Win a FAMILY FOUR PACK of Tickets to Alabama Splash Adventure

Who wants to win a FAMILY FOUR PACK of tickets to Alabama Splash Adventure?

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Alabama Splash Adventure has new ownership and everything in place to offer a fun-filled family adventure in both a theme park and water park! What’s new? The exciting coaster RAMPAGE is back and has been fully restored to its former glory! Thrill-seekers from all over will appreciate this fabulous ride! There is FREE parking, FREE wifi, FREE sunscreen and FREE sodas to go along with all this family fun!

Now, about that FAMILY FOUR PACK…here’s how to enter:

1. LIKE my Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/thetravelvoicebybecky.
2. WATCH the video – http://www.thetravelvoice.info.
3. Leave the answers to these two questions in the comments section here or on the Facebook page post about Splash. How much is parking at ASA and how many folks does it take to get the group rate?

That’s it! You’re entered! Good luck!

The Travel Voice by Becky WEB SERIES is here!

Hey friends and fellow travelers! The Travel Voice by Becky has teamed up with Video Visions to bring you QUIK TRIPS! These are fun, exciting peaks into my travels both domestically and abroad! They are designed to be informative and loaded with action!

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Take a look at the very first video about Alabama Splash Adventure right in my home state. Splash has new ownership and boy oh boy are you in for a treat! They have brought back the amazing, thrilling RAMPAGE roller coaster and have made vast park improvements! Enjoy FREE parking, FREE sodas, FREE wifi and FREE sunscreen in the water park!

Check it out and be sure and visit often to see the next QUIK TRIP! Don’t forget to SHARE!

Click here for the The Travel Voice Web Series

Brew Fun in Grapevine: 31st Annual Main Street Fest May 15-17

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Tap into three full days of festival fun at Grapevine’s 31st Annual Main Street Fest – A Craft Brew Experience, presented by Bank of the West, May 15, 16 and 17! Held along Main Street in Historic Downtown Grapevine, guests will experience new and returning favorites, with a special emphasis on craft brew tasting experiences. The 31st Annual Main Street Fest coincides with American Craft Beer Week.

Returning this year is the Craft Brew Experience, located at East Worth and Jenkins Streets. Ticket holders can choose 12 two-ounce pours from 20 local, Texas and national breweries. More than 50 varieties of craft brews will be available. Tickets for the Craft Brew Experience are $12 in advance or $14 at the festival. Additional tastings are available for purchase on-site. Ticket prices do not include festival admission.

Don’t miss the pre-festival Craft Brew Dinners in the weeks prior to Main Street Fest. The dinners will be led by brewmasters, brewery representatives and chefs, and will feature food designed to specifically enhance the craft brew experience. The details for the Craft Brew Dinners are:

  • Tuesday, April 7, 6:30 p.m., Mac’s on Main, 909 S. Main St., featuring Grapevine Craft Brewery (Grapevine, TX);
  • Thursday, April 16, 6:30 p.m., Chill, 814 S. Main St., featuring Deep Ellum Brewing Company (Dallas, TX);
  • Monday, April 20, 6:30 p.m., Uncle Buck’s Steakhouse, 2501 Bass Pro Dr., featuring Real Ale Brewing Company (Blanco, TX);
  • Friday, April 24, 6:30 p.m., Hilton DFW Lakes, 1800 State Hwy. 26 E., featuring Goose Island Beer Company (Chicago, IL);
  • Tuesday, April 28, 6 p.m., Love and War in Texas, 2505 E. Grapevine Mills Cir., featuring Franconia Brewing Company (McKinney, TX) and
  • Wednesday, May 6, 6 p.m., Tolbert’s Restaurant, 423 S. Main St., featuring Saint Arnold Brewing Company (Houston, TX).

Tap your toes to the tunes of live music on multiple stages throughout Main Street Fest. Stages include the Michelob Ultra Main Stage, the Texas Wine Terrace Stage, located in Liberty Park, the Gazebo Stage and the Palace Theatre stage. Returning this year is the 2nd Annual DFW ICON vocal competition, presented by JG Entertainment. DFW ICON will open the microphone to talented singers between the ages or 7 to 24 years old. Winner packages exceed $20,000 in prizes including recording, branding, photo shoots, image consulting and more.

