Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Walking Tours of San Francisco

While it's said that "nobody walks in L.A.," it's known that everyone walks in San Francisco. Having been a resident and frequent visitor to San Francisco, I can tell you that the very idea of walking in the City has always seemed odd to me. Let's face it; it's not the flattest town in which to walk. Yet, that's what everyone does. Walk, and huff and puff, and walk some more. There's just something about San Francisco that makes you want to step outside your hotel and walk. Perhaps it has something to do with the many different fascinating neighborhoods and buildings that compel people to slow down and take it all in.

If you're planning a vacation or holiday to San Francisco one of the best ways to actually experience the city is to take a walking tour. And, when it comes to walking tours, both free and fee-required, San Francisco has more than its share (it must have taken some from L.A.).

Free Walking Tours

First, let's begin with the free tours offered by San Francisco City Guides, a non-profit organization of more than 200 trained volunteers who lead free walking tours in San Francisco (donations, of course, are gladly accepted). If you visit their website,, you'll notice an interesting array of free walking tours offered every day of the week, tours like "1906 Earthquake and Fire," "Art Deco Marina," "Chinatown," "City Hall," "Downtown Deco," "Financial District" and "Gold Coast Architecture." A few of the more interesting walks include:

"Bawdy & Naughty"

This downtown two-block walk explores the arrival of "professional" women in San Francisco during the Gold Rush. And, no, we're not talking about women doctors or lawyers.

"Castro: Tales of the Village"

The Castro area in San Francisco is a predominately gay area of town. But, it wasn't always that way. This tour explores the early years of the Castro.

"Coit Tower Murals"

This tour takes visitors to Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill to view the Murals created by some of California's leading artists of the 30s depicting life in the Great Depression. The murals are definitely worth seeing, either as a tour group or on your own. San Francisco City Guides say their tour shows you some murals not shown to the general public, so I recommend you consider the tour for this San Francisco landmark.

"Ghost Walks"

Here are a couple fun walking tours. The "Ghost Walk at City Hall" and the "Ghost Walk at the Palace" are held in October only, and explore, what else, ghostly occurrences.

The tours typically begin in easy to identify and very public places and most of them even meet near access to public transportation in order to accommodate visitors coming from other areas of the city.

Fee-Required Tours:

While you do have plenty of opportunity for free walking tours, you might also consider some of the fee-required tours. One such fee-required tour is Hobnob Tours, a walking tour of Nob Hill, often times referred to as Snob Hill due to the number of wealthy people who live there. This two-hour tour costs $30 and takes you to an elegant ballroom where Tony Bennett belted out "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," through spectacular Grace Cathedral, through Huntington Park, with a cable car ride up Nob Hill. There is an optional breakfast, lunch or high tea at added cost. You can call for more information at 866- 851-1123.

Another Fee-required tour is a tour of Chinatown which includes a visit to a fortune cookie factory and herbal pharmacy, as well as a hosted 10-course Dim Sum lunch at a Chinatown restaurant. The tour-only price is $28 for adults, $15 for children 6-17. With the added Dim Sum lunch the price is $40 for adults, $27 for children. You can call for reservations at 415-982-8839.

Whichever tour you decide to take you will probably leave you feeling satisfied, either with a greater insight to San Francisco, or with great Dim Sum.

This article courtesy of Top Vacation Spots, where you can learn more about things to do in San Francisco.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Arizona Skiing

Ah, Arizona. Land of sun, scorching summer days and winter skiing fun. That’s right, skiing. Yes, Virginia, Arizona, known for tumbleweed snowmen, actually gets snow.

There are four ski areas to choose from in Arizona, all within a few hours drive from Phoenix, the capital of Arizona.

The most well-known of the ski areas in Arizona is located in northern Arizona, 7 miles north of Flagstaff. The Arizona Snowbowl offers 4 lifts and 32 trails for skiers and snowboards of all levels, and 2,300 feet of vertical drop. You can also test your freestyle skills at their Sunset Terrain Park which includes obstacles and spines. Lodging available in nearby Flagstaff or you can choose to stay at the ski resort at the Ski Lift Lodge & Cabins located at the base of the San Francisco Peaks. For reservations, call (928) 774-0729.

