Fun Day Trips from Orlando Florida Top Travel Destination

What to Do in Orlando

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Fun Day Trips Orlando Florida has always been the top travel destination in the United States for it’s weather and year round sunny days, a vacation to this state is never out of the question.

Orlando’s Disney parks are probably one of the main attractions but why not stay an extra days and do a couple of fun local road trips?

There’s so much more to the Orlando area than Mickey Mouse and shopping, like a fun day trip to St. Augustine, Silver Springs State Park or just soak up the sun at some of Florida’s greatest beaches. Disneyland Paris vs Walt Disney World Orlando – Which Is Better?

Here’s a short list of a few fun day trips for the family just a drive away from Orlando, Florida:

Fun Day Trips Orlando Mt. Dora

This delightful small village is less than an hour from Orlando.

If you absolutely love Victorian architecture, then plan a day trip to Mt. Dora.

Fun Day Trips Orlando
Fun Day Trips Orlando

It is a quaint, well preserved 100 year old town in the central part of Florida and has wonderful boutiques, antique shops, art galleries and great scenic views of the lake.

Daytona Beach

If you love NASCAR, then drive over to Daytona for the day.

Daytona is also known for Daytona Bike Week.

Fun Day Trips from Orlando
Fun Day Trips from Orlando

It draws thousands of bikers from all over the U.S.

If you’re planning to spend some time at the beach in Daytona, you may also enjoy some shopping and a movie at Ocean Walk Shops and Theaters.

St. Augustine

Historically the oldest city in the country, St. Augustine was founded in 1565.

It has lovely old cobblestone streets, historic Spanish style churches.

St. Augustine
St. Augustine

You may enjoy a cruise on the Victory III to see historic landmarks and places of interest, and, if you would like to spend the night, spend some time at one of St.

Augustine’s beaches the next day.

Silver Springs State Park

Only a little over an hour from Orlando is Silver Springs State Park, famous for its glass bottom boat rides.

Visit the nature theme park, the petting zoo, botanical gardens, Cracker Village and the Silver River Museum.

Springs State Park
Springs State Park

The park also has pavilions, picnic areas and trails for hiking and biking, but the park is only open on weekends and holidays from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Kennedy Space Center

An hour south of Orlando is Kennedy Space Center, right across from Cocoa Beach.

Visit the Museum of Space Exploration at Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Complex.

Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center

A day trip to NASA’s space shuttle program will be interesting and educational for the whole family.

Legoland in Winter Haven, FL

Only 45 minutes from Orlando is Legoland, a fun place to take the kids.

This amusement park has Lego themed areas such as the Land of Adventure, Castle Hill, Miniland, Xtreme and Lego Tech Test Track.

Legoland California
Legoland Chicago

Legoland in Winter Haven, FL
Legoland in Winter Haven, FL

You can also have fun shopping for Legos at The Big Shop while you’re there.

Have any trips planned to the Orlando area for the winter season?

Orlando at night an even more magical place

There is something special about Orlando at night.

The temperatures get a bit cooler and the vibe changes – it’s a chance to really relax and enjoy yourself.

The variety of good food, music, and entertainment available in this city is sometimes overwhelming.

Here are a few fantastic ways to end the day in Orlando.

Experience the fireworks

Taking in one or more of the nighttime shows is a “must do” during a trip to Orlando.

All of the theme parks offer first class night time productions that leave both kids and adults in awe.

Experience the Orlando fireworks
Experience the Orlando fireworks

One great option is to enjoy the pool or shopping during the day, then head to one of the parks late afternoon.

Make an early dinner reservation and then get ready for the nighttime entertainment.

EPCOT is a great park for this itinerary with a plethora of restaurants to choose from and a spectacular fireworks and laser display.”

Many of the Disney World tickets provide you with a pass for your entire length of stay, eliminating the need to feel pressured to go to a theme park from morning until night.

Dinner, Dancing, and Shows

Evening entertainment is not limited to the theme parks.  In addition to restaurants and shops, Downtown Disney has the House of Blues –a great option for live music – and a specialized theater for Cirque du Soleil.

Universal Studios Orlando offers City Walk, home to the Blue Man Group, the Hard Rock Café, and a number of celebrity-founded restaurants.

You can also become part of the show at your choice of interactive dinner theaters – a great experience for both adults and kids.

Dinner, Dancing, and Shows
Dinner, Dancing, and Shows

Sand Lake Road, known locally as restaurant road, serves up food from every cuisine under the sun.

Travelers on a budget can check out Orlando’s ubiquitous food truck scene.

There are several famous nightclub venues along Church Street, Orange Avenue, and International Drive.

Church Street Market
Church Street Market

Hookah bars, piano bars, dive bars, tequila bars —every kind of bar imaginable is available in Orlando.

Multi-floor dance clubs host underground DJ competitions, and the beats of salsa, bachata, and reggae spill out into the streets.

Kayak at night

Just a short drive from Orlando, you can experience Florida’s natural beauty with a bio-luminescence kayaking tour.

Kayak at night
Kayak at night

Beginner kayakers can paddle their way through Florida’s Indian River where mesmerizing light is produced by movement in the water.

Experience the bio-luminescence produced from schools of fish, jellyfish, sting rays, or even a manatee.  It’s truly a sight to see!”

Water Parks In Orlando, Florida – A Quick Guide
Fun Day Trips from Orlando, Florida
What to Do in Orlando

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Best Sights in Miami – Top 5 Can’t Miss Miami Sights

Road Trips - Everglades

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There are certain sights in Miami many people overlook, but you must visit.

Miami, Florida is a city overflowing with culture and nightlife.

Best sights in Miami

From the Everglades to Zoo Miami, the Ancient Spanish Monastery and Star Island, you’ll find plenty to do on your visit to this beautiful coastal city.

If you’re planning a Miami trip, learn more about these amazing things to do in Miami before you go.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and the third-largest national park in the continental 48 states. 

Its purpose is to protect and conserve the original Everglades wetlands.

The park is home to three dozen protected and threatened species, including the American crocodile, the Florida panther and the West Indian manatee.

Its fragile ecosystem provides breeding grounds for numerous tropical North American wading birds and shelter to hundreds of species of birds, fish, reptiles and mammals.

Everglades National Park wildlife
Everglades National Park wildlife

From Miami, you can reach the Shark Valley entrance of the Everglades National Park off of U.S. Highway 41.

Take Exit 25A if traveling from the north. Take Exit 25 if traveling from the south.

Enjoy bird-watching, biking, fishing, boating, hiking, canoeing, geocaching and guided tours in this unparalleled wilderness area.

Star Island

Star Island is a man-made island in Biscayne Bay off the coast of Miami.

Miami Everglades National Park
Miami Everglades National Park

Though there is a guardhouse at the entrance, the island is open to the public.

It contains a single public loop road from which you can ogle the homes of the rich and famous.

Who lives or lived here?

Lots of celebrities!

Those who have owned or continue to own homes on Star Island include Rosie O’Donnell, Sean Combs, Shaquille O’Neal, Gloria Estefan and Don Johnson.

Ancient Spanish Monastery

The Ancient Spanish Monastery in Miami is the real deal.

Built in Spain between 1133 and 1141 A.D., the ancient Spanish monastery was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was home to Cistercian monks for almost seven centuries.

Miami Spanish Monastery
Miami Spanish Monastery

American publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst bought the disused monastery in 1925.

He had it taken apart and packed up in over 11,000 crates.

Then, he wanted it shipped to the U.S.

Then, financial troubles forced Hearst to leave the monastery in storage in New York for 26 years.

Two businessmen bought the monastery in 1953 after Hearst’s death.

They put it back together in Miami.

Spanish Monastery in Miami
Spanish Monastery in Miami

Wealthy philanthropist Colonel Robert Pentland Jr. bought the monastery in 1964 and gifted it to the Episcopal Diocese of South Florida, making it once again a thriving

religious institution.

You can take a tour; however, you should call ahead.

The monastery sometimes closes for film shoots and other special events.

Zoo Miami

Zoo Miami was founded in 1948 with the purchase of two black bears, a goat and three monkeys.

From these humble beginnings, Zoo Miami grew to be the largest zoo in the state.

Miami Zoo
Miami Zoo

Its more than 100 exhibits take up a total of 740 acres.

It includes more than 500 species of animals.

There are over 1,000 species of plants and trees, hundreds of orchids, and 10,000 to 15,000 honeybees.

Visitors can view the exhibits from the more than three miles of walkways throughout the grounds.

Albino Tiger Miami Zoo
Albino Tiger Miami Zoo

Notable exhibits at Zoo Miami include the children’s zoo, where visitors can interact with, touch and even ride animals like the blue-tongued skink, the kinkajou, the camel or the blue-and-gold macaw.

Amazon and Beyond contains more than 100 species of animals native to the Amazon Basin, including the giant river otter, which grows to lengths exceeding six feet.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Villa Vizcaya dates back to the era when wealthy Americans treated themselves to grand, sprawling estates in the classic European style.

Miami Villa Vizcaya
Miami Villa Vizcaya

Now open to the public as Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Villa Vizcaya was once industrialist James Deering’s summer home.

Its construction began in 1910 and took six years.

He chose its name as a nod to Vizcaino, a Spanish merchant who allegedly explored the area in the early 17th century.

The estate passed into the hands of Miami-Dade County officials in 1952 when Deering’s heirs sold the property and grounds to the county and donated its art collection.

Villa Vizcaya Miami
Villa Vizcaya Miami

At first administered as an art museum, Vizcaya now showcases more than 2,500 objects d’art and furnishings, an orchid collection containing more than 2,000 flowers and 25 acres of old growth forest, as well as 10 acres of formal European-style gardens.

Most of the estate’s furnishings are original as is the layout of the gardens.

Villa Vizcaya Miami
Villa Vizcaya Miami

If you’re visiting Miami, don’t miss these five must-see sights.

Top 5 best sights in Miami

Florida has many amazing attractions, and Miami is a top destination.

Though mostly known for its nightlife and subtropical weather, Miami has a rich cultural scene.

You can experience a rare glimpse at some of the nation’s most spectacular wilderness — as well as some surprising historical treasures.

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Top 10 Best Things to Do in Lake Tahoe Nevada or California

things to do in Lake Tahoe

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Best things to do in Lake Tahoe

Things to Do in Lake Tahoe – Stunningly blue Lake Tahoe sits on the California-Nevada border.

There are plenty of activities to enjoy there no matter the season.

Whether you are looking for adventure or wanting to relax, there are lots of awesome things to do in Tahoe.

Rent a Dream Vacation Home

Most cabins around Tahoe are anything but rustic.

Here you can enjoy traditional log cabin charm with game rooms and hot tubs.

Rent a Dream Vacation Home Things to Do in Lake Tahoe
Rent a Dream Vacation Home

A vacation rental makes the perfect home-base for exploring the lake and its surroundings.

Explore the Perimeter of the Lake

The Tahoe Rim Trail is 165 miles long (266 km) that circles the lake, passing through multiple state parks, and two states.

Things to Do in Tahoe Explore the Perimeter of the Lake
Explore the Perimeter of the Lake

Biking is allowed on most portions of the trail, and horseback riding and hiking are allowed everywhere.

Even completing a portion of the trail allows visitors to get a real sense of the size and natural beauty of this lake.

Skiing in Tahoe

With 400 inches of a snow a year and majestic mountains, Tahoe is a skier’s paradise.

There are several ski resorts that cater to skiers, snowboarders, and tubers.

Dive in

Emerald Bay is one of the country’s unusual state parks, as part of it is underwater!

Divers can experience Tahoe’s past by exploring the sunken wrecks and relics at the bottom of the Lake.

Horseback Riding around Tahoe

Trail riding is extremely popular here, and it provides a great way to explore Tahoe’s wilderness areas.

Things to do in Lake Tahoe
Things to do in Lake Tahoe

Old-fashioned sleigh rides are a treat in the winter.

