" 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!
The destinations and the sights may change but the hotels rarely do. It's easy to get bored with mundane, predictable hotels, even if you are not a frequent traveler. After all, there is no reason the experience at your hotel should not be as rewarding as the destination itself. With the following quirky, offbeat and just downright amazing Auckland accommodations, visitors will be writing home about the hotels instead of the city itself.
One of the best things about traveling is sampling new foods and the local beer. Thankfully whoever is behind the Shakespeare Hotel & Brewery made a bold but smart move and combined the two in New Zealand's first brewpub and hotel. Adding to Shakespeare's charm is the fact that it is located right in the heart of Auckland and is one of the best budget hotel options in all of town. In fact it is quite easy to spend more here on beer than you will on your room. But don't worry, that's a good thing -- their craft brews are delicious!
Ponsonby in West Auckland is one of the cities most iconic and intriguing suburbs. The area has a rich and vivid history but nowadays is known for its shopping, cafes, art galleries and nightclubs. Situated right in the center of all that action is Ponsonby Manor, the perfect place to stay if you want to enjoy the colorful neighborhood without breaking the bank. This Victorian manor has been around for over 150 years but has been repeatedly renovated to keep it modern. Each of the rooms is unique and, just like any good manor, Ponsonby has a garden, communal kitchen, television room and of course a barbecue area. A great way to escape the traditional hotels and live in a more local environment.
Matakana Village is one of Auckland's most well-known and well-loved destinations located just outside of the big city. It is also great wine country. It is here that the immaculate Riverside Matakana luxury resort occupies 40 acres along the Glen Eden River. They offer private bungalows that are surprisingly affordable and the ultimate in relaxation. While in town be sure to visit the weekly Matakana Market every Saturday and definitely indulge in some wine tasting. Vineyard tours are available and come highly recommended!
For a truly unique experience, head one hour north of Auckland to MacKenzie Farmstay in Matamata. There you can enjoy a tranquil stay on a working farm surrounded by 30 acres of rolling farmland filled with sheep, cattle, goats and horses. Take the five-minute ride into town to spend the day exploring boutique cafes and visit the Hobbiton movie set, the filming location the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit.
People all over the world know two things that London has in abundance: amazing street art and crappy weather. While I cannot help you with the latter, I can show you where to find some magnificent street art -- as well as several other offbeat sights and activities that should not be missed next time you are in London.
First things first. You've escaped the airport and dropped your bags off at the hotel room. Now what? It's time for a drink! Walk right past that hotel bar though, that's not where you want to be. Find a nice, quirky watering hole and go mingle with some locals. My personal favorite is the Phoenix Artist Bar -- and if you don't already want to visit there just based off hearing the name then please, just stop reading now, because this guide is clearly not for you.
Phoenix is becoming less-and-less "hidden" every month but that doesn't make it any less offbeat. The bar is frequented by those in the theatre industry and is in fact a private club. However non-members can get in by presenting a theatre ticket. The interior is stocked full of theatre memorabilia and their upbeat atmosphere will make you quickly feel right at home. Other offbeat options include Cellar Door and the aptly named Happiness Forgets.
London has no shortage of theatres and shows, however my personal favorite is the Whirled Cinema. From the outside the building appears to be an abandoned but inside it is the most lavish 60-person theatre that you've ever seen. They also have a small bar where you can order cocktails or a pizza to make your movie more enjoyable. Good luck finding the place though!
Toilets have become all the rage in recent years, with more and more countries opening up toilet restaurants. London even has a toilet coffee shop. However in order to truly appreciate these necessities of daily life, it helps to learn how far they have come over the years. London Loo Tour is an hour-and-a-half long walking tour that traces the history of toilets all the way up to now. You'll never look at the loo the same way after!
