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Discover San Francisco secret gardens, rooftop parks and open spaces

Discover San Francisco secret gardens, rooftop parks and open spaces

POPOS may sound like a funny name for something you’d munch on during happy hour, but that is so wrong. POPOS stands for “Privately Owned Public Open Spaces,” a.k.a. San Francisco secret gardens, urban parks, and city open spaces. Whether you as a traveler call them POPOS, secret gardens, or rooftop parks, they are ideal respites and secluded open spaces when wandering and touring cities for anyone who just needs to rest weary feet or simply take in the surroundings or do a little people-watching – for free, and often in a really pleasant venue.

Houmas House: a luxurious plantation country estate

Houmas House: a luxurious plantation country estate

Houmas House estate is a New Orleans area attraction located in Louisiana’s River Parishes. Once one of the biggest and richest plantations in Louisiana’s plantation country, it’s now a destination for lovers of architecture, gardens and fine dining, as well as an entertainment venue.

Plan a trip to coastal Maine: A MidCoast Maine travel planner

Plan a trip to coastal Maine: A MidCoast Maine travel planner

Explore MidCoast Maine on a coastal Maine road trip. Sit in a classic Adirondack chair and enjoy coastal breezes, eat fresh lobster while taking in ocean views, visit with local craftsmen, and explore back roads winding through quaint Maine towns. Our MidCoast Maine travel planner will help you organize your vacation.

What to do in Fresno on a Highway 99 road trip in California

What to do in Fresno on a Highway 99 road trip in California

Located along Highway 99 in the Central Valley, Fresno doesn’t immediately grab you as a place worth spending much more than a night. But appearances can be deceiving. There are quite a few historical, cultural and culinary gems waiting to be explored in California’s fifth-largest city. Read on to know what to do in Fresno.

Dining at Drago’s Seafood Restaurant on the Louisiana Oyster Trail

Dining at Drago’s Seafood Restaurant on the Louisiana Oyster Trail

We were following the Louisiana Oyster Trail in the town of Metairie just outside New Orleans. Our first stop was at the door of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, home of the charbroiled oyster. Oysters were on the menu, and Michael was eagerly looking forward to sampling the promised charbroiled oyster dish. Drago’s offers so much more than oysters though, as we were to discover.

A sacred place: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

A sacred place: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

To visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is like stepping into a real-life Jurassic Park. The Gwich’in people call the Arctic Refuge, “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.” You have to see the Arctic Refuge for yourself to believe it. This story was awarded a Silver Medal for travel writing by the North American Travel Journalists Association.

Newseum: Washington DC museum for news, politics & history buffs

Newseum: Washington DC museum for news, politics & history buffs

Whether you are a history enthusiast, news and politics buff, or a student or fan of media and first-amendment rights, the Newseum is a must-go museum in Washington, D.C. Even though the spectacular Newseum is not free, it offers an insider look at all things news, current events, past history and First Amendment. There is something for everyone, not to mention great lessons for students visiting Washington, D.C.

Forestiere Underground Gardens: Fresno stop for curious travelers

Forestiere Underground Gardens: Fresno stop for curious travelers

The Underground Gardens tourist destination offers an intriguing tale for all ages that is well worth a stop. The Underground Gardens is what it sounds like: A weaving labyrinth of caverns, rooms and passages all dug underground and filled with fruit trees, vines and plants in spaces that open to the sky. This oddity was built – or shall we say, dug – by Italian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere for about 38 years starting in 1906.

Rocky Mountaineer luxury train trips in Western Canada: Do it your way travel tips

Rocky Mountaineer luxury train trips in Western Canada: Do it your way travel tips

The Rocky Mountaineer website is detailed and the staff helpful. However, it can still be a bit baffling to decide what route to take. Turns out the “most popular” one may not be the “best,” depending on your definition. And you also can “have it your way” with any Rocky Mountaineer luxury train vacation you choose. Just ask! We did – and we’re sharing a few Rocky Mountaineer tips to help you get the most out of your luxury train holiday in Canada’s Rocky Mountains.

Rocky Mountaineer luxury train planning and travel tips for Western Canada

Rocky Mountaineer luxury train planning and travel tips for Western Canada

The Rocky Mountaineer train trip through the Canadian Rocky Mountains is an adventure of a lifetime, remaining for many a bit of a luxury indulgence. Before you book your Rocky Mountaineer train trip, read our insider tips detailing which class of service is the best for you – gold, gold plus, or silver. Choices are so important in making the most of what for many is a bucket list item.

9 tips to guide your visit to Arlington National Cemetery

9 tips to guide your visit to Arlington National Cemetery

The first time I visited Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., was when my Uncle Ara Mooradian, MIA in the Korean War, received a memorial service in 2004 with full military honors – horse-drawn caisson, soldiers on horses, 21-gun salute, Missing Man Formation, the whole deal. I have a tie to Arlington that may be different than many, but that doesn’t mean your visit to Arlington National Cemetery will be any less memorable.

Six things to do in Washington DC that are often overlooked

If you have a trip to Washington, DC, coming up soon, the Smithsonian Museums are a standard to fill time. How about a change of pace? Here are six things to do in DC that many visitors overlook – including The George Mason Memorial, The National Gallery of Art free concerts, the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Air Force Memorial, and the National Archives.

Rose Hill Cemetery at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve

Rose Hill Cemetery at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve

The San Francisco Bay Area hills are spotted with numerous parks where one can hike or picnic, often with great views of the rolling countryside or even the ocean. Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve east of San Francisco has another secret worth a traveler’s exploration: the Rose Hill Cemetery dating back to the Gold Rush.

The gold panning world championships – not just about panning for gold

The gold panning world championships – not just about panning for gold

Since HI Travel Tales is based in California’s so-called Gold Country, we naively thought that this was the center of the panning for gold world. You know, Sierra Nevada gold rush, gold discovery at Sutter’s Mill, gold miners, ‘49ers, and all that jazz. Boy did we learn a thing or two, like gold panning is a world-wide pursuit and there is even a world championships each year.

Creative, tasty meals at Basque Ogi Deli in Elko, Nevada

When you’re driving along Interstate 80 across frequently spectacular yet periodically desolate Nevada desert, eatery choices can be, well, less than inviting. So when we first found this amazing deli in Elko – now called Basque Ogi Deli, but it was “2 Dames and a Deli” when we discovered it – we were utterly delighted.

Historic Gold Rush town Michigan Bluff off beaten path

Historic Gold Rush town Michigan Bluff off beaten path

Situated at about the halfway point of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, Michigan Bluff is a California Gold Rush town so tiny nobody even bothers to count how many people live there. Could be about 20. Give or take. An old mining hamlet that once teemed with thousands of gold-seeking pioneers, this is what they call in true Old West cowboy slang a “one-horse town.” No, there’s not much there, but that’s what makes it charming and worth a stop for a hike or a walk when in the Sierra Nevada Gold Country.

Travel to Panama: Rainforests and beaches without the crowds

Travel to Panama: Rainforests and beaches without the crowds

Think of travel to Panama, and if you are like most, visiting the great big Panama Canal comes to mind. Take a minute, though to give Panama a closer look. Aside from the Panama Canal, the country boasts equal parts lush rainforest, exotic wildlife and pristine ocean beaches — without the Costa Rica crowds. And it is an ideal destination for traveling families.

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve – Wildflowers and waterfalls

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve – Wildflowers and waterfalls

Table Mountain reserve boasts one of the most spectacular waterfalls in California and an amazing display of California wildflowers in the spring, yet the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve (just “Table Mountain” reserve to locals) is surprisingly unknown. If you want blankets of colorful wildflowers, including periodic super blooms, Table Mountain delivers.

Table Mountain California full of wildflowers and waterfalls

Table Mountain California full of wildflowers and waterfalls

Located in the foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada, just 7 miles north of Oroville (approximately one hour drive north of Sacramento), the 3,315-acre Table Mountain preserve looks rather non-descript from afar. From Oroville, you can see the dark basalt (volcanic) cliffs and a hint of a flat plateau above, but little more. But get closer and you will experience spectacular wildflowers and amazing waterfalls.

Florida’s hidden gems: 10 more reasons to visit

Florida’s hidden gems: 10 more reasons to visit

There are plenty quiet and magical places sans crowds in Florida if you know where to look — places we like to refer to as Florida’s hidden gems. Rest assured that when Ponce de León first arrived in Florida in 1513 he wasn’t greeted by Walt Disney or Mickey Mouse. You too can get to Florida and not just find theme parks or senior citizens’ specials. The Sunshine State has hidden gems that whisk you way beyond the expected.

Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida – Fort Jefferson 360 view

Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida – Fort Jefferson 360 view

Almost 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, lies a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, called the Dry Tortugas. With the surrounding shoals and water, they make up the Dry Tortugas National Park, an area noted for bird and marine life and shipwrecks. Fort Jefferson, its central cultural feature, is one of the nation’s largest 1800s masonry fort. Video shot in 360 with a Kodak Pixpro SP360 camera.

Pacific Grove Museum: Area natural history comes alive

Pacific Grove Museum: Area natural history comes alive

The Pacific Grove Museum is a little place with a huge heart that invites visitors – adults and kids alike – to not just look but to touch, hear, play and feel. Dang amazing really for a museum that opened in 1883 and still, in part, exists in one of its original historic buildings on a side street in Pacific Grove.

Sierra foothills wildflowers hike: Fields of California wildflowers

Sierra foothills wildflowers hike: Fields of California wildflowers

With springtime comes the search for California wildflower walks to enjoy the multicolored beauty of sometimes fleeting blooms. Sierra foothills wildflowers are everywhere as are relatively easy hikes to view them – you just have to know where since you often can’t see the blooms from a road. This short hike showcases some amazing wildflowers such as lupine and poppies.

UC Davis Arboretum: free award-winning gardens

UC Davis Arboretum: free award-winning gardens

Alongside the roar of Interstate 80 connecting the San Francisco Bay Area to Lake Tahoe is an award-winning botanical garden that beckons plant-lovers, gardeners or anyone looking for a relaxing park setting – the UC Davis Arboretum. The park-like arboretum itself beckons with winding paths, benches and plant collections with different themes.

Allez French restaurant delight near Placerville California

Allez French restaurant delight near Placerville California

We could not have imagined what French culinary delight we were about to experience as we walked to the front door of Allez! Located just a few minutes from Placerville in the California Gold Country not far from Sacramento, Allez French restaurant is an intimate bistro owned and operated by Christian and Jennifer Masse. Christian is as French as they come — and Allez’s chef. It had just enough “quaint” to offer a casual European bistro feel.

Give thanks for Thanksgiving Point Gardens near Salt Lake City

Give thanks for Thanksgiving Point Gardens near Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City — home of murky salt lakes, vast salt flats and towering mountain peaks – isn’t the first place you think of when conjuring up images of lush gardens. But Thanksgiving Point Gardens, just 30 minutes south in Lehi, is a beautiful respite that leaves you gaping in awe as you stroll the grounds.

A Jazz National Historical Park? Yup. Free music anyone?

A Jazz National Historical Park? Yup. Free music anyone?

Who woulda thunk that New Orleans is the musical home to a U.S. National Park. But it is, under the auspices of the National Park Service, called the “New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.” It is surprising how so many visitors and even locals we encountered had no idea a national park music program exists right in the French Quarter, even though its concerts are always listed on music calendars.

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