Take to the Open Sea on a Sailing Adventure!

By , July 16, 2014 11:58 am

Have you ever sat along the beach, stared out at the majestic sailboats in the water, and wondered, “Hey, could I do that?”

Sailing courses are more accessible than you might expect, and there are lots of beginner lessons to help you learn the basics. Throughout the course of human history, sailing has helped develop civilizations, improve global mobility, and facilitate trade and fishing operations. Modern sailing is often a recreational pursuit, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less regulated or technical.

Photo credit: Lee Cannon via Flickr

Photo credit: Lee Cannon via Flickr

If you’re interested in learning what sailing is all about but not ready to commit a lot of time and money to it just yet, consider taking one of our sailing lessons in your area. These sailing adventure courses are a great way to safely learn about sailing while enjoying a beautiful day on the water.

Sailing Lessons in Portland

We can set you up with a sailing lesson with the All Portland Sailing Center to learn basic maneuvering, sail handling, boat management, terminology, and Columbia River-specific skills. Hop on board a 22-to-26-foot ballasted keelboat to learn from a Coast Guard-licensed Master. There are generally four students per lesson, and classes meet six times so you’ll get to experience a variety of wind conditions.

Sailing Classes near D.C.

Learn to sail on the Chesapeake Bay with the Sailing Academy, which is the closest sailing school to the Washington, D.C. Beltway. Located in Tracy’s Landing, Maryland, these classes are designed with the true beginner in mind. Don’t worry if you’ve never stepped onto a sailboat before, because these instructors want to give you a taste of sailing before you sign up for a full course. Sailing trips operate year-around and generally last 2.5 hours.

Keelboat Sailing in Philadelphia

To learn the fundamentals of boat handling and sailing, our Philadelphia sailing class covers points of sail, reading the wind, safety, heavy weather sailing, tacking, jibing, person overboard, and federal requirements. Most of this two-day class is taught on the water to give you the most experience for your time.

Photo credit: Charlie Day via Flickr

Photo credit: Charlie Day via Flickr

Sailing 101 in Chicago

Just because Chicago isn’t on the coast doesn’t mean that sailing isn’t a popular pastime here too! Basic Sailing 101 is a comprehensive and challenging course that is held on the water to get you experienced and confident after just a few sessions. These classes take place daily between April and September and consist of four separate 4-hour sessions.

Learn to Sail in Boston

Soak in the natural beauty of the Boston Harbor during a 2-hour sailing course designed for beginners. This course is designed for novice sailors who aren’t yet sure if they’re ready for a bigger commitment. Therefore, the cost of this class can be fully applied towards a full sailing course. Intro classes take place between April and October.

Sailing is a lifelong hobby that takes a certain amount of commitment, dedication, and practice. Why not take an intro class to see if it’s for you?

Where to Find the Top 4th of July Celebrations in America

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By , July 3, 2014 12:17 pm

The 4th of July is always an exciting time in America, with plenty of parades, barbecues, and fireworks displays to celebrate summer in style. Perhaps you’re partying in your hometown this year or traveling to a new city to see how Independence Day is celebrated somewhere else. At FunSherpa, we can set you up with lots of exciting summer activities to check out before and after your holiday celebrations. It’s a three-day weekend after all, so why not take full advantage of a little time off of work and school?

Photo credit: Steve Wall via Flickr

Photo credit: Steve Wall via Flickr

These are some of the best places to celebrate the 4th of July in America:

Washington DC’s National Mall

There’s just something truly special about spending Independence Day in our nation’s capital. Head to the National Mall on the 4th for a massive fireworks display. The sky lights up at about 9:10 pm and stays that way for about 20 minutes. It’ll be insanely crowded, so get there early to get a good seat. For a different view, you can watch the fireworks from the Capitol building, the National Cathedral, and further out in the West and East Potomac Parks.

Boston Pops Firework Spectacular

Boston’s annual fireworks celebration draws around 800,000 people each year. This year, the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular will be streamed live on the event website and CBS Boston. To avoid some of the crowd congestion, you can head to the Cambridge side of the river to watch the display or take a boat or canoe ride along the Charles River.

New York’s Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks

Not surprisingly, one of the best 4th of July celebrations in the country takes place in New York City. The fireworks display takes place over the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge. There are no admission fees to attend the event, but locals tend to arrive several hours early for the 9 pm fireworks show.

Philadelphia’s  Wawa Welcome America Fourth of July Jam Concert

Philadelphia’s 4th of July celebration is one of the largest in the nation. Although the fireworks display only lasts about 15 minutes, the festival that takes place all day makes it worth the trip. The huge outdoor concert is always a popular way for music-lovers to celebrate the holiday and relax in good company.

Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park

Centennial Olympic Park is the place to be for a great concert and fireworks show in Atlanta. This year, Taylor Hicks is headlining the music show. If you don’t feel like fighting the crowds, you can also see displays at Lenox Square Mall in Buckhead or check out the Decatur 4th Celebration.

Houston’s Freedom over Texas

Country music fans will want to spend the 4th in Houston because Jennifer Nettles, Chip Esten, and Clare Bowen will be performing. Tickets to the event cost $8, and the concert is followed by a Texas-size fireworks display.

Chicago’s Navy Pier Independence Day

You can get a great view of Chicago’s fireworks anywhere along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, but most of the action takes place at Navy Pier. One of the most elegant ways to see the display is by hopping on board a cruise or chartered boat around the lake during the display. You can also find lots of rooftop parties in the area to keep the party going.

Pasadena’s Americafest at the Rose Bowl

Although many of the largest 4th of July celebrations take place on the east coast, the west coast knows how to throw a party too! If you’re planning to be in California over the holiday, head to Pasadena for a fun all-day festival with music, family events, and even a motorcycle stunt show. There is an admission fee to attend the event, and the fireworks finale kicks off about 9 pm.

Photo credit: Nathan Rupert via Flickr

Photo credit: Nathan Rupert via Flickr

And there’s still plenty of time for fun and exploration after the last firework has fizzled out. If you’re looking for exciting ways to spend the rest of your 4th of July weekend, check out some of the great summertime adventures that we can hook you up with!

Get a New Perspective on Your City with a Helicopter Tour!

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By , June 19, 2014 12:23 pm

It’s easy to get bored with your hometown after you’ve been there long enough. But sometimes all we need is a little change of perspective to help you remember why you settled there in the first place. At FunSherpa, we can set you up with a helicopter ride and tour in your city or in a new place that you want to explore for the first time. These are a few of the exciting helicopter rides that offer stunning views and lots of photo opportunities.

See the Chicago Skyline Above the Skyscrapers

Rise high above the skyscrapers to see amazing views of Chicago’s architecture from a helicopter. You’ll be guided by Chicago’s premier air tour company and see top sights like the John Hancock Building, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, and the Chicago River. You’ll also get a unique perspective on the city’s diverse neighborhoods as you venture out from downtown.

Photo credit: mrwilleeumm via Flickr

Photo credit: Neo_II via Flickr

Marvel at the New York City Lights from the Night Sky

There truly is no city skyline like the New York City skyline. Experience its glory from high in the air and after the sun has set. This tour will give you amazing aerial views of the Manhattan skyscrapers, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, Yankee Stadium, and much more. Tours depart from Westchester County Airport and last about 30 minutes.

View the Mansions and Coastline of Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island has an incredible coastline and you can see it all from the air in a helicopter ride. On this tour that flies over Ocean Drive, you’ll also see fabulous mansion retreats belonging to the rich and famous. The tour lasts about 20 minutes and includes picture-perfect views of island lighthouses and the majestic Castle Hill.

Photo credit: mrwilleeumm via Flickr

Photo credit: mrwilleeumm via Flickr

Explore the Grand Canyon from a Helicopter

When it comes to helicopter rides, there really are few more scenic rides in the world than the Grand Canyon. Our Grand Canyon All American Helicopter Tour leaves from Las Vegas and flies 45 minutes each way to reach the canyon. The helicopter will fly over the gorgeous West Rim, passing over Lake Mead, Lake Las Vegas, and the Hoover Dam. You can listen to a recorded commentary about what you’re seeing and enjoy a delicious champagne picnic when you land deep inside the Grand Canyon.

Stop for Lunch in Sausalito from a Helicopter

Relax from the comfort of an unforgettable helicopter tour as you see the scenic landscape of the beautiful Sausalito region in Northern California. This is an excellent day tour trip from San Francisco because it includes lunch in Sausalito and a ferry ride back to San Francisco at the end of the trip. The helicopter ride each way is about 20 minutes, and you’re welcome to explore Sausalito’s boutique shops and art galleries after lunch.