Located in southeast London, the 19 acre garden surrounding Eltham Palace is arguably the best garden -- and best-kept green secret -- in all of London. Here visitors can escape the chaos and noise of the city without ever actually leaving the city. The entire property is considered a three-in-one getaway: visitors can relax in the park, marvel in the majestry that is Eltham Palace (which dates back to the 1300s), and even tour the 1930s Art Deco house also located there.
Last but not least is London's street art scene. Head on over to Brick Lane and the surrounding areas to find some of the city's best street art, including several well-known works by Banksy and other prolific artists. Further north are the neighborhoods of Dalston and Hackney, both of which not only have plenty of street art but also an abundance of vintage stores, boutique cafes, quirky coffee shops and other independent businesses that will make it easy to pass the day away.More HoliDaze Offbeat Travel Guides
Corpus Christi is the perfect getaway year-round, but for those of us who unfortunately have to work for a living, sometimes a weekend is all we can escape for. Luckily, it is entirely possible to see both the best of Corpus Christi and a few overlooked nuggets in only 48 hours.
Corpus Christi is known for great seafood and we all have to eat, right? The two most well known seafood joints in town are Snoopy's Pier and Doc's Seafood & Steak Restaurant. Both are located right next to each other on Padre Island and cannot be missed -- just follow the crowds. Stopping at one of these two fine establishments on the way in or out of town is almost an unwritten law among regular visitors to the island.
Another place you shouldn't miss is the Costa Sur Bar & Grub, which has built up a rather large and loyal local following. Their cuisine is an interesting Corpus Christi-twisted take on Peruvian fusion seafood. Come for the fish, stay for the ceviche. They not only serve it they serve several different types!
The Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington Memorial are the two most popular sights in town. While they should not be missed, visitors that only have a limited time in town should definitely arrive in the morning to beat the crowds. The two are also located right next to each other and both open at 9am daily.
Visit the aquarium first and you shouldn't need more than an hour or two if you have kids. Once aboard the USS Lexington you can spend the better part of the day! It is a decommissioned aircraft carrier that is loaded with history and plenty of interesting things to explore on every floor from front to back. Overnight stays are even possible.
While people always have their own different personal favorite section of beach for a variety of reasons, the question of whether Mustang Island is better than North Padre or vice versa has finally been settled: North Padre is the winner, most specifically Padre Island National Seashore. Home to over 70 miles of beaches -- at least for visitors whom come equipped with a four-wheel drive vehicle.
During my trips I have learned this: Mustang Island is great to go for a short stop, but if you want to spend half the day or even the entire day away from it all, opt for North Padre Island. Bring some food, water and yes, even a six-pack of beer, conveniently "forget" your cellphone at the hotel, and prepare to relax the day away.
Although camping on the beach is always an option, it's certainly not the most romantic of options for a quick weekend getaway. For that check out my guide to cheap hotels in Corpus Christi on Hipmunk. (Yes, I'm a regular writer for them too.)
flickr // thesuperstar
Over the years, I've hit -- and had fun -- at countless party destinations. Don't get me wrong, when you have 51 weeks of work a year and but one week off to go wild, being at a location with an ample supply of bars is pivotal. However sometimes when traveling with the family or in search of beauty and culture, traveling beyond the party is a necessity.
Nowadays so many popular tourist destinations are synonymous with partying, unfortunately. Bali, Indonesia. Cancun, Mexico. Vang Vieng, Laos. Phuket, Thailand. But each one offers so much more. Even though Phuket has a party reputation, that doesn't mean drinking is the only thing to do on the island. Here is the HoliDaze guide on how to escape the Phuket party scene and ensure a refreshing trip.
Pub crawl through Phuket Town? Why, when bars can be found in nearly any city in the world? Opt instead for culture. Go visit a few of the Wats or volunteer at one of the many animal foundations scattered around the island. The Soi Dog Foundation and Gibbon Rehabilitation Project are doing amazing things to improve the situations of animals living on the island, and both have temporary volunteer positions around all year.
Image by Maegan via Trover
One thing I've learned over the years is that sometimes you just have to ditch the guidebook in order to truly appreciate the unexpected. Motorcycles are ridiculously easy to come by in Phuket and as soon as I did the whole island opened up to me. Just pack a bag for the day and head off into the horizon. You never know where you are going to end up but at least the island isn't so big that you will get lost to the point of needing a search party to retrieve you. You can also take part in one of the locals tours offered.
Being an island, Phuket has no shortage of beaches. However Phuket also has no shortage of tourists, which means that the most convenient beaches are also the most populated.
Image by Moons via Trover
For the picture-perfect beaches that will give you an iconic shot worthy of using on your Facebook page for years to come, visit my favorite sandy destination in Phuket: Haad Sai Kaew Beach. It is an ideal combination of untouched sand alongside a few small but delicious thatched roof restaurants, one that will you will be dreaming about long after leaving Phuket.
Sometimes the hassle of planning a busy trip and seeing all the best of a location is too much to be bothered with. Luckily if this should happen to you, rest easy knowing that there is no shortage of magnificent Phuket hotels eager to cater to your every whim. The private resorts contain some of the most spotless beaches on the island. Rather than having to acquire transportation and make the trek up north, it is possible to find a nice resort in town that has a pristine beach.
Image by Munchu via Trover
There are no shortage of great restaurants in Corpus Christi, but sometimes visitors get tired of eating seafood. I know, usually fresh seafood is one of the best parts about visiting a coastal city, but we all have our limits. For those of you looking for mouth-watering food that wasn't swimming in the Gulf of Mexico the day before, head on over to one of the following impressive establishments.
The only thing that beats a delicious pizza is a delicious pizza served alongside an ice cold craft beer. Thankfully that is what B & J's Pizza has become known for. With a history that dates back four decades, B & J's has long since been a favorite of both Corpus Christi residents and visitors in town on vacation. They now have two restaurants in town and are ranked high on the top 100 list of best independent pizza restaurants in all of the United States.
In the mood for a gourmet burger without the gourmet price? Forget all those burger chains scattered around town and head on over to Wallbanger's Gourmet Hamburgers. Although they serve more than just burgers, these are what really impress most. They don't have a set burger menu but rather provide you with a list of possible toppings and let you go wild. Have a Texas-sized appetite? Try one of their stuffed burgers or attempt to eat your way through The Banger, a monstrous three-pound burger that will leave you begging for mercy -- or assistance from your friends.
Have a craving for Vietnamese food? Look no further than the delectable Saigon Cafe, home of an impressive variety of bubble teas and the best pho in all of Corpus Christi -- maybe even all of Texas. (I say this both as a Texan and as someone who has traveled extensively through Vietnam.) The restaurant itself is rather nondescript however it's the food that keeps people coming back, not the decorations. Plus I'd swear they have Speedy Gonzalez working back in the kitchen because both times I've been here my order was ready ridiculously fast. The only downside? The staff tend to pronounce pho "fo" instead of the correct "fa" which leads me to believe that the new owner must not be Vietnamese.
Located on the 24th floor of the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel, the only thing that comes close to the savory food at the Republic of Texas Bar & Grill is the impressive view of the Gulf. That is what makes it the perfect restaurant to visit for a romantic dinner and arguably the best bar and grill in the entire city. The food doesn't come cheap, which may be a bit of a deterrent to some people, but remember: you get what you pay for. Go for the Broken Arrow Ranch Venison -- it does not disappoint!
Of course before you go stuffing your belly to the point where a post-meal nap is required, make sure to find a cheap hotel in Corpus Christi on Hipmunk. Trust me, you'll want that extra money in your pocket when it comes time for desert.
Auckland is one of the most fun and most beautiful cities in the world. It is also a very popular tourist destination. However sometimes the most rewarding experiences can be found when you escape the tourist crowds and blaze your own path. That having been said, here are my picks for the best offbeat sights and activities in Auckland, New Zealand.
Unlike anything else I have ever experienced, the Odyssey Sensory Maze is exactly what the name suggests: an invigorating journey that will stimulate all of your senses and leave you wanting more. It only takes about 30 minutes to travel through this diverse collection of differently themed sections, each distinctly different from the one before it. Each section features unique obstacles, lighting, music and yes, even smells. There is a jungle zone, a cave zone, a space zone, and...well...you'll just have to discover the rest for yourself.
Island-hopping in the Hauraki Gulf is a popular pastime but many tourists -- even native Aucklanders -- never make it past Rangitoto and Waiheke islands. Yes, Tiritiri Matangi is a bit further away than those two (a 75-minute ferry ride), however the trip is more than worth it. This wildlife sanctuary is home to nearly a hundred different species of birds and therefore a must for both nature lovers and ornithologists alike. Plus if you don't want to go alone you can easily join a Tiritiri tour.
Photo by Nayika via Trover
Take a trip back in time by visiting the Glenbrook Vintage Railway. It's nearly an hour south of the city but you'll feel a world away! Come early and learn about the classic trains and the history of the railway from local volunteers before riding the train up to Waiuku. The train carriages are all perfectly restored and in immaculate condition. They even have open-air carriages that are perfect for capturing amazing photographs of the countryside. After arriving in Waiuku you can spend the day exploring and then either catch the return train to Glenbrook or continue back up to Auckland.
Located about 45 minutes north of the city, there is so much to do in here that you could easily turn a Matakana day-trip into a 3 or 4 day mini vacation. The village is most known for its Farmers' Market every Saturday, however there is much more to explore than just that. From dozens of vineyards and countless boutique restaurants and family owned B&Bs, Matakana is an amazing place that is always hard to leave.
Auckland and the surrounding area has no shortage of beaches, however Karekare is completely overlooked by most foreign tourists. The result is a pristine beach nestled in the countryside with virtually no signs of life around it. It is the perfect location for a relaxing day-trip or a brief escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. The black sand gets incredibly hot in the afternoon sun, so this destination is best visited early in the day. Plus if you get bored with the beach just follow the trail through the lush vegetation and you will be rewarded with some spectacular waterfalls.
Photo by Umar via Trover
Regardless of how you decide to spend your time, you are sure to find cheap hotels in Auckland. Then you can use the money you save to enjoy some of these offbeat Auckland activities!
Hipmunk has published a large number of my city guides to destinations around the world on their site. Check them out for more!
Corpus Christi is a popular tourist destination both for Texans and travelers from all corners of the United States. However while most stick to the beaches and other water-based activities, there are quite a few spectacular yet overlooked sights and attractions located around town. For anyone seeking to do something different on their next trip to Corpus Christi, look no further than the following sights.
Located near the heart of Corpus Christi is a three-story tall statue of a devil, affectionately known as the Demon of Corpus Christi. The irony of a gigantic devil statue in a city named after the body of Christ cannot be overlooked, and neither can the statue itself. Originally part of an amusement park ride in Pennsylvania, after the ride was shut down the statue was purchased by a local resident and relocated to Texas.
Selena, also know as the "Queen of Tejano," was an amazing singer who was tragically murdered in 1995 at the age of 23 by the original president of her fan club. A couple years later the Selena memorial opened, complete with a bronze statue of the Queen herself. It wasn't long before rubbing the statue's butt became known for bringing good luck. Whether or not this is true is still debatable, however this act has become fiercely popular among visitors of the memorial, both male and female.
Back in 1492 Colombus' three ships famously discovered of the land that would become the United States. In 1992 full-size replicas of these ships were built and briefly toured around a few American ports before settling into their home in Corpus Christi in 1993. There they still reside, two at the Museum for Science and History and the third in the Corpus Christi Marina.
