Manitoba's Little Iceland Gimli Film Festival

On the western shores of Lake Winnipeg lays the sleepy little town of Gimli, just 1.5 hours north of Winnipeg, MB.  Sleepy until the 11th annual Gimli Film Festival (GFF), that is.

Running from July 20 to 24, 2011, the Gimli International Film Festival takes place on the towns lakefront beach.  Films are projected onto a 35' x 35' screen placed atop a lake sandbar that's surrounded by water.  But don't get the wrong impression, crowds average only 500 filmgoers per night so there's still plenty of room to bring the family.  Sometimes the Northern Lights even make an appearance!

This year will be the first year that the Gimli Film Festival will host local music acts prior to films being show thanks to a partnership with Music Manitoba.  The fun just keeps getting better and better!  And speaking of fun, don't forget to visit the GFF Lounge open to patrons on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night.

Those who live in Winnipeg (or along the route) are invited to take the GFF Express Shuttle Bus which is free for GFF Pass Holders and only $10 return for those who are not - a total steal!

For more information, download the GFF Program or visit Gimli Film Festival.

Win a Trip in South Eastern France!

Have you dreamed of traveling to the Rhône Valley in France?  Joining connoisseurs and novices from around the world to learn more the wine of Ardèche, Vaucluse-Provence and the Gard....well, here's your chance!

Win a trip in south eastern France with the South of France Tourism - the prize includes a one week stay for 4 people in a vacation rental or campsite bungalow - airfare is not included but regular flights are available into Avignon and Nîmes.  With this discount valued at up to €500 per week, this prize can make this trip truly affordable!

The Rhone Valley region features 9 Wine & Tourist Trails for visitors to explore with history and delicious French cuisine tucked in every step along the way.  The area is also popular for cycling, canoeing, kayaking, and golfing.

Enter today!

Super Natural BC: Hiking the North Coast Trail

Visiting stunning Vancouver Island can be one of the highlights experienced during a trip to British Columbia, Canada.  Hiking the 43.1 km North Coast Trail over a one week period can be another fantastic west coast experience in itself.

Located in Cape Scott Provincial Park, the North Coast Trail follows the northernmost point of Vancouver Island.  The ecosystem offers up a selection of majestic old-growth forest, cobble beaches, bogs, tidal pools brimming with sealife and sea stacked rocks.  Photography and wildlife viewing opportunities include black bears, bald eagles, wolves, cougars and those adorable sea otters.  

Recommended for seasoned hikers only, the North Coast Trail offers the quintessential one on one experience with nature.  For more information, visit the BC Provincial Park website. Photo Credit:
North Coast Trail Day 6 by Brenda.Lally

Take a Wild Summer Ride at Silverwood Theme Park!

As the largest theme park in the Pacific Northwest, Silverwood Theme Park offers a selection of 65 rides and attractions, spread out over 2,000 acres - which includes awesome Boulder Beach water park.

Located just minutes north of Coeur d’Alene, ID, Silverwood is a theme park inside a natural theme park with nearby rivers, lakes, mountains, and forests offering some of Idaho’s best outdoor adventures.

Silverwood has two world-renowned wooden roller coasters, a new mammoth Aftershock steel coaster and a 16-acre water park with rivers, wave pools and high speed slides, called Boulder Beach Water Park. Booking a VIP Cabana for the day is definitely the way to go at Boulder Beach; for an extra fee, a cabana provides a shady area with lounge chairs, mats, towels, and even a refrigerator, so you and your family can relax and enjoy the day.

Get big savings and big fun by taking advantage of Silverwood E-Ticket Deals where specials are announced on a frequent basis. There's also a selection of area hotels that offer package rates including both hotel and admission tickets; this options provides some of the best values, especially for families. Another great way to extend the family fun at Silverwood is through their on-site RV Park and Campground facility which includes a picnic area and convenience store.

Open from May to September, general admission into Silverwood Theme Park is $41.99 day per adult ($21.99 after 5:00 p.m.) and $21.99 for seniors and children aged 3-7.

For more information, visit Silverwood Theme Park & Boulder Beach Water Park.

Photo Courtesy of Silverwood Theme Park

Riding the Rails & Savings with Amtrak

There’s no better way to travel across the USA than by train. Amtrak (not Amtrack) offers a variety of options to choose from including the popular and money saving Amtrak USA Rail Pass.

Offering 15-day, 30-day, and 45-days of travel, the Amtrak USA Rail Pass is a steal at only USD $389, $579, and $749 per adult ($194.50, $289.50, and $374.50 for children ages 2 to 15).

The California Rail Pass offers 7 travel days within a 21-day period for only $159 per adult ($80 children).

Serving over 27.1 million travelers annually, Amtrak visits “500 destinations in 46 states and 3 Canadian provinces.” The Northeast Corridor is the most popular Amtrak route in the USA followed by: 

Amtrak USA Rail Pass Details:
  • segment is considered to be “any time you get on and then off a vehicle (train, bus, ferry or other allowable leg) regardless of length of time involved”
  • 8 segments are allowed in 15 days; 12 segments in 30 days; 18 segments in 45-days
  • the Amtrak USA Rail Pass is valid for 180 days from the date of purchase
  • advance reservations must be made for all travel segments
For more information, visit Amtrak.

