2FN Travel – Travel Blog https://blog.2fntravel.com The beginning of an exciting vacation experience... Wed, 13 Nov 2019 15:22:27 -0500 en-US hourly 1 https://blog.2fntravel.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2FN-Travel-01-150x150.jpg 2FN Travel – Travel Blog https://blog.2fntravel.com 32 32 Vacations Are Good for Your Health https://blog.2fntravel.com/2019/08/18/vacations-are-good-for-your-health/ Mon, 19 Aug 2019 01:10:16 +0000 https://blog.2fntravel.com/?p=232

How many times have you wanted to take a vacation but thought, I just have too much to do?

How many times have you complained how exhausted you are but without doing anything about it?

How many times have you been frustrated by the long hours you are working, but without giving yourself a rest?

According to a recent survey, the average U.S. employee takes only half of their allotted vacation time. Unsurprisingly, they’re suffering from being overworked, overwhelmed and overwrought.

Even among those who actually do go on vacation, three in five admitted to doing some work. A quarter were contacted by a coworker while they were on vacation, and 20 percent were contacted by their supervisor about a work-related issue.

It’s time we say “enough is enough” and learn to put our needs first. Taking time off is good for your mental and physical health, and you can come back more productive and effective. It’s a win-win.

Here are four science-based reasons you should book your next vacation today:

1. Stress reduction. A study released last year by the American Psychological Association concluded that vacations work to reduce stress by removing people from the activities and environments that they associate with stress and anxiety. Similarly, a Canadian study of nearly 900 lawyers found that taking vacations helps alleviate job stress. The effects last beyond the duration of the vacation, too: A small study from the University of Vienna found that after taking time off from work, vacationers had fewer stress-related physical complaints such as headaches, backaches, and heart irregularities, and they still felt better five weeks later.
2. Heart disease prevention. A host of studies have highlighted the cardiovascular health benefits of taking a vacation. In one, men at risk for heart disease who skipped vacations for five consecutive years were 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least a week off each year. Even missing one year’s vacation was associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Studies find similar results with women: Women who took a vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop heart disease, have a heart attack, or die of a coronary-related cause than those who took at least two vacations a year. These statistics are not to scare you but to persuade you that time off is important to your health in the long run.

3. Improved productivity. In our perpetual rush to be productive, we often undermine our very ability to consistently perform at peak levels. Getting more done in less time allows us to get ahead and be more productive, but it takes consistent focus to be truly productive. Professional services firm Ernst & Young conducted an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation time employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8 percent. What’s more, frequent vacationers were significantly less likely to leave the firm. Another study by the Boston Consulting Group found that high-level professionals who were required to take time off were significantly more productive overall than those who spent more time working. When you’re more productive, you’re happier, and when you’re happier, you excel at what you do.
4. Better sleep. Restless nights and disrupted sleep are common complaints–often stemming from the fact that we simply have too much on our minds. When we can’t stop the chatter it affects our sleep, and a lack of sleep leads to less focus, less alertness, impaired memory, an increased likelihood of accidents and a decreased quality of life. Researchers say, that vacations can help interrupt the habits that disrupt sleep, like working late into the night or watching a backlit screen before bed. If you have stress from work and you find your sleep is disrupted because of anxiety or tension, take time off and learn to reset your sleep pattern.

As summer approaches, if you’ve been putting off your vacation, think again. Take some time off so you can sleep better and be more productive, more relaxed, and healthier.

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Planning the perfect cruise https://blog.2fntravel.com/2019/08/15/planning-the-perfect-cruise/ Thu, 15 Aug 2019 14:32:31 +0000 https://blog.2fntravel.com/?p=230

1. Research the ship to find the best fit for you

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Choosing the right ship is the most important step in determining how successful your cruise vacation will be, and not all ships are created equal!  Take the time to research the amenities of the exact ship you will be cruising on, not just the cruise line.

2. Check for themed cruises

Whether you are interested in a romantic trip for two or a trip the whole family will love, look into cruises that fulfill your and your guests’ special interests. Many cruise lines offer themed cruises or special events for singles, families, music lovers, etc.

3. Check in After 2pm

Most cruisers are eager to get on the ship as early as possible, which means that the cruise terminal can be really busy–and more than a little stressful–during the first few hours of boarding (generally from 11am-2pm).  And while you may be able to get on the ship that early, chances are you won’t be able to get into your cabin until later in the afternoon, which means your first few hours on board will be spent hauling your stuff around.  Not exactly the most relaxing start to a vacation!  Instead, avoid the rush and the crowds by waiting to check in until after 2pm (assuming your ship sets sail at 4pm or later!)  You’ll be able to walk right on without waiting and then go straight to your cabin.

4. Looking for deals

Want to get a great deal on a cruise?  Book your cruise for just after Labor Day when kids are back in school–the 2nd week in September offers some of the very best deals of the year.  Coming in at a close second is the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a time when most people are too busy to travel.

5. Spring for a balcony

Room options are typically either Inside (no windows), Outside (window/porthole view to the outside), Balcony (a room with a balcony on the outside of the ship), and Suite (a larger cabin often with separate living and sleeping areas and more amenities). If you plan on taking advantage of in-room dining, have kids who will be taking naps or typically get seasick, you will really appreciate the extra space and killer view you get from a balcony room or suite.

6. Make the most of an interior cabin

If cost is your primary concern, plan on spending most of your awake time enjoying the ship and excursions, making the time spent in your room mostly for sleeping and getting ready.

7. Avoid over packing

Make a list of clothing you need on the trip.  Then cut that in half!  While ship cabins do make the most of a small space, they are still small!  No one cares if you wear the same clothes over again, and all ships offer laundry service.  Find out ahead of time how many “formal” nights the cruise has, if any, and also how strict the dress code is. Also bringing a wrap or a light sweaters. Even if you’re in the Caribbean, the AC is turned up so high inside the ship that you’ll wish you had a little something to keep you warm. And evenings on the decks can be breezy and cooler than you would expect.

8. Pack an empty, mid-sized nylon bag

Don’t be surprised if you end up coming home with more than you left with. Whether it’s souvenirs or gifts for the family, it helps to have something bring them back without stuff them in your luggage.

9. Make yourself at home

Though you’ll see many destinations while on your cruise, take the time to unpack! Whether you are on a cruise for 3 days or 3 weeks, making yourself at home by unpacking will make your trip more enjoyable. Room stewards are experts finding out-of-the-way places to stash suitcases, and even the smallest cabins have a surprisingly large number of drawers and closets. Even “large” quarters on ships are a much smaller space than you are used to living in. Take a few minutes each time you come back to the cabin to keep things tidy in order to avoid feeling like the walls are closing in on you.

10. Make the most of your dining

Ask for the dining menus for the week when you arrive. Cruise have multiple dining rooms and each will have a different menu. You are on vacation! Many first time cruisers don’t realize that even in the main dining room, you can order as many entrees, appetizers, or desserts as you please. If you have special dietary needs, ask for a special diet menu that may include lower sodium and lower fat options.

