Posts tagged: funsherpa

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.

History and Beyond: Our Favorite Ways to Experience Philadelphia

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By , August 13, 2015 8:07 am

Philadelphia is known as a place for history buffs, and there are lots of relics and museums to remind us about how democracy was born in America. However, there is much more to this Pennsylvania city and many ways to get to know what it’s all about. These are some of our favorite Philadelphia experiences to try for yourself!

Flavors of Philly Food Tour

Other than history and art, Philadelphia is well-known for its delicious food. Taste what all the hype is about on a Flavors of Philly Food Tour that will show you how to eat like a local.  Over the course of about two-and-a-half hours, the tour will make six stops to sample cheese-steaks, hoagies, soft pretzels, tomato pie, cheese fries, and locally-made cookies. Your guide will fill you in with entertaining stories about these foods and the restaurants that made them so popular in the city. This tour runs between March and November from 1:30 pm to 4 pm.

Photo credit: Wally Gobetz via Flickr

Photo credit: Wally Gobetz via Flickr

9th Street Italian Market

This is one neighborhood that’s definitely worth checking out when you’re in Philly. Here you’ll find eclectic shops, local coffee shops, parks, murals, traditional delis and bakeries, and of course the 9th Street Market. This is the oldest and largest open-air market in America, with lots of Italian food stalls and produce stalls for really reasonable prices. This is a multi-ethnic neighborhood too, so you’ll be able to explore local Mexican and Asian shops in the area too. Tours of the market depart daily and last about two hours.

Basic Keelboat Sailing

Philadelphia is also a great place for sailing, so consider taking a basic keelboat sailing course while you’re in town. This class is designed for true beginners and is mostly taught on the water to help you learn the basics of boat handling. On a small boat in protected waters, you’ll learn points of sail, reading the wind, safety, heavy weather sailing, tacking, jibing, person overboard, and federal requirements. This two-day course operates all throughout the year during good weather conditions. 

Amish Country Tour

Pennsylvania is also known for its Amish community, so if you have a few days in the area, why not experience it for yourself? Amish country tours depart from Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania with Dutchland Tours, Inc., the only certified guide company that has been providing Lancaster Country tours for over 50 years. This operator aims to help tourists see the Amish as friendly neighbors and real people, not an attraction or a curiosity. Local businesses you can visit include Amish quit shops, bake shops, and roadside stands, where you can interact with community members. These tours last about two hours and run between March and October.

Photo credit: Bob Jagendorf via Flickr

Photo credit: Bob Jagendorf via Flickr

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Another great way to experience the Pennsylvania countryside is by taking a hot air balloon ride from Quakertown. An ideal city break for couples, groups of friends, and families, you’ll see the natural beauty of the state and even get to help the crew if you like. Rides are offered year-around in good weather and last about two or three hours.

Summer in Chi Town: Don’t Miss Out on These Experiences!

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By , June 3, 2015 11:00 am

With brutally cold winters that seem to last a little longer each year, Chicago is a city that lives for its beautiful summer season. So now that summer is here (finally!) why not try something new to soak up the sun and make the most of it?

Chicago Jet Boat Experience

One of the best ways to see Chicago is from the water, so kick back and feel the wind in your hair on a Chicago Jet Boat Experience. This is a half-hour tour that combines an adventurous ride with the beautiful view of Lake Michigan and the sprawling Chicago skyline. The boat leaves from Navy Pier, and the captain will tell you all about the city’s landmarks, architecture, and hot spots. Jet boats run daily between 11 am and 7 pm, May through October.

Photo credit: acuestareig via Flickr

Photo credit: acuestareig via Flickr

Introduction to Kayaking

To get a little more active on the water, take our Introduction to Kayaking class with the experienced guides of Kayak Chicago. This is a beginner-friendly class that’ll teach you everything you need to know about paddling, boat types, proper gear, safety techniques, and rescue strategies. This expereince lasts about four hours and runs on Saturdays and Sundays from June through September.

Sailing 101 Chicago

Another great water activity to try in Chicago is sailing! Our Sailing 101 Chicago class is beginner-friendly, yet challenging and comprehensive. To complete the course, you’ll need to take four sessions, and each lesson last four hours. So this is a great experience for locals living in the city! Sessions run daily between April and September.

Chicago Shopping Tour: Bucktown and Wicker Park

If you’re more in the mood for a little retail therapy, why not let a shopping expert help you focus and guide you through the city’s trendiest shopping district? Our Chicago Shopping Tour: Bucktown and Wicker Park experience will take you to unique boutiques and introduce you to fashion trends and the creations of top designers. You’ll meet your guide and fellow shoppers at a cafe and then head out to receive VIP treatment and the guidance of a personal shopping stylist. The experience lasts about two hours and starts at 1:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Devil’s Lake Day Rock Climb

If you’re willing to venture outside of the city to explore the surrounding area a bit, check out our Devil’s Lake Day Rock Climb experience in southern Wisconsin. This is an ideal climbing destination for beginner climbers, and experienced guides will provide you with all the gear you need. The day begins around 9:00 am and runs until about 4:00 pm. There are more than 2,000 climbing routes here along the picturesque cliffs that overlook Devil’s Lake – perfect for taking a summertime dip after a day of climbing!

Photo credit: stewie811 via Flickr

Photo credit: stewie811 via Flickr

These are a few of the other summer-centric attractions that are must-dos in the city of Chicago:

  • Lollapalooza
  • Cubs game at Wrigley Field
  • Sox game at US Cellular Field
  • North Avenue Beach
  • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Chicago Air & Water Show
  • Navy Pier Fireworks

For a list of Chicago’s exciting 2015 festivals, take a look at TimeOut’s 2015 Summer Festival Guide and browse through FunSherpa’s Chicago experiences to find one that’ll make your summer unforgettable!

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.

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

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By , July 3, 2014 12:17 pm

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

Photo credit: Steve Wall via Flickr

Photo credit: Steve Wall via Flickr

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

Washington DC’s National Mall

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

Boston Pops Firework Spectacular

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

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

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

Philadelphia’s  Wawa Welcome America Fourth of July Jam Concert

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

Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park

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

Houston’s Freedom over Texas

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

Chicago’s Navy Pier Independence Day

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

Pasadena’s Americafest at the Rose Bowl

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

Photo credit: Nathan Rupert via Flickr

Photo credit: Nathan Rupert via Flickr

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

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

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By , June 19, 2014 12:23 pm

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

See the Chicago Skyline Above the Skyscrapers

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

Photo credit: mrwilleeumm via Flickr

Photo credit: Neo_II via Flickr

Marvel at the New York City Lights from the Night Sky

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

View the Mansions and Coastline of Rhode Island

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

Photo credit: mrwilleeumm via Flickr

Photo credit: mrwilleeumm via Flickr

Explore the Grand Canyon from a Helicopter

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

Stop for Lunch in Sausalito from a Helicopter

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

Check Out the Hollywood Strip from Above

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

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

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By , May 6, 2014 1:44 pm

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

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

Photo credit: Synergy by Jasmine via Flickr

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

Bikram Yoga

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

Intro to Mysore Style and Ashtanga Yoga

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

Yoga Hike

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

Photo credit: Herald Post via Flickr

Power Pilates

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

Mat Pilates

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

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

Learn to Snorkel or Scuba Dive for an Underwater Adventure

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By , April 23, 2014 9:38 am

Now that the temperature is starting to warm up, we turn our attention to the water and the possibility of underwater adventures! Two of the best ways to explore marine life is to give scuba diving or snorkeling a try. Although both are aquatic recreational activities that require a mask, scuba diving requires more equipment, training, and level of comfort in the water.

If you want to go scuba diving, most dive rental and sales shops require proof of diver certification to ensure that you know how to safely use the equipment. On the other hand, snorkeling requires little official training, since this activity involves swimming only to shallow reefs 3-12 feet below sea level. At FunSherpa, we have a variety of snorkel adventures and scuba dive lessons to introduce you to the activities and help you brush up your skills. These are a few of our favorite places to explore underwater.

Snorkeling Adventures

Key West, Florida

Our first snorkeling adventure begins in Miami, travels to Key Largo, and then lands in Key West to snorkel above live coral reef. You’ll snorkel on the north side of the island aboard a 30-foot catamaran. This is where you’ll receive professional snorkeling instruction, gear, and free soda, beer, and wine. This full-day tour operates throughout the year and includes 3.5 hours of snorkeling.

Photo credit: NOAA’s National Ocean Service via Flickr

Homestead, Florida

Play in Florida’s crystal clear waters near Homestead, Florida as you embark upon a snorkeling adventure inside the barrier islands of Elliott Key. You’ll see plenty of tropical fish, small coral, and marine species as you learn about underwater life and aquatic ecosystems. This tour operates throughout the year as well.

Alpharetta, Georgia

To get a taste of what snorkeling is all about before trying it in the open water, head over to snorkeling class in Alpharetta, Georgia. This is a great way to learn the basics of snorkeling if you’re a little weary of water. Classes are generally held between May and August and last about an hour. You’ll be under the supervision of a trained snorkeling professional and trying it out in a comfortable pool.

Scuba Diving Lessons

Unlike snorkeling, it’s not safe to simply hop into the water and give scuba diving a try. Fortunately, there are experienced scuba professionals that can show you the ropes and teach you how to dive without supervision. For example, we can set you up with Scuba Diving Certification and Scuba Diving Refresher classes in the Chicagoland area. You’ll learn the basics in a safe, comfortable 86°F heated in-store pool and then move on to open water training dives.

Photo credit: SLU Madrid Campus via Flickr

Scuba diving certification requires four open water dives, a 200-yard swim, a 10-minute float, and passing a quiz to test your safety and equipment knowledge. If it’s been several months or longer since your last dive, it’s a good idea to refresh your skills before traveling somewhere new to dive on vacation. What an exciting way to get ready for summer and develop new skills that you can enjoy in the world’s beautiful aquatic destinations!

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