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Family Adventure

Great places for families to check out.

Friday, March 29, 2013

$400 Off Airfare When You Book an Austin-Lehman Family Vacation to Europe This Summer!

After meeting Dan Austin, owner of Austin-Lehman Adventures for breakfast last week, I’m excited to tell you about a special offer for members of ActiveTravels. We will give you a voucher for $400 per traveler to be used toward airfare to Europe if you book one of Austin-Lehman’s family-friendly summer trips in France, Denmark, or Germany!

In 2012, Travel & Leisure awarded Austin Lehman Adventures 1st place in their World’s Best Tour Operator in the Family category. Austin-Lehman creates a perfect blend of activities on their trips to suit family members of all ages and athletic abilities. Here are the European Family Vacations Austin-Lehman is offering:
Loire Valley, France—Begin in Paris, visit Versailles, and then continue on two wheels to view medieval castles, fields of swaying sunflowers and quaint French villages. The Loire is not only about the wine. Bring the kids and you'll see a whole new side of this magnificent region.
Normandy, France—Interested in WWII history? Head to Normandy to see the D-Day sights of Omaha Beach and bike along the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc overlooking the sea. Sleep in a 16th century chateau and feast on crepes and Camembert cheese.
Danish Isles—Bike amidst the Danish countryside and see castles, fishing villages and all kinds of Viking lore. Experience Copenhagen and the amusements at Tivoli Gardens and bike from island to island to view the Danish Isles' sheer cliffs and dune beaches.
Mosel Valley, Germany—Ride along one of Europe's most charming river valleys. Explore Germany's fairytale castles, whimsical gardens and see ancient Roman artifacts along the way. Excellent wine and beer for the parents and tasty apple strudel for the kids.
Book by April 30th to take advantage of this amazing offer!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/29/13 at 12:00 PM
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Vermont Winter Retreat for Adventurous Women

Vermont Outdoors Woman has begun registration for its Annual Winter Doe Camp at the Hulbert Outdoor Center, March 1-3, 2013. Winter Doe Camp is a women’s weekend retreat for outdoor skill development, adventure, health, and just plain fun. Participants can camp out or stay in heated cabins at night, enjoy great meals and play in the snow all day. Spend the weekend learning winter outdoors skills while staying near the shores of Lake Morey in Fairlee. Classes such as dogsledding, fire making, traditional winter camping, survival, camp fire cooking, cross country skiing, orienteering, ice fishing, nature studies, pond hockey, nordic skating, and tai chi, will be offered. The minimum age is 15 and minors must be accompanied by an adult. Cost for the all inclusive weekend program is $290. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/13/13 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, February 04, 2013

Time to Party With Bonhomme at Winter Carnival

If you love Paris in the springtime, then you’ll adore Quebec City in the wintertime, where, for 17 days, the party never stops. Quebec City’s Winter Carnival is the largest in the world, attracting more than one million people. I was one of those fortunate people to arrive in this fortified city on the first day of the 2013 Winter Carnival. I spent the morning sledding down an ice chute, viewing the impressive ice castle, made from 1600 blocks of ice, eating maple syrup on snow, and playing a human game of foosball. Attached to bars with seatbelts, you slide all over the ice trying to kick the ball into the goal. But the party really started on Saturday night, when top DJs from Montreal and Toronto played a mesmerizing mix of hip-hop and electronica to a crowd of revelers outside the ice castle. Locals carry cane-like red sticks filled with a potent drink called Caribou, made of whiskey, red wine, and maple syrup, which certainly added to the dancing frenzy. When Bonhomme, the popular snowman and revered host of the festivities started to boogie, the crowd went wild.
This is just the start of the 58th edition of the Quebec City Winter Carnival. Still to come is Le Grande Virée, a dogsled race that cruises through the heart of the historic Old City, and the ice canoeing competition, where paddlers sprint across the turgid waters of the St. Lawrence Seaway. New this year is a video installation, where filmmakers project images onto four of the iconic buildings in town, creating a 3-D interplay. There’s also a brasserie, serving 25 microbrews from across Quebec. So if you have no plans yet for February vacation week, it might be the time to experience some joie de vivre in Quebec City. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/04/13 at 10:00 AM
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Monday, January 07, 2013

