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Five Ultimate Mountain Town Retreats in America

For those who live in the city, the mountains offer the perfect place to take a retreat. Out among the hills, you can fully take in nature with a hike, a bike ride, or even a climb. Fortunately for the mountain lover, the United States has a number of beautiful mountains and mountain ranges, from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachian Mountains. These places are perfect for the ultimate mountain town retreat.

mountain town retreats

Leafcanoer, Kim Fish, recently posted about her visit to Gatlinburg, TN in the leaf titled, “Gatlinburg: The Gateway to the Smokey Mountains.” It’s full of interesting tid bits about the area, as well as tips and tricks related to travel in Gatlinburg.

If you are looking for a place to spend a mountain retreat, we’ve compiled a list of five of the ultimate mountain town retreats in the United States.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee
The town of Gatlinburg is undoubtedly the quintessential American mountain town. Located 39 miles southeast of Knoxville, the town is a common starting off point for a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains. Gatlinburg has a number of popular attraction including a Ripley’s museum, as well as Dolly Parton’s Dollywood, located near the town.

mountain town retreats

Taos, New Mexico
In the heart of the New Mexican desert is a mountain town like no other. The mountain town of Taos offers a beautiful setting and a thriving community for artists. Near the modern town of Taos is a traditional Native American Pueblo that has been occupied for over a thousand years. Visitors can come to Taos Pueblo and learn about traditional Native American culture, as well as catch a glimpse of how life is like in a pueblo.

mountain town retreats

Estes Park, Colorado
Colorado in general is an excellent place to spend a mountain retreat. But the town of Estes Park is by far the most beautiful and most popular among visitors to the Rocky Mountains. One of the highlights of the Estes Park is the historic Stanley Hotel, which offers panoramic views of Lake Estes, and was also the location for the famous horror movie, The Shining.

mountain town retreats

Stowe, Vermont
The town of Stowe offers a number of picturesque views. In addition, it is a popular spot for arts and craft shows, festivals, and car shows such as the British Invasion, a showcase of British cars held annually in the month of September. Stowe is a known for its skiing, and some of the points of interest in the town include the Trapp Family Lodge, owned by the famous von Trapp family, and the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum.

mountain town retreats

Leavenworth, Washington
For a quirky mountain town experience, head to Leavenworth, a mountain town with a decidedly Bavarian feel. The town of Leavenworth was officially incorporated in 1906, but it wasn’t until 1962 that members of the community decided to give the town a Bavarian theme. Since then, many of the buildings have been remodeled to resemble a German town in the Alps, and Leavenworth now hosts an annual Oktoberfest celebration. It’s also home to the Nutcracker Museum, which holds a large collection of nutcrackers. The perfect time to visit Leavenworth is actually in the winter, when the whole town is decked out in holiday decorations.

mountain town retreats

No matter where you are in the world, sometimes it’s nice to take a retreat into the mountains to reconnect with nature. In mythology, mountains symbolize strength and stability, and spending time in the mountains can certainly help you channel your own strength and stability. With these five ultimate mountain town retreats, the mountain experience is now well within your reach.

Looking to discover your own perfect mountain town retreat? Download the LeafCanoe app for more travel ideas and inspiration.

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How to Spend 24 Hours in Chicago

Chicago is one of the most visited cities in America. Set in the heart of the America’s mid-West region, Chicago is a vibrant and exciting city, full of history, culture, and grit. Leafcanoer, searchingforyourzen, recently posted a Leaf about Chicago titled, “Chicago’s Skyline Tour.” It’s full of great suggestions for exploring the city.

To really get to know Chicago, you need months, or better yet years of living there to fully understand the local character. But even if you only have a short time for a visit, there are still ways to get a taste of life in Chicago. For those with a limited amount of time, here’s a list of how to spend 24 hours in Chicago.

Get a morning workout at Millenium Park
Start your day off with a visit to Millenium Park. In the summer time, the park offers free workouts on Saturday and Sunday mornings. But even if you’re not there in the summer, Millenium Park and adjacent Maggie Daley Park, are great places to take a morning walk or jog. There are a few art installations worth seeing at Millenium Park, including the Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, and Boeing Galleries. After your workout, head north to Randolph Street for pancakes at Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe, or try Caffe Rom on Stetson Avenue for Italian coffee and European pastries.

