Category: San Diego

Just in Time for Thanksgiving: Reveal Your Inner Chef with Gourmet Gifts!

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By , November 17, 2015 1:04 pm

This is the time of year that everyone (not just foodies) starts thinking a little more about delicious food, favorite recipes, and unique twists on tradition.  Turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce might be the first foods that come to mind for Thanksgiving, but this is also a fun time to experiment in the kitchen with festive flavors and exotic spices.

Whether you’ve been looking to beef up your culinary skills for a while now or have an aspiring chef in your life, we can set you up with some exciting gourmet experiences that will change the way you look at food. Here are a few of our favorite cooking experiences…just in time for Thanksgiving!

Introduction to Baking

Holiday season is the prime time to get into baking, with so many parties and events just around the corner. Our Introduction to Baking Class is in the DC area and teaches students the basics of creaming butter and sugar, knowing when a cake is ready, and design techniques. The class lasts about two hours and is great for beginners!

Photo credit: Sugar Daze Cupcakes via Flickr

Photo credit: Sugar Daze Cupcakes via Flickr

Sushi Making Lessons

Do you love sushi but have always been too intimidated to try making it yourself? Our Chicago-based Sushi Making Lessons will teach you how to handle seafood, wrap sushi rice in nori, slice fish, and shape nigiri and maki by hand. This is a fun hands-on learning experience that lasts about three hours and will demystify one of your favorite foods.

Indian Cooking Class

Another delicious type of ethnic food that stumps many first-time chefs is Indian cuisine. Traditional Indian food involves pretty of spices and prep time, but expert Ayesha D’Mello will walk you through the basics in this Miami-based Indian Cooking Class. The recipes you’ll learn are easy and healthy, and classes run on Saturdays and Sundays for about three hours.

Photo credit: nAok0 via Flickr

Photo credit: nAok0 via Flickr

World Cuisine Cooking Class

If you can’t decide which type of cuisine to cook, why not sign up for a World Cuisine Cooking Class and try a bit of everything? This DC-area class features traditional foods from places like Mexico, Morocco, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Vietnam. These 2.5-hour classes are split into demonstration and participation sections and end with enjoying a wonderful meal with wine.

Chocolate Making Class

Chocolate is pretty much impossible to resist any time of year, but especially when holiday season kicks in and sweet treats are all around us. Our New York Chocolate Making Class is designed for everyone who loves chocolate and wants to learn more about it. Students will learn how to make truffles, a ganache, and other treats with milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Techniques like molding, dripping, drizzling, and coating, as well as skills practiced by top chocolatiers, are also covered. This particular class is held in the Midtown West neighborhood and lasts about four hours on Saturdays.

Take a moment to browse our list of gourmet experiences in your city to find a fun and informative cooking class near you this holiday season!

Plan an Awesome Vacation with These Pro Tips

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By , November 3, 2015 11:04 am

Are you a “Type A” travel planner that organizes every last detail of your vacations and leaves nothing up to chance? Or are you more of a “Type B” traveler who prefers to “wing it” and leave plenty of downtime for spontaneity?

Aside from living with your friends and family members, traveling together is one of the quickest ways to get to know the people around you…for better or for worse. Within just a short amount of time, it’s easy to tell how “travel compatible” you and your companions are, from sleeping habits to sightseeing styles and food preferences.

But regardless of your travel personality and goals, there are a few things you can do to set your trip up for success. Keep these pro tips in mind to plan a better vacation for your next trip.

Strategically Use Technology

Vacation is a wonderful time to temporarily disconnect from technology and un-glue your eyes from the screens that you look at every day. However, smartphones are incredibly useful to look up directions, read reviews to decide on a restaurant, and make reservations on-the-go. Try to focus your device usage on essential travel planning only so you can live in the moment and be observant of your new surroundings. Forbes and Huffington Post have published helpful lists of websites and apps recommended for travel planning.

Photo credit: Mr.TinDC via Flickr

Photo credit: Mr.TinDC via Flickr

Agree on Key Points of Interest

Chances are that there are a few key sightseeing points that everyone in your travel group can agree on. Over breakfast each morning, identify a travel goal or two for the day and plan your day around those sites. Depending on your group size and how safe your destination is, you may be able to split up between or after must-do attractions. The important thing is to be realistic about how much you can see and do in one day and not stress out about it…it’s vacation after all!

