Tag - North America

How Walkable Is Honolulu?

Honolulu

Honolulu

by Nik Donovic,

The state of Hawaii regularly ranks as one of the top ten tourist destinations in the United States. The island of Oahu, and more specifically, its capital city of Honolulu, is the go-to destination for millions of travelers who help bring $10 billion to the local economy every year.

With numbers like that, it’s easy to see how a mix of drivers who are unfamiliar with the area, especially in downtown Honolulu, could easily lead to a car or pedestrian accident, not to mention a trip to a personal injury attorney in Honolulu! Fortunately, though, Honolulu is considered to be a very ‘walkable’ city, so you can avoid all of the traffic congestion and pedestrian perils that you typically expect to encounter in a big city. Here are some sites to see in downtown Honolulu that are close enough to walk to, and are also considered to be must-sees for any vacationer.

Aloha Tower and Marketplace

Admission is free to this downtown Honolulu landmark. The Aloha Tower lighthouse was built in 1926 and remains one of downtown Honolulu’s most recognizable structures. The observation deck is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until sunset, and the surrounding marketplace features live music, shopping and restaurants galore.

Chinatown

Walk west and you’ll run into Chinatown. With its herbal shops, lei stands, and ethnic eateries, Honolulu’s Chinatown is a great way to spend a carefree (and car free) afternoon. Home to antique shops, art galleries, and theatres, Chinatown is one of the cultural highlights of downtown Honolulu. In fact, they’ve even coined a name for it – Art Walk in Chinatown. It’s also Honolulu’s hotspot for nightlife.

Lolani Palace and Barracks

Another site worth walking to in downtown Honolulu is the Lolani Palace, which is the United States’ only royal palace. Once home to two monarchs, Lolani Palace had telephones and electricity before the White House did! On the same property as the palace sits the barracks, which housed the royal guards. Built to look like a medieval castle, the Iolani Barracks is now the location of the palace gift shop, theatre, and ticket office. Iolani Palace itself is now a public museum that offers guided and self-guided tours Monday through Saturday.

Mission Houses Museum

For another peek into Hawaii’s history, walk over to the Mission Houses Museum where you’ll discover Hawaii’s oldest Western-style buildings. Built between 1821 and 1841 for Hawaii’s first Christian missionaries, the Mission Houses Museum displays much of the original clothing, books, furniture, and other items that belonged to the missionary families. The Printing Office houses the first printing press brought into the Pacific, which is highly significant to the history of Hawaii because the printing press allowed literacy to flourish in the island chain.

Kawaiaha’o Church and Mission Cemetery

One of Hawaii’s most historic churches, the Kawaiaha’o Church was designed by Hawaii’s first Christian missionary, Hiram Bingham, and was completed in 1842. The external design is grand, but if you’re lucky enough to get a look inside, you’ll see its true magnificence. The boxes where the royal family sat are still in the back of the church.

Downtown Honolulu offers so much to do and see in such a short distance that a car isn’t really necessary. Mind the street lights, stay in the crosswalk and enjoy your vacation. When you’re done, head down to the water. Yes, that’s within walking distance, too.

Niagara Falls, NY

A popular spot for getting wowed or soaked amid natural splendor, Niagara Falls attracts curious spectators from around the world. The splendid main attraction – more than six million feet of water cascading over a rocky crest – sits partially in the United States and partially in Canada.

The falls are spectacular, everyone should try to see  at least once. This is my first time here and its the end of fall. Its not very warm this time of the year. Definitely not as crowded. Some of the activities are not open.

Bridge connecting Canada

Bridge connecting Canada

Water going towards the Falls

Water going towards the Falls

queen of the steam

Maid of the Mist

The ride on the maid of the mist boat was an adventure experience. While there are upper and lower decks I would recommend  travelers to stay in the lower deck unless they love to get soak. I mean really soak 🙂

Niagara Falls, Canadian side

Niagara Falls, Canadian side

In my opinion the best view was from the Canada side. We spent time on both sides and even rode the boats to the falls and back.

Niagara Falls, Canadian side II

Niagara Falls, Canadian side II

More Niagara Falls, Canadian side

More Niagara Falls, Canadian side

Beautiful view of the Falls

Beautiful view of the Falls

American side of the Falls

American side of the Falls

American side of the Falls

American side of the Falls

Deep into the Falls

Deep into the Falls

 

 

On the Maid of the Mist

On the Maid of the Mist

US road trips for all the family

2Maui-Hawaii

2Maui-Hawaii

There are some places everyone should try and visit at some point in their lives. The USA is usually high of people’s lists of dream holiday vacations, and one of the cheapest and easiest ways to see the country is on one of the famous road trips.

The highways in Northern America are second to none, designed for easy driving and surrounded by gorgeous natural scenery. While the main highlights are located within the cities, some of the smaller towns that can be discovered on a road trip will provide the cherry on the cake for the vacation.

Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii is considered by many to be a paradise on earth, a truly laid back destination where people can truly discover themselves once more. However, not many people think of Hawaii as the best place for a road trip, though the Hana Highway is amongst America’s most iconic.

Only 68 miles, it’s ideal for those seeking adventure and something off the beaten tourist path. A thrilling ride, a waterfall pool is one of the stops along the way while the town of Hana gives visitors the chance to experience ‘old’ Hawaii.

Los Angeles to San Francisco

A longer trip at 400 miles, the scenery on the road here is second to none. Snaking along the coastline, the Pacific Coast Highway gives sun, sea and sand lovers the chance to experience the best beaches North America has to offer.

Malibu is the number one stop for celebrity spotting and surfing, while Santa Barbara is ideal for whale watching and wine tasting. San Francisco is a world away from Los Angeles, showing that a coastal city does not need to be beach-focussed, with art and food high on the list of activities in this iconic city. Like neighbouring Los Angeles, San Francisco suffers from extremely heavy rush hour traffic.

“San Francisco has a pretty comprehensive public transport network. When driving, trams, trolleybuses and buses get right of way, so make sure to stop for them. However, driving at any time except early mornings and evenings should be fine. Main tourist office is at 900 Market Street” according to Mike Callaghan Head of Argus Car Hire.

Planning the trip

Both of these trips are ideal for those travelling with children, despite the stigma attached with taking a road trip with a child. As long as the proper planning is taken, these trips will be amongst the best you’ll ever take with your family!

The longer highway trips offer a chance to explore the unknown and thrill children; there are also loads of photo opportunities giving them a chance to create unforgettable memories. Planning ahead with food will also save money, giving you a chance to indulge with the family every evening.

While the adults may be entertained by the scenery all day, children may become bored at some points. Rather than spending lots of money on expensive gadgets, simple paper games such as hangman and Tic-Tac-Toe can get the whole family involved and this booklet of games and puzzles might be useful especially for younger kids enjoying puzzles! You could have hours of fun trying to spot something you’ve never seen before!

Archers National Park, Moab UT

There pictures were taken during summer vacation in Moab, Located in the eastern Utah. The area attracts a lot of tourists every year. A must see is Archers national park.  The landscape is unbelievable. The rock formations are stunning. The area is famous for its outdoor activities such as Skydiving, Jeep Safari, Boat racing, hiking, biking, para gliding and more.

Rock formations in Archers Nat Park

Rock formations in Archers Nat Park

 

Beauty of the park

Beauty of the park

 

On top of the world, Jeep Safari

On top of the world, Jeep Safari

 

Famous Arche

Famous Arch

Sunset @ Archers Nat Park

Sunset @ Archers Nat Park

 

Rock looks like a fish to me!

Rock looks like a fish to me!

 

Rainbow over the hills

Rainbow over the hills

 

Arch and its surroundings

Arch and its surroundings

 

Stunning views of the park

Stunning views of the park

 

Beautiful view

Beautiful view

 

Rock formations

Rock formations

 

Tree at the park

Tree at the park

Exploring Alamosa

Sand Dunes National Park, Alamosa, CO

Sand Dunes National Park, Alamosa, CO

by Jamie Greeman,

The San Luis Valley is located in South Central Colorado on the border of New Mexico. It is one of the most scenic places in Colorado with the towering peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east and the San Juan Mountains to the west. There are eight fourteen thousand foot peaks close to Alamosa, just begging for a visit from  the avid hiker or just the causal day walker.

Alamosa is most famous for being home of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, a miracle of nature that is sure to take your breathe away. The dunes are the largest in North America, so big that they would completely cover Denver! People come from all over the world to camp, hike and play on the great dunes, a promising play ground for all abilities and ages. Alamosa is home to two historic passenger trains, the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. There is a connection between the trains that creates the only place in North America where standard gauge passenger rail meets narrow gauge passenger rail. Both excursions offer incredible scenery, historic steam engines and comfortable passenger cars. The Nature Conservancy partners with the National Park Service to protect the entire dunes system and its biodiversity. The Conservancy manages over 1,000 bison on Conservancy-owned grasslands and wetlands within the national park.

Bison Tours are offered throughout the year, weather permitting, on Nature Conservancy lands. Led as a hayride, horseback ride, or 4WD vehicle tour, bison managers take you to parts of the park that few visitors get to see. www.zranch.org  Alamosa is in the heart of nature, with the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, Blanca Wetlands and the San Luis Lakes State Park all excellent for wildlife viewing, especially birding. Alamosa is rich in cultural heritage. The area was first settled by the Spanish, then built on the backbone of the railroad. The culture has changed very little to this day, with the heritage alive in the arts, foods and events in the area. An excellent tour of this heritage is along the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway. Cattails Golf Course has a great clubhouse, it houses an expanded pro shop, new restaurant/bar and a nice deck with fantastic views of the mountains. The golf course is a unique par 71 that winds through tall old cottonwood trees and cattail wetlands along the banks of the mighty Rio Grande River.  Alamosa is centrally located to several hot springs, including the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool with 150,000 gallons of natural hot springs. The facility also features a 24 person therapy pool, a fun kid’s water slide, and a snack bar listed in Colorado’s Best: The Essential Guide to Favorite Places by Bruce Caughey and Doug Whitehead. On-site greenhouses grow organic tomatoes and cucumbers you won’t want to miss.

More…About Great Sand Dunes National Park

Because the dunes and surrounding mountains are designated wilderness, this is a great place to enjoy unspoiled natural beauty in a variety of ways. You can play in Medano Creek, build a sand castle, slide down the dunes, go birdwatching in wetlands, or ascend a 14,000′ peak. Medano Creek, at the base of the dunes is world famous for its beach like fun at the base of 14,000 foot peaks. Visitors may do any non-motorized and non-mechanized activities in the creek, including splashing, surfing, wading, skimboarding, tubing, sand castle building, and sand sculpting.  The creek is one of the few and best places in the world to experience “surge flow”, where creek water comes in rhythmic waves. The water’s source is the deep snows that collect through the winter. Explore any part of the 30 square mile dunefield you wish; there are no designated trails in the sand. A dunes–accessible wheelchair is available for free loan at the Visitor Center. In summer months, plan to hike the dunes in morning or evening to avoid hot sand. There are forested hiking trails around the Dunes, these are gentler trails that offer outstanding views of the Dunes and towering mountain peaks. Alpine trails also originate from the Dunes, they access lush meadows and forests, alpine lakes and spectacular peak ascents.

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad is powered by steam locomotives, including the newest addition, the LS&I-18, built by the American Locomotive Company at its Pittsburgh works in 1910.  This locomotive previously operated on the Grand Canyon Railroad and the Mount Hood Railroad.  The LS&I joins the SP-1744, a fully restored 2-6-0 Mogul that began service in 1901 for the Southern Pacific Railroad.The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad has added five newly-remodeled 1950s-era dome cars to its fleet in 2011, offering passengers comfortable seating and panoramic views of area wildlife, sweeping mountain meadows, cliffs and canyons not accessible from the highway.  In addition, the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad includes a 1930s-era open-air observation car and 1950s-era Pullman Passenger coaches, fully restored for daily service with new windows, heating, air conditioning and other amenities. The popular High Altitude Summer Concert Series is an annual favorite with performances by Michael Martin Murphey (“America’s singing cowboy poet” and a New Mexico favorite) and other national recording acts. Alamosa is the commercial hub of the vast San Luis Valley, with 10 hotels and motels, 35 restaurants, great shopping and an eighteen hole golf course. Great lodging and dining are available at very affordable rates. Article provided by Jamie Greeman, Visitor Bureau Alamosa

Seattle on a Budget

 Museums & Attractions in Seattle Cr-cityyear.org

Museums & Attractions in Seattle Cr-cityyear.org

Seattle offers an impressive array of free or affordable attractions. Additionally, savvy travelers take advantage of some major seasonal and year-around sightseeing, dining and accommodations packages.

Seattle Super Saver

The nonprofit Seattle Super Saver, now in its 19th year, is one of the nation’s longest-running consumer housing programs operated by a convention and visitors bureau. More than 100 hotel properties are featured in the program and Seattle Super Saver offers travelers an expanded range of Seattle travel booking opportunities ranging from airfare to car rental, tour and attractions tickets and many other travel commodities. Bookings can be made ala carte or can be combined with other elements to make complete travel itineraries.

The Seattle Super Saver program also offers booking of special packages associated with Seattle events and culture. The Seattle Super Saver web site, www.seattlesupersaver.com, features packages that offer tickets to the most popular civic festivals, special events and major cultural exhibitions. To make reservations, call (866) 285-2535.

Seattle CityPass

Visitors wanting the “full Seattle experience” often choose to purchase a Seattle CityPass to get the most for their money. Included in the CityPass are admission tickets to many of Seattle’s most popular attractions including the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Seattle Aquarium, Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour and an option ticket to Museum of Flight or Woodland Park Zoo. The cost is $59 for adults and $39 for children. If purchased separately, admission to these attractions would total $120.20, resulting in a savings of 51 percent. The Seattle CityPass can be purchased at any of the attractions mentioned above.

Go Seattle Card

The all-inclusive Go Seattle Card grants visitors admission to more than 30 of the area’s top attractions and tours. Offered by Smart Destinations, the credit-card-sized Go Seattle Card offers simplified access to attractions for a fixed, per-day price (cards are available for one, two, three, five or seven days). The card offers admission to the Seattle Center Monorail, Seattle Art Museum, Center for Wooden Boats and other top Seattle attractions. Prices range from $49.99 for adults and $32.99 for children for a one-day card to $134.99 for adults and $89.99 for children for a seven-day card. Travelers may purchase the discount card online at smartdestinations.

