Category Archives: America

50 States Road Trip – Vermont

State number 9 on our Road Trip across the USA is Vermont, well known for producing that all important pancake topper; maple syrup.

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Maple Syrup

Syrup_grades_largeTowards the end of March 2014, Vermont is hosting a Maple Open House weekend, where you can take a tour of the state, visiting various Vermont sugar houses across the state to find out just how maple syrup is made. Some sugar houses even have small gift shops that allow you to purchase your very own jar of delicious syrup to take home! Used as a sweetener, as an ingredient in baking or to top oatmeal, French toast, porridge, waffles and a variety of other sweet snacks, maple syrup is essential to making a delicious, sweet meal! Book your tour today by having a look at which sugar houses are open around Vermont!

Vermont is a mountainous state, and is famous for a number of great hiking locations suitable for hikers of all levels, from beginner to expert. The central and southern Green Mountain range make up the oldest rocks in Vermont, formed over 1 billion years ago in the first ‘mountain building period’. The mountains produce a certain type of granite which has been used to build several buildings worldwide in places such as Germany and Hong Kong, making it a very popular form of granite.

Mount Snow

MtShasta_SnowCappedOr if you are a fan of snow sports, Mount Snow is one of Vermont’s largest major resorts that offer a range of activities including skiing, snowboarding and even hiking up the mountain trails. Plus as Mount Snow is located near the town of Dover, a mere seven minute drive by hired car will see you flying down the slopes or enjoying the view on one of Mount Snow’s three different ski lifts. There is also accommodation available on the resort, if Dover town is too far away for you! With a number of Bed and Breakfasts, traditional inns and classy hotels located throughout the Mount Snow Valley, you will be spoilt for choice.

Plus there are a number of different restaurants, cafes and bars in the valley, all which benefit from the stunning views of Mount Snow. Take a few hours out to relax in one of the first class restaurants around Mount Snow Valley, before taking a dive down one of the slopes on your snowboard or skis!

Next Stop

Named after the English county of Hampshire, New Hampshire was one of the first British North American colonies to break away from Great Britain in early 1776 and was one of the original 13 states that founded America. It is also home to a large number of granite formations and quarries.

50 States Road Trip; New York

New York State is home to the infamous NYC, a landmark in itself, with its countless coffee shops, high rise buildings, stock market and the Statue of Liberty herself, but this iconic state has so much more to offer than its capital city. That is not to say that you shouldn’t check out some of the fantastic haunts located in New York City, but there are a couple of other stops along the way before we get there.

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Niagara Falls

Consisting of three giant overlapping waterfalls; the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls, the Niagara Falls are located along the Niagara river and are situated on the international border between Canada and the United States. They can be reached by a hired car in Niagara or by tour bus.

Niagara Falls

Formed at the end of the last ice age, Niagara Falls are a valuable source of hydroelectric power as over six million cubic feet of water falls over the edge of the Falls every minute. This stunning set of waterfalls is incredibly popular with tourists and receives thousands of visitors every year.

The Falls are even famous with daredevils, and several people have attempted the Falls in various flotation devices, while in June 2012, high wire performer Nik Wallenda actually tightroped over the horshoe falls, where he had to present his passport to officials on entering the Canadian side of the falls once he reached solid ground again.

Roosevelt Baths and Spa

Located at the Gideon Putnam Resort, Roosevelt Baths and Spa is a luxury spa house like no others. With a huge variety of different treatments on offer, this spa house has everything you could possibly want for an evening or even a weekend of pampering. Plus with on site accommodation at Gideon Putnam Resort, it is easy to book a holiday weekend there. Roosevelt Baths and Spa has been listed in the Top 10 New York State Green Destinations, and so is the perfect place for a spot of relaxation on a stressful and busy road trip.

New York City

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Home to Lady Liberty and the Empire State Building, New York City has huge skyscrapers that will rival the tallest buildings in many great global cities. Both the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building are open to the public and you can purchase tickets to go up onto special observation decks. Take a look out into New York City, but be careful not to get vertigo!

Next Stop

We take a look at a couple of America’s smaller states next time, dropping off in Vermont, the current leading producer of maple syrup in the United States.

 

50 States Road Trip – Michigan

With a population of around 9.9 million, Michigan is the 9th most populous of the 50 United States and has gained several nicknames over its lifetime, examples being ‘The Great Lakes State’ and ‘The Wolverine State’. One of Michigan’s most famous landmarks, and one of the most easily recognised, is the beautiful and vast Lake Michigan. It is one of five Great Lakes of North American and the only lake that is entirely located within the United States.

