Category: Austin

Beautiful Places to Visit This Spring to See Wildflowers

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By , March 9, 2016 11:06 am

In many places around the country, the temperatures becoming more pleasant, the birds are chirping, and flowers are starting to bloom. Lots of cities put a great deal of time and effort into preserving and maintaining their parks and gardens for locals and visitors to enjoy.

However, flowers are blooming in other more unexpected places, and humans have very little to do with it! These are some of the most beautiful places in the U.S. to visit this spring to see wildflowers.

Coachella – California

California is much more than the beach, and the Coachella Valley proves it. It’s near Joshua Tree National Park and known for bright yellow, pink, and purple wildflowers in the springtime. The best time to see wildflowers here is between February and April, including the Dune Evening Primrose and the Creosote. There’s even a free and family-friendly wildflower festival in Coachella Valley that you can check out if you visit in early March.

Photo credit: ActiveSteve via Flickr

Photo credit: ActiveSteve via Flickr

Fraser Preserve – Virginia/Maryland

The cherry blossoms aren’t the only things blooming in the D.C area in the spring. Frasier Preserve, which spans a large tract of land in the Piedmont region and in Virginia and Maryland. There are over 300 species of wildflowers growing here and hiking trails where can get out in nature and see them up-close. One wildflower highlight here is the Virginia bluebell. There are also about 110 species of birds here, so it’s a great spot for birdwatchers.

Nachusa Grasslands – Illinois

Illinois used to be a vast prairie before it was transformed into agricultural land, but wildflowers are still abundant in some areas across the state. Some of the best wildflower viewing opportunities exist in the Nachusa Grasslands, where wildflowers bloom in the early spring. It is also home to sparrows and turtles, and bison were reintroduced to this region in 2014! The grasslands are located near the towns of Oregon, Dixon, and Franklin Grove.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area – Texas

If you’re planning to visit Austin in the spring, take a little detour to see the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Some wildflowers that flourish here are the Bluebonnet and Indian Paintbrush. Enchanted Rock is a large dome-shaped summit that rises 425 feet above Big Sandy Creek near the town of Fredericksburg.

Bluff Preserve – Georgia

The state of Georgia has a surprising number of beautiful state parks and natural preserves that are teeming with life and color. One great place to visit here is Black’s Bluff Preserve, which is locally known for its beautiful wildflowers that typically bloom in March. Here you can see wildflowers like Hepatica, Dutchman’s breeches, Toothwort, and Trilliums.

Long Pond Preserve – Pennsylvania

Visit the Long Pond Preserve to see wild Rhodora that’s native to this part of Pennsylvania. This is a very unique natural preserve area that’s worth visiting in the spring. It’s marked by swamps, bogs, shallow ponds, marshes, and woodlands with red spruce, and balsam fir trees.

Photo credit: Rockin'Rita via FlickrPhoto credit: Rockin’Rita via Flickr

To find unique experiences at your travel destinations, make sure to browse through the exciting options available at FunSherpa. From experiences ranging from gourmet to romantic, spa, airborne, and tours, there’s always something new discover in your favorite places.

A Creative Guide to Anniversary Gifts that Aren’t Lame

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By , February 23, 2016 9:34 am

Whether you’ve only been dating someone for a few months or been married for a few decades, anniversaries are important milestones for couples to reflect upon the past and look forward to the future together. However, choosing an anniversary gift is often a challenge, even if you know your partner better than anyone else in the world.

Very few couples these days stick to the traditional year-by-year gifts of paper, cotton, leather, and wood. Fortunately, there are a lot of more creative ways to celebrate your love and do something together that you’ll always remember. There’s a big push for minimalism in today’s society and rejecting the unnecessary accumulation of stuff to surround yourself with. Whether you live in a small space or are just trying to reduce clutter, standard and impersonal anniversary gifts tend to take up space and collect dust over time.

So when your next anniversary rolls around, why not give the gift of an experience?

