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Sights in Chefchaouen, Morocco’s Blue City

Often regarded as one of the prettiest towns in Morocco, the blue city of Chefchaouen (sometimes shortened to “Chaouen” or “Xaouen”) doesn’t disappoint. The narrow blue passages give way to wide squares where the historic Andalusian influence on the town is easily notable in ornate archways, doorways (the most famous of which is a ruin at the entrance of town), and windows and the sprawl of red-tiled rooftops. Firmly entrenched on the backpacker circuit, presumably for the easily obtainable (and very illegal) kif and hash, Chefchaouen has long been hosting visitors. Though there are still hostels and pensiones, the recent spike in tourism has led to an increase in boutique hotels, riads, and dars.

For nature lovers, there are several day hikes and overnight hikes through the Rif Mountains and into nearby Talassemtane National Park that are easily accessible, making this a good home base for hikers, campers and backpackers. People here are usually very friendly, though conservative.

Even if it is a bit more touristed than in years past, with its pleasant medina and stunning hikes at its back door, Chefchaouen has retained its charms and continues to be a highlight for seasoned travelers and first-timers alike.

aerial view of Morocco's blue city of Chefchaouen with clouds overhead
Chefchaouen is often regarded as one of the prettiest towns in Morocco. Photo © Zzvet/iStock.

Sights in Chefchaouen

Medina

The ancient medina is nestled in a sharp valley between mountain peaks and is one of the more pleasurable medinas to visit in all of Morocco. It’s often painted by the locals in shades of blue that have been combined to make the stunning “Chefchaouen blue.”

It’s one of the cleanest medinas in the country, with comparatively little trash lying openly on the footpaths like in many other medinas. Plaques in Arabic, Spanish, and English explain the historical importance of some of the medina buildings. However, as is often the case, some things are lost in translation. For instance, at the Casa Banraisun near the kasbah, the trilingual plaque notes that the prince Moulay Ali Ben Rashid built Casa Banraisun for Al-Faqih Ali Ben Maimin, a writer under the prince’s patronage. In Arabic, it explains clearly that the prince had a secret passage built between the house and the kasbah. Mysteriously, this explanation does not exist in either the Spanish or English text that accompanies this plaque. What else has been lost in translation?

The oldest buildings in the Jewish mellah date from the 16th century, though most of the Jewish population didn’t move into the medina until the sultan’s command in the 18th century. Despite its advanced age, it is still known as Mellah el-Jedid (New Mellah), because the old mellah was outside of the medina walls and even older still, though nobody knows exactly how old. Today, there is just the one mellah in Chefchaouen.

The medina is more hassle-free than most others in Morocco. There are still a few touts and nagging store owners, but a firm “no, thank you” is generally sufficient to deter them. No doubt you will be asked many, many times to buy kif, a local specialty, often by young men passing by. Be wary. Kif is a derivative of the marijuana plant and is still very illegal in Morocco, though in Chefchaouen you will likely see people openly smoking in cafés, hostels, storefronts, and even in the streets.

a main in a cloak walks by a tree and a blue wall in Chefchaouen
Take a walk among shades of “Chefchaouen blue” in the medina. Photo © Pazhyna/iStock.

Grand Plaza

The main square, the cobblestoned Place Uta el-Hammam, is the public plaza in the middle of the medina. The plaza and the kasbah that towers over it date from the 15th century, when Moulay Rachid first constructed the kasbah as part of his war against the Portuguese.

Kasbah

The red-walled kasbah (Pl. Uta el-Hammam, Wed.-Mon. 9am-1pm and 3pm-6:30pm, Fri. 9am-12pm, closed Tues., 10Dh), built in 1471, has been renovated and houses a small Ethnography Museum. Moulay Ali Ben Rachid continued his cousin’s declared war against the Portuguese, who had seized control of Tangier, Asilah, and other port towns. Moulay Rachid was concerned with the defensive nature of his war, which was the chief reason he built his fort in Chefchaouen. The graffiti-strewn walls of the small prison still have the chains that once held the inmates. Most information is in Arabic, French, and Spanish.

