Shermanstravel Blog

Sports And Adventure

Jamaica InnTaking a vacation in Jamaica doesn’t necessarily mean napping in the sun for a week. Lately, we’ve been seeing more and more vacations that include fitness classes, adventure treks, dance lessons, and other kinds of physical activity. For a week of soothing, and highly focused fitness, check out this beautiful yoga retreat that we recently discovered.

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glacier national park - dhinal chheda - 620 - 2

The National Park Service, which turns 98 this August 25, will be celebrating by waiving admission to its parks across the country on its birthday. Tagged as “America’s Best Idea” in a PBS series for its part in preserving our natural landscape, the NPS now protects 84 million acres in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

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Doi Inthanon National ParkIf you’re hungry for variety in your travels, Thailand is your country. Visitors in search of big-city bustle, colorful produce and flower markets, and street food galore go to Bangkok. Partiers, backpackers, and sun worshippers head south to the islands. And outdoorsy types, and those simply in search of some fresh air and quiet, go north, to the mountainous region around the city of Chiang Mai.

Covered in both jungle and alpine forest — not a contradiction in terms — this area offers rice paddy-covered mountains, elephant sanctuaries, gilded temples (if you haven’t had your fill in Bangkok), and even opportunities to visit and stay with families via new community-based tourism efforts.

We recently spent some time in tourist-free Doi Inthanon National Park, which is about a two-hour drive southwest of Chiang Mai. Here’s a sampling of some things you can do and see in this area, all of which can be accomplished in a day trip with a rental car. Pay the 200 baht (about $6.25) entry fee; pack a sweater, comfortable shoes, and some rain gear; and you’re set for the day.

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hawaii islands - kauai

Beaches and forests. Hiking and surfing. Volcanoes and luaus. These are some of the delights found all over Hawaii.

But each island is a little different, each famous for its own flavor. Kauai treats visitors to lush landscapes and secluded peace, for example — whereas Oahu is perfect for cramming culture and dining and shopping all in one. To discover which island is best suited to your travel style and interests, take our newest quiz. (Note: You must like ShermansTravel on Facebook in order to see your results.)

minneapolis - ron riering - 620

The “Mini Apple” is what the  locals call Minneapolis, Minnesota’s largest city. No one will mistake it for NYC, of course, but it’s also a fun and cultural destination in its own right, with a vibrant arts scene, passionate local food movement, and natural escapes galore. A recent hotel opening earlier this month has only further upped the city’s game. Best of all, a trip here won’t blow your budget — many of these offerings can be enjoyed for very little, if anything at all.

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estonia - Jean-Pierre Dalbéra - 620

Paris, Rome, and London are all classic first-time Eurotrip destinations. But for savvy or returning travelers, Eastern European cities — think: Prague, Budapest, and Tallinn, among offers — offer just as much beauty and history, but at cheaper prices and in fewer crowds. Although communism clothed much of the area a few decades ago, the region has largely shed that attire and now welcomes travelers with eclectic mixes of medieval architecture and preserved fortresses alongside Soviet era blocks and 21st century designs. With so many nations to discover, here’s where to start:

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panning - hillary stein

Want to come back from vacation with more money in your pocket than when you left? Vegas, thankfully, isn’t your only option. In a few mining destinations across the U.S., finders are keepers. Plan a visit around these cities where you can hunt for treasure — and take home what you find.

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galapagos 2 - Paul Krawczuk - 620

Galapagos National Park, some 600 miles west of the Ecuadoran coast, is a prime bucket list candidate for many travelers. Made famous by the British scientist Charles Darwin – who visited in the mid-19th century and later published his book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection – the volcanic archipelago of more than 200 islands and islets draws thousands of visitors each year.

Most travelers to the destination take cruise trips, whose itineraries are all shaped and monitored by park officials eager to protect the many unique land and sea creatures that are only found in Galapagos. There’s a wide range of vessels to choose from, from small boats to grand yachts, from expedition ships to traditional and luxury cruise ships. Some companies operating in Galapagos include Lindblad Expeditions, Ecoventura, Silversea Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises, to name a few examples.

Considering the marvelous scenery and sea creatures, not to mention the significant costs ($200-$500+ per day), a Galapagos adventure is indeed the trip of a lifetime for many. Whether you’re considering a trip in the near future or are just dreaming of the ultimate adventure, here are five things Galapagos visitors should know:

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havasupai - will mcgough

The Grand Canyon made headlines recently for a series of proposed development projects that, while aimed at helping the non-adventurous explore the South Rim, would also threaten its natural beauty. These include a variety of hotels, shops, and a gondola. As the debate continues, one important takeaway for all travelers is that if the Grand Canyon is on your travel list, you should act now — not later — to experience what is probably out nation’s most dramatic landscape in unspoiled form.

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Tahoe Rim Trail - Jeff Moser - 620 - 2

There’s no time like a warm summer to hop on your bike and see how far you can go. When you’re exploring a new city, cycling is also a great way to cover more ground and getting a bit of exercise to boot. Here are seven great trails with fantastic views to add to your next itinerary: Read more

Downtown Fairbanks - Kristine Hansen - 620

Whether arriving by cruise ship or airplane, few Alaskan visitors stray from the ports around Juneau, the city of Anchorage, or the beautiful Denali National Park. But we have lots of love for the state’s more rugged pocket of Fairbanks, another 100-plus miles beyond Denali. From surprisingly diverse cuisine to truly remote respite, here’s why we think the region inhabited by just 32,000 is worth the distance:

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VirginBalloonThe storied Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland is celebrating its 90th birthday with the launch of an exclusive partnership with Virgin Balloon Flights to become the only Scottish hotel to offer guests hot-air balloon rides. For £2,100 ($3,595) groups of between ten and 16 can book a sunrise or sunset ride and get a bird’s eye view of the 850-acre estate and the surrounding countryside.

In the U.S., you can book hot air ballooning packages over Napa Valley at The Meritage Resort; over the Temecula Valley Wine Country at Pechanga Resort and Casino; over the desert floor at the Palm Springs Hyatt; over the canyons of New Mexico with El Rancho Hotel; or the Finger Lakes with Chalet B&B.

Take a look at our slideshow to get a bird’s eye view of some of these packages.

costa rica - guanacaste - hacidenda house - christine wei - 620Nothing defines Costa Rica in traveler’s minds as much as its leafy tree canopies and endless fields of grass. But first-timers who flock to this Central America paradise during the dry, peak season are often sorely disappointed by barren landscapes. Why? It’s only a few weeks after the first rains, typically in May, that the fields and trees sprout into the lushness that we imagine.

That’s one of many surprises we learned about Costa Rica on a recent visit: It’s much more beautiful in shoulder season. Here’s what else you might not know about traveling in Costa Rica, and in the rainier, less-crowded, and less-expensive months:

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Lake Tahoe - Eagle Rock - 620x400

Shoulder season in Tahoe: That’s basically when the snow melts off the area’s slopes and the lake’s waters remain frigid enough to keep swimmers at bay. So from May to mid-June and from mid-September to October, you won’t be skiing or wading, but you will be experiencing the great outdoors as it should be enjoyed — crowd-free — with discounted resort rates to boot. On a recent visit to the Resort at Squaw Creek, we discovered some great ways to take advantage of the north shore’s off-peak months. Here, the top recommendations.

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Deer Valley Music Festival - 620

Star-studded Olympic training and gravity-defying air shows, free public transportation and toasty weather without the humidity — Park City sounds like a perfect summer destination, doesn’t it? Still, tourists flock to the resort town in droves during the winter to ski the Rockies and leave by spring. Next time, we suggest lingering a while longer to enjoy the affordable thrills of summer. Here are four ways to enjoy the lively “down” season:

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