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.

 

Reasons To Visit The State of New York

new-york-668616_1280.jpgPhoto by mpewny from Pixabay

You might think more songs have been sung about New York than there are people in this fascinating place. But there is one thing that anyone who has visited this state can agree, it is a helluva town. And that is the first thing that we should address, New York is a state and not just NYC as you might think. So we are going to take a look at why a tourist should visit New York, the whole state.

Attractions

If there is one thing you can say for sure with New York, it is that there are enough attractions to keep you busy for weeks. We are going to break them down into different categories to demonstrate just how broad a trip you can have in this part of the US.

 

  • Theatre

 

The first thing that a lot of people will want to do when they arrive in New York is book Broadway show tickets. The reason for that is pretty straightforward, aside from the West End in London there isn’t anywhere in the world with such a great range of commercial theatre on offer. Every show you can imagine will be available on this historical stretch of New York from the classics such as Chicago and Oklahoma to the modern hits like Mean Girls and Book of Mormon.

 

  • Architecture

 

If there is one thing that attracts the world to New York City it is the architecture. Home of the skyscraper is one way to describe this stunning part of the world. Some of the feats of engineering haven’t been replicated anywhere in the else from King Kong’s favorite hot spot the Empire State Building to Rockefeller Centre; home of NBC and Saturday Night Live. Be careful not to hurt your neck looking up at these incredible buildings and make sure you pay a visit to the beautiful memorial to the tragic events of 9/11. You will be amazed at how in such as busy city there can be this peaceful place for reflection and respect – a true testament to the spirit of New York.

niagara-falls-397831_1280.jpg

Photo by 12019 from Pixabay

Natural Beauty

As promised we aren’t going to stay in Manhattan, no we are going to explore the other parts of the state and the place to go if you are looking to get out of the city of New York is, Buffalo. Now, it might not sound like much but this is the home of Niagara Falls; the natural phenomenon that straddles the border of the US and Canada is not to be missed and is accessible by car from New York City. Niagara is the perfect example of why you should look beyond the city when it comes to New York. While there are some incredible things to see in the state’s capital, there is natural beauty like nothing else in the world just a short drive away. While visiting Niagara Falls, be sure to take a trip on the Maid of the Mist so that you can get up close and personal to hear to the thunderous roar of the waterfall.

 

Joshua Tree National Park

My kids and I were in Palm Springs, California over the Thanksgiving weekend. And one of the highlights of this trip was visiting the magnificent Joshua Tree National Park. We stayed in the city of Indio in Coachella Valley and It was about little more than half an hour drive to the Southern Entrance/Cottonwood Entrance of JTNP from our hotel.

Beautiful landscape of Joshua Tree National Park, California

Beautiful landscape of Joshua Tree National Park, California

Ticket per vehicle is $30 which can be used for the next 7 days. You can spend from half a day to few days or weeks in this park. We bought few water bottles, some protein bars, luncheables, chips, and candies before entering the park. We arrived the Southern Visitor Center around 10:30am and stayed until about 3:30. If you have time and energy, staying longer is highly recommended to enjoy dramatic sunsets or to camp or if you love star gazing…to experience a stunning desert sky from the park. JTNP is a paradise for the hikers, rock-climbers, photographers, nature-lovers, kids, adults, and many more.

If you follow the JTNP map, it’ll take you to all the spots and parts of the park that you want to visit. We made it to most of the places that we planned to visit. These are some of the really cool and beautiful places of JTNP that we loved and the kids enjoyed:

Ocatillo Patch: Ocatillo is not a true cactus but a beautiful plant indigenous to Sonoran and couple other desert in the USA. JTNP has an area, called Ocatillo Patch, (follow the sign). It’s a nice place to take some pictures, walk around, and explore the nature.

Ocatillo Patch in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Ocatillo Patch in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Cholla Cactus Garden: This was one of our favorites. A whole big area on the both sides of the road is covered with cholla cactus, a beautiful looking but very thorny cactus. Be careful with kids here. We ended up spending more than half an hour strolling thru the cacti, taking pictures, and having fun looking at these plants in the desert. We even saw couple small lizards here.

Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Jumbo Rock Campground: This was our number one in the park. Jumbo Rock campground and the surroundings are the places with really huge boulders. My kids couldn’t get enough of rock climbing and the stunning view of everything…the trees, big rocks, mountains, blue sky, everything was part of a big piece of this beauty. It’s a big playground for any age. We stopped at different sections of Jumbo rocks and still couldn’t see all of it.

Jumbo Rock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Jumbo Rock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Camping in JTNP is a very popular activity and we saw bunch of tents and RVs parked in Jumbo Rock Campground. I can imagine the beautiful night sky from here. Tourists can spend days among these boulders for rock climbing, photography, or just hiking.

Skull Rock: Skull rock is another jumbo rock which has the shape of a human skull. We didn’t spend much time here other than just taking some photos. But there are other big rocks that can be climbed and trails that can be hiked.

Skull Rock in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Skull Rock in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Keys View: Keys View is another must. Even if you don’t visit other spots in JTNP, Keys View deserves some attention. This is a view point from where you can see the mountains and Salton sea. Although we didn’t stay too long since it was getting a bit cold, sunset from this spot is very famous…just bring some extra clothes.

Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Once we were done, we left the park thru “Joshua Tree” visitor center, which is about 20 miles from Keys View. JTNP doesn’t have any running water, restaurants, café or snack bars or vending machines inside the park. It’s better to bring lots of water bottles, sandwiches or bars, extra clothes, or even maybe first aid kits (just in case you are that unfortunate or clumsy tourist who may have a bad luck with the cacti there).

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

Things To Do In Order To Have An Amazing Vacation In Hawaii

6th

Hawaii seems to be on every traveler’s bucket list, and why not? From the luscious landscaping to the crystal-clear waters, each of the six islands feels like a paradise. It’s a place where you can hike to hidden waterfalls, spearfish in the ocean, attend a luau and watch the sunset, all in the same day. No matter where you go, adventure awaits. Here are the must-do activities to get the most out of your Hawaii vacation:

Stroll the Lavender Farms in Maui

This mesmerizing farm attracts visitors from around the world. In addition to seeing the lavender and gardens, you’re like to see camouflaged geckos and astonishing views of upcountry and beyond. It’s a popular spot for romance, Instagram worthy photos, and lavender scones. You can attend one of the many events they host, book it for your own special occasion, or spend a few hours exploring the stunning grounds. For only a few dollars, it’s worth the trip.

Visit the Famous Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is one of the most popular tourist spots of Oahu, for good reason. It’s home to legendary surfers, warm waters, and astonishing sunsets. Families are welcomed here, as are other respectful tourists looking to have fun in the sun. If you’re looking for a room with a view, you’ll be happy to know you can find a hotel near Waikiki Beach in a snap.

Step Inside Kauai’s Festival of Lights

If you’re looking to escape the cold, but still enjoy the holiday season, Kauai’s the island for you. Their annual Festival of Lights runs throughout the month of December and boasts of holiday cheer. You can step inside the Winter Wonderland and be greeted by the sound of carolers or visit Santa’s Workshop. You’ll feel like you found a dazzling snowflake in the middle of paradise.

Hike to One of Hawaii’s Most Remote Settlements

Kalaupapa is a small town located on the coast of Molokai. You can spend a few hours hiking the 2.9-mile trail to the peninsula and seeing the magnificent views before landing in this remote settlement. This isolated and peaceful retreat is worth the trip through the Kalaupapa National Historical Park. If anything, this scenic trail is an added bonus!

Zipline on the “Garden Island”

Kauai has been named the Garden Island for its lush landscaping. When ziplining here, you’ll be able to enjoy an array of backdrops. Feel the cool ocean mist as you zip along the coast. Take in the scenery of breathtaking mountains. You may even find yourself exploring a hidden jungle on Hawaii’s oldest island.

Dive Underwater Cathedrals off the Coast of Lanai

If you’re a scuba enthusiast, diving the lava caverns known worldwide as the Cathedrals is probably already on your must-dive list. This is your chance to see the unique formations created when molten lava cools underwater. You’ll be accompanied by an array of rare fish and other marine creatures. Depending on the season, you may even see humpback whales or spinner dolphins.

There’s an abundance of activities and sightseeing in Hawaii. Your next trip could and should be filled with fun adventures that cross items off your bucket list. No matter which island you visit, there’s something fun for you and your travel companions to do.

Previous Older Entries

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

Join 5,767 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 638,743 hits
%d bloggers like this: