Derek Freal

Derek Freal

" ǝʌıʇɔǝdsɹǝd ɹǝɥʇouɐ ɯoɹɟ sƃuıɥʇ ǝǝs oʇ ǝʌol ı "
Derek is a perpetual wanderer, cultural enthusiast, and lifelong traveler. He loves going places where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, as well as places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo (supposedly its healthier and more efficient). Say Hello On Twitter!

More About

  • # Visited
    16 countries
  • Next Trip
    Currently back in Asia starting a 4-yr RTW adventure. What's after this? No clue...but that's the way I like it :)
  • Dream Trip
    Virgin space cruise. More feasible: Antarctica
  • Travel Quote
    " Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel. What do you do? "
  • Home Country
    United States

Thoughts of Montana often conjure up scenic images of rollings hills, pristine streams and snow-capped mountains, however the most gorgeous time of year is undoubtedly during the winter.

There are few things more gorgeous than fresh snowfall that has yet to be broken by tracks or the twinkling of a thousand stars on a cold, cloudless night. And nothing is more fun in this winter wonderland then gliding down a mountain slope on skies or tearing across the fresh snow on a snowmobile.

Snowy Montana winter

Before beginning to traveling the farthest corners of the globe I started in my own backyard and few states impressed me as much as Montana during the winter. Not only is it gorgeous but it's also a playground for grown-ups, a chance to once again feel like a carefree kid with no responsibilities. It is also an amazing family destination because it is fun for all ages.

Two years ago while passing through Montana I had my first experience with winter glamping and no other glamping experience since has come close. It's hard to even convey how amazing it is to spend the day outside, bundled up against the low temperatures and frolicking around like a kid, only to come inside from the cold and instantly be transported to warm, safe haven where a nice glass of German Riesling and a warm fire await.

Montana glamping

Glamping is still a relatively new vacation option yet it is one that has quickly become popular in many countries around the world. It is, as the name suggests, glamorous camping and no other form of camping compares. Imagine a tent, yurt or other semi-permanent structure that is so elaborately furnished and stocked with modern technological conveniences that it is hard to even believe it isn't a luxurious cabin. Now that is glamping.

However the best part of glamping in the winter is the outdoor activities.

SKIING

Arguably the most popular of all winter spots, Montana is well-known for it's amazing skiing. What the states lacks in population it makes up for in mountains and they come alive during the cool weather months. Whether beginner or expert there is something for everyone in this great state.

ICE-SKATING

Picture a pristine frozen lake...and now imagine you whisking across it on skates, spelling out your name in cursive letters or doing figure eights. Ice-skating is my favorite of all winter sports and as most of you know how clumsy I am, it should go without saying that I don't injure myself nearly as much on the ice as I do while skiing.

SLEDDING / SNOWMOBILING

Whether you prefer hitting the snow on a gasoline powered beast of a machine or comfortably sailing across it on a horse-drawn sleigh, both offer a relaxing and refreshing way to enjoy the winter wonderland.

Ranch Rock Creek in Montana during the winter

Of course there are plenty of other winter activities to partake in, especially if you stay somewhere that will cater to your every whim, such as The Ranch at Rock Creek. This includes winter paintballing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, sledding for the kids and pistol or rifle shooting for the adults.

Tempted to try glamping, either as a family or as a romantic getaway for two? The Ranch has you covered! Of course if you still are not sold on that idea, they also have private log homes and a more traditional iconic lodge. Whichever you decide just know that the possibilities for wintertime fun are endless. This year make your winter vacation an unforgettable one at The Ranch at Rock Creek!

Have you ever been glamping?

Share your comments below!

  This post was brought to you by The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana. Photos provided by The Ranch and flickr // timo_w2s ridge

Austin, Texas is known as the live music capital of the world and for good reason. Regardless of the time of year there are always an abundance of amazing shows to catch. The next time you are visiting Austin be sure to check out these venues:

The Continental Club

An Austin staple for over fifty years, the Continental Club has been graced by countless famous musicians, including Stevie Ray Vaughn and Hank Williams. When it first opened the Club was BYOB and within a couple years it was the first venue in town to sell liquor by the drink. Although it was briefly a burlesque club during the 1960's, nowadays the Continental Club is fun for all ages.

The Saxon Pub

This small, intimate pub is one of the newer ones musical venues on this list but it has already earned it's place as an Austin musical staple. Live recordings are frequently done here and guests never know which celebrities might make a surprise appearance jamming on stage with local musicians.

Antone's is the best spot for live music in Austin, Texas

Antone's

This blue's club is one of the best known spots in Austin to catch both up-and-coming and well-known artists. Founded by the late Clifford Antone, mentor to Stevie Ray Vaughn and noteable musicians, there is no such thing as a bad show at Antone's.

The Mohawk

Arguably most diverse venue on this list, the Mohawk is like no other. A favorite among the counter-culture crowd, both long-time Austinites and out of town visitors sweat by this bar. Although they do not serve any food, the famou food trucks East Side Pie's and Arlos can be found right out front and are the perfect way to grab a bite withou having to miss the music.

Spider House

Spider House is a coffee bar and cafe rolled into one that has been a favorite among Austin locals since it opened in 1995. The place has a uniquly Austin vibe and is definitely one of those locations keeping Austin weird. Their two outdoor stages are graced by talented local artists on a nightly basis.

SXSW performance at the Fader Fort

SXSW

Unlike the other items on this list, SXSW is not a venue but rather an annual week-long musical experience. Every year in March thousands of bands from around the world flock to the city and can be found jamming on every stage and street corner in downtown. Although the vast majority of the shows are free, the biggest ones featuring the most well-known performers usually require an SXSW wristband. Of course attendees should always be on the lookout for last-minute suprise shows featuring headliners that are announced via social media and free for those who are "in the know" and can make it there in time.

Of course these are but a fraction of the amazing places in Austin to find great music -- the city does not disappoint. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions, Austin is my hometown and music is in my blood. Rock on!

South Padre island is an amazing island with a variety of fun activities and over thirty miles of beaches just begging for you to stick your toes in the sand and relax in the sun. Of course the only thing that makes a trip to this beautiful island better is staying directly on the beach and only having to walk a few steps from the hotel lobby to the golden sand. That having been said, these are some of the top beachside hotels and resorts in South Padre Island, Texas.

Schlitterbahn Beach Resort

This sprawling 25-acre water park and hotel is one of the prime highlights of the island. Schlitterbahn South Padre is home to over a dozen gigantic indoor and outdoor water slides, nearly two dozen blood-pumping and water-spraying attractions, and several slow-moving rivers that are perfect for a lazy tube ride. Staying on-site offers the added convenience of being able to enjoy the beauty of the beach, the excitement of the water park, and the privacy of your hotel room all in one place, not to mention plenty of dining options.

Schlitterbahn South Padre Island, Texas

Isla Grand Beach Resort

This picturesque resort is known for throwing some of the best beach parties, most notably their annual Spring Break bash. Regardless of the time of year, every day and night the week Isla Grand has themed activities and events to keep guests entertained. This includes family fun like sandcastle building on the beach and arts and crafts, as well as evening shows in the nightclub. Other seasonal options include parasailing and banana boat rides. There is also plenty of year-round fun to be had at the tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, and hot tubs.

Pearl South Padre

Nestled on the beach right across from the bridge, the Pearl South Padre is one of the island's gems. All rooms have a balconies and amazing oceanfront views, plus there is even a large pool featuring a swim-up bar and grill for guests looking to avoid the salt water. Another popular feature is the Pearl's collection of packages and daily trips designed to make the most of your stay on the island. The hotel is also located right next to Schlitterbahn, making it a breeze to get the best of both worlds.

Hilton Garden Inn

One of the most popular and well-reviewed hotels on the island, the Hilton Garden Inn is located mere footsteps from warm white sand and sparkling blue water. As the northernmost hotel on the island, guests can enjoy a large and less-crowded portion of the beach. Windsurfing and jet-skiing are popular with guests here, as are snorkeling and fishing. Above all, do not miss out on the breakfast buffet, easily the best breakfast in all of South Padre!

La Copa Inn Beach Hotel

La Copa ia a pet-friendly hotel and ocean side restaurant, and it offers one of the best values for the price on the entire island. It has an intimate, almost family run atmosphere and helpful staff. However, during Spring Break, it does have a tendency to be overrun by college students lured in by the cheap price. All the exciting water-based activities from parasailing to dolphin-watching can be booked through the concierge, and the Schlitterbahn water park is less than a five-minute walk away.

The beach at South Padre Island, Texas

The Palms Resort

If a laid back resort with a "mom-and-pop" feel is what you crave then look no further than The Palms Resort. Located a little further north up the island, this resort is all about relaxation, whether on the beach, in their indoor heated pool, or the Cafe on the Beach. The only thing better than the food is the breathtaking Gulf view.

Wherever you decide to stay on South Padre Island, don't forget to check out all the cheap hotels and resorts in South Padre Island on Hipmunk.

  As a blogger ambassador for Hipmunk I have written several articles for their site and am now taking part in Hipmunk's #citylove campaign, where they have given me the opportunity to share some of my favorite locations with you. Have you ever been to South Padre Island?

Nothing ruins a family vacation faster than accidentally booking a room at a "party hotel" full of young people drinking and running wild all night. To help avoid that, here are my top family-friendly hotels and resorts in the amazing beachside town of Carlsbad, California.

Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

This amazing resort is home to Kidtopia, the ultimate in resort entertainment for kids 12 and under. In addition to an extensive playscape, games, puzzles, and books, Kidtopia also has a nursery for toddlers and a "night camp" on weekends – the perfect way for adults to enjoy a night to themselves. Omni La Costa is also conveniently located mere minutes from plenty of shopping and dining options, not to mention the kid-centric Legoland California.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Spa & Golf Club

Kids 10 and up will feel right at home in the Park Hyatt's game room. It comes complete with an arcade center, six PlayStation consoles, air hockey, foosball, and a large selection of board games. There is even a billiards table and shuffleboard court. Meanwhile, the younger ones can live it up at Camp Hyatt, a fun and entertaining option for children ages four to 12. Once the children are entertained, parents can pamper themselves as they see fit.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, California

Tamarack Beach Resort Hotel

The recreation room at Tamarack Beach Resort Hotel was crafted with family fun in mind. In addition to a large selection of board games, puzzles, and DVD movies, the recreation center also comes fully stocked with several pool tables and a ping pong table. The hotel also has complimentary planned activities that are fun for the whole family. For families looking to escape the hotel and have some outdoor fun, the beach is a short walk away, or take a short drive to Legoland.

Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara

For parents wishing to spoil themselves – and their children – Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara is the resort to choose. The resort has an extensive and ever-changing collection of kids activities that will enthrall and entertain children of all ages. After all, when the kids are happy, the parents are happy! Once they are occupied, parents are free to escape and unwind with a visit to the spa, one of their many pools, or a trip to the fitness center and steam room.

The Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara in Carlsbad, California

West Inn and Suites

The number one rated family hotel in Carlsbad, West Inn and Suites is devoted to providing first class hospitality for families. They have cribs and Pack n' Plays ready at a moment's notice, an interactive library full of games and books, and even an on-site park. When bedtime approaches, the younger ones are treated to milk and cookies while the adults are rewarded with the Seasonal Pour. And when it comes time to venture out, the hotel offers shuttle service to Legoland, as well as beach toys for the kids, and umbrellas and chairs for the parents.

Legoland Hotel

Last but certainly not least is the Legoland Hotel, conveniently located inside Legoland California. Everything about this place was designed with the kids in mind, from custom Lego kids sleeping areas complete with an entertainment console in each room to the welcome treasure hunt with Lego prize that every child receives upon check-in. Kids are also welcome to use the hotel's collection of Lego bricks to build whatever their heart desires.

The Legoland Hotel in Carlsbad, California

No matter where you decide to stay find the best prices on hotels in Carlsbad with Hipmunk.

  As a blogger ambassador for Hipmunk I have written several articles for their site and am now taking part in Hipmunk's #citylove campaign, where they have given me the opportunity to share some of my favorite locations with you. Have you ever been to Carlsbad?

Legoland Photo Credit: flickr // spookyamd

South Padre Island may be small, but it packs abundant sights and activities to ensure visitors have a remarkable vacation. While the crowds flock to the well-known attractions, break free from the masses and experience the island's best hidden gems.

Walk On Water

One of the newest water-based activities that few know about is fly boarding. Fly boarding featured in various movies over the last couple years, and now is available for public enjoyment. Think of it like a jetpack that runs on water rather than gasoline. Attached to a jet ski, water feeds up to it through a large tube before expelling down with enough velocity to propel the jetpack wearer up into the air.

Fly boarding in South Padre Island

Andy Bowie Park

Andy Bowie is possibly the most overlooked beach on South Padre, and is great way to escape the crowds. A modest $5 parking fee is all you need to drive down to the water's edge and pitch your beach chairs and umbrella, or even a tent. The park also has rest rooms, showers, and a concession stand that will satisfy anyone who forgot his or her snacks, sunscreen, or bottled water at home.

Attend a Crawfish Boil

Seafood on the gulf is so fresh and tasty you would think the server delivered it straight from the water to your plate. Of course, eating mere fish is routine. Devouring your way through a crawfish boil is a whole different kind of finger-licking goodness. Here's a little-known secret: every weekend Parrot Eyes Restaurant Bar has a crawfish boil. It's not found on their menu, but they advertise occasionally in Padre magazine. Word to the wise: don't make any plans for the remainder of the day, as a belly full of their delicious boiled crawfish might be enough to send you back to bed!

Crawfish boil in South Padre Island

SPI Birding and Nature Center

This non-profit organization is doing all it can to educate both locals and visitors on the birds, fauna, flora, and overall environment of not just South Padre Island but all the Gulf of Mexico. Besides the boardwalks and bird blinds, one of the most rewarding aspects of a trip to the SPI Birding and Nature Center is the view from the top its five-story observation tower. This is the best place around to get a photograph of the island and the gulf from a unique vantage point.

Daddy's Cajun Kitchen & Seafood Market

Yes, this recently relocated Cajun restaurant is a favorite of locals and regular visitors alike to South Padre. Originating in 2003, "Dirty Al" and son Cameron, a culinary school graduate, and what some describe as the man behind the flavor, have perfected the art of how to make hungry guests' mouths salivate. Naturally, how to also keep them coming back for more. In fact they now own a half-dozen restaurants around the island. However the original is still (and always will be!) the best.

Of course these aren't all of South Padre Islands' hidden gems; not by a long shot. If you find yourself with a little free time, then go exploring and see what interesting sights and attractions you can discover. The island does not disappoint! Plus Hipmunk has plenty of cheap hotels in South Padre Island so you don't have to worry about breaking the bank just to have a little fun.

  As a blogger ambassador for Hipmunk I have written several articles for their site and am now taking part in Hipmunk's #citylove campaign, where they have given me the opportunity to share some of my favorite locations with you. Have you ever been to South Padre Island?

Photo Credits: flickr // tackletactics   thesuperstar

Instagram is a handy tool for travelers wishing to document their journey. Long gone are the days of buying disposable cameras or dropping off film at the developer. However the ease of this app can often be taken for granted. After all let's be honest: We've all seen some crappy IG photos.

Don't be that guy.

When you do decide to share something on Instagram, make sure it is truly worthy of being shared. This infographic from dealchecker.co.uk demonstrates how you can capture the peripheral wonders of the cultures you are engrossed within to make the perfect holiday photo album, and churn your followers’ complexions green with envy. Taking the constant accessibility and features Instagram has to offer into consideration, these tips have been compiled into a foolproof list to make the most of the instrument in your pocket.

A dealchecker graphic – How to take amazing travel photos

Graphic produced by dealchecker.co.uk

Don't Forget To Follow The HoliDaze!

Indonesia is a vast and diverse archipelago that continues to impress and surprise longtime expats and even locals. To think that because you've seen Jakarta and done Bali then you "know" Indonesia is to be sorely mistaken. As one expat told me: "Just when you think you're starting to understand Indonesia, that's when you realize you don't understand it at all."

From amazing cultures and regional customs to a seemingly neverending variety of local cuisines, Indonesia is home to more diversity in some of it's larger islands than other nations have in their entirety. Especially when it comes to langauges and dialects, of which the country has over 700 -- and don't think that Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is even remotely similar to Javanese (Bahasa Jawa) or Balinese (Bahasa Bali) because its not. After all the slogan of the country is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which is Javanese for "Unity In Diversity."

Mount Rinjani, Lombok
Mount Rinjani, Lombok

What To Know If Traveling Indonesia

Indonesia is home to some of the friendliest and most hospitable people I have even met. During six months motorcycling around the country and making local friends, even doing a tourism film on Sumatra, I had nothing but good experiences with the best of people. All except for while I was in Bali -- but I'll get to that in a second. For now the most important things to know are:

The Street Food Is Better Than Restaurant Food

Both in terms of taste and authenticity. Oh yeah and of course price. Depending where you are in the country you can get a decent meal for around 11,000IDR ($1USD), a little more if you want to splurge and really fill up. Don't worry about getting sick, just go with the street vendor or warung has the most local customers. After all they must be doing something right!

Street food in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Street food in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Bakso on the street in Suarabya, Indonesia
Bakso on the street with friends in Suarabya, Indonesia

Expect a lot of variety in dishes and sweetness/spiciness depending upon where in the country you travel. However no matter where you visit there will be lots of fried dishes, such as nasi goreng, mie goreng and ayam goreng (rice, noodles, and chicken respectively -- and of course as you probably guessed goreng is Indonesian for fried). Beyond that the variety begins. For every city you visit make sure to ask the locals what their speciality is.

Learn more before your trip: First Impressions: Indonesia and Basic Indonesian Food Cheat Sheet.

For Every Good Tourist Site There Is An Even Better "Hidden" One

Indonesia has no shortage of spectular views, virgin beaches, challenging mountains, and off the beaten path exploring. When I first arrived there I thought one or two months would be enough. Six months later and I still didn't want to leave. Yet during my travels I had met so many other backpackers, all of which were visiting Yogyakarta, Mount Bromo, and Bali. "Oh plus Gili T and Komodo if we have time" I heard more often than I can count. Hardly any stopped by Sumatra. And none had even thought about Kalimantan or Sulawesi, let alone Papua.

Pantai Sundak, Gunungkidal, Indonesia
Pantai Sundak, Gunungkidal, Indonesia. My ten local friends and I had it all to ourselves!

Trust the locals. Ask them where to visit, what to eat, how to have fun. The friends I've made along my journeys through Indonesia have shown me a world of things not covered in any tourist guide book, from traditional pastimes and 5am fishing trips to lesser-known things like panjat pinang and stick-fighting. And of course more virgin beaches than I can keep track of!

My friend Trinity is author of the famous Indonesian book series The Naked Traveler. Last week her newest book went on sale, Across The Indonesian Archipelago. If you are looking for ideas on where to travel in Indonesia then this is both a great resource and an enjoyable read. (And yes, it is in English.)

Local Transportation Is Easier Than You Might Expect

Especially on the main island of Java, which has a reliable train network and plenty of regular routes. Outside of Java you will have to rely on buses and ferries, the latter of which can have a bit more of an irregular schedule depending on how remote your intended destination may be. However in places like Sulawesi short flights might be a better, albeit more expensive, option.

Street food in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Taken while traveling by train across Java

Renting a motorcycle is also another option. Of course I would only recommend this option for experienced riders, preferably ones already used to driving in the chaotic streets of southeast Asia. For 50,000IDR/day ($5USD) or 650,000-1,000,000IDR/month ($60-90USD) a scooter or motorcycle can be rented, allowing you to go where you want when you want. This has fantastic way to visit small villages and other off the beaten path destinations. It is the only way I ever made it to places like Banyusumurup, the traditional village that makes all of the kris, small Indonesian daggers with mystical powers. Plus despite horror stories of bus thieves and midnight muggings in Sumatra I have yet to encounter any difficulties along the road.

For more read my newest blog post: How To Travel Indonesia By Motorcycle

Don't Rush Off To Bali -- Explore Elsewhere First

If you only have one month or less in the country then I would say skip Bali entirely. It is an over-priced, Westernized version of Indonesia where the bulk of the individuals working in the tourism industry are not even Balinese but rather Sudanese or Javanese and have come solely to take your foreign money. As a caucasin here you essentially have dollar signs tattooed across your pale forehead. Plus as with any place that attracts massive notoriety as a tourist hotspot so too come the touts, beggars, scam artists, foreign food (so you can "feel at home") and of course the inflated prices. At the risk of upsetting some of my Balinese friends I'll say it: if you get pickpocketed or robbed anywhere in the country, it most likely will happen here. It is a predators' paradise because the prey keep flying in 365 days a year.

Don't get me wrong, Bali is not all bad -- just the southern part is. Kuta, Denpasar, Sanur, Uluwatu, etc. In fact Googling "kuta is hell on earth" or some near varient will produce several interesting articles by other bloggers on why Bali is only for couples or families looking for all-inclusive four- and five-star resorts and not for backpackers. The eastern and northern parts, most specifically Padangbai and Ubud, weren't near as bad as southern Bali but neither were they that good.

Talon of 1Dad1Kid.com and I crossed paths in real life one day in Sanur. Turns out he and I had the same feelings about this island. If you are unsure about visiting Bali then his post will help you decide if the island is right for you.

I basically can’t encourage people to come to the island. Indonesia has some truly amazing areas, and I think a person’s time and money are better spent exploring other parts of the country.

Not A Good Destination For Former Cigarette Smokers

Cigarette ads are everywhere in Indonesia

Indonesia ranks third in the world for total number of cigarette smokers according to the WHO. Almost all of the men smoke, far too many kids, and yes, even the orangutans. The tobacco industry is big business here and as the Western world keeps placing more restrictions on cigarette advertising and marketing the tobacco giants keep pumping more money into southeast Asia. Despite 'No Smoking' signs in places like malls you can often find someone less than a meter away, using the floor as an ashtray.

To make matters worse cigarettes are around 10-14,000IDR ($1-1.25USD) and sold at every family-owned market, corner store and restaurant. Although I quit smoking after moving out of Tokyo in 2009 I have found myself occasionally smoking a kretek cigarette when drinking. Although this is entirely social, if you tried hard to quit cigarettes and do not want to see and smell the temptation everywhere you go, you might best avoid Indonesia. Even as I type this I am sitting in a smoke-filled office in Jakarta.

All in all Indonesia is one country that does not disappoint. There is a reason why so many travelers over the years have come here and then never left. Between the warm, inviting culture, vastness of the country and extensive list of places worthy of exporing, beautiful scenery and delicious food, Indonesia truly has something for everyone. You just have to know what you are looking for.

Have Any Indonesia Travel Questions?

Street art (sometimes called graffiti art) is a very unique and interesting form of modern artistic expression. The vivid colors and neverending creativity of their artists have a tendency to impress both locals and tourists alike.

Like most major metropolises Toronto boasts its own collection of graffiti art, including the aptly named "Graffiti Alley," which runs parallel to Queen street on the southern side.

To check out the wall art for yourself, start at Queen and Spadina and head west, walking down every alley you pass. There is also a healthy amount of graffiti artt scattered a few blocks north of there, throughout the Kensington Market.

Click any of the images below to enlarge them

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Which one is your favorite?

Share your comments below!

When it comes to finding a great holiday destination, you've got the world at your feet. There's enough choice to suit virtually every different taste and budget imaginable, from cheap package holidays in Tunisia and romantic weekends in Venice, to ski holidays in the French Alps and walking breaks across the Spanish Pyrenees.

One destination that serves up a fascinating array of holidays all on one island is Tenerife. With incredible volcanic geology that has left a legacy of dark sandy beaches, craggy mountainous terrain and bizarre volcanic landscapes, there's never a dull moment in this sun-drenched Canary Island.

Thanks to its location just off the west African coast, Tenerife enjoys year-round sunshine that makes this a cracking holiday destination in summer as well as winter, with scorching temperatures throughout July and August and lovely t-shirt weather during our winter months. The Teide National Park is the island's stunning centrepiece, which features alpine-like scenery and is crowned by the soaring, snow-topped summit of Mount Teide - Tenerife's dormant volcano and Spain's tallest peak. You can whizz to the top by cable car to enjoy incredible views across the island and over the Atlantic Ocean.

Elsewhere, the northern shores makes a refreshing change from the beach-centric resorts of the south. The north coast is sprinkled with towns and villages offering a more traditional way of life, while Puerto de la Cruz is a bustling resort with plenty going on both night and day. And don't miss the chance to spend a day shopping and sightseeing in Santa Cruz, the island's cosmopolitan capital city.