11.  Take Advantage of Free Room Service

Most cruise lines offer free room service, which makes for a relaxing evening in.   Don’t feel obligated to go to the dining room – this is yourvacation!  Room service breakfast is also a very nice way to start the day, particularly if you have a balcony room. You can order your breakfast by putting the provided menu on your door before you go to bed just like in a hotel. But here’s the secret: you don’t have to order a full breakfast.  You can just order coffee so that you don’t have to leave your room in the morning just to grab a cup of Joe.  And this way, you don’t have to wait for it; you pre-select the time you want it to be delivered.  If you wait to call for coffee in the morning, you’ll be waiting a long time.

12. Drink Smart

While cruising is mostly all-inclusive, drinks are not generally included!  Therefore it is smart to get creative on how you partake. If you like wine, order by the bottle rather than the glass. You can take the bottle with you, whether you are in the dining room, in the cabin or on deck. It is more economical than individual drinks. For non-alcoholic drinks you can typically purchase a drink card that will give you access to unlimited soda.

13. Explore Your Ship.

There are tons of on-board amenities you can take advantage of when you are out at sea or want to stay on board vs. going on an excursion. In the first couple of days, be sure to walk around and familiarize yourself with the ship and its offerings. Also – ask others what they are looking forward to on the ship or have enjoyed doing thus far.

14. Choose Excursions Wisely

Cruise lines offer shore excursions at every port – from bus tours to activities like snorkeling and zip lining. You may also have the option to tour around yourself, but be mindful of time and language barriers. You are best off reviewing excursions in advance of the cruise and booking them online to avoid any confusion or overbooking the day-of. This will also give you time to carefully read the fine print and excursion restrictions.

15. Don’t Miss the Shows and Activities

While the shows and activities do vary from ship to ship, they are almost always really good and very entertaining.  You may even have the opportunity to see a big name performer for a concert or comedy show for almost nothing.  Because of the smaller size of a cruise venue vs. an arena, these events are more intimate and enjoyable than typical concerts–there is literally not a bad seat in the house! Activities also give you a chance to interact and meet other travelers.

16. Talk to Everyone

You get the opportunity to meet so many people from so many walks of life and such different parts of the world. Don’t be surprised if you make friends that last long after your cruise.

17. Take Advantage of the Kids Club!

A ship typically has well-organized camps and activities for children, organized by age, typically 3+.  (For younger children there are sometimes classes or special babysitting times offered.)  These interactive classes and activities will keep the kids entertained while giving parents some free time as well.  We have personally been most impressed with the quality of kids club facilities and variety of activities. The best part is that aside from late night babysitting, it is completely free!

18.  Research Ports Ahead of Time

Take the time to find out a little about the ports you will be visiting to find out what you might like to do or see while you are there.  You may also find some highly rated excursions at a better price than you would find if you purchased on the ship.

19.  Find a Favorite Hangout

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Every ship is different but all are purposely designed to offer comfortable spaces for a variety of tastes.  Often your favorite memories from a cruise will come from having found your “special” place somewhere on the ship, whether it be a particular bar or restaurant, deck chair, or cozy corner in the atrium.  The staff assigned to that particular spot on the ship will generally stay the same through the duration of your cruise, which can come in handy, and it is also a good idea to have a designated meeting spot in case you get separated on board, since cell phones don’t usually work at sea!

Bon voyage!

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40 Free Things To Do in Orlando, FL https://blog.2fntravel.com/2019/08/04/40-free-things-to-do-in-orlando-fl/ Mon, 05 Aug 2019 00:27:26 +0000 https://blog.2fntravel.com/?p=225

There’s no mistaking that Orlando is the theme park capital of the world, bringing in over 50-million visitors per year.

But what about those of us who want to enjoy the sunny warm weather without the giant cost of admission into Disney World or Universal Studios?

We’ve compiled a list of 40 different things you can do in Orlando that are not only fun but free! What could be better than an expense-free vacation?

