World’s Finest Wool: The Merino Sheep

A common breed of domestic sheep is “The Merino,” and it has a rich history. The breed has its origins in Spain but then was domesticated in Australia.

While it was found in the 12th century, it has seen a lot of refining in the breed until the 18th century, and the wool has helped with economic development due to possessing the finest sheep wool.

Characteristics of the Merino Sheep

The Merino is a breed that has a variety of appearances, especially in size and conformation; however, they are generally medium in size, are white in color, and have crimped wool fibers.

There are two types of Merino, those with horns and those without. The ones without horns actually have small stubs on the top of their heads, and the horned Merinos will have long horns that spiral close to the head.

This breed is well known for their foraging abilities, and the fact they are very adaptable. While they are predominantly known for their wool, some breeders occasionally use them for meat even they are much smaller than meat breeds. Like the South African Meat Merino, the German Meriofleischschaf, and the American Rambouillet.

Three breeds that are working on fine-tuning the balance of both wool and meat in this breed.

Whether Everglades National Park or Orlando with its amusement parks: The famous sights can be driven off on a rental car round trip. 

Even less prominent places have their charms in winter: Starting in mid-November, tourists can swim with manatees in the warm Crystal River Bay, an hour north of Tampa.

Visit Palm Desert in the heart of the Coachella Valley – Palm Desert is considered a winter retreat for retirees and entrepreneurs from colder regions. You have the opportunity to hike in the Coachella Valley Preserve System which consists of a rare habitat palm forest oasis and desert wetlands.

Sports fans are in the right place in The Palm Beaches region. More than 160 golf courses are located here. In addition, the world’s equestrian elite meets every winter for polo tournaments, dressage competitions and show jumping on the Atlantic coast.

A touch of the South Pacific: Exotic Hawaii

Hawaiian map with icons, characters and symbols

Flower chains, surfers and volcanoes: there is probably no more significant contrast to Nordic winter landscapes than a vacation in Hawaii. The group of islands in the Pacific scores points for its weather, for one thing.

It also stands out from the rest of the country thanks to its Polynesian culture. Hawaii offers even experienced USA travelers completely new impressions – from hula dancing lessons to luau dinners.

Water rats take surfing lessons on world-famous Waikiki Beach. Nature lovers hike through lunar-like lava landscapes or kayak past rainforests and waterfalls.

The classic is a round of island hopping: spectacular coastal roads and cliff landscapes, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Pearl Harbor are waiting for you on Maui, Kauai, Big Island and Oahu.

Hawaii delivers everything it promises – and even tops it: flawless beaches, pure air, clear seas, a brilliant sun, now and then a rain shower that whips the palm trees and cleans the leaves of this lush vegetation.

Hawaii offers unique fauna and flora in genuinely breathtaking natural scenery. If you are lucky, you may witness a volcanic eruption or discover a massive rainbow, brushed onto the firmament by the interaction of the sky and the sun.

Many people don’t know that the Hawaiian island of Big Island is home to the top of the highest mountain in the world. If you add the meters of Mauna Kea’s elevation that lie underwater to its visible height, it comes to 9,966 meters – 4214 above sea level.

The summit of the “long mountain” (the literal translation from Hawaiian) is a Dorado for both professional and amateur astronomers due to the clear Pacific sea air. By the way, this also applies to the other islands because Hawaii Island has such towering mountains and Maui and Kauai.

Few other destinations combine a similar wealth of scenic attractions as Hawaii. The people are as diverse as the land. The inhabitants of the youngest U.S. state are a colorful mix: Originating from the most diverse cultures. For centuries, people from Asia, America and Europe have come here to find their paradise and live together in the spirit of Aloha in mutual tolerance and appreciation.

The History of Hawaii

The islands were first settled by the Polynesians. It was not until 1778 that the western world discovered the archipelago.

Captain James Cook landed on the coast of Hawaii Island. Towards the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, King Kamehameha was the first to bring all the islands under the rule of a king.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the first missionaries arrived in Hawaii and determined the politics on the islands from then on. Liliuokalani, the last queen of Hawaii, had to abdicate in 1891 after a coup d’état.

