Where to Travel For The Best Stargazing In The World

In most urban areas, only around 500 stars are visible on a given night, but in the prized locations highlighted below, up to 15,000 are easily seen. That’s pretty incredible. It you’re planning a trip and want some nighttime eye candy, here are six of the best places in the world to go outside and look up. Here’s where to travel for the best stargazing in the world.

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Mauna Kea, Hawaii

The Mauna Kea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island has perhaps the most ideal stargazing conditions in the world. At an elevation above 13,000 feet, it is the highest point in Hawaii. Its high elevation and location in the middle of the Pacific create excellent conditions, but the surrounding cloud layer makes it even more perfect for studying the sky. A tropical inversion cloud layer 2,000 feet thick sits below the summit, preventing pollutants and moist air from the ocean from rising up. The view itself is so spectacular that one of the world’s most advanced astronomical observatories is located at the top. The visitor’s center at 9,000 feet offers lectures, question and answer sessions, and telescope viewing.

Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania might seem like an odd place for first-class stargazing, but Cherry Springs State Park is one of the best viewing points in the world. The 82 acre park is set within the 262,000 acre Susquehannock State Forest, protecting it from light pollution. A tremendous number of stars are visible at this Gold-Certified International Dark Sky Park. In fact, the sky is so dark that the Northern Lights were seen here four times back in 2014, a very unusual event this far below the Arctic Circle. The park offers Night Sky Tours on Friday and Saturday nights that use lasers to identify and explain constellations and planets. Visitors can also use telescopes on site.

Atacama Desert, Chile

The Atacama Desert in Chile is already a stunning natural wonder with its red dunes, huge rock formations, and even a desert flowering in wet years. It’s also the driest non-polar desert in the world due to its high elevation, which makes it an exceptionally perfect place for stargazing. The newly constructed ALMA Observatory takes advantage of these conditions and the lack of light pollution in the desert. At times, the Milky Way can shine so brightly here that it casts a shadow on the desert floor.

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

In 2007, Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah became the first ever International Dark Sky Park, a designation since reserved for the best stargazing locations in the world. The beauty of the stars visible in the desert is supplemented by the striking natural setting. Owachomo bridge, perhaps the oldest bridge in the park, was created when a river changed course and carved a hole into solid rock.

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Denali National Park, Alaska

The Northern Lights are caused by a coronal mass ejection, which is a gust of solar wind and magnetic fields that interact with the earth’s atmosphere. The result are stunning dancing waves of green, red, blue, and violet that are occasionally visible in northern climates. Denali National Park in Alaska is one of the best places for viewing the phenomenon. The park encompasses four million acres of federally protected land, and the cold and clear Alaskan nights made conditions ideal. The magnificent park also offers bears, wolves, caribou, and moose as well as some of the most stunning mountain views in the world. This is definitely where to travel for the best stargazing in the world.

Tromsø, Norway

Brave stargazers might seek to venture inside the Arctic Circle itself for viewing the northern lights. There’s no better place to experience the enchanted north than Tromsø. Not only does it offer fantastic views of the aurora borealis (the sun is invisible from November to January), it’s a lovely city in its own right. In the 19th century it was called the Paris of the North, and visitors can enjoy reindeer spotting, sledding with huskies, and visiting the famous Arctic Cathedral in this Norse and Sami medieval city. And if you are thinking of travelling to Norway, you don’t want to miss the Fjords!

Conclusion

There you have it. Some of the best destinations in the world to gaze at the wonder of stars. Some are easy to get to and some not so easy to get to but it’s well worth it to get out there. It’s time to travel!

America’s Most Famous Hotel Rooms (That You Can Actually Stay In)

Vacationers planning their next getaway should consider the following five destinations, where they can enjoy the individual delights of each city but also aim to replicate past exploits, both fictional and non. These five hotels offer visitors the chance to stay in suites previously used by the rich and famous. Whether you’re a movie buff or a political junkie, there’s something for everyone in these locations!

1) Las Vegas, NV – The Fantasy Tower at the Palms Place Hotel and Spa

Located just south of Sin City’s famous Strip, the Palms Place Hotel and Spa offers deluxe amenities like a spa and hammam with over 20 treatment rooms, private garden lounges, and tennis courts. Its main draw, however, is the Fantasy Tower, a two-story guest villa partially designed by Hugh Hefner. Accessible by a private glass elevator, the 9,000 square foot space boasts three bedrooms, multiple bars, a glass-walled jacuzzi and swimming pool with a terrace. The real Hef-style luxury comes from the media room for film screenings and indoor waterfall, so high rolling travelers looking for a glamorous “home base” while visiting Vegas should definitely consider spending their money here – champagne buckets and personal butlers, included.

2) Miami, FL – The Everglades Suite at the Biltmore Hotel

There’s not a bad room in this historic hotel, just south of downtown Miami, but the crown jewel and biggest draw for history buffs is the Everglades Suite. Infamously nicknamed the Al Capone Suite due to the Chicago gangster allegedly living there while running a speakeasy out of the Biltmore in the 20s, the penthouse retains a glamorous retro vibe. On a less illicit note, presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama have also stayed in the suite while in Miami. Hand-painting ceilings and a baby grand piano add to the Jazz Age atmosphere, while the balcony overlooking the 18-hole golf course makes for a nice morning view. Between the world-class dining and the 600,000 gallon swimming pool calling your name, visitors to the Biltmore will have to force themselves to leave in order to explore Miami proper!

3) Palm Springs, CA – The Pretty in Pink Suite at the Palms Springs Rendezvous

This modern boutique hotel, located just outside downtown Palm Springs, is home to the Pretty in Pink suite, where Marilyn Monroe often stayed in the 1950s. The name doesn’t lie, so travelers who are Marilyn fans, or fans of the color pink, will be in heaven staying in the suite with its pink carpets, pink walls, pink sofa, and pink linen. Live the life of a 1950s screen siren by getting ready in the vintage inspired bathroom and taking your coffee in the retro chic kitchenette (complete with old school appliances). The room overlooks the hotel’s courtyard, a shimmering oasis featuring a pool to provide relief from the desert sun. Apart from the retro stylings, the hotel boasts amenities including breakfast every morning, cocktails and appetizers during happy hour, and an on-site massage studio.

4) Washington, D.C. – Room 776 at The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel

The hotel itself dates to 1925, but millions in renovations have brought it firmly into the 21st century for a marriage of elegant style and modern flair. First time visitors to the nation’s Capital should certainly consider staying at this location, which is minutes from the White House, the Smithsonian and the National Mall. The Mayflower is the perfect option for presidential history buffs as well, as FDR stayed in room 776 in the months leading up to his 1933 Inauguration (and legend has it, dictated his “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” speech there), and Harry Truman called it “Washington’s second best address.” Amenities include the brasserie EDGAR Bar & Kitchen, and a Grand Ballroom, which has hosted every Presidential Inaugural Ball since 1925.

5) Beverly Hills, CA – The Penthouse Suite at Beverly Wilshire

Fans of the movie Pretty Woman might recognize the Penthouse Suite, used as a backdrop for many iconic scenes from that film. The 5,000 square foot three-bedroom, four-bathroom suite carries a hefty price tag but it’s well-earned. It’s located on the private 14th floor of the Beverly Wing, accessible only by key, and boasts Swarovski chandeliers, marble mosaic floors, and floor to ceiling windows opening onto Rodeo Drive, where you can always wander to recreate Julia Roberts’ shopping sprees from the film. The nightly rate includes a personal concierge to cater to your every need.

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on April 2, 2016.

The Best Airports for Long (Unexpectedly Fun) Layovers

It’s not often you hear someone rave about his or her time at the airport. More often than not our layover is spent on our phones scrolling through emails or texts (or let’s be honest, Tinder) while trying not to overhear the conversation of the person next to us at the gate. But there is good news for all travelers expecting a longer airport wait this year: It turns out there is a lot of fun to be had when waiting for the next flight. We are talking everything from massages to jumping into in a rooftop pool. With fun in mind, we’ve put together the list of the airports taking the layover experience to the next level.

 1. Changi Airport – Singapore

Changi won the World’s Best Airport Award (voted on by travelers) in 2015, and when it comes to spending time during a layover, this airport certainly does not disappoint. What better way to pass the time than a dip in the airport’s rooftop swimming pool? Or take in a film at their movie theater. There is also a butterfly garden, orchid garden, and sunflower garden that boasts a field of more than 500 sunflowers. Changi is also home to the world’s tallest slide in an airport at nearly 40 feet tall. The Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel also has a swimming pool and 24-hour fitness center for those looking to spend the night near the airport. In addition to a plethora of shopping and dining locations, Changi’s unique airport features make it stand out as a luxurious and entertaining spot for long layovers.

2. John F. Kennedy Airport – Terminal 5, New York, NY

Of all the terminals at JFK, Jet Blue’s Terminal 5 is the one you want to spend your layover in. With more than 30 food and beverage spots, you can find just about anything to nibble and sip on. That includes places like Deep Blue Sushi, Dylan’s Candy Bar, and Bar Veloce. The terminal hosts more than 35 retail shops. If sitting down and relaxing is more your style, people watch on the Grandstands while you charge your phone and use the terminal’s free Wi-Fi.  The Marketplace at T5 also hosts concerts with musicians from all over the world, including Taylor Swift, James Blunt and Robyn. Travelers can step out of the airport and over to the Crowne Plaza JFK Airport Hotel to ensure a solid night’s sleep during an overnight layover. Their complimentary shuttle bus will get you right back to the airport in time for your flight.

3. Heathrow Airport – London, United Kingdom

This bustling airport caters to an exceptionally diverse crowd, and the range of shops, restaurants and entertainment options reflects just that. The airport has two spas that offer services ranging from manicures and pedicures to aromatherapy and facials. The No1 Travel Spa offers a jet lag revival package for those who need to recuperate from exceptionally long trips. The iconic shopping destination Harrod’s of London has shops located in each terminal, and personal shoppers are available by appointment to provide fashion and style advice. Restaurants and cafes regularly host events all year round, including special activities and menus for Chinese New Year, like complimentary 2016 Chinese Horoscope cards and special dishes like Hoisin Duck Puffs from Rhubarb British Restaurant and Bar. Travelers can step out of the airport and head to nearby Sofitel London Heathrow for afternoon tea at the hotel’s tea salon or check email at one of their workspaces.

4. Vancouver International Airport – British Columbia, Canada

Voted by travelers as the Best Airport in North America, YVR is not short on entertainment and services to help you spend your time in between flights. The airport has a Meet and Great Service that provides travelers with an Airport Butler who can customize your experience, from getting you to your gate to helping you with the purchase of duty-free items and spa services. The Absolute Spa and Hair Salon can handle all grooming needs, from hair styling and removal to massages. There is a diverse selection of international fare, from sit down restaurants and bars to fast food chains. Less than three miles away is the Radisson Hotel Vancouver Airport where those with longer or overnight layovers can relax in the indoor pool and spa tub, grab food at one of many fine-dining establishments and easily hop back to the airport with complimentary on-demand shuttle service that operates around the clock.

5. Denver International Airport– Denver, CO

Denver’s airport stands apart with its appealing architectural style, complete with a vast collection of public art, more than 140 shops and restaurants, and relaxing lounges. The airport offers free Wi-Fi, but many travelers find themselves putting down their phones to stare at the gorgeous views of the Rocky Mountains near gates C23 and C24. Denver is also home to Paradise 4 Paws, 9http://www.flydenver.com/traveler_services/pets) an on-site pet resort. Dog suites have their own flat screen TV’s and massage therapy and veterinary services are also available. Cats won’t feel left out either with their own bungalow and Adventure Jungle. Who said layovers can’t be fun for pets too?

6. San Francisco International Airport – San Francisco, CA

San Francisco airport is a tech-lovers layover dream. The #Converge@flySFO loungeis a unique space inside the airport created specifically for travelers to share ideas around technology, entrepreneurship and ways to create change (among many topics). The room has free Wi-Fi, white boards to write down ideas and places to charge electronics. For less business-minded guests, the airport also houses theAviation Museum and Library, the Berman Reflection Room for quiet meditation, XpresSpa’s for spa services and a free yoga room. Travelers and their pets with longer layovers are welcome at the Aloft San Francisco Airport Hotel located just two miles from the airport. Guests can enjoy stretching their legs on the scenic jogging trail or taking a dip in the hotel pool before grabbing a bite to eat and heading back to their airport to catch their next flight.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on March 11, 2016.