Most people head to the sunshine state for a dose of its unrivalled surf and sand, the golf courses, and some of the world’s best theme parks and nature reserves, but Florida is also home to other great options like a variety of delicious culturally diverse foods. So if you’re looking to head down to Florida for a relaxing vacation, here are some of the top eats for you to pick from.

1. Cuban Sandwich

This delicious sandwich should be on the radar of anyone visiting southern Florida, and was originally made in cafés catering to early Cuban immigrants. It has become the signature sandwich of the city of Tampa and features Cuban bread, ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and occasionally salami (as in Tampa).

The Cuban, arguably the most famous Florida food -- and one that every visitor to Florida must try

2. Rock Shrimp

Florida’s rock shrimp are a great starter or as a snack to enjoy while relaxing and having an afternoon drink. Pair them with a sweet dip, a traditional shrimp sauce, or for those looking for a bit of a kick, something spicy. Caught just off the Florida coast, they’re always fresh and tasty.

3. Conch Fritters

Made in the Florida Keys—nicknamed the Conch republic—these large shellfish can be baked with lemon slices and lemon juice, to produce a tender meat, not unlike ceviche. Another popular method is to chop and mix them with other meats and vegetables, then deep-fry them, which produces the crunchy and flavourful Florida style fritters.

Make sure to try conch fritters when in Florida

4. Swamp Cabbage

This traditional Floridian food has been around for centuries, dating back well before colonialism. Swamp cabbage is better known as the heart of palm and is extracted from the sabal palm trees that are native to Florida. The heart of palm can be stewed until tender in a rich tomato sauce, or with water (or broth), meat, and dripping, then served up hot ready to be enjoyed.

5. Key Lime Pie

Another dish out of the Florida Keys, Key West to be specific, this cool and refreshing pie is made from lime juice, egg yolk, and sweetened condensed milk, which is whipped, thickened, and served on a crisp crust to produce a dish that is both smooth and zesty. It’s the absolute perfect dessert for a hot Florida day.

Key Lime Pie, a famous florida food that you must try

6. Floribbean Cuisine

There are many types of dishes in Florida that have roots in the Caribbean islands, using ingredients like mangos, papayas, plantains, and coconuts. These include Jamaican jerk chicken, arroz con pollo, and different style barbecues such as Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Bahamian. If you see a Caribbean influenced restaurant in Florida, odds are you’re in for a treat.

So if you’re booking your flights in the USA to Florida, remember, there are plenty of fun things to do, just remember to leave a little time to discover the delicious culinary scene. Please feel free to add your Florida food suggestions in the comments below.

  Images by johnjoh istolethetv and ralphandjenny used under the Creative Commons License.

Published in United States

The very mention of Monaco evokes images of glamorous ladies in evening wear escorted by dashing gentlemen to the tables at one of the many casinos in this small country. Monaco is also known for its Formula One Grand Prix, besides being a popular tax haven for the rich and famous, as well as the rich and not so famous. Glitz, glamour, and the spectacular landscape are all reasons to add the country to your itinerary planner. Here are some not-to-be-missed destinations in this tiny nation that is part of the French Riviera.

Roll the Dice at Monte Carlo Casino and Opera House

Monte Carlo Casino and Opera House
Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco by Paul Wilkinson

A venue for special gala dinners, the Casino and Opera House also houses a marble paved atrium. What catches the eye, though, are the magnificent onyx columns that surround the atrium. With a 130-year-old history under its belt, this building was also the venue of two royal gala dinners. The casino is unique given its stained glass windows, allegorical paintings, bronze lamps, and spectacular decorations. The Casino has also been featured in quite a few notable Hollywood movies including the James Bond series and Ocean's Twelve.

Swim With the Fish at the Oceanographic Museum


Oceanographic Museum, Monaco by wami82

Perched on the Rock of Monaco, this museum of marine sciences is a stunning example of Baroque Revival architecture which by itself is sufficient to ensure it a place on your Monaco travel planner. The museum which towers over the cliff face makes for a picturesque setting. It took 11 years to construct this building which is now home to various several thousand sea creatures including sharks and turtles. The Oceanographic Institute devoted to the study of oceans and their inhabitants are also housed here.

