CN Tower SunnnyCN Tower View Sunset CN Tower 360 Restaurant Starter CN Tower 360 Restaurant Main CN Tower 360 Restaurant Desert CN Tower View Night A trip to Toronto would not be complete without a trip to the CN Tower but the queues can be astronomical and with time being of the essence, we figured the best way to experience the view from the CN Tower would be to eat there! While my parents had eaten in a 360 revolving restaurant previously in New York, this was my first time and nerves were running high given my extreme fear of heights!

The Arrival

We booked a table at a time that meant we should be able to witness the sunset (the 360 restaurant website helpfully shows the current estimated sunset time so that you can plan your dinner accordingly). You will need to arrive early to make your way through the airport style security before making your way to the lifts. The best part about booking for dinner at this stage is the fact that you skip the huge queues for the viewing decks (but you do get to go down to these after your dinner). We were quickly ushered to a separate queue which, while appeared to be more luxurious (lovely reception area with well dressed servers who escorted your coats and bags to a cloakroom for your convenience), the classic tourist traps were still available including a big green screen for a photograph of you and your family superimposed onto a CN Tower inspired background. For those with a fear of heights, the lifts are super speedy and the journey will be over in no time (thank god!). For those without a fear of heights, the lifts have great view points in both the walls and the floor so you can see the busy city zooming away from you.

RELATED: Looking for somewhere to stay close by to the CN Tower? Make sure you check out The Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel - you can read my review here

The Dinner

We were quickly ushered to our table on the revolving floor and presented with the menu (albeit we were distracted by the view for quite some time). The menu changes twice a year (for Winter in November and Summer in May). We were visiting in Winter and were happy with the very extensive menu (the wine menu in particular was huge)! The food was delicious and worthy of the "fine dining" reputation that the CN Tower portrays. The service on the other hand, could do with some work. Maybe we were just unlucky with our server, but he knew very little about the menu, very abrupt and would often would wander off and leave us waiting a long time to order/pay. The food was worth the long wait and of course the ever-changing view keeps you entertained in the meantime.

The View

I would definitely recommend visiting the CN Tower at sunset. While the sunset itself wasn't particularly spectacular (it was over very quickly), I loved being able to see both the view in the light and the view in the dark. As we visited in the middle of Winter, by the time we were ready to leave the tower, it was pitch black outside and I think this was my favourite view of the city! I'm a sucker for twinkly lights! Taking photos of the view isn't always plain sailing when you are constantly rotating and also trying to shoot through reflective glass - but sometimes it's good just to enjoy the moment!

RELATED: It's so much fun looking down over all of the places you've visited in your trip - find out all the other great things to do in Toronto here

The Price

Given the popularity, this won't be the cheapest meal you eat in Toronto! The prix fixe menu is currently set at two courses for $65 and three courses for $79 which given the standard of the food isn't bad at all! Wine however can be pricey but with so many to choose from, you are likely to be able to find something to suit your budget and taste. The cost of your meal also includes the elevator ride and access to the Look Out Level and Glass Floor. General admission to both of these floors costs $39 regularly - so if you're ordering a two course meal, the meal is actually only costing you $26 (excluding drinks)! * Prices in Canadian Dollars (currently $1 = £0.62 - correct as at September 2017).

RELATED: A trip to the CN Tower is almost mandatory on a visit to Toronto. As is a trip to Niagara Falls! Find out about all of the experiences you can have in Niagara here

Summary

Assuming the experience is within your budget, eating in the CN Tower should definitely be on your wishlist of things to do in Toronto! It's the kind of experience you will only do once (despite the fine dining experience they try to portray, it is still a tourist trap at the end of the day) and a trip to Toronto would be incomplete without a visit to it's most famous landmark! Have you ever eaten in a revolving restaurant? Did you enjoy it?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Danielle1

      Escaping Essex - Travel Blog - A trip to Toronto wouldn't be complete without a trip to the CN Tower - to skip the queues and the price, book dinner in the CN Tower instead!        
Toronto CN Tower Toronto was my family's destination of choice between Christmas and New Year for 2016. Every year, we try and go away during that period and while looking at destinations for this year's trip and realised I hadn't properly written about our last Christmas trip! If you're looking for a Winter break, here's a little itinerary for visiting Toronto!