Grand Mosque

Just next to the looming kasbah, the delicate Grand Mosque (Jamaa Kbeer) (Pl. Uta el-Hammam) rises, calling the faithful to prayer five times a day. Though non-Muslims are not permitted entrance, its architectural uniqueness can be observed from the outside. The mosque was built by Moulay Mohamed, the son of Moulay Rachid, in 1560, but its minaret, inspired by the Torre de Oro in Sevilla, was built much later, in the 18th century. The octagonal minaret features three tiers of blind arches that wrap around the tower, with each tier of arches being distinctive.

view of the Grand Mosque from the ground
The Grand Mosque was built by Moulay Mohamed in 1560, and the minaret was added in the 18th century. Photo © boggy22/iStock.

Fonduq Chfichu

At one time, there were four or five major fonduqs—open courtyards surrounded by stables and shops—that served as hubs for traders, artisans, and shopkeepers in the medina. Today, the only one remaining is Fonduq Chfichu (Zanka Targhi, 20ft from the main square). This 16th-century fonduq just off Place Uta el-Hammam is a reminder of this era of Andalusian-influenced architecture. Currently, wood and iron workers are making use of the fonduq, and usually a distinct odor of kif will accompany your visit.

Ras El-Ma Waterfalls

The Ras el-Ma waterfalls are just beyond Place Sebanin through Bab Ras el-Ma. There are usually ladies who will dress you like a local (jeblia for girls, jebli for boys) for 5Dh. This is a fantastic photo op and should be taken advantage of. This area makes for a nice morning or afternoon stroll with plenty to see and do. The municipality has built wood shacks where the local women often take their laundry to scrub, and just a short hike along the hillside will bring you to the recently renovated, though unused, Spanish Mosque overlooking the city.

Travel map of Chefchaouen
Map of Chefchaouen

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If you're traveling to Morocco, consider a visit to the blue city of Chefchaouen. Tucked into the folds of the Rif mountains, this beautiful town is a backpacker's paradise due to its proximity to Talassemtane National Park. Author Lucas Peters shares the best sights in the city to catch during your visit.

The Best of Los Cabos in Four Days

Ready for a getaway? Los Cabos is synonymous with relaxation and indulgence. For a perfect four-day getaway, choose a place to stay in high-energy Cabo San Lucas or sophisticated San José del Cabo, or the exclusive atmosphere of the Corridor. Once settled, beautiful beaches, luxurious spas, world-famous golf courses, and glorious scenery beckon.

el arco in los cabos mexico
Get a close up view of El Arco. Photo © DCorn/iStock.

Day 1

Fly into the Los Cabos International Airport and drop your luggage off at your hotel before heading out to explore Cabo San Lucas. Take a quick water taxi to get a close-up view of Cabo’s iconic El Arco before disembarking at Lover’s Beach. Spend the afternoon sunbathing and snorkeling. When you return to town, grab a traditional Mexican dinner downtown at Mi Casa or Pancho’s. Then enjoy some of Cabo’s infamous nightlife with a margarita or two at Cabo Wabo Cantina or The Giggling Marlin.

Day 2

Get in touch with the local food movement in Los Cabos by heading to the rural Las Animas Bajas area, just outside of San José del Cabo. If it’s Saturday, you can check out the San José Mercado Organico, an organic farmers market. Eat brunch at one of the gorgeous farm-to-table restaurants, like Flora’s Field Kitchen or Acre. On the way back to town, stop in the Historic Art District in San José del Cabo to check out the colonial architecture, bustling town plaza, and art galleries.

Bahia Santa Maria in Los Cabos
Bahía Santa Maria is your best bet for snorkeling. Photo © rand22/iStock.