Top 5 Travel Experiences of 2012, Spotting Scarlet Macaws Outside of Jaco, Costa Rica

My kids weren’t too pleased to wake up at 6:30 am on summer vacation, but I wanted to be at Carara National Park at 7 am, when it opened. I knew from prior trips to the country that Carara was one of the few places to see that majestic bird, the scarlet macaw. Last time here, I heard a loud noise, only to peer up at a family of four vibrantly colored macaws. That is an image I was hoping to recreate. We arrived early and the gate was closed. In summer, Carara opens at 8 am read the sign. Screw it. The kids were already giving me grief for waking them up, so we sneaked in through the gate and started our hike. An hour later, we were covered in sweat from the sweltering rainforest humidity and had only spotted one very large Jesus Christ lizard. No macaws. We drove back to the hotel and I was bumming big time. 

Later that afternoon, we were driving south on the coastal road outside of Jaco to our next stop, Manuel Antonio National Park. Out of nowhere, I heard that unmistakable squawking and suddenly seven to eight large macaws flew overhead, landing in an almond tree to our right. I stepped on the brake and pulled over, upsetting the truck driver behind us who started honking. As he drove by, he swore at me in Spanish, which fortunately I can barely understand. I could care less. My wife and kids were in their glory taking snapshots of the multicolored macaws. It made my trip. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/07/13 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Drive the Puuc Route

The Mayan day of doom, December 21st, is almost upon us. There’s no better way to commemorate the occasion than to actually visit some of Mexico’s finest Mayan ruins. A mere hour’s drive south of Merida is the Puuc Route. This hillier region of the Yucatan attracts fewer travelers than the better-known sites of Chichen Itza and Tulum since it is farther from the resort towns of Cancun and Rivera Maya. The rounded pyramid at your first stop, Uxmal, stands majestically on high ground. At the Nunnery Quadrangle, four buildings just behind the pyramid, serpents and heads of jaguars can easily be seen on the motifs. Other Mayan sites along the Puuc Route are also worth a quick detour. Kabah is known for its almost maniacal façade of 250 Chaac sculptures that line one wall. Walk past the wild turkeys and brilliant red birds in the forest of Sayil to reach its grand palace.  


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/13/12 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Costa Rica Highlights, Tirimbina Rainforest

A mere 40 minutes north of Poas Volcano and you’ll reach the Sarapiqui Region of Costa Rica, another part of Costa Rica that’s mistakenly overlooked. Along the banks of the Sarapiqui River, you’ll find pockets of rainforest rich with birdlife and researchers studying the wildlife. On my last visit to the region, I stayed at La Selva Biological Station to pen a story on birdwatching while feasting my eyes on a variety of toucans and monkeys. This visit, I brought the kids to Tirimbina Rainforest to go on a chocolate tour, where we tasted heavenly chocolate straight from the cocoa pod. It was my son’s 16th birthday and the creamy chocolate sure beat any birthday cake I could have bought in town. On the way over to the cocoa pods, we crossed the longest canopy bridge in the country and spotted our first furry sloth resting under a large leaf of a tree. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/15/12 at 12:00 PM
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Monday, May 07, 2012

Family Surf Camp in Costa Rica

A well-known destination for eco-adventurers, Costa Rica’s abundant wildlife, warm beaches, and natural beauty are hardly a secret. However, the small surf town of Montezuma is home to a little-known gem of a property that delivers all that Costa Rica has to offer, and so much more. This spring we took the kids to Peaks N’ Swells for a week of family surf camp. The coaches were so instructive and encouraging that I was up and riding on green waves the first week! My boys, ages 6 and 8, were able to paddle out into the white water, turn around and catch waves all on their own. 
After a full day on the water, we would return to the beachfront villas for a dip in the pool, fresh coconut water directly from the “pipa,” homemade chips & salsa, and mangos picked from trees on the property. The kids occupied themselves hunting for the howler monkeys that swing through the property while the adults enjoyed daily yoga on the patio. Though the villas do have kitchens, most nights we opted to have a local woman come in and cook. There is no restaurant that could beat sitting down family style to feast on Nora’s fish tacos and homemade arroz con leche. Peaks N’ Swells delivered everything we were looking for in a family vacation. It was active, cultural, educational, and adventurous…but most important, it was a blast. We’ve already booked our return trip.
Written by Guest Blogger Emily Bradbury