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Lake Michigan

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Thought to have been named from the Ojibwa word ‘mishigami’ which means ‘great water’, Lake Michigan borders a total of four different states, and is 307 miles at its maximum length and 118 miles at its maximum width.

The shores of Lake Michigan are home to over 12 million people, with a number of cities, towns and small villages setting up shop by its sandy waters. Seasonal residents may even have summer homes around the lake, with homes they can return to in the colder winter weather.

Mackinac Island

Said to be one of the top 10 islands in the world, Mackinac Island is an Island frozen in time, where you can spend a few relaxing nights taking in the sites, and engaging in calming activities such as carriage tours and walks along the beach. For the more adventurous out there you can also go horseback riding and hiking.

The use of automobiles is banned at Mackinac Island, excluding emergency vehicles, so the air feels fresher and cleaner, and it is a great way to get yourself out and enjoying the world at a leisurely pace, instead of trying to whizz past it from the seat of your car.

Grand Rapids

Heritage_Hill_2Between the cities of Chicago and Cleveland is a small urban city intermixed with a natural beauty. The Grand Rapids is built next to Lake Michigan and is known as ‘River City’ because of its location. It is home to a number of different theatres and stages, and is also the home of ‘Heritage Hill’ the country’s largest historic urban area, and contains over 1300 homes dating from 1848. Homes created from a variety of over 60 architectural styles, Heritage Hill is definitely a site to see.

Hire a Car for our Next Stop – NY or Bust

We travel way East to one of the most populous and famous states in America; New York. Famous for its landmarks and the bustling atmosphere of its token city, NYC, New York is a state that is steeped in its own traditional and cultural history.

National Corn Chip Day

Happy Cornchip day! A cornchip, otherwise known as tortilla chip, is a traditional Mexican food made from corn tortillas that are cut into triangle shaped wedges and then fried or baked, depending on the recipe. Made from vegetable oil, corn, salt and water, tortilla chips are used widely in nachos and as crisps, but they have always been considered a traditional Mexican food. Tortilla chips can come in several different colours, including red, blue and green, depending on the variety of corn used in the mix.

They were first created as a way of reusing the rejected, misshaped tortillas made by Ms Carranza and her husband in their Los Angeles tortilla factory. She found that by cutting the tortillas up and then frying them, they could be sold as a snack, and she made a great success out of selling them. Eventually tortilla chips were used in their own creative recipes, accompanied by salsa or guacamole dips, or slathered in cheese and called ‘nachos’. Nachos are an incredibly popular way to eat tortilla chips, and can be savoury or spicy. Nachos are generally a vegetarian dish, but chicken or mince can be chopped up and sprinkled over the tortilla chips to add flavour.

Nachos tend to be a pretty easy dish to make, but for such a simple recipe, many restaurateurs across the world have managed to add their own twist to the classic dish. We’ve compiled a short list of some of the more innovative ideas for nachos.

Steak Nachos

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Have your steak, and eat it! These nachos are a step away from the classic tortilla; salsa; cheese combo. These delicious nachos come peppered with slices of rich cooked steak, with a ranch style dressing drizzled over the top to complete the meal. Very American!

 

Popcorn Nachos

Sounds a little strange doesn’t it? Not to fear, for the recipe for popcorn nachos is exactly the same as your plain nacho recipe, just…substituting the tortilla chips for popcorn. It might make a healthier option, but then again, you wouldn’t be likely to make nachos in the first place if you wanted a healthy meal.

Dessert Nachos

dessert-nachosAnd now for some after dinner snacks. Dessert nachos are made with sugar and cinnamon in place of the salt content in the normal recipe. They work as like a deep fried crepe or pancake, and can be drizzled with chocolate, lemon, cream, various fruits or whatever sweet toppings you feel like adding that day.

Ham and Asparagus Nachos

Going down the healthy route, ham and asparagus is generally a very good combination. But added to tortilla chips with a sprinkling of low fat margarita cheese just doesn’t seem like the best way to eat it to us. Alternatively this could make an ice-breaking appetiser if you are planning on hosting a Mexican/Upper Class Britain themed party.

Ultimately it’s your nacho and your choice, but if you want a taste of the real thing, you can always head on over to Mexico to try traditional Nachos from the hilariously named Nacho Daddy Restaurant & Bar, located a short 6 minutes drive from Puerto Vallarta town centre.

