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Home / North America / Canada / Canadian Nature| Hiking in Hamilton the Heart of the Niagara Escarpment

Canadian Nature| Hiking in Hamilton the Heart of the Niagara Escarpment

Updated: September 18, 2017
By: Ian Yacobucci
Hiking in Hamilton

Hamilton, CA – Sanding overlooking Spencer Gorge in the Websters Falls Conservation area near the end of Autumn (Ian Yaocbucci/Borderless Travles)

It’s Autumn, the perfect time to go hiking. The spectrum of orange and red coloured leaves are arriving, as the summer is coming to an end, turning the forest into a fiery painters pallet.  The   wonderfully cool hiking weather has arrived so that you can dress comfortably without overheating and Hamilton, Ontario, a short drive from Toronto has some of the best hiking in the area.

“Go right to the edge.  It’ll be perfect.  There’s nothing underneath you except forest!” I yelled across the windy gap, as I snapped a perfect Instagam photo of my wife balancing on the edge of Dundas Peak.

For some it’s easy to smile standing more than 135 ft above the forest on a tiny outcropping that looks out towards a massive valley in the the heart of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest.  For others observing the densely forested Spencer Gorge, outside Hamilton, from the safety of a well-groomed trailhead is adventure enough.

It might come as a surprise to hear that the city of Hamilton, once better known for heavy industry, is home to more than 100 waterfalls and dozens of hiking areas where wildlife and the greatest diversity of Ontario tree species can be found.

More stunning is Hamilton’s scenic section of the Bruce Trail, which runs along the 725 kilometer Niagara Escarpment (a UNESCO world biosphere reserve), where the distractions of everyday life can easily fade away as you look upon an epitaph of limestone cliffs that detail the regions natural history and glacial past.

Boundary Falls Hiking

Hamilton, CA – Autmn Hiking at Boundary Falls in Hamilton, Ontario Canada (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Located less than an hour from downtown Toronto and Niagara Falls, makes accessing Hamilton’s natural landscape easy and accessible.

There is no doubt that your first hiking stop in Hamilton will take you back in time with a visit to Webster’s falls in the Spencer Gorge Conservation area.  Showcasing a 78ft cascade of water, Webster’s falls is encased by ancient layers of limestone rock and dominated by hard wood forest along its more than 6 km of trails.

For adventurers, and a little extra exercise, you can venture below the forest canopy to the base of the falls, and along Spencer Creek, via the 123-step metal staircase.  As you descend the stairs towards the river, let the limestone walls of the Spencer Gorge envelop you with a sense of awe as you’re taken back to a time long forgotten.

Forget about all the things on your to do list and breathe in the perfumed air of pine and cedar as you try to spot a tiny yellow warbler fluttering from branch to branch, its neon feathers reflecting like light off a piece of river gold among the dark foliage.

Take a moment to listen to the pileated woodpecker hard at work searching for its afternoon meal, as the waterfall fills the air with the soothing sounds of its cascading water crashing on ancient boulders below.

For hikers, the Spencer Gorge/Webster’s Falls Conservation area offers 6km of groomed trails.  From Webster’s Falls, hikers can follow the main trail along the valley’s east rim towards the 135ft Tew’s falls (only a few meters shorter than Niagara Falls) and Dundas Peak.

“I didn’t really know that Hamilton had such good hiking trails” say’s Danielle Aniceto of Orangeville, who was visiting a friend in the area.  “It’s kind of like a hidden treasure,” she describes before posing for a picture on the edge of Dundas Peak.

Dundas Peak is a highlight for many visitors who hike Spencer Gorge because of its unobstructed views of Hamilton and Dundas Valley.  Here you can stand on the edge of a cliff that drops more than hundred feet back towards the city on your left, or down the valley along your right.  Make sure you stop to capture a new profile pic picture to show all your friends.

For a more local feel you can hike along the tucked away section of the Bruce Trail only a few kilometers from Highway 403.  Here lies a quiet hike that starts along side the 6m high Boundary falls (named for it’s location on the Hamilton and Burlington city border).

Fall Leave

Hamilton, CA – Hiking in Hamilton, Ontario Canada an Autumn leaf on a log at Boundry Falls (Ian Yacobucci, Borderless Travels)

Autumn is a great time to visit Boundary Falls along Great Smokey Hollow Walk, although this waterfall is best to visit during the wetter months of the year.  As a ribbon waterfall Boundary Falls cascades into snake falls and eventually meets with Grindstone Creek.

It’s along Grindstone Creek that you’ll find yourself in the heart of Hamilton’s section of the Bruce Trail.  Great Smokey Hollow walk offers visitors 5 km of trails to explore.  Here the trail snakes its way along the quiet creek where you’ll find yourself deep in a forested valley with the remnants of an old limestone structure, wooden bridges with benches to rest and enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest, and absolutely stunning nature located only minutes from the highway.

Plan to visit early morning or late afternoon so you can make a quick food stop along Main Street Waterdown, just down the road from the falls.  The quaint shops and restaurants here are a great place to enjoy a well deserved drink and a bite to eat before heading out feeling refreshed and stress free after your hike.

So take some time to explore nature by taking a day trip to Hamilton and revisit a city with some of the best hiking in the Toronto Niagara corridor.  Forget about the hustle and bustle of the city and reconnect with Ontario’s most spectacular geologic formation, the Niagara Escarpment.

 Getting to Hamilton’s Best Hikes

Finding Spencer Gorge (Tew’s Falls) Webster’s Falls Conservation Area

From Toronto: Take Highway 403 to Highway 6 North; turn left onto Hwy.5West. Turn left onto Brock Road. Turn left at the flashing light, onto Harvest Road. Turn right onto Short Road and left onto Fallsview Road and follow the signs for the parking lot. For Dundas Peak and Tew’s Falls lookout parking, follow Harvest Road further down until you see the signs.

Finding Great Smokey Hollow / Boundary Falls

From Toronto take Highway 403 and exit on Highway 6 North (Guelph).  Turn right onto Highway 5 (Dundas St. E).  Turn right onto Mill St.  and park in the Smokey Hollow Resource management Area parking just past the overhead railway bridge on your right.

More Information on these hikes an others visit http://www.waterfalls.hamilton.ca/

Enjoyed these hikes, have more hiking information for us, share your comments below to let know what you discovered hiking in Hamilton!

Home / Adventure Travels / Travel America | Along the Colorado River Discover Utah Off the Grid

Travel America | Along the Colorado River Discover Utah Off the Grid

Updated: June 26, 2017
By: Emily Long

Moab Utah Outdoors Arches Landscape Rocks

The western United States is famous for its rocky mountains, alien deserts, big skies, and endless opportunities for adventure. Before I moved to Utah from the hot, humid, and flat East Coast a few years ago, I’d never seen anything like the Wasatch range towering over Salt Lake City or the rolling red rocks and arches around Moab. There’s just so much…space. I immediately set out to explore every national park I could drive to, from Glacier National Park in northwest Montana all the way to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Utah alone claims five unique national parks, along with miles and miles of open federal and state land.

National parks offer a friendly gateway to adventure for families and outdoor newbies, but after several summers of busy campgrounds and highly-trafficked trails, I was ready for something new. After all, national parks attendance is hitting record highs, it’s becoming harder to get off the grid, and nature in general feels more crowded.

Moab, a bustling desert town in southern Utah that serves as the jumping-off point for Colorado River float trips, ATV excursions, and all manner of mountain biking, hiking, and camping adventures, is a great base for exploring the desert. It is just a few miles outside of Arches National Park and within an hour’s drive of Canyonlands National Park, so it can feel like a circus during peak season. Luckily, as with much of the western U.S., it’s possible to find complete isolation within spitting distance of busy cities—if you’re willing to.

Our plans took us west from Moab out Kane Creek Road, which quickly meets and follows the banks of the Colorado River. The pavement ends just under five miles, and that’s where the fun begins. There are plenty of camping spots, mountain biking and hiking trails, and rock climbing routes. The road turns to red dirt leading up to Hurrah Pass (~mile 10) and then into jeep track with big boulders and steep dropoffs and all manner of off-road fun. For those with a high-clearance vehicle, the road also leads to one of the three most extreme disc golf courses IN THE WORLD, as well as remote riverside camping and caving. We spent two days playing in the desert—doing yoga on the rocks, exploring dark caves, hiking sun-soaked trails, and watching sunsets over the Colorado—before heading back to the real world.

