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Top 10 Romantic Getaways in the U.S

How do you make a top-ten list of something subjective like honeymoon locations? Systematically, that’s how.

Highly Scientific Ranking

To create this list, I started with general Internet searches for top honeymoon spots in the U.S. I tried to weed out the advertisers and focused instead on the news and information websites, such as About.com, MSNBC and USA Today.

Next, I began putting the various lists into a spreadsheet, and then cross-referenced the data to find the ten locations that occurred most often on the most lists. When that proved to be way too complicated, I just picked the ten locations I liked the most! Voila … a top-ten romantic getaway list (in no particular order).

Top 10 Romantic Getaways in the United States

1. Mountain Cabin – Part One

If you’re the kind of person that equates “romantic getaway” with “mountain seclusion,” then a cabin in the Rockies might be just the thing. The popular ski towns of Aspen and Vail, Colorado are popular for another reason – cabin retreats. Imagine the snow falling around your warm and cozy cabin. Imagine the smell of hot chocolate and the bubbling sound of a hot tub. And just imagine being there with the one you love!

2. Mountain Cabin – Part Two

The Smokey Mountains come up on a lot of romantic getaway ideas. For instance, each year approximately 10,000 people get married in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, a popular vacation spot in the Smokey Mountains. Because of this, the mountain town has become known as the unofficial wedding and honeymoon capital of the South. With its wooded seclusion, small-town charm, and breathtaking mountain views, it’s no wonder so many people equate “Gatlinburg” with “romantic retreat.”

3. Bed & Breakfast in Vermont

Manchester, Vermont offers all the ingredients of a classic New England getaway — white-steepled churches, bed and breakfast accommodations, romantic dining and great skiing.

In more recent times, shopping has also taken root in Manchester. The city’s website, ManchesterVermont.com, says: “Today, visitors to our community come to enjoy Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren and J. Crew, as well as the more traditional recreational activities.”

4. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

There’s a reason the Kennedy family owned vacation homes in Cape Cod. This New England seascape is the essence of “small beach town” tranquility. Don’t expect an action-packed beach-resort experience – Cape Cod is not that kind of vacation spot. But if your idea of relaxation is a seaside stroll along historic harbors, biking and boating, and visiting an antique shop or two, then this is your place.

5. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is a picturesque city with a diverse mix of cultures and populations. It’s also a popular destination for couples in search of a romantic getaways. Between the Golden Gate Bridge and their world-famous trolleys, San Francisco offers something for everyone.

As an alternative, you might also consider adjacent Sausalito, California, a Mediterranean-style village that marks the gateway to California Wine Country. And speaking of California wine…

6. California Wine Country

If your idea of romance involves good wine and good scenery, you can’t go wrong with California Wine Country as your destination. Napa Valley and Sonoma County are about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, and they have long been an attraction for honeymooners, wine lovers, and wine-loving honeymooners. Add in the scenery and the availability of bed-and-breakfast-style lodging, and you have all the makings of a great romantic getaway.

7. Big Island, Hawaii

Sure, some parts of Hawaii are quite touristy. (Waikiki comes to mind.) But there are plenty of locations on the volcano-formed island that offer beauty, seclusion and a nature-rich experience you can’t find anywhere else.

On the Big Island of Hawaii, the Kona Village Resort is famous for providing comfort and luxury in an otherwise remote tropical region. The resort is also a popular spot for honeymooners, and it comes up on quite a few “top ten” lists like this one.

8. Charleston, South Carolina

I grew up in Virginia and have traveled all throughout the Carolinas. But when I think of “Southern hospitality,” one place comes to mind above all others. Charleston, South Carolina. Marjabelle Young Stewart, one of America’s well-known etiquette experts, once called Charleston the “most mannerly” city in the U.S., and I think she was right.

Founded in 1670, Charleston held significance during both the American Revolution and the Civil War. To this day, it retains much of its old-world charm and gentility. Conde Nast Traveler has named it a top-ten domestic destination for nine consecutive years.

There’s one other thing I love about Charleston. I’m a southerner by birth, and I vote for Charleston as having the most delightful of all the southern dialects.