Get a Taste of the Royal Life at Palais du Prince

Palais du Prince, Monaco
Palais du Prince, Monaco by healinglight

The building of the Palace dates back to the 13th century and has its origins as a fortress, but has since been turned into a luxurious palace. There is a gallery with 15th-century frescoes that will leave you awe-struck. The gilded décor of the ‘Blue Room’, the 17th century Palatine Chapel, and the Main Courtyard with its spectacular Carrara marble double staircase make it a ‘must-see’ addition to your Monaco trip planner. Don’t forget to check out the Changing of the Guards ceremony that takes place at about noon each day.

Commune with Nature at the Jardin Exotique de Monaco

Jardin exotique de Monaco
Jardin exotique de Monaco by Sylvain Leprovost

Situated on a steep cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Ocean, this garden is home to varied species of plants from Africa, Arabia, and Latin America. There are at least 7,000 types of succulents which thrive in the great climate the region enjoys. Stalagmites and stalactites are found in the Observatory cave situated on the premises. You can further enrich your knowledge of the pre-historic era and early civilisation with a visit to the Anthropology Museum situated within the property.

Hop on a Catamaran for a Spin around Monaco Harbour

Monaco Harbor
Catamaran rides, Monaco by Dennis Jarvis

The harbour at this princely state is always filled with moored luxury yachts from across the world. It is a great place for a stroll and you can find plenty of places to grab a bite to eat as you watch the spectacular yachts pull out or weigh anchor. Catamaran rides are available for a closer look at the coastline. If you are lucky you might be able to catch a glimpse of the rich and famous arriving to attend one of the many galas or races that take place in Monaco Harbour.

The small size of the country makes it easy to get around and see it all without having to travel too much. Don’t forget to take a close look at the narrow city streets where Formula One drivers race down in May each year!

Published in Monaco

When planning family trips, it's best to keep kids busy with activities from crafting and music lessons to hiking and swimming. (No one wants to hear, "Mom, I'm bored" while lounging beach side with a cocktail in hand.)

Travel is one of the most fun ways for a parent to share the cultures and natural wonders of the world. These destinations are safe for kiddos, catering to the picky eaters, adrenaline junkies, nature lovers, and beach bums too. Not only will kids be welcome, they'll find programs and excursions designed just for them on each of these global adventures.

Adventurous Resorts

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, Koloa, Hawaii

While it may sound like a lazy beach vacay, this beautiful resort is on one of Hawaii's most exciting islands – and one of the world's top resorts for families. The resort offers tons of kid-friendly activities (think ukulele lessons and lei making) in-house. But families can also find breathtaking hikes, ziplines for the token daredevil, horseback riding and kayaking to name a few. For something more low key, splash in a two-tiered pool or the saltwater lagoon that meanders through the hotel's property. By nightfall, kids will definitely be ready to crash.

Waterfalls at Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

River Kwai Floating Hotel, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

For the boy (and girl) scouts who are looking for a back-to-nature experience, this Thai getaway won't disappoint. Thailand is one of Asia's best destinations for kids. With a drive and boat ride to this hotel, they may start to feel a bit like Mowgli in The Jungle Book. Bamboo guest rooms float on top of the River Kwai and offer visitors a taste of Mon culture. It's a bit rustic (as in there are wick lamps instead of electricity. But don't worry, in-room bathrooms are a part of the deal). Kids love exploring the nearby jungles atop of a gentle elephant, or visiting natural wonders such as the Lawa Cave or the Sai Yok Waterfall. Get a few thrills without leaving River Kwai by river jumping or bamboo rafting — something to excite even the most adrenaline-seeking tweens.

Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Nicaragua makes for an affordable, and adventure-filled, Central American trip (and many parents are choosing it over the equally kid-friendly Costa Rica). Visitors won't see nearly as many expats and will get a great taste of the local culture, plus tons of hiking and swimming! In a bungalow at Morgan's Rock, guests are nestled in the treetops and have easy beach access. One of the more exciting excursions to make is to Ometepe Island, formed by two volcanoes, which can be reached by ferry. Explore ancient rock art and petroglyphs and brave the hike up the dormant Maderas Volcano. Parents will appreciate the beaches known for waves that are safe for first-time surfers, zip-line excursions, and an insider look at the lodge's sustainable farm where kids get to collect farm eggs and milk the cows for an awesome family breakfast!

