Shermanstravel Blog

Sports And Adventure

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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montreal street art tour - Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

With non-stop festivals and foodie delights at every turn, Montreal attracts hordes of tourists eager to sample the culture and style of this sophisticated metropolis. But after you’ve viewed a Cirque Du Soleil performance and munched on a St. Viateur bagel, it’s time to dig into Montreal’s more unexpected experiences. Here are some alternatives to the big-ticket attractions.

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Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski and snowboard

Crested Butte Mountain Resort

The most intense snowfall of the year is (hopefully) just about over, but there are plenty of reasons to hit the slopes in spring. Skiers and snowboarders will find soft powder, endless sunshine, and temperatures warm enough for lingering outdoors après ski, and fun events like slush slaloms and pond skimming. Best of all, spring ushers in a bunch of money-saving lift and lodging deals that’ll help you end the season in a flurry of happy turns.

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By Bill Fink for Yahoo! Travel

With the recent news that Ringling Bros. Circus will be phasing out elephant performances in its shows, there’s been a renewed focus on the welfare of wild animals captured or bred for entertainment. Across the world, wildlife sanctuaries are expanding their efforts to save and care for animals living in dire conditions. Here are seven wildlife sanctuaries ranging from rescue centers to elephant-size retirement communities that not only offer a healthy habitat in which the creatures can live, but also opportunities for visitors to come see them and even volunteer to help with their upkeep.

Elephant Nature Park, Thailand  

The Elephant Nature Park, Thailand

facebook.com/TheElephantNaturePark

Thailand has long used Asian elephants as beasts of burden for local loggers and as carnival fun rides for tourists. The Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand has been a leader in the rescue and care of retired, abused, and injured elephants since the 1990s. People can visit the park for a day, feed the animals, and even jump in the river with them to help with a bath! Volunteers can stay for a week and learn how to care for the elephants and assist in area conservation efforts.

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