5 Things to do in Orlando

In a place with unlimited activities and attractions, there is obviously more than 5 things to do in Orlando. This Florida city often crops up on people’s bucket lists. Filled with theme parks, fun and adventure it’s the perfect destination for anyone looking for a fun, stress free trip with lots of laughs. Whether you are looking for an action-packed week away with the kids, or the chance to explore on your own, Orlando has plenty to offer.

With so much going on it’s essential that you choose the right base. Somewhere like Marriott’s Grande Vista is the perfect place to relax at the end of long days, getting a good night’s sleep and preparing for your next great adventure. But, wherever you stay it’s a good idea to do a bit of research first. With so much to do it’s easy to miss things that you would love. So, here’s a look at 5 of the things that you should put on your to-do list for your trip to Orlando.

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Disney’s Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom was Walt Disney’s first theme park and remains one of the most popular theme parks in the world to this day. No matter how old you are, a little bit of Disney magic can be a great way to relive your childhood. You can’t help but smile as you look up at Cinderella’s castle or watch the evening fireworks. This theme park includes rides, roller-coaster, simulators and various Disney themed areas. A must for any Disney fan.

Universal Studios

If your movie love is a little wider than just Disney, Universal Studios is the place to be. Home to rides and attractions based around all of our movie favourites this is a fantastically fun day out. If you prefer a bigger adrenaline rush or are traveling with older children, you might want to buy a “park to park” pass so that you can also head over to the Islands of Adventure park.

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld is always a big hit with kids and adults alike. Home to various different species of sea life and fish, SeaWorld lets you get up close and personal with your favourite creatures, while learning more about their environments and lifecycles. There are also talks, displays, shows and aquatic themed rides.

The Kennedy Space Centre

If theme parks aren’t your thing, and you’ve got no desire to spend your days on roller-coasters and rides, Orlando still has plenty to offer. Just a 45-minute drive away from Downtown Orlando on the Eastern coast of Florida is the Kennedy Space Centre. At the Kennedy Centre you can see actual rockets that have left the earth’s orbit, you can learn more about space and space crafts and you can walk on the same ground as many of NASA’s greatest astronauts.

Aquatica Park

Yes, Orlando has lots of theme parks and plenty of museums and historic sites, but it’s also known for its water parks. Aquatica park is perhaps the biggest and best of them all. Home to head to head slides, flumes, rapids and the famous Dolphin Plunge it’s a fantastic family day out.

Texas Finest – A Franklin Barbecue Review

Texas BBQ

There are just so many great places in the world where you can eat. But if you’re a true culinary fan, you know that it doesn’t do to go to Italy, for example, and try ramen, or eat fish in Germany. Each part of the world has a specific cuisine that you should try. If you’re a barbecue lover, then you probably know that the “best of the best” is located in the United States. With the size of the U.S., there are differences in barbecue styles by region. This time, though, we are reviewing Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. According to many, this is the best barbecue joint in this part of America. So, is it worth checking out?

Franklin Barbecue – What do you need to know?

Before you head off to Austin to check out this great barbecue joint, you have to know certain things about Texas-style barbecue. As mentioned, there are different American barbecue styles by region, but the Texas-style comes with beef as their meat of choice and a spicy, tomato-based sauce with some sweetness.  Now, as you’re coming close to Franklin Barbecue, you will notice the tremendous line that’s always happening in front of the restaurant. Waiting for at least 2 hours (sometimes even longer) to get a taste of their dishes is a common thing, with many people waiting from early morning to be the first in line at 5 am. This is a BBQ joint that received two stars according to The New York Times and was featured in a TV show by the amazing Anthony Bourdain.

Texas BBQ

Why do they do this? Well, basically – once something is gone for the day, it means it’s gone, so it’s always best to come early and have a wide range of options to choose from. If you want the best case scenario, you should come during a weekday as the lines grow faster on weekends and during the South by Southwest festival in March.

Franklin Barbecue – What do you need to try?

