This New Year’s Day 2016, California State Parks will kick-off the 4th Annual First Day Hikes, planned at more than 40 parks across the state. The First Day Hikes are a signature event designed to offer visitors the opportunity to connect to their parks and nature for recreation, and to promote a healthy lifestyle throughout the year. The events will all take place on Friday, January 1, 2016 with California State Parks offering more than 55 options to hike, paddle or off-road ride in the redwoods, the deserts and along the coast and on beaches. The First Day Hikes are guided by State Parks staff and volunteers. Distance and rigor will vary per hike/activity, so visitors are encouraged to check out details of start times and description of hikes.
This is the fourth year California has participated in the First Day Hikes program. Last year, there were nearly 1,000 hikes across the nation, with more than 41,000 visitors participating in all 50 states. California offered the most hikes in 2015 at 53 with participants hiking more than 4,900 miles.
Scheduled California State Parks 2016 First Day Hikes include (weather permitting):
Los Angeles County
the First Day Hikes page on California State Parks website or call (916) 654-7538.
Planning a trip between now and New Years can be challenging. Below are last minute holiday travel tips on booking flights and hotels:
Wilmington's beach communities introduce new generations to old-style, vintage experiences when the past and present collide happily at Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, North Carolina, forming a perfect mix of things to see and do that combines new features with historical milestones. From the Carolina Beach Boardwalk to Fort Fisher State Historic Site, you can visit several present-day attractions offering a nod to the past. These coastal communities are ideal for groups like multi-generational travelers – you will find plenty to please everyone from grandma and grandpa to the grandkids, and everyone in between.
Carolina Beach Boardwalk
Captain John Harper built the first boardwalk in 1887 as a walkway on the sand made from boards so visitors could stroll the beach without sinking into the sand. Over the years, the boardwalk was rebuilt and restored numerous times as a result of natural wear and tear. The vintage icon has since made Budget Travel’s list of America’s Most Awesome Boardwalks and has been featured by CNN, FOX News and USA TODAY.
Fort Fisher served as a vital port during the Civil War, allowing blockade runners to supply necessary goods to Confederate armies inland. By 1865, the supply line through Wilmington was the last remaining supply route open to Robert E. Lee’s army. Fort Fisher finally fell after a massive assault in 1865 and the Confederacy was defeated. Today, you can tour the remains of the fort at Fort Fisher State Historic Site – approximately 10 percent of the fort still stands along with a restored palisade fence.
Carolina Beach Music Festival
Legend has it that shagging and beach music originated at Carolina Beach around 1948 and became widely known by the term “beach music” by 1965. The genre died out in the late 1960s but experienced a revival a decade later and is still going strong today. The first Carolina Beach Music Festival was held in 1985.
Kure Beach Fishing Pier
L.C. Kure built the original Kure Beach Fishing Pier in 1923. The pier was rebuilt and restored several times as a result of wear and tear over the years. The Kure Beach Fishing Pier is now one of the oldest piers on the Atlantic Coast.
Travelers have been visiting Carolina Beach and Kure Beach long before high-rise condos and hotels were built on the coast. Popular guest accommodations in Kure Beach have their beginning decades ago, like the Beacon House Inn Bed & Breakfast that was originally built as a boarding house in the 1950s, the cozy Palm Air Cottages that were built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the Moran Motel, a one-story wing building that originated in 1959. In Carolina Beach, the Joy Lee apartment complex has been enjoyed as a vacation spot since 1945, while the wooden-framed Wanda Inn dates all the way back to 1910.
Carolina Beach offers the best of a North Carolina beach experience from the past with a family-friendly spin for today. Experience a nationally recognized seaside boardwalk, Carolina Beach State Park, one-of-a-kind events, world-class fishing, miles of beautiful beach, and all kinds of people united by their love of good times. There are a lot of beaches in North Carolina, but only one Carolina Beach.
Kure Beach offers a naturally beautiful setting in a peaceful, small-town atmosphere. North Carolina’s small wonder lets you relax and reconnect at the kind of naturally beautiful beach you visited as a kid, while also enjoying nearby state attractions like Fort Fisher State Historic Site and the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, an oceanfront park, and a historic pier.
My trip to Orlando for a journalism conference ended up being quite the treat with a sneak peek into the Epcot Food and Wine Fest. Yes, it was as glorious as folks have made it out to be, and this was not even the full-blown event!
The organizers had buses for all conference attendees to make it to the venue and we were welcomed into this huge auditorium of culinary surprises by greeters that handed us our souvenir wine glasses. Right away, I knew there was no way I’d make my way through the bonanza on offer for my taste buds. Multiple food and beverage counters made up the floor spread out in front of us with separate dessert counters and some dedicated wine counters as well. The DJ playing the right beats helped and much as they had chairs around for us to enjoy our meal, not many takers were found as everybody was on their feet making a beeline for the next food counter!
Each of these counters were named as marketplaces with small plates inspired by different countries – Patagonia, Scotland, Hawai’i, Dominican Republic. The sips on offer ranged from wine and gin to beer and cider. And, the desserts – the trio of bundt cakes enticed but the liquid nitro chocolate almond truffle with whiskey caramel took the cake;)
Some of my favorites are here in the pictures. We were bid goodbye with little goodie bags containing masks! And made it out in time to catch the nightly fireworks and lights show. If you’ve been to the festival before, do share your experience or a link to your images in the comments below. Would love to read! Hopefully in the future, I will be able to attend the festival in its full glory.
If you haven’t visited Nashville before, it should be high on your list of must-see places. Nashville is one of the US’s most popular cities. For country music lovers, writers and performers, taking a trip to Nashville is an important life goal.
Even if you aren’t a keen country music lover, you will love Nashville. Aside from its musical culture, this city has many things to keep you occupied. From the Parthenon to the amazing Country Music Hall, there are lots of fantastic things to see and do. Not forgetting the city’s blues bars, historic buildings, and incredible food. And, Nashville's fried chicken is to die for. If you feel inspired to take a trip to Nashville this fall, here’s everything that you need to know:
The best places to stay
Nashville has hundreds of incredible hotels to choose from. Each of these range in price per night, so no matter how large or small your budget, you should be able to find the perfect place. If money is tight, check out Music City Hostel - believe it or not, this is the city’s only hostel. The accommodation is cheap and cheerful, but the place itself is friendly and welcoming. You’ll have access to a communal kitchen area, bike rental, and even, free WiFi, and made to feel at home. The Nashville Koa Kampground is the perfect place to stay if you are travelling via RV, or fancy staying in a tent or wooden cabin. Complete with a swimming pool, games rooms, and kitchen access, this place is great value for money. If you want to stay somewhere that’s a little more luxurious, check out the Hermitage Hotel and Hotel Indigo.
Travelling to Nashville
Once you have booked your accommodation, the next thing to think about is how you will get there. This will depend on where you are located and whether you are in the US, or are coming from elsewhere. You can travel to the city by train, car or plane, depending on where you are coming from. Nashville has three train stations, so make sure to choose the one nearest to where you're staying. If you are travelling by air, make sure to book your transfers in advance. Every so often, adding a little bit of luxury to your trips is nice, by booking things like limos for your transfers. If you fancy that, check out the limo services on offer here; nashvilleairportlimo.com. You should be able to find all of the information that you need on this site.
Things you have to see and do
Nashville has so many awesome sights and attractions that it will be impossible to do everything. While you should aim to see a couple of music-related attractions, it’s also a good idea to make time to see and do other things. Nashville may be a musical city, but there is also a lot more to it than that. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is an absolute must-see, as is the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. As well as making time to see these things, consider taking a tour of the city. A city tour will give you an overview of all the best sites and attractions, as well as a fun and enjoyable day out. All the best tours sell out weeks in advance, so make sure to book your tickets before your trip. As mentioned above, when visiting Nashville, you have to try the fried chicken. One of the best places to sample this local delicacy is at Prince’s Hot Chicken. Serving cayenne rubbed chicken, fried to perfection; this fast food joint is somewhere you have to visit. There is so much to Nashville that it can’t be pack all into this guide. That being said, hopefully, this will serve as a starting point for planning your trip this fall.