  1. Downtown Disney Marketplace & Boardwalk
    Downtown Disney is a fun place to experience the magic of Disney without the hefty cost of one of the theme parks. Depending on the month, there may be additional free festivities throughout the marketplace.
  2. Lake Eola Park
    Lake Eola is an 80-foot sink hole. While at the park, enjoy a concert or play at the amphitheater, view the Orlando skyline or, on Sundays, visit the farmers market.
  3. Harry P. Leu Gardens
    Harry P. Leu Gardens offers a variety of attractions, including a butterfly garden, tropical steam garden, bamboo and palm gardens, and a house museum dating to the 1880s. Free admission to the park is available from 9 a.m. to noon on the first Monday of the month.
  4. Town of Celebration
    The Town of Celebration was originally created by Disney, who commissioned architects to create a unique town combining historical elements with technology.
  5. Enzian Theater/Eden Bar
    Enzian Theater/ Eden Bar in Maitland offers a weekly Wednesday Night Pitcher Show every Wednesday, as long as the weather is good.
  6. Ocala National Forest
    Enjoy a hike in the second-largest National Forest in Florida and the oldest National Forest East of the Mississippi River.
  7. Cornell Fine Arts Museum
    The Museum is free for students who have a student I.D., and costs $5 dollars if you’re out of college. Two main attractions are the paintings Cosimo Roselli’s Madonna and Child Enthroned and J. B. Leprince’s The Seasons.
  8. Grand Bohemian Gallery
    The gallery contains local contemporary art and jewelry, along with European paintings from the 19th Century.
  9. A World of Orchids
    The World of Orchids is a conservatory containing natural exhibits with flowers from Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Australia, and the South and Central Americas.
  10. Big Tree Park
    The main attraction at this park was a 118-foot-tall, bald cypress tree that was over 3,500 years old. Sadly, it was destroyed by a vandal, but the park has many benches and tables, so feel free to pack up a picnic and have lunch while enjoying the other aspects of the park.
  11. Fleaworld and Funworld
    Fleaworld is the largest flea market in the United States, boasting over 1,700 vendors. Funworld offers such attractions as acrobatic shows, a circus, magic acts and more, depending on the day you visit. Fleaworld is open Friday to Sunday and Funworld is only open on weekends.
  12. Legend of Spook Hill (Lake Wales)
    Spook Hill allows you to defy gravity. You’ll follow the signs to a particular spot and watch as your car rolls up hill without any form of momentum.
  13. Kissimmee Old Town
    Kissimmee Old Town has free entertainment after 7:30 p.m. every night. On Saturday nights they offer 50’s and 60’s rock-n- roll.
  14. Snowhill Mountain Bike Trail
    The outdoor enthusiast will enjoy Snowhill mountain bike trail in the Little Big Econ State Forest. Snowhill trail has many single pine-needle-layered trails, some sugar-sand parts, woopdeedoos, and river crossing by suspension bridge, as well as some steep drops.
  15. Bradlee-McIntyre House
    This is the only Queen Anne-style cottage remaining in the Orange and Seminole counties. It was built around 1885 and is part of the Logwood Historical Trail.
  16. Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida
    The Center has a collection of artifacts from the Holocaust. It’s open everyday except Saturdays.
  17. Museum of Seminole County History
    The Museum has a wide variety of exhibits, including furniture, mementos and more, all from Seminole County.
  18. Orlando Brewing Company
    Orlando Brewing Company is the only certified organic brewery in Florida. They offer free tours at 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.They also offer free entertainment on the weekends.
  19. Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts
    The Museum celebrates the life of Zora Neal with a wide variety of materials dedicated to African-American culture.
  20. Black Hammock Adventures
    Enjoy an alligator show and bird exhibits. They also provide free music on Fridays and Saturdays.
  21. Children’s Library
    The Children’s Library offers a variety of events, depending on the day and time of year, including special readings, arts and crafts, family movie nights, board games, and musical events.
  22. March of the Peabody Ducks
    Visit the Peabody Hotel at 11 a.m. or 5 p.m. and watch the Peabody Ducks be escorted to and from the Royal Duck Fountain on their own red carpet.
  23. Club Firestone
    Visit this electronic club on Thursdays for free and, if you arrive before 11 p.m., enjoy a free beer.
  24. Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens
    Not only are the museum and gardens free, but you’ll also find a scattering around the grounds of artists creating new works.
  25. Chamberlin’s Market & Cafe
    This market has free classes, guest speakers, and a Fall Harvest Festival with free samples of organic food.
  26. Wekiwa Springs State Park
    The park offers a variety of outdoor activities and a natural history museum. Admission is free in September if you bring a book, library card or library book.
  27. LEGOLAND
    There is an entire theme park dedicated to your favorite building blocks that’s great for kids and adults alike. And bonus: You can even stay the night! Explore the different lands of LEGO, from the new Ninjago World to LEGOLAND’s water park. LEGOLAND is a great option if you’ve got slightly younger kids that can’t quite ride all the mega-coasters in Universal—while there are a few bigger coasters, most of them are kid-friendly, from the Coastersaurus and Boating School to the Aquazone Wave Racers. Don’t forget to bring mini-figures to trade!
  28. Fort Christmas Historical Park
    This fort from the Second Seminole Indian War includes historical structures and pioneer demonstrations. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday.
  29. Kelly Park, Rock Springs
    These parks have a free-flowing natural spring, hiking and camping. Children under 5 are free and there’s a total charge of $3 per car containing up to eight people.
  30. University of Central Florida Arboretum
    Here you can see over 600 plant species and eight natural ecosystems while enjoying a disc golf course, bike paths and a great swamp habitat.
  31. Howl at the Moon
    Howl at the Moon is a piano bar. If you book a happy-hour party in advance, it’s completely free and includes a complimentary buffet from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  32. Farmers Market
    Winter Park’s large Farmers Market allows visitors to enjoy a wide variety of activities throughout the year.
  33. Fred Stone Theater
    The Fred Stone Theater has free performances in their “Second Stage Series.” Shows are in the evening on Thursday through Saturday and during the day on Saturday and Sunday.
  34. Popcorn Flicks in Central Park
    Popcorn Flicks is a series of outdoor movies starting at 8 p.m. throughout the summer in Winter Park.
  35. Morse Museum of American Art
    The Morse Museum of American Art has one of the most comprehensive collections of work by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Museum also features a chapel interior designed for the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago. The museum is free from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays from November to April, along with free concerts on Friday nights throughout November and December.
  36. Universal Orlando Resorts City Walk
    This is a free part of Universal where you can see some sidewalk attractions and enjoy the studio without having to go into the amusement park. Come early to snag free parking.
  37. Mall at Millenia
    This is a large mall featuring designer shops. You can window shop from such famous designer brands as Gucci and Coach.
  38. Florida Mall
    The Florida Mall offers over 250 stores where you can window shop or simply people watch.
  39. Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando
    Enjoy free Italian music every night.
  40. Natura Coffee and Tea
    This small cafe has live performances every night, usually starting around 9 p.m. Check out jazz on Wednesdays; a general open mic on Thursdays; and acoustic and spoken-word open mics on Sundays.
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Searching for the Lowest Airfare https://blog.2fntravel.com/2019/07/17/searching-for-the-lowest-airfare/ Wed, 17 Jul 2019 14:18:01 +0000 https://blog.2fntravel.com/?p=212

Flights can be the most expensive part of your vacation. Finding the best prices can be complicated and stressful too. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure here are some helpful tips that will ease your travel planning.

Helpful Tips

Consider and check out nearby airports. Some cities have several airports in them or around the area, and the airfare can vary dramatically between them.

On what days should I buy them? Tuesday or Wednesday.

What days should I fly? Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday.

Use Flexible date searches to find the lowest rates. If you don’t already have dates this provides the best way to look at all of the options.

When is the best time to buy your ticket? 6-8 weeks out.

Holiday travel is the one exception. Buy those tickets as soon as possible.

Shop early, but don’t always buy early. Airlines start offering cheaper flights 4 months out, 5 months for international flights.

Prices changes up to 3 times per day.

When is the most expensive day to fly? Usually Sunday.

Prices rise quickly the week of your flight: How much more? About 40%.

Flight Deals? No Problem! Find a flight on CheapAir.com

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Nine Top Attractions in Branson https://blog.2fntravel.com/2017/07/21/nine-top-attractions-branson/ Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:07:31 +0000 http://blog.2fntravel.com/?p=190

Branson Top Attractions

Branson’s top to-dos could best be described as family-friendly with a country western bent. Think Disney World meets Nashville. With world-class entertainment for all ages, thrilling attractions around every corner, and genuine Ozarks hospitality that makes you feel right at home, create special memories for your family and friends to cherish for a lifetime — it’s all smiles in Branson. And with so much to see and do, there’s no wonder why families keep coming back year after year. Here are Nine Top Attractions to see in Branson.

  1. Silver Dollar City

Silver Dollar City, one of America’s great theme parks, is an 1880’s themed experience, putting the words “family” and “fun” at the heart of everything they do. Twist and turn on Outlaw Run or Wildfire, two of the park’s big roller coasters; or be amazed by the craftsmen and artisan demonstrations right before your very eyes. Fill your belly with good Ozark Mountain cookin’ from one of many tasty restaurants and booths; or become a volunteer at Fireman’s Landing. Whatever you find yourself doing, you’ll be glad you visited Silver Dollar City.

  1. Titanic Museum

The Titanic Museum Attraction is much more than a museum—it’s an unforgettable experience. Step inside the ship to climb the grand staircase, meet the crew, and become a passenger of the Titanic on her maiden voyage. Make your way through the Titanic and interact with the artifacts and displays, hear the stories and sounds of the musicians who played aboard this mighty vessel, and experience history right before your eyes. Step outside the ship’s walls and feel the 28 degree waters and take your picture with a real growing iceberg!

  1. The Track Family Fun Parks

Burn out, putt, soar, and play at the Track Family Fun Parks in Branson. With three different locations around Highway 76, three different high-rise tracks (including The Wild Woody, The Lumberjack, and Heavy Metal High Rise), bumper boats, mini golf, laser tag, the Sky Coaster, the iconic Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, and so much more, the Tracks are a top destination for families and groups of all sizes. Go ahead. Let loose a little bit, take a spin on the go karts and let the good times roll at the Track Family Fun Parks.