Mountain Biking Adventure Moab Utah Red Rocks Bike

 

As incredibly fun as this trip was, it wouldn’t have happened without some careful planning. Here’s a newcomer’s guide to preparing for off-road adventures:

Do Your Research

Experienced travelers of all shapes and sizes know that there’s a time and place for spontaneity—and a trip out to a remote location is not it. Know where you are going, what obstacles you might encounter, and what there is to do along the way. Preparedness is the key to a safe and fun off-road experience.

Prepare for the Remote

Your smartphone more than likely won’t be much help out in the wild. Download offline maps, write down any key information about your destination, or simply use an old-school paper map.

Take Maintenance and Emergency Prep Seriously

There’s no excuse for heading out on any road trip with overdue service issues. Get your oil changed, check your tire pressure, stock your emergency kit, and fill up with gas. Take high clearance and 4WD recommendations seriously, and never head out on a road for which your car isn’t suited!

Gear Up

There’s nothing more exciting than gear—and having the right gear matters when you’re out in the desert (or in the mountains, on the water, anywhere in nature). In addition to having the right tools for your vehicle, prepare yourself for all weather conditions and scenarios. Take warm layers, camping gear (if appropriate), plenty of food and water, and any equipment for hiking, biking, or other activities. Remember that you’ll likely be several hours from resupply resources.

 Slow Down

Much of the fun of off-roading is in the bumpy ride, the unplanned stops, and the views along the way. Focus on the journey rather than the destination, and enjoy!

Share you comments below to let me know what adventures you found off the grid and how these tips helped you discover something new!

Home / North America / USA / Travel America| 5 Best Car Camping Spots in Southern Utah

Travel America| 5 Best Car Camping Spots in Southern Utah

Updated: May 1, 2017
By: Krystal Rogers-Nelson
Utah, US - Southern Utah Camping in the wilderness (iStock)

Utah, US – Southern Utah Camping in the wilderness (iStock)

While Yellowstone National Park may get a lot of attention, southern Utah’s national parks are waiting to steal your heart. Utah hosts striking red rock formations and diverse wildlife like gray foxes and desert horned lizards. Rivers slice through deep canyons. Cool lakes, perfect for dipping in after an afternoon hike, abound. You can even spot petroglyphs and other testaments of humanity’s attempts to tame the wild.

Even though Utah doesn’t fall in the ten largest states, it still has the third-most national parks—which means you don’t have to travel far to visit them all. The Mighty Five national parks—Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion—listed here follow a travel itinerary starting in Salt Lake City and finishing near Las Vegas. Each section below includes must-see sites, best campgrounds to stay at, and a safety tip to keep you well rested, protected, and ready for adventure.

1. Arches National Park

Utah Arches

Utah, US – Delicate Arches in Utah’s Arches National Park are created from centuries and millennia of weather wear (Eric Nelson)

Arches National Park owes its name to an obvious feature: arches, naturally formed in the rocks. You will see many arches from bulky ones to ones so ethereal that they seem like something out of a fantasy novel. Delicate Arch is the most well known, and you should make time to see it. Try taking an early morning hike to beat the crowds (and the heat).

When planning your trip, be aware that the main camping area, Devils Garden Campground, will be closed for construction until November 2017. There are plenty of other BLM campsites nearby, such as Goose Island and Granstaff. But reservations go fast, so you may want to venture further out toGoldbar, Kane Creek Rd.  You can also try your luck at getting an individual site, but they are first-come/first-serve, so you need to get there in the morning and act fast.

Safety Tip: Visiting a national park puts you in close proximity to desert flora and rock formations.  Make sure to pack a 1st aid kit for hiking that can handle scrapes, sprains, and cacti spines.

2. Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands possesses four distinct areas separated by rivers. Some sections showcase majestic cliffs, mesas, pinnacles, and domes. Others are home to the Green and Colorado Rivers, which you can raft. Must-see sites include Island in the Sky and Mesa Arch.

You won’t find any proper campgrounds inside the park, but multiple options exist outside it. Squaw Flat Campground and Willow Flat rest near the Needles District and Island in the Sky, respectively. The Bureau of Land Management maintains much of the land in and around Canyonlands, so you can always rough it and pitch a tent.

Safety Tip: Many of the hikes in Island in the Sky are family friendly, but come prepared. Some of the hikes involve steep ascents and require good hiking shoes. Canyonlands is also more remote and far from services, so it’s a good idea to pack an emergency kit in your car and note that cell service may be spotty.

Green River Utah

Utah, US – Gaining perspective overlooking Green River Utah’s Canyonlands National Park,(iStock)

3. Capitol Reef National Park

Once inside Capitol Reef, you’ll see why Native Americans termed it “Land of the Sleeping Rainbow.” The park’s prismatic colors and historical sites, which include a harvestable fruit orchard, will capture your attention and possibly your affection.

Campgrounds for Capitol Reef are on a first-come-first-serve basis. The best sites include Fruita Campground, Cathedral Valley, and Cedar Mesa. Fruita offers more amenities while the other two are more primitive.

Safety Tip: Like the other southern Utah parks, you’ll do a lot of walking in Capitol Reef. Take plenty of water with you, even if it means your pack is a little heavier. You won’t regret it. Make sure to balance your water intake with salty snacks like trail-mix or add a powdered electrolyte drink to your water bottle.

Capitol Reef

Utah, US – Capitol Reef “land of the sleeping rainbow” (Bob Rogers)

4. Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon boasts the largest number of hoodoos (tall, thin spires of rock) in the world, and the landscape feels magical, resembling castles in a fairytale. The park also displays ancient bristlecone pines, with some approaching 1,800 years in age. Also considered an oasis for stargazing, you can attend special Astronomy Ranger programs where you could see over 7500 stars on a moonless night!

Most travelers stay at a campground because of the chance to see the stars, as well as to see the sunrise and sunset transform the surrounding sandstone. The best-known sites include North and Sunset. Both accept reservations between May and September. You can also find yurt rentals nearby.

Safety Tip: Bryce Canyon starts at an elevation of 8,000 to 9,000 feet, so swath your skin in sunscreen to avoid sunburns and drink lots of water.

Bryce Canyon

Utah, US – Bryce Canyon National Park (Bob Rogers)

5. Zion National Park

Zion tends to be the most visited national park in southern Utah, perhaps because of the Virgin River and the park’s towers and monoliths. For must-see sites, put Angel’s Landing (age 8+), Emerald Pools, and Weeping Rock on your list. Observation Point is also one of my favorites. Child backpacks are essential for hiking with babies and small children, though there are some paved paths that can accommodate strollers or wheelchairs.

Zion Observatory

Utah, US – Posing at Zion National Park Observatory in Zion National Park Utah (Krystal Rogers-Nelson)

Most people prefer to stay at the Watchman or South campsites. Travelers who enjoy a more rustic site may wish to stay at Lava Point, which is over an hour drive from the main entrance of the park. Watchman requires a reservation, but the other two are open. To stay off the beaten path but in luxury, reserve a spot at the glamping site Moonlight Oasis.

Safety Tip: Some of the hikes, like Angel’s Landing, have specific paths marked to keep you safe. Stay on the trails to make sure no one gets hurt.  If traveling with young children, consider a child GPS tracker since it can get crowded on the shuttle, at the trail-head and hiking on the popular trails.  I personally have found the My Buddy Tag to be useful with my rambunctious three year old, though cell coverage may vary depending on where you are in the park.

Overall, you can’t lose no matter which national parks you visit in southern Utah.

Have you been to any of southern Utah’s Mighty Five before?

Comment and share which places to camp are your favorites.

Home / North America / Canada / Niagara Falls Top 10 | Tour guide tips to exploring the best of Niagara

Niagara Falls Top 10 | Tour guide tips to exploring the best of Niagara

Updated: June 29, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, CA – view of Horseshoe falls (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Niagara Falls Canada is home to one of Canada’s most iconic natural wonders. Visitors to Niagara Falls get to experience the power of one of the worlds greatest waterfalls as the equivalent of one million bathtubs flows at nearly 50 km per hour over the edge of Canada’s Horseshoe Falls.

More than just a waterfall, the city of Niagara Falls and its surroundings offer visitors to this region an opportunity to experience Canadian culture, the natural beauty of the Niagara region, and so much more.

As an educational tour guide working in Niagara Falls and other Canadian cities over the past decade I’ve had the privilege of building an intimate relationship with the Niagara Region. That’s why, as one of the more than 8 million visitors to Niagara Falls, Expedia.ca asked me to create this guide that will give you an itinerary based on my touring experience in the city!

Day 1 – Niagara Falls

 Visit Niagara Falls at Table Rock

You can literally stand beside Niagara Falls! Less than a meter from the water you’ll get to see how powerful and mighty Canada’s greatest waterfall is. Take a selfie then head into the Table Rock centre for a famous Tim Horton’s coffee before continuing your journey.

Walk the promenade along the Niagara Gorge

Walk from Niagara Falls (Table Rock) to Clifton Hill. It only takes about 30 minutes to walk from Niagara Falls to Clifton Hill. Along the way you’ll get to experience the magnificence of Niagara Falls by walking along the gorge it created over millennia. It’s one of the most impressive walks where you’ll get to see the American falls on the other side of the Niagara River as well as the natural beauty of the Niagara Gorge.

Fun and lunch on Clifton Hill 

Clifton Hill is the entertainment centre of Niagara Falls. About a 30 minute walk along the impressive Niagara Gorge you find yourself surrounded by the carnival like street filled with restaurants, mini golf, bowling, a Ferris wheel, Ripleys Belive it or Not, Guiness Book of World Records, Madame Tussaud’s wax museum and so much more!!

It’s the perfect place to grab a quick lunch before your next adventure or a place to enjoy an evening of fun!

Take a Niagara Falls Boat tour

If you think Niagara Falls is impressive from the edge of the falls you’ll be blown away looking up at it from the Niagara River. Boat tours like the Hornblower Niagara take visitors along the Niagara River where they learn stories about Niagara Falls daredevils and experience the beauty of Niagara Falls from both the American and Canadian falls.

Skylon Tower buffet dinner

A classic dinner spot, I like the Skylon Tower for the buffet’s variety and the fact that it boasts a 365 degree view of Niagara Falls. Although it’s a little bit out of the way from the main drag of Clifton Hill, I’d recommend a visit for lunch or dinner if you want to see a unique view of the falls and enjoy a decent meal.

American Falls

Niagara Falls, CA – View of american falls from the Maid of the Mist now called Hornblower Niagara (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Day 2 – Niagara Region – Day Trip to Niagara on the Lake

Drive the Niagara Parkway

Described by Sir Winston Churchhill as “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world” the Niagara parkway that leads from Niagara Falls to Niagara on the Lake should be on everyone’s itinerary. Along the way is an opportunity to experience the natural beauty and culture of the Niagara region.

Botanical Gardens & Floral Clock

The botanical garden’s is a great place to spend an early morning walking through the nearly 100 acres of manicured gardens. If you’re pressed for time, or gardens aren’t something you’re interested in, you can stop off at Niagara Parks famous floral clock made up of 16, 000 plants to quickly to snap a picture.

Lunch and shopping in Niagara on the Lake

 Niagara on the Lake is a quaint lake side town that brings the uniqueness of colonial architecture along with with fine dining, quaint shops, and delicious café’s where you can sample local wines and experience small town Canada. It’s a great lunch stop where you will also find unique craft gifts and local Niagara wines to bring home for family and friends.

Embark on an afternoon Wine Tour in Niagara

The Niagara region, best known for its ice wine, hosts dozens of wineries that are a great way to spend an afternoon. You can book wine tours through local companies or plan your own visits. Ice wine is a favourite for visitors to try but the wineries host a wide range of local wines to sample.

Fallsview Casino for entertainment and/or buffet dinner

What would a visit to Niagara Falls be without a visit to one of its Casinos. If you’re not a gambler that’s okay, the Fallsview Casino is a great place to enjoy a dinner buffet as well as to enjoy some entertainment. You can check them out online to find out more about what shows are on and when.

Niagara Falls has so much to do and see that there’s simply not enough room to share it all. These are just a few suggestions of the best way to spend your time in Niagara Falls to make sure you get to experience all that Niagara has to offer. As a tour guide in the region these are my top recommendations and the best way to spend an enjoyable visit to Niagara Falls!

Useful links for planning your next Niagara Falls trip

https://www.niagarafallstourism.com/
http://www.niagaraparks.com/
http://winecountryontario.ca/

Home / Videos / Video| Best stops on California’s Pacific Coast Highway

Video| Best stops on California’s Pacific Coast Highway

Updated: October 29, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci

Trip highlights along the most beautiful costal drive in the world California, USA

Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, is one of the best drives in the world.  Winding along California’s Pacific coast, this top costal drive is a must visit for car enthusiasts, adventurers, and people who love the outdoors; heck, it’s for everyone!  Here you’ll discover the must see stops along Califonia’s costal route, which is the perfect place to road trip.  Some of the must see destinations along Highway 1 include Big Sur, Anthony Molena State Park, Juliet Pfiefer State Park and seeing elephant seals along the costal.   Don’t miss out, get there as soon as you can and get excited with this video

