Soul-warming Wines, Cozy Tasting Rooms and Seasonal Events Are Highlights
When temperatures plummet in other parts of the country, it’s time to warm up to a winter getaway in California wine country. Not only does the Golden State enjoy sunny skies and comparatively mild temperatures year ‘round, California’s distinctive wine regions offer a host of seasonal activities and events, from food festivals to barrel tastings. Here are just some of the activities and events happening in California wine regions this season.
Travelers know that romance is best celebrated all year long, not just one day in February. In fact, in 2016, “Couples & Romance” ranked among the top 10 travel interest searches on TravelLeaders.com:
Given the popularity of interests focused on couples-related vacations, here are Travel Leaders’ top recommended beach and island destinations for planning a romantic getaway.
Hawaii. “Hawaii is a beautiful destination with so many opportunities to experience romance, no matter what that means to you,” said Debbie Isom, a Travel Leaders travel agent in Bloomington, Indiana. “This tropical location, accessible without the need of a passport, is a wonderful getaway for those who appreciate ecotourism and natural beauty. A particular romantic spot is the Na Pali coast – one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world.
Mexico. From Cabo San Lucas to the Riviera Maya, add some romance with a trip to Mexico. “Visit one of 10 Secrets Resorts throughout Mexico for the ultimate spicy getaway with authentic award-winning Mexican foods and the ultimate in romantic vibes throughout the all-inclusive, adult-only properties,” advised Alex Trettin of Travel Leaders in Tacoma, Washington. “Secrets Cabo is a romantic weekend getaway accessible within just a few hours from any southern or western state. For something a little off the beaten path, visit Huatulco or Secrets Aura Cozumel.
St. Lucia. “Everything from the dramatic Piton Mountains in the west to the quintessentially Caribbean white sand beaches by luxury resorts makes the island of St. Lucia scream romance,” said Fort Worth, Texas-based Travel Leaders travel agent Sandy Duvall. “If you’d like a more secluded getaway, there are fabulous resorts all over St. Lucia’s eastern coast. Nothing beats a tropical getaway.”
Costa Rica. “If you want an intimate setting for just you and your sweetheart, a sparkling champagne toast and a candlelight dinner for two under the stars on a white, soft sandy beach in Costa Rica, with a gentle breeze will create a wonderful memory,” said Jaime Buss, Travel Leaders, Woodbury, Minnesota.
New Zealand. “Head to New Zealand and drive across the famous Ninety Mile Beach, or go yachting along any one of New Zealand’s picturesque coastlines,” advised Debbie Sebastian, a Kiwi Specialist from Travel Leaders in Danville, Kentucky. “The scenery is picture perfect no matter where you are and what you do on the island, because in New Zealand, from sunrise to sunset, you create your own love story.”
French Polynesia. “You will fall in love all over again as you fall in love with Tahiti and these other awe-inspiring little islands, atolls and motus,” exclaimed Teresa Scannell, a Travel Leaders agent in Mesa, Arizona. “Bora Bora is breathtaking, but if you want to disconnect from the world and focus on each other, then try a hidden gem like Le Tahaa or Vahine Island.”
What do you do when the weather starts to turn cold and all of your friends are going to a conference in Negril, Jamaica? You join them, of course!
For a second year in a row, I was fortunate to be invited to the 2017 Social Media on the Sand Conference that was hosted at Beaches Resorts in Negril. It's a wonderful opportunity to connect with some of the best bloggers and brands from across the country -- all while enjoying the paradise that Beaches Resorts offer!
Beaches Resort in Negril is a family-friendly all inclusive resort located about an hour from Montego Bay. The resort boasts 9 restaurants and 6 bars... including 2 swim up! There's also a water park, spa, night club, kids club, and diving center. It was perfectly situated in Negril -- which known for it's 7 miles of beaches and picturesque views.
During one of our conference sessions, we had an opportunity to participate in a day of philanthropy with the local schools. Through the Sandals Foundation, we took part in a campaign called "Pack with a Purpose." While still in the US, all of the bloggers were sent empty backpacks and were asked to fill them with school supplies to support the local children in Negril.
We took our donations directly to the locals and spent the day one-on-one with students reading and engaging in their daily activities. I was partnered with a sweet little boy named Jayden. We were doing an activity where he was sharing what he wanted to be when he grew up --- he told me he wanted to be a drummer. I thought it was super cute because my son used to always say he wanted to be a drummer in a band when he grew up. But, jayden said, "no, I'm going to play the drums for you!" and later, after our projects were done, his class sang a few songs and Jayden lead the beat with the drums. So precious!
The folks at Sandals Foundation give back to many islands in the Caribbean -- and since Hurricane Matthew hit (just before our arrival), they are doing fundraising for schools in The Bahamas. If you'd like to participate, you can go to this Go Fund Me link: www.gofundme.com/beachesmoms. You can leave a note in your comment that you are donating on behalf of Housewives in the City! All of the bloggers are coming together to raise funds! One of the brands that was at the conference, School Specialty, will match the donations dollar for dollar up to $10,000!
Later in the week, we ended up leaving the resort with a group of 10 other folks from the conference to visit the "world famous" Rick's Cafe for some sunset cliff diving. If you're in Negril, you have to check it out. The drinks were good, the crowd was a full of energy -- but to top it off, the sunset and view is absolutely gorgeous.
I totally surprised myself by jumping! BUT... when it's SUPER HOT and SUPER HUMID... getting over the fear of that jump was a necessity!
Ready to get away? I feel like I'm endlessly searching for vacation getaway deals, but the cost of actually getting to my destination always keeps me from booking. Last weekend, I stayed at Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg, Virginia - a most luxurious destination that's only 25 miles west of Fairfax.
As in most reviews, I could tell you about all of the luxuries on the property -- including the most beautiful guest suites with plush linens and a gorgeous standalone soaking tub or the breathtaking view of the sunrise that the property offers while enjoying a quiet early morning breakfast in Harrimans Piedmont Grill. And who can forget the 23,000 sqft spa and wellness center that tailors every last detail to meet your needs.
Instead, I'll share my top three "don't miss" items on my itinerary during my weekend getaway - little hidden gems that are not quite your ordinary stay....
This time last Saturday, I was crawling out of the most plush sheets and pillows at the Poplar Springs Inn and headed down to the cozy lounge for some early morning coffee and fresh breakfast pastries.
After a long Friday at work, we drove just 30 miles South down Route 28 to find a gorgeous 200 acre property with an early 1900s mountain stone mansion turned into an upscale lounge and restaurant with an attached 22 room inn and spa. We arrived around 8pm and had a 5 star meal with Chef Kenneth Hughes in The Manor House Restaurant before heading to bed for our early morning spa appointments.
Even though the Inn was booked full on Friday night, I was one of the early risers on Saturday morning. I actually was able to spend about an hour alone reading the paper (when's the last time you did that?) and enjoying a hot cup of coffee while looking out over the picturesque fall foliage.
We recently spent a weekend in beautiful Shenandoah County, Virginia. It also just happened to be my birthday weekend. I was looking forward to experiencing the falling leaves, green pastures, and the quiet pace of life that can be found just about an hour west of Northern Virginia.
We left Fairfax at 2pm on a Friday and headed towards the mountains. With no traffic on 66, it only took us about an hour to land at our first destination: the Shenandoah County Tourism Office. We met with the Director, Natalie, who had our whole weekend planned for us. To top it off, she had a swag bag packed with Shenandoah-style goodies! We snagged a copy of our itinerary and headed into the mountains towards our first stop.
Looking for a new destination for a girls getaway, couples retreat, or family vacation?
Check out where we've been!