Florida Parks: The Best Way to Explore the Florida Keys

Lots of visitors to the Florida Keys rave about the food, the nightlife, and the welcoming atmosphere, but the best way to experience the Keys is through Florida’s state and national parks. These are some of the most beautiful and unique public lands in the continental U.S. People travel the world over to swim, snorkel, and fish here. Read on to find out why.

Bahia Honda State Park

Located on Bahia Honda Key north of Key West, this park is best known for two of its beaches. In fact, you might even recognize them from photos. One’s on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island and one’s on the Florida Bay side of the island. Beach equipment rental is easy at the island concession stand, which also offers food service and a small gift shop. Visitors enjoy hiking, fishing, biking, as well as birdwatching. You can pitch a tent or park your RV in designated areas, with reservations; marina slips are also offered for overnight docking. No trip to Bahia Honda State Park would be complete without snorkeling – reserve your spot on the snorkeling tour of Looe Key Marine Sanctuary in advance by phone or online.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Get a real feel for American history while enjoying some great outdoor activities at this landmark fort on the southern part of Key West. Tours of Fort Zachary Taylor are offered every day. Learn more about how American troops served during the Civil War and the Spanish American War by walking the same paths, looking through the same gun ports, and watching re-enactors bring history to life. Nature trails offer hiking and scenic views; bring a bike for the bike trails. Swimming at the sandy beach here is popular; you can also rent umbrellas, beach chairs, and snorkeling gear. The picnic areas here have grills, so consider stopping by a grocery store for supplies on your way in; if you’d rather let someone else do the cooking, visit the park’s cafe for light refreshments in the shade. If you have a fishing license, there are also designated fishing spots here.

Biscayne National Park

Another of the Florida Keys’ parks with expansive underwater acreage, this one is located at the northernmost part of the Keys. Initially created to preserve the last of the undeveloped Keys, today, tourism is the primary draw. See the best of Biscayne National Park on a guided tour from the Dante Fascell Visitor Center. View some of the historic shipwrecks that are part of the Maritime Heritage Trail and the colorful marine life that’s grown up around them. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent, and guests can take a self-paced tour around the key, exploring mangrove-sheltered shallows. The park’s shorelines are home to wading birds and shore birds, as well as dolphins and turtles, so be sure to pack binoculars. Don’t miss Jones Lagoon and Hurricane Creek. Feeling adventurous? You can camp at Biscayne National Park, too, at Boca Chita and Elliott Key. These campsites are pack in/pack out, and offer trails and swimming; however, the amenities are pretty basic. And be sure to try the fishing here. The area is especially well-known for bonefish, grouper, tarpon, and spiny lobster. Seize the Day Charters  can ensure any required licensing is in place for a relaxing trip.

Florida’s state and national parks offer visitors a unique and up-close look at the Sunshine State’s natural beauty. From snorkeling and diving to fishing, birdwatching, kayaking, and more, it’s easy to immerse yourself among the plants and animals that make the Florida Keys such a special place to visit in these parks.

 

Advertisements

3 of the best road trips to take in Canada

Vast terrains of untouched wilderness, secluded silver lakes, glacier-tipped mountains and coastal perfection – Canada’s rugged and diverse landscapes are every road tripper’s wildest fantasy. Driving along these scenic roads allows you the opportunity to discover Canada’s hidden beauty at your own pace – to stop and soak in gorgeous scenery or ramp up the excitement with hiking or kayaking. And with so much uninhabited country to explore, you’re sure to wander countless times off the beaten track, which is exactly what fantastic journeys on the road are all about.

The sheer expanse of Canada’s natural sights is unbelievable and nearly unparalleled, and there’s no better way to see it all than on a road trip. But driving on Canada’s icy roads during their extreme winters can be challenging if not done slowly and with care. Make sure you research Canadian driving laws before you go, too, so you’re as prepared as you can be. They’re not as wacky as some country’s laws – in Cyprus, for example, it’s illegal to drink even non-alcoholic drinks when driving – but it’s still worth doing some research.

From mesmerizing snow-capped peaks in the west to glittering eastern shores, here are the finest road trips you can enjoy in picture-perfect Canada:

  1. The Cabot Trail

The Cabot Trail is one of Canada’s most infamously picturesque roads. You’ll find this 300 km long highway on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The trail curves around the north of the island alongside the coastline for the most part, affording breathtaking views over the sapphire waters of the North Atlantic. The island also sports a number of excellent hiking trails such as the Skyline Trail, which promises unforgettable sights around every corner. Autumn is the best time to be here, but the road offers heavenly views of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park throughout the year. Here you’ll find plenty of walking trails where you can rub shoulders with wildlife and appreciate the clean ocean air.

