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August 13, 2012

The Idiot's Guide to Taking Your Kids to an Outdoor Music Festival

Main stage at FloydFest 2012 (Roger Gupta)

I recently took my kids camping to FloydFest, a four-day music festival located off Milepost 170.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in southwestern Virginia. This was my first outdoor music festival, so I went with some trepidation given it was just me, my budding young rockers, and a stack of gear to supply our camping foray amid a crowd of dyed-to-the-core hippies, teenage flower-power wannabes, yoga-loving urbanites, and plenty of other families. The good news is we had a great time, enjoying an eclectic lineup of artists ranging from alt-rock to bluegrass to American folk. And between the acts, we literally never had to make a plan, drifting from jugglers to trapeze school to climbing wall and back to magicians. So don't be shy about taking your kids to a music festival in your neck of the woods. But if (or when) you do, here are some tips to help you make the most of the mayhem.

Love Thy Neighbors
Forget the primordial instinct to be the sole provider of food and shelter to your offspring. If you, like me, have only one pair of hands to erect a tent while your kids roam the campground, then just strike up a conversation with your fellow campers. There's something to be said for the communal aspect of driving into the woods to listen to music and howl at the moon for a few days. We didn't meet an unfriendly soul, and all were happy to lend a hand stretching out a rainfly or chat with the kids while I fussed around. (OK, I confess, maybe the friendly vibe occasionally had something to do with the exotic scents filling the air.)

Read's guide to the best summer music festivals

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Outdoor Adventures · Travel Tips

May 22, 2012

Don't Believe the Hype: Mexico Is Safe

A deserted beach on Isla Espiritu Santo (Nathan Borchelt)

The grisly discovery of 49 decapitated bodies in northern Mexico understandably populated national headlines last week. But one very important fact gets lost amid the gore and violence: Parts of Mexico are still perfectly safe.

Two weeks ago—the same time that the gruesome discovery was made just outside of San Pedro—I was in La Paz, Mexico. This gem of a city sits on the southern Baja peninsula, a world away from the drug wars unfolding across Mexico’s northern mainland. In La Paz, as well as throughout Baja Sur, crime is exceptionally low; the murder rate for South Baja is 2.58 per 100,000 people, which is lower than Los Angeles (9.6), Detroit (18.1), and Washington D.C. (24), according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

La Paz also defies another common perception of Mexico. Though it’s only two hours from Cabo San Lucas—a realm of time-shares, congested traffic, and towering, all-inclusive resorts—La Paz embraces an island mentality more akin to the Caribbean than Mexico. Clear coastline rims the city of 200,000, with a long boardwalk—or Malacón—that attracts local families who wander up and down the walkway, playing soccer in the sand, watching the setting sun, and embracing the cool breeze that rolls off the Gulf of California. Kayakers and stand-up paddlers ply the mellow waters, while locals and tourists at the waterfront Bismarkcito restaurant dine on fresh ceviche, fish tacos, and the famed chocolate clams, best eaten from the shell with a spray of fresh lime and a dollop of soy and habañero hot sauce.

Continue reading "Don't Believe the Hype: Mexico Is Safe" »

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Related Topics: Mexico Travel · Outdoor Adventures · Scuba & Snorkeling · Travel Raves

September 07, 2011

Learn to Mountain Bike in Park City’s Deer Valley Resort

Mountain biking on Park City's Mid-Mountain Trail (Nathan Borchelt)

The cliché "just like riding a bike" holds true…unless you’re talking about the first time you go mountain biking. This ain’t like hopping on the Huffy of your youth. Not only are the bikes themselves considerably more complex (front and rear shocks, 29-inch wheels, disc brakes etc.), but the act of cycling on single-track introduces a whole host of new challenges for the newbie. Some adjustments (not hitting just the left brake, keeping your pedals parallel to the ground to avoid hitting rocks and roots) may become self-evident after ten minutes in the saddle. But bracing for some serious riding through mud, dirt, sand, root, and rocks can still leave your arms quivering.

And that’s why we love what Park City’s Deer Valley Mountain Resort has initiated: Throughout the summer (and for the weekend after Labor Day), you can enroll in the Mountain Bike School, where experienced instructors help you get your balance on the new downhill bikes, teach you basic technical skills, and then guide you on several of the mountain’s bike terrain. The trails themselves are accessible via three chairlifts, with routes that range in difficulty from beginner to expert-only, with such fun (and frantic) features as banked turns, sinewy switchbacks, and gentle rollers through groves of aspen and pines. The more experienced cyclist, meanwhile, can pick up a few tips that’ll drastically improve one’s riding ability.

But don’t take our word for it: Here’s a great blog entry by Amy Kersey of Park City Tourism about her first time on a mountain bike this summer.

And, to further whet your appetite, we also bring you our new photo gallery of the active side of Park City.

Private two-hour lessons run $55, while three-hour adult classes cost $48 (children eight to 12 get a three-hour class for $38). Lift ticket and bike rentals not included.

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Related Topics: Cycling · From Around the Web · Outdoor Adventures

June 27, 2011

Tour de France Set to Start on July 2

By Lacy Morris

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Tour de France(alex ranaldi,Flickr)
Tour de France (alex ranaldi/Flickr)

Good old Lance may be dodging potholes of controversy these days, but the Tour de France still reigns supreme as the premier bike event in the world. Most of us love watching what we could never accomplish ourselves, and the starting flag lowers July 2 as the arduous bike ride begins across 2,100 miles of France’s mountains, valleys, and cities. Catch Stage 9 in the mountain towns of Val-d'Isere and Briancon if you want to see the bikers struggle up the Alps. It’s an odd sort of entertainment, but we like it anyway. To channel your inner Armstrong, here are some bike races coming up in the month of July.

35th Annual One Helluva Ride
July 9, Chelsea, Michigan

Moab to St. George
July 9, Utah

The Goat Ride
July 9, Nashville, Indiana

Tour de Queens
July 10, Queens, New York

Ball and Chain Century
July 24, Salisbury, Maryland

Saints to Sinners Bike Relay
July 29 & 30, Utah to Nevada

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Related Topics: Cycling · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Outdoor Adventures · Trip Ideas

June 21, 2011

Hit the Pavement: Six Unique Marathons Around the World

Marathon de New-York,Verrazano Bridge(Martineric,Flickr)
Runners in the New York City Marathon cross over the Verrazano Bridge (Martineric,Flickr)

Running had its first boom in the 70s and has been making quite the comeback in the past few years. Running USA estimates that 507,000 people finished marathons in 2010, and, since 2003, the half marathon has been the fastest growing road race distance in the United States, with more than 1.1 million finishers in 2009. That means that close to two million people will run a race that's at least 13.1 miles this year, not including the hundreds of miles they will log during training.

Most people run races not necessarily to win, but to set a personal best, or sometimes just to finish—all you need is a good pair of shoes and determination. Plus, now you can find a race anywhere, from Charleston to Boston to San Antonio, several of which have become more than just a race. Bands play along the way of the Rock 'n' Roll series, which has 23 "tour stops," and you'll see characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse at the Walt Disney World Marathon.

On February 9, 2011, I made up my mind that I would finally mark off a half marathon. I had wanted to do one for years, but just never had the time or maybe the guts. Thirteen-plus miles seemed like a long way to run, but an opportunity came across my desk to run in the Inaugural Run For The Dream Half Marathonin Williamsburg, Virginia, that supports the Wounded Warriors program. I took the offer and ran with it (literally).

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June 13, 2011

Get Your Summer Groove on at Virginia's FloydFest

FloydFest2011Poster The tiny town of Floyd, Virginia (population: 432, according to the 2000 Census), exerts an outsize influence as a regional destination for music and the arts, most notably Appalachian-flavored bluegrass and folk music. Located south of Roanoke amidst southwestern Virginia's rolling Blue Ridge Mountains, Floyd's weekly Friday Night Jamboree attracts local and regional bands as well as a growing number of music aficionados. Then there's big-time events like the annual FloydFest, a four-day jamboree of folk, rock, and other diverse musical styles that unfurls in a scenic meadow just off Virginia's snaking Blue Ridge Parkway. This summer's event (July 28-31) will feature over 70 performers across a half-dozen outdoor stages, not to mention a colorful supporting cast of jugglers, henna artists, acrobats, and untold other impromptu alternative acts. And unlike some other music festivals we can think of, FloydFest is a distinctly all-ages affair, with family camping, crafts, and activities for the budding Woody Guthries in your brood. Three-day tickets for the weekend fiesta cost $135 until July 1 and include on-site camping; single-day tickets cost $55, or $60 at the gate. Tickets for children 6-12 are $15 for the entire weekend, $20 on the gate. Check the festival website for complete lineup, tickets, and planning details.

Image credit: FloydFest 2011 cover art (courtesy, FloydFest)

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Outdoor Adventures

June 10, 2011

Find Your Perfect Weekend Escape on

By awayblog

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Hikers on Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park, Utah (Nathan Borchelt)

The sun is out, the rivers are running, the fish are biting... Yup, summer has landed and we here at HQ are living from weekend to weekend with plans to hike, bike, and paddle our way to Labor Day. For those of you who dream of getting outdoors but find time's too short or budget constraints preclude you from ticking off the next of your Life List adventures, we present the newest arrival to the Away Network's extensive suite of travel-planning tools: Introducing Quick Escapes from, which will help you find a day trip, weekend getaway, or short escape in your neck of the woods. From a guided fly-fishing course on Pennsylvania's Youghiogheny River to a three-day "Best of" sampler of Glacier National Park, choose from over 700 trips that will let you walk on the wild side without blowing your savings or entire vacation balance.

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April 22, 2011

Canada Zip Lining: A Different Kind of Flying

Zip line
(Lisa Costantini)

Any time you can call something "the only one," you know it's special. Like the Taj Mahal in India or Buckingham Palace in London. Well, Canada is no different.

Located in the Horseshoe Resort in Ontario is North America's only zip flyer. Zip flying is different from zip lining in that it's the lazy man's option: All you have to do is sit your butt in the harnessed seat and hold on. How great is that? The rider plummets, in the safest way possible, from the top of the hill all the way to the bottom with only the help of gravity (and of course the pulley system above).

Horseshoe Valley's adrenaline-filled zip flyer opened in July of last year and is in operation year-round. It's an hours drive north of Toronto in a town called Barrie. With speeds reaching upwards of 25 mph, the line knifes a path 2,075 feet through the trees, down the valley, and finishes with a jolting stop next to a tubing hill (open only in the wintertime).

If you do go in the winter, not only is this a great place to learn how to ski/snowboard, but the zip flyer is an ideal place to get some pointers from the riders as you zoom by above them. Have a safe flight.

Lisa Costantini is a writer/editor currently traveling the world with her husband working on a project about sport and culture. More information can be found on their website at Lisa will be blogging from the road for us as she and her husband travel through Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe over the next several months.

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March 21, 2011

Blog4NZ, Japan Earthquake Relief, and How Travelers Can Help

WALK THIS WAY: Milford Track, New Zealand (Heidi Coppock-Beard/New Zealand Tourism)

In the wake of the devastating March 11 earthquake in Japan, it has been almost tragically easy to overlook the impact of another recent natural disaster, the February 22 earthquake that flattened much of Christchurch, New Zealand. Communities in both countries are now digging out and rebuilding shattered lives. And while it will take a very long time for these stricken regions to recover, it's a moment when the travel community should remember that we can still play a very active, healing role.

Blog4NZ logo Tourism to New Zealand makes up 10 percent of that country's annual GDP, while tourism-related GDP to Japan accounts for over 2 percent of economic activity. Christchurch and large swathes of the Canterbury region will be out of action for quite some time, but the rest of New Zealand—the adventure-centric, naturally-endowed "Land of the Long White Cloud"—is still very much open for business. For example, go and enjoy the spectacle of the forthcoming Rugby World Cup, due to be played in 11 other venues around NZ. Tournament officials reluctantly decided on March 16 that the seven games scheduled to be played in Christchurch would have to be moved, adding another emotional layer to what is sure to be an incredible festival of sporting as well as international fellowship.

Read our New Zealand Travel Guide to plan your trip

The section of northeastern Japan affected by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami was even harder hit (including the ongoing nuclear crisis), but you should still consider many other parts of the country a safe and unforgettable vacation destination. For example, the southern island of Kyushu harbors some great places to visit, including atmospheric Nagasaki, the volcanic hot sands of Kagoshima, and some world-class surf over in Miyazaki. There's no doubt the Japanese people will appreciate all the support and good wishes of the international community to help them get through the immediate aftermath of the disaster, but don't forget that when the crisis passes, they will also relish the chance to say "yokoso" and show you all this great country has to offer.

Read our Japan Travel Guide to plan your trip

This post is in support of Blog4NZ, an independent travel bloggers' initiative to offer continuing support to the victims of the Christchurch earthquake. To support ongoing earthquake-relief efforts in Japan, please consider making a donation to the Japan Society.

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Related Topics: Asia Travel · New Zealand Travel · Outdoor Adventures · Travel News

January 28, 2011

Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, Texas: Sleep for Cheap!

FIELD OF DREAMS: Interior of Cowboys Stadium in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas (flygraphix/Flickr)

Sure, you can still pay through the nose to book your air-hotel package for Super Bowl XLV in Dallas on February 6, but here's a tip for saving a few greenbacks for Cowboy Stadium's Texas-sized Miller Lites and sausages on a stick: Pack your tent and sleeping bag and book a campsite at one of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area state parks. Nearby places like Cedar Hill State Park (16 miles to Cowboys Stadium) and Lake Tawakoni State Park (76 miles) are both still showing availability via the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's online reservations system. A campsite for two nights for two people over the Super Bowl weekend will only cost you up to $40 total, so a major discount on even the skuzziest motels in the area. Current projected weather forecast is predicting highs in the mid 50s for Super Bowl weekend, lows in the mid 30s—so chilly at night, but nothing a snug blanket and zero-degree bag can't handle! RV-driving Super Bowl fans can also pitch up at more affordable RV parks via, a site being offered through the Texas Association of Campground Owners. Now, good luck getting that ticket to the actual game!

Check out the list of Top Ten Football Stadiums around the United States for more inspiration about where to get your game-day tailgate on!

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Related Topics: Budget Travel · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Outdoor Adventures

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