Cloud Gate

Explore art at the Art Institute
After breakfast, head back south through Millenium Park to the Art Institute of Chicago. Home to an extensive collection of classical and modern art, the Art Institute of Chicago is an excellent place to spend a relaxing morning in Chicago. The Art Institute has five wings, with art from all over the world and throughout history. Worth a look is the Modern Wing, which features 20th and 21st Century art.

Art Institute

Hang out with aquatic life at Shedd Aquarium
You could easily spend the day away at the Art Institute of Chicago, but instead, why not spend the afternoon with sea animals? First, head over to nearby Wabash Avenue for a bite to eat at any of the restaurants that line the street. Then head south through Grant Park to the Shedd Aquarium, located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Shedd Aquarium is the world’s largest indoor aquarium and boasts over 8,000 aquatic animals.

Shedd Aquarium

Ride the Loop
After a long morning and afternoon of sight-seeing, it’s good to have some down time. A fun and unique way to see the city is to ride the Loop. The Loop is a set of elevated railway circulating through downtown Chicago. From the Shedd Aquarium, head west on Roosevelt Road to the Roosevelt station. From there, catch the Orange Line north. The train will circulate around downtown starting from the Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren station to the Adams/Wabash station, before heading back south to Roosevelt station. Be sure to get off at the Adams/Wabash station.

Chicago train

Go out on the ledge at Willis Tower
From the Adams/Wabash station, head west on Adams Street to visit Willis Tower, located on Franklin Street. Formerly called the Sears Tower, and built in the 1970’s, Willis Tower is considered the tallest building in America. Open 365 days a year, until 10pm from April to September, and 8pm from October to March, the Willis Tower is the perfect place to catch a sunset in Chicago.

Willis Tower

Rest your head at a historic hotel
At the end of the day, the best thing to do is rest your head on a comfortable pillow and curl up under a warm blanket. There are a number of historic hotels located throughout Chicago, with most of them centralized around the downtown area.

Chicago is a fun and exciting place to visit, regardless of whether you only have 24 hours in Chicago, or years to explore. There are so many attractions to see in the city, much more than what’s described here. This list is just a starting off point, and can be a great source of inspiration for your own adventures in the windy city.

Crown Fountain

For more ideas of what to see in Chicago and in other cities, download the Leafcanoe app.

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Visit 50+ cities in US: A 3 Month American Road Trip in Action

There is something exhilarating about a road trip. No matter where you go in the world, traveling across a country brings with it a sense of freedom and excitement, coupled with the uncertainty of exploring the unknown. One of the best countries to road trip through is the United States. With its mix of interstate freeways and state highways, and an abundance of attractions from the kitschy to the breathtaking, an American road trip is certainly something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

We recently met up with travel blogger and LeafCanoer, Dan McElroy, who runs the travel blog, Searching For Your Zen. Having spent the last two years backpacking through Europe, teaching English in China, and traveling through Asia, Dan is currently on an American road trip. We sat down with Dan to talk about his travels, his blog, and his tips for doing an American road trip.

What’s the meaning behind “Searching For Your Zen”?
“Searching For Your Zen” was the result of a quarter-life crisis. I had just jumped into the “Corporate World” of the US with aspirations of climbing the ladder and being successful. When I lost my job unexpectedly and with no warning I was forced to re-consider my life and my own definition of “success.” After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that it was time for a change in my life. I was tired of chasing society’s dream and decided I wanted to travel. It was in the moments leading up to a solo 3 month trip to Europe that I started “Searching For Your Zen“. I was on a new adventure in life and my only goal was to be happy again.

What do you look for when you travel?
My ideological answer to that question is, “I’m searching for that place where time ceases to exist.”

In other words, I am looking for those moments in life that are so engrossing that nothing else matters. Those moments when time seems to slow down and life just seems simple for a moment. For me, I find those moments most often when I’m wearing a backpack in a foreign country and meeting strangers in hostels. People have a funny way of becoming their “best self” on the road and that is ultimately what I’m looking for. I want to be my best self and I seem to run into him more often while traveling.

