Winter Festivals To Check Out Across America

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!

Pamper Your Skin with a Rejuvenating Facial Treatment

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By , October 9, 2014 10:57 am

When’s the last time that you really, truly pampered yourself and did something good for your skin? Facials are spa treatments designed to cleanse, firm, smooth, exfoliate, and moisturize the skin that you and everyone else see the most. Lots of people swear by them, not only for relaxation and pampering, but also for the health benefits. The natural processes of the body tend to dull skin cells, and the shedding of dead skin cells can clog pores. Frequent exposure to the sun and aging also takes its toll on the beautiful skin you were born with.

There are several different kinds of facials available, and the experience varies from one spa and aesthetician to the next. At FunSherpa, we can connect you with top-notch facials that are both rejuvenating and affordable.

Classic Facials

Before getting a facial for the first time, most aestheticians will conduct an analysis of your skin and customize a facial to meet your individual skin needs. Many classic facials include not only deep cleaning and exfoliation, but also a steam treatment and extractions if needed. Top it all off with an anti-stress facial massage and you’ll be setting your busy week up for success.

Photo credit: Lori Greig via Flickr

Photo credit: Lori Greig via Flickr

Facials for Skin Problems

People get facial treatments for a variety of reasons, including acne, wrinkles, and other skin conditions. Anti-aging facials can help your eyes look less tired by reducing bags under your eyes smoothing the appearance of fine lines. If you have sensitivity, there are hypoallergenic treatments available that are less likely to aggravate delicate skin.

Express Facials

Not all of us can spare an hour or more for pampering on a regular basis. If your skin could use a thorough cleansing and exfoliation but you’re in a hurry, try an Express Facial for all the benefits in a faction of the time. Express facials often last about half an hour and are also just a fraction of the cost.

European Facial

European Facials are designed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to deeply cleanse your pores and detoxify your skin’s tissues. By re-balancing your skin’s natural composition, you’ll improve its overall health and appearance.

Photo credit: InterContinental Hong Kong via Flickr

Photo credit: InterContinental Hong Kong via Flickr

Facials for Men

Although far more women than men seek facials on a regular basis, men’s skin can benefit from this treatment just as much or more than their female companions. A Men’s Facial is a true gentleman’s treat and tailored specifically for active urban men. Take an hour out of your hectic workday to treat your rugged skin with alpha hydroxy acids that diminish ingrown hairs, soothe skin, and calm irritation. Men’s facials also include a relaxing massage of the scalp, neck, and shoulders.

Whether you’re on vacation or just going about your daily routine, it’s easy to find experienced spas that offer a variety of facial options to choose from. Most facials range in price between $50 and $150, depending upon the services offered. But before you write facials off as a luxury or extravagant expense, consider these wellness benefits and always put you best face forward!

Get Excited about the Fall Season with FunSherpa!

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By , September 26, 2014 11:22 am

Depending on where you live, you may be starting to see the autumn leaves changing color and feeling a brisk chill in the air. Fall is a perfect time to get outside and active, and at FunSherpa we have plenty of ideas to help you get inspired and excited about the months ahead. One of the best fall activities for mind, body, and spirit is hiking. Not only does hiking let you experience the beauty of the season at your own pace, but it’s also low cost, doesn’t require fancy equipment, and pretty much anyone can do it. These are some of the fall activities that we’re most excited about right now.

Autumn in Cape Cod

If you’ve never spent a fall weekend in the Northeast, perhaps this is the year to experience this stunningly beautiful region. Consider spending part of your autumn  in Cape Cod to photograph New England’s colorful foliage just south of Boston. On this tour, you’ll also get a history lesson as you ride through Quincy and past the Adams Mansion, the birthplaces of several American presidents, and the John F. Kennedy memorial. The full tour lasts about nine hour and can be booked during either September or October.

Photo credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Photo credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Muir Woods Tour

Head outside of San Francisco to hike through Muir Woods and the Marin Headlands, which have incredibly biodiversity and really allow you to connect with nature. This Muir Woods Tour also includes a stop in the quaint town of Sausalito, where you can dine and shop to your heart’s content. Hop on the ferry back to San Francisco with a renewed sense of tranquility. This tour lasts about 4.5 hours and runs through November.

Urban Hike in Chicago

One of the best things about hiking is that you can essentially do it anywhere! Take an Urban Hike in Chicago to explore the city foot and get some exercise while you experience all it has to offer. Compared to many cities around the world, Chicago has a tremendous amount of greenspace and parks, so it’s easy to see the signs on autumn as you stroll through the busy streets. Depending upon your interests, these tours can last up to six hours with historian and certified Chicago tour guide, Michael Corcoran.

Photo credit: wichitaskiclub via Flickr

Photo credit: wichitaskiclub via Flickr

Yoga Hike near Seattle

To relax, unwind, and challenge yourself, consider taking a Yoga Hike near Seattle this fall to experience autumn in the Pacific Northwest. Experienced yoga instructors will guide you through poses and practice techniques along scenic rivers, mountain passes, and lakes. Bring your yoga mat, water, and a lunch because you’ll hike up to five miles round trip to a blissful location that’s perfectly suited for yoga. But hurry, because this experience only runs through September!

Soar through the Sky with a Personal Flying Lesson

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By , September 10, 2014 4:11 pm

Flying an airplane or a helicopter is a dream that many of us grow up having as children. But even if your life path took you in an entirely differently direction, it’s not too late to step into the cockpit and give flying a try. At FunSherpa, we’re dedicated to hooking you up with professional and experienced flight instructors who are experts in safety and excitement.

Introduction to Flying in Chicago

Head outside the city to the nearby suburb of Wheeling to take an Introduction to Flying course with Chicago’s Executive Flight School. You won’t be sitting back and letting someone else do all the work on this ride, but rather getting into the captain’s chair and actually taking control of the aircraft! You’ll fly for an hour and a half and learn about all the different aspects of flight and flight preparation with a FAA certified flight instructor.

plane

Photo credit: Eyton Z via Flickr

Introductory Helicopter Flights on Both Coasts

From coast to coast, it’s easy to hop into a helicopter and learn how to fly! We have an introductory helicopter package in Long Beach, California that’ll get you high in the sky for fun or working towards a new career. If you’re on the East Coast, head to Newport to take an Introductory Helicopter Flight in Rhode Island. With just a short drive from Boston, you’ll receive top-notch instruction even if you’ve never touched an aircraft before.

Learn to Fly in San Diego

One of the most beautiful places to learn to fly is in San Diego. Check out our San Diego Learn to Fly package to learn the basics of aircraft control. You’ll be flying a Varga VG-21, which is the same aircraft used for Top Dog Air Combat flights. No prior experience is necessary, and this experience will allow you to learn turns, climbs, and glides with ease.

Helicopter Flight Instruction in Seattle

Whether you’re brand new to flying or just want to brush up on your skills, we can set you up with the Pacific Northwest’s largest fleet of Robinson R-22 helicopters with Helicopter Flight Instruction in Seattle. This experience includes a half hour of flying to train you for a flying career or teach you the essentials of recreational flying that’s just for fun.

Photo credit: Geoff Collins via Flickr

Photo credit: Geoff Collins via Flickr

Test Flight in San Francisco

Circle the Golden Gate Bridge and past the TransAmerica Building as you work with a certified flight instructor to practice your flight skills. This training session will let you practice your take-off, climbs, turns, and descents in the beautiful Bay Area.

Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Flying Lesson

  • Ask your instructor if there are reading materials you should review before the course
  • Go into your course with an open mind and a willingness to receive detailed commands
  • Pay attention during the pre- and post-flight briefings
  • Minimize distractions to create a productive learning environment
  • Make sure your cockpit is clean, organized, and fully-functioning
  • Watch instructional videos at home to supplement your course learning
  • Discuss the logistics of additional lessons with your instructor if you’re committed to learning more!

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