6 Picturesque Beach Towns You Should Visit

 

 

Nothing is quite the experience like visiting quaint small towns along a coast, especially the ones that don’t seem to attract huge crowds. You have the chance to relax at the beach, feel the sand between your toes, and make the most of the scenery around you.

You don’t have to look too far to find these picturesque towns. Places such as Saugatuck, Michigan, have mesmerizing sand dunes. You could also spend an entire day watching the wildlife in Morro Bay, California. For a charming experience, enjoy the antique shops in Gearhart, Oregon. Learn more about these places and the following quaint beach towns you should visit.

Chincoteague, Virginia

Image via Flickr by alexander__geoff

Chincoteague is an ideal place for those who want to enjoy nature. The town is famous for the Chincoteague ponies, which populate nearby Assateague Island. The island is a wildlife refuge and is home to foxes, deer, and large populations of birds. Make sure you try the local seafood during your visit.

Morro Bay, California

With a population of slightly under 11,000 people, Morro Bay offers the ideal small-town feeling. It’s a great place to visit if you want to listen to the sounds of the waves crashing as the mighty Morro Rock stands in the distance. Travelers can also visit the nearby Heron Rookery and spend their day birdwatching.

Orange Beach, Alabama

If you’re looking for white sand beaches with extraordinary views, but you don’t want to fight the crowds, then southern Alabama is the place for you. You can find Orange Beach hotels in front of the beach using Hotel Planner. Upon exiting your hotel, in only a few minutes, you can be sunbathing or playing in the sand with your family.

Gearhart, Oregon

Many travelers willing to escape Portland tend to go to Cannon Beach, but those who want a tranquil place can go slightly farther north to Gearhart. Visitors can go hiking in the charming trails, dig for razor clams in the shallow waters, or go whale watching during the spring. With a population of under 2,000 people, you can easily walk everywhere and check out the many interesting boutique shops.

Chatham, Massachusetts

Although Cape Cod is considered a popular destination, you can still find places where you can escape the crowds, places such as marvelous Chatham. Being slightly off the beaten track, the town has managed to keep its old-fashioned personality with a selection of charming boutiques and a healthy fishing trade.

Saugatuck, Michigan

Saugatuck is a small town of nearly 1,000 citizens. It was originally a lumber town port, but today, it hosts a thriving art scene. Travelers can visit many art galleries and small eclectic shops, or walk to Lake Michigan and gaze at the massive sand dunes.

When you start planning your next adventure, remember that if you go only to the popular destinations, you’ll face huge crowds. However, you can also find the picturesque beach towns which are not too far away and provide a more relaxing travel experience for visitors.

Race to These New Jersey Food Truck Festivals

 

 

New Jersey hosts dozens of food truck festivals every year. If you haven’t attended one of these events before, they offer a fantastic opportunity to connect with local culture, try out new and incredible cuisine, and, in some cases, give back to others. Look forward to these three food truck festivals that will take place throughout the state in 2018.

Chester Food Truck and Music Festival

Image via Flickr by ShebleyCL

The Chester Food Truck and Music Festival will happen on May 5 in Chester. Visit Municipal Field at 134 Main Street from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. to join in the festivities. In addition to more than 25 food trucks, you’ll find live music performances and kids’ activities, such as face painting. Admission is $5, but children under 10 years old can enter for free.

Seating isn’t provided, so you’ll need to bring blankets and chairs to enjoy the fare and entertainment. This event is unique due to its beer and sangria garden and because the festival serves as a benefit for the Chester First Aid Squad. Bring a nonperishable canned or boxed food item to support the charity, and look forward to food from incredible vendors such as Bacon Me Crazy, The Bearded One BBQ, and Glazed and Confused.

Anglesea Night Market

Anglesea Night Market is a free festival with numerous dates scheduled for 2018. If you’re in North Wildwood this summer, there’s no excuse to miss the event. Line up for amazing food trucks and check out the local arts and crafts and live entertainment this July 5, July 19, August 2, or August 16. All events will take place along Olde New Jersey Avenue.

As an added bonus, Olde New Jersey Avenue is on the northeast end of Wildwood and within a short drive of incredible attractions such as Morey’s Piers and Mariner’s Arcade. Book a Wildwood Hotel via Hotel Planner to enjoy easy access to Anglesea Night Market and all the top attractions in the city.

Food Truck Mash-Up — Jersey vs. Philly

Who has the better food, New Jersey or Philadelphia? This food truck festival poses the question and lets you decide for yourself by trying the best cuisine from both destinations. You’ll find 14 trucks representing New Jersey fare and 10 trucks prepping the best that Philadelphia can cook up.

Food Truck Mash-Up — Jersey vs. Philly is scheduled for June 2 and will take place at the Meadowlands Racetrack at 1 Racetrack Drive in East Rutherford. Book early bird tickets through April 15 to save. Until that date, adults can get in for $20 and children from 5 to 12 years old can get in for $15. You can also get a four-pack of adult tickets for $45. In addition to a discount, early access tickets enable you to jump the line before the festival opens to the general public.

If you can’t make it to one of these events, check out the dozens of other food truck festivals that New Jersey hosts throughout the year. Book your hotel room and buy tickets early to save, and remember to bring a huge appetite to whichever New Jersey city you visit.

3 Exotic Sea Creatures You Can Spot in the Florida Keys

 

 

Millions of people flock to the Florida Keys every year, not only for some fun in the sun, but for the chance to spot some unusual wildlife. From bright pink birds to colorful fish, and everything in between, there is an abundance of wildlife to discover in the Florida Keys. Of course, scuba diving and snorkeling is a great way to observe sea life up close and personal, but you can also spot some animals from the comfort of land, or from a boat. Here are three exotic sea creatures you cans spot in the Florida keys.

Alligator

The American alligators is always a site to behold. As soon as you spot the giant, your heart starts racing. Their prehistoric appearance and dangerous teeth instantly put everyone on high alert. An adult male alligator can grow to up to 15 feet long. Alligators are found in freshwater wetlands, like marshes and swamps, and fortunately, Florida has an abundance of wetlands. In fact, the alligator is the state’s official reptile.

A great way to spot an alligator, and a bunch of other wildlife, is on a boat tour of the Florida Everglades State Park. You’ll undoubtedly spot an ample amount of beautiful birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians in between. The sights, sounds, and even the smell of the waters of Florida Bay and Everglades National Park make for a memory you’ll be sharing with friends and family for decades.

Islamorada Island is right near the Everglades, meaning you can catch a number of Everglades excursions from here. Book Islamorada hotels from Hotel Planner for a centralized location in the Florida Keys.

Sea Turtle

Image via Flickr by Bernard Spragg

There’s something about the sea turtle that warms our hearts. Perhaps it’s their quiet unassuming nature, or just their sheer size, but spotting a sea turtle often makes even the most reserved person squeal in delight.

The most common sea turtle in Florida is the Loggerhead sea turtle. It has a giant block-like looking head that distinguishes it from other, rarer turtles. Loggerheads are one of the biggest sea turtles, weighing an average of 275 pounds, and often have a shell length of approximately 3 feet. The powerful jaws and sharp teeth of the Loggerhead allow it to easily crush shellfish, such as clams and crabs. It’s a pretty slow swimmer and fairly easy to spot from a boat.

Dolphins

If you used to watch Flipper on TV as a kid, you probably love dolphins as much as we do. The Florida Keys have an abundance of dolphins. Climb aboard one of the many Florida Keys dolphin tours and discover why dolphins are one of the most beloved of all the marine mammals. They are smart, sometimes elusive, and sometimes playful. Dolphins are happiest in the wild, and there are some eco dolphin tours which will take you out to their natural habitat where you can watch them eat, play, and just hang out around the boat.

If you love nature, and in particular wildlife, Florida is a must- see destination. From sea turtles, to whales, alligators, and dolphins, not to mention a plethora of beautiful birds, you’ll be thrilled.

Best Spots for a Family Vacation in the Northeast U.S.

 

 

Whether you want to hit the beach or you’re looking for an action-packed city to explore, you’ll find the perfect place to plan your next getaway on the East Coast. Check out the five best spots for a family vacation in the Northeast United States.

Boston, Massachusetts

If you’re raising a family of history buffs, there’s no better place to experience American history than Boston. Walk the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path that winds through downtown Boston and stops at some of the city’s most important sites, such as the Paul Revere House, the Old North Church, and many more. Keep the theme going by grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many stands in historic Faneuil Hall and grab dessert at one of the many old-fashioned shops in the charming North End.

Mystic, Connecticut

A few hours south of Boston, Mystic has long been an important seaport. Today, the whole family will love learning about the area’s past and discovering its contributions to maritime science. You’ll want to spend at least a half day at the Mystic Seaport, a massive living history museum where the kids can see huge ships up close and wander through a 19th-century village. Don’t miss the impressive Mystic Aquarium or its adorable beluga whale residents, either.

Ocean City, New Jersey

Image via Flickr by SurFeRGiRL30

When you just want to relax on the beach, make a beeline for Ocean City. Though it’s only a short drive south of nightlife-heavy Atlantic City, Ocean City is the ultimate family-friendly destination on the Jersey Shore. Not only is Ocean City a dry town that forbids drinking alcohol in public, but it’s also home to beautiful stretches of sand, a buzzing boardwalk, and a classic amusement park that’s perfect for kids. Check out family-friendly hotels in Ocean City and find the perfect place for your crew to stay after a fun day on the boardwalk.

Acadia National Park, Maine

If your family can’t wait to get out and explore the great outdoors, head north to Acadia National Park. With over 100 miles of hiking trails, nearly 50 miles of roads designed for carriages, and views of both the mountains and the sea, this national park has a little of everything. Choose challenging or easy trails, or bike along the historic carriage roads as you soak in the natural beauty. Pets are welcome here, so bring your furry friend along.

New York, New York

From Manhattan to Staten Island, New York is home to an endless list of kid-friendly activities and attractions. Take the kids to the Central Park Zoo, spend the afternoon at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and fuel up at The Pennsy NYC or another of New York’s many vibrant food halls. Explore further with an epic walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or hop on the Staten Island Ferry to get a great view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island without having to brave the crowds.

Whether your family loves the great outdoors or prefers the city, one of these destinations is sure to fit the bill. Start packing your bags and plan the ideal family getaway on the East Coast.

5 Florida Destinations For Divers

 

 

Because of its crystal clear waters, Florida offers some of the best diving spots in the entire country. Next time you’re looking for a new underwater paradise to explore, check out these five Florida destinations for divers.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Image via Flickr by BigCypressNPS

Just 70 miles west of Key West is Dry Tortugas National Park, a diver’s paradise that’s only accessible by plane or boat to keep the casual tourists away. Dive down deep to gaze upon numerous coral and seagrass clumps teeming with marine life. You’ll even be able to catch a glimpse of a shipwreck or two, as the clump of seven islands has had several through the years.

West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach is a wonderful place to dive simply because of its diversity. Just 20 feet under the water, you’ll be able to find angelfish, octopus, lobsters, seahorses, and even manatees. Check out the Blue Heron Bridge in particular for myriad shallow-water marine life.

However, most people flock to West Palm Beach because it’s where the turtles swim. During the migratory season between May and September, you might stumble across a whole bale of turtles.

Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary

Image via Flickr by amanderson2

Many people love diving at Looe Kay National Marine Sanctuary because it’s home to a 200-yard wide and 800-yard long coral reef. The water clarity here is superb, so you’ll be able to see over 150 species of fish flitting through the water. As for coral, there are about 50 different species in the area, but common ones include fire, star, brain, staghorn, and elkhorn coral.

You might even see some remnants from the HMS Looe — the ship that the area was named after.

Molasses Reef

Nestled just off Key Largo is the Molasses Reef, which is one of the most popular areas in the state for diving and snorkeling. Because it’s such a shallow area, it’s the perfect place for a beginner to try out their first dive. Just 25 to 45 feet beneath the surface are an array of nurse sharks, moray eels, and lobsters waiting for you.

If you choose to go to Molasses Reef, book hotels in Key Largo with the help of Hotel Planner. That way, you’ll be able to score great deals while staying extremely close to all the underwater action.

Oriskany Shipwreck

Image via Flickr by Thespis377

Pensacola has a rich military history, so it’s no surprise that it’s the site of the shipwrecked USS Oriskany. Dive up to 200 feet under the water to see this retired aircraft carrier take on a new purpose as a home to numerous fish, plants, and other marine life. In fact, the Oriskany has been dubbed the largest artificial reef in the world.

Florida is one of the best places in the world to go diving. Next time you have the itch to sink below the blue waters of the ocean, head down to one of these locales in the Sunshine State for amazing views.

Move to Hampstead Heath

 

The Small-Town Community Just Ten Minutes from the City

What is it about Hampstead that makes it one of is the most desirable parts of London to set up home?

Hampstead is one of the best loved residential locations in London – yet it is not until you visit it that you really understand why. Stroll around its ancient market, visit its high-end designer stores and independent restaurants or amble across the famous Heath, and you would think you are a hundred miles from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan London.

Yet in reality, Charing Cross is just four miles away as the crow flies, and Bond Street takes nine minutes on the tube. If you want to live in a small, affluent town or village that is literally on the capital’s doorstep, Hampstead estate agents are the ones you need to be talking to. Nowhere else ticks the boxes in quite the same way, and so it is little surprise that the list of residents, past and present, reads like a who’s who of thinkers, actors, writers and other famous figures.

What to do

If you want theatres, nightclubs and hustle and bustle, a ten minute tube ride has you in the West End. Hampstead’s unique quality is its peace and rustic setting so close to the city. Explore the numerous independent stores on the High Road, then pick up the perfect picnic ingredients at the Community Market before taking a walk on Hampstead Heath.

The Heath covers almost 800 acres, so there is plenty to explore, including its very own zoo, which is home to a variety of deer, birds, lemurs and more.

Where to eat

Hampstead is a wonderful place for something a little bit special. To call Mimmo La Bufala a pizza joint is like calling the Bugatti Veyron a set of wheels. Long established as part of the Hampstead furniture, it is a favoured haunt of the rich and famous, and with good reason. Just up the road, Jin Kichi has a similarly fantastic reputation for serving the best Japanese food in North London.

It’s not all exclusivity and fine dining, however. There is also a great choice of character pubs, such as The Horse Shoe, where you can get a pie and a pint for less than £10, or the ever-popular and very historic Holly Bush with its great range of beers, wines and traditional British favourites on the menu.

Property

There’s no getting around it, as one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in London, Hampstead does not come cheap. The average property price is around £1,000,000 – studio apartments start around the £400,000 mark, while at the other end of the scale, there are seven and eight bedroom houses that easily run to eight figure sums.

Schools

There is certainly no shortage of choice for families when it comes to schools in and around Hampstead. There are currently eight state-funded primary and four state secondary schools, plus twice as many private schools.

The largest secondary school is Hampstead School on Westbere Road, which has around 1,300 students and counts novelist Zadie Smith, tennis star Alex Bogdanovic and actress Sadie Frost among its former pupils.

Venice and Lake Garda Holidays

 

For very good reason, Italy beckons romantics from every corner of the world. But when love is in the air, or you are looking to rekindle the flame, are you going to choose the Renaissance treasure house that is Venice or relax in the peace and tranquillity of elegant Lake Garda?

Take a look at twin-centre Venice and Lake Garda holidays, and you’ll discover that you don’t have to make that almost impossible choice – make the most of your visit to Italy by having your base first in the magical city of Venice and then retire to the serene grace and tranquillity of Lake Garda.

A twin-centre holiday really can let you enjoy the best of both worlds – in this case, two quite different environments, yet for the fare on only one direct, return flight to Italy.

Venice

Venice offers a world-renowned feast of art, housed in the many galleries along the banks of its iconic canals.

You might think that the steady stream of tourists challenges the romance of the city, but it is still easy to escape the crowds, meander through its quiet, narrow back streets and share in the more tranquil pace of life enjoyed by the people who live there.

In the words of this website for visitors to the city, Venice needs to be savoured at a slow pace, away from the milling crowds.

A gondola ride along the Venetian canals is almost a cliché, but, tried and tested as it may be, it remains one of the most enchanting ways of getting around and exploring parts of the city you might not reach on foot. Cap it off with a romantic dinner for two at one of the many fine restaurants and romance your way through the evening.

In addition to the many museums and galleries, must-see landmarks are the Ducal Palace, and St Mark’s Square and Basilica.

Venice has its distinct allure throughout the year. Winter can be notoriously chilly, but even this may be turned into its own cosy charm when enjoyed in a snug bar or café over a mug of hot chocolate.

Lake Garda

If you found Venice decidedly chilly in winter, you might be pleasantly surprised when travelling north towards the Italian Alps and Lake Garda. Even in January, it is unusual for the temperature to fall below zero, thanks to the warming effect of the large body of water. The result is a very mild, almost Mediterranean climate.

Lake Garda – or Lago Bènaco – is the largest of the Italian lakes and probably its most famous. It has attracted more than its fair share of the glitterati and continues to be a significant tourist draw.

But the sheer length of its shoreline and the diversity of the surrounding area means that peace and tranquillity are never difficult to find.

But it is not all majestic scenery, scattered with historic and cultural treasures; Lake Garda also offers the fun, thrills and spills of a wide array of water sports.

Undecided whether to make Venice or Lake Garda the base for your next Italian holiday? Make the best of both worlds by arranging a twin-centre excursion and get to know both places.

Motorhomes FAQs

The UK motorhome industry is thriving, with the amount of new registrations increasing every year. So, if you are considering buying one, these motorhomes FAQS may help … 

Can I drive a motorhome on my regular driving licence?

Depending on the weight (technically, the Maximum Authorised Mass, or MAM) of the motorhome your standard UK driving licence for a car also allows you to drive a motorhome.

If you passed your driving test before the 1st of January1997, you may drive any motorhome up to 7,500kg MAM – which covers all but the largest of American-style RVs.

If you passed the test after that date, however, you may drive a motorhome of up to 3,500kg MAM (the majority of those made for the UK market), but will need an additional category C1 licence to drive a motorhome between 3,500kg and 7,500kg MAM.

The Camping and Caravanning Club offers the warning that, once you reach the age of 70, you need a medical declaration signed by your GP to retain your C1 qualification for driving motorhomes between 3,500kg and 7,500kg MAM.

What is the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM)?

The Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) is the maximum weight of your motorhome, including all its fixtures and fittings and everything you are carrying in it.

You need to be aware of this weight when loading your motorhome, therefore, because if it is exceeded, you may be stopped and prosecuted for driving an overweight vehicle.

You can find the MAM stamped on the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate – usually fixed inside the engine bay or sometimes attached to the door pillar. If you are in any doubt about the weight of the loaded motorhome, you may need to visit a public weighbridge to check that you are within the authorised limits.

How much road tax must I pay on my motorhome?

The answer is not straight forward, because – just as with cars – vehicles first registered after the 1st of April 2017, the amount of road tax also reflects their CO2 rating.

Detailed information about the rate of road tax for all classes of vehicle may be found on the government website – your motorhome is officially described as a motor caravan under UK law.

Does my motorhome need an MOT?

Classed as a motor caravan, your motorhome – whatever its size or MAM – is subject to the same MOT requirements as your car. In other words, once it is three years old, it needs to pass an annual MOT test.

What type of toilet does my motorhome have?

A number of different types and designs of toilet are built into motorhomes.

The most common is a cassette type, which is removable from outside the vehicle when it needs to be emptied and which has either its own in-built water tank or uses the motorhome’s own water tank for flushing.

Alternatives are the proprietary Portapotti makes of chemical toilet or a marine toilet (most commonly found in the larger size motorhomes).

Do the usual no smoking rules apply?

Since 2015, the law has made it an offence for the driver to smoke, or to allow any passenger to smoke, in a car or motorhome also carrying any passenger under the age of 18.

However, a motorhome is exempt from these rules if it is either stationary and not on a road, or is stationary whilst parked up as living accommodation.