Scope Out Discounts

Looking for discounts while traveling can be time consuming, but it makes a huge difference if you’re on a limited budget. You can often find student discounts and military discounts online before your trip, and you can use mobile apps to find deals between activities along the way. Consider checking out deals sites, like Groupon, while out and about to find discounts on things to do at your destination. You can also ask your hotel concierge for coupons or deal recommendations nearby.

Photo credit: Ben Seese via Flickr

Photo credit: Ben Seese via Flickr

Leave Time for Randomness

Even if you’re a hardcore “Type A” traveler, it’s important to schedule in some downtime and set some time aside for randomness along the way. Some of the most memorable experiences that come out of travel are the ones that aren’t planned. These are the times to open yourself up to casual conversations with locals, other travelers, and friendly staff that can help you discover new things.

Look for Local Experiences

Sure, you can float from one organized tour group to the next and check every item off the sightseeing list in a popular travel guide, but where’s the uniqueness and authenticity in that? Some of the best travel experiences are the ones that locals who actually live in the area would do themselves on any given day. Check out our list of experiences by city for activity inspiration, and pick up local newspapers to learn about events going on nearby.

What’s your best vacation planning secret? Happy travels!

Beyond the Perfect Weather: Our Favorite San Diego Experiences

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By , September 9, 2015 12:19 pm

San Diego is one of the best destination getaways in the U.S. because it’s easy to get to, the beaches are amazing, and the weather is pretty perfect year-around. There’s so much to see and do in this California city, even if you’ve been living there for years!

At FunSherpa, we’re passionate about introducing you to experiences that you might not have thought of before, and that (gasp!) might even take you outside your comfort zone. These are some our top picks for San Diego, whether you’re planning to visit this fall or really any time of the year!

Surfing Lessons

San Diego is synonymous with surf culture, and really no trip to the city is complete without hopping on a board. Designed for true beginners, our surf lessons are led by friendly and qualified instructors who’ll help you beat the frustration and learning curve. In fact, they promise that if you’re not standing on the board at the end of your lesson, your next lesson is free! Lessons are offered year-around and last an hour or more.

Photo credit: Nathan Rupert via Flickr

Photo credit: Nathan Rupert via Flickr

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

These days, you can’t really talk about surfing without mentioning stand-up paddle boarding too. Once you get the hang of SUP, it’s actually a really relaxing water sport that challenges your balance, strength, and overall fitness. You can learn to SUP in an hour-long lesson any time of the year in San Diego.

America’s Cup Sailing Experience

Another great way to get in tune with San Diego’s maritime culture is on an America’s Cup Sailing Experience, which sets sail on famous competitive racing vessels. Soak up the San Diego skyline from this 80-foot boat and relax on your nautical adventure. Tickets to the San Diego Maritime Museum are included in the rate, and the year-around tour lasts for about 2 1/2 hours.

Sea Rocket Speedboat Ride

To satisfy your need for speed while in San Diego, consider taking a Sea Rocket Speedboat Ride, which offers a unique way to see the sights of the city. You’ll pass by landmarks like the USS Midway Museum, Cabrillo National Monument, and Point Loma Lighthouse on this 40-minute ride. Rides are offered every day between 10:30 am and 3:30 pm.

Catamaran Whale Watching Cruises

The water the surrounds San Diego is full of fascinating wildlife, and one of the best ways to see sea creatures is on a Catamaran Whale Watching Cruise. This is a two-hour experience on an eco-friendly boat that can hold up to 49 passengers and even has a full-service bar. These tours launch from nearby Dana Point and run between May and October.

Photo credit: Eric Neitzel via Flickr

Photo credit: Eric Neitzel via Flickr

Brothels, Bites and Booze: A Culinary Tour of San Diego’s Questionable Past

But after all those water activities, you’ve probably worked up quite the hunger and thirst. One of the most interesting tours you can take in the city is called Brothels, Bites and Booze: A Culinary Tour of San Diego’s Questionable Past, which introduces you to the historic and scandalous Gaslamp Quarter. you’ll get to sample foods and drinks from five amazing San Diego restaurants on this 2 1/2 hour tour, which typically runs on Fridays and Saturdays.

Best Memorial Day Celebrations across America

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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!

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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