  1. Promised Land Zoo

When was the last time you visited the zoo? With each admission to the Promised Land Zoo, guests can enjoy live animal shows, a foot safari, Parakeet Paradise, and even bottle feeding baby animals. The Zoo is focused on providing safe conditions for the animals, an entertaining experience for guests, but also a time of educating visitors on the importance of taking care of the animals in the world around us. Stop by the Promised Land Zoo and visit our furry friends up close, an experience in Branson like no other.

  1. Branson Zip Line and Canopy Tours

Zip through the treetops of Wolfe Mountain at the Branson Zipline and Canopy Tours! Learn about the local wildlife and the Ozarks region on a photo safari, or choose from several different zip line tour options, all varying in length and time. But don’t forget to try out the Free Fall Xpress, a 100ft. vertical freefall experience that will leave you breathless! If you’re looking for adventure, nature, and extreme thrills, the Branson Zipline and Canopy Tours is one attraction you’re looking for.

  1. College of the Ozarks

College of the Ozarks, founded as School of the Ozarks in 1906, is not your ordinary college. Students work at a campus job and graduate without ever spending a dime on tuition, earning a debt-free education. Enjoy a classic meal at the Keeter Center, the College’s 4-star restaurant and hotel, or tour the dairy and Edwards Mill. Walk through the Williams Memorial Chapel, visit the Ralph Foster Museum, gaze upon the Ozarks landscape from “The Point,” the scenic overlook, or taste the world-famous treats from the Fruitcake and Jelly kitchen on campus. With everything there is to see here, you’ll be glad you visited College of the Ozarks.

  1. Dixie Stampede Branson

Grab your cowboy hat and prepare for a fun family dinner, a great show, and boot stompin’ entertainment only to be found at Dixie Stampede Dinner Show in Branson. Watch a fun-filled feud between the North and the South through various competitions; be mesmerized by incredible horse stunts, special effects, and much, much more. After the show, guests can meet the horses in their stables. Visit Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction, and experience this unique, family-friendly destination.

  1. Showboat Branson Belle

Step aboard the Showboat Branson Belle, the majestic riverboat on Table Rock Lake. On this 2-hour cruise, guests will receive a full 3-course meal prepared fresh in the galley, and an unforgettable experience of “Celebrate,” featuring mind-boggling magic, side-splitting comedy, and music to entertain the whole family. New for 2017, “Country on the Lake” features rising country stars backed by a live band performing #1 hits from yesterday’s classic rock to today’s country favorites. Experience the beautiful Table Rock Lake in that “grand old showboatin’ fashion” aboard the Showboat Branson Belle.

  1. Table Rock Lake

With 800 miles of shoreline, Table Rock Lake has everything you’re looking for to enjoy a perfect day out on the water. Spend the day relaxing in the sand of Moonshine Beach, boating, fishing, or enjoying the many lake adventures and activities that take place every day at the Table Rock State Park Marina. Drop your anchor in a cove and go for a swim, or skim across the surface on a tube or wakeboard. Table Rock Lake is without a doubt Missouri’s premier lake for beauty, water activities, and family fun.

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Packing Tips for Family Travel https://blog.2fntravel.com/2017/04/29/packing-tips-family-travel/ Sat, 29 Apr 2017 20:16:12 +0000 http://blog.2fntravel.com/?p=179

One of the main objections parents have to traveling with their kids is all the extra baggage they feel they must bring along.  Four fifty-pound bags, three car seats, one double stroller, four backpacks, and two carry-on suitcases later, you’re exhausted… and you haven’t even left yet.

But, it really doesn’t have to be this way.

You can travel lighter and smarter, even with kids in tow.  Sure, you’ll have to make sacrifices (you can’t bring your snazzy cardigan collection, sorry), but I guarantee the tips below will lighten the load on your shoulders… and in your luggage.

Whether you’re a travel rookie or a packing pro, read on to get your hot little hands on 35 packing tips for traveling with your family.

What (Not) To Wear

  1. Don’t pack options.  Having multiple clothing options is always great, but these are luxuries one can’t afford when packing light.  Allow two shirts per person.  Two long sleeve and two short sleeve for winter.  Two short sleeve and two tank tops for summer.  One long sleeve, two short sleeve, and one tank top for spring and fall.  You get the idea.
  2. Babies can claim an exception. If you’ve got an infant who is still in the poop-explosion phase (God bless you), allow a double clothing allowance.  Those two extra onesies won’t make much of a dent in your available space.
  3. Pick a color scheme.  For boys, you may try to gravitate toward black, blue, or grey.  Choose items that can be mixed and matched.  Both short sleeve shirts should be able to go with both long sleeve shirts.  For the adults, this means sticking with brown or black depending on what shoes you plan to wear.  Select your belt, scarf, hat, gloves, accessories, and clothing to match a color scheme that includes brown or black and two or three other highlights.
  4. Avoid extremes – no red or white items. If you need to do laundry, you don’t want to waste your time with multiple loads.  Eliminating red and white means you can wash most of your clothes together in cold water without fear of turning your favorite white t-shirt a bright shade of bubblegum.
  5. Think in layers. For winter, this helps reduce the bulk of what you need to pack.  Items such as thermal underwear are typically thin, light, and extremely useful when you don’t know how cold it will be at your destination.  They can also double as pajamas in a pinch.  A nice sweater can be worn under a jacket for more insulation or dress up your jeans for dinner with friends.  For summer, layers add versatility to your traveling wardrobe.  For great examples of making multiple outfits out of only a few pieces, see here.
  6. Pare down the pants.  Bring only one extra pair of jeans (wear the other on the flight).  Seriously, do this even for kids.  You can spot-clean denim after the kids hit the hay or just let it go (as long as you’re not expected someplace fancy).
  7. (Slightly) Over pack underwear. For knickers and socks, try to squish as many pairs as you can.  Find slivers of space in suitcase corners, next to lumpy toiletries, and inside shoes.  This doesn’t mean bring your entire sock collection, but it sure is nice not to be washing underwear every third day.
  8. Take advantage of laundry facilities. If you’ll have access to a washing machine during your trip, plan to use it.  Don’t take six outfits for a seven day trip.  Take two of everything except undergarments and wash when necessary.
  9. Go for low maintenance. All clothing items should be easy to launder (no ironing or dry clean only pieces).
  10. Earn extra points for double duty items. Try to vary what you pack – for example, select one dressy pair of jeans that can be worn to restaurants and other photo-worthy occasions.  Choose a comfy pair to wear on the plane and everywhere else.  Or, instead of going with a sweater, opt for a cardigan that can dress up a tank top or be layered over long sleeves if you’re chilly.
  11. Take the shoe challenge. Evaluate your activities, events, and obligations during your travels.  Bring as few pairs of shoes as possible.  Do you have to pack boots AND flats?  Could you get away with only pair of shoes per child?  Pack first for comfort, then for style.  You don’t have room for a gazillion options (see #1) when you don’t check luggage.

Powder Room Essentials

  1. Clear things up in the bathroom.  Put all toiletries in clear plastic quart/liter zip-top plastic bags.  You might love that cute cosmetic case, but the bulky fabric, zippers, and handles take up precious space.  With this system, you will be able to make separate bags with liquids for security inspection, solid shower items (bar soap, razors, face cloths, shower cap), oral hygiene, makeup, prescriptions and vitamins, etc.
  2. Simplify shower needs.  Most accommodations provide complimentary toiletries. If you must bring your own, consider unisex options.  Bring one bottle of shampoo that everyone can share and a small bottle of conditioner.  For facial cleansing, use disposable cloths that will free up some room on the return.
  3. Streamline your make up.  Once you’ve chosen a color scheme (see clothing above), match your cosmetics to your outfits.  Do you really need a rainbow of eye shadow while traveling?  Several weeks before you leave, try using only a cream-to-powder foundation, concealer, dual duty cream blush & lip stain, one eye-shadow palette, a brown or black eyeliner, mascara, and one lip stick, gloss, or balm.
  4. Shrink your hair styling needs. Most hotels and even many vacation rentals offer complimentary hair dryers.  But, maybe you prefer to use a model that you can test drive before you travel or you have curly hair and need a diffuser.  What to do?  Shop for a miniature model.  Features to consider…. does the hair dryer fold in half?  Is it dual voltage for international travel?  Mini flat irons, curling irons, and hair brushes are also available.

Baby on Board

  1. Use disposable diapers.  If you use cloth diaper part of the time, but never use them for travel.  Why?  Disposable diapers occupy space on the outbound journey that will be emptied and then subsequently used for souvenirs and other trinkets on the return.

Expert tip: Keep track of your child’s diaper usage for several weeks prior to the trip so you can make an accurate count of just how many diapers you’ll need.  Round up or add one extra per day (two for infants) in case of accidents and emergencies.

  1. Rethink the diaper bag.  If you’re flying with carry-on luggage only, do you really need a fully-stocked diaper bag?  Instead, use a diaper changing wallet with a small case of wipes, a few diapers, and a trial-size tube of diaper rash cream.  Need a change of clothes?  They’re right there in your suitcase.
  2. Ditch the pack & play and high chair. Unless you’re going to a remote location, you should be able to find accommodations with baby items.  It’s worth it not to schlep your Graco across country (or the ocean!), even if you have to pay a nominal fee.
  3. Determine whether or not your destination is stroller-friendly.  Google it or post questions on Trip Advisor.  Many cities overseas are NOT stroller-friendly (Prague, Seoul, Italy, and Bulgaria to name a few) because the curbs are steep, elevators are rare, and stairs abound.  If you won’t use it, don’t bring it.  Consider a backpack carrier instead.  If you prefer to have a stroller for use in the airport, go with a cheap umbrella model.
  4. Talk ’em down.  Look for rental car deals that include a car seat, or negotiate a deal with your preferred company’s customer service center over the phone so you don’t have to bring your own.  If your child doesn’t need to use a car seat in flight, you’ll save yourself a headache by borrowing or renting one at your destination (and if you do bring your own, it could be lost or delayed which means you’ll be stranded at the airport…).

Kiddos and Tots in Tow

  1. Children carry their own weight.  As soon as your son or daughter is able invest in a small backpack so he or she can take their own toys.  If the toy doesn’t fit in the backpack or it’s too heavy, it stays home.
  2. Allot each child a toy quota.  It also helps to have a round number so that favorite play items don’t get left in your hotel or vacation rental.
  3. Leave special stuff behind. You might have to bring the teddy bear that accompanies your baby girl to bed every night, but insist on leaving collectable, valuable, expensive, and one-of-a-kind toys at home.
  4. Keep them separated.  If your airline won’t allow a personal item and a piece of hand luggage, you’ll need to get creative in dividing up the space.  Use large (gallon) zip-top plastic bags for kids’ toys.  Offer a pile of sharpie markers, and let them go to town decorating their bag. Then fill the bags with a few toys and books, the only rules being that the bag must lay flat and close easily.  These zip packs can be slipped into outer suitcase pockets for easy access during the flight.

Everything Electric

  1. Consolidate gadgets. Leave the laptop at home.  Instead, pack a tablet or netbook loaded with games and media.  Use it to watch movies, listen to music, read books, and check your email (be sure to confirm that you’ll have wifi at your destination).  Besides, unplugging from all those devices will help you focus on the experience instead of Facebook.
  2. Power everything in one go. Nothing puts a damper on your packing practices like a gigantic bag of chargers and adapters.  Consider investing in products that will recharge two or more of your electronic items.
  3. Bring a portable charger. If you don’t have one make sure you pick up a portable charger and keep it charged. They are very small and will come in handy on long flights or when charging stations are not convenient.
  4. Go paperless. Use apps, websites, and online programs such as Google maps, Tripit, Evernote, and Dropbox to store your vacation notes, travel itineraries, photos, and copies of important documents such as your passport.  Take advantage of mobile boarding pass programs if they’re offered.

Supplies

  1. Bring on the suds. If you aren’t staying with friends or family and plan to do laundry, stash a few scoops of powdered detergent or a small bottle of castile soap (see #?).  Dryers are not standard in many parts of the world, so it’s a good idea to find room for a compact clothesline if you’re traveling internationally.
  2. Beg and borrow (but please, don’t steal). If you’re visiting a family, this is usually easy.  Take a look at your packing list and make a note of anything (really, anything!) you think your hosts would be willing to share or provide.  You might feel a tad bit uncomfortable asking for face wash from the in-laws, consider phrasing your request like this… “We usually bring our own (toothpaste / iPad charger / kids Tylenol /etc), but we are trying to pack as light as possible in order to spend less time at the airport and more time with you.  Would you mind if we borrowed/used these items during our visit?”
  3. Get specific with hotels or holiday apartments.  You can use a similar conversational approach to the one above with vacation rental owners.  “I have a silly question for you… do you provide dish soap, a kitchen sponge, and dishwashing detergent in your flat?  Normally we bring a small amount of these items just in case.  But we have to pack very light for this trip, so I’d rather not put them in the luggage if you already have them available.”  Don’t be shy.  This email/phone call could save you a chunk of space.

Logistics

  1. Fold clothes into small squares.  Make narrow, neat folds in your shirts and then fold the final product in half and make a pile of very small, evenly sized squares or rectangles.  Jeans, pants and sweaters need special attention, but the idea is the same.  Make every item of clothing prim, proper, and as tiny as possible.
  2. Wear your heaviest, bulkiest, biggest pieces.  Coats and boots travel on your person, never in your luggage.

Expert tip: No one will weigh or check your coat.  What you put in your pockets is up to you… You could stash everything from books to chocolate bar souvenirs in your winter jacket. 

  1. Don’t overlook petty cash.  Leave room in your budget to buy what you might need but can’t stuff in your suitcase.  Chances are you don’t need as much as you think you do; you might surprise yourself with how little you can live with for a few days!  But if the diaper supply runs dry or your son uses his shirt as a permanent marker canvas or you receive a surprise invitation to a fancy dinner while on holiday, ask a local for the best place to buy what you’re after and consider the shopping trip part of the whole travel experience.

