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Fall Foliage and Festivals

August 5, 2014

It seems like summer just began, and already it is drawing to a close, and much quicker than we would like! However, with the end of summer comes the end of autumn which can be even better. Autumn means cool, crisp air, daylight savings time, and of course spectacular fall colors. Fall festivals are also extremely popular in almost any mountain town. There is Oktoberfest at Snowbird, UT, Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival, the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival, and so many more! The best part about these festivals is that they come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Whether you are interested in music, sports, food, wine, culture, or just the great outdoors, there is sure to be a fall festival that celebrates autumn just like you do!

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Park City, UT

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Steamboat Springs, CO

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Aspen, CO

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Crested Butte, CO

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Vail/Beaver Creek, CO

Click here  to learn more about all the happenings this fall!

Safe Travels,

The VacationRoost Team

The Perfect Maui Summer Vacation–Recommendations, Tips, and Great Pics!

July 29, 2014

It’s no secret that one of our favorite destinations here at VacationRoost is Maui, mostly because it’s a location that everyone loves to visit and then write about. Last week I spent 6 1/2 beautiful days on the ‘Valley Isle’ for family vacation. I used all my knowledge I learned here at VacationRoost, referenced every Maui blog post that has been written, and also came up with a few of my own tips and recommendations. However, among all my pre-trip research I wished there was a blog post organized by activity rather than day-by-day itinerary. So here the breakdown of restaurants to visit, places to see, and great time-saving hacks.

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View from our condo at the Whaler on Kaanapali Beach

Restaurants

Where to go:

-The Lahaina Grill 

If you want world-class cuisine this is definitely the place to go. This meal was definitely one of my favorites on the island, but be ready to spend a little bit of money, this restaurant is classified as $$-$$$ depending on what you order, but I promise you it’s worth it. The open at 5:30 for dinner and be sure to make a reservation.

-Cheeseburger in Paradise

On the off-chance you are getting tired of fish and want a big, juicy cheeseburger, go to the famous Cheeseburger in Paradise on Front Street in Lahaina (the original location). You will fulfill your cheeseburger craving while enjoying a great view, as it sits on the beach with great ocean views. This is a great pit-stop during souvenir shopping. You can also get a great “souvenir tiki-cup” with your umbrella drink too!

-The Hula Grill  

We ended up eating here twice, partly because it was located next to our condo (The Whaler) and partly because the food was great and the views were even better. The Hula Grill is located beachside in Kaanapali with great fish dishes and “umbrella drinks”. They have live music and hula at night and you can even sit at the “barefoot bar” area to mush your toes in the sand while you eat. If you are staying in Kaanapali, this restaurant is a must.

-Wow-Wee Maui’s Kava Bar & Grill

Wow-Wee’s is located just 2 minutes down the road from the Kahului Airport, and was our first food stop of the trip. This is a very casual and laid-back place that will you your first taste of local cuisine and the food was excellent!

-Mama’s Fish House

This was the one restaurant I wanted to visit most in Maui, and of course the one place we didn’t end up going because we couldn’t fit it in our schedule. However, multiple sources have told me this is some of the best food they have ever eaten, and well worth the $$$ price.

**If you are looking for a great pina colada or daiquiri, go to the Tiki Bar & Grill located in the lawn area of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. It’s a great pit stop if you need a break from sun bathing.

 Tips:

-Be wary of food trucks. We visited a few and some of them were excellent, some were not. I suggest getting all the fruit you can at the trucks because it’s usually very fresh, but the food may be over-priced and mediocre. Be sure to ask for prices before ordering, and ask exactly what types of meat/fish they cook because often times it can be deceiving.

-Most restaurants carry the same exact drinks (recipes and all) so you don’t need to waste time comparing who has the best. Instead simply try all the drinks you can!

-Try to eat dinner earlier (5-6) because the best restaurants will become very busy after that and the waits can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. This rule applies to big fancy restaurants and even small dives.

Activities

What to do:

-Snorkel, Snorkel, Snorkel! Really, one of the best (and cheapest) activities that can be done on Maui. If you don’t own your own gear, you can buy a mask, snorkel and flippers for as cheap as $35 OR most hotels/resorts offer daily rentals for as cheap as $15. Good places to check out are:

  • Black Rock Beach in Kaanapali. Located outside the Sheraton, this snorkel area offers clear water, cliff jumping, and lots of reefs to check out. It’s great for first-time snorkelers or advanced. We even saw sea turtles swimming around here!
  • Honolua Bay on the Northwest Shore. This location is protected by the bay, making it good for snorkeling. The reefs are teeming with exotic fish and many boat tours take their snorkelers here. However, some days are not suitable for snorkeling such as when the water is brown or the current is strong. We had a great time snorkeling here, but the water is a little murky near the shore and the beaches are all rock and populated with native roosters.

Maui4Honolua Bay

  • Molokini Crater. If you want to take a snorkel trip off-shore, book a trip that goes out to the Molokini Crater to view an abundance of marine life including exotic fish and sea turtles.

Maui2Kaanapali Beach, where you can see Black Rock at the end

-Zipline. We went on the original Maui zipline, Skyline Eco-Adventures. It was located high in the mountains near Halekala and included 5 ziplines with information about the location. This is good for first-time zipliners, but if you are experienced this may not be the best company for you. If you want more adventure or longer lines, check out  Skyline’s newer location in Kaanapali or the Flyin’ Hawaiian.

-Parasailing. A great company to parasail with that we used was West Maui Parasailing, located on Kaanapali Beach. The prices were fair, the crew was entertaining and safe, and the experience was incredible. We were lucky enough to spot dolphins on our tour and we were more than satisfied.

-The Road to Hana. This is an absolute must for anyone visiting Maui. Make sure to pack snacks, water, and some car sickness medicine like Dramamine if you get car sick regularly. Enjoy your time driving and stop at all the stands and shops possible on the way because you’ll encounter some of the best fruits and homemade banana bread on the island. Hana itself is a small town, but it leads the way to the most brilliant hikes to the 7 Sacred Pools or a more intermediate 2-mile hike to Waimoku Falls, 400 feet of bliss from heaven. There are two roads to Hana: the original and the back way. If the back road is open, make sure to take it to receive incredible cliff-side views.

Maui7Waimoku Falls

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Maui6Bridge from the Road to Hana

-Luaus. A classic Hawaiian tradition, everyone should see a luau at least once in their lives. We attended the Maui Nui Luau at the Sheraton on Kaanapali Beach after we found out our first choice, the Old Lahaina Luau, was booked. The Sheraton’s Luau was a big show including plumeria leis, free drinks at the bar, a buffet style dinner, a hula show, and great views of the ocean. Never having been to a luau before I would say this one was okay, but a little too mediocre for what I was expecting. When booking a luau, make sure you book in advance. Other luau’s to consider are:

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Pulling the pig from the ground before dinner starts.

-Scuba Diving. Maui is home to dozens of different dive shops, catering to all skill levels. Some great places I came across were:

-Shopping on Front Street. Front Street is located in Lahaina, right off the beach. It’s full of great restaurants and shopping, perfect for finding souvenirs.

Tips:

-When booking activities like zip lining, scuba diving, or luaus make sure to research availability and book them weeks ahead of time (sometimes even months for luaus!). Things book up quick and you must plan ahead of time to get what you want.

-However, activities like parasailing and snorkeling can be booked only a day or two ahead of time (sometimes even the day of) because they are widely available and usually shorter activities.

-Don’t be try to cram everything in at once. Take time to enjoy the island and it’s warm beaches. Spend a day or two just hanging out on the beach, or do your activities in the morning and sun bath in the afternoons. There is a lot to do on Maui, so it’s unlikely you’ll fit everything in in one trip.

-When in doubt, ask the locals! The locals know all the best places and times to see them. Don’t be afraid to ask, everyone on Maui is very welcoming and used to its heavy tourism population. Locals want to show off their island, not shelter it from you!

Maui is an incredible destination that everyone should get the opportunity to visit at least once in their life, and I lucky enough to see and do almost everything I had wanted to do.

Click here to check out and browse all our Maui lodging.

Aloha!

Maui3Safe Travels,

Erin–Marketing Intern

The Royal Kona Resort

July 28, 2014

Where should you stay when you go to Kona on the beautiful Big Island? I’d highly recommend the Royal Kona Resort. We extremely enjoyed our stay there and plan on making it our go-to location whenever we journey to gorgeous Kona.

Upon arrival our first impression of the Resort is that it looked like a elegant Sea Liner  with tiered levels where each room had it’s own private lanai/balcony. As we approached the front desk we loved how open the main level was and adored the lit Tiki lamps guiding our way. The grounds were covered with vibrantly colored exotic plants. We were excited to be there.

We were promptly greeted by the Royal Kona Resort’s delightful staff. They were extremely welcoming and eager to assist us during our stay. Our room was picturesque, clean, and brought the Hawaiian Island feeling home. We had an amazing ocean view overlooking the crashing waves and turtle featured pool. The room included a small kitchenette, clean and spacious bathroom, and large lanai. The furniture was classic-style Hawaiian themed. It appeared to made out of local Hawaiian wood.

Our favorite spots at the Resort included the Private Salt Water Lagoon (a great place for beginning snorkelers), the beautiful Coconut Grove (you can lounge pool side there under swaying palm trees), and the Don The Beachcomber restaurant (amazing courses served to you on an oceanfront overlooking – very romantic). The open bar, Don’s Mai Tai Bar, was only twenty feet away from the pool. They offer poolside beverages and meals served to you while you’re relaxing under the palm trees. It is home to the original Mai Tai.

Right next to the Resort is a great cropping of shops, restaurants, and bars. Even if you are not into the bar scene, you can still grab a delicious shave ice and enjoy the highly talented street performers. About a mile down Alii street we found some great surf shops and a great farmer’s market selling local produce and Hawaiian made goods.

By the end of our stay, we were sad to go. We’ll never forget our amazing stay at the Royal Kona Resort – it was everything Hawaii promises it to be.

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Safe Travels,

Destination Expert Chelsea Roberts

The Lodges at Deer Valley

July 28, 2014

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I was in need of a staycation, so I headed up to Deer Valley from Salt Lake City over the weekend for a little R & R with my family. We started out with breakfast and mimosas at Ruth’s Diner up Emigration Canyon. Ruth’s has a great back patio setting and the food is worth the wait, which is usually 45 minutes to an hour. Note: Alcohol cannot be served in restaurants until 11:30 AM.

One we’d finished breakfast, we headed the back way up Emigration Canyon to Park City to check-in to The Lodges at Deer Valley. The drive from downtown Salt Lake City to Deer Valley is about 40 minutes.

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We checked into our 2 bedroom condo and took a few hours to enjoy the unit. The space was perfect for our small family. My son had a large master suite with it’s own living room on the 2nd floor which allowed him some privacy and the ability to relax with video games and movies before bed. The second master suite opened onto a large balcony with a view of Deer Valley Resort and a small pond for fishing and paddle boarding.

Our small group took the free shuttle from the lobby of The Lodges over to Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) which is about a 7 minute ride. We spent a few hours riding on the scenic chair lift, alpine slide and coaster. We stopped for chocolate covered apples at Rocky Mountain Chocolate at the base of PCMR and then walked down to Main Street Park City for a little bit of shopping.

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The following day we had breakfast on the patio and walked over to Deer Valley Resort for a scenic chair lift from the base of Deer Valley to the top with a panoramic view of Jordanelle Reservoir, Heber, and Park City. After hitting the lift, we headed straight to the pool for a few hours.

That night we invited family up from Salt Lake to Park City for dinner. The ability to cook dinner in a full kitchen for 8 people is the #1 reason I love staying at a vacation home versus a hotel. The nice thing about this particular vacation rental is that it has the perks of a hotel with a front desk, gourmet food in a general store and the ability to rent movies.

On Sunday before checking out we headed down to Main Street again to check out Park Silly Market which happens every Sunday during the summer. The market included a farmer’s market, live bands, and small shops.

Overall the trip was exactly what our entire family needed. Our only regret was that we didn’t rent mountain bikes and check out the great trail system at Deer Valley Resort.

Safe Travels,
Amy

Why Kona and Hilo are the best Big Island Hawaiian Destinations

July 17, 2014

The Big Island of Hawaii, the youngest of the Hawaiian archipelago, is larger than all the other islands combined—and it’s still growing. Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, continually spews lava into the Pacific, adding to the volcanic shoreline and the rich natural splendor of Hawaii.

The diversity of the Big Island’s climate regions includes everything from tropical forests and black sand beaches to volcanic deserts and snowcapped peaks. Visitors can experience the beauty of the island with a helicopter tour, scenic horseback ride, bike excursion or a just a casual hike through the wild growth.

Out of the many different locations to stay at on the Big Island, our two favorites are Hilo and Kona (Kailua-Kona).

Click here to read more about the Big Island.

Kona

Aloha sign with palm trees on Big Island Hawaii

The beautiful area known as Kona stretches down the Big Island’s coast for about 60 miles. Along this lava-lined coast visitors will find everything from historic coffee farms to breathtaking landmarks. Hawaii’s King Kamehameha spent his final years in Kona, which is a booming gathering place today, just 15 minutes from Kona International Airport. The crystal-clear waters in South Kona are perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Guests can even spot dolphins and sea turtles (known as honu). Kona is also known for deep sea fishing, and holds the annual International Billfish Tournament every August.

Hilo

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Hilo is located on the Eastern shore of the Big Island. The Hilo region boasts fertile land, lush rain forests with brilliant waterfalls, and an exciting volcanic coastline. Once a community built on farming and fishing, Hilo later evolved into a commercial center for the sugar industry. Hilo was nearly destroyed in 1946 and 1960 by massive tsunamis, but has since been rebuilt and now the lush landscapes are thriving. The Northeastern side of the Big Island is wetter than most places, bringing out natural wonders unavailable anywhere else such as the Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots in Wailuku River State Park.

Safe Travels,

The VacationRoost Team

Top Colorado Destinations this Summer

July 16, 2014

When it comes to Colorado, many people think it’s a great destination for the winter season because it has great mountains for skiing and snowboarding. What they don’ t tell you, however, is that Colorado also makes the perfect summer getaway, especially for those of you how are outdoorsy and love mountain excursions.  Colorado seems to have everything like hiking, biking, outdoor adventure parks, zip lining, alpine slides, golfing, whitewater rafting, great shopping, and world-class cuisine. All that PLUS incredible and scenic views of the Rocky Mountains and all their glory. Check out some of the highlights of our favorite destinations below:

Steamboat Springs

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  • Known as being “down-to-earth” and very authentic, welcoming both hiking and cowboy boots alike.
  • Located close to the Yampa River, perfect for fly fishing trout.
  • Routt County offers great rock climbing perfect for beginners and intermediates.

Click here to learn more about Steamboat Springs.

Telluride

Town of Telluride - Balloon Festival 2

  • Known to have one of the most breathtaking valleys in the Rocky Mountains.
  • Famous for it’s lively events and festivals: Balloon Festival, Bluegrass Festival, Wine Festival, Yoga Festival, Film Festival, etc.
  • Includes several 14,000+ foot peaks, also known as “14ers”.

Click here to learn more about Telluride.

Vail

  • Commonly known as the mock “European-style” getaway of Colorado.
  • Home to some of Colorado’s best luxurious spas, fine dining, and shopping.
  • Has three rivers to choose from for whitewater rafting and fishing: The Colorado, Eagle or Arkansas Rivers.

Click here to learn more about Vail.

Winter Park

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  • Home to the longest alpine slide in the state of Colorado.
  • Offers other unique activities such as s’mores by the fire for adults or the GyroExtreme space trainer.
  • Has over 600 miles of mountain bike and hiking trails.

Click here to learn more about Winter Park.

Safe Travels,

The VacationRoost Team

Top Bike and Terrain Parks in North America

July 16, 2014

Are you a big mountain biker during the summer and in to tearing up that half pipe during the winter? Mountain bike parks and terrain parks have become bigger than ever lately and are spreading across North America like wildfire. It seems like every winter a new ski resort has a terrain park built or expanded and more trails are added during the summer seasons. This new trend compelled us here at VacationRoost to do a little research of our own and we created Top 5 lists for both Bike Parks and Terrain Parks.

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Top 5 Bike Parks:

  • Whistler Bike Park, British Columbia
  • NorthStar Bike Park, Truckee, California
  • Mammoth Bike Park, California
  • Trestle Bike Park, Winter Park, Colorado
  • Keystone Bike Park, Colorado

Click here to read more about our Top 5 Bike Parks.

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Top 5 Terrain Parks:

  • Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Park City, Utah
  • Mammoth, California
  • NorthStar at Lake Tahoe, California
  • Snowmass and Buttermilk at Aspen, Colorado

Click here to read more about our Top 5 Terrain Parks.

Safe Travels,

The VacationRoost Team

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