Posts tagged with "hiking"

Morro Bay Bike Ride

Public Invited to Ride across Amgen Tour of California Stage 4 Finish at the Morro Bay Bike Ride Pre-Event and Party at the Pro Cyclists Meet & Greet

Cycle through the Stage 4 Finish Line on Race Day, Meet Former Professional

American Cyclist and Author Bob Roll and other Pro Cyclists at The Siren, Volunteer and Watch the Race Front and Center, Book Race Day VIP Lodging Packages or Hotels along the Race Route

The public is invited to participate in Amgen Tour of California Stage 4 race day fun in #cyclingmecca Morro Bay. The 2019 Amgen Tour of California announced Morro Bay will host the Stage 4 Finish of the men’s race on May 15, 2019 following the scenic route the Amgen Tour took in 2017, when Peter Sagan won the sprint finish. After passing through picturesque Morro Bay State Park, where riders get their first glimpse of iconic Morro Rock, Morro Bay’s busting waterfront before sprinting uphill into downtown Morro Bay for the big finish.

“Of all sports, it is cycling that has the most beautiful stadium and this ocean front Stage 4 Finish in Morro Bay is a stunner,” according to Bob Roll, former professional American cyclist and author. “With perfect year round riding weather, the world will get its chance to experience what the locals have enjoyed for years: varied terrain, wide open roads, first class dining and drop dead views. Can’t wait to be there!”

Morro Bay Bike Ride Pre-Event: Ride Across the Amgen Stage 4 Finish Line

Join event producer RaceSLO on race day for the Morro Bay Bike Ride May 15, 2019 from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. This ride ends with a sprint through the Amgen Tour of California Stage 4 Finish line on Harbor Street! All levels are welcome to this celebratory cycle pep rally with three participation options: kid-friendly, recreational rider or seasoned cyclist. Enjoy vendors, food and beverages as the crowd awaits the professional racers to start crossing the finish around 3:40 pm. Participants receive a collectible event t-shirt and free bike valet. Ride proceeds go to local non-profit partner Bike SLO County.

Pro Cyclists Meet & Greet at Siren Rhythm & Booze

Stick around after the race and head to the FREE Bob Roll Pro Cyclists Meet & Greet Event at The Siren May 15, 2019 at 5:30 pm, produced by RaceSLO. Get some cool cycling swag and raise some cold craft pints while helping raise funds for Bike SLO County during a LIVE Auction. Enjoy live music and catch a glimpse of Amgen competitors up close and personal. The event is over 21 only and FREE, but seating is limited so you must pre-register and present a ticket at the door.

Volunteer at Amgen Tour of California Stage 4 Finish

Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race created and presented by AEG that challenges the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course that traverses hundreds of miles of California’s iconic highways, byways and coastlines each spring. Tour officials say the 2019 race will be the longest and most challenging in its 14-year history. Many volunteers are needed to make this event a success. You don’t have to live in Morro Bay to participate. Click here to sign up and see the race up close!

Book Lodging Along the Race Route or Amgen Tour of California VIP Packages

Book your stay at a hotel along the Amgen Tour of California route to get a front row seat as the riders pass by. Or, book a suite or waterfront room in one of the participating Morro Bay hotels and receive exclusive access into the Amgen Tour of California VIP tent filled with perks and goodies! Hospitality Passes provide exclusive access into the main VIP Hospitality Tent located adjacent to the FINISH Line. VIP Hospitality Includes:

  • Swag bag of goodies that you’ll receive upon check-in
  • Premium Viewing Location right at the finish line
  • Gourmet foods catered from local restaurants throughout the area
  • Open Bar (includes beer and wine)
  • Lounge Style Seating with closed-circuit tv viewing
  • Live Race Coverage (last two hours of the broadcast)

For additional information on hotels in Morro Bay check out our booking engine here. Recently named one of the Best Small Towns in CA by Country Living Magazine, Morro Bay offers year round mild weather, perfect for epic outdoor adventure all year long. For more information on visiting Morro Bay, go to www.morrobay.org. #multisportmecca

About Morro Bay

A true #outdoormecca, this active seaside fishing village with bustling waterfront offers a picture-perfect getaway for travelers who seek food, wine and outdoor adventures found in nature. Located along coastal Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County just south of Big Sur, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Morro Bay offers year-round activities in an unspoiled slice of California. From ocean-side golf, kayaking, sailing, hiking, fishing, surfing, biking, and bird watching, to kite flying, shopping, dining, wine bars, local craft brews and miles of unspoiled beaches, there is something for everyone.

