Stargazing at Mono Lake, California
A tufa rock formation juts out of Mono Lake, brilliant under a starry sky. Mono Lake sunrises and sunsets are famous because of the colors reflected in the tranquil water, Travel Favorites submitter shreenivasanm says. “If one has the will to venture to the lake shore during the night, you could experience a visual spectacle of … billions of stars.”
Cherry Blossoms at Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto, Japan
Spring brings bright blooms to Kyoto’s Kiyomizu Temple. “Cherry blossoms last only a short while—a week to ten days at peak,” Travel Favorites submitter hirowadausa says. “[You] must be aware of weather conditions and temperature when you go out there to take a shot.”
Coastal Walk in Cornwall, England
This section of England’s famed South West Coast Path offers views of dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches, and lighthouses, says Travel Favorite submitter Atul_kshirsagar. “This walk is almost four or five miles long, but worth each meter.”
San Gregorio Magno Church in Majayjay, Philippines
Travel Favorite submitter xylo17m snapped this photo of San Gregorio Magno Church in Majayjay, Philippines. Majayjay is in Laguna province
Geek Shopping on Apliu Street, Hong Kong
“Visit Apliu Street to ‘geek out’ and find all kind of electronic components in this huge flea market,” says Travel Favorite submitter (and National Geographic staff member) robertmurray. “A shopper can find both new and used merchandise in the area.”
Treasury, Petra, Jordan
Travel Favorite submitter—and Good Traveler blogger—aricqueen has a word of advice for visitors to this spot in Petra, an ancient Nabataean city in Jordan: “Hold on to your camera tightly. Jaws—as well as things in hands—have been known to drop.”
Night Sky Over Crater Lake, Oregon
Stars dot the vast sky above Crater Lake in Oregon, a favorite of submitter shreenivasanm. “This lake wears the bluest of blue color on a clear summer day. Due to its remoteness, gazing at the night sky [is] an amazing experience for tourists.”
Sa Sartiglia Carnival, Oristano, Italy
The Sa Sartiglia in Oristano is one of the most famous and spectacular equestrian events in Italy,” writes Travel Favorite submitter MariaPaolaLoi. “It takes place on Sunday and Tuesday of Carnival.”
The Blue City, Jodhpur, India
This view of Jodhpur from the Mehrangarh Fort, taken by Travel Favorite submitter Kristian Bertel, explains the origins of the city’s colorful nickname
Old Post Office, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
A foggy night made this shot possible for Travel Favorite submitter hirowadausa. “It was such an experience, as if somebody [used] stage effects to make it look like old Quebec 400 years ago.”
Tso Moriri Lake, Ladakh, India
“Indian Himalaya is one of the best photographic destinations,” says Travel Favorite submitter Neloy Bandyopadhyay. “There are many high-altitude lakes hidden inside the Himalaya mountain range. Tso Moriri is one of the most beautiful among these.”
Chinese cucumber, 1/2 cooked carrot, 1 cooked potato, 1 boiled egg, 1/2c.
mayonnaise, 4 pieces toasts, 1/2T. salt
Wash and dice cucumber, marinate with salt for 5 minutes, then rinse under cold water. Drain.
Dice the cooked carrot, potato and egg, mix with cucumber dices, then add some mayonnaise to stir and make the filling.
Place the toast, spread some filling on top, cover with another toast, using a bowl to shape the toast as round, then cut off the rim of the toast. Ready to serve.
1c. mung beans
1. Rinse the mung beans, soak in water for 1 hour.
Rinse the rice and soak in water for 20 minutes.
2. Put the mung beans and rice altogether into the pot, add enough water, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low,cook until the mung beans and rice get softened. Serve.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Brighton Lakes Trail, Big Cottonwood Canyon
With 10,000-foot peaks within 20 minutes, Salt Lake City may very well be the easiest major American city to get out of, which is why it attracts a large population of outdoor-minded folk. (Depending on the season, you’ll see skis, bikes, or kayaks on top of those Subarus.) One beloved local hiking area is Big Cottonwood Canyon, 30 miles from downtown.
Get Hiking: From the Brighton Ski Resort, follow the Brighton Lakes and Lake Mary trails to some of the wildest scenery near any American city: high-altitude wildflower meadows, three serene alpine lakes, a ring of ragged peaks surrounding the valley, and, if you make it just more than five miles to Sunset Peak, views over the canyons surrounding Salt Lake.
