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11 Best Places For Fall Foliage

LEAF PEEPING
AT ITS BEST!

Does the crisp, cool air of autumn remind you that summer is gone? Is the call of fall colors awakening the leaf peeper in you? Don’t wait a moment longer. Take a fall color drive before all the leaves have drifted to the ground.

Aren’t we fortunate that this great land of ours offers marvelous leaf peeping opportunities nationwide? Here are 11 amazing autumn leaf peeping destinations to tease your interest. Surely, you’ll find many more on your own.

1. Vermont
Is there a best place to view the fall foliage in Vermont? Cruising Vermont is sure to bombard the eyes with colors of the season. A variety of elevations and deciduous trees paint an explosion of color upon hillsides throughout the state. Specially flashy are the reds of the sugar maples and the state tree. Farmhouses and barns dot the hillsides, adding interest to the overwhelming dazzle of color. Country stores lure visitors in for freshly picked apples, maple syrup, local cheeses and interesting antiques. How about a bird’s eye view of leaf peeping colors from Killington’s gondola sky ride? Enjoy a picnic or restaurant lunch at the top of the mountain while gazing out upon views of five states and Canada too. Use the Vermont foliage forecaster map for the ‘when’ and ‘where’ of the best colors.

Vermont Autumn Color Hotlines: 1- 800-828-3239

2. Michigan
Michigan is a leaf peeper’s paradise where the annual blaze of colors pop and crackle over every inch of the state. Vibrant colors paint the state from top to bottom and from elevations high and low. The drape of color begins in the Upper Peninsula and makes its way down the state as temperatures and elevations drop. The show is amazing, sending locals and visitors alike on endless fall color tours. With over 30 varieties of trees, the colors of autumn in the Hiawatha National Forest would please any artist’s palette. Located on Michigan’s upper peninsula, the 880,000 acre park touches the shores of Lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron, giving it over 100 miles of shoreline. If that isn’t enough, Michigan’s many interior lakes also add to the magical beauty of the fall colors.

Michigan Autumn Color Hotlines: 1-800-644-3255

3. Colorado
If solid gold is your thing, then head to Colorado where the 14-karat gold of the quaking aspens will take your breath away. With over 2.7 million acres, Colorado has more aspens than any other state. Drive the back roads from Ouray to Telluride for a golden display of aspens and colorful wildflowers. Other excellent places to leaf peep Colorado’s gold are Cottonwood Canyon, Green Mountain Falls, Estes Park and, of course, Aspen, where Maroon Bells and the reflections of the aspens in Maroon Lake are spectacular.

If you’re brave, take the switchback road to the Twin Lakes Reservoir for majestic aspen views from the highest paved mountain pass in the country. If you don’t mind driving a few more hours through beautiful Colorado autumn, drive southwest of Crested Butte along County Highway 12 and across Kebler Pass, to see one of the largest stands of aspens on Earth. The views are breathtaking with mountains and valleys draped in golden aspens under a brilliant sky of blue.

4. Central Park, New York City
Central Park is wonderful anytime of year, but truly shows its colors in autumn. The reflection of reds, oranges and brown shimmering in its lakes with a backdrop of New York City’s towering glass buildings gives Central Park a charm all on its own. Bundle up and rent a rowboat for a view of the fall colors from the lake. Get your fill of leaf peeping combined with a lakeside brunch at The Tavern on the Green. Stroll the many meandering paths under umbrellas of autumn colors while gathering handfuls of leaves. Toss your scarf around your neck and enjoy New York City at its finest.

New York Autumn Color Hotlines: 1-800-225-5697

5. Pennsylvania
If you like mixing your autumn colors with water, then Pennsylvania is the place to go. The Delaware Water Gap area is lovely at fall foliage time. Drive US-209 along the Delaware River from I-80 to Milford to see the many colors of autumn shimmering on the surface of the river. Located in Northeast Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains is Bushkill Falls, also known as the “Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania.” A small admission charge and some hiking through a network of trails, bridges, and crunching autumn leaves can take you to any of its eight waterfalls, including the 100 foot high Main Falls. Maybe leaf peeping of the color palette from the air is more your style. Than hop into a hot air balloon at the Mid-October Timber and Balloon Festival at the Shawnee Mountain Ski Area.

