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Earth Day weekend getaways

By Bob Cooper

Earth Day falls on April 22, so head to one of these five easy-to-reach destinations to celebrate. Each has abundant outdoor opportunities to celebrate Earth's elements — earth, wind, fire, air and water — in their most natural states.

Muir Woods National Monument

Earth: San Francisco, California

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is the most visited park in the National Park Service and not only because it's in the heart of a major metro area. The parklands extend 40 miles along the coast, both north and south from San Francisco and right into the city, with hundreds of miles of trails that show off the Bay Area's redwood forests, ocean beaches, historic buildings and other wonders. Exploring the Marin Headlands, discovering the dunes of San Francisco's Fort Funston or hiking on Sweeney Ridge near San Francisco International Airport are all worthy Earth Day experiences. Stopping by Earth Day San Francisco on April 21, is another great way to celebrate with a full day of music, kids' activities and Climate Rally speakers scheduled.

Wind: Boston, Massachusetts

Surprisingly, Boston, not Chicago, is America's windiest city year-round and spring is when it's windiest, making it the perfect place to worship the wind. You can let it power you on a Tall Ship sailing cruise from Boston Harbor. You can walk or ride a rented or bike-share bike along the Charles River Esplanade to watch windsurfers and sailboat captains carve the wind. Or you can head to Franklin Park, Boston's largest and most kite-friendly park, to teach your kids how to fly one and then visit the park's zoo where the roars of lions Dinari and Kamaia are carried through the wind all the way to the zebra exhibits.

Flowing lava in Hilo, Hawaii

Fire: Hilo, Hawaii

From Hilo, the largest town on “The Big Island" of Hawaii, it's only a 45-minute drive to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, where Halema'uma'u Crater has been continuously erupting since 2008. You can drive close enough to witness the steaming vents as the crater is visible from the park's volcanology museum. Visitors in good hiking shape may even witness lava gushing in dramatic fashion from Kilauea Volcano into the ocean. As a bonus, admission to the national park will be free on Earth Day and a free Earth Day Fair will be held for the 30th year at Hilo's University of Hawaii campus on April 20. Once you're worn out, you can explore and enjoy a white, black or even green sand beach — all found near Hilo.

Air: Fort Myers, Florida

Fort Myers is one of the top cities in the U.S. with the cleanest air (and lower pollution rates) based on the most recent two-year period studied by the American Lung Association for its “State of the Air" report. Visitors to the Gulf Coast city can breathe in the clean, fresh air — warmed to an average late-April high of 83 degrees — while raking their toes through beach sand or strolling the boardwalks of Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve on a free 90-minute guided walk. You can also rent bikes or a kayak at Lakes Regional Park or enjoy the family-oriented Earth Day celebration on April 22 at Fort Myers' Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium. If you're feeling bold, you can catch even more air by parasailing while at Fort Myers Beach.

Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Water: Minneapolis, Minnesota

“City of Lakes" is more than a nickname, and Minneapolis lives up to it with 13 lakes within its boundaries, including the popular Chain of Lakes connected by recreational paths through city and regional parks. These lakes can be circled on foot, bike or watercraft; bikes, kayaks, canoes and paddleboards can be rented at Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. There are more “water features" too. The Mississippi River flows through Minneapolis and St. Paul and has its own recreational path on both banks. There's even a 53-foot waterfall — Minnehaha Falls in Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis. Twin Cities-area Earth Day events include the Earth Day Run from April 20-21, in St. Cloud, which drew more than 3,000 runners last year for a 5K, half-marathon and half-marathon relay — plus there's a health expo and two post-race parties.

If you go

United Airlines offers flights from U.S. cities to all of these destinations. Visit united.com or use the United app to make plans to reach your Earth Day destination.

Farm-to-table in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

By The Hub team

Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.

By Manager - Creative Project Management Robin Olsen

Fifteen years ago, I volunteered on an organic farm in the Galápagos Islands. The farm was in the beginning stages, so I helped with prepping the land and maintaining the few crops that were growing. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see the farm fully cultivated by the time I left. When my husband and I decided to travel to Costa Rica this year, I came across La Senda organic farm, where you can arrange a tour and have a farm-to-table dinner experience, and I knew that I needed to add it into our itinerary. Finally, I was going to see a fully operating organic farm, and I was so excited.