In 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii. The Japanese surprise attack on the U.S. base Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was the reason for the U.S. entry into World War 2. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state of the USA.

California - Endless beaches and an ever shining sun

California – the beautiful Golden State – provides numerous vacationers with unforgettable moments every year. The most populous state in the USA captivates not only by its beautiful nature but also by its vibrant cities.

California cities offer mild weather and palm-lined boulevards, and ideal climatic conditions for exercising, hiking and exploring the region.

Great winter destinations for travel enthusiasts in the U.S. include San Francisco, Santa Barbara and San Diego, as well as Joshua Tree National Park, Sedona, Canyon de Chelly, Scottsdale, Tucson and Monterey Bay.

Panoramic view of Bixby Creek Bridge and the dramatic Pacific Oc
Panoramic view of Bixby Creek Bridge and the dramatic Pacific Ocean coastline, Big Sur, California

San Francisco

San Francisco was the birthplace of hippie culture in the 1960s and is still a paradise for free spirits.

Take a ferry to Alcatraz Island, once home to some of the most dangerous criminals in the US. Admire the flower gardens on Lombard Street. Stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf with its restaurants and attractions. Or have a picnic in Alamo Square Park, across from the colorful Victorian homes known as the Painted Ladies.

A must-do is crossing the famous Golden Gate Bridge. You can do this on foot, by car or by bike, but you can also view this masterpiece of engineering from the water on a sailing trip across the bay.

The best way to get around the different neighborhoods of San Francisco is to ride the historic cable cars.

San Francisco is known for its cool and windy summer. In fact, the days between September and October are usually warmer and sunnier. But, then, the climate is surprisingly mild and temperate in the winter months. The weather is perfect for exploring, and the numerous seasonal activities and events mean there’s never a dull moment.

Whale spotting on the coast of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is considered the most beautiful city in California. The city of about 90,000 inhabitants is known for its typical Spanish-Mexican architecture but also for its high property prices.

Most California cities combine various architectural styles and influences, but Santa Barbara is different. In 1925, the city’s historic center was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake.

As a nod to Santa Barbara’s Spanish history, the city council decided that reconstruction should be in the Mediterranean Style. The Spanish once ruled here can also be seen in the famous mission stations and churches.

Santa Barbara is especially popular with beach lovers and surfers because of the perfect conditions.

The area is also ideal for whale spotting. Humpback whales and the colossal blue whale use Santa Barbara’s waters as a stopover on their journey to Mexico. With a bit of luck, you can catch a glimpse of the gentle giants on a boat tour.

Foodies get their money’s worth here, too: visit one of the excellent seafood restaurants at Stearns Wharf or the wine tasting rooms. On Sundays, it’s fun to visit the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show, with more than 200 booths selling homemade art. The perfect place to find a keepsake!

San Diego

San Diego is located in Southern California near the border with Mexico and has a pleasant, sunny climate. The laid-back city is known for its beaches like Coronado Beach or Mission Beach.

Sprawling Balboa Park is home to the famous San Diego Zoo and numerous art galleries, art studios, museums, and gardens.

Old Town San Diego State Historical Park, a living history museum, is also worth visiting. In addition to the historic architecture, this neighborhood is also home to many charming stores and restaurants.

San Diego is a true paradise for interested animal lovers and families traveling with children – not only because it offers the Californian sun and the “American way of life” in pure culture.

The animal attractions give this destination its own unique appeal. But, of course, at the top of the popularity scale is Sea World. The word “world-famous” is sometimes used unfairly, but it is appropriate in the case of Sea World.

The live shows with dolphins and orcas are almost legendary and should not be missed. All in all, this amusement and exhibition park is so immense that you could miss the shows if you are not careful – but that would be more than a pity.

So instead, it’s better to time your ride on the whitewater course and visits the walk-through giant aquariums around a live show.

Also exciting are the multimedia shows in the “Sea World.” Flight movements are simulated in a closed capsule while fascinating landscape images from the Arctic pass by on the giant screen.

Of course, there’s no shortage of fun: sometimes it looks as if the “plane” is flying just a hair’s breadth past an iceberg.