Practice Makes Perfect

  1. Take notes.  In time, you’ll discover what hints are most helpful for you, what advice does or simply doesn’t work for your family, and what luggage sacrifices you are or aren’t willing to make.  Jot down observations in your travel journal, and remember that practice really does make perfect.
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Visit Las Vegas on a budget https://blog.2fntravel.com/2017/03/16/visit-las-vegas-budget/ Thu, 16 Mar 2017 22:06:21 +0000 http://blog.2fntravel.com/?p=164

Las VegasLas Vegas can be very expensive, from the rooms, to the food, to the shows. Here are some great tips provided by 2fntravel.com that will save you money and still be able to have a great time.

  • Sign up for a free travel guide and receive coupons and discounts before you go.
  • Book your trip during the off season. July-August during the week.
  • Hit the buffets at lunch. Dinners are more expensive than lunches so hit the buffets at lunch time to get nice and full.
  • Check your rewards cards. See if you have points you can redeem for discounts on your room or flight to Las Vegas
  • Take in free sight seeing. There are lots of things you’ll find in Las Vegas that are free and open to the public. Check out the times that they start so you can head over there when it’s time.
    • The Fountains at Bellagio
    • Resorts Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
    • Volcano Eruptions at Mirage
    • Circus acts at Circus Circus
    • Sidewalk Acts on the Strip
    • Light Show on Freemont Street
  • Ditch the Taxi and head for the Bus. Las Vegas has a great bus system that you can pay a flat rate for all day travel up and down the strip. It will save you a big chunk of change. Go to http://www.rtcsnv.com/transit/ for details about the Las Vegas Transit.  There is also an App to download making it easy to get around.
  • Last minute tickets. Unless there is something you are just dying to see, wait to but your tickets until you are in Vegas. You’ll get better discounts because they want to fill those seats no matter what they cost. There are Tix4Tonight booths all over the strip.
  • Free drinks. You can get free drinks during Happy Hours and sitting at the slot machines on the casino floor.
  • Most casinos offer free gaming lessons for poker, roulette, craps and black jack.
  • New to gaming? Head to the casinos downtown for lower minimums.
  • Getting married? Fill out the marriage license form online before you arrive so that you can skip the lines. Then find out if your hotel features any specials for honeymooners or wedding parties.
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Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts https://blog.2fntravel.com/2017/02/28/lake-tahoe-ski-resorts/ Tue, 28 Feb 2017 20:45:15 +0000 http://blog.2fntravel.com/?p=150

Best Tahoe Ski Resorts

Lake Tahoe is one of the most desirable ski destinations in North America.  When you think about Tahoe Ski Resorts you can expect sunny skies, gorgeous mountain scenery, and a relaxed California attitude. Add to that several world-class ski resorts with excellent snow conditions, extensive terrain, and state-of-the-art ski lifts, and it’s hard to rival this winter wonderland. Lake Tahoe has several resorts to choose from, and many are world-renowned, such as Squaw Valley and Heavenly. Skiers of all abilities will find suitable terrain at all of the resorts, although some are better suited to certain skiing levels. Northstar and Homewood are great for intermediate skiers, while Kirkwood and Mount Rose challenge advanced skiers. If you are planning a day trip from San Francisco or Sacramento, then Sugar Bowl is the best choice as it’s the closest and most easily accessible. The other resorts are best for a weekend getaway or longer vacation, which is especially enjoyable when staying at one of Lake Tahoe’s cozy lodges or rustic cabins. Most accommodations have wood-burning fireplaces and forest views for a traditional alpine experience.  We have reviewed some of our favorite Ski Resorts to make it easy for you to pick the one that best suits what you are looking for.

Squaw Valley

A world-renowned ski resort, Squaw Valley was the site of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games and offers some of the best ski runs in Lake Tahoe. The resort has 3,600 acres of skiable terrain, 29 ski lifts, and more than 170 trails, with the longest run extending for 3.2 miles.

Squaw is suitable for all skiing abilities. About 25 percent of runs are suited for beginners, 43 percent for intermediate level skiers, and 32 percent for advanced skiers. At an elevation of 6,200 feet to 9,050 feet, the Squaw Valley ski resort has good snow coverage, on average 450 inches in a season. Wide powdery slopes traverse the mountainside, lined by pine forests. Those learning to ski will appreciate the dedicated beginners’ ski area on top of the mountain (accessible by trams), and intermediates will find many lovely runs in the Shirley Lake and Pacific Crest Bowl skiing areas. Squaw Valley is also popular with snowboarders because of its steep slopes and long chutes, plus a halfpipe.

For those spending a few days in Squaw Valley, a highlight of vacationing here is the European-style village. With many restaurants, shops, and art galleries, the village offers a vibrant après-ski atmosphere. The resort also has an ice-skating rink as well as areas for snow tubing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. For luxurious ski-in and ski-out accommodations with mountain views, the Squaw Valley Lodge is the perfect choice, just steps away from the slopes.

The Squaw Valley resort has a sister resort, neighboring Alpine Meadows. This picturesque, family-friendly ski resort has charming chalet-style lodges and runs for every ability level: 25 percent beginner runs, 40 percent intermediate runs, and 35 percent advanced runs. The resort covers 2,400 acres and boasts more than 100 trails accessed by 13 lifts. The terrain ranges from wide-open bowls to steep slopes for advanced skiers. From March 9-12, 2017 Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is hosting the Audi FIS Ski World Cup.

Address: 1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, California

Official site: squawalpine.com

Heavenly Mountain Resort

Fittingly named to describe its sublime scenery, Heavenly Mountain Resort dazzles skiers with its inspiring mountains and sensational lake views. Straddling the borders of California and Nevada, Heavenly is the largest ski resort in Lake Tahoe, with 4,800 acres of ski terrain and 34 miles of ski runs, including 97 different runs accessed by 29 ski lifts. The spectacular setting makes it one of the most unique ski resorts in the world. The resort offers wide-open, well-groomed slopes as well as runs that traverse peaceful pine forests. Sometimes skiers stop midway through a run just to marvel at the sparkling blue waters of Lake Tahoe glistening in the sunshine or the surprisingly barren landscape of the Nevada desert.

Heavenly is popular with both skiers and snowboarders and has runs for all ability levels: 20 percent of the runs are beginner, 45 percent are intermediate, and 35 percent are advanced. The most challenging runs include the 1,600-foot plunge double-black-diamond canyon runs, the 1,800-foot drop of the Gunbarrel Run, and the “pillow drops” in the Nevada Woods. For extreme skiers, Heavenly has the Highroller Terrain Park, where it’s possible to attempt 80-foot ski jumps. One advantage of Heavenly over other Tahoe ski resorts is the wide selection of hotels, cabins, and restaurants nearby. The resort’s lively ambience also makes Heavenly a favorite destination among those seeking a fun-loving ski vacation.