One of the workers at La Senda organic farm

La Senda organic farm

We were picked up at Cala Luna hotel in Playa Langosta and drove 30 minutes to Santa Cruz to La Senda farm. The owners of the hotel started the farm two years ago with the intent of building a sustainable, organic farm that would help employ local families. The tour started with walking around the property and having the chef and sous-chef explain what all the plants, trees, vegetables and fruits were, how long it took to grow them, how to maintain them, and he even showed us what we would be eating for dinner later that day. It's a sensory tour, where you are able to taste, smell and feel the various herbs, plants and fruits. We were shown papaya, pineapples, hibiscus flowers, cocoa beans, a variety of lettuce, vegetables and cashews. The chef wanted to cook the food as true to the taste as possible to bring out the natural flavors. The mission behind the farm is to feed people healthy food while also educating them on organic farming and sustainability. Everyone who works on the farm truly believes in this mission, including the chef giving us the tour, who said he took great pleasure in his role at the farm.

The tour was fantastic, and I was reminded of how much work goes into prepping land and maintaining crops. The farm has had two years of a trial-and-error period to determine which crops could thrive in the environment. The crops each require different nutrients in the soil and need to be rotated to reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility and increase crop yield. Instead of using pesticides and chemicals, they use natural methods like growing plants that naturally fend off insects. After the tour, we were brought to an outdoor candlelit table, where we were served dinner overlooking the farm. We could taste how fresh and to-the-source the food is. Needless to say, the food was incredible, and we were very satisfied.

Dinner table at La Senda organic farm

View from the table at El Barco restaurant.


The next day we went to El Barco restaurant at the Capitan Suizo hotel in Playa Tamarindo. Like Cala Luna, this hotel also started an organic farm nearby. Although the restaurant is not yet fully 100 percent organic, the owners are very focused on achieving that goal. Currently, they use fresh and organic ingredients from their garden whenever possible. Like at Cala Luna, they also don't use any pesticides in maintaining the property. The property is also a sanctuary for wildlife, including iguanas and howler monkeys, which you can come face-to-face with while eating at the restaurant, as they are free to roam throughout the property. The view from our table looked out into the Pacific Ocean – perfect for watching a beautiful sunset.

The restaurant is only a five-minute walk to downtown Tamarindo. Guanacaste, the province where Tamarindo is located, has beautiful beaches, is known for great surfing and attracts surfers from all around the world.

The hotels in the area offer numerous outdoor activities, like horseback riding, surf lessons, yoga, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, golf, kayaking, zip lining and more. The hotels can also arrange day tours to volcanos, national parks, the rain and cloud forests and even to Nicaragua.

I highly recommend visiting this region of Costa Rica. Whether you're looking to experience an eco-adventure or just relax, the adventures are truly never ending.

Discover Hilton Head Island

By The Hub team

Voted America's favorite island for a reason, Hilton Head has everything you need for the ultimate escape from the real world. Enjoy easy days on one of the many beaches, at one of the world-class golf courses and tennis courts, learning about the rich history or simply adapting to the leisure-paced lifestyle of the locals. The Lowcountry region in South Carolina has something for everyone.

Welcome to Hilton Head.

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The basics

The best time to visit and getting around the city

Thanks to its location, it's hard to choose a bad time to visit Hilton Head. Though if you visit in April-May or September-October, you'll notice fewer crowds and temperatures averaging in the mid-70s and 80s. In the spring, the water sport rentals will have just opened for the season, from parasailing to kayaking. If you visit in April, you may be able to catch the RBC Heritage PGA golf tournament. Hilton Head doesn't have your typical fall weather, making it a great time to visit. Summer weather lingers so you can still swim. Because the leaf colors don't change, you can enjoy instead an array of fall colors in the sunset each night.

The only drawback of visiting during the late summer and fall months is hurricane season. Hurricanes and tropical storms rarely hit the island, but they tend to be close enough that the island experiences some rain. If you're visiting around this time, be sure to pack a raincoat.

Getting around the city:

The island may be small, but it's still scattered enough that you'll want to bike or drive while exploring the town. There's little to no public transportation. Thanks to its renewed emphasis on environmental tourism, you're sure to notice plenty of bikers and the new bike paths that trace the island. You can rent a bike for around $30 a week. Another option is renting a car. Most attractions are spread out, so having your own car will offer you the most convenience.

Experiences

The town's main attractions are the pristine beaches, golf, with 24 world-class golf courses, and the vibrant history — with the environment at the center of everything.

Twelve miles of beaches makes Hilton Head an ideal destination for anyone looking to relax in the sand. One of the most popular beaches is Coligny Beach Park, due to its location and the multiple beach bars that line the water. If you're looking for beaches that are a little less touristy and more secluded, make your way over to Adler Lane or Burkes Beach.

This island is a golfer's paradise, which is why many flock to here to tee off and test out their skills on one of the many championship courses. If golf isn't your sport, perfect your backhand at one of the 350 tennis courts on the island instead.

If you're looking to do a little more than relax on the beach or play a round of golf, spend the day in the charming Harbour Town. Visit the 90-foot red-and-white striped lighthouse that offers incredible views of the water and town from the top. And if you have the time, head over to the marina and embark on a dolphin viewing tour.

Learn more about the South Carolina's Lowcountry at the Coastal Discovery Museum. Here you'll gain an understanding of the region's history and interesting ecology. Wander through the butterfly enclosure, take a tour to learn about the marine life or visit the wild horses of the island left by Spaniards many centuries ago. Those who also love to explore and experience wildlife first hand should visit Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, about a half mile from Hilton Head.

Food & drinks

Being on the water, it makes sense that seafood is a staple item for restaurants in this town. From high end dining to local favorites, you'll have plenty of restaurants to choose from. If you're looking to enjoy a nice dinner on the water at sunset, check out Old Oyster Factory, Hudson's Seafood House on the Docks and ELA's. With a contemporary feel, live music and a chic bar, this award-winning restaurant in Shelter Cove Harbour is perfect for a casual dinner or a romantic evening out. No table disappoints at Hudson's because they all offer incredible views of Port Royal Sound. By employing one of the only two remaining fishing fleets on Hilton Head, you're guaranteed fresh seafood truly brought from sea to table. Many of these restaurants on the water can book up quickly so be sure to make reservations in advance.

Don't forget to try some of the local favorite dining spots either. If you're looking for Lowcountry-inspired cuisine and incredible seafood, head over to Skull Creek Boathouse, an open air restaurant with an extensive wine and cocktail menu – perfect for a long, relaxing dinner. You'll enjoy an exquisite view and an even better dining experience. The Salty Dog Café is a must when it comes to the Hilton Head food scene. Here you'll have an authentic dining experience with fresh seafood and a family-friendly atmosphere.

Getting there

Book a flight from multiple U.S. cities to Hilton Head Island Airport (HHH), which is right on the island and only approximately 5 miles from all of the Island resorts. To book your trip visit united.com or download the United app.

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Arizona's outdoors in the spring

By Bob Cooper

This may be the best time of year to visit Arizona — and not just for relaxing by the pool. Smart travelers flock to the state in May, June and July for hotel rates that are often lower than the peak-season rates paid by winter “snowbirds" from northern states. But resort bargains and swimming-pool temperatures aren't the only reasons to visit Arizona at this time. There are also plenty of outdoor opportunities to enjoy, as long as you choose the right activities, locations and time of day to get out.

Desert Dawn peak climbs

Residents of Phoenix and Tucson who like to get outdoors in late spring and early summer know they can best enjoy short hikes by rising early. The busiest time on the trails is before 8 a.m. The most popular hiking paths in Phoenix and Scottsdale climb iconic mid-city peaks, which span from the desert floor up to panoramic views at the top. The hikes up Camelback, Piestewa and Pinnacle Peaks are all wonderful, well-marked and popular — each taking less than two hours roundtrip. In Tucson, the best short hikes are in Sabino Canyon and Saguaro National Park on the outer rim of the city.

Madonna and Child Rock in Sedona, Arizona

Hikes in the mountains

Phoenix and Tucson visitors who aren't early risers or who don't want to settle for short hikes can drive to spots where the temperatures and mountain vistas are similar to those in Colorado. Only a two-hour drive from Phoenix, you can head to Sedona, with an altitude of about 4,300 feet, or Flagstaff, with an altitude of about 6,900 feet, where the higher elevations mean much lower temperatures. Sedona has some of the world's most dramatic day hikes among its stunning red-rock formations, while Flagstaff offers mountain hikes that soar up to 12,600 feet, such as Humphries Peak Summit Trail. From Tucson, the usual triple-digit temps drop to the 60s during the twisting, 90-minute drive up 9,157-foot Mt. Lemmon. Trails through the sub-alpine forest await hikers at the summit.

Paddle the Verde River

Another good way to beat the Arizona heat is to get splashed by cool water — but not just in your resort pool. You can also take a dip in the Verde River in an inflatable kayak. Verde Adventures hosts guided trips down the river through the end of summer. You'll paddle through narrow limestone canyons and float past hardwood forests on the shallow river, which has plenty of tame rapids that are just adventurous enough to please both the thrill-seekers and the mild-adventurers. You can choose between a kid-friendly two-hour tubing trip or half-day inflatable kayak trip, or enjoy the Water to Wine Tour with an adult companion, which ends with a tasting at Alcantara Vineyards. You'll be driven the short distance to the river from Cottonwood or Clarkdale, both less than a two-hour drive from Phoenix.

Jeep tour in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park in Arizona.

Jump in a Jeep

Following along the dusty dirt roads that rim the edges of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson and Sedona, the Jeep tour is a classic option for visitors to Arizona. The 4x4 Jeep probably won't be air-conditioned, but the wind and Arizona's rich red earth will be in your hair. Less adventurous options include tours in enclosed Hummers or vans. After bumping along scenic back roads for miles, many Jeep tours offer a “cowboy cookout" at a pretty spot in the desert or mountains before you return to civilization. From Phoenix, Scottsdale or Tucson, most Jeep tours venture into the Sonoran Desert, while Sedona Jeep tours bring you up close to its renowned red-rock formations.

Hot air balloons in the horizon of Arizona's Red Rock State Park

Up, up & away

Arizona's dry air makes it one of America's prime locations for hot air balloon rides. Colorful balloons lift off in the cool temperatures and low winds of sunrise from all over greater Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson and Sedona, often providing a champagne breakfast afterward. Some also offer sunset flights; one Phoenix company serves hors d'oeuvres from a gourmet restaurant after evening landings. Prevailing winds dictate whether you'll fly up to a mile high or close enough to the ground to spot desert wildlife, but regardless, it's a memorable bucket-list thrill.

If you go

United Airlines offers many daily flights to Phoenix and Tucson. Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your Arizona outdoor adventure getaway.

Weekend inspiration: Palm Springs

By Kelsey + Courtney Montague

After a combined 60-plus years of living in cities with snowstorms and cold weather, this winter we decided it was time to pack away the parkas in exchange for a month of sun in Palm Springs.

And it was heaven. 70-degree days filled with morning swims, long walks without a jacket and joyful dogs running around the backyard. Working on murals throughout the valley in perfect drawing conditions was paradise for us, considering we were typically working in freezing weather with pale skin, chapped lips and cracking knuckles. We found our new January normal.

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Our month in paradise consisted of many highlights, so if you're in town for a few days, here are some of our favorite spots.

Friday night

If you're looking to rent a place in Palm Springs, we recommend Relax Palm Spring on Airbnb. They have more than 60 rentals in the Coachella Valley area, and we loved the house we stayed in. Every single thing we needed was available on-site or just a phone call away with this professional vacation rental group.

Rooms at The Colony Palms Hotel

Az\u00facar restaurant at La Serena Hotel.

If you're looking to go the hotel route, we highly recommend The Colony Palms Hotel. This Spanish Colonial-style hotel features high-end casitas and a sweet hotel pool with stunning mountain views. La Serena Villas has a similar small-town feel with a wonderful restaurant attached. Further outside of the downtown area, Parker Palm Springs is a stylish and creatively fulfilling place to stay and play.

No matter where you stay, we recommend Azúcar for dinner (at La Serena Hotel). Make sure you get the watermelon appetizer, refreshing with bursts of sweet balsamic beads trickled over the top. You'll feel like a kid at the pool in summer all over again.

Saturday

Get up early and head to Palm Desert. Make your way over to Wilma & Frieda at The Gardens on El Paseo for one of the best breakfasts you'll find in the valley. The pastries are all excellent and homemade. The dishes are creative with items like "churro waffles" and "banana caramel French toast."

After breakfast, stop by Kelsey's giraffe mural at the Gardens on El Paseo (directions found here) to give her giraffe a kiss. Then drive up the highway to The Living Desert.

The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens is an incredibly well-designed zoo that takes advantage of the stunning desert scenery with every animal exhibit.

On your way back, stop for a sweet treat at the café at Shields Date Gardens for one of their legendary date shakes. Wander through the 1950's feeling diner and gift shop and into the 17-acre date garden. These shakes are a Palm Springs staple and worth every delicious calorie.

For lunch, wander around the hotel lobby at Parker Palm Springs to admire their excellent interior design decisions before heading into Norma's restaurant for an al fresco lunch.

If you have time, spend the afternoon at Joshua Tree National Park. The blend of Mojave and Colorado deserts results in a unique and stunning landscape. Begin your tour/hike at one of the visitor centers. From here, you can go on a relaxed half-day tour with a guide or head out on one of the 12 self-guiding nature trails.

Spend sunset here or head back downtown to enjoy the sunset at The Colony Palms Hotel's Restaurant, The Purple Palm, with a quality craft cocktail. After sunset, make your way to the popular Italian restaurant Birba for dinner. Birba boasts excellent pizzas with a wide variety of interesting toppings. Be sure to make reservations beforehand.

Sunday

Spend the day exploring Palm Springs. Go to Cheeky's for breakfast, but make sure to get there early, as a line forms before the doors even open. Their world-famous bacon flight is a must – it's unique and so tasty.


Palm Springs boasts an unbelievable amount of art experiences. Experiential art, art museums and mid-century Modern Design galore. If you can, try to visit Palm Springs during their Modernism week in February. Be sure to get tickets to their house events and tour some of the most breathtakingly beautifully designed houses. And if you're lucky, Desert X might be around during the same time and hunting for art installations throughout the valley, which would be quite the sight.

If a large art fair isn't happening while you're in Palm Springs, we highly recommend heading to the City of Coachella. Their downtown boasts some incredible murals and Kelsey was honored to join the ranks recently. Kelsey completed a pair of "What Lifts You" wings that are colorful and an ode to the Hispanic roots of the community on the side of City Hall.

A trip to Palm Springs isn't complete without a picture with the Cabazon Dinosaurs. Made famous through their feature in movies like National Lampoon's Vacation and The Wizard – it's an Instagram-worthy stop.

For lunch, head back to downtown Palm Springs and enjoy a healthy meal at the charming restaurant Farm. Tucked into an interior courtyard, this restaurant feels like you've stepped into the French countryside. It's healthy, clean food even tastes like the South of France with their traditionally French dishes.

Walk off your lunch by exploring the boutiques in Downtown Palm Springs. These mid-century modern shops are not to be missed: A La Mod, Modernway, Vintage Oasis and The Frippery.

Complete your weekend with dinner at the chic Workshop Kitchen + Bar. Their wine cellar is massive and their waiters expertly trained. Trust them to find a new and different flavor for you – something you'll remember long after your weekend in Palm Springs.

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The day off: Silicon Beach

By The Hub team

Story by Justin Goldman | Hemispheres, March 2019

Los Angeles's ongoing tech boom—which in the last few years has seen the building of Google and Yahoo! campuses on a parcel of Playa Vista that was once Howard Hughes's private airfield—has earned the Westside the nickname Silicon Beach. Got a day off in La La Land? Here's how to spend it on the beach.

8 a.m.

Opener: Courtesy of Shutters on the Beach; Above: Jakob Layman

Beat the line at Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe by getting to the Santa Monica institution right when it opens. You'll feel very West Coast if you order the organic quinoa and market vegetables bowl (made with ingredients from the renowned Santa Monica Farmers Market, just down the street), but if you want to treat yourself on your day off, opt for a stack of the café's signature pancakes.

10 a.m.

Duffy Archives, Courtesy of the Peter Fetterman Gallery

The Westside has long drawn an artsy crowd. Take in that vibe at Santa Monica's Bergamot Station, a former trolley stop and industrial warehouse that's now a complex of more than 20 galleries. Don't miss the photography at the Peter Fetterman Gallery (pictured above) or the modern and contemporary works at Latin American Masters.

12 p.m.

Courtesy of the Stronghold

Venice is SoCal's boho capital, and the ever-trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard is its main commercial artery. Splurge on a Lewis Leathers motorcycle jacket at The Stronghold (pictured above) or a flower-print dress at Stone Cold Fox. Congratulations: Your credit card statement now rivals your student loans.

2 p.m.

Courtesy of Gjusta

Take a number at the über-hip deli and bakery Gjusta. Be prepared to wait a while before you order, and you'll need sharp elbows to fight for a seat on the patio, but the hassle is worth it for the tuna conserva sandwich.

4 p.m.

Head back to your hotel, Shutters on the Beach. Change into some sneakers and jog down to Muscle Beach to see some bodies that have clearly not been enjoying the food at Huckleberry or Gjusta, then beat a retreat to your balcony. Open your shutters (truth in advertising!) and watch the sun sink behind the Santa Monica Pier and into the Pacific.

7 p.m.

2016 Wonho Lee

Dinner is at one of the toughest tables in LA, Felix Trattoria, Esquire's best new restaurant in America for 2017. Chef Evan Funke cut his teeth at Spago, and now he cuts handmade pastas in a glass-enclosed kitchen at the north end of Abbot Kinney. Don't miss the perfectly al dente orecchiette with sausage sugo.

9 p.m.

Wonho Frank Lee

For a nightcap, take a seat on the patio at Makani, a new Korean-influenced spot on Venice's up-and-coming Rose Avenue. Try a Doctor Bird's Sour (rum, orgeat, bitters, and lemon) from the rum-centric cocktail list, plus—why not?—Manila clams with chile de árbol and wood-fired ciabatta slices. The only thing prettier than the fare on your table is the oh-so-SoCal crowd tippling around you.

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