Everyone knows that Austin is the "Live Music Capital Of The World" but few realize just how many amazing musicians came from Texas. Thankfully the up-and-coming South Texas Walk of Music Fame is paying tribute to some of the greats with ceramic tile statues. Notables include Selena, Reverend Horton Heat, George Straight and Vallejo, among dozens of others. Although it was founded ten years ago it still remains a rather small sight. However it is growing every year with the inauguration of six new musicians on the last Friday of June.
Every Texan knowns the beloved burger chain known as Whataburger. For those who have never heard of Whataburger, the next time you pass one on the highway be sure to stop in and find out what all the excitement is about. Sure, it may be fast food, but it is leaps and bounds above all those stereotypical chains whose product is lab-created instead of farm-grown. Few realize that the statue of Harmon Dobson, founder of Whataburger, is located in Corpus Christi.
However you decide to pass your time in Corpus Christi, don't forget to check Hipmunk for cheap hotels andother view my many other articles there -- not just on Corpus but also covering tons of other cities around the USA and abroad.
flickr // qnr
Houston is one of the largest cities in Texas, and as with all big metropolises, there are so many things to do there that it can often be overwhelming to visitors. It is for that exact reason that I have recently been writing so many articles on all the amazing sights and restaurants in Houston, Texas. Now I proudly present the best summer activities to beat the Houston heat and humidity while still having a great trip.
What better way to cool off during the summer than by going for a swim. Houston has no shortage of public pools, however the real place to visit is Wet 'n' Wild SplashTown. They are home to acres upon acres of water slides, rides and pools. Plus if you are traveling as a family then this is one destination that every kid is guaranteed to love, regardless of their age.
Houston is home to several professional teams, including the Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, and the Houston Texans. Baseball is the sport of summer and football season starts in September, so depending on when visitors will be in town dictates which sports will be in session. Luckily, either way the best deals on tickets to both games and musical performances can always be found with TiqIQ.
Once the sun goes down and the temperature cools, outside dining becomes much more enjoyable than it is during the daytime heat. Restaurants like Boheme, The Tasting Room at King's Harbor and Batanga have made a name for themselves thanks to their delicious food and perfect outdoor ambience. The latter two are especially nice for a romantic night out. However, my personal favorite is Cottonwood, which is known for their sprawling patio, impeccable food and refreshing craft beer selections.
Houston summers and the Free Press Summer Fest go hand-in-hand. This annual music festival is held every June and has quickly become one of the largest annual music festivals in the nation. Performers such as Bassnectar, Deftones, and The Naked And Famous have performed here in years past and the 2015 lineup, although not yet announced, is expected to be one of the best thus far. Although you may still find yourself out in the sun during the day, you'll be having too much fun to worry about the heat.
Sometimes it is necessary to escape the urban jungle, even if only for a quick day-trip or one night getaway. Thankfully there are plenty of refreshing parks within the vicinity of north Houston's suburbs. Lake Houston Wilderness Park is the closest option but Sam Houston National Forest is by far the most rewarding. Both parks offer camping and hiking, however Sam Houston covers a sprawling 160,000 acres, as opposed to Lake Houston's 5,000 acres.
However you decide to pass your time in Space City, don't forget to check Hipmunk for cheap Houston hotels andother view my many other articles there -- not just on Houston but also covering tons of other cities around the USA and abroad.
If you have any questions on what to do in Houston this summer, please leave a comment below and I'll get back to you.
Hipmunk has published a large number of my city guides to destinations around the world on their site. Check them out for more!
Everyone knows that Carlsbad, California is home to many amazing resorts and relaxing beaches; however, there are tons of other exciting things to do during your vacation here. Whether in town or just outside of the city, family friendly activities or things geared more towards adults, there is no shortage of ways to pass the time. It is a perfect destination for both romantic getaways and family vacations, and one that leaves first-time visitors eager to return for a second taste.
