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Hot Spots

Camping Hot Spots

Find great places to camp and gain insights into activities to make the most of the top camping hot spots. Get the scoop on where to go next. Discover destinations that offer unique opportunities for you to experience the great outdoors through recreation activities, wildlife viewing, and unforgettable vistas.

North Idaho

From the winter swish of snow under a pair of skis to a summertime tromp through meadows, forests, and streams, North Idaho is an outdoor lover's dream. The panhandle area of the state is all about scenery, wildlife, and outdoor adventures. This is a land where people make their own huckleberry jam, tell stories about the fish that got away, and prefer to spend their time out on the trail rather than indoors. No matter what your outdoor passion, you'll find the perfect place to enjoy it in North Idaho.

Things to Do
This region has a remarkable array of natural and man-made outdoor attractions. You'll find exquisite rock climbing walls, trails that go on forever, and plenty of bodies of water that offer everything from white water rafting to water skiing. There are also outstanding golf courses and amusement parks, shopping centers, ranches, restaurants, and museums.

Water Sports
North Idaho has dozens of recreational lakes and rivers for canoeing, rowing, sailing, kayaking, and rafting. You'll find glass-smooth lakes for water skiing or paddling, plus amazing white-water rivers. There are even beaches for volley ball, strolling, sunbathing, and parasailing opportunities. Don't miss the chance to go lake kayaking on beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Skiing and Snowshoeing
Sun Valley Trekking in Hailey operates six backcountry yurts in the Sawtooth National Forest that are ideal destinations for snowshoers. Rentals and multi-day, guided trips are available. Also, the entire Upper Big Wood River area surrounding the Galena Summit is a snowshoer's playground and is closed to motorized traffic.

The Coeur d'Alene area boasts three ski resorts. Silver Mountain in Kellogg has two peaks, 50 runs, 2,200 vertical feet of fun, and the world's longest, single-staged gondola. Lookout Pass Ski area in Mullan is also nearby for alpine exploring with 540 ski-able acres, vertical drop of 1,150 on 23 named runs plus two glade areas and acres of tree skiing. Or skiers can head north to Schweitzer Mountain Resort with 58 runs across 2,500 acres and Stella, its 6-passenger high-speed chairlift.

Snowmobiling
Since Idaho has more groomed snowmobile trails than any other Western state, it's no wonder that residents and visitors to Kootenai County find snowmobiling one of their favorite winter activities.

Click here for more information about snowmobiling and other snow sports in Northern Idaho.

Hiking and Biking
This region has thousands of acres of trailed wilderness that are just waiting to be explored. Stop by any forest ranger station to pick up a map and suggestions for the best local trails. Road bikers should be sure to pedal down the scenic Centennial Trail that runs from the Washington border through the east end of Lake Coeur d'Alene. For mountain biking, just head tone of the area ski resorts and speed down one of their alpine trails.

Fishing
This area is famous for its superb fishing as well as its gorgeous streams and mountain lakes. You'll reach the best fishing holes by hiking up a trail and stopping off at a secluded lake. Most local fishers find great success with a fly rod and regular tackle.

Mine Tours
Idaho is silver and gold mining country, so it's no wonder the area boasts a number of fun mines to explore. At the Crystal Gold Mine, you can head underground into an authentic 1880s gold mine. This Silver Valley mine is open year round, winter and summer. At Coeur d'Alene's Sierra Silver Mine Tour, you can take a one-hour tour through an underground mine. Tours depart daily every half hour (kids must be age for and above). You'll learn all about the techniques and skills involved in hard-rock mining at this attraction that's open from May to September every year.

Whether you're looking for a quiet camping trip near a shining lake or a rousing Old West ranch adventure, you'll find what you're looking for in North Idaho. This is a place where wilderness is truly right outside your front door, and trailheads are more plentiful than people. So pack up your binoculars and your hiking boots, and get ready for some North Idaho beauty!

Sunny San Diego

San Diego is a beach town that has increased in size, but never outgrown its warm, relaxed attitude. With a comfortable Mediterranean climate and over 70 miles of coastline, this is a place that makes outdoor living easy. And with world famous attractions like SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, home of the giant pandas, you'll find plenty to do and see.

Outdoor Adventures, San Diego-style
With the gleaming Pacific Ocean on one side and the Anza-Borrego Desert and Laguna Mountains on the other, San Diego has plenty of amazing outdoor spaces. Whether you're headed out for a day of sailing and snorkeling, fun on the golf course, or a quick jaunt into Mexico, you can do it all from the second-largest city in California.

Most visitors like to start with a trip to one of San Diego's stunning beaches. This is a great place to try something new like surfing, windsurfing, and sailing, or to stroll along the golden sands. Golfers will love the 90 courses in the San Diego area, a region that Golf Digest named 'One of the Top 50 Golf Destinations in the World.

This is where the sport of skate boarding got its start, and San Diego remains a skating haven to this day. You'll find plenty of skate parks as well as hiking trails up Hot Springs Mountain and Valley of the Moon, just to name a few. You can go rock climbing at Mission Gorge in the Mission Trails Regional Park, do some mountain biking at Corral Canyon, or go surfing at Point Loma and La Jolla.

Family Fun
The whole family will love San Diego's amazing animals. No trip to this region is complete without a stop at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, where you'll take a guided tour through remote African and Asian landscapes, watching for giraffes, lions, and zebras. At SeaWorld San Diego you can catch Shamu in "Believe," the most ambitious killer whale show in the park's history. The world-famous San Diego Zoo has a fabulous new exhibit called 'Monkey Trails and Forest Tales' that you won't want to miss.