The largest ski resort in Arizona is located in McNary in Eastern Arizona. The Sunrise Park Resort is owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe, and is just a 4-hour drive from Tucson and Phoenix. You have for your skiing and snowboarding pleasure 800 acres on three interconnected mountains. Base elevation is 9,200 feet extending up to 11,000 feet. They offer 8 lifts and 65 runs for skiers of all levels, as well as a separate snowboarding area, cross country ski trails, and a Terrain Park featuring a snow half pipe, implanted wood and metal rails. The Sunrise Ski Resort is open from the first week of December through the first weekend of April. Night skiing begins January 2. Lodging is available at the 100-room Sunrise Park Lodge located on Sunrise Lake. Winter rates begin at $124 per night. Call (800) 772-7669 for more information.

Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is located on Mt. Lemmon just outside Tucson, which is the largest city in Southern Arizona. Though smaller than the Arizona Snowbowl and Sunrise Park Resort, Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley offers 80 skiable acres, 3 lifts, 18 trails and a 907-ft. vertical drop. The longest run is 8,500 ft. Their trail ratings are: Easiest at 20%; More Difficult at 38% and Most Difficult at 42%. There is no cross-country or heli skiing available.

For those of you learning to ski, you might want to head up to the Elk Ridge Ski Area, formerly the Williams Ski Area located in Williams, Arizona, approximately 30 miles west of Flagstaff. The Elk Ridge Ski Area offers two lifts and seven trails. Elk Ridge is typically open Thursday through Monday, starting mid December. Thursdays is “skiing only” day. For more information call (928) 814-5038.

If you’re planning a visit to Arizona this winter, or if you live in Arizona, it’s nice to know a day of skiing is within driving distance. Who needs to hop a plane to Colorado or Utah when winter fun is right in your own backyard?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Vacationing on a Budget

If you are like most other individuals and families, your finances may be tight. There are many families who are just scraping by and others are the on the border of debt. If this situation sounds all too familiar, a summer vacation may be the last thing on your mind. If you and your family are interested in taking a summer vacation, you can, no matter what your financial situation.

When selecting a summer vacation destination on a budget, it is important that you do not limit yourself. There are too many individuals who search for a vacation destination solely based on price. Instead of first searching for low-cost vacations, you are encouraged to find the vacation destination of your dreams. Once you closely examine the hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, or beaches that your selected destination has to offer, you can easily learn how and where to save money.

If the beach sounds like the perfect summer vacation destination, you have a number of options. Popular beaches, that are designed for those on a budget in the United States may include, but are not limited to, Virginia Beach, Pensacola Beach, and Long Beach. You can plan a beach vacation in the Caribbean or overseas; however, the cost of travel will likely increase the cost of your vacation.

Virginia Beach, Long Beach, Daytona Beach, Myrtle Beach, and Long Beach are all known as vacation “hotspots.” Many individuals automatically assume that the most popular beach destinations are too expensive. While some facilities and activities may be high priced, there are ways for you to vacation there on a budget. Instead of staying at an ocean-side resort, you could save a large amount of money by booking an inland hotel. The same can be said for restaurants, bars, and event centers. Almost everything is more expensive on the shoreline.

If you are more interested in spending your vacation golfing, you may want to examine the golf resorts in and around the Untied States. Many popular golf courses are located in Myrtle Beach, Newport Beach, and Scottsdale. If you are on a budget, you can easily benefit from purchasing a resort package. Many popular golf resorts, in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean offer packages that offer accommodations that may include travel, hotel stays, golf course visits, and dining.

Golf resorts are popular vacation destinations for many individuals, but many can be expensive. If you are unable to obtain a discount vacation package, but you still want to your vacation to have a focus on golf, you have a number of options. Many golf resorts allow vacationers to play on their courses, even if they are not staying at the resort. It is also possible to golf at well-known golf courses that are not considered resorts. As with a beach vacation, you may be able to save a large amount of money by staying at a hotel or dinning away from a golf resort.

Theme parks and amusement parks are popular vacation destinations, especially for those with children. If you and your family are interested in vacationing at a United States theme park, you have a number of options. Theme park resorts are similar to, the above mentioned, golf resorts. A large number of well-known theme park resorts, including Orlando Studios, Disneyland, and Disney World can be selected, even if you are on a budget. Many of these resorts offer vacation packages that include hotel stays, theme park use, onsite dinning, and much more.

Theme park resort packages are a great way to save money, but you could save even more by not paying for services that you will not use. If you do not have to fly to reach your destination you should not have to have travel accommodations included in your package. You may also be able to find cheaper hotel accommodations that are located a short distance away from the theme park of your choice. In addition to theme park resorts, you can find days of fun at smaller parks, such as Six Flags, Sea World, and Bush Gardens.

You may recognize many of the above mentioned summer vacation destinations. Popular vacation destinations do not have to be financially out of your reach. Simply by cutting a few corners, you could be vacationing along side the rest of America, even while on a budget.

Another Great Smoky Mountains Getaway

In addition to Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg is a wonderful place to experience the Great Smoky Mountains. (Maybe you'd like to consider it for Labor Day weekend in September.)

Adventures in Gatlinburg

Author: Caitlin Moore

Typical vacations might consist of fun in the sun or a day at the beach, but if you're feeling a bit unconventional these days, why not embrace the pure wilderness and historic charm of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Heading inland will allow you to escape the trials and tribulations of your modern schedule by discovering an older and simpler way of life.

As the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is the place to be for tourists of all kinds. Only about 3,500 people actually live here, but it seems like much
more thanks to the thriving arts scene, nighttime entertainment, and constant merry-go-round of visitors looking to explore this lush and beautiful part of the country.

The park itself is unimaginably diverse, dense, and difficult to describe in simple terms. The citizens who once fought to protect them saw the inherent beauty and value of these 800
square miles of untamed land, and today over 9 million people show their agreement by visiting. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has received a number of lofty designations,
including International Biosphere Reserve, World Heritage Area, and State National Heritage Area.

Park rangers, visitor centers, and a number of roadside exhibits help to educate sightseers, but true awe comes during those moments of silence that occasionally fall during a hike, picnic,
or nature stroll. This preserved area is 95% forested and contains trees up to 20 feet in circumference. Rare plants can be spotted everywhere you look, and there are over 60 species of mammals and 200 different types of birds. This is the only place in the world that you'll find Jordan's Red Cheeked Salamanders, and you'll see them as part of the most diverse salamander
population in the world.

After you've had your fill of the more secluded parts of the Great Smokies, be sure to spend a little time in Gatlinburg. This town tries to buck the image of sleepy mountain settlement
by offering diversions of all kinds and playing host to festivals and celebrations throughout the year. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies contains marine creatures of all shapes and size in its 1.4 million gallon operation, and the Guinness World of Records Museum will surely show you a few surprises.

As far as special events go, Gatlinburg loves a good party. The Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival lasts for over a month and celebrates autumn with hay rides, fall decorations, and local
crafts. Gatlinburg Heritage Days focuses on the local traditions by encouraging everyone to learn about and participate in a number of activities. The Craftsman's Fair showcases the work of
dozens of craftspeople from around the country and is one of the largest gatherings of independent artisans anywhere.

Take things up a notch by visiting Ober Gatlinburg, an amusement park and Tennessee's only ski resort. Perched above the town, you'll find, among other things, an alpine slide, miniature
golf, a black bear habitat, and skiing in the winter. Shopping and great food is also available up here, so take some time to enjoy the sights as you while away the day above the city.

If you need a few more reasons to visit Gatlinburg, be aware that there's plenty of trout fishing, a mountainside golf course that will challenge the savviest of players, and for all you lovebirds, this cozy little hamlet has earned the reputation as the Honeymoon Capital of the South. Don't forget horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and nighttime shows for people of all ages.

Lodging options in this tourist-loving town abound, and the scenery and rolling hills make it the ideal spot for renting a cabin or chalet to make your stay the complete mountain experience. A little seclusion will make you feel like a true adventurer, but the presence of so many easy access roads will never leave you feeling isolated. Check into renting a vacation home in or near Gatlinburg and you'll certainly have everything you need; plenty of space, lots of great amenities, and close proximity to whatever it is that you'd like to see.

Families who'd like to do a bit of hiking can find a place just minutes from the park entrance, and for evenings filled with fun and relaxation, a game room, entertainment center, and nearby
swimming pool will leave everyone satisfied. For those just seeking solace from the constant spinning of the outside world, a cozy mountain retreat complete with hot tub and stellar panoramic views will be all that you need to achieve inner peace.

No matter what you plan to do in Gatlinburg, make sure to scope out a great place to stay. Go online to start looking for your Gatlinburg Vacation Rental, and get ready for a taste of
something different.

About the author: holds the key to your next vacation. Take a look at all the great vacation rentals listed here, and prepare for a fabulous trip.

Pigeon Forge Vacation Cabin

Want a great place to experience the Great Smoky Mountains? Try renting a cabin in Pigeon Forge.

What To Expect From Your Pigeon Forge Cabin Vacation

Author: Jeff Linaker

Have you decided on Pigeon Forge for your family vacation? You've made a great choice. Get ready for lots of relaxation mixed with a ton of fun and adventure in this ultimate vacation. This is a perfect choice for a family get-away.

Most of the cabins in Pigeon Forge are more luxurious than many hotels. Shove aside images of "roughing it" in a cabin with no electricity or modern indemnities. Think luxury. Think Jacuzzi. Think spacious with great views and lots of "extras".

The best part of it is that outside your window is a virtual paradise. The mountains offer a picturesque backdrop for this vacation of a lifetime. Waking up in your bed will be a joy because when you gaze outside, you are treated to a picture that rivals anything you've ever seen hanging in an art gallery.

Your Pigeon Forge cabin vacation is sure to be packed with activities. There are so many things readily available to tourists. One of the most popular attractions for the family is white water rafting. Both kids and adults will love riding on the raft across the river, enjoying the scenery and the thrill
of the bumpy ride.

Pigeon Forge also offers Dollywood, a wonderful amusement park that's perfect for the thrill seekers. This isn't an ordinary amusement park. Roller coasters, rides, and attractions are just the beginning. Set amongst a theme of country music, the park is a definite treat for the whole family.

If you are looking for a relaxing form of entertainment, the city offers a multitude of shows. If you are a country music aficionado, you will be in your element. The shows are a lot of fun for both children and adults and definitely something you'll want to include on your itinerary.

The bottom line is that if you've chosen Pigeon Forge as your vacation destination, you won't be disappointed. There truly is something for everyone in this dream vacation spot. Whether you enjoy the thrill of amusement parks, the excitement of rafting, or just love down-home country music, you're in for a treat.

About the author:
Jeff Linaker has an interest in Travel & Holidays related topics. To access more information on pigeon forge hotel or on cabin in pigeon forge, please click on the links.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mexico Vacation Spots for the Family

Mexico is often viewed as a popular vacation destination for young adults and couples. While it is true that Mexico has a large number of attractions that are designed for adults, it is also a great place to vacation as a family. If you and your family are currently searching for your next family vacation getaway, you will want to take Mexico into consideration.

Below is an overview of five popular Mexico vacation spots that offer services, activities, and facilities for all of your family members, no matter how young or old they are.


Mexico is home to some of Mexico’s most famous beaches. Beach resorts line the coast and offer surfing, sunbathing, boating, and swimming. While Acapulco is most well-known for their beaches, there are a wide range of other nearby activities that you and your family may enjoy, like golf or maybe a water tour. Try one of the guided tours that takes you to Mexico's islands and lagoons.

Also, make sure you check out CiCi Waterpark, along the bay of Acapulco. It's a family theme park with wave pools, toboggan, water attractions and a swimming with dolphins program.


Mazatlan is a large costal city set inside a beautiful cove on the Pacific Ocean. Besides the beaches, the temperate, tropical weather is what attracted me to Mazatlan. You can go any time of the year and have good weather. If you get tired of the beach (yeah, right) you might want to take the family to the Mazatlan Aquarium (Acuario Mazatlan), one of Latin America's finest aquariums. You definitely won't want to miss the trained seal show.


Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico. It is not located along the beach, but it is an ideal Mexico vacation spot for those traveling to Mexico with their families. If you are interested in learning about the history and culture of Mexico, then Guadalajara is the place to be. Guadalajara is most well-known for its culture and historic attractions. You and your family may enjoy an area tradition known as Charro. Mexican men, dressed as horse riders, will put on rodeo shows for tourists. While sightseeing or shopping in Guadalajara, you will enjoy the many fountains and parks that can be found along the way.

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is located along the Mexican Riviera. This area has a large number of well-known beach resorts. While Puerto Vallarta is known as a romantic getaway, there's still alot there to interest the kids.

The most interesting activity I found for older kids is the Canopy Tour, which takes you to the rainforest where, with the aid of pulleys, you move from tree to tree, sailing through the treetops. You and the kids will feel like Tarzan. Kids must be 8 and older to take part. If you and the kids are into horses, you want to go on the Waterfall Ride, where you ride horses to a waterfall.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Michigan Vacation Getaway

I have a friend whose summer wouldn't be complete without a getaway vacation to Michigan. He says it totally helps him unwind. I couldn't agree more. Here's another fan of Michigan trips:

Getting Away From It All In Michigan

By Richard Rspad

Most people think of the beaches on the coast as the most popular getaway locations. In truth, getting away to beauty of Michigan is one of the more popular trips around.

Getting Away From It All In Michigan

Michigan, a state in the heart of the United States' Midwest, is a beautiful location. Full of lakes, rivers, mountains and other interesting geography, Michigan is a great place for those who love the great outdoors. Michigan gets all four seasons, and with its varying climate, there's sure to be a perfect time of year for your trip.

One area of Michigan that is definitely worth investigating is Harbor Country. This area of the state, located alongside Lake Michigan on Route 94, is comprised of many different towns and vacation spots that are well-suited to water lovers. Just 75 miles from Chicago, Illinois, Harbor Country is the closest area for Michigan beaches and an easy trip for Chicagoans planning a Michigan vacation getaway. Whether you prefer sitting on the beach and relaxing or water sports and boating, Lake Michigan is a great place to do it all. Harbor Country also offers winery tours, antiquing, galleries, fine shops and more, all in an area that's welcoming to tourists.

When you are looking for accommodations in Harbor Country, one place that is sure to please romantics and couples is the Garden Grove Bed and Breakfast in Union Pier, Michigan. This resort/bed and breakfast offers rooms that are close to the sugar-sand beaches of Harbor Country (less than a mile away) as well as being close to outlet shopping and even a casino. With four guest rooms and a newly redone carriage house available for your stay, as well as delicious daily breakfasts, you'll be sure to enjoy the friendly, family atmosphere.

If you are looking for more of a family-friendly spot for your trip, the Grand Beach Motel and Cabins in New Buffalo is perfect for you. This resort offers 14 motel-style rooms with a clean and inviting atmosphere, as well as log cabins. An outdoor heated pool and close proximity to the beach (less than three miles) make this an affordable and friendly spot to stay. Daily and weekly rates are available.

Michigan is the ideal state for your next vacation. Whether you enjoy beaches, hiking, shopping, art galleries, Michigan is home to all these and more. Choose summer for your lake getaway or winter for a trip to the mountains for skiing and fun. No matter when you choose to come to Michigan, you will be happy you did.

