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Some of the best places Down Under aren’t anywhere near the major tourist hubs.

Australia is home to some of the best beaches and most iconic landmarks in the world, making it a travel haven for tourists. However, locals will tell you that some of the best places Down Under aren’t anywhere near the major tourist hubs. Not to worry, HomeExchange has properties all over the country that have something unique to offer. Here are 5 lesser-known destination spots that will be perfect for your weekend getaway.

Phillip Island, Victoria

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Photo Credit: Steve Lacy

Just a short drive from Melbourne City lays Phillip Island — a conservation and ecotourism paradise that caters to the nature and animal lover. Receive hands-on experience at the Maru Koala and Animal Park by taking a walk with dingos, or feed the always hungry, but friendly kangaroos.

For a more H2O-based experience, the penguin parade is where you want to be. At this popular attraction, you can enjoy being able to see the world’s smallest penguins waddle out of the water at sunset and into their homes on the beach from viewing stands and boardwalks.

If you need a break from the wildlife, a rather sweet option is to head to the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory, where you can take a self-guided tour of Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate and learn all there is to know about the cocoa bean through interactive experiences. Your tastebuds will love the chocolate shop that is piled high with sweet treats. Afterward, make your way to Cowes to explore the main street that is packed with interesting shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.


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New places can tug at our hearts in different ways, renewing our senses. Sometimes all you need is a weekend.

There are places, some off the beaten path, some not, which can stir a desire in you to live like a local. You imagine new sights and sounds and discoveries around every corner. Sometimes just a few days will be enough to make you marvel that you stepped away from your everyday life for only a short time but found yourself thoroughly refreshed.

New places can tug at our hearts in different ways, renewing our senses and expanding our experience.

Sometimes all you need is a weekend.

Québec City

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Photo Credit: Steve Leclerc

La Cité Limoilou, the historic district of old Québec City, is steeped in old world charm. Its cobblestone streets lined with boutiques, art galleries and cafes will make you wonder if you are in Europe.

Immerse yourself in cafe life. Gorgeous 400 year old architectural gems and amazing restaurants are calling you. Québec City has epicurean delights to offer. More than one review on TripAdvisor revealed visitors who said they had the best meal of their lives while visiting Québec City.

A local spot a foodies might not want to miss is J. A. Moisan, the oldest grocery store in North America running since 1871. This is the stop for a variety of regional foods, cheese, pate, bread, candy, and wine.

To get a stunning view of the city and the river, go up to Cape Diamond. And don’t forget to visit the wonderful open-air art gallery that is the Rue du Trésor.

Québec City is known for both its Summer Festival, an 11 day music festival in early July which draws about 1.5 million festival goers and its Winter Carnival, the largest winter carnival in the world held in late January and February.


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Spring is the ideal time for a weekend getaway. We asked the HomeExchange.com fans on Facebook to share their recommendations for a weekend getaway near them. Here are the 10 spectacular destinations they came up with.

Loire Valley, France

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Photo Credit: Matthew Badger CC via flickr

The Loire Valley — 2 hours south of Paris, in the center of the country — is known for its stunning royal castles, Renaissance palaces, medieval fortresses and impressive cathedrals. This area has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its unique cultural qualities. The cities of Blois and Tours are the best jumping off cities for a visit to any of the 21 castles of the Loire Valley. The most spectacular castles are Chambord, Chenonceau, Cheverny and Valençay (the latter inspired the creator of Tintin to design the castle of Captain Haddock). If you prefer exploring the valley by bike, there are numerous cycling routes along the river. Find an exchange in the Loire region.

Dominique C. recommended this destination.

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One of the very best ways to really get to know a place is by exploring it on your own two feet.

Here are ten amazing destinations that are rich with day-hiking adventures for hikers of all abilities.

HomeExchange.com helps you cut your travel costs, and day hikes like these will let you explore those destinations in a way that many people never experience.
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Hidden treasures. The path less taken.

These lesser-known cities of Europe will delight and inspire any traveler at any time of year. If you like to explore the world and discover the gems that lie just outside the worn path of typical tourists, visit these 5 great cities ranging from Iceland in the north to the southern shores of Spain.
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Hidden treasures. Diamonds in the rough. The path less taken.

These lesser known cities of North America will delight and inspire any traveler, any time of year. If you like to explore the world and discover the gems that lie just outside the worn path of typical tourists, visit these 5 great cities spread around the North American continent, from the Great Lakes in the north to the middle lands of Mexico in the south.

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Ask anyone who’s been there, and they will confirm—New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and it should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.

New Zealand is a young country, only 200 years old. It compensates through its cultural diversity and friendly communities of the Maori settlers and immigrants from every corner of the world. Also, New Zealand showcases a variety of spectacular sights such as mountain ranges, glaciers, picturesque fjords, crystal clear lakes, subtropical forests, volcanic plateaus and miles of coastline with beautiful sandy beaches.

Still, for many travelers, New Zealand can be an expensive place to visit. It can be quite pricey to get there (and quite exhausting). It can be hard to find a room for under $100 a night, and it’s not cheap to get around. If you eat and drink out in restaurants, you will break your travel budget in no time. But the places to see and the people are worth it. Read More

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The polite “no thanks, not now” goes a long way. Replying quickly to your home exchange inquiries is more than just a common courtesy, it’s a doorway to more opportunities.

In a world of bulk email and spam, we forget that each inquiry from the home exchange network is a fellow home exchanger excited to explore the world.

Your prompt reply to an inquiry lets fellow Members know you heard them, and establishes a meaningful connection that could some day develop into a journey or a new friendship. A quick reply is an acknowledgement that you value the non-traditional travel and personal connections that come with home exchanging.

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