Après Hike: Squatters Pub is a downtown favorite. Wash down locally made bratwurst with a pint of Captain Bastard’s Oatmeal Stout.
Mount Tamalpais State Park
Perhaps it’s the mild climate, the scenery, or something in the drinking water that makes San Francisco such a hub for urban kayakers, sailors, mountain bikers, climbers, and hikers. Or maybe it’s areas like Mount Tamalpais State Park, 6,300 acres of wild grasslands, chaparral, redwoods, and wildflowers only 20 miles north of the city.
Get Hiking: Even though it’s within biking distance of the city, parts of the seven-mile loop on the Matt Davis, Steep Ravine, and Dipsea trails can feel nearly as pristine as they must have felt when Miwok Indians walked here centuries ago. That is, of course, until you get to the panoramic views of the coast, city, bay, and beaches from the top of the 2,571-foot namesake peak.
Après Hike: On the way back to San Francisco, head to Muir Beach for a picnic or for a meal at the Pelican Inn’s pub, which serves English specialties such as beef Wellington and ale-steamed mussels.
Encased in rain forest and blessed with a famously outdoorsy culture, Portland, Oregon, is the antidote to the modern megalopolis—and an urban hiker’s paradise. “There’s an amazing selection of hikes, from super easy to super hard, with a variety of scenery that might be unmatched in America: the coast, the Columbia Gorge, old forests, waterfalls, high mountains, big views, quiet lakes, and flower-filled meadows,” says Paul Gerald, author of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland.
Get Hiking: Try Triple Falls, a three-mile walk from the Horsetail Falls Trailhead that takes hikers through a wooded canyon with views over the Columbia River. The payoff is a stunning three-pronged waterfall—all told, a mere 30 miles from Portland.
Après Hike: Stop at the Power Station Pub & Theater, located in—big shocker—a converted power station that’s part of McMenamins Edgefield, a 74-acre hotel estate in Troutdale, Oregon. Down your grilled ahi sandwich, cucumber-pickled ginger salad, and a taster flight of six beers in front of a second-run feature in the cozy movie theater.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Las Vegas wilderness might seem like an oxymoron, but a mere 17 miles west of the megawattage of the Strip, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a wild enclave of red-rock cliffs, peaks, and canyons that attract rock climbers, horseback riders, and hikers.
Get Hiking: Try the strenuous five-mile round trip to Turtle Head Peak from Sandstone Quarry. You’ll hike 2,000 vertical feet through flats covered in blackbrush, Joshua trees, and yuccas; along a ridge; and finally to the 6,300-foot summit with a hawk’s-eye view over Sin City.
Après Hike: You can’t leave Las Vegas without at least a perfunctory game of blackjack. Try the Red Rock Casino Resort Spa, where there’s not only a game floor but also a spa that offers guided local activities like rock climbing and mountain biking—not to mention post-hike massages.
Right on the kayaker-friendly Puget Sound and just a hop from the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Seattle is famed as a big-city outdoor haven. The best hikes travel through old-growth forest and pay off with views over Washington’s ultragreen landscape, like Mount Si. About 40 miles east of the city, it’s practically a rite of passage for Seattle hikers.
Get Hiking: This popular four-mile hike has a large measure of challenge (3,700 vertical feet of climbing) with an equal payoff (views of Mount Rainier, Seattle, and the Olympics on a clear day). The journey isn’t so bad either: Along the way, hikers pass classic Pacific Northwest conifer and fir forests, streams, and views over the valley.
Après Hike: In nearby North Bend, stop at Boxley’s Place, a renowned jazz club that also serves dinner—try the salmon cakes—accompanied by an impressive wine list.
South Mountain Park
At 17,000 acres, South Mountain Park is the largest municipal park in the world, a veritable wilderness within the city of Phoenix. Javelinas and coyotes prowl the 58 miles of trails studded with saguaros, spindly ocotillos, and cholla cacti that bloom lipstick-pink in spring.
Get Hiking: Park at the Pima Canyon Trailhead and wander a nest of well-mapped trails, or tackle all or part of the 14.3-mile National Trail, which leads to spectacular lookouts on South Mountain over Phoenix and Camelback Mountain, another classic local summit hike.
