Spring Break in Mazatlan, Mexico

Mazatlán, Mexico: Located at the base of Sierra Madre in the state of Sinaloa and by the stunning Sea of Cortez of the Pacific (also know as Gulf of California), Mazatlan is a Mexican colonial style town. This is an attractive holiday destination, especially for the people from West Coast of the USA.

Stunning beach of Mazatlan in Mexico

Stunning beach of Mazatlan in Mexico

Mazatlan Downtown and it’s historic city center are the main hot spots here.  This place is equally fun for the young crowds or the retired people or the ones in between. City’s symbol is deer. No, you won’t come across any deer but you’ll see statues and sculptures at many places in downtown.

This was my second trip to Mexico but first for my daughters. After traveling to more than 60 countries worldwide, I have to say Mexicans are some of the most humble and friendliest people I’ve ever met and talked to.

And that sunset by the beach in Mazatlan, Mexico

And that sunset by the beach in Mazatlan, Mexico

Although I converted some of my USD to Pesos, you can use USD or credit cards everywhere in Mazatlan. Small vendors may not accept credit cards, but they will always accept US dollars.

Time of Travel: We went to Mazatlan during my kids’ spring break at end of March, 2019. We traveled with another family friends and their kids, which made this trip extra fun for all of us. We enjoyed moderate tropical weather during our stay. It was around late 80s daytime but got a bit colder at night. It’s a good idea to carry a light sweater, especially for the kids.

Eating and Shopping: What to eat in Mazatlan? Short answer is shrimp, shrimp, and more shrimp. The quality and freshness of shrimp in Mazatlan is unbeatable. Our first lunch was at Mr. Lionso Restaurant during our city trip. The food was average here but it’s location by the beach, colorful decors, and live mariachi music make this an ideal place to enjoy weather and food. They have all the traditional Mexican food at Mr. Lionso with lots of seafood options, quesadillas, fajitas, ceviche, soup, and lots more.

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Since we stayed in a an all inclusive resort, most of our meals were at the resort, except for when we took excursions. Our Last dinner was at Casa Canobbio in Plaza Machado. I was inclining more towards Mexican cuisine since it was our last night in Mazatlan but the kids picked this Italian place “Casa Canobbio”. We sat outside to enjoy the live music. The food was good, nothing extraordinary but loved the atmosphere. Having a dinner in Plaza Machado on a Friday is the best, you get to be be part of an energetic atmosphere with the locals and other foreigners.

Mariachi band at Mr. Lionso in Mazatlan, Mexico

Mariachi band at Mr. Lionso in Mazatlan, Mexico

Mazatlan is known for it’s silver jewelries, and Real McCoy is one of the best (and expensive) places to shop for the good quality silver, opal, and mother of pearl. We were taken there during our city trip and I bought a silver bracelet for about $100 and few earnings and rings for friends and family. But bargain…they initially asked $450 for my bracelet and I ended up getting it for $100. Also, buy Mexican vanilla…it’s the best I’ve tasted so far. Lots of other colorful decorations like wooden bowls and Day of the Dead souvenirs are very popular too.

Our Hotel: We stayed in Pueblo Bonita Emerald Bay Resort in Mazatlan which is more than half an hour drive from the downtown or Centro Historico and close to an hour drive from the airport. There is another Pueblo Bonita near downtown but their Emerald Bay Resort is in the newer one in Zona Nuevo or New Mazatlan. We could see the Pacific and gorgeous sunsets over the ocean from our balcony . The best part of this resort was the sound of native birds, especially early morning. I used to wake up at 6:30am just to hear their loud chirping from the balcony.

Pueblo Bonita Emerald Bay Resort in Mazatlan, Mexico

Pueblo Bonita Emerald Bay Resort in Mazatlan, Mexico

Places We’ve Visited:  We had about 4 full days in Mazatlan and we didn’t rent any car. To get around the city, ride Mazatlan’s signature white open-aired taxi “Pulmonia”. Some of them have only doors and no windows while others have none. Although they are everywhere, do ask for the price before you get onto one. They are very cheap compared to US dollars and the drivers always appreciate a little tip.

