diamond backcountry, hike up local favorite Highland Bowl.
2. Go Snowboarding: Boarders are welcome on any of Aspen’s slopes. But if you really want to shred your heart out, you belong at the terrain parks at Snowmass and Buttermilk. As host of the Winter X Games, saying they know how to build an epic snowboard park would be a serious understatement.
3. Go Snowmobiling: Want a little more horsepower in your snow day? Head to T Lazy 7 Ranch for a snowmobile tour. After a quick lesson, you’ll get to drive your own machine past Maroon Lake to take in the view of Aspen’s most iconic mountains: the magnificent Maroon Bells.
4. Go Snowshoeing: If you want to take in the breathtaking scenery at a more leisurely pace, try your hand…er, feet…at snowshoeing. The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies hosts daily guided snowshoe tours through the Aspen groves and historic Ashcroft mining town. All equipment and even lunch is included.
5. Go Fat Biking: The newest passion to hit Aspen, fat bikes are mountain bikes with giant tires for navigating snow-covered trails. Rent your gear at Stapleton Ski or Ute City Cycles in town, bundle up and then hit the Rio Grande trail.
6. Go Paragliding: You don’t get the most breathtaking views of Aspen from standing on a mountain; you get them from flying off one. Aspen Paragliding offers tandem paragliding trips daily, weather permitting. You take the gondola up Aspen Mountain, then glide off for an incredible bird’s-eye view — touring the town from 10,000 feet.
It’s only January and we have already been hit with heavy snow, blizzard conditions and freezing temperatures from Dallas, to New York City. But if you ask me, travel is the best cure for the winter doldrums, and even a short weekend getaway does a lot to boost your dreary mood. A weekend in Miami, Florida? Just the trick. Here’s a quick how to guide to making the most of your mini Miami jaunt.
Step 1: Ditch the winter blues.
It’s eighty degrees right now in Miami, so do yourself a favor and have some summery clothes on the plane or layer them underneath your winter coat. As soon as your step foot outside the airport you’ll want to quickly go from winter drab to beachy fab.
Step 2: Go pool hopping
Miami’s pool scene is huge with pools ranging from super chill to super chic. Bachelors and bachelorettes will love the Fontainbleau‘s pool party while those looking for a laid-back happy-hour vibe will feel right at home at the Standard‘s pool. But for a completely serene rooftop scene, nothing beats the Sense Beach House‘s pool.
Step 3: Get fit
If your New Year’s resolution had anything to do with health or fitness, Miami is the place to kick it into high gear. The great news? Getting fit in Miami isn’t a chore; it’s actually really fun. You can do free yoga on the beach at 3rd Street Beach Yoga, rent a DecoBike, walk around the Wynwood Walls or go paddle boarding in Biscayne Bay.
Step 4: Eat Local
After you’ve worked up an appetite, check out Miami’s local food scene. Two of my favorite discoveries, The Local House in the “South of Fifth” neighborhood and La Sandwicherie on 14th Street.
Step 5: Take a Spin on the Dance Floor
In Miami there’s a nightclub for nearly every type of partier. Sophisticates might like some day partying at the Mondrian, for celeb spotting, Rec Room and FDR are a must, and for dancing in a luxurious 1930′s villa, there’s the Versace Mansion. If you’re not the dancing type, check out Miami’s new Sweetwater Beer Garden!
Step 6: Catch the sunrise
Miami’s oceanfront East Coast location makes sunrises seekers very happy. Set your alarm, or come straight from the club and stake out your spot anywhere on Miami’s long stretch of white sand beach for a sunrise to remember.
On St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, one beach is more beautiful than then next. All of the beaches are free and public, making a day of beach-hopping easy and cheap! Each of St. John’s best beaches has a little something special about it:
One of my favorite things about a beach is when it’s completely secluded, and Hawksnest Beach on St. John’s north shore is exactly that. Just the sound of the ocean and few little onlookers. Perfection.
Jumbie Bay Beach
Take a short winding path through a tropical forest and you’ll end up on the shores of Jumbie Bay Beach. There are no beach chairs on Jumbie Bay, but if you find a palm tree it’s all yours. The water is the perfect temperature!
Francis Bay Beach
At Francis Bay, it’s all about the snorkeling. Make sure you buy your snorkel gear before you get the the beach. They do not provide rentals! After only a few minutes in the water, sting rays and fish are easy to spot! On the day I visited I was one of only three snorkelers. Private and perfect.