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/07/12 at 12:00 PM
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Adventures in Puerto Vallarta

Last Wednesday in Puerto Vallarta, I took a fast zodiac boat ride with the family across glorious Banderas Bay. Led by the outfitter Vallarta Adventures, we landed on the docks of the seaside village of Quimixto. We walked the cobblestone streets past the sleeping chihuahas and soon made our way to a pack of horses that were waiting to take us up the mountainous hillside. We got out of the saddle, only to walk to a hidden waterfall where we swam in the cool waters. After horseback riding, we snorkeled with a slew of angelfish and then had a delicious lunch on a quiet beach farther south in Pizotita. Our guide, Poncho, made a helluva margarita for the adults, while the kids were served coconut juice. Life was bliss and we laughed when Poncho said “Where are all the bandits in their big sombreros and guns blazing?” It was so peaceful here that my daughter wandered over to a hammock and took a nap.
The next day, a busload of passengers from a Celebrity cruise ship were on the outskirts of Puerto Vallarta, on their way to a nature hike, when they were robbed at gunpoint by a bandit. I was stunned. I had just spent the past two days in Puerto Vallarta, walked the Malecon, the broad boardwalk down by the ocean, had an excellent meal of authentic Mexican fare at Old Town’s Margarita Grill, and felt perfectly safe my entire stay in the region. But then the robbery happened. This being Mexico, which already faces a huge media blitz about crime and their drug cartels, it can only add salt to the wound. Yet, let’s be realistic. There’s crime in every city in America, so why wouldn’t a city of over 400,000 people like Puerto Vallarta face some adversity. I feel horrible for the people on that bus who were robbed of their cameras, money, and cell phones. Hopefully, the robbery was an anomaly and the city can go back to doing what it does best, making guacamole tableside with homemade salsa. For that dish alone, I wouldn’t hesitate to return.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/28/12 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, January 09, 2012

Favorite Travel Days in 2011, Rafting and Rock Climbing with Austin-Lehman Adventures in Alberta

Each January, I like to look back at the prior year of travel and pick my five favorite travel days that come to mind. Not to boast about where I’ve been on assignment, but to point you in the right direction. You’ll be happy to find yourselves in any of these five locales.

in late July, my family of four took a memorable six-day, five night trip into the Canadian Rockies with the highly reputable outfitter, Austin-Lehman Adventures. Based in neighboring Montana, few if any outfitters know this mountainous terrain better. Each day was jam-packed with adventure, like taking a glacier walk on the famous Icefields Parkway, biking down a backcountry road surrounded by snow-capped peaks on the outskirts of Banff, and taking walks away from the masses to a lonely lake in Lake Louise. Yet, it was hard to top the day we spent in Kananaskis Valley, an hour outside of Calgary. In the morning, we rafted the Kananaskis River and the afternoon rock climbed on the face on Mt. Yamnuska. The river was a rip-roaring ride on glacial-fed waters that certainly cooled down when splashed. My 15 year-old son, Jake, got a wake-up call when he was thrown out of the raft and we had to pull him back in.

At Yamnuska, I followed my daughter up the rock face twice, peering down over the U-shaped valley once atop. It was wonderful to share my love of adventure with my wife and kids and to be in the more than capable hands of the ALA guides. My kids had never rafted or rock-climbed before that day and are now hooked on both sports. My detailed story on the six-day trip will appear in The Boston Globe this spring and I’ll be sure to pass that along. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/09/12 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, December 09, 2011

Head to Historic Banning Mills to Try the Tallest Climbing Wall in the World

Hey Georgians, take a break from your holiday shopping this Saturday and head 45 minutes outside of Atlanta to Historic Banning Mills. Representatives from the Guinness Book of World Records will be on hand to verify that the new Banning Mills climbing wall is indeed the tallest in the world. Give the wall your best shot and then try the largest zipline canopy tour in America. More than 40 ziplines span over 7 miles of course. That means you can be out there for eight hours, flying high above the Snake River and its exquisite gorge and not sample the same zipline twice!

I’ll be heading south this next week to kayak, bike, and hike in the Everglades. I’ll be back on December 20th. Have a great week and keep active!


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/09/11 at 02:00 PM
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about us
photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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