Features // North America

What’s the best festival you’ve been to?
What’s the best festival you’ve been to?

While February might not spring to mind as a time of celebration, some of the world’s greatest festivals are going on this month – not least the Kumbh Mela, rumoured to be the largest gathering on earth, and the infamous Rio Carnaval. Elsewhere, with ten days until Chinese New Year, cities across China and the…

Picking, eating and tripping on Peyote in Mexico
Picking, eating and tripping on Peyote in Mexico

Surrounded by the dwarfing Sierra de Catorce mountain range, Rough Guides writer Alasdair Baverstock indulges in some hallucinogenic Mexican cactus for an eye-opening experience. The cactus beside me was quite audibly breathing. Its expansions and contractions were sure signs of its survival in this desert. In fact, looking around at the abandoned silver mine everything…

Eat the original: five places for authentic food
Eat the original: five places for authentic food

After a long time on the road, menus – especially on the budget end – start to blur together into a mix of familiar fast-food staples, whether you’re in France or the Philippines. It’s easy to forget that some of the foods people the world over eat with gusto are actually based on a single…

The world’s strangest sports
The world’s strangest sports

For all the media’s focus on big-money events, it’s often weird local games or odd new hybrid events that really capture the joy of sport across the world. So we asked the authors of The Rough Guide to Cult Sport to select their ten favourite strange sports from the book (with apologies to the likes…

The Battle of Gettysburg: 150 years on
The Battle of Gettysburg: 150 years on

In an emotional venture to Pennsylvania, with Lincoln’s speech echoing in his ears, Rough Guides writer Stephen Keeling remembers the Battle of Gettysburg – the deadliest battle in the American civil war – 150 years on. I can’t remember when I first heard about the Battle of Gettysburg, but it was probably at school. Even…

Unusual accommodation ideas
Unusual accommodation ideas

If you’re the kind of traveller that seeks out new and unusual accommodation, allow us to present some really far out suggestions. From ice hotels to underwater boltholes, here’s some of our favourite wacky hotels around the world, taken from Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth. Troglodyte villages, Tunisia When Tunisia gained its…

World rituals – eight captivating celebrations
World rituals – eight captivating celebrations

One of the great pleasures of travel is observing – and learning from – the locals. Here’s a selection of awe-inspiring rituals from around the world, that feature dancing, theatrics and a little sacrificial slaughter. Cavorting with the kukeri, Bulgaria When it comes to the rich folk heritage of Eastern Europe, few events carry the…

10 unusual types of transport
10 unusual types of transport

Getting around abroad doesn’t have to be all about cars, trains, buses and bikes. From cruising Peru’s Lake Titicaca on a boat made of reeds to flying down the streets of Madeira in a wicker toboggan or taking an odd horse-drawn carriage in Pakistan, there are so many unusual types of travel to be tried.…

On the trail of Mark Twain in the USA
On the trail of Mark Twain in the USA

Stephen Keeling follows in the footsteps of Mark Twain, the American literary giant who penned such classics as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Hannibal, Missouri “Hannibal has had a hard time of it ever since I can recollect, and I was “raised” there. First, it had me for a…

Top ten gap year destinations
Top ten gap year destinations

It’s that fateful A-level results day again, when hundreds of thousands of hard-working students will be taking one last trip back to school to discover the outcome of those arduous and intense exams they took at the beginning of the summer. Essentially, two years of hard work will all culminate in one single letter today,…

Skating on the world’s largest ice rink
Skating on the world’s largest ice rink

Yes, Paris has the elegance of the Seine. Fine, London has the bustling Thames. And OK, Rome has the historic Tiber. Great waterways all, no doubt about it – but none of them is a match for what you can do on the ribbon of snow and ice that is Ottawa’s Rideau Canal in winter.…

Eat your way around California
Eat your way around California

The arty town of Berkeley, and particularly Alice Waters’ legendary Chez Panisse restaurant, can lay claim to being the birthplace of Californian cuisine, whose emphasis on fresh ingredients and fusion of elements from the state’s many gastronomic cultures has influenced restaurant menus the world over. And there are plenty more gastronomic delights to be discovered…

10 essential dolphin and whale-watching trips
10 essential dolphin and whale-watching trips

