Weird & Wonderful Portland: Our Favorite Local Experiences

By , August 27, 2015 8:35 am

There’s no excuse for having a boring trip to the Pacific Northwest when Portland is on your itinerary. Epitomized by the television show, Portlandia, this Oregon city is known for its bikes, beer, nature, local quirky shops, and eco-friendly vibe. No matter what time of year you visit, there’s always some type of unique event, show, or exhibition going on around town too.

Whether you live in the area or are visiting for the first time, check out some of our favorite local experiences to acquaint yourself with the city. These FunSherpa experiences also make great birthday gifts!

Waterfall Walking Tour

There are an astounding number of waterfalls in the Portland area, which provide wonderful hiking destinations and photo opportunities. Take a waterfall walking tour around the easily-accessible Horsetail Falls and the more secluded Ponytail Falls. This is an easy route that is about two miles long and gives you a taste of forests and natural beauty of Oregon. This experience lasts about 3-4 hours and runs on Monday mornings.

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Columbia River Gorge Tour

To take your hiking skills to the next level, consider taking a Columbia River Gorge waterfall tour! This national park has several beautiful waterfalls, the most famous being the enormous Multnomah Falls. Your tour begins at the Columbia River Highway National Scenic Byway and also passes by Latourell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Bonneville Dam. This experience runs daily at 9 am and 2 pm.

Portland City Bike Tour 

People in Portland love their bikes, and there really is no better way to see the city than on two wheels. Some of the sights that you’ll see on a Portland city bike tour include Pioneer Square, the rose garden, Washington Park, Twilliger Viewpoints, and maybe even a stop at Voodoo Donuts! This tour lasts about 3.5 hours and really gives you a sense of what the city is all about.

Pub Bike Tour

Portland is into craft beer in a big way, and the city has more breweries per capita than any other city in America! On a pub bike tour, you’ll get to sample some of the city’s best beers while learning about the brewing process and local breweries. The three breweries on this route are near each other and each have something unique to offer. This experience operates year-around and lasts about two hours.

Oregon 3 Day Coastal Tour

But to really experience the great state of Oregon, you’ll need to venture outside the city limits and explore the beautiful Oregon coastline. Our Oregon 3 Day Coastal Tour takes you on a wine tasting, to an aviation museum, outlet shopping, culinary school, and much more. You’ll get to spend time in the quaint coastal cities, like Newport, Lincoln City, and Depot Bay, while soaking up the beautiful ocean scenery.

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Fishing Lessons

Another great way to take advantage of Portland’s coastal location is by taking fishing lessons from a pro. On an 8-hour guided fishing lesson trip, you’ll learn how to set your rod, choose baits and lures, and try different spots in the river to find fish. Your experienced and friendly guide will capture photos of your fishing experience and even gut your catch and bag it for transport home!

History and Beyond: Our Favorite Ways to Experience Philadelphia

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By , August 13, 2015 8:07 am

Philadelphia is known as a place for history buffs, and there are lots of relics and museums to remind us about how democracy was born in America. However, there is much more to this Pennsylvania city and many ways to get to know what it’s all about. These are some of our favorite Philadelphia experiences to try for yourself!

Flavors of Philly Food Tour

Other than history and art, Philadelphia is well-known for its delicious food. Taste what all the hype is about on a Flavors of Philly Food Tour that will show you how to eat like a local.  Over the course of about two-and-a-half hours, the tour will make six stops to sample cheese-steaks, hoagies, soft pretzels, tomato pie, cheese fries, and locally-made cookies. Your guide will fill you in with entertaining stories about these foods and the restaurants that made them so popular in the city. This tour runs between March and November from 1:30 pm to 4 pm.

Photo credit: Wally Gobetz via Flickr

Photo credit: Wally Gobetz via Flickr

9th Street Italian Market

This is one neighborhood that’s definitely worth checking out when you’re in Philly. Here you’ll find eclectic shops, local coffee shops, parks, murals, traditional delis and bakeries, and of course the 9th Street Market. This is the oldest and largest open-air market in America, with lots of Italian food stalls and produce stalls for really reasonable prices. This is a multi-ethnic neighborhood too, so you’ll be able to explore local Mexican and Asian shops in the area too. Tours of the market depart daily and last about two hours.

Basic Keelboat Sailing

Philadelphia is also a great place for sailing, so consider taking a basic keelboat sailing course while you’re in town. This class is designed for true beginners and is mostly taught on the water to help you learn the basics of boat handling. On a small boat in protected waters, you’ll learn points of sail, reading the wind, safety, heavy weather sailing, tacking, jibing, person overboard, and federal requirements. This two-day course operates all throughout the year during good weather conditions. 