What’s your American road trip goal?
Jess (my girlfriend), Barney (her dog) and myself are hoping to see the US as it was meant to be seen. This country is huge and it seems to demand a slower pace to truly experience it. Like anywhere, the US is just as much about the people is it is about the sites. We want to see the famous sites and we will, but in the meantime we’re talking to people from all over and hoping to get a glimpse into their lives. Our goal isn’t just to see the US, but to actually experience some of the sub-cultures.

What has been your favorite travel memory so far in US?
We are only 2 weeks into the road trip so far, but our favorite experience was when we spent a couple nights on a farm outside of Missoula, Montana. We used CouchSurfing.com and “surfed” with some really cool people! In the mornings we helped out a bit around the farm and then we went swimming and boating in the afternoons. It was a great experience and we met some really good people out there. Montanans are super friendly and the scenery in the entire state was incredible to experience first-hand.

What leafs can we expect next from you?
Because we started our road trip in Montana and Wyoming, we have front-loaded our road trip with national parks! As a result, my first 2 leafs were about Glacier & Yellowstone. In the future though, I would like to cast light on some of those places that don’t always get as much attention, cities and towns with unknown adventures and excitement! I’m more of a city-guy than a country-guy, so the next couple leafs will move from the country and focus on some of America’s greatest cities!

In the end, I am an adventure traveler on a budget. I am always looking for adventure and when I find it, I will share my experiences (along with some budget-saving tips as well).

Yellowstone

Travelers like Dan and Jess are not the first to go on an American road trip. And they certainly won’t be the last. The allure of the road will always call to travelers, and for good reason. From the amazing sights you see to the interesting people you meet along your journey, embarking on a road trip continues to be one of the best ways to experience a country.

To follow Dan’s leafs and for more road trip ideas and inspiration, download the LeafCanoe app.

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Exploring Cinematic Chicago

Movies and cinema can play a big role in motivating us to visit a new city. For LeafCanoer, tonifrazer, the city of Chicago is a gold mine of cinematic tourist destinations. Her leaf, “Chicago, Illinois Filming Locations,” highlights some of these Chicago spots made popular by movies and film. For those interested in checking out the cinematic side of Chicago, the below sites and attractions are worth trying out.

Cruising the Chicago River by Boat
One of the most heartfelt and saddest moments in My Best Friend’s Wedding is when the two main characters, Julianne and Michael, played by Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney, take a scenic river cruise along the Chicago River. In this scene, Julianne comes to grips with the reality that the man she’s in love with, Michael, is about to marry someone else. The two share a dance together, as the boat cruises along the river, passing by some of Chicago’s stunning skyline.

You can relive this movie moment by taking your own boat cruise along the Chicago River. There are several companies that offer boat cruises along the river: Mercury Skyline Cruise, Chicago Line Cruises, Chicago Architecture Foundation Cruise, Shoreline Sightseeing, and Wendella Tours. Each of these tours vary in price and the types of cruises they offer, but they all provide beautiful views of the city’s buildings and architecture.

Chicago - River Cruise

Drive by the Home Alone house
For many children of the 80’s and early 90’s, the Home Alone movies were iconic and influential. The idea of being alone and having absolute freedom without any parents was every child’s dream come true. Watching the main character, Kevin, navigate his way around being on his own, was entertaining. And in the end, we learn that being home alone is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

Though some parts of the film were shot at a sound stage, producer John Hughes and director Chris Columbus chose to have many of the movie’s scenes shot on location in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. These included scenes at Kevin’s home, a three-story house in Winnetka, a suburb of Chicago. This house is a private home, most recently sold in 2012 for $1.58 million. Although much of the exterior has remained the same, most of the interior has been remodeled and modernized. You can’t actually tour the home, but you can certainly drive past the house and take pictures.Chicago - Home Alone House

Worth mentioning is the church featured in the Home Alone movie.Trinity United Methodist Church is an active church located in Wilmette, another suburb of Chicago. Built in 1930, the church features English Gothic style architecture, accented with stained glass windows. There are no organized tours of the church, but all members of the public are invited to attend their Sunday services.

Drive by the home from Uncle Buck
Another iconic film from the 80’s is Uncle Buck, starring John Candy. In the movie, John Candy’s character, Buck, is asked by his brother to watch over his nieces and nephews in their home in suburban Chicago. Though you can drive by the house and take pictures, similar to the Home Alone house, this house is a private home and is not open to tours. The house, located in Evanston, looks much like it did in the Uncle Buck movie.
Chicago - Uncle Buck House

Visit Buckingham Fountain
A landmark of Chicago is Buckingham Fountain, which was featured in the opening credits of the TV sitcom, Married with Children. The fountain, which was dedicated in 1927 and situated in Grant Park, is meant to be an allegorical representation of Lake Michigan. It is considered one of the largest fountains in the world, and was modeled after the Latona Fountain in the Palace of Versailles in France. The fountain has seen numerous renovations since 1994. The most recent renovation was in 2009, but additional renovations are still in the works, pending funding. Visitors to the fountain enjoy watching the water shows, which happen on the hour. At night, the shows are accompanied by lights and music.
Chicago - Buckingham Fountain

Even if you’re not a movie buff, catching a glimpse of the cinematic side of Chicago is definitely worth doing. From river cruises to fountain water shows, the city of Chicago certainly has a lot to offer to its visitors.

Interested in exploring more leafs? Download the LeafCanoe app and start learning about new and interesting destinations.

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Zion National Park Highlights

Nothing says summer like spending time in the great outdoors. With the temperatures getting warmer, and the official start of summer just weeks away, now is the right time to start thinking of where to go for that perfect outdoor getaway. Leafcanoer, Daijie, has plenty of suggestions for places to experience the outdoors. One such place is Zion National Park, which Daijie shares in her leaf titled, “Zion Family Adventure.”

Zion National Park is located near Springdale, Utah, in the Southwestern part of the United States. It covers an area of 229 square miles, and features geological highlights like a 15 mile long and half mile deep canyon called Zion Canyon, freestanding arches, and a tributary of the Colorado River called Virgin River. Popular among avid hikers and day trippers alike, Zion National Park offers beautiful views, and an abundance of outdoor activities to keep any visitor happy and satisfied.

Zion National Park - Canyon Overlook

History
Zion National Park has a long and varied history. The first people to have inhabited the area that is now part of Zion were called the Anasazi. Known to be the ancestors of the Pueblo Native Americans, the Anasazi lifestyle centered on agriculture and the cultivation of crops. Despite being in the middle of the desert, Zion offered three things that made farming in the area ideal: a level area for growing crops, a river, and an adequate growing season. After years of living off the land, however, drought and overuse led the Anasazi to move southeast. Subsequent inhabitants of Zion have come and gone, including the Paiute people, as well as European and American settlers.  All of these people had to cope with the harshness of the desert climate and landscape. For visiting history buffs, there are archaeological sites that exist throughout Zion, allowing visitors to catch a glimpse of what life was like for the early inhabitants of this area.

Highlights
Zion National Park’s diverse natural landscape, formed from 250 million years of changing climates and geography, draws millions of visitors each year, making it one of the most visited national parks in the United States. The park contains geological features ranging from high plateaus, deep sandstone canyons, rivers, springs, and waterfalls. There are also 2,000 foot Navajo sandstone cliffs. Over 1,000 plant species exist in Zion, including prickly pears, cholla, and yucca. Among the wildlife that live at the park are 67 species of mammals, 29 species of reptiles, 7 species of amphibians, 9 species of fish, and 207 species of birds, according to the National Park’s website.

Zion National Park - Canyoneering

Popular activities for visitors to Zion include backpacking, camping, canyoneering, climbing, and hiking. The park offers 90 miles of trails for backpacking and hiking. There are 37 designated backpacking sites and three campgrounds for drive up camping. For canyoneering and hiking, The Narrows is a great spot to spend the day. Covering the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, the Narrows has a small section that is paved, while the rest of the hike involves wading through the Virgin River. Another popular hike, for the more advanced hiker, is The Subway, a strenuous 9 mile hike that involves route finding, creek crossing, rappelling, and scrambling over boulders.

Another highlight of Zion National Park is Kolob Canyons, which is located 40 miles north of Zion Canyon and 17 miles south of Cedar City. The canyons offer scenic views, which visitors can see along a five-mile drive through Kolob Canyons Road. For a more up close and personal view, visitors to Kolob Canyons can choose to hike the canyons, or go further into the wilderness for backpacking.

Whether visiting for a day trip, or coming for a multi-day camping trip, Zion National Park offers something for everyone. With its beautiful landscape and scenic hikes, Zion National Park is worth a visit at any time of the year.

Zion National Park - The Narrows

Looking for more travel ideas for the summer? Download the LeafCanoe app and see what other Leafcanoers have to say.

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Six Seattle Parks Activities For Sunny Days

Seattle is known for its rain, but locals know that the best time of year for Seattle is the summer months between July to September. That’s when the weather is at its best, and the sun shines brightly on the Emerald City. On sunny days, locals head out to the local park to take advantage of the sunshine. Here are six Seattle parks activities that you can do on a sunny day.

Fly a kite at Gas Works Park

The best place to fly a kite, and consequently, the best place to catch a view of the city, is on top of Kite Hill at Gas Works Park. The hill, which features a giant sun dial at the top, is man made and was created by the city of Seattle when they turned the former gas plant into a city park.

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Visitors flying a kite at Seattle’s Gas Works Park

 

Play volleyball at Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park is a hub for outdoor sports and activities. With plenty of baseball and softball fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, and even a putting green, Green Lake Park has virtually everything for everyone. A favorite sunny day past time among locals is to play volleyball. With just a net and a ball, and some enthusiastic teammates, you can have a rousing game of volleyball just about anywhere at the park.

Rent a paddle board at Green Lake Park

If land activities are not your thing, you can also tour Green Lake by boat, to enjoy views of its idyllic waters and lush trees. The Green Lake Boat House offers kayaks, pedal boats, canoes, row boats, and stand up paddle boards for rent. Sailboats are also available for rent through the Boat House.

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Lake Union Park in Seattle

 

Go canoeing at Lake Union

Another boating option is to rent a kayak or canoe and tour Lake Union. There are plenty of companies along the lake that offer kayak and canoe rentals including the Northwest Outdoor Center, Moss Bay, and Agua Verde Paddle Club. However, the best value is to go through the University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center and rent a canoe or rowboat. Hourly rentals for the general public are $9 on weekdays, and $11 on weekends, a fraction of the cost of the other companies.

Hike to the light house at Discovery Park

With over 500 acres of land, Discovery Park is a favorite among locals for hiking within the city. A focal point of the park is the West Point Light House, which has been guiding ships along the Puget Sound since 1881. Visitors love Discovery Park, with its many trails, as it affords them a refuge from the sights and sounds of the city.

Watch boats go by at the Ballard Locks

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, known as the Ballard Locks, are a popular spot for tourists, regardless of whether it’s sunny or rainy. Children and adults alike enjoy watching the engineering marvel of the boats rising and falling through the sheer force of water, as they make their way through the locks. The Ballard Locks connects the salt water of the Puget Sound with the fresh water of Lake Union. During the summer months, visitors can see salmon making their way up the fish ladder as they journey from the sea on to their spawning grounds in the Duwamish River.

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“Salmon Waves” sculpture at Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Seattle

 

Despite being subject to rain nine months out of the year, Seattle is quite a beautiful place to spend a sunny day. With its lush greenery and scenic views of water and mountains, it’s no wonder the locals can’t get enough of the outdoors. On a sunny Seattle day, the best thing to do is to go out into the city and try one of these Seattle parks activities for yourself.

Looking for more travel ideas? Check out the Leaf Canoe App for tips about Seattle and other cities.

 

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Ten Family-Friendly Seattle Center Activities

Seattle is a great place for families.  With its many parks, museums, restaurants, and shops, finding an activity to do with your family is not difficult.  One of the local favorites, the Seattle Center, offers many activities for families to enjoy.  Here are ten family-friendly Seattle Center activities worth checking out.

Go to the top of the Space Needle

The Space Needle is a popular attraction for families.  Visitors can catch panoramic views of the city from the top of the needle, situated over 500 feet in the air.  Or they can enjoy a delicious lunch at the SkyCity Restaurant, which features fine regional cuisine.

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The Space Needle, a popular family-friendly attraction

 

Marvel at the glass art at Chihuly Garden and Glass

Local artist, Dale Chihuly, is world-renowned for his work with glass.   At the Chihuly Garden and Glass, visitors can see his work on display in both indoor and outdoor exhibits.  With its colorful and whimsical glass sculptures, the glass garden is sure to delight kids and adults alike.

Play music at the Experience Music Project

The Experience Music Project has a number of interactive musical exhibits, but one of the favorites among families is the Sound Lab.  Here, kids can practice jamming on drums and guitars, or try their hand at being a dj.

Hang out with a Tyrannosaurus Rex at the Pacific Science Center

The Pacific Science Center’s family-friendly exhibits are both educational and interactive. Permanent exhibits include a butterfly house, a dinosaur exhibit, and a model tide pool.  The Pacific Science Center also houses an IMAX theater, laser dome, and planetarium, that offer thrilling and exciting shows.

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The Sonic Bloom exhibit at the Pacific Science Center

 

Catch a show or a game at the Key Arena

The Key Arena is home to Seattle’s WNBA team, the Storms, as well as their roller derby team, the Rat City Roller Girls.  With a seating capacity of over 17,000 people, the Key Arena is also a great place to catch a show.  Past performers have included U2 and Diana Ross, as well as Selena Gomez.

Explore and learn at the Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum, located in the Armory building, is an excellent place to take young kids. With exhibits such as the Global Village, where kids can see how life is like in other parts of the world, and Cog City, where kids learn about the mechanics of pulleys and vacuums, the Children’s Museum encourages kids to explore in a very hands on way.

Splash around at the International Fountain

A favorite past time for families during the summer months is to play at the International Fountain.  The fountain consists of a 10 feet tall, 27 feet wide dome with over 270 water shooters that are synchronized to music. Surrounding the fountain is a bowl that is 220 feet in diameter where children can play in the spray from the fountain. It’s the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day.

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Families playing at the International Fountain

 

Watch a play at the Children’s Theater

The Seattle Children’s Theater is known for its professional programming geared towards younger audiences, and recognized as leaders in their field by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, Time Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. Their shows are characterized by stories that both empower kids and encourage them to explore the world.

Check out a festival

Throughout the year, the Seattle Center hosts a number of cultural, musical, and culinary festivals. Festal is a yearlong celebration that highlights a region of the world each month, with free presentations of music and dance. Another popular festival taking place in the late summer is Bumbershoot, a music festival that brings in some of the best new bands in the United States. Other festivals worth checking out are the Northwest Folklife Festival, Bite of Seattle, and Seattle PrideFest.

Watch a free concert at the Mural

During the summer months, local radio station, KEXP, hosts outdoor concerts at the Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheater.  These events draw crowds of families and adults interested in listening to local music.  The concerts are free, and all you really need is a nice picnic blanket to enjoy some good music.

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Free concerts at the Mural Amphitheater, hosted by KEXP

 

Looking for more family-friendly activities to do in Seattle?  Download the Leaf Canoe app for more tips.

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Tasting Seattle: Argosy Cruises Tillicum Village

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A view of Seattle’s Waterfront

Every year, thousands of tourists come to Seattle, flocking to popular spots like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. The Argosy Cruises Tillicum Village tour, however, is a lesser known tourist activity that can offer insight to the rich culture and history of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest.

Tillicum Village on Blake Island is a sightseeing cruise offered by the tour company, Argosy Cruises, located at Seattle’s waterfront neighborhood. The island houses a replica of a traditional Native American longhouse, where you can learn about the Pacific Northwest’s Native American culture, and its role in shaping Seattle’s history. The visit also includes a traditional salmon bake dinner as well as dancing from the regional tribes.

