Category Archive: Destinations

Splish Splash: A Review of Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort

Last month I attended the media preview as well as the Grand Opening of Universal Orlando Resort’s new water theme park – Volcano Bay. I was predisposed to love it, of course, as I’m a fan of most things UOR (that’s probably why they hired me to be part of the inaugural Blog Squad ambassador program). But, I was not expecting to find so many things to love about this third theme park in the UOR brand. This review is a result of my visit to the park on the media day (with only a few hundred people in attendance) as well as the more crowded opening day. TL/DR:  Just go, it’s amazing! For those who want to know more, here are the details. The story of Volcano Bay starts with the culture of the Waturi, a fictional tribe from […]

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5 Fun Facts for Friday: Irvine, California

Irvine, California, is located in the center of Orange County, just 45 miles south of Los Angeles and 90 miles north of San Diego. The center of the city is only seven miles from the . While its main activities were once missions, cattle grazing, and agriculture, today it’s the 8th largest city in the U.S. and is one of the nation’s largest planned urban communities. In 2017, Irvine has been named the 10th  “Best City to Live in America.” (Niche) and #3 on the list of  “10 Happiest Cities in the United States” (WalletHub). Yet, many travelers have still not heard of it directly, instead confusing it with neighboring Anaheim or lumping it together under the label of Orange County. John Wayne Airport (SNA) is located less than five minutes from the majority of Irvine’s hotels and is served by both […]

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5 Fun Facts for Friday: Anchorage, Alaska

My high school English teacher used to start class on Friday with 5 words or phrases written on the board.  He’d then regale us with information and history about the words or phrases, varying from tidbits about their etymology to the translation of foreign phrases to quotes and more.  He called it Five Fun Facts for Friday.  If we walked into class and there weren’t 5 words on the board, we’d start asking about that day’s five fun facts. Years later, and I do mean many years, I still remember this teacher and the way he made learning fun.  I’ve also noticed when I come across little tidbits of information that I often think of them in terms of five fun facts, so today I’m going to share some fun facts with you. While I’m not promising that I’ll have […]

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Review: The Doctors House, Fort Casey Inn

When visitors head to Whidbey Island, they typically think of Langley (at the south end) or Oak Harbor (the naval air station at the north end), but tucked away in the middle part of the island is Coupeville. Coupeville is the county seat, and with a population under 2,000 is a historic district within the federal Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. The reserve includes farmlands, Fort Ebey State Park, Fort Casey State Park, beaches and shorelines, parks, trails, and 91 locations on the National Register of Historic Places. For a place to stay in keeping with the town’s historic significance, the Fort Casey Inn provides a modern take on officer housing from pre-World War I. The row of historic cottages date back to around 1909 when they served as Non-Commissioned Officers’ Quarters for the neighboring defense installation. They have been modernized […]

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Tips for Planning Your Universal Orlando Vacation

I thought I was a pro when it came to visiting Universal Orlando. After all, I’d been to Halloween Horror Night last year and had been to Universal Hollywood just a few months ago. But with the ever-evolving attractions, hotels and restaurants, and now a waterpark, it sometimes feels like I’m at a brand new destination every time I go. That means my strategies and tips for visiting Universal Orlando Resort are evolving, too. Here are my tips for maximizing the fun, while minimizing vacation stress, when planning your Universal Orlando vacation. Select Your Dates to Visit Universal Orlando I’m a big fan of shoulder and off-season travel as it often means fewer people and better prices. Mid-September through October is probably my favorite time to visit – the weather is warm but not stifling and the crowds are manageable. If you’re […]

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Getaway to Nara, Japan

Nara, located in the Kansai region of Japan, was formerly known as Heijo and in 710 was established as Japan’s first permanent capital. The capital was moved in 784, in large part due to the growing power and ambition of the many Buddhist monasteries located there. The historical treasures of the area remain, however, including some of the oldest and largest temples in Japan. Like most other cities in Japan, there is folklore around the name of Nara. A variety of theories exist, but the most widely accepted one says that the name came from words and phrases that meant “flat land” or “gentle slope” which described the area’s topography. Today Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture and is an active center of both government and commerce. Like Awaji, It makes an easy getaway destination from Kyoto and […]

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100 Free (and Almost Free) Things to Do in Washington, DC

With all the attention on Washington D.C. during the presidential election cycle, it’s easy to think that the city is all about bickering between the various branches of government. In one of the United States’ most visited cities, there are plenty of attractions and things to do that are budget friendly – free or almost free – whether you politically lean left of right. This list should provide you enough ideas no matter what time of year you’re visiting. If you’re looking for something family friendly: Marvel at the National Zoo’s conservation efforts firsthand along the Asia Trail. Pay a visit to giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, as well as their offspring, Bao Bao and Bei Bei (the youngest cub). Be sure to take a peek at their tiny neighbors, the red pandas, too. Stare up at the […]

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UNESCO Site: Visiting Malbork Castle, Poland

A visit to Malbork Castle Museum will feature both the historical and artistic aspects. There are also some archaeological activities and research, always looking for ways to add depth to the layers of history of the Teutonic Order and the Castle. The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, usually referred to as the Teutonic Order, is a Catholic religious order dating back to the 12th century. Although it was originally founded as a German military brotherhood, it’s purpose has changed over the years and since 1929 it has been strictly a religious order, although it harkens back to those early years with the conference of honorary knighthoods. Today the Catholic branch of the Order has about 1,000 members, and while originally no women were permitted, members today include a couple hundred nuns. The Castle of the […]

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Universal Orlando Resort: I’m So Excited

I am an unapologetic Universal fan, whether it’s Universal Orlando Resorts in Florida (I went there last year for Halloween Horror Nights), or Universal Studios Hollywood (I went there on a getaway last month with a family teenager). So you can imagine my enthusiasm when Universal Orlando Resorts asked me to join their Blog Squad, a year long ambassador program to discover and write about the theme parks (and a water park opening early next year), special events, world-class hotels and entertainment venues, shopping, food, and more. (You can read the announcement here.) This opportunity to discover more about Universal Orlando starts tomorrow! I’m excited to spend five days on site in the company of other bloggers, photographers, and videographers, many of whom I’ve not yet met. My stories of discovery and fun will come weeks and months down the road, […]

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Where Else to Go Podcast: Rwanda

After a bit of a hiatus, the Where Else to Go podcast is back, and in this episode I talk with Bret Love from Green Global Travel about Rwanda. If you’ve ever thought about visiting this African nation, perhaps visiting the gorillas or chimpanzees, you’ll want to listen to this episode.   Pin this to your favorite Pinterest boards.

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