holly-mandarich-UVyOfX3v0Ls-unsplash.jpg

Link to image: https://unsplash.com/photos/UVyOfX3v0Ls

  1. The Sea to Sky Highway

This road links Vancouver and Whistler and is the perfect journey for travelers looking to be inspired by the unique and dramatic views of Canada’s West Coast. You’ll find a handful of great places to stop on the way including the Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver and Shannon Falls, the third largest waterfall in British Columbia. The Britannia Mine Museum is another curious attraction close by, packed with engaging sights for the whole family. You’ll also find the Sea to Sky Gondola on the way, a truly unmissable stop offering delightful views and an amazing suspension bridge. The best months to visit are from July to September, when Vancouver’s dry season creates ideal hiking and road tripping conditions.

photo-nic-co-uk-nic-xOigCUcFdA8-unsplash.jpg

Link to image: https://unsplash.com/photos/xOigCUcFdA8

  1. Icefields Parkway

With 232 km of blissful and ravishing natural landscapes, the Icefields Parkway is a highway serenaded by magnificent woodlands, roaring waterfalls and rugged mountains on either side. This road takes you through the heart of the Rocky Mountains and affords bewitching views of both the Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. These beautiful reserves play home to the Columbia Icefield, the largest ice field found on the Rocky Mountains. Here you can go on guided hikes to visit the Athabasca and Saskatchewan glaciers and learn more about the area’s unique geological composition. You can also camp out at Jasper National Park and seize the opportunity to gaze at constellations in one of the best dark sky reserves on the planet.

robson-hatsukami-morgan-aCWbZNTkDtw-unsplash.jpg

Link to image: https://unsplash.com/photos/aCWbZNTkDtw

 

Got One Day in Irvine, CA?

My girls and I were in Palm Springs, California for the Thanksgiving weekend. It was a sudden trip and urge to visit California. We were in Palm Springs for 4 nights and 31/2 days. We had a rental car, so planned to drive 2 hours to Irvine to visit some friends and spend some time in Irvine.

Laguna Beach in Irvine, CA

Laguna Beach in Irvine, CA

As far as the landscape and heat, Irvine is very different from Palm Springs. We stayed in Coachella Valley in Palm Springs which is a part of the Sonoran Desert. There aren’t any beaches here, only mountains and oases. Irvine, on the other hand, is more crowded, has lots of beaches to hang out, and milder weather.

 

We spent about 7 or 8 hours in Irvine with my high school friend, her sister, and her husband. Since my friend and her husband are local there, they took us to some not-so-touristy places where we did avoid some crowed and had a very relaxed time.

 

Lunch & Dinner – When you are in California, eating burger at In N Out is a must…or at least for me and my kids. Our lunch was animal style burgers and fries from In N Out. For dinner, my friends took us to California Pizza Kitchen. It’s a local Italian place with really good food. Their flatbread with chicken, shrimp and zucchini pasta, mac ‘n cheese fried balls, and cauliflower crusted pizza (no carb at all) are not only healthy, but also very tasty. Even my girls loved the carb free, cauliflower crust pizza.

 

Crystal Cove State Park: This was our first stop. It’s a small free public beach near Irvine. We took some pictures from the cliff side at first, then walked down to the beach. There were bathrooms and showers for the kids to change and take a shower after the beach time. Opposite of the park, there is a big shopping center with some restaurants and etc.

Crystal Cove State Park in Irvine, CA

Crystal Cove State Park in Irvine, CA

Crescent Bay Park/Laguna Beach: Crescent Bay Park was absolutely a charm. It’s a really small park on the cliff of Laguna Beach. Some really beautiful houses stand in this neighborhood. We spent about 10 minutes in the Crescent Bay Park, took some pictures, then walked 10 minutes down the stairs to go to the Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach itself was a bit crowded. And since we already went in the water in Crystal Cove, we just hung out for only a few minutes and came up to go to the Top of the World before the sunset.

Crescent Bay Park in Irvine, CA

Crescent Bay Park in Irvine, CA

 

Top of the World: This is where the local or tourists come to enjoy beautiful sunset over the city. On one side, you can see the mountains and other the ocean. It does get a bit chilly in the late afternoon. We stayed there until the sun went down and it was a beautiful sunset indeed.

Sunset from Top of the World in Irvine, CA

Sunset from Top of the World in Irvine, CA

USA Theme Parks For All Ages

Theme parks are quite literally fun for all the family – they’re the very definition of it, in fact. No matter what the age of your kids, there’s something for everyone to enjoy – be it white-knuckle rides or a more sedate, quaint experience.

There’s literally hundreds of theme parks in North America, and particularly in the USA; the land of freedom and fun. If you’re a fan of a holiday that involves taking in a theme park, the biggest hurdle you’ll have to overcome is deciding where you should actually go.