Happy Travels,

Yak

Home / Travel Photography / Beyond the lens / Travel Photo| Most beautiful lake in Canada

Travel Photo| Most beautiful lake in Canada

Updated: October 27, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Moraine Lake

BANFF, AB – Tourists on Moraine Lake in Banff National Park Canada (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Moraine Lake:

Arguably the most beautiful lake in Canada, Moraine lake is a natural Canadian icon that has filled traveler’s photo albums for decades.  Located in Banff National Park the bright cerulean blue waters reflect the natural wonders of valley of the 10 peaks that watch over it.

The incredible iridescent blue-green colour is a result of the sun’s reflection on rock flour (fine-grained rock particles created by glacial grinding  and brought into the lake via glacial melt water).   In the light of the day the majesty of the lake, its colour, and the enormous mountains that surround it are irresistible and hard to leave.

During the summer months Moraine Lake is one of the most popular tourists destinations in the Banff/Lake Louise region so get there early and enjoy a short hike around the main entrance or a more epic journey into the Canadian wilderness.

What I used: ISO 100 – 28mm – F/11 – Sec 1/650

Learn how to hike in Lake Louise and experience Banff, Alberta

Happy shooting,

Ian

 

Home / North America / USA / Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace unearthed

Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace unearthed

Updated: April 14, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Abraham Lincoln House

Abraham Lincoln 19th century home – Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, Kentucky

As one of my favourite states in America, Kentucky is not only beautiful, home to bourbon, the longest cave system in the world, and the first place I experienced southern hospitality, it’s the birthplace of the great American hero for his views on slavery and 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

While driving from Mammoth Caves to visit some of the most famous bourbon distilleries in the world I stumbled upon Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace. I first noticed the signs while driving along rural central Kentucky Highway 31E on my way to Maker’s Mark Distillery.

With plans to visit several distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail the Shameless Traveler and I weren’t planning to stop. In the end we said why not and turned off the highway into the quaint town of Hodgenville, Kentucky.

It was down a winding national park road that we found the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, one of the most unique historical landmarks in the U.S.A.

Sinking Spring

Sinking Sprin, where Abraham Lincoln probably took his first drink of water – Abraham Lincoln National Historic Site, Kentucky

Our plans to check the place out and get back on the road were stalled when we discovered the spring where Abraham Lincoln probably took his first drink of water! Whaaat? Yes, this actually exists and can be directly quoted from the informative panel along side it.

Figuring we had seen the greatest American historical site of all time we were about to leave when we noticed the gigantic marble memorial building just up a small hill from the spring.

What we found inside was the most boring job in America followed by a completely unexpected relic. Inside the memorial building (which is an incredible piece of 19th century architecture itself) is an original house from the early 1800’s.

Unfortunately, it’s not the actual house Lincoln was born in, but an original house from that time period. In fact, as the National Park Ranger (who stands alone watching over the house) told us that the the memorial building is located within 10 ft of Abraham Lincoln’s original house.

Building

Abraham Lincoln Memorial building. Guess what’s inside? Kentucky

Encased in the memorial building is an incredible piece of American history. Walking around the 19th century house brought to life the hardships of life as an early American settler.

As you look upon the primitive clay and timber plank structure with it’s incredible to think how technology, life, and society has changed.

The best part about visiting Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace was learning about the humble beginnings the great American president who’s open views on slavery sparked the changes that eventually led to a free country for all Americans.

It’s not often that one stumbles upon an incredible piece of  American history, like Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, that offers such a rich opportunity to learn.  Next time you’re traveling along the Kentucky Bourbon trail take a detour and unearth the history of Abraham Lincoln.

Happy Travels,

Yak

 

Home / North America / USA / Best restaurants in Cincinnati

Best restaurants in Cincinnati

Updated: April 7, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Skyline

Crushing a classic 3-way with a coney on the side!! Cincinnati, Ohio

Spring break sitting at home just wasn’t going to work for me this year so I called my fellow travel blogger, Cincinnati resident, and good friend, The Shameless Traveler to see what was going in Cincinnati, Ohio. Turns out one of the best things about Cincinnati is the food!

