Non-Standard Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day This Year

By , January 28, 2015 9:32 am

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that you either love or you hate. Sure, the air is filled with romance and sweet things to eat. But it also often comes with a lot of anticipation, planning, and obligation. However, not every Valentine’s celebration has to revolve around a stuffy dinner or unappreciated bouquet of roses.

There are lots of ways to cater this “Hallmark holiday” to your own relationship and make it mean something special to both you and the love of your life. And since February 14th falls on a Saturday this year, there are lots of options on the table. Let FunSherpa be your guide as you open your mind to a whole new way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Go to the Ballet via Limo Ride

If either you or your sweetheart has never seen a ballet before, Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to see what it’s all about. Chicago is one of the best places have a ballet and limousine experience because there are so many talented ballerinas in the city and a limo takes the hassles out of getting there. Before or after the show, take a walk around the trendy River North neighborhood to grab a bite to eat or nightcap before heading home.

Photo credit: ExpoMeloneras via Flickr

Photo credit: ExpoMeloneras via Flickr

Savor the Sweet Life on a Chocolate Tour

If you simply can’t part with the idea of chocolate on Valentine’s Day, then why not learn a little bit about the sweet stuff to celebrate as well? Boston Chocolate Tours offer the opportunity to learn about the process of making chocolate and return home with plenty of mouthwatering samples. You can take classes to create delicious chocolates and deserts on your own and follow the instruction of experienced chefs who love what they do. These tours last approximately 2-3 hours.

Get Creative with a Cooking Class

Cooking together is something that’s important to many couples, and the process can go much smoother when both of you have a deeper appreciation for culinary traditions. Consider signing up for a Lunch and Learn Cooking Class in Seattle to learn how to cook better meals at home! This is a great gift for the inspiring chef in your relationship and as a fun activity to do together. The experience lasts about 2 hours and bottled water and tea are complimentary.

Photo credit: Mood Town via Flickr

Photo credit: Mood Town via Flickr

 

Get Sensual with a Dance

There are few things in life more romantic than dancing, and we’ve found the perfect Dancing Together experience in San Diego. This dance class features private instruction in a friendly and relaxed environment, so there’s no need to be nervous. This is a perfect place for couples interested in social dancing as a hobby or who want to look more professional on the dance floor at their upcoming wedding. Classes last about 45 minutes and are taught by top-notch instructors who can accommodate all skill levels.

What are some other ways that you’ve considered spending Valentine’s Day this year?

Fun Ways to Stick to Your 2015 Fitness Resolutions

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By , January 14, 2015 12:27 pm

It’s now a couple weeks into the new year, so how well have you been sticking to your 2015 resolutions? The most common resolutions that people make are related to health, fitness, and nutrition, and these are hard resolutions to keep when the weather is less than inviting to get outside and active.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to get your body moving indoors for the remaining months of winter. These are some of the FunSherpa experiences that we can hook you up with now to get in shape before swimsuit and shorts season!

Power Personal Fitness Training

Being self-motivated is easier on some days than others, and personal trainers can give you the boost you need on off-days. Trainer Kurt Rawlins hosts 30-minute personal fitness training sessions that are designed to maximize your results in minimal time. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education. These sessions are geared towards professionals that are pressed for time but committed to a healthier lifestyle. They’re also great for people who get bored easily with workouts because the program changes every 6-8 weeks.

Photo credit: Gaël Marziou  via Flickr

Photo credit: Gaël Marziou via Flickr

Table Tennis 101

Table tennis is a fun sport and hobby that people from all skill levels can play. Chi-Slam is the largest table tennis club in Illinois and offers a Table Tennis 101 class to teach you the basics. A certified table tennis coach will teach you how to serve, rally, and master the rules of the game. Somewhat surprisingly, this is also a great way to exercise your arms and core muscles. Each lesson lasts an hour and classes are offered year-around.

Indoor Kayaking

Most of us think of kayaking as a strictly outdoor activity, but there are many things that you can learn about the sport indoors in a pool. Kayak Chicago offers indoor kayak classes for an introductory course, intermediate skills, and Eskimo rolling. In the intro class, you’ll learn paddle stroke technique, rescues, and safety skills. Intermediate courses teach students how to do braces, draw strokes, hip-snap balance and body movements, and other rescue techniques. Eskimo rolling is a fun technique that takes a bit of practice but is also a great way to cool off in your kayak. These classes run between November and May and last 2.5 hours.

Photo credit: Dennis Kruyt via Flickr

Photo credit: Dennis Kruyt via Flickr

Kung Fu Classes

Not only is Kung Fu a great workout, but it’s also excellent for self-confidence, agility, and self-esteem. All-Star Kung Fu offers Kung Fu classes that teach the rich and effective techniques of Shaolin Kung Fu. Students will learn fist forms, weapon forms, self-defense forms, and Sanda, which is a type of Chinese kickboxing. These classes are offered year around, daily in the afternoons, and typically last about 50 minutes.

So as you can see, fitness resolutions for the new year don’t have to revolve around a boring treadmill routine and daunting weight rooms. Check out one of these adventurous options and feel a whole new appreciation for working out!

Unique and Creative Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve

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By , December 26, 2014 6:55 pm

Are you tired of the same old New Year’s Eve routine? If you’re craving something other than long lines, tough reservations, overpriced drinks, there are plenty of other festive and creative ways to ring in 2015. At FunSherpa, we’re always looking for interesting takes on classic favorites, and some travel destinations have developed their own traditions that are catching on in other places. These are some of the New Year’s Eve celebrations that have caught our attention as 2015 quickly approaches.

New Year’s Eve Bash at Copacabana Beach

Although Brazil’s Carnival celebration is known as one of the biggest parties on the planet, there’s another bash brewing in Rio de Janeiro. Around two million people arrive at Copacabana Beach to listen to live music, drink champagne, and watch a fireworks show along the water. This unforgettable experience is considered to be one of the largest New Year’s Eve parties in the entire world.

Photo credit: labnol Asia

Photo credit: labnol Asia

Bowling in Times Square, New York

If the idea of throwing a few frames sounds better to you than fighting crowds out in the cold, check out the Frames Bowling Lounge in Times Square. This New York City bowling alley has a six-hour open bar from 7 pm to 1 am and a special live DJ performance. This is a great option for all ages and close to all the action in Times Square if you want to partake in some of the madness as well.

Visit Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

Meiji Shrine attracts millions of people to Tokyo each year during the first few days of January. This is a great place to ring in the New Year because it combines sacred spirituality with a good ole’ fashioned party. There is lots of sake around to kick the party off yet visitors listen as a bell ominously tolls, representing the number of temptations that one must overcome to reach Nirvana.

Reflect at Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa isn’t the first place most people think of when they make New Year’s Eve plans, but watching the last sunset of the year atop one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World is truly spectacular. Take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain and then head back down to Cape Town to enjoy live music along the Victoria and Albert Waterfront. After a few moments of self-reflection, you can pick back up with the party scene at the Camps Bay promenade, where there are quite a few swanky bars and lounges to choose from.

Photo credit: Nana B Agyei

Photo credit: Nana B Agyei

Creative Ways to Celebrate Anywhere

  • Celebrate with a New Year’s Eve party at noon instead of midnight (great for kids in the family)
  • Turn New Year’s Eve into a DIY craft day and make your own decorations and costumes
  • Celebrate the New Year when it arrives in a different time zone
  • Arrange a scavenger hunt featuring your favorite photos from 2014
  • Attend a midnight yoga class to start 2015 off on a healthy foot
  • Browse our winter experiences for some adventurous inspiration!

Winter Festivals To Check Out Across America

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By , December 18, 2014 11:18 am

Most of us think of summertime as festival season in America, but lots of cities host amazing events throughout the winter months and all year long. The upcoming holiday season will be over before we know it, so why not start planning something else exciting to look forward to in the new year?

Instead of letting the winter blues drag you down, embrace the spirit of the season and experience a new festival to kick off 2015. These are some of the best winter festivals to check out across America.

Winter Festivals in Austin, Texas

All throughout the year, Austin maintains its reputation as one of the most amazing festival cities in America. There’s still time to catch the Trail of Lights, a December festival, which invites locals and visitors to take a 1.25-mile walk to see holiday lights while sampling local cuisine and listening to music. February is also a great time to visit Austin to check out the winter festival scene. Carnaval Brasileiro is one of the biggest one-night carnival celebrations outside of Brazil, and the Rancho Alegre Conjunto Festival is a family-friendly event that features down-home Texas-style music. Another February festival is Jugglefest, which celebrates all things circus in an indoor space. To learn about more exciting festivals in Austin, check out Homecity’s The Definitive Austin Festival Guide.”

Photo credit: Teresa Boardman via Flickr

Photo credit: Teresa Boardman via Flickr

Winter Festivals in St. Paul, Minnesota

Who in his right mind would travel to Minnesota in the winter? Hardcore festival lovers…that’s who! The St. Paul Winter Carnival runs from late January to early February and attracts around 350,000 visitors each year. This the largest and most established cold weather festivals in America, with dog sled racing, ice sculpture carving, floats, and even a scavenger hunt.

Winter Festivals in Saranac Lake, New York

Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains in New York, the Saranac Lake Winter Festival is less than an hour from the Canadian border. The lake provides a beautiful backdrop for a variety of winter sport contests, including alpine skiing, curling, broomball, snowshoeing, and even snow volleyball. This festival has a new theme every year and features a festive parade and fireworks for the whole family.

Winter Festivals in Breckenridge, Colorado

Head west to experience the International Snow Sculpture Championships, which takes place in mid-to-late January each year. Breckenridge is best known for its top-notch ski and snowboard resort, but there is lots to see and do in the quaint downtown area as well. Ice sculptors travel here from all over the world to show off their skills, inviting locals and visitors stroll through the park to marvel at their masterpieces. Ullr Fest, a Viking-inspired week of competition, takes place in Breckenridge from January 11-17 this year as well.

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Winter Festivals in Anchorage, Alaska

Winter celebrations are a way of life in the northern wilderness of Alaska, and one of the best times to visit is in late February and early March. Fur Rendezvous is an exciting dog sledding event in Anchorage that also lets visitors play snowshoe softball and view snow sculptures. Stay a little bit longer to experience the epic Iditarod dog sledding race.

For more inspirational ideas to get out and active this winter, browse through FunSherpa’s experiences by city or theme!

Boost Your Wilderness Survival Skills with a Outdoor Course!

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By , December 4, 2014 10:19 am

If you’re the type of person who loves travel, adventure, and the great outdoors, then you should really be prepared for a few worst-case-scenario situations. Wilderness survival courses aren’t just for hardcore adrenaline junkies and wannabe reality stars; they’re essential tools for staying safe in common emergency situations. Wilderness survival schools typically teach outdoors lovers primitive skills, including flint knapping, fire starting, animal trapping, and foraging.

These are a few of the top survival courses that go far beyond a standard guidebook with hands-on instruction and real-life experience.

Photo credit: tiny_tear via Flickr

Photo credit: tiny_tear via Flickr

Boulder Outdoor Survival School

With beginnings as a youth leadership course, this is one of the oldest and largest wilderness schools in the world. It’s also known as BOSS and based in Boulder, Utah. Students can choose from programs that last three days or even a full month to learn how to survive with not much more than a knife, blanket, and a poncho.

Tracker School

One of the best wilderness schools on the East Coast is Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School, which is based in New Jersey. Many of the programs here last for a week, and the focus is on connecting with nature more than hardcore self-denial.

Ancient Pathways

If you’re looking for a survival course that’s more about hands-on experience than classroom lecture, then Tony Nester’s Ancient Pathways School might be for you. Since 1989, this Flagstaff, Arizona-based school has offered a variety of primitive and survival skills courses that range from four to 14 days. One of the most popular courses is the “Knife Only” course, where students are taught to survive with just a knife.

Photo credit: Alderleaf Wilderness College via Flickr

Photo credit: Alderleaf Wilderness College via Flickr

At FunSherpa, we can set you up with some great deals on wilderness survival courses as well. These are a couple of our West Coast favorites.

1-Day Wilderness Skills Clinic – Near Marin and Santa Cruz, California

For a convenient and affordable taste of what these world-renown wilderness schools have to offer, check out this 1-day wilderness skills clinic. You’ll learn to build a shelter, start a fire, and appreciate nature in a whole new way.  You’ll also learn how to forage for edible plants and make useful primitive traps. This hands-on clinic is appropriate for all ages, and even children under 12 can attend if accompanied by an adult. The class lasts for approximately five hours and is just a short drive from San Francisco.

Animal Tracking Class – Point Reyes, California

Another great wilderness course in California is this animal tracking class in Point Reyes. The Point Reyes National Seashore is a great place to learn about wild animals right in the San Francisco Bay Area. In this class, you’ll learn how to identify animal tracks, interpret animal behavioral patterns, and navigate landscape disturbance tracking. This hands-on workshop is great for both hardcore back-country hikers as well as casual city-dwellers who enjoy visiting an occasional park. For just $95, you’ll get five hours of expert wilderness tracking instruction.

Fun Winter Sports to Try this Season

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By , November 20, 2014 12:45 pm

The temperatures may be chilly and the snow may be falling in your area of the country, but that doesn’t mean you need to restrain yourself to the couch! There are lots of active ways to enjoy the winter season that don’t involve lazy, unhealthy, and reclusive habits. But this is the time of year that many of us could use a little motivation to get out and about.

Take the guesswork out of activity planning and let FunSherpa be your winter sports guide this year! These are some of the winter activities we’re most excited about right now.

Dog Sledding Tour

You don’t need to travel all the way to Alaska to experience the unique magic of a dog sledding experience. Head to Rapid River, Michigan, driving distance from Chicago, to take a dog sledding tour between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. The rugged terrain of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is beautiful in the winter with thousands of square miles of wilderness area. Sledders will get a chance to meet, steer, and learn about these hearty dogs.

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Skiing and Snowboarding

No matter where you live in the country, the nearest ski and snowboard slopes are just a road trip away! Although the Midwest isn’t exactly known for its majestic mountains, Chicago area snow sport enthusiasts can head up to Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin to join the Sunday Snowboard Club. Or if skiing is more your style, we can set you up with private skiing lessons at Mt. Hood, near Portland, Oregon and full of natural beauty.

Ice Fishing

Fishing doesn’t have to just be a summer pastime! We’ll make sure you’re safe and comfortable during your ice fishing experience with warm lodging, on-ice meals, heaters, and 4-wheel ATV transportation. All equipment and bait is provided by your trusty fishing guides, so just bring warm clothes and your sense of adventure!

Ice Climbing

Make your winter 2014-2015 a little more extreme by giving ice climbing a try! Take a trip from New York City to New Paltz to take a beginner’s ice climbing course with Mountain Skills Climbing Guides. This is a full-day course that typically runs from 9-5 so that you can attempt Stoney Clove, Deep Notch, Moore’s Bridge, and the Asbestos Wall. Ice climbing lessons include training on everything you need to know about equipment, boots, crampons, ice axes, and proper attire.

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Winter Driving Lessons

Although taking a winter driving lesson may not sound like as much fun as the other activities listed here, it can be a lifesaver if you live in a snowy and icy part of the country. New Hampshire sees its fair share of snow each year, making this northeastern state one of the most dangerous places for winter driving. Whether you’re new to the Northeast or simply need to brush up on your winter driving skills, head to the Team O’Neil Driving Park for a one-day course for peace of mind. This course is taught in groups of 12-15 students who all use their own vehicles.

Start a New Thanksgiving Tradition in These Top Travel Destinations

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By , November 5, 2014 11:59 am

For lots of people who celebrate Thanksgiving, holiday travel is pre-determined and a no-brainer. It’s a traditional time of year often spent inside distant relatives’ homes with turkey, pumpkin pie, and football. But if your family could use a little break from routine, why not plan a quick weekend trip together to show your thanks?

Since Thanksgiving travel tends to be a day trip and lots of people stay with family, this is a good time of year to find deals on hotel rates. These are some of the best travel destinations to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Head to Plymouth, Massachusetts to spend Thanksgiving Day where the pilgrims did centuries ago. Plymouth is just a 45 minute drive from Boston, so it’s a quick trip if you live in the area. Watch costumed actors reenact historical scenes on the Mayflower II and learn about how early colonists lived in the 17th century. Thanksgiving is a big deal in Plymouth, with concerts, parades, and activities to keep you busy all weekend long.

Photo credit: martha_chapa95 via Flickr

Photo credit: martha_chapa95 via Flickr

New York City, New York

Watching the massive Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on TV has become a tradition in many American households over the years. Head to New York City to see it live and in person! If you’re a Black Friday shopper, this is the perfect place to be to scope out all the holiday deals.

Washington, D.C.

Another great place to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday and celebrate American history is Washington, D.C. You’ll typically enjoy fewer crowds and shorter lines as you explore the museums and walk around the monuments as well.

Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia

To escape the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, even if just for a long weekend, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia are an excellent travel choice. This is a beautiful mountainous region to book a vacation rental and make a home-cooked meal with your whole family.

Keystone, Colorado

For snow sport enthusiasts, Thanksgiving weekend means the beginning of ski and snowboard season. One of the best places to get into the action is in Keystone, Colorado, which also has lots of charming restaurants and shopping areas nearby.

Photo credit: Martin Cathrae via Flickr

Photo credit: Martin Cathrae via Flickr

Scottsdale, Arizona

To warm up and enjoy some wintertime sunshine, consider spending your Thanksgiving weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona. This is a great destination to get in a few games of golf, go hiking, and take advantage of holistic spa treatments.

San Diego, California

Another warm and sunny Thanksgiving destinations to keep in mind is San Diego. To lure visitors from other Southern California destinations, his lively beach city often offers lower hotel prices at this time of year. Leave the holiday cooking to the professions and treat yourself to one of the city’s fine dining restaurants.

Wherever you decide to spend your holiday weekend this year, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving from all of us at FunSherpa!

Unique Places to Celebrate Halloween This Year

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By , October 22, 2014 8:33 am

It’s that time of year again…when goblins and ghouls run amok and party-goers scramble to throw together last-minute costumes and find a place to show them off!  Halloween celebrations vary from city to city and from town to town, so this is a great time of year to take a trip and see how other communities kick off the spooky holiday. If you’re looking for something a little scarier and more unique than trick-or-treaters and pumpkin carving this year, check out one of these awesome towns to celebrate Halloween.

Salem, Massachusetts

Salem is known for its historic witch trials, where dozens of people were put to death for allegedly being witches. The city offers tours of haunted places, infamous spots, witches circles, and hanging reenactments during the whole month of October. Don’t miss the Witch House Museum, which was once the house of a Salem trial witch judge.

Photo credit: Nick Kenrick via Flickr

Photo credit: Nick Kenrick via Flickr

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans has been called “the most haunted city in America,” and those spooky sensations only get more heightened around this time of year. There are a collection of voodoo shops around town and ghost tours are offered on a daily basis.

Estes Park, Colorado

Remember the book/movie, “The Shining?” The place that inspired Stephen King to write this horrifying tale is located right here in Estes Park. The movie plays on a channel on repeat in all of the Stanley Hotel guest rooms, and you can sip a cocktail in the haunted billiards room or music room. Aside from the haunted happenings, the hotel has amazingly beautiful views of the Colorado Rockies and there are lots of skiing and snowboarding options nearby.

Sleepy Hollow, New York

New York City’s Greenwich Village is always a hot spot for Halloween celebrators, but if you’re looking for something a little darker and spookier, head to Sleepy Hollow, New York.  The Old Dutch Burying Ground is one of the oldest cemeteries in America and the place Washington Irving is buried. Irving wrote “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and you can book a tour of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to try to get a glimpse of the iconic headless horseman.

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is another city that has taken claim to being the most haunted city in America. This is a quaint and historic town that hauls curious visitors around on ghost tours in a hearse. On these tours, you’ll learn about quite a few haunted happenings around town and look at the picturesque city a little differently the next day.

Photo credit: George F via Flickr

Tombstone, Arizona

If the town’s name doesn’t entice you on its own, you’ll be pleased to know that you can visit spooky graveyards as part of one of the country’s best ghost tours. You’ll learn about historic and devastating shootouts and visit the graves of the victims, which may or may not be haunted.

Princeton, New Jersey

Skeptical about all this Halloween hoopla? Then Princeton, New Jersey is your best bet for Halloween this year. The Princeton Tour Company takes skeptics and believers out to historically haunted neighborhoods, cemeteries, and even an old battlefield for ghost hunts equipped with electromagnetic field meters, thermal meters, and dowsing rods.

But no matter where you decide to celebrate this year, have a safe and fun Halloween from all of us at FunSherpa!

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