If you've got Tenerife holidays 2013 on the agenda, you'll find a cracking array of holidays available with plenty of late deals and special offers. So get searching and book your trip to tantalising Tenerife this summer for a holiday to remember...

When traveling I get a kick out of stopping in any random museums that I may come across. Some are educational, others are laughable, but most all are enjoyable for their own reasons. In fact the next time you pass by a museum, I encourage you to stop in and have a look around. Included are some of the museums I have visited over the last six or so months (however long since I returned from Mexico).

Have you been to any unique or amazing museums? Feel free to brag below ;)

 

Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum

The Pencil Sharpener Museum is definitely worth poking your head in, if you should be passing by -- and I do mean "poke your head in." With a total size of about 60 square feet, this is by far the smallest museum I have ever visited. However, it was not my "quickest museum trip" ever (that one is further down on the list).

Paul Johnson started his collection when he retired in 1988 and eventually amassed over 3,300 different pencil sharpeners in all shapes and sizes. After he passed away in 2010, his widow generously agreed to donate the collection to the Logan visitor's center. Volunteers went out to her house, took numerous photos to record exactly how each pencil sharpener was arranged, and then used those photos after transporting to precisely re-assemble the pencil sharpeners just as Paul had intended.

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Logan, Ohio
Official Website

As you can see, many look like traditional pencil sharpeners but others are rather unique and much more impressive. Had I been thinking I would have taken better photos of the animal section of sharpeners -- many had pencil insertion points at rather questionable places ;)

View more fun activities in Hocking Hills

 

Museum of Questionable Medical Devices

Technically this collection is now merely one exhibit among many at the Science Museum Of Minnesota, although it still retains the same name. Like the pencil sharpener museum, this donated collection was originally the brainchild of one man, Bob McCoy, who also happened to pass away in 2010.

Spend a few minutes looking at some of the bizarre contraptions and methodology of late 18th and early 19th century will make you really happy to live in such a modern era. But when I started to see items like a breast enlargement machine from the 1950s, well then it began to sink in that "modern" medicine is only as advanced as the day. Just as now we often think how technology was lacking a few years or decades ago, so too we will soon think that about 2013.

Otherwise the rest of the museum is decidedly family oriented and rather run of the mill for a capital city.

St Paul, Minnesota
Official Website

What is the wildest museum you've ever been to?

 

Kansas Barbed Wire Museum

After stopping to get gas at some random town in Kansas last summer I noticed a sign for the barbed wire museum and figured I would check it out. Turns out that barb wire is as un-spectacular as you might think. However I did learn two things: 1) there are more types of barbed wire than current years A.D. and 2) barb wire collecting is actually a valid hobby -- but only for residents of Kansas.

I spent more time oogling the crazy pencil sharpeners in the first museum than I did passing through here. However if you have a fascination with ranches or the wild west, this place could be right up your alley.


Barb wire collecting is actually a valid hobby -- but only for residents of Kansas

Lacrosse, Kansas
Official Website

 

Graceland

The Home of the King Of Rock 'n' Roll turns out to only be popular amongst senior citizens and kids under ten. Although entertaining, I was left with only one question: what will happen to this place in a decade, as the current baby-boomin' Elvis-lovin' generation passes on?

Regardless, the whole experience shed lots of new light on just how awesome Presely was. But as far as museums are concerned, it is definitely can be a pricey one -- they offer different tours based on sights, length, and well, let's be honest, love of Elvis. If you really love him you'll buy the most expensive package ;)

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Memphis, Tennessee
Official Website

After this trip I now truly appreciate the Paul Simon song Graceland....oh yeah, and Elvis too. Just watch out for those peanut butter and banana sandwiches -- which of course is a specialty in the Graceland cafe ;)

 

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditorium @ Times Square

Definitely more offbeat than obscure, this "museum" will leave you amazed, intrigued, confused, and most likely even a tiny bit grossed out. While the building exterior may not be as wild as some of the other Ripley's locations, inside it spans two massive floors and is a great way to kill an hour or two. If you have never toured a Ripley's museum before, well then you might as well start with what is arguably one of their best.

New York City, New York
Official Website

View more offbeat activities to do in NYC

 

While these are by no means the strangest museums in the world, they are some of my most recent explorations.

What's the wildest, scariest, or most obscure museum that you've ever visited?

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