The beaches of Queensland, Australia are a great way to relax

One&Only Hayman Island, Queensland, Australia

A trip to the Great Barrier Reef is an incomparable adventure. While a flight to the Aussie coast may not be ideal for many faraway travelers with tiny tots, the experiences offered through resorts like One&Only can change a nervous parent's mind. If your bucket list includes snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, water skiing or a helicopter adventure above the reef (which is the largest living thing on Earth, mind you), then book a few tickets to Hayman Island. Of course One&Only also offers an entirely kid-centric program called KidsOnly full of excursions and meals from 9am to 6pm if parents need a break.

Traveling Adventures

Camping and cruising may appeal to families that seek adventure on-the-go. Many of these trips welcome first-time campers and those who are especially interested in learning the lay of the land, whether that's in sunny California or rugged Maine. Nature lovers, budding botanists and eager explorers will get animal interactions, sparkling night skies and a new set of skills when signing up for one of these trips.

Trekking the Appalachian Trail in the United States of America

Appalachian Trail

For North Easterners, this trip will make an exciting escape from the bustling city, but any visitors will be in awe of the natural beauty of the Appalachian Trail. Eager hikers can find programs like the Appalachian Mountain Club's Family Camps, which take families with kids as young as five years old around New Hampshire and Maine, near beautiful mountains and full of sleepaway camp-style fun. Expect canoeing, fishing, stream exploration and a classic campfire sing-a-long.

Galapagos Islands

While this isn't exactly a family vacation, road trip style, there is so much kids can learn by a trip to this incredible archipelago. National Geographic is one of the few to organize a cruise to these islands near South America that is geared specifically at budding scientific minds. In the day, kids can snorkel in crystal blue waters and hike the shores among animals like giant tortoises and sea lions, all of which are completely unphased by the presence of humans. Parents will leave with zoologists and nature photographers on their hands.

Klamath River, California is perfect for family camping and trekking

Klamath River, California

This is a fabulous spot to dive into the world of camping as a family for the first time. Whether you're interested in nesting up in an unassuming lodge or setting up a tent under the stars, a trip to this natural Cali beauty guarantees great views and swimming. Several programs like Orange Torpedo and Oars set up multi-day whitewater rafting ventures, but there are hikes to take and plenty of beach lounging to be done as well. On Orange Torpedo's Klamath River Wild and Scenic trip, kids will get to swim in warm water and calm side creeks (the rapid on this trip is exciting, but never dangerous) and the guides will introduce anyone from five years old to the basics of both rafting and camping. These trips can also be as short as two or three days, ideal for any locals or those not wanting to commit to any extensive travel with kids.

  This post was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on July 19th.

Published in Travel Inspiration

Many vacationers in the United States head south during the summer months to the most southeastern state of Florida. Florida offers many exciting attractions to offer tourists during all parts of the year. With mild winters and sunny summers it's no wonder it's called "The Sunshine State." If you want to spend some days chilling out in the sun and getting a tan, here are some good recommendations for laid back hotels.

Party the Day Away Near Panama City

Panama City is a great place to base yourself for family and college spring breaks. Panama City Beach, or "PCB" as young party goers like to call it is adjacent to Panama City. Panama City Beach is a stone throw away from Panama City and provides vacationers with amazing beaches. For the younger crowd, there are a countless number of beach bars and clubs located on the strip. If partying and drinking the day away is not your thing, try heading into the heart of Panama City and strolling around St. Andrews State Park for some peaceful time with nature.

Take a Break in Fort Myers Beach

Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, Fort Myers provides visitors with fantastic beaches, surreal sunsets, and clear water. Known as a family destination, many visitors will flock here during spring break and the summer months to watch the waves roll in and listen to the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean To break away from the crowds head to the less populated Lovers Key State Park, located on Lover's Key. However, expect many honeymoon lover's on this white sand beach.