Sitting majestically between the beach and the harbor lays the iconic and historic landmark Morro Rock, welcoming travelers from miles away as they approach Morro Bay. Located just minutes from world-renowned Hearst Castle, historic missions, breathtaking Montana de Oro State Park, and surrounded by vineyards from Paso Robles to Edna Valley, Morro Bay is a destination designed to fit any style and budget for families, couples or groups. Morro Bay also offers a myriad of year-round events including food, wine and music festivals, art fairs and car shows unique to the town. For more travel information visit www.morrobay.org or follow Morro Bay on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Moab Adventure Center

Two popular multi-day adventure vacation packages invite active travelers to explore the wonders in and around the red rock playground of Moab, Utah, during the 2019 season. But visitors take note: due to the growing demand for quick escapes, space will go fast!

Moab Adventure Center (www.moabadventurecenter.com), the go-to specialists for all the outdoor pursuits Moab is famous for, has seen bookings increase every year for its four-day Southwest Sampler and their 4-day Westwater Canyon Multi-Sport vacation packages.

“We’ve experienced unsurpassed growth over the past several years on our multi-day tours that include activities and lodging,” reports Brandon Lake, company CMO. “For 2019, we took action and have doubled our guest capacity on the ever popular Moab, Utah vacation package, the Southwest Sampler.”

There’s good availability now for the spring and summer on all Moab Adventure Center’s offerings, but Lake suggests booking soon for the coming season.

“These popular programs fit perfectly into the type of escape visitors are now into,” explains Lake. “They are short (just four days and three nights), the activities are thrilling but easy enough for most everyone to enjoy, as multisport programs the action never stops (think Hummer Safari, an Arches National Park Tour, and whitewater rafting), one package offers a mix of camping and hotel lodging, and with both, there’s ample time to fill out the week by further exploring Moab and the surrounding region pre- or post-trip.”

Bundling the activities rather than reserving a la carte also saves money.

Keeping pace with increased sales and demand, new for 2019 is a partnership between the Moab Adventure Center and the newly opened SpringHill Suites by Marriott for lodging. Offering twice as many guest rooms as the previous property utilized, it has enabled the tour operator to double guest capacity on its Southwest Sampler package. Widely considered to be the best family hotel in Moab, it offers multiple pools, hot tubs, and a kid’s canyon, complete with a splash pad and waterfalls.

Moab Adventure Center’s Southwest Sampler captures the best of the Southwest over four days and three nights from May through August. Guests lodge the first two nights at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott that enjoys the closest proximity to Arches National Park of any lodging in town. From here, guests enjoy an off-road Hummer Safari through a fantasyland of slickrock. Then comes a two-day, 19.6-mile river rafting adventure through Class I and II rapids, with one night of pampered beach camping on the banks of the Colorado River. The per person rate is $690 for ages 16 and up and $595 for ages 5-15. Thanks to the amenities and easy river passage this is a program that can suit the needs of young families with children as young as age 5. See: https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/southwest-sampler

Westwater Canyon Multi-Sport engages Moab’s breathtaking backcountry via a red rock Hummer Safari and rafting the Class III-V rapids of the Colorado River while coursing through Westwater Canyon. This is a four-day getaway available from June through September. The package includes three luxury nights of lodging at Red Cliffs Lodge situated on the banks of the Colorado River. National Geographic dubbed the 26-mile rafting adventure through Westwater Canyon “The West’s Best Short Whitewater Trip.” There’s an optional horseback ride in Castle Valley where movies and commercials are frequently shot. The package for ages 16 and up is $705; for youth 12-15 $675. Included are three breakfasts, accommodation, one dinner, one on-river lunch, activities and transfers to and from the raft put-in. For details see https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/westwater-canyon-package

About the Moab Adventure Center
Moab Adventure Center is at the epicenter of nature-themed rather than theme-park-style adventure, promising activities that include rafting, jet boating, stand up paddle boarding, hiking, mountain biking and hot air ballooning. Hummer safaris, rock climbing, canyoneering and horseback riding are also very popular pursuits. Many of these activities are conducted with guides, an arrangement that helps preclude the kind of damage to the land that can happen when uneducated visitors venture into sensitive areas. Guides help people understand where they can move through backcountry with the least impact possible.

The Moab Adventure Center is a division of Western River Expeditions (www.westernriver.com/) an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab and Fredonia, AZ. The company is the largest single tour provider in Moab, Utah. The Moab Adventure Center is located at 225 South Main St., Moab, UT 84532. For information and reservations please call (435) 259-7019 or (866) 904-1163. The center also has a 2,000-square-foot retail space selling adventure related gear, clothing, maps and souvenirs.

VENICE’S SAN CLEMENTE PALACE KEMPINSKI REOPENS FOR ITS 2019 SEASON

San Clemente Palace Kempinski, the Venetian luxury resort uniquely located on its own private island eight minutes away from St. Mark’s Square, will open for its fourth season on March 20, 2019.

Just minutes from the bustle of Venice and set among a centuries-old park, antique courtyards and monastery buildings, the 190-room resort has its own pitch & putt golf course, a tennis court, spa, heated outdoor pool and outdoor jogging trails, as well as a kids’ club for younger guests. Last year, the resort unveiled Al Bacaro, an outdoor lounge serving cichetti (Venetian tapas) and cocktails, overlooking the Venetian lagoon and skyline.

Throughout the 2019 season, San Clemente Palace will offer a number of unique offerings for Easter, Spring Break, the Venice Biennale and beyond. During Easter weekend, the resort will offer a special “Kids Stay for Free” package, along with celebratory chocolate egg-decorating workshops and Easter Brunch for the whole family. To commemorate the 58th Venice Biennale, from May 11 through November 4, 2019, San Clemente Palace will also offer a special dedicated package, including exclusive tickets to the Biennale.

San Clemente Palace is also poised to become a true foodie destination this year, as the resort will welcome four top Michelin-starred guest chefs to cook alongside Executive Chef Giorgio Schifferegger for a special event called “Cena a Quattro Mani” (“Four-Hands Dinner”). San Clemente Palace will also be home to a number of other special F&B events, including a Wine & Beer pairing menu with local craft beer and wine, and a pizza-tasting event welcoming Pizza World Champion Gianni Calaon.

In honor of the resort’s opening, San Clemente Palace is offering a discount of up to 40% on all suites for stays between March 20 and April 30, 2019.

For more information about the San Clemente Palace Kempinski, please visit

https://www.kempinski.com/en/venice/san-clemente-palace-kempinski/special-offers/.

6 Choices to Make Your Mental & Physical Goals a Success in 2019

According to U.S. News, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week in February. Why? Because dramatic and immediate changes are not sustainable long-term.

So this year, make 2019 not a year of resolutions or diets but one of incremental changes to instill habits that create real long-lasting results. Here are 6 tips:

Do What You Enjoy:

Commit to trying new things or even old things to remind yourself of what you enjoy. This is especially true for keeping active and fulfilling your body’s desire for movement and exercise. This can be taking frequent walks through nature, biking, dancing, hiking, or yoga. Start taking ballroom dancing lessons that you promised yourself you would try years ago. Take a barre method class where you can let your inner ballerina shine. Better yet, put that music on full blast while you are preparing dinner and dance like no one’s watching. It is not about perfection, it is about finding what you love to do and what brings a smile to your face, then it becomes fun and not something you want to do.

Add Things, Don’t Remove Them:

If your goal is to improve your nutrition to lose weight and improve your energy levels, try adding foods into your diet like vegetables. Find fun ways to prepare them to fit your taste buds. Often times if you start with a deprivation statement like, “I am going to stop eating all carbs,” then the only thing you will think about is carbs. When you introduce something new and start noticing the benefits of that change, then you are often inspired to move on to add the next change. Think addition not deprivation!

Stop Eating by 6pm:

If you want to encourage the body to burn fat for energy, stop eating by 6 or 7pm. This allows the body to put most of its energy into rejuvenating and restoring the body for the next day. It also gives the body all time it needs to use up all the sugar storage in the liver so then it can start burning the fat cells for needed energy.

Take 5 Minutes to Stop & Breathe:

If one of your goals is to start being more mindful or to simply start incorporating some relaxation techniques to help you react to stressful events with more ease then perhaps going from not meditating to promising to meditate every day for 45 minutes a day may be a bit overwhelming.

Try this simple strategy, wake up in the morning take a deep breath, record in a journal or on your phone one thing you are grateful for, appreciate or just makes you happy. Read it out loud and then follow with 5 slow breaths and really feel that joy. This way you are starting the habit and getting your body used to what relaxation and being in a state of gratitude feels like. During the day when things get hectic, pull out that book or play that recording and take 5 deep breaths. Fast, easy and often times very effective for decreasing the effects of those stress reactions.

Go to Bed 15 Minutes Earlier:

Work on getting a good night’s rest. A healthy amount of sleep helps you to be more alert, make better decisions, maintain a healthier weight and helps you to look and feel younger. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each week for a month so you total an hour more of sleep. Remove all electronic devices in the bedroom that gives off artificial light and creating a bedtime routine that signals the body that it is time for bed.

Spend Your Time with Like-Minded People:

Make an effort to spend more quality time reconnecting with family or friends.  Individuals who have social connections suffer less symptoms of depression and may live longer healthier, lives. Also, establishing a support group can help to stay on track with our goals. This may look like once every two weeks to a month spending some time with your girlfriends or skyping or face timing them to catch up.

Making these gradual changes can help you to create habits that will help to feel more energized, feel less stressed, think more clearly and make better choices for you. With each choice comes the opportunity to be the person you have always envisioned.

Eudene Harry MD is the medical director for Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center, a wellness practice devoted to integrative holistic care. She is a veteran physician with over 20 years of experience. Dr. Harry earned her medical degree and performed her residency at Thomas Jefferson University.

Dr. Harry is the author of three books designed to empower the individual to get started on their path to optimal health. She has published extensively on the topics of reducing stress, healthy lifestyle choices, and regaining youthfulness. Her most recent book, Be Iconic: Healthy and Sexy at Any Ageis now available on Amazon.

Exploring Western Belize in 2019

Belize has been featured as the only Central American country on National Geographic’s Best Trips 2019 List. Quickly growing in popularity as one of the best tropical vacation destinations in the world, Belize is a blend of cultures and natural attractions and is a place that fully embraces its Central American and Caribbean roots, celebrates its diversity and takes great pride in its spectacular natural beauty. The San Ignacio Resort Hotel in Western Belize provides a perfect springboard for a vacation filled with adrenaline adventures, fine dining and opportunities to experience the infamous Maya Temples.

Adrenaline Adventures

Black Hole Drop: Begin with a 2 hour hike up the Maya Mountains over the rainforest canopy at Actun Loch Tunich, “The Monster of All Caves.” Become mesmerized by incredible aerial views of jungle rainforests, then step off the ledge of the cliff for a 300-foot high rappelling adventure ride where you will have amazing visuals of the Black Hole and luscious greens. This experience is not for the faint of heart.

Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave: This site has been featured on National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and History Channel because of its mesmerizing giant shimmering flowstone formations, stalactites, and stalagmites widely present throughout this 3-mile long cave. ATM features burial chambers, Maya artifacts, intact calcified human remains, and slate stelaes that were used for burials. The cave itself is several miles long with multiple chambers. Once inside the cave you will spend several hours swimming, climbing, and exploring.

Fine Dining

Running W Steakhouse & Restaurant: Located at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, Running W Steakhouse & Restaurant has a new Executive Chef, Enrique Awe whose culinary journey has brought him back to his hometown of San Ignacio after working for 16 years in the USA. The Restaurant showcases an international menu with the best of Belizean cuisine and features grass fed meats from the family’s own ranch where the restaurant got its name.

Trey’s Barn & Grill: Trey Roberson grills up the freshest cuisine in Western Belize and creates cocktails that pair well with his unique dishes. You can also find him at San Ignacio Resort Hotel for special cookouts on property with live music and libations.

Maya Temples

Caracol: Located on the western edge of the Maya Mountains within the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, Caracol lies on a high plateau that drops into a deep valley to the northwest and rises into hilly terrain to the southwest. The site was discovered in 1938 by Rosa Mai, a logger looking for mahogany. Although one of the most challenging Belize ruins to reach, the trip to Caracol is also one of the most scenic drives. It is the largest known Maya center within the country and holds “Canaa” (Sky Place), the largest pyramid or man-made structure in Belize at 140 feet tall.

Cahal Pech: Located on a hill that overlooks the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena, excavations show that Cahal Pech was inhabited from 1000 B.C. to around 800 A.D. The central part of the ruins provides a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding area. Thirty-four structures, including temple pyramids, two ball courts, and an altar fill the 2 acre area.

Five of America’s largest airlines have nonstop flights to Belize from major cities across the country, making it easily accessible for US travelers.

360 MAGAZINE × TENNESSEE

Story × Photos by Ryan Johnson

360 Magazine visited the Upper Cumberland Area of Tennessee this October. Just in time to catch the transformation of the leaves into fall colors. This region of Tennessee is located between Nashville and Knoxville, 1 hour drive each way. The flagship towns in the area, Crossville and Cookeville, not only capture beauty of small towns on the fringe of picturesque landscapes, they provide access to a multitude of incorporated businesses. The combination of affordable shopping with the low cost of living and no state tax make this a hidden gem prime to visit for the traveler interested in an authentic experience, maybe more. If this isn’t explicit enough, it’s the only place I’ve been in the states I’m seriously considering moving to. That realization stuck in three days.

We spent most of our time in the state parks. Natural beauty wasn’t the only consistent theme. Each park was fitted with Jackson Kayaks, a local company that not only leads the sport but also the industry. The kayaks provided to the parks were offered at a massive discount to ensure everyone visiting would have the opportunity to try it themselves. A philosophy that says everything about the community and values of Jackson Kayak. This company created by Eric Jackson, a lead competitor in the sport, started the company with a kayak for his son. A product which at the time did not exist for someone that young, giving all kids the change to try it out.

In true pay it forward style, this collective effort in the community is full circle. One direct example being the contribution of outdated signs and details from the state parks to furnish a local brewery, Happy Trails Brewing Company. This brewery, headed by Jessica, a working Kindergarten Teacher in the community. Similar to all good breweries is a product of its surroundings. Another notable taste is Red Silo, a brewery that started as the winner of the home brew contest at the local WCTE PBS Station Blues & Brew fundraiser. Calf Killer is another local legend that brings a taste that will make your taste buds melt. These obvious must tries are only half the adventure, you could spend the day with the home brewers and be the judge yourself.

It’s easy to follow the well-traveled highways in between Nashville and Knoxville. You won’t regret taking an exit and heading to the green on the map. The state parks are vastly accessible, overlooks and access is a high priority brought forth by the pioneering effort of the CCC. The Civilian Conservation Corps healing gesture was an organized effort by the Roosevelt Administration in the wake of the great depression. If this doesn’t paint the picture, don’t worry. There’s a set of tourist binoculars that give people who are colorblind the ability to see colors for the first time, which in the fall will bring a loved one to their knees.

While most of the sites are accessible to all, there’s another layer for the more adventurous. Fairly strenuous hikes to the base of the many waterfalls are always buried beyond the overlooks. Some that were only made accessible by Disney in the production of the 1994 film “The Jungle Book” which created roads to some surreal and recognizable locations in the film. Justifiably integral to the jungle aesthetics the film demanded. Likewise, Tennessee is the one of two places in the world that offer the spectacle of synchronous fireflies. The other being in Southeast Asia.

With solid views and tasty beer, naturally comes great food. The care and attention restaurant owners put into their work makes the meals feel family style without the crockpot. Notably the buffet at Homestead Harvest in Cumberland Mountain State Park carries as much depth as the hike on Pioneer Trail around Byrd Lake. If you really feel like earning your meal, rent a Jackson Kayak to enjoy the cool breeze off the water. Whether you’re camping or staying in the luxury cabins at the top of the hill, wake early and catch the fog on the lake first thing in the morning.

Great things are made in Tennessee, you could be too.

As always, reach out on Instagram @360travelfood to see the best spots. Here’s a listed on vetted local flavors and experiences:

• Jackson Kayak, founded in 2003 based in Sparta, TN (jacksonkayak.com)

• Cumberland Mountain State Park, Crossville, TN (tnstateparks.com)

• Broast, TN Coffee Roasters, Cookeville, TN (broasttn.com)

• Blues & Brews Craft Beer Festival, Cookeville, TN (wcte.org/brews)

• Sunset Marina & Resort, Monroe, TN (sunsetmarina.com)

• Rock Island State Park, Rock Island, TN (tnstateparks.com/parks/rock-island)

• Fall Creek Falls State Park, Spencer, TN (tnstateparks.com/parks/fall-creek-falls)

• Ozone Falls State Park, Crossville, TN (tnvacation.com/local/crossville-ozone-falls)

• Black Mountain Overlook, Crossville, TN (cumberlandtrail.org)

• Homestead Harvest Restaurant, Crossville, TN (tnstateparks.com/parks/restaurant)

• Happy Trails Brewing Co., Sparta, TN (happytrailsbrewing.com)

• Red Silo Brewing LLC, Cookeville, TN (tnvacation.com/local)

• Calfkiller Brewing Company, Sparta, TN (calfkillerbeer.com)

• CrossFit Mayhem, Cookeville, TN (crossfitmayhem.com)

• Cumberland County Playhouse, Crossville, TN (ccplayhouse.com)

Fun Ways to Spend Your Free Time

What do you do in your free time? Does it cost you lots of money? Unfortunately, while there may be many different ways you can enjoy your free time, many of them cost money. Think how much it costs to go out to dinner, spend the afternoon shopping, or take a trip away. Free time is a precious commodity, and you want to enjoy it as much as possible. However, not everyone has a bottomless pit filled with money. Would you like some ways of enjoying your free time that won’t cost an arm and a leg? Keep reading for the top four suggestions.

Find a New Hobby

If you haven’t already got a hobby, now’s the time to acquire one. There are plenty of options, and you can spend as little or as much as you want. Why not learn a new language? It will benefit your career as well as exercise your brain. Get outside more perhaps, and try hiking. Business Insider discusses how being outside and at one with nature is beneficial for your mental and physical health. It is also a way of meeting new people and learning more about the environment.

Volunteer for a Good Cause

Do you have a favorite charity? Would you like to help at your local animal sanctuary? There are many different things you can do to help your local community. Volunteer with a friend or go it alone and it will be a very rewarding way to spend your free time. It doesn’t matter how or where you do it. You’ll feel happy that you’ve played a part in bettering the local area.

Get fit

Healthline discusses how regular exercise is good for you in many different ways. It is important for your mental and physical health. Half an hour’s exercise after work or at the weekend gets your blood pumping and your endorphins flowing. It builds muscle, burns calories, and oxygenates your brain. Exercise is also a great de-stressor and helps you to stay disciplined.

Exercise Your Brain

Exercising your brain improves its functioning and prevents it from becoming sluggish. As you get older, your brain also gets smaller and loses its cognitive reserve. There has been plenty of research in regards to the benefit of exercise for your body, and more recent research is now showing that exercising your brain also has its benefits. You can choose to do it in several different ways. Make a list of grocery items, things to do, car models, or anything else you can think of. Leave it for an hour and then come back and see how many items you can recall. Learn to play a musical instrument or join a choir. Learn a foreign language, play casino games at Unibet, do number or word puzzles, or take up a new hobby that requires fine-motor skills.

Enjoying your free time is important. Therefore, it’s vital you choose activities you enjoy. It’s better that some of them don’t require large amounts of money because then you can spend more time doing them. The activities you choose should be enjoyable as this helps you to unwind when you’re not at work.

Eau Claire–Inspired Culture

Culture Editor Tom Wilmer explores Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a city of 68,000 that has rapidly evolved to become a trend-setting cultural mecca.

EAU CLAIRE abounds with classic architecture melded with cutting-edge street art  Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

The driver behind the city’s renaissance has everything to do with the passionately engaged locals, including a 39-year-old tech executive who’s invested millions of his own money revitalizing his hometown’s anchor hotel-conference center, and millions more in Eau Claire’s new performing arts center, the Pablo Center at the Confluence in the heart of town.

The cutting-edge facility’s inaugural season includes dance productions, literary and film events, along with a series of musical events performed in the 1,200-seat main theater. Mack John, Public Relations Manager at Visit Eau Claire, notes, “there are multiple art galleries featuring regional and national visual art displays representing an array of mediums. And in keeping with Eau Claire’s emphasis on community engagement, the galleries are free and open to the public.”

Workers installing finishing touches at the Pablo Center in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin in preparation for opening day festivities September 22nd 2018    Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

John added that there are also multipurpose spaces on the third floor that offer dramatic vistas of the Chippewa River and the city’s lighted Phoenix Park Bridge.

A line up of the 2018-2029 live performances includes: Cloud Cult, Ganavya Doraiswamy, Tony Jackson, Ailey II, Kate Lindsey/Baptiste Trotignon, The Oak Ridge Boys, Blind Boys of Alabama, Kodo Taiko, Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure, La Caverne (torch Sisters), Aaron Diehl, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, and Farewell Angelina.

 

Mack John at the Eau Claire Farmers Market   Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

Kristin Dexter, co-owner of Forage EC Community kitchen in Eau Claire is a prime example of why the town is thriving. Listen to her conversation in the NPR.ORG Podcast   Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

 

Eau Claire’s proud multi-ethnic pride is exemplified by the Hmong seller at Farmers Market in the heart of town. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

Trend-setting Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s hip and happening Shift–it’s a combination coffee house and bicycle repair place Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

tranquility is mere feet away from the heart of downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

 CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE NPR.ORG PODCAST–CONVERSATIONS WITH PASSIONATELY INVOLVED LOCALS

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning podcast travel show,  Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast Directory,  Apple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer

 

Vagabond Adventure Tours

Touring Ireland in March and April means fun-filled festivals, better value flights, quieter roads, lambkins, bluebell-carpeted woodlands and 13 percent discounts on two Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland itineraries if booked by end October 2018.

This award-winning travel company offers two styles of culturally immersive travel.

Vagabond Adventure Tours are for active travelers who want to mix up hiking and biking and other outdoor adventures with history, culture, dining and shopping. An 8 Day Wild Irish Rover Tour departs March 10, 17, 24, 31 and April 7, 14, 21 and 28. Book a March or April date before Oct. 31, 2018, and save 13 percent.

Why wild? Because the tour, recognized by National Geographic Traveler as a Top 50 Tours of a Lifetime, is off-road as much as it’s on, relying on signature 4×4 tour vehicles to go where other sightseeing companies tend not to tread.

Why Irish? Because the tour blends pubs, people, castles and lore into the hearts of active travelers.

Why roving? Guests are never rushed traveling from the west coast of Ireland and the peninsulas of the southwest all the way up to Connemara.

Our itinerary of the southern half of Ireland keeps guests on their toes and exploring under their own steam power. In fact, they’re sometimes, after a walk or cycle, grateful for a sit down in the 4×4,” said Rob Rankin, founder and owner with Amy Rankin. “Every stone we walk over has a story to tell. Ruins and castles are, after all, about people.”

The €1,919 per person double rate (before the early booking discount) includes eight full days of touring, seven nights’ accommodation with breakfasts, services of a professional Vagabond tour guide, guided walks, entrance fees to historical and archaeological sites, demonstrations of local craftsmen at work, ferry excursion tickets and taxes. Activities require a good level of fitness for walking and cycling 2.5 hours each on undulating paths. Additional 2019 departures are weekly on Sundays through mid-October.

Driftwood Journeys of Discovery follow similar itineraries but at an intimate and in-depth looking and lingering pace, sans the physical exertion. A 6 Day Northern Island Tour offers spring departures April 7 and 21 where if guests book before Oct. 31, 2018 they save 13 percent.

“This tour brings tourists into a region that for decades was overlooked because of border issues,” said Rankin. “Basically, nobody wanted to visit Northern Ireland because of the ‘troubles’ there. This only started to change in the early 2000s really. The northwest county of Donegal, despite being in the Republic of Ireland (the ‘south’), was almost cut off from the rest of the state geographically. Thus, its tourism did not develop in the same way as in other parts of the country.” A border region deemed “very hard” up until early in the 21st century emerged with its own identity and culture, partly formed by the years of political turmoil and violence.