Day One

Start the Day with an Epic Breakfast

Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel Breakfast If you read my review of the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel, you will know that the breakfasts in this hotel are pretty damn epic and should be tried by everyone. RELATED: That hotel sounds amazing right? Read my review of the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel here!

Guided Tour of the City

Toronto Christmas Skyline Toronto Flat Iron Building I talways recommend a free walking tour when you first arrive in a city as they are a great way to orientate yourself and learn about the city you are visiting. However, we visited Toronto in late December and temperatures were plummeting below freezing. For that reason, many of the walking tour companies were running a limited service (if at all), so we were left searching for an alternative. We found Gerardo on Tours By Locals who organised a drive-through tour of the city, gave us in depth knowledge on a city he is clearly passionate about and generally set-us up well for our trip. We covered so much in our time with Gerardo that it would be impossible to list it all here but highlights include the Discovery District (home to the beautiful University of Toronto buildings), Casa Lomas (from the outside, we later re-visited to go inside), the Distillery District and a secret little spot for a great skyline view of Toronto without having to visit Toronto Island.

People Watch In Nathan Phillips Square

Toronto Sign Nathan Phillips Square As we were visiting in December, the ice rink was open and people were visiting in masses to skate in-front of the famous "Toronto" sign. Given the fact that I can barely walk in a straight line without falling over (this goes for my sister too), we decided not to give skating a go - there wasn't even a rail around the edge to hold on to! But people watching was just as fun!

St Lawrence Market

Toronto St Lawrence Market Christmas St Lawrence Market is Toronto's answer to Borough Market and was extra fun to explore with all of it's Christmas decor! The perfect place to stroll around and escape the bitter Winter wind! Much of the market is aimed at locals with fresh produce for cooking, but we did find some great little "cafe" type stalls for drinks and cake! Distillery District Toronto Brewery District Mill St We were briefly introduced to the distillery district on our earlier tour with Gerardo but decided to return later on in the day to explore properly. The one thing I wish we had done is visit the district at night when it's buzzing with people! If you are visiting during a cold day, make sure you check out the chocolate shop and get one of their hot chocolates!

Dinner in the CN Tower

Toronto View From CN Tower Nighttime The CN Tower is arguably the most recognised building in the city and for good reason! One of the first things we booked (after the flights and hotel of course) was a chance to have dinner in the revolving restaurant. The entire experience was great (other than the rude waiting staff) and I will be writing a full post about the restaurant in due course! Stay tuned!

Day Two

Niagara Falls Helicopter Niagara Falls View from Helicopter  The opportunity to experience Niagara Falls was essentially the reason that we chose to visit Toronto for our annual family Christmas trip, so it's safe to say that I was excited for this day! As we were visiting in December, the boat trip through the falls wasn't running but we did manage to take a helicopter ride over the falls as well as complete the "journey behind the falls"! On the way back from the falls, we also visited Niagara-On-The-Lake which is the most gorgeous little town and tried the famous Canadian ice wine! I won't ramble about this day too much as I have a whole blog post dedicated to this day which you can read here!

Day Three

Casa Lomas

Toronto Casa Lomas Family If this isn't the first time you've read my blog, you'll know that I absolutely love castles! Casa Loma was built in 1911 as the home for Sir Henry Pellett - while it's not strictly a castle (Wikepedia describes it as a "Gothic revival style house and gardens), it's pretty damn close (albeit much newer than the Castles you see in Europe) and definitely worth a visit! Casa Lomas put on loads of Christmas activities (mainly aimed at kids) including having reindeer on the grounds!

Shopping on Bloor Street / Yorkville Avenue

Toronto Christian Louboutin Bloor St This area of Toronto is the "high end shopping" district - think Fifth Avenue and Regents Street. As we visited shortly after Christmas, the "Boxing Week" (week?! We only have a day in the UK!) sales were in full swing. Some of the shops are really gorgeous - my favourite being the bright red Christian Louboutin design! My only purchase was a Kate Spade black backpack which was heavily discounted! I've used it practically every day since, so I'm very happy with my bargain purchase!

A bit more shopping in the Eaton Centre...

Boxing Day sales scare me, in the UK they are filled with hundreds of people pushing and shoving to get their grubby hands on the best deal. This was not the case in Toronto and it was a really pleasant experience! So we decided to carry on our shopping escapades with a trip to the famous Eaton Centre which is more high-street orientated than Bloor / Yorkville.

Take a Winter Wonderland Stroll Through Queen's Park

Toronto Queens Park Winter Snow .... Or any of the park areas really! We loved strolling through Queen's Park while the snow was settling, it was really beautiful and felt like a proper Winter Wonderland!

See A Show

Toronto Disney On Ice Did you know that Toronto is home to a whole host of theatres? I didn't! There were so many great ones to choose from, so making the decision will be the hardest part! As we had my "little" sister with us (20 years old with the mental age of an 8 year old), we were all dragged to watch the latest Disney on Ice show. It certainly wouldn't be my first choice but it was fun having 6 year old girls stare and judge you for knowing all the words and singing along loudly without shame.

Day Four

Steam Whistle Brewery

Toronto Steam Whistle Brewery On our hunt for something close-by to do on our day of departure, Steamhouse Brewery was recommended to us by the lovely people of of the internet and we had a great time! The motto of this brand is to "do one thing really really well", so they only produce one type of beer but boy do they know what they're doing! I'm not a huge fan of beer but it's fun to see how these things work - our tour guide was super friendly and funny which added to the whole experience!

Lunch on the Harbour

Toronto Skyline Despite the fact it was December, on our last day in the city the sun was shining which made for a beautiful stroll along the harbour where we decided to have lunch. If you've got spare time in the city, I highly recommend spending some time in this area - there are even little beaches with deck chairs along the route (which we obviously did not use in December)!

Fly Home

And like that, our first ever trip to Canada was over and we were headed back to the less snowy but equally cold UK!

Other Options

Toronto Islands

A short ferry ride from the mainland harbour are Toronto Islands. Gerardo (our tour guide on the first 2 days) spoke glowingly of the Islands in the summertime as they are a nature lover's paradise - however we were visiting in the dead of winter and boats were not running frequently enough for us to enjoy the islands. This is where you will get the ultimate skyline shot of the city!

A Whole Host of Museums

Toronto is home to a whole host of museums. From some of the more "normal" establishments such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, you'll also find some more quirky treats such as the Bata Shoe Museum & the Hockey Hall of Fame!

Ripley's Aquarium

Directly outside our hotel and the CN Tower was Ripley's Aquarium which looks blimmin' HUGE! If you've got some spare time to kill, this looks like a fab activity, especially with kids! But if you've read my Versatile Blogger Award post, you'll know that I have a completely irrational fear of fish and all sea creatures, so this was a big no no for me!

Catch a Baseball game at the Rogers Centre

The Rogers Centre is home to the baseball team the Toronto Blue Jays. While our hotel had a view into the Rogers Centere (cool right?!), unfortunately there weren't any games on while we were visiting! So there you have it, a fab 4 days in Toronto! Have you ever been? Where would your perfect Winter break be?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.