There are dozens of beaches on St. John and all throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. Which ones are your favorites?
Think Miami is just beaches and bikinis? Think again. The Roaming Gnome just spent a long weekend in the sunshine-y city during the 2013 Art Basel art show. And while there, he experienced a multitude of sights, sounds and tastes that made for an unforgettable three-day getaway.
Here are his top 15 reasons you should pack your bags and make your own Miami escape:
Miami IS more than beaches and bikinis. But you cannot miss out on the spectacular light show that happens in South Beach every morning around 6 a.m. It’s also when the bustling beach is at its quietest.
2. Feeling the wind in your hair in the marina
Ocean Force Adventures has boat tours every day, so you can see the skyline, and even spy some dolphins, while cruising by at 20 knots. All that exhilaration will make you hungry so head to My Ceviche afterward for Miami’s best ceviche lunch.
After you stop by the cigar factory, head straight down Calle Ocho to hang out with the fellows playing dominoes. They take their matches seriously, but are happy to chat between turns if you habla español.
In 2009, Tony Goldman transformed this defunct warehouse district into an eye-popping street art gallery. Peruse the massive murals then top off your art-stravaganza with a craft brew in Wynwood Brewing’s taproom.
Yes. You can actually get up close and personal with lemurs, parrots, kangaroos and pythons at this family-friendly animal park. You literally can’t miss the gibbons either— they “sing” at 80 decibels while swinging from their perches.
Sure you can take in a game (and should), but you also just might bump into one of the “Three Kings” while you’re out and about. Especially if you’re following the whereabouts of DJ Irie, official Miami Heat DJ and man-about-town.
If you miss the 6 a.m. sunrise, you can still catch the sunset on the other side of Miami Beach. Just remember to bring your bathing suit to take in the uninterrupted view of the skyline from the infinity pool.
Check out Travelocity’s Miami Vacations to start planning your amazing three-day weekend.
The best way to recover from the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving vacation, is to take another vacation; preferably somewhere with palm trees and white sand beaches. And this week the Roaming Gnome is doing just that. He’s flying down to Miami to soak up some sun, check out 2013 Art Basel Miami Beach and get into as much mischief as he can manage in five short days. Miamiandbeaches.com has helped him put together one killer to-do list for his trip. Here’s a taste of what’s on his agenda:
1. Art Basel Miami Beach
Now in it’s 13th year, the Art Basel Miami Beach art show is taking over the city from December 5 through 8. The show hosts more than 250 of the world’s leading galleries, so the Roaming Gnome will have the chance to peruse collections from up-and-coming artists and proven masters. And it wouldn’t be an art show without a few parties, so he’ll be hitting the South Beach scene (and hopefully not making too much of an exhibition of himself in the process).
2. Miami’s Hotel Hot Spots
Hotels are a destination in and of themselves in Miami, and the Roaming Gnome will be checking in to several South Beach hot spots like the Delano, the Shore Club and The Mondrian South Beach to check out their pool bars, pamper himself with their spa treatments and cool down with a few cocktails in their cabanas.
3. Little Havana
He’s only in town for a few days, but the Roaming Gnome is hoping to absorb as much of the sights, tastes, and sounds of Miami’s Cuban culture as possible. He’ll watch how they make cigars in shops on Calle Ocho, learn how to play dominoes in Maximo Gomez Park, and perhaps do a little prep for a night on the town with a few (dozen) cups of Cuban coffee.
4. Miami’s Best Restaurants
With the help of Miami native and fearless food-blogger Jackie Gutierrez-Jones, the Roaming Gnome will be eating his way through Miami’s best restaurants. Whether it’s chic upscale cuisine in Miami Beach, farm-to-table flavors with an indie flair in the Design District, or just a casual bite in an open-air café in Coconut Grove, no morsel will be spared.
5. Miami’s Great Outdoors
You simply can’t go to Miami without sunning your bum on the beach, and the Roaming Gnome will be doing just that. But he’ll also be exploring more unexpected methods of getting his wintertime dose of Vitamin D, like air boating through the everglades, feeding alligators, or perhaps taking a slightly tamer—yet no less invigorating—stroll through the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.
To keep up with the Roaming Gnome’s Miami adventure, or give him advice on where to go while he’s in town, follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Foursquare.