Hit the Lake Tahoe Casinos

The South Shore’s casinos are a great place to test your luck or to catch a show.

Lake Tahoe Casinos Things to Do in Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe Casinos

If gambling isn’t your thing, you won’t have to worry, as there are plenty of posh spas to relax in.

Visit Fanette Island

A kayaking trip out to Lake Tahoe’s only island is a great way to experience the famous blue waters.

Visit Fanette Island is a great thing to do in Lake Tahoe
Visit Fanette Island

Live Like a Viking

If staying in a luxurious cabin isn’t enough, be sure to check out Vikingsholm, a huge estate built in 1928 in an ancient Scandinavian style.

Get Inspired

Inspiration Point is an aptly named viewpoint over Emerald Bay and is a favorite spot for photographers to try and capture the changing hues of the lake water.

Lake Tahoe Inspiration Point
Lake Tahoe Inspiration Point

Leave it All Behind

The Granite Chief Wilderness attracts day hikers and backpackers alike with its excellent trail system.

An overnight trip of roughing it in the wilderness followed by a stay in a comfortable vacation rental allows visitors to have the best of both worlds.

No matter which of these things to do in Lake Tahoe you choose, you will really feel like you have left your regular life and routines behind.

Visit Fanette Island and live like a Viking Things to Do in Lake Tahoe
Visit Fanette Island and live like a Viking
Things to Do in Lake Tahoe Skiing Lake Tahoe
Skiing Lake Tahoe

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Top Places to Visit in Florida For Every Type of Traveler

Places to Visit in Florida

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Places to Visit in Florida is one of the most popular states in the US, and for many reasons – it offers a huge variety of attractions and things to do.

It attracts all sorts of travelers, from families to single groups to couples.

You may spend a lot of money in Florida, especially if you stay in one of the hotels at the resort, but another alternative is to check out the nearby villas you can rent, they’re perfect for families and groups as you can all live together in one house and in the end it turns out much cheaper than renting 3 rooms in a hotel.

And while in Miami, if you want to be close to where the action is the best villas are located located by South Beach, but there is much more to Mimi than white, soft sand and awesome nightlife.

Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World

5 great places to visit in Florida for every type of traveler

Walt Disney World

There is probably no place in Florida that is better known than Walt Disney World in Orlando. Spreading across 20 000 acres of land it’s one of the largest Disney Theme Parks in the world.

Walt Disney World includes 4 different theme parks and 2 water parks, together they have a total of 132 different attractions!

Understandably you will need more than one day to explore the whole park, but if you only have one day make sure you check out these rides.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Tours, and Space Mountain.

There’s a lot to do in Orlando in addition to Disney, so be sure to plan for several days.

Key West
Key West

Key West

Key West is another very popular place to escape to, it has a great mixture of urban atmosphere and seaside charm.

Here are a few popular things to do in Key West:

Visit any of the beautiful beaches (Smathers Beach is a good one.)

Go deep sea fishing with friends or family

Go snorkeling and scuba diving

Swim with dolphins

Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Explore the Old Town

Aside from these daytime attractions, the fun doesn’t end when the sun sets.

Key West’s nightlife is buzzing.

The best place to be is on Duval Street and Mallory Square where they have a nightly sunset celebration for two hours before sunset to celebrate the end of each day.

Miami
Miami

Miami

Miami is the one of the largest party cities in the country.

It has an abundance of legendary nightclubs and other attractions to offer.

The beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world and popular places for evening concerts and festivals.

Check out the museums, stroll around the Art Deco buildings on South Beach, visit the unique Little Havana neighborhood or go shopping in the Design District.

This place is as known for its beautiful beaches as it is for its beautiful people, and they all love to shake what they’ve got in the clubs.

Day and night you will hear the beats pumping loud out of the speakers, and bikini parties are more of the norm than something unusual.

People here are dead-serious about partying, and not only do they see it as their human-right but as their duty to party for days.

The Everglades
The Everglades

The Everglades are one of the Places to Visit in Florida

The Everglades are often overlooked places to visit in Florida, simply because many people view it as nothing but a swamp.

However, the Everglades is a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site full of flora, fauna and outdoor adventures.

You can bike, canoe, kayak, explore the park on foot or take a boat tour.

This area provides many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to explore and understand the area of the Everglades better – just beware of the crocodiles!

Amelia Island is one of the Places to Visit in Florida

This island is a small shrimping community, but a great place to visit if you are a history buff as are many historic buildings on the island.

The beautiful coastline and beaches are also some of the few locations on the east coast that offers horseback riding on the beach and riding tours along the shoreline.

But one of the most memorable parts of this island is the peaceful atmosphere and stunning views from this island.

If you’re looking for a place to just relax, Amelia Island is it.

Which is your favorite place in Florida?

Music Festivals to Visit in Florida

Music festivals are the ideal opportunity to see all your favorite acts in one place.

Buy a ticket to a festival, and you don’t just get to see one artist, you get to see performances from a line-up of musicians and enjoy a few days of camping, partying, fresh air, beer, sunshine and world-class music.

When planning your round the world trip, it can be a great idea to organize your itinerary so you can attend important festivals in the place you are visiting.

Spring is the perfect time to plan your Florida vacation so it coincides with some of the biggest music festivals in the state’s calendar.

Take some friends, wave your hands in the air, and enjoy music from your favorite artists in the warm Florida sunshine.

Winter Music Conference

The Winter Music Conference in Miami is one of the most publicized music events in the world.

Over 100,000 people descend on Miami every year to see their favorite DJs and party to electronic music.

The conference is visited by Dance music fans and music industry professionals including members of the press, DJs, music producers, record label reps, agents and events promoters.

Held over five days across venues in Miami and Miami Beach, the Winter Music Conference turns the city into one big nightclub and is the number one place to be in the US.

Florida Music Festival and Conference, Orlando

The FMF takes place in Downtown Orlando during Spring and has been hosted by aXis Magazine and Promotions since 2002.

The conference attracts over thousands of people people and is attended by music industry professionals, including agents, producers and record label execs, and this events is a great festival for attendees who have an interest in business side of the music industry.

Attendees can watch music from emerging talent and unsigned bands, listen to keynote speeches and register for industry networking parties.

The Florida Music Festival attracted 25,000 music-lovers and featured performances from 175 unsigned artists.

Tampa Bay Blues Fest

Tampa Bay Blues Fest has been held every year since 1995 in St.Petersburg, Florida.

Thousands of Blues music fans flock to the lush, tropical grounds of Vinoy Park to watch world-renowned artists perform American Blues music on the waterfront.

Held in spring, the Tampa Bay Blues Fest is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the Florida sunshine and warm weather, whilst listening to some of the world’s greatest Blues musicians.

Snack on tasty food from stalls selling Cuban cuisine, seafood and local BBQ.

Wanee Music Festival in Live Oak

Wanee Music Festival is places to visit in Florida and takes place in the town of Live Oak in north Florida.

The festival has been running since 2005 and is held in the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, with the Allman Brothers Band leading the line-up every year.

Thousands of people camp out for the three day rock music festival, which features a stellar line-up of bands and musicians, including Robert Plant and Sharon Jones.

Springing the Blues Fest, Jacksonville

The Biggest Music Festivals in Florida
The Biggest Music Festivals in Florida

Florida’s largest and oldest free outdoor Blues festival is held on Jacksonville Beach in Florida on the first weekend of April every year.

The three-day music event features well-known blues artists who perform in a spectacular oceanfront setting.

Springing the Blues was listed by Downbeat Magazine as one of the top 50 music festivals in the world.

The festival also has displays and activities geared toward families.

While in Florida, try to see a side that most travelers will miss if they depend on the entertainment of a resort.

Venture out and get to know the real Florida, through music.

While the usual tourist attractions are fun, you can really get an experience with the local culture through more exploration.

Siesta Key Sarasota Visit in Florida is America’s Top Vacation Destination

Idyllic Siesta Key Sarasota, Florida is one of America’s top vacation destinations.

It’s popular for a number of reasons.

Among them is one of the top-rated public beaches in the country, Siesta Key.

With its eight miles of glorious sand along the Gulf of Mexico, it includes three beaches: Siesta Beach, Turtle Beach and Crescent Beach.

You can also read about our Going Green Vacation Siesta Key and Venice Florida

Siesta Key Sarasota
156 steps to Siesta Key Sarasota white sand beach

The sand on Siesta Key Sarasota is renowned the world over.

Being 99% pure quartz crystal, it is fine, soft and cool to the touch.

It is easy to run, bike, and walk on as well as make sand castles and creations of your dreams.

The water is warm and the waves are inviting.

Whether you want to exercise, play, swim or relax, you can do it all on this glorious beach.

We wanted to capitalize on our children’s summer break between sports and camps, and booked the trip for five nights.

A different type of vacation for us

Usually when we go on vacation, we are gone from morning until late in the afternoon or evening.

We typically drive from place to place, sightseeing all day.

This vacation was different in that all we were planning on doing was going to different beaches.

We were able to come and go as we pleased.

Because we expected to have several hours of downtime a day in our hotel — in order to get out of the sun — we wanted more space than a typical hotel room afforded.

It was also important for us to find a nice place to stay right on the beach.

We didn’t want to have to cross busy streets, carrying towels, sand toys and snacks.

We also didn’t want to have to drive and deal with finding a parking spot in the public lots and then still have to make a trek to the actual beach.

Also, we wanted a full kitchen so that we could eat whenever we wanted, without the hassle of getting ready and having to drive somewhere.

Siesta Key Villa
Siesta Key Villa C14

We found a perfect spot Siesta Key Villa

We made a great choice when we choose a villa at Casa Blanca – Villa C14.

Unique and inviting, it is just steps away from the gorgeous white sand at Crescent Beach.

The perfect home away from home, this standalone structure at 6154 Midnight Pass Road in Siesta Key Sarasota, Florida is just what we needed to enjoy a relaxing vacation. (Contact Teri Evans, owner of Villa C14 at raccoonbear@aol.com or cell 262-385-2359.)

Villa C14 had everything we wanted for a memorable stay.

Colorfully decorated with an amazing beach theme throughout the entire space, the villa comfortably accommodates five adults.

With a sizable living room, fun dining area, large kitchen, two bedrooms and two baths, it was the perfect place.

Siesta Key Sarasota Villa
Siesta Key Sarasota Villa

In one bedroom, there is a twin over a queen-sized bunk bed.

The second bedroom boasts an eye-catching collection of some of the ocean’s largest shells.

There are ample closets and drawer space in each room.

We only had to bring our beach towels; everything thing else was there.

Eating in our villa During our visit in Florida

What a relief to not have to go out to eat for every meal!

Not only did we have the convenience, especially after hours at the beach, but we were able to eat much healthier and much more affordably.

Everything about this fully-stocked kitchen was inviting: from the adorable gecko tiles on the walls to the modern range with flat cook-top.

There was a good-sized refrigerator and freezer and a small dishwasher.

They had everything in stock we needed, including pots/pans, toaster, plates, and more.

We didn’t do laundry but across from the clubhouse were several coin-operated washers and dryers.

With no shared walls or roads to cross, this accommodation offered us the privacy, peace, and quiet we were hoping for.

We enjoyed the clubhouse playing billiards, ping pong and swimming in the clean, heated pool. It was the perfect place to relax.

Being right on the beach, we were able to go to the beach the very first day we arrived, even after getting the rental car, buying groceries and checking in.

That was so nice for all of us, especially after a long day of traveling.

We love Crescent Beach! Siesta Key Sarasota

As beautiful and welcoming as the villa is, the private beach at Crescent Beach on Siesta Key Sarasota is the main attraction.

It’s one of America’s very best, and it’s literally about 150 steps from the doorway of this conveniently located villa.

The beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the white sand on the shore are picture perfect.

While there were lots of small shells, it was easy to walk on the cool sand.

When we went in early June, it was fairly empty.

In between the rain, we were at Crescent Beach for hours, enjoying the sand and majestic ocean.

