The Galapagos Islands are known for their exotic wildlife. It’s a great place to take kids or go on a secluded romantic vacation.
Galapagos Islands are great for kids
The Islands are an archipelago, a string of 6 islands formed by large volcanic domes fused together. It is one of the most volcanically active places on earth! Isabela is the largest island, but still only has 2000 inhabitants, most of which are fishermen.
The Galapagos Islands are a string of 6 islands, formed from volcanic domes.
The Islands were discovered accidentally by Spain when a ship went off course. It was thought to be worthless because of the rocky terrain, but has been used as a pirate hideout and food source. Whalers ate about 200,000 tortoises and wiped out an entire sub-species. Charles Darwin made the island famous when he discovered natural selection, and on the 100th anniversary of Origin of Species the Charles Darwin Research Station was created.
The Galapagos Islands have a large tortoise population
The tortoises are huge!!
Now the Galapagos Islands are a huge tourist attraction for wildlife enthusiasts. There are some truly unique variations of animals to be found here. The Galapagos penguins, red-billed tropical birds, waved albatross, blue footed boobies, Galapagos finches, giant tortoises, and fur sea lions are just a few!
Galapagos Islands sea lions
Galapagos Islands Blue Footed Boobies
Where to stay: The Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge
This beautiful lodge is located just steps from the ocean on Santa Cruz, the most important of the inhabited Galapagos Islands. The town there, Puerto Ayora, is the largest town with 15000 residents. The lodge was designed to blend with the mangrove forest and seafront that surround it. It offers the best views of the bay and two seaside restaurants.
Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge, Galapagos Islands.
“All-inclusive” sounds great, but is it actually all-inclusive? Chances are, probably not. And while there are some great things about all-inclusive resorts, there are some not-so-great things as well. Of course, they all vary and there are a few luxury resorts out there that do it right. Keep these pros and cons in mind when you’re trying to make your decision.
You don’t have to use your brain. Your stay will truly be stress-free. The resort has made all the decisions for you – meals and activities are predetermined. This can be especially beneficial for honeymooners who are burnt out from wedding madness.
Stay within budget. Paying upfront helps a lot of people avoid encountering a bigger bill than expected upon checkout.
It’s actually pretty cheap. Do the math – break down what you ate, accommodations and activities and you’ll find it’s actually a great deal.
No tipping allowed. Well, it’s allowed. And definitely appreciated… but you don’t have to and they can’t make you!
Everything is easily accessible. You don’t have to use your brain or your legs. You’ll find that mostly everything you need can be found in the resort.
Included activities. Most all-inclusives have tennis, snorkeling, private beaches and more that are included in the cost.
Amazing scenery. All-inclusive resorts are known for their picturesque locations. If you are meant to stay in the resort, it had better be beautiful!
The term “all-inclusive” is open to interpretation. Your stay will be all-inclusive… oh, except for spa treatments, salon services, and sometimes *gasp* alcohol!!
Bad food. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but many all-inclusive resorts pack their menu or buffet with starchy, filling, inexpensive foods. The restaurants may also have strict hours, making it difficult for you to eat late at night or between meals.
Cheap alcohol. If the alcohol is included, prepare yourself for some pretty mighty hangovers the next day.
Biased staff. The staff may only be recommending you an off-site tour operator, restaurant, or store because they receive a kickback. If their recommendations feel touristy and lack a certain mom-and-pop feel, this may be the case. Try to ask specifically for places the locals would go to get the real scoop.
I can’t get out! You might feel a little stuck within the resort. Maybe it’s because you paid for everything there and don’t want to go over budget with off-site activities, or maybe it’s because you’re in the middle of nowhere. Try to choose a resort that is close to an interesting town so you can venture off the resort and experience the local culture.
Lame entertainment. No casinos and a general lack of entertainment or just poorly done entertainment is a frequent complaint.
No shopping. How long can it take you to walk through the resort gift shop? Like five minutes. That’s not real shopping! Where are the local artisans? Where are the high end boutiques that sell things you love for less??!
I think while writing this I made my decision… how about you?
Glamour + Camping = Glamping!
I’m not a camping enthusiast by any means, but when I heard about glamping I discovered the only way I would ever entertain the idea. Glamping is the old fashioned, luxury version of camping with a modern twist. There is actual furniture and a focus on comfort. What we just recently learned about as glamping has actually been the cornerstone of the African safari circuit for ages.
You still have to do outdoor stuff like hiking, fishing, and kayaking, but you get to return to a designer tent with a real bed, rugs, and better protection from bugs and wild animals. Some glamping resorts have bathrooms in the tents, or separate bathroom facilities close by. These high-end campsites features teepees, yurts, or treehouses.
Glamping in a yurt
Underground Supper Club by A Razor, A Shiny Knife
Underground supper clubs have been around for a few years, but have just recently become mainstream. They are typically started by foodies throwing dinner parties for their friends and evolving from there, or by chefs between restaurants who throw dinner events in warehouses or lofts. These events are an opportunity for foodies to share their cooking skills with friends, or for chefs to experiment with creative cuisine that they wouldn’t be able to serve in a restaurant. Since supper clubs are independent and have more freedom than restaurants, they are able to work with farmer’s markets and other local, sustainable food sources.
One of the most appealing things about a supper club is the mystery and adventure. Diners usually don’t know where the dinner will be held until a few days prior. There are passwords, secret websites, exclusive invitations and mailing lists that fuel the mystery. Unusual settings or themes add to the fun. RogueApron of Atlanta threw an Alice in Wonderland themed party in a beautiful garden setting, with a Mad Hatter host and house-made strawberry-celery hooch. ONCE of Boston threw a Viking party in the Somerville Armory, and A Razor, A Shiny Knife regularly throws glamorous events in unique places in big cities like NYC, Chicago, and LA. The most interesting installment I’ve seen by far has to be by A Razor, A Shiny Knife, who threw a 6-course lunch on the L Train in NYC.
A Razor, A Shiny Knife 6-course L Train Sunday Lunch
A Razor, A Shiny Knife L Train Sunday Lunch
A Razor, A Shiny Knife L Train Sunday Lunch
Supper clubs are a great way to socialize and meet people in your area. They can be small, from 6 people, to 70 or 80 people. It’s a lot like a formal dinner party at a friend’s house, and since you often have to know someone to get on the list, there’s a good chance of running into friends or acquaintances.
There is also an interactive aspect. You can see what’s being made by the chefs, and they may even let you prepare or plate a dish. Lots of these chefs also offer cooking classes, which might be separate from the dinner events. Check their websites to see the schedule.
The level of fanciness and professionalism does vary. Supper clubs have gotten more savvy, innovative and professional as of late. A Razor, A Shiny Knife utilizes molecular gastronomy techniques and cooks with liquid nitrogen and fancy machinery. Others are in the style of a home cooked meal using ingredients from the Farmer’s Market and simple cooking techniques.
One thing people may find unsettling about a supper club is that you don’t know what will be on the menu, but I think that’s part of the fun. The “donation” seems to bother people as well – being asked to donate what you think the meal is worth at the end is a bit unsettling. Many clubs will just ask you to pay upfront when you purchase the tickets, which I think is the best way.
Supper clubs can be found in major cities, typically ones that are known for their cuisine. This list consists of the best supper clubs I’ve found online that I would love to visit! Going to a supper club is an awesome idea when you’re visiting a city as you can get a totally different, “underground” perspective.
- A Razor, A Shiny Knife
- Ted and Amy Supper Club
- New York Bite Club
- Apt4 Food & Wine
- City Grit
- The Sunday Night Dinner
- Wink Supper Club (there is no website…they are the most mysterious!)
- Chef Louie Night
- O.N.C.E. (One Night Culinary Events)
- Washburn Underground Kitchen
- For Food’s Sake
- Souper Jenny
- Curry Cravings
- Brassica Supper Club
- Du Jour Dining
- graffEats Guerilla Dining
- Lazy Bear
- Mission Gastropub (14 person beer dinner)
- The Phoenix Supper Club
- Radio Africa & Kitchen
- Stag Dining Group
- Sub Culture Dining
- Wild Kitchen
- Valerie Bolon’s Culinary Speakeasy
- One Sister Inc.
- Sunday Dinner
- Wandering Goat
- X-Marx Chicago
To view even more supper clubs throughout the country, click here.
With us today is Anne Petrone of 500 Places With Kids. Stay tuned for her family-focused guidebook of 50 fabulous trips covering all of North America!
What is your dream destination, and who would you take with you?
My “dream” destination is a sun-drenched cruise through the Greek Islands on a small yacht with my husband and two sons. I can’t imagine a better family vacation that incorporates lots of sun, good food, and tons of history and culture. I can just picture my family exploring the museums and archaeological ruins on Crete or Rhodes in the early morning, then heading off to their beaches to relax in the hot afternoon. At night, we’d find some local taverna and make a meal out of mezes (light appetizers) before sailing away on a small ship to our next island. Sounds like paradise . . .
The Greek Isles are a collection of over 6000 islands and islets, the largest of which is Crete. Visitors can go island hopping and experience the history, food, and beaches of several islands. Among the most popular are Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini. I love Mykonos especially, it has amazing beaches, nightlife, food and shopping!
We asked CanCan from Mom Most Traveled about her Dream Destination. CanCan is an educator and a mother of two, and her blog has great tips for mothers traveling with kids! Follow her on Twitter at @MomMostTraveled
Where is your dream destination and accommodations?
I would like to go to Kerala, India because of the beautiful landscape and delicious regional cuisine. If I had the chance to go, i would bring my two young sons! I saw a neat tree house hotel they would love to stay in with me!
Vythiri Resort Tree Top Guest Cottage
Vythiri Resort Guest Cottage Porch View
Kerala is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, and National Geographic named it one of the “Ten Paradises of the World,” and “50 Places of a Lifetime.” Kerala is known for its tropical greenery, beaches and Ayurvedic treatments. It is also home to some amazing tree top resorts, which are typically built between two trees 85 feet off the ground.
We are delighted to kick off this guest blogging series with Anne Fritz of The Jet Set Girls. Anne and Hope’s blog is my go-to for travel, beauty, and fashion tips! Follow them on Twitter: @JSGAnne, @JSGHope. Today, Anne shares with us her Dream Destination:
Where is your dream destination and accommodations?
Right now it’s the W in Vieques. I love the Out Islands of the Bahamas—they’re so secluded and the beaches are pristine. You feel like you’re halfway around the world, but really you’re only 30 minutes from Florida. I imagine that Vieques has that same feel. I’ve been dying to go ever since the W opened last year.
Who would you take with you?
W Vieques, Puerto Rico
It just so happens that I am going—with my hubby for a romantic birthday trip.
W Vieques - Living Room
- W Vieques Bay
- W Vieques Aerial View
Vieques is an island located off the east coast of Puerto Rico. It is the largest of the Spanish Virgin Islands, and has been one of the Caribbean’s Best Kept Secrets – until now! It is a popular wedding destination thanks to its amazing beaches and food. Travelers can easily reach Vieques via small planes from San Juan.
Travel and Leisure’s new post about the Best Secret Islands on Earth inspired me to write about these stunning islands. Many of them are just off the coast of popular destinations and offer a great opportunity to experience real solace in the middle of a busy vacation!
1. Gozo, Malta
This hilly landscape in the Mediterranean will take you to another place and time with castle ruins and a Bronze Age fortress
2. Robinson Crusoe, Chile
It’s easy to understand why this island inspired the novel Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe Island
3. Gotska Sandon, Sweden
This island is covered in moss and pine trees
4. Skopelos, Greece
So perfect, they filmed Mama Mia! here…
5. Pico, Portugal
Great wine and footpaths through lava landscapes left by the volcano
6. Mabul, Malaysia
Exceptional diving and wildlife, comparable to the Galapagos Islands
7. Jicaro Island, Nicaragua
This 1 acre island is actually in the middle of Lake Nicaragua and has 1 resort, the Jicaro Island Ecolodge
8. Great Barrier Island, New Zealand
A great place for adventure seekers and the most untouched destination in New Zealand
Great Barrier Island
9. La Maddalena, Italy
Off the coast of Sardinia, has white sand beaches, secret coves and rare birds
10. Desert Islands, United Arab Emirates
These 8 islands are about 2.5 hours from Abu Dhabi and are filled with historic sights and exotic wildlife
Summer is almost here, and that means BBQs, beach, pool, and patio brunches! These delicious cocktails perfectly pair with summer food and activities. Try adding fruit garnishes for a little extra flavor and glamour.
Top 10 Best Summer Cocktails:
1. Kumquat Caipirinha
This delicious spin on the Brazilian cocktail has soy caramel sauce (omg), lemon juice, raw sugar, kumquats, cachaca, and ice. This sounds perfect for a chic summer white party or cocktails by the pool with the girls.
Royal Blush Cocktail
2. Royal Blush
This drink changes from green to pink! It has cherry puree, vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, mint leaves, and dry sparkling wine (like brut Champagne).
Sangria is good anytime, anywhere! It is really easy to make and both the red and white are delicious. Try the white with Champagne, vodka, white wine, ginger ale, and any kind of fruit. It’s best if you let the ingredients soak for a day or two prior to drinking and let the flavors of the fruit really percolate.
4. Bloody Mary
Another classic, great at those brunches on the patio, or for a little “hair of the dog” cure the next morning by the pool. Try using grated horseradish and Tobasco with your tomato juice and vodka. Blue cheese stuffed olives are always a nice touch as well.
Bazooka Bubblegum Cocktail
5. Bazooka Bubblegum Cocktail
The pink color and bubblegum flavor make this drink fun for parties. Mix vodka with double bubble to achieve the bubble gum taste.
6. El Diablo
This is a sophisticated version of beer, and is a good option for the men at your summer soirees. Mix tequila, ginger, beer, and creme de cassis and prepare for the compliments!
7. Mint Julep
This classic cocktail is not for the faint of heart! It tastes great but packs a punch. Whiskey, mint, soda, water, sugar and crushed ice are the main ingredients, so it’s a relatively easy drink to make.
8. French 75
It’s just a little more intense than regular Champagne! Use Champagne, gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup.
A classic cocktail with a sugar rim, Cognac,, Cointreau, and lemon juice.
Who doesn’t love a mojito? It’s super refreshing, perfect for the pool or beach. Mix mint, lime, rum, sugar and club soda for the perfect drink on a hot summer day.
Check out this
epicurious article for recipes!
Alvear Palace Hotel
The Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina is known as “The Grand Dame of Buenos Aires” for a reason! This stunning hotel is located in Recoleta, the most exclusive neighborhood in BA. It offers direct access to shopping, museums and sightseeing. Alvear has an old-world style and has incorporated elements of Empire, Louis XV, and Louis XVI interior design. They have enhanced this style by adding art by renowned Argentine artists.
Alvear Palace Hotel Lobby
The personalized and attentive services are another thing that set Alvear apart from the rest. Their Butler Service will unpack, draw you a bath whenever you like, give you complimentary garment pressing, and help you pack when it’s time to leave. Don’t have time to shop? Don’t know where to shop? Alvear’s Personal Shopper has got you covered. The shopping specialist can either do all of your shopping for you, or take you on a personalized shopping tour.
Afternoon Tea at the Alvear Palace Hotel
The dining and bar options at the Alvear have been patronized by businessmen, socialites, and celebrities since the 1930s. La Bourgogne is their French dining option. L’Orangerie is the grand dining room that hosts the amazing breakfast buffet and Sunday Brunch. The Sunday Brunch features an international buffet with shellfish, seafood, wild game, and desserts. Their acclaimed afternoon tea features fine teas, cakes, fresh fruit tarts, warm scones, and aspecial “Alvear Blend” of tea.
The Lobby Bar is an exclusive venue that serves great cocktails. The Cigar Bar offers havana cigars and fine chocolates and liquors.
Alvear Palace Hotel Spa
The Alvear Spa and Fitness Center is the perfect place to relax! The steam baths, saunas, a ludic pool, relaxation rooms, and La Prairie products and treatments.
The Alvear Palace Hotel is a great option when trying to choose accommodations in Buenos Aires. Even if you don’t choose to stay there, the Afternoon Tea, Sunday Brunch, and Lobby Lounge are worth a visit!