Richard Rspad is with - reviews and articles on spa resorts.

Article Source:

Monday, July 24, 2006

Family Beach Vacation Getaway to the Bahamas

Think you'd have to give up trips to the Bahamas after you had kids? Think again. I found a place in the Bahamas perfect for you and the kids.

Located on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, the Atlantis Paradise Island offers so many activities that it's probably one of the only resorts in the world where you'll need a map to even get around!

The accommodations here range from moderately priced to very expensive. Families on vacation here should consider staying in the Coral Towers, which is the most centrally located tower at Atlantis. The Coral Towers is also closest to the Predator Lagoon and the Lagoon Pool as well.

Atlantis Paradise Island Resort is also packed with activities for guests of all ages (that means you). The eleven pool areas, miles of sandy beach, and Neptune's Water Toys Hut give guests access to many water based activities. Neptune's provides non-motorized water sports which include water bikes, pedal boats, kayaks, and even snorkeling equipment rentals.

Atlantis has two different programs for children, the Aqua Tots program and the Discovery Channel Camp. The Aqua Tots program was designed for children 3 years old and up, while the discovery camp is for kids 4 - 12 years old and ranges from a 1 hour program to one that includes lunch and even dinner.

All kids love the six different water slides and the marine exhibits. This can keep kids busy for hours and hours, and are pretty fun for the parents as well. In order to enjoy the slides, kids must be at least 48 inches tall.

A beach vacation at Atlantis is something your entire family will love. There is something here to keep everyone occupied, from the beaches to fun on the slides.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Great Beach Vacation Getaways

All across the world, there are several locations you can choose for your beach vacation getaway. Below, you will find many different locations, and what they will offer.


Throughout the West Coast of Maui, you'll have many choices for your beach vacation. If you plan to enjoy golf, the Kapalua Resort is a great choice, as guests will receive 30% lower golf rates than those who don't stay at the resort. The resort also includes the Kapalua Bay Hotel, Kapalua Villas, and the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.

One bay over from the Kapalua Bay is the Napili Kai Beach Resort, which is a low rise family resort that offers comfortable beach front condos. The Napili Kai also offers complimentary programs for children ages 6 - 12 from mid June to the end of August, during Easter and Christmas. The condos are seconds away from the beach, and they include kitchens as well as laundry facilities.

If you prefer a more secluded area, the Maui Prince hotel is located in a quiet setting surrounded by two scenic golf courses and a large sandy beach that kids never seem to get enough of.


The island of Molokai is filled with empty beaches, no traffic lights, and few tourists. Many tourists visits only for a day or so, with some going to the island because they assumed they were going to Molokini (which is a snorkeling site near Maui).

The island of Mololai is accessible by ferry from Maui or by plane from Honolulu. The island is ideal for those who like the outdoors with a twist of adventure. When you visit here, you shouldn't expect shopping or nightlife.


The Breakers Hotel in sunny Palm Beach Florida has a spa, golf course, and a 1/2 mile sandy beach. There is also a seperate pool for the kids, a family entertainment center, and a kid's program. Families can reserve up to five adjoining rooms while
children under the age of 16 can stay for free in the same room as their parents.

If you decide to take your beach vacation in Orlando, the Loews Hard Rock Hotel offers you plenty of beach and amusement rides, with a 240 foot slide and a white sandy beach.


With several family beach vacation resorts in California, the Hotel Del Coronado is among the most famous. The hotel offers many different facilities for families, including lessons in kayaking, surfing, tennis, and biking.


The barrier islands in Georgia offer ambiance, sandy beaches, and a laid back prospective to life as you know it. Jekyll Island offers you miles of paved bike path with three 18 hole golf courses, which is perfect for golf enthusiasts.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Love to Travel?

Who doesn't love to travel. Okay, there probably are people who don't love to travel. But, for those who do and those who'd like to find out interesting places to travel to, you've come to the right place. Future posts will share with you places you might not even think about.

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