Siesta Key White Sand
Siesta Key White Sand

We enjoyed making sand castles and playing in the waves in the warm water.

We saw a lot of walkers and runners as well as some people relaxing and reading in lounge chairs.

The chairs were free to use for Casa Blanca patrons and were plentiful that time of year.

We were close enough to return to our villa for snacks and meals without having to tote everything to the beach.

It was also nice when someone in our family wanted to go back for a break from the sun.

Crescent Beach is also located just a short drive to town which was convenient for restaurants, ice cream, and souvenir shopping.

Siesta Key White Sand Beach
Siesta Key White Sand Beach

We spent most of our time at Crescent Beach and enjoyed the convenient location to also check out Venice Beach and Casperson Beach to look for shark teeth.

Shark Teeth Crescent Beach
Shark teeth Crescent Beach

Swimsuit chaffing

Mini-tip: If you have boys who wear swimsuit trunks, cut out the netting and buy some generic petroleum jelly in advance.

The sand gets caught in their netting and the elastic around their waist and chaffs them.

It even happened to me in my shorts swimsuit bottom.

Hopefully it won’t happen if you cut out the netting but if it still does, it is worth to have some Vaseline to heal it for a few hours before they go out again.

That salt water stings!

Day trip from Siesta Key

There are so many unique areas to visit in Florida.

Anna Maria Island is about 27 miles away from Siesta Key.

In just about an hour, you can enjoy all this glorious island has to offer.

Anna Maria Island Visit in Florida

We all have our own favorite places where we can return to over and over, our own paradise where we can leave all our worries behind and just take the days as they come.

For many, that place is Anna Maria Island.

My favorite aspect of Anna Maria Island is the atmosphere, one that locals constantly refer to as the “Old Florida” feeling.

But what exactly is “Old Florida”?

The Old Florida Feel

Anna Maria Island Vacations - Florida
Anna Maria Island Vacations – Florida

Think of a Florida from several decades ago, free of today’s luxury cars speeding along the condo-lined strip in Palm Beach.

Picture a time long gone by, before the swank of Miami and South Beach, when Florida was known for small, local attractions, miles of canals, brightly painted beach cottages, and a slower pace of life.

The “Old Florida” feel is a combination of Hemingway days and Meet the Fockers.

It’s an atmosphere of tropical fun, with palm trees and wooden piers, and a population completely without pretense.

A Different Beach Every Day

Each beach on the island is a little different, and it’s worth visiting all of them.

To the North of the island, Anna Maria Beach in city of Anna Maria is my preferred place for quiet days on all but deserted sands.

I find it to be one of the best locations for taking in the island’s sublime sunsets.

Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach is where I head for surfing, while I visit Manatee Beach (in the town of Holmes Beach) when I want to socialize a little more.

But there’s more on these beaches besides sandcastle-building and sunbathing.

Throughout the summer, Manatee Beach is the prime spot for organized sea turtle hatching tours.

And Anna Maria Beach is wonderful for shell hunting and beach combing.

Kite surfing, paddle boarding and snorkeling are also popular things to do on the beaches, but be careful as there are strong tidal currents in some places.

Seven mile reefs typically have the best clarity.

Did Someone Say Horse Surfing?

Bradenton Beach is likely the only place on the planet that offers an exciting new venture: horse surfing.

Tour groups ride horses along Anna Maria Island’s beaches, and then into the ocean.

There’s nothing quite like swimming with a horse in the sea, or standing on its back as it trots, neck-deep, through the waves.

On days where I’m feeling slightly less ambitious in the beach tourism department, simply sitting by the shore and looking out at the water is an ecotourism adventure all its own.

It’s not uncommon to see manatees and dolphins swimming right along the coast.

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Festivals and events on Anna Maria Island

There are festivals and events throughout the year on the island, from art, music, food, and excellent wine themes.

I’m generally fond of the Friday Night Art Walks at Bradenton’s Village of the Arts, where resident artists open their galleries to visitors.

Other Bradenton favorites include Reels at Rossi Park (a year-round outdoor movies in the park event) on the third Friday of every month, and Music on Main, a free music festival on the first Friday of every month.

Some highlights are the famous Pirate Parades in July along the whole length of the island, the Art Festival in Anna Maria, and the Taste of Manatee food festival in Bradenton in November.

Events like these are precisely why Anna Maria Island is so enticing to tourists.

There’s always something fun to do in this little piece of paradise.

The laid-back attitude of the locals, the “Old Florida” charm, the beautiful beaches, and the endless events and festivals keep tourists entertained . . . and keep them coming back.

So difficult to leave Siesta Key Sarasota

It is always so nice to go on a vacation and actually feel relaxed and like you “got away” from the usual hurried pace of life.

Many people think of Disney World when they think of Florida, but this was much more relaxing.

We have been on many vacations and came back more exhausted than when we left.

It was truly wonderful to enjoy nature, to slow down, and to enjoy a lot of family time hanging out at the beaches and relaxing in our villa.

We cannot wait to return to glorious Siesta Key and visit in Florida again soon.

(photo credit: 1 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 41 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5)

Things To Do In Las Vegas Without Gambling

Las Vegas a Great Family Friendly Destination

Updated:

Things To Do In Las Vegas Without Gambling – The number of tourists set a record for Las Vegas that had not been broken in over five years.

Over 39 million people visited the city!

From “Sin City”, “Capital of Second Chances” and “Entertainment Capital of the World” – Las Vegas has many nicknames giving you clues as to what makes this city so popular.

In this place, people let their hair down, act a little crazy and do things they normally wouldn’t.

After all, the infamous slogan “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is not for nothing.

Things To Do In Las Vegas

Yes, Las Vegas is known for its clubs, casinos and gambling.

However, there are many things that are fun about it other than just games of chance.

”Vegas baby Vegas!” is the infamous quote from the film classic ”The Swingers” and it sums up Vegas pretty well, in other words, you don’t have to explain to people what Vegas has to offer – after all, it’s Vegas!

Las Vegas is many guys dream destination for their bachelor party, and people fly in on cheap flights to Las Vegas every day of the week – no matter which day you go out – it’s saturday every night in this city.

You know you’re visting a crazy party place when the city’s slogan is ”What happens in Vegas … stays in Vegas”.

This place knows how to party like few other cities, and only the toughest can last more than a couple of days in this city which seems to never have heard of the word ”sleep”!

This city knows no boundaries and seems to love taking things over the top, from roller coasters going through the hotel receptions, to feathered show-girls and the ”kaching!” sound coming 24/7 from the Casino’s, there is simply no ending to it.

Things To Do In Las Vegas Without Gambling

In many ways, Las Vegas is a great family friendly destination.

Still others come for yoga with dolphins and the water shows with dolphins.

Las Vegas Natural History Museum

The Las Vegas Natural History Museum opened its doors in 1991.

Quick nine minute ride from The Palazzo Las Vegas, the museum features permanent exhibits such as treasures found in an Egyptian tomb of the famous pharaoh King Tut that includes a mummy, and a dinosaur exhibit where the dinosaurs move including a 35 foot Tyrannosaurus Rex that roars.

In May of 2013, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum will open a new exhibit called Secrets of the Deep that will feature creatures that live in the ocean.

Things To Do In Las Vegas Without Gambling
Things To Do In Las Vegas Without Gambling

Bellagio Fountain Show

Imagine an 8.5 – acre lake in the middle of the dessert exploding with 1,214 spritzers shooting water up to 460 feet in the air, with water rockets and dances, perfectly choreographed to Frank Sinatra or Gene Kelly or “One Singular Sensation” from A Chorus Line.

That is what goes on every half-hour between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and every 15 minutes from then ’til midnight at the Bellagio Fountains.

Roller-Coaster Through a Hotel
Roller-Coaster Through a Hotel

Roller-Coaster Through a Hotel

Although it’s not the craziest roller coaster in Vegas, it’s the whole concept that makes this ride unique.

After all, how many roller coasters go straight through a hotel?

The New York-New York hotel which the roller coaster goes through is pretty interesting in itself.

It’s designed as a compressed version of Disney-fied Manhattan.

The roller coaster makes for a good tour around the building.

Adventuredome Las Vegas

For some more adrenaline rushing rides, the Adventuredome is a five acre indoor amusement park.

It’s located within the Circus Circus Casino.

Five minutes away from The Palazzo Las Vegas, the amusement park has four different levels of rides.

It caters to toddler age all the way to adult and also a level of rides that is for the whole family.

The Adventuerdome has over 25 rides. This includes a roller coaster called the Canyon Blaster.

It goes over 55 miles per hour.

The Sand Pirates ride features a giant pirate ship that swings back and forth.

But the amusement park has more than rides. There is also an arcade filled with the latest video games.

There’s the Xtreme Zone that lets kids try their hands at rock climbing and bungee jumping.

There’s Pike’s Pass where everyone can play putt putt golf.

And then there’s Midway Games, which features games where both children and adults can play to win prizes like they were on a boardwalk midway.

You can pay to ride the different level of rides individually.

The prices for the rides range from five to eight dollars each, or there is an all-day pass available that offers unlimited rides for one price.

Venice Gondola in Las Vegas
Venice Gondola in Las Vegas

Visit The Fake Capitals

Las Vegas is a city that embraces everything kitsch and tacky.

It has made an effort to pay a tacky homage to other famous cities around the world.

If you want to visit Paris and the Eiffel Tower check out Paris Las Vegas.

For Venice and a ride in a Venetian gondola, St Mark’s Square and the Venetian has what you’re looking for.

And of course, New York New York has everything “Big Apple,” from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building and Central Park.

Shopping in Las Vegas

Las Vegas has two outlet malls that are located just minutes away from The Palazzo Las Vegas.

Whether visitors to Las Vegas choose to go to the Premium Outlet Mall North or South locations, there are a variety of different stores for people to choose from.

Together, the two outlet malls offer over 290 stores.

They include such famous brands as Calvin Klein, Coach, Ralph Lauren, and many other designer names.

Visitors to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets can enjoy a variety of different places to eat, and the Premium South Outlet also features Story time and a giant carousel that kids will enjoy.

What are your best tips for a visit to Las Vegas?

Las Vegas a Great Family Friendly Destination See the Animals

Las Vegas a great family friendly destination?!?!

Nope – not kidding.

The Strip may not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of family destinations.

But Las Vegas is no longer the Sin City of old—today, it’s a diverse, entertaining whirlwind of unique attractions, restaurants and experiences perfect for families.

Here are five Vegas experiences not to miss for families.

Little ones will love the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, where visitors can come face to face with a few of Earth’s most fascinating underwater creatures.

Check out a variety of sharks, saw fish, giant rays, endangered sea green turtles, moon jellies, rare golden crocodiles and other amazing species.

And for more animal love, visit Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage, to see white lions, white tigers, panthers, leopards, and the Atlantic Bottle nose Dolphins.

Las Vegas a Great Family Friendly Destination
Las Vegas a Great Family Friendly Destination

Educate the entire family

BODIES . . . The Exhibition at Luxor, has an intricate 3-D vision of the human form.

Visitors will get the chance to see real bodies, preserved along with inner organs.

It’s an exhibit that will easily trump any biology class.

Exhibition at Luxor

Older kids will find the CSI: The Experience at MGM Grand fascinating and educational.

Inspired by the hit TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, guests test their inner crime-solver by playing the role of investigator in exciting interactive challenges.

Take in a Las Vegas show

The music, acrobatics, and first class production of many of the shows in Vegas is a great option to entertain the entire family.

From beating drums and electrifying production of the Blue Man Group  to the daring acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles LOVE, everyone will walk away in awe.

Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil

Medieval Dining

Watch knights fight in a jousting tournament and enjoy medieval-style dining of a three-course banquet at Tournament of Kings at Excalibur.

Adapted from the tale of King Arthur, diners of all ages will have a thrilling time watching the prancing horses, dancing maidens and invading armies at close proximity.

Experience top coasters

Thrill-seekers won’t want to miss Adventuredome at Circus Circus.

This theme park features the world’s only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster – The Canyon Blaster.

double-corkscrew roller coaster - The Canyon Blaster
double-corkscrew roller coaster – The Canyon Blaster

The Roller Coaster at New York-New York will add even more adrenaline to your experience.

Fly 203 feet into the air and then drop 144 feet down at the racy speed of 67 mph before freezing in time with the famous “heartline” twist, a dive that turns 180 degrees and hangs you 86 feet off the ground.

It’s an experience your family will never forget.

Fabulous Las Vegas – A City that Reinvents Itself

There’s a lot to love about Las Vegas, from luxurious hotels to fabulous restaurants to the pulsating energy of the Strip.

But perhaps the city’s best feature is that it always offers visitors something new.

Vegas is constantly reinventing itself, dazzling visitors with hot new shows, unique experiences and fresh entertainment.

Even if you were just there recently, you’re all but guaranteed a new experience every time you return.

Showtime, All the Time

Take, for example, the artist in residency programs.

A growing number of Vegas hotels are hosting world-class performers for a year or more at a time.

Gone are the days when fans had to cross their fingers and hope their favorite musician or performer might host a concert or show in a nearby city.

In Vegas, visitors can catch a performance by top talent like Boys II Men or Terry Fator any night of their trip.

Las Vegas Shows
Las Vegas Shows

Vegas shows are also getting more extravagant and technologically advanced.

You can bet it’ll be an experience you’ll never forget.

Here’s one not to miss: Michael Jackson ONE, featuring amazing dancing and theatrics.

Las Vegas amazing dancing and theatrics

Vegas is also a destination for once-in-a-lifetime events, like September’s iHeartRadio Festival at the MGM Grand, which featured some of the hottest performers in the world: Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Drake, Elton John, Miley Cyrus, Paul McCartney and more.

iHeartRadio Festival at the MGM Grand
iHeartRadio Festival at the MGM Grand

The same arena also hosts major sporting events, big name fights, and to top musicians throughout the year.

No matter when you head to Vegas, chances are there’s going to be something spectacular going on.

Eat like a King

Meanwhile, the Vegas food scene is constantly on the move, with new dishes and new restaurants every time you visit.

Top restaurants open just about every month, offering foodies a mouthwatering selection of fantastic eateries.

Check out one of the restaurants by a celebrity chef, including Rick Moonen (Rx Boiler Room), Sean McClain (Pizza 550 and Sage), and Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio (Heritage Steak).

dining in Vegas
dining in Vegas

And since dining in Vegas is about the experience as much as the food, restaurants increasingly strive to offer diners something unique.

Here’s a place with a twist: Michael Mina’s PUB 1842, where you can pour your own beer from the tap right at your table.

The Las Vegas Strip

Still, one thing about Vegas never changes: The stunning view.

For one of the best spots to see the lights, check out Mix at Mandalay Bay, the restaurant and lounge by Alain Ducasse.

Located high above the Strip, the view is one you’ll always find dazzling— no matter how many times you visit.

Traveling to Las Vegas is a dream for many.

Some may believe it’s difficult to get approval to travel to the US.

However, with the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP), many can easily travel to the United States without the need to obtain a visa by using the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization).

If you want to save time and have a worry-free experience in handling your ESTA application, we recommend ESTAS.net.

3 Animal-Free Circus Shows Around The World

Back in the days of our grandparents, kids dreamed of running away with the circus, travel the world and explore far away places.

It was exotic, exciting, and the lifestyle was one that most people could only dream of: the life of a vagabond.

Today, the circus world has changed a lot, and as our society is getting ever harder to please, they have to come up with some very good stunts to get our attention.

The best circuses in the world are quite different from what you once associated with a circus, and many are (finally!) steering away from using animals.

As a child, I only ever went to a circus once, because I couldn’t stand the torture that animals had to go through for the sake of our entertainment.

But today you can enjoy all the magic, excitement and smell of popcorn in a colorful tent guilt-free at these animal-free circuses …

Cirque du Soleil

Perhaps the best example of the modern circus, many argue that nobody can put together a better and more professional show than Cirque du Soleil.

Based in Canada, the circus employs over 4000 people who tour the world in different groups, performing the most amazing stunts, tricks and magic with great live music.

The Cirque du Soleil Orlando has become very popular, so it’s definitely a show to check out when you’re in “the land of entertainment” – this show definitely stands out from the rest of the Florida attraction tickets.

Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil

Circus Oz

“Think Cirque du Soleil on drugs”, someone said in a review – the Cricus Oz preforms the same stunts as many other circuses, minus the animals, but it’s the way it’s all put together with a great selection of live music and the awesome narrator who keeps the crowd going.

It’s all very modern, and all very loud.

What people love the most about this show is the laid back, quirky, naughty, satirical and funny attitude.

New Shanghai Circus

With a group of 40 acrobats from China, the New Shanghai Circus tests your perception of what is possible to do with your body.

It’s a unique production, which although quite long, nails the audience to their seats.

In the line-up they have quite a few award winning numbers such as Diabolo, Aerial Fish Ballet, Pole Climbers, Lions, Dragons, Chair Stack, Adagio, Bicycle, Human Top and Plates Spinning.

The one thing they could do without however is the lengthy video in the beginning.

Animal-free circuses reviews

Chinese state circus, Moscow State Circus, Circus Smirkus, Cirque Éloize, Circus Finelli – if you want more, check out this list of PETA approved shows.

Which is your favorite animal-free circus?

Yoga with Dolphins – An Exotic Experience in Las Vegas

Yes, it’s true… there’s yoga with dolphins.

Imagine relaxing in lotus pose while dolphins zip and twirl through turquoise water right in front of you.

Sound like a dream?

It’s reality at the “Yoga with the Dolphins” experience within the Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

yoga with dolphins
Dolphins in Las Vegas

This yoga with dolphins class is an example of a hot new travel trend.

It’s called destination yoga.

Both enthusiasts and novices seek out yoga classes, excursions and retreats in exotic and unusual locations.

We spoke with Willow Withy, a yoga instructor and interdisciplinary artist who leads the dolphin yoga classes at the Mirage, to find out more information.

What are some of the more interesting locations where you have taught yoga?

There is a bit of controversy in the yoga world about traveling retreats.

There is clearly no place to travel to find yourself.

Remember the saying: Wherever you go, there you are?

Still, I’ve done a bit of research in epigenetics that proves that our environment does play a factor in how we think, act and speak, which is inherently a meditation in yoga.

I’ve been very fortunate to practice and teach in many US cities, the Galápagos Islands and in the dolphin observatory at The Mirage where I’m currently based in Las Vegas.

Which is your favorite? Why?

I absolutely loved the Galápagos Islands.

Galápagos Islands

There is so much research being done there in conservation, human and animal evolution and biodiversity.

The environment resonates with respect and peace.

However, what I love about the dolphin habitat at the Mirage is the experience of peace and tranquility.

It is accessible in Las Vegas, a very unexpected and welcomed surprise.

What’s the appeal of taking a yoga class in Las Vegas?

Most people travel to Vegas to break the monotony of their everyday—to dance, to drink and get lucky.

But there are also families who visit Las Vegas.

There are a lot of business conventions. International travelers often fly to Vegas as a first stop in touring the West.

Everyone isn’t there for the gambling.

The dolphins have a natural appeal to the everyday tourist.

The habitat does not offer shows that are typical to animals in captivity.

yoga with dolphins

The yoga class and other interactions with the dolphins provide a personal reflection.

It’s quite therapeutic and exactly at the heart of what Vegas tourists are truly seeking.

Yoga with dolphins

When I first began teaching in the space, I noticed something really different was happening during classes.

I knew I was the same person teaching the same practice, so I looked into the neurotransmitters that are released among dolphins.

It turns out our bodies release significant levels of oxytocin around dolphins.

dolphins in Las Vegas

Oxytocin is crucial in forming social bonds in the human experience.

Now that our environment is becoming so digital, oxytocin is a rare, healing and beautiful sensation.

My knowledge of how it impacts the dolphins is more limited.

However, every morning when I go down to set up, they eagerly await some handstands and often mimic the poses during classes.

It seems we are mutually stimulating each other.

The dolphins are just as curious about our yoga asanas (poses) as we are about them.

(photo credit: 1 – 1 – 3 – 4)

Top 5 Romantic Jamaican Spots For Couples Romantic Vacation

Tips For Luxury Travel In Jamaica

Updated:

Romantic Jamaican Spots For Couples – Jamaica is one of the most romantic islands in the world – spending sunny laid-back days and warm moon-lit nights here by the Caribbean Sea can go a long way in putting the spark back in a dimming relationship.

Whether you are looking for a Jamaica all-inclusive holiday or small private accommodation, there is no shortage of romantic villas, beaches and restaurants to visit. But what do you bring?

Romantic Jamaican Spots For Couples
Romantic Jamaican Spots For Couples

Favorite Romantic Jamaican spots for couples

Citronella Cottages

Lovers will get lost in time in this paradise with its lush, well-manicured lawns, tall coconut trees and other exotic foliage.

Walk down carved rock steps that lead from the cliffs down to a white, sandy beach and emerald sea.

High in the cliffs of Negril, Jamaica, Citronella is nestled in the volcanic cliffs.

Stay in a private cottage with airy, louvered windows.

Mombasa netting covers the bed in a romantic cocoon to keep the mosquitoes from nibbling, so you can safely open the windows and fall asleep to the sound of the sea.

Explore secluded caves and coves one day, and languish on the quiet beach another.

Sit on the veranda and sip cocktails before dinner, or check out the famous Rick’s Cafe and capture the most amazing sunset!

Mayfield Falls

Mayfield Falls sits in the more untamed area in Western Jamaica.

There are five acres available for camping, or just go hiking and have a picnic.

Visitors here enjoy the walks along the beautiful rivers and streams where small cascading waterfalls are scattered along the way.

For adventurous couples, there is cliff jumping and cave diving.

Relax in a natural Jacuzzi and get massages later.

Then get ready to soak in some local culture by learning folk dances and how to prepare a few of the local spicy dishes.

Couples Tower Isle, Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios is a popular port of call for cruise lines.

There is no shortage of romantic, luxurious resorts and spas there.

Enjoy the beauty of Jamaica and relax at the lovely Couples Tower Isle, a resort that caters to couples only.

There is a multitude of complimentary activities here to indulge in.

Couples enjoy scuba-diving, snorkeling, learning to cook Jamaican foods, and even how to give each other a massage.

Finally, at the end of every day, dance late into the night with reggae and other music.

Negril’s Seven-Mile Beach

No matter what part of Jamaica anyone chooses to stay at, a day on Negril, Jamaica’s seven mile beach is a must.

Just the sheer beauty of it makes this a romantic beach.

There are miles of awesome white sand that seems to stretch forever – the white sand on the bottom of the sea here reflects the sky, making for an especially lovely early morning or evening walk.

East of Eden Villa

For couples that like to stay more in touch with the modern world, East of Eden is good choice, remaining charming and romantic.

This four-bedroom villa is located on a lovely part of the Caribbean Sea.

Each spacious living area comes complete with cable TV-VCR, a computer, stereo system and telephone.

There is a private bathroom for each of the suites, and the huge covered veranda provides plenty of room for dining or just lounging.

There is also a fantastic tropical garden to enjoy, full of orange, lime, banana trees and more. What items are a must for Traveling?

Tips For Luxury Travel In Jamaica

Jamaica’s superior service and amenities have earned it a place among the Caribbean’s premier luxury travel destinations.

But spending more on your stay does not a guarantee a better value, which is why we’ve come up with this list of tips to ensure you have a great vacation – VIP style…

Make Yourself at Home

Like most North Americans, you’ve probably worked very hard all year and your significant other has convinced you to finally take a vacation.

The best way to get the most out of your precious vacation time and get some serious undisturbed R&R, is to rent a villa.

While nightly rates are typically higher than a single hotel room, villas offers a great value for groups of friends and large families, and will often be cheaper than renting cramped hotel rooms for the whole group.

