Out of all the continental United States, Southern California offers some of the greatest variety in terrain. What it does not offer on occasion on certain trails is serenity, and solitude. While popular trails face heavy traffic nation-wide, popular trails in Southern California sometimes resemble a human version of the region’s congested roadways. Despite these problems, hikers of all skill levels in the region – especially in 2016 – know where to go and when to go to avoid crowds, thanks in part to the internet, and thanks in part to a greater interest in hiking generally. One of the routes in the region that has always been popular has been the Aerial Tramway to San Jacinto summit, due in part to the moderate distance (11.5 miles roundtrip), moderate elevation gain (2,190 feet), unique aerial tram ride experience, and possibility of summitting one of Southern California’s highest mountains (unofficially now known as the “Six Pack of Peaks”).
Over the last ten years, in conjunction with the re-brand from Wild Animal Park to San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the park has developed a number of more interactive activities for visitors. One of these activities, the Safari Balloon ride fills the gap of allowing visitors to view the entire facility, while providing a unique hot air balloon ride experience. The Safari Balloon is a tethered hot air balloon that rises four hundred feet above the San Pasqual Valley. Modeled after the hot air balloon tours of the Serengeti, the balloon features a large, circular basket that visitors can walk around in during the duration of the tour.
Although it is hard to pick the absolute best thing about Torrey Pines State Reserve, one of the top things about the park is its fantastic views. While it is nearly impossible to find a bad view in the park, one of the best views to be found is from the High Point Overlook, which is located near the center of the park. The High Point Overlook is located at the end of the park’s shortest trail (the High Point Trail), and is also the tallest point in the reserve.
The Marston House is also one of the city’s best-preserved historic locations, and is also regarded as one of the finest examples of the Arts and Crafts movement in the entirety of California. The Marston House was constructed in 1905 for George Marston and his family; and is a three story house along with its accompanying outbuildings (Carriage House) and grounds. While many things could be said about George Marston, the most important are that he was a civic leader in the city of San Diego, a noted conservationist, and a contemporary of John Spreckels.
Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica contains a number of fantastic hikes for tourists, both in, and around the park. While Arenal Volcano cannot be climbed, it remains a destination for regular tourists and bird-watchers alike to visit. One of the hardest hikes in the region, Cerro Chato, allows visitors to climb a nearby inactive volcano with a crater lake. Even though Cerro Chato is a great hike, views of Arenal Volcano are obscured from it, due to the extensive coverage from primary tropical forest in the region. In contrast, the hike to the Danta Waterfall provides great views of the tropical forest, the volcano, a waterfall, Arenal Volcano, allows for wildlife viewing, and is accessible for most hikers.
Bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica is a country that offers excellent adventure opportunities on both land and water. The best location for adventure on the Caribbean coast is Tortuguero National Park, whose beaches are famous in and out of Costa Rica for innumerable reasons. The best location for adventure on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is Manuel Antonio National Park. Located on the Southwestern side of Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica’s smallest national park; however, despite its size, Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica’s most famous national park.
While the Catacombs proper comprise a small portion of the tunnel and mine network under the city, small is a relative term. At one hundred and eighty six miles of tunnel length, the Paris Catacombs – or as it is officially known, the “l'Ossuaire Municipal” or “Catacombes officiels” is the world’s largest grave. What the Catacombs are, is a large underground ossuary, which is a place designed to serve as a final resting place for human remains. The Catacombs were opened in response to two separate but simultaneous crises in the city of Paris in 1774. At that time, the city first had a lack of space to bury the dead; and second, had a number of cave-ins and collapses in the mine and tunnel network. The Catacombs were devised as a solution to address the tunnel instability problem, and as a place to store the city’s many dead. From 1774 onward, over six million bodies were moved into the Catacombs from the city’s old cemeteries. If an ancient underground tunnel and mine system that has over six million bodies in it wasn’t interesting enough, it is also worth noting that tours of the Catacombs have been going on since 1814.