Danielle1      
I never do hotel reviews; namely because I don't think a hotel is what makes your trip. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule where your accommodation is really the crux of your trip - I'm thinking glass igloos in Finland and luxury safari lodges in the Serengeti! Because of that, I don't splash out on hotels and the two things that I really look for during the booking process are a) good location and b) cleanliness. I'm an easy to please sorta girl! So, you might be wondering why I've decided to write about a chain restaurant? Well, the Marriott group have excelled themselves with the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel. Primarily because the location is so unusual, but also the AH-MAZING food.

Location

suite_bi_level_bed_6291Photo Credit: Photo of room with stadium view is taken from the Renaissance Toronto Downtown website
This hotel is located partly INSIDE the Roger's Centre (home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team) which is pretty unique in itself. The window in my parent's room looked into the stadium - so if you're an avid baseball fan, you'd be able to catch all of the action from the comfort of your bedroom! Myself and my sister had a somewhat less appealing view of a railway line from our window - so if you're not into baseball and want fantastic window views, this may not be the hotel for you. Although, maybe don't disregard it so quickly, it has a lot more to offer! If you've ever been to Toronto, you'll know that The Roger's Centre is directly next to the CN Tower, so this hotel is a great for a lot of the tourist attractions including the CN Tower, Aquarium, Steamhouse Brewery etc. Given that the the hotel is close to the waterfront and Toronto is a large city, depending on the time you have and your walking capabilities, you may need to get a taxi to some of the more Northern tourist attractions such as Casa Lomas.

Rooms

IMG_3870 v2.JPGIMG_3866 v2.JPGThe combination of modern decor, high levels of cleanliness, ample space and all the amenities you could need make for a very comfortable stay. My absolute favourite thing about the rooms were the beds. Those things were so damn comfy - if I could have packed the pillows, duvet and mattress in my case, I definitely would have!

Restaurant

IMG_3888 v2IMG_4090 v2 Now, this is where the review gets really good (and not because of the small Starbucks inside the hotel - however, that was convenient). The hotel has a Mediterranean restaurant called Arriba inside and the food is out of this world (mainly at breakfast). Most people have heard me say that hotel breakfasts are, in many cases, overrated (and I still stand by that statement). however, Arriba really pulls all of the stops out in the morning. It's not the cheapest breakfast in the world, but the money is well worth it when the food is so good that you go to bed excited to wake up and eat! My favourite breakfast was the banana bread french toast stuffed with bacon cream cheese with sliced banana, bacon crumbles, fresh berries, toasted almonds and maple syrup (it would be rude not to have maple syrup whilst in Canada after all!) We did also eat in Arriba one evening and the dinner menu was much smaller than the breakfast selection but the food was great regardless!

Overall

[cws_sc_progress_bar title='Location' progress='90' progress_style='thin' custom_colors='0'][cws_sc_progress_bar title='Food' progress='100' progress_style='thin' custom_colors='0'][cws_sc_progress_bar title='Cleanliness' progress='100' progress_style='thin' custom_colors='0'][cws_sc_progress_bar title='Staff' progress='85' progress_style='thin' custom_colors='0']   Yes, it's a chain hotel. Yes, hotel's don't make your entire experience while travelling. Still, would I recommend this hotel to a friend? Most definitely. If you're interested in booking this hotel, be sure to check out prices here! Have you ever been to Toronto, what is your favourite hotel?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post (although it does contain affiliate links) and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

Booking.com

IMG_4112 v2 We were up bright and early on our second morning in Toronto (although not entirely by our own doing, our body clocks were still stuck on silly UK time - I'm sure time changes never used to affect me this badly - am I getting old?!) but getting up early was for good reason - WE WERE GOING TO NIAGARA FALLS! I've said before that the areas of North America that interest me the most are the National Parks and places of natural beauty, so it's safe to say that Niagara falls has been on my North America bucket list since the beginning of time! My family wanted to book a guided tour for Niagara as we weren't in Toronto for long, so ease was more important than cost (for once in my life!) - we wanted our tour guide to pick us up from the hotel, tell us everything we need to know and bring us back when we want with no hanging around waiting for public transport. My dad found Gerardo on "Tours By Locals" and his tour fit the bill!

