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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With spring break and summer right around the corner, many families are crunching the numbers to see if they can pull off an epic family vacation. The memories that you make will be worth the cost if you can save a little money along the way. Here are a few ways to help you plan a budget trip to three popular U.S. vacation destinations.
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Orlando is expanding its options at a record pace. If you plan on visiting Universal's Islands of Adventure, it may be worth your time and money to explore getting a multi-day and multi-park ticket in order to maximize savings. Keep your eye out for the bargain-priced ticket packages that often give visitors one day free for every two-day ticket option. Even if you’re not able to find free day ticket options, Orlando Informer explains that buying tickets in advance will almost always help you save money.
Many times you can get $20 off just for ordering online ahead of time, or you could buy cheaper tickets up front and then upgrade later for additional savings. Visiting Islands of Adventure during the off-season will save you money since lodging prices are historically lower during the less busy times of the year. Early fall, late spring, and early December are three of the best times to visit when looking for lower prices and fewer crowds.
There's no shortage of tips to save money when planning a trip to Disneyland. This theme park mecca is conveniently located in a bustling metropolitan area, giving visitors access to a wide variety of lodging accommodations and restaurants. Park Savers explains that Disney has several Good Neighbor Hotels right across the street from the parks. Several of them offer free parking and breakfast which can add up to saving of $60 per day. There's also a number of off-site restaurants located within walking distance of Disneyland. Taking the time to leave the park for your meals can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a multi-day trip. Buying souvenirs before you arrive at the parks can also add to your savings.
With three locations throughout the country operating a variety of theme parks and water parks, SeaWorld is one of the most popular family-friendly destinations. Shopping around for tickets is the best way to save money on your SeaWorld vacation. Outlets such as Costco and AAA often offer value-priced ticket packages, especially if you're looking to spend multiple days exploring the park. La Jolla Mom explains that since SeaWorld isn’t quite as big and there are less things to do there, it’s very possible to see everything you want to see with a half day pass. Bringing your own food and snacks into the park can also save you a significant amount of money.
It's no secret that a theme park vacation is an expensive venture. However, with a little research and planning, you can take the steps to save a substantial amount of money and create a vacation that you and your family will remember for years to come.
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The options for experiencing an amazing vacation are so plentiful, such as exploring a cruise port, eating and drinking your way around a city or simply visiting a new destination, you may find yourself struggling to narrow down the choices. Once you’ve determined how you’d like to spend your time, you can begin to explore some hot travel destinations, such as these.
Bucket List Travel Destinations for 2019
(Family Features) Taking time to go on vacation or to just unplug from everyday life can be beneficial, and there’s certainly no lack of options when it comes to choosing an ideal vacation spot. The options for experiencing an amazing vacation are so plentiful, such as exploring a cruise port, eating and drinking your way around a city or simply visiting a new destination, you may find yourself struggling to narrow down the choices.
By focusing first on what type of vacation experience you would enjoy most, the details of the location may more easily fall into place.
“Often, would-be vacationers get so hung up on figuring out where they want to go, they forget to consider what they’ll do when they get there,” said Matthew Phillips, director of travel for AARP Services, Inc. “It makes sense to keep location in mind when it comes to considerations like climate, but knowing what types of activities, entertainment and sights you hope to experience can help ensure you plan a travel experience of a lifetime.”
Once you’ve determined how you’d like to spend your time, you can begin to explore some hot travel destinations, such as these:
California: Rent a car and take a road trip down the California coast and experience sunshine, culture and more as you drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It may be one single coastline, but California is filled with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and tourist attractions, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood sign.
Caribbean: There are few better ways to escape the cold weather than with a Caribbean cruise, where breathtaking excursions, first-rate cuisine, exciting nightlife and spectacular entertainment fill every day and night. There are dozens of cruise options available, so it’s a good idea to do plenty of research and look into special incentives and offers to complement the experience. For example, the AARP Travel Center powered by Expedia provides exclusive offers to members on select cruises, including up to $1,000 in onboard credit.
Florida Gulf Coast: The warmer seasons are perfect for unplugging and relaxing by the sand and water. Head to the beaches of Florida and get a room with a view so the water is never out of reach. For example, Sarasota, Florida offers miles of beaches, including Siesta Key, known for its majestic waters and luxurious amenities.
Southwest France: Explore the beautiful wine-growing region of Southwest France through a fascinatingly historical and invigorating river cruise. For example, the Uniworld Bordeaux river cruise allows guests to sail three rivers: the Garonne, the Dordogne and the Gironde. The experience blends land and water with archaeological and historical tours, artisanal wine tastings, sprawling gardens and charming villages to explore. Take your experience a step further and see the sights while feeling like a local by going on a spotlight tour, an intimate way to uncover hidden gems.
Singapore: If you want to immerse yourself into a completely new and unique culture, hop on a flight and explore Singapore, commonly referred to as a “shopper’s paradise” for its emerging brands and bargains stores. Enjoy both the urban and natural attractions while indulging in the eclectic dining scene. Singaporean cuisine is full of diverse plates, such as bak kut teh, laksa and friend carrot cake, derived from several ethnic groups.
If you’re ready to start planning a satisfying getaway, a resource like AARP Member Benefits can assist with planning and saving money along the way. Learn more at AARPBenefits.com/travel.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
AARP Services, Inc.
(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.
(BPT) - When winter cold and snow force you indoors, you might dream of getting away to somewhere warm and sunny that offers plenty of energizing fun and a much-needed change in the weather. Planning for your spring and summer vacations is a great way to score some budget-friendly deals. It also helps you beat the winter blues by giving you something to look forward to.