Address: 3860 Saddle Road, South Lake Tahoe, California

Official site: skiheavenly.com

Northstar Ski Resort

Northstar is a family-friendly ski resort that is ideal for intermediate skiers. The extensive terrain covers 3,170 acres with 97 impeccably groomed runs accessed by 20 lifts. The majority of the slopes are rated as moderate, with 13 percent beginner runs and 60 percent intermediate runs. At an elevation of 6,330 feet to 8,610 feet, Northstar generally has good snow coverage, and when the snow is sparse, the resort employs snowmaking machines. Skiers enjoy gliding through powdery slopes enclosed by lush pine forests. Northstar is also known for its Snowboarding Terrain Parks including The Straits for a variety of jumps, Pinball for “jibs,” and the Burton Progression Park for those learning freestyle skiing. Besides alpine skiing, Northstar is a great place for telemark skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snow tubing.

One of the highlights of Northstar is its lively village atmosphere. The area at the base of the slopes offers a wide selection of shops and restaurants as well as an upscale spa and the stylish Hyatt Residence Club Northstar Lodge. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel lies right in the resort at the mid-mountain level, offering ski-in and ski-out convenience. Decorated in a rustic-chic style, this five-star hotel has cozy lounges with warming fireplaces and contemporary guest rooms with all the amenities.

Address: 100 Northstar Drive, Truckee, California

Official site: northstarcalifornia.com

Kirkwood Ski Resort

Although the Kirkwood Ski Resort is one of the furthest from San Francisco (180 miles away), its exceptional terrain makes it worth the extra drive. Kirkwood offers pristine mountain scenery and an impressive variety of terrain. Skiers appreciate the resort’s peaceful setting; long, wide runs; and open bowls. The resort has an average snowfall of 354 inches a year and a high base elevation of 7,800 feet, which helps ensure a consistent coverage of powdery snow. Kirkwood has 2,300 acres of terrain and 86 trails for skiers and snowboarders. The longest trail stretches for 2.5 miles.

Kirkwood’s summit reaches an awe-inspiring 9,800 feet, and the resort is known for its challenging terrain. Only 12 percent of the runs are beginner, 30 percent are intermediate, 38 percent are advanced, and 20 percent are for experts. However the Timber Creek area is designed just for beginners and intermediate skiers, with two lifts and two “magic carpet” lifts. Freestyle skiers and snowboarders can try some extreme athletic adventures, like jumps and twists, at Kirkwood’s four terrain parks. Kirkwood also offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sled tours.

Address: 1501 Kirkwood Meadows Drive, Kirkwood, California

Official site: kirkwood.com

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort

Sugar Bowl is the closest and most easily accessible ski resort to the San Francisco Bay Area. When traffic is light and weather conditions are favorable, it takes about three hours to drive from San Francisco (179 miles away) and only 1.5 hours to drive from Sacramento (92 miles away). For added convenience, the resort offers plenty of parking near the slopes. Located on the magnificent Donner Summit, this picturesque ski resort typically gets the most snowfall of any resort in Tahoe. Skiers will enjoy the wide slopes covered in a thick blanket of powdery snow. Despite its appearance as a quaint, old-fashioned ski resort, Sugar Bowl boasts modern amenities and 13 chairlifts, including the modern high-speed Crow’s Peak chair. The resort extends over 1,650 acres with some slopes that feature 1,500-foot vertical drops. Skiers who enjoy peaceful runs will appreciate the resort’s open access to the backcountry terrain. Sugar Bowl has ski runs for all ability levels, from beginner to intermediate and advanced. The resort’s ski lessons teach beginners the basics and help intermediate skiers improve their techniques. Sugar Bowl also has a Terrain Park for adventurous skiers and snowboarders.

Dating back to 1939, the Sugar Bowl resort has a European-style lodge brimming with Old World ambience and cozy, rustic style. The Lodge at Sugar Bowl offers cozy overnight accommodations, ski-in and ski-out access, and an elegant dining room that serves fine cuisine. Another reason to stay at the lodge is its Sporthaus with athletic facilities, a yoga studio, pool, and spa.

Address: 629 Sugar Bowl Road, Norden, California

Official site: sugarbowl.com

Sierra-at-Tahoe

Conveniently located 16 miles from South Lake Tahoe city, the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort has been named as a “Top 10 Overall Resort” in the United States because of its great value and superb ski runs. This family-friendly resort has an excellent selection of lodging and dining as well as vacation package options. Sierra-at-Tahoe is ideal for intermediate skiers. Half of the resort’s ski runs are intermediate level; the other half includes 25 percent beginner and 25 percent advanced runs. Those learning to ski will appreciate the resort’s lessons and the four lifts that are reserved for beginners only.

The resort covers 2,000 acres of ski terrain, with 46 runs accessed by 14 lifts as well as some tree skiing areas and access to 320 acres of backcountry terrain. The scenic runs are popular with both skiers and snowboarders. One of Sierra-at-Tahoe’s selling points is that the resort ski slopes are protected from the wind, which makes the ski conditions more pleasant. The resort gets an average snowfall of 480 inches annually, providing a nice blanket of powdery coverage on the slopes. Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Terrain Parks have earned a mention on the Top 10 Best Parks and Pipes in the United States list. The Terrain Parks feature seven different choices for all kinds of freestyle moves, such as extreme ski jumps, spins, and snowboarding tricks.

Address: 1111 Sierra-at-Tahoe Road, Twin Bridges, California

Official site: sierraattahoe.com

Mount Rose Ski Resort

This laid-back resort offers 1,200 acres of ski terrain, with slopes that boast stunning views of Reno and Lake Tahoe. The resort’s longest runs, among the longest in North America, challenge skiers to 1,800-foot vertical drops, and the famous Mount Rose Chutes are steep 1,000-foot slopes with impressive 40 to 55-degree pitches. Mount Rose has many black-diamond runs suited for advanced skiers as well as a good number of intermediate runs in the Slide Bowl area and a small section of Beginner Terrain. Both skiers and snowboarders will enjoy the choice of ski runs, and freestylers can choose from five terrain parks. Because the Mount Rose ski slopes face north and east, skiers can bask in the sunshine on east-facing runs in the morning. Mount Rose is conveniently located 25 miles from Reno (about a 35-minute drive) and just 14 miles (about a 20-minute drive) from Crystal Bay on Lake Tahoe. During the ski season, Mount Rose offers a daily shuttle service from Reno hotels and properties to the ski resort.

Address: 22222 Mt. Rose Highway, Reno, Nevada

Official site: skirose.com

Homewood Ski Resort

About 50 miles from Reno and 200 miles from San Francisco, the Homewood Ski Resort offers one of the best values on ski season passes in Lake Tahoe. The Family Season Pass allows two adults and two kids to ski all season long without any blackout days. Homewood has more than 30 ski runs for skiers and snowboarders; the majority are intermediate slopes, and the remainder of the resort’s terrain includes a handful of beginner runs, about 15 advanced black-diamond runs, and six terrain parks with scenic views. Homewood is a favorite Tahoe ski resort because of its well-groomed trails, manageable compact size, and its on-mountain restaurants that offer gourmet dining in elegant alpine style. For skiers staying overnight, the West Shore Café and Inn offers upscale lakeside accommodations and delicious California cuisine. The area around the Homewood resort also has many options for hotels and cabin rentals.