Helicopter Ride over the Falls

IMG_4107 v2IMG_4112 v2IMG_4128 v2IMG_4130 v2 After a long chit-chat with Gerardo in the car about anything and everything, from the history of the area to Brexit and Trump, we arrived at the falls! Before heading down to explore immediately, Gerardo spotted that there wasn't anyone in the car park for the heliport, so we headed straight over for a spontaneous flight! Getting to the falls early in the morning means that you are ahead of all the coaches and tour bus' that arrive later in the day - apparently the queues for the helicopter rides can become horrendous. Flights are around 144 CAD per person, so it's a pricey experience but definitely worth it. As you are lifted into the air, you are reassured that the model of the helicopter is one of the newest, safest and quietest on the planet - so if you're scared of flying, this could be the best place to have your first helicopter trip! I'll let the photos speak for themselves now!

Walking the Length of the Falls

IMG_4138 v2IMG_4201 v2IMG_4234 v2IMG_4236 v2IMG_4131 v2 Next up, we drove closer to the falls and were given some free time to explore, wander around and take pictures. We started near the American falls and walked down to the Canadian "horseshoe" falls, stopping at practically every photo opportunity along the way (yes... I know it's just falling water and can't look THAT different). Visiting in Winter meant that there was a lot of mist coming off of the falls, but we were still able to see everything and the surrounding area had a light layer of snow - perfect! Journey Behind the Falls IMG_4267 v2You've probably all seen photos of people standing on a ridge right next to the falls, unfortunately, this access point was closed during Winter, but we were still able to complete the rest of the "journey behind the falls" - and because of the closure, the tickets were discounted to about 8 CAD! This experience takes you through tunnels behind the falls. Along the way, there are openings in the tunnel which mean you are quite literally standing behind a sheet of water - don't worry you can't get wet (unless you are a bit silly and jump over the protective barriers).

Clifton Hill

IMG_4281 v2 The Journey Behind the Falls marked the end of our time at the actual waterfalls, so we headed further in-land to explore the local area before meeting up with Gerardo for the rest of our tour/the ride home. Clifton Hill is located on the Canadian side of the falls and was described to us as "Canada's answer to Orlando or Las Vegas" - to me it gave off more of a "Southend-On-Sea" or "Great Yarmouth" vibe. Essentially, this road is a tourist trap filled with amusement rides, tourist memorabilia shops, waxwork museums, candy shops etc. It's safe to say that Clifton HIll is not my cup of tea, but whatever floats your boat! On a serious note, how many waxwork museums can you fit in one small area?! We saw SO many!

Niagara On The Lake

IMG_4312 v2IMG_4320 v2On our way back to Toronto, we stopped at the SUPER cute town of Niagara on the Lake. Every shop was perfectly designed and adorable! We spent about 30 minutes walking around, visiting all of the shops (and trying the foods they had to offer hehe).

Ice Wine Tasting 

IMG_4331 v2During our trip, Gerardo mentioned "ice wine" which we had seen advertised in different shops but didn't know what it meant! Apparently ice wine is a Canadian speciality where the wine is made from grapes that have been frozen on the vine. On our way back to the city, Gerardo took us to a ice wine tasting session (unfortunately I didn't catch the name of the place). We sampled 3 different types of ice wine and ended up buying a bottle with apricot undertones - yum!

More Things to Do! 

As always, I didn't get to do absolutely EVERYTHING that Niagara has to offer, but to make sure you are as filled-to-the-brim with knowledge as physically possible, here's all the other bits and bobs you can do during your visit! Boat Rides As we were visiting in Winter, we were unable to do a boat ride up to the falls, however I've heard great things about the trip in Summer! IMAX Niagara Falls If you're not feeling too adventurous, there's an IMAX theatre to show you sweeping views of the falls with a 4D twist! Skylon Tower Niagara Do you fancy food with a great view of the falls? Head to Skylon Tower! We decided to skip out on this experience given that we ate dinner in the CN Tower the night beforehand and the two look pretty similar, albeit the views are completely different! Fireworks and Illuminations During the Winter, the falls are lit up in varying different colours at night - we didn't get to experience this as we took a day-time trip but it looks great! Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? What was your favourite part? Or if you're planning a trip, what are you looking forward to the most?!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

Given that I am currently locked in the UK due to study and work commitments, I thought it might be nice to write about one of my old trips, a "#throwbacktrip" if you will. This throwback is a pretty epic one because we're going all the way back to August 2010 when I took one of my biggest trips to date. As with all throwbacks, get ready for a dodgy hairstyle and some now questionable outfit choices (it was really cold in San Francisco, that bright purple "I<3 SF" hoodie was necessary, promise). Now, Let's Set The Scene... It's my friend's mum's birthday and her husband has just bought her a new engagement ring (or eternity ring.... 6 years later and I've forgotten the finer details) and they plan to renew their wedding vows in Las Vegas! Suddenly, my family and my friend's family are planning an epic 3 week trip together through America incorporating a trip to Vegas. Somewhere along the way, the wedding vow renewal was forgotten and all focus was on how much we could squeeze into these 3 weeks of fun - hey ho, we had good intentions for romance but sometimes wanderlust gets in the way! This is a pretty touristy trip and I know a lot of people that have done similar routes, but if you're going to the U.S. for a period of around 3 weeks and want to tick some of the major tourist bucket-list items off of your list - this is definitely the route for you! I will be writing more detailed posts on each of the cities/areas in due course, so this will serve as more of a route guide/city highlights/photo diary! 4 Nights In San Francisco (California) Of all the cities we visited on this road trip, I think San Francisco is my favourite. New York is obviously one of my favourite cities but I'd already visited the city twice before, so it wasn't as new and exciting! Trip highlights:
  1. Visiting Alcatraz on a seriously foggy and spooky day
  2. An amazing private tour of the city with particular emphasis on the city's amazing China Town
  3. Obviously ticking the Golden Gate Bridge off of my bucket list
Trip disappointments:
  1. I thought Chicago was meant to be the windy city? We were not prepared for how cold, foggy and windy our time in San Francisco would be - I've never purchased so many hoodies in my life!
Driving the Big Sur (California) If you stick me in a car, it's safe to say that I will fall asleep. So I don't actually remember ALL that much of this section of the trip but the photos speak for themselves, the coastal drive from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo was a beautiful one. Along the way we stopped at a few smaller towns like Carmel (I've never been to a place where people love their dogs so much). One Night In San Luis Obispo (California) This was primarily just a stop-over to break up the long drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but I remember being absolutely terrified of the accommodation that my family had booked. The website made it look like the kind of wooden lodge in a U.S. small-town that crazy axe-wielding men frequent in bad horror films. Don't worry, I survived! 4 Nights In Los Angeles (California) Then we were off to the land of the rich and famous. As an avid "Friends" and (at the time) "Two and a Half men" fan, the highlight of the trip had to be the Warner Brothers Studio Tour! Pretty Little Liars had just been released and I remember the hype in the studios for it being huge - shame I only got into it last month - whoops! Now I would be SO hyped to see the sets. Relaxing on Venice Beach, spotting celebrity houses (ironically the only celebrity that we saw during our time there was a fellow Brit - Vinnie Jones) and screaming our heads off at Six Flags Magic Mountain were further highlights! Looking back, I'm gutted that we didn't visit Yosemite National Park during our time in California, but the bright lights of Nevada were ahead! One Week In Las Vegas (Nevada) So... this is where that ever-important wedding vow renewal should have happened... Instead we spent our days catching a tan by the hotel pool (and enduring many American people asking me if I was Austrian or British and one man asking me if I'd ever starred in Baywatch... just because I was wearing a red bikini). Instead of staying in one of the more recognised hotels, we stayed at the Hilton Grand Vacations. This is because my dad found out that my grandparents had some old unused transferable timeshare weeks from an old holiday spot in Tenerife - win win - who needs to read loads of posts about free travel/using travel reward schemes/travel hacking when your dad has already got it sorted? As I was only 16 at the time, our evenings obviously weren't spent in the casinos (we left that to the grown ups!). I'd love to know people's thoughts about Vegas. I just don't "get it". If you're mesmerised by big shiny lights, you will love it. On the other hand, if you want to be immersed in history and culture, I'd probably give Vegas a miss ;-). In my eyes, it is just a strip of hotels in the middle of a desert. I am obviously so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit and see what the city has to offer but in the future you are more likely to find me in a European Castle! One Day At The Grand Canyon (Arizona) If there's one thing that I did LOVE about our stay in Las Vegas is the day-trip to the Grand Canyon. I am in love with this place. No photos can do it justice, that's for sure! You can read the full details of how we visited the canyon and my recommendations here! 4 Nights In New York City (New York) We didn't really need to visit New York on this trip. Of the 7 people on the trip, only 1 hadn't already visited New York... but we all love the city so much, that we obviously had to show it to her! So after our week of sun in Vegas, we hopped on a plane to New York, ready to be uber-tourists in the Big Apple. There's something about this city that I just love. I get the same feeling when exploring London (unfortunately commuting into Holborn everyday doesn't have the same affect...). The big city, the extensive list of things to do, the million miles an hour pace, I love it all. I've always said that if there were a city I could go and work in for maybe 6 months, New York would be it. I've visited 3 times now but feel like there's more to explore. Like London, I think you could spent a lifetime there and always discover new corners and exciting things to do. Highlights obviously include the usual tourist attractions (even having done them all twice before!) and my all time favourite thing to do in the city - escape the hustle and bustle, grab a hot-dog and chill out in Central Park watching the locals play baseball. Have you ever visited these cities? What were your highlights?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

All photography credit lies with the respective owners shown in the watermarks.
Out of all the continents, at the moment I feel like I am drawn to North America the least. I can't tell you why, because I'm not entirely sure. I think it has something to do with my absolute love of small charming historic towns as opposed to large commercialised cities (Okay, I know I love London, but London has a decent amount of history too!). However, the area of North  America that really appeals to me is the National Parks. I absolutely love the ridiculously beautiful unspoilt landscapes. The Grand Canyon is one of my favourite places I've ever been and Yosemite National Park is high up on my wanderlust list! So, I need some help. I've compiled a list of the things I can think of that I'd like to do. But if anyone has some suggestions/hidden gems that might help me to fall back in love with North America, I'd love to hear them! Bucket List
  1. See the sloths in Costa Rica
  2. See the Grand Canyon (read: here)
  3. Take an American Road Trip
  4. Visit the Mayan Ruins in Mexico (read: here)
  5. Visit Niagara Falls
  6. Drive along the Big Sur
  7. Go celebrity spotting in Los Angeles
  8. See the beautiful Yosemite National Park
  9. Visit Alcatraz Prison
  10. Experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  11. See the famous New York skyline from Liberty Island
  12. Visit the beautiful Vancouver
  13. Experience the city of sin, Las Vegas
  14. Rent an RV and go on an unplanned adventure
  15. Visit 50% of the states
  16. See the volcanoes of Hawaii
  17. Spot wolves in Yellowstone National Park
  18. See the colossal sculptures of Mount Rushmore
  19. Tour the Panama Canal
  20. Tour Havana in a traditional car, Cuba
  21. Relax in the hot springs in the Canadian Rockies
  22. Go hiking in any of the beautiful mountain ranges of Canada (I'm not fussy)!
  23. Skydive over the Great Blue Hole
  24. Get the iconic photo of Horseshoe Bend National Military Park
  25. Drive into the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater
  26. Get lost in Redwood National Park
  27. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
  28. Drive through Monument Valley

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

So US National Park week is coming to an end (16 April - 24 April 2016) and I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about my current favourite place in the US. The Grand Canyon is incredible - there's no two ways about it. I visited back in 2010 (hence the slightly dodgy hair in the photos) and I would recommend it to anyone. We were staying in Las Vegas and made our way to the Canyon for a day trip. I know that a lot of people say you can't see the Grand Canyon without flying over it - I beg to differ! There were 7 of us on the trip, so not only would this be ridiculously expensive, it would also have been inconvenient given you can't fit 7 people in a helicopter! We settled on the Grand Adventures Sunset Tour and it was the perfect day! You leave Vegas early and make your way to the Hoover Dam for a quick photo stop (my top tip is to not accidentally lean on the metal railing around the dam when it's a billion degrees outside... I practically suffered third degree burns on my leg...). You then hop back into the minibus and have a few more stops in local Arizona towns - a really interesting insight into rural American lifestyle. Then you arrive at the big finale! The Grand Canyon! I really don't think pictures do this place justice (especially mine as they are taken on a 2010 DSLR which isn't half as good quality as cameras these days!). I would love to go back and take the time to photograph and wander around more. Given that the name is the "sunset tour", you obviously get to see the sunset over the Canyon and it's safe to say that it is a beautiful sight! One of the things that made our tour really special is that our tour guide George was a professional photographer and made us pull all sorts of crazy poses, meaning we got some really great family photos! If I remember rightly, it was announced on Facebook that George left the company a few years ago, but I'm sure the other tour guides are just as great! If I was in the US over the past week, I would have absolutely loved to take advantage of National Park Week! Who wouldn't want free entry into some of the most beautiful areas of the states?! There are so many ways that you can see the Grand Canyon - just to name a few, you should look into hiking, flying, the skywalk, the grand canyon railway, horse riding and water-rafting!  So make sure you do your research and find something that works for you. Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? How did you experience it?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

Chichén Itzá is listed as one of the seven wonders of the world by "New2Wonders Foundation", so if you're in Mexico, it definitely should be on your "must visit" list! We were staying in the Hotel Riu Tequila in Playa Del Carmen and most large all-inclusive hotels like this have organised trips to the local sights planned throughout the week - however they do come with quite a hefty price tag! Seeing as this was our first time in Mexico, and we were staying 2 hours away from Chichén Itzá, we decided that this was probably the best option! My top tip for this destination is to leave EARLY. This doesn't mean rolling out of bed a 9am... we left the hotel at 4am to make sure that we arrived at 6am. Not only is this one of the most popular tourist sights in Mexico and I still couldn't get pesky humans out of my photos (lady with the umbrella, I'm looking at you!), Mexico is also ridiculously hot during the summer months. We travelled during July and by midday, it was too hot to really explore the area and appreciate it. Another great thing about using an organised coach trip is that you get a tour guide with years of experience telling you all about the area, how it was formed and the history of the Mayan culture - I knew nothing before my visit but I can guarantee you'll be hooked the entire time! We also stopped for lunch at an all-you-can eat buffet restaurant (included in the tour price) just outside of Chichén Itzá. At this location there is also a cenote that you can swim in (can be seen in the distance of the last photo) which is a great way to escape the heat! As well as visiting the colonial city of Valldolid which is really beautiful. Chichén Itza should definitely be on your bucket list. Steeped in history, architecture and beauty, what more could you want! (Apart from a slightly less sweaty experience...) Summary of My Top Tips:
  • Leave early to avoid crowds (and the heat!)
  • Stay hydrated
  • Do your research beforehand or hire a guide
  • Take a trip to Cenote Hubiku on your way home
  • Enjoy!
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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin