Shermanstravel Blog

Sports And Adventure

The Appalachian Trail is an epic roughly 2,180-mile stretch between Springer Mountain in Georgia all the way up to Katahdin in Maine. For some, hiking through the trail’s 14 states is a months-long adventure filled as much with nature as new friends. “I love walking and thinking,” says Corky, 52, who’s been hiking the trail since April 5 and is expecting to finish sometime in August. “It’s stunningly beautiful here. It’s also about the people — you meet people you never would have otherwise.”

But for the rest of us — for whom tasting a smaller slice of the Appalachian is more realistic — Virginia’s Daleville, where we met Corky on a supply run, is a fantastic place to start. It’s just one of the many places were the trail crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway, a National Park that stretches 469 miles through North Carolina and Virginia. These parts have trails for all skill levels, not to mention a host of other outdoor activities when you want to take a break from hiking. Here, just four of the great paths you can take:

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Floating Market Willemstad Curacao

Christine Wei

The Caribbean is a classic destination for an affordable, short getaway during the summer. Prices have dropped, flights are aplenty, and the islands are close enough for an extended weekend trip. But as we get into July and especially August, rains get heavier and heavier — unless you’re outside the hurricane belt, of course.

Of the ABC islands — Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao — Curacao arguably has the best mix between rugged adventure and urban offerings, so you can feel like you’ve truly escaped without the risk of getting bored.  It’s the biggest of the three islands in geographic size, and sun-seeking travelers visit for the diving, hiking, and nice touch of sophistication. The Dutch influence here is strong, so you’ll rub elbows with European visitors and find colonial architecture among the humbler residences.

With JetBlue’s new twice weekly direct flights from New York’s JFK Airport, launched just this past December, there’s never been a smarter, more convenient time to plan a trip. Here’s a neighborhood overview.

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yoga1_rlp

Rancho LaPuerto

When you pack all of your little black yoga pants and take off for a yoga retreat, there are a ton of upsides to being on a highly scheduled, all-veggie-grub spiritual getaway. But sometimes, you might want to order a cocktail to celebrate holding crow pose for longer than you have before or take off for an island’s famous dive bar instead of going to sleep at 9 o’clock. So, bring on the filet mignon, margaritas, and free time that lets you explore the amazing locale where your retreat is taking place: These yoga vacays offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to making your trip your own.

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RunWESTIN Concierge - Headshot (1)

Chris Heuisler is the Resident RunWESTIN Concierge for Westin Hotels & Resorts. Aside from competing in 25 marathons in 20 states, he has one of the coolest jobs ever. In 2013, Chris beat more than 1,000 applicants to the finish line for this dream job after a month-long selection process and currently leads a team of nearly 50 RunWESTIN concierges around the country at various properties — and interacts with runners via social media to provide tips and tricks. Find out what a running concierge does, his favorite city for racing, and his tips for staying fit on the road.  Read more

Big Sur International Marathon

Marianne Mangold/Big Sur International Marathon

Whether you’re a veteran or novice runner, lacing up your shoes for a destination 5k is a great way to tackle your wanderlust as well as your fitness goals — and it helps you stay healthy while you explore a new locale, too. With this shorter distance, enthusiasts and trained athletes can take advantage of a great course and get a feel for a new area — without the constant worry of overexerting their legs or staying hydrated and fueled for race day. Plus, you can play it either way depending on your fitness level. As Chris Heuisler, Westin Hotels RunWestin Concierge, points out: “They’re a lot of fun and, at the same time, can be incredibly grueling if you’re running them for speed.” Here, five 5ks worth training — and traveling — for.

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game drive in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa, near Johannesburg

Lane Nieset/Pilanesberg game drive

Tented safari lodges sure are a sight to see, but not everyone is ready to cut 100 percent loose from civilization and roam free with the African wildlife. Still, anyone can explore Africa’s safari scene — and return to their hotel room come nightfall for a night of R&R before the next day’s adventures set in. Here are three ways to ease into the safari scene, before you consider a deeper dive on round two.

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st augustine, florida boats

flickr.com/mjsciald

St. Augustine, Florida, just a half hour from Jacksonville airport, is celebrating its 450th birthday in September. (It was founded 55 years before the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock!) And while the big fanfare is happening in the fall with a week of concerts, exhibits, re-enactments, and other events, we suggest visiting now to avoid the crowds and premium hotel prices. Here, just a few reasons for why you should visit the historic town.

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Lehigh Scenic Rail from Facebook 3

Lehigh Scenic Rail/Facebook

A long-standing destination for its copious mountain snow, the Poconos’ summer brings its A-game, too, with an array of warm-weather activities. From choice bike riding trails to a mountain coaster, there’s always something new to explore in the region. Here’s what should go on your summertime travel agenda this year.

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Kimpton Hotels Gear Up for National Bike Month with Packages

Kimpton Hotels

May is National Bike Month. To celebrate and encourage people to spin those wheels, a number of Kimpton hotels are offering related packages all month long. The properties already offer complimentary bicycle rentals year-round, but they’ve tossed in a few extra perks and discounts for May, too. Book one of these and get pedaling.

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santa cruz island - channel islands national park in california

Flickr/David Wan

The Channel Islands are a chain of five islands 25 miles off the coast of California, most dramatically visible from the shores of the central coast. Preserved collectively as a National Park, the islands are ripe outdoor recreation like hiking, kayaking, and camping. While it’s possible to stay on all five islands, most overnight visitors find themselves on the largest, Santa Cruz. Three quarters of it is a nature conservatory, and it features two different styles of campsites. So how can you pull this off in a long weekend? Here’s all you need to know about reaching one of our country’s most isolated National Parks:

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Cloud Rest

Matthew Minucci

The Big Island could easily have been named the “The Endless Island,” with its eight climate zones and 4,000-plus square miles of mostly raw landscapes to explore. You’ll land in a terrain that looks flat and moon-like — only to step on the gas and, to the east, find yourself in a mountain rainforest zone of lush emerald-colored canopy and moss-draped trees. And while Hawaii is known to be spendy, penny savers can still rejoice: This does not have to be a terribly expensive island…if you know where to look (and once you plunk down the fare to get there, of course). Here are some ideas to get you into that aloha spirit.

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desert landscape around mesa, arizona

Visit Mesa

Located in south central Arizona, less than 20 miles east of Phoenix, Mesa has all the diversions a traveler would want from the Southwest. You’ll find everything from outdoor playgrounds to fine dining to an “agrihood.” Standing guard nearby, Superstition Mountains provide plenty of natural adventures, too, with jagged peaks separated by rock-filled canyons and covered with saguaro cacti that reach tree-like heights. But perhaps the most compelling reason to make this destination your base is that a visit to Mesa costs just a fraction of a visit to its big-city neighbors. Lodging rates here, for starters, are 60 percent lower here than in Scottsdale.

Here’s what else you need to know about a great Mesa escape:

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Magee Marsh

Andrew C via Flickr

Even if you’re not a dedicated birder, it’s easy to get a glimpse of thousands of feathered friends during the spring migration. Some optimal spots to spy seasonal birds are close to urban areas and others a little farther afield, but these areas are what keep the birds going on their long voyage. Don’t forget your binoculars.

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Tikal3

Jess Novak

Tikal National Park, home to what was once the capital of a powerful Mayan kingdom, has been uninhabited by anyone but spider monkeys for more than a thousand years. If you’re looking to be transported — or hankering to get back to nature — this UNESCO World Heritage Site provides the perfect off-radar escape.

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By Sid Lipsey for Yahoo! Travel

game of thrones - danerys
Face it. You want to travel like Daenerys. (Photo: AP)

When we last saw Game of Thrones two of its most interesting characters were traveling, and not for pleasure: The too-smart-for-his-own-good Tyrion had to go on the run after murdering his vengeful ex and complete jerk of a father, and teenage badass Arya hit the road because … well, because she really had nothing else to do.

Fortunately, we Game of Thrones fans can travel just like our favorite characters from the show — and, unlike them, have fun doing it. Fans have begun taking pilgrimages to the international locations where the show is shot. And places where the Game of Thrones cast and crew spent last year filming Season 5 (which debuts on HBO on April 12) are expected to see massive increases in tourism.

Related: You Can Take a Cruise Based on ‘Game of Thrones’?

Various touring companies are offering special Game of Thrones-themed vacations to Season 5 filming locations (luxury travel referral service Zicasso is offering GoT tours of Season 5 filming locations in Spain and Croatia).

Here are the spots you’ll want to see after you’ve watched the new season. Just don’t be too disappointed if you don’t see any dragons.

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