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Archive for the ‘vacation’ Category

5 Bucket-List Entries You Need to Consider

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by Quik Shade

Most people have some type of bucket list, or a list of items to do before you die. For some people, these entries focus on traveling, while others focus on adventures such as sky diving or learning a new craft or hobby. A bucket list can also include a diverse array of items from all these categories. When you build your bucket list, you need to consider adding these five entries. 

See the Northern Lights

One must-have item on your bucket list is seeing the northern lights. There are many places where you can see the aurora borealis, including northern parts of the U.S. during certain weather and climate issues. Typically, you have to be in the latitude from 65 to 72 during November to March in order to experience these beautiful lights that occur when the solar particles collide with the atmospheric gases. Some of the best locations include Alaska, Finland, Scotland, Iceland and Greenland.

Dive the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is so large that you can see it from space. There are many ways to enjoy this massive ecosystem. You can snorkel, take a glass bottom boat, or even walk along the reef on some of the barrier islands. However, the best way to experience it is by getting under the water and diving. Although you have to be a certified diver to experience some of the best diving areas, you can do instructor dives that do not require any type of certification or experience. 

Walk on the Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is a definite must see human-made wonder of the world. This ancient wall, some of it built as long ago as the 7th century BCE and the most famous sections built between 220 and 206 BCE, spans an area of almost 5,500 miles according to one archeological survey and 13,171 miles according to another. Many of the sections still stand strong throughout China, and you can walk along many of them.

Run a Marathon

Another essential bucket list item should be running a marathon. Running 26.2 miles is an achievement that not everyone is able to do. Training for the event takes many months of hard work and dedication. The running of the event can sometimes feel very painful, especially when you hit the wall around mile 22. However, the feeling you get when you cross the finish line is one that you cannot get from many other events. You will feel a sense of accomplishment from pushing yourself to the limit and seeing what you are made of. You can sign up for a marathon locally, or try for some of the more interesting or famous ones, including Boston, Chicago, New York, Big Sur, London, Athens, and even the Great Wall of China, where you can tick off two bucket list items in one.

Trek the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is a famous trail in South America that is one of the best in the word. You start from Chillca and walk along a route that takes you around many beautiful and historical sites, including Machu Picchu. This trail is not a simple feat, though. It takes four days to complete the whole trek, so you will need to train for the event. You will walk through the Sacred Valley and see many awe-inspiring views, including one of the best views of Machu Picchu.

There are many other must-see events to include in your bucket list, such as climbing Mount Everest or diving with the jellyfish of Palau. However, these five events are some of the entries that should really be on everyone’s bucket list. 

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Where to Find the Best Fall Foliage in the U.S.A.

Posted on: September 15th, 2014 by Quik Shade

Fall is the best time to drive around and look at the fall foliage colors. Most people only consider the east coast as having the brilliant colors of fall, but there are places all around the U.S. that feature picturesque vistas filled with yellow, orange, and red leaves that signal the cold weather is just around the corner.

Southeast New Jersey

Southeastern New Jersey offers beautiful drives and views of the changing leaves, especially around Belleplain State Forest, which is home to the Lake Nummy. Around this lake are many different varieties of trees, including oak, red maple, sweet gum, black gum, cranberry and evergreens. With such a diverse array of leaves and colors, you will have a real treat. Additionally, it is more southern and has a more temperate climate, which means that the fall foliage season is later. You can enjoy the leaves from late October through early November.


Lake Champlain Islands

Vermont is one of the best places to go and view fall foliage, and one of the most famous for it. The central and southern areas, especially Lake Champlain Islands, the Green Mountains and Burlington, feature superb colors on their leaves. There are more than 20 drives around the state to see all that it has to offer, anywhere from 30 to 210 miles long, provided by the state’s tourism website. When you experience these drives, be sure to stop at apple orchards and other not-to-miss sites.


Massachusetts is also well known for its typical New England fall foliage, especially the Berkshire Mountains. Many people enjoy the popular Mohawk Trail, which takes you along the mountains and through many small and picturesque villages. There are several maple trees with vivid reds, oranges and yellows. This area is legendary for its beauty in the fall.


Although New England is famous for its foliage, it is not the only destination in the U.S. to see it. The Rocky Mountains of Colorado feature many beautiful aspen trees that turn bright gold and orange. Amidst these aspens are several evergreens, making a nice mixture of green amongst the yellows and golds. Aspen is one of the best areas to see the beautiful foliage, and you can experience the town with the off-season rates. You can hike and cycle among the mountains, enjoying the lovely views.


Wisconsin has some beautiful scenic drives around Lake Michigan with beautiful fall foliage. Door County, which is on a peninsula between Green Bay and the lake, offers the best driving for the foliage. You can also enjoy cruises on the lake, or enjoy many other fall festivities. There are many apple orchards in the area, with farmers’ markets and roadside stands selling fresh apple cider.


Texas may not seem to be the best place to go for fall foliage, but Lost Maples State Natural Area, which is about an hour and 45 minutes away from San Antonio, offers brilliant fall foliage. You can hike around the area or go camping and enjoy the beautiful fall foliage. Because it is so far south, the best time to go is towards the beginning to middle of November. Other areas of the state, especially in east Texas, also have beautiful drives and hikes through the foliage.


The West Coast is no stranger to fall foliage either. In Oregon, especially near Portland and the Columbia River, not only can you enjoy the beautiful fall foliate, but you can also walk through areas with waterfalls, dramatic river gorges, and beautiful gardens. Driving along the Columbia River Highway provides many picturesque vistas, especially of waterfalls and tall cliffs. You can also enjoy many local wineries in the area.

These are just a few of the many beautiful places to experience fall foliage throughout the U.S. Whether you want to go hiking one weekend day, take a long weekend vacation, or go on an extended holiday, you can easily find an area to experience the beauty of fall. 

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Exploring Colorado’s Ski Country In The Summertime

Posted on: August 22nd, 2014 by Quik Shade

Many people make vacation plans to Colorado during the winter to take advantage of the many ski slopes, but by only visiting during the winter, you miss out on many fantastic opportunities for outdoor activities amid spectacular views. Many popular ski resorts are home to hiking and other outdoor activities during the summer season. The sunny days and mild weather, with an average high of 75, makes for a perfect setting for summertime fun. Exploring Colorado’s ski country in the summertime makes an excellent vacation for the whole family, and there is plenty of options for activities the whole family can enjoy.


One of the best summertime activities in Colorado is hiking. The ski slopes turn into trails offering the same beautiful panoramic views. Just as the mountains offer a variety of slopes for every skill level, they also provide hiking opportunities for all skill levels to enjoy. You can enjoy simple hikes that take less than an hour or long, strenuous hikes that can extend to days. Many of the ski resorts fun their gondolas and chair lifts during the summer to help people get up the mountains. You can take the gondolas up for gorgeous views of the entire area, or you can get to the top on your own steam power.

Colorado Hiking


Colorado is a bicycle friendly state, offering beautiful trails, many that are dedicated to biking. Winter Park offers many great road biking routes, while Crested Butte has the best mountain biking trails, and is known as the birthplace of the sport. Some of the ski lifts are also open to bikers who want to ride down the trails. You can take biking tours around the cities, or go on an extended biking trip around the whole state.

Horseback Riding

You do not have to only explore the trials by your own power; you can also take a horse around many of the trails. Several dude ranches offer guided tours through the forests and mountains. You do not need to be an experienced horse rider to enjoy these tours. They will teach you the basics you need, and then an expert will lead you around with plenty of stops for taking pictures.


Colorado also offers adventures for the strong of heart. You can find plenty of opportunities to go ziplining, paragliding, and more. Vail offers Adventure Ridge, which has a ropes course in addition to a zipline. You can also go white river rafting in many of the rivers around the state. Some of these activities are family friendly, offering an adventure the whole family can enjoy.

Water Sports

The many beautiful lakes in Colorado offer summer visitors hours of fun. You can rent a boat to sail around Grand Lake. You can also go fishing, enjoy kayaking, swimming, as well as other water activities. If you do not want to enjoy any of the water sports, you can still sit and enjoy the sunshine on the beaches of the lakes, or hike around and enjoy the views.


Many of the resort towns in Colorado have golf courses, which are some of the best mountain courses in the world. These courses offer stunning views, especially the ones in Eagle Country. You can also have a more impressive golf game, as the higher altitude makes the ball fly further.


During the summer, Colorado hosts numerous festivals for music, food, art, film, comedy, wine, and more. Several towns offer a variety of festivals, making it easy to find one celebrating your interests, or you might just stumble into one during your stay. These festivals typically offer a unique cultural experience.  

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5 Resorts you Need to Know about in the Caribbean

Posted on: August 15th, 2014 by Quik Shade

The Caribbean Sea offers some of the best Island resorts in the world. The beautiful, sparkling ocean offers incredible diving and snorkeling opportunities, while the resorts provide luxurious locations to relax and unwind while on vacation. The islands in the Caribbean include Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands, Grand Cayman, Aruba, Antigua, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, Anguilla, St. John, Virgin Gorda, Dominica, St. Martin, the Dominican Republic, the Grenadines, and St. Thomas.

Many travelers list the Caribbean as one of their top destinations, and you do not have to settle for just cruising through the islands. Instead, you can stay at one of these five resorts, which offer the best locations to relax and enjoy the beautiful vistas.

Jade Mountain, St. Lucia

 Jade Mountain

photo credit: Numinosity (Gary J Wood) via photopin cc

Jade Mountain resort on St. Lucia sits above the 600-acre beach front of its sister resort, Anse Chastanet. It offers beautiful architecture that is in harmony with the island. Its architecture is stunning, which alone makes it a must-see resort. Additionally, the spacious rooms and private pools provide the perfect sanctuary for enjoying a relaxing vacation, especially with a romantic partner. It also features a boutique spa and fitness, and has limited media and technology to make it even easier to escape from the world. Visitors get to enjoy privacy and exclusivity, while enjoying all the amenities of the Anse Chastanet resort.

Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort and Spa

Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort and Spa

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This all-inclusive resort opened in 1997, and has become a popular destination for tourists traveling to Turks and Caicos. This resort offers exciting all-inclusive family vacations with a variety of activities. It features a 45,000 square-foot water park, in addition to a 12-mile beach that has been named one of the world’s best beaches by Conde Nast Traveler. It also has four villages and all the amenities travelers would want. This resort has been voted as the best family hotel in the Caribbean and best all-inclusive resort by Travel & Leisure.

Couples San Couci, Jamaica

Couples San Couci is located on the cliffs along the coast of Jamaica, offering gorgeous views of the Caribbean. It provides a relaxing atmosphere and healing natural mineral springs for a truly serene experience that can fuel the body, mind and soul. In addition to the many rooms, it also has private cabanas. Activities include glass bottom boats, scuba diving, and trips to Dunn’s River Falls.

W. Retreat and Spa, Puerto Rico

 This Puerto Rican resort offers visitors a luxurious resort in an area of the Caribbean not as heavily visited as some of the other islands. In fact, most people do not think of Puerto Rico when they think of a Caribbean Island, even though it offers many of the same gorgeous vistas. The brightest bioluminescent bay in the world and gorgeous beaches surround the resort. The 156 rooms and suites have private patios or balconies from which to enjoy the beautiful surrounding views. It also has a spa that features more than thirty custom treatments, as well as an oceanfront pool and several dining options.

Hermitage Bay, Anitgua

Hermitage Bay, Anitgua

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Hermitage Bay resort is located in a hidden cove on the west coast of Antigua. It is an all-inclusive luxury resort with only twenty-five individual suites. Hillsides, tropical gardens, beautiful beaches, and 140 acres of undeveloped land surround the resort. Its isolation provides the perfect island escape from the stressors of a hectic life. Their food is made from their own on-site organic kitchen. For guests who want to do more than rest, relax and enjoy the beach, the resort offers a fitness center, tours of historic sites, sailing, scuba, and cooking courses.