The US boasts an abundance of places that allow you to experience the true beauty that is present in this world. From towering mountain ranges to lush forests, you can immerse yourself in a variety of landscapes that demonstrate the wonder of this nation and its natural scenic beauty. Here are three US travel destinations to visit if you want to feel the awe-inspiring wonder of nature.
The Hoh Rainforest
Located in Olympic National Park in Washington state, the Hoh Rainforest is an amazing example of a temperate rainforest. A variety of hiking trails make it easy to get up close and personal with the wonder of this unique destination. This rainforest boasts the highest annual precipitation in the country. In fact, according to Dew Drop Inn, the Hoh Rainforest gets a grand total of 140 to 170 inches (or 12 to 14 feet) of precipitation a year! The lush green growth of the forest is something to behold and unlike any other spot in the US. The Hoh Rain Forest is home to a “hall of mosses” where there are tons of beautiful, tall trees that have various mosses growing on them. It makes the rainforest look like a true otherworldly nature wonderland.
The Smoky Mountains
Spanning both North Carolina and Tennessee, the Smoky Mountains is an expansive demonstration of the beauty of nature. According to Smoky Mountains By Owners, the mountain ranges, some of the oldest in the world, boast the most biodiverse ecosystem in the whole National Park System. While visiting the Smoky Mountains, you will encounter a myriad of wildlife including black bears, coyotes, deer, bobcats, and elk. At over 6,500 feet, Clingman's Dome is the highest point in the park. Visitors can climb to the top of Clingman’s Dome's observation tower to be rewarded with views of this impressive mountain range and its biodiversity.
Rocky Mountain National Park
There is a variety of amazing National Parks throughout the US. According to Elevation Outdoors, one of the most stunning is certainly Rocky Mountain National Park. With mountain peaks towering over 12,000 feet and over 260,000 acres of wooded paradise to explore, there is always something new around every corner. Although it is opened only seasonally, Trails End Road is a must-see drive for anyone. The beautiful Sprague Lake area offers majestic views of the Continental Divide, helping you to feel connected to the power of Mother Nature. As a bonus, the nearby town of Estes Park is a charming place to call home base while exploring this gorgeous region of the country.
The United States is truly full of natural treasures. There are beautiful forests, mountains, and plains that are available for anyone to explore. Regardless of your travel destination, be sure to take the time and effort to disconnect from the real world so that you can truly appreciate them. Your oasis of beauty and tranquility is waiting for you!
The Gulf Coast is a beautiful place to go on an adventure. From the emerald-colored waters to the wildlife, there is a lot to see for all ages. Here are three tips to making your Gulf Coast adventure the best you will ever experience.
Experience the Seafood
Seafood is a great treat to experience all that the Gulf Coast has to offer. You may want to take advantage of this perk especially if you live in a place where you cannot get fresh seafood on a daily basis. Not only does eating fresh seafood add a lovely beach vibe to your adventure, but fish is also a wonderful addition to a well-balanced diet. The Gulf Coast delivers a variety of specialties when it comes to seafood. Try cracking some delicious snow crab, indulging in some delicate pink salmon, or enjoying some spicy shrimp tacos at a nearby Mexican spot. Be sure to ask about daily catch specials.
Stop for Fun
There are plenty of activities to do along the Gulf Coast. The beach is one of the most popular attractions for those that visit the coast. Here you can learn to surf, go snorkeling over a coral reef, or swim with the dolphins! Another fun thing to do on the Gulf Coast is to stop at the local pier on your beach. There you will find restaurants, shops, and sometimes even carnivals. Be sure to ask the locals what their favorite thing to do on the Gulf Coast for some "off the menu" fun.
Rent a Waterfront Condo
One of the best things you can do for yourself on your coastal adventure is to rent a waterfront condo or house. This is beneficial for cutting down on transportation costs while getting the most beautiful view. Many of the waterfront condos and houses offer private beaches for their guests to enjoy. Often, they also have amenities such as beach chairs, umbrellas, and discounts on bike and surfboard rentals. Another perk to renting a waterfront condo or house is the private pools. As soon as you finish swimming, your room is only a few minutes away from where a warm and inviting shower awaits you.