Enjoy the thrill of KidCave, located in the Cotton Belt Railroad District. This year’s activities include the SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium touch pool, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Junior Builder Competition and much more. Win a prize at the games or take a spin on the rides along the Carnival and Midway. Unlimited Carnival Ride Passes will be available for $25 in advance or $30 at the festival on Friday from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. The Carnival and Midway are located at the corner of Main and Wall Streets.

Main Street Fest features a unique lineup of specialty vendors at this year’s festival. With new and returning vendors, Main Street Fest is the perfect spot to find a fabulous gift for yourself or that someone special. And don’t forget, the more than 80 locally-owned shops, galleries, restaurants, jewelry stores, boutiques and more lining Grapevine’s Historic Main Street will be open during the festival.

The 31st Annual Main Street Fest opens Friday, May 15 at 10 a.m. and admission is free until 5 p.m. Festival hours are Friday, May 15 and Saturday, May 16, 10 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 17, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. After 5 p.m. on Friday, adults are $7 and children 6 – 12 and seniors are $5. Weekend passes are $15. Souvenir weekend passes are $20. Complimentary shuttles run continuously from designated parking lots. For more information about Grapevine or Main Street Fest, call 817-410-3185 or visit http://www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com/MainStreetFest.

Press release courtesy of Grapevine CVB. 

Spectrum Resort’s Clean Bed Guarantee

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Being in the travel industry, I am always hearing terrible stories about bed bugs and the general uncleanliness of hotels and other accommodations. Bearing that in mind, this made me smile!

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Clean Bed Guarantee from Spectrum Resorts
It’s a dirty little secret of the vacation rental business—while sheets and pillow cases are washed for each guest arrival, comforters are another story altogether. Sometimes comforters are only washed twice a year. Sometimes once a year. Sometimes less.

Spectrum Resorts is leading the industry once again with our Clean Bed Guarantee. Beginning Spring 2015, every Spectrum Resorts guest will be greeted with a crisp, comfortable white duvet that is freshly laundered for each arrival.

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It’s a clean duvet, every stay—and the only way to get that guarantee is to book through Spectrum Resorts. Read more here.

Anthem of the Seas Officially Named by Travel Agent Godmother Emma Wilby

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line seems to always be at the forefront of innovation in the cruise industry. This year the global cruise line adds the world’s newest, most technologically advanced ship on the water in the Anthem of the Seas. Recently, the ship hosted a fabulous naming ceremony led by Godmother Emma Wilby, who took the stage with the Welse choir Only Boys Aloud in the performance of her lifetime. A British travel agent, Wilby was selected for the honor in a travel agents singing competition.

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Anthem of the Seas is setting sail as the world’s most revolutionary cruise ship with cutting-edge innovations in ship design, new activities, tech-savvy additions, multidimensional entertainment and flexible dining options. She spans an impressive 18 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, hauls 4,180 guests at double occupancy in some 2,090 staterooms. Initially, Anthem of the Seas will sail out of Southampton, U.K. for her inaugural season before departing for New York Harbor and her homeport of Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J.

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

For more information and to book your cruise on Anthem of the Seas, please visit http://www.royalcaribbean.com or contact your local travel agent.

Carnival strengthens leadership position in Port Canaveral

Carnival Cruise Line will build upon its leadership position in Port Canaveral, Fla., expanding capacity on three- and four-day Bahamas cruises by 34 percent and deploying its newest class of ship on seven-day Caribbean voyages in 2016.

Carnival Magic Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Magic
Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival will enhance its short Bahamas cruise program from Port Canaveral with Carnival Victory replacing Carnival Sensation on this popular route in February 2016. The move not only increases capacity on the three- and four-day cruises but also provides guests with a greater variety of on-board features and amenities, including more than 500 balcony staterooms aboard Carnival Victory.

Additionally, Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral in December 2016 to offer two different seven-day Caribbean itineraries, providing consumers with exciting new week-long cruise vacation choices from Central Florida. Carnival Magic is part of the line’s newest class of ship and offers such features as a WaterWorks aqua park, Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant and SportSquare outdoor recreation area.

In turn, Carnival Sensation, which boasts WaterWorks, Serenity adults-only retreat and numerous other features, will shift to Miami in February 2016 to operate the line’s attractive and convenient year-round four- and five-day cruise schedule.

“We are significantly ‘upping our game’ in Port Canaveral with the addition of these great new ships to the important and growing Central Florida market,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president. “When these ships join the spectacular Carnival Sunshine, this dynamic trio of ‘Fun Ships’ will offer our guests and valued travel agent partners the widest array of attractive and convenient cruising options from the Space Coast,” she added.

Expanded Capacity on Short Cruises from the Space Coast
Carnival Victory, currently based in Miami, will reposition to Port Canaveral to launch a schedule of three- and four-day cruises beginning Feb. 25, 2016, dramatically expanding the line’s capacity on this program. On this route, three-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Nassau, while four-day cruises depart Sundays and call at both Nassau and Freeport.

In addition to providing a newer, larger ship on short cruises from Central Florida, Carnival Victory boasts a variety of on-board features, including a 14,500-square-foot spa, four swimming pools – one with a 214-foot-long water slide – along with 18 lounges and bars whose stunning interiors are inspired by the world’s most famous bodies of water.

During their time in the Bahamas, guests can relax on gorgeous white-sand beaches, enjoy numerous shopping, dining and sightseeing opportunities and partake in a wide range of watersports, from snorkeling and scuba diving to kayaking, parasailing and deep-sea fishing.

In October 2016, Carnival Valor — currently based in Port Canaveral and scheduled to undergo an extensive dry dock in March 2016 that will add a variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations — will take over Carnival Victory’s three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from Central Florida on a year-round basis. Carnival Valor will be the only ship operating three- and four-day cruises to offer the line’s highly acclaimed Fun Ship 2.0 features. Carnival Victory will subsequently move to another homeport.

Exciting New Seven-Day Choices from Port Canaveral
Carnival Magic will kick off its Port Canaveral-based program with a special eight-day cruise departing Dec. 9, 2016, and featuring St. Thomas, San Juan, Amber Cove (Dominican Republic), and Grand Turk. The ship will then launch year-round seven-day cruises from Port Canaveral Dec. 17, 2016, offering two distinctly different week-long itineraries – a western Caribbean route featuring Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya; and an eastern Caribbean option calling at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove.

Carnival Magic features a wide variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, including a massive WaterWorks aqua park featuring a 312-foot-long Twister water slide, the DrainPipe funnel-style water slide and a 300-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket, along with an expansive SportSquare outdoor recreation area highlighted by a suspended ropes course with breathtaking views to the sea 150 feet below, and a Caribbean-inspired watering hole called RedFrog Pub.

Carnival Magic will join Carnival Sunshine which offers seasonal five- to eight-day Caribbean voyages from Port Canaveral and is the only ship in the Carnival fleet to offer all of the line’s Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, along with unique features like the Speedway Splash water attraction, Ji Ji Asian Kitchen and the Latin-infused Havana Bar.

Special 12-Day Carnival Journeys Cruise on Carnival Magic
In preparation for its Space Coast debut, Carnival Magic will offer a special 12-day Carnival Journeys cruise departing Galveston Nov. 27 and arriving in Port Canaveral on Dec. 9, 2016. Featured ports will include Cozumel; Limon, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia; Aruba, and Grand Turk. Carnival Journeys is a unique collection of nine- to 15-day voyages featuring exotic, less visited ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and Hawaii and offering a number of exclusive on-board experiences and activities.

Carnival Sensation’s New Miami-Based Short Cruise Program
Carnival Sensation will reposition from Port Canaveral to Miami to offer year-round four- and five-day cruises featuring top ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, The Bahamas, and Florida beginning Feb. 25, 2016. On Carnival Sensation’s new Miami-based schedule, four-day cruises depart Thursdays visiting Key West and Cozumel or the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, and Nassau, while five-day cruises depart Mondays and Saturdays featuring some of the top ports throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas, including Grand Turk, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Amber Cove, Freeport, Nassau and Half Moon Cay.