9. Niagara Falls

Okay, so this one’s a bit cliche. But the reason Niagara Falls has been in so many movies, songs and water-cooler conversations is because so many people flock to it with romantic notions in mind. Straddling the border between the U.S. (New York) and Canada, Niagara Falls has attracted honeymooners and getaway-ers for 200 years.

In fact, if you played word-association and said “Niagara Falls,” most people would probably say one of two things – waterfall or honeymoon. For that reason alone, Niagara Falls has earned its place on this list.

10. Home Sweet Home

If you consider your home a cozy refuge from the world, it is in a sense a getaway. After all, home is a place to get away from lots of things — work, school, crowds, relatives, noise, traffic and hassle. It’s also a place where you’re the most comfortable. So there’s certainly nothing unromantic about a crackling fire, a bottle of champagne, and a table for two in home sweet home.

Wedding Dress Shopping

No matter what the rest of your wedding is going to be like, you still have to decide on the specifics of the dress. All brides dream about the wedding dress, but sometimes those dreams can turn into nightmares! Everyone’s heard a ton of wedding dress horror stories, but by simply keeping a few things in mind you can avoid wedding dress mishaps easily.

The first thing to remember is that when you are wedding dress  shopping, you should take along someone who is supportive without being a bully! This is your wedding dress and you should get to decide what looks good on you. If you find that the saleswoman is being a bit too pushy, take your business elsewhere. This is a kind of stress you don’t need.

If you don’t want to listen to tradition or superstition, then don’t! Nothing says you have to be married in pure white, especially if it makes you look ill! Many brides these days are deciding that they would rather have dresses with a bit of color to them, whether its pastel shades of blue or just a richer cream or yellow. If you’ve found the perfect dress but are a bit concerned with its color, see if a dye job is possible.

If your wedding brings together different ethnic or cultural heritages, don’t be afraid to incorporate them into the ceremony and your dress. For instance, many Vietnamese women get married in a scarlet ao dai, the national dress of Vietnam. What about combining the color or the shape of this distinctive garment with some Western accessories? Remember that your wedding dress should reflect you and what you feel is valuable and beautiful.

Think about what you need to be able to do in your dress. While a long, full skirt might be just fine for a wedding held in a church, it might not be such a good idea if you hold your wedding out of doors. If you really love the idea of a train, think about asking the seamstress if it could be bustled up behind you for the reception. This is a great quality and makes for a dress where you can look like a princess but still kick up your heels.

Also, think about the material of the dress and the time of year when you are getting married. If you are looking forward to a summer wedding, think about dresses in light chiffon, pure cotton or silk; all of these materials breathe well and are cooler. In winter, take a look at dresses in brocade, velvet and satin. Thinking about the temperature will help you stay comfortable during the ceremony.

While there are lots of tips when it comes to wedding dresses, the most simple one and the one that trips up a lot more brides than you think, is, don’t buy it unless you love it!

7 Steps to Improve Your Sea Kayaking Skills

If you are a sea kayaking buff, loving to get out onto the water and paddle around your local area, there are ways to improve your skills, make your paddles safer and more rewarding, and to increase your stamina for longer paddles. Over my paddling years, I have kind of stumbled onto some things. But when I got more serious about improving my skills to be a better paddler, (really just to keep paddling as my body aged!), I took up a long-term course of action to be a bettve done, and still do over the course of each year.

