Instant World Booking Travel Guides - Quick travel guides for the cities and places you want to visit

Posts Tagged ‘beaches’

Florida,Sarasota

May 20, 2010

Sarasota’s “Big Five” Art Organizations

Tags: , , , , , ,

For many who come to Saraso­ta for a weekend, week or season­long stay, the white sands and turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico may be the primary draws.

But Sarasota also treasures its reputation as Florida’s cultural capital, with theater, visual art, opera, ballet and classical music available for top-caliber enter­tainment after a day at the beach or on the water.

Sarasota’s “big five” arts orga­nizations – the John and Mable Ringling Mu­seum of Art, Sara­sota Opera, Sara­sota Ballet, Sara­sota Orchestra and Asolo Rep­ertory Theatre – each work in their own way, and sometimes collective­ly, to let tourists know there’s more to do here than pick up shells.


South Carolina

January 22, 2010

South Carolina Vacation Ideas

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

HIKING: From South Carolina’s nook of the Blue Ridge Mountains to its scenic Atlantic Coast, the state offers hundreds of miles of trails in its parks, historic towns, and seaside villages. In autumn, South Carolina’s fall foliage peaks upstate in October, when hickories, maples, and oaks paint the hillsides in vivid hues of amber, gold, and red. Table Rock State Park in Pickens County has some of the state’s loveliest trails. (SouthCarolinaParks.com)

KIAWAH ISLAND & PAWLEYS ISLAND

With plentiful lush courses stretching from the mountains to the sea, South Carolina has earned its reputation as “The Golf Capital of the South:” Under crisp fall skies, tee off on greens that Golf for Women has deemed some of the country’s best. The luxurious Kiawah Island Golf Resort (KiawahResort.com; 800-576-1570) and meander­ing Willbrook Plantation Golf Club (mbn.com; 843-237-4900) keep jumping up on their list of favorites.

GREENVILLE & BEAUFORT

BIKING: Whether you’re a mountain biker or a beach cruiser, South Carolina has excellent cycling destinations. For thrilling mountain biking, check out the Old Firetower Bicycle Trail in Paris Mountain State Park near Greenville (SouthCarolinaParks.com; 864-244-5565), which passes through wildberry-dotted woodlands populated by deer, squirrels, and colorful birds. If a retro cruiser is more your speed, quiet seaside communities, like Beaufort, provide gorgeous backdrops for relaxing rides on sunny fall days.

MOUNTAIN & BLACKWATER RIVER AREAS

RAFTING, BOATING, AND KAYAKING: In early fall, the warm weather holds out for a few more waterside adventures. For thrill-seek­ers, rafting on the renowned Chattooga River is an absolute must-do in the Upcountry’s Waterfalls and Whitewater region. In the central Lakes and Blackwater Rivers region, scenic rivers provide well-mapped water trails for avid kayakers and cancers. (PaddleSC.com; SCTrails.net)

MYRTLE BEACH

STYLISH SHORES: The Market Common, located on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, (MarketCommonMB.com) is a sleek, modern complex where urban meets ocean. Among the great shops, you’ll find Anthropologie, Banana Republic, and Copper Penny Shooz, which carry the hottest brands in footwear and handbags, including Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Sigerson Morrison.

CHARLESTON

This past March, King Street cinched its reputation as Charleston’s fashion center when top designers and celebrity fashionistas converged in Marion Square Park for the city’s second annual fashion week. Boutiques and big-name shops line this popular promenade, where established brands, such as Brooks Brothers, Nicole Miller, and Ann Taylor, sit next to showcases for emerging designers, such as Hampden Clothing. And the various book shops and music stores will also catch your eye.


Caribbean,St. Lucia

December 13, 2009

St. Lucia

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

JUST NORTH OF ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES AND SOUTH OF MARTINIQUE LIES A JEWEL IN THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA. BOASTING NEAR PERFECT WEATH­ER AND LUSH NATURAL BEAUTY, ST LUCIA IS A LUXURY TRAVELER’S DREAM DESTI­NATION. FROM YEAR-ROUND SNORKELING TO HIKING AND BIRD WATCHING, THE ISLAND OFFERS A VAST ARRAY OF ACTIVITIES SURE TO EXCITE ANY EXPLORER.

The tropical beaches of the west coast of St. Lucia owe their serenity to the calm Caribbean Sea, making St. Lucia’s beaches breathtaking and peaceful. In addition to its relaxing sands, the volcanic island hosts a mountainous terrain sprinkled with rainforests. Majestic in coastal peaks-The Pitons-rise through the rain­est like sentry towers. Within the flourishing rain­forests, tropical birds flit through the air, giant ferns rout in every direction and orchids sway in the tropical breeze. The distinct mixes of terrain at St. Lucia set it part from many other islands and promise a little something for everyone. Perhaps the best facet of St. Lucia is that the small island has kept its local integrity. ore cruise ships may frequent the destination, but for he most part, the island has remained true to its roots. Evident in the numerous restaurants and luxurious resorts, the island flavor is alive and well. Stay in the some of the world’s best luxury resorts or for a com­pletely unique experience, try renting a villa. This option is great for families, honeymooners or the travel­er looking to mix it up. A four-bedroom and four-bath­room luxury villa located five minutes from Anse Chastanet beach, the Tamarind House allows for some much needed rest and relaxation. Complete with a housekeeper, a gardener and a tennis court, this palatial property allows you to be downright spoiled. With tem­perate weather, expansive rainforests, world-class beaches and luxury accommodations, St. Lucia has it all. A gem in the east Caribbean sea, the island brings tourists from far and wide with its understated beauty and uncompromised sea views. The natural vegetation and rolling waves are sure to infect any traveler with island fever, so leave the Blackberry at home and pack a sense of adventure-St. Lucia will not disappoint.


Florida,Sarasota,Southwest Florida,United States

December 7, 2009

John and Mabel Ringling

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

A SHOWMAN AND HIS SOCIALITE

IN THE EARLY 1900’s, JOHN AND MABLE RINGLING WERE THE PARAGONS OF HIGH SOCIETY AND EVERYTHING TO THEIR NAME DRIPPED WITH LUXURY.

HE WAS A BOATER HAT-WEARING SHOWMAN WHO GRACED THE COVER OF TIME MAGAZINE FOR HIS TRAV­ELING CIRCUS MONOPOLY.  She was a style icon, a connois­seur of exotic furnishings and a lover of visual art. Together, John and Mable Ringling were the darlings of the Edwardian Age and the royal couple of the Roaring ’20s.

Many society people saw them as disreputable circus folk with little taste in what constituted good living.  John and Mable Ringling labored to distance themselves from their humble pasts, to uphold their presents with dignity and to become two of the most noted trendsetters of the 2oth century. “They certainly led the good life, with all the accoutrements of luxury. But John was born poor and he wanted to show that he was more than just a circus guy,” says Jeff LaHurd, a Sarasota Florida author and historian. “Someone in his line of work may not have been as highly regard­ed as another captain of industry. He had to set himself apart.”

FROM RURAL TO REGAL

As a boy in McGregor, Iowa, John Nicholas Ringling was the fifth son of seven children born to German immigrants. In 1907, alongside his entrepreneurial brothers, John created the “Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows,” which burgeoned to the most successful circus in its class. John’s investments in railroads, oil, steel and land, coupled with his circus fortune, earned him Time’s title as “one of the wealthiest men in America” in 1925. He was worth$2oo million at the time. Manhattan was one of John’s primary stomping grounds, and he occupied an apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City. By serving on the board at Madison Square Gardens and cavorting with J.P. Morgan, John Jacob Astor and President Calvin Coolidge, John became abreast of the must-haves of the era. “He hobnobbed with people of very refined tastes, and his closest friends were politicians and entertainers,” says Ron McCarty, keeper of the Ca d’Zan at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. “He was always moving in wealthy circles.”