Day 3

Spend a day enjoying some of the beautiful beaches in Los Cabos. Divers may want to take an organized tour to access some of the best dive spots. Snorkelers can visit Playa Chileno or Bahía Santa Maria along the corridor, where swimming is also possible. At Playa El Médano, beachgoers will find an array of activities to choose from, like kayaking or Jet Skiing. When you’ve had enough sun and sand for the day, enjoy a sunset beach dinner at a spot like The Office on Playa El Médano or Sunset MonaLisa along the corridor.

Day 4

Spend your last day truly relaxing at one of Los Cabos’ incredible spas, such as Somma Wine Spa or Spa Marquis, indulging in a facial, a massage, or an entire day of treatments. Or schedule a tee time at one of the area’s famous golf courses, such as Diamante or Cabo del Sol Golf Course, where you can enjoy beautiful ocean views on the green.


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Why You Should Visit Sheridan, WY

This is the moment to visit Sheridan, Wyoming.

It’s not just because this college town of about 18,000 souls in northern Wyoming opened the Whitney Center for the Arts in 2016. And it’s not just because of the expanded, 24,000-square foot, $15.8 million Brinton Museum just outside of town in Big Horn. It’s not even because the Big Horn Mountains provide a bit of shelter from Wyoming’s notorious winds.

The biggest reason to visit this northern Wyoming town now is the new wave of businesses that are opening alongside intact and revitalized older businesses, providing this enclave with the perfect combination of fresh energy and original character. It’s kind of like the charm of an old VW bus with the luxurious feeling of a Rolls Royce. Visiting here gives you a distinct sense of discovery, as you explore a town that is at once historic, full of character, and newly coming into its own.

Come along for the ride with these recommendations for a visit to Sheridan.

a blue car parked in front of the Trail End Historic Site
Learn more about the area’s fascinating history at Trail End Historic Site. Photo © Mindy Sink.

Sights in Sheridan

Plan some time to learn more about the area’s fascinating history and culture.

Trail End State Historic Site is the historic home of the Kendrick family, whose patriarch was a cattle rancher, Wyoming Governor, and United States Senator. There are self-guided tours available, or you can plan ahead and schedule a guided tour of the four floors of this 1913 Flemish Revival style mansion.

On the grounds of the 620-acre Quarter Circle A Ranch is the historic Brinton house, and the new Brinton Museum in the Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Building. Three floors house a collection of Western and American art, an art gallery, a gift shop, and a bistro with spectacular views of the Bighorn Mountains. The building alone is an attraction unto itself, with North America’s largest rammed earth wall as the centerpiece.

Sheridan College campus is home to the Whitney Center for the Arts, which has performance and gallery spaces where you can see regional artists display artwork or local musicians such as Jalan Crossland perform. This is also where the annual Wyoming Theater Festival takes place.

For some background reading on the history of this part of Wyoming, pick up Where the River Runs North by Sam Morton.

sign on the building of the Whitney Center for the Arts in Sheridan WY
The Whitney Center for the Arts was opened in 2016 on the Sheridan College campus. Photo © Mindy Sink.

Hungry or Thirsty?

While Sheridan isn’t quite a dining destination yet, downtown offers plenty of options for libations and a bite to eat.

The Mint Bar is classic Western nightlife. If taxidermy gives you the creeps, though, you may want to go elsewhere. Personally, between the neon cowboy outside and the glowing stuffed jackalope (a mythical Western animal) behind the bar, wild horses couldn’t drag me away. Locals love to tell stories of people riding horses through the front door here.

Black Tooth Brewery is an award-winning brewhouse and taproom where you can stop in for a few cold ones with names like Saddle Bronc Brown Ale, Wagon Box Wheat and Cowboy Joe. Thanks to their expanded facility, you can even pick up a six-pack of whatever they’re putting in cans right here.

Open Range Restaurant is found in the city’s historic Sheridan Inn. If you haven’t already heard about Buffalo Bill, you will in Sheridan. William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was—and is—world-renowned for his Wild West rodeo shows, but in these parts, is known as an early investor and one-time manager of the inn. Wyoming-size portions await, so order accordingly.

Red Velvet Bakery & Tapas makes the most delicious quiche I have ever eaten, plus hearty baked goods that you can take along for a day of hiking and exploring. The storefront on Main St. is worth hunting for when you need a caffeine fix.

storefront of Black Tooth Brewing Company in Sheridan, Wyoming
Quench your thirst at the Black Tooth Brewing Company. Photo © Mindy Sink.

Go On, Git!

Are those wide-open spaces calling your name? Whatever your interests, there are all kinds of options nearby.

Less than an hour’s drive outside of town, you can drive along the Big Horn Scenic Byway to Steamboat Point and do a hike of about 1 mile to the top of the rock formation. If you have the time, keep on going to Sibley Lake: a pristine blue jewel where you can hike, boat, fish and camp. If you have even more time, keep on driving to Medicine Wheel in the Bighorn Range, built by Native Americans hundreds of years ago.

If you’re here in the winter, there’s even skiing—both downhill and cross-country—relatively nearby.

rock formation of Steamboat Point surrounded by grass
Take a hike up to Steamboat Point. Photo © westernphotographs/iStock.

Where to Shop

Don’t forget souvenirs for the folks back home!

For that authentic Western gift, go to King’s Saddlery and King Ropes on Main St., where they forge the ropes used in rodeos around the country. For those of us still learning the, er, ropes of lassoing, maybe just pick up one of their baseball caps. Be sure to check out the on-site Don King Museum too.

Surf Wyoming is a fun local brand that celebrates the best of Wyoming’s great outdoors. Grab a t-shirt at their shop on Main (practically across the street from King’s).

The gift shop at the Brinton Museum has a wide selection, from kid-friendly trinkets to cute holiday presents with a Western flair. Go beyond the gift shop, too: the gallery has amazing work for sale by local and regional artists.

saddles lined up in a store
Stop in at King’s Saddlery for a souvenir. Photo © Mindy Sink.

Where to Rest Your Head

The Sheridan Inn is in a prime location downtown, walking distance from many places to shop, eat and drink. Despite its rich history and Buffalo Bill ties, the inn only reopened to guests after a renovation in 2015, after years of neglect.

If you’re traveling with a large group, get out of town and closer to nature at Canyon Ranch in Big Horn. This fourth generation cattle and guest ranch (home to the Wallop family, one of whom was a Wyoming senator) has three houses to choose from, and a welcome staff that can connect you to activities like horseback riding and fly fishing in the area. Most of all, it’s a beautiful place to enjoy the view, take a walk, and just embrace the peace and quiet.

The wonderfully surprising things about Sheridan are the many ways there are to enjoy it—for families, couples, adventurer seekers, history lovers, art patrons, and more—and how easy it is to get here with flight service through Denver (which is only a six-hour drive away) on Fly Sheridan.

Go to Sheridan Travel and Tourism to find out about upcoming events, such as Third Thursdays in summer, Wyoming Theatre Festival, the rodeo, and more.

side view of the Sheridan Inn in Wyoming
If you want lodging in the downtown area of Sheridan, book a stay at the Sheridan Inn. Photo © Shawn Parker, courtesy of Sheridan Inn.

cover Moon Denver Boulder Colorado Springs 1e Mindy Sink has roots on Colorado’s Front Range. As a journalist, Mindy has been writing about the greater Rocky Mountain region for years, including more than 10 years for the New York Times, as well as for Sunset Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, and other well-known publications. Find more of Mindy’s Rocky Mountain travel recommendations in her book Moon Denver, Boulder & Colorado Springs.


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Plan your visit to Sheridan, a small up-and-coming college town situated in the Big Horn Mountains of northern Wyoming. Travel author Mindy Sink guides you through the best activities, restaurants, and lodging in the area.

Restaurants and Cafés in San José del Cabo’s Centro Histórico

Set in a courtyard, chairs and tables are painted in different vibrant colors.
Popular Mi Casa Restaurant has one location in Cabo San Lucas and one in San Jose del Cabo. Photo courtesty of Mi Casa Restaurant.