50 States Road Trip – Wisconsin

Pack your travel bag, because Wisconsin is a relative treasure trove of hiking trails, adventure parks and fantastic locations ideal for fishing and camping holidays. Whether you love living in the great outdoors, or you just like visiting it on occasion, Wisconsin has so much to offer. Aside from the numerous hiking trails and camping locations, Wisconsin has a couple of other gems for those travellers looking for something a little different.

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Cave of the Mounds

One of the most famous caves of America, Cave of the Mounds is a National Natural Landmark, created over hundreds of thousands of years to become the natural wonder you can go and see today. It is referred to as the ‘jewel box of America’ out of the major natural caves, due to its intricate and unique formations.

cave-moundsGuided tours of the cave are available all year round, and because the interior of the cave is always warm, the cave is a popular destination to take the family in the winter. Guests can wander around the intricate butterfly and prairie gardens, as well as participating in their own fossil dig. The gift shop of Cave of the Mounds contains rock and fossil specimens from all over the world, making it an essential tour stop.

Cheese and Wine

Wisconsin is a state famous for its dairy produce, its cheese in particular. With over 100 cheese factories, visitors are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to eating delicious cheese. For a unique experience, try the Cedar Valley Cheese Store where you can sample some 300 varieties of Wisconsin cheese.

Hire a car and drive south for around 20 miles where you will find the Cedar Creek Winery, a historic mill built in the 1860’s. This mill creates several award winning wines, made with a variety of spices and fragrances, ideal as an accompaniment to the beautiful cheeses of the Cedar Valley Cheese store, or on its own.

Milwaukee Art Museum

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A giant art museum that holds over 30,000 stunning pieces of art. Located by Lake Michigan in Milwaukee this art museum is visited by over 350,000 people a year, and has a self states mission to ‘collect and preserve art, presenting it to the community as a vital source of inspiration and education’. The museum has also been praised for its extensive collection of individual architecture.

Various pieces of historical architecture include the 1957 War Memorial Centre by finnish-american architect Eero Saarinen and the Quadracci Pavilion created by Santiago Calatrava in 2001, a Spanish architect.

Next Stop…

Still heading East on our journey through the 50 states of America, we travel into Michigan next time, home to the largest crucifix in the world. Detroit, which is the state of Michigan’s most populous city, is also known as the car capital of the world.

50 States Road Trip – Minnesota

The state of Minnesota has a load of hidden gems for tourists of all ages to enjoy, whether you have young children looking to visit some famous theme parks, you’re a budding artist looking for inspiration, or if you just really love Spam, Minnesota has it all.

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Nickelodeon Universe

Fancy a shopping trip and a half? hire a car and drive down to the Mall of America, located in the city of Bloomington, for a shopping experience like no other. A leading centre in retail, entertainment and attractions, Mall of America has a huge range of top brand shops, restaurants and cinemas. Plus it is also home to the Nickelodeon Universe, a unique theme park located inside the centre of the Mall.

Nickelodeon Universe

The park is a huge seven acres filled to bursting with unique attractions, entertainment and Nickelodeon characters. A number of themed rides will have your kids laughing and begging for more. Let them meet their favourite characters at character meet and greets, and get some fantastic souvenirs from the Nickelodeon gift shop. Plus there is always the rest of the mall to explore, if you wanted to leave Mum or Dad to watch the kids for a bit!

Franconia Sculpture Park

For a real hidden gem, why not drop by the Franconia Sculpture Park in the St. Croix River Valley region of Minnesota. It is a not-for-profits arts organization that encourages the participation of famous artists and sculptors across the globe in its 25 acre park in Minnesota. These artists will receive either a ‘fellowship’ or an ‘internship’ where they are given a budget, studio space, tools for creating the artwork and on site housing so that they can create their own masterpiece within the parks boundaries.

During your tour of the park you will meet artists at work, finished creations and artists in residence who are more than happy to answer your questions. It is a one of a kind  engaging, artistic experience.

Museum of Spam

Spam_wallHave you always dreamed of visiting a place where Spam reigns above all? Well now you can by visiting the National Museum of Spam, located in Austin! Packed with important information about the nations favourite blended meat, the Spam Museum includes a World War II Spam Exhibit, a Monty Python Spam Tribute, plus a gift shop where you can purchase every variety of Spam available on the market.