Joshua Tree National Park

Located in southern California, the “Joshua Tree National Park” is ideal for a winter stopover, as it is very sunny and warm during the day, and the skies are clear.

This is a great time to visit to escape the summer heat and crowds. This stunning desert landscape of the Joshua Tree National Park is home to a fascinating variety of plants and animals that thrive in the rugged mountains and exposed granite that characterize the area.

Many visitors come to admire the twisted Joshua Trees, made famous by the U2 album cover, or simply hike in this unusual landscape where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet.

During your visit, a 540-meter climb up Quail Mountain offers breathtaking views. The rocky Canyon of Keys Ranch shows how early settlers once lived. You can explore the park on foot or by mountain bike, either with a guide or on your own.

In Joshua Tree National Park, visitors move through two distinct ecosystems due to their respective elevations. The lower, eastern part of the park is dominated by the Colorado Desert habitat. Here one encounters scrubland, cacti and occasional fan palms grow.

In the higher areas, from about 900 meters upwards, the Mojave Desert takes over, so to speak. It is somewhat cooler and more humid and also the home of the Joshua palm lilies, whose English name is “Joshua Tree.”

This name comes from the Mormons who passed through the area during pioneer times. For them, the tree was the symbol of the prophet Joshua, who welcomed the Israelites with his wide-spread branches – or rather arms – and showed them which way they would come to the Promised Land.

For climbing freaks from all over the world, Joshua Tree National Park is something like the Promised Land today. The first fans of this outdoor sport came because their ancestral areas in Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada were too snowy in winter and, in some cases, far too difficult to reach.

Monterey

In the south of the California coast is the stunning Monterey Bay, known for its marine life and great kayak tours.

The picturesque Monterey County should be high on every U.S. visitor’s bucket list. The temperate region on the central stretch of California’s coast encompasses 12 cities – including Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pebble Beach and Big Sur – and is notable for its lush, dramatic natural landscapes.

From the cliffs and pristine beaches, you’ll catch glimpses of whales, sea otters and migratory birds every now and then. No less fascinating is the history of the region, which you will experience at the favorite places of famous authors or the Spanish mission stations.

As if that weren’t enough, there’s also award-winning food and wine scene and countless recreational opportunities – from world-class golf courses and shopping to kayaking, hiking and beyond.

The National Steinbeck Museum in Salinas is dedicated to the life and work of one of America’s most renowned authors. A visit to the John Steinbeck House will give you an insight into the childhood of the author and Pulitzer Prize winner.

Afterward, you can have lunch at the popular adjacent restaurant. Don’t miss Cannery Row: where sardines were packaged in the early 20th century, there’s now a colorful coastal street with restaurants, entertainment, wine tastings and beautiful views to discover.

Rolling hills with miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails stretch around Fort Ord National Monument at the site of a former military base. The Central Coast of California and Mexico have been historically intertwined for centuries.

Monterey was the first capital of the former Alta California territory, and even today, many Spanish missions, such as the famous Carmel Mission, are located in the area. Accordingly, it is not surprising that Spanish is still widely spoken here.

Nothing beats a panoramic drive on Highway One. The road follows the coastline to Big Sur, passing wetlands, artichoke fields, cypress groves and coastal cliffs. Beaches alternate with stately homes along historic 17-Mile Drive.

The elegant resort of The Lodge at Pebble Beach is adjacent to one of the world’s most prestigious golf courses. Wine lovers should follow the River Road Wine Trail and the Carmel Valley Wine Trail, sampling the choicest drops from the Salinas Valley and Carmel Valley.

If you’re looking for idyll and tranquility, Carmel-by-the-Sea is the place to be. The small coastal town surprises with art galleries, excellent restaurants and plenty of culture – not to mention the dreamlike Carmel Beach with its dazzling white sand.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California is one of the most beautiful and largest aquariums in the world. It is located at the end of Cannery Road in Monterey and is famous worldwide for its elaborately designed aquariums.

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New Orleans - Rich in culture and history

Historic New Orleans in southeastern Louisiana is best known for its Mardi Gras festival in February. But the city also has plenty to offer during the Christmas season, when hotel rates are cheap.