So let’s break it down. Rather than comparing rides, amenities, what the shows are like – let’s focus on the overall vibe. While each theme park undoubtedly has something to offer the whole family ensemble, there are some that are best suited to particular ages.

Young Children (Ages 0 – 4): Dutch Wonderland, PA

2699636091_054386136a_b

Flickr

You might not have heard of Dutch Wonderland before, but if you’re a parent with very young children, then it’s the dream destination you have been waiting for. Located in Pennsylvania – the Dutch is as in Amish, not Holland –  the park is a cornucopia of delights with a good old-fashioned sense of family fun. It’s simple enough to find good family-friendly hotels near Dutch Wonderland too, meaning you can explore the local area and spend as long as you want at the park itself.

Must Do: The show ‘A Royal Fiasco’ is a romp of humor that kids will love, as a Princess tries to plan a Royal Ball with the help – and hindrance – of inexperienced aides.

Older Children (Ages 4 – Tween): Water Country, VI

As the name might suggest, Water Country in Virginia is a water park. It’s a perfect summer holiday trip, when the sun is high in the sky and there’s plenty of fun to be had on the rides. It’s best to save this trip for when your children are older; they’ll want to be able to swim confidently to take advantage of the rides and attractions inside the sprawling park. You can stay on-site in the private cabanas, or in nearby history-rich Williamsburg if you prefer.

Must Do: ‘Rock And Roll Island’ has a multitude of different experiences in one area, from huge slides to a pool to paddle in while you watch the kids have fun.

Tweens & Up: Cedar Point, OH

Cedar_Point_Ohio_056_Corkscrew

Wikimedia

As the above image shows, when it comes to white knuckle rides, you can’t go far wrong with Cedar Point in Ohio. Once again, you can stay on-site if you prefer, though there’s plenty of surrounding accommodation if you’d rather stay for a single day. With that said, there’s so many exciting thrill rides here that you might be tempted to linger a little longer!

Must Do: Corkscrew – in the image – was the first ever rollercoaster in the world to feature three inversions. It’s still a thrill today, and is a nice piece of theme park history to enjoy.

So whatever the age of your group, there is a theme park out there in the USA that is ready and willing to welcome you.

 

Make Malaysia Your Next Holiday Destination

malaysia

(image: wikimedia)

There are many beautiful countries to visit across the globe, and one of the biggest reasons people visit new places is to integrate into a new culture while taking in the splendid sights around them. For these reasons, amongst many others, Malaysia could be the next holiday destination of choice. Located in Southeast Asia, the country is well known for its fabulous culture, colonial buildings, incredible rainforests and magnificent beaches.

While global travelers should invest in a plaza premium lounge klia credit card for lower interest costs on their travels, Malaysia is a relatively affordable place to visit.

When visiting the country, here are three places you may find particularly interesting.


Redang Island

There are many beautiful beaches in Malaysia, perfect for anybody wanting to spend time under the sun. If you want somewhere quiet to relax you should head for the beaches of Redang, a small slice of paradise with crystal clear blue waters and soft white sand.

One of the quieter islands in Malaysia, this is the perfect place for anybody wanting to get away from other tourists. When not resting or playing sports games on the beach, you should go snorkeling at the appropriately named Turtle Island with the local sea turtles, which are part of Redang’s conservation area.

For those who enjoy walking, taking a trek around the island is a must, with its rare plants, and wild animals including the long-tailed macaque monkeys and large monitor lizards.

Redang Island doesn’t have much of a nightlife, but there are bars and resorts available for those who like to stay up late and watch the sun go down. Karaoke is very popular amongst Chinese tourists, perfect for those who have the courage to sing in public! There are great eating places too, so you should savor some of the local delicacies including fish head curry, best served with banana leaves, and the gorgeous ice desert, Ais Kacang, which can be topped with syrup, fruit, and peanuts.

Gunung Mulu National Park

One of the most thrilling areas to visit in Southeast Asia, this world heritage site located in the middle of Borneo features so many natural marvels; you are spoiled for choice. With huge caves, tropical rainforests, and fabulous rivers, this is the perfect place for anybody wanting to soak in the country’s beauty. Cave tours and guided treks are a must for anybody wanting to explore further, whether you prefer to travel at ground level or one of the skywalks across the treetops.


Kota Bharu

Many travelers visit here as a stopover point while on their way to the wonderful Perhentian Islands, and with good reason. For those who enjoy shopping, there are many marketplaces teeming with local women selling tropical fruit, fresh vegetables, and craft goods. There are also plenty of museums to visit, including the Handicraft Village and Craft Museum for those interested in Malaysian culture, and a War Museum for anybody interested in its history. Night visitors should also visit the Fireflies Garden for an incredible display of color from these miniature marvels.

Previous Older Entries

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,737 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 628,185 hits
%d bloggers like this: