Top 10 Staff Favorites

Our writers reveal their most memorable travel experiences.

McWay Falls
Big Sur, California
Even on a famously stunning stretch of coast, these falls stand out. McWay Creek plunges 80 feet down to the beach, a thin ribbon of white meeting the sea in a cove framed by sand, rocky cliffs, and towering redwoods. The extraordinary sight conjures a sense of primeval nature. Yet it's accessible from Highway 1―just an easy half-mile walk down the Overlook Trail, which starts near the parking lot at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park; parks.ca.gov―Senior Writer Jeff Book


Fishing Pier
Naples, Florida
For me, birding is the ultimate no-stress, no-work activity. My favorite spot: the fishing pier in Naples, Florida. From there, I've watched seven enormous pelicans angle in line for fishermen's scraps. Seagulls, cormorants, and piping plovers all provide dazzling displays above sand and sea; naplespier.com. To protect coastal birds, visit audubon.org/bird.cbcp―Lifestyle Editor Sarah Brueggemann


Lookout Cruises
Beaufort, North Carolina
Almost as soon as our 45-foot catamaran left the dock, we hit choppy waters. Capt. Steve Bishop asked if anyone was feeling queasy. I timidly raised my hand. "I can fix that!" he said. "Come here." I found myself standing at the wheel of the boat. My orders: "Keep the lighthouse between the sail and the mast." The 90-minute trip from Beaufort, North Carolina, to Cape Lookout National Seashore brings guests to the tip of a remote barrier island. Visitors have time to picnic, swim, snorkel, and hunt for seashells. And on the way back, you might get to take over the helm, too; 252/504-7245 or lookoutcruises.com―Managing Editor Vicki J. Weathers


Float Plane Shore Excursion
Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska
While cruising up Alaska's Inside Passage, I ditched the crowds in Ketchikan for an intimate trip on a four-seat seaplane. We flew over the Tongass National Forest and began our descent to Misty Fjords. Pilot Keith Deschambeault landed on the water and cut off the engine. As the plane gently rocked, he asked, "Anyone wanna get out?" I jumped from the co-pilot seat and awkwardly made my way onto the plane's float. It was silent. But although miles from civilization, we weren't alone. I was greeted by a curious otter and a family of harlequin ducks; 866/858-2327 or alaskaseaplanetours.com―Market Editor Sarah K. Johnson


Bogles Round House Restaurant
Carriacou, West Indies
I found what might be the Caribbean's most eccentric dining experience at a restaurant that looks like a displaced igloo. Owners Kim and Sue Russell wandered the world with their children, living in a circus van and on several sailboats before permanently docking in the middle of the Caribbean. Their restaurant was crafted from as many recycled and found materials as possible, including the jawbone of a whale and an upside-down tree trunk. The fare, whether fish cakes or prawn tempura, is equally remarkable; 473/443-7841 or boglesroundhouse.com―Homes Editor Elizabeth Raines Beeler

Pirate's Cove Yacht Club
Josephine, Alabama
Whenever I step into this shack of a restaurant on the Gulf Coast, my blood pressure drops 20 points. No one cares who you are or what you're wearing at the combination dive bar/community center, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. So find a deck table overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and order the world's best cheeseburger. If you're game, try a bushwhacker: a chocolate milkshake topped with 151-proof rum. Then stay around for the people-watching. You might spot businessmen in suits, shrimpers fresh off the boat, or a neighbor arriving on his riding lawnmower; 251/987-1224 or piratescoveriffraff.com―Creative Director Lane Gregory

Honu-Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Program
Big Island of Hawaii
The Mauna Lani Resort wows visitors with ocean views, but it's the green-shell beauties swimming in the lobby that will steal your heart. Since 1989, young honu (turtles) from Oahu's Sea Life Park have found a safe home in the resort's saltwater ponds. After the turtles mature, they are released into the ocean on July 4―Turtle Independence Day. Since the program began, more than 125 reptiles have been returned to the wild, helping the species' status improve from threatened to endangered; 808/885-6622 or maunalani.com―Staff Writer Jacquelyne Froeber

SaraSara's
Blue Hill, Maine
This Downeast boutique carries everything from pink margarita flip-flops and funky clutches to this-must-be-heaven cotton nightgowns. Owner Sara B. Leighton turned her dream of opening a shop into a reality five years ago, and she makes everyone who steps through the door feel special. The words "You're Beautiful" are painted on dressing-room mirrors, and there's even a "huffy husband's chair" for the men. Also check out the new Castine location, overlooking the city dock; 207/374-2227 or sarasaras.com―Editorial Assistant Allen B. Bunting

Dinner at George's at the Cove
La Jolla, California
For a dreamy night out, you have to be in La Jolla, California. Check what time the sun will set and make a dinner reservation for the hour before sunset at George's at the Cove. Request a table at the edge of the Ocean Terrace, which has an unobstructed view of the cove, sea, and distant cliffs. By the time the sun starts to dip into the Pacific, you'll be ordering dessert wine and something chocolate. Talk about perfect timing; georgesatthecove.com―Executive Editor Sara Anderson

Guy's Frenchys
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada
Where can you find a cashmere sweater for $2.75, or a Calvin Klein skirt for $3.85? Guy's Frenchys, a no-frills resale chain, often stocks up when U.S. retailers unload clothes at the end of the season. With 18 locations, many near the coast, it's perfect for rainy-day browsing. Some Frenchys fanatics even sign up for store-by-store tours, skipping across the province on a shopping spree. Watch out for duds among the diamonds, though. I'm still not sure how I came home with that electric lime-green T-shirt commemorating a Massachusetts Snowplow "Roadeo." For $2.40, it must have seemed like a deal at the time; guysfrenchys.com―Senior Editor Larry Bleiberg