Sunset at Fort Myers Beach in Florida
Image via Flickr by Matthew Straubmuller

Relax in Jacksonville

The sunny state's largest city has plenty of places to relax at. The city has a large bustling city center that will be sure to entertain visitors, but the cities largest appeal are the barrier islands and beaches one can chill out on. The first of the islands one should head to would be Amelia Island. If you're looking to splash out and chill on a beautiful Florida beach then look no further than Fernandina Beach.

Catch Up on Your Sports in Gainesville

Gainesville is home to the Florida Gators or the University of Florida. If you're headed here you're likely ready to catch America's greatest sport, at one of it's best institutions for college football. There are numerous hotels to chill out here after all the day at the stadium or the something a little more relaxing such as the Butterfly Rainforest. Butterfly Forest features hundreds of different species of butterflies that is sure to impress anyone and make for a great escape.

Leaving Florida? Head to Bossier City

So you have spent all your time in Florida and getting ready to pack up your vacation? A great place to get a real taste of the Southern United States is Bossier City, Lousiana. Bossier City is in the northwestern part of the state and is home to over 62,000 residents. Visitors can promenade along the Red River and pick a good hotel to set base at while exploring the Barksdale Air Force Base followed by a night of fun in one of the cities four riverboat casinos.

  This post was originally published on The World Pursuit on June 11th, 2016 by Cameron and Natasha.

Published in United States

As many of you know, Corey and I have been traveling the world for nearly nine months in Southeast Asia, and our go-to places to stay are always affordable and on-budget. But recently, we got a taste of luxury when my mom gifted Corey and me with an executive room at a 5-star hotel in Singapore for my birthday.

For the entire weekend, we wined and dined without a worry or care in the world. At the end of the weekend, we promised ourselves that we would "treat" ourselves to experiences like this more often during our travels, whether that's in the States or abroad. There's no greater feeling than being pampered while you're visiting a new city.

And since we plan to visit California when we return to the U.S., there's no time like the present to do some research! With that in mind, here are a few recommendations for luxury hotel destinations in cities across California.

Glendale: Loews Hollywood Hotel

Though less expensive options exist in Glendale for luxury, I cannot get enough of the Loews Hotel experience. I'm spoiled by the few staycations I had at the Atlanta hotel, and so I would wholeheartedly recommend this one, too. One of the many treats of a luxury hotel is the ability to take advantage of its amenities. Exhale Spa is one of the many treats that you'll find in Loews Hollywood Hotel, because you can engage in sweat-inducing group fitness classes and indulge in spa treatments all under the same roof.

Marina Del Rey: The Ritz-Carlton

Image by Fuller Travels via Trover.com
Image by Fuller Travels via Trover.com

The Ritz-Carlton has always had the reputation of white-glove service, and it's regal in its own right. What makes this hotel unique is not the access to multiple hotspots and beaches or its prime location on the marina; it's all in the small details that they offer that make The Ritz-Carlton different. Special touches like housekeeping twice a day with a turn down service, on-demand movies, terry cloth robes and private balconies for each room will make you want to stay in the hotel all day long. Alternatively, you can explore other luxury hotels in Marina Del Rey.

Napa Valley: Auberge Du Soleil

The Auberge Du Soleil is on my dream list of places to stay when I visit Napa Valley again. Its proximity to V. Sattui (one of my favorite wineries), its Michelin-star restaurant focusing on Mediterranean cuisine and the 7,000 square-foot spa that focuses on holistic treatments for wellness all draw me to this place. I'm sure if I stay here on my next vacation, I may never leave Napa Valley.

Carlsbad: Park Hyatt Aviara Resort

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, California
Image by Katie Dillon via Trover.com

If you're seeking a true vacation destination where you can unwind, look no further than the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, California. There are many dining options featuring various cuisines from across the world, but you don't have to venture outside to enjoy your food because there's 24-hour in-room dining. You can stay active by playing tennis and golf on their property or take off to enjoy activities like hot-air ballooning or wine tasting. And, if you're traveling with kids, the resort offers plentiful distractions for them to partake in like their kids' academy, DVD library and babysitting services.

Sacramento: Inn and Spa at Parkside

The Inn and Spa at Parkside offers luxury bed and breakfast accommodations (you can certainly find other options for Sacramento hotels on Hipmunk's website), and it's definitely not a place to miss if you're traveling to Sacramento. There's a concierge service that will offer recommendations on what to see and do in the area, spa services that include massages and facials and a daily social hour in the evenings. With complimentary breakfast in the morning and a charming atmosphere, the Inn and Spa at Parkside will be hard to pass up.

Where do you like to get away and get pampered?

  This article was originally published on A Taste Of Our City on April 13th.

Published in United States

Travelers that want to find a combination of beauty, history, hospitality, and sunshine need to consider visiting the South. The South has something for everyone. Whether you want a taste of bourbon in Kentucky or to relax by the water in Maryland, there is a southern city that matches your needs. Check out the 5 southern cities below that have something to offer its visitors.

Lexington, KY

Lexington is the “Horse Capital of the World” and is one of the most popular cities in Kentucky. One of the must-see’s in Lexington is the Kentucky Horse Park, where you can explore a 1,200 acre facility that features museums, art exhibits, and of course, a variety of horse breeds. If you like gambling, you can bet on horse races on grounds like the Keeneland Race Course. While a lot of the popular attractions involve horses, there are non-horse activities worth checking out if you visit Lexington. One of my favorites is taking a tasting tour at a local distillery. For instance, you can try a taste of Kentucky at one of the bourbon distilleries, like the Wild Turkey or Four Roses.

Lafayette, LA

If you are travelling through Louisiana, you need to stop by Cajun country and stay a few nights in Lafayette. Lafayette is a vibrant city that offers a nice combination of “country” with city-life. You can spend the day visiting Avery Island, where you can see the Tobasco factory, a bird sanctuary, and exotic animals in Jungle Gardens. After a busy day of exploring, go enjoy the local cuisine at one of the many Cajun and Creole restaurants. Want to enjoy the nightlife? Check out the bars and clubs on Jefferson Street. If you need to find a place to stay near the action, consider Studio 6 which is only a few blocks from the action.

Kissimmee, FL

The Sunshine State is a popular travel destination in the South. One of my favorite cities to visit is located in the heart of the state in Kissimmee, Florida. For budget travelers, you have to check out the $20 million dollar local park project, the Kissimmee Lakefront Park. You can rent pavilions, go boating, fishing, BBQ, hiking, and other low-cost outdoor activities. The real reason most people stay in Kissimmee is because of its close proximity to Walt Disney World. In fact, you can stay at an affordable Kissimmee hotel like the Vacation Village that is only about 10 minutes away from Disney World.

Norcross, GA

For travelers that enjoy getting off-the-beaten path, Norcross will be worth considering. It’s cleverly tagged “a place to imagine” because of its blend of art, music, cuisine, and history. Take a stroll down the historic downtown and stop into the Crossing Steak House for a cocktail. The real benefit to staying in Norcross is that you can find an affordable hotel and still be just a few minutes from downtown Atlanta.

Salisbury, MD

Salisbury is a fun city in southeastern Maryland that offers its visitors a variety of activities. If you want a quiet place to relax, the 11 acre park on Schumaker Pond is just the spot. Grab a nice book, blanket, and a few snacks, and you can decompress in the serenity of the park. Another local favorite is the Salisbury Zoo. Admission to the zoo is free and they provide guided tours. If you are looking for a versatile city to spend a few days while traveling through Maryland, you should consider staying in Salisbury.

  This post was originally published on TravelrMag on April 11th, 2016.
  Featured photo by Shawn Harquail via Flickr

Published in United States

Atlanta is home to the busiest airport in the United States, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International, so it should be no surprise that millions of people visit Atlanta every year. However, many of them miss out on some of the coolest and quirkiest things that the city has to offer. Don't be one of them! The next time you are in Atlanta, make sure to check out these quirky and offbeat sights and activities:

Catch An Indie Film

The Landmark Midtown Art Cinema is a cool, quirky place to catch a indie film and a beer, and one of the offbeat places keeping Atlanta interesting

One of my favorite theatres in all of the USA and arguably the best independent theatre in Georgia, Landmark Midtown Art Cinema is known for showing amazing indie and foreign films. Of course they also show a few regular blockbusters too, if those genres are not your type of thing. Friendly staff, clean cinemas, polite audiences and -- best of all -- cold beer! Popular with the locals but never too crowded, the Landmark is a perfect way to kill a couple hours.

Release Your Inner Child

The Pac-Man Play Arcade is one of Atlanta's coolest and most offbeat places to visit

Remember the good old days of arcade games? They are back thanks to Pac-Man Play Arcade. From the classic games we grew up with like Pac-Man to newer crazes such as Dance Dance Revolution, there is something here for everyone. Bring a few friends and challenge each other to see who can get the highest score.

Adopt A Kid

The Cabbage Patch Kids Babyland Hospital is one of Georgia's most unique places to visit

What, you weren't planning on coming back from Atlanta with a kid? Better think again! Located about an hour outside of the city is Babyland General Hospital, the birthplace of the famous Cabbage Patch Kids. First created in 1978, new Cabbage Patch Kids are still born every hour -- but only during business hours, of course. Adoptive parents get to pick their name and a birth certificate is drawn up right then. It's a very interesting place and process, one that should definitely be on everyone's Atlanta "to-do" list.

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Get Your Dwarf On

The original Chick-Fil-A Dwarf House in Hapeville, Georgia is the birthplace of Chick-Fil-A

The fast food chicken chain Chick-Fil-A actually got it's start in the suburbs of Atlanta in the 1940's as the Dwarf Grill (due to its small size) but was later renamed to the Dwarf House. This original location is still going strong, serving thousands of local customers every day -- as well as those few tourists looking for off the beaten path sights or the occasional road-tripper lured in by the sign on the I-75 that reads "Chick-Fil-A Dwarf House." Here they serve much more than your modern Chick-fil-A, including burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese.

Wander Amongst Hippies And Punks

Street art in Little Five Points, Atlanta's most unique and offbeat part of town

The Little Five Points district has been referred to as Atlanta's version of San Francisco's infamous Haight-Ashbury neighborhood or New York City's Greenwich Village. Here you will find a mixture of independent record label studios and stores, new-age shops selling crystals and other assorted goods, vintage clothing stores, novelty shops, tattoo parlors, coffee shops and other offbeat goodies. It is the best place in town for both shopping and people-watching, two often underrated pastimes.

What other offbeat Atlanta sights and activities would you recommend?

  flickr // Bill Dickinson William McKeehan Nicolas Henderson Pawel Loj

Published in United States

Think one Southern city is like all the others? Think again. As these six towns demonstrate, stereotypes and generalizations can’t possibly account for all the distinct, quirky, and amazing towns that blanket the American South!

Asheville, North Carolina has some seriously quirky, offbeat charm

1. Home of the Locavore Aesthetic: Asheville, NC

Nestled between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains lies the town of Asheville, which has earned a reputation for itself as a hub of artsiness, outdoor adventure, and a strong local aesthetic. The city’s downtown is comprised almost exclusively of independent shops and eateries, and the town is filled with artists and musicians from all walks of life (which explains the city’s vibrant busking scene). The city is also a self-described “Foodtopia,” a rich food scene with a farm-fresh bent. And if spiritual exploration is your thing, you’ll be right at home in Asheville, which attracts many a mystical seeker. In short? If you want to expose yourself to unique sights, tastes, sounds, and people, get thee to Asheville.

2. Home of Eclectic Attractions: Birmingham, AL

An odd assortment of attractions has made Alabama’s largest city a popular destination for travelers of all backgrounds. The largest cast iron statue in the world—dubbed “Vulcan”—stands guard over the city, broadcasting to all who enter that Birmingham is just a little bit different. Whether you spend your time at the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the McWane Science Center (which features exhibits on topics ranging from dinosaurs to space exploration), the Splash Adventure Water Park, the Barber Motorsports Museum (home to more than 1,200 motorcycles), or the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham offers something unique for every kind of traveler.

3. Home of Southern Outdoorsiness: Charlotte, NC

Charlotte’s culture is distinct in that it combines refined, southern hospitality with rugged outdoorsiness. That’s thanks in no small part to the city’s location: The lively downtown sits near the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Locals and tourists alike take advantage of this prime location at popular outdoor destinations that range from the refined Anne Springs Close Greenway, Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, and Biltmore Estate to the more adventurous U.S. National Whitewater Center, which offers rafting tours of the area’s Catawba River. Combined, Charlotte’s zest for life and welcoming attitude have earned it a reputation as one of the friendliest cities in the South.

Columbia, South Carolina has some seriously quirky and offbeat charm
Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Akhenaton06

4. Home of Epic Festivals: Columbia, SC

Columbia’s tagline is “famously hot,” and it’s easy to see why. The weather is warm (the temperature rarely drops below 50 degrees in winter), the attractions are popular, and the college sports scene is hoppin’. The city serves as the capital of South Carolina and is home to the University of South Carolina, which makes for an interesting mix of college-town culture and commercial prowess. But what really sets the city apart is its exciting annual calendar of events, including January’s World Beer Festival, February’s Lake Carolina Oyster Roast, June’s Ribs & Renaissance extravaganza, July’s Lexington County Peach Festival, October’s South Carolina State Fair, and December’s Famously Hot New Year.

5. Home of Stately Art and History: Savannah, GA

Art and history collide in gorgeous Savannah, where the weather is fine, the architecture is Antebellum, and the trees are shrouded in Spanish moss. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time while strolling the streets of Savannah’s pre-Civil War district, and you’re likely to feel out of place virtually anywhere in the city if you aren’t wearing your Sunday best. Class and elegance infuse every aspect of Savannah—including its most popular tourist activities, such as the Savannah Arts Festival, the Savannah Tour of Homes, and the Savannah Film Festival. But don’t let all the stateliness fool you; in Savannah, Southern hospitality is alive and well.

Tulsa, Oklahoma has some seriously quirky offbeat charm

6. Home of All Things Retro: Tulsa, OK

Tulsa has been a cult favorite since the heyday of Route 66, which passes right through the city. Today, the town draws tourists who are interested in both what the city used to be and all that it now has to offer. From its iconic oilman statue to its neon signposts, old-fashioned pump stations, and art deco buildings, Tulsa has retro funk on lock. The city is also home to a thriving festival scene—most notably, Tulsa hosts one of the country’s largest Oktoberfest celebrations each fall.

From giant statues, to exciting festivals, to dynamic arts, music, and food scenes, these cities provide a whole new take on the meaning of Southern charm.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on January 18th.

Published in United States

Oregon and Washington are two of the most beautiful states in America. The extensive rainfall of the Pacific Northwest provides the flora and fauna with ideal conditions to thrive, making the landscape and wildlife of the region some of the best in the USA. The varied terrain and geography offers something for all types of nature enthusiasts, from plentiful coastlines to breathtaking mountains, with everything in between. Consider these destinations for your next trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Salem, Oregon

The beauty of Salem is that even though it is the capital of Oregon, it doesn't feel that way. It has the subdued appearance and vibe of a quiet little town nestled among the trees. During the warm summer months the city comes alive with weekly farmers markets and other social events. While the city might not be as hip as Portland, there are still plenty of amazing sights and activities both in and around town. Definitely visit one of many vineyards scattered outside of town, and be sure to catch the Oregon State Fair if you are visiting at the end of August or early September.

Old railway bridge in Salem, Oregon
Old railway bridge in Salem. Photo by Max Rae via Flickr.

Bend, Oregon

The mountain town of Bend, Oregon is arguably the most beautiful part of the state. Multiple rivers snake through town and snow-capped mountain peaks dot the horizon. Several nearby lakes lay just a short drive outside of town and are great for a day-trip or camping trip. The pristine beauty of Bend makes it a favorite among both amateur and professional photographers.

Mirror Pond in Bend, Oregon
Mirror Pond in Bend. Photo by Gordon via Flickr.

Spokane, Washington

Spokane is another one of these American cities that has undergone a revitalization this last decade or two and become a hotbed of live music, craft beer and hip events. Add to that the natural beauty of the surrounding area and all the amazing outdoor activities year-round and it's evident why Spokane is so well-loved by adventure travelers. It is an incredible winter wonderland for those craving snow but also a fantastic summer destination as well.

