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Exotic, diverse experiences without going abroad

  • CONTRA COSTA TIMES / TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

    The Santuario de Chimayo in Chimayo, New Mexico, is considered a sacred pilgrimmage to many.

Throughout the year, families can uncover exotic and culturally diverse experiences without leaving the United States.

Here are five ideas to consider:

1. Basque culture in Boise

Explore the unique Basque culture, food and art in the heart of Idaho’s capital city. Shop for traditional fare such as olive tapenade, port-poached figs and squid ink in the Basque Market. Visit the Basque Museum & Cultural Center to learn more about the Basque heritage through exhibits, collections, tours and special events.

Contact: Boise.org; BasqueMuseum.com

2. Germany in Leavenworth, Wash.

Put a little oompah in your travels with a stop in this Pacific Northwest hamlet modeled after a quaint Teutonic village. With snowcapped mountains as a backdrop, the four-season destination offers hiking, skiing, rafting and fishing, similar in style to their European counterpart. Sample genuine Bavarian stollen at the local bakery and listen to authentic music. Consider a visit during Oktoberfest or the Christmas holidays, when the town really shows its stuff.

Contact: Leavenworth.org

3. Lourdes, France, in Chimayo, N.M.

Pilgrims visit this “Lourdes of America” in search of physical and spiritual healing. A National Historic Monument, El Sanctuario de Chimayo is a modest adobe church that draws nearly 300,000 visitors a year to this northern New Mexican community. The faithful collect “holy dirt” and leave behind crutches, photographs and stories of miraculous transformations. A welcome center provides an historical perspective. Consider a stop at the nearby, family-owned Rancho de Chimayo restaurant and local galleries while in the area.

Contact: 808ne.ws/2NwpMNi

4. Iceland in Spanish Fork, Utah

The first wave of 400 or so Icelanders arrived in the region in the mid-1800s. Every February their descendants congregate for a mid-winter feast of shark meat, dried fish and sheep. Families are also welcome to join in the festivities surrounding Iceland’s Independence Day (June 17), which includes a parade with costumes and performances by the children’s choir.

Contact: UtahIcelanders.org

5. Amsterdam in Albany, N.Y.

Imagine a sea of more than 150 varieties of colorful tulips. It may sound like a dreamy Dutch scene, but you can gaze upon such beauty during Albany’s annual flower festival held within an 81-acre park. Every May, more than 140,000 tulips blossom and visitors celebrate a Tulip Queen as well as the city’s rich culture. Expect arts and crafts, children’s activities, as well as traditional food, drink and music.

Contact: AlbanyEvents.org


Source: “Abroad at Home: The 600 Best International Travel Experiences in North America” (National Geographic Books)


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