Wander Ireland’s northern reaches, see the happiest cities in the U.S. and more

Exploring the upper reaches of the Emerald Isle is the gist of the Magnetic North Adventure Tour offered by Vagabond Tours of Ireland.
(Vagabond Tours of Ireland )
Chicago Tribune

A lot of Ireland tours visit the same places: Dublin, Cork, Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry, et al. Vagabond Tours specializes in small-group explorations of the island and some more out-of-the-way sites. An example is the seven-day Magnetic North Adventure Tour, which visits Northern Ireland, the northern parts of the Republic of Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way. Travel is by 4x4 tour vehicles, so it’s possible to get into locations not accessible by your typical minibus. Hiking opportunities abound in areas such as the Mourne Mountains, the Glens of Antrim and the Causeway Coast, as well as the moorlands and mountains of counties Donegal and Mayo and Slieve League, which boasts some of Europe’s highest sea cliffs. Optional activities offered at a modest cost include horse riding on the beach, sea or river kayaking, bicycling and surfing. Another interesting aspect of this seven-day/six-night tour is that the seventh day is actually a full day, unlike most tours where the final day consists of going to the airport in the morning. The trip is priced from about $1,953 per person, double occupancy. International air is extra. Vagabond also offers Driftwood Tours, which are for travelers looking for a less-active experience. Info: 833-230-0288,

Happy travels

Many of us travel to experience new things and places, different cultures and nature’s wonders. It doesn’t hurt the travel experience if the locals are happy and friendly. A National Geographic author teamed up with the Gallup folks to design a study measuring happiness and applied it to come up with a list of the 25 happiest cities in the U.S. Boulder, Colo., came out No. 1, and the state had two other cities on the list: Fort Collins, fourth, and Colorado Springs, 18th. Rounding out the Top 10 were Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., second; Charlottesville, Va., third; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif., fifth; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., sixth; Provo-Orem, Utah, seventh; Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., eighth; Barnstable Town, Mass., ninth, and Anchorage, Alaska, 10th. See all of the 25 at

Your own Winter Games

With the 2018 Winter Olympics kicking off Feb. 9 in South Korea, the all-suite Whiteface Lodge is offering a couple of Olympics-related packages tied to the lodge’s location in Lake Placid, N.Y., site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Games. The Winter Games Experience includes Olympic Site Passports that give admission to the Olympic Center. Guests can skate on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval, visit the Olympic Museum and ride the elevator to the skydeck atop the 120-meter ski jump tower. There’s also a 20 percent discount on extreme winter activities such as bobsledding and snow tubing down a 700-foot chute. Spa treatments and other amenities round out the package, priced from $535 per night, per couple with a three-night minimum stay. See details on both packages at

Phil Marty is a freelance reporter.


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