Taxi in Mazatlan, Mexico, called Pulmonia

Taxi in Mazatlan, Mexico, called Pulmonia

Some places we couldn’t visit but worth making a trip would be Deer Island, Durango, and Copala. Deer Island can be done in half a day but Durang and Copala by the Seirra Madre are full day, 12-hour excursions. If you have extra few days, there is also a daily ferry that leaves Mazatlan everyday late afternoon and reaches Cabo San Lucas the next morning, within 14 hours. But if you want to stay locally, there are tons of water activities to do in Mazatlan, like Jet skiing, water-skiing, or parasailing.

Here are some of the things we did, saw, and visited while we were in Mazatlan.

  1. Centro Historico: This is a nice walking district of Mazatlan and a charming cultural center of the city. This old part of the town is a must see for any visitors.
Centro Historico in Mazatlan, Mexico

Centro Historico in Mazatlan, Mexico

      2. City Bus Tour: This was half a day tour of Mazatlan that we did on our first day there, focusing mainly on the older part of the city. The cost was $19 per person and we were picked up from our hotel around 10am and were dropped off around 3:30pm. This trip was organized with a small group of 3/4 families and consisted of little bit of walking and little bit of driving. My teenage daughter said that was her the most favorite part of this trip.

                           a. El Mercado or Mercado Pino Suarez: Our first stop of this trip on day 1 in Mazatlan is El Mercado in the Centro Historico. It’s a large indoor market place consists of countless small shops where you can find everything from fresh produce, to meat and fish, to household stuff, to Mexican handcrafts, and other souvenirs. It was a bit crowded with the locals and lots of tourist groups, but this was a great Mexico experience and a fun way to check out localities. I bought couple t-shirts for very cheap prices (2 kids t-shirts for $7). But do bargain before buying anything here.

Mercado Pino Suarez in Downtown Mazatlan, Mexico

Mercado Pino Suarez in Downtown Mazatlan, Mexico

                           b. La Inmaculada Concepcio or The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception: This grand architecture has been standing in the heart of Mazatlan since 1899 with its magnificent interior and exterior elements. There was a service going on inside the cathedral at the time we entered the building, so we couldn’t walk around and see all the details. But from its marvelous ceiling to stained-glass windows and the gorgeous alter, it’s pretty obvious why this is on the must-see list of Mazatlan.

La Inmaculada Concepcio or The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mazatlan, Mexico

La Inmaculada Concepcio or The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mazatlan, Mexico

                            c. Plaza Machado: This is the main public square and the heart of Centro Historico. It’s surrounded mainly by lots of restaurants and some old and colorful buildings, like historic hotel, theater, old book store, and other commercial buildings. It’s a trendy place in an old setting with lots of young local crowds…a great place to do some people watching.

Loved those windows and doors in and around Plaza Machado in Mazatlan, Mexico

Loved those windows and doors in and around Plaza Machado in Mazatlan, Mexico

We came back to Plaza Machado on Friday which was our last evening in Mazatlan. It was very lively with lots of people, local performers and dancers, vendors, and loud music at almost every restaurant. We came here for dinner because this is the best place to enjoy any meal in the city. You will find Mexican, Italian, and other kinds of cuisines in this square.

Plaza Machado at night in Mazatlan, Mexico

Plaza Machado at night in Mazatlan, Mexico

Taxi from Malecon Beach to Plaza Machado is about 90 Pesos and is about 180 Pesos if you are coming from Pueblo Bonita Emerald Bay Resort or that area.

3. The Lighthouse: We didn’t go near the lighthouse, just saw it from a distance. But this is the world’s natural highest operating lighthouse (515 feet above sea level).

4. Cliff Divers: This was our last stop before we were taken to souvenir shopping and to the lunch venue at Mr. Lionso. As soon as our van parked and we stepped out, one of the divers approached us to see him diving from 45 feet high rock formation to a really shallow water area. They will climb up the stairs and will dive to a water area that is only 5-6 feet deep. The divers will have to wait for the right waves and time for this stunt. But they are there all day and only have to wait few minutes to see the jump right in front of your eyes. usually a nice medium size of crowd will gather to see them, take photos with these brave men, and tip them.

A cliff diver ready to jump to a shallow water body in Mazatlan, Mexico

A cliff diver ready to jump to a shallow water body in Mazatlan, Mexico

Visitors can also climb the stairs for a better view of the surrounding ocean. Check out the beautiful mermaid statue while you are there.

Mermaid by the beach in Mazatlan, Mexico

Mermaid by the beach in Mazatlan, Mexico

5. Malecon and Olas Altas Beach: Few miles away from Plaza Machado, Malecon is a hustling place for the tourists as well as for the locals. The beach below Malecon is Olas Atlas Beach. The famous “Mazatlan” structure is at one end of Malecon. Few iconic statues can be seen while walking on Malecon and many street side vendors can also be found selling small trinkets in the evening.

Walking on Malecon at night in Mazatlan, Mexico

Walking on Malecon at night in Mazatlan, Mexico

6. Stone Island: This was our another half-day excursion that we booked on our 3rd day in Mazatlan. After we were picked up from our hotel, we drove thru the city in a no-window bus, and arrived at the marina about in an hour to board the catamaran. This was a fun boat with loud Mexican music, fun attendants, and cold beverages. The catamaran took us around some beautiful seascape with old rock formations and caves. Our first stop was to meet some sea lions on a giant boulder in the middle of the sea who originally migrated from California.

On our way to Stone Island in Mazatlan

On our way to Stone Island in Mazatlan

After arriving Stone Island, we were taken to our chosen activities by the beach or riding thru the island. Buggy ride with my little daughter gave us a taste of the culture of the island and the locals’ lives.

Buggy ride thru Stone Island in Mazatlan, Mexico

Buggy ride thru Stone Island in Mazatlan, Mexico

The trip was $35 per adult and $17 for a child. The price included lunch and 2 activities on the island  from banana boat, kayaking, horseback riding and buggy ride.

Stone Island beach in Mazatlan, Mexico

Stone Island beach in Mazatlan, Mexico

 

 

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5 Essentials For Camping This Summer

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Picture by Tegan Mierle

The tapestry of camping has changed over the years and branched into multiple dimensions for all different travel tastes in terms of accommodation and settings that each and every person can adore. You can test yours and your families limits as a survivalist camper, rent a cushy RV and use as your accommodation while camping or take the traditional route of camping, which usually conjures thoughts of building a flat pack tent and sitting around a fire to the tunes of folk music cooking smores.

Camping is a travelling technique that can be adored by all, you just need to tailor your trip to suit you, your companions and pets.

There is an abundance of benefits you and your family/friends can gain from camping such as; large doses of fresh air are sure to knock out the kids and you after a day of hiking through one of the worlds most beautiful national parks before heading back to your camping pods. And going off the grid for a while generally does a lot of good for most, as some make the conscious decision to disconnect their electronics, take life back to the essentials and unwind from the daily stressors that are work, home life and school for the children/teens. The lack of noise pollution allows you to sit in blissful peace and quiet, reconnect with nature and escape the shrill sounds from city life.

Convincing anyone of camping to a degree is never truly difficult, with so much to offer each and everyone, what you really should be focusing on is what you’re going to take. Here are 5 necessities to get you started.

Shelter

You are likely to need some form of accommodation, (or tools that can help you build a shelter at least) to protect you from the harsh elements, mainly when weather conditions are at their extreme.

In terms of a tent, this might mean searching for something to fulfill defending you against the expected weather of where you are going to travel. For instance, a voyage up Mount Kilimanjaro will require a different shelter to the one you might need on a camping resort in Verona. Looking at waterproof options is usually an excellent place to start, but also check for windproof and UV protection materials too to shield you and your family/friends from the sun.

Alternatively, there are RV’s, cabins, Minivans, campers and so forth. You literally are spoilt for choice, it seriously just depends on your budget and the kind of experience you want to create on your vacation.

 

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Picture by Scott Goodwill

Bedding

If you’ve ever slept on the hard ground before when camping, you’ll know you didn’t get the best nights sleep and longed for the luxury of a cushy surface, which is why you should pack lots of blankets/sleeping bags to keep you cosy, comfortable and warm as the night draws in and the evening becomes chilly.

Assuming you want to be well rested for your trip, pack a few pillows too. Unless you’re roughing your trip entirely with the bare minimum, a little bit of comfort from a good sleeping bag will go a long way in giving you a spritely mood and get-up-and-go attitude for your days ahead outdoors.

Knife

One too many uses available from one tool makes this a difficult item to ignore adding to your packing list for your camping holiday. For survivalists, campers on resorts, and even those camping in RV’s a knife has a multitude of uses that make this a necessary item for all, here are a few;

  • Cutting/chopping food
  • Shaping bandages from the first aid kit
  • Snapping wood from trees for a fire
  • Cutting rope and fishing wire

So don’t forget to search an assortment of knives available and consider to buy Zero Tolerance Knives. This goes without saying, but keep out of the reach of children where possible.

Food And Drink

Of course, you will need non-perishable food for your trip. This is especially true if you don’t have an electric supply to cater to fridge/freezer gadgets to keep your food fresh, which is why canned and packet food is usually a good bet. Meats will require refrigeration, so consider whether you have these facilities before you take any meat.

Ultimately, you should always carry plenty of water especially a running water supply is not available on your camping grounds. It’s great for drinks, cups of coffee, cooking with and washing things with too. If you’re attempting wild camping, it may be wise to take fresh water for your own safety, to prevent dehydration or to prevent drinking water from untested sources, such as streams.

Flashlight And Lanterns

Pack plenty of flashlights (and batteries) perhaps even solar lights to illuminate the outside of the tent at night time when you might need to journey to natures toilet.

Having a few lights handy on your person and inside your shelter will help you in a variety of scenarios at night time such as playing cards in the dark, guiding you to pick something up out of the car, or perhaps going for a nighttime stroll.

Camping lanterns, in particular, are handy as they will stand on their own and shed light in every direction. This is better when you need a stable, bright light without having to hold it consistently as you would a torch.

Yet be wary of bugs swarming to the light and keep your fly net down on your tent where possible to avoid creepy crawlies getting inside.

The prospect of camping is one that will fill you with excitement, adventure, peace, and quiet and the ability to connect better with a partner, friends, family at your own pace. However, packing the essentials for the style of trip you want to achieve is vital, to prevent your stay from becoming uncomfortable or even painful. The above items and tools are essential. However, you are able to expand on this so long as you have the equipment or vehicle to carry your extra luggage. For instance, you may wish to delve further in and look at camping pots and pans to cook with, toiletries to take. Perhaps even activity equipment such as fishing rods and bicycles, although these are not essential, they will make for a fun trip.

 

6 Essentials For Your Winter Travels

A winter vacation is something magical, isn’t it? It’s always something that sounds like the perfect getaway until you work out that it’s not just the cold temperature that you have to face, but the possibility of snow, hail, icy rain and cutting winds. Difficult weather conditions require the right attire to manage them all and that means…it’s time to shop!

You need to be prepared when you are on your way to your winter vacation. Preparation is the key to success and you need to be prepared. You don’t want to have the wintry, chilly weather to prevent your vacation from being the winter wonderland that it should be. You should be looking to get some gorgeous winter boots from Filly Flair Boutique and then figure out where to get some chunky knit socks to fill them and keep your feet warm. While these are both nice things to have, they’re not going to be the essentials for the winter vacation you’ve been planning for some time. There are some things that are luxuries and others that are a must and we’ve got six of those musts below:

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  1. Down Jacket: The very first line against the cold wind is a good jacket which is lined with down. They’re excellent insulators and can make sure that you stay protected against the harsh winds. If you’re somewhere that snows a lot, it can look beautiful, but it’s not going to be dry, and a down jacket is waterproof so you won’t end up getting soaked.
  2. Thermals: They’re not sexy, but my goodness these are warm! You wear them under your clothing and they trap your body heat so that you can keep as warm as possible against the winter conditions. Opt for woolen ones if you’re going somewhere particularly freezing as these will work out the best.
  3. Scarves: No matter your winter vacation, you need a variety of scarves. You can wear them inside and out, cashmere or wool. You can double it up to protect your chin, nose and mouth, too.
  4. Beanie: It doesn’t matter if your coat has a hood, you need a good hat. You have to offer some protection for your head for the winter months. It doesn’t always work with just a hood, so you need a heat-retaining beanie to help you to stay as warm as possible.
  5. Gloves: Those hands of yours need to stay toasty, and you can buy waterproof gloves with detachable fingers on them so that you can continue to use cash and a phone while you keep your hands warm.
  6. Boots: We’ve already mentioned boots, but they’re worth another chat! Boots that keep your feet dry and warm are going to help your entire body to keep warm. Wear them with thick socks for maximum toastiness.

Your winter clothes need to keep you as warmed up as possible, so get shopping, you’ve a vacation to consider.

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

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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.

The Many Wonders Grapevine Texas Has To Offer Vacationers

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Are you a tourist or a local looking for fun activities in Grapevine, Texas? If yes, then Grapevine will give you the best vacation you have ever had. There are many amazing things to see and do that are very close to the major Grapevine hotels. Here are the wonders Grapevine has to offer vacationers:

1. The Grapevine Vintage Railroad

While travelling by train can be a holdover for you, it is one of the best things to do in Texas. Experience the historic Grapevine Vintage Railroad, which will take you years back to when trains were the central transport means. The Vintage Railroad will take you to Fort Worth Stockyards from Grapevine. You will get to hear the wheels of the train move on the steel tracks and enjoy the view of the cabin sways. The railroad provides standard rides between February and December. Special rides that you can take part in include the North Pole Express and a Jazz Wine Train trip.

2. Grapevine’s Wineries

Just like its name suggests, Grapevine is the ideal destination for the best wines in Texas. For a glass of white or red wine, visit any of the nine local vineyards. The GrapeFest is the biggest wine festival in the Southwest, and it takes place in Grapevine. The town is also home to Urban Wine Trail Texas. You can visit wineries along the Main Street, including Bingham Family and Messina Hof Vineyards. Just one block from Main Street, you will find the Homestead Winery where you can taste wine at the century-old Victorian home. If you want a real Texas vineyard, you can tour the Delaney Vineyards & Winery. The stunning winery is located within an attractive building that looks like an 18th-century French castle.

3. Biggest Indoor Waterpark in the State of Texas

The Great Wolf Lodge offers the biggest indoor waterpark in Texas. You can have an exciting time riding at the Coyote Cannon or descend the Alberta Falls’ swift banking turns. You can also have a relaxing time at its hot Springs’ soothing waters. Your family can have a great time playing at the water tree called Fort Mackenzie while your kids get special rides. The waterpark is not restricted to seasons; it is available all year round due to its pleasant 84 degrees of temperature. However, only Great Wolf Lodge’s guests can play there.

4. Lake Grapevine

If you love being outdoors, Lake Grapevine is suitable for you. The lake is located to the north of Grapevine’s Historic Downtown, and it’s only a few minutes ride from the town. The lake is scenic and surrounded by rolling hills covered in beautiful lush trees. You can go out to the lake on a kayak or a boat and attempt catching the white bass that is available in plenty. You can join a hired sailing trip or a romantic cruise at night under the stars.

The shoreline of the lake offers the opportunity for hiking the trails for nine miles of wilderness. Close to the lake, you will find the Meadowmere Park and Oak Grove Park that have 26 miles of great paths ideal for cycling and hiking. You can also have a picnic at the lakeside and enjoy the panoramic views.

Conclusion

Grapevine’s fine wineries, stunning lake, exciting waterpark, and Vintage Railroad as well as luxurious hotels are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many wonders that vacationers can enjoy. If you are looking to have a good time in Grapevine, these are some of the sites to visit.

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