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Basque Country – Adventures in Northern Spain

We have yet to visit the Basque Country in northern Spain but our good friend Oli is a veteran visitor to the region. He has been kind enough to share his favorite hidden treasures of Spain’s Basque Country. Hope you enjoy, and as always, please remember to comment and share. God Bless!

The Basque country has been coming onto the radar of travelers more and more in recent years. Most visitors to Spain head to picturesque Barcelona and Seville, or the beaches of Andalusia. But the rugged northern coast offers something different for the intrepid explorer looking for a unique experience.

For many, if you find yourself in the Basque country you’re probably on the pilgrimage route, Camino de Santiago, which winds its way across the north of Spain to Santiago de Compostela.

But a trip to Spain’s Basque country (or Pais Vasco if you’re going native) has plenty for the casual visitor. From the bustling art and culture scene of Bilbao to foodie Mecca San Sebastian, travelers will be spoiled with choices.

As a big fan, and return visitor to the region, here are some of the best things to do in the Basque country of Northern Spain. Remember to pin my picks for the best kept secrets of Basque country!

Pintxos

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When it comes to food Spain is a gourmands dream. Tapas has become a global export but the local Basque variation is a work of art. Pintxos (pin-choss) are bite sized morsels, exquisite and perfectly presented and almost a shame to eat because they look so good.

Often a slice of French stick topped with anything from a simple tuna mayo or slice of tortilla, through to carefully balanced works of art, finding the best pintxos in town can become an obsession.

Walk in to any bar in the Basque country and you’ll see these creations lined up, tempting you to load up your plate.

The Basques go for a bebida y algo para picar (a drink and something to pick), meaning a few pintxos over a beer or vermouth.

Be careful, as much as these tempting delicacies look fantastic, at around €2 each they can soon add up. Most will grab a few pintxos with friends or as an appetizer before a meal.

Txakoli

If you’re a fan of wine or cider then you’ll love txakoli. Pronounced cha-KOH-lee (you emphasize the koh bit and I always get it wrong), this effervescent apple wine is tart and fruity and goes great with a big plate of pintxos. Not only that but the barman has to pour it in a theatrical head height to low glass style, so it’s always quite a head turner.

The Guggenheim Museum

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The iconic destination of Bilbao, the Guggenheim Museum has been responsible for transforming Bilbao from an unfashionable industrial city to a global destination. There’s no missing this incredible structure and the artwork inside is equally eye catching. With permanent collections featuring Van Gough and Picasso, you can easily while away a couple of hours browsing.

Even if you’re not ‘into art’ the museum is an incredible structure inside as well as out and is one of the most popular things to do in the Basque country.

To read about more incredible buildings around the world, check out our post here: 5 Free Things To Do in Reykjavik. It lists the Harpa Concert Hall as our favorite free activity in Iceland’s Capital!

La Concha Beach

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Featuring probably one of the best city beaches in Spain, if not the world, San Sebastian is a popular draw for tourists every summer. In fact, its such a beautiful city it even features a royal palace, The Miramar, for regal escapes.

La Playa de la Concha is a wide sweeping beach that dominates the landscape, and features incredible views. Its made for lazy lounging in the sun and the sheltered bay is perfect for splashing with kids or those who aren’t fans of big waves.

Surfing

Having spoken about how sedated La Concha is, just head around the corner and you’ll find some incredible surf breaks. In fact, pick any spot along the Basque Coast and you’ll find surfer friendly beaches.

Just over the border in France you’ll find Biarritz, which is still in Basque country. This is one of the best known surf breaks in Europe and is a beautiful town, not dissimilar to San Sebastian.

Keen surfers will probably start their Basque country journey in Biarritz and then head to towns like Zarautz and Mundaka (which is set inside a UNESCO recognized biosphere no less!).

Gaztelugatxe

Looking to travel to Spain? You can't afford to miss out on the Basque country. Anyone traveling in Spain should make the trip up to the northern Basque country! Our review will share our favorite Basque country hidden treasures, enjoy! #spain #basque #travelspain #traveleurope #travelblog #europe

Try saying that after a few of the local drinks…! Pronounced gas-tell-luga-chay, this fortress and walkway has become a postcard image of the Basque region.

Fans of Game of Thrones will recognize this rocky outcrop in the sea as, well, I don’t watch GOT but apparently it was featured quite prominently.

The whole coastline is quite spectacular and if you’re on the Camino pilgrimage you will drop by here. But if you simply want to get away from Bilbao for a day, this makes a great outing. The fresh air, the view and the rustic feel in the towns around here gives you a real sense of the Basque country culture.

The People!

It might be a cliché, but the people truly make this region special. Arriving in any bar you’ll find the people tend to be very engaging and even if your Spanish is of the school level variety, they will make an effort to engage with you.

Having said that, although Pais Vasco straddles France and Spain, the local language, Basque (known as Euskadi in the local parlance) bears very little in common with French or Spanish. Don’t worry though, everyone speaks Spanish and English is widely understood, especially in San Sebastian.

If you’re heading to Spain and you want to experience a more authentic side of the country; not just the tapas and party of Barcelona, or the music scene of Ibiza, Basque country is a captivating travel experience.

How to get to Basque Country

The main city and biggest airport in the Basque region is Bilbao. From there you can easily take a train or bus connection to the rest of the region, including San Sebastian. If you’re in mainland Spain, catch a train from Barcelona or Madrid to Bilbao in around 5 hours.

Biarritz in France is part of the Basque country and has good connections to many big cities in Europe including London, Paris and Frankfurt. You can also catch a bus from Biarritz airport direct to San Sebastian. But that would be a shame!

I hope you have all enjoyed my picks for the best kept secrets of Spain’s Basque country! Where would you most like to visit? Have you ever been to Spain? Let me know in the comments section!

About the Author:

Oliver Lynch is the editor and chief writer for GoneTravelling.co.uk and GlobalPlayboy.com. He’s based in London and can often be spotted in random European cities looking for the best budget food or snowboarding badly.

Family Friendly National Parks in America – Our Top Five!

America has 60 National Parks for wanderers from across the globe to enjoy. Some receive over 9 million visitors every year, and some as few as 105,000. We’ve been lucky enough to visit almost half of them and can’t wait to see the remaining 30. Today we’re going to share our Top 5 Family Friendly National Parks in America. Start packing those bags because adventure is calling!

From Acadia to Zion, each park affords its visitors something unique and inspiring. While we can’t quantify the beauty of each individual park, we can express their individual caterings towards families. Our family friendly National Parks rankings are based off of facilities within the parks, proximity to accommodations, and of course the park itself. Be sure to let us know in the comments which of the family friendly National Parks sounds the best to you! Do you know of any other parks that should be in our top 5?

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Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is one of America’s most famous National Parks. It was established as a park in October of 1890 and has been inspiring visitors ever since. Its sheer granite cliffs rise thousands of feet above the valley floor. Shimmering waterfalls fall crisply off the caps of the monumental domes cooling the valley air with their mist. Giant sequoia groves stand proudly against the stark granite backdrops. It truly is God’s Country.

In the valley several museums, hotels, and well paved trails greet visitors. The park is well staffed with knowledgeable individuals around almost every corner. The splendor of the park, its well-maintained facilities, and its proximity to several large cities all make Yosemite a must for any family looking to explore America’s National Parks.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Just a few hours outside of Denver lies a sparkling jewel. The crystalline lakes reflect the endless alpine views,  well-marked trails dot the surrounding hillsides, and wildlife inhabitants outnumber the daily guests. You’re likely to see any number of bighorn sheep, elk, moose, or even bear in Rocky Mountain National Park’s borders.

Families who love to hike should look no further, from short out and backs, to whole day trips, the parks varying ecosystems offer endless trail options. It also has numerous shelters and facilities for visitors to enjoy and learn more about the park and its various biomes. The unparalleled diversity of the park, its network of trails, and its accessibility make Rocky Mountain National Park one of the best family friendly National Parks in America. If you’re planning a winter trip to Colorado be sure to check out the numerous ski resorts. You can read more about them here: Skiing in Colorado – Everything You Need to Know.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

On America’s most populated coast lies a park of incredible historical and natural significance. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was on the forefront of the action for most of the civil war. The nearby town of Gatlinburg was commonly raided by Confederate soldiers until the end of the war. Nearby Pigeon Forge also boasted a converted mill used to make Union uniforms. Pairing this with several small battles and skirmishes the Great Smoky Mountains were a hotbed long before they became a National Park.

The parks also boasts over 5000 types of plants, 800 miles of trails and 100’s of different animals. It is melting pot of history and natural splendor unmatched across the United States. Given its unrivaled history and beauty, it extensive trail system, and its closeness to numerous towns, Great Smoky Mountains is in our top 5 family friendly National Parks.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone’s fabled geysers, wildlife, and terrain speak for themselves. With prismatic springs dotting the countryside, awe-inspiring canyons and waterfalls, and even moose, wolves, and bison roaming freely it is hard to imagine a more unspoiled landscape. For any family looking to be inspired by pure beauty look no further than Yellowstone.

Yellowstone is actually America’s first national park. It was inducted in March of 1872, and has had plenty of time to build an inclusive experience for its visitors. From board walked trails, to historic hotels, the park offers everything any visitor could need. Yellowstone’s incredible wildlife alone should be more than enough of a reason for every family to visit, but if you need more convincing Grand Teton is only an hour south! Check out our One Day Guide to Grand Teton National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Rounding out our top 5 family friendly National Parks is a personal favorite, Bryce Canyon. Bryce is spectacularly unique. Hundreds of sandstone hoodoos climb towards the sky out of the natural amphitheater. Trees litter the valley and trails between the formations. While certainly not as massive as the other parks (Bryce sits around 35,000 acres) it is plenty large for a family trip out west!

What the park lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in beauty. The famed hoodoos in the valley are revered around the world for the rarity. Few places sport the sheer number and size of the formations as Bryce Canyon National Park does. The parks quaint size and general tidiness, its proximity to several large cities and 5 other National Parks, and its unfiltered beauty make Bryce Canyon a must visit for any National Park fan! Check out our post 12 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Utah for more magnificent photos of Utah!

Well folks, that’s a wrap for us. Our Top 5 Family Friendly National Parks are perfect for explorers of all sizes. We are certain no matter which park you choose you will be blown away by its splendor. So have fun, adventure safely, and enjoy God’s Creation personally! Have you been to any National Parks? If so, which ones? Alternatively, let us know if you think we missed one of your favorite family friendly National Parks. Until next time, K+J!

Best Portable Wifi for Travelers – And a 10% Discount!

As travels take you further and further, and your phone data grows slower and slower, finding other portable connectivity options becomes more important. Today we’re going to look at our choice for the best portable wifi device. We’ll break down our choice, the pros and cons of our device, why you need portable wifi, and where you can get one! We even managed to squeeze out a 10% discount for you to enjoy the best portable wifi for travelers!

Anyone who’s been lost roaming foreign roads knows the utter fear of traveling without wifi. When we visited Iceland we had to print 34 pages of turn-by-turn directions for a 12 day road trip. It’s a definite downside of having no way to connect to the internet. After Iceland, we made mobile connectivity a priority for both our sanity and our safety on the go. We truly believe we have found the best portable wifi and it’s under $10 a day! So without further ado we give you our review of The World’s Best Portable Wifi for Travelers!

To be clear: this page contains affiliate links. In the event of a sale, we will be awarded a small commission (at no extra cost for you).  This allows us to continue to produce great content, so thank you! As such, we are also able to offer you a 10% discount off your rental when you go through our link and use our discount code, read on to claim yours!

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The Best Portable Wifi – Tep Wireless

Tep Wireless offers users a pocket-sized portable hotspot to stay connected while they travel. We won’t get into to much detail on it’s inner workings but instead of 100 SIM cards for 100 different countries, Tep uses a virtual SIM which can automatically detect, configure, and connect. This means no more having to purchase a new card or device for every country. Instead the little Tep device will do it all for you!

Tep offers seamless connectivity in over 100 countries worldwide. As you travel your Tep device will allow you (and up to 4 others) to browse and use the internet. With a unique name and secure password you can be sure your sessions are safe. All Tep devices include unlimited internet, a 6+ hour battery life, and incredible customer support. Like meet you at the airport to personally hand you your device customer support.

Tep Wireless offers affordable plans for both leisure and business travelers. You can easily rent a device for only $8.95/day, or you can buy one and connect for only $99/month! If you are looking for an easy and reliable way to connect on the go, go through our link here: https://mbsy.co/ql7jw and use code “THEAGAPECO” for 10% off your order!

 

The Pros and Cons of Tep Wireless

We strive to be honest in our reviews because we would like our readers to know exactly how we feel about products. We want to illuminate everything we loved about a product and everything that was just a bit off. In turn they can make a well-informed decision on the product. We hope this honest approach will allow us to build an open and trusting relationship with our readers. On that note, we’ll start with the cons of the Tep device.

The Cons of Tep

As with every device you’ve owned there will always be one or two things you would change. Even though it is our pick for the best portable wifi, the Tep device is no different. Tep currently sports a 4.3/5-Star average on just under 6,000 reviews. A common issue we personally noticed, as did several reviewers, was a mediocre connection speed. Sometimes the device was incredibly fast and other times it was just ok. The device never failed to load anything, sometimes we just wished it would load a little quicker. Another common note is that users wished the batter life was longer. The devices are rated for 6 or more hours. Personally, we don’t intend to be browsing the internet our whole day on vacation so this was never an issue for us. Additionally, the device does come with a USB and a wall outlet charger so recharging on the go is pretty easy!

The Pros of Tep

Ok now for the fun part, our favorite parts about Tep. First and foremost, their customer service is world class. I have never had trouble getting on the phone, touching base over email, or even live chatting with them through their site. They are extremely responsive, intelligent, and genuinely care for you as a customer. Another reason we chose Tep as the best portable wifi provider is the seamlessness of the connectivity. They offer several different plans (Global, European, Oceania, etc.) that allow you to easily connect anywhere you roam. Lastly, the device is secure. As personal security online continues to be more important having a device you can connect to that is safe will be more important than ever. Tep makes this easy with a unique SSID and password for every device.

Tep Wireless is easily the best “large” company I’ve ever worked with. They know the importance of keeping their customers happy, and it shows in their easy to use devices and customer service. If you would like to experience Tep’s unmatched quality go through our link here: https://mbsy.co/ql7jw and use code “THEAGAPECO” for 10% off your order!

 

Why You Need Tep Wireless

Whether you travel for business or pleasure their will come a time when a trip is more stressful than fun. Whether that’s because of some questionable seafood, a delayed flight, or an inability to load google maps, life on the road will be hard. You can take away some of those hardships by easily and reliably having an internet connection. Instead of the gas station seafood you could find a local joint with a 5-Star rating. Instead of meandering the airport for 6 hours you can stream a few of your favorite movies. Instead of ending up in Denver, Iowa (yes it’s a real place) you can load google maps and make your ski trip to Colorado a reality! These are just a few reasons we believe in and recommend Tep, it simply is the best portable wifi for travelers.

We know you may not be a seafood fan, or maybe you never fly anywhere, or maybe you don’t even use google maps, but there will come a time when you will need a wifi connection and won’t have one. For us it was in Iceland, and Costa Rica, but it won’t happen again! If you would like to relieve some of the stress of traveling go through our link here: https://mbsy.co/ql7jw and use code “THEAGAPECO” for 10% off your order!

 

Where to Get the Best Portable Wifi

Well folks, I was hoping we’d made this part clear already! If you want a secure, reliable, affordable way to get online on the go, look no further than Tep Wireless. They are an incredible company, with an incredible product, backed by thousands of happy customers. If you would like to give them a try and save 10% off your order, then go through our link here: https://mbsy.co/ql7jw and use code “THEAGAPECO”.

There ya have it everyone! We truly believe Tep Wireless is the best portable wifi for travelers. From its unmatched customer service, to its affordable rates, or even its seamless connectivity on the go, we are thrilled to use Tep on our travels. We hope the next time you’re in need you’ll give it a shot!

Be sure to let us know below in the comments what you thought of our review. Have you ever tried a mobile hotspot? Who did you use? Do you have a different opinion? Please remember to subscribe and share our blog on social media with your friends and family, God Bless!

Cheap Flights – 15 Tips to SAVE YOU HUNDREDS

We all know flight prices jump around more than a kangaroo with a caffeine addiction so, after making travel a dedicated part of our lives, Kestra and I started seriously researching affordable travel opportunities. This included how to find cheap flights, rental cars, accommodations, and basically anything you need to have for a vacation. Some of these deals were way easier to find than others. For accommodations you can find places around the world on Airbnb for less than $20 a night. What about finding cheap flights though? It seems no matter where you look there are extra fees and taxes (not to mention the base cost) driving up the price. Kestra and I will show you exactly how to find cheap flights with 15 EASY and AMAZING tips!

If you’re ready to see the world (and not sell your soul to afford it) then let’s get to learning! If you have any other questions on how to find cheap flights, feel free to let know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you 🙂 If you’re feeling extra spectacular, please shoot this post a like and a share and, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get too far, remember to…

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Hold Your Tickets

So a little trick we learned early on was that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has several regulations in place regarding airline prices and their relationships with consumers. Specifically, the DOT said that all carriers in the United States and abroad have to allow potential consumers the chance, “to hold a reservation at the quoted fare for 24 hours without payment or allow a reservation to be cancelled within 24 hours without penalty.”

What this basically means is… whoa there this is actually our premium content that is FREE for newsletter subscribers. Sign up using the form and we will send you a password to access the full document 🙂 How to Find Cheap Flights-15 AMAZING Tricks! Thanks in advance for joining our tribe of explorers!

Sign up for our newsletter to receive our FREE guide – 15 Tips to Find CHEAP FLIGHTS and Save You Money! We’re excited you’re tagging along!

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The Perfect Gifts for Travelers—21 Gift Ideas for Travelers They’ll LOVE

Ok, ok I admit it. I’m guilty. I. AM. HARD. TO. SHOP. FOR. Between stuffing all my belongings into suitcases and unpacking at home, I struggle to think of anything else I could want. This leads to a lot of stress for friends and family around Christmas or birthdays (sorry!). Coming up with gift ideas for travelers you know can feel equally as stressful, which is why Kestra and I have put together our list of 21 perfect gifts for travelers, full of items we couldn’t live without, are secretly wishing for, or just might go buy ourselves!

Our list of gift ideas for travelers is in no particular order so take your time exploring the options. These gifts for travelers are targeted to people who love to travel, dream of exploring the world more, or are actively looking to start. Finding gifts for travelers can be tough, so we made sure to include a wide range of products to be sure you can find the right gift for the right person!

To be clear: this page contains affiliate links. In the event of a sale, as an Amazon Associate we will be awarded a small commission (at no extra cost for you).  This allows us to continue to produce great content, so thank you!

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Scratch-Off World Map

Kestra and I both have (and love!) our Scratch-Off World Maps. After our road trip this summer we were able to scrape off 12 states and it looks so much more colorful now! The only downside is the pick they provide you with isn’t the best, but if you use a dime it works just fine. It’s a great gift for travelers just starting their adventures or for those who don’t have many countries left! The map always brings back memories and if you frame it with pictures of your travels it becomes a great way to tell stories!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader

Long plane rides or endless hours in the car are made so much easier with Kindles of any kind but I LOVE my Kindle Paperwhite. I try to get through a few books a month and I never delete any, but I never run out of storage! Plus, I think I’ve charged the thing like 4 times— ever. It really is a great product and they even made the new ones waterproof! Many libraries now offer e-books so you can login online and check out books for free. Wicked!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Portable Power Bank-24,000 mAh

These are life savers! At first I bought a cheap portable charger at Walmart and could only half-charge one phone. I upgraded before getting more serious about camping and boy did it help. Anything you can charge via a USB is compatible and it holds between 10 and 15 “phone charges”. They are perfect for anyone serious about camping (but still wanting to take pictures) or for those running to catch their next flight.

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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LifeStraw Water Bottle

The two-stage built in filter means no more endless pumping through your filter, you just fill and drink. Ponds, puddles, lakes, and streams— this hiker’s dream makes it possible to always have your water ready to go. I have a LifeStraw (not in water bottle form) that I can’t speak highly enough of. They say they get rid of all odors and for the most part they do, if you can stomach it you can drink it. To all the off the beaten path explorers, enjoy!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Bear Butt Hammock

I know it’s not an ENO. It’s better! I’ve had them both and can promise you Bear Butt is the way to go. They offer a double wide in great color choices and their Kodiak Straps are amazing. Seriously, for a reasonably priced hammock this thing outperforms even the name brands. Heck, its so good it might even be the name brand now. Be sure to “splurge” on those Kodiak Straps!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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DJI Phantom 3 Drone

Yeah I won’t lie this one’s expensive, but that’s why it’s a wish list so play along! Everyone is more and more familiar that drones changed the game when it comes to photography. DJI is essentially the GoPro of drones, they simply do it best. We personally don’t own one but if we did this is the direction we’d go. They also have slightly cheaper DJI models so feel free to check them out!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Travel Adapter-2000W

Kestra and I picked this up before our trip to Iceland and it is awesome! You just flip the switches and plug into the proper slots for the country you’re in. It even has temperature control and surge protection so if you accidentally screw up you don’t have to bury your electronics. This version is the perfect gift idea for travelers because it works in over 150 countries!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Men’s Toiletry Bag

These canvas bags are super handy and durable. Plus, for just over $10 they are a phenomenal value. They fit easily in a carry on and make separating out all of my extra junk so much easier. We highly recommend for anyone them for anyone you know who doesn’t want their toothbrush dragging over their underwear 😉

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Women’s Toiletry Bag

These toiletry bags are just a little larger than the men’s and cost just a little more. They come in great colors, have a built in hanger, and can fit full sized bottles of shampoo (if you can sneak it through TSA). Another great choice for any adventurers that like to brush their hair or use deodorant in the morning. Check them out!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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GoPro Hero 7

We mentioned GoPro is the standard when it comes to action cameras and it’s because their technology is simply unreal. Tired of watching shaky footage, clicking through confusing screens, and just want good action shots from your trip? GoPro is the way to go. Their image stabilization is incredible, making the bumpiest of rides fun to watch. Before mine took a prolonged swim in the Pacific Ocean I took it skiing, wakeboarding, white water rafting, you name it. So you can be sure this is back on any wish list I put together!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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23andMe Ancestry DNA Test

Kestra and I had wanted to do these tests for years and this last Christmas we finally did. It was so cool to see where our ancestors lived, different traits we’d inherited, and even different genetic markers to make sure we were healthy—we are! This is one of those absolutely perfect gifts for travelers because it renews a sense of wonder when you travel. You wonder who in your family line has walked where you are and you dream of visiting the places you come from.

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Canon EOS Rebel T6 and Accessory Kit

What a steal! Kestra and I started taking photography a little more seriously and this is a great camera package to get started with. It come with two lenses, a tripod, two memory cards, telephoto and wide angle adapters, almost everything you need. Overall the camera performs greater than I expected, only downside is the tripod feels cheap and so does the bag. Compared to what you would pay for them all individually though this is a bargain!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Columbia Women’s Hiking Boots

These boots are incredible. Kestra wears them everywhere, and I do mean everywhere: Iceland, Costa Rica, the North Shore, and California, just to name a few places. They’re good boots that wear well, don’t eat up your toes on the downhill, keep water off your socks, and actually breathe some (as much as a hiking boot can). Size wise they run true so there are no worries there!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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The North Face Men’s Hiking Boots

If you could only ever buy one pair of boots again I’d make it these. Why? Because North Face has a great warranty repair program. Anytime I bust an eyelet or something just doesn’t feel right they help me out. They also are super comfortable, easy to put on, and I’ve never gotten a blister in them. Needless to say, I know what I’d buy!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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The North Face Women’s Weatherproof Jacket

Man these are handy. Kestra loves her rain jacket from her grandma so she doesn’t need a new one but this is what I’d get her if she did. They are completely wind and waterproof, have a cinch down hoody, and can be folded into their own pocket when you aren’t using them. Eddie Bauer also offers some amazing rain coats but they run for three times the amount for pretty much the same jacket. Plus, North Face has tons of pretty colors!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Marmot Men’s Weatherproof Jacket

These jackets are so nice. I have a friend who let me borrow his on the way to class a few years ago and I showed up completely dry. It has something like three layers of GoreTex (that’s the waterproofing stuff) so you can be sure that whatever you want to stay dry will. They also pack up into a coat pocket and come in four really cool colors. Check them out!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Bluetooth Speaker

With thousands of 5-Star reviews these guys are obviously doing something right! Their wireless, waterproof speakers are perfect gifts for travelers who love the great outdoors and don’t want to worry about what can’t get wet. We’d love to take them camping, and if you pack that portable charger you can play your music for hours!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Phone Tele-Photo Lens

For those not quite ready to lug around a camera all the time, this tele-photo lens for your phone is perfect. It is light and easily packable, not a pain to haul around all day, and can be fitted to most major phones. We all know most people are snapping pictures on their phones anyway, so why not invest and up the quality of them tremendously? This one is a wonderful gift idea for travelers who can’t seem to put their devices away (yeah, that might be me too).

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Leatherman Multi-Tool

This one is with me no matter where I go. It’s saved me countless headaches on many dirt bike trips, kept me from starving near the campfire because I can’t open the can, and even cut my hair one time—it was a chop job. The point is, though, when you’re in need it gets the job done, and with fourteen tools it’s bound to have the one you need. Or at least one that’s close enough!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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G-RO Luggage

This could use some explaining. I’ll preface it by saying, this is the Cadillac of suitcases. With built in power banks and USB chargers, Bluetooth luggage locators, oversized wheels to go over curbs and snow, these are built to last. For any serious travelers considering traveling more, they are well worth the investment. If it’s only a trip or two a year, then stick with the duffle. Check them out though because they are still cool!

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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Noise Canceling Headphones

Wowza these are incredible. If you’ve ever just wanted to sleep on an airplane, you know the struggle of all the incessant background noise. From the engine on your left to the motor mouth on your right, sometimes you just wish you could hear yourself think. These make that possible again! Bonus: they’re wireless so you don’t accidentally choke yourself in your sleep.

Buy it on Amazon HERE

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As you can see there are plenty of amazing gifts for travelers if you look hard enough. Some are more budget-friendly than others but all are guaranteed to deliver smiles! Be sure to let us know below in the comments which gift idea for travelers you liked the most. Do you know of any other good gifts? Please remember to subscribe and share our blog on social media with your friends and family, God Bless!

 

Want to see where all Kestra has worn her favorite boots? Check out:

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Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls

Visit 6 Active Volcanoes in Costa Rica

Home to over 200 volcanic structures and 6 active volcanoes, it’s difficult to visit Costa Rica and not see one! Not all of the volcanoes in Costa Rica are the conic shaped ones you see at science fairs, but all are just as mesmerizing as those baking soda experiments. Your trip to Costa Rica isn’t complete without visiting at least one of these famous active volcanoes!

Some of the best volcanoes in Costa Rica are easier to get to than others, but this guide examines them from a different standpoint… how cool they are! Be sure to check for activity and park closures before planning your trip, they are active remember. If you’re feeling extra incredible, please shoot this post a like and a share and, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get too far, remember to…

Pin our guide on How to Visit Volcanoes in Costa Rica!

There are hundreds of volcanoes in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best volcanoes may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica Volcanoes- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the volcanoes in Costa Rica you like the most!

 

Arenal Volcano

 

Arenal Volcano Costa Rica

Located 84 miles northwest of San José in the Guanacaste Volcanic Range, Arenal is one of the most photographed volcanoes in Costa Rica due to its natural conic shape. Although it hasn’t erupted since 2010, its base city, La Fortuna, is still a popular tourist spot because of its quaint downtown and proximity to La Fortuna Waterfall, one Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls!

Arenal Volcano Costa Rica Pinterest

Poás Volcano

Poas Volcano Costa Rica

Just 34 miles north of San José, this volcano has been closed to the public since 2017 due to volcanic activity. I was lucky enough to visit before it closed and wow– the park was stellar! Costa Ricans are extremely serious about volcanic safety, so any sign of activity will close the parks until further notice. However, if you do happen to be around when it’s open, I highly encourage you to go. It is (or was, I suppose) Costa Rica’s most visited volcano. An easy (albeit sort of lengthy) walk on a paved trail will wrap you through the forest and up to the lookout point. And even though I was lucky enough to be there when it was open, I still wasn’t able to grasp a view of the crater. Turns out clouds forests have their downsides as well. The clouds covered the crater, which made our visit all the more eerie! We went too late in the day (around noon), your best chance at viewing this spectacular volcano cloud-free is going to be in the morning!

Poas Volcano Costa Rica Pinterest

Irazú Volcano

Irazu Volcano Costa Rica

San José sits in a valley surrounded by volcanoes, making them extremely easy to visit on your way to and/or from the airport. Irazú Volcano is located 35 miles east of San José near the city of Cartago. Last active in 1963, this is the highest of all the volcanoes in Costa Rica, sitting at an altitude of 11,260 feet above sea level! Although this volcano boasts five craters, the main one makes you feel like someone scooped you off of Earth and plopped you down on Mars– for real!

Irazu Volcano Costa Rica Pinterest

Rincón de la Vieja Volcano

Rincon de la Vieja Volcano Costa Rica

Named after a popular local legend where a girl’s father threw her lover into the volcano, The Old Woman’s Corner is located 170 miles northwest of San José. This hidden gem is stowed snugly in the northern countryside, offering incredible hikes through its 34,000 acre Rincón de la Vieja National Park, and hasn’t disrupted its visitors since 1998.

Rincon de la Vieja Volcano Costa Rica Pinterest

Turrialba Volcano

Turrialba Volcano Costa Rica

Just a tad further down the road from the Irazú Volcano, Turrialba is only 43 miles east of San José. Closed since 2014, this volcano last erupted in December of 2016. Turrialba is also a conical volcano. You can see it from miles away but we think it is best up close and personal! This park has no intention of re-opening anytime soon, so if this volcano is on your Must Visit List, keep your eyes peeled.

Turrialba Volcano Costa Rica Pinterest

Tenorio Volcano

Tenorio Volcano Costa Rica

Located 130 miles northwest of San José, this volcano was closed for a couple of days in early 2018 due to activity, but is now back open. Always make sure to check before you visit as conditions change daily! Boasting four volcanic peaks (one of them earned its own name– Montezuma Volcano), the Tenorio Volcano is located in the Tenorio Volcano National Park. While you’re there, you can also see the infamous Río Celeste Waterfall!

Tenorio Volcano Costa Rica Pinterest

That’s that! A summary of all six active volcanoes in Costa Rica. Of course there are dozens of other volcanoes you can visit in the country, but doesn’t the thought of hiking on or near an active volcano get your blood pumping!? Have you visited any of these volcanoes in Costa Rica? If not, which one would you like to visit? Will you be stopping at any on your next trip to Costa Rica? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls— Fast Facts Guide to Waterfalls in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to dozens and dozens of waterfalls– some internationally famous, others known only to the locals, all equally as beautiful. So if you decide to chase the very real, very breathtaking waterfalls in Costa Rica, deciding which ones to add to your list can be difficult! (Can’t you just add all of them?!) That’s why we put together our travel guide to Costa Rica’s best waterfalls!

 

Nothing worth having is ever easy to get, so why should waterfalls worth seeing be easy to get to either? (Hint: They’re not!) Some of Costa Rica’s best waterfalls are easier to get to than others, but hiking is half of the fun! Plus, waterfalls in Costa Rica look better without man-made structures built up all around them, so the hike is worth the unimpeded view 🙂

To start off, Costa Rica’s best waterfalls will be listed from the MOST accessible to the LEAST accessible. We’ll even throw in the entrance fee (as of September, 2018) for you penny-pincher travelers (like Jacob and I). If you’re feeling extra amazing, please shoot this post a like and a share and, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get too far, remember to…

Pin our top 5 picks for Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls!

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Magia Blanca Waterfall— One of the Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Located an hour-and-a-half north of San José, in Alajuela Providence, Magia Blanca is just one of five waterfalls at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. A tranquil 0.8 mile walk on a paved trail will take you through the Costa Rican jungle to see all of the waterfalls. There are stairs, but you only have to go down. A shuttle will pick you up at the bottom and bring you back up to the top!

Dropping 120 feet, Magia Blanca (White Magic), is the tallest of the five waterfalls. Although all are beautiful, Magia Blanca is so beautiful it almost looks unreal! The unequivocal beauty alone makes this one of Costa Rica’s best waterfalls. The trail is set up so you can take pictures with the jungle in the background, and there are never any tourists in your photo– how great!!

La Paz Waterfall Gardens also offers several different attractions, including: restaurants, lodging, butterfly observatory, Trout Lake (swim, fish, or catch dinner!), historical “Casita” farmhouse, an animal sanctuary, and a pool. There truly is something for everyone here, regardless of age or mobility level.

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Río Celeste Waterfall— Second on our List of Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Arguably the bluest of waterfalls in Costa Rica, Río Celeste (Celeste River) is about four hours northwest of San José. The waterfall is located in Tenorio National Park, at the base of the Tenorio Volcano. Although there are many different things to see in the 31,794-acre park, the waterfall is just one mile from the parking lot on a paved path. Unfortunately, you can’t swim here, even though the blue water looks so inviting!

Due to the popularity of the park, only 1,200 visitors are allowed in per day, and only 400 on the trail at one time. So to secure your spot and ensure you get to see this gorgeous location, arrive early!

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

La Fortuna Waterfall— Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls are Worth the Hike

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Located three hours northwest of San José, at the base of the dormant Chato Volcano and near Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna— The Fortune– is one of the most famous waterfalls in Costa Rica. A 20 minute hike down steps through the jungle will allow you views of the 246-foot waterfall from many angles. And the best part? You can swim at the base of the waterfall when you make it down, it’s just chilly!

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Los Chorros Waterfall— One of the Most Hidden Waterfalls in Costa Rica

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

The locals hide some of Costa Rica’s best waterfalls for themselves (I mean, who can blame them!) Los Chorros (The Jets), located an hour northwest of San José, is tucked away into the Costa Rican countryside. To get there from San José, we had to take two separate buses in order to get to the city of Grecia, and then walk 1.5 miles (uphill!) to get to the entrance of the park. Of course, many stopped and offered us a ride– but for a price– so we sucked it up and walked. And my, oh my, was the difficulty of finding this place worth it!

We were the only foreigners there, you could swim in the water (although it was freezing) and climb the waterfall (at your own risk!).

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Fundación Dúrika— One of the Coolest Waterfalls in Costa Rica

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Good luck finding this waterfall, because It. Was. Hidden. Fundación Dúrika is an ecovillage located almost 5 hours southeast of San José in the Puntarenas Providence. Hidden way up in the Talamanca Mountains, Dúrika is a self-sustaining community that is accessible only by an hour drive in a 4WD vehicle from the city of Buenos Aires.

Once in Dúrika, we were taken on a hike to this waterfall (which either doesn’t have a name or we don’t remember it… it’s THAT secluded). From the bottom, it just looks like any old waterfall, but upon hiking up to the top of it, there’s an entire “infinity pool” you can hang out in! The pool isn’t extremely deep, nor is the water running extremely fast, but it is nice and cold if you want to take a relaxing dip!

It is usually more than a one-day trip, so lodging and a restaurant are located on site.

Hint: this waterfall is Walk 3, located here.

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Of course, there are hundreds of spectacular waterfalls in Costa Rica. When each and every one makes you stop and say “wow” it’s nearly impossible to choose your favorite. These were just our picks for Costa Rica’s best waterfalls. Let us know which waterfall was your favorite! Have you ever been to Costa Rica? Would you visit any of these waterfalls if you go?

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Fun Things to do in Tampa with Kids – 25 Family Friendly Adventures

If you’re a parent, grandparent, or even a babysitter you may find yourself searching for fun things to do in Tampa with kids. That’s why we compiled our list of Fun Things to do in Tampa with Kids – 25 Family Friendly Adventures!

Be sure to let us know in the comments which adventure you liked the most or if you have any favorites we missed. Our list of fun things to do in Tampa with kids is great for adults too! If you’re feeling extra wicked cool shoot this post a like and a share, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get too far, remember to…

Pin our top 25 picks for Fun Things to do in Tampa with Kids!

Looking for fun things to do in Tampa with kids? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!
Looking for fun things to do in Tampa with kids? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!

Looking for Fun Things to do in Tampa with Kids… Check out the Local Parks!

Need fun things to do with kids in Tampa? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!
Lucky for us there was a fence to keep her down there! Down the boardwalk there were also some baby alligators enjoying the sun!

The Tampa Bay area has some of the best park systems in Florida so if you’re looking for fun things to do in Tampa with kids, the parks are a great place to start. Each park varies in size and style so you can usually find one that fits your child’s taste. From animal kingdoms to train stations, these parks are all worth a few hours of your time!

Eureka Springs Park and Lettuce Lake Regional Park are perfect for little ones who love animals. They’ll have a chance to see alligators, butterflies, armadillos, turtles, and more at these two parks. They also both have impressive boardwalk systems which makes the park accessible to all. The boardwalks also aid in keeping the wildlife a safe distance away. Which is good because that gator is huge!

If you want a more hands-on experience, check out ZooTampa at Lowry Park and Big Cat Rescue. Both offer the chance for young and old to learn and interact with the animals. The zoo allows guests to see manatees, feed giraffes, and pet stingrays and a giant tortoise– what more could a little one want! Big Cat Rescue is the world’s largest accredited sanctuary and features over 100 rescued lions, tigers, leopards, and more. Take a walking tour to learn more about the animals and their stories!

For more traditional parks (larger lawns, playgrounds, and such) we have three great options! Fred Howard Park is a 155-acre park that hosts a beach, two playgrounds, and more for the family to enjoy. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is situated in downtown Tampa on the Hillsborough River. It features plenty of grass, a playground, and a sprayground. You read that right, a sprayground! Largo Central Park is another great option, and even has a train. Plan ahead and you can ride the miniature railway on the first full weekend of every month. Let us know below in the comments which park your kids would love the most!

Watch the Sunset at Pier 60 and Stay for the Movies

Looking for fun things to do as a family in Tampa? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!
Be sure to catch the sunset on your next trip to Florida! If you’re near Tampa, stay for the movie too!

There are tons of fun things to do in Tampa with kids, but a sunset followed by a movie on the pier is hard to beat. The pier stretches over 1,080 feet into the gulf and hosts a variety of daily activities. The pier is well lit making it popular for tourists and fishermen alike. Head on over to Clearwater Beach’s infamous Pier 60 from 6 to 9 every night to catch the sunset. The pier comes alive with performers, vendors, and kids tearing up the waterfall playground.

After the sun flares the last of its light into the sky, pull out your blankets and take a seat at the Sunset Cinema. Located on the lawn near Pier 60, the Sunset Cinema is a FREE outdoor theater supported by local businesses. They show movies on Friday and Saturday nights (weather permitting) and even have concessions on site!

Try out the Watersports at Clearwater Beach

Looking for fun things to do in Tampa as a family? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!
Parasailing in Florida is a must… as long as you don’t mind the heights!

Clearwater Beach is a gorgeous strip of white sand stretching for miles along the Gulf of Mexico. Touristy? Yes, definitely, but that’s Florida. Anyone looking for fun things to do in Tampa with kids has come across the various local beaches, so why is Clearwater different? The prices! Competition in Clearwater has made it affordable for most to try their favorite watersports. We decided to choose three levels of adventures for this post. They start as the most exciting and expensive (for your time) and work towards activities geared for younger children that are more budget friendly. The three adventures are parasailing, jet skiing, and paddle boarding but we hope you’ll check out other options too!

For parasailing check out Parasail Clearwater, Chute Em Up Parasail, and Clearwater Watersports. All three offer different line heights, some up to 1,000 feet, convenient locations, and fair pricing. It really just comes down to where you are on the beach and the time you want to go! Most rides are around 10 minutes and total time on the boat is around 45 minutes.

For jet skiing (or waverunners as the pros say) we recommend BouYah Watersports, Cleartwater Beach Jet Ski Rentals, and H2O Jet Ski Rentals. Again, all three are affordable and convenient and come down to your time and location. They also offer a guided tour option that sounds spectacular. It affords you the chance to explore local hidden gems you wouldn’t otherwise find!

For paddleboards we loved Clearwater Beach Paddle Board Rental Co. and Tampa Bay SUP. Both offer rentals and lessons! Now you and the kids spend more time on the board and lesson below it! Really though, both companies are great; however, if you’re looking for a longer rental try Clearwater Beach and if you’d like a shorter term try Tampa Bay. Which of the three adventures would you and your kids like the most? Let us know below in the comments!

Mini Golf is another Fun Thing to do in Tampa with Kids

Looking for fun things to do with kids in Tampa? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!
Check out Tampa, Florida’s best mini golf courses for a fun family adventure!

For those of you who know us personally you know we love mini golf. Not just jokingly love, but seriously love and compete at mini golf. We find the best way to celebrate a victory is to have the loser buy ice cream. Let’s just say Kestra won ice cream in Tampa Bay. Good work Kes 🙂 Do you have any similar family traditions? We personally didn’t play all of these courses, but we carefully vetted them all before including them on our list of fun things to do in Tampa with kids.

Congo River Golf has plane wrecks, waterfalls, and live gators. Smuggler’s Cove Adventure Golf, where Kestra and I played, has baby alligators, pirate ships, and caves. Ace Golf is well landscaped, beautifully maintained, and super affordable. Captain Bligh’s Landing is a pirate themed course with different interactive scenes on each hole, and they have a talking parrot the kids will love. The Fish Hole Miniature Golf is a beautiful course in a quiet setting on the water and is better for older and younger crowds.

Local Amusement Parks – Fun Things to do in Tampa with Kids

Looking for fun things to do in Tampa kids will love? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!
Busch Gardens was a blast for is and will be for your family too! Thanks Emily!

Sure Orlando has Disney, but Tampa also has great amusement and water parks! We tried Busch Gardens and had an absolute blast with Kestra’s family. Say hi to Bria, Meghan, Colin, and Emily! Busch Gardens is a 335-acre African Safari themed amusement park. Scattered between its many rides are over 12,000 animals including rhinos, giraffes, and elephants.

Dinosaur World is a more budget-friendly option and great for smaller children. With over 200 life-size dinosaurs in the park, fossil and gemstone excavation, your kids will love the park. They even allow you to bring in your own food and drinks to save some money. We highly recommend the park to any little dino lovers!

For water lovers be sure to try out Adventure Island. The 30-acre park is just across the street from Busch Gardens. With zippy waterslides, lazy rivers, wave pools,and sandy bottom cabanas, the park has something for all ages. It is a spectacular way to beat the heat and enjoy the Florida sun as a family!

As you can see there are tons of fun things to do with kids in Tampa. Some are more budget-friendly than others but all are guaranteed to deliver smiles! Be sure to let us know below in the comments which adventure sounds the most fun to you. Do you know of any other fun things to do with kids in Tampa? Please remember to subscribe and share our blog on social media with your friends and family, God Bless!

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What to do in Utah-12 Photos to Inspire you to Visit

Things to do in Grand Teton National Park-1 Day Itineray

 

Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku Ryokan – How to Stay Like a Local in Japan

We have yet to visit Japan but we still find ourselves constantly wondering, “What to do in Japan?” or “Where to stay in Japan?”. Our good friend Sarah recently had the opportunity to stay at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku Ryokan and she wrote an amazing review for us to share with you. Hope you enjoy, and as always, remember to comment and share. God Bless!

Sarah is the person behind the travel and lifestyle blog “Fernwehsarah – a guide to travel the world“.  She calls herself a “Travel-a-holic” and aims to inspire others to travel more often. On her blog and her Instagram account she shares travel inspirations as well as destination guides and travel hacks in both German and English. The young, Berlin City Girl, loves traveling to unspoiled beaches, eating regional food and connecting with the locals. So far Sarah has been to over 50 countries and does not plan to stop soon. You can follow her journeys and the search for the experience of a lifetime on various social media channels!

Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku Ryokan – How to Stay Like a Local in Japan.

When I was in Japan this time I decided that it was finally time to stay at a real Japanese Ryokan!

So, after some research, I decided in favor of the Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku Ryokan. Takaragawa Onsen is part of the Minakami Onsen region in Gunma preference – and it’s often rated as being one of the best Onsen in whole Japan! And the Osenkaku Ryokan is the only Ryokan at Takaragawa Onsen!

Since I wanted you to be able to share the experience, I wrote this review and took a vlog about my stay there! If you are not keen on videos – just move on!

So what’s a Japanese Ryokan?

Essentially, a Ryokan is a traditional guesthouse with Japanese rooms (I’ll explain what that means later) that usually serves dinner and breakfast as well. The rate you pay is usually per person, not per room, as the food is included.

So even if a Ryokan might looks expensive in the beginning, it can actually be a very fair price. Think of how much a really good Japanese dinner can cost!

Some Ryokans come with an Onsen, a naturally heated spa pool. If it’s an outdoor Onsen, it is also called Rotemburo. Usually nowadays, Onsen are gender-separated – but some are also mixed gender (konjaku), essentially making them more attractive to western visitors. 😉

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What makes Takaragawa Onsen and the Ryokan Osenkaku special?

I did a fair amount of research before deciding on which Ryokan to stay in because it can be complicated for foreigners sometimes.

Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku is used to western visitors though and has an English website as well as English speaking staff members. They are listed on Booking.com and Agoda and they have an Onsen.

Wait, not any Onsen. Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku actually has four Rotemburos and two inside Onsen. And one of their outside Onsen is the biggest rotemburo  in whole Japan!

Aaaand they are mixed-gender  – so I didn’t have to leave Markus behind! Triple win! If you are a shy female, there is also one female-only onsen, don’t worry!

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Getting to Takaragawa Onsen and the Ryokan Osenkaku

and checking in!

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Another thing that I loved about Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku was that they offer free shuttle busses from both the closest local train station in Minakami as well as the Shinkansen station (Jomo Kogen). That essentially savies you around 10€ per person per way in bus fares. Plus, it is super convient!

So when we arrived at the Shinkansen Jomo-Kogen station, it was super easy to find them near the east exit and we boarded the bus quickly. After around 50min we arrived at the Osenkaku Ryokan and were immediately greeted with Japanese hospitality.

We could even choose our Yukata for rent from many designs! Afterwards, the staff quickly showed us to our beautiful corner room in the older main building of Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku (super beautiful! Opt for this one!)

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The room at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku!

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If you have never stayed at a Japanese room, there is one thing that might surprise you in the beginning: there is no bed!

The whole room is covered with Tatami mats (in fact, room size is not measured in square meter but in the number of Tatami mats!) and you usually sit on the floor with a cushion! That’s also why every table looks like a coffee table in height!

And when it’s bedtime, there are futon mattresses somewhere in a big wall closet – those mattresses are put on the Tatami mats and make your bed! It might be unusual if you sleep on them the first time – but to me it was surprisingly comfortable!

If you worry about misbehaving (or worried because you have a tattoo – I’ve got you covered!

We chose to book the slightly more expensive corner room of Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku and I can definitely recommend doing that! Not only is your room really big (15 Tatami mats instead of 6 or 8) – it also has a splendid view on the river!

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The Food at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku.

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As mentioned, your room rate normally includes both dinner and breakfast and this is also true for the Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku!

Our dinner actually consisted of seven courses and was super tasty! If you never had a Japanese dinner before, you will be surprised by the variety! And if you have, you know what I am talking about! Even a small bottle of wine or sake was included!

The breakfast at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku is buffet style and includes both Western as well as traditional Asian breakfast elements. Compared to the dinner, it was less fancy but still very tasty!

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The Takaragawa Onsen itself.

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What can I say? It was amazing! The Takaragawa Onsen in Minakami region are among the most beautiful spa pools I have ever seen! And I have seen a few of them already!

They are surrounded by lush green vegetation (or pink, if you come early enough for cherry blossom!) and separated by a river flowing along the whole area.

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Everything is designed with meticulous love to details and the whole experience is soooo relaxing! Watch my vlog on “Ryokanikette” to avoid common mistakes (think about the tattoo issue in Japan) – both at the Ryokan as well as the Onsen.

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How did you like this article? Did you miss any information or feel like it was not accurate or recent? Please let me know in the comments so that I can improve! And be sure to follow me on InstagramYouTube or Pinterest. You can also join my tribe (aka sign up to my newsletter) to always know about new posts first!

xoxo, Sarah

1 Day Guide to Grand Teton National Park

Wyoming is known to many visitors as the primary home of our nation’s darling Yellowstone National Park. Upon arrival, these visitors must be surprised to find another equally beautiful park just to the south. After hearing all the amazing things to do in Grand Teton National Park, we’re sure they’ll find themselves pulling into its borders very soon.

We put together a one-day itinerary of things to do in Grand Teton National Park that no one should miss. Be sure to let us know what you think below in the comments, and if you’re feeling extra spectacular shoot this post a like and a share, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get to far, remember to…

Pin our one day itinerary full of the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park!

Looking for fun things to do in Grand Teton National Park?! Our one day guide has 5 perfect stops planned for you!
Looking for fun things to do in Grand Teton National Park?! Our one day guide has 5 perfect stops planned for you!

See the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center

Campground in Grand Teton
Jenny Lake Campground near the Craig Thomas Discovery Center is the perfect place to spend the night, start a hike, or just explore Grand Teton!

Assuming you’re pulling in from Jackson and heading north through the park, you’re first stop should be should be at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. For kids, they have the Junior Rangers program and best part is, its free! It helps them learn about the park’s wildlife, history, and future preservation so they can earn a park ranger patch. For adults, the center offers free ranger guided tours around the park, a short movie about the parks famous mountains, and we also think the building is just super cool so you should at least stop in. Lastly, it’s a great place to make sure there are no closures in the park and fill up your water bottles before your adventure begins!

Hiking at Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake Trail Grand Teton
The Jenny Lake loop at is truly one of the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park!

We seriously can’t say enough about how beautiful Jenny Lake is. Anyone who has been knows that this is one of the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park. With wildlife everywhere you turn, mountains mirrored off the water, and endless trails, Jenny Lake is one of our favorite places in the world. We highly recommend everyone take the Hidden Falls trail along the lake’s south shore. Roundtrip the hike is around 5 miles long and features unparalleled views of the valley. The trail climbs a few hundred feet, and is well marked and maintained, making it doable for most people! There is also a ferry that takes you across the lake and pops you out just a mile away if that… floats your boat. 🙂

Picnic at Signal Mountain Lookout

view of grand teton
Signal Mountain offers incredible views of the Tetons you can’t afford to miss!

Your lunch stop should always be at the top of Signal Mountain. Standing just shy of 900 feet above the valley floor, the lookout on top of Signal Mountain offers expansive views of the lakes and forests below and some amazing partial-views of the Tetons. To get to the mountain just turn right onto Signal Mountain Road and follow it to the top. If you reach the dam you’ve gone too far so turn around at the next pull-out. There are bathrooms and a few tables at the top which fill up pretty quickly. Grab one and make it the perfect spot to take a break and chow down after your hike!

Visit the Jackson Lake Lodge

Elk in Grand Teton
Elk and other wildlife roam the park and the valley below the Grand Teton’s. Jackson Lake Lodge is the perfect spot to see them all!

This lodge is actually a bit of a misnomer because it sits around a mile from the lake’s edge. However, the lodge still offers unbelievable views of the mountains themselves via its 60 foot tall picture windows. Between the lake and lodge is a plain where you can spot moose, elk, deer, and other wildlife all day. The lodge also features numerous famous murals and Native-American artifacts that you are free to examine on your own. Depending on when you arrive, you can make this a meal stop by enjoying the amazing in-house Pioneer Grill.

Go Boating at Colter Bay

Jackson Lake Grand Teton
Jackson Lake is gorgeous from any angle but to really explore its vast shorelines you should try renting a boat at Colter Bay!

One of our favorite things to do in Grand Teton National Park is boating on Jackson Lake. The marina in Colter Bay allows you to do just that by renting kayaks, canoes, and motorboats! For two hours of your time and $25 dollars you can rent a kayak and quickly explore the bays along the lake’s shoreline. It really adds a new perspective to the scale and size of mountains above you. It also allows you to explore the park in a way most people never do!

As you can see, there is no limit to the adventures to be had, or of fun things to do in Grand Teton National Park. Have you ever been or would you ever go to Grand Teton? Be sure to let us know below in the comments which part of the itinerary you liked the most and which you’d skip! Please remember to subscribe and share our blog on social media with your friends and family, God Bless!