If you're looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure on Maui, drive to the end of the road in Makena to explore the lava trails, scenic vistas and rocky beaches at La Perouse Bay. Snorkel at Ahihi on the way, then admire beautiful, Big Beach on the way back to Wailea.
I recommend visiting Crater Lake National Park when it first opens in the spring. Yes, some of the roads and trails can't be accessed by vehicles. But you can walk on the roads that have been plowed. And you'll have a less crowded experience. And did I mention how beautiful Crater Lake is dressed in white?
If you're planning a trip to Crater Lake National Park in late May or early June, don't expect the Rim Drive to be open. This area of Oregon receives heavy winter snows that take national park crews time to clear. But visiting when Crater Lake still has a covering of snow is a special treat. Read more for tips on how to plan your visit.
If you have the chance, visit Lake McDonald in the winter. All of the concessions and lodging inside Glacier National Park will be closed but there are places to stay and eat in West Glacier. And here's why you should visit: seeing (and photographing) the snow-covered mountain reflections in the lake is pure magic. Although most of Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed in winter, the park service keeps 10 miles plowed to Lake McDonald Lodge. Stop along the way to take those gorgeous photos of the lake that I suggested. The, park in the lot at the closed lodge to hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski as far as you'd like on Going-tho-the Sun Road.
The hike to Avalanche Lake is a beautiful introduction to hiking in Glacier National Park. And it's not hard to get too, being easily accessed from Going to the Sun Road. Covering mostly rolling terrain, the moderately easy trail skirts Avalanche Gorge before climbing into the trees. When you reach the lake, take a seat on one of the downed logs to enjoy the view. Hope you brought a sack lunch with you. This is a busy trail, so arrive early to claim a spot in the parking lot. And even though there are other hikers around, it's always a good idea to hike with bear spray on Glacier National Park trails.
Mud Island is perfect for kids and grownups alike. And it's a wonderful way to cool off on a hot, Memphis day. On a day with the grandkids, start by arriving at Mud Island on the monorail. And if you have teenagers in tow, consider a paddle in Wolf River Harbour with The Adventure Center. Bicycles are another fun alternative.
Ragged Point Inn offers budget-friendly accommodations with an impressive Big Sur view and a lovely garden for strolling. I found the rooms to be clean and spacious. And the food in the restaurant was more than adequate. The inn makes a convenient headquarters for touring Hearst Castle and visiting the elephant seal colony at Piedras Blancas.
Tubing the canals on Kauai's former sugar plantations is a fun excursion that almost anyone can do, even the kids. The journey includes floating through several caves, thus the reason for the helmets with headlights. One of my favorite things to do on Kauai.
Explore inside the USS Missouri (Mighty Mo) on a visit to Pearl Harbour when you visit Oahu, Hawaii. Mighty is a worthy term for a ship that's the length of 3 football fields and home to 2700 sailors during WWII. It's a fascinating look at battleship technology in the early 1940's.