The Spam Museum is the self named most comprehensive collection of spiced pork artefacts all located under one meaty roof. Plus, admission is free! What more could you want, apart from maybe a fork…

Next Stop:

Our next destination in the 50 states is ‘America’s Dairyland’ made famous for its dairy producers and many different types of cheese. We are of course, talking about the state of Wisconsin.

50 States Road Trip – North Dakota

North Dakota is a state often forgotten by most of America and the rest of the modern world. Nothing particularly life-changing or significant seems to happen there, it didn’t birth any global geniuses, and it hasn’t suffered any huge tragedies like earthquakes or hurricanes. But North Dakota is a pretty awesome state. Why? We will tell you.

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Teddy Roosevelt

When studying at Harvard University, Theodore Roosevelt was a frail, weak young man and was told by his personal physician that he didn’t have long to live. He spent three years living in North Dakota, where he gained weight, became stronger and got a fabulous tan. Later he was reported as looking as ‘hearty and strong enough to drive oxen’. So don’t sweat North Dakota, because it’s awesome!  It helped heal a future President of The United States of America!

National Park

As well as a number of national parks, make sure to visit the Teddy Roosevelt national park, if just for the Painted Canyon Overlook. The view is intensely beautiful, showing a stunning vista of the plains and the badlands of North Dakota. In contrast, The Teddy Roosevelt national park is also home to Peaceful Valley, a gorgeous valley filled with native wildflowers and butterflies. Previously a horse ranch, it is now one of the most scenic spots in the National park.

Fairs and Festivals

North Dakota is also known for taking great pride in its many Fairs and Festivals. North Dakota is home to countless Festivals and Fairs, from fairs about kites and polka dots to Mardi Gras to a 3 day long barbeque. One of the biggest festivals in North Dakota is the Scandinavian Norsk Hostfest. Held annually in the autumn season (or fall in the USA) it is the largest Scandinavian festival in North America, attracting tens of thousands of people from all over the world every year.

swedish-food-festivalFounded in 1978, Norsk Hostfest provides a host of world class entertainment, Scandinavian cuisine, handcrafted merchandise and bric-a-brac for sale and on display, plus a selection of purchasable foods inspired by the cultures of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland among others.

The Festival occurs over 5 days from the 30th September to the 4th October 2014, and offers on site accommodation for those wishing to stay for more than one day or for the entire trip.  With a variety of accommodation to choose from, you can stay in a hotel, in a private house or even camp out for the full festival experience! The Norsk Hostfest is located along route 83, and is right next to Minot’s town centre.

Next on our 50 states road trip by hired car we will be visiting the state of Minnesota, humble home of the Green Giant, Scotch tape and masking tape! Ho ho ho!

50 States Road Trip – Montana

Heading into Montana, we see that there are a huge range of things to do including visiting national parks and plains, as well as having a look at some of the older nations of native America. Montana is a beautiful vast county full of natural beauties and it is also a cornerstone of ancient Native American history, with several traditional tribes dotted around the county in homage to ancient traditions.

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National and State Parks

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Choose from the Glacier National Park or the Yellowstone National Park, both of which are home to a stunning selection of natural beauty landmarks. For those who want a more scenic c vista, Glacier National park offers huge snow peaked mountains, waterfall studded hiking trails and fields of wildflowers, whereas Yellowstone National Park is host to a number or wolves, bison and bears (oh my!) as well as numerous hot springs and natural geysers. Yellowstone is also famous for being America’s first national park.

As well as the two national parks, the state of Montana is also home to 54 fantastic state parks where you can undergo a host of activities, including skiing, hiking, nature trails and camping, or simply relaxing in the great outdoors.

Sacred Lands

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The Indian nations of America are extremely proud of their heritage, and there are seven main tribal sites around Montana, many of which speak their own indigenous language. Some Indian nations, such as the Apsaalooke Crowe Tribe, have their own reservation area including herding grounds and places for tourists to stay. Many of the tribes still use the same farming and animal rearing techniques today as they did hundreds of years ago before America was colonised, and you can have a hand at living with the land yourself, if you want an idea of what life was like surviving out in the plains of Montana, for the native American tribes of old.

High Plains

A stretch of land untamed by human hands. Prairie’s, badlands, buttes, all home to a vast array of natural wonders, plants and wildlife. Be prepared for harsh, sweltering days and cold nights as the High Plains of Montana shows the raw, bleak yet beautiful aspect of pure nature.