Well, this is probably the most difficult question of them all, because no matter what you try at Franklin Barbecue – it’s worth it. Of course, everything depends on what will be left once you have your turn. Probably the most important things to try are the brisket and the pork ribs which are simply delicious. As far as the brisket goes, you have plenty of time to figure out just how much brisket you need. Don’t skip this, since it’s the foundation that Franklin Barbecue was built on. (The owner of the joint, even has a book called “Franklin Barbecue – A Meat-Smoking Manifesto” that you can read if you want to know something more about the history of this place and its brisket).

Texas BBQ

Their meat is wrapped midway through smoking so that it doesn’t dry out, and helps to give it that special taste that you will literally die for. Apart from that, you really want the pork candy, known as pork ribs, which are probably the best in Texas, and perhaps in the States. You can also try sausages and even smoked turkey – everything here is super tasty and good, but make sure to have your essentials first!

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Franklin Barbecue – What to do afterwards?

After waiting for at least 2 hours to eat one of the world’s best barbecues, there’s no lingering – you should hit the road and let somebody else take your place and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience (if you’re not from the USA). Now that you’re probably full to the max, it would be a great idea to head a bit further down to the Zilker Brewing Company and enjoy a pint of their amazing beer. They work every day except Mondays, but you can check on their website for the exact working hours because they differ each day.

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Hopefully, you will get the chance to spend at least one day in your life eating at Franklin Barbecue and to drink beer at Zilker’s afterwards. It is definitely something that you will  remember for the rest of your life.

10 Reasons Why Your Furry Companion Is the Perfect Travel Companion

Reasons why dog is the perfect travel companion

Our lives today are stressful and exhausting amidst all the chaos. It is essential to take out some time to unplug yourself from the world and what better way than taking a vacation to travel around.

Lots of planning and preparation goes into achieving the perfect vacation. You have to choose a holiday destination, look for comfortable yet budget-friendly accommodation, book flights and make sure you get the best deals. There is a lot that goes into planning a memorable holiday trip. But as much as all these factors need to be considered, what matters the most is finding the right travel buddy.

Even the most well-thought-out vacation can turn into a disaster if you travel with someone who has different interests or isn’t compatible with you. For these reasons, many people prefer vacationing alone, but at times we do want someone to be there with us in those special moments without any additional drama of course. Well, I may have the solution to your problem – take your furry companion along. Yes! Even though it may sound difficult, with a few extra preparations it is possible to travel with your dog. The effort is worth it and here are ten reasons why!

Your Dog is Always Up for an Adventure

A perfect travel companion is one that is ready to head out and explore with you and who would love adventures more than our furry friends. They are always excited to discover new places, take strolls around the town, window-shop for long hours and meet new people and dogs. Even if you are being lazy and want to stay in, your canine will compel you to head out and make beautiful memories- just the sort of motivation one needs!

They Happily Agree to Our Choices Especially for Food

I love my family and friends, but I can’t think of one trip when we didn’t have a disagreement. Someone wanted to go to the museum while the others wanted to go to the beach. If I wanted to try Italian, my friends would want to have Chinese and such arguments would ruin the fun. With dogs, you wouldn’t have to worry about these disagreements. You can eat out wherever you’d like but make sure it is a pet-friendly restaurant so you can take your bud along.

Dogs Can Help You Socialize

Dogs are social magnets and are great ice-breakers. Whenever I go out with my pooch, I have people coming up to us wanting to pet Oscar, and that becomes a means of initiating conversations. Some people will also mistake you as a local when you are out with a dog which is a smart way to protect you from scams and con artists.

You Wouldn’t Have to Worry About Being Away From Your Furry Companion

We all love our pets and even the thought of spending time away from them can be upsetting. If you do manage to find a perfect place to board your dog or a trust-worthy sitter you will still find yourself worrying about your dog’s well-being, whether he misses you, had his food, was taken for a walk and what not. Wouldn’t it be better not to have to worry about these things and entirely unplug yourself from the world? Well, that can happen when you take your dog along, you can be stress-free and enjoy time bonding with your pal.