With the best tour guide in Cincinnati I hit up a few mouth watering restaurants, and metropolitan passions, that visitors to this city shouldn’t miss out on, and locals who’ve never been should hit up on their next Tinder date!

3 Best Restaurants in Cincinnati!

Skyline Chili

Skyline Chili is not just a restaurant; it’s a local passion! 2-way, 3-way, 4-way, 5-way is how you get your chili on spaghetti at Cincinnati’s most popular chili franchise, so get your mind out of the gutter. Whenever I met new people in Cincinnati the first thing they asked was whether or not I’d been to Skyline.

Well now I have, and yes it is unreal! Although it’s most sought after when the bars have closed and you’re craving the cheesy delicious mayhem that is everything on the Skyline menu, I found myself crushing a couple coney’s several times during my visit.

Local tip:  If you go there make sure you buy York Peppermint Patties for the group (it’s tradition) and the best way to cleanse that pallet after a three way with a coney on the side.

Skyline website: http://www.skylinechili.com/

Skyline

Munchin’ with new digs at Skyline Chilli in Cincinnati, Ohio Photo Credit: The Shameless Traveler

The Eagle OTR (over the Rhine)

Simply put, The Eagle boasts the best fried chicken in Cincinnati because it is. Coupled with an huge craft beer selection and a creative menu with the perfect number of choices The Eagle offers great food at a great price.

I ordered the ¼ chicken, which was massive and ridiculously tasty. I don’t know what’s in the spicy honey sauce but it’s pure magic. Truth, I devoured my meal like Robert Baratheon at a wedding feast.

The healthy choices are great too. I loved the Kale Salad which balanced out the fried chicken perfectly, and for two quarter-chickens and two salads it only ended up costing about $20.

The Eagle on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheEagleOTR

The Eagle

“Chicken for the soul” thanks to The Eagle Facebook page timeline photos…mmmmmmm

Graeter’s Ice Cream

Being in America I figured why worry about healthy eating and so, after my fried chicken feast, I headed over the Cincinnati’s most famous ice cream chain for some tasters (conveniently located across the street from The Eagle).

There’s a reason why Oprah apparently orders pints of this mouthwatering ice cream to her door, its ridiculously good!

With all the classic flavours and artisan blends that change every month you’ll probably end up tasting most of them. To be honest, its worth the money for a scoop of this. I loved the new monthly flavour mint brownie but their classic chocolate was what I went with.

Greater’s website: http://www.graeters.com/

Greater's

I didn’t even see this was a flavour! Cherry chocolate ice cream…whaaat

I’m sure there’s a ton more amazing places to eat but if you want to experience Cincinnati’s food culture you won’t want to miss Skyline, if you want to go to fried chicken heaven The Eagle will not disappoint, and when you’re full and need something for desert Grater’s is a must!

What do you think of these picks for Cincinnati’s best eats?

Happy Travels,

Yak

 

Home / North America / USA / Explore Mammoth Cave Kentucky the world’s longest cave

Explore Mammoth Cave Kentucky the world’s longest cave

Updated: March 31, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Spelunking Kentucky

Crouching on a historic tour of Mammoth Caves in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

My adventures in Kentucky started at Mammoth Cave National Park, home to 400 miles of currently explored cave, making it the longest cave system in the world. For the millions of visitors that get to explore the caves each year, few are lucky enough to get to do all that Mammoth Caves has to offer.

For me, spending an entire day cave exploring, hiking along the green river, and spending the night at Mammoth Cave hotel was a thorough way to experience Mammoth Cave National Park, but it was the people I met along the way that made my time there special.

Mammoth Caves offers all kinds of spelunking excursions from photography to hard core cave crawling expeditions, but it’s the popular historic and entrance tours that give visitors safe educational experiences that showcase the history and beauty of Mammoth Caves most significant areas.

niagara tour kentucky

Incredible geology on the New Niagara tour at Mammoth Caves, Kentucky

With only a day planned at Mammoth Caves I decided to go on both the historic and entrance cave tours because I wanted to maximize my experience of the caves. Each tour was very different and I got to experience the grandness and beauty of geologic features like the monstrous rotunda room the stalactites and stalagmites of frozen Niagara.

On each tour I had the opportunity to meet rangers Steve and Jerry who toured our groups through the dark winding depths of Mammoth Caves. During each tour the guides weaved through incredible stories of the caves first explorers and some of the original uses of the caves, outside of tourism, which made the original owners extremely wealthy.

