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Mush! Hike! All Right! Let’s Go...Dog Sledding

January 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Have you always wanted to go to Alaska? Are you a dog lover? Can't get enough of the wintertime? Currently living in a part of the country where it’s considered “cold” when the forecast is 60 degrees and sunny? If you answered yes to any of these questions, why not think about booking a hotel in Anchorage, Alaska sometime in March? Why March? There’s no better time to gear up and get out there so you can attend the 1,000+ mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race!

Intrigued? Read on for information about the famed race and other activities in Anchorage you can enjoy afterwards. One thing is pretty certain…it’ll be an action-packed trip of a lifetime, unlike any other you’ve probably ever experienced!

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

As everyone knows from Hollywood and bedtime stories, dog sledding in Alaska is as commonplace as, well, snow is! No race is as eagerly anticipated each year as the world famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which was originally established in 1973. Initially, the event was more of a test, and less of a race for dogs and their mushers. Today, though, it’s competitive and is hardly open to amateurs: to compete, you'll need a team of at least 16 dogs, the strength and willpower to last up to nine or ten days in the wind-whipping conditions and most importantly, the desire to race right on through dangerous blizzards and snowstorms! So, the race, while open to all spectators, is clearly not for the faint of heart. Think of the childhood book and movie Balto, times ten. The heart-stopping, ultra-competitive "Last Dash" portion of the race cuts through territory that is home to one of Alaska's largest native populations. Teams are required to rest at least eight hours before embarking on the infamous "Last Dash," and once they're back on the ice, it's anybody's game.

Cook Inlet — A Sight You'll Never Forget

After you’ve experienced the race, be sure you make time for one of the most beautiful places to visit in Anchorage — the stunning Cook Inlet, a 180-mile waterway from Anchorage to the Gulf whose views captivate travelers and residents alike. It's even got its own little dash of excitement, an active volcano! Don't worry though, the volcano hasn't erupted in quite some time and isn't expected to anytime soon.

Home to tidal boors, huge waves crashing against the current and exotic wildlife, the truly breathtaking views are perfect if you're planning a proposal or special celebration. If you have any commemoration in mind, this is certainly the place to do it. Plus, it's rich with history, from conflicts with Russian fur traders of centuries past, to explorers who risked their lives to, quite literally, put Alaska on the map. And if you really want to take in the views and are up for some serious adventure, flying tours are both breathtaking and a true once-in-a-lifetime experience.

If you’re looking for a unique vacation this winter, this could be the perfect adventure. Because especially in the winter, Alaska is the ideal spot to get in touch with nature, escape the city or really see what snowfall means!

Winter Whale Watching in Virginia Beach

January 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

For us humans, the winter months might be long chilly ones, but for whales, it's the perfect time to show off! If you want to try something a little different on your next trip, or if you're an animal lover, ocean aficionado or just all-around winter wonderland fan, we recommend whale watching in Virginia Beach. If you’re planning to take a vacation, or even have a staycation, take advantage of the Virginia Beach hotel deals during the winter and book a room. You have the best chance of spotting whales on the path of their migration pattern between December and March, so winter is the perfect excuse to plan a getaway. And afterwards, indulge yourself in Virginia Beach's craft beer scene.

Virginia Beach Whale Watching

A boat ride, family fun, plus the chance to get up close and personal with some of the world's most amazing creatures? Virginia Beach offers all that and more during one of their famed two-hour boat tours. Since the waters offer a vast array of food and plant life that whales are drawn to, you're almost certain to see at least one or two giant fins poking through the water, and if you're lucky, you might even witness a breathtaking jump. Make the trip a teachable moment and soak up all the on-board aquarium educator has to offer while they teach you and your party about whale communication, diets, interactions with humans and preservation. Plus, you won't only see whales. You'll be able to check out awesome bird life, scope schools of fish skimming the surface of the water and even watch nature take its course as birds hunt for food. You don’t have to be too worried about getting cold — while part of the fun of winter whale watching is the cool, brisk air, rest assured all the boats are heated, and you'll be offered blankets.

