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Planning United States



Cruising the Islands of New England with Blount Small Ship Adventures

 United States

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

A bridge and secluded home.
If you have never visited New England, as we hadn’t, a cruise of the area is the best way to visit and really enjoy your trip. And the Islands of New England cruise on the Grande Caribe from Blount Small Ship Adventures is the best cruise to take. One of the most wonderful things about cruising is that you can take your cozy, comfortable cabin along with you on your travels! Unpack once, then spend your week relaxing on board as you drift along visiting some of the most well-known locations in New England.   The Grande Caribe is not an overwhelmingly huge cruise ship; instead, it has space for about eighty passengers in small but comfortable staterooms and is just the right size to be homey. The lounge area on the main deck is furnished with plenty of comfortable upholstered furniture and tables for playing games, reading, or simply enjoying the passing scenery.…
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Stunning Winter Sun Breaks

 United States

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Winter Sun Getaway by Nadia Ali
    Brrr, it’s getting cold outside! The temperatures are dropping, the days are getting shorter, and keeping warm inside the house has become a top priority. But fortunately for travelers who are seeking a winter vacation, January is the cheapest month to fly away. At that point, the annual big rush to get home for Christmas is over and the must-visit destinations to stay for New Years have already come and gone, so airlines have no choice but to lower their prices to lure you to that winter sun break.   So, where can you go? Well, there are five continents to choose from that can easily fulfill the two essential components of a good winter getaway: sun and beautiful beaches. Here are a few of the very best places to lay out while winter’s cold passes by.
  Florida, USA   With Christmas and New Years out of the way, along with a bevy of expenses from presents and partying, finding somewhere affordable closer to home may take your fancy.
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Family Getaway to the Amazing Emerald Coast of Florida

 United States

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

View of the beach.
If your family is lucky enough to be one of those which has kids starting school after Labor Day, you still have time to plan a trip to the gorgeous Emerald Coast of Florida. And you should immediately do so. The pure sugar white sand and amazing Gulf of Mexico simply can’t be missed. If your kids also have a fall break, plan your getaway for then as the area is still warm and beautiful and the prices will be even lower. The first time we took our four year old son to the Emerald Coast years ago, he took one look at the white sand and asked eagerly if he could please, please play in the snow? True story. The soft white sand and the astonishing colors of the water which vary from the darkest aquamarine to the palest peridot will have you taking photograph after photograph.…
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6 Spectacular Places to Spend New Year’s Eve

 United States

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fireworks by Terrapun, Courtesy of Shutterstock
Five, four, three, two, one…HAPPY NEW YEAR! Cue the traditional song of Auld Lang Syne to usher in the dawning of another New Year. From Times Square in New York to Trafalgar Square in London, voices ring out, accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display on the stroke of midnight. So, where should be heading this year for the most dazzling New Years Eve experiences? Here are some of the best free world-class events around the world. Sydney, Australia One of the first countries in the world to celebrate New Years is down under in Sydney, Australia. It presents a world-class firework display that takes on different themes every year. In 2012, the theme was ‘Embrace’ and millions around the world certainly did embrace the firework display. If you are planning to be there this year, you will join about 1.6 million spectators who line the numerous vantage points around Sydney Cove and Dawes Point to see an estimated 7-tonnes of fireworks explode!…
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The Best Kept Secret in Florida: Amelia Island

 United States

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Evening beach view on Amelia Island.
     Before we drove to the lovely and historic Amelia Island on the Atlantic coast of Florida, I had never heard of it. Amelia Island is one of the Sea Islands, a chain of barrier islands that reaches along the east coast of the United States all the way from South Carolina to Florida. It’s only about 13 miles long and 4 miles wide, but it’s a charming place full of beautiful Victorian mansions. It’s the only location in the United States to have proudly flown eight different flags and, of course, it has the requisite pirate history of most barrier islands. This place comes by that claim quite rightly, as the island is located just a short sail from Savannah, which made it quite easy to get rid of all those contraband goods in the big city.      There is no long bridge or causeway to get to Amelia Island; you are just driving along and suddenly you find yourself in the middle of the pretty little historic downtown area of Fernandina Beach, complete with shops and restaurants, many of which look like they have been there a hundred years.…
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Spend the Winter in Phoenix, Arizona

