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Beyond Orlando: Non-Theme Park Attractions In Florida

Posted in travel, travel guide, travel ideas, travel tips, US, US trip, USA
on July 31, 2017

Families and young people usually love traveling to Florida for one big reason; the theme parks in Orlando. Whether it’s Disney World or Harry Potter World, Orlando is a global attraction for fans of all ages. But there is more to Florida than thrilling rides and taking selfies with your favorite characters. Of course, there is nothing wrong with going to Florida purely to spend a few days in Universal Studios, or any of the other theme parks, but it would be a shame to miss out on all it has to offer.

 

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Hang out in the resort

It might seem a bit redundant to go somewhere new and just hand out in the resort, but sometimes staying in a resort is a vacation in and of itself. A resort differs from a hotel in that it attempts to provide for most of its guests’ needs on its premises; check out Resorts & Lodges to see what they can offer for your break from reality. Resorts typically not only offer lodging but also food, drink, sports, entertainment, and shopping onsite. There are many different types of resorts, from spa, golf, and ski resorts, to luxury and all-inclusive facilities. This is perfect if your aim is just to relax and recharge, but if you want to explore the sights, you’ll have to leave the premises.

Explore shipwrecks

If you want to venture off the beaten path, you can’t venture much further than America’s most remote and least visited National Park, Dry Tortugas. Juan Ponce de Leon first stumbled upon this stretch of islands in 1513. It served as a shipping point soon after, but it was also the site of hundreds of shipwrecks. Fort Jefferson was built on the site in 1800, but it was abandoned in 1874, and was registered by President Roosevelt as a National Park in 1935. The park can only be reached by boat or seaplane, but the wrecks are magnificent sites to see while snorkeling.

Kennedy Space Centre

Whether you’re a history or science buff, or you used to dream of going to space when you were a kid, the Kennedy Space Centre is worth visiting while you’re in Florida. The Centre is around 140,000 acres, but fortunately you are taken on a tour by bus. You could even get tickets for the scheduled rocket launches if you want to experience that first hand. Who knows, maybe if you bring your kids with you they’ll be inspired to become an astronaut.

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Duval Street, Key West

Duval Street, found at the end of the Key West islands, is best known for its Caribbean charms and beautifully renovated buildings. With bars and pubs lining the streets, music of all genres spills out onto the sidewalk, inviting you to come on in and kick up your heels. Be sure to stop at the Green Parrot Bar, a legendary dive bar which has been drawing in crowds since it opened in the late 1890s.

What will you discover in Florida?

 

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Experience The Wild Side Of North Carolina

From the Appalachian mountains in the west to the rugged coastline of the east, North Carolina is a state of extremes and well worth exploring. Whichever season that you choose to visit, North Carolina will provide you with the most stunning vistas. The active holidaymaker has a wealth of options at their disposal including hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding or deep sea fishing to name but a few. If you’re after a vacation that will see you experiencing the joys of nature, take a look at these ideas that will get you experiencing the wild side of North Carolina.

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Walking Is The Best Mode Of Transport

There is no better way to experience the clean, fresh air of this southern state than to walk. Not only does this save you money but you get to venture into areas that are inaccessible by vehicle. Some of the hikes aren’t for faint hearted. You’ll need a solid pair of walking boots and an above average level of fitness to complete some of the challenging trails. Make sure you do your research beforehand and choose the walk that is right for you.

Embark on a hike within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and you’ll venture through oak forests with an abundance of flora and fauna. You’ll have the chance to spot wildlife native to the area, and at the end of your hike, you’ll be rewarded with the most incredible view of Blue Ridge Parkway waterfalls.

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Ocean Air

If the sea scented air is more your style, you could choose to hoist yourself up onto your trusty stallion and, depending on your level of skill, take a gentle wander down the beach or a thrill inducing gallop along the sand. There can’t be many life experiences that are more romantic than sunset horse ride along the coast.

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City Life

Although you’re keen to experience the lush forests, the historic national parks, and the striking mountain ranges, you need to think about where you will be basing yourself. For some of your vacation, it’s wise to think about resting your weary bones at a Comfort Inn based in town. This way, you’ll have a range of useful amenities on your doorstep and won’t be stuck for supplies, as well as being able to venture out into the wilds.

Don’t forget, within the more populated areas there are still some awesome sites of natural beauty. Airlie Gardens consists of a peaceful lake, giant oaks and seemingly neverending acres of relaxing walking opportunities. If you’re after something a little more laid back while still being outdoors, it’s a good idea to check out the green spaces that the town and cities have to offer.

 

So forget the lure of NYC and opt for the more adventurous NC to get your fix of the outdoor lifestyle. Pack your waterproofs, hiking boots, and rugged camera and start planning your trip to the beautiful state of North Carolina.

 

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Sampling The Delights of New Mexico

Across the country, there are few states that offer as much natural beauty and charm as New Mexico. While shows like Breaking Bad and its spinoff Better Call Saul have focused their attention on the state’s vast arid deserts and sleepy suburbs, you have to see it to understand how grievously they do it a disservice. New Mexico is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world, with breathtaking views that could give The Grand Canyon a run for its money. With some of the country’s most glorious national parks and two UNESCO World Heritage sites, there’s a damned good reason why they call it the land of enchantment.

Here are a few suggestions for enjoying this beautiful and diverse state.

Take a hot air balloon ride in Albuquerque

Image by Flickr

 

There are few experiences that give you the unique and thrilling perspective of a balloon ride and Albuquerque balloon rides are a great way to view the diverse terrain New Mexico’s largest city. As the world slowly shrinks away beneath you, and you float into the Heavens it’s an incredibly meaningful experience alone or a moment of unparalleled romance if you’re riding with a partner. You’re sure to be awed by the silvery flourishes of the Rio Grande glistening in the sun and marvel at the magnificent Sandia Mountains.

 

Walk in the footsteps of the Pueblo peoples at Chaco canyon

Chaco Culture represents the synergy of ancient culture and national heritage about as well as any of the country’s best National Parks. Wandering through the remains of the ancient buildings at Chaco Canyon (the construction of which began in the mid-800s), the scale and complexity of the architecture is awe inspiring and humbling. Chaco’s unique architecture is uncommon for its time, because it was built according to a plan that pre-dates modern high rise apartment blocks.

When intact, the structures of Chaco consisted of hundreds of rooms, stacked several stories high. In fact right up until the 19th century, the buildings at Chaco held the record for being the largest in North America.

 

Be awed by the Bisti / De-Na-Zin badlands

Image by Max Pixel

 

If you love to travel off the beaten track, then prepare to be dazzled by one of the most unique and beautiful locations on the planet. When you enter the 41,170 acres of this undiscovered treasure near to the Chaco National Park, looks like you’ve stepped off a spaceship onto the terrain of some vast and mysterious new planet.

Its geology is as diverse as it is stunning, alternating between grasslands and wondrously bizarre rock formations in a landscape of white, gray and red.

 

Plunge into the mystery of the Carlsbad caverns

When sulphuric acid dissolved in the limestone beneath the Chihuahuan desert, it resulted in these astonishing underground rock formations. A range of guided tours are available which are well worth considering, however we’d still recommend coming back just to meander at your own pace in the cool depths, marvelling at the incredible beauty and diversity of the caverns.

 

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It’s A Wild Ride Going Up And Down The Colorado Mountains

Colorado is state of total natural beauty. The countryside differs so much from its southerly neighbors; you’d think you were in Canada. But perish the thought, because if you’re from Colorado that might seen as blasphemous. However, there’s no denying it, the mountainous passes, the fast-flowing and still lakes and rivers, are prime spots for sports fishing. Colorado’s landscape is perfect for going hiking, camping, kayaking, rock climbing and just about any natural activity you can think of. There’s only so much you can do on holiday before the time runs out. So here are some of the most popular things to do, if you want an unforgettable adventure, in the state that’s song, is ‘Rocky Mountain High.’

 

Snowbound

Vail Mountain Resort is great for a family trip or individuals looking to for an adrenaline fix; The mountain is distinctive in the fact that, rather than other skiing trips, the further south you go, the higher the peaks are. The town up north from the snowy peaks is like a miniature city, with every single thing relating to skiing and snowboarding being catered for. The great thing about so many small businesses offering you the best in safety and sporting equipment is that you don’t need to bring anything with you. VistaBahn Ski Rentals have greatly streamlined skis for the advanced, and wide, short skis for beginners. If you book in advance, you get a 20% discount and better still if you bring along your own boots, you’ll save a further $7. There’s are adult, kids, performance, sports and demo packages to choose from, and the minimum amount of time required before your discount is valid is a 24-hour booking in advance.

 

Image credit – Wesley Fryer

 

Flowing down the mountain

Departing from Durango, you will be guided north of the town where you’ll be standing at the lower part of Animas River. You’ll go through the safety precautions along with a first aid kit and how to use the items in it should something go wrong, and your guide will teach you how to paddle and how to sense which way the raft is heading. You’ll flow down class II and III+ style of rock formation, swerves, dips and slow and rapid flowing sections. You only need to be four years of age, and above to participate, so it’s great fun for the family or a group of friends. Halfway through the 4-hour course, you’ll stop off for a rest and a light picnic in the serene nature that surrounds you. Then it’s quickly back on the horse, and you’ll flow down towards the beautiful reservation lands of Southern Ute and returning to Durango.

 

Photo source – RobertKane123

 

Zip-line if you dare

Many zip-line tours in the world have a beginning and an end line fixed to a man-made platform. However, this particular zip-line is fixed to a 6500 feet high cliff, that peers over the vast dark green woodland. Somewhere in those trees, is the finish where you’ll whip past the leaves and branches and end up on a massive tree stump as your landing zone. Obviously, this isn’t for the faint of heart, but the local guides are there for support and will help to calm your nerves long enough to get fixed into the harness. It’s initially quite bizarre when you think of traveling over the landscape at almost 30mph after a 1.5-hour tour, but in the end, it’s an incredibly rewarding.

 

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American Road Trip 101: Forget Route 66!


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‘What do you mean forget about Route 66? That’s the main reason to go to the US!’

No one is saying that the quintessential American road trip isn’t a whole lot of fun. It is, and that is why hoards of people flock there on a yearly basis. However, it’s also worth noting that Route 66 isn’t the be all and end all of hitting the open road in America.

In my view, forgetting about the fabled Route altogether is one of the best tips any novice can hear. Don’t believe me? Okay then, just take a look at the following.

 

It Doesn’t Exist

Back in the day, the signs for this legendary trip used to be ubiquitous, but now they are conspicuous in their absence. If you aren’t up on your American geography, you may not know that this Route barely exists any longer. Thanks to a mixture of tourism and local authorities not wanting to make repairs, the roads are almost unusable. Most tourist guides will tell you to stay clear of the route wherever possible because it is stressful and dangerous. Plus, you’re more likely to spend time off the route than you are on it, so you may as well give it a wide berth.

 

Misses The Best Places

When you think of the USA, places like New York and L.A spring to mind. Anyone that has visited the country will tell you that these aren’t the best places. Okay, NYC is unbelievable, but Los Angeles is pretty run down. Quite simply, the places you want to see, like New Orleans, are literally miles away from Route 66. If you want to prepare for mardi gras in the Holiday Inn New Orleans West Bank Tower then you need a different plan. The same goes for Oregon and Florida, and a host of awesome sights and attractions.

 

Better Routes Are Available

Although Route 66 is world famous, not many people know about the Blue Ridge Pathway in the Appalachian mountain range. And, the Pacific Coast Highway is also another unknown quantity. However, if you ask people who have done all three, they will say Route 66 pales in comparison. The sights, sounds and overall beauty of the Pacific Coast are almost impossible to find anywhere else. And, taking in the culture of life in the mountains is a one-time thing. These are only two alternatives, yet there are more which give 66 a run for its money.

 

Too Long

Driving across the US is a nice thought, but it’s too much hassle in reality. The trip alone will take you up to a month if you do it properly, and the boredom soon sets in. Plus, there is the money factor because America is not a country where you get a lot of bang for your buck. In truth, it’s more exciting and cheaper to spend less time on shorter routes and fly to the destinations you miss.


Yes, it’s not as romantic. But, neither is staying Bates Motel style accommodation in the middle of nowhere!

 

 

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Adventure: That’s The Real Reason Idaho Is Called The Gem State

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We have a fascination with the nicknames given to the US states; so much so, we recently took off to Idaho simply because of its moniker. We just did it. We packed the car and went on a backpacking whim. It wasn’t until we got there that we found out different people believe different things. Some say it was a translation that means Gem of the Mountain, others say it is to do with the native gemstone garnet, and some say it is simply because this state is spoiled with natural beauty. We couldn’t argue with any of them.

But whatever the origins of its name, one thing we realized very quickly was, wow, does that place deserve its name. Summertime in Idaho is amazing. There are just so many adventures to be had in Idaho, and here are the best of the bunch:

Jump Creek Hike

When we get to a place, we love to ask the locals what they recommend. Forget Tripadvisor or seeing what a place looks like first, we just love asking locals for their number one must-do Idaho activity, and so many people said hike Jump Creek in Marsing. We don’t want to give too much away, but there is a secluded waterfall and it is beautiful. That’s all we’ll say, though.

Payette River Adventure

Everyone has a little streak of adventure in them, somewhere, and what better way to let that beast out then to get wet and wild on the Payette River. The whitewater rafting here is immense. It’s so exciting. The adrenaline rush, the sun, the splashes of cool water, the banks and banks of pine trees and mountain views. Yeah, it’s an absolute must do.

Swim At Sandy Point

It’s summer. Nothing beats hanging out by the water with your friends and family in the summer, and that is what makes the Sandpoint City Beach Park one of the most awesome places anywhere. You step out of the Best Western Edgewater Resort and bam! you’re hit with these magnificent views down Lake Pend Oreille. Swimming, boating, volleyball, lounging in the sun, tennis, a stroll downtown; it’s all at your fingertips.

Shoshone Falls

We mentioned it earlier, how the Gem State got its name from its natural beauty. Well, the Shoshone Falls give credence to that myth. It’s almost 50 feet higher than Niagara Falls and it is breathtaking. It’s that tonic for tired eyes that everyone needs to see. The sounds of the crashing water, the rock formations, the sheer size. If this sounds like your thing, then you need to get to Twin Falls this summer.

A Fair Like No Other

Apparently, in Idaho, the Western Idaho Fair is like the last hurrah of the summer that everyone gets involved with. It’s that last bit of fun before school starts again. However, when we say fair, what we mean is a party like no other. It’s as if the 1950s has returned, bringing all the fairground rides and rock n’ roll spirit along with it. You won’t believe it until you see it with your own two eyes, stamp along with the music all night and wake up the next day still smiling.

 

 

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The Historic Route 66 in the USA

Posted in places of interest, Route 66, travel, travel tips, USA
on August 12, 2016

Route 66 is a very famous thoroughfare in the US. It is also a historical road which is known for many other names like Main Street of America, Will Rogers Highway, or the Mother Road. It runs the whole stretch of Los Angeles to Chicago.

This famous highway was opened on November 26, 1926 and was decommissioned on June 26, 1985. It was used as a migrating route by those who wanted to move to California for a better life during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

The highway began in Illinois and ended in Santa Monica, California.  It crossed several states in between and below are the states it covered from end to end:


(Photo credit: lonelyplanet.com)

Even if this highway has been decommissioned, it still attract plenty of travellers who are adventurous to add this old route to their travel bucket list.

(Photo credit: not mine, due credit to the owners)

The highway had gone through plenty of realignments and since it was decommissioned, part of the highway that are still intact have been famous for travellers who want to see and feel the drive thru the once-famous road. Although some parts of Route 66 are still passable (with careful planning), some part have been removed and replaced with Interstate highways.

Route 66 was famously mentioned in a popular song called  “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.” It has been a famous attraction for road trippers too.

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