Learn to Snorkel or Scuba Dive for an Underwater Adventure

By , April 23, 2014 9:38 am

Now that the temperature is starting to warm up, we turn our attention to the water and the possibility of underwater adventures! Two of the best ways to explore marine life is to give scuba diving or snorkeling a try. Although both are aquatic recreational activities that require a mask, scuba diving requires more equipment, training, and level of comfort in the water.

If you want to go scuba diving, most dive rental and sales shops require proof of diver certification to ensure that you know how to safely use the equipment. On the other hand, snorkeling requires little official training, since this activity involves swimming only to shallow reefs 3-12 feet below sea level. At FunSherpa, we have a variety of snorkel adventures and scuba dive lessons to introduce you to the activities and help you brush up your skills. These are a few of our favorite places to explore underwater.

Snorkeling Adventures

Key West, Florida

Our first snorkeling adventure begins in Miami, travels to Key Largo, and then lands in Key West to snorkel above live coral reef. You’ll snorkel on the north side of the island aboard a 30-foot catamaran. This is where you’ll receive professional snorkeling instruction, gear, and free soda, beer, and wine. This full-day tour operates throughout the year and includes 3.5 hours of snorkeling.

Photo credit: NOAA’s National Ocean Service via Flickr

Homestead, Florida

Play in Florida’s crystal clear waters near Homestead, Florida as you embark upon a snorkeling adventure inside the barrier islands of Elliott Key. You’ll see plenty of tropical fish, small coral, and marine species as you learn about underwater life and aquatic ecosystems. This tour operates throughout the year as well.

Alpharetta, Georgia

To get a taste of what snorkeling is all about before trying it in the open water, head over to snorkeling class in Alpharetta, Georgia. This is a great way to learn the basics of snorkeling if you’re a little weary of water. Classes are generally held between May and August and last about an hour. You’ll be under the supervision of a trained snorkeling professional and trying it out in a comfortable pool.

Scuba Diving Lessons

Unlike snorkeling, it’s not safe to simply hop into the water and give scuba diving a try. Fortunately, there are experienced scuba professionals that can show you the ropes and teach you how to dive without supervision. For example, we can set you up with Scuba Diving Certification and Scuba Diving Refresher classes in the Chicagoland area. You’ll learn the basics in a safe, comfortable 86°F heated in-store pool and then move on to open water training dives.

Photo credit: SLU Madrid Campus via Flickr

Scuba diving certification requires four open water dives, a 200-yard swim, a 10-minute float, and passing a quiz to test your safety and equipment knowledge. If it’s been several months or longer since your last dive, it’s a good idea to refresh your skills before traveling somewhere new to dive on vacation. What an exciting way to get ready for summer and develop new skills that you can enjoy in the world’s beautiful aquatic destinations!

Where to Experience the Thrill of Extreme Zip Lining

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By , April 8, 2014 10:54 am

There are few experiences that offer you a completely unique perspective on the world, and zip lining is one of them! Many people associate zip lining with exotic and tropical locations, you can likely fuel your adrenaline rush and soar through the air even closer to home. At FunSherpa, we offer zip lining packages for all experience levels and in a variety of locations.

Some zip line trips involve quick, high speed thrill rides, while other canopy tours offer several hours of scenic soaring through the treetops. Check out some of these awesome locations that are perfect for zip lining!

Zip Line in Vegas 

Maybe you’ve seen Vegas plenty of times before, but have you seen it atop a mountain with an eagle eye’s view? You can experience the thrill of defying gravity as you soak up the beauty of the Bootleg Canyon, near the base of Red Mountain. This area is best known for cycling and hiking, but it’s just as amazing to experience from the skies. This zip line excursion lasts approximately four hours.

Photo credit: PilotGirl via Flickr

Zip Line in the Adirondacks 

Experience New York and the Adirondack Mountains in a whole new way by zip lining through them! The Adirondack Extremes Obstacle Course is an intense version of zip lining, and it’s the largest aerial obstacle course in the United States. You’ll receive 30 minutes of training and safety instruction before swinging on ropes, navigating bridges, and soaring across zip lines. This experience lasts two or three hours and operates between April and November.