Après Hike: For more views without the work, head down the street to Rustler’s Rooste,
Great Falls Park
Within 15 miles of the nation’s capital, the Potomac River tumbles down a series of rugged boulders and ledges, creating Great Falls and all but erasing the din of city life with its roar. The eponymous 800-acre park half an hour from the capital attracts all manner of urbanites needing a nature fix, from whitewater kayakers and canoeists to climbers and hikers.
Get Hiking: Check out the kayakers from a lookout over the falls, then keep ambling south to shake off the majority of the visitors. A three-mile loop on the River, Ridge, and Matildaville trails leads along the craggy Mather Gorge, up steep climbs, and through serene forests of oak and ash.
An astounding 10 percent of Philadelphia is parkland, and the cherry on top of the 9,200-acre network of green is the Wissahickon, a beloved overgrown gorge that plunges deep beneath the clamor of the city. “The Wissahickon is the best thing in Philadelphia,” says Sidney Goldstein, a local Meetup.com hiking group leader. “It feels like you’re in wilderness.” With 57 miles of trails, there are plenty of opportunities to get lost.
Get Hiking: Pick up a map at Valley Green Inn, then head up the yellow trail to a nest of less-frequented loops through evergreen and deciduous forests frequented by deer, fox, and some 125 species of birds.
Après Hike: Dating to 1850, the Valley Green Inn welcomes hikers with a wood fireplace in winter and breezy porches in summer. Stop in the restaurant for stick-to-your-ribs American comfort food, like grilled cheese with brie, gruyere, caramelized onions, and applewood-smoked bacon.
Despite its distinction as the country’s most populous city, New York has astonishingly good hikes in its midst. Credit the abundance of state parks, the Palisades, and the Hudson River for the area’s most scenic strolls. One rite of passage is Bear Mountain, located 50 miles north of Manhattan on the west bank of the river.
Get Hiking: Despite the weekend crowds, the view from the top of Bear Mountain is worth the 1,100-vertical-foot climb. The four-mile loop on the Appalachian and Major Welch trails leads past a vista of the Hudson River, Iona Island, and the verdant hills of Westchester far below. It’s also the perfect spot to pick out your next hike—perhaps Anthony’s Nose, right across the river.
Après Hike: At Hogan’s Family Diner in nearby Stony Point, New York, the waitresses call you “hon” and “sweetie” while serving up classic, home-cooked diner fare like roast turkey, baby back ribs, lamb chops, and, of course, thick milkshakes.
Wolf Mountain Trail
For non-Texans, Hill Country comes as a surprise: A verdant rolling landscape of oak-dotted hills and vineyards, it sooner resembles California wine country than the arid Texas of Western lore. Within 45 miles of Austin, hikers can walk through lush forests and past springs at Pedernales Falls State Park.
Get Hiking: The park’s Wolf Mountain Trail is one of the region’s most beloved hikes, winding past fern-lined canyons, the ruins of a settler’s house, beautiful views over the Pedernales River Valley, and finally to the mother of all Hill Country vistas at the peak.
Après Hike: Just west of Pedernales Falls, the stretch of Highway 290 between Johnson City and Fredericksburg is dotted with wineries and farm stands selling fresh peaches and other produce. Stop at Pedernales Cellars, one of the best Hill Country wineries, for tastings of their famed tempranillo.
Indiana Dunes State Park
Indiana Dunes State Park, about 50 miles southeast of Chicago, is a sliver of wilderness in the unlikeliest of places: It’s surrounded by one of the heaviest concentrations of industry in the country. “It’s incredibly dramatic for the prairie state,” says Ted Villaire, author of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Chicago. “It feels isolated and remote.”
Get Hiking: Happily, there’s little reminder of nearby urbanity on the 4.5-mile loop (trails two, ten, and nine) that winds through forests, wetlands, and the 200-foot-tall dunes that have formed over millennia.
Après Hike: In nearby Chesterton, Indiana, stop at The Port Drive-In—a local institution since 1953—for chili dogs and homemade root beer floats.
Everglades National Park
Even on the outskirts of the Everglades, the country’s largest subtropical wilderness, there is absolutely no indication that the city of Miami and some seven million people live within an hour of the park. Though only about 59 miles of unpaved trails wind through these 1.4 million acres of primordial swamps, grasslands, and forests, it’s still easy to find people-free spots.
Get Hiking: Try the Long Pine Key Trails, a seven-mile nest of paths through pine forest and saw palmetto, haunted by birds, lumbering alligators, and even the elusive Florida panther.