A CIRCUS KING AND HIS QUEEN Mable Burton, a soft-spoken, fashionable woman from meager beginnings, became John’s bride in t9o5. “She was said to have been a kind, elegant woman, but very strong, with a great deal of taste,” says Maureen Thomas-Zaremba, associate curator of education for the Ringling Museum. “She was active in the com­munity and gave lots of parties for women’s groups.”  With her husband, Mable traveled Europe avidly by railcar, scoping out sideshow acts for the circus empire. When they visited Sarasota-at the advice of John’s brother, Charles-the couple became entranced by the shoreline. They moved to the area in 1912. In 1925, they built the Venetian-Gothic mansion on the bay, the Ca d’Zan (or “House of John”) for $1.5 million. Designed by architect Dwight Baum, the exterior was sheathed with mosaics, stained-glass windows, glazed tiles and cast stone, and rose bushes were planted in the gardens.

The Ringlings owned a $50,000 organ that could be played manually or electronically and kept boxes of cov­eted cigars and the finest whiskeys, even during Prohibition. They adorned their home with Tiffany ster­ling silver, genoise velvet fabrics and Jules Allard furni­ture. The Calvinator, an electric refrigerator, was one of their newfangled devices in a decade when most people were still using iceboxes. They installed an in-ground mar­ble pool -half-saltwater, half-chlorine-for the benefit of their health. What intrigues me most about their style is that they carved out their own particular niche;” Thomas Zaremba says. “Mable had a definite style of her own. She was very confident in her taste and left that imprint on her home. It was luxurious without being overwhelming:”

The Ringlings’ summer home was a too-acre estate in New Jersey on the Hudson River, in a neighborhood known as “millionaire’s row.” The Ca d’Zan became a winter retreat. While in Sarasota, John developed Bird Key and St. Armands Circle and owned a hotel and stretches of real estate.

The Ringlings took a vested interest in art, and as rookies, enlisted Munich art dealer Julius Bohler to oversee their purchases. John appreciated the 17th century Baroque period, even though it was not in vogue at the time, and Bohler selected pieces for his client to buy at discounted prices. “The collection is known for being one of the five best collections of Baroque art outside of Rome;’ McCarty says. “It had a lot to do with Ringling’s taste as a collector. He was a showman, and the drama and spectacle in Baroque art appealed to him.”

Gilded Age architectural artifacts from Astor’s Fifth Avenue mansion (post ­Titanic sinking) added to John’s collection of work by Peter Paul Rubens, Titian. Velazquez and EI Greco. In 1928, he acquired 2,800 Creek, Cypriot, Roman and Egyptian antiquities, and later, stocked up on American, Dutch, German, Italian and Flemish paintings.

Inspired by Morgan. Isabella Stewart Gardner and Henry Clay Frick, John dreamt of con­structinghis own museum to house his wares. In 1927, he commissioned New York archi­tect John Phillips to design a building resembling an Italian palace, and the museum opened its doors four years later. It became the largest art museum south of New York’s Metropolitan museum of Art in 1931, and that same year, Ringling School of Art and Design was established.

Mable died in 1929 at age 54, and the Great Depression ground John’s art collecting to a halt. Creditors attempted to overtake his circus, so John bequeathed his wealth to the state. When he died in 1936, John left his museum, mansion, possessions and $1.2 mil­lion in cash to the citizens of Florida. “The Ringlings have left a tremendous legacy for us.”  Zaremba says. “What we have is very unique and incredibly luxurious.”


Europe,Turkey

November 29, 2009

Turkey

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

TURKEY IS THE KIND OF DESTINATION YOU FALL INTO, RATHER THAN VISIT IT IS A PLACE OF DAZZLING CULTURAL COMPLEXITY, AT ONCE REMOVED FROM THE PRESENT AND YET ENTIRELY A PART OF IT.

Asojourn here almost overwhelms imagination-from the gran Istanbul to sweeping fig and groves to ancient ruins and such as Troy and Ephesus. Mountainous, coastoral and urbane, Turkey is richly, pervasively by its complicated history. This land reflects t influences of the vast empires that have occupied Istanbul itself remains the city where East me literally straddling two continents-and yet m most arresting features of both, producing a di modern landscape. In Istanbul, tour the holy Byzantine churches, including Hagia Sophia and the blue Mosque. The famed whirling dervishes spin on aturdays and Sundays at the Galata Mevlevihanesi, a ervish hall built in 1491. Then, visit the Grand Bazaar or a day of shopping. The covered bazaar is an endless presentation of handcrafted and idiosyncratic treas­res unique to the region, including jewelry and artwork. Turkey, for all of its cultural impact, is also home o impressive beaches. On a peninsula along the Aegean coast, Bodrum is a Mediterranean resort town here yachting is the popular pastime. From here, enjoy a tour on a traditional hand made gulet or while way the morning at Gumbet, a nearby beach.


North America,Panama

November 17, 2009

Panama Ecotourism and Culture

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

From the lively mix of old and new to sugary beaches, Panama is one of Latin America’s most buzzed-about destinations.  This alluring gateway between nature and culture is an absolute must for ecotourism with a spark. Go for the lush rainforests, stay for the sustainable resorts, great restaurants, and stylish vibe that’s garnered comparisons to Hong Kong and Miami.

WHERE TO STAY: Panama City is often described as three cities in one-old Panama, colonial Panama, and modern Panama-with hotels ranging from centuries­old mansions to five-star boutiques. Centrally located in the shopping and financial district, The Bristol strikes a balance with lovely old-world elegance and one of the best restaurants in town, Barandas, which serves Panamanian specialties by award-winning chef Cuquita Arias.

WHAT TO SEE: Going green gets a massive splash of style in Panama City. Located within city limits, minutes from downtown’s shops, the Metropolitan National Park is a true “urban jungle.” However, an even sleeker take on ecotourism is the new Museum of Biodiversity, which looks more like a contemporary art museum than an ecological showcase.

WHERE TO GO: The city’s seamless flow between nature and skyline only hints at the extraordinary beauty that lies beyond.

San Blas Islands: The fully sustainable Coral Lodge has secluded bungalows right on the water’s edge with infinity-pool-like access to snorkeling and diving.

Bocas del Toro Archipelago: Relax in the pure surroundings of the solar-powered Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge, then explore mangrove forests and off­shore coral reefs in the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, which is just a short boat ride away.

Mountain Region: In the Chiriqui province, visit the soaring Baru Volcano National Park-from its peak, travelers can see both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.


Mexico

October 22, 2009

Mexico – Land of Color

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

An easy flight from many U.S. gateways, Mexico is a land of colorful contrasts and diverse pleasures. Here you can immerse yourself in historic city centers, relax at marvelous beach resorts, travel back in time at ancient ruins, witness the grandeur of whales in their natural habitat, and explore awe-inspiring canyons. Discover Mexico’s magic just south of the border.

SUN AND SEA

Those seeking fun in the sun will find plenty of variety in Mexico. The Yucatan Pen­insula’s Caribbean shoreline features hotspot Cancun, the laid back islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, and the lovely beach resorts of Tulum, Playa del Car­men, and Xpu-Ha. On the Pacific coast, Acapulco beckons with its sublime bay, outstanding hotels, and round-the-clock energy while further north, you’ll find the charming beach village of Zihuatanejo and exceptional lodgings in neighboring Ixtapa.

ARCHEOLOGICAL WONDERS

Numerous archaeological treasures left by centuries of pre-Hispanic civilizations attest to Mexico’s glorious past. Teotihuacan, near Mexico City, is famous for the pyramid-lined Avenue of the Dead featuring the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. Monte Alban is a signifi­cant Zapotec ceremonial center on a mountaintop overlooking the valley of Oaxaca. The Mayan ruins at Palenque in the state of Chiapas are dramatically positioned atop a tall ridge at the base of forested mountains. And Uxmal, Chichen Itza, and Ek Balam are impor­tant Mayan sites on the Yucatan Peninsula.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS Mexico is blessed with breath­taking natural beauty and wild­life, Head to the Baja California Peninsula (from January through March) to witness the majesty of the gray whale. An estimated 10,000 of these graceful crea­tures travel from the frigid Ber­ing Sea to mate and give birth to their calves in the warm Pacific waters. While there are many great viewing locations, the protected waters of El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve provide ideal conditions for both the whales and whale watchers.

Inland, magnificent Copper Canyon is a 6,487-square-mile network of canyons in the Sierra Tarahumara of Chihuahua. The Chihuahua to Pacific Railway leaves from Los Mochis on the Sea of Cortes and travels inland to Copper Canyon. The railway, an engineering feat with 39 bridges and 86 tunnels, traverses the canyon offering incredible vistas of pine forests, jagged peaks, and valleys before descending into the city of Chi­huahua. You can stay overnight at stops along the way to explore the dramatic terrain while hiking, horseback riding, and camping.


Mexico

October 7, 2009

Mexico – Historic and Colorful

Tags: , , , , , ,

An easy flight from many U.S. gateways, Mexico is a land of colorful contrasts and diverse pleasures. Here you can immerse yourself in historic city centers, relax at marvelous beach resorts, travel back in time at ancient ruins, witness the grandeur of whales in their natural habitat, and explore awe-inspiring canyons. Discover Mexico’s magic just south of the border.SUN AND SEA

Those seeking fun in the sun will find plenty of variety in Mexico. The Yucatan Pen­insula’s Caribbean shoreline features hotspot Cancun, the laid back islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, and the lovely beach resorts of Tulum, Playa del Car­men, and Xpu-Ha. On the Pacific coast, Acapulco beckons with its sublime bay, outstanding hotels, and round-the-clock energy while further north, you’ll find the charming beach village of Zihuatanejo and exceptional lodgings in neighboring Ixtapa.

ARCHEOLOGICAL WONDERS

Numerous archeological treasures left by centuries of pre-Hispanic civilizations attest to Mexico’s glorious past. Teotihuacan, near Mexico City, is famous for the pyramid-lined Avenue of the Dead featuring the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. Monte Alban is a signifi­cant Zapotec ceremonial center on a mountaintop overlooking the valley of Oaxaca. The Mayan ruins at Palenque in the state of Chiapas are dramatically positioned atop a tall ridge at the base of forested mountains. And Uxmal, Chichen Itza, and Ek Balam are impor­tant Mayan sites on the Yucatan Peninsula.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS Mexico is blessed with breath­taking natural beauty and wild­life, Head to the Baja California Peninsula (from January through March) to witness the majesty of the gray whale. An estimated 10,000 of these graceful crea­tures travel from the frigid Ber­ing Sea to mate and give birth to their calves in the warm Pacific waters. While there are many great viewing locations, the protected waters of El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve provide ideal conditions for both the whales and whale watchers.

Inland, magnificent Copper Canyon is a 6,487-square-mile network of canyons in the Sierra Tarahumara of Chihuahua. The Chihuahua to Pacific Railway leaves from Los Mochis on the Sea of Cortes and travels inland to Copper Canyon. The railway, an engineering feat with 39 bridges and 86 tunnels, traverses the canyon offering incredible vistas of pine forests, jagged peaks, and valleys before descending into the city of Chi­huahua. You can stay overnight at stops along the way to explore the dramatic terrain while hiking, horseback riding, and camping.