Amish Country Tour

Pennsylvania is also known for its Amish community, so if you have a few days in the area, why not experience it for yourself? Amish country tours depart from Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania with Dutchland Tours, Inc., the only certified guide company that has been providing Lancaster Country tours for over 50 years. This operator aims to help tourists see the Amish as friendly neighbors and real people, not an attraction or a curiosity. Local businesses you can visit include Amish quit shops, bake shops, and roadside stands, where you can interact with community members. These tours last about two hours and run between March and October.

Photo credit: Bob Jagendorf via Flickr

Photo credit: Bob Jagendorf via Flickr

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Another great way to experience the Pennsylvania countryside is by taking a hot air balloon ride from Quakertown. An ideal city break for couples, groups of friends, and families, you’ll see the natural beauty of the state and even get to help the crew if you like. Rides are offered year-around in good weather and last about two or three hours.

How to Make the Most of Your Trip to New York City

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By , July 30, 2015 9:32 am

As the largest city in America, and one of the biggest in the world, planning a trip to New York City can definitely be overwhelming. There’s so much to see and do here across five boroughs and a tangled web of subway lines and traffic congestion, which is a challenge if you only have a few days to spend here.

To help you narrow down your options and get the most out of your trip to the Big Apple, here are some of our favorite New York experiences to get a taste of what city is all about. Although you may have some preconceived notions about tour groups, there are lots of quirky and fun tours offered around the city that are anything but lame.

Rock and Punk Tour NYC

New York City’s East Village has been defined by the rock, punk, and glam scene, and you can learn all about its fascinating history on a Rock and Punk Tour NYC. This is a wonderful experience for music lovers who enjoy the stories and music of groups like Led Zeppelin, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, and The Velvet Underground. Expect to spend about two hours on this tour, which starts on East 9th Street and operates all throughout the year.

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Photo credit: Todd Shaffer via Flickr

SoHo/Little Italy/Chinatown Food Tour

New York City is one of the finest places for foodies, and our SoHo/Little Italy/Chinatown Food Tour is great because you get to experience five different food places in three popular NYC neighborhoods! You’ll get to try everything from gourmet pizza to delicious cookies, Italian salami, cannoli, and dumplings. This tour runs between January and October and lasts about 2 hours.

Harlem Soul Food and Jazz Evening Tour

Another recommended tour for foodies is the Harlem Soul Food and Jazz Evening Tour, which stops by jazz clubs, bars, churches, and restaurants that form the Harlem soul scene. This is a perfect place to try local ribs, collard greens, fried fish, and black eyed peas. This is a five-hour tour that operates year around in the evenings.

Small-Group Walking Tour of New York City Architecture

But of course, New York is world-famous for its stunning architecture, and one of the best ways to learn about those towering skyscrapers is by taking a Small-Group Walking Tour of New York City Architecture. You’ll walk along 42nd street with your expert guide during this three-hour tour and gain a new appreciation for what the city is made of.

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New York Art Gallery Tour

New York is also known around the world for its amazing art galleries and art collections, but can be difficult to choose which ones to check out. Our New York Art Gallery Tour is centered on Chelsea, where hundreds of galleries are located and operate both afternoon and evening. Rafael Risemberg, who has a Ph.D. in arts education will be your guide and cover many different forms of art created locally, nationally, and internationally.

Central Park Movie Tour

No trip to New York City is complete without spending some time in Central Park. This iconic park has been the setting for many books, movies, and television shows, and our Central Park Movie Tour focuses on many of your favorite flicks. This tour lasts about two hours and allows you to relive and recreate your favorite scenes from old and new movies, such as Serendipity, Vanilla Sky, and When Harry Met Sally.

There’s Nothing Like Summer in Miami. Beat the Heat with These Water Experiences!

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By , July 16, 2015 9:56 am

Summer in Miami is hot, hot, HOT…and we’re not just talking about the temperature. All throughout the year, Miami is the place to go for beaches and clubs; however, you can find much more to do than just that.

These are some of our favorite ways to beat the Miami heat this summer. Take advantage of the city’s perfect location along the Atlantic Ocean and cool off!

Surfing Lessons

Spending time in Miami without learning to surf should be a crime! Our surfing lessons provide professional instruction and all the equipment you need to feel safe on the board and in the water. This is a great experiential gift to buy for someone who’s always wanted to try surfing, or for yourself to simply try something new. The lessons last about an hour and are beginner-friendly.