Virginia Beach Breweries

After a long day of whale watching, you're probably going to want to warm up with some tasty bites and maybe a tall brew — and that's where Virginia Beach's craft beer scene comes in. We love Pleasure House Brewing, not only for their irresistible (and ever-evolving) craft beers, but also for their philanthropy. Indulge yourselves and sample all of their selections, and enjoy the spot’s focus on building their own community with darts, free wifi, music, the latest games and great company.

Looking for a more romantic spot? Love is in the air at Reaver Beach Brewing. The brewery has a sweet story — it was founded by two newlyweds! You can tour the taproom, where you'll learn about the process of beer making and enjoy a few samples. Don’t leave without picking up a growler or two. Get them filled with your favorite brew and you can enjoy a frosty cold one back at your hotel room.

If you’re hoping to plan a trip where you can spot a majestic whale and kick back and leave your life behind for a few days, Virginia Beach is the perfect place for a winter getaway. Enjoy the company, brews, creatures and people!

All Aboard America's Finest Historic Ships

January 11, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Whether you're looking to add some variety to a family vacation, or you want to encourage enthusiasm if you've recently relocated to a new city with your family, sometimes looking to the past is the best way to live in the present. Why not show your family some of the oldest US ships and restored aircraft carriers on American soil (and waters)? Each ship has its own story, and visiting them is a great way to teach children in an interactive and fascinating way about the ships of our country’s past.

Maritime Museum of San Diego in California
If you find yourself in sunny southern California, check out one of America's most famous old sailing ships still afloat. Head to the Maritime Museum of San Diego, California, to see the Star of India ship. Dating all the way back to 1863, the Star of India's massive white sails and iron trimmings were a hit right from the start — but it wasn't always smooth sailing. On her voyages to India, the ship (which then went by the name Euterpe) survived tornadoes, pirate attacks and several crashes. She then became a cargo ship, carrying supplies to nations across the world, surviving harsh weather and conditions. Learn not just about the ship herself, but also about the sailors who were once on board, by reading the log and taking a tour with a guide.

USS Hornet in San Francisco, California
If you’re looking for battleships on display in the US, look no further than the historic floating giant, the USS Hornet. Head to the Bay Area in San Francisco, California, to see the ship that survived World War II and helped save American and Allied lives. Though it survived 59 attacks during the War, perhaps the USS Hornet is most famous for rescuing Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong after they headed back to earth on Apollo 11 — the rocket that first landed on the moon. For space fans, the ship has one of the biggest collection of artifacts from the Lunar Voyage in the States. For the best battleships on display, get stung by the USS Hornet.

USS Intrepid in New York, New York
If you're more interested in seeing aircraft carriers on display, why not make the most of your trip to New York and check out the ultra-famous USS Intrepid? You will probably recognize the ship from its numerous appearances on the silver screen, but there's nothing like seeing something so famous in person! Though the USS Intrepid now lives on the Hudson River, she also had a great career as an astronaut recovery ship and served in WWII, the Vietnam War and the Cold War — this enormous floating wonder even lived through a torpedo attack. While you're at it, check out the rest of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum to learn even more about these vessels.

No matter how much you know about a place, it's always nice to brush up on your history. For fun the whole family can enjoy, make a weekend out of it and head to the high seas!


January 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Whether you're a Houston native or are just answering NASA's recent open call for astronauts, there are as many reasons to visit Houston's Space Center as there are stars in the sky! Explore Houston, and everything the city has to offer, including the Johnson Space Center. Hotels are nearby, affordable and sure to give you a vacation that's out of this world!

Artifacts at the Houston Space Center

If you're interested in all-things-space, why not start by checking out the incredible collection of space-related artifacts owned by the museum? The Space Center is home to the Lunar Rover, the Mercury-Atlas 9, (which circled the Earth an astounding 22 times) the Apollo 17 command module (the last mission of the Apollo program) and many more incredible rovers and modules that have been on some of the world's most famous journeys.

Level Nine Tours

If you're looking for the perfect gift for the space nut in your life, you may want to check out the Level 9 Tour package, offered by the Houston Space Center. On your 240-minute tour, you're given behind-the-scenes access to the inner workings of NASA. You'll be able to see the areas and modules where astronauts are trained for space missions, get a close look at some historic hardware that's not available to the general public, and have the chance to ask every question you've ever wanted to know the answer to, which will be explained by your expert tour guide. (Don’t get too excited though; you probably won’t have too much luck asking about the secrets of Area 51!) Be sure to book your Level 9 Tour in advance, and keep in mind that tours start promptly at 11:45 in the morning.

When you're on the look out for space-themed places to visit in Houston, be sure to make time to visit the artisan store Space Montrose, which offers gifts created by local artists, many of which are space-themed. If you're looking for a funky, festive card for any occasion, you'll find the right choice on the famous wall of cards! The store also sells humorous screen-printed shirts and sweatshirts that play into some of the craziest theories about the Lunar Landing. A staple of the Houston community since 2010, Space Montrose is beloved for its commitment to promoting local businesses and craftsmen.

Whether you already know everything there is to know about space, or if you're just looking to sharpen your lunar knowledge, a trip to the Houston Space Center is one of the most unforgettable experiences in the galaxy.

Chicago's Best Museums

January 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

If you're planning a vacation to Chicago, you probably already know that the city is a celebrated cultural hub. If you're looking for things to do in Chicago, some of the most fascinating attractions are without question the city's incredible museums. No matter what period of art, collections or even unexpected surprises may interest you, you'll find something that stimulates your brain. Once you've booked your Chicago hotel room, read our list below to make sure you don't miss the top Chicago museums.

Art Institute of Chicago

On the hunt for museums to visit in Chicago? Let's start with the classics. Last year, Trip Advisor deemed The Art Institute of Chicago as both #1 museum not only in the world, but also in the US. Home to several famous Rembrandt paintings, priceless works of Manet, Degas, and, perhaps one of the most beloved paintings of all time, Grant Wood's American Gothic, the museum beat out notable institutes such as Paris’ The Louvre. And for the book lover in your life, be sure to check out the Ryerson & Burnham Research Libraries, home to both rare books and fascinating tomes. If you're heading to Chicago for Valentine's Day, be sure not to miss the collection of Van Gogh's Bedroom paintings, on display at Regenstein Hall in the museum to see some of the world's greatest paintings up close and personal.

The Adler Planetarium

If you've got your head in the clouds, make sure to take a trip to the Adler Planetarium, arguably one of the best museums in Chicago dedicated to the stars and the sky. Perfect for all ages, the planetarium was the first of its kind in the United States. The museum includes the famous "Mission Moon" exhibit, which allows visitors to experience the lunar landing for themselves — including the actual Gemini 12 capsule used by Buzz Aldrin to orbit the earth! Be sure to check out the celebrated Sky Theatre, which is beloved for its realistic, virtual-reality interpretations of space travel.

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Want to get your culture on, but feeling the financial hindrances of a starving artist yourself? Never fear, Chicago has plenty of options for you, too. One of the best free museums in Chicago is the Museum of Contemporary Photography, whose permanent collection includes photographs from Czech artists, world famous photographer Dorothea Lange and heartbreaking photographs of the 1930s dustbowl in America. There are plenty of ongoing projects and exhibitions designed to help new photographers hone their craft, and even have the chance to display their work.

If you're planning a trip to Chicago this winter, you can't go wrong by checking out some of the city's most celebrated museums. Whether you're a space nut, want to feel extra cultured or just want to check out some powerful photographs, the various museums of Chicago offer something for everyone.