For rides, shows, and an incredible display of landscapes built entirely with Legos, head to Legoland, a great place to spend the day. And be sure to stop at the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, which recreates life in the Mexican and early American periods of 1821 to 1872. The kids will also love the rides and games at Knott's Berry Farm, America's first theme park, and a walk through the old-fashioned Gaslamp District.

Day Trips
For a terrific south-of-the-border experience, plan a day trip to Ensenada, Mexico, a friendly, beautiful coastal town that's a ninety-minute drive from San Diego. Known as the "Cinderella of the Pacific", Ensenada is a Baja stop that's a favorite for cruise ships and pleasure boats. You'll soon see why as you explore this charming city.

You can head to the coast for days of whale watching, looking for the gray whales that calve in Baja's many lagoons. Pay a visit to the Riviera del Pacifico, a plush gaming casino from the 1930s, or see Hussong's Cantina, the oldest bar in the Californias, dating back to 1892. Ensenada has an open-air fish market, lively shopping on the El Malecon boardwalk, and a gorgeous park at the Plaza Civica. Be sure to stop by the flea markets for some incredible bargains, and don't miss the stunning beaches. You'll also find excellent hiking and bird watching in San Quintin, the colorful and bustling agricultural center that stretches along both sides of the transpeninsualar highway.

San Diego Festivals
With all the festivals and events in San Diego, you'll find something special going on no matter when you visit. Don't miss highlights like the November San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, Southern California's largest luxury wine and culinary event. In December, you can ooh and aah over the twinkling lights at Del Mar, then return in February for Museum Month, when all museum admission fees are half price. In June San Diego hosts the Loews Surf Dog Competition, the nation's largest surfing competition for man's best friend, as well as the La Jolla Festival Of The Arts And Food Faire.

From incredible restaurants to fabulous nightlife, San Diego truly has it all. Be sure to squeeze a visit to this beach city into your vacation schedule, so you can feast on fish tacos, swim in the ocean, and hike in the desert. It's the perfect winter get-away spot!

Green and Glorious Vermont

Nestled between the mountains of the Adirondack National Park and the woods and streams of New Hampshire, beautiful Vermont is a bucolic paradise. With rolling hills, green fields, and picturesque farms covering its landscape, this is a food lover's haven. Head to Vermont for exquisite cheese, produce, and ice cream, for long hikes in the woods, and for a laid-back, friendly culture. Even Vermont's small towns have plenty of culture and history to offer.

The Long Trail
Slicing lengthwise through the middle of the state is the oldest long-distance trail in the U.S. The Long Trail was built between 1910 and 1930 by Vermont's Green Mountain Club. From its southern start at the Massachusetts border, the trail winds through all of Vermont's highest peaks until it reaches Canada. If you take some time to hike a piece of the trail or one of its side trails, you'll cross picture-perfect ponds, hardwood forests, and fast-running streams. The trail is 270 miles long, and includes 175 miles of side trails.

Farm Fresh
Vermont is famous for its farms and farm produce. You can get a taste of this bounty by visiting local farm stands and sampling the maple syrup, cheeses, ice cream, apples, and other homegrown delights. In Wilmington, visit the Adams Farm, a homestead that's been in operation since the Civil War making maple syrup. At the Allenholm Orchards in South Hero, the owners bake pies made with fruit from their own orchards.

Brattlebro
Begin your tour of Vermont in the south at Brattlebro, voted Vermont's best small town. This charming village is set between the West and Connecticut Rivers. Its downtown is a National Historic District that has a lively shopping area with plenty of small stores and boutiques. You can see the 1930s art deco Latchis Theater, visit one of the five independent bookstores, or see the traditional old hardware store.

Brattlebro is known for its lively arts scene. If you're looking for some amazing art, tour through Brattlebro's many art galleries and the museum. Even the cafes and bakeries here are filled with locally-made art. You can often catch readings, performances, and impromptu artists' gatherings at the bookstores or one of the coffee shops.

In June, Brattlebro celebrates a quirky festival that's all its own -- the Strolling of the Heifers. In early Fall they host Puppets in the Green Mountains, and in the winter the town puts on DecemberFest.

Head north on Interstate 91 to Interstate 89 until you reach our next destination:

Montpelier
This is Vermont's capital city, but it still retains its small-town charm. Montpelier has a fabulous collection of historic buildings that date back to the 1700s. Today you'll also find plenty of modern shopping and dining opportunities as well as a thriving arts scene. If you enjoy history, be sure to visit the gorgeously restored State House with its marble floors and portrait gallery. Visit between January and April to see congress in action!

From the State House, take yourself on a walking tour of the downtown. You'll find four independent bookstores, fabulous delis and restaurants, and small shops selling one-of-a-kind items. This is the home of the Green Mountain Film Festival, held in March every year, as well as a pocket park music series and Wednesday night band concerts. Many people use Montpelier as a jumping-off point for cross-country ski trips, hiking in the North Branch River Park, or touring the many first-rate art galleries.

Follow Interstate 89 northwest toward Lake Champlain to explore the lively college town of Burlington:

Burlington
With its bustling waterfront and vibrant college atmosphere, Burlington is known as Vermont's Queen City. This charming city is home to four colleges, grand architecture, and the brick-paved Church Street Marketplace, a gathering space for friends and locals. In the summer, you'll see street vendors and entertainers as well as outdoor cafes and live music around the marketplace. Enjoy a romantic dinner on the square or head to the shipyard to explore the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Burlington Schooner Project.
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