Shermanstravel Blog

Sports And Adventure

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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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 … Here are five things 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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When it was announced in December 2012 that the English region of Yorkshire had been selected to host the 2014 Tour de France’s grand départ (the three-stage opening route stretches from Leeds to Harrogate; York to Sheffield; and Cambridge to London), there was shock. Not that the esteemed French bicycle race was beginning somewhere other than France — that’s actually quite common, occurring usually every other year — but that Yorkshire had beaten out contenders Barcelona, Berlin, and Florence. Nevertheless Yorkshire has been having a moment lately. Last year it was declared the Leading European Destination by the World Travel Awards. What better reason to visit Yorkshire even after the grand départ has, well, departed?

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oakland - lake merritt - michele ursino - 620

Finally, Oakland is getting the attention it deserves from travelers and media alike as one of the country’s coolest cities, having been skipped over for years for sister city San Francisco. But as Oakland enters the spotlight, it remains an extremely affordable destination for culture, food, and other entertainment. These budget activities will make any cost-conscious traveler wonder why you took so long to discover Oak Town:

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It’s no surprise that vacation rentals have stolen the hearts of savvy travelers everywhere. Great savings, extra amenities, even the chance to get some local advice…what’s not to love? The fact that HomeAway has hit one million listings — making its inventory almost twice the size of other similar companies — just comes to show how this once-alternative means of accommodation is going mainstream. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up five affordable rentals that you can book this summer and beyond, for a taste of something different:

1. Santa Teresa, Costa Rica: $80/night
For the design enthusiast, this Costa Rican rental delivers on one-of-a-kind digs with a futuristic, geodesic design. Sleeping four to five with two bedrooms spread over two floors, this villa is less than a five-minute walk to Santa Teresa Beah and the area’s shops and cafes. We recommend getting out early to beat the heat, then settling in for an afternoon siesta if the rain hits. And, don’t worry, the AC units are well-equipped to keep you cool. 4-night minimum.

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Hopworks, Portland, Oregon

From scenic day trips, to breweries and wineries galore, to cycling and hiking, it would be impossible to experience all that Portland has to offer in a single day — but you can certainly try. Make a mad dash for all of these places, or space them out over a two- or three-day itinerary:

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