From whales in Iceland to the pink penguins of Hong Kong harbour, here’s ten of our favourite holidays for seeing whales and dolphins, taken from the pages of travel bible Great Escapes. Let us know your own below. Whale-watching off the coast of Iceland Iceland’s waters are blessed with large numbers of almost every kind…

Top five crime-related holiday experiences
Top five crime-related holiday experiences

Go behind bars in Liepaja, Latvia The best place to book yourself in for a bit of rough treatment is the former naval prison in Karosta. Formerly used as a punishment block for unruly sailors, the grim-looking red-brick prison is now the venue for “Behind Bars” a two-hour interactive performance that involves being herded at…

Our top 30 holiday destinations
Our top 30 holiday destinations

 To celebrate Rough Guides reaching the grand old age of 30 this year, we’ve asked some of our writers, editors and staff members to nominate their favourite holiday destinations across the world. Be prepared for some acute pangs of wanderlust… Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast James Smart, Senior Travel Editor, Rough Guides The sandy, snorkel-friendly Corn Islands…

Tracking down polar bears in Manitoba
Tracking down polar bears in Manitoba

Signs warning “Polar Bear Alert – Stop, don’t walk in this area” dot the city limits of Churchill, Manitoba. Beyond them lie wide expanses of the bleak and often frozen Hudson Bay or the treeless, endlessly flat tundra. It’s this location on the threshold of two forbidding environments that makes the town the unchallenged “polar…

Top holiday ideas for thrill seekers
Top holiday ideas for thrill seekers

If you like your holidays with a pinch – or even liberal lashings – of adrenalin, then you may want to check one of these life-changing experiences out. Taken from the pages of Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, here’s ten ultimate trips for thrill seekers. Sand-skiing in the dunes, Qatar Launching yourself…

Travel bargains for 2012
Travel bargains for 2012

This article was originally posted in February 2012 Tourism is a lifeline for so many countries, but economic crisis, civil unrest or natural disasters can suddenly pull the plug on visitor numbers. And this can be a great time to experience these countries: often many areas are still safe, locals will usually be delighted to…

Floating through Xochimilco, Mexico
Floating through Xochimilco, Mexico

Spend a few days in the intoxicating, maddening centro histórico of Mexico City, and you’ll understand why thousands of Mexicans make the journey each Sunday to the “floating gardens” of Xochimilco, the country’s very own Venice. Built by the Aztecs to grow food, this network of meandering waterways and man-made islands, or chinampas, is an important gardening centre…

The ten best dive sites in the world
The ten best dive sites in the world

Shipwrecks, nudibranchs, and terrifying journeys under huge ice sheets all feature in our round-up of the top ten dive sites around the world. If you love scuba diving and want to branch out from the usual spots, try one of these for size. See all ten spots as a full screen gallery. The great Sardine…

Mexico movie guide – eight essential films
Mexico movie guide – eight essential films

Thinking of visiting Mexico for the first time? Watch a few films before you go. Like great works of fiction, movies often provide an illuminating insight into the culture of a country, its landscape and its peoples. Mexico has always been a rich source of movie material, with its own prodigious film industry and plenty…

Fire festivals around the world
Fire festivals around the world

A great fire festival should be on everybody’s bucket list. Here we rundown some of the greats… Guy Fawkes Night, UK “Remember, remember the fifth of November – gunpowder, treason and plot” – a rhyme Brits have grown up reciting in the run-up to Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night).…

Cocktails & wine: Montréal nightlife
Cocktails & wine: Montréal nightlife

Montréal was called “Sin City” in the 1920s, when Americans streamed in to drink during the Prohibition. The name still applies, albeit in a tamer form. Nightlife in Montréal is booming: in one evening, you can dance to the setting sun at an outdoor rave, sip potent cocktails from mason jars, or practice your bilingual…

Epic journeys
Epic journeys

Travel by camel through the Sahara, hike the Appalachian trail, and grab forty winks on an overnight train from Nairobi as we take a look at the world’s most epic journeys. Crossing the desolate sands, Niger A camel journey across the Sahara is an authentic and intimate experience that gets to the core of the…

Ten beautiful time-lapse videos
Ten beautiful time-lapse videos

Time-lapse photography, where multiple images are captured and played back at an increased speed, can portray the world in unusual and awe-inspiring ways. Here’s a look at ten of the best clips we’ve seen, featuring Yosemite National Park at night, a flight across the USA, and the northern lights. Yosemite Range of Light This clip,…

The best places to visit in November
The best places to visit in November

As the Northern Hemisphere is getting colder in November, below the equator things are hotting up as spring gets ready to give way to summer. The cooling temperatures aren’t all bad however, as the temperature in Egypt and India becomes far more bearable, and autumn in South Korea is a sight to behold. Check out…

Top cooking breaks
Top cooking breaks

Some say that the best way to discover a country is through its food. For the epicurious, cooking vacations give you the chance to delve deeper into a country’s cuisine beyond its restaurants and markets. You’ll get a crash course in local produce at a food market then dive straight into the kitchen with a…

The world’s best bars
The world’s best bars

If you’re bored of your local pub, why not try one of these drinking holes around the world? From kava in Fiji to caipirinhas in Rio, via the most remote beer in the world, we’ve rounded up some unique drinking experiences in our quest for the best bars in the world. Well someone had to do…

Getting in line at Mardi Gras, Louisiana
Getting in line at Mardi Gras, Louisiana

America’s most over-the-top and hedonistic spectacle, Mardi Gras (the night before Ash Wednesday) in New Orleans reflects as much a medieval, European carnival as it does a drunken Spring Break ritual. Behind the scenes, the official celebration revolves around exclusive, invitation-only balls; for such an astonishingly big event, it can seem put on more for…

Aboriginal experiences British Columbia, Canada
Aboriginal experiences British Columbia, Canada

Maria Hart meets some of Canada’s First Nations people to discover what aboriginal tourism in British Columbia has to offer. “High tide is rush hour here” smiles our guide Tsimka, “that’s when the kayaks and water taxis usually come.” But since our group paddled over to Meares Island in a traditional flat bottomed canoe at…

Reliving the Wild West at the Calgary Stampede
Reliving the Wild West at the Calgary Stampede

For ten days each year, during the middle of July, the usually conservative city of Calgary loses its collective head (or finds a new cover for it, at least). Virtually everyone turns out in white Stetsons, bolo ties, blue jeans and hand-tooled boots. Indeed, everything seems, well, more western – which for a city like Calgary means shifting…

The best places to go in September
The best places to go in September

As the summer holiday season winds down, September is the perfect time to get an off-peak deal or some late sun. Here are our choices for the best places to go on holiday in September. Add your own trip ideas below. Surfing in North Devon, UK For surfers steering board-laden camper vans down North Devon’s…

Six truly epic surfing spots around the world
Six truly epic surfing spots around the world

From Spain to El Salvador, our round-up of the best surfing sites from Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth covers some spectacular breaks. So whether you’re a seasoned surfer or you’ve never been near a board in your life – let alone caught a wave or hung ten – give one of these…

The best places to visit in October
The best places to visit in October

As autumn looms in the north and spring is blossoming in the south, October is a beautiful month around the world. From the last of that European sunshine, to the wacky festivities of Halloween in the USA, here are the best places to go for holidays in October. Browse and buy leading art, London, UK…

Cities which aren’t the capital – but should be
Cities which aren’t the capital – but should be

Predictably, our first visit to a country will often focus on its capital city. Not only does this mean everybody sees the same old stuff, but this blind focus on the capital can also mean other great cities go unappreciated. So here we present five cities we think are worthy of – and sadly lacking…

Florida at 500: ten historic highlights
Florida at 500: ten historic highlights

Five hundred years ago, grizzled Spanish conquistador Ponce de León became the first European to set eyes on (what he called) La Florida, the “Land of Flowers”, though Spanish colonization didn’t get going until 1565, with the foundation of the city of St Augustine. Today the place is part historic theme park, part memorial to…

What Sank the Titanic?
What Sank the Titanic?