Zip Line over the North Oconee River

See some of the most beautiful parts of Georgia on an Adventure Tour, which includes twelve zip lines across over a mile of cable. This tour zips over the North Oconee River, three ponds, and includes a rappel. Spoiler alert: the thrilling finale includes a 695-foot dual zip across the Hilltop Pond. You’ll receive professional training in safety and braking, and the eco-trained guides will tell you about the wildlife and forest along the way. This tour generally lasts about three hours.

Zip Line through the Northern Berkshires

Enjoy stunning views of the northern Berkshires as you fly through the trees on a ridge top canopy tour. You’ll begin 600-feet above base camp and zip through forest zones and hillside pines. This tour departs from Charlemont, Massachusetts, lasts about three hours, and operates between April and November.

Photo credit: Ayaita via WikiMedia Commons

If you’ve never gone zip lining before, the speed, height, and intensity can certainly be intimidating. Here are a few tips to keep you safe and comfortable on your zip lining adventure:

  • Wear closed toed shoes and long pants
  • Bring your camera, but only if you can secure it to your body
  • Pull long hair back into a hat or ponytail
  • Make sure everyone in your group is within the height, weight, and age requirements
  • Choose gloves that fit your hands well
  • Make sure your guide checks your harness, rope, and helmet setup
  • Listen to your guide and ask lots of questions until you feel comfortable
  • Relax and enjoy the scenery!

Spa Services That Make Vertasile Surprise Gifts

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By , March 26, 2014 3:19 pm

If you’re like most busy people, you don’t take nearly enough time out to pamper yourself. Although many people see the value of spa services, such as massages, skin treatments, and acupuncture, they don’t take the time to invest in their own personal wellness. This is one of the very best reasons that spa services make excellent surprise gifts for your family and friends!

At FunSherpa, we can set you up with relaxing and rejuvenating gifts for your spouse, friends, parents, in-laws, boss, neighbors, or even for yourself. Spa gift surprises are also perfect for the person you know who is hard to shop for or seems to have everything. These are a few of the many spa services that we’re excited about this spring.

Aromatherapy Massage

Don’t settle for just any old massage! Aromatherapy massages combine the healing powers of aromatherapy with traditional Swedish massage. You can choose which essential oils you’d like for your massage, which will be blended for your individual health needs. Lie back, relax, and tap into your underutilized sense of smell.

Photo credit: Krystal Timeshares Mexico via Flickr

Flotation Tank Relaxation

Defy gravity and relax the muscles in your body inside a custom-designed flotation tank! A two-hour session in a flotation tank is said to be the equivalent of eight hours of deep sleep. You will experience an intensified level of consciousness in your mind and body as you float in a 8-foot by 4-foot by 4-foot enclosed tank, which eliminates outside light and sound. The tank holds 10 inches of water, heated to approximately 93.5F, and dissolved Epsom Salts, allowing the human body to effortlessly float.

Acupuncture Body Treatments

Acupuncture treatments can provide relief for everything from pain, digestive disorders, weight loss, stress, anxiety, jet lag, smoking cessation, and detoxification. You can experience the healing therapies of traditional Chinese medicine for yourself with professionals in a safe, sterile environment.

Express Facial

Whether you’re pressed for time or just prefer to make your spa trips as efficient as possible, there are express facial options that refresh and renew your skin in no time at all. Express facials typically include thorough cleansing, exfoliation, a mask, and moisturizing.

Photo credit: The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa via Flickr

Thermal Wrap

Pamper yourself with warm linens drenched in soothing geranium oil as you relax with a premium massage. Thermal wrap treatments are known to soothe aching muscles and calmly ease your stresses away. Many people choose to undergo this treatment prior to receiving a full massage or facial because it relieves daily stresses in a comfortable and luxurious way.

Best Cities To Go Kayaking in the United States

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By , March 12, 2014 1:23 pm

Unlike many outdoor activities, kayaking is what you make of it. Kayaking can be a relaxing way to unwind or an adrenaline rush to fuel your need for speed. But no matter your paddling style or your pace, it’s a great workout for people of all ages and skill levels.

Depending on the type of kayak you have and how much experience you have, you can kayak in the sea, in the ocean, in lakes and on rivers. If you’ve never tried the sport before or would like to brush up on your skills, there are plenty of kayak classes and lessons to boost your paddling confidence. At FunSherpa, we also offer exciting kayak tours to get you acquainted with your favorite cities in a truly unique way. These are some of our favorite places to kayak in the United States.

Photo credit: acuestareig via Flickr

Kayak in Boston, Massachusetts

Tap into Boston’s scenic side as you kayak along the Charles River. You can launch your kayak from Allston/Brighton or from Cambridge. You’ll float by the campuses of Harvard and Boston University along the way, and you can take a rest stop near the B.U. Bridge at Magazine Beach. You’ll also enjoy views of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Hancock building, and local parks along the river.

Kayak in Chicago, Illinois

Whether you’re visiting Chicago for the first time or lived here all your life, consider taking an architectural history tour to learn more about the massive skyscrapers that dominate the city’s skyline. One of the best places to take such a tour is in a kayak on the Chicago River or along Lake Michigan. We’ll set you up with Kayak Chicago, which offers architectural history tours that run from North Avenue to the Loop, Fireworks kayak tours that run to Navy Pier, and Lake kayak tours that paddle along the beach.

Kayak in Portland, Oregon

Both first time kayakers and experienced paddlers can enjoy seeing Portland from a new perspective with a guided tour around Ross Island. Along this paddle route, you may have the chance to see bald eagles in the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. This particular tour operates year around from 10am to 2pm and lasts between two and three hours.

Photo credit: Lotus Carroll via Flickr

Kayak in Miami, Florida

Experience Miami’s outdoorsy side by taking one of our Biscayne Bay kayak tours. These tours last for a relaxing couple hours and meander their way through the blue waters to Biscayne Bay. You’ll see Oleta’s mangroves with your experienced guide who can accommodate both beginner and intermediate paddlers.

Kayak in Austin, Texas

Lady Bird Lake is the perfect place to kayak in Austin, with plenty of ducks, egrets, and joggers to wave at along the way. This lake is an extension of the Colorado River, and it provides excellent skyline views of the city. Many kayakers choose to paddle the route from Zilker Metropolitan Park to see thousands of bats fly above the Congress Avenue Bridge.

Discover What Rock Climbing Is All About With a Beginner Course!

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By , February 26, 2014 12:42 pm

Rock climbing is one of the most extreme sports on the planet, yet it’s surprisingly beginner-friendly. It’s a fun sport and exciting hobby that challenges both your physical and mental abilities each time you try it. Climbing on a regular basis is also known to sculpt lean muscle, improve coordination, support cardiovascular functioning, and boost mental health.

Getting started can be intimidating for beginners, so the best way to learn is by taking an introductory class to learn the basics and build your confidence. At FunSherpa, we offer both indoor and outdoor classes to introduce you to the sport and teach you everything you need to be safe while climbing. Most beginner classes cost between $50 and $90 and include all the gear and guidance you need to get started. Whether you prefer to learn on an outdoor excursion or in an indoor climbing gym, rock climbing is a year-around sport that’s more accessible than you may think.

Photo credit: Kim Traynor via WikiMedia Commons

Indoor Climbing Gym Classes

The most common place to try climbing for the first time is your local climbing gym. Indoor rock climbing classes are great for first time beginners who feel safer in a controlled environment, intermediate climbers wanting to take their skills to the next level, and advanced climbers preparing for an extreme excursion or competition. You’ll learn the difference between top-rope climbing, lead climbing, and auto-belay climbing, and have the opportunity to try routes that match your current and desired skill level. Many climbing gyms also feature bouldering walls, which help you master hand and foot techniques low to the ground without a rope or harness.

