5 of Our Favorite “Outside Places”

With all this cool, crisp air of Fall upon us, all I want to do is hang out outside. It got me thinking of some of my favorite “outside” places from our travels. Some are better for summer outside time than fall, but you get the idea …

Required viewing: Arch Rock.

Required viewing: Arch Rock.

Arch Rock, Mackinac Island, Mich.: It’s a bit kitschy — even the horse-and-buggy tours stop there — but it’s still required viewing for any Mackinac rookie. The rock overlooks Lake Huron and requires going up 100+ stairs from the main road (unless you take a tour, which will drop you off right at the rock). View it now before further erosion destroys this Mackinac landmark.

Da Bears ... er ... da park.

Da Bears … er … da park.

Millennium and Grant Parks, Chicago: Between these two parks, there might be a concert one day, Taste of Chicago another day and even the Gold Coast Art Fair on yet a third day. Take a stroll through the gardens to get some picturesque shots of the skyline — and to escape from the hustle-and-bustle of the Windy City. Of course, “The Bean” is required viewing for any newbies.

The view of downtown from the Mount Royal Chateau.

The view of downtown from the Mount Royal Chateau.

Mount Royal, Montreal: Put on your walking (or hiking) shoes, because it’s a trek to the top, which sits 764 feet above downtown Montreal. But, boy, is it worth it. Beautiful images of downtown, a huge biking and hiking network and a climate that changes the further up you go (it was temperate down low but there was still ice and snow as we ascended!).

Photo courtesy of Spicer Orchards.

Photo courtesy of Spicer Orchards.

Spicer Orchards, Hartland, Mich.: The only business on our list, this cider mill in rural Livingston County, about an hour northwest of Detroit, has goats, a corn maze and pumpkin patch, a huge cider mill operation and, best of all, donuts that are deep-fried on site. The owners once told me they sell enough donuts to fill several Olympic-sized pools each year! Plus, it’s not Fall without cider and donuts.

Mom, dad and baby hermit crab at USVI National Park.

Mom, dad and baby hermit crab at USVI National Park.

Virgin Islands National Park, St. John: Hiking, kayaking, snorkeling – this park, which takes up two thirds of St. John, has it all. Though, a word of warning for the hikers: Trails aren’t always marked the best and a wrong turn could leave you wandering for hours in the mosquito-plagues forest. Bring lots of water … and bug repellant.

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