On the night of April 11, 1912, a mighty ocean liner steamed straight into an iceberg in the north Atlantic. Passengers were thrown from their chairs and rushed in terror to the decks. Although her bow was badly buckled, no one was hurt, and the ship limped onwards, to reach New York in safety. The…

Montréal on film
Montréal on film

Montréal has played a starring role in so many films that it could practically apply for its own actor’s equity card. From the leafy banks of the St Lawrence River to gritty street corners with faded strip bars, Montréal can seem like a custom-built movie set. Here AnneLise Sorensen, co-author of The Rough Guide to…

Meeting the monarch butterflies in Michoacan
Meeting the monarch butterflies in Michoacan

Early morning in the mountains of Michoacán. There’s a stillness in the wooded glades and a delicate scent of piny resin in the air. Mostly oyamel firs, the trees are oddly coated in a scrunched orange blanket – some kind of fungus? Diseased bark? Then the sun breaks through the mist and thousands of butterflies…

Lost for words at the Grand Canyon, Arizona
Lost for words at the Grand Canyon, Arizona

If a guidebook tells you that something is “impossible to describe”, it usually means the writer can’t be bothered to describe it – with one exception. After pondering the views of the Grand Canyon for the first time, the most spectacular natural wonder on Earth, most visitors are stunned into silence. Committed travellers hike down to the canyon floor…

Northern America’s best backcountry skiing
Northern America’s best backcountry skiing

New York’s ski resorts are the envy of the world.The service is reliably slick, the lift queues move quickly and there’s huge versatility, from the mellowness of Québec’s Most Treblant to the sophistication of Aspen, the rawness of Jackson Hole and the steep slopes of BC’s Fernie. But ploughing down perfectly groomed pistes all day…

Interactive Map: The world’s best street food
Interactive Map: The world’s best street food

One of our most popular galleries recently was our round-up of street food across the globe. From bunny chow to poutine, it had a variety of suggestions for hungry travellers. Here we’ve pinned those photos to one of our world maps so you can see where to go for your next foodie fix. Where would…

Staten Island – The Forgotten Borough?
Staten Island – The Forgotten Borough?

The free ride across the harbour to Staten Island is one of the highlights of any visit to New York City, but is there any point in getting off the ferry? Culturally Staten Island has more in common with suburban New Jersey than with the other four New York boroughs – and with parts of…

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile on a budget
Chicago’s Magnificent Mile on a budget

Exploring Chicago’s Magnificent Mile – the most glamorous stretch of Michigan Avenue – is a must for anyone visiting the city, but the experience can prove expensive. Max Grinnell, however, has some insider tips on how to make the most of the Mile without breaking the bank.   The hotel that housed Oprah’s guests The…

Is Mexico safe?
Is Mexico safe?

Official warnings and news reports often paint a nerve-wracking picture of Mexico, but just how dangerous is the country? Stephen Keeling, co-author of the Rough Guide to Mexico, offers his first hand thoughts on some of the most supposedly dicey areas. Sipping margaritas on Puerto Vallarta’s languid beach, pelicans gliding off shore and kids playing…

The best historic pizza restaurants in New York
The best historic pizza restaurants in New York

Spend more than five minutes in New York and you’ll start to understand how much the locals love pizza. There are more pizza joints on a typical block than garbage cans, mailboxes and parking spaces. So as you’d expect, this is one town where pizza genealogy is taken very seriously, and title of best pizza…

Arrivals: a travel news round up (September 16)
Arrivals: a travel news round up (September 16)

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel topics and unpicks the top stories of the week. Thousands apply for one-way trip to Mars More than 200,000 people have applied for the chance to help colonise Mars. Just four of the applicants will be picked for the first one-way mission being…

Five top isolated retreats
Five top isolated retreats

Whether we dwell in city centre or suburb, we nearly all dream of escaping the humdrum and finding somewhere truly off the grid. As the world shrinks, more and more places that promise isolation find their offerings increasingly crowded. Here’s five destinations, drawn from Rough Guides’ Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, that…

Six great treehouses – monkey business optional
Six great treehouses – monkey business optional

B&Bs and traditional hotels are all very well, but sometimes is fun to get in the foliage and live like a monkey for a few days. Here’s a few of our favourite treehouses around the world. Where’s your favourite? Keycamp, Northern France Choose between three treehouses at Keycamp’s family-friendly French campsites – at Carnac and…

The best places to visit in May
The best places to visit in May

May is the perfect time to travel in the northern hemisphere. With the weather warming up, fewer tourists and lower prices than the peak summer months, the beaches of the Caribbean and the Med are prime targets, but there’s plenty going on elsewhere. From New Orleans jazz to a whale shark festival in Australia, here…

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