Pennsylvania Autumn Color Hotlines: 1-800-325-5467

6. New York
Autumn in New York State’s Adirondacks will keep leaf peeper’s binoculars and cameras busy with color opportunities. Start off with six million acres of forest, lakes, and quaint towns at a variety of elevations. Add in 14 National Scenic Byways sprinkled with autumn fairs and festivals with many historic sites along the way. You won’t have to look too hard for a pumpkin stand or some apples to take home for baking. Enjoy the fall foliage from your car, bike, and canoe, on horseback or hiking along a quiet trail. Just take it slow and enjoy.

New York Autumn Color Hotlines: 1-800-225-5697

7. Virginia
Be sure to have a camera in hand when you leaf peep along Skyline Drive of the Shenandoah National Park. Stop at one of the many overlooks to photograph the panorama of autumn colors. Mountains, ridges and meadows are ablaze with golds, purples, crimsons, browns, and oranges. Among vegetation contributing to this display are hickories, birches, maples, dogwoods and sumac saplings. The purple asters, yellow goldenrods, golden ferns and bright red Virginia creeper vines are other park plants adding to the display. For a slower pace, hike one of the many beautiful trails and listen to the crunch of the leaves beneath your feet. Then, stay the night at one of the park’s three lodges for more of the same the next day. Many fall festivals are to be found in the area during the autumn season.

West Virginia Autumn Color Hotlines: 1-800-225-5982

8. Missouri
Do you long for the quieter days of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn? Then, the Mark Twain National Forest and Ozark National Scenic Riverways is where you want to be this autumn. Viewing a rainbow of fall colors from the vantage point of a canoe on one of the Ozarks’ 350 miles of floatable rivers and streams can take you back in time. You may even glimpse a bald eagle, osprey, wild turkey, beaver, or possibly even a bobcat as your canoe quietly slips through the water. Doing your leaf peeping from one of many scenic hiking trails is a good alternative if canoeing is not your cup-o-tea. Mark Twain National Forest, with its 1.5 million acres spanning 29 counties, will not leave you bored.

Missouri Autumn Color Hotlines: 1-800-898-8895

9. Utah
The striking sandstone canyons, high plateaus, rock towers and mesas of Southern Utah’s Zion National Park are amazing all by themselves. Add in the colors of Mother Nature’s autumn artwork and you’ll be glad you have your digital camera along. Zion’s changes in elevations and plant life offer a variety of color from early October to mid November. Expect to see aspens in Zion’s high country, hardwoods on the east side, and the riparian trees at the bottom of the canyon. The riparian areas offer the greatest variety of color in deciduous trees, ferns, wildflowers and mosses all splendid in their varying shades of red, yellow and orange.

10. Texas
Drive 71 miles west of San Antonio and you’ll find the Lost Maples State Natural Area, designated a National Natural Landmark, alongside the Sabinal River. Here, the diversity of deciduous trees creates a kaleidoscope of color, especially beautifully reflected in the park’s creeks, ponds, and two small lakes. Sprinkle in the textures of its limestone cliffs, and deep canyons for even more of a scenic lure. The dazzling shows of color, especially from the big tooth maples, entice multitudes of visitors during the November peak fall color season. Eleven miles of hiking trails within the 2,208-acre provide lots of opportunities for relaxing hikes and lots of leaf peeping.

11. Quebec
Anywhere in Quebec is unbelievable when it comes to autumn colors, but you needn’t go far beyond Montreal Island to be dazzled. The number one leaf peeper locations for a stunning stroll among the colors, however, is Mount Royal Park on Montreal Island. There, a background of the city’s skyscrapers is framed by color, color, and more color. It doesn’t stop there, as other colorful Montreal strolls are Angrignon, Maisonneuve and Jean-Drapeau parks. An extra special treat is the Chinese Lantern Festival at the Botanical Garden, which runs every evening until November 1st. With Halloween creeping closer, you may want to take your leaf peeping to Mount Royal’s two large and spooky graveyards, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges and Mount Royal cemeteries, where you can invite along a friendly ghost or two on your autumn leaf viewing experience.

Quebec Autumn Color Hotlines: 1-800-363-7777

Do your autumn research!
These suggestions only scrath the surface of leaf peeping possiblities. Decide how far you want to drive, how much time you have, and how much your budget can handle. Quickly do a little research, then hop in the car and go! Those leaves won’t be there forever!