Check Out the Hollywood Strip from Above

Nearly everyone who visits Los Angeles has seen the famous Hollywood sign, but few have seen it up close and from the air. Take a 20-minute Hollywood helicopter tour and you’ll be traveling in style, with a stocked minibar and plenty of snacks. On this tour, you’ll get a new perspective of the Los Angeles skyscrapers, the Hollywood Strip, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame, and all the new developments around the city. So pick your feet up off the ground and get your head in the clouds!

Sip, Learn, and Explore on a Summer Wine Tasting or Tour

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By , June 4, 2014 4:47 pm

Whether you’re a wine aficionado or can barely tell the difference between red and white, a wine tasting or tour has a little something for everyone. At FunSherpa, we can set you up with Wine 101 classes to get to know the basics before you visit wineries in your area.

With so many successful local wineries popping up around the country, you no longer have to travel to Napa Valley to experience delicious wines.These are a few ways that you can boost your wine knowledge and explore local vineyards this summer.

Photo credit:  LexnGer via Flickr

Photo credit: LexnGer via Flickr

Wine 101

If you’re utterly clueless about wine, why not start off with the basics? Wine 101 classes teach you how to properly taste wine and how to describe what you like. Our Wine 101 classes take place in a variety of cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, and Arlington.

Wine Tastings

Wine tastings come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges, but they’re also great excuses to brush up your wine education. You’ll walk away feeling more confident about wines to pick out on a menu and purchase for your home.

Food and Wine Pairings

Wine and food go hand in hand, so after you’ve mastered the basics, consider taking a food and wine pairings course to refine your skills. In these courses, renowned chefs will prepare menu items to pair with the evening’s wine selection and discuss why these foods pair well. You’ll learn about which foods go best with specific characteristics of wines and how taste is influenced by the wine’s region.

Wine Tasting Tours

What better way to explore a new area than by sampling local wines along the way? Our Oregon Wine Tasting Tour, for example, takes you through some of the state’s most beautiful hillside vineyards in the Willamette Valley, which are best known for delicious Pinot Noirs. This particular tour runs on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

Also in the Portland area, wine tasting tours of the Columbia River Gorge typically feature three select wineries and operate daily by advance reservation. If you’re on the East Coast, join us for a Wine Tasting and Walking Tour of Boston’s historic neighborhoods to sip wine and sample food at award-winning restaurants.

Photo credit: Context Travel via Flickr

Photo credit: Context Travel via Flickr

Quick Tips for Visiting Wineries

  • Hire a guide company or designate a driver to be safe
  • Plan to visit wineries early in the day, before they get too crowded
  • Take a tour of some vineyards to learn more about the wine-making process
  • Try unfamiliar wines and regional specialties with an open mind
  • Ask the staff questions about where the grapes are grown and what foods pair well with wines you enjoy
  • Ask wineries about shipping bottles to you so your purchases don’t get ruined in the hot car

Get On the Water with a Surfing, Windsurfing, or Kiteboarding Lesson

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By , May 21, 2014 10:12 am

Now that Memorial Day is just around the corner, it’s officially time to celebrate summer! Water sports are some of the best ways to take advantage of the warm sunshine, get some exercise, and learn a new hobby. Even if you’ve a little water-shy, you can take a surfing, windsurfing, or kiteboarding lesson designed for beginners.

At FunSherpa, we offer a variety of water sport lessons on the East Coast, the West Coast, and on lots of lakes in between. Don’t wait any longer to experience the excitement of riding waves!

Photo credit: Siim Teller via Flickr

Photo credit: Siim Teller via Flickr

Surfing Lessons

One of the best places to take a beginner surfing lesson is the Bay Area. Located in Pacificia and Santa Cruz, California, these beginner clinics run for three hours and two days are recommended to learn. You’ll learn about ocean conditions, wave breaks, wave safety, water etiquette, paddling techniques, push-up techniques, and balancing. Designed with true beginners in mind, these clinics begin in shallow areas before venturing further out in the water.

Windsurfing Lessons

Windsurfing is a sport that combines the most exciting aspects of surfing and sailing. You’ll ride a board that is powered by wind on a sail, and all ages and skill levels can give it a try. We can set you up with an awesome windsurfing beginner lesson in Miami, in which the instructors guarantee that you’ll learn how to windsurf in two hours. Beginner lessons are taught three times daily and include everything you need to get started.

