Go climb a tree
This treetop trail in Germany's Bavarian Forest National Park is one of the world's longest canopy trails—and one of the most unique. Visitors to the egg-shaped trail can wind their way around the trees for almost a mile, reaching heights of 144 feet all while getting breathtaking views of firs, beeches, spruces, and more. Not only do canopy walkways like this one give visitors a bird's-eye view of the surrounding forests, they also allow people to experience nature without harming it.
Carhenge, created by Jim Reinders near Alliance, Nebraska (© Charlie Summers/Minden Pictures)
Road-trip worthy attraction in the heartland
Today we're visiting Carhenge, a popular roadside attraction in western Nebraska. Carhenge is the passion project of Jim Reinders, who came up with the idea to memorialize his father. Like Stonehenge, Carhenge is a glimpse of culture now past—the heyday of the American automobile. While living in England, Reinders studied Stonehenge's structure, which allowed him to replicate the formation using 39 vehicles, including cars, trucks, and even one Jeep. For the construction Reinders and about 35 family members helped build the attraction in June 1987. And with another nod to Stonehenge, they dedicated it on the summer solstice that same month. Since then, more than 60,000 people have visited the attraction and it's appeared in music videos, TV shows, commercials, and even on an album cover.
A picture-perfect day on Trillium
Today we're out on Trillium Lake, a manmade lake in the shadow of Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest peak. Formed in 1960 by damming a tributary of the Salmon River, Trillium Lake's a popular spot for fishing, camping, and boating. In springtime, the surrounding woods are filled with trilliums, the native flowering plants the lake's named for. Take the flat, 1.9-mile loop trail around the lakeshore for stunning views of Mount Hood. But don't stop there. Mount Hood National Forest has more than 1,200 miles of hiking trails, not to mention year-round skiing at higher elevations. Wrap up your day at the Timberline Lodge, built during the Great Depression by the WPA and now a US National Historic Landmark. Bonus fact: Timberline Lodge was used for exterior shots of the Overlook Hotel in the horror movie 'The Shining.' But don't let that scare you off visiting.
Longer days mean warmer sand
Today we're hitting the beach in Costa Rica's Cahuita National Park because, well, just take a look at this place. If the sun gets too intense, we might take a stroll into the park's lowland wet forest where, if we're lucky, we'll see sloths, toucans, and howler and capuchin monkeys; or maybe we'll encounter armadillos, coatis, iguanas, and tamanduas (anteaters). After that, we'll take a dip in the Caribbean waters offshore to marvel at coral reefs, sea turtles, and hundreds of species of fish.
But of course, it is still summer here in North America, and we have plenty of local options for a day at the beach. Thousands of miles of ocean and lake shoreline are waiting to be explored, including coastlines in 85 US national parks (the National Park Service started protecting our seashores and lakeshores in 1930). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates the US shoreline at 95,471 miles, with the Great Lakes delivering the most contiguous shores at 4,530 miles (more than the West or East Coasts). Granted, not every shoreline is sandy, but with nearly 100,000 miles to choose from, we're confident you'll locate a suitable spot to lounge in your chaise this summer.
Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn, New York (© Grzegorz Gill/Shutterstock)
Jane's Carousel delights
National Merry-Go-Round day brings us to the Brooklyn waterfront, home of Jane's Carousel, a ride that's been delighting riders for nearly a century. Its story starts in 1922, an era of speakeasies and flappers and a booming time in carousel history, when the rides were a symbol of a community's prosperity. Jane's Carousel was built in Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio, a steel city.
Like many carousels produced in that time, the ride fell into disrepair. It was damaged in a fire and Idora Park closed to the public in 1984. That's when New York couple Jane and David Walentas bought it for $385,000 at auction and shipped the carousel to Brooklyn for a waterfront restoration project. The carousel was painstakingly restored over a period of 27 years—a project overseen by Jane herself. It's now housed in a glass ‘jewel box' pavilion designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Jean Nouvel at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The cost of the entire project totaled $15 million—a testament to the love that America has for these nostalgic rides.
A state-of-the-art lookout on the Rock of Gibraltar
Make your way up the trails of this monolithic rock promontory to Skywalk, an 8,000-square-foot glass platform that soars more than 1,100 feet above sea level. On a clear day, you can see three countries and two continents from here. These epic views draw tourists, as does the Rock's legendary history. A British Overseas Territory since 1713, Gibraltar has long been a strategically important military outpost. Far below Skywalk, visitors can take in military relics that date back to the first years of British rule here.
Over time, the British Armed Forces built an extensive tunnel system through the limestone, greatly expanding the subterranean network during World War II. By then, the tunnels accommodated 16,000 men and elaborate amenities, including a hospital, bakery, and water desalination plant. General Dwight D. Eisenhower operated a command center from the tunnels for Operation Torch—a mission that was a turning point in the war, marking the entry of US forces alongside Britain. Skywalk is the newest attraction here, opening in March 2018 to great fanfare at a ceremony hosted by Mark Hammill, better known as Luke Skywalker.
Artist Luke Jerram's installation 'Museum of the Moon' at Liverpool Cathedral, England (© Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Bringing the moon to earth
It was fifty years ago that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to feel an alien gravity tugging at them. By landing on the moon on July 20, 1969, a mere 66 years after the first powered flight by the Wright brothers, the two astronauts met the challenge set by John F. Kennedy seven years earlier to land men on the moon before the end of the decade.
In the decades since, NASA and other space agencies around the world have continued to study our satellite companion to unlock its secrets. Those studies produced the detailed images and maps that British artist Luke Jerram used to produce his 23-foot-diameter sculpture Museum of the Moon (shown here in Liverpool Cathedral). The amazingly detailed installation is currently on display the Houston Museum of Natural Science as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Apollo 11 moon landing.