Besides, the vast majority of villas in Jamaica include staff, gourmet kitchens and some even are located directly on the beach.

And as for couples, it’s hard the beat the romance factor of your own private pool 😉

Look for the Extras

Instead of staring yourself blind comparing prices, compare the value and the extras that each villa provide.

If you’re a boat enthusiast, you might want to consider a villa that has private boat slips allowing you to use the boat as much as you like.

Other extras and bonuses villas often offer is a private beach, tennis court, bicycle, car, etc.

Also ask yourself if you will use these things.

Be sure to consider if you will need to pay additional for amenities you want.

Hire a Driver

Jamaica is one of the largest islands in the Caribbean which means there’s plenty to see.

After a few days on the beach with a Red Stripe or Appleton and coke in hand, you’ll probably want to venture further afield and see what life in Jamaica is really like.

You can basically go about this two ways:

Rent a car which will cost roughly $600 US / week plus gas and insurance.

Hire a driver for roughly $800 US / week which includes airport transfers and one tank of gas.

Most drivers are available for up to 10 hours / day – yes, that’s a lot of exploring!

When it comes to your valuable vacation time, every minute counts.

Next time you’re in Jamaica, I hope these three luxury travel tips will help you make the most of your stay!

Aruba is a beautiful island
Aruba is a beautiful island

Exploring Dream Caribbean Cruise Islands and Destinations

A holiday cruise through the Caribbean is one of the most exciting and enjoyable trips imaginable – from warm weather and blue waters to unique culture and incredible ship amenities, there is simply no denying the appeal of this type of holiday.

When you choose a Dream Caribbean Cruise Islands destination for your all inclusive vacations there are several Caribbean locations that truly do stand out.

Imagine lying in the shade with a drink in your hand on a white sandy beach.

Then imagine at 10 am sharp seeing hundreds of tourists suddenly appear out of nowhere to fill up every inch of that beautiful beach that just minutes ago was near empty.

That is often the reality on many islands in the Caribbean.

The islands are a dream – but with too many tourists sharing it chances are it won’t be what you had pictured.

But there is a way to get around this problem.

Although most islands are accessible by cruises, some are less crowded than others.

Anguilla Dream Caribbean Cruise Islands
Anguilla Dream Caribbean Cruise Islands

Anguilla Dream Caribbean Cruise Island

With a relaxed atmosphere and uncrowded beaches, Anguilla is the perfect island escape for travelers looking for some peace and quiet.

There is an abundance of high-end restaurants and white beaches, making it a popular choice for the rich and famous.

Rather than buzzing nightlife, you will find nice, laid-back bars with live music in the evenings.

Aruba

Located just 15 miles from the Venezuelan coast, Aruba is a beautiful island steeped in Dutch culture – boasting flat, white, sandy beaches and a tropical climate, this is the perfect location for relaxing along the coast.

Visitors can enjoy all the recreational activities imaginable, including horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, fishing, cycling or even riding in a submarine!

In addition, the cities of Oranjestad and Noord offer a unique combination of Dutch heritage and the casual Caribbean air.

Barbados
Barbados

Barbados

Long associated with Britain, this island is often considered a mini-England in the heart of the Caribbean.

The capital and highlight of the island is the city of Bridgetown, located along the Western shoreline of the nation.

Although much of the appeal of this location are the stunning beaches and resorts, there are also plenty of colonial historical landmarks to explore.

Just a few include the Barbados Museum, the 150 year old Careenage, and the famed Parliament Building.

Cruises ships often use this as their port of call on the island, making it a great place to disembark and spend the day shopping, eating and exploring the area.

Bonaire Netherlands Antilles
Bonaire Netherlands Antilles

Bonaire

Another low-key island, Bonaire is known as one of the region’s best diving locations.

Easily accessible from shore, going diving in Bonaire isn’t as expensive as you would think ($100 for a half-day beginner course) so there really isn’t an excuse for trying it out while you’re there!

If you prefer to keep your head above water, there is plenty to explore as well; hiking, kayaking, cycling and bird-watching are other popular activities in Bonaire.

This low-key corner of the Netherlands Antilles boasts some of the region’s finest diving, easily accessed from shore (which keeps dive costs down).

Outdoors lovers will enjoy bird-watching, hiking, kayaking and cycling in a stark, natural setting that looks little like the Caribbean we expect.

Dominican Republic Dream Caribbean Cruise
Dominican Republic Dream Caribbean Cruise

Dominican Republic

Found on the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is one of the top Caribbean destinations for cruise holidays.

The national language is Spanish, although English speakers will have no problem being understood.

The coastal capital of Santo Domingo is where many major cruise lines depart, and offers visitors the chance to explore the major colonial zone, boasting architecture from the 16th century.

Don’t miss out on the Ozama Fort, Alcazar de Colon and the Cathedral, all still standing after centuries. Many of these impressive older buildings are now available to tour as museums as well.

Caribbean island of Jamaica
Caribbean island of Jamaica

Jamaica

Many people do not realize that the Caribbean island of Jamaica is in fact part of the British Commonwealth, and uses English as their first language.

The two most popular cruise destinations within Jamaica are the capital city of Kingston and the beautiful coastal town of Montego Bay.

Kingston boasts several fascinating museums on the heritage of the island, and Montego Bay is the ultimate place to relax on the beach, thanks to long stretches of fine, white sand and beautiful deep blue waters.

The Crazy Tourist has a list of 25 Islands to visit in the Caribbean we encourage you to checkout as well.

Nevis
Nevis

Fun Things To Do in Barbados

As an island country in the Lesser Antilles, Barbados was first visited by the Spanish in the late 1400’s to early 1500’s.

In 1511, it first appeared on a Spanish map and in 1627, the English first began settling here.

Nowadays, it has become a popular tourist destination, full of all inclusive resorts for you to enjoy the beautiful beaches and pleasant climate.

On your next visit, consider one of the following four activities:

Take an unforgettable undersea expedition

Throughout the island, there are numerous operators that offer undersea expeditions.

Families can enjoy a submarine day dive, while those traveling with friends may want to see another part of Barbados’ nightlife and take a submarine night dive.

The submarines come with big view ports on all sides, from which you can see curious exotic fish peeking at you.

Fun Things To Do in Barbados
Fun Things To Do in Barbados

The voyages are fully narrated so that you learn as you dive along.

While the day dive allows you to see the busy reef life, the nighttime dives are usually followed by a short cocktail and have a more romantic focus on the corals and night predators.

Tour a historic plantation

Barbados has more to offer than beaches – given its rich history, it is an ideal place to learn more about plantations.

The Sunbury Plantation House, for example, is over 300 years old and steeped in history.

Sunbury Plantation House
Sunbury Plantation House

It features mahogany antiques, old prints and a unique collection of horse-drawn carriages, in fact, it is the only great house with all rooms available for viewing.

Enjoy an extravagant dinner show

If you want some real nightlife, consider attending a dinner show, such as the Beach Extravaganza Dinner Show on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Here, you can dance barefoot in the sand beneath coconut trees.

A local band will determine the rhythm, and you can sip exotic drinks while you rock along to the beat.

Last but not least, amazing performances of stilt men, fire-eaters and acrobatic green monkey will make it an unforgettable experience to say the least.

Fun Things To Do in Barbados
Fun Things To Do in Barbados

Get an adrenaline kick

If you’ve had enough of relaxing on the beach, it might be time for some action.

Thriller Boats, for example, offers off-shore power boating trips on the specifically designed Seafari Thriller powerboat, which cruises up to 35 people.

Blast across the waves while staying safe – the captain and crew are fully trained and have years of experience at sea.

If you’re with a group of friends and/or family, you can charter a private boat, too.

Bermuda: A Misunderstood Location?

In one way or another, the Bermuda Triangle always makes its way back into contemporary culture.

As a kid, it was a frequent troupe in cartoons, with a burly band of bad guys being sucked into a giant whirlpool or ships getting chomped up like dry Ryvita.

It’s also a regular feature in comics, films, books and even music (thank you, in particular, Barry Manilow, for your inspired take on the urban legend).

Bermuda: A Misunderstood Location?
Bermuda: A Misunderstood Location?

Jewel of the Atlantic

Question is: why has it gained such notoriety and is Bermuda itself a viable tourist destination?

I mean, I’ve never heard of anyone going there and it’s certainly not on the backpacker trail, so are people really put off by an old wives tales or… is the legend true… do brave Bermudan travelers face a fate worse than death?

Well, not quite. Bermuda is a beautiful island, with pink Champagne beaches, azure blue oceans and the kind of picture-perfect views that inspired the concept of paradise.

I’m not even kidding.

Google “Bermuda Beaches” and you’ll be transported to the most luxurious of sights in the whole of the western hemisphere.

Hence why it’s known as the “Jewel of the Atlantic.”

As a British Overseas Territory, it takes up the eastern and northernmost point of the so-called Bermuda Triangle, with Florida and Puerto Rico completing the tripod. Travel Guide to Puerto Rico

The British way of life continues to dominate Bermudan culture, with education and legal structures mimicking that of its “motherland.”

Bermuda history
Bermuda history

A Mixture of Influences

However, with a tumultuous history of slavery, Bermuda is defined by its Anglo-African influences.

British place names (the town of St. George was named after the legendary dragon slayer and patron saint of England) accompany distinctive African dance music (known as Gombey), creating a culture quite unlike any other.

Another interesting feature is that Bermuda straddles the Old and New World.

It’s Britain’s oldest inhabited colony and yet less than a two hour flight from central New York (although a thrill-seeker’s natural transportation of choice is, of course, the humble ferry).

As such, there’s a kind of cultural tug of war. On one hand, Bermudians seem British in their customs.

They play cricket, drive on the left and have Queen Elizabeth II on their banknotes.

Simultaneously, a strong North American influence is obvious: the currency is the dollar; Bermudians watch US television and American English is extremely prevalent.

Overall, it’s an American-Anglo-African free-for-all, or a by-product of British colonialism.

Tales of the Bermuda Triangle

Tales of the Triangle

First things first, the Bermuda Triangle doesn’t exist – according to the US Navy.

Also, the name is not recognized by the US Board of Geographic Names.

Secondly, the first known “suspicious” occurrence was reported in the 1950’s.

Until then, nothing noteworthy went down.

Sure, Bermuda and its triangle were only discovered in 1505, meaning it wasn’t sullied by the human desire for territorial isolation for thousands and thousands of years.

But still, if it was cursed, someone would have said something about it before Elvis released his debut album.

Regardless, there are a gaggle of conspiracy who will swear blind that the Bermuda Triangle is controlled by leftover technology from the mythical lost continent of Atlantis.

Or that UFOs abducted the missing Flight 19 and probed the pilots for US naval secrets.

According to local lore, the last words of the doomed captain were, “We are entering white water, nothing seems right.

We don’t know where we are, the water is green, no white…”

And then the rest was silence.

Even so, the number of ships and aircraft reported missing are not significantly greater than any other part of the ocean.

So there.

It all boils down to folklore.

If you believed every fable that was ever told, you’d avoid gingerbread houses and Grandma’s house.

However, perhaps in part due to the nature of this legend, Bermuda remains a perfectly preserved Eden of the highest quality, and long may it remain.

Saying that, I guess I’d need to tell you all that the stories are true and that a trip to the subtropics will result in certain and agonizing death.

That way, Bermuda will remain the world’s best kept secret… the stories are true… 😉 couples to travel together before marriage.

Ideas to Surprise Your Husband

(photo credit: 1 – 2 – 3 – 1 – 1 )

Kauai’s 5 Must See Tourist Attractions

Kauai's 5 Must See Tourist Attractions

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Kauai’s 5 Must See Tourist Attractions – Kauai, also known as the Garden Isle, is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands.

At only 25 miles wide and 33 miles long, it may seem like there couldn’t be much to explore.

But that’s really the secret surprise awaiting anyone exploring Hawaii.