Beverage Tasting

Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery (low cost).- The first winery in the Seattle area to grow all their own grapes on location is just a 35-minute ferry trip across Puget Sound. Wine tastings are offered Friday-Sunday. Four wines can be tasted for a $3 donation to an animal rescue organization. For more information  call (206) 842-9463.

Chateau Ste. Michelle (Free) Washington state’s oldest and most acclaimed winery features award-winning wine. Guided tours are available daily from 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Open daily, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; closed holidays. Winery tour and tasting is free. For more information visit ste-michelle.com or call (425) 415-3633.

Columbia Winery (low cost). Columbia Winery is Washington’s first premium winery, producing distinctive Washington wines from European vinifera grapes since 1962. Open Sunday-Thursday, 11a.m. – 6 p.m. and Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; closed holidays. $5 tasting fee. For more information call (425) 482-7490.

Silver Lake Sparkling Cellars (low cost). Founded in 1987, Silver Lake Winery is Washington’s largest consumer owned winery. Open daily; closed holidays. Wines from several small wineries are available for tasting. Tastings are $5 and include four to six wines.  For more information call (425) 485-2437×109.

Januik/ Novelty Hill Wineries (low cost). Januik and Novelty Hill are two independent wineries that share a tasting room and production facility in Woodinville. Tastings vary from $5-10 depending on the wine. Open daily. For more information visit www.januikwinery.com or call (425) 481-5502.

Woodhouse Family Cellars (low cost). Woodhouse Family Cellars is a maker of high-quality, boutique Washington wines produced in the old world style, located in Woodinville, Washington, just east of Seattle. Open daily. Tastings of reserve wines are available for $5 Monday-Thursday and $10 Friday and Saturday. For more information visit   or call (425) 527-0608.

Redhook Brewery (low cost). Puget Sound’s largest microbrewery offers tours and brew tasting for $1. The tour of this Woodinville brewery includes tasting of three-four oz. beers and a complimentary tasting glass.  For more information visit  or call (425) 483-3232.

Woodinville Wine Country (low cost). Woodinville Wine Country is a non-profit organization with more than 60 wineries located in Woodinville, just east of Seattle.  Visit woodinvillewinecountry.com for a complete list of wineries, tastings and events.

Attractions

Pike Place Market (Free). Established in 1907, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continuously-operated farmers market in the U.S. Enjoy samples of local foods from vendors and be entertained by street musicians. Entrance to the market is free, street performers gladly accept donations. For more information visit www.pikeplacemarket.org.

Glass Art Displays (Free). Various locations throughout downtown Seattle have displays of glass art for viewing. Some places to see these exhibits include: the U.S. Bank Building at 5th & Pike, The Sheraton Hotel at 6th & Pike, Benaroya Hall at 3rd & University and various galleries. Free.

University of Washington Campus Tours (Free). You don’t have to be a student to take this tour of the UW campus. The 90-minute walking tour allows visitors a glimpse of Red Square with its gothic style buildings, Drumheller Fountain, Husky Stadium and other notable sights. Spring is an especially beautiful time to visit when the cherry trees on campus are in bloom.

Fremont Sunday Market  (Free). Host to more than 180 vendors from around the region who bring fresh flowers and produce, crafts and world imports. Market hours are Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the winter and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the summer, rain or shine. Browse the flea market in search of the rare or funky or eat in one or the neighborhood bistros. For more information visit fremontmarket.com.

Safeco Field (low cost). Visit the home of the Seattle Mariners. The tour includes areas of the ballpark that are not normally open to the public, such as the press box, luxury suites, field, dugout and visitor’s clubhouse.  Hours and dates vary; adult tickets are $9 and children tickets are $7. Tickets can be purchased at Mariners Team Store locations, via Ticketmaster at (206) 622-4427 or online at seattle.mariners.mlb.com.

CenturyLink Field (low cost). Visit the home of the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC. The tour allows fans to sit in a luxury suite, suit up in the visitor’s locker room, and eventually set foot on the same playing surface as the players. Adult tickets are $7and children tickets are $5.  Hours vary; to check tour availability call (206) 381-7582.

Entertainment

Out to Lunch Concerts (Free). Free public concerts are held in Seattle’s downtown parks and plazas every Wednesday and Friday at lunchtime during the summer. Groups range from classical to rock and jazz.

Seattle Center (Free). The 74-acre park was the site of the 1962 World’s Fair and now is the city’s cultural center—location of the Space Needle, Seattle Opera House, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Children’s Museum, Seattle, Children’s Theatre, Pacific Science Center and Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. Entrance to the Seattle Center grounds is free.

Northwest Folklife Festival (Free). One of the largest folk festivals in the country—arts, crafts, music, food, performers—on the grounds of the Seattle Center, Memorial Day weekend.

Pioneer Square Artwalk(Free). A long-standing tradition among art lovers and one of the most successful regular gallery tours in the nation. Take time to meander thorough Pioneer Square’s galleries on the first Thursday of the month from noon – 8 p.m.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (Free). Actually a museum dedicated to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897, this is one half of a two-part park; the other half is in Skagway, Alaska. Visit www.nps.gov/klse for information on seasonal hours of operation.

Coast Guard Museum (Free). Collection of Coast Guard memorabilia, uniforms, guns; when not on duty, Arctic icebreakers are usually moored nearby. Located on the Seattle waterfront at Pier 36. Open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Seattle Art Museum (Free). Free on the first Thursday of the month. Major Asian, African and Pacific Northwest art collections. Open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Seattle Asian Art Museum (Free). Free on the first Thursday of the month and free for families on the first Saturday of the month. Located in a 1930s art modern building in the heart of Volunteer Park on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, the Seattle Asian Art Museum features noteworthy collections of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Southeast Asian art.  Open Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Thursday, 10 – 9 p.m.

Frye Art Museum (Free). This museum houses a large collection of German and American art as well as others. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Thursday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday noon – 5 p.m.

Museum of Flight (Free). Free on the first Thursday of every month from 5 – 9 p.m. This museum is considered one of the foremost flight museums in the world.  Walk within inches of a Blackbird spy plane or board the original Air Force One. Open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (low cost). Museums co-located with $15 admission (online) and $18 admission (walkup) allowing access to both museums. Experience Music Project is dedicated to exploring creativity and innovation in American popular music, from rock ‘n’ roll, to jazz, soul, gospel, country, blues, hip-hop, punk and other genres. Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame is a one-of-a-kind collection of artifacts and memorabilia include works by Isaac Asimov, Ursula Le Guin, H.G. Wells and George Lucas. Open daily; summer hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and winter hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Scenic Parks

Seattle boasts many parks that offer stunning views of the city, Elliott Bay, Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mountains or just a quiet shady retreat from the fast-paced city. Pack a picnic lunch of fresh fruits, meats and cheese from Pike Place Market and enjoy Seattle from off-the-beaten path.

Olympic Sculpture Park (Free). The nine-acre park unifying the Belltown neighborhood in downtown and the waterfront features a 2,500-foot, descending, z-shaped pedestrian path leading to a beach on the waterfront. With sweeping views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains, the path takes visitors past sculptures and major works by world-renowned artists such as Richard Serra, Alexander Calder and Mark di Suvero. Open daily; opens 30 minutes prior to sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset.

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Free). One of the city’s most popular visitor attractions, locks raise and lower boats between salt and fresh water between 6 to 26 feet. Watch salmon make their way up the fish ladder from the viewing window or just watch pleasure boats go through the locks.

Washington Park Arboretum (Free). The Arboretum collects, conserves and teaches about plants that are hardy to the Northwest. Its 230 acres are filled with 10,000 native plants and its landscape is an excellent setting for hands-on learning and recreation. The Arboretum is recognized as one of the most beautiful and diverse collections in the western United States.

Japanese Gardens (Free). Located at the south end of Washington Park Arboretum, this garden contains native Japanese flowers, shrubs and trees.

Discovery Park & Daybreak Star Indian Center (Free). Situated in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, Discovery Park is the perfect urban retreat. Spend the day exploring 534 acres of wooded trails where small animals hide among native plants. Open meadows and bluffs overlook Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Stop by the Daybreak Star Indian Center to view original Native American arts and crafts.

Kerry Park(Free).- This small grassy strip on Upper Queen Anne offers a picture-perfect view of Seattle Center, downtown Seattle and Elliott Bay. On clear days Mount Rainier looms above providing a stunning backdrop. Free of charge.

Volunteer Park (Free). The park includes a conservatory, a water tower with an observation deck that is often voted one of the best free view in Seattle, the dramatic Art deco building of the Seattle Asian Art Museum and a wading pool which is operational in the summer months, daily 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Transportation

Metro Buses (Free). Exploring downtown is convenient and affordable thanks to Metro Transit’s Ride Free Area in the downtown core, which includes the1.3-mile Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. The tunnel begins at the Convention Place Station on Ninth Ave. and Pine St., runs through the retail core, financial district, Pioneer Square and ends in the International District. Tunnel hours are 5 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Saturday and 6 a.m. – midnight on Sunday.

Link Light Rail (low cost). Sound Transit’s Link light rail line runs from downtown Seattle to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac). Downtown stations are located in the Downtown Transit Tunnel at Westlake Center, the financial district,
Pioneer Square and the International District. The train then makes stops in several neighborhoods south of Seattle before reaching the Sea-Tac/Airport Station, an approximately 30-40 minute trip. The Sea-Tac/Airport Station connects to the airport through the airport parking garage via lit and covered pedestrian walkway. The fare for the trip from downtown Seattle is $2.50 for adults, $2 for youths 6-18 and free for riders under six when accompanied by a paying adult.

South Lake Union Streetcar (low cost). The streetcar traverses the South Lake Union neighborhood through the Denny Triangle ending in the downtown core area. It runs daily 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.  Adult fare is $2.25 one-way and children are $.75 one-way.

The Seattle Center Monorail (low cost). For a quick, inexpensive trip between downtown Seattle and the Seattle Center try the monorail. A round trip ticket is $4 for adults, $1.50 for children and $2 for seniors. Terminals are located on the upper level of Westlake Center and at the Seattle Center near the Space Needle. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Out on the Water

Washington State Ferries (low cost). Take a scenic ferry ride across Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton from downtown Seattle. Ferries depart from Colman Dock on the Seattle waterfront. Cost is $7.10 for a passenger fare.

Northwest Outdoor Center (low cost).- Rent a kayak for a pleasant afternoon around Lake Union or to take off-site to any of the dozens of popular kayaking locations around Puget Sound. Kayaking instructions and organized kayak trips are also available. Single kayak rentals begin at $13.

University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center(low cost). Enjoy a peaceful canoe ride on the waters of Lake Washington near the Arboretum. Located behind Husky Stadium at the UW, the Waterfront Activities Center rents rowboats and canoes for $8.50 per hour during the week and $10 on weekends. Hours vary throughout the year depending on daylight; call for current hours. For more information call (206) 543-9433

Alki Kayak Tours (low cost). Guided sea kayak adventures overlooking the Seattle skyline. Also offering inline skate rentals, bike rentals, longboards, and boat rentals. Prices depend on type of rental but range from $5 for inline skate rentals, to $15/hour for a single kayak and $100 for a 3-hour fishing boat rental, including three gallons of gas.

Article provided by Seattle Visitors bureau

Experience America Past & Present Along The Massachusetts Tavern Trail

Quincy Market, Boston

Quincy Market near Freedom Trail, Boston

Fall, Travel Back in Time by Stepping into America’s Oldest Taverns and Inns

What’s more inviting than taking a journey back in time to Revolutionary America, where people walked along cobblestone gas lit streets, and sipped a tankard of ale in front of a roaring fireplace in a softly lit tavern? Well, doing it in present day with all of the modern conveniences, and still experiencing the ambiance and charm of these historic taverns.

Massachusetts has dozens of fascinating inns and taverns capturing the spirit and flavor of long-ago Colonial America. From the Berkshires to Cape Cod, enjoy the brews and hearty food that reflect our nation’s rich history. This fall and winter, the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism invites you to follow the “tavern trail” throughout the Commonwealth.

“The Commonwealth has a rich and textured history that is seen through many of these inns and taverns,” said Betsy Wall, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism. “It’s easy to feel like you have gone back in time when you enter through the doors of these treasured places and experience the warm hospitality of a by-gone era.”

A few highlights include:

Greater Boston

Bell in Hand, Boston: Built in 1795 by Jimmy Wilson, Boston’s last Town Crier, this Boston favorite is America’s oldest continuously operating tavern. Located in historic Faneuil Hall, early Bell in Hand patrons included Daniel Webster and Paul Revere. They might not recognize the tavern today as one can enjoy tasty pub food and drinks in five different bars, featuring live bands, DJs and dancing.

North of Boston & Greater Merrimack Valley:

Wayside Inn, Sudbury: Set among rambling fields, tree-lined roads and quaint buildings, this cozy inn has been offering comfort and hospitality to travelers along the Boston Post Road since 1716. Immortalized in Longfellow’s sequence of poems, Tales of a Wayside Inn, its Old Bar is the perfect rest stop before dinner.

Colonial Inn, Concord: Landmarks of our nation’s literary and revolutionary history surround this charming inn. In 1775, one of the inn’s original buildings played a key role in what became the first battle of the American Revolution. Later in the 19th century, Henry David Thoreau and his family resided here. With its wooden beams and ancient floors, the Inn’s Village Forge Tavern, is a place to enjoy delectable food and potent potables. One visit will make you see why it was voted it one of the 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts.

South of Boston

Barker Tavern, Scituate: Fully restored, 17th-century house and garrison is now one of New England’s finest dining establishments. Overlooking Scituate Harbor and located between Boston and Cape Cod, Barker’s offers patrons several choices: the traditional New England Dining Room and Eli’s Pub, a private nook with a polished mahogany bar, original artwork, and great food and drinks.

Scarlet Oak Tavern, Hingham: Located on Hingham’s quaint, historic Main Street, this warm and welcoming tavern in a 250-year old colonial house has been thoroughly restored and updated by award-winning designers. Enjoy a wonderful selection of wine and spirits emboldened by such tasty treats as lobster pizza and smoked-then-braised brisket sliders.

Cape and Islands

Old Yarmouth Inn, Yarmouth: Situated at the halfway point between Plymouth and Provincetown, the Old Yarmouth Inn has been welcoming visitors since 1696. The Inn’s Tavern, with its wood-paneled walls, polished bar, fireplace and bay windows make for a convivial and relaxing spot.

Barley Neck Inn, East Orleans: Nestled in an old sea captain’s home in the rural village of East Orleans on Cape Cod, the Barley Neck is home to Joe’s Beach Road Bar & Grill. Voted one of the top ten restaurants by Yankee Traveler magazine, Joe’s offers delectable fish chowders, entertainment and tons of local color.

Central Mass

Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield: Named for the witch-mark found on the front door-latch of the Inn—designed to protect inhabitants against evil spells and witchcraft—this remarkable example of Colonial restoration is set on 600 acres of rolling hills and woodlands. Dine on delicious New England fare such as Yankee pot roast, chicken potpie, Indian pudding, clam chowder and pecan pie before a roaring fireplace, served by waitresses attired in Colonial dress.

Vienna’s Inn, Southbridge: Graced by beautiful 200-year-old trees, this stunning early 19th-century inn offers New England charm with a Viennese twist. Specializing in Austrian, German and Hungarian cuisine, the inn’s dining rooms offer mouth-watering dishes such as Wiener schnitzel, Sweet Chicken Paprika, Beef Stroganoff, Tafelspitz or Sauerbraten.

Article provided by the bureau of tourism Boston, MA

California’s Golden Region: Day Trips from Oakland

The Bay Area is not only one of the most beautiful parts of California, it’s one of the most beautiful parts of America. The area to the east of San Francisco Bay is commonly known as East Bay, and Oakland is the largest city in the region, with 400,000 residents and a host of amazing parks, lakes, and historical architecture. But one of the most exciting things about living in Oakland is its close proximity to a wide variety of amazing day trip locations. The number of things you can see or do with just a short journey on the BART trains or an hour or two in the car is pretty fantastic. Here are some options for your next weekend road trip.

Big Sur

Big Sur

Big Sur

The gorgeous coastal town of Big Sur lies 140 miles south of Oakland. A popular location for vacation homes, weddings, and honeymoons, you’ll find beaches and mountain climbing, plus plenty of other recreational activities and spectacular coastal scenery. State parks like Limekiln and Pfeiffer offer access to cliffs and hiking trails. The town also features the Esalen Institute, a famous holistic spa and center where you can get a massage or take a class on natural healing.

Napa Valley

One of the most famous regions for wine production in the world lies a mere 38 miles north of Oakland, with over 300 wineries and an endless stretch of vineyards to explore. But wine tasting isn’t the only thing you can do in Napa. There are a variety of gourmet restaurants, Napa river cruises, and even hot air balloon flights. Take cooking or wine-making classes at the Culinary Institute of America or the Napa Valley Wine Academy or take advantage of the town’s shops, spas, and golf courses.

Santa Cruz

The sleepy Bay Area city of Santa Cruz is just 67 miles south of Oakland, and it offers plenty to attract tourists of all ages. While it offers its own scenic coastlines and beautiful hiking trails and beaches, it also has urban amenities that are worth exploring. The Museum of Natural History, Museum of Art and History, and Surfing Museum attract millions of visitors, and there are dude ranches and live theatre. One not-to-be-missed attraction is the Mystery Spot, an optical illusion tilted location where the laws of physics and gravity don’t apply.

Carmel by the Sea

    Carmel Mission (Carmel-by-the-Sea, California)

Carmel Mission (Carmel-by-the-Sea, California)

Carmel is a prime destination for Bohemian San Francisco residents looking to get away, and it’s only 115 miles south of Oakland. It offers a historic mission and some amazing live theatre options. The Pacific Repertory Theater, the only live theater group in Monterey County, operates out of four venues all in the Carmel region. Of course, the main attractions are still the beaches, parks, and gardens, even if there are more eclectic alternatives. Try Smallsea, a museum of miniatures that recreates an Edwardian town from the early 20th century.

If you’re looking for a big city instead of a small town, you can always head to San Francisco or San Jose. Berkeley and Monterey are also within easy reach, because Oakland is right in the heart of the East Bay region. Though Oakland is a great place to live and work and you’ll probably never be bored there, it’s important to remember that you’re within easy reach of every spot in an incredible area of the country. As a resident, you should plan to take advantage of it all.

3 Beautiful Destinations for Off-Season Traveling

by Veronica Mendes,

If you’ve got the eye to travel but a tight budget, traveling during off-seasons can help you get out of town without breaking the bank. The following popular off-season destinations can catch the travel eyes of any nomad full of wanderlust.

Hawaii

Hawaii, Photo by courtney_80 via Flickr

Hawaii, Photo by courtney_80 via Flickr

Pros: The off-season happens three times a year — once in January and February, once in April and May, and again in September and October. The weather in Hawaii is at its best during these months with little rain and cool ocean breezes.

Families frequently visit during December when it’s snowing elsewhere or during summer months and school breaks. Enjoy your pick of hotel accommodations and beach resorts offering privacy and gorgeous views..

Accommodations are far less expensive in Hawaii during the off-season, and airfare to the islands is also much cheaper.

Cons: Hawaii experiences an influx of Japanese tourists during Japan’s Golden Week of holidays at the end of April and beginning of May, which crowds the region.

Travel Tips: February is the best time of year to see humpback whales in Hawaii, yet ocean waters are rougher in January and February for adventurers who enjoy surfing. The Aloha Festival takes place across the islands in September.

The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon,Photo by Tobias Alt via Wikimedia Commons

Grand Canyon,Photo by Tobias Alt via Wikimedia Commons

Pros: The off-season at the Grand Canyon is from November 25 to March 6. The national park is a beautiful family getaways during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

It is hot and crowded at the Grand Canyon during tourist season. During the off-season, enjoy cool temperatures with fewer visitors.

Hotels and camping around the Grand Canyon are more costly during tourist season. Prices are deeply discounted in the off-season, so you can experience the beauty of the canyon on a budget.

Cons: Certain areas can’t be accessed. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon closes for the season on November 27. Camping is not available after that time and many lodgings in that area are also closed.

Travel Tips: The “romance package” is available at the historic El Tovar lodging in January. Priced at less than $300 and meant for couples only, the package includes dinner for two (including wine) in the hotel’s dining room, as well as sparkling wine and a fruit basket delivered to your room.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls.Photo by Sujit kumar via Wikimedia Commons

Niagara Falls.Photo by Sujit kumar via Wikimedia Commons

Pros: The off-season in Niagara Falls runs from November 1 to April 1, which is the area’s most frigid months. You’ll find vacancies and rock bottom discount prices during these colder temps. Niagara Falls in the off-season is like a ghost town, but all the shops and restaurants are still open. Fewer crowds and tourists also make the falls safer from scams such as shoulder surfing theft or pickpocketing.

The Canadian Rainbow Tour, the Winter Festival of Lights, and the “Oh Canada, Eh?” show are just a few of the delights during the winter and early spring season.

Cons: It gets down into minus zero temperatures. You may just end up using your saved cash to buy winter gear for staying warm. Also, the Maid of the Mist is closed, which is one of Niagara Fall’s most popular attractions.

Travel Tips: Bring your passport. You need it to get into (and out of) Canada now, and many of the best off-season activities are on the Canadian side of the falls.

Folly Beach: Fun Things to Do When It Rains at The Edge of America

Folly Beach, SC, Credit-Tripadvisor

Folly Beach, SC, Credit-Tripadvisor

by Ridzi Sha,

Folly Beach, often referred as the ‘Edge of America,’ offers sunshine, water sports, and beachscape leisure.  However, though the natives can control levels of kindness and offered entertainment, they cannot control the weather.  Sometimes, a little rain must fall on Folly Beach, inspiring goers to find indoor activities to complement the plethora of things to do outdoors.

Terrance Theatre

Entertainment comes in all forms, but technology aligned with movie production sound and image quality improves levels of such.  The Terrance Theatre, formerly the Charleston IMAX Theatre, features the latest major motion pictures, inviting opportunity for singles, couples, and families to enjoy an afternoon or evening of audio-visual entertainment.

Shopping Malls

The Folly Beach area is rich in history, dating back to the 1600s when settlers began docking ashore.  Its situation as a port city enables natives to come across a diverse collection of arts, crafts, and other vendor-offered products.  Local vendors and artisans are in high number, offering unique crafts to shoppers.  Additionally, two major local malls inhibit the vicinity: The Citadel Mall and the Northwoods Mall.  When it’s pouring outside, natives and vacationers seek refuge in commercial opportunities.

City Market

Those vacationing in Folly Beach find way down to Charleston’s City Market.  Four major buildings, spanning from Meeting Street to East Bay Street, offer a large assortment of house wares and unique art from local vendors numbering in the hundreds.  Contrary to speculation, the City Market is not a ‘flea market’; it offers high-quality, original products such as sweetgrass-weaved baskets, afghans, local treats and candies, and more.

Magnolia Plantation

Founded in 1676, the plantation has been a popular South Carolina landmark for over 300 years.  A hop, skip, and jump away from downtown, the plantation seems like a planet of its own.  Visitors covet visions of oak avenues, lush lawns, and ancestral grounds at the edge of the Ashley River.  Those taking hooded- bus tours enjoy 300-hundred-year-old trees, trimmed with Spanish moss, gardens vibrant with year round color, and the ‘long white bridge’ arching over Cypress Pond.

The South Carolina Aquarium

Tourists book Charleston vacation rentals to enjoy the pristine coastal beauty, and there is lots to do, even on rainy days.  The South Carolina Aquarium opened at the turn of the century, and has since been visited by over two-million visitors thus far.  Take a journey from the Appalachian Watershed to the Atlantic Ocean, viewing the mountains, coastal plains, and finally, the coast.  Visitors catch sight of intriguing sea life including sea turtles, alligators, and sharks.  The aquarium’s biggest draw is its three-story Great Ocean Tank, hosting over 300 animals.  The aquarium is open each day besides Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The beach is not commonly associated to water from the sky but on the land, yet visitors of Folly Beach do not lack things of interest when a bit of rain must fall.  The ‘Edge of America’ lures scores of visitors each year, those curious to find what all the fuss is about regardless of rain or shine.

Marcus Anderson and his wife travel the country as much as they can these days. An avid blogger, his articles appear on a variety of Internet blog sites.

Enjoy Walking Tours Seattle

Seattle walking tours

Seattle walking tours

Located in the north central region of Washington, Seattle is a beautiful destination housing the Green Lake and beautiful park. The atmosphere of this beautiful destination is quite calm and cool suitable for the Enjoy Walking Tours Seattle. Earhart Seifried was considered the first settler in this region. He built a homestead covering as much as 132 acre of land in the year 1869 on the north-eastern shore of Green Lake.      

The most elegant feature of this city is the residential buildings which are quite extensive in their variety. Since 1995 the Seattle neighborhood has gone through substantial development process. Many buildings and complexes have been impressively remodeled and renovated. There is a spacious Green Lake library, covering nearly 5000 square feet in the vicinity of this township. It is estimated that the library contained as much as 54,000 cataloged items in 1999.  Later in 2003, the library went through remodeling process and it again was reopened in the year 2004 boasting more enhanced facilities and luxuries of reading its collections.

The great Green Lake has a 2.8 mile path going around it used by the runners, skaters, bikers, walkers and many more. The athletic field is located near the lake and is also used by the local people. People come from different countries to walk around the park and use the lake for different purposes like picnics, swimming and boating.

For the travelers Seattle walking tour can be a great destination for walking. Normally a two hour or longer traipses through the city can give you great joy. There are many tourists’ attractions like Bell town, Pioneer Square, Ballart and many more in the city of Seattle. Ballart is indeed a nice place where the Bell Tower is situated. Marvin’s garden is another place that is enriched with plenty of natural beauties. Pike Place Market is another attraction that is always buzzing all the way. Just consider a quality two hours spending at this place and you can get lost in the huge maze of shops and stores in this uptown locality. Pioneer Street can be considered another attraction where you can see the imposing historic pillar – Pioneer Square Totem.  The Garden China Gate Building is another iconic skyscraper which was constructed by Andrew Willatsen in the year 1924. Consider a visit at Samuel Chin located in 7th Avenue S in the International District of Seattle. The amazing frontage and strange design over here are something that will leave you bewildered all the way.

While in Seattle consider a casual strolls along the waterfront. It is indeed a blissful experience. Visitors start from Pioneer Square and walk till Pike Place Market. The Pioneer Square is considered the significant historic neighbourhood of the downtown Walking Tours Seattle. You can also consider the Fremont District that will give you great experience of walking. However, there you can find many quirky and unusual shops. The walking tour of Seattle will not only allow you to enjoy the panoramic beauty of the place but also help you explore various events and characters that are supposed to be conducive to the transformation of this fledgling outpost.

All these major attractions in Seattle are not only steeped with great exotic beauty but also offer you a great delight and satiate your senses. There are many online travel and tourism service providers in Seattle. You may hire their service and plan your itinerary to make an exotic stay at this beautiful place. You may also consider your family or your friends to take them for this tour. Grab the exclusive package and make sure that the itinerary is well planned in advance. Make sure you enjoy the Seattle walking tour while you visit this remarkable metropolis in the US.

The Forgotten City

Atlanta-Georgia

Atlanta-Georgia

When people plan to go on vacation in the United States, it is easy to think of obvious locations like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles.  Even cities like Denver and New Orleans get a great deal of publicity and acknowledgement; however, Atlanta, Georgia is a forgotten gem in the heart of the South.  There are many great activities and sites to see in this city known for its lush green treetop-lined ceiling.  Another perk of Atlanta is its accessibility. Home to one of the busiest airports in the world, there are many low-priced tickets to hop on a flight and explore this city.  Read on to find more information on what to do while exploring Atlanta.

Georgia Aquarium

Opened in 2005, the Georgia Aquarium is a fantastic facility full of many amazing animals, exhibits and shows.  Containing around 120,000 fish and other creatures, this aquarium has state of the art viewing areas and tunnels to make you feel as if you are in the ocean with these animals.  They produce three spectacular dolphin shows a day that are included with general admission, as well as a 4D movie experience.  This aquarium has many special features and opportunities to go behind the scenes with the trainers, and really encompasses fun for the whole family.

Piedmont Park

Atlanta, known for its great deal of green space, has a large 189-acre urban park located within the city. Originally planned to be used as an exclusive club and racing ground for horse enthusiasts, it was later decided that the park would accommodate fairs and expositions.  It has since garnered a rich history, holding many famous rivalry baseball and football games. Since its opening, the park has gone through many expansions, and most recently an expansion of the north side of the park which started in early 2013.

Historic Martin Luther King Jr. Sites

Atlanta is also the birthplace and final resting place of one of the prominent American leaders, Martin Luther King Jr.  The birthplace and childhood home of Martin Luther King Jr., located in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood, now houses a small collection of artifacts and a theater.  The church and burial site are also spectacular and interesting places to visit, rich with history. The reflecting pool and raised crypt offer a picturesque location where people come daily to pay their respects to this history changer.

The Fox Theatre

The Fox Theatre, also known as the Fabulous Fox, is the centerpiece of the Fox Theatre Historic District in Midtown Atlanta.  Originally, the project was planned to be a Shrine Temple, which is reflected in its Moorish design. Then developed as a movie theater, the Fox Theatre now hosts many different performances including concerts and Broadway shows.

Theme Parks

If you are looking for something more exciting to get your blood pumping, there are plenty of amusement parks for all ages.  Six Flags Over Georgia is a 100-acre park packed with over 40 rides to enjoy all day.  Legoland is another fun place to spend the day with rides and unique sculptures built solely of the small children’s toy.

Colleges & Universities

Atlanta boasts the largest concentration of colleges and universities in the Southern United States, including Georgia State, Georgia Tech, and Emory College, making it a great place for entertainment and sports.  Due to this great location and abundance of universities, the College Football Hall of Fame is in the process of moving from South Bend, IN to Atlanta, and will be open in 2014.

Underground Atlanta

Underground Atlanta is just a few blocks away from the city center, and has many great shops and restaurants to enjoy.  This bustling area is known for attracting food trucks, live music, and many other local events and festivals.  This is the perfect place to enjoy a nice dinner on the town from one of the many award-winning restaurants throughout Underground Atlanta.

If you only make it to one or two of these suggested areas, you are bound to find many other exciting things to see in Atlanta and the surrounding area.  Not only will you be wowed with the great history that lingers throughout the city, but the up-and-coming culture as well.  Atlanta really has it all, from thrilling amusement parks to relaxing green space where you can simply enjoy a stroll.

Break Out of Your Shell Adventure Activities in San Fran

surfing san francisco bay

Surfing San Francisco bay

Adrenaline Junkie: Someone who seeks out and craves thrilling adventures to get an adrenaline rush. If that describes you, you’re going to love San Francisco. According to Heels and Wheels, there are some fantastic things to do in the gorgeous city that will leave you breathless and screaming for more.

1.Golden Gate National Recreation Area

It may not make your adrenaline rush, but it will certainly make your heart pump. Over 75,000 acres of land are home in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Hundreds of miles of trails dot the landscape of this stunning park. Walk, job, bike, hike or rollerblade through this park with amazing views of the ocean and the city’s skyline. Pack a picnic, and enjoy lunch seated next to the ocean as the salty air breezes through your hair. Guests of the park love the fact that their canine companions are welcome to spend the day by their side.

2.Surfing

If you’ve never tried your hand, or foot as the case may be, at surfing, now is the time. Ocean Beach has swells that are extreme enough for hobbyists and pros alike. This spot is not for the faint of heart; talk to some of the locals before you head into the icy waters; they know the dangers. You can find Ocean Beach near Golden Gate Park. If you have your own equipment, bring it along. If you don’t, you can rent what you need for under 50 bucks.

Golden Gate Bridge3.Sailing

Imagine sitting on a sailboat, cruising through the bay while someone else does all of the work. It will cost you over $100 per person, but the price of admission is well worth the trip. You can choose from a private charter and public tours. Your trip will be tailored to your desires. If you want a quiet jaunt through the bay, you got it. If you’d prefer something a bit sportier, you can find that, too. There are a variety of operations that set sail from the bay each day.

4.Skydiving

Visit Monterey Bay Skydiving for one of the most thrilling adventures of your life. Skydive Monterey Bay boasts the world’s highest tandem jumps at 18,000 feet. If you’ve never jumped from a perfectly good plane, now is your chance. You will be given a safety and instructional lesson before you find yourself strapped to your very own guide. Together, you will soar through the skies above San Francisco, descending at rates of speed that are sure to provide the adrenaline rush you seek.

5.Whale Watching

Did you ever think that you could whale watch in California? The whales that live in Monterey Bay are used to people and boats, and do not shy away from visitors. Climb aboard a 60-foot yacht and set sail for an amazing adventure. No matter the time of year, you and your family can take part in one of these magnificent excursions. Not only will you spot humpback whales, but you’ll be privy to dolphins, porpoises, seals and other forms of marine life.

San Francisco is a city made for outdoor lovers. No matter what type of adventure you seek, you’ll find it in the City by the Bay. From amazing animals to extreme jumps, you can find something new to do every weekend.

Useful info:

http://www.movoto.com/real-estate/homes-for-sale/san-francisco.html

Home Styling Tips Inspired by the Florida Keys

Do you want your home interior to resemble a Floridian island resort? It’s possible with the many imaginative designs on the market today. Here are six tips to transform living spaces to make you feel like you live in the Florida Keys.

keys

Florida Keys, Cr- Flickr by Joe Shlabotnik

If you want a casual and “beach-look” sitting room, use white wicker furniture and garnish them with cushions and pillows in sandy, muted tones. Mix shades of light browns, whites and blues, or find striped pillows that use all of these colors. Top off the room with a ceiling fan — bamboo fans work nicely.

For the windows, use sheer white curtains with tiebacks to match your pillow/cushion décor. Wooden rolling shades offer a nice contrast.

Go Tropical

Many of the homes in the Florida Keys use vibrant tropical colors like orange, yellow, deep blue and green. Turn your bedroom into a tropical sleeping area with comforters and sheet sets in contrasting bright colors and make sure to use tons of accent pillows.

Find furniture that’s white or a light wood or wicker color and decorate them with shells, colored bottles full of potpourri and tropical plants. Use bamboo shades on windows to complete the look.

Fun Dining Areas

Skip the traditional table and chairs and find simple designs and paint them in blue or green. Use bamboo placemats and centerpieces full of tropical flora and fauna — you can find these at most craft stores.

Instead of standard silver cutlery, buy forks, knives and spoons in bright colors. If you want to mix it up a bit, paint four of your dining chairs one color and head table chairs another.

Go Flamingo

On a trip to Florida, get inspired by a visit to the Flamingo Visitor Center in the Everglades, just north of the Keys. With a revived inspiration, decorate your game room using flamingos in all sizes and colors. You can find flamingos in metal, plaster and wooden.

Be sure to include other reptiles you’ll see like alligators and large turtles. Decorate the room in comfortable over-sized furniture in durable fabrics, such as weaves, and make sure you choose colors that match your décor. Brownish green gives off a “jungle” look, while simple browns and beiges can be used to offset the color of the animal accents.

Cool Kitchens

Kitchens in the Florida Keys are surprisingly simple. Do the same with your kitchen by painting the walls white and install wainscoting to break up the walls. Paint the wainscoting in alternating white and blue colors.

Install smooth finish white wooden cabinets with silver hardware. Skip stainless steel or black appliances and buy all white. Top off your “simple” kitchen with colorful vases placed on counters and tables.

Sunny Bathrooms

You may have a white tub, toilet, and sink, but it’s easy to turn any bathroom or powder room into a sultry, sunny world that screams Florida.

Install a deep blue shower curtain that pops with tropical fish and sea life. Change the light shades in your bathroom to bright-colored shades. Find blue, green or orange rugs. For sink accessories, find brilliant colored toothbrush holders and soap dishes. Change out your shampoo and conditioner bottles to clear glass bottles and allow their natural colors to flow through.

Any room in your home can pop with Florida Keys décor if you put a little thought into the design. Use these six tips to inspire your design!

Ever New England: Putting America Behind You on Cape Cod

Rough Surf on Cape Cod

Rough Surf on Cape Cod

It was my first visit to Cape Cod off season. After hoofing along the sands for an hour or so, I happened to look back at my receding tracks; amazingly, they were as natural as those of the shore birds as they appeared marvelously wobbly. Beyond Nauset Light blinking white and red in the misty air, I sat on a piece of driftwood for a moment or two as waves thundered in, hissing with foam, sometimes violet green in color, and pungent with brine that scented the entire beach.

Each incoming wave possessed a distinctive quality: some crested high like cobras; others rolled in sluggishly to be absorbed by larger waves which in turn were double or triple decked; still others flopped with a hollow sound and turned brown with churning sand. All waves had one thing in common. As my young daughter Michelle once said of them many years ago, they are “movelish.” Their incessant movement and roar would challenge any practicing orator, Demosthenes, Daniel Webster, or New England Sachem Passaconaway included. But more than that, this giant, constantly moving sea puts humans on terms with their planet, for here we are all immediately made aware of cosmic power. As each wave thunders shoreward, it is as though a million years are erased in foam.

I arose from my driftwood and proceeded along the beach for several miles until I reached the high dunes laced with scarlet oaks. Toward the bay-side of the Cape, I felt like one of those pilgrims in 1620 searching for fresh water or like Henry David Thoreau two hundred and thirty years later in search of the primal essence of the sea. Piping plovers skirted back and forth over mudflats as gulls circled like hawks above the groves of pine and oak. Strands of mist hazed the air just enough to create the feeling of French Impressionism only on a far vaster canvas. This juxtaposition of two worlds in such close proximity–stable vegetated dunes, calm bay-shore flats so close to a roaring, thundering sea front– constitutes one of the reasons why, I believe, Thoreau did (as well as Henry Beston during his year at his outermost house), confront the essential facts of life and death. Part of the Cape’s essential life is the sea’s indestructible wildness. Unlike forests, the sea cannot be cut down or dominated. Thoreau wrote in his book Cape Cod that,

“The Indians have left no traces on its surface, but it is the same to the civilized man and the savage. The aspect of the shore only has changed. The ocean is a wilderness reaching round the globe, wilder than a Bengal jungle, and fuller of monsters washing the very wharves of our cities and the gardens of our seaside residences. Serpents, bears, hyenas, tigers, rapidly vanish as civilization advances, but the most populous and civilized city cannot scare a shark far from its wharves.”

And what of death? Any visitor to the Cape must confront death. The night before my trek on Marconi Beach, I checked into a small inn at North Truro on the bay-side. My innkeeper said that a small whale had washed ashore the previous evening, and already its bones were bare. I hurried down to the shore in dusk to see droves of sea gulls feeding on its carcass. They flew off as I approached, and there it lay with its elegant white bones bare to the universe. All the glitter of distant Provincetown’s lights could not erase the bare fact of death. These whale bones had been equalized by the sea. They were not mere bones but something more– those lean and white bones had merged with the universe itself.

Herein lies the paradox of the sea. It furnishes us with a sense, even in death, of mergence which gives further meaning to life. The sea is indeed a totality that balances unique individuality with universal commonality. We are enabled to see life as a part of a continuum beyond life. Bone fragments help make sand.

I left the sheltered coves of the bay side to cut across the wild dunes. The roar of the surf again filled my being as I hopped down to the lower beach. Nauset Light blinked like Argos through veils of mist. As I edged my way northward, the protruding dunes of Marconi Beach ever so slowly took shape. Even though my footprints were, perhaps, as wobbly as Thoreau’s, they had indeed helped put all of a computerized, space-age America behind me.

5 Awesome Summertime Activities for Your Trip to the Windy City

Image via Flickr by CJ Anderson

Image via Flickr by CJ Anderson

As the biggest city in the Midwest, Chicago offers all sorts of activities to make your trip amazing. Whether you want to go sightseeing, see a show, go to an amusement park, or just relax, the Windy City won’t disappoint. Take a look at these five awesome summertime activities for your trip to Chicago.

Spend Some Time at One of the Parks

Chicago is known for its towering skyscrapers, but there are also many parks. You can play sports, watch ducks, go for a jog, or just have a picnic with your family. There are free concerts during the summer at Millennium Park. Plus, this park gives you a good view of Chicago’s skyline and the opportunity to see Chicago’s famous Bean. Another great park is Grant Park where you can enjoy the relaxing lakefront or see the famous Buckingham Fountain. Of course, a visit to Lincoln Park will be memorable thanks to the zoo.

Many of the parks in Chicago host festivals. As a matter of fact, there is a festival going on almost every week during the summer. Some of the favorites include the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, and Taste of Chicago. Most of the festivals are free, which gives you the opportunity to have fun without your bank account suffering for it.

Watch a Cubs or White Sox Game

If you enjoy baseball, Chicago has two teams you can see — the Cubs and the White Sox. If you’re lucky, you can watch these crosstown rivalries play each other. Chicago is also home to several other sports teams, such as the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Bulls, and the Chicago Fire.

Go on a Walking Tour

The architecture in Chicago is diverse with plenty of history and there are lots of walking tours and Segway tours to help you explore it. However, the tours from the water are the best. You can create your own tour with a water taxi or use Lake Michigan Cruises, Shoreline Sightseeing, or Chicago River Architecture Tours to guide you through the architecture.

Visit an Amusement Park for the Day

If you love the thrill of rollercoasters and the fun of amusement park games, Chicago is a great place to spend your summer. Spend the day at Six Flags Great America, with its 13 rollercoasters and Looney Tunes National Park. Other fun amusements in Chicago include Raging Waves, Kane County Fairgrounds, and Kid City. Whether you’re traveling as a couple or with the whole family, there are attractions for everyone.

Relax and Get Pampered

If the goal of your trip is to unwind, there are some world-class spas and resorts in Chicago where you can get pampered all day. Start by staying at the Hyatt Regency Chicago and then drive over to the Kohler Waters Spa at Burr Ridge. There are literally hundreds of spas and massage parlors to help you relax.

These are just a few of the fun activities you can do while visiting the Windy City. Have you been to Chicago? What would you recommend doing?