But where to go, you might ask. One great option is Florida's Space Coast, a destination that, while renowned for its ties to the U.S. space program, also offers an astonishing abundance of adventure-filled, outdoor vacation activities.
If you're starting to explore your spring or summer vacation possibilities, here are some can't-miss things to do that make the Space Coast an out-of-this-world destination:
* Take a nighttime "bioluminescence" kayak tour along the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge or Cocoa Beach. These tours allow you to get up close and personal with some of the glowing creatures who magnificently inhabit the waters along Florida's Space Coast.
* With so many great beaches, the area is an ideal destination for surfers and other water sports enthusiasts. Here, you can visit the flagship Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach - a 52,000-square-foot, multilevel store offering a huge selection of surf boards, swimming attire and other surf-brand apparel. Meanwhile, at the nearby Ron Jon Surf School, you can arrange a surfing lesson or even rent a paddleboard.
* Immerse yourself in nature at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a 140,000-acre park that is home to at least 1,500 species of plants and animals, including alligators, manatees and a wide variety of birds. If the time of year is right, you can also take a guided nighttime Turtle Walk to observe sea turtles as they lay their eggs.
* The region is a paradise for birds, making it the perfect place to host the annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival, normally held early in the year. Bird-watching, or "birding," is just part of the fun at the festival, which also offers entertainment, unique dining experiences, special events and more.
* In Titusville, sign up for a Coast-to-Coast Bike Tour and get an up-close view of the region's vibrant wildlife areas and historic sites. Or, for an epic ride, venture out on your own along the Coast-to-Coast Connector Bike Trail.
* Get your adrenaline pumping with a zip line aerial tour. Brevard Zoo's Treetop Trek allows you to zip line, crawl or climb your way through acre after acre of lush Florida landscape.
* The Space Coast is one of the few places you can personally witness a rocket launching into space, and it is breathtaking. Rockets carrying satellites into orbit or transporting cargo to the International Space Station launch periodically throughout the year. You can find the launch schedule at SpaceCoastLaunches.com.
To learn more about Florida's Space Coast and plan your spring or summer getaway, head to visitspacecoast.com.
(BPT) - When booking a sea cruise vacation, it may seem like a good idea to schedule your flight to the port of departure for the same morning your ship sets sail.
A same-day flight might appear to save you time and money, but travel experts warn this could turn into an expensive mistake. Should airline delays keep you from getting to the port on time, you could end up shelling out hundreds more dollars to book another flight, just so you can catch up to your ship at the next port of call.
In addition, the panic and worry that set in from even the smallest hiccup in your tight travel schedule can defeat the idea of a vacation. To start your relaxing ocean getaway in the right frame of mind, give yourself and your family an extra pre-cruise day in your cruise line's port city. If everything goes as planned and you arrive the day before your ship casts off, your vacation can start early, too. Use the extra time to explore and kick back. You'll find the home ports for these cruise ships are set up to accommodate and welcome cruise travelers.
For example, if your ship happens to launch from Florida's Port Canaveral, the world's second-busiest cruise port, you'll discover many area hotels have cruise package deals that include free parking, special nightly rates and even free shuttle transportation to and from the port and to and from the airport.
You'll also find plenty to see and do locally. Cape Canaveral, near the Kennedy Space Center, is part of the east-central section of Florida popularly known as the Space Coast. Here, there are numerous attractions and other entertaining diversions that can help create the perfect countdown to your cruise to paradise.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
For visitors, the eye-opening facility that has propelled countless rockets and scores of shuttles out of our atmosphere also provides a full day's worth of exhibits and hands-on learning about space exploration. Eyeball a 3-D image produced by one of NASA's powerful space telescopes, inspect the Space Shuttle Atlantis up close, and "experience" life on Mars through an interactive display.
Of course, there are plenty of space memorabilia to examine and fascinating astronaut stories to absorb, all of which will round out your appreciation of what NASA has accomplished so far - and what is yet to come.
While planning your overnight along the Space Coast, be sure to check Spacecoastlaunches.com for schedules of rocket launches, public viewing sites, and special hotel packages. If you're lucky, you might have an opportunity to witness the sights, sounds and ground-shaking vibrations of a rocket launch. Cape Canaveral and the greater Space Coast area have numerous parks and observation points that make it easy to sit back and watch these rockets streak into the sky.
Shopping, arts and entertainment
The Space Coast features many historic shopping districts to help you leisurely pass the time morning, afternoon and evening. You can dine al fresco at one of the trendy independent restaurants or pick out a catchy new cruise outfit at a local boutique. The area also has a lively arts scene to help inspire you for your trip. Take in a pre-cruise musical performance or theater production at the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, or wander the assorted art galleries that dot the Eau Gallie Arts District.
Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier
A historic landmark along a beautiful stretch of beachfront, the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier was established in 1962. Its festival-like setting is the perfect backdrop for any traveler's early escape from reality: beachside restaurants and bars with live entertainment, an 800-foot fishing pier, spectacular views of the majestic cruise ships coming and going, rolling waves breaking and beautiful bodies surfing, the sparkling beach and the glorious sunshine. What could be better?
You also can elude the crowds and pilot your own escapade along the area's beautiful waterways. It's easy to rent a boat and navigate the rivers and canals. You can look for dolphins and manatees or drop anchor at an island for a family barbecue and swim. Cast your line into the Banana River, pull into Sebastian Inlet State Park for snorkeling and scuba diving, or simply enjoy the journey and tie up at a waterside restaurant when hunger sets in.
For planning some Space Coast fun and relaxation before you set off to sea on your cruise ship, you can peruse an extensive collection of local tourism ideas and resources at www.visitspacecoast.com.
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