Shermanstravel Blog

Sports And Adventure

Miraval Arizona 2

What’s your preferred stress-buster: pampering at the spa, or hopping on a pair of skis or surfboard? With this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, we say you’ll afford to do both. We found deals for surfing in Southern California, skiing in Telluride, spa-ing in the Arizona desert — and even for luxury touring in Chile.

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Flickr Coast Guard News2

National wildlife refuges — protected lands managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service — offer many of the same recreational opportunities as national parks at a fraction of the cost. Some are even free, unless you plan to hunt, fish, or camp. We love these (mostly) gratis activities for experiencing the wilderness in a whole new way:

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atacama - Flickr-Jim Trodel

When visiting South America’s Atacama Desert — considered to be the driest place on earth – you have little choice but to make the small village of San Pedro de Atacama your home base. Such isolation typically leads to high costs of living (and visiting), but San Pedro has an impressive range of lodging options, from hostels costing a few bucks a night to luxury resorts with thousand-dollar price tags. And with a surprising amount of competition among tour companies, there are affordable options for all budgets. With that in mind, here’s a look at how you might want to allocate your dollars.

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Temecula Creek Inn Restaurant via TCI

Travelers love California for its amazing wine and golf offerings, but there are even more reasons to visit some of the state’s lesser known cities. About an hour outside of San Diego, Temecula appeals with a laid-back artisan culture and a focus on the natural landscape. A rental car is really all you need to explore — and here are five reasons why you should.

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Squaw Valley - flickr-Rennett Stowe

While skiers and riders embrace the feet upon feet of powder, there’s no arguing that snow sports are expensive. Besides passes, there’s also the gear and the lodging to take into account. Good thing early bird bookings means lodging and ski packages that allow you to save — so you’ll still have some money left over for airfare, meals, and entertainment. But hurry; some of these expire this week. Read more

michigan island resized

As Michigan’s supremely serene and car-free getaway, Mackinac Island is characterized by the ubiquitous clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages and a history rich enough to excite any U.S. travel nerd. The island, which is accessed via ferry during the warmer months and snowmobile during the coldest months, offers so much in its relatively small 3.8 square miles of space, including a former military fort and several well-known hotels (you may have heard of The Grand Hotel, which was the setting of the film Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve). It also features too many fudge shops to count and a biking/walking circumference (Lake Shore Boulevard) that offers idyllic views of lighthouses and the often moody Haldimand Bay.

If you have just a weekend to spend on Mackinac, there are plenty of ways to get maximum mileage of this car-free getaway, and to experience the island as the Islanders do. Here are a few suggestions.

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Daytona Beach2

After shedding an unfortunate reputation for being a go-to destination for raucous spring breakers in the ‘90s and early 2000s, Daytona Beach has become a year-round destination for couples and families. And it’s more than just sand and strip malls — there’s visiting the Museum of Arts and Sciences, working on your swing at the many mini golf courses, tackling a zipline course, and getting suited up like a professional racecar driver during the Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Daytona International Speedway.

As guests of the Daytona Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, we recently got the chance to taste the destination’s revival for ourselves. Here are the highlights of what we found:

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DIStop

For decades, race fans have flocked to the Daytona International Speedway to watch history being made, from moments of speedster glory as well as tragedy — most notably the passing of legendary driver Dale Earnhardt in 2001. (Since his untimely death in 2001 after crashing in the Daytona 500, he’s been immortalized with a statue that stands proudly at the front of the Speedway’s Visitors Center.) Even for the biggest racing fans, though, attending most events has largely been a day-trip affair, thanks to a lack of on-site lodging (although there are plenty of hotels and entertainment options just minutes away from the Speedway, and some Daytona 500 spectators have been known to set up shop in RVs and campers on the infield).

That’s all about to change in the next year or two. Two major projects, slated to be completed by 2016, will transform the Speedway into its very own multi-day destination with much more beyond the nearly mile-long stadium.