The Best Places to View Fall Foliage
Leaf-Lookers’ Guide to Fall Colors
U.S. Forest Service offers a toll-free number — (800) 354-4595

Other great Autumn color hotlines

Maine: 1-800-533-9595
Massachusetts: 1-800-277-6277
Minnesota: 1-800-657-3700
Montana: 1-800-847-4868
New Hampshire: 1-800-258-3608
North Carolina: 1-800-847-4862
Tennessee: 1-800-697-4200

© Copyright 2003 – 2012, SheKnows LLC

Taking Your Dog On A Road Trip

Expert tips for traveling by car with your favorite canine companion.

It wouldn’t be a family car trip without Fido, but if you want everyone who’s along for the ride — two-legged and four-legged — to have fun, you need to do some prep work.

“People just jump in the car and think they are prepared,” says animal behaviorist Kristen Collins, MS, CPDT, with the ASPCA Animal Behavior Center. “But preparation needs to start as far in advance as you know you are going on a trip.”

Preparing for a Road Trip with Your Dog

Acclimate your pooch to the car in the weeks leading up to your trip. Collins recommends taking your dog on short car rides around town. It will help him get used to the doggy seat belt or carrier — a must for safe travels — and it will reveal any tendencies to get overly nervous or carsick. Ask your vet about motion sickness and sedation medications. If your dog gets in your vehicle only for dreaded trips to the vet, take him somewhere fun, like a park where he can run, Collins says. That way, he’ll begin to associate getting in the car with receiving a reward.

Many dogs, Collins says, only feel comfortable eliminating at home, so it’s also essential to train your dog to go to the bathroom in unfamiliar places. “The poor dog could be near exploding because it doesn’t feel right to go elsewhere,” she says.

Before you leave on vacation, spend a few weeks developing a potty cue. Whenever your dog is on the verge of eliminating, say a phrase like, “Time to go!” Then, when he’s done, praise him and give him a treat. By the time you hit the road, saying your cue should get him to do his business on demand.

Research where you will stay along your route. Not every hotel is dog-friendly. If you reserve online, don’t take a web site’s word for it; pick up the phone. “You don’t want to show up in the middle of the night and find they don’t accept pets,” says A. Chea Hall, DVM, of the Murrayhill Veterinary Hospital in Beaverton, Ore. “You need to sit down and plan where you will be each night.”

Traveling with Your Dog

Most dogs are like their humans — they can’t go too long without a potty break. Plan to stop every few hours. Look for places where your dog can get some relief but also enjoy some exercise, which will help your pet relax in the car. So will chew toys.

Stick to your dog’s feeding schedule. If he eats at 8 a.m., feed him then. And keep plenty of bottled water handy. Another rule of the road: Dogs should not be left alone in the car. Cold and hot weather can be deadly to animals. If you absolutely have to leave your dog for a short while, park somewhere where he can see you, and crack a window so he can get some fresh air.

Finally, make sure your dog’s head stays in the car window. You want to make sure everyone arrives in one piece.

Doggie Road Trip Tips

Make sure you don’t leave home without these dog travel essentials:

  • Medical and vaccine records, in the event an emergency trip to the vet is needed
  • Pet tags with your cell phone number in case he gets lost
  • Favorite toys that will help your dog feel at home
  • Your dog’s meds, if applicable
  • Food, bowl, and scooper
  • Leash  should always be worn out of the car
  • Doggie harness or travel seat

© 2011 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Best Restaurants In The South

Oh the Deep South. How do I love thee? This is where I was born. This is where I was raised. This is where I spent all my yesterdays. I mean whats not to love about this place where a lazy afternoon is spent on the front porch sipping lemonade, where speaking to passer-by’s is a common courtesy, where next to God football is king and where you can find the finest cuisine. And I’m not just talking about good ole’ fried chicken and homemade buttermilk biscuits. I talking about dry-aged prime USDA steaks, fresh local seafood, sauce dripping down your arm Bar-B-Que  and everything in between. So come on down and visit with us a spell. We’ll welcome you with open arms and while you’re here go ahead and “Put Some South In Your Mouth!”

Bern’s Steak House, Tampa, Fla.

Quick, where will you find the restaurant with the biggest wine list in the world? That’s right, Tampa, Fla. Founded in 1956 by the late Bern Laxer, Bern’s Steak House is still a family-run restaurant, with Bern’s son, David Laxer, at the helm. The wine list isn’t the only draw here, of course. With some calling it the country’s best steak house, the food isn’t bad either.

Commander’s Palace, New Orleans

A slice of New Orleans dining history — it opened in 1880 — this culinary landmark has long been collecting accolades for everything from its service to its wine list to its “haute Creole” cuisine. The gold standard of family-run restaurants, Commander’s offers a dining experience that could win you over on its Southern charm alone — but you’d be remiss to not order the turtle soup, practically synonymous with the place.

Joe’s Stone Crab, Miami

“Eat at Joe’s” may have been a running joke in classic Warner Bros. cartoons, but this almost 100-year-old establishment is a serious Miami institution. The old-school seafood house boasts a massive menu, but your order is simple: stone crab claws (jumbos if available, nothing smaller than large), hash browns, and Key lime pie.

The Pit, Raleigh, N.C.

Barbecue is religion in the South, and without question, pitmaster Ed Mitchell is one of its patron saints. The legendary barbecue baron oversees this destination-worthy joint, specializing in North Carolina-style whole hog, pit-cooked ‘cue. The word “authentic” should only be dispensed with caution when it comes to food, but Mitchell’s generations-old family recipe is the real deal, widely regarded as the standard for its genre.

Fonda San Miguel, Austin, Texas

In a town full of great Tex-Mex places, Fonda San Miguel stands out for its superbly made “interior Mexican” food, from tacos al pastor and spinach salad with toasted pasilla chiles and panela cheese to Gulf shrimp in chipotle cream sauce and crêpes filled with goat’s milk caramel.

Cochon, New Orleans

A cult favorite since it opened in 2006, Cochon is the domain of pork-loving chef Donald Link, proprietor of the popular Herbsaint and winner of a 2010 James Beard Award for his cookbook Real Cajun. Inspired by Cajun and Creole culinary traditions, Link serves up dishes like deep-fat-fried hog head cheese with field beans and ravigote and Louisiana cochon (roast pig) with turnips, cabbage, and cracklins’ as well as such non-porcine delights as fried alligator with chile garlic aïoli and rabbit and dumplings.

Galatoire’s, New Orleans, La.

This is what you should know about Galatoire’s: the food is classic Creole and all-around New Orleans in style and it’s not on your diet; the menu has changed little over the past century-plus, and is full of things like turtle soup au sherry, crabmeat au gratin, eggs Sardou (with creamed spinach, artichoke bottoms, and Hollandaise), and Louisiana seafood eggplant cake; and you’ll have a good time if you go hungry — and a better time if you go hungry with a regular at your side.

Kreuz Market, Lockhart, Texas

Definitive Hill Country barbecue — meat on butcher paper — in a big barn of a place perfumed with woodsmoke.The brisket is what it’s all about, but there are also fans who drive for hours for the housemade sausages, including the impossibly delicious “regular” and the more complicated jalapeño cheese links. Side dishes include German potato salad and sauerkraut alongside the usual cole slaw and beans — a reference to Kreuz’s teutonic origins.

Restaurant August, New Orleans

John Besh is one of the most interesting and ambitious chefs in the Crescent City today. The American menu at this splendid eatery betrays his love for, and understanding of, French, Italian, and high-level American cuisine, much of it interpreted with a New Orleans lilt.

Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue, Austin, Texas

Texas barbecue gets a new look at this friendly, casual, but gastronomically serious establishment. Crispy wild boar ribs with Cabrales blue cheese, oak-smoked brisket with brown sugar and coffee rub, cold-smoked rainbow trout, waffle fries with Spanish smoked red pepper — this is not your father’s ‘cue.

Fearing’s, Dallas, Texas

Located at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas, Fearing’s features modern Southwestern-American cuisine with a farm-to-table approach. Choose from one of the many dining venues on site, from the outdoor patio to the more upscale Gallery; if you’re dining chef-side in Dean’s Kitchen, or at the Chef’s Table, look for the ebullient chef Dean Fearing himself, who is often present.

Hominy Grill, Charleston, S.C.

Located in downtown Charleston, Hominy Grill, located in a onetime barbershop, features chef/owner Robert Stehling’s classic Lowcountry cooking, served with relaxed, at-home feel. Don’t miss his stone-ground grits, house-made sausage, or rich Southern-style desserts like buttermilk pie or butterscotch pudding.

Reef, Houston, Texas

Peer into Reef’s buzzing open kitchen to watch renowned chef and devoted Houstonite Bryan Caswell expertly craft elegant, fresh seafood dishes that show his patrons the true meaning of Southern coastal culture. Caswell grew to fame under culinary greats like Charlie Palmer, Alfred Portale, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Thoughtful touches, such as presenting the lump crab lollipop with claw intact, express Caswell’s devotion to the ocean.

Eugene, Atlanta, Ga.

Eugene pays homage to those who grow the local produce they use right on the menu. The list typically includes around two dozen farms, dairies, and even elementary school gardens, and pays tribute to the ingredients by altering them as little as possible while making everything in the kitchen from scratch. Named as one of Food and Wine‘s Best Chefs of 2009, Linton Hopkins offers refined dishes, such as his wild mushroom tasting plate, that come from the ingenuously rustic roots he describes as “folkways meeting Escoffier.”

The Fearrington House Restaurant, Fearrington Village, N.C.

The Fearrington House Restaurant has kept its AAA Five Diamond rating for 16 years and is the only restaurant of its caliber to receive Green Certification from the Green Restaurant Association. Executive chef Colin Bedford offers a highly refined blend of classical French and New American cuisine, inspired by his commitment to environmental sustainability.  Unsurprisingly, it was also mentioned in our list of 10 Inns Worth Dining In.

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Miami

According to Michael Schwartz, winner of the 2010 James Beard Award for Best Southern Chef, the most important thing you can take away from dining at this New York Times Top 10 establishment is: Know Your Source. The restaurant procures its Old World rustic-breed chickens, for instance, from North Carolina’s Joyce Foods, the only producer of Label Rouge poultry in the U.S.; heirloom tomatoes figure not only on the menu (more than once), but as decor in the minimalist dining room.

The Barn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.

The cuisine is so emblematic that it has inspired a new category — Foothills Cuisine, a term that has actually been copyrighted. Truly farm-to-table, the Barn uses the farm estate’s produce and products for a dynamic menu of Smoky Mountain regional dishes with a global flair.

Quinones at Bacchanalia, Atlanta

Consistently considered one of best restaurants in Atlanta, the dining room at Quinones, adjacent to the older and also acclaimed Bacchanalia, has only 11 tables. The menu, which changes daily, boasts a collection of dishes that mixes modern and classic Southern cuisine, with the results skillfully prepared.

Lonesome Dove, Fort Worth, Texas

At the premier establishment from renowned cowboy-chef Tim Love, the culinary style is what Love calls “Urban Western Cuisine”. This translates to Texas-style meat and potatoes with an edge of sophistication. Located in the historic Stockyards District of Fort Worth, Lonesome Dove proposed a menu featuring large servings of protein — whole fish, cowboy steaks, roasted turkey, and a variety of wild game among them.

Hot and Hot Fish Club, Birmingham, Ala.

Christopher and Idie Hastings, the chef-owners of Hot and Hot Fish Club, located in a historic building on Birmingham’s Southside, pride themselves on crafting what they call “memory cuisine”, using simple ingredients to create dishes that trigger a sense of nostalgia in their diners. Fish is — no surprise — the specialty, but vegetables picked at the optimum point and top-quality meat and poultry are also treated with respect and skill.

McCrady’s, Charleston, S.C.

McCrady’s is an establishment richly steeped in Charleston history, residing in a structure, built in 1788, that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks. Juxtaposed against the staid surroundings, the menu at McCrady’s is anything but traditional, though chef Sean Bock, who received the James Beard award for Best Chef Southeast in 2010, weaves touches of Southern tradition into the otherwise highly modern cuisine. The bar has become known for its specialty pre-Prohibition-style cocktails.

Copyright © 2012 Spanfeller Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

One Tank Trips From Jacksonville, FL – Horse Stamp Inn

Destination: Horse Stamp Inn

Address: 2418 Horsestamp Church Road; Waverly, Georgia 31565

Directions from Jacksonville: Take I-95 north; take Exit #22/Horse Stamp Church Road. Head west for 3.5 miles.

Details: Nestled on a secluded tree-covered property with expansive green fields, rustic horse barn and a fresh water pond, this Southern mansion has been restored and allows people to escape their troubles for a peaceful getaway.

Family Friendly: Yes.

Cost: Complimentary winery tours and wine tasting are offered 7 days a week from 10 am-6 pm with Sunday tours starting at 11 am.

Contact: 912-882-6280

WAVERLY, Ga. is a coastal Georgia town that is home to the Horse Stamp Inn. The bed-and-breakfast is nestled on a secluded property that houses dramatic trees, expansive green fields, a rustic horse bar and an artesian fresh water pond.

It was the dream of owners Kris and Tom Hutcheson to one day own a bed-and-breakfast inn. Once the sprawling property became available, the couple jumped at the chance to transform it into a getaway for those looking for a quiet getaway.

Said Tom: “It’s very serene, tranquil and peaceful,” he said. “It’s close enough to cities like Jacksonville, Savannah, and Atlanta to be one-day trips.”

The Horse Stamp Inn offers five bedrooms along with a full Southern-style breakfast that is made with fresh eggs straight from the chicken coop. Opening the inn has been a labor of love for the Hutchesons. Kris and Tom attended to every detail when they were getting it ready for its debut.

During a tour of the lodge, Kris pointed out the features of the B&B.

During a tour of the Sea Biscuit room, she said it is the largest room in the inn and, “is the only one with access to the top veranda,” adding that it provides a place for guests to “relax, have fun and reconnect.”

The owners said they hope their inn provides some peace of mind to guests who visit.

“Life can be busy and if we can take some of that load (so that a guest) feels like they’ve really relaxed and leave here with a good feeling and feel ready to go back out and hit it again then we’ve accomplished our job,” Tom said.

What Products Do Natural’s Really Like?

This was the question: Let’s say you were going on a two week vacation, and when you get there, you will not be able to buy hair products. Your hair cannot be in a protective style, where your hair is safely tucked away, but your beautiful hair is going to be free. You can only take 3 products (your brush, comb and bobby pins are already packed!)

 What 3 products would you take?

Jacksonville Bucket List

My husband and I have been settled into our new home in Jacksonville, Florida for almost 2 years now. However, we still have not seen nor experience everything there is to love about Jax. So with that thought in mind we compiled a bucket list of things that we wanted to see and do in this beautiful place we call home.

1. Go to a Jacksonville Jaguars game

2. Go to a Jacksonville Sharks game

3. Go to a Jacksonville Suns game

 

4. Go to a Jacksonville Giants game

5. Visit the Jacksonville Zoo

6. Visit the MOCA museum

7. Go Parasailing

8. Rent a Jet Ski

9. Fish Jax

10. Ride the skyway tram

11. Take a sunset cruise

12. Spend the night at the Crowne Plaza Riverfront

13. See the Blue Angels Air Show

14. Go to the Greater Jacksonville Fair

15. Go to JazzFest

16. Play with the dolphins & manatees

17. Go snorkeling

18. Explore Huguenot Memorial Park

19. Ride the St Johns Ferry

20. Attend some of the local festivals

21. Take a tour of the Budweiser Brewery

22. Visit the MOSH museum

23. ????

I know that there is so much more to this great city that I am over looking some things. So if anyone have any great ideas on what to do and/or see in Jacksonville, FL drop me a comment. We would love to hear from you. Thanks!

One Tank Trip From Jacksonville – Graham Swamp Mountain Bike Trail

Destination: Graham Swamp Mountain Bike Trail

Directions from Jacksonville: Take I-95 South; The trail is located on Colbert Lane at Flagler Beach in the Graham Swamp Preservation Area, about half-way between SR100 and Palm Coast Parkway

Details: Just a few short miles from beautiful Flagler Beach lies one of Florida’s premier mountain biking destinations, Graham Swamp. Situated on The Graham Swamp Preservation Area, it provides nearly 7 miles of intermediate singletrack littered with advanced features including everything from sweet drops, nasty climbs, and double jumps to tight switchbacks, log rides, and gnarly rock gardens.

Family Friendly: Yes

Cost: Free

When you think of mountain biking, you probably don’t think of Florida. But we found a place that’s a hidden gem on this one tank trip. Before hitting the trail. Who better to talk to then local bike shop about the best place to ride.

“Palm Coast has gone in the direction of make it the cycling capital of Florida,” said Tony Libretti of the Bicycle Doctor. “It’s become a place to bring your bike, ride the trails, see the scenery, stay the night. We actually have rolling hills, tough decents, and everything out here.”

Flagler county offers miles and miles of trails. The one that came highly recomended was the Graham Swamp Trail. The best thing about it is it’s free. Just bring your bike and your helmet. Volunteers carved out this challenging single track out of the landscape.

One Tank Trips From Jacksonville – iFLY Orlando

Destination: IFLY Orlando

Address: 6805 Visitors Circle • Orlando, Florida 32819

Directions from Jacksonville: Take I-95 South to I-4 west. Turn right on International Blvd. Exit at Visitors Circle.

Details: You can experience human body flight! Indoor Skydiving at iFLY Orlando is safe for kids, challenging for adults, exciting for teens and realistic for skydivers. No experience is necessary, great fun for all ages, three and up.

Family Friendly: Yes

Cost: Contact the center at (800) 759-3861 or visit iflyorlando.com
Located off of Interstate 4 near International Boulevard, IFLY Orlando is one of only 24 facilities in the world where adventurers can skydive indoors. The facility is a vertical wind tunnel that looks like a spaceship from the outside. From the inside, the adrenaline starts racing as you hear the roar of the engines.

The attraction uses five airplane engines that suck air into the tunnel, which creates the lift for your sky diving adventure. Starting at $54.99, an experienced instructor, like our guy striker, will walk you through instructions

Thrill-seekers receive two flights for 1 minute each. And while that may not seem like a lot on paper, it actually feels a lot longer while inside the wind tunnel. No experience is necessary and the only age restriction is that participants be at least 3 years old and in decent physical shape.

Judging from the experience recently by several kids who were at the center, the experience is a blast. As for the ride itself: One word, thrilling.

One Tank Trips from Jacksonville – Kayak Amelia

Destination: Kayak Amelia

Address: 13030 Heckscher Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32226

Directions from Jacksonville: Take I-295 north towards the airport; Take the SR-105 N exit, EXIT 41, toward Blount Island; Merge onto Heckscher Dr.

Details: Northeast Florida offers thousands of acres of tranquil inland marshes that can be explored via a variety of tours offered by Kayak Amelia.

Family Friendly: Yes

Cost: Ranges from $32-64 and daily hours are from 9am-5 pm.

Contact: 904-251-0016

One Tank Trip to Amelia Island, a peaceful resort that offers an urban getaway. “People can’t believe this is here in Jacksonville,” said Ray Hetchka, owner of Kayak Amelia. “We are actually in the city limits. It’s peaceful.”

Kayak Amelia is an easy 30-40 minute ride from downtown Jacksonville. Located in Talbot State Park, it’s close to a major city and feels like another world — especially on the miles of tranquil inland marshes. Adventure seekers can go by themselves or take family and friends.

Prices range from $32-64 and the attraction is open from 9 a.m. to 5 pm. daily. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, bug repellent and a zip lock bag for phone and valuables. Supplies can also be purchased at Kayak Amelia. There is plenty of wildlife but not alligators — they don’t like the salt water. Kayak Amelia is a good place to experience northeast Florida.

One Tank Trips From Jacksonville – St. Augustine Winery

Destination: San Sebastian Winery

Address: 157 King Street, St. Augustine, FL 32084

Directions from Jacksonville: Take I-95 south towards Daytona Beach; Take the SR-16 exit towards St. Augustine/Green Cove Springs; turn left on SR-16E; Turn right on N Ponce de Leon Blvd.; Turn left on W King St.

Details: San Sebastian Winery was founded in 1996 and is in a part of the state considered to be the birthplace of the American wine industry, dating back to 1562.

Family Friendly: Yes, for winery tours.

Cost: Complimentary winery tours and wine tasting are offered 7 days a week from 10 am-6 pm with Sunday tours starting at 11 am.

Contact: 904-826-1594

According to historians, St. Augustine is the birthplace of American wine, an industry that dates back to 1562. 

The San Sebastian Winery is keeping that tradition alive. Company officials consider themselves pioneers in the development of table, sparkling and dessert wine. Their facility has over 18,000 square feet of space inside, 40,000 gallons of wine storage capacity and houses an automated bottling line that allows them to bottle 1,250 cases of wine per day.

The wine is all made from hybrid and muscadine grapes. In addition to producing wine, the facility offers tours and wine tasting.

Don’t want to do the tour? Check out the cellar upstairs for music and drinks on the rooftop deck. The location provides beautiful views of the city with appetizers. And the best thing about the winery is that it’s free. It’s open 7 days a week, followed by a tasting. Visitors who want to avoid driving can catch a trolley that has convenient stops right in front of the winery.