The most well-known of all of Carlsbad's attractions, Legoland California is obviously heaven for children. However, it is also entertaining to parents as well. With over 60 family rides, and plenty of engrossing and educational attractions and shows, Legoland is 128 acres of pure joy. To save money on tickets, check out Excursiopedia.
While mom and the young kids are having fun at Legoland, K1 Speed is the perfect place for dad to take the teenagers. Get a rush of adrenaline and experience what it is like to be a race car driver in a safe, fun environment. Even if you've been before, it's worth a second visit because they periodically change the track. Oh, and did I mention they also sell food and beer there? So, what are you waiting for?
Arguably the most beautiful sight in all of California, the Carlsbad Flower Fields are 50 acres of colorful brilliance. For a nominal $10 entry fee, visitors can wander through the fields for hours and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It is also a favorite destination of photographers or anyone who wants to get some amazing family photos amongst a sea of flowers. The best time of year to visit is during spring when everything is in full bloom.
Located just a 30-minute drive to the south, San Diego is a bustling metropolis that offers tons of activities not found in Carlsbad. Whether you want concerts, sports venues, or theatre shows, the city is your oyster.
The Chargers call San Diego home and, depending upon the time of year you are visiting, catching a football game is a great way to pass the afternoon. If the performing arts are more your taste, the Civic Theatre and Balboa Theatre are the two main theatres in San Diego. My personal favorite is the latter. Not only is it an impressive theatre, but it was recently named one of the world's 15 most amazing theatres by CNN Travel. Tickets to all of these events, as well as musical concerts, can be found on TiqIQ.
However you decide to pass your time in Carlsbad, there is one thing everyone needs: a nice hotel. Luckily, visitors can find cheap hotels in Carlsbad and save some money for all the impressive sites and excursions around town. Additionally, if you have any questions on what to do while there, feel free to leave a comment below.
flickr // notahipster
Nestled deep in Texas on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico is marvelous Corpus Christi, one of the state's most popular tourist destinations for both Texans and out-of-state visitors. It is also the gateway to Padre Island. No, not South Padre Island, you party animals, Padre Island National Seashore. A pristine and scenic destination for those more interested in nature and relaxation than partying. It is also just one of the many amazing things to do in and around Corpus Christi.
The USS Lexington is a retired aircraft carrier with a long and rich history. It's now one of the most popular museums in all of Texas. Just imagine wandering through a decommissioned battleship that still looks ready for battle – complete with two dozen real aircraft perched on her decks – instead of a dusty old museum and it is easy to see why.
The ship is stocked full with hundreds of exhibits scattered across 11 floors and is an easy way to kill an entire day. Perhaps that is why their Overnight Campout tours are so popular amongst families and youth recreational groups. Live the life of a soldier at sea, complete with authentic bunks and meals in one of the mess halls. I did this several summers as a kid and was pleasantly surprised to see they are still offering them.
The quaint Texas Surf Museum museum is a must-visit for any surfing enthusiast. It covers the history of surfing in Texas through photos and articles, and of course has a bunch of surfboards on display and information on famous surfers from the state. It may not be the most entertaining to young kids but is a neat little stop for dad. As an added bonus, it is always free.
Corpus Christi is home to two great venues, Selena Auditorium and the American Bank Center. Throughout the year, both offer monthly musical and theatre performances. Check out the upcoming shows and find cheap tickets on TiqIQ.
At 70 miles long, the Padre Island National Seashore is the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world and serves as the perfect year-round escape close to the city. From fishing and swimming to camping, the sheer size of this island can almost make you feel like you have it all to yourself. It is recommended as day-trip or refreshing weekend getaway.
One of the top 10 aquariums in North America according to USA Today, the Texas State Aquarium is a fun and educational family destination for people of all ages. It is packed full with over a dozen exhibits, and more species of animals than you can count. One of the their most popular exhibits is the dolphin show, which can be viewed from stadium seating or seen like never before through the large underwater viewing window.