Couples Massage

A couples massage is a great gift for busy couples who never take time for themselves to relax and unwind. In this unique experience, you’ll be side-by-side with your own massage therapists and indulging in pure relaxation together. Around 60 minutes is a good amount of time for a couples massage.

Photo credit: David via Flickr

Photo credit: David via Flickr

Couples Horseback Ride

Take your partner back to a simpler time and place by giving the gift of a couples horseback ride you can enjoy together in the fresh air and wide open spaces. You can book a 30-minute preliminary lesson if the two of you have never hopped on a horse before or a 90-minute trail ride if you have a little more experience. This is a private and romantic experience that will take you away from your normal routine. Just remember to wear jeans, a comfortable shirt, and hiking boots or sneakers.

Hot Air Ballooning

Take your relationship to new heights by giving the unique and romantic anniversary gift of a hot air balloon ride. This is a great way to experience the beauty of your home area or another place that you’re visiting for the first time. Many rides last for about an hour and operate all throughout the year; however, weather may obviously affect your ride. You can generally travel between five and ten miles in an hour and gain a whole new perspective on life and love.

Photo credit: Rennett Stowe via Flickr

Photo credit: Rennett Stowe via Flickr

Full Moon Kayak Tour

For adventurous couples that want to add a little romance back into their routines, consider giving the gift of a full moon kayak tour. Our North Miami guided tour goes for about 3.5 miles and takes a break at the beach for a bonfire and snack. This is a great way to experience the beauty of the Florida coastline while getting in a little exercise with your loved one.

Attend a Musical Performance

After a while, couples tend to become complacent with each other and pure romance falls out of fashion. Give you and your partner an excuse to get dressed up and go out to impress each other like you first did when you got together. A wonderful musical to see together is the Phantom of the Opera, which is New York’s longest running musical and endearingly famous all around the world. Give your loved one two tickets to the show for an exciting night out in the city. In New York, the Phantom of the Opera typically runs at the Majestic Theater between May and November.

The Sky’s the Limit with these Airborne Experience Gifts!

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By , February 10, 2016 8:49 am

Around this time of year, many of us are feeling pretty tired of the winter season and starting to go stir-crazy while cooped up indoors. When life on the ground gets you down, take to the skies!

Sometimes all we need is a little change in perspective to get in a better mindset and start truly living again. Here are some airborne experience gift ideas for someone you know who’s stuck in a rut or even for yourself. All of these experiences run year-around, so you won’t have to wait until spring to enjoy the excitement of new heights.

Indoor Skydiving

If you’ve never experienced the thrill of skydiving before, you may want to start with an indoor skydiving experience, like this one in Nashua, New Hampshire. You’ll float suspended in a vertical wind tunnel above a trampoline floor with ease and ultimate freedom. This is the type of tunnel that’s used to train world-class skydivers and perfect for adventurous souls of all ages. Kids as young as three can even do it safely! Each flight lasts about two minutes and you’ll be provided with a flight suit that fits over your clothes.

Photo credit: Or Hiltch via Flickr

Photo credit: Or Hiltch via Flickr

Outdoor Tandem Skydive

If you’ve tried indoor skydiving and are ready for the real thing outdoors, then check out our tandem skydive experience for an unforgettable thrill. One of our favorite skydive experiences takes place at the Cross Keys airport in New Jersey, which is about 15 minutes away from city center. Philadelphia Freefall Adventures offers expert skydiving instruction, whether you want to just try it once or pick up skydiving as a new hobby. Your aircraft will climb to 2.5 miles above the ground and give you amazing views of the city. Then you’ll hop out with your instructor for at least 60 seconds of freefalling before the parachute is deployed. You must be at least 18 years old and under 250 pounds to tandem skydive. Allow 4-6 hours for this awesome experience.

NY Skyride and Empire State Building Observatory

If that sounds a little too intense but you still want to give an airborne gift, consider the NY Skyride, which is a virtual flight over Manhattan through the exciting city streets and top landmarks. This is an immersive aerial experience that is located on the second floor of the Empire State Building. Then to bring your virtual experience back to reality, head up to the Empire State Building Observatory, which stretches 1,454 feet into the sky and is located on the building’s 86th floor.

VooDoo Zip Line at The Rio Hotel and Casino

Maybe you’ve seen Vegas, but have you ever seen it from atop while zip-lining over the city? The VooDoo Zip Line at The Rio Hotel and Casino provides a unique way to see the city and starts at the Rio Steakhouse on the top of the 50-story Masquerade Tower. You’ll ride on a comfortable two-seater chair attached to a wire, so this is a perfect experience to do alongside a friend. At the end of the line, you’ll go backwards to return back to the tower! Anyone who’s over 48-inches tall can ride this zip line, and after 7:30pm this is a 21-and-over experience.

Photo credit: Ben Stanfield via Flickr

Photo credit: Ben Stanfield via Flickr

Glider Rides

Glider rides give you a truly unique way to see the Llano, California area and really give you a taste of soaring through the sky. A tow plane will guide you up 2,500 feet and then release you to gently glide back to solid ground. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even take the controls for a moment to see you how the glider handles. This ride lasts at least 20 minutes and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Spa Gifts to Give for Valentine’s Day This Year

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By , January 25, 2016 5:48 am

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and whether you think it’s the most romantic day of the year or nothing more than a Hallmark holiday, chances are you’re probably planning to shop for a gift. Most of us don’t spend enough time on ourselves, which is why pampering gifts are perfect for pretty much anyone.

These are some spa gifts and pampering ideas to give your sweetheart this year to provide him or her with a little relaxation and rejuvenation.

Hot Shell Massage

Maybe you’ve heard of hot stone massages, but what about a hot shell massage? The two massage types are similar, but this one draws heat from inside lava shells with a mixture of minerals, algae, salt water, and essential oils. Massage therapists use real shells from the Philippines and is perfect for applying soothing massage without painful pressure. This warming massage lasts for an hour and feels great on a cold winter day.

Photo credit: Daniela via Flickr

Photo credit: Daniela via Flickr

Deep Sea Mud Wrap

Dead Sea mud is 100 percent pure and has detoxifying and re-mineralizing effects. A Dead Sea mud wrap treatment begins with a dry brush exfoliation to remove skin cells and boost circulation. Then after the mud is applied to the legs, arms, and back, a spa professional removes it with warm towels and applies a hydrating Shea butter mixture to moisturize dry winter skin. This is a great gift for anyone who wants to try something different and completing soothing at the spa.

Gentlemen Refiner Facial

Spa gifts aren’t just for women, and there some wonderful spa treatments that cater towards men too. The Gentlemen Refiner Facial soothes skin from razor irritation and keeps skin hydrated and protected from the outside environment. It’s great for guys that sometimes get ingrown hairs from shaving or that are concerned about the appearance of their skin due to aging. The experience lasts about 50 minutes and is a great pampering experience for the man in your life.

Photo credit: PROFoundryParkInn via Flickr

Photo credit: PROFoundryParkInn via Flickr

Thermal Wrap

Having a thermal wrap is all about promoting well-being from the inside out. This experience involves having warm linens soaked in geranium oil to wrap your body, which promotes muscle relaxation and stress relief. It’s a great warm-up to getting a massage or facial, so you can easily package this wrap together with another spa treatment for an ultimate Valentine’s Day gift. It’s the perfect idea for your stressed-out spouse or lover.

Bathhouse Experience

If you’re in the Brooklyn area, then definitely consider giving the gift of a bathhouse experience this Valentine’s Day. This old-style bathhouse spans 10,000 square feet and has a steam room, three saunas, icy pool, and therapeutic Jacuzzi. Signature treatments include the birch leaves treatment and the salt body scrubs. This experience makes a great “couples gift” that you can do along with your special someone.