Dogs Don’t Complain

When you travel with pets, you don’t have to listen to anyone criticize your driving or complain about the drinks you brought along, that there aren’t enough snacks (I could go on and on about the rants I have heard.) But if you want to unload and whine about how unfair life has been, well your pet can be the perfect listener.

You Get the Best of Both Worlds

Many people like to travel solo to stay away from any drama and get some time to themselves, but there are moments when you wish to share the experience with someone you love. Some memories aren’t complete if you don’t have someone by your side. Fortunately with your furry companions you can get the best of both worlds. You can have a fantastic time with your pooch without being on your own.

Dog’s Provide Security

With your pooch by your side, you wouldn’t have to worry about unwanted visitors that don’t mean well. Your dog can be the perfect alarm system to notify you of any suspicious activity or person around you. So head out to the beach and doze off without any worries- you have your furry friend guarding you!

You Get to Explore Places You Never Knew Of

When I travel with my pup, I try my best to make sure we visit pet-friendly destinations and consider his interests. I have often discovered unique places that wouldn’t have been on my list if I was traveling alone. Since Oscar is a nature lover, we spend time sight-seeing, exploring the great outdoors, and chilling at coffee shops. I also try to look for dog-friendly destinations that offer exciting activities for both of us such as enjoying a delicious meal with my dog at the “Yard Bar” in Austin. You can find out plenty of dog-friendly cities and the activities they offer, so both you and your furry companion have a fantastic time.

Dogs Don’t Kill Your Vibe

A vacation is all about relaxing; you want to chill and do things your way. With humans that can be a problem at times. You want to spend time reading a book peacefully in a roadside café, but your partner wants to rush to the hotel. Well, this won’t happen when you travel with your pooch. Also, you wouldn’t be at the risk of getting stuck in the car with someone who has terrible taste in music or keeps nagging about how far the destination is since that can kill the entire vibe of the trip.

You Don’t Have to Worry About Your Dog Canceling on You Due to Other Commitments

I can’t even begin to whine about the plans that have been ruined because the people I wanted to travel with weren’t available and had to cancel at the last moment. You can’t blame them as most of us have hectic schedules. It does get challenging to find out a time of the year that suits everyone. The best solution is to bring your dog along; he will happily accompany you without any excuses or particular demands (except for a few essential preparations.)

When I travel with my pooch, I carry a few essentials such as travel documentation, a crate, my pup’s favorite treats and flea & tick preventives for my dog (I don’t want to risk his well-being.) Yes, it does cost more than what solo travel would and I do have to put in some extra effort, but the peace of mind and the entire experience the two of us have is worth it.

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Jenny Perkins is an Animal Behavior Specialist and a passionate writer. She loves to write about the nutrition, health, and care of dogs. She aims at providing tips to dog owners that can help them become better pet parents. She writes for the blog Here Pup.

Business Travelers Like to Have Fun?

If you travel for business, you have your routine. Arrive at your destination; get your rental car; go to your hotel; go to your meeting; repeat… Business travel is just part of the job and a necessity. But if you are like me, even with the many hassles and challenges of travel, you like business travel.

In a recent National Car Rental State of Business Travel Survey, some interesting findings emerged:

  • Ninety percent of business travelers plan to travel at least the same amount or more in 2018 (63 percent will travel the same amount; 27 percent will travel more).
  • Business travelers say they work more hours (57 percent) and have more focus (48 percent) when they travel for business.
  • Ninety-two percent of business travelers are satisfied with their quality of life when traveling for business; 89 percent are satisfied with the amount of business travel they do.Aside from the business/work side of the survey, the desire for pursuing leisure activities while on a business trip also emerged in the survey. Most business travelers feel they deserve a break while on the road. And, most bosses (92 percent) support their travelers in taking time for leisure activities.

Aside from the business/work side of the survey, the desire for pursuing leisure activities while on a business trip also emerged in the survey. Most business travelers feel they deserve a break while on the road. And, most bosses (92 percent) support their travelers in taking time for leisure activities.

Again, if you’re like me, you’ve been to many destinations for business (think Las Vegas, Miami, Montreal, etc.). But have you really experienced those destinations? If not, it’s high time to loosen up and enjoy yourself. Chances are you’ll have a bit of free time during your trip. So why not get out of the hotel room and explore the area? Break your travel routine and change up your next business trip.

With proper planning, business travel can be enjoyable and it offers a perfect opportunity to explore a new city. Here are some travel tips to consider when planning your next business trip:

  • Always take advantage of loyalty programs. Airline loyalty gets you preferred status, free baggage, lounge access and more. Hotel loyalty means nicer rooms and other benefits. Car rental loyalty provides “frequent renter” programs. National’s Emerald Club is among the best and gives you counter bypass, your choice of car, rewards, Drop & Go service, e-receipts, etc.
  • Get ready for security screening. The more you travel, the more routine it should be. As you walk up to security, have your boarding pass ready (on phone or paper). Keep your laptop easily accessible to pull out and place in its own bin. Take off your jacket and place your other personal items in bins. Keep “travel only” socks handy if you are asked to remove your shoes (so you don’t have to walk barefoot on dirty floors). A simple and repeatable routine makes security a breeze.
  • Forget about expensive, noise-canceling, big headphones. Get some noise cancelling ear buds. They’re cheap, compact, takeoff- and landing-friendly (non-electronic), and you can sleep comfortably wearing them. They’re also easy to wear at the gym and on a walk.
  • Traveler technology exists to enhance the traveler experience. Within your company’s travel program, advanced technology is available in real time and may include Travel Alerts (travel disruptions), Flight Tracker (flight change notifications) and e-Travel Tracker (traveler tracking/security). Use technology, i.e. apps, to explore your destination. Top recommendations include city guides like Headout and Guides by Lonely Planet; Open Table for restaurants; and Detour for audio walks.
  • Stay active while away. Ask your concierge for a recommended running route to explore the city in a new way. If you are sitting in meetings all day, head to the hotel’s fitness center or pool after work. Exercise relieves stress and leaves you energized. After your workout, you’ll be ready to enjoy your leisure time and explore the town.

National's Emerald Club aisle

Want to learn more? You can find more info about National’s survey here.

What’s your story? How do you enjoy life on the road? Please share your story on Twitter tagging @NationalPro and/or as a comment on this post below. And enjoy your trip!

 

I was compensated by National Car Rental for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

(Written by Mark Crone for National Car Rental)

 

5 Places You MUST Eat When Visiting DC

DC is a foodie’s paradise. When you go to the capital of the United States, you may only think about its relevance in politics, history or the many Smithsonian museums throughout the city. But, DC is also home to a massive range of diverse cultures and a thriving restaurant environment. In fact, it’s thriving so well that it can almost be overwhelming the number of food options you have, from swanky restaurants to hole in the wall eateries that locals crave daily. For someone who’s never lived in or visited DC, it can be a harrowing experience, and making a decision as to where to eat can be difficult based on where you plan to stay or what you plan to do.

Thankfully, pretty much all of the best locations to eat in DC are easy to get to because of the extensive metro system. So easy in fact, the metro is the number one way to get around the city, and out into the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. Take advantage and grab a bite to eat at these amazing restaurants DC has to offer!

1. Founding Farmers

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A major DC favorite, located near George Washington University in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, Founding Farmers is a beautiful restaurant that serves up amazing brunches, lunches and dinners. The restaurant is owned in a co-op style fashion, by the North Dakota Farmers Union (a collective of over 47,000 family farmers!). This means every ingredient, wine and liquor is made right in the US by hardworking families. FRESH. You can expect to eat true American comfort food here, with true American portions.

2. Le Diplomate

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A local hotspot for french cuisine, Le Diplomate is a brasserie with authentic french baked goods and entrees. The restaurant interior is beautiful, and the outdoor patio is a fun place to enjoy good weather while eating and drinking. But really, the food is the best you could ask for. The extensive menu has all sorts of french favorites like fresh seafood, Beef Bourgignon, Steak Au Poivre and Lamb Navarin. If you’re not sure what some of these things are, it’s okay, I didn’t either but it was all delicious. Pair it with a nice french wine, and you’ve got yourself a great dinner to start off your night!

3. Old Ebbitt Grill

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Old Ebbitt Grill is one of the more famous DC restaurants. Not only is it just across the street from the White House, it’s also the oldest saloon in DC. Originally opened in 1856, this saloon has had many famous guests like President Roosevelt, Grant, Cleveland and Harding. To this day, it’s still a popular location for journalists, theatre goers, politicians and celebrities. The food is very American-oriented, popular and tasty. With such a large menu, it’ll be hard for anyone to not find something they’ll love!

4. Kinship

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If you’re looking for a nice date night dinner spot, then you should absolutely visit Kinship near Mt. Vernon Square. Although relatively new, this restaurant has been making big waves in the DC culinary scene. The food here is very interesting and unique, with the menu arrangement based on themes like: craft, history, ingredients and indulgence. The chefs here use their traveling experiences to add new takes on American cuisine, and it definitely pays off.

5. Rose’s Luxury

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It would be a travesty not to add Rose’s Luxury to this list of DC must eats. Another dinner only restaurant, Rose’s Luxury has been a huge success since it’s conception in 2013. Ever since, you’ll find lines waiting outside the restaurant every evening waiting to reserve a space to eat at this incredible restaurant. At Rose’s, you’ll find contemporary and modern takes on American classics in small-plate tapas form, great for sharing and trying a little of everything. Paired with great drinks and good weather, it’s easy to see why they became such a huge success. Not only that, but they use that success to help feed children through the World Food Program. For every meal you eat at Rose’s, they donate money to the program to give a child a meal (they’ve already donated over $30,000 so far). So, eat up and feel good about it!

 

 

Author Byline: Kate Howard is a loving mother and wife who has lived in, and visited, DC for years. When she’s not teaching preschool, eating new food or looking up funny animal videos, she’s helping people plan their trip to DC through her and her husband’s website: www.hotelsneardcmetro.com.

 

 

 

Surprisingly Fun Towns You Don’t Want to Miss Like Lake Geneva, Wheeling, and More

The post below was originally published on Awe Inclusive on September 7, 2016 by Michalea Hall.

New travelers might be tempted to leave small town America off of their travel wish list.

It’s easy to think that lesser known cities don’t have the draw that larger ones do.However, small cities offer more than meets the eye.

Here are a few cool spots that I’ve recently discovered. I think you’d enjoy a visit to any one of them.

Photo by Sarah via Trover

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Fire-breathers, glass walkers, and human pretzels.

If you thought Wisconsin Dells would be your average city, you’re mistaken. Along with the extraordinary wonders that you’ll find here, visitors will be delighted to discover many other attractions.

From indoor water parks to wildlife adventure parks, you won’t run out of things to do in Wisconsin Dells. Stay at the Cedar Lodge & Settlement for a spectacular view of the Wisconsin River and lots of fun at its indoor water park.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

If you’re a beer lover, Milwaukee won’t disappoint.

For everyone else, you’ll find plenty of places to visit beyond the breweries. Borrow one of the bikes available through the local bike share program, and enjoy a day exploring Milwaukee in a new way.

A few places of interest include the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Milwaukee Public Market. For an unforgettable stay, book at the Brumder Mansion Hotel. Guest rooms are in limited supply, so don’t wait too long to make a reservation!

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

You’ll have around 21 miles of lakefront to explore if you’re lucky enough to vacation in Lake Geneva.

Visitors can enjoy sunbathing at one of the many beaches or participating in water sports on the Lake.