Outdoor Climbing Clinics

Although many climbers get their start in the gym, there’s no reason why beginners can’t head to the great outdoors to experience real rock for themselves. Many outdoor climbing clinics involve comprehensive half or full-day instruction and are designed with true newbies in mind. A clinic typically begins with a short gear and safety lesson to get climbers comfortable with the equipment. Then you’ll learn how to tie rock climbing knots, climbing commands, the climbing rating system, and top-roping techniques. Experience the beauty of nature while challenging yourself and enjoying a whole new perspective.

Private Climbing Instruction

If you’re nervous about trying to climb for the first time, perhaps private climbing instruction is a good option to consider. Private lessons are catered to your specific skill, experience, and comfort level to set you on a track for success. They typically last one or two hours and can focus on top-rope routes, lead climbing skills, bouldering techniques, and climbing moves that work best for your body type and strength level.

Photo credit: Chris via WikiMedia Commons

Since rock climbing is potentially dangerous, the safest and most effective build your skill is by enlisting an experienced professional until you understand the basics. Aside from the obvious physical benefits, climbing can help you overcome your fears, take one step at a time, and bond with like-minded adventurers along the way.

How to Discover Craft Beer and Local Breweries

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By , February 12, 2014 12:28 pm

There’s nothing wrong with sticking to your tried and true, go-to beer. But with the number of craft breweries popping up these days, why not branch out and sip something a little different? Many local breweries offer informational tours, beer samples, and tasting rooms to purchase a pint of your new favorites.

At FunSherpa, we’d like to introduce you to the wonderful world of craft beer, and we have a variety of experiences to tempt your taste buds. These are some of our most popular craft beer offerings to choose from!

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Beer School 101

Want to expand your beer knowledge beyond telling the difference between Bud Light and Miller Light? Beer School 101 classes give you a crash course in beer basics so you feel more comfortable ordering from craft beer menus. Learn about the ingredients, brewing processes, and taste differences between stouts, IPAs, Belgian beers, ciders, porters, pilsners, and more!

Beer and Food Tastings

Beer and food go hand-in-hand, so why not learn a little something about beer and food pairing? This craft beer and artisanal cheese tasting in Philadelphia, for example, will introduce you to eight distinct craft beers paired with delicious specialties from a local cheese shop. Craft beer can be paired with a variety of foods, making this experience perfect for birthdays, anniversaries, date nights, and entertaining out-of-town guests.

Brewery Tours

Learn more about the brewing process and fully appreciate all the hard work that goes into quality craft beer by taking a brewery tour.  Beer brewing has become a treasured art form in many areas of the world, and tours give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how it’s brewed to perfection. Brewery tours vary by location, but most allow you walk through the production areas, ask questions about the process, and sample the brews.

Homebrew Classes

Homebrewing has become more popular than ever before! If you’re interested creating your own delicious brews in the comfort of your home, sign up for a homebrew class to learn the basics. Some classes operate as DIY breweries, where you can utilize professional steam kettles, temperature-controlled fermentation rooms, and automatic bottle fillers. Other classes teach you the fundamentals of buying, processing, and fermenting small amounts of homemade beer in your own home.

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

This is the perfect time of year to kick back and relax with a delicious new beer that you discovered and can tell your friends all about. Some cities even offer craft beer crawls to let you sample beers from a variety of local brewers in the area. To learn more about craft breweries near you or somewhere that you’re traveling, check out the brewery finder at the Brewers Association or CraftBeer.com.

Creative and Romantic Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

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By , January 30, 2014 12:02 pm

Whether you love getting in the romantic spirit or despite the “Hallmark holiday”, February 14th is just around the corner. There’s nothing wrong with giving flowers, chocolate, or jewelry to your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day. But why not give the gift of an experience that you can do together to bring you closer together?

Photo credit: donjd2 via Flickr

At FunSherpa, we have a variety of romantic gifts that are perfect for Valentine’s Day, or any time of year to show your loved one that you care. These are a few of the creatively romantic Valentine’s Day gift ideas that we’re most excited about this year:

Relaxing and Romantic Boat Cruises

What better way to kick back and relax with the one you love than from the comfort of a luxury boat with crashing waves setting the mood for romance? Kick Valentine’s Day off right with a morning skyline cruise to feel the fresh morning breeze on your skin and marvel at the beauty of the skyline and a colorful sunrise. If your sweetheart isn’t a morning person, try an afternoon delight cruise to watch fishermen reel in their catches and let the tranquil water relieve your daily stresses.

Food and Wine Tastings

Treat your sweetheart’s palate to the luxurious and gourmet with a food and wine tasting. Purchase a wine tasting and food pairing experiential gift and learn about chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinor noir,cabernet sauvignon, and other fine wines. These fun and informative tasting sessions pair wines with cheese, beets, fruits, chocolates, and other delicious foods that complement the flavors of wine. To add a little culture and exercise to your tasting experience, try a food and cultural walking tour. You and your better half can eat your way through the city’s most celebrated culinary landmarks and go behind the scenes to sample some of the city’s lesser-known cuisine.

Horseback Riding Lessons

If your valentine loves to try new activities, consider taking a horseback riding lesson together. Horseback riding has a certain old world charm to it that brings you back to a simpler time and place. Escape the hectic hustle of city life and feel the serenity of a well-groomed trail and nature at its finest. If this is your first time riding a horse, you’ll probably want to sign up for a guided lesson to ensure the safety of you and your horse.

Horse riding on Broad Sands

Photo credit: Walter Baxter via Geograph

The best gifts are those that inspire you to be the best version of yourself. Don’t settle for generic, tried-and-true gifts this Valentine’s Day. Carriage rides, kayak tours, chocolate tastings, and dance lessons are also great ideas for any occasion. Give the gift of experience and build memories with your loved one that will last a lifetime.

Unleash Your Inner Circus Performer with Aerial Arts Classes

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By , January 14, 2014 4:05 pm

Have you ever attended a circus or theatrical performance and marveled at the impressive aerial and gymnastic abilities on stage? These performers don’t have magical powers, they’ve just put a lot of time, effort, and dedication into their craft. And with just a fraction of that commitment, you too can try aerial arts like trapeze, trampoline, and Chinese acrobatics.

At FunSherpa, we’re dedicated to exposing you to exciting activities that you may have otherwise never considered trying. Our beginner’s classes encourage you to open your mind, challenge your body, and test your confidence in a safe, controlled setting. So before the winter blues start getting you down and the twinges of boredom become unsettling, consider trying out one of these enticing aerial arts classes.

Photo credit: Abby Norling-Ruggles via WikiMedia Commons

Photo credit: Abby Norling-Ruggles via WikiMedia Commons

Flying Trapeze Class

Flying trapeze classes are designed for all skill levels, including beginners and first timers. At the beginning of class, expect a short warm-up, stretching, and a briefing about the tricks and skills you’ll soon be learning. Students are then provided with demonstrations about proper take-off, swing, body positions. As you gain skill and confidence, you’ll have the opportunity to try catching, being caught, and falling safely into the net.

Trampoline Class

There is much more to trampoline than simply jumping up and down. Trampoline classes teach students the fundamentals of body awareness and training for somersaults, twists, and flips. The best part about taking a trampoline class is that the skills learned are directly applicable to other gymnastic and aerial exercises. And all throughout the class, you’ll be strengthening your core and working underused muscles that often get neglected in traditional workouts.

Chinese Acrobatics Class

Chinese acrobatics focus on skills like tumbling, chair balancing, teeter-board, contortion, hoop diving, and the Chinese pole. In a beginner class, instructors will spend time teaching you how to do handstands, balance skills, and tumbling. Many tumbling exercises are performed in pairs, so you’ll learn how to synchronize movements with other tumblers too. After the class, you’ll have a more dynamic relationship with props, the ground, other performers, and your own bodily awareness.

Photo credit: Ludraman via WikiMedia Commons

Photo credit: Ludraman via WikiMedia Commons

Whether you’re interested in picking up a new hobby or just crave a unique physical challenge, these types of classes are proven to improve strength, conditioning, and flexibility. Aerial arts classes also make great gifts for people who have seemingly seen and done it all. Step out of your comfort zone and to the top of an aerial platform to gain perspective the unique, exciting, and adventurous side of life.

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