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Fear is incredibly human and completely humbling. It can creep up on you, it can linger and nag at you, it can keep you up at night and it can drag you down all day. I travel quite a lot and I still get scared. So much so that, as some of you may have seen in a recent
Forbes magazine story
, I admitted one of my most intimate secrets. I carry my "security blanket" on each plane ride I take. It's lightweight, soft, functional and most importantly, comforts me when flying and throughout my trip.
Each day seems to bring so many unsettling news stories, it's hard not to worry and be afraid. Some people will choose to stay home and not travel. Thankfully, our ActiveTravels members are on the go. At the moment, we have clients in Spain, Ireland, Scotland, Amsterdam, Italy, and Maine. More travels this month include trips to Paris, London, Greece, Israel, Switzerland, Costa Rica, South of France, and California. I say, just take that blankey and go!
Please don't forget to take a moment on your travels or when you return to enter our
5 Year / 5$ Facebook Challenge.
All you need to do is post a photo from a trip we've designed for you on our
ActiveTravels Facebook page
and we will send you a $5 Starbucks gift card! We are excited to have our members share the highlights of their trips. You may post until August 31st to get the Starbucks gift card. Post away! Thank you to George Cooke and Michelle Douglas for posting the first photos on our page. If you have technical trouble, please email ActiveTravels for help!
Please read on for our favorite things to do in California, a quick escape to Toronto, our favorite hotels in Costa Rica and our suggestion to watch Jet Blue's website for their announcement of flights available for February vacation and more surprising news. Grab those winter getaway flights now!
This is our June and July Newsletter. We will publish our next newsletter in early August with stories all about our family trip to Switzerland and more enticing destinations to explore. Enjoy your summer!
Steve & Lisa
Break It Down:
California remains one of the most popular destinations for our clientele and not just in spring, summer, and fall. More and more, we're designing itineraries for families in the winter months. In the past 5 years, we've designed numerous Californian itineraries. These are some of our favorite activities along the way. Let
know if you need help with lodging.
San Diego-Visit La Jolla
Boasting a stunning rocky coastline, where sand-lined coves are hemmed in by the rock, La Jolla is always a highlight on any trip to San Diego. Add the numerous seals that like to sunbathe on those beaches and swim in the nearby waters and if you have a great destination for families that's far cheaper than visiting nearby Sea World. Be sure to stop first at Children's Pool Beach to see the seals. Afterwards stroll around the town.
Laguna Beach-Picnic at Treasure Island Park
When the town of Laguna Beach transformed an oceanfront trailer park into an exclusive resort called Montage, they insisted that the new owners provide public access to the cliff-strewn cove-studded coastline. The result is Treasure Island Park, and what a treasure it is. A long boardwalk lines the bluffs behind the hotel, offering the same million dollar views of the Pacific. Grab some goodies in downtown Laguna and you can have your own glamorous dinner at picnic tables overlooking the Pacific at a fraction of the cost of Montage's restaurant. There's a big grassy areas for kids to play soccer or bocce ball while you sip your chardonnay.
Los Angeles-Hike or Horseback Ride to the Hollywood Sign
Several trails lead straight to the Hollywood sign. I would suggest the 3-mile Mt. Hollywood Trail loop from the Griffith Observatory Parking Lot. The lot fills up early. Sure, it's a little hokey, but it's also fun to horseback ride with the Hollywood sign right behind you. You should have great views of downtown LA.
Four miles north of Hearst Castle, a must-stop is the beach of Piedres Blancas to watch hundreds of large elephant seals lounging, grunting, wrestling, and diving into the Pacific.
The 2.8-mile round-trip North Shore Trail offers the best look at the reserve's coves and forests. Be on the lookout for otters and seals. There are many smaller routes at the reserve if the North Shore Trail is too long. $10/vehicle; on State 1, 3 miles south of Carmel.
If you've never biked across the Golden Gate Bridge, you'll love it! Every day
offers a guided tour over the bridge into Sausalito, where you take the ferry back to San Fran.
The most popular pastime in Napa Valley is most definitely wine tasting. However, Calistoga offers you a different sort of venue where you can still enjoy your wine:
Calistoga Concerts in the Park
. Running from the end of June to the end of August, you can spend your Thursday evenings at these free concerts, enjoying a boxed meal from a local restaurant, while sipping on wine from the featured winery that week.
Yosemite-Walk Among Giants
Head to the south end of the park and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, where Giant Sequoias stand 300 feet tall and are over two centuries old. Take an easy hike to one of Yosemite's most impressive sequoias, the Grizzly Giant. Trailhead: Mariposa Grove parking lot. Distance: 0.8 miles; easy. Mariposa Grove will reopen Fall 2017.
mere 3-hour drive north of San Francisco, you reach Mendocino County and its riveting 80-mile stretch of Californian coast, groves of redwoods, and 85-plus wineries. Start at Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve and its five virgin redwood groves. At Fort Bragg's Glass Beach, those taillights and apothecary bottles of yesteryear have been naturally sanded and reinvented as sea glass gleaming in the sunlight.
Cruising California's Redwood Coast
ive hours north of San Francisco on Hwy 101, you reach Humboldt County, otherwise known as California's Redwood Coast. While more than 4 million people visit Yosemite National Park each year, only 600,000 make it to Redwood National Park annually to see the world's tallest tree, a 379-foot coastal redwood. Indeed, this is the undiscovered Californian coast, where you can drive through the largest intact old-growth redwood forest, Avenue of the Giants, with relatively little traffic, hike almost 80 miles of wilderness shoreline on the Lost Coast, stroll the perfectly preserved Victorian village of Ferndale, and walk through the luxuriant moss-covered walls of Fern Canyon.
If you have some favorite California haunts, feel free to share them with us!
Hotels We Love:
Costa Rica is one of our favorite destinations of all. It's just the perfect mix of beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife, fun activities for people of all ages and abilities, wonderful people and multifaceted terrain. Here are the hotels and resorts we love most:
When you picture Costa Rica, you imagine a rainforest overflowing with ripe foliage, silky sand beaches that serve as a welcome mat to the pounding surf, and a landscape abundant with wildlife viewing opportunities. A hummingbird would be nice, but even more exciting is something with fur, like a monkey or a sloth. Well, on the outskirts of Manuel Antonio National Park, on the central coast of Costa Rica, there's a resort called Arenas del Mar that offers all of the above. Indeed, the boutique property is as close to tropical paradise as one can get in this Central American getaway. Spacious suites are nestled into the rugged cliffs overlooking the Pacific. Walk onto your outdoor deck in the morning and you will see the waves crashing against the rocks and spewing its foamy spray on the beach. You may also find a white-faced monkey popping his head out of a branch to greet you or view a sloth sleeping under the shade of a large banana leaf.
At the southernmost tip of Costa Rica, Lapa Rios is a 1000-acre private rain forest perched above the Pacific Ocean. 16 spacious bungalows feature hardwood floors, bamboo walls, and vaulted thatched roof ceilings created from local palm trees. Lie on a hammock on your own private deck or take a shower outdoors in a secluded garden. You might be woken in the morning by the loud cry of the howler monkey or head outdoors at sunset to see a family of neon green scarlet macaws sitting on a tree in front of you. The resort goes out of their way to cater to clients, offering your own guide to go horseback riding along the beach or a private boat ride in the ocean waters to spot dolphins, sea turtles, even the occasional whale.
This Relais & Chateau property is nestled in the cloud forest mountains in a tropical forest on the opposite side of Poas Volcano. Standalone bungalows offer quiet retreats amidst this beautiful landscape. A yoga studio, hummingbird garden and a winding river
adorn the property. Don't miss hiking to three waterfalls or horseback riding in the surrounding hills during your stay.
On the Pacific coast lies this latest resort both for couples and families. With attention to great service, design, a fun social vibe, and lovely beach and scenery, this hotel is getting rave reviews from our clients. With only 153 rooms, the resort never feels overcrowded. Surrounding it, monkeys and birdlife abound.
Deal of the Month:
The New England Coast
June is a great month to visit Bar Harbor, Cape Cod, the Vineyard, or Nantucket before the crowds arrive in July and August. You might even get reduced lodging rates if you go midweek. For suggestions on where to stay and what to do, see Steve's latest article for Yankee Magazine on the Best Coastal Towns. Another good resource is Steve's article on Top 25 Beach Towns.
Tried & True Travel Tips:
Watch Jet Blue's Website
If you live in Boston, where ActiveTravels is based, you know that it's a significant hub for JetBlue. JetBlue flies to all but 11 of the 50 major destinations of the world from Boston! Most importantly, for New Englanders, come February, we know that JetBlue can bring us to warmer climes with the most non-stops.
Watch the website over the next two weeks, because they will extend their schedules to include bookings through February break soon.
Right now you can book through to Valentine's Day. If you want us to email you when the flights open up, just
and we'll put you on our list.
Another important development to watch for with JetBlue? They may be entering the Transatlantic market. Flights to Paris and London on JetBlue may be in our future!
After the huge success of their Mint Trans-continental service (Boston to San Francisco), they are considering offering this across the pond. Mint offers
a 16-seat premium section, where all 16 seats convert into fully flat beds. Four of the seats are set up as individual mini-suites. This premium service costs less than traditional business and first class seats of other airlines and JetBlue gives you
free satellite TV and unlimited free snacks and soft drinks.
With ActiveTravels consultant, Amy Perry Basseches, now living in Toronto more than half the year, there's no better time to visit the city. Amy will give you the inside scoop!
Toronto plans to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday at Canada Days, a citywide celebration at four locations across Toronto including a four-day festival at Nathan Phillips Square from June 30 to July 3. Barenaked Ladies and indie-folk artist, Basia Bulat, are just two of the many performers on tap.
Amy's husband, Josh Basseches, is at the helm of the
Royal Ontario Museum
, where they've already kicked off their weekly Friday Night Live programming.
Taking place every Friday in June, the event promises plenty of drinks, tasty bites, top DJs, and live indie artists. Fashion, photography, Aboriginal heritage, and a British invasion are just a few of the themes.
Over at the
Art Gallery of Ontario
you'll find more than 80 works of Georgia O'Keeffe in a retrospective on view through July 30th.
Toronto is already known for its luxe lodging, from our personal favorite,
Le Germain Hotel
, to the new
Bisha Hotel and Residences
, slated to open this summer. Rising 44-stories and designed by award-winning architect Rudy Wallman, the Bisha flagship property will be situated in the heart of the Entertainment District on Blue Jays Way, perfect for seeing a baseball game.
We never had a bad meal at any of Susur Lee's restaurants in town, Luckee, Lee, and Lee Kitchen. Also check out the 5 Toronto restaurants that just made the Top 10 of Canada's Top 100 Restaurants list: Alo, Edulis, Buca Osteria, Canoe, and Dandylion.
How to get here? Porter Airlines, WestJet and Air Canada fly nonstop from Boston to Toronto. We like to fly Porter into Billy Bishop Airport, which is just minutes from downtown Toronto. Pearson is the city's larger airport, located about 40 minutes from downtown and serviced by WestJet and Air Canada and more.
know if you're curious to visit The 6, that's musician Drake's nickname for this vibrant city!