Whereas the Waikiki tourist is happy to be stay close to the comforts of their hotel or Hawaiian Vacation Rental.

Kauai visitors can’t but be drawn from their nest, seeking out the scenery that has made Kauai famous in movies like Jurassic Park.

The following is a guide to 5 easily accessible, must see natural attractions.

Kauai’s 5 Must See Tourist Attractions

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

How did such a large Canyon manage for form at the center of such a small land mass?

Like much of Hawaii’s impressive scenery, volcanic activity combined with millions of years of wind erosion is the answer.

The drive from sea level to the Canyon will reward you with many memorable views including one of Niihau, the Forbidden Island, where a small Hawaiian community lives mostly isolated from the modern world.

Napali Coast

The Napali Coast is 11 miles of isolated coastline, marked by beautiful cliffs, waterfalls and valleys.

Experienced hikers can follow an ancient hiking trail along the coast to the Kalalau Valley.

Most will experience this region with either a boat or helicopter tour, while casual hikers can do the first couple miles as a day hike to Hanakapiai Falls.

Kilauea Lighthouse

During the winter months thousands of Humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of Hawaii to give birth.

A good place to see them is at the Kilauea Point Nation Wildlife Refuge on the island’s north coast, from the scenic cliffs visitors will also see many seabirds as well as the Nene – the endangered Hawaiian Goose.

Wailua Falls

Kauai has many waterfalls.

After periods of rain a drive through the town of Hanalei may include views of a dozen different falls gushing from the north Shore Mountains.

Kauai’s most famous waterfall is Wailua Falls, a pleasant drive through mostly uninhabited countryside ends at the Falls.

Polihale State Park

Kauai is known for its secluded beaches.

Polihale State Park marks the end of the longest beach in Hawaii, one that stretches for nearly twelve miles.

Polihale is located on the west side of the island, away from the popular tourist resorts.

Getting to the beach requires driving over a dirt road, but you may even have the beach to yourself.

This post was brought to you by Kuhio Shores Resort, an oceanfront condominium development 50ft from the ocean in Poipu on the south side of Kauai.

Where To Stay In Kauai

Kauai is known as Hawaii’s “Garden Isle” because of its lush tropical vegetation and emerald-green mountains.

Considered by many Hawaiian natives to be the most beautiful of the islands, it is famous for its rain forests, towering sea cliffs and canyons, but it’s also home to some of Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches.

Kauai
Kauai

While many visitors to Hawaii head to Oahu to soak up the sights and sounds of Honolulu and visit the famous (and crowded) Waikiki, Kauai offers a quieter, more romantic atmosphere suffused with pristine tropical beauty.

The best Kauai beach resorts will only add to that feeling, by offering picturesque views, luxurious amenities, and easy proximity to the waves and natural wonders of the island.

When picking a resort, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.

First, which shore will you want to stay on?

Beyond beaches, the island is full of walking trails, waterfalls, historical sites, and mountain scenery, so it’s worth thinking about what you’ll want to do besides beach comb.

Northern Coast of Kauai
Northern Coast of Kauai

Northern Coast

The Northern Coast is dramatic, home to rugged mountains and dizzying cliffs.

The most famous northern beach, Hanalei Bay Beach, has been voted the best beach in the U.S.

The Kilauea Lighthouse is also a beautiful place for whale watching.

In winter, however, ocean swells and currents can increase and make swimming dangerous, so you may want to plan your stay during other seasons.

Eastern Coast of Kauai
Eastern Coast of Kauai

Eastern Coast

The Eastern Coast of Kauai is also known as the “Coconut Coast” because of the coconut groves that fill the area.

In addition to Wailua State Park and the Fern Grotto, the East Shore is home to white.

Golden-sanded beaches that are safe enough for families and beginner snorkelers – and a few that are great for surfers.

Polihale Beach has 17 miles of white sand, majestic dunes, and grand views of Niihau and the sea cliffs of NaPali.

Also make sure to visit the sacred lava rock temple Polihau Heiau, of Kauai’s last king, Kaumualii.

South Shore Where To Stay In Kauai
South Shore Where To Stay In Kauai

South Shore

The South Shore includes many historical sites, and two large botanical gardens:

McBryde Garden, which features more Hawaiian plants than anywhere else in the world, and Allerton Garden with the Moreton Figs made famous in the film Jurassic Park.

Poipu Beach has calm waters for most of the year, and is a playground of endangered monk seals, making it a favorite for families with children.

Hawaii’s Calendar of Killer Events ~ Best Annual Events in Hawaii

The Hawaiian tropics are the perfect place for an island getaway

In addition to sun, sand and surf available all year round, Hawaii also boasts an amazing events calendar.

From February to December, here are our 10 favorite and best annual events in Hawaii.

When planning your Hawaiian vacation, you will want to see if you can find a way to enjoy one of these fun things to do.

It’s worth noting that going between the islands in Hawaii almost always involves a flight, so choose your island wisely.

Hawaiian beach

Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival

Having just hit its 20th anniversary, the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival was established to celebrate the rich Japanese heritage and subsequently the amazing 60-year-old cherry trees in the area of Waimea.

A great one for the family, the festival is rich with multicultural performances, craft stalls and an abundance of food booths featuring local, Japanese and international cuisine.

Honolulu Festival

Another family-friendly event, this three-day festival is jam-packed with performances, tours, craft fairs and parades and concludes with an incredible fireworks display over the beautiful Waikiki beach.

Grab the kids and go!

best annual events in Hawaii

Merrie Monarch Festival

Another one to get you into the Hawaiian spirit, the Merrie Monarch Festival, honors the contributions of King David Kalākaua.

He was an avid campaigner of Hawaiian traditions, the native Hawaiian language and the traditional arts.

The festival spans over a week.

It includes art and crafts, food, hula shows and a parade.

Kapalua Wine & Food Festival

Another fantastic food festival?

Yes, please!

best annual events in Hawaii enjoy the food

Considered the longest running food/wine event in the U.S., the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival is a four-day festival.

It features food and wine tastings, seminars, educational sessions and demonstrations by top sommeliers and internationally renowned chefs.

Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival

When: August/September

Where: Various locations

Now in its 22nd year, the international renowned Slack Key Guitar Festival was designed to preserve a Hawaiian acoustic guitar style called Ki-ho’alu.

The festival was launched in memory of Phillip Kunia “Gabby” Pahinui, known as the father of Ki-ho’alu, due to his lifetime contributions to Hawaiian music.

best annual events in Hawaii music

The festival features the best in Hawaiian and international talent.

It’s considered to be one big traditional dance party.

The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

Only in its third year, the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is one of the highlights of the annual events calendar.

The festival features over 50 internationally celebrated chefs, wine makers and spirit producers.

Here you will enjoy wine tastings, cooking demos and wine-and-dine opportunities.

There’s a focus on home-grown produce.

Emalani Festival

Emalani I Alakai” Festival is a significant event honoring Hawaii’s much-loved ruler Queen Emma, who made the trip to Kauai, and more specifically, to the treasured Kokee State Park, in 1871.

The day is a traditional Hawaiian celebration with hula, music and food alongside a royal procession.

It’s a great way to experience Hawaiian culture.

Hawaii International Film Festival

The Pacific’s premier film fest, the Hawaii International Film Festival is one of the key sources for the discovery and promotion of Pacific and Asian films, including “Once Were Warriors” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

There are screenings across the state, including Waikiki, Maui and the Big Island.

Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

Running over 10 days, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is held in celebration of one of the Kona area’s most thriving industries: coffee.

best annual events in Hawaii coffee

Due to its climate, rich volcanic soils and farming culture, coffee has put Kona on the map.

The festival events include:

Coffee tastings

Coffee picking contest

The renowned Miss Kona Coffee beauty pageant

Honolulu Marathon

One of the most popular marathons in the world, the Honolulu Marathon takes place annually on the second Sunday in December.

It attracts participants from all over the globe. It is particularly popular with Japanese entrants.

Things To Do In Maui

If you are planning a trip to Maui around one of these fun and culturally enriching festivals, plan to stay awhile.

Maui is one of the most romantic holiday destinations, with luxury resorts and hotels, beautiful nature, and great cuisine.

It is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands.

Since there are many flights to Maui from destinations all over the world, it is one of the best islands to choose – especially if you want to keep the prices reasonably low.

The fewer flights that leave and go to an island, the more expensive they tend to be.

Fun things in Maui

Maui has many good hiking trails, several of them in the Haleakala National Park.

One of the coolest places in the park to visit is the crater at the summit, which is some 19 square miles.

Just beware of the drive to the top – it’s the steepest in the world!

If you want to spend some time on the water, canoeing and kayaking are popular activities on Maui.

Snorkeling is perhaps even better, and is one of the most affordable activities in Maui – all you need are snorkels and fins!

Some great places to try out are the cove south of Black Rock (near Sheraton Resort at Kaanapali Beach), Turtle Town (with lots of coral fish and the occasional giant turtle), and Ulua Beach.

One of the most unique and amazing experiences has to be the whale watching.

Thousands of humpback whales migrate to Hawaii’s waters every winter, and most of them can be found off the coast of Maui.

The peak season for whale watching is in February and March, but you can see them already from November.

The great thing about Maui is that many of the nature experiences doesn’t involve several hours or even days of hiking.

Many beautiful waterfalls and lakes can be found just a short walk from a parking lot or off the road, so anyone no matter in what condition they’re in, can experience the extraordinary flora and fauna of Maui.

So choose your Hawaiian island, and enjoy some of the best annual events in Hawaii brimming with culture, food, music, history and more.

Hawaii Vacation Rentals on the Big Island

If you’re planning a vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii, then it’s worth it to consider a Hawaii Vacation Rentals on the Big Island over a hotel.

No one can deny that Hawaii has fantastic resorts, but there are definite advantages to be had with a vacation rental.

With a wide range of Big Island Vacation Rentals available in some of Hawaii’s most desirable locales, vacation homes and luxury villas can turn an ordinary stay into an unforgettable adventure.

In most cases, a vacation rental on the Big Island costs the same as or even less than Hawaii’s most upscale resorts.

However, for that price, you get a lot more space and the potential for enjoying some incredible amenities.

Imagine having a swimming pool, hot tub and other fantastic extras all to yourself.

Plus, if you’re traveling with family or a larger group, you’ll quickly discover how cost-effective a vacation rental can be.

Many rental properties feature multiple bedrooms and large living areas that can accommodate the whole family in comfort and luxury.

Hawaii Vacation Rentals on the Big Island
Hawaii Vacation Rentals on the Big Island

Rent Luxury Villa in Hawaii

With all of that space comes a great deal of privacy.

While togetherness is wonderful, it can be just as restorative and relaxing to enjoy a bit of quiet time.

Vacation estates make this extraordinarily easy.

Every property has quiet corners and niches where it’s possible to enjoy a secluded cup of coffee and a good book.

Look for properties that have a wealth of balconies and patios to ensure great views to go with these quiet moments.

If you’re planning a Hawaiian honeymoon, then you’re in luck too.

These luxury villas have everything you need to enjoy a romantic escape where no intrusions are allowed.

Vacation rentals can also make meals much more convenient and affordable.

Rental properties generally feature full kitchens, making it a snap to prepare snacks and meals.

Still, most rentals are located close to amazing dining experiences, so it’s possible to go out when you’re in the mood to take it easy.

Most guests love having the ability to wear their pajamas to breakfast and yet have quick access to fine dining a short drive away.

The Big Island boasts an incredible collection of vacation rental properties.

What follows is merely a sampling of what’s available.

Rent Hawaiian Condos on the Big Island

Hawaii has an assortment of stunning condominium-style homes.

Spending a vacation in one is a lot like owning an upscale apartment in one of the island’s most desirable neighborhoods.

Some are located close to the beach while others are found within convenient proximity to a range of nightlife and dining experience.

Occasionally, you’ll find a condo that offers the best of both worlds.

Condos can be an economical choice for the cost-conscious traveler.