Top 10 U.S. Destinations to Visit This Summer!

When it comes to planning a family vacation, romantic getaway or even a girlfriend getaway, it's always fun to follow along with the masses.  These Top 10 U.S. Destinations to Visit This Summer are the best of the best that America has to offer, making them a sure bet for your vacation dollars.

Let's take a look at the Top 10 U.S. Destinations to Visit This Summer as compiled by our friends over at TripAdvisor:

  1. New York City, New York - don't miss Central Park, Statue of Liberty
  2. Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii - Pear Harbor, surfing lessons, catamaran ride
  3. San Francisco - Chinatown, Fishermen's Wharf, Ferry Building Marketplace
  4. Las Vegas, NV - The Strip, taking in a show, visiting Red Rock Canyon
  5. Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii - Ka'anapali Beach, Banyan Tree Park, ocean rafting
  6. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii - Mauna Kea Summit, scuba diving
  7. New Orleans, LA - French Quarter, plantation tour, Cafe du Monde
  8. San Diego, CA - Old Town, Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo
  9. Sedona, AZ - Oak Creek Canyon, Chapel of the Holy Cross
  10. Seattle, WA - Space Needle, Pike Place Market
To explore these fantastic destinations, visit Travel Writer's FREE 2011 Official Travel Planners link to order a hard copy or be eco-friendly while viewing online.

Cheers! Photo Credit: Cafe du Monde Beignets by chuckyeager

Destination: Alaska!

The Last Frontier has been wowing visitors for decades - over 1.51 million of them in the summer of 2010 alone, according to Travel Alaska statistics.  Offering everything from fishing and hiking to wildlife and cultural events, Alaska truly offers something for everyone.

Now there are new activities to keep visitors coming back for more....let's take a look!

Allen Marine Tours
Based in Alaska, a new small ship cruise line - Alaskan Dream Cruises - began operations this May.  Their focus is to provide guests with up close and personal experiences when it comes to wildlife viewing and cultural events while being dedicated sustainable travel.  Departing from Sitka, eight-day sailings cruise along the Inside Passage visiting destinations like Point Adolphus, Strait Point, and Glacier Bay National Park.

Princess Cruises
The 2011 Alaska Cruise season with Princess Cruises brings about a new 14-day land & sea package available for avid anglers who want to try their hand at catching the state's abundant fish species like salmon, trout and halibut. 

Alaskan Northwest Adventures
For avid ornithologists (bird watchers), Alaska Northwest Adventures is offering a 5-hour tour near Nome on the beautiful waters of Safety Sound.

K2 Aviation
Departing from Talkeena, K2 Aviation is now offering a 3-hour flightseeing & hiking trip in Denali National Park - a combination floatplane experience with guided wilderness hike to boot.  

Alaska Wildland Adventures
The fantastic Ultimate Alaska Adventure tour encompasses some of the most thrilling activities to be found in Alaska where outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a variety of undertakings including white water rafting, flightseeing, sea kayaking, hiking, horseback riding and dog sledding upon an Alaskan glacier.

For more information on Alaska, visit Travel Alaska or order your FREE 2011 Alaska Vacation Guide here. Photo Credit: Glacier by kbear65

Consider a Floatel Vacation on Lake Mead!

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is truly a destination in itself.  Add to this, a floating hotel experience, 9 of your best friends, and you've got a great summer vacation in the making.

Just what are we talking about?  A luxury houseboat experience at Echo Bay Marina on the northern shores of Lake Mead, of course.  Each spacious stationary 67' Floatel comes fully equipped with a complete kitchen, 4 bedrooms, sleeper sofa, plus fun amenities like a TV/DVD player for movies and music, barbecue, plus a spacious top deck where you can soak in the sun while enjoying the wet bar and hot tub.

When you're in need of supplies, Echo Bay Marina offers a ship's store with convenience items, a fishing pier, plus rentals of personal watercraft, deck boats, ski boats and more for the most memorable vacation ever.

How affordable is renting a Floatel houseboat?  Probably a lot less expensive than you think.  A floatel is $190 per night for the first 4 guests and only $20 per additional guests up to 10 in total.  If you'd like to bring your pet onboard with you, there's an additional $10 per night fee.

For more information, visit Echo Bay Marina.  

Photo and Image: Echo Bay Marina

Your Birth Certificate = 15% off Hawaii Hotels!

Recently President Obama was forced to produced his birth certificate in order to calm conspiracy theorists, but producing your birth certificate will get you 15% off at Aqua Hotel & Resort locations throughout Hawaii.

With 15 hotels to choose from on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai and Lanai, Aqua Hotel & Resorts is the original boutique hotel chain on Hawaii.  They're offering a special Birth Certificate Discount of 15% now until August 4, 2011.  And if you don't have a birth certificate (heaven forbid!) and your pet does, you'll still be given the discount, paws down - with rates starting at just $66 per night, you're sure to be your family's top dog.  Ok, then.