 United States

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Desert Landscape
When the temperatures start dropping this fall or winter, it’s the perfect time to start planning that trip to Phoenix, Arizona. This incredibly gorgeous and scenic location has the perfect weather in the cooler months of the year. While the desert weather is well into the 100’s in the summer, the cool, dry desert weather is absolutely perfect in the fall and winter. Outside is warm enough to swim and relax by the many pools in the area, but cool enough in the evenings to enjoy a warm fireplace and hot rum toddy. With more than 300 days of sunlight every year, Phoenix and the surrounding areas offers a variety of lovely hotels, resorts, spas, tours and restaurants which will keep you happy and entertained during your stay. Each of the locations where we stayed and visited are within short driving distances of each other. Start with a couple nights at the Inn at Eagle Mountain in nearby Fountain Hills in Scottsdale, one of the many small towns that form a ring around the big city of Phoenix.…
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4 Skywalks to Scream About

 United States

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

CLIFFWALK Image courtesy of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
When you think of somewhere stunning that you want to visit or a unique place you want to see, what comes to mind? How often have you thought about standing on a see-through platform for the ultimate view? If you are like me and are afraid of heights, I am sure the thought is not appealing. But when you hear that destinations like the Grand Canyon, the CN Tower or even the Willis Tower in Chicago offer skywalks, somehow the lure of the thrill seems within your reach. The term ‘Skywalk’ refers to a transparent platform that allows fantastic views enabling visitors to look out, across and down to reveal spectacular views.
Grand Canyon by Porbita
The Grand Canyon, Arizona Located in Arizona, two hours from Las Vegas, thousands of visitors go to view the Grand Canyon. It is one of the most popular geological areas in the world.…
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The Star City of the South – Beautiful Roanoke, Virginia

 United States

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

 
The Famous Star.
The best kind of car trips are those that involve a scenic drive somewhere instead of brain-numbing miles of Interstate highway. That is precisely why a car trip to Roanoke, Virginia is a wonderful choice. The gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding this lovely, scenic mountain town make the drive to Roanoke just as pleasant as the stay. Plan your drive to include the Blue Ridge Parkway, which links two national parks – the Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains – and you can relax and actually enjoy your trip. You will have a number of choices of places to stay in Roanoke, but we found the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center to be the perfect place for seeing the area. When our room was just a little too close to the ice machine and we were concerned about hearing the sounds of dropping ice cubes at all hours, the staff immediately moved us to a much nicer room – truly the mark of an excellent hotel.…
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5 Chocolate Lover’s Destinations

 United States

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nothing says love more than chocolate – well, at least for most people. Why not plan a getaway to a destination known for chocolate? Go to a far flung part of the world where the heavenly creation of sweetened food made from cocoa beans excites your taste buds. What could be better than combining your love for travel with your love for chocolate?
Belgian Chocolates by Simon Howden
Belgium In the European Kingdom of Belgium, surrounded by the Netherlands, Germany and France, is the home of the world’s finest chocolate. Despite being a small country, it produces 172,000 tons of chocolate per year making it the world’s largest exporter. There are literally boutique chocolatiers around every corner where visitors can sample, buy, and even watch the process of how the treat is made. Godiva, Callebaut, Cote d’or, Neuhaus, and Guylian are some of the more famous brands of chocolate. So, where are you going to see the factories?…
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The Tall Ships Challenge in Savannah, Georgia

