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Water Parks in the Summer = A Beautiful Thing

3 Aug

I love summer. No, really… LOVE! Give me sweltering heat over turtle necks and snow boots any day.

 

One of my favorite pasttimes when I was younger was visiting Splish Splash Water Park on Long Island in New York. I haven’t been there in ages, so I’m sure it’s a bit dated but man, what a good time we had whenever we went.

 

There’s nothing like packing up a picnic lunch and spending an afternoon on water rides during the summer.Visiting the top amusement parks of the U.S. is a bucket list trip for me but if you’re a big water park fan, I’d suggest you pull together a fun road trip before summer leaves us!

 

The folks at TripAdvisor, a favorite resource of mine- I might add, pulled together a list of the top-rated water parks in the country. I’m a big fan of TripAdvisor because it provides real feedback from real people in real time so you know these water parks have to be good!

 

Take a look. Been to any this summer?

 

TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Water Parks:

1. Sensational Soaking: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Indiana
Admission, which includes complimentary soft drinks and sunscreen, costs $42.95 for adults, and $32.95 for guests under 54” and seniors.

 

2. Wondrous Waves: Typhoon Lagoon, Orlando, Florida
Admission costs $52.29 for adults, and $43.67 for children aged three – nine.

 

3. Splashy Scene: Noah’s Ark Water Park, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Admission costs $35.99 for adults, and $28.79 for children and seniors.

 

4. Beachfront Bonanza: Morey’s Piers, Wildwood, New Jersey
Admission to the water parks costs $36, $28 for guests under 5’4” and is free of charge for seniors.

 

5. Dunking Delight: Kahuna Laguna, North Conway, New Hampshire
Admission costs $40 for adults and children alike.

 

6. Thrills and Spills: Water Country USA, Williamsburg, Virginia
Admission is $46.99 for guests aged 10 and up, $39.99 for ages three – nine, and is free of charge for children under three.

 

7. Spectacular Slides: NRH20 Waterpark, North Richland Hills, Texas
Admission is $23.99 for guests measuring 4’8” and over, $19.99 for those under 4’8”, and is free of charge for children under two.

 

8. Divine Dip: Adventureland, Des Moines, Iowa
Admission costs $35 for guests aged 10 and up, and $30 for ages four – nine and seniors.

9. Watery Wonderland: Aquatica (SeaWorld’s Waterpark), Orlando, Florida
Admission costs $47.99 for adults, and $41.99 for children aged three – nine.

 

10. Poolside Pleasures: Wild Water & Wheels, Surfside Beach, South Carolina
Admission is $29.25 for guests measuring 4’8” and over, $18.40 for those under 4’8” or over 55, and is free of charge for children under two.

 

 

To read more about these parks, check out the full article on TripAdvisor.

 

 

No Summer Plans? Try attending one of these wacky summer festivals!

22 Jun

Summer planning is always a good time but it can often be exhausting, or even frustrating. If you haven’t lock yourself into a Hamptons share house and are looking for an out-of-the-box summer activity, check out the below list, pulled together by the folks at TripAdvisor.

Ever heard of a duct tape festival? No? Then head to Avon, OH– the “Duct Tape Capital of the World!”

 

Mashed Potato Wrestling

Mashed potato wrestling in Barnesville, Minnesota

TripAdvisor’s Top Ten Wackiest Summer Events in the U.S.

1. Funky Fungus: Humungus Fungus Festival — August 5 – 7, 2011, Crystal Falls, Michigan
Fungus fanatics will be in their earthy element at this celebration of the world’s largest mushroom, which weighs 11 tons, covers 37 acres and lives just below the ground near this northern Michigan town. Travelers can work up an appetite in the strong man contest as they watch contenders compete in events including a keg toss, tire flop, and a metal pole lift – and then devour some mouth-watering mold, by indulging in a slice of the world’s largest mushroom pizza. General admission is free of charge although some events do have a fee.

2. Rowdy Ruckus: National Hollerin’ Contest — June 18, 2011, Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina
Travelers should leave their indoor voices at home at this cacophonous celebration, which draws in over 10,000 attendees. The hollering contest is not the only pursuit for travelers to enjoy at this gathering; conch shell blowing, a greasy poll climb, and the classic game of corn hole are also integral to the hollerin’ hoopla. Those with a firm grip can even compete to hold on to a greased watermelon, while local firemen try to knock it from contestants’ hands using a fire hose. General admission is $5, and free for children 12 and under.

3. Creamy Chaos: Cream Cheese Festival — September 17, 2011, Lowville, New York
Travelers in search of some cheesy fun and tub-loads of excitement will be delighted by this event, which is now in its seventh year. Cream cheese connoisseurs can finger paint a mural with the yummy spread, fill a friend’s face in an all-you-can-eat contest, or have a taste of the world’s largest cheesecake, which measures 20 feet in diameter. Athletic attendees can even test their pitching prowess in the “Flinging Cream Cheese Toss.” General admission is free of charge.