For many travelers, San José del Cabo has become a culinary destination, and Centro Histórico hosts some of the best restaurants you’ll find. If you choose to venture into the touristy areas on Boulevard Mijares, near the plaza, or near the zona hotelera, you’ll encounter much higher prices, and not as authentic an experience.

Mexican

The charming and intimate El Matador (Paseo los Marinos, tel. 624/142-2741, 5pm-10pm daily, US$20-33) is a family-owned operation with owner Pablo often present. Pablo began bullfighting at the age of 14 and did this professionally until moving to Los Cabos in 1988. There’s plenty of bullfighting memorabilia in the restaurant, and the waitstaff dress as matadors. The service is impeccable, going above and beyond to attend to the needs of customers. The quality of the meats—veal, rack of lamb, filet—is unparalleled. There’s an appealing outdoor patio and often live entertainment.

For tacos and mescal, local hipsters and chic travelers flock to La Lupita (Calle José Maria Morelos, tel. 624/688-3926, 2pm-midnight Tues., 2pm-2am Wed.-Sat., noon-midnight Sun., tacos US$2-4). The exposed brick, whitewashed walls, wood pallet furniture, and minimal decor create a Zen-like atmosphere. The wide variety of tacos includes rib eye, lamb, octopus, and nopal. There’s an extensive mescal menu as well as a decent selection of craft beers. Everything is reasonably priced for being in a tourist area, plus there’s a lovely outdoor patio and bar.

Situated on the popular Boulevard Mijares, Don Sanchez Restaurante (Blvd. Mijares, tel. 624/142-2444, 5-10:30pm daily, US$15-37) serves contemporary Mexican cuisine. This is fine dining complete with artful plating and higher pricing. The service is attentive, and the wine list is extensive. There are a variety of vegetarian options (like chile portobello) in addition to seafood dishes (lobster in white mole) and meats (lamb shank mixiote).

Also on Mijares and operated by the same owner as Don Sanchez is Habanero’s Gastro Grill and Tequila Bar (Blvd. Mijares, tel. 624/142-2626, 8am-10:30pm daily, US$13-25). Breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be enjoyed on the outdoor sidewalk seating or in the dining room. There’s an impressive selection of tequila at the bar and an extensive menu featuring steaks, seafood, pastas, and traditional Mexican dishes.

Traditional Mexican restaurant Jazmin’s (Jose Maria Morelos 133, tel. 624/142-1760, 8am-midnight daily, US$11-24) is in the art district downtown, a few blocks away from the plaza. This large restaurant is formed from a collection of different rooms and outdoor spaces with colorful walls, Mexican decor, and strung lights outdoor. It serves typical Mexican dishes.

Housed under a giant palapa, El Herradero Mexican Grill and Bar (Miguel Hidalgo, tel. 624/142-6350, 7:30am-10pm daily, US$11-16) serves traditional Mexican dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The casual and comfortable setting complements the flavorful food, live music, and friendly service.

Las Guacamayas (Paseo de los Marinos, tel. 624/109-5473, 11:30am-10:30pm daily, US$3-8) has authentic and affordable Mexican food. The large venue has a fun and lively atmosphere the whole family will enjoy. Another location is in Cabo San Lucas.

Seafood

An easy walk from downtown San José, Mariscos El Toro Guero (Calle Ildefonso Green, tel. 624/130-7818, noon-6pm daily, US$8-10) is where locals and tourists alike go for fresh seafood, large portions, and affordable prices. Enjoy fresh ceviche and seafood cocktails as well as items like bacon-wrapped shrimp stuffed with cheese.

Another authentic locals’ seafood restaurant is Mariscos La Pesca (Blvd. Mijares at Benito Juárez, tel. 624/130-7438, 11am-10pm daily, US$8-11) with a large outdoor patio and good food and service. Don’t miss the tuna tartare.

International

La Vaca Tinta (Manuel Doblado, tel. 624/142-1241, 5-11pm Tues.-Sat., 2-9pm Sun., US$8-15) has a great selection of Mexican wines on the menu. It grills steaks to perfection and also serves salads, soups, empanadas, and cheese appetizers.