From the seafood experience to the wonderful perks of waterfront condos, the Gulf Coast has a lot to offer. Take advantage of the sights, the water, and the activities to have an experience you won't forget.
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Where to go? One fascinating and culturally rich historic site you may not have visited is The American Club, a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond resort hotel in Kohler, Wisconsin. The hotel, owned by Kohler Co., was built in 1918 as a dormitory for its immigrant workers. This year the multifaceted national attraction celebrates its centennial anniversary with even more activities and offerings for its guests.
(BPT) - Many travelers seek out cultural enclaves to explore the fascinating stories of how Americans lived, thought and dreamed in the past. That helps explain the $762 million in revenues logged by U.S. historic sites in 2013, according to Statista. Other research predicts the revenues realized by U.S. museums and historic sites will more than double between 2018 and 2022.
One fascinating and culturally rich historic site you may not have visited is The American Club, a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond resort hotel in Kohler, Wisconsin. The hotel, owned by Kohler Co., was built in 1918 as a dormitory for its immigrant workers. This year the multifaceted national attraction celebrates its centennial anniversary with even more activities and offerings for its guests.
Year-long features of the celebration include a new history exhibit, guided tours and a new cast iron sculpture installation, “The Immigrant,” created by artist Stephen Paul Day. The four-star restaurant, The Immigrant, will offer a tasting menu featuring dishes from France, the Netherlands, Germany, Normandy, Denmark and Great Britain — the primary homelands of original employees. Group Director Lodging for Kohler Co., Christine Loose explains, “The concept of gracious living and creating a sense of belonging has always been important to the company and our heritage.”
With its red brick, Tudor architecture, roof peaks and slate tile, the landmark is recognized by Historic Hotels of America and the National Register of Historic Places.
Aside from the historic elements of The American Club, visitors and guests can partake in several other features offered in or near the surrounding resort known as Destination Kohler. Attractions include the Forbes Five-Star Kohler Waters Spa; a lakeside boutique hotel known as the Inn at Woodlake; cycling and yoga studios; four championship golf courses (Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits, the latter hosting the 2020 Ryder Cup); 12 dining establishments, renovation inspiration at the Kohler Design Center, and daily factory tours led by retired Kohler employees spotlighting the evolution of day-to-day manufacturing operations.
Destination Kohler is an hour north of Milwaukee and 2.5 hours north of Chicago. Learn more at DestinationKohler.com.
(BPT) - Are you dreaming about an incredible family escape your loved ones will always remember? Perhaps your dream vacation is filled with adventure while eating around the world and exploring castles in faraway places, or maybe it’s relaxing on a private island with picturesque views of crystal clear water. Before taking off, you need to tackle the logistics. Fortunately, with a few tips from those in the know, creating an unforgettable getaway can be as magical as taking one.
Tip #1: Get the inside scoop
No idea where to begin? Talk with a trustworthy resource or fellow parent who has “been there.” The honest and relatable vacation tips you’ll receive are invaluable and can ease the planning process. For example, individuals thinking about planning a Disney vacation should visit www.disneyparksmomspanel.com, an online resource providing authentic answers to guests seeking advice from in-the-know panelists with years of vast experience.
The panel, which recently announced the addition of 11 new moms, dads and grandparents, includes your next-door neighbors, your good friends, and above all else, seasoned vacationers you can count on for genuine advice when planning your next getaway to a Disney destination. The panel can give you a personalized response in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese.
Tip #2: Find an all-appealing destination
You probably have a few ideas of where to go, but brainstorming destinations with your travel crew can provide helpful feedback and insight into everyone's interests. Maybe your best friends are making brunch a priority for your girlfriends' getaway. Or Grandma has a few “memory making” ideas for her vacation with the grandkids. Your fickle pre-teen even has a dream destination you might not know of, and your kindergartner is sure to throw a few ideas into the ring.
After you make a list of everyone's thoughts, do some research online. Poke around travel websites, talk with other parents and search www.disneyparksmomspanel.com for guidance. With a little digging, you can find experiences that appeal as much to your toddler as your teenager and even your best friend. The key is to make it a discussion, talk with others who are in the know and overall, enjoy helping you plan your escape. Whether you're going for a dream Disney vacation, planning a beach getaway, indulging in one-of-a-kind foodie experiences, (or all three!), there are plenty of places that grant everyone’s wishes.
Tip #3: Be proactive about special requirements
Keep special needs top of mind when booking accommodations. For example, all U.S. hotels are required to offer wheelchair-accessible rooms, but international hotels follow different guidelines, so be sure to ask. Additionally, if you have a sensitive child who prefers a calmer environment, book a hotel room away from the pool or other entertainment spaces.
Another common concern for families is food allergies. To ease worries, plan ahead. Experienced jetsetters suggest asking restaurants for their ingredients charts and nutrition information or requesting to speak directly to the chef. You can even call airlines and hotels early to ask about allergy policies.
Bottom line: It's easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when planning a family getaway. Each age has different considerations, but with some smart strategizing and advice from the right people, you can create memories to last a lifetime. These three tips will have you well on your way to experiencing an epic family vacation.
(BPT) - Step outside. Is it cold, windy and gray? Snowy even? Yep, those are sure signs winter is upon us. The bright leaves of autumn have faded, the pumpkin-flavored beverages are starting to wane, and the kids already are developing a serious case of cabin fever. But there’s a remedy for all this gloom. Winter’s bitter cold is the perfect excuse to head south with the family for a quick vacation getaway.
Florida’s Space Coast, where it’s decidedly warmer, has something for everyone. From rockets launching into outer space to unforgettable seafood and more, the Space Coast is an affordable and worthwhile escape, even for just a weekend. So, if the onset of winter isn’t sitting well with you, take next Friday off, book your tickets or gas up the car, and get ready to experience these Space Coast attractions and activities. They’ll turn up the heat!
1. Explore the final frontier. As you might have guessed, the Space Coast got its name because it is home to both the Cape Canaveral launch complex and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Here, rockets operated by SpaceX and others still regularly blast into the heavens. A day at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will bring you up close to one of the legendary Apollo command modules that orbited the moon, as well as the last Space Shuttle orbiter to fly. You’ll learn about the history of the NASA program and maybe even see a rocket launch! It’s an interactive journey that will inspire the entire family.
2. Hang loose at Ron Jon Surf Shop. You’ve seen the iconic shirts and the ubiquitous roadside billboards, but nothing can really prepare you for a visit inside Ron Jon’s flagship store in Cocoa Beach. With more than 52,000 square feet of merchandise space, it’s like nothing you’ve experienced at the shore before. You’ll find everything to outfit your beach-bum vacation lifestyle, and maybe a few items that will fit in back home, too.
3. Get into vacation mode with a “pre-cruise” outing. In the heart of the Space Coast is Port Canaveral, the busiest passenger cruise port in the world. Because this is the spot where millions of people begin their cruise vacations each year, numerous entertainment venues, spas, restaurants and more are located in the area, to help all the “pre-cruisers” get ready for life at sea. You don’t need to actually have a cruise booked to enjoy all that’s offered in this bustling port — just an appetite, a sense of adventure and maybe some extra energy.
4. Embark on a zoo adventure like no other. At the Brevard Zoo, you can kayak past exotic animals, feed a giraffe, zip line over the treetops and get an eyeful of hulking rhinoceros. With a wide array of animal species on hand and a variety of fun activities and educational opportunities available, this unique facility is set up to be more of an adventure than a walk-through.
5. Enjoy the fresh air. Its sunshine and mild temperatures make the Space Coast perfect to visit at this time of year. For those who like to be outside, there is a healthy range of options. You can spend an afternoon bird watching in nearby wetlands, walking along the beach (and enjoying the ocean breeze), or even fishing along the shore or on one of the many inland bodies of water.
