Best Memorial Day Celebrations across America

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!

How to Make the Most of Your Trip to the Dallas Area

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By , May 5, 2015 1:13 pm

Dallas is one of the country’s top cities for hosting meetings, conventions, and family-friendly vacations. May is an excellent time to visit Dallas because the temperatures are still comfortable, the flowers are in bloom, the tourist crowds are manageable, and the flight and hotel prices aren’t as high as when Cowboys football season begins.

Other than football, Dallas is known for rodeos, barbecue, and shopping. And there are many other smaller cities and towns worth visiting while you’re in the area. Whether you’re headed to the Lone Star State now or later in the year, here are a few ways to make the most of your trip to Dallas.

Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Anyone intrigued with the history and legacy of John F. Kennedy should visit the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. It’s a permanent exhibit full of films, photos, artifacts, and displays about the investigations into Kennedy’s assassination. The museum is open year-around and includes an audio tour with excerpts of radio broadcasts and testimony about one of the most tragic times in American history.

Photo credit: CameliaTWU via Flickr

Photo credit: CameliaTWU via Flickr

Historic Texas Train Excursion

Another short side trip worth taking from Dallas is the Historic Texas Train Excursion in Rusk. There are several different excursion options available to choose from on steam engine and vintage diesel engine trains. The trains operate between July and March and last about 4.5 hours, which includes an hour layover for lunch.

Dinner at Billy Bob’s Texas Honky Tonk

Head over to Dallas’ sister city, Fort Worth to enjoy a good ole’ fashioned Southern dinner at Billy Bob’s Texas Honky Tonk. This is a family-friendly event that includes a cowboy-style dinner and bull riding on the weekends. Checking out the historic Texas Stockyards is a worthwhile visit that’s also close to downtown Fort Worth. Before or after dinner, you can play arcade games and pool, watch live entertainment, and get your photo taken on the huge stuffed replica bull. Expect to spend between two and four hours at the venue.

Photo credit: Cliff via Flickr

Photo credit: Cliff via Flickr

Group Kiteboarding Lessons

The extreme water sport of kiteboarding isn’t often associated with the state of Texas, but it’s definitely an option if you head over to nearby North Richland Hills. This area is about a 30-40 minute drive west of Dallas. Group kiteboarding lessons will teach thrill-seekers the basics of the sport, including how to fly them in the water, setting up the kite, equipment, and safety procedures. By the end of the  four-hour course, you should feel comfortable steering a kite through the water. Both half-day and full-day lesson options are offered, and lessons are scheduled Monday through Saturday throughout the year.

Sunset Champagne Balloon Flight

Another great place to visit in the Dallas area is McKinney Texas, and that’s where the Sunset Champagne Balloon Flight takes place. There’s no better way to get a bird’s eye view of the vast Texas landscape than on a fun and romantic balloon ride through the sky! This experience lasts about three hours and operates year around in favorable weather conditions.

Springtime in Boston: Top Things to See and Do

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By , April 22, 2015 8:44 am

Spring is a wonderful time to plan a trip to Boston. The flowers are in bloom, baseball games are picking up at Fenway Park, and restaurants and bars are opening up their patios for outdoor seating.

Boston offers locals and visitors a unique blend of old and new, with historical sites, trendy restaurants, and lots of green space to run and play. So if you’re planning a springtime trip to Boston, or just live in the city and are looking for fun things to do, check out these exciting offerings from FunSherpa!

USS Constitution Cruise 

The city of Boston is full of historic landmarks, but one of the most unique is the USS Constitution. We’ll set you up with a 45-minute narrated tour to learn about this famous ship and even check out the Naval Museum. You’ll see other top sites like the Bunker Hill Monument, the Old North Church, and the Boston Tea Party Boat along the tour, which runs between April and November.

Photo credit: Nathan Lanier via Flickr

Photo credit: Nathan Lanier via Flickr

Boston Jet Boat Ride 

But if you’re looking to get on the water with a little more action and excitement, consider booking a Boston Jet Boat Ride to explore the natural beauty of Boston Harbor. Jet boats reach speeds of 40 miles per hour, providing 40-minutes of fun for the whole family. Enjoy a crisp spring day in Boston with the wind in your hair and upbeat music in your ears. This adventure runs (weather dependent) between May and September.

Boston Freedom Trail Photographic Safari

Boston is an ideal city to begin perfecting your photography skills, and our Boston Freedom Trail Photographic Safari provides a unique combination of a city tour with a professional photography lesson. Your guide will take you to popular tourist attractions and low-key sites that only the locals know about to capture the essence of the city and create memories to last a lifetime. This experience takes you to the Boston Freedom Trail, Boston Common, New State House, Park Church, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House (just to name a few sites) and runs Wednesday through Friday from 1-5 pm.

Boston Ghosts and Gravestones Tour

As with many historic destinations, Boston’s history is steeped in ghost stories and sinister tales from days past. Book a spot on the Boston Ghosts and Gravestones Tour to experience the scarier side of the city…from the safety of a trolley! Picture this: your host is a 17th century grave digger who’s been cursed with eternal damnation and has plenty of stories to tell. You’ll be walking about half of the tour, which runs year-around and lasts about two hours.

Photo credit: Navaneeth KN via Flickr

Photo credit: Navaneeth KN via Flickr

Rock Climbing Introduction in Charlemont

You’ll need to venture just a little outside the Boston city limits to partake in this adventure, but the Rock Climbing Intro in Charlemont experience is definitely worth the short journey. Starting in June, professional rock climbing guides take adventure-seekers out on one and two-day novice rock climbing trips to this beautiful outdoor region. You’ll learn everything from knot tying to belaying, bouldering, climbing techniques, and safety precautions with friendly guidance every step of the way.

 

Spotlight on Atlanta: Top FunSherpa Adventures!

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By , April 8, 2015 9:11 am

The U.S. state of Georgia may be best known for its peaches, pecan pie, and southern hospitality, but it’s also home to the great city of Atlanta – arguably the most cosmopolitan city of the South!

Photo credit: Brett Weinstein via Flickr

Photo credit: Brett Weinstein via Flickr

No spring or summer southbound road trip would be complete without a stay in Atlanta to visit the top-notch museums, Olympic Games site attractions, local park festivals, and culinary masterpieces. With a little something for everyone, it’s a perfect place for romantic getaways, family vacations, and extended stays for retirees. And after a few days exploring the city, outdoors lovers will enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains up north and history buffs and beach bums will love the historic eastern coast.

This week, we put the spotlight on the city of Atlanta to tell you about some of the exciting adventures that FunSherpa offers in this southern city.

Atlanta Electric Car Tour

Sure, there are lots of different tours you can take to learn about the historic city of Atlanta, but one of the more unique ones takes you around by electric car. Lessen your impact on the environment as you get the insider scoop on the city’s history and best places to eat, drink, and hang out. These electric cars seat five passengers and go to off-the-beaten path neighborhoods during a 75-minute guided ride. Tours operate all throughout the year.

Atlanta Zombie Film Locations Tour

Atlanta is quickly becoming one of the hottest new cities in the film industry, due in part to the success of the hit show, The Walking Dead. If you’re a fan of the show or ever wanted to learn how to walk like a zombie, the Atlanta Zombie Film Locations Tour is a must. You can get a tour of the film sites in Coweta County for both The Walking Dead and Zombieland. 

Aquarium Experience

The Georgia Aquarium is one of the best in the entire country, and it’s definitely a treat for animal lovers of all ages. We can hook you up with a deal on the aquarium’s Total Ticket, which gets you admission to all six of the permanent galleries, public exhibits, and shows.

Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr

Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr

Swim with Whale Sharks

But if you’d like to get a little more up-close and personal with the sea life, perhaps a swim with whale sharks experience is more up your alley. Journey with Gentle Giants offers a unique opportunity to swim and dive with whale sharks, manta rays, and other sea creatures. You’ll wear SCUBA dive gear or snorkel gear in the Ocean Voyager exhibit for 30 minutes of swimming. The full experience with instruction lasts about 2.5 hours and is definitely one of the most interesting ways to spend time in Atlanta.

River Kayak Classes

For a more outdoorsy experience, head out to the Chattahoochee River to take a river kayak or river canoe class taught by experienced and certified instructors. These classes are beginner-friendly and operate between May and October to let you appreciate Georgia’s natural beauty.

Glassblowing Classes

Blown glass is a big deal in southern-style art, and while visiting Atlanta, you can learn the tricks of the trade for yourself. Classes teach students basic techniques, like gathering and re-heating, and show you how to create paperweights, glasses, and abstract works of art. The classes last about three hours and generally operate during the summer months.

Top Easter Celebrations to Travel to This Year

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By , March 25, 2015 8:36 am

Easter is a religious holiday, but it’s also a cultural tradition in many places and an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. People who celebrate Easter often have annual traditions and obligations to stick to, but if your schedule is flexible, why not see how the holiday is celebrated in a different place?

These are some of the best places to celebrate Easter this year. And once you pick an Easter destination to travel to, FunSherpa can help you find amazing local things to see, do, and experience!

In the United States

Washington, D.C.

One of the most famous Easter celebrations in America takes place in Washington, D.C. – the White House Easter Egg Roll. Back in 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes began this tradition on the White House lawn and tens of thousands of people come here to participate each year. You can also catch concerts, storytelling events, and live cooking shows during the festivities.

Photo credit: Amanda Hirsch via Flickr

Photo credit: Amanda Hirsch via Flickr

New Orleans, Louisiana

There’s always something exciting going on the French Quarter, and Easter is no exception. The Big Easy hosts a traditional Easter parade here, which features colorful floats, marching bands, and of course plenty of beads! For an even more interesting experience, catch the city’s Gay Easter Parade, which celebrates gay pride as well as Easter and features some amazing costumes.

Hershey, Pennsylvania

For some people, the best thing about Easter is all that candy that comes in the Easter baskets and egg hunts! To satisfy your sweet tooth this Easter, travel to Hershey, Pennsylvania and stay at the Hershey Lodge. You can smell chocolate in the air as soon as you arrive and spend time at the local amusement grounds, Hershey Park. At the lodge, you can attend a non-denominational church service and participate in egg hunts, bingo, and cookie decorating.

Around the World

Seville, Spain

To see one of the most spectacular Easter processions and parades in the entire world, you’ll need to head to Seville, Spain. Thousands of people gather here to watch the decorated floats, bands, and cloaked nazarenos pass through the city streets. The whole city comes to life around Easter, and many of the city’s restaurants, bars, and clubs hold celebrations as well.

Photo credit: Ron Phillips via Flickr

Photo credit: Ron Phillips via Flickr

Rome, Italy

As the official headquarters of the Catholic Church, Rome is another popular travel destination to for Easter. There’s a Medieval-inspired procession that takes place on Good Friday with actors that recite scriptures from the New Testament. The place to be on Easter Day is St. Peter’s Square, where tens of thousands of people gather to watch the Pope give mass.

Virtuous in Argentina

Another great place to celebrate the Easter season is Argentina, where many traditions are practiced throughout Holy Week. On Easter Sunday, Argentinians share eggs and a special Easter cake, Rosca de Pascua, with each other. Other local celebrations include attending mass, hosting large barbecues with friends and family, and participating in treasure hunts organized in the main cities.

Best Places to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in 2015

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By , March 11, 2015 10:23 am

For some people, St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of Irish heritage, and for others it’s a religious holiday or simply a reason to party. But regardless of what the day means to you, there are lots of amazing ways to celebrate in cities across America.

So if you’re tired of the same old Irish pub routine in your hometown year after year, why not take a trip to see how other cities “go green” with parades, shamrocks, and a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? At FunSherpa, we can hook you up with unique adventures in these cities and many others that love celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Savannah, Georgia

Would you believe that Savannah, Georgia hosts the third largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the world? Savannah’s celebration involves much more than just green beer and pub crawls. For four days, March 14-17, you can watch and listen to Irish musicians, storytellers, and children’s performers. The city dyes the water in some fountains green and there’s a parade on the 17th.

Photo credit: Sébastien Barré via Flickr

Photo credit: Sébastien Barré via Flickr

New York City, New York

Not surprisingly, New York City hosts a huge St. Patrick’s Day celebration that’s worth checking out. The New York City parade begins on 44th Street at 11 am and marches up 5th Avenue up to 79th Street. This is one of the longest parades you can participate in, since it only finishes up around 5 pm. Some of the best Irish pubs to sip a pint in after the parade include The Dead Rabbit in the Financial District, Donovan’s Pub in Woodside, and McSorley’s Old Ale House in the East Village.

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio hosts the Harp & Shamrock Society of Texas Annual South Texas Alamo Festival, which is where you can watch the Texas League Gaelic Football Tournament. This is a great way to kick off a traditional and authentic St. Patrick’s Day. Then you can head over to the River Walk to watch the Murphy’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and see the green river.

Washington, DC

Washington, DC’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration is centered on a huge parade that takes place on the 15th and has over 100 marching bands and military groups. If you can stay around town for a few extra days, you can attend the Shamrock Fest, which is a music festival that features traditional Celtic and alternative rock artists.

Photo credit: LenDog64 via Flickr

Photo credit: LenDog64 via Flickr

Las Vegas, Nevada

There’s always a reason to celebrate something in Vegas, and Sin City has plenty of parties and events to keep you entertained. The parade steps off at the Henderson Events Plaza at 200 Water Street at 10 am and features around 100 groups and floats marching from Ocean Avenue down Water Street. Many casinos, such as New York-New York and Mandalay Bay, host themed events and there’s even a Men in Kilts Contest involving local and national firefighters for charity.

Chicago, Illinois

With a strong and proud Irish culture, Chicago remains one of the greatest places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the world. The city dumps 45 pounds of vegetable dye into the Chicago River to turn it green and the local parade marches up Columbus drive with floats, flags, and bagpipes. The best place to see the parade is in Grant Park around Columbus and Balbo, although you’ll need to arrive early to snag a spot along the route. Some great Irish pubs in Chicago are Emmit’s Irish Pub, Lady Gregory’s, Shinnick’s Pub, and Cork & Kerry.

Top Ideas for Group Travel Adventures

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By , February 26, 2015 12:28 pm

Planning trips for yourself and maybe a friend or two can be a challenge. But just add half a dozen friends or more, and travel planning can feel downright chaotic!

Traveling with large groups of friends can be an awesome experience and result in hilarious photos and memories to last a lifetime. But if you want to keep everyone together as much as possible and safe and entertained throughout your journey, you’ll need to find some fun things to fill up your days. At FunSherpa, we can hook you up with lots of group-friendly events that are sure to keep your crew sticking to your itinerary.

These are a few of our favorite group travel activities in some of our favorite cities.

Oregon Zoo Experience – Portland, Oregon

For many of us, zoos bring back fond memories of childhood, but when’s the last time you visited one? On an Oregon Zoo Experience, you and your group can enjoy a leisurely stroll through a rich ecosystem of conservation and animal care while learning about the diverse creatures around the world. Spanning 64 acres, the zoo is arranged in five areas that feature animals from different continents and ecosystems. This is an affordable way to spend an afternoon in Portland and spark conversations about today’s important environmental issues.

Photo credit: Richard via Flickr

Photo credit: Richard via Flickr

Coke Museum Tour – Atlanta, Georgia

Whether you’re an avid soda drinker or have sworn off the stuff since becoming an adult, a Coke Museum Tour can be an enjoyable and nostalgic way to spend an afternoon with friends. Your group will learn about the fascinating history of this legendary brand through multimedia exhibits and get to sample Coke beverages sold around the world at the end of your tour. If you’re group is traveling to Atlanta, a trip to the Coke Museum can easily be combined with sightseeing around other top attractions downtown.

Ghost Tour – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

For a spookier type of group outing, consider booking your group for a Ghost Tour in Philadelphia. Listen to the stories of this historical and haunted city as you walk the streets of the city from Independence Park, the gardens of Society Hill, and the mysterious backstreets. These tours are offered year-around and typically last about 90 minutes.

Photo credit: NCinDC via Flickr

Photo credit: NCinDC via Flickr

The Foods of Eastern Market – Washington, DC

A trip to our nation’s capital wouldn’t be complete without sampling the diverse ethnic foods at Eastern Market. The market is easily accessible by public transportation and is the longest-running public market in the city. Take a tour of the Eastern Market to get the full experience and then venture out to the surrounding neighborhood to visit local shops and bars.

Seattle Pub Crawl – Seattle, Washington

Speaking of bars, why settle on just one watering hole for you and your friends when you can visit all the best ones a city has to offer? On a Seattle Pub Crawl, your crew can walk from local microbreweries to old city taverns to famous hot spots with an experienced guide who’ll fill you in on the best places to drink around town. The tour lasts about 2.5 hours, is offered year-around, and you only pay for the samples you want to try!

How to Save Money on Accommodations & Book More Travel Adventures

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By , February 11, 2015 10:55 am

For some travelers, going on a trip is all about luxury – with all-inclusive resorts, gourmet dinners, and high-end accommodations. However, other travelers place a higher priority on activities they can do at their destinations. If you fall into the latter group, there are some interesting ways to travel on a budget and make the most of your time in a new place…without breaking the bank on a place to sleep and shower.

If you save a few hundred dollars on hotel costs, you can put that money towards experiences and adventures that are unique to a particular city or region. These are some of the best ways to save money on accommodations so you can enjoy more adventures while traveling.

Home Exchange

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just swap houses with someone else who wanted to visit your city while you go see theirs? Well there are companies that specialize in making these types of arrangements happen, catering to homeowners and really letting you live like a local. Home Exchange is connected with over 60,000 homes and operates in over 150 countries. Simply add your listing online for free and send and receive inquiries to set up your swap.

Photo credit: Zara Gonzalez via Flickr

Photo credit: Zara Gonzalez via Flickr

Hotel Comparison Tools

Understandably, many travelers are wary of venturing away from the traditional hotel route. However, you don’t have to book the first conveniently-located hotel you find or wait until you arrive to pick  a place to stay. Before your trip, use an objective hotel comparison tool, such as Tripbase,  that searches many different providers to find the lowest price. Take some time to read through the reviews and map out potential choices to make sure they are near the activities you want to do.

Couchsurfing

One of the most unique budget-friendly accommodation options today is couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is especially popular among young travelers and provides great opportunities to interact with locals and learn about non-touristy adventures in the area. Although travelers new to couchsurfing are often worried about their personal safety and potential theft, you can verify a host or guest’s identity through the site and read reviews from other travelers’ previous experiences.

Short-Term Rentals

If you plan to stay longer than just a weekend or even a week at a single destination, you may want to look into short-term rentals. Europe and Australia are particularly good places to seek out short-term rentals, but they’re catching on in some American cities too. These are great options if you’re traveling with a small group of friends, so you can split the cost multiple ways.

Photo credit: Jackie Caserta via Flickr

Photo credit: Jackie Caserta via Flickr

Farm Stays

Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to ditch the 9-5 and live a totally different lifestyle for a while? If the idea of working outdoors with crops and livestock sounds like a nice change of pace from your daily routine, then consider looking into a farm stay for your upcoming trip. Unlike more long-term WWOOFing commitments, farm stays allow travelers to briefly get involved in how a real farm operates while enjoying a cozy bed & breakfast-type atmosphere.

House and Pet Sitting

Leaving pets and houseplants behind is stressful for many homeowners who love to travel. Trusted Housesitters is a company that connects like-minded travelers to care for the home and garden, keep an eye on the grounds, and walk and feed household pets. But keep in mind that there are often monthly fees associated with joining a house/pet sitting community, so make sure you’re comfortable and experienced taking care of pets and plants before committing to a plan.

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