4. Seedy Celebration: Watermelon Thump — June 23 – 26, 2011, Luling, Texas
Now in its 58th year, this juicy four-day celebration is ripe with fun and anything but melon-choly! Attendees can attempt to break the Guinness World record of nearly 69-feet in a seed spitting contest, while watermelon-lovers can even participate in a melon eating match to see who can demolish a slice the fastest. A variety of tasty summer treats can also be enjoyed at the festival, along with live music and a car show. General admission is free of charge Thursday and Sunday, and is $8 Friday, and $10 Saturday.

5. Georgia Jubilation: Summer Redneck Games — July 9, 2011, East Dublin, Georgia
Travelers can get down and dirty in Dublin for this one-day event, which draws crowds of over 5,000 attendees each year. For those that don’t find bobbin’ for pig’s feet appetizing, visitors can also participate in the hubcap hurl, mud-pit belly flop contest, or even test their talent for tossing toilet seats in a round of “Redneck Horseshoes”. Winners in each event will receive a glistening, half-crushed, mounted beer can. Admission is $5 and free for children under seven.

6. Pungent Party: Gilroy Garlic Festival — July 29 – 31, 2011, Gilroy, California
Celebrating its 33rd year, this fragrant festival is a garlic lovers’ dream – and a vampire’s worst nightmare! Tantalizing delights from more than 65 food vendors include garlic chocolate, garlic-flavored ice cream cones and garlic watermelon, to name a few. On the final day of the festival, travelers can attend the “Great Garlic Showdown”, hosted by renowned chef Angelo Sosa, as four bay area chefs participate in an “Iron Chef” competition for a grand prize of $5,000. General admission is $17, $8 for children and seniors.

7. Tater-Tastic: Barnesville Potato Days — August 26 – 27, 2011, Barnesville, Minnesota
Over 17,000 spud-lovers gather annually at this two-day event to participate in some groundbreaking entertainment. Travelers can immerse themselves in a round of mashed potato wrestling, or stuff their faces with the savory starch in the “French Fry Feed”. Those with an artistic eye can design a sculpture using mashed potatoes, and fashionistas can even design some one-of-a-kind clothing from a potato sack. General admission is free of charge.

8. A Chipper Celebration: Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw — September 2 – 3, 2011, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin
Once used by early settlers as fuel for cooking and heating the home, cow chips serve a loftier purpose in this two-day event, which attracts over 40,000 people annually. Travelers can try their hand at breaking the 248-foot long record in the legendary adult chip throw, while youngsters can also have a shot in the “Children’s Chip Chuckin’ Competition”. Those who wish to keep their hands clean can compete in a five or ten kilometer road race, or boogie down Wisconsin-style with some live music. General admission is free of charge, with a $3 fee to enter the Cow Chip Throw ($1 for children).

9. Mushy Madness: National Baby Food Festival — July 20 – 23, 2011, Fremont, Michigan
Home to one of the largest baby food factories in the U.S., this city’s annual celebration is crawling with fun for all ages. Adults who are young at heart can turn back the clock in a baby food eating contest, while those that prefer solid foods can test their skills with a bubble gum blowing contest, a pop ring toss, or fill their faces in a pie eating challenge. General admission is free of charge, yet various individual events do have fees.

10. A Tacky Time: Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival — June 17 – 19, 2011, Avon, Ohio
This sticky celebration, now in its eighth year, takes places in the “Duct Tape Capital of the World.” Duct tape enthusiasts will see dozens of displays made from this household staple, including fashion-forward clothing and sports memorabilia. On the last day of the festival, Miss America will marshal a parade from the top of a float made from the grey tape. General admission is free of charge.

 

 

 

Happy Planning!

Summer Travel Idea: A Long Weekend in Savannah + Hilton Head Island

12 Apr

Yesterday the weather in NYC hit 70+ degrees, putting me into a full-blown case of  spring fever! This warm weather is dangerous for my productivity. I find myself browsing for spring attire and more importantly, brainstorming summer weekend getaways!

There are 15 weekends from Memorial to Labor Day, which means lots of options for you to get some quality travel time this summer! I must admit, I am not the best domestic traveler. Whenever I have an extra day off, my mind immediately goes to Europe or Central America– wherever I can fit in a quick, exotic (and affordable) getaway– but there are plenty of options for fun, out-of-the-box trips, right here in the U.S.

Take, for instance, Georgia. So much more than Atlanta, this southern beauty of a state has tons to offer. Don’t believe me? Check out this itinerary for a long weekend to Savannah, Georgia, with a stop over in Hilton Head Island in South Carolina! A perfect little getaway to the south during the warm spring/summer months.