Florida,Sarasota,Southwest Florida

October 1, 2009

Siesta Key Beach

Tags: , , ,

Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, Florida.  Chances are it’s the first place you take out-of-town guests who are looking for a day in the sun and it’s often one of the top locales national beach gurus think of  when they check off the best beaches in the country-sometimes the world. Siesta Key Public Beach is a symbol of our area and its mascot is the sugary soft sand that makes up its long, wide expanse. “It’s the finest, lightest-sand you’ll find,” says Troy Syprett, 16-year co-owner of Siesta Key’s Daiquiri Deck and for­mer Siesta Key lifeguard. “The fine sand is great for building sand castles.” In addition, the sand is 99 percent pure quartz and its lighter-than-usual color makes it more than bearable to tread sans sandals during the hottest times of the year.

The Travel Channel rated the Siesta Key beach “Best Sand Beach in America” from 2002 to 2004. Dr. Beach named it third best in the country on his 2008 list-and it made his 2007 list well. So what is it about Siesta Key that bears the gift of such great sand? For starters, a low energy coastline line Florida’s west coast is more conducive to keeping the fine grains in place. Head to the east side of the state and you’ll notice all that’s left are the coarser granules due to the Atlantic’s battering waves. Curtis Smith, project scientist for Sarasota County’s capital management services, explains that Siesta’s sand secret lies in Point of Rocks, a jet of rocks south of the beach that reaches about 200 feet into the Gulf. As the current moves in its general north to south direction, the wall holds the finer, lighter grains in place, rather than letting them carry their journey further down the coast. With all this work­ing in its favor, its no wonder the Siesta Key beach has never needed renourishment and is actually expanding.


Caribbean,St. Lucia

September 30, 2009

St. Lucia

Tags: , , , , ,

JUST NORTH OF ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES AND SOUTH OF MARTINIQUE LIES A JEWEL IN THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA. BOASTING NEAR PERFECT WEATH­ER AND LUSH NATURAL BEAUTY, ST LUCIA IS A LUXURY TRAVELER’S DREAM DESTI­NATION. FROM YEAR-ROUND SNORKELING TO HIKING AND BIRD WATCHING, THE ISLAND OFFERS A VAST ARRAY OF ACTIVITIES SURE TO EXCITE ANY EXPLORER.
The tropical beaches of the west coast owe their serenity to the calm Caribbean Sea, making St. Lucia’s beaches breathtaking and peaceful. In addition to its relaxing sands, the volcanic island hosts a mountainous terrain sprinkled with rain forests. Majestic in coastal peaks-The Pitons-rise through the rain­rest like sentry towers. Within the flourishing rain­rests, tropical birds flit through the air, giant ferns rout in every direction and orchids sway in the tropi­cal breeze. The distinct mixes of terrain at St. Lucia set it part from many other islands and promise a little something for everyone. Perhaps the best facet of St. Lucia is that the small island has kept its local integrity. ore cruise ships may frequent the destination, but for he most part, the island has remained true to its roots, evident in the numerous restaurants and luxurious resorts, the island flavor is alive and well. Stay in the some of the world’s best luxury resorts or for a com­pletely unique experience, try renting a villa. This option is great for families, honeymooners or the travel­er looking to mix it up. A four-bedroom and four-bath­room luxury villa located five minutes from Anse Chastanet beach, the Tamarind House allows for some much needed rest and relaxation. Complete with a housekeeper, a gardener and a tennis court, this palatial property allows you to be downright spoiled. With tem­perate weather, expansive rain forests, world-class beaches and luxury accommodations, St. Lucia has it all. A gem in the east Caribbean Sea, the island brings tourists from far and wide with its understated beauty and uncompromised sea views. The natural vegetation and rolling waves are sure to infect any traveler with island fever, so leave the Blackberry at home and pack a sense of adventure-St. Lucia will not disappoint.