For a meal set in a lovely garden courtyard, head to Dvur at Casa Don Rodrigo (Blvd. Mijares 29, tel. 624/142-0418, 11am-11pm Mon.-Sat., US$11-17). It serves seafood, meats, salads, and cheeses that comes from the family’s local ranch. The dvur (meaning courtyard in Czech) is located in an old house that provides a beautiful and romantic setting.

Serving Argentinian barbecue, Barrio de Tango (Morelos, tel. 624/125-3023, 6pm-11pm Tues.-Sun., US$12-15) is a great place to go for steak. Dining is casual and outdoors here, and the place gets busy, so it’s best to make a reservation.

If you want farm-to-table dining without wandering out of town, the sister restaurant to Huerta los Tamarindos, Tequila Restaurant (Manuel Doblado 1011, tel. 624/142-1155, 6-11pm daily, US$11-14) uses the same fresh ingredients in dishes served right in downtown San José. There’s a lush garden dining patio, a walk-in humidor, and a nice wine list. Tequila shrimp, rack of lamb, lobster bomb (a giant lobster wonton), and beef tenderloin in guajillo sauce are some of the restaurant’s specialties.

Street Food

For a more local’s experience, head to Las Cazuelas del Don (Malvarrose at Guijarro, tel. 624/130-7286, 1pm-10pm Mon.-Sat., US$4-6) where diners enjoy grilled steak, fresh fish, and local vegetables cooked in a traditional cazuela cooking pot. This family-run restaurant serves delicious and authentic food at affordable prices.

Cafés

Located in the art district, Lolita Café (Manuel Doblado, tel. 624/130-7786, 9am-9pm Wed.-Sun., US$9-12) has plenty of options for healthy eats, like a signature egg sandwich with marinated vegetable slices, sun-dried tomato, almond pesto, and chickpea dressing. This is artisan food with a Mexican touch served in a hip and unpretentious setting (don’t miss the garden patio in the back). Lolita Café serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and coffee.

For a good cup of java, Coffee Lab (Benito Juárez 1717, tel. 624/105-2835, 7am-7pm Mon.-Sat., US$3-6) is a sleek and stylish coffee shop located in downtown. In addition to great coffee, it serves breakfast, sandwiches, and paninis.


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Restaurants in Puerto Los Cabos

A styling restaurant with a mix of intimate tables and communal style long benches.
Hotel restaurants in Puerto Los Cabos, like Hotel El Ganzo’s dining room, receive favorable reviews. Photo courtesy of Hotel El Ganzo.

The new and impressive Puerto Los Cabos Marina in San José del Cabo is the home-away-from-home to many of the yachts and boats that come to the Los Cabos region. The 200 slips can hold boats up to 122 meters in length.

As Mexico’s largest private marina, Puerto Los Cabos is a destination that’s home to so much more than just boats. The marina attracts tourists with a plethora of activities such as Hydro fly boarding, a dolphin experience, an activity center, and a number of restaurants, including The Container Restaurant & Bar. Hotels like the Ritz-Carlton and El Ganzo operate here in Puerto Los Cabos, in addition to Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman-designed golf courses.

Mexican

Located at La Marina Inn, George’s Restaurant (Calle los Pescadores, tel. 624/142-4166, 8am-10pm daily, US$8-14) is cozy and serves seafood and traditional Mexican dishes. Garlic shrimp, lobster, and oysters Rockefeller are some menu favorites. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner at affordable prices. Don’t miss the large and delicious margaritas.

International

Fashioned out of a shipping container, The Container Restaurant & Bar (Puerto Los Cabos Marina, tel. 624/105-6628, 8am-10:30pm daily, US$12-20) features prime marina views. The open-air restaurant has a fun atmosphere and offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as a full bar. Salads, seafood, and Mexican food are all on the menu.

In a funky two-story palapa overlooking the marina in La Playita, El Marinero Borracho/The Drunken Sailor (Calle Cabrilla, tel. 624/105-6464, noon-10pm Tues.-Sun., US$8-10) features Mexican-style seafood with an international twist. Try the Vietnamese-style seafood taco and a michelada while enjoying sunset over the marina.


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7 Magical YA Romances You Can’t Miss

Falling in love and magic often feel like one and the same, but when both elements are present in a story, it’s impossible to resist the spell. From elaborate fantasy worlds to familiar places with secret charms, prepare to be swept away by these ten magical YA romances!

 

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

In Born Wicked, Jessica Spotswood transports readers to an alternate 19th century, where three witchy sisters must hide their magic from a fanatical Brotherhood that has outlawed witchcraft. Cate is determined to protect her younger sisters and maintain their façade of normalcy, but when the kind and charming Finn Belastra comes along, he becomes a snag in her best-laid plans. Not only could Finn betray them if he knew their secret, but his life could be in danger as Cate and her sisters grapple with a magical destiny beyond their control.

 

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

In When the Moon Was Ours, Anna-Marie McLemore creates magic in the mundane—a world where pumpkin fields are menacing, water towers hold secrets, and roses bloom in the most unlikely places. The novel follows best friends Miel, who is searching for answers about her past, and Sam, who wants to leave the past behind to forge his own daring future. In each other the teens find love, but they must fight for it—and their true selves—against all odds.

 

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

In Wintersong, S. Jae-Jones plunges readers into the underworld. When Liesl agrees to marry the Goblin King in exchange for his sparing of her sister’s life, she finds herself ensnared in a dark world ruled by ancient laws and customs. To her surprise, she’s actually drawn to the mysterious Goblin King, who at times seems to be just as much a prisoner as she is. Liesl must rely on her own strength if she’s ever to escape the Goblin King’s domain, but leaving behind the husband she’s beginning to love may prove to be her most difficult challenge yet.

 

Jessica Woodbury began her addiction to books at age 8 and plans to keep going after death if possible. She is a reader, writer, blogger, and book reviewer. She is also a single parent with two kids in constant search of books to keep them excited about reading.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Morocco

Morocco is home to nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which make for a spectacular tour for archaeologists and Indiana Jones wannabes. Explore the maze of Fez’s medina and discover the Roman ruins of Volubilis before heading north to the medina of Tetouan. Then it’s back south, down the coast, to the Portuguese Cistern of El Jedida and medina of Essaouira before tucking inland to the Red City of Marrakech and over the High Atlas to the living Ait Ben Haddou kasbah on the edge of the Sahara.

skyline view of Ait Ben Haddou ksar
If you can see only one ksar in Morocco, Ait Ben Haddou is the one. Photo © Amina Lahbabi.

This tour is best divided in two parts: north and south, with the order being interchangeable.

Northern Leg

Day 1

After landing in Casablanca, catch the next train for Fez. Spend 3-4 nights in the middle of the medieval city of Fez, where donkeys and horses trod alongside pedestrians.

a man works in a tannery in Morocco
Visit the Chouwara tanneries in Fez to witness a process that hasn’t changed much since the 16th century. Photo © Amina Lahbabi.

Day 2

Spend the day exploring the nooks and crannies of Fez’s medina, paying special attention to sites such as the beautifully restored 14th-century Medersa Bouanania as well as the smelly but rewarding Chouwara tanneries, where leather is being cured as it has for centuries, with pigeon excrement and cow urine.

Day 3

Take a grand taxi to the Roman ruins of Volubilis and spend the morning walking through Roman forums and examining the water irrigation system, the different stone and marble used for construction, and some of the mosaics still lying about. Couple this with an afternoon in the historic city of Meknes looking at the unrestored yet exquisite Medersa Bouanania there, as well as the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail and the granaries (Heri es Souani), for an idea of the technological advancement of Moulay Ismail’s empire.

Day 4

Catch the 8am bus for the mountain town of Chefchaouen, tucked into the folds of the Rif, and cool off while you have lunch and explore one of Morocco’s more pleasant medinas. Before sunset, catch a cab onto Tetouan and spend two nights in one of the medina lodgings here, such as Dar Rehla.

skyline of Tetouan
The medina of Tetouan. Photo © Lucas Peters.

Day 5

Spend the day in Tetouan exploring the most lived-in medina in Morocco, and make sure to spend an hour or two at the Archaeology Museum of Tetouan. The collection of Roman-era mosaics is unmatched. If you have time, consider taking a walk out to Tamuda—the site is little more than rubble, but it is all that remains of one of the oldest cities in Morocco.

front entrance stairs leading up to the Oudaias Kasbah
Outside the Oudaïas Kasbah in Rabat. Photo © Lucas Peters.

Day 6

In the morning, catch a taxi for Lixus and spend the first half of the day exploring this little-visited Roman ruin just off National Road 1 north of Larache. Have a picnic in the amphitheater overlooking the Loukkos River while contemplating life in this city 3,000 years ago. In the afternoon, make your way by bus to Rabat and check in for two nights. If you want to continue the medina-living experience, check into Le Repose in Salé, just across the river from Rabat.

Day 7

Spend the day exploring the Oudaïas Kasbah in Rabat and duck into the souvenir shops along the Rue des Conseils before making your way to the Chellah Necropolis, where you will see the Roman-era city alongside the more recent ruins of the Almohad and Merenid dynasties of the 12th and 14th centuries. If you have time, consider adding a day to explore the other Roman ruins in this region, Banasa and Thamusida.

Southern Leg

Day 8

Portguese architecture reflected in the water of a cistern in Morocco
Inside the Portuguese cistern in El Jedida. Photo © javarman3/iStock.

From Rabat, take the train to El Jedida, south of Casablanca, to begin the second half of the tour that will take you south. In El Jedida, check into the Dar Al Manar, just north of the city, for eco-friendly lodgings with Fatima for a night, or save a few bucks at the Dar el Breija. Spend the afternoon touring the Portuguese Cistern and ramparts of the city before calling it a day.

Day 9

Take a bus along the coastal road on a beautiful ride south to Essaouira. This region is home to the argan tree, the oil of which is a specialty of Morocco. Here, you can take a walk on the ramparts at sunset and eat off some of the most diverse menus in all of Morocco. Plan on spending two nights in one of the friendly restored riads or hostels.

birds flying over the buildings and boats at the port in Essaouira
The bustling port of Eassaouira. Photo © Amina Lababi.

Day 10

Spend the early morning hours exploring Essaouira’s medina while keeping an eye out for the Jewish Star of David. You’ll see plenty of these above the doors in the mellah. Spend the afternoon shopping in the friendly souks, book a cooking class to make your own Morocco tajines, or bum around for a day on the long strip of beach just south of the medina.

Day 11

Catch the morning bus for Marrakech and keep an eye out for goats munching on the argan nuts in the trees. Plan for two nights in Marrakech, ideally in the medina to experience that last World Heritage medina on your tour. Be sure to reserve dinner in your riad ahead of time. If you’re feeling up to it, make your way to the Jemaa el-Fnaa, the carnivalesque main square, for a night you won’t forget.

tile detail in a doorway of Bahia Palace
Don’t strain your neck looking up at the ornate ceilings at the Bahia Palace! Photo © Lucas Peters.

Day 12

Spend the morning touring the medina sites, including the Bahia Palace, Saadian Tombs, and Marrakech Museum before plunging into the famed Marrakech souks, where sights, sounds, and smells will be sure to dazzle you. Haggle with a shop owner or two to complete the experience.

Day 13

Wake up bright and early to take a bus over the Tizi n’Tichka pass to Ouarzazate, where you will spend the afternoon at the wonderful Ait Ben Haddou kasbah, a real living kasbah with a few families still dwelling in mudbrick. This is one of the most striking examples of the architecture of southern Morocco. From here, if you have time, head out to explore the desert at Erg Chigaga or Erg Chebbi.


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