Address: 5145 West Lake Blvd, Homewood, California

Official site: skihomewood.com

 

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Historic Sites of Williamsburg, VA https://blog.2fntravel.com/2017/02/04/historic-sites-williamsburg-va/ Sat, 04 Feb 2017 18:17:49 +0000 http://blog.2fntravel.com/?p=142

If you are looking to visit top historic destinations, Williamsburg has plenty to offer.  We have listed some of the best historic sites for you to plan the perfect visit to Williamsburg.

  1. Colonial Williamsburg

    The best place to start with this outdoor museum is at the visitor center. A film and an orientation walk are informative and will save you time. There is so much to see here – buildings, gardens, taverns, trade shops and demonstrations – that it is virtually impossible to see it all in a day or even two. The mini-city is laid out well (think of an 18th-century Disney World), and walking the area is a pleasure. Evening events are held during the summer, so be sure and check those out. Extended summer hours.

  2. The College of William and Mary

    The easiest way to explore this college is to get a map (available on campus or at www.wm.edu) and start off on a self-directed tour. Wandering around the school is also an option – the students are not only bright (Phi Beta Kappa was founded here), they are also polite and helpful. For the second oldest college in the country, this place looks fantastic. This is an elegant site full of living history so don’t miss it. There are numerous cultural and arts events held on campus – check out a schedule while you are visiting.

  3. Westover Plantation

    Situated on the James River, Westover is touted as one of the finest examples in the country of Georgian architecture. The house was built in 1730 by William Byrd, the man who founded Richmond. The property also includes burial grounds that hold his final resting place. Not far from the house is the third oldest tombstone in the country – that of Captain William Perry, who died in 1637. The grounds are home to an elegant boxwood garden and ancient tulip poplars. The house is not open to the public except during Virginia Garden week.

  4. Belle Air Plantation

    Although the house is open by appointment only to groups of 20 or more, it is worth calling to see if you can tag along with a tour. The large frame house, built in 1650, is a study in how life was lived in that time, and the architecture is outstanding and unique. The gardens are exquisite and are also open for tours by appointment. During Historic Garden week, held each year at the end of April, both the gardens and the house are open to the public.

  5. Edgewood Plantation

    Originally part of Berkeley Plantation and complete with its own broken-hearted ghost, Edgewood is a 7,000-square-foot Gothic Revival house that is now operated as a bed and breakfast. But tours can be arranged – the Victorian Tea Tour and the Candlelight Tour are two of the most popular. They require at least 10 people, so call ahead. This is a popular stop during the Christmas season as more than 15 Victorian Christmas trees decorate the house.

  6. North Bend Plantation

    One of the best-preserved examples of Greek Revival houses in the area, this plantation originated as home to President William Henry Harrison’s sister. Currently owned by the great, great grandson of the Ruffin family (owners of Evelynton Plantation), it is run as a bed and breakfast. But day and evening tours are available by appointment. You do not need an appointment for the grounds tour – it is on the honor system and costs $2.

  7. Sherwood Forest Plantation

    A working plantation and former home to the 10th president of the United States, John Tyler, this site is still occupied by the Tyler family. The home is said to be the longest frame house in the US – 300 feet; part of that length includes the 68-foot ballroom where the Virginia Reel was danced. The home is furnished with period antiques, and many of President Tyler’s personal items are on display. There is an excellent gift shop on the premises. The plantation is about a 20-minute drive from Williamsburg.

  8. Piney Grove at Southall’s Plantation

    Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this Charles City landmark was a 300-plus-acre Tidewater plantation owned by the Southall family on land once occupied by the Chickahominy people. In fact, Piney Grove stands as one of the best remaining examples of Early Virginia log architecture. Today, visitors to the plantation will find Duck Church (built in 1917) and three historic homes: Ashland (1835); Dower Quarter (1835); and Ladysmith (1857). Open to the public are the plantation’s lovely grounds, which include gardens and nature trails. Those wishing to stay overnight may book a room in the Ladysmith House, which operates as a bed and breakfast.

  9. Jamestown Settlement

    View replicas of the three ships and a fort occupied by the first settlers to arrive at Jamestowne in 1610. Historians, dressed in authentic period clothing, walk the grounds and are happy to answer your questions about life at the settlement. Visit the indoor gallery to see 30-minute documentary film and exhibits that document the lives of the English settlers, Powhatan Indians and African slaves who occupied the colony.

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Our Top 10 Romantic Getaways for Valentine’s Day https://blog.2fntravel.com/2017/01/10/top-10-valentines-day-getaways/ Tue, 10 Jan 2017 22:57:31 +0000 http://blog.2fntravel.com/?p=130

Valentine’s day is just around the corner and that means the brain-wracking begins for couples eager to surprise their partners.  This year you might chose to ditch the box of chocolates and long-stemmed roses and sweep your partner off their feet with a romantic getaway.  If you are looking for a way to go above and beyond the typical Valentine’s Day gift but avoid spending a fortune on a long trip, here are 10 simple yet romantic vacation ideas for a memorable experience.

1. Get some sun

It’s winter and it’s cold. So go south and find the sun.  You might consider Florida where February is among the nicest months of the year or on the other side of the country in Arizona.  If you want to try something international you could always visit Cancun or Puerto Vallarta.  There are many warm weather locations for those looking to escape the cold.

2. Vegas

There is a mega-resort with cheap drinks and spectacular shows.  You might even consider a Vegas wedding, it can be a good way to renew your vows and really make memories that will last forever. Just be sure that going to Vegas or is something your spouse would want to do.

3. Book a 1-3 day cruise

While the big cruises can be a week or longer, there are smaller one- and three-day cruises that allow you to enjoy the luxuries of a cruise ship without the commitment of a flight out and back and a multi-day stay.

4. Cabin for the weekend

Go to the nearest lake or mountains – Gatlinburg is particularly nice– and rent a cabin for the weekend. Weather doesn’t matter because with a fire and each other, you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied.

5. Your nearest big city

Go to a big city near you for the weekend. New York City, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles – wherever you live, get out of the suburbs and enjoy the lights of metropolitan life.

6. Find your nearest beach

Go to the beach! It might still be cold if you don’t head south but since it’s off-season you can find great rates on some of the top hotels.  Romantic walks on the beach are a great Valentine’s Day Surprise.

7. Book a hotel in the middle of nowhere

Snag a hotel somewhere random in the middle of nowhere, either close to home or further away. Enjoy the seclusion and the amenities and save big on the lower hotel rates.

8. Big hotel close to home

Stay home but book a hotel room in your town for the weekend. Get someone to stay with the kids and get out there and enjoy yourself without worrying who puts out the trash or walks the dog.

9. Go skiing

If you don’t mind the cold find a mountain ski resort with your name on it! Get to the slopes and enjoy what only winter can bring.

10. Travel to see a sports team

Romantic mini-vacations aren’t just for men hoping to surprise their wives or girlfriends. Take your man to see his favorite basketball or hockey team this Valentine’s Day.

Regardless of the locations, romantic getaways will allow you and your partner to spend quality time alone together and create lasting memories that you will never forget.  Our staff at 2freenites.com is always ready to help you find the right destination at the most affordable price.

 

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