Nonetheless, you’ll enjoy all sorts of upscale amenities like swimming pools, fitness facilities, hot tubs and more.

A stay at a Hawaiian vacation condo provides you with a rare opportunity to live like a local.

You’ll have a wealth of opportunities to make friends at the property.

You’ll probably be inviting your neighbors over for cocktails in no time.

Hawaiian Vacation Homes
Hawaiian Vacation Homes

Hawaiian Vacation Homes

For those who genuinely want to stretch out and relax in a space of their own, few things can compare to a vacation home.

Think of it as being like a condo but with more square footage and a yard.

Renters will have a wide range of homes to choose from.

With everything from cozy beachfront bungalows to luxury mansions with impressive amenities, the Big Island promises something for everyone.

You’ll be able to finally live your dream of being a beach bum or get a taste of how the island’s wealthiest residents live.

When you start browsing through Hawaiian vacation homes, you won’t be able to believe the extraordinary range of experiences you can choose from.

Some properties offer stunning beachfront and mountain top views depending upon which window or lanai you’re closest to.

While a few properties are located on lush farmland, others are found right on famous Waialea Bay.

You might select a Hawaiian plantation-style villa for one stay or a cozy cottage that’s located just outside the border of Volcano National Park the next.

Whether you want to stay close to the King’s Shops or the forest with its endless trails and swimming holes, you can find the perfect vacation home to suit your needs.

Luxury Vacation Estates Rentals in Hawaii

If you’re traveling with a large group or simply have a desire to experience the best that Hawaiian vacation rentals can offer, then you might want to consider a stay at a luxury vacation estate.

Frequently, these properties have more than one structure and feature a main house along with one or more cottages.

This makes it possible for large families or groups to travel together while still enjoying the ultimate in luxury and privacy.

Many of these deluxe properties feature incredible swimming complexes with water features and over-sized hot tubs.

Gourmet kitchens, custom-designed interiors, private shower gardens and spacious lanais make these properties the ideal place to enjoy a relaxing stay.

In fact, with a stay at a luxury vacation estate on Hawaii, it is almost not necessary to leave the property to enjoy an amazing experience.

Many of these homes boast beachfront locations, so it isn’t necessary to go anywhere to enjoy a host of water sports and other fun. Plenty of entertainment can be had on the properties themselves.

With game rooms, movie theaters, video gaming systems and more, your family will find everything they need to have a fantastic time without leaving home.

Hawaiian Beach Rentals
Hawaiian Beach Rentals

Whether you’re on your honeymoon, organizing a family reunion or are just looking forward to discovering Hawaii, a vacation rental can be the ideal accommodations for you.

They range in price from less than $100 per night and up, making them a good choice for even the most cost-conscious traveler.

A vacation villa can be a great deal less expensive than a hotel, especially when the cost is split between several guests.

From condos to estates, there is a perfect Big Island vacation rental for everyone.

Travel and Planning Tips for Your Hawaii Snorkeling Holiday

(Photo 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 1)

Water Parks In Orlando, Florida – A Quick Guide

Orlando Water Parks

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Water Parks In Orlando – With a great climate and the world’s largest collection of theme parks, Orlando is often called the ‘world capital of fun’ and is a great base for a family holiday.

 The incredible array of parks includes the incomparable Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Within these complexes and close by are four wonderful Orlando water parks, the ideal place to have a ‘splashing time’!

While water parks are aimed towards kids, adults for sure have a fun time – we get a chance to act like kids again, let our hair down and scare ourselves in water slides.

4 Orlando Water Parks In Orlando, Florida – A Quick Guide

There are four main water parks in Orlando, and which one you choose depends on what you’re looking for.

Aquatica – For The Gentle Fun

This is one of the best water parks to go if you have young kids.

It has two side-by-side wave pools, and a lazy river ride.

It has a lot of “medium” rides, so it is something for those who like a bit of Adrenalin, but you won’t find any extreme rides here.

Blizzard Beach – For The Thrills

This park is famous for having one of the world’s fastest and tallest free-falling water slides and other Adrenalin-pumping attractions.

It is also very popular, so make sure you are there early.

Typhoon Lagoon – For The Experience

This park is part of the Disney World family.

Here you get the chance to swim with real sharks, plus a lazy river ride and three different waterfall raft rides.

They also have an awesome wave pool, which with its 6 foot waves is definitely one of the best wave pools of all the water parks in Orlando.

Water Parks In Orlando
Water Parks In Orlando

Wet ‘n Wild –  For The Extreme Rides

This park offers something for everyone from daredevils to scaredy cats.

Thrill rides include: Brain Wash, Der Stuka, Mach 5, The Bomb Bay and Wake Zone; more timid types will enjoy the gentle waves in the Surf Lagoon.

In all, this park is for those looking for a real adrenaline kick, as there are many extreme rides to find here.

If you want to combine water parks in Orlando with Disney magic and have a fortnight’s holiday then it is recommended that you consider getting a 14-day Disney Ultimate Ticket.

Disney Ultimate Ticket unlimited Disney Kingdoms

Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, plus Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, and much more.

That way you can mix wild, wet fun with other kinds of activities, but it’s not suitable for those with less time.

Orlando Water Park Slide
Orlando Water Park Slide

Fun Day Trips from Orlando, Florida

What to Do in Orlando

What to Do in Orlando, Florida is a great place to visit for a vacation.

When you think of Orlando, most people only think of Disney World, and while this is a great way to spend your time, it’s not the only thing to do.

Orlando is filled with plenty of fun places and attractions, so it’s a good idea to open up your mind and take it all in.

If you are planning a trip to Florida, here are a few things you should do while in Orlando.

Disney World

Obviously, you know that it’s here, so you may as well take a day or two to check it out.

There are so many different things to do in Disney World, and it’s perfect for adults and families to enjoy.

Spend a day in the Magic Kingdom and relive your childhood or watch your children as they are amazed by their favorite characters coming to life.

What to Do in Orlando
Water Parks In Orlando

Besides the Magic Kingdom, you can also enjoy Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Downtown Disney, and so much more.

Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa

When staying in the Orlando area, you should visit the Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa.

This hotel offers plenty of fun amenities for you to enjoy.

Take in the great views, relax in the comfortable bed, or spend a day getting pampered at the spa.

You will feel like a celebrity when you experience the treatment of this place.

What makes it great is that you can easily spend your days taking in everything the hotel has to offer, or you can use it as a nice little pick me up after a long day of taking in all of Orlando’s other amenities.

Airboat Ride

There is so much water in and around Florida that you can’t leave the area without doing something water-related.

While in Orlando, spend the day enjoying an air-boat ride.

These giant boats have huge fans attached to them that allow you to maneuver the waterways.

There are plenty of guided tours in the area that will allow you to take in the sights and enjoy some fun experiences with your travel buddies.

Blue Man Group

Want to do something different while in Orlando?

Then check out the Blue Man Group.

These three individuals have been entertaining audiences for years with their quirky performances, and you can take them in while in Florida.

The group offers multiple time slots, so you can fit this in during the day or end your night watching one of the fun performances.

American Art Museum

Whether you’re an avid art lover or if you simply enjoy taking in the different pieces, be sure to hit up the American Art Museum while on vacation.

This location has the world’s largest collection of Tiffany glass, so you can see jewelry, glass, windows and more that are worth more than $5 million.

Keep in mind that this may not be the best place to bring small children, so be sure to plan this trip accordingly if you’ll have little ones in tow.

What to Do in Orlando Botanical Garden
What to Do in Orlando Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

Most people don’t realize how much beauty can be found in the grounds of Orlando, and the Botanical Gardens will show it all off with pride.

While here, you can walk the 50-plus acres and take in the 1,000 rose bushes, butterfly garden, and citrus grove.

You will certainly enjoy the beauty and tranquility that this place has to offer, and it will be a nice relaxing welcome after spending a few days in Disney World.

Golfing in Orlando

If you like to hit the links, then Orlando is a must visit.

This town is home to multiple golf courses for the newbie to the advanced.

In addition, you also may run into some celebrities while golfing, as the more than 170 courses in the area are frequented by some of Hollywood’s finest.

If you like to golf, make sure to pack your gear so you can enjoy a Florida golfing experience like never before.

When you’re planning your trip to Orlando, make sure you have enough time to tackle all these fun activities.

There is so much to do in this central Florida town that you didn’t even know, so make sure to check it out on your next visit.

Fun Things To Do in Orlando Florida
Fun Things To Do in Orlando Florida

Fun Things To Do in Orlando Florida

Orlando has become synonymous with oranges and theme parks. But there’s more to this sunny Florida outpost than candy floss, the citrus trade and mascots.

With cheap flights to Orlando readily available, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go to explore just what makes it such a fantastic holiday hotspot.

Fun in Orlando Florida
Fun in Orlando Florida

Perfect holiday in Orlando Picnic on the lake

Orlando is a city of lakes.

Most are relatively small, but all are charming, and some of the larger lakes (Lake Eola is our favorite) are perfect for a family picnic or a romantic stroll.

Seeing the city’s skyline reflected in the placid waters on a summer’s day or even a crisp autumn morning, the swan-shaped boats bobbing gently on the surface, is enough to make even the most hardened of hearts soften to sentimentalism.

There are plenty of bars and cafés around for a quick bite and a good, strong coffee and the grounds, replete with Chinese pagoda, are pleasant to walk through.

Swim with the fishes

No, this isn’t what you think.

Kelly Park in Rock Springs is just a short ride away from the city center and rather than an indoor pool where you have a limited time to share space with a dolphin, this is the real deal.

The park sits in an impressive 248 acres of land, where the main attraction is to go tubing down a natural spring.

Swim with the fishes
Swim with the fishes

The journey lasts a total of about 25 minutes, with lagoons and pools along the way.

The park can get crowded in peak season, so I would suggest getting there already at 9.30 am when it opens.

There’s even the option to hop on a canoe down to Wekiwa Springs, and the rest of the park is beautiful to walk through, with camping options available.

Get arty – Orlando Art Scene

For the trendy, arty side of Orlando, head to the Downtown Media Arts Center.

Kitted out on the inside upstairs level like a cool independent picture house and on the outside with a wacky green Gothic-style facade, this is the place to catch cutting edge films and documentaries from the American and international scene.

Tickets are relatively cheap and the venue is intimate, with only 80 seats upstairs.

The cinema operates on an interactive basis during their film slam season, so check ahead to see what’s on during your visit.

Audubon Park Community Market
Audubon Park Community Market

Audubon Park Community Market

The Audubon Park Community Market is not your usual farmers’ market fare.

With bespoke baking amongst the locally farmed, sustainable, organic food on offer, as well as live music and a general bohemian atmosphere, this is one creative market you’ll want to visit.

Come to grab a drink, mingle with the locals and learn about local produce and sustainable farming.

Historical Orlando Florida

Orlando city has a history that stretches back beyond the theme park takeover.

The problem is, not many people know much about it!

Get informed at the Orange County Regional History Center.

Located in the Orange County Courthouse, the collection here covers three floors worth of space, charting the 12,000 year history of Central Florida.

From the arrival of the Spanish to indigenous flora and fauna, the exhibitions give a fascinating insight into the history of the area and its place in the world.

Water Parks In Orlando, Florida – A Quick Guide
Fun Day Trips from Orlando, Florida

(photo credit: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4)

Best Views In Chicago How To Find Them

Best Views In Chicago Millennium Park

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Best Views In Chicago is one of the best way to really see Chicago, to really appreciate it, is to see it from a distance.

The views of this Windy City are truly breathtaking.

But where is the best place to see it from?

Best Views In Chicago

We have collected the best locations to get that epic panorama view over Chicago.

Trust us, you will not be disappointed to do these things in Chicago.

Best Views In Chicago Willis Tower Skydeck
Willis Tower Skydeck

Willis Tower Skydeck

Standing 103 floors above the ground at the top of Willis Tower (Sears Tower), the Skydeck offers the most unique view of the city – from inside the building.