At the annual Festival of Lights in the Oaks, 2 million twinkling lights light up the city park. The imposing St. Louis Cathedral also hosts live music and a Christmas event program.

On New Year’s Eve, people flock to the French Quarter to celebrate the start of the new year.

New Orleans is considered the most European city in America. It is rich in culture and history and offers many attractions, fun and action.

New Orleans, popularly known as “The Big Easy,” prides itself on its serenity and long history, where good music and delicious food play a major role. Due to its prime location on the Gulf of Mexico, temperatures are relatively mild throughout the winter.

Over the years, New Orleans and the surrounding area have been inhabited by people from a wide variety of nations. The diverse influences and traditions of the French, Spanish, Germans, British, Irish, inhabitants of the Caribbean and freed former slaves form the basis for a unique cultural mixture that is unparalleled and whose captivating appeal no visitor can resist.

Celebrate Christmas on the beach of Puerto Rico

Anyone planning a vacation in the USA does not first think of Puerto Rico. But the Caribbean island state is the largest outlying territory of the USA. And it has some superlatives to offer.

Not only does it have the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Its nocturnal glow can be admired from a glass-bottom boat if there is an appropriate concentration of plankton.

The largest cave network in the Western Hemisphere also stretches across the island. The more than one thousand underground caves are partly decorated with pre-Columbian rock paintings.

Tropical vacations in Puerto Rico are possible all year round. But especially in the winter months, the Caribbean cultural mix comes alive with numerous festivals and traditions.

Immediately following Thanksgiving, the holiday season gets underway in Puerto Rico. The highlight is the “Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián,” lasting several days. After that, the entire island transforms into a tropical winter wonderland with illuminated streets, local carnival festivities, concerts, dance events and arts and crafts.

San Juans colonial old town is a Unesco World Heritage Site and celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2022 with exhibitions, concerts and festivals.

Outside Puerto Rico’s colorful capital, an impressive backdrop of mountain and forest landscapes opens up. The Guánica Dry Forest, a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve covering more than 3,600 hectares, is one of the world’s largest tropical, coastal dry forests.

El Yunque National Park is a 45-minute drive inland from the coast. On the way into the rainforest, you will get fantastic views over the rainforest down to the coast.

You can find peace and quiet at the La Coca waterfall, and from the Yokahu Observation Tower, you have a great all-around view – a stop is absolutely worth it!

The American Virgin Islands - Vacation in Paradise

If you can’t decide whether you’d rather relax on the beach, explore a lively city, or take a sailing trip along the coast, you can have it all in the U.S. Virgin Islands!

This tropical paradise in the Caribbean consists of three islands: St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. Each island offers different attractions. Shopping and fresh Caribbean cuisine can be found on St. Thomas, while on St. John, you should explore the magnificent crescent-shaped coastline and Virgin Islands National Park.

The islands cover 346 square kilometers and have about 106,000 inhabitants, most of whom are descended from former African slaves. The capital of the American Virgin Islands is Charlotte Amalie, which is located on Saint Thomas.

St. Croix attracts visitors with the beautiful Buck Island Reef Island National Monument as well as the unique Dutch architecture. All three islands offer beautiful beaches. Winter temperatures are around 25 degrees Celsius, and the islands are just under a 3-hour flight from Miami, Florida.

The American Virgin Islands are characterized by their subtropical climate, which is somewhat moderated by the northeast trade winds. The trade winds make for a fairly humid climate, with rainy days that can occur throughout the year. The most rain falls in the months of August to December and in May in the form of short showers. The months of January to March are much drier.

The temperature remains unchanged almost all year round. In the winter months, maximum temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius are not uncommon. However, at night, temperatures drop to an average of 23 degrees. In summer, the maximum temperatures reach about 32 degrees and fall to a maximum of 25 degrees Celsius at night.

If you are planning a vacation in the USA, you are spoiled for choice. If you can’t take a year, you won’t be able to visit the whole country.

Before you plan a trip to the USA, get more inspiration for exciting Travel Destinations in the USA here.

The USA stands for three things: great metropolises, breathtaking national parks and dream beaches, for example in Florida or Hawaii. With a little planning, you can even experience a little bit of everything.

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