Montana’s high plains are also home to the C.M Russell National Wildlife Refuge; a million acre size of land home to 45 different species of mammals plus over 200 different species of birds. Plus with abandoned homesteads, wagons and tepee rings, the National Wildlife Refuge also captures a piece of native history that goes beyond visiting a museum, leave your hired car behind as you can walk through the remnants of an old village, treading the same soil as American ancestors trod hundreds of years ago.

Pack Your Bags

Because we are heading east next week into the state of North Dakota, known for its Norwegian and Germanic inspired cuisine, and the largest Scandinavian festival held annually in America; the Norsk Hostfest.

50 States Road Trip – Washington

So Washington is our first stop on our road trip/travelling trip across the United States. What is there to see in the state of Washington? With a population of 6.9 Million, and surprisingly not home to Washington D.C, Washington is famous for its beautiful coastline.

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Olympic National Park

Washington is home to the Olympic National Park, often said to be 3 parks in one due to its immense size. Certain areas of the park are covered in snow throughout the year as its mountains are large and subject to extreme weather conditions, so it is quite possible to be able to see several seasons in one place at the Olympic National Park.

The Olympic National Park is host to a variety of wildlife, with nature trails and hiking trails and several places suitable for camping and caravanning. It is an excellent way to get in touch with nature in a protected environment, plus its beautiful landscape and stunning vistas will not go amiss in any traveller’s photo album.

olympic-national-parkThe Olympic National Park is a huge Nature zone, with a vast array of different species and plantlife. A full list of the species available to see in the National Park can be found here. Plus the Olympic National Park contains several historical relics that give visitors an idea of what it would have been like to live amongst the wilderness, with relics dating back as far as 12,000 years, where a spear head was found embedded in a mastodon.

Ghost Towns

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The state of Washington has a huge number of Ghost Towns situated within its counties. Most of these towns were only around for 10-15 years and sprang up due to an abundance in coal, gold or oil. These mining towns were normally very small, and abundant in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, with normally one large convenience store and school for the miners children.

Bossburg Cripple

One of the ghost towns; Bossburg, was thought to be the home of a ‘bigfoot-like creature’ in 1969, when several hundred giant human-like tracks were found in the snow near the lake by Bossburg. They were thought to have been made by an injured Bigfoot, and was subsequently dubbed by locals as the ‘Bossburg Cripple’.

Next week, make sure to hire a rental car, because we’ll be heading a ways out east towards the state of Montana.

50 States Road Trip to start the New Year

As we say goodbye to 2013, the sun rises on a brand new year, and we look forward to bringing you all a fun filled year full of travel facts and useful information. We hope you’ll continue to choose penguin for all your travel needs and we are really excited about what 2014 will bring to the table!

So, how about a road trip across the USA?

With 50 states, over 3000 miles of open road and countless landmarks, all you can eat steakhouses and beautiful sunrises, the land of the free has so much to offer to both experienced country hoppers and new travellers. We here at Penguin hope to give you something memorable to do in each state of America, just to see how much culture and tradition you can experience while travelling right from the icy plains of Alaska all the way through to the jagged, rocky coastline of Maine.

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The New World

Situated in the Western Hemisphere and covering more than 25% of Earth’s land mass, The United States have a population of nearly 1 billion. Although the Native Americans have settled in The Americas since 40,000 BCE, the modern USA as most people know it was colonised in 1500 from the voyages of Christopher Columbus and became independent on the 4th July 1776.

In a little over 500 years, the USA has grown rapidly to become one of the world’s most powerful and leading continents, paving the way in both technology and culture. However America still pays homage to its humble roots, and is very proud of its heritage, as is shown in its landmarks. From the countless war memorials situated across America to its truly recognisable Hollywood sign in L.A California, America is known for its loud, wild and often beautiful land marks.

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What to look forward to

In the coming weeks we will be taking you across America, having a look at some of its iconic views, vistas and points of interest, historically, culturally and geographically, to see what makes America, and road trips across the continent, one of the most beautiful places to visit in the modern world. Whether you are hitchhiking, camping, or on a road trip across America in a hired car, be sure not to miss our upcoming blogs where we go into more detail at what to see when you’re travelling through all 50 States of the USA.

Get your cameras readycamera-and-batteries

As although a lot of these sites have already been documented, no doubt through professional lenses, it is always better to be there and experience the sights for yourself. Make sure to take spare batteries for these are experiences you don’t want to miss!

Where to start?

Normally lists for the 50 states of America are done alphabetically, so we’re going to do something a little different. Starting right in the North West with Washington, we are going to travel in a snaking motion, going across and then down as we visit each state in turn, finally ending up in sunny Florida in the South East.