The Cloisters

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The MET Cloisters

The Cloisters are a treasure of New York City. A medieval castle, with the most beautiful grounds, stunning architecture,  and glorious artifacts in the galleries and chapel. The Cloisters are an extension of the MET – the Metropolitan museum of art. The location is in the charming and peaceful Fort Tyron park, in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan.

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A mini getaway

A  visit to the Cloisters, almost seems like a mini getaway from the chaos of Manhattan. You don’t even feel like you are in New York City! The peace and quiet makes a visit to this unique museum so calming and relaxing.  You feel as though you have stepped back in time, and the location makes it so much more charming. As the scenery is stunning.

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What to see

The grounds of the Cloisters are so charming, and a favorite of mine is to visit the gardens. With multiple gardens on offer no trip would be complete without exploring at least one.

Cloister gardens

  • The Cuxa Cloister
  • Saint Guilhem
  • Boonefont
  • Trie

The Cloisters contains an impressive selection of chapels and halls, all with stunning architecture and art work.

Halls and Chapels

  • Gothic chapel
  • Fuentiduena chapel
  • Langon chapel
  • Romanesquet hall

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Views of the Hudson

A highlight of the Cloisters is the view of the gorgeous Hudson river. After exploring the exhibits and gardens, head to the balcony to take in these sights. These sights will also include the George Washington bridge and views of New Jersey. I have visited the Cloisters multiple times and the prettiest time to visit is during the fall to see the gorgeous fall colors along the Hudson.

Hudson river

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Fort Tyron park

Before or after exploring the cloisters, I would recommend walking through the absolutely beautiful Fort Tyron park. Considered to be one of the city’s most beautiful outdoor pieces of art.

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Getting to the Cloisters

Located in Northern Manhattan, you can take the A subway (Blue express line) uptown to the 190th street subway station. From the station you can either follow the signs to the museum, by walking through the stunning Fort Tyron park. Or take the M4 bus to Margaret Corbin Dr/Cloisters museum.

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Brooklyn bridge park

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Brooklyn’s waterfront

The Brooklyn bridge park is a true gem of New York City. With a charming atmosphere and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. The Park represents a reconstruction of the post industrial waterfront, which goes from Atlantic avenue in the South (the Columbia heights neighborhood), under the gorgeous Brooklyn heights promenade, past the impressive Brooklyn bridge, to north of the Manhattan bridge, to the trendy neighborhood of DUMBO (Down under the Manhattan bridge).

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What to see and do

View the iconic Manhattan skyline

The view from the Brooklyn bridge park is one of my favorites places to observe the dramatic Manhattan skyline. On a clear summers day or during a sunset, the view is incredible.

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Bike Ride

Go riding through the lush green park, taking in the views with a cool breeze from the East river. An easy 1.3 mile ride from one of the park to the other.

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Wine and dine

Picnic

With plenty of green space and iconic views, the Brooklyn Bridge park provides a great opportunity to have a picnic and chill out.

Splurge at the River cafe

With a stunning setting, a romantic atmosphere and incredible views, the river cafe is the perfect place to dine on special occasion.

Buzz bar

A chill place to grab a drink and a quick bite to eat. With outdoor seating and live music events this is the perfect place to relax after exploring the Brooklyn Bridge park.

Brooklyn ice cream factory

Satisfy your sweet tooth at the famous Brooklyn ice cream factory. The lines do get long but the ice cream is truly delicious and satisfying on a hot summers day.

BK bridge park

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Free events

Take advantage of the events  that the park puts on during the warmer months.

From waterfront workouts, water sports (Kayaking, rowing ect), summer night movies, environmental volunteering days, and books under the bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge park offers something for everyone.

Check out their website for upcoming events – Brooklyn Bridge park website

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Visit the trendy neighborhood of DUMBO

Down under the Manhattan bridge. This area was once a ferry landing, and is characterized as 19th century industrial with warehouse buildings. With its Belgian block streets, the neighborhood definitely has a lot of charm and character. It has now been taken over by hipsters, and is one of New York’s trendiest neighborhoods, with plenty of places for weekend brunch, art events, photo shoots and is also considered to  be the tech hub of Brooklyn.

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DUMBO

Down under the Manhattan Bridge

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Take a photo under the Manhattan Bridge

Stop at the intersection of Water and Washington street to take this iconic photo. It is now one of the most famous Instagram photos of New York City. The view is pretty impressive, with the Manhattan bridge framing the Empire State building.

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The Brooklyn bridge park and surrounding neighborhoods are a true jewel of the city that never sleeps. It is one of my favorite neighborhoods and I always enjoy strolling through this area. It has changed a lot and will continue to do so. This area of the city has so much to offer. I would recommend visiting.

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Brooklyn bridge park night views

 

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountains

One of my major loves of the USA is the National Parks system. As a nature lover, and with a background in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, I am in awe of all of the National Parks that I have had the chance to visit, and the system that protects them. On our drive to the south, I had to make sure that we did not miss the Great Smoky Mountains, the most visited US National Park. I do hold the National Parks pass, however the Smoky Mountains don’t require an entrance fee, one of the few parks that don’t! The Smoky Mountains is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a division of the larger Appalachian chain. These Mountains border between North Carolina and Tennessee and is one of the largest protected areas in eastern US. They are also acknowledged as an UNESCO world heritage site, very impressive. With its beauty and diverse range of plant and animal life, it is no wonder that the Great Smoky Mountains is a popular place to visit and explore.

As we visited during winter, parts of the park was closed, I would love to go back during the spring and/or summer to explore more of this gorgeous place.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

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Bryce Canyon National Park

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Bryce Canyon

The natural beauty of Bryce Canyon National park is incredible. The views from above and from within are truly breathtaking. The major attraction is the spectacular crimson colored hoodoos, pillars of rock created by erosion. Bryce Canyon has the largest collection of hoodoos in the world, attracting nearly two million visitors annually. Bryce Canyon is located in southern Utah, in Utah’s canyon country. A four-hour drive from the famous Las Vegas, Nevada and two hours from the beautiful Zion National Park 

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Hoodoos

The main attraction is of course, the gorgeous collection of hoodoos. The best place to view the hoodoos are from the Bryce amphitheater, which has the largest collection of viewpoints.  With four main viewpoints (Bryce point, inspiration point, sunset point and sunrise point) and access to numerous hiking trails, this is the perfect area to start a journey exploring Bryce Canyon.  

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Hiking opportunities

Bryce Canyon has a range of hiking trails from easy to strenuous. As an introduction to Bryce canyon, I would recommend beginning with the Rim trail hike, here you will be hiking the rim of Bryce amphitheater, viewing the gorgeous hoodoos from above, walking between sunrise and sunset point. Rim trail is classified as easy. Please note that the rim trail is not a loop, so the hike can range from 1 to 8 hours, depending on when you turn back around!

A step up from the Rim trail hike, would be the Queens/Navajo combination loop, this is classified as moderate and is also regarded as the most popular hiking trail. Highlights will include viewing Thor’s hammer and the two bridges. If you are looking for more strenuous hikes, I would recommend the Peekaboo loop, here you will hike through the heart of the park, with stunning views of the hoodoos and also viewing the wall of windows. Fairytale loop is another great strenuous hike, providing you with a chance to see the Chinese wall, tower bridge and tall hoodoos. Away from the Bryce amphitheater at the northern end of the park is Mossy cave, an easy hike away from the crowds.

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Bryce Canyon hiking

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Highway 63

A breathtaking scenic drive through the park. Provides a great opportunity to view some of the major overlooks, with 13 viewpoints along this 38 mile round trip. Highlights include the natural bridge,  Rainbow and Yovimpa points. If you only had one day to explore Bryce canyon, I would recommend completing this loop and stopping off at the major viewpoints.

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Mossy Cave

If you have more than a day I would recommend a visit to Mossy cave. A hidden gem at the northern end of the park. provides an opportunity to get up close with the hoodoos without descending.  It is an easy hike along a stream side to view this pretty cave. Depending on the time of year you may also see a waterfall or icicles in the cave! A peaceful hike without the crowds.

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Bryce Canyon is a truly remarkable place. The scenery is stunning and the opportunities for hiking and photography are endless. A true nature lovers playground! Photos don’t do justice, you really need to explore Bryce Canyon in person to surround yourself in this natural beauty. A unique, and breathtaking landscape. One of my favorite national parks that I have visited so far.

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Zion National Park

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Road trip from Las Vegas to Zion

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Everglades National Park

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Joshua Tree National Park

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Grand Canyon National Park

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