Other not-to-be-missed attractions include museums, theaters, and wineries.

Stay at the Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark. Not only do guest rooms feature fireplaces, whirlpools, and kitchens, but your reservation also comes with water park entry.

Wheeling, West Virginia

Without droves of tourists to crowd the major attractions and skyrocket prices,Wheeling is the perfect town to live as a local.

Take your time exploring your surroundings at your leisure, and connect with those who call Wheeling home. From Oglebay Park to the Suspension Bridge,visitors will not tire of scenic attractions to traverse.

The Wheeling Island Hotel is a sure bet for a stay that will never get boring. Enjoy on-site attractions, including a racetrack and casino, for nonstop fun and entertainment.

Herndon, Virginia

Located 24 miles outside of Washington, DC, Herndon is a welcomed reprieve from the extreme business of urban life.

Not only will you find enough restaurants to maintain variety in your trip, but you’ll also enjoy a wide selection of novel attractions, like the Herndon Escape Room and the Perils of the Lost Jungle Miniature Golf.

The Candlewood Suites Washington, Dulles Herndon isn’t your typical airport hotel. Guest rooms are well-equipped and include a spacious kitchen and workspace.

Even though these towns aren’t featured on many folks’ top ten lists, lesser known cities can surprise you with their unique attractions and fun accommodations.

Carve out some vacation time to see what everyone else is missing!

Kansas City Here I Come

Kansas City will surprise you with its diversity and long list of things to see and do. Before settling on your travel dates, you might want to check and see if there is a special event, game, concert, or festival in the Kansas City area that you might want to catch. Visiting during the perfect time can make your stay more memorable.

Where to Stay in Kansas City

Location is everything. Stay downtown for easy access to restaurants and shopping; stay further south for nightlife and jazz; or stay on the outskirts for access to the entire area. Research the best hotels in Kansas City and choose where you want to go and what you want to see.

Kansas City BBQ

Image via Flickr by bhc.rhodes

Kansas City is known as a “world capital of barbecue” and is famous for its beef. The Kansas City Strip Steak was born in the now-defunct Kansas City Stockyards. With over 90 barbecue restaurants in the metropolitan Kansas City area, getting a good barbecue meal is not a problem. If you visit in the fall, be sure to attend the American Royal, the world’s biggest barbecue contest.

Downtown

Downtown Kansas City is undergoing massive change and redevelopment in the three surrounding loft districts and the Central Business District. Downtown Kansas City includes the 39th Street District — also known as Restaurant Row — with its many restaurants, boutiques, and literary and visual arts. Union Station is home to Science City, theaters, museum exhibits. Other attractions include the Irish Museum and Cultural Center and the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity. The Power & Light District, is a nine-block entertainment district with restaurants, bars, and retail shops. The Country Club Plaza, or simply “the Plaza,” is an upscale, outdoor shopping and entertainment district at the south edge of downtown.

City Market

Image via Flickr by One Day Closer

The City Market Square began as a site for markets, horse trading, rallies, shows, and more dating back to 1857.  Today, the City Market is open every day and features shopping, entertainment and dining in a unique open-air setting. The City Market has an extensive events calendar and hosts concerts, festivals and other special events. The region’s largest Farmers’ Market is found at the City Market every Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine.

City Parks

Kansas City has 132 miles of boulevards and parkways, over 200 parks, many ornamental fountains, five golf courses, five museums, shopping centers, and more. Swope Park is more than twice the size of New York City’s Central Park and is one of the nation’s largest city parks. It features a zoo, woodland nature and wildlife center, two golf courses, two lakes, an amphitheatre, a day-camp, and picnic grounds. Hodge Park, in the Northland, includes the 80-acre Shoal Creek Living History Museum, with 20 historical buildings dating from 1807 to 1885. Riverfront Park, on the banks of the Missouri River, holds annual Independence Day celebrations and other festivals.

Plan your trip to Kansas City and discover all it has to offer!