If you'll be traveling after August 4 but by December 22, 2011, you can take advantage of the Aqua 10th Birthday Special offering an amazing $10 rate for the first night when you book a stay of three nights or more.

For more information, visit Aqua Hotel & Resorts.  

Image of Aqua Waikiki Pearl courtesy of Aqua Hotel & Resorts

The 2011 New Orleans Voodoo Experience

Now in its twelveth year, the New Orleans Voodoo Experience will be taking place October 28 to 30, 2011.

This year's music festival has attracted such big name headlining concert acts like Soundgarden, Ozomatli, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Girl Talk, X, with more artists to be named soon.  

Held in beautiful New Orleans City Park, the festival presents performers on three stages set amongst the parks majestic oak trees. Shuttle buses to the park run from several locations throughout the city. The Voodoo Experience is an all ages venue; outside food and beverages are not allowed into the park.

With more information to be announced soon, three-day weekend passes are already available for $150.

For more information, visit the New Orleans Voodoo Experience. Photo Credit: House of Voodoo by Redheaded_Pirate

Savouring San Francisco

San Francisco is one of those cities that's fun to visit anytime of the year.  It might have something to do with the endless galleries, Fishermen's Wharf, or maybe it's just the 'only in San Francisco' attitude, but whatever it is, San Francisco is one of the most popular cities to visit in the U.S.

Hotel Packages in San Francisco 
It's all about the waterfront when you visit San Francisco and there's no better choice from which to enjoy it than the Hyatt Regency San Francisco.  Guests can enjoy the Amour Romance Package that includes accommodations, breakfast for two, wine & strawberries from $229 until December 31, 2011, or the Awaken Package including breakfast & accommodation from just $209.  Seniors are also invited to take advantage of discounted room rates of up to 50% off as well as 10% off and upgrades for AARP members.  

Savouring San Francisco
Dining in San Francisco offers opportunities to fulfill your every desire from trend setting cuisine and the freshest seafood around to a basic rice plate in Chinatown.  Let's take a look at the Top Ranking Restaurants in San Francisco thanks to our friends over at TripAdvisor:

  1. Restaurant Gary Danko - contemporary cuisine
  2. Sotto Mare Seafood Restaurant - fresh seafood, especially oysters
  3. Mama's on Washington Square - down home family cooking
  4. Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery - sandwiches, breakfast, and of course, crepes
  5. Frascati - known for romance & late night desserts
  6. Blue Bottle Cafe - the 'best coffee in San Francisco', enough said
  7. Kokkari Estiatorio - serves up delicious Greek & Mediterranean specialties
  8. Ristorante Milano - the best gnocchi on Russian Hill
  9. Fino Bar & Ristorante - Italian cuisine served at The Andrews Hotel
  10. The House - fresh seafood, especially Miso Cod
For more information on San Francisco, visit San Francisco Travel and don't forget to order your FREE Travel Planning Kit or use their Virtual Planning Guide Photo Credits:
Golden Gate in San Francisco, California by
San Francisco Sunset by BG3Photo

America's Favorite Road Trip Vacation: Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway

Tis' the summer season for road trips and you may as well enjoy America's Favorite Road Trip Vacation - driving the Blue Ridge Parkway from Virginia to North Carolina.

This driving route across the southern U.S. covers 470 scenic miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Besides the good old southern hospitality, there are so many things to see and do along the Blue Ridge Parkway including enjoying the area's many hiking trails, camping, wildlife and nature viewing, fishing, swimming, motorcycle riding, galleries, museums, historic places, and attractions like Chimney Rock, Bristol Caverns and Mystery Hill, to only name a few.

One of the most beautiful times to consider the Blue Ridge Parkway drive is during the fall when the foliage has turned to bright oranges, yellows, and coppers as nature is about to give way to winter.  It's the perfect opportunity to enjoy all the area has to offer plus the color kaleidoscope makes for wonderful photographic opportunities.  

Planning your vacation to the Blue Ridge Parkway has never been easier than by using the maps, travel tips and travel tools provided on the Blue Ridge Parkway tourism website.  For more information, visit Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo Credit:
Blue Ridge Parkway by NCBrian

Marathon Mania: Top Marathons Around the World

Have you ever dreamed about running in a marathon?  Like a really big marathon and not just 3-mile run around your local park?  Well here's your chance cause there's plenty of racing days still left for the 2011.

Without further adieu, here are the Top Marathons Around The World:

Upcoming for 2012:
Beside having a sense of pride and accomplishment for competing, did you know that there is also big money involved?  The ING New York City Marathon offers a first place prize of $130,000 which is bumped up to $200,000 if you're a previous winner!  Maybe we should all take up running, or not ;) Photo Credit:
Marathon de New York: Verrazano Bridge by Martineric

Livin' La Pura Vida in Costa Rica: Instinct Magazine Feature Article

Travel Writer Connie Motz recently had a 5-page feature on Costa Rica entitled Livin' La Pura Vida published in the May 2011 edition of Instinct Magazine.  Check it out below or a shortened version online and don't forget to view