Standing in a glass box extended just under four-and-a-half feet off the side of the third tallest building in the world is a breath taking experience.

Best Views In Chicago John Hancock Observatory
John Hancock Observatory

John Hancock Observatory

If you get to the John Hancock building before March 31 you will have an opportunity of a lifetime: the ability to ice skate at 1,000 feet inside a building!

The view from there is amazing, but the view from the Lavazza Espression Café is even better.

Serving a variety of coffees and wine and spirits, at night this is the ideal spot to relax and watch the skyline light up.

Chicago Architecture Tour

Already seen the view from the top?

How about the view from the water?

There are a number of boats and architecture tours that will give you the inside scoop on Chicago’s unique architectural history.

From the ground up you will be able to see how some of Chicago’s most famous buildings fit into the landscape of the city.

Whether it’s the view from the lake or on the Chicago River, both are sure to impress.

Best View In Chicago Buckingham Fountain at Grant Park
Buckingham Fountain at Grant Park

Buckingham Fountain at Grant Park

Inside the expanse of Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain creates one of the most well known symbols of Chicago.

Shooting jets of water up to 150 feet into the air, the fountain is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Located in Grant Park the view is also well known as part of the opening for the television show, “Married with Children”.

Millennium Park
Millennium Park

Millennium Park

If you don’t know “The Bean”, you need to get to Millennium Park stat!

Officially named “Cloud Gate,” this polished reflective sculpture in the heart of Millennium Park is a must see for those looking to grab an incredible view of the city skyline through a work of art.

Cubs Bleacher Seats

The view of the ivy covered walls from inside one of the oldest Major League Baseball stadiums in the country, Wrigley Field, is an amazing experience.

The view from the rooftops across the street is even better.

The Wrigley Rooftops give baseball fans the most extraordinary stadium experience.

Above the field viewers get a birds eye view of the Wrigleyville neighborhood made famous by the city’s most loveable losers, the Chicago Cubs.

Oak Street Beach
Oak Street Beach

Oak Street Beach

Located just north of the Magnificent Mile the Oak Street Beach, on the shores of Lake Michigan on of the Great Lakes, provides a wonderful opportunity for a classic Chicago photo of the Drake Hotel Chicago.

From the beach you can snap great shots of the downtown area and the city’s most famous street, Lake Shore Drive.

If you don’t feel like going out of your way to get Best Views In Chicago over the city, there are some pretty neat Chicago condos where you can soak up the view without even having to step outside your door.

(photo credits: Campanero Rumbero – dielotr – b.jelonek – Vincent Desjardins – jordanfischer)

Things To Do In Chicago

Chicago Superdawg

Updated:

Things To Do In Chicago since I moved to Chicago in 2005 and lived in the South Loop until embarking on our RTW journey.

We grew to really love the city and try to impress upon everyone we meet what a great place it is to visit and live.

Chicago is visited by almost 30 million tourists every year.

Undoubtedly, the best time to visit is during the summer.

Things To Do In Chicago

The parks are green and filled with bikers and families picnicking, there are festivals nearly every weekend, boats are scattered across Lake Michigan, you can find the best views and Chicagoan’s are friendlier having emerged triumphant from another long, harsh winter.

Public Transportation

This is not Los Angeles– automobiles are not required.

Regardless of how you arrive, you’ll be able to get around using the public transit system.

Riding the train is part of daily life in this city, and you will fit right in with the locals.

The elevated train system (called the “El”) is over 100 years old and is a sight to see itself.

The tracks make a loop in the city center before branching out to the many neighborhoods.

You can easily travel from one side of the city to the other and even to a few suburbs– all for only $2.25.

You can’t beat that.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has a great trip planner to help you find your way, and you can also see the El lines on Google Maps.

The new bus tracker system will let you know if you have time for one more Old Style.

You can even pull it up on your smart phone!

Be a Tourist – Things To Do

It’s okay to do touristy things in Chicago.

Tons of people from the suburbs and Midwest come to the city for that exact reason.

Join the masses.

There is a reason 30 million people visit each year!

The summer festivals in Chicago are enjoyed by everyone.

I really love our many music festivals (Jazz, Blues, Celtic, Latin, Gospel, Lollapalooza, etc.).

Most of these festivals occur in Grant Park, so you can’t miss them.

If you are in the city on a weekend, head to the Park and you’ll most likely run into some kind of event.

They are free to enter, but you’ll pay a high price for food and beer, especially at the massive “Taste of Chicago” at the Fourth of July.

Check out ExploreChicago.org for the schedule of events.

Things To Do In Chicago, Millennium Park, Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, Pritzker Pavilion
Millennium Park, Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, Pritzker Pavilion

Millennium Park, the Magnificent Mile, and Navy Pier are among the top tourist attractions, but Millennium Park tops our list.

The park is suspended over an unsightly commuter train yard, and you’ll want to check out the ever changing modern art.

The highlight is the Pritzker Pavilion designed by renowned architect Frank Gery.

You’ll see locals with picnic baskets discretely enjoying wine or beer, spreading across the massive lawn.

Checkout some nice Picnic Baskets for Traveling 

You’ll also want to gaze into the Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) for hours and watch kids splashing in the Crown Fountain on a hot day.

The Art Institute of Chicago is directly South of Millennium Park and also worth a visit. Entry is free of charge on a designated evening (usually Tuesdays) in the summer.

Check with the museum to be sure.

There can be quite a line to get in on free admission days, so get there early.

The Magnificent Mile can be reached on foot from Millennium Park.

This stretch of Michigan Ave (from the Chicago River north to Oak Street) is known for it’s shopping, nightlife, ritzy condos, and architecture.

Coach, Tiffany, Chanel, Bebe, Ghiradelli, and Water Tower Place (our massive shopping mall) are all along the way.

There are some historic buildings on the Magnificent Mile as well like the Wrigley Building, the Tribune Tower, and the old Water Tower.

Navy Pier is also popular, but I say skip it.

It is essentially a big tourist trap and shopping mall…except on a lake.

Clark and I avoid this place unless we are seeing a movie at the iMAX theater.

You can take a high speed boat ride from the pier or just walk around and people watch.

The Pier isn’t all bad though.

Every Wednesday and Saturday evening, there is a fireworks show.

If you decide to visit, prepare yourself for screaming kids and the sweaty masses.

Rather than the speed boat tour, I highly recommend the architectural boat tour by Wendella on the river.

The guides really know their stuff and the views from the water are beautiful.

Chicago has the best architecture in the United States, and this tour is very informative.

Things To Do In Chicago Pizza
Chicago Pizza

Chicago Pizza and Hot Dogs

You can’t visit Chicago without trying a famous deep dish pizza.

Chicago deep dish pizza consists of a thick crust, inlaid in a round cake-like pan about an inch and a half deep, filled with lots and lots of cheese, meat, and veggies.

The best known and most frequented pizza joint is Giordano’s.

However, this is not the favorite of many locals.

I highly recommend Lou Malanati’s instead.

We think the crust is better and they really pack their pizza full of ingredients instead of using loads of cheese as a filler.

There are two locations that are easily accessed with public transportation from the Loop.

The South Loop location can be reached by taking the Red Line to the Harrison stop.

The River North location can be reached on the Brown Line Merchandise Mart stop.

At Lou’s we always get a small “Malnati Salad” and “The Lou” with sausage and a root beer.

I can only finish about a slice and a half, so don’t order too much!

Then, there is the Chicago Style hot dog.

The classic Chicago Dog is an all-beef frank, boiled, on a steamed bun (preferably with poppy seeds) and topped with fresh onions, green relish, pickle, tomato, mustard, one or two hot peppers, and celery salt.

No ketchup! (If you ask you may be scolded or ridiculed.)

There are endless number of places to get a dog in Chicago, mostly in the neighborhoods.

There are very few street vendors downtown and they won’t be serving up high quality dogs.

Here are a few hot dog places that are reachable from the loop on public transport

Chicago Hot Dog Restaurants

Portillo’s:

Local chain that serves up a good dog.

You’ll find a couple of locations in the city.

Wieners Circle:

This place on Clark St. is a favorite for late night snack.

The workers are known for being rude and insulting.

Flub a Dub Chub’s: family run joint in Lakeview.

Good dogs! (and burgers too)

Jim’s Original Hot Dog:

Near the Medical district just west of the South Loop, this place has been serving up dogs for decades.

You can also get a great polish sausage with grilled onions.

Scooter’s Frozen Custard:

This place is the only frozen custard in the city and also happens to have a great Chicago Dog.

Go there for both.

Eat Deep Dish Chicago Pizza Like a Local

There is much more to Chicago than pizza and hot dogs, however.

There are some great neighborhoods where you can get a pretty eclectic mix of high quality foods.

You’ll have to go a bit outside of the tourist zones for some of these treats, but it is worth it!

Hot Doug’s is an encased meat emporium and not a great place for vegetarians.

Doug grills up some great creations with exotic meats (elk, ostrich, pheasant, and foie gras) gourmet toppings, and interesting sauces.

He also does a great, simple, Chicago Dog.

You’ll wait in line for an hour or more in the summer, so be prepared.

But, it is worth it.

You’ll want to go on a Friday or Saturday when he makes the fries with duck fat.

Sounds strange, but I promise you’ll love it.

When we go with a group of friends, we usually each get our own dog and a few to share.

Work, family, kids…those are just ways to kill time between trips to Hot Doug’s.

Superdawg is another Chicago institution.

The iconic hot dog figures on top of the restaurant are well-loved by Chicagoan.

It’s been around since 1948.

This drive up joint puts a little twist on the Chicago Dog, but it is a definite favorite for locals.

Grilled onions, spicy mustard, pickled tomatoes, and crinkle cut fries are their specialty.

They also have burgers and great shakes and malts.

Indian and Pakistani food in chicago
Indian and Pakistani food in chicago

Devon Avenue is where you’ll find great Indian and Pakistani food.

It’s a LONG way north on the Red Line or you can drive.

It is absolutely worth the trip.

The food is cheap and oh so delicious.

The street is lined with restaurants, spicy smelling markets, and shops selling beautiful saris.

Pilsen is the place to go for some great, cheap Mexican food in the city.

This area is known for it’s Hispanic inhabitants.

You can find great street tacos and tamales as well as really affordable “sit-down” type restaurants.

The pink line will take you there, or you can drive.

Greek Town is definitely on the tourist radar, but well worth it.

Take the blue line to Halsted.

We recommend Greek Islands where you’ll get the signature flaming saganaki with a loud “Opah!” from the crowd.

If you want a quick bite, then just grab a gyro at a corner joint.

Rainbow Cone has the most unique ice cream cone in the city.

This layered cone is a blend of chocolate, strawberry, orange sherbet, Palmer House (their special creation), and Pistachio.

To get to the original location that is celebrating it’s 80th year, you’ll need to drive.

Public transportation will take you to some areas of the city that I would not suggest going on your own.

Luckily for tourists, there is now a downtown location at the corner of State and Lake, right under the El tracks, near the Chicago theater.

Comedy and Entertainment

Chicago is known for it’s high quality Improv Comedy.

Heading out for dinner, drinks, and a late night comedy show is a favorite weekend activity for Chicagoan’s.

I suggest heading to Improv Olympic, Comedy Sportz, or Second City.

Some of the best comedians (think John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Mike Meyers, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, to name a few) came from the Second City stage.

All three have great shows, performing long-form improv as well as short scenes and sketches.

Some even perform improvised musicals, which are amazingly done and very entertaining.

When Clark and I first moved to Chicago, we frequented Comedy Sportz at least once a month and were never disappointed with the quality of the show.

The wonderful nature of Improv is that it’s new every time!

There is so much more to say about the city we love, but this is a good start.

You could spend months, even years discovering the hidden jewels of this great place.

After living there for five, we just barely scraped the surface.

Hopefully our insight will help make your trip there a memorable one!

(photo credits: chascarperbernt rostadMyles – vincent desjardinscwwycoff1 – Alan C.)