A trip to Tillicum Village begins with a scenic boat ride, hosted by a guide from Argosy Cruises. As the boat leaves the pier, you are treated to stunning views of the city, including the Great Wheel, the downtown skyline, and even the Space Needle. During the ride, the tour guide shares interesting tidbits of the surrounding scenery, and also shares traditional Native American stories. Upon arrival at Tillicum Village, you are greeted with an offering of fresh steamed clams, as you make your way up the path to the long house.

Inside, you can watch salmon being prepared through a technique of smoking the meat around an open flame.  This traditional method takes several hours to cook, but yields meat that is both tender and flavorful. As the salmon cooks, you can browse art work created by Native American artists, and even watch them create traditional art like weaving or carving.

The highlight of the trip is the salmon dinner, accompanied by a performance of story-telling and dance. Story-telling plays an important role in Native American culture, and in this show, the story-teller’s stories are accompanied by dancers who interpret his words into movement. The show ends with a masked dance, with men donning heavy wooden masks representing birds such as eagles and crows. It is a spectacular sight watching these dancers move, mimicking the giant birds and snapping the heavy beaks open and closed.

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Traditional preparation of salmon

A trip to Tillicum Village is certainly worth putting on your list of things to do in Seattle, as it affords you a rare glimpse of the culture that is native to this region.  Once back on dry land, be sure to visit the other popular tourist sites of Seattle. Below are few additional sights that are worth visiting.

The Waterfront
Walk along the Waterfront to enjoy views of the water and the Olympic Mountains. The Waterfront stretches from Elliott Bay all the way up to Shilshole Bay. In the downtown area, you can find a variety of shops and restaurants, including Ivar’s Restaurant, Elliott’s Oyster House, the Crab Pot, and Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe. For more sight-seeing activities, visit The Great Wheel, the Seattle Aquarium, and the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Pike Place Market
Further inland from the Waterfront is Pike Place Market, which has the privilege of being named one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the United States. Created in 1907, Pike Place offers fresh produce and meats from local farmers and sellers, as well as arts and crafts from local artists. A number of restaurants, cafes, and food stores are also in the area, including Beecher’s Cheeses, the very first Starbucks store, and Lowell’s Restaurant, made famous by the movie, Sleepless in Seattle.

The Gum Wall
Just below Pike Place Market, at Post Alley, is the famed Gum Wall, a wall on the side of building plastered with colorful pieces of chewing gum. Originating from the early ’90s, when patrons of the nearby Market Theater would stick pieces of gum on the wall while waiting for a show, The Gum Wall is now one of the quirkier attractions of Seattle that still manages to attract throngs of visitors.

Looking for more attractions to check out in Seattle?  Download the leafcanoe app for more tips and tricks.

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Top 8 places to see on Boston’s Freedom Trail

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Top 8 places to see on Boston’s Freedom Trail

History and the city of Boston go hand-in-hand. With a place so steeped in the past, it has found a beautiful way to blend together modern accomplishments with those accomplished by the country’s forefathers. Any traveler journeying to Boston should not overlook the historical landmarks this destination takes pride in and protects.

One of the easiest ways to explore Boston’s history is a walk along the famous Freedom Trail. There are 2 and a half miles of red brick marked along the streets of the city that highlight some of the coolest homes, state houses, statues and even spooky cemeteries worth visiting.

How about even more ideas for exploring Boston’s Freedom Trail than the ones below? Sign up for the list to gain exclusive access to the LeafCanoe app. See the great itineraries locals and travelers have posted of their adventures!

Paul Revere House

The midnight ride of Paul Revere is said to have staved off British devastation during the American Revolution. He rode through the night warning locals of an impending battle. Nowadays, travelers can visit his original homestead, built in 1680, which has been converted into a museum.

Bunker Hill Monument

Standing tall at one of Boston’s highest points, this honors those who lost their lives during the Revolutionary War. It looks like the Washington Memorial with a tall base and pointy top, standing more than 220 feet tall. If feeling adventurous, all 300 steps can be climbed for a sweeping view of the skyline.

