On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Each of Ottawa’s neighborhoods has a host of shopping options, but Forbes Travel Guide’s editors think the best shopping is definitely in downtown Ottawa. Head to the legendary ByWard Market for local crafts and fresh produce — it’s the epitome of Ottawa, and a must when you’re in the capital city. If you’re looking for high-end fashion, make your way to Rideau Centre just east of Parliament Hill. Here you’ll find Ottawa’s only Apple Store and brand names like Michael Kors and Hugo Boss. Rideau Centre also has a handful of restaurants in addition to its more than 160 stores. Also downtown is Canada’s oldest pedestrian shopping mall, Sparks Street. This charming shopping center has everything from bookstores to jewelry shops.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Ottawa is brimming with fun things for kids to do all year long. From museums to ice skating and parades to winter festivals, your children will be thrilled to spend some time in Canada’s capital. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the five best things to do with kids in Ottawa.
1. Ice Skating. Home to the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink, Rideau Canal, you can’t visit Ottawa in the winter without checking it out. If you forgot your own skates, you can rent them at the rink. On weekends, thousands of people hit the ice, and it’s never a dull time.
2. Dows Lake Pavilion. This manmade lake off the Rideau Canal is where you can rent paddleboats and kayaks during the summer and skates in the winter. The pavilion has restaurants, but the real fun is exploring the canal in a paddleboat.
3. Picnic in Gatineau Park. It’s a short drive from Ottawa, but your kids will love packing a picnic and enjoying the surroundings in Gatineau Park. In the winter you can go cross-country skiing, while summer offers swimming and hiking.
4. Winterlude. Ottawa’s winter festival is a blast for the whole family — from ice-skating to the Taste of Winterlude, the festival’s food and wine portion. Kids can play in the Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques Cartier Park, the world’s biggest snow playground.
5. Canada Science and Technology Museum. This is the hands-on kind of museum that kids love. You and your children will discover cool gadgets — think fridges with built-in TVs — and technology that has made history like the locomotive that pulled the Royal Train during the 1939 royal visit.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:As the capital of Canada, there’s tons to see and do in Ottawa. Whether you’re visiting in the frigid winter or during the beautiful summer, here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the five best things to see and do in Ottawa.
1. Skate on the Rideau Canal. When winter rolls around and the Rideau Canal is frozen over, everyone grabs his or her skates and hits the ice. It’s the world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink, stretching more than four miles through Ottawa.
2. Explore ByWard Market. A historic farmer’s market and shopping district during the day that moonlights as a dining destination come nightfall, ByWard Market is the epitome of Ottawa and shouldn’t be missed.
3. Catch a Senators game. You’re in Canada, after all. You simply can’t visit Ottawa without catching a hockey game. Head to Scotiabank Place and join the Sens Army to cheer on the team.
4. Watch the Changing the Guard Ceremony. One great thing to watch in Canada’s capital city is the Changing the Guard Ceremony, held each morning in the summer on Parliament Hill, known for both its beauty and its historic traditions.
5. Celebrate Canada Day. The streets are closed and Ottawa becomes one giant party dedicated to all things Canada. You’ll see people decked out in white and red, fireworks and plenty of renditions of O Canada. It’s the equivalent of being in Washington, D.C. for the Fourth of July.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Traveling between islands in the British Virgin Islands is easy, particularly since the island chain is only 58 square miles. From the most populated island of Tortola, you can hop on a ferry to Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Peter Island and Anegada. With the close proximity of the BVI and United States Virgin Islands, you can take a ferry from Tortola to St. Thomas and St. John. Some of the rides can be as short as 10 minutes (Saba Rock to Gun Creek), while others can be as long as an hour and 45 minutes (Virgin Gorda, Spanish Town to St. Thomas via St. John). For the most part, you don’t need a reservation to get on the ferry, but booking ahead is always a good plan. You can also rent a boat to hop between islands, but plan on spending all day on the boat exploring the area.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Considering all of the islands have their own personalities, it’s easy to find plenty of mementos to bring home from the British Virgin Islands. Aside from taking tons of photos that are postcard worthy, there are a few things you’ll want to return home with. Combing the beach for beautiful shells is always a great way to find a souvenir — if you’re lucky, you may stumble upon a conch shell.
You’ll find plenty of arts and crafts on several of the islands. From moko jumbie dolls to conch shell bracelets, there’s more than enough to fit your fancy. If you make it to Pusser’s — there are four locations in the BVI — be sure to pick up some rum. As long as it’s less than a liter, you can bring it out of the country and home with you.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:With numerous islands each with its own personality, there are plenty of food experiences to be had in the British Virgin Islands. From conch to Anegada lobster, the seafood is fresher than fresh. And be sure to try the rum punch, which is potent and fruity, and endlessly refreshing on a hot day. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s tips for the five best British Virgin Island food experiences:
1. Pusser’s Landing. Head to Pusser’s bar in Tortola’s West End for a Painkiller. The rum punch is a trademark of the West Indian restaurant and, trust is, it will make your pain disappear.
2. The Last Resort. Located on its own little island off Beef Island and Tortola, you’ll get Caribbean fare with a side of song and dance. The “Singing Chef” will have you laughing and joining in. The eclectic restaurant is only accessible by boat, but it’s well worth the trip.
3. Soggy Dollar Bar. This Jost Van Dyke beachside restaurant serves up local cuisine with plenty of rum to go alongside it. Chow down on the conch fritters and wash it down with Soggy Dollar’s version of a Painkiller.
4. The William Thornton Floating Bar & Restaurant. Locals know it as Willy T’s and it’s made this beautiful anchorage popular. Norman Island is otherwise desolate, but make it to Willy T’s and you’re in for a treat. Fill up on seafood and head to the top deck to jump into the turquoise water.
5. Cow Wreck. This Anegada restaurant is more of a beach shack than anything, but it churns out some of the best conch fritters in the British Virgin Islands. You’ll see chefs grilling everything from local lobster to chicken.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:No matter which island you favor, the nightlife in the British Virgin Islands is laidback and carefree. You won’t find any trendy clubs, but rather bars that have been popular for generations. As a huge sailing area, you can count on plenty of these beach bars to be chock full of yachtsmen and their crew.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the area during a full moon, make plans to attend one of the legendary full moon parties. Tortola is the island that is known for these monthly shindigs, with one of the most popular held at Bomba’s Shack. Anyone who’s ever been to one of these will tell you that you have to experience it to believe the bacchanalia.
Across the way on Jost Van Dyke is Foxy’s Tamarind Bar, whose owner has become somewhat of a legend himself. You’ll fill up on Painkiller Punch while you dance the night away with the live music playing in the background.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Considering the British Virgin Islands cover more than 58 square miles, you can easily see much of what the chain has to offer in just one day. Your best bet is to charter a boat — a Boston Whaler will do just fine — and island hop to get the real local flavor. Star your day off with a trip to The Baths on Virgin Gorda. This natural wonder is composed of huge granite boulders that create secluded pools that are great for snorkeling. You’ll want to get here early to avoid the masses.
After a bit of spelunking, hop back on the boat and head to Anegada for lunch at Big Bamboo. Pick up a few conch fritters and some Anegada lobster, and scope out a spot on the beach at Loblolly Bay. This seemingly deserted island is beautiful, and the beach is another great snorkeling spot.
You’ve spent a few hours on the beach, and now it’s time to head to Tortola to get a taste of the most populated island in the British Virgin Islands. Make your way to Pusser’s Landing in West End for a legendary Pusser’s Painkiller. Once you’ve soaked up the local flavor (in the form of rum), get back on the boat and putter over to Jost Van Dyke for an evening of fun. Post up at Foxy’s Tamarind Bar for a real West Indian experience. Foxy’s is world famous for its parties with live bands playing Thursday through Saturday nights.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:While you may not find designer fashion labels, you will find plenty of mementos to bring home from the British Virgin Islands. As Tortola is the most populated, this island is your best bet for shopping. Walk down historic Main Street and you’ll find dozens of shops with wares ranging from jewelry and clothing to arts and crafts. Of course, most of the islands’ hotels have stores within them, with everything from sunscreen to island souvenirs for sale. This is the trip you want to stock up on unique items like moko jumbie dolls and pottery.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Kids will have a blast no matter which island in the British Virgin Islands is your home base. From collecting shells to snorkeling and hiking, there is an endless array of activities for children. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best things to do with kids in the British Virgin Islands.
1. Explore The Baths. This geological masterpiece is made of granite boulders that create sheltered pools, perfect for a little dip. At the end of the tunnel is Devil’s Bay, which is very popular for snorkeling. Kids will love exploring the hidden waters.
2. Collect seashells. No matter which beach you go to, you and your little ones will have a ball finding all kinds of shells. If you’re lucky, you just may find a conch shell. The shells are unique and beautiful, and make a great souvenir.
3. Treasure hunt. Head to Norman Island — legend has it that this tiny island is the inspiration for “Treasure Island” — and snorkel in the sea caves. It’s a deserted island, but your youngsters will feel as if they’re living the life of a pirate.
4. Watersports. Whether your kids want to take windsurfing lessons or simply kayak around the calm bays, watersports are a hit in the BVI. Most resorts offer rentals on the beach, allowing you to relax and watch while your kids have a blast in the surf.
5. Snorkel. They may not be old enough to scuba dive, but snorkeling is almost as good. The underwater wildlife is extraordinary and there are plenty of snorkeling daytrips that the whole family can enjoy.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Comprised of 16 inhabited islands and more than 20 deserted islands, the British Virgin Islands offer plenty to see and do, from hiking the lush, hilly landscape to exploring the marine life in the turquoise blue water. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks some of the best things to see and do in the BVI.
1. Go spelunking. The Baths, located on Virgin Gorda’s north shore, is truly a natural wonder. With huge boulders that create sheltered pools and ladders that lead to the calm and protected Devil’s Bay, exploring The Baths is a must-do during a visit to the island.
2. Full moon parties. If you want to get a taste of the local culture of the British Virgin Islands, plan your trip around a full moon party. Every month on the night of a full moon, several bars throughout the islands throw parties that last all night. The most famous ones are at Bomba’s Shack and Trellis Bay on Tortola.
3. Scuba dive. Grab your gear and explore The Wreck of The Rhone, the first and only Marine National Park in the BVI. The Rhone sunk in 1867 and is one of the best dive sites in the area. Ranging between 30 and 90 feet below the surface, the wreck is home to great examples of fringing reef habitat.
4. Charter a boat. Even if it is just a whaler, chartering a boat is the best way to see the many charming islands in the British Virgin Islands. Have your captain anchor off Jost Van Dyke so you can make the swim to the famous Soggy Dollar Bar, a famous watering hole with no dock but stiff and refreshing drinks.
5. Relax on the beach. You’re in the Caribbean after all, and the crystal clear water is practically calling your name. You can head to one of the deserted islands or simply lounge at your hotel’s beach with a piña colada in hand.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Considering that Puerto Rico is 3,515 square miles, the island has tons of great beaches. Add in the tiny coastal islets and you can discover a new beach every time you visit. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best beaches in Puerto Rico:
1. Middles Beach. Come to this beach to ride the waves. Middles Beach in Isabela is where handfuls of surf contests are held — it’s also where pro-surfer Kelly Slater got his latest world title. It’s best for experienced surfers since the break can be hollow and fast.
2. Flamenco Beach. The stretch of beach on Culebra is a must-do when you’re in Puerto Rico. It’s widely considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Flamenco Beach is great for snorkeling, lounging and soaking up the scenery.
3. Icacos. This tiny island is deserted, making it a great spot for a day on the beach. It doesn’t get much more scenic than this — imagine being surrounded by azure water and pristine white sand. Icacos is quiet and ideal for snorkeling.
4. Ocean Park Beach. One of San Juan’s best beaches, Ocean Park Beach is filled with young people who want to see and be seen. While weekdays are not as crowded, weekends can be chaos.
5. Jobos Beach. This is another surfing beach in Isabela, but this one is perfect for all skill levels. The beach break makes it easy to learn to ride the waves, while also appealing to surfing veterans.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:As Puerto Rico is known for its rum, that’s one thing you’ll want to bring back after a visit to the island. One in particular — Don Q — is difficult to find outside of Puerto Rico. Of course, you’ll have plenty of time to taste the varieties throughout your trip, so you can narrow down your choices. And with the sun always shining in Puerto Rico, be sure to bring back a suntan. Whether you visit in the dead of winter or the peak of the summer, the beach is a place you want to be familiar with.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:If you really want to get a taste of the island, experience Puerto Rican cuisine. The places that are overrun by tourists are usually good restaurants, but it’s where the locals go that you’ll find real Puerto Rican flavor. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best Puerto Rico food experiences:
1. Traditional fare at La Casita Blanca. This tiny white house is a San Juan institution, known for its good food, homey atmosphere and mounds of tradition. Located in the Santurce neighborhood, La Casita Blanca serves up authentic Puerto Rican food like bacalao (salt codfish with yucca) and carne guisada (beef stew). It’s nothing fancy (the menu is written on a dry-erase board) but it’s definitely worth the visit.
2. Luquillo kiosks. More than 60 beachfront kiosks line the shore just outside the town of Luquillo — and they’re home to some top-notch street food. Each stand has its own menu, ranging from fresh seafood to traditional Puerto Rican fried food like alcapurrias and bacalaitos.
3. Breakfast at La Bombonera. Head to this Old San Juan bakery for a weekend breakfast. It’s one of the oldest restaurants on the island, which in itself is impressive. Family-run, La Bombonera is filled with locals chowing down on decadent pastries like mallorca con mantequilla, a flat pastry topped with confectioners sugar and butter.
4. Authentic dishes at El Jibarito. Another Old San Juan joint, El Jibarito is great for authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. There’s a good mix of locals and tourists, which is always a good sign. From alcapurrias to mofongos, you’ll get a good taste of the local fare.
5. Jam Rum Bar & Bistro Moderne. As Puerto Rico is known for its rum — Bacardi and Don Q to be precise — Jam Rum Bar & Bistro Moderne is the place to taste it. Offering more than 50 rums from Puerto Rico and other places in the world, Jam also serves Caribbean-fusion cuisine.
On September 18, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:San Juan is the place to be when it comes to nightlife in Puerto Rico — the city is filled with casinos, hotel bars and plenty of trendy hotspots. The cities ritziest district, Condado, is the best area to spend your night. Along Ashford Avenue, you’ll find a wide range of bars. If you can’t get enough of the beach, head to Oceano. The hip locale doubles as a bar and restaurant, hosting plenty of events. Though it just opened in 2011, Oceano is wildly popular with its sexy oceanfront setting. Nearby, you’ll find El Barril and Bar Gitano, which are sister venues that are very popular among locals. A long-standing favorite is the Lobby Bar at La Concha hotel.
You can also find casinos at many of the hotels in San Juan. From The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan to La Concha, there is an array of opportunities for those who want to roll the dice. (Just keep in mind that the gambling age in Puerto Rico is 18.)