The per person double rate of €1,509 (before the early booking discount) includes six full days on tour, five nights’ accommodation with full Irish breakfasts, some entrance fees and relevant taxes. Additional 2019 departures are May 5, 19; June 16, 30; July 14, 28; Aug. 11, 25; Sept. 8, 22; and Oct. 6.

For all of the current specials and promotions offered by Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland visit online; https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/special-offers/.

Vagabond staff curate locally owned accommodations, pubs and restaurants that help serve their goal of authenticity. In the end the mission is to have guests “love Ireland as much as we do.” Transport is in a custom 4×4 Land Rover or Mercedes ‘Vagatron’ that allows access beyond where regular tour buses go.

Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland has been revealing the hidden treasures of Ireland through its carefully planned and executed tours since 2002.  Last year the Irish Tourism Awards singled the company out as offering Best Adventure Experience, and also in 2017 it became Ireland’s first tour operator to achieve Ecotourism Gold Level Certification

NEW ZEALAND WALKING TOURS

TRAIL TOURISM TAKES OFF

Active travel specialist New Zealand Walking Tours shares four favorites, both on and off the beaten trail

With trail tourism on the rise, many travelers are tying up their hiking boots and heading towards popular routes such as Spain’s Camino de Santiago, St. Olav’s Way in Norway, and the treks of the Swiss Alps. And with a rapid increase in urban development in many countries, hitting the trails is a no-brainer, and a great way to get back to nature, feel a sense of achievement and take in otherwise overlooked sights.

In New Zealand – the next hotspot for trail tourism – discover journeys that combine nature and spectacular landscapes on the four favorite trails of active tour operator, New Zealand Walking Tours.

1) Milford Track

The most famous of the Great Walks, the Milford Track is an experience adventurers won’t regret ticking off their bucket list. Trace the steps of Maori greenstone collectors, and enjoy taking in mountainous glaciers, lush rainforest and panoramic sights. Walk a 2 hour journey from Sandfly Point to Giant Gate Falls, and photograph this magnificent waterfall, one of the most captured images in the New Zealand. Hike past valleys that are millions of years old, and glance upon alpine passes. This track is recommended during the October to April season when weather conditions are warmer.

Follow the trail on the Beautiful South itinerary.

2) Hollyford Track

Situated in the Fiordland National Park, the Hollyford Track provides travelers with an amazingly varied experience within the park; discovering beautiful lakes, ancient rainforest and a whole range of wildlife. Again, best undertaken during New Zealand’s summer season, hikers can journey from Martins Bay Lodge to Long Reef Point and observe a local seal colony. Miles away from civilization and completely off the beaten track, this trail is perfect for those that want to disconnect from the noise of city life and keep off tourist-filled tracks.

Follow the trail on the Elegant South itinerary.

3) Spa Park to Huka Falls Track

An easy going option, the Spa Park to Huka Falls track is one of the most leisurely and picturesque walks to experience within New Zealand. Beginning in the breathtaking Lake Taupo region, hikers can expect 1.5 to 2 hours of flat pathways to the site of Huka Falls, a dramatic waterfall made popular in the film The Hobbit. The track has some of the most dramatic views, and is perfect for waterfall chasers.

Follow the trail on the Timeless North itinerary.

4) Glenorchy Walkway

Exploring a country on foot does not necessarily mean travelers need to yield high stamina. The Glenorchy Walkway is perfect for light easy exploration, and an ideal trail for families. The track is renowned for its multitude of wildlife, and walkers can spy a New Zealand falcon looking for prey or paradise ducks swimming slowly on the river. A recent addition of 1.7 km was added to this walk allowing trekkers more opportunity to discover this piece of paradise in the heart of New Zealand.

Follow the trail on the Pristine New Zealand itinerary.

To find out more about incredible walking itineraries throughout New Zealand, visit newzealandwalkingtours.com.

About New Zealand Walking Tours

Based in Queenstown, New Zealand Walking Tours is proudly presented by Active Adventures. With over 20 years of experience and learning, they have perfected the art of relaxed adventure, sending guests home with memories to last a lifetime. From discovering the pristine beauty of Milford Sound on foot, to dining at locally renowned restaurants with award-winning wine, experiences are catered for travelers that enjoy the finer things in life.