Photo credit: Michael Dawes via Flickr

Photo credit: Michael Dawes via Flickr

Learn to Sail

Sailing is a big part of Miami culture, so why not take a lesson to learn a bit about it yourself? We can hook you up with a three-day sailing group course that will teach you all the basics. The first two days will feature classroom instruction and on-the-water practice with certified instructors. Some of the things you’ll learn include rigging, knots, tacking, and jibing. This should prepare you to set sail on your third day. Thanks to Miami’s beautiful weather, this experience is offered year-around.

Windsurfing

Windsurfing is one of those water sports that many beach-goers see and get intimidated by. Our windsurfing courses are perfect for beginners, and the highly-trained instructors will get you trained and confident in just two hours! Beginner lessons for all ages are taught three times per day and are offered year-around.

Miami Flyboard Experience

Another somewhat intimidating water sport that’s definitely worth a try during your time in the city is flyboard. In our Miami Flyboard Experience, you’ll get the thrill of wearing a jet pack for 30 minutes or one hour while soaring through the air above the Biscayne Bay. Lessons are offered every day and allow you to experience Miami in a really unique way.

Parasailing

If you’ve never gone parasailing before, just know that Miami is a great place to experience it. You’ll soar above the ocean, downtown Miami, and South Beach, reaching heights of 600 feet and getting a unique view of the surrounding landscape. Parasailing experiences run between 10 am and 6 pm every day and include a 30-45 minute boat ride to reach the launch site. You’ll have up to 10 minutes of air time for a single ride or up to 15 minutes for a tandem ride.

Photo credit: Chris Goldberg via Flickr

Photo credit: Chris Goldberg via Flickr

Open Water Scuba Diving Certification

Head just south of downtown Miami to beautiful Coral Gables to take our Open Water Scuba Diving Certification and really experience the coastal waters of south Florida. This course sets you up to make four ocean dives over half-day sessions in Key Largo, and all courses are led by PADI master diver trainers. This experience requires a full three-day or four half-day commitment; however, scheduling can be flexible and personalized. Aspiring divers will receive a PADI open water dive certification for a maximum dive depth of 60 feet.

Top Local Experiences around Los Angeles for Summer

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By , July 2, 2015 8:36 am

Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Los Angeles or have been living in L.A. long enough to become jaded, there are a few misconceptions that we frequently encounter about the city. To start, there’s much more to do here than shop on Rodeo Drive and get start-struck along Hollywood Boulevard!

And the city itself is only the beginning to really get to know the vibe of southern California. Nearby areas of Pasadena, Palm Springs, Newport Beach, and many others are definitely worth exploration too. Here are a few of our favorite local experiences around Los Angeles for summer to enjoy the sunshine in unique and inspiring ways.

Farmers Market Tour

Head to Old Pasadena to experience the colorful streets and fun food traditions on a Farmers Market Tour. Some of the tour stops include an authentic Mexican tortas cafe, a rare Nepalese-Tibetan restaurant, an exquisite chocolate shop, and a handmade soap kitchen. West 3rd Street is a wonderful place to spend a day checking out cafes, restaurant bookstores, and tea shops. This tour lasts about 3.5 hours and starts on Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 am and Thursday evenings at 5:30 pm.

Photo credit: k lachshand via Flickr

Photo credit: k lachshand via Flickr

Deep-Sea Fishing Cruise

Newport Beach offers a wonderful full-day Deep-Sea Fishing Cruise that travels into yellowtail and white sea bass territory to try your luck. And even if the fish aren’t biting right away, you’ll enjoy some of the most beautiful natural scenery around L.A. on a peaceful boat ride. Expect to spend about 10 hours on this experience, which sets off on weekends between 6:30 am and 7:00 am.

“Amazing Race” Scavenger Hunt

If you’ve ever watched the TV show, “Amazing Race,” and thought, “Hey, I could do that!” this experience is for you! Our Amazing Race-style Scavenger Hunt is a great way to see the sights of the city with a fun goal to keep you focused, observant, and enjoying a one-of-a-kind visit. It’s a great option for groups of friends, solo travelers, and even L.A. locals who want to experience new things in their city. Scavenger hunts begin on weekends at 11:00 and last about 5 hours.

Santa Ynez Mountain Tour

The nearby area of Santa Barbara has lots to offer for travelers who want a little outdoorsy time in their L.A. vacation. Take a Santa Ynez Mountain Tour to see the rugged backcountry of this beautiful region in a custom Jeep. You’ll get opportunities to hike and amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Ynez Valley, Channel Islands, and Lake Cachuma. The tour lasts about 3 hours and operates year-around.

Clay Shooting Clinic

Who says that southern Californians don’t know how to shoot? Head over to San Fernando for a Clay Shooting Clinic that’s great for all skill levels. Clinics take place in the morning and include up to 250 rounds of ammunition over 4 hours. If you’ve ever been curious to try shooting a gun for the first time, do it the safe way and hire an experienced professional to teach you the basics.