Historic Howard Street truss bridge over the Spokane River Middle Channel in Spokane, Washington
Howard Street Middle Channel Bridge in Spokane. Photo by cmh2315fl via Flickr.

SeaTac, Washington

Planning to fly to Seattle or Tacoma, Washington? Then you'll be landing at the small city of SeaTac, home of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. While tourism is not too big here, business is, especially given the city's strategic location between an airport and a seaport. As such there is no shortage of hotels, with most stretching along Pacific Highway 5 or located within a minute or two of it. If looking for a luxury stay, it doesn't get much better than Cedarbrook Lodge. Or if budget is the name of the game, there are several options below $50/night from the discount chains.

Blue skies over the SeaTac/Airport station in Washington
Blue skies over the SeaTac/Airport station. Photo by atomictaco via Flickr.

Kent, Washington

Next door to SeaTac is the city of Kent, also part of the Seattle Metropolitan Area but a world of difference. The small city has nearly 75 parks, some of them over 100 acres in size. Much like its neighbor city, Kent is also home of some prominent businesses including REI and Boeing. However the peaceful surroundings and how easy it is to enjoy the countryside beyond make this an ideal choice for anyone seeking relaxation.

Green crops-a-growin' in Kent, Washington
Green crops-a-growin' in Kent. Photo by nicenecktie via Flickr.

  Featured photo by Sheila Sund via Flickr

Published in United States

If there's one U.S. destination that embodies the four different seasons, it's New England. Here, whether winter blesses you with blue skies or snows a fierce blizzard, you'll experience a beauty that's just as sublime as the fall colors, spring flowers, or long nights of summer. Here are five reason to visit New England before spring, no matter which destination you prefer.

It's Low(er) Season on the Ski Slopes

Although winter's half over, much of what remains is still the relatively low season as far as Vermont's ski slopes are concerned. The majority of the season's visitors flock to Stowe Mountain and the Killington Ski Area during Christmas or early March, you see, which means that late January and all of February are comparably uncrowded. So, get a hotel in Burlington, and get up to the slopes before the cold-loving Spring Breakers do!

Seaside Retreats Are Silent

In the summer, the seaside city of Newport, RI is bustling with tourists—in 2015, over half of Newport's 250,000 visitors came during July, August or September! Winter, by contrast, is deserted, with less than 10,000 visitors coming in either January or February. Whether you take in the colonial charms of Old Newport, or enjoy sea breezes (which will admittedly be very brisk this time of year), you'll have this gem of a city all to yourself if you come before the end of winter.

New York City Might Be Covered in Snow

Snow in New York City is unpredictable—some years get two or three blizzards, while others are completely free of the fluffy white stuff. Still, if you want to have a chance of experiencing the romance of New York in the snow, your best bet is to visit between now and the end of March. TIP: For a stay that's both convenient and affordable, book a hotel in East Elmhurt, near LaGuardia Airport, where many domestic flights to New York City arrive and depart.

Boston Will Be Cheaper

Boston is many things—historical, exciting, highly-educated—but cheap is generally not one of them. To be sure, whether you stay in one of the central city's historical neighborhoods, brainy Cambridge, or suburban Woburn, prices throughout February and into March are some of the lowest you'll find all year, particularly on accommodation. If you happen to get a beautiful late winter snow, it's simply an added bonus!

Maine Lobster is Delicious All Year Round

One false assumption many people have is that Maine Lobster has a season, as is the case with Caribbean lobsters found in the Bahamas and Florida. The good news is that Maine Lobster is an amazing treat all year round. The better news? If you visit in winter your hot, succulent lobster will taste all the more delicious, thanks to sub-freezing temperatures inBangor and other cities in Maine.

These are just five reasons to visit New England in winter—five dozen surely exist! Can you think of any other reasons you'd want to travel to New England between now and the end of March?

  Main image credit

  This post originally appeared on Leave Your Daily Hell's “5 Reasons to Visit New England Before the End of Winter

Published in United States
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