Faneuil Hall

Not many shopping malls can claim to have been around for more than two and a half centuries. Faneuil Hall is one of the busiest parts of Boston, with hordes of visitors shopping, dining and enjoying the gaggle of street performers. The area has both indoor and outdoor spaces for a range of activities, shows and fun. It looks prettiest around the holidays when a formal tree lighting ceremony takes pace every year.

Massachusetts State House

When it’s time to see some bling, make a stop on the Freedom Trail at the state house. Topped with a massive gold dome gilded in 23 karat gold, the building is an iconic part of the city. Tours are given on the regular by professional guided to help with its history, dating back to 1798.

Old North Church

This is the oldest church in the city that still stands and has a lively congregation. Legedn has it this was a stop on Paul Revere’s Ride and where he got his famous lantern lit. The Episcopal church stand in the middle of the North End, which is a fun hub also known as Boston’s Little Italy.

Granary Burial Ground

A city so full of old wars and history is bound to have a few ghost stories. Take a look at this burial ground that was created in 1660 to house locals after their untimely deaths. More than 5,000 people are laid to rest in this spot, many who fought in the Revolutionary War. Relatives of Ben Franklin are buried in the graveyard too.

USS Constitution

Away from the hubbub of downtown, the USS Constitution is an impressive tall masted ship docked in Boston Harbor. It was once used by the United States Navy and was built in the late 1700s. To this day the ship is the oldest in the official Navy fleet still afloat and is manned by 60 sailors on a given day.

Boston Common

After a day exploring Boston’s finest historical sites, having a rest at this sprawling, green park is a perfect way to end the day. As the world’s oldest city park, established in 1634, it still reigns today as a great meeting place for sports enthusiasts, theater lovers and skaters on the cheery Frog Pond. Over time, the space has been used as a meeting ground for revolution and change, even through modern history. For instance, Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope John Paul II both gave speeches on the Common.

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Top 5 Places to Catch Good Tunes in Boston

Rappers and country singers, undiscovered and huge stars, Boston is equipped to host all the hottest musical acts of our time. There’s beautiful venues strewn about the city that can host everyone from rockers to jam and lovers and people in between. This time of year is perfect to purchase tickets and cozy up in one of the best Boston music venues, big and small.

Want even more ideas for Boston music hotspots than the ones below? Sign up for the list to gain exclusive access to the LeafCanoe app. See the great itineraries locals and travelers have posted of their adventures!

Paradise Rock Club

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Rockers, this is the place for you. It boasts a deep, rich history in the city that dates back to 1977 and has welcome classic bands like Phish, REM and even U2 to its stage. Due to its intimate setting, many students will wander into Paradise for small shows and the chance to see bands right before they hit it big. It underwent a big makeover in 2010, but still hold on to its original vibe with a black interior and small front stage.

Middle East

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There’s several ways to enjoy this iconic venue located in Cambridge. They technically have four different venues rolled into one, with several floors of space and plenty of areas to jam. Grab dinner at the restaurant first, then wander up ro downstairs to listen to fantastic DJs, up and coming acoustic artists and old favorites.

TT & the Bears

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Right next door to the Middle East, it’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. This venue often features smaller acts that re edgy, eclectic and love to get people moving. If you dig local music, this is where you will find it, seven nights a week. Usually multiple bands are booked for one evening, so you can enjoy a sample of great tunes covering rock, hip hop, punk and more.

Wang Theater

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Time to get a little classier and head downtown. As one of Boston most aesthetically impressive music venues, this feels more like going to a Broadway show than a concert. Completed and opened to the public in 1925, the Wan Theater has been remarkably maintained and remains one of the top five largest stages in the country. See legends play from John Mellencamp to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Alongside the music performances, you can catch comedians, radio personalities and the Boston Ballet.

House of Blues

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An institution in its own right, the House of Blues is fairly new to the Boston scene compared to other venues. Opened in 2009 right across the street from Fenway Park, it has brought sold out shows to the city consistently and shows no sign of slowing down. There used to be a 200-seat House of Blues in Cambridge that closed in 2003, so this new spot is much bigger and better. Coming up, you can catch any and all hit performers, including country singer Sam Hunt, rocker Marilyn Manson and funky George Clinton.

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