Photo credit: big-ashb via Flickr

Photo credit: big-ashb via Flickr

San Andreas Fault Adventure

Maybe you’ve seen the new movie out in theaters, “San Andreas,” and are now curious to see what the real fault looks like. If so, check out our San Andreas Fault Adventure to learn all about earthquakes and the surrounding desert and native habitats. You can hike around the area, explore a Native American village, or even pan for gold. This experience takes place in Indio, California and lasts about 3 hours.

Top Vegas Adventure Experiences That Don’t Involve Gambling

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By , June 17, 2015 1:10 pm

Las Vegas is known as the gambling capital of the world, but what if poker and blackjack aren’t your style and you’d rather keep a tight grip on your hard-earned cash?

Fortunately, there are tons of exciting things to do in Vegas that have nothing to do with sitting inside a casino. Here are some of our favorite Vegas adventure experiences with special deals from FunSherpa.

Morning Maverick Horseback Ride with Breakfast 

Vegas might not feel like the Wild West when you’re walking down the strip, but Nevada has some amazing canyons that’ll take you back to the cowboy era. In the Morning Maverick Horseback Ride with Breakfast experience, you’ll spend a day on a working ranch after fueling up on a traditional cowboy breakfast and venturing out on a scenic horseback ride. The outing lasts about five hours, and you’re best advised to book your trip at least a couple weeks in advance.

Photo credit: Total due via Flickr

Photo credit: Total due via Flickr

Red Rock Canyon Hummer Adventure

Another great way to explore the Vegas area in the outdoors is on a Red Rock Canyon Hummer Adventure. Climb into a H2 Hummer to go off-roading and explore the desert in a unique and intense way. Your guide will pick you up right at your hotel door to reach the canyon, passing by the Spring Mountains, the village of Blue Diamond, and the Bonnie Springs Ranch. You can sit back and enjoy the three-hour ride as your guide points out desert wildlife and plants that somehow exist in this harsh climate. Book this experience any time of the year between 9 am and 2 pm.

Black Canyon River Rafting

There’s another canyon worth exploring in the Vegas area, and the most fun way to see it is on a Black Canyon River Rafting trip. This is a breathtaking journey that travels down the Colorado River, with views of the Hoover Dam, high rock walls, and lots of wildlife. All rafts have been certified with Coast Guard-approved equipment and a box lunch is provided. This experience lasts about eight hours and operates year around. You might get wet, but that’s just part of the fun!

Nellis Dunes Buggy Tour

The Nellis Dunes area is a unique and mysterious place that’s very accessible from Vegas. Our Nellis Dune Buggy Tour will take you across sand dunes and dry river beds to experience the desert in an exhilarating way. This 3-4 hour tour runs from May through August starting at 7 am and every day throughout the year starting at 9 am.

Photo credit: heather_mcnabb via Flickr

Photo credit: heather_mcnabb via Flickr

Hidden Valley and Primm Extreme Dirt Bike

If you’ve ever watched the X-Games and wondered what it would be like to ride a dirt bike, then this adventure is for you! The Hidden Valley and Primm Extreme Dirt Bike adventure takes you through rugged mountain and desert terrain through the McCullough Mountain Range, by Hidden Valley National Monument, and by Roach Dry Lake. You’ll ride between 20 and 50 miles, depending on the group size and skill levels.

See? There’s much more to the Las Vegas area than just gambling, so channel your spirit for adventure and head for the great outdoors!

Summer in Chi Town: Don’t Miss Out on These Experiences!

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By , June 3, 2015 11:00 am

With brutally cold winters that seem to last a little longer each year, Chicago is a city that lives for its beautiful summer season. So now that summer is here (finally!) why not try something new to soak up the sun and make the most of it?

Chicago Jet Boat Experience

One of the best ways to see Chicago is from the water, so kick back and feel the wind in your hair on a Chicago Jet Boat Experience. This is a half-hour tour that combines an adventurous ride with the beautiful view of Lake Michigan and the sprawling Chicago skyline. The boat leaves from Navy Pier, and the captain will tell you all about the city’s landmarks, architecture, and hot spots. Jet boats run daily between 11 am and 7 pm, May through October.

Photo credit: acuestareig via Flickr

Photo credit: acuestareig via Flickr

Introduction to Kayaking

To get a little more active on the water, take our Introduction to Kayaking class with the experienced guides of Kayak Chicago. This is a beginner-friendly class that’ll teach you everything you need to know about paddling, boat types, proper gear, safety techniques, and rescue strategies. This expereince lasts about four hours and runs on Saturdays and Sundays from June through September.

Sailing 101 Chicago

Another great water activity to try in Chicago is sailing! Our Sailing 101 Chicago class is beginner-friendly, yet challenging and comprehensive. To complete the course, you’ll need to take four sessions, and each lesson last four hours. So this is a great experience for locals living in the city! Sessions run daily between April and September.

Chicago Shopping Tour: Bucktown and Wicker Park

If you’re more in the mood for a little retail therapy, why not let a shopping expert help you focus and guide you through the city’s trendiest shopping district? Our Chicago Shopping Tour: Bucktown and Wicker Park experience will take you to unique boutiques and introduce you to fashion trends and the creations of top designers. You’ll meet your guide and fellow shoppers at a cafe and then head out to receive VIP treatment and the guidance of a personal shopping stylist. The experience lasts about two hours and starts at 1:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Devil’s Lake Day Rock Climb

If you’re willing to venture outside of the city to explore the surrounding area a bit, check out our Devil’s Lake Day Rock Climb experience in southern Wisconsin. This is an ideal climbing destination for beginner climbers, and experienced guides will provide you with all the gear you need. The day begins around 9:00 am and runs until about 4:00 pm. There are more than 2,000 climbing routes here along the picturesque cliffs that overlook Devil’s Lake – perfect for taking a summertime dip after a day of climbing!

Photo credit: stewie811 via Flickr

Photo credit: stewie811 via Flickr

These are a few of the other summer-centric attractions that are must-dos in the city of Chicago:

  • Lollapalooza
  • Cubs game at Wrigley Field
  • Sox game at US Cellular Field
  • North Avenue Beach
  • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Chicago Air & Water Show
  • Navy Pier Fireworks

For a list of Chicago’s exciting 2015 festivals, take a look at TimeOut’s 2015 Summer Festival Guide and browse through FunSherpa’s Chicago experiences to find one that’ll make your summer unforgettable!

Best Memorial Day Celebrations across America

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By , May 20, 2015 10:13 am

Memorial Day is a time to remember brave American soldiers who lost their lives in active military service and renew a sense of national patriotism from coast to coast. And for many people, it’s also a well-deserved day off work and the unofficial start to summer!

Tens of millions of Americans travel during Memorial Day weekend to head to the beach, join a barbecue in the park, or attend a festive celebration with family and friends. So if you’re planning to hit the road this year, these are some of the best Memorial Day celebrations to check out in the U.S.

Washington, D.C.

Perhaps the most obvious choice for a Memorial Day celebration is Washington, D.C., but year after year, the nation’s capital doesn’t disappoint! D.C. has been hosting the huge National Memorial Day Parade since 2005, and there are events to attend at Arlington National Cemetery too. This is also the weekend when the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle rally takes place, and you can catch free concerts near the iconic monuments and in parks around the city.

Photo credit: Elvert Barnes via Flickr

Photo credit: Elvert Barnes via Flickr

St. Louis, Missouri

The Midwest is known for its strong patriotic roots, and St. Louis is a great travel destination for Memorial Day this year. The four-day Assumption Greek Festival takes place over Memorial Day, as well as St. Louis Ribfest, Shakespeare in the Park, the Compton Heights Concert Band Performance, and the Gypsy Caravan flea market.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is another great Midwestern city to spend Memorial Day because street festivals are going strong and it might even be warm enough to lounge on the beach along Lake Michigan! Chicago’s Memorial Day parade steps off at noon and goes down State Street after a wreath laying ceremony at Daley Plaza. You won’t want to miss the Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest that weekend either, which is full of local bands, food, drinks, and street vendors.

Boston, Massachusetts

Memorial Day is a big deal in Boston, a city that’s full of history and American culture at all times of the year. One of the most patriotic places to visit here is the Massachusetts Military Heroes Garden of Flags, a place where thousands of American flags are placed in Boston Common. If you get into town a few days early, try to catch a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park. The team plays home games on May 22, 23, and 24.

Photo credit: mgstanton via Flickr

Photo credit: mgstanton via Flickr

Charleston, South Carolina

For a dose of Southern hospitality with your patriotism, head to Charleston, South Carolina. A group of freed slaves celebrated one of the nation’s first Memorial Day celebrations here in 1865 after the Civil War ended. Charleston is known for its romantic horse-drawn carriages, southern cuisine, and historical attractions. Don’t miss the Spoleto Festival, which goes on a couple weeks and features all kinds of music at Charleston’s best venues.

To find fun things to do in these and lots of other cities around the country, check out FunSherpa’s experience gifts and sort by the city of your choice!

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