Kiteboarding Lessons

Kiteboarding is a water sport that combines aspects of surfing and windsurfing, as well as wakeboarding, paragliding, and gymnastics. You’ll harness the power of the wind to control a large kite across the water on a small board. Some of the popular styles of kiteboarding are  freestyle, freeride, downwinders, speed, course racing, wakestyle, jumping, and wave-riding. You don’t have to live along the ocean to kiteboard either. We offer a Kiteboarding 101 class in South Haven, Michigan, which is just a short drive from Chicago. Lessons are offered between April and October and include classroom instruction, trainer testing, equipment instruction, rescue and launching techniques, and riding.

Photo credit: TexasEagle via Flickr

Photo credit: TexasEagle via Flickr

But no matter which extreme water sport you decide to try, there are a few general rules that you should follow to be safe out on the water.

Water Sport Tips

  • Check the temperature to decide if you want to a full wetsuit or just board shorts and a quick-dry shirt
  • Wear 40 SPF sunscreen or higher
  • Wear a leash or ankle strap to prevent your board from being swept out to sea
  • Make sure that your instructor sets you up with a board that fits your size
  • Never do water sports alone, and always bring a buddy
  • Check out a map of the area before your lesson to understand the beach’s geography in case you venture too far out and get lost
  • Check surf reports and surf forecasts in advance to understand the tides and conditions

It’s Never Too Late to Get Into Yoga and Pilates

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By , May 6, 2014 1:44 pm

When some people think of yoga, they visualize images of contortionist gurus shrouded in incense and chanting “Om”. Others see yoga as those easy stretches that women do because they’re too frail for a “real workout.” Did you know that the practice of yoga was originally designed by men, for men, and practiced only by men? Regardless who you are or what your fitness level is, yoga has undeniable health benefits that you can still take advantage of.

Although yoga and Pilates have fundamental differences, they can both tone your body, sculpt your abdominal muscles, increase your flexibility, adjust your natural alignment, and help you focus on the present moment. Unlike yoga workouts, Pilates movements are most often performed lying down to engage the core muscles, lengthen the spine, and strengthen your powerhouse.

Photo credit: Synergy by Jasmine via Flickr

At FunSherpa, we offer a variety of yoga and Pilates classes to match all levels of experience, fitness goals, and personalities. These are some of the yoga experiences and Pilates experiences that you can try for yourself or give as a gift to someone you care about!

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga is categorized by a series of Hatha yoga postures and breathing exercises performed in a heated room. This popular yoga discipline is designed to stretch and strengthen your muscles, ligaments, and tendons while restoring each bodily system to healthy working order. Bikram classes, which often last for 90 minutes, promote natural detoxification and increased flexibility.

Intro to Mysore Style and Ashtanga Yoga

Mysore style yoga differs from other yoga practices because classes are not led as a whole, but instead feature one-on-one instruction within a group setting. In this style, you can practice the Ashtanga sequence at your own pace while the instructor offers verbal assistance and physical adjustments. As you gain strength and flexibility in your practice, you can engage in extended yoga sessions to deepen your understanding and challenge your body.

Yoga Hike

One of the best parts of yoga is that you can essentially do it anywhere! Take a yoga hike along a scenic river, mountain, or lake to clear your mind and prepare your body for a series of peaceful poses. Our Seattle yoga hike experience gift, for example, includes a moderate 5-mile hike, healthy trail snacks, and a guided yoga session.

Photo credit: Herald Post via Flickr

Power Pilates

The strength of your abdominal core affects your overall athletic ability and general wellness. Build your core strength with Power Pilates classes that challenge every muscle in your body and get your abs ready for the summer swimsuit season.

Mat Pilates

The majority of Pilates moves are performed on a mat, and Mat Pilates classes can help you get more comfortable with typical exercises that are used. These routines focus on proper posture, breath control, core strength, spine stabilization, and tension/relaxation balance.

Both yoga and Pilates are essential additions to any fitness routine and beneficial to any lifestyle. A recent study published in The American Journal of Public Health concluded that yoga fights stiffness, hardening of the arteries, hormonal fluctuation, depression, and loss of bone density even after age 60. So grab a couple friends or family members and try out a new class this week!

Learn to Snorkel or Scuba Dive for an Underwater Adventure

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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!

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