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Morgans Rock beach - 620

Long known as a mecca for surfers and sun-seekers, Costa Rica is, has been, and always will be a hotspot. But what many travelers are only just starting to discover is that Nicaragua, its central American neighbor to the north, offers much of the thrill, scenery, and sizzle — with a culture all its own. The fact that Nicaragua is an affordable destination, given its off-radar status, is a great reason to fold it into a Costa Rica itinerary. After all, both countries deliver their own brand of charm, and crossing them off your bucket list in one trip is both practical and illuminating when it comes to getting a feel for the region. Here’s how to create such a Central American tasting menu:

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xtreme experience

Ever dream of driving a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or McLaren at warp speed on a racetrack? Track experiences are popular for their pure adrenaline rushes and frequently top bucket list items. They typically begin with some classroom instruction from pro race drivers about understeering, oversteering, down-shifting, and anticipating turns. You then get to feel the throaty roar and ridiculous horsepower of a six-figure supercar on a twisty racetrack for yourself.

We dug up the top three racecar offerings for your next daredevil adventure. While they aren’t the cheapest of thrills, the bragging rights are priceless. Ditto for the value of your lessons, which are bound to make you a safer, smarter driver in any car. 

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tourism fiji

As the days continue to get colder, you may find yourself fantasizing about your next tropical getaway. While the Caribbean islands are a popular choice, it’s worth the extra hours on the plane to head to the South Pacific instead.

Of the thousands of postcard-perfect islands in this vast region of the Pacific Ocean, it quickly became clear to me on a recent trip why Fiji is one of the most popular tourist spots here. You’ll discover the white sand beaches, turquoise waters, top rate scuba diving and snorkeling among vibrant coral reefs — and so much more. With 333 islands, only a third of which are inhabited, Fiji is diverse not only in its environment, but also in its culture.

Here are some reasons to consider Fiji the next time you’re craving a real escape.

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uluru - northern territory - australia - flickr-nosha - 620

You won’t find too many Americans in Australia’s Northern Territory, and there’s a good reasons for it. Considering the high cost of air travel and the time that it takes to get there, most travelers are content on staying in Sydney or one of the country’s other southern cities. If they do venture out, it’s typically up the east coast to Queensland, one of the most popular launching pads for the Great Barrier Reef.

But the draw is that the area is very remote, putting visitors in the prime position to see the stunning formations of Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta — known collectively as Uluru. Australia is 70 percent desert, after all, with Central Australia and the southern half of the Northern Territory receiving less than 10 inches of rain per year.

Unfortunately, Uluru’s remoteness and adventure-oriented atmosphere don’t make for the cheapest trip. In fact, it’s the most expensive destination in Australia and the third-most expensive in the world. The reason for this is largely due to the fact that the Ayers Rock Resort — which really consists of four hotels — has a monopoly on all the rooms, restaurants, and shops in the area. As a result, rates start at 340 AUD (297 USD) a night even at the cheapest property, the Outback Pioneer. Yikes.

So what to do? Here are a few tips to make the trip more affordable.

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Peak Walk

Some of the world’s best views come from the middle of the world’s scariest bridges. That’s not to mention the adventure you’ll get from crossing these sometimes rickety but always thrilling expanses. Here are our picks for the world’s 10 scariest bridges with amazing views, sure to get your heart pounding.

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Red Mountain Resort Utah

They say idleness is the mother of all vices – so it’s a good thing we had so much to keep us busy during a recent jaunt through rural southern Utah. Heading for St. George, a small, oft-overlooked town in the state’s bottom-left quarter that’s just under two hours from Vegas, we packed in a full three days of hiking, kayaking, outdoor yoga, and even a little art gallery browsing. And the best part: We even had time left over for some poolside lounging. Here’s how you can do it, too:

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autumn - pixabay - 620Blazing red and orange leaves are some of the best reasons to travel in fall, and this year we wanted to find some unexpected foliage spots. So, of course, we turned to Instagram. After all, what other platform draws users who love to take beautiful photographs in the most picturesque parts of the world? We tapped into a few avid photographers’ feeds to bring you seven places to view vibrant foliage. Get ready to charge up your smartphone and hit the road…

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