The most interesting thing I learned was the Canadian connection to Mammoth Caves, which was a result of the war of 1812 between Britain and America. It was during this time that industrial amounts of calcium nitrate was mined in Mammoth Caves in order to supply gun powder to the Americans in their fight against the British.

The most unique thing about my tour was the opportunity to meet Ranger Jerry Brandsford whose family can be traced back to some of the original explorers and tour guides at Mammoth Caves. As we made our way through the cave he shared stories of his great-great-grandfather and showed us the names of his family scrawled using candles on the cave walls.  In fact, his story was so unique that New York Times Travel recently did an expose on Mr. Brandsford and his family history.

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Ranger Jerry telling stories on the new entrance tour Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Thanks to recommendations from Jerry and Steve, I also discovered the best hikes and barbecue in the area. After exploring the depths of Mammoth Caves for over four hours I headed to Porky Pig Diner to taste best barbecue in Kentucky with my buddy the shameless traveler, but not before working up an apetite  with a hike along the hillsides around Mammoth Caves.

Thanks to Ranger Steve, our hiking took us on a one hour hike along the Green River Bluffs Trail to River Styx then up to Sunset Point before heading back via Heritage trail to the visitors center.

This hike was great because it helped contextualize the massive cave system beneath the hills. It also gave me the chance to see the Green River, which is an integral part of the cave system, and explore the surrounding hillside where you can see one of Mammoth Caves drainage points.

After several hours of exploring the caves and hiking the bluffs it was time to head down the road to Pig, Kentucky for the barbecue pork experience of a lifetime; the best barbecue in Kentucky which is only 10 mintues from Mammoth Caves.  Seriously, the pork butt sandwich with homemade barbecue sauce is so good I almost started drinking it!

By the end of the meal I was incredibly satisfied. It seemed like nothing could top this day in Mammoth National Park where I’d gotten to explore the main attractions at Mammoth Cave, hiked along the incredible Green River, and eaten the best barbecue pork in Kentucky.

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Best barbecue pork in Kentucky at the Porky Pig Diner in Pig, Kentucky

Thanks to the couple I had been talking with at the diner Kentucky surprised me with something again; this time it was some good old southern hospitality.  As we finished up eating our new friends came to say goodbye and told us that that the best barbecue pork in Kentucky was on them!

Even better was that after such an exciting day, all I had left to do was head back to Mammoth Cave Hotel and put my feet up only 50m away from the cave entrance (which was reasonably priced if you’re not a tv addict because there weren’t many channels, but you’re there to experience nature anyways).

All in all spending a day at Mammoth Caves National park, exploring the depths of the longest caves in the world, hiking along the Green River, getting to know the witty and knowledgeable park rangers, eating Kentucky’s best barbecue pork in Pig, Kentucky and having our meal covered, then sleeping at the super convenient Mammoth Cave Hotel was one epic trip and something I’d recommend for all visitor to the cave!

Happy Travels,

Yak

Mammoth Cave Links

Mammoth Caves National Park Website

Mammoth Cave Hotel

NY Times article featuring Ranger Jerry

 

Home / Videos / Video| Bourbon dippin’ & tastin’ tips Maker’s Mark Kentucky

Video| Bourbon dippin’ & tastin’ tips Maker’s Mark Kentucky

Updated: March 26, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci

Experiencing Maker’s Mark Distillery Kentucky

After an incredible tour of my favourite Kentucky bourbon there was no better way to finish things off then dipping my own bottle of Maker’s.  Since every bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon is hand dipped to give it the signature red wax top, I figured it wouldn’t be right to head back to Canada without one.

On our tour I met Mindy, our stellar tour guide, who took me through the dipping process before I tried it out for myself.  Not only did dipping give me appreciation for the skill and precision it takes employees to do this, it made my experience at Maker’s Mark unique and gave me a great story behind the bottle I brought home with me.

Once you’re bottles been dipped and it’s home you’re probably going to want to taste it so here’s a little advice to give you a full experience.

How to taste bourbon

Smell

Instead of breathing in through your nose use your mouth.  This will take away the strong alchohol scent and allow you to smell the nuances in the bourbon

Taking your first sip

1. Make sure the bourbon touches your whole tongue so you can truly appreciate the full flavour of the spirit
2. Wait three second
3. Swallow
4. Wait two seconds
5. Breathe in slowly
6. Repeat