1. Learn how to pack your kayaks  for stability and safety.Believe it or not, the way you pack your kayak can make a significant difference in its stability. Even to just add weight into it usually increases stability. Increased stability means it is more safe. Take along a set of extra clothes, a shelter of some sort, a bit of food, a stove and matches or lighter, extra water, and a way to signal for help. These items are then in your kayak in case a sudden weather change makes you land and strands you. The weight of these items should be packed evenly from left to right and from front to back, maybe with a slight extra in the back to raise the nose a bit. If the weight is kept as low as possible, then you will be more in the water and more stable.2. Improve your paddling skills.Every time you go out paddling, try practicing a particular stroke that you find difficult. Practice the sweeps and draws, as well as the braces, each and every paddle. Get more instruction, if necessary, to learn more strokes, and just to have someone watch and help you with the movements you need to perform the stroke efficiently. A good way to improve your paddling skills is to join a group of river kayakers and play around in the smaller, more responsive boat. You have to use your core body strength and motion more in a river kayak which helps develop the habit of body to do it in a sea kayak.3. Learn a variety of rescue techniques. If you are a regular kayaker, you need to be able to get back into your kayak if you capsize. This is really critical. If you can do a cowboy scramble on to the back of your boat, your are doing great. If you can do a paddle float rescue, great. If you can re-enter and roll, or just roll back up on your own, then you are totally awesome. Many kayakingcenters and universities offer instruction to help kayakers with rescues. If you are lucky, then you can do it in the warmer water of a pool. Many smaller town and most cities have someone offering pool sessions for kayak resuce.4. Paddle some challenging areas, but with a safety net.If you haven’t paddled in currents or small surf, then challenge yourself to go do it. Take along some friends who know what they are doing to give it a bit of a safety net. If you are in real life challenges, you will better remember what you have learned, so challenge yourself and practice your skills in the challenge.5. Learn some weather prediction skills.One of the biggest dangers on the water is sudden wind changes. Wind can make kayaking very difficult to impossible at times. Learn how to view the clouds and what they mean. Pay attention to the stories from your area about what to look for for wind or for rain. Get licensed for marine radio to listen to the forecasts and be able to communicate to other mariners about the weather. Local kayak centers often provide short courses in the local weather patterns and what to look for.6. Learn and use navigation skills.Start learning how to read nautical charts and use a compass with it. Take these things out with you on your kayak and begin observing the islands and rocks that are in front of you, matching them to the chart information. Practice taking bearings and setting courses. Pay attention to times and chart distances you’ve travelled to begin estimating your speed and location. If you happen to be out on a really rainy or foggy day, you will thank yourself for practicing these skills. Learn how to use the tide tables to calculate your nearest tides and currents.7. Learn to rely on your kayak and yourself.Plan your routes and write down these float plans to give to someone before you leave. When packing your kayak, think through the placement of things to make sure you have needed items at hand. Try to set yourself up to be able to reach everything you need with minimal interruption and compromise of your stability. Watch ahead and around you and think through what may be under the water or around the corner or, coming fast down the passage you are in.If you are thinking about working on any one of these steps each time you paddle, your skills will improve and you will be more comfortable and more confident in the water. These are all essential skills for being a good paddler, and developing them only helps you to get the most out of your paddles. By training, preparing, and learning, you can improve your kayak abilities, giving you greater options on where and when you can paddle. So, follow the steps and get out there and enjoy the water.

Discover The Most Important White Water Rafting Tips for Beginners

If you and your friends and family are planning on spending your next vacation or holiday outdoors, why not do a little white water rafting? This activity is gr e at for groups, and is ideal for people who enjoy being outside or in the water. If the idea sounds interesting, and you’re not quite sure where to start, here are some white water rafting tips for beginners that will help you feel more at ease during your first trip.First of all, you’ll want to select a white water park or white water river that caters to beginners. This way, you’ll feel comfortable in the raft with your instructor, and you’ll know that you’ll have someone there to give you white water rafting tips every step of the way. If you can’t swim or haven’t gone swimming in a while, you can take what are called class III courses for whitewater rafting, which are safe for everyone, even children.

Kids as young as 6 or 7 can go on most white water park excursions, so you won’t have to worry about not including everyone in your trip (unless you can toddlers or infants in tow). If you want to go on a more intense whitewater rafting trip, you’ll need to enroll in a class IV or class V class, but you have to know how to swim well.

If you have any health conditions, such as asthma or heart problems, you should definitely talk to your doctor about the safety of going whitewater rafting. There are lots of sharp turns and intense twists depending on the course you take, and you should be prepared for this before you and your family book your trip. Pregnant women are advised not to go rafting, but you may be able to do so if you are in the first trimester; however, any time after that may pose a threat to the health of the baby.

Once you’re in your raft, be sure that your life jacket is fastened securely before the raft starts to move. Be sure that you are seating correctly so that the weight is evenly distributed, and keep young children near you at all times. Your raft should be able to fit up to 8 people, so if your group is not quite that large, be sure to sit in the raft evenly so that you don’t tip over.

After your rafting trip, you may want to try other water activities such as kayaking or canoeing, so be sure to schedule other classes at your water park before your trip is over. Enjoy!

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