Savannah's River Street

Savannah's River Street

Summer Trip Idea: A weekend in Savannah + Hilton Head Island:

Ideal Time to Visit: late spring/summer (when it’s warm enough to visit the beach)

Ideal Length of Time: 4-5 days

Fly into: Savannah, GA (ideally); other options: fly into Atlanta and drive 4-5 hours to Savannah or Charleston, SC and drive 2 hours to Hilton Head Island. Of course, if you are close, why not take a nice drive to either destination and make this a fun summer roadtrip?

Sample Fares from NYC to Savannah:

  • July: low/mid $400s
  • August: high $400s
  • Labor Day Weekend: low $500s

* could also fly direct into Hilton Head throughout the summer; low $500s

How to Spend Your Time: 2 days in Savannah; 2-3 days in Hilton Head Island

Savannah's Forsyth Park Fountain

Savannah's Forsyth Park Fountain

Savannah Activities: Savannah is a charming (partially) cobble-stoned historic town in Georgia, filled with 18th and 19th century structures and a calming river. Here are some suggestions of activities to do while in town.

  • City Market (219 W. Bryan St) : take a stroll through this historic indoor/outdoor market, once used by farmers and traders of all kinds during the 1700s. This is also a great place for nightlife as it is filled with restaurants and bars.
  • House Spotting: walk through the Historic and Victorian Districts and marvel at the beautiful historic homes
  • For Art Lovers: Savannah is an artist’s city, filled with tons of galleries throughout. Visit Chroma Gallery (33 Barnard St.), which has been voted Best Gallery in town for the past three years.
  • Take a Ghost Tour: In a historic town with buildings that date back to the 1700s, you’re bound to encounter a ghost tale, or two. There are plenty of tour companies that will show you around town but Hearse Ghost Tours is a local favorite (http://www.hearseghosttours.com/).
  • Visit the Mercer Williams House Museum: located at 429 Bull St., this 1800s mansion is home to where “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” actually took place. Note: museum is only open on the first floor as the rest of the building is still used as a private residence.
  • Visit Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum (460 Martin Luther King Jr)
  • Picnic in Bonaventure Cemetery (330 Bonaventure Road)

* Sightseeing not your thing? That’s okay. Similar to New Orleans, you can easily get away with doing nothing but strolling along outside and eating delicious meals during your time in Savannah. There are plenty of local shops, art galleries and outdoor markets to keep you satisfied without ever having to pay for a tour. And the mansions can keep you occupied for days!

Savannah's Victorian District

Savannah's Victorian District

Savannah Hotel Options (ideally, you want to stay in the Historic District):

  • Mansion on Forsyth Park: rooms start at $229; top-rated hotel; website
  • River Street Inn: from $200; website
  • Westin Savannah: from $180; website (note: location is a bit isolated; across the river)
  • Hamilton-Turner Bed and Bed Breakfast: from $189; located on Lafayette Square; website
  • Planter’s Inn: from $150; website
  • The 1895 Inn: from $175; rated the best B&B in town; website
  • The Old Savannah Inn: from $175; one of the top-rated B&Bs in town; website
  • Amethyst Inn: from $155; website
  • Green Palm Inn: email for rates; adults-only inn; website

Savannah is filled with historic bed and breakfasts (which I would choose to stay in over a generic hotel, any day); view the full list of inns here: http://www.historicinnsofsavannah.com/

The Mansion at Forsyth Park

The Mansion at Forsyth Park

Getting to Hilton Head Island from Savannah:

  • Rent a car and drive via I-95 from Savannah; approximately one hour from Savannah Airport or Amtrak station
Map of Hilton Head Island

Map of Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island Activities:

  • Beach Time! All of the beaches on this island are open to the public. Kick back and enjoy some quality R&R time in the sun.
  • Spa Treatments: After lounging in the sun, refresh yourself at one of Hilton Head’s many spas. Check out the list of spas here: http://www.hiltonheadisland.org/members/spa-services/
  • Outlet Shopping! If it happens to rain during your visit, check out the Tanger Outlets for some retail therapy. (Thanks CC for pointing this out!)
Sea Pines Resort

Sea Pines Resort

Hilton Head Island Accommodations:

  • The Inn at Harbour Town; Sea Pines Resort: from $219; top-rated hotel; website
  • Hilton Head Health Resort: from $1,400 for an all-inclusive rate for three dates; weight loss spa and health resort; website
  • Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort: email for rates; perfect for families; website
  • Marriott’s Grande Oceans: from $445; website
  • Marriott’s Barony Beach Club: from $385; website
Hilton Head- Sea Pines Resort

View of Hilton Head Island from above Sea Pines Resort

Helpful Links:

Happy Planning!

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