Sea Mani-Pedi

Manis and pedis never go out of style, and almost everyone can enjoy from some healthy nail care during the dry winter months. The Sea Mani-Pedi appeals to those of us who love the ocean and being at the beach. Marine-based products extend from scrubs, soaks, lotions, and masks. Cuticle care, polish, and massage are included in this gift package as well.

Creative New Hobbies to Get You through Winter

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By , January 12, 2016 4:36 pm

The “winter blues” affect the best of us, even when we try to exercise, eat healthy, and catch a few rays of sunshine each day. And if you’re feeling cooped up in the house while all your friends are hibernating right now, you’re not alone.

January can be a long and dreary month, but it’s also the perfect time to get creative and pick up a new hobby! Before you start counting down the number of days until spring, consider picking up a new hobby to make the most of your time and learn something new. These are some creative hobbies that you can discover on your own or with a friend who needs pulled out of a seasonal rut as well.

Guitar and Bass Lessons

Whether you’ve ever played a musical instrument before or not, this is a great time to pick one up and give it a try. Our La Jolla guitar and bass lessons are aimed at beginners and teach you the basics of acoustic and electric instruments with chords and songs that you know and love. For more advanced students, get ready to learn improvisation, soloing, and various scale patterns. Lessons typically last 30 minutes per session.

Photo credit: Emily Mills via Flickr

Photo credit: Emily Mills via Flickr

Beginner Sewing Class

Sewing isn’t just for grandmas and fashion designers anymore! It’s a fun hobby to pass the cold weather months and a great way to make wearable fashion and gifts for birthdays and holidays. Our Dallas beginner sewing class is designed for people who have never touched a sewing machine before and seamstresses who are out of practice. Classes run year-around and typically last for 2 or 2.5 hours.

Glass Fusing Class

Did you know that you can learn the ancient art of glass fusing in a three-hour workshop in Los Angeles? Our introduction to glass fusing class will teach you the processes of layering and assembly to create unique tiles. You’ll also learn glass-cutting, shaping, and collage techniques to refine your craft and create beautiful kiln-fired projects. All the materials you need are included in the cost of the class, so just bring yourself and an open mind and wear comfortable clothing.

Photo credit: Jeff Youngstrom via Flickr

Photo credit: Jeff Youngstrom via Flickr

Perfume Making Class

Have you ever wondered what exactly makes up your favorite scent? In Atlanta, you can attend a perfume making workshop and begin a new hobby of making your own unique scents at home. French-trained master blending artists will teach you how to create products that are pleasing and reflect your personality. The workshop runs year-around and lasts for about an hour.

Jewelry Making Class

If you love wearing jewelry or are always on the lookout for creative gift ideas for loved ones, then a jewelry making class could be an excellent choice for you this winter. Our Seattle-based introduction to designing jewelry experience is a two-day course that runs year-around. You’ll learn the basics of silver-smithing, and how to saw, file, texture, and form metals in beautiful ways. This is a great way to learn about how to work with metals, soldering, and setting stones. By the end of the course, you’ll complete two pieces of jewelry and be prepared to make more on your own time.

Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions with Fun Fitness Classes!

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By , December 29, 2015 10:02 am

Getting in shape and living a healthier lifestyle is the #1 New Year’s resolution every year, but that’s often easier said than done. The gyms are always packed with people on January 2nd, but by about January 17th, those numbers tend to drop as aspiring fitness buffs settle back into their old ways.

However, there are way more fun ways to get in shape than pounding out miles on a treadmill or hiring a personal trainer. Fitness classes can be an enjoyable way to learn something new, work your body in different ways, and meet new people. Here are a few of our favorite fitness classes to try in 2016.

Bootcamp Fitness Class

This might sound intimidating, but bootcamp fitness classes are one of the very best ways to lose weight, increase strength, and boost your overall health. Rotating instructors will take you through a variety of sequenced exercises that are targeted at specific muscle groups. On certain days, you’ll focus on your upper body or lower body, with lots of cardio every day to burn fat and get your heart pumping. If you’re serious about getting in shape, consider taking a bootcamp class three times per week.

Photo credit: BlogHer Bootcamp

Photo credit: BlogHer Bootcamp

Salsa Dance Class

What could be more lively or sensual than a salsa dance? Our salsa dance class will teach you the basics and you don’t even need to bring your own partner. Many classes run for an hour long all throughout the year and are designed for true beginners. Just show up, have fun, and learn the steps you see at the clubs!

Pole Dance Class

Pole dancing is no longer reserved for exotic dancers working for tips; it’s gone mainstream as a great workout now too! Pole dance classes will teach you basic pole tricks, sexy dance moves, and boost your flexibility and physical endurance. It works wonders for improving your self-confidence and is one of the most fun ways to get in shape. Wear heels, boots, or flats…whatever you’re most comfortable in.

Photo credit: Francisco Osorio via Flickr

Photo credit: Francisco Osorio via Flickr

Karate Fitness Class

Martial arts are a great way to get to get in shape and learn self-defense in case you need to protect yourself. Our karate fitness class combines bootcamp style training with karate moves to make you sweat and work every muscle in your body. This is a great class to sign up for athletes of all types of sports to improve agility and reaction time.

Burlesque Dance Class

Have you ever attended a burlesque show and wondered if you could do that too? Well you can if you take a burlesque dance class to satisfy your curiosity and learn the basics. These classes are designed for both true beginners and more experienced dancers in mind. Workshops don’t just cover dance moves and choreography, but also character development, costumes, and production information. You’ll learn how to take these moves and tips to the stage to join a dance troupe, create your own act, or just entertain a loved one at home.

And if none of those sound like your cup of tea, how about some of these other exciting fitness classes we offer at FunSherpa?

Unique Group Activity Ideas for Your Adventurous Crew

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By , December 15, 2015 10:23 am

Finally, this is the time of year when many of us and our friends have a few well-deserved extra days off work and school. It can be difficult to coordinate with friends around the holidays with family obligations and office parties in the mix, but true friends are always worth the effort.

If you’re tired of meeting up at the same old bar every time you get together, why not mix things up a bit? Here are some unique group activities to suggest to your adventurous crew to break up the monotony and try something different together!

Exploratorium Thursday Evening Happy Hour

Make your brain work for those tempting cocktails as you enjoy happy hour at San Francisco’s Exploratorium. There are hundreds of interactive machines here to spark your group’s imagination, and it’s just a 15-minute walk from Fisherman’s Wharf. Stop by on Thursdays between 6 pm and 10 pm for this adults-only peek into science, art, and curiosity. Each has a different them, so it’s worth coordinating even if you’ve been here before.

Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr

Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr

Harlem Afternoon Jazz Series 

What better way to spend a day off in New York City than listening to amazing jazz music with your friends? Stop by any Tuesday at 11:30 am to get into this 90-minute show that will inspire your group’s musical side. There’s a different artist featured every week, and performances are split into two sets: one starting at noon and the next at 1:45 pm.

X Comedy Uncensored Fun at Flamingo Las Vegas

This is the sort of comedy show you might not want to bring your parents or a first date to. However, it’s perfect for a fun night out with your best friends! The X Comedy show takes place in Bugsy’s Showroom at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, which also features exciting adults-only shows like “X Rocks” and “X Burlesque.” Nancy Ryan and John Bizarre are your comedian hosts for the night’s show featuring magic tricks, celebrity impersonations, and hilarious raunchy jokes.

Scavenger Hunt Adventure

Put your wits and city savvy to the test on a scavenger hunt adventure with your best buds. The Los Angeles scavenger hunt begins on Olvera Street on a course from Union Station to the Bunker Hill area. You’ll walk, run, use the metro system, and consult your smartphones to decipher clues and compete against another team or just have fun. We offer scavenger hunts in lots of other cities too, including San Diego, Atlanta, Portland, Chicago, New York, and Dallas!

Photo credit: Gloria via Flickr

Photo credit: Gloria via Flickr

Scooter Rentals

Some parts of the country are way too cold right now to consider hopping on a scooter to see the sights, but not Miami! If you live in the area or are visiting Southern Florida for a little wintertime fun in the sun with your friends, book scooter rentals for your group to experience the city in style. Scooters are economical, eco-friendly, and save you the hassles and headaches of parking. The rental shop will teach your group the basics of scooter operation and the rest of the day of exploration is up to you!

Budget-Friendly Experiential Gift Ideas under $50

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By , December 2, 2015 3:50 pm

This is about the time of year that many of us start looking at our budgets and thinking about how much we have to spend on holiday gifts. Although the holidays often spark images of mass consumerism, there are certainly ways to give thoughtfully and generously with a minimalist mindset.

Experiential gifts are ones that value doing things over having things. They’re great for people who are trying to minimize clutter in their lives and not be bogged down by so much stuff. Experiences can vary greatly in price range, but there are so many great things you can try for the first time in your home city or while traveling.

These are a few of our favorite experiential gift ideas under $50.

Introduction to Belly Dancing Workshop

Belly dancing isn’t just a lesson in culture; it’s fun, flirty, and a great workout too. Give the give of our Introduction to Belly Dancing Workshop, which is in New York and features traditional Middle Eastern and North African dances and music. Your gift recipient will learn how to move her hips, torso, arms, and hands with graceful and enticing shimmy and traveling movements. It’s a great gift for anyone looking for a fun way to work out and experience different cultures. The workshop lasts two hours and runs daily.

Photo credit: Jeremy Brooks via Flickr

Photo credit: Jeremy Brooks via Flickr

Los Angeles Shore Excursion: The Queen Mary

This historic transatlantic ocean liner dates back to the 1930s is a great city break in L.A. There are several tour ticket options available, which run year-around. On our Los Angeles Shore Excursion, you’ll learn about the ship’s fascinating secrets and hauntings, as well as the art deco design and paranormal encounters. Tour options include an audio tour, behind-the-scenes tour, World War II tour, and ghosts and legends show. This is great gift for anyone interested in sailing, paranormal activity, or history.

Whitewater Tubing

West Virginia is a wonderful destination for whitewater enthusiasts, and the historic town of Harper’s Ferry is an ideal place to start. Our Whitewater Tubing experience is perfect for the 18-30 year old crowd and passes through Class I-III whitewater on the Potomac River. The experience takes place between May and September, so it’ll give your recipient something to look forward to when the spring season arrives!

La Jolla Coastal Bike Tour

La Jolla is nothing short of beautiful, and one of the best ways to experience it is on two wheels. Give the gift of our La Jolla Coastal Bike Tour and your recipient will enjoy panoramic views of the San Diego cliffs and Pacific Ocean. On this two-hour ride, you’ll get admission into the La Jolla Sea Caves and Store, see famous surfing breaks, check out sea lions, and visit the historic La Jolla Village neighborhood.

Photo credit: Anne and Tim via Flickr

Photo credit: Anne and Tim via Flickr

Seattle Pub Crawl

Going to the same bars every weekend can be a drag, so the gift of a Seattle Pub Crawl is a great way to discover new and legendary watering holes. The city has some amazing microbreweries, and your gift recipient can learn all about the brewing process and pubs that are steeped in history and fame. This is a great gift for anyone who’s new to Seattle or traveling there for the first time. The pub crawl lasts about 2.5 hours and runs year-around.

Gift-giving doesn’t have to break the budget. Each of these experiences is under $50 and will help your loved ones create memories that last a lifetime.

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