 United States

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I glanced up at the masts of the Tall Ship berthed in the Savannah harbor for the Tall Ships Challenge, soaring up into the clear blue sky and appearing to pierce the puffy white clouds. The sounds of the people crowding onto River Street to see the ships fade away as I stood there, imagining the same scene two hundred years ago. Behind me, the shops, restaurants and hotels transformed into cotton warehouses and offices where cotton was bartered and sold in a town where cotton was king, huge mansions filled the live oak lined streets and the War of 1812 was looming on the horizon. The ballast stones under my feet being tossed out of the hold of a ship to make room to load the precious cotton but don’t go to waste as the colonists build streets and walls from the stones. Then, a sweet brown sugar smell jolted me back to the present as someone opened the door to the Savannah’s Candy Kitchen and the smell of freshly made pralines rolled out.…
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Seven-Day Immersion in the Soundtrack of Our Lives

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Recently, my spouse and I found ourselves at the epicenter of a masterfully orchestrated convergence of three great loves – music, cruises, and of course, each other. The venue was a premium class cruise ship full of dedicated music lovers and a dozen well-known jazz virtuosos. Living in this magical sweet spot of almost continuous concerts, seminars and socializing for seven days proved to be a life changing experience. First the backstory –  The Greatest Party at Sea Music-themed cruises are a fast growing niche in the cruise industry – even full ship charters. They have been around for some time. For example – this year is the 10th anniversary for the consistently sold out Smooth Jazz Cruise. A chance encounter with an enthusiastic devotee – a veteran of two jazz cruises – drew my attention to this particular theme charter – a creation of Michael Lazaroff of St Louis based Entertainment Cruise Productions (ECP).…
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Napa or Sonoma? Which One Should You Choose

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Domaine Carneros Vineyards
While every state in the union now makes wine, you still won’t find any areas as well-known as Napa and Sonoma. They are two of the most recognized wine regions in the U.S. and they also happen to be right next door to each other in Northern California. If your time is limited, how do you choose? It’s hard to believe that two places producing wine could be so close yet so different, but it’s true. After many visits to both places, I can’t say one is “better” than the other. It all depends on what you are looking for as there are differences in the wineries, hotels, restaurants and even the general atmosphere between Napa and Sonoma.
Francis Ford Coppola displays his Oscars at his winery.
Wineries The number of wineries in Napa and Sonoma is pretty even and hovering at around 450 each. Napa offers visits to some of the most well-known and respected wines in the world, including Robert Mondavi, Gallo Family Vineyards and Domaine Carneros.…
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Three Last Minute Spring Break Destinations

 United States

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

So Spring Break is rapidly approaching and you have made no plans whatsoever? And your family is clamoring for a beach getaway? No problem. The Gulf Coast of Florida awaits in all its magnificent sugar white sand and turquoise water splendor. Although people have their favorite beaches and I have visited plenty of them, none compare to the gorgeous beaches which line the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. With plenty of family-friendly accommodations, great seafood restaurants, lot of shopping opportunities, and great fun activities for families, this coast is the perfect choice for a spring break getaway. Check out these locations, pick up the phone and make a reservation, then announce to your family that Spring Break is now planned!
1. Destin.One of several beaches sprawling along the Gulf Coast in what is commonly known as “The Panhandle” because of the resemblance to a frying pan handle on the state of Florida, Destin has a number of hotels and resorts but I have stayed numerous times at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and it’s a wonderful place for families.…
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Hawaii On A Dime: How To Travel On The Cheap If You’re Adventurous

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Yes, the rumors are true. Hawaii is expensive. But guess what? It’s also an epic place to visit. An enchanted, breath-taking, must-cross-off-your-bucket-list place to visit. So I say, roll up your pennies, grab your bikini and follow this guide to travel Hawaii on a budget. First things first, get the cheapest flight there is! Wasting money due to lazy booking is a rookie-traveler mistake. Visit Kayak.com and set up an e-mail alert to notify you when the price of your destination and dates go down (this goes for any trip, by the way). For the best results, I recommend searching for Wednesday flights and booking at least a month in advance. You might be able to get a last minute deal, but usually, it’s best to play it safe and get those low fares when they first come out, and with Kayak e-mail alerts, you’ll be the first to know.
Photo Credit: Richard Taken
Next, if you’re traveling on a budget, I don’t recommend spending your hard earned cash on a fancy resort filled with snooty tourists.…
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