Shermanstravel Blog

Weekend Getaways

D Hotel del Coronado – Facebook

Facebook/Hotel del Coronado

We love lacing up our skates in the winter — it’s a great way to stay active and warm up even as the temps drop below freezing. Even more, we love doing so at rinks with great views, whether it’s mountain vistas, starry skies by the beach, or historical monuments in the background. Here are some of our favorite places to try to land that triple axel. (Remember to layer up and bring some thick socks!)

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C Brian Munoz leavenworth.org Leavenworth Washington

Take time this holiday season to stop and smell the chestnuts roasting on an open fire – literally. In cities around the country, December becomes a feast for the senses with electric light shows, warm music, and even warmer drinks. From millions of twinkling lights and festive treats to a cookie treasure hunt, here are five of our favorite holiday strolls that deliver a delightful winter escape.

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McAdenville - north carolina - Flickr-Annie Hall

Postcard holiday scenes often involve beautiful blankets of white snow, evoking images of cozy northern towns and ski resort havens. But who would have thought that regions like California’s Newport Beach, or the southern town of Woodstock in Virginia, are teeming with holiday cheer this time of the year, too? Here, a few surprising destinations for getting into the holiday spirit.

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1Hershey Park

Shorts and sunscreen have been replaced with jackets and scarves, and theme parks across the country have suited up to take the winter weather in stride. The gates are open for one last hurrah of the year as these parks offer the best of the holiday season. Warm up with the festive glittering lights, re-themed rides, seasonal treats, and, of course, the treasured opportunity to meet Santa. Though some of the bigger rides of these parks are closed for the winter, exploring the all-encompassing holiday worlds built in these parks is the main attraction.

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The Edgewater Bill Fritsch Wisconsin

The Midwest’s newest luxury hotel is now open: The Edgewater, in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, along Lake Mendota and a few blocks to hip State Street (lined with shops selling eclectic holiday gifts), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Fresh off a $100 million renovation, practically everything at the hotel is brand-new, including a destination spa, four restaurants, and an ice rink.

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Graduate Athens HotelEver wanted to relive the college experience but without the messy roommate and lousy food? Thanks to Graduate Hotels, you can. The recently opened collection of boutique hotels offers luxurious rooms with whimsical, university-themed touches, all within walking distance of vibrant college communities.

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Kentucky Bourbon TrailThe iconic Bourbon Trail: the booze-soaked area between Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky, where you’ll find rolling hills lined with wooden fences between the country’s best bourbon distilleries. Most opt to drive it, but for a more unique way to visit the distilleries, try riding a bicycle.

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FortWorthStockyardsCattleDrive

With its irresistible cowboy culture, Fort Worth certainly lives up to its “Cowtown” moniker. But there’s a more sophisticated side to the city, too. This is most notably evident in the urban revitalization in the downtown area, which includes the recent addition of the Sundance Square entertainment district, and the opening up of chef-driven restaurants and chic wine bars and cafés all over town.

If you’ve only got a couple of days to explore Fort Worth, that’s just enough to get a sense of the city’s twin personalities, and without spending too much money either. Here’s how to get the best of both worlds.

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Georgia Coast - Caroline Eubanks

Georgia’s coast, between Savannah and the Florida state line, is dotted with barrier islands small and large, boasting luxury resorts as well as natural wilderness equipped with campgrounds. This is a part of the world where you won’t find the large tourist crowds that make Florida so popular. Here, four islands — accessible by small roads or boat — that feel almost tourist-free.

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BocaChandelierPhotographyforthePeople

Cincinnati has been experiencing something of a revolution in the last few years, shaking off its gritty past and slowly developing into a hip cultural center. Most evident is the transformation of the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, which suffered from high crime rates for decades. In 2004 the 3CDC non-profit formed and began purchasing vacant buildings and lots; developing Over-the-Rhine (OTR) and the neighboring Central Business District (CBD) block-by-block, while keeping an eye on preservation. In fact, OTR is home to the country’s largest collection of Italianate buildings.

One of the happiest results of this transformation is that Cincinnati’s food scene is heating up and new restaurants are arriving at an astonishing rate. Here’s some of the hottest spots — classic as well as new — in this emerging foodie destination. Read more

 SONY DSCIt’s easy to dismiss the charming 10,000-odd people town of Fredericksburg, Texas as a drive-by bit of German history — especially when the Virginian Civil War town often comes to mind when mentioning the name. Read more

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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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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Napa Valley - James Daisa - 620

Napa and Sonoma both offer great wines, great food, and incredible experiences, but because there’s so much to do in each county that visitors usually focus on one or the other. Which is the best option for you? Here’s a guide for how to choose.

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phantom ranch - grand canyon NPS - michael quinn - 620

Why spend a fortune for just a few hours at a fabricated haunted house when you can explore truly spooky sites for a whole day in the wild? Some of the most haunted sites in America are part of the National Park system, with varied histories from Civil War bloodshed to tragic love stories. Here are seven with spectacularly spooky reputations:

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