Thursday, November 29, 2012

Need a Break from the City? Try a Vacation Rental in Woodstock


Whether you're trying to escape from the crowds of New York City or just looking for something different from your suburb, the Woodstock area and Catskill Mountains offer a peaceful, quite getaway perfect for staying in vacation rentals
That's especially true of the Kaaterskill Clove area, considered by many American writers, from James Fenimore Cooper to Mark Twain, to be one of the most beautiful spots they've ever seen.

Kaaterskill Cove is a scenic ravine in the Catskill Mountains. You'll find forest and waterfalls, hiking and solitude, peace and quite. You'll discover coves of cool mountain water, where the only sound you'll hear is the wind through the trees. You can get your fill of nature and then explore shops filled with handmade craft items created by area artisans, fruit and vegetable stands with produce you can use to cook in your Catskill vacation rental, old bookshops and quaint small towns.

The natural highlight of the area is Kaaterskill Falls, which are higher than Niagra Falls. Niobe Falls, a continuation of Kaaterskill Falls, has been painted by hundreds--if not thousands--of artists from the Hudson River School of Painting. You can stay in the heart of this legendary region. The Waterfall Vacation Home is a charming 2 bedroom, 2 bath Victorian-era home 12 miles from Woodstock, 8 miles from Saugerties and 10 miles from Catskill. It's also just 10 miles from Hunter Mountain, a popular spot for winter sports, and home to Rip Van Winkle, the sleepy woodsman from Washington Irving's famed story. Sit on the deck and enjoy your view of Niobe Falls as you contemplate your next adventure, or reflect on the wonderful day you just enjoyed. Escape to peace and quite soon--it's a trip you'll want to repeat.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

9 New Vacation Rentals in Edinburgh, Scotland

Planning a trip to Europe? Or perhaps you're looking for a vacation that's wonderfully different yet easily accessible. Consider Edinburgh, Scotland, a city rich in history, culture and entertainment. Edinburgh vacation rentals are a great way to explore the city and region as they give you a relaxing home base where you can settle in for a weekend, a week or even longer. And Perfect Places is excited to announce 9 new vacation rentals from Edinburgh at Home.

The first thing you'll notice the stunning, historic architecture. Over 4,500 buildings in the Old and New Towns are listed as World Heritage sites. Old Town includes medieval sites such as Edinburgh Castle, while New Town features neoclassical architecture dating to the 18th century. In Old Town you'll find the Royal Mile with its closes (parcels of land bordered by a wall or hedge), Reformation-era buildings, kirks (churches), turrets and out of the places. In New Town, you'll walk through Georgian Terraces, wide spaces built by members of the upper class seeking to escape Old Town.

Edinburgh's a city filled with atmosphere and historic charm. Scotland's capital until 1707, the city still carries the weight of that importance proudly. The University of Edinburgh gained a reputation as one of the world's leading educational institutions, and the Bank of Scotland, established in 1695, made Edinburgh a financial center.

After taking in Old and New Town, try the Scotch Whiskey Experience and learn how whisky's made. Shop on Princes Street, visit the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Museum of Scotland. Be sure to take a tour of pubs and literature with the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour.

After seeing Edinburgh Castle, you make want to dig deeper into Scotland's noble history. You'll have plenty of opportunities, as Edinburgh's surrounded by nearby castles, such as Dirleton, Tantallion, Crichton, Linlithgow and Blackness.

Regardless of your itinerary, you're sure to enjoy your stay in Edinburgh, and come away with wonderful memories of a historic city, region and nation.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Vacation Rentals & Exotic Locations--You'll Feel Like a Native in Paradise

Whether you're planning a trip to an exotic location, still dreaming, or pining to go back again, try staying in a vacation rental the next time you go. While hotels and resorts have advantages, nothing equals the feeling of being on vacation in an exotic location and feeling like you're a native. Vacation rentals give you an unbeatable opportunity to know what it feels like to be a native in paradise. But be warned: Once you start vacationing in exotic locations, you'll never want to come back and, if you do, you'll always want to return as soon as possible.

To call South Island picturesque is an understatement. It's one of the reasons Lord of the Rings was filmed there: the region has an otherworldly quality that's striking and memorable. As many times as you see it, you still feels as if you're seeing it for the first time. The area has it all--perfect, pristine coastlines, mountains, glaciers, volcanoes. You can ski, dive and hike. Or take in wine tours, spa treatments and find unique gifts while shopping.

Since you've flown all the way to the South Island, why not extend the stay for a week and take in the North Island? It has plenty of natural beauty to offer, but since 70% of the population lives on the North Island, you can get to know New Zealanders and have a more urban experience in Auckland or Wellington. Travel tips: the beaches are simply breathtaking and the island is very drivable.

On your way back from New Zealand, ask the boss for an extra week off. You'll be laying over in Hawaii and you may as well stay awhile. Whether it's your first trip to Hawaii or your 100th, a vacation on the islands is simply worth it. Hawaii is the original exotic location and you can literally have it all. Escape to the quiet beauty of Kauai, or immerse yourself in the modern luxury of Oahu. Take a day or a year to relax on Maui's beaches, or get a taste of every eco-system on the planet (and get away from it all) on the Big Island. You'll feel like you're a world away from everything and everybody, and you won't have to teleport to another planet or exchange currency.

After you're week (or two) in Hawaii, you won't be even close to being ready to go back to work. So do like the Europeans do and round out your vacation to a whole month and head down to Bali. Try Ubud and take in the Puri Saren Agung, a lavish palace now used for incredible performances by traditional Balinese dancers. There are magnificent rivers, temples, rice terraces, and lots of art districts where you'll find both galleries and workshops. After all, Ubud is considered the cultural center of Bali.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cross-Country Obstacle Mud Runs: Get Dirty to Win or Just Have a Really Fun Run

Cross country races over rivers, streams and various obstacles have skyrocketed in popularity the last few years. They're often referred to as mud runs, and with good reason. Even the most mild-mannered of these races leaves at least a thin coat of dirt and mud on virtually every participant.

The Living History Farms Off-Road Race in Urbandale, Iowa (a suburb of Des Moines), bills itself as the largest single race of its kind. It caps entries at 7,500 and is run over the hills, dales, streams and trails that wind through Living History Farms, which is exactly what the name suggests. Hundreds of acres that tell the story of farming over the centuries turn into a massive course for thousands of runners.

While the course is awesome, perhaps even better are the participants themselves. Many (though to the naked eye, it seems like most) come dressed in costumes, even the race his held weeks after Halloween on third Saturday in November. 2012 marked the 34th annual race, held on November 17th. The types of costumes are too many to mention, and included everything from nine reindeer pulling Santa (pictured and, yes, they ran as a group), Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth, nuns, super heroes, gangsters, rock stars (Kiss), Waldo, Titanic survivors and victims and many more. The atmosphere was electric fun.

The race did attract serious runners as well, with speedy cross country racers (not in costume) lined up closest to the start. The winner was Matthew Pohren of Ashland, Nebraska, with a time of 39:09 over a 7 mile course. When you consider he crossed multiple streams and ran through Iowa farm fields, that's a really good time. The first female finisher was Amy Laskowski of Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 44:45.

Cross Country Races -- Lots to Choose From

These kinds of races are growing in popularity ever year. They can be considered destination races and events. If you're running for fun, then you'll need time to make a costume. If you're running to win or just turn in a good time, then you'll want time to acclimate to the weather, check out the course and get comfortable with your surroundings. A long weekend works well, but if the race is in a scenic or tourist area, then why not make a vacation out of the trip? Bring your spouse, kids or friends and have a cheering section to help you navigate the most grueling portions. Vacation rentals are a great lodging option, as they give you the most freedom and flexibility as far as sticking to your nutrition plan and getting enough uninterrupted sleep are concerned. 

Photo courtesy Camp Pendleton Mud Run.
A word to the wise: some these races can be very tough and challenging, so be prepared. The Camp Pendleton Mud Run, near San Diego, includes hills, tire obstacles, river crossings, two 5-foot walls with mud on sides, tunnel crawl, slippery hill climb, and a final 30-foot mud pit over a 10K course. The Tough Mudder is a series of races, each 10 to 12 miles, which were designed by the British Special Forces. Its stated purpose is to test the strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie of participants. It also benefits the Wounded Warrior Project for veterans and is held in a variety of cities around the world, including   Tampa, Tahoe, Paris, Zurich and many more. The Warrior Dash bills itself as the largest series. The obstacles can include jumping over fire, walking balance beams or tightropes, crawling through tunnels, swimming, and other surprises. There are races throughout the United States, in Australia, and even in the United Kingdom. It benefits St. Jude's Hospital.

So whether you're running fun, to win or just to challenge yourself in a tough race, consider doing one of these races. Just be sure to train properly, as the obstacles and nature of cross country running make these races different from a regular road run.

Friday, November 16, 2012

5 Places to Ski on a Budget

If you love skiing, you know that the best part of your trip is the time you spend on the slopes. So why spend too much on lodging. Some opt for low cost motels, but you can actually find vacation rentals for about the same price as low-cost motels, and you’ll get benefits only vacation rentals can offer, such as full kitchens and perhaps even a private hot tub. So if it's you and a bunch of slope buddies, book a less expensive condo at one of these areas and spend an extra day or two doing what you love—skiing or snowboarding.

Here are five ski areas where you can find rooms for about $60 a night. (These don’t work for you? Then check out Perfect Places for even more options.)

WinterPark. One of Colorado's most popular ski areas, winter park boasts over a million visitors a year. Because it's so popular, you'll find plenty of shopping, conveniences and amenities to keep you entertained when you're not skiing. Fly into Denver and ride an Amtrak train for a truly stress free time.

Vail. Ski Magazine ranked Vail as the 2nd best ski destination in North America. It also boasts world-class spas, shopping and restaurants. It’s a hotbed for the rich and famous, many with permanent condos and home in the area. With an abundance of lavish spenders, you’re sure to find 1st-class things to do. Not to mention 1st class skiing. If you can't find an accommodation in the $60 range, you can certainly find plenty for around $100 a night--still a bargain. Plus, Vail is one of the most family-friendly ski areas in the world, and it's celebrating it's 50th anniversary during the 2012-2013 ski season.

Killington, Vermont. Killington has the largest vertical drop in New England (3,000+ feet), 141 trails, 22 lifts and extends across six mountain peaks. It has one of the longest ski seasons on the East coast (most often the longest) and is simply one of the best areas on the East coast for skiing.

Steamboat Springs.  Located in Northwest Colorado, Steamboat is a complete mountain range with six peaks and ridges offering outstanding skiing. It's about 3 hours from Denver by car. You can also reach it by air with direct flights from seven major airports. With the money you save on lodging, treat yourself to a flight directly into Steamboat.

Tahoe. While Tahoe may conjure up images of celebrities and jet setters, you can still ski and stay for cheap, if you look. The Tahoe area's easy to navigate and offers some of the best skiing in the world, so why not save on your room and spend the extra cash rubbing elbows with the rich and famous in Heavenly village?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Enter Our $100 Pack Your Bags Sweepstakes

Just a quick note about our $100 Pack Your Bags Facebook Sweepstakes running now through November 30th. Just Like Perfect Places Vacation Rentals Facebook page to enter to win a $100 VISA Gift Card that spends like cash. It's that easy!

Click here to enter. Good luck and happy travels this Holiday season.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cool Chart on Cheapest Days to Fly Over Thanksgiving

Over the river and through the woods?
More like over the cab stand and through security.
Whether or not you purchased your airline tickets for Thanksgiving, this chart from ABC News/Travelocity is pretty neat. It shows airline prices for different combinations of days over one of the busiest travel holidays of the year.

 If you haven't bought your tickets yet, use it to come up with the combination that's right for you. Not only will you save money, it will likely save you trouble. You'll spend a lot less time trying to come up with inexpensive options yourself.

 If you've already purchased your tickets, then bookmark this page and come back to it when you travel next year.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mush! Try Dog Sledding in Haliburton for a Unique Vacation Experience

While swimming with dolphins is great fun, relatively few people can say they've really run with the big dogs – BIG sled dogs that is. It's an activity rich in history and filled with excitement. Like skiing, it's guaranteed to warm up a winter day. And even a short dog sled trip will give you a lifetime of wonderful memories. And dog sledding is a great activity when you're staying in vacation rentals--you can look forward to returning the the cozy comfort of your home away from home.

Haliburton County in Ontario, Canada is one of the best areas to dog sled in. The area offers a lot of opportunity for dog sledding, including Winterdance Dogsled Tours, a local outfitter that knows the area and provides safe, fun and exciting tours. You'll ride through the beautiful wilderness alongside Algonquin Park behind a powerful team of purebred Siberian Huskies. Winterdance Dogsled Tours has been featured on the Rick Mercer Report, the Toronto Star, Country Women Magazine and elsewhere in the media.

Not Just Dog Sledding

Haliburton isn't just about dog sledding. You'll find a host of winter activities. Downhill skiing, ski racing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, luge (yes, the Olympic sport) are some of your options for warming up this winter. When it's time to relax, enjoy local maple syrup on warm and filling pancakes or the local French-Canadian cuisine, shop at quaint local shops and art galleries, and enjoy special events throughout the winter.

"There are so many unique things to do in the Haliburton area!  Dog-sledding and luge runs are a blast!  Over 640 kms of groomed snowmobile and cross-country ski trails, and everyone's favorite, Sir Sam's Ski Area for downhill skiing and snowshoeing make Haliburton Ontario's most popular winter destination." -- Janice Bishop of All Season Cottage Rentals (see all the all season cottage rentals here)

Haliburton's a Great All-Season Destination

If a winter vacation isn't in your plans, then schedule a week or two in Haliburton when it warms up. The area is bursting with natural beauty that can be experienced in a variety of ways. Canoe, kayak, sail, waterski or fish on one of the areas 600 lakes; ATV the miles and miles of trails (you can head for the backwoods or stay nearer to civilization); hike to your heart’s content; or enjoy golf, horseback rides, cycling, fall color tours--the year-round activity options are nearly endless. The area is rich in natural history as well. Try recreational geology and geocaching, a fun activity using GPS and other navigational techniques to hind and find containers, referred to as "caches."

Haliburton County is just two hours from Toronto and four hours from Ottawa (Canada's capitol), so while it's far enough away to feel isolated, you're really very close to civilization. Plan your trip to this natural wonderland now.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wailea--Hawaii's Millionaire’s Paradise Welcomes You

One trip to Wailea on Maui and you'll feel like you landed in heaven. The combination of natural beauty and upscale amenities offers you the best of both worlds. While the resorts in the area make it seem like Wailea is exclusive, nothing could be further from the truth. Wailea, while it's definitely paradise for the rich and famous, is within reach of the average traveler. First, there are many Maui vacation rentals to be had, like those offered by the Maui Rental Group. MRG vacationrentals offer direct access to the incredible Keawakapu Beach--one of the very best on Maui. You'll see the island of Kahoolawe in the distance, and enjoy nearly a mile of soft sand. It's secluded, and slopes gently into the ocean with no sudden drop off.

Another thing to know is that all the beaches in Wailea are open to the public and offer public restrooms. So what seems like a closed resort beach is actually accessible by anyone. You can have the best of both worlds--stay in a private, deluxe vacation rental, enjoy Maui and Wailea on your terms, and still get your fill sun-filled days on your pick of the world's best beaches.

Near Mokapu and Ulua Beaches.
Wailea Beach is on Maui's south shore. Sunbathing, swimming, inviting surfing and body boarders. The beach is flat, with calm, gentle waves, making it perfect for whale watching from the shore during the winter. There's a walkway that connects you to restaurants and hideaway coves with native plants.

For those that want more than just beachcombing, snorkeling is a popular pastime in Wailea. Mokapu Beach, Ilua Beach or Polo Beach are great choices, with something for beginners and experts alike.  You can also kayak or paddleboard.

When you're done at the beach, head to Wailea Golf Club. It offers three 18 hold courses. When it opened in 1993, the Gold Course was recognized as one of the 10 best new courses and its reputation remains strong today. It hosts the Wendy's Champions Skins Game.

No trip to Wailea would be complete without a spa treatment or two. The Grand Wailea Hotel houses the Spa Grande, Hawaii's largest spa--50,000 square feet of luxury, voted one of the top 10 spas in the United States by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure magazines. It offers treatments for all age groups using a variety of treatments. With all the resorts in the area, there are also many other choices for fantastic spa treatments.

You'll become so immersed in Wailea, you might forget you're on Maui, which many consider to be the most beautiful of the Hawaiian Islands. Maui is an island of quaint small towns, upscale resorts and hotels, and many natural wonders (Haleakala National Park). Find black sand at Waianapanapa Beach, drive along with Hana Highway for incredible scenic beauty, or visit the Maui Ocean Center for an up close view of marine life.

Don't wait any longer. Plan a vacation to Wailea--it's a trip you'll remember forever. One warning: once you arrive you won't want to leave, and once you leave, you’ll immediately plan your trip back.