Visiting the Space Coast is an affordable, easy way for you and the family to escape the cold for a weekend and, with so much to do, you’ll probably decide you need to book a longer stay the next time around.
(BPT) - When it comes to outer space, there is much to wonder over and dream about. Where else are there such colossal challenges paired with the infinite possibilities of discovery? For stargazers, dreamers and those who believe anything is possible, Florida has the perfect vacation spot for experiencing that sense of cosmic adventure, and letting your imagination run wild. Just zoom in on a certain strip of Atlantic seaboard known as the Space Coast — your portal to “the final frontier.”
Here, there is ample opportunity to get an up-close look at space exploration. Of course, The Space Coast is home to the Kennedy Space Center, located in the middle of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge along the Atlantic shore, where NASA has captivated the hearts and minds of Americans with its launches of manned spacecraft and other vessels sent off to explore our solar system.
There’s so much on the Space Coast for space enthusiasts to take in, including close encounters with space vehicles, the opportunity to watch a rocket launch, and the chance to hear dramatic stories told by America’s astronauts. Use this guide to start planning your adventure to the Space Coast.
Witness a roaring rocket launch
A few weeks before heading for the Space Coast, it’s essential to check the latest rocket launch schedule at spacecoastlaunches.com, so you can seize the opportunity to witness an actual, thundering liftoff. The website also offers plenty of suggestions for catching an excellent view of the launch action coming out of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (You even might be able to get a preview by tuning in for live launch coverage at spacecoastlaunches.com/watch-live.) Just know this: A roaring rocket launch is an experience that can’t be fully appreciated until it is seen — and felt — in person.
Get an astronaut’s perspective
Without a doubt, those who are named to NASA’s Astronaut Corps belong to an elite group. Still, not all who are accepted end up on a space flight. Asking real astronauts about their experiences in the program or talking with those who have flown on a space mission is a can’t-miss opportunity for any space fiend. During your visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, be sure to block out some time for one of the daily question-and-answer sessions with a real astronaut.
Get an up-close look at the Mars Rover
There’s been renewed optimism lately about a manned mission to Mars — and with it, much speculation that the person who will first set foot on the Red Planet may already have been born. The crew that makes the voyage to Mars will need a vehicle rugged enough to safely traverse the planet’s challenging, rocky landscape. At the same time, the machine must be designed to function as a mobile laboratory. At the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, you’ll have the chance to view an astonishing, otherworldly concept vehicle called the Mars Rover. And while you’re on-site, the expansive “Summer of Mars” exhibit will show you what it will take to accomplish the next big space mission.
Experience Exploration Tower
From the observation deck atop Exploration Tower at nearby Port Canaveral, you can take in a panoramic view of the bustling cruise-ship harbor below and the awe-inspiring launch facilities of both the Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Here, you’ll find it easy to appreciate our past space achievements, as well as the possibilities that lie ahead. The seven-story Exploration Tower also happens to be a great spot to view rocket launches; after liftoff, stick around and check out the many exhibits that take you through a sweeping history of Port Canaveral and how it influenced exploration of the Americas and beyond. For more details, visit explorationtower.com.
Soak in the history
Before and during your Space Coast trip, take time to absorb the rich history of the Kennedy Space Center. After all, this is where America began its journey to the moon and launched the era of the space shuttle. The space center facilities house hundreds of scientific spacecraft designed to help us learn about the galaxies and our universe. Search for Cape Canaveral history on nasa.gov, where you can listen, watch and learn all about the fascinating missions and the extraordinary men and women who made them possible.
Time to stop dreaming about your space-themed vacation adventure, and start planning. You'll discover plenty of helpful information on visitspacecoast.com.
International travel tops the bucket lists of many aspiring travelers. However, two-thirds of Americans aren’t ready for international travel because only 36 percent hold a valid U.S. passport, according to the U.S. Department of State, which is required for travel outside of the United States.
Check International Travel Off Your Bucket List
(Family Features) International travel tops the bucket lists of many aspiring travelers. However, two-thirds of Americans aren’t ready for international travel because only 36 percent hold a valid U.S. passport, according to the U.S. Department of State, which is required for travel outside of the United States.
While there are exotic destinations such as the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and even Puerto Rico (the country that’s become more popular due to the hit song Despacito) that do not require a U.S. passport, Americans applied for about 17 million passports in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. It’s predicted that applications will hit 21 million in 2017.“This summer is the perfect time to head out of town,” said Josh Belkin, Hotels.com vice president and general manager. “European destinations are particularly popular right now and with declining airfares, increased international flight options and great hotel deals, it’s an obvious time to venture abroad.
One of the main hang-ups in applying for a passport can be cost. However, with a qualifying international accommodation booking, Hotels.com is aiding Americans by offering free passports. The online lodging expert also offers these simple passport tips to ensure you’re ready to pack your bags for the trip of a lifetime:
With a passport in hand, you’ll be prepared to discover some of the most popular international destinations like London, Paris, Toronto, Tokyo and Rome, and check an enjoyable travel spot off your bucket list.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (woman holding up passport)SOURCE:
(BPT) - The American summer vacation is a seasonal tradition. It's when memories are made, experiences are shared and sometimes when bills pile up. In fact, research shows that more and more families across the country are planning responsibly and considering their budget when it comes to summer travel plans to make the most of their vacations without breaking the bank.
Nearly 70 percent of parents planning a summer vacation said they expect to spend the same or less this summer than they did last year, according to a Coinstar survey among U.S. adults with children at home, aged 5 to 18. In addition, 68 percent said they plan to fund their vacation using cash on hand. The top three goals reported for summer vacation include rest and relaxation, increased family bonding and enjoying outdoor activities. Fortunately, all of these activities can be enjoyed inexpensively, a sign families aren't willing to cut their fun as they trim expenses.
Planning ahead means planning smart and will give you the best shot at scripting the perfect vacation for your family and your budget. Consider these tips to maximize your vacation budget.
* Take the road less traveled. Many vacation destinations are priced based on supply and demand. That means you can make your vacation more affordable by traveling to a location that doesn’t typically see heavy summer traffic. There are plenty of exciting destinations in the U.S. that may be off the beaten path. Check out Groupon offers for getaway deals as well as packages from airlines and resorts. You may just find your best trip was to a location you never expected to love.
* Stretch your budget with found money. You may have vacation funds that you’re not even aware of — like that hidden jar of change in the closet. It’s like a mini savings account, so cash it in at a Coinstar kiosk to boost your vacation budget. If you don’t have a coin jar, start a vacation fund using the change you collect over the next year and encourage your entire family to add to it when they can. In addition to using your spare change, this may also be the perfect time to cash in your credit card or airline points to stretch your budget even further.
* Travel together for savings. When it comes to cutting costs, don't be afraid to use the buddy system. Go on vacation with family or friends and rent a home together or split other costs. Look for accommodations that have a kitchen and you’ll be able to save on restaurant expenses. Finally, if you are eating out, find restaurants where kids can eat for free or at a highly-reduced rate when an adult meal is purchased.
* Look for free or low-cost activities in and around your travel destination. There are plenty of family-friendly activities that can also be free. Walking tours, museums, historic landmarks and parks all present options for places you can visit without putting a dent in your budget. To find opportunities around your travel destination, check out AAA or the local travel and tourism office as well as convention and visitors bureaus. You can also simply Google free things to do in the area you intend to visit. You may be surprised at what pops up!
* A ready vehicle will ease your mind and budget. If you plan on driving to your destination, make sure your car is ready. Change the oil in your vehicle and fill your tires properly. These simple steps will do more than just help you avoid a breakdown, they will maximize your fuel efficiency and save you money.
The summer vacation is an annual tradition, and while the memories of your trip will extend far beyond the season, the costs don't have to. Apply the five tips above and you'll make your trip a sound investment in both resources and experiences.
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