Après Hike: Just outside the park in Homestead, Florida, stop at the Robert Is Here Fruit Stand, where purveyor Robert Moehling has sold fresh local veggies, honeys, jams, and exotic fruit like mango, papaya, and soursop since 1959. The key-lime milkshake is a must.
The black dot of Venus punctuates the setting sun in a picture of the 2012 transit of Venus taken near Salt Lake City, Utah, on Tuesday.
Transits happen when a planet crosses between Earth and the sun. Only Mercury and Venus, which are closer to the sun than Earth, undergo this unusual alignment.
Due to the planet’s tilted orbit, Venus transits are so rare that only six have been observed since the invention of the telescope more than 400 years ago. (See a telescope time line.)
The 2012 transit of Venus saw the planet glide across the sun’s face for the last time for 105 years. Some countries saw the transit on Tuesday, while others saw it Wednesday morning.
The planet Venus sits near the edge of the solar disk on Wednesday in a high-definition picture of the sun taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The orbiting telescope snapped the shot in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths, capturing solar activity such as bright coronal loops—coils of electrified gas—in addition to the planetary silhouette.
Children wait in line to use binoculars set up at Science Center Singapore for viewing the 2012 Venus transit.
Weather permitting, the transit was visible even to the naked eye—although astronomers caution that people should never look directly at the sun without proper protection.
Towatch any sun event safely, observers should always use special “eclipse glasses” or telescopes and binoculars equipped with solar filters.
A jetliner seems ready to fly over Venus in a picture of the 2012 transit taken through a telescope with a solar filter from Colorado. Partially cloudy skies give the sun a mottled appearance.
Astronomers first used telescopes to observe a transit of Venus in 1639.
But it wasn’t until 1769 that dozens of scientists scattered across the globe to make detailed measurements of the event, including the famous voyage of British lieutenant James Cook, who had astronomers collecting transit data from the island of Tahiti during his South Pacific expedition.
Seen close up, a thin ring around the edge of Venus shows sunlight being refracted, or bent, in the planet’s upper atmosphere, as revealed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hinode spacecraft.
Astronomers planned to use the 2012 Venus transit to collect data on the planet’s atmosphere. Later they’ll compare their findings to measurements from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express orbiter.
The orbiter has returned information on intriguing weather patterns in Venus’s dense atmosphere, but at close range the craft can see only one region at a time. (See “Venus Craft Reveals Lightning, Supports Watery Past.”)
The transit, meanwhile, should have allowed astronomers to get a broader picture of Venuvian weather in the planet’s upper atmosphere and see how different regions interact.
Using cardboard eclipse glasses, Hindu holy men watch the 2012 Venus transit from the banks of the Ganges River in India.
Transits of Venus are so rare because the planet’s orbit is tilted just over three degrees from the plane of the solar system. This means that most of the time Venus passes above or below the sun’s disk, as seen from Earth.
On average, we see four transits of Venus within 243 years. The events occur in pairs, with each of the two transits spaced eight years apart.
Clouds create a gentle blur in a picture of the rising sun, plus Venus, taken from Sweden on Wednesday.
Based on the 1769 transit of Venus, astronomers calculated that the sun is 95 million miles (153 million kilometers) away—only slightly off from the true Earth-sun distance of 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).
Perhaps the safest way to watch the transit of Venus is to make a pinhole camera. This usually involves cutting a hole about a quarter-inch (0.6-centimeter) wide in a piece of thick paper and using the hole to project an image of the sun onto a flat surface, such as a wall or sidewalk.
The effect can also be achieved with binoculars, as pictured above. Here, a pair of binoculars gives a dual projection of the Venus transit on a white envelope outside Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Venus’s silhouette stands out against the deep red and vibrant yellow of the sun’s chromosphere—its middle atmospheric layer—in a high-definition picture from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory taken Tuesday.
The bright yellow patch on the sun is a region of heightened magnetic activity.
The 2012 transit of Venus serves as a backdrop to the Kansas City skyline on Tuesday.
Scientists using the NASA-ESA Hubble Space Telescope used the transit to watch for the slight drop in reflected sunlight on the moon. The hope is that Hubble’s activity will be a good parallel to observations currently being carried out by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which looks for dips in starlight caused by planets transiting their host stars, as seen from Earth.