Additional Information and Reservations
These new itineraries from Port Canaveral and Miami are currently open for reservations.

For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com. Details on Carnival Journeys are available at http://www.carnival.com/journeys.

Press release courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.

Bloomin’ Barbeque and Bluegrass 2015

Have you made your plans for Bloomin’ Barbeque and Bluegrass 2015?

Courtesy of Bloomin' BBQ and Bluegrass, Sevierville, TN

Courtesy of Bloomin’ BBQ and Bluegrass, Sevierville, TN

Friday May 15th from 5pm to 10pm and Saturday, May 16th from 9am to 10pm

Sevierville’s Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass is a family-oriented event celebrating the beauty of spring, championship barbeque and world class bluegrass music. Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass takes place during Smoky Mountain Springfest in historic downtown Sevierville, Tennessee. The Barbeque Cook-Off is an official barbeque championship of the state of Tennessee and is coordinated by the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce.

Click here to get a look at last year’s event!

Twitter Chat about Alabama Beaches April 9, 2015

Beachwithumbrellasandclouds I am part of a twitter chat today (April 9th) at 2:30 CST talking about Alabama Beaches…and there are prizes to be won! If you want to share in this chat and learn all about this gorgeous vacation paradise on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, check out all the details at: http://www.gulfshores.com/blog/2015/04/02/join-the-fun-online-for-the-visitalbeaches-twitter-party-april-9/ Come join us! It’s going to be fun! #VisitALBeaches

Win Gulf Coast golf trip for two from Visit Mississippi

Mississippi is a golfer’s paradise. The state’s courses have been rated among the best in the country, and the 140+ quality courses and optimal weather make practically any month an ideal time for a golf retreat.

Now through April 15, golf enthusiasts can enter to win a trip for two to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including a two-night stay at The Palace Casino Resort in Biloxi and two rounds of golf at The Preserve Golf Club.

Winners will enjoy some of the South’s best golfing, the luxury-status Palace Casino, a barbeque dinner for four, and 26 miles of sandy, white beaches… Golf enthusiasts can win this amazing prize package by entering at www.tinyurl.com/GolfMS2015.

The Preserve Golf Club is eighteen holes of “pure golf” designed by U.S. Open champion and award winning golf course designer Jerry Pate. The course encompasses 245 pristine acres, surrounded by an additional 1,800 acres of dedicated nature preserve. The native surroundings of pitcher plant bogs, cypress swamps, long leaf pine savannah, live oak groves and native grass prairies have been integrated into the design of the 18-hole, par-71 layout. The Preserve offers five sets of tees, exceptional course condition and superior guest service. The Preserve was recently ranked by Golfweek magazine as one of “America’s 50 Best Casino Courses, 2015”. The Preserve was one of several Mississippi courses on the list, as the state is widely considered the nation’s best golf-and-gaming destination.

The Palace Casino Resort is the only smoke free casino on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the premiere destination for luxurious accommodations, superior guest service and endless excitement. Nestled along the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and Biloxi’s Back Bay, the resort offers newly renovated hotel rooms and suites with stunning views, award winning restaurants, non-stop gaming, championship golf and amazing amenities to complement your stay.

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To enter the sweepstakes, or to read more about the prize package, rules, regulations and restrictions, go to http://www.tinyurl.com/GolfMS2015. Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #GolfMS2015 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Folly Beach – 25th Annual Sea and Sand Festival

Festival celebrates its Silver Anniversary with a weekend of family-friendly events April 10-11, 2015

PRESS RELEASE COURTESY OF FOLLY BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA.

The 25th Annual Folly Beach Sea & Sand Festival is coming April 10-11 with a weekend full of family-friendly events for this milestone anniversary. The Sea & Sand Festival is Folly Beach’s largest, longest-running and most family-friendly festival and features live music on two stages, a kids activity zone with jump castles, carnival games, face-painting and more, silent auction, local art and food vendors, a full day street party, a pageant and a 5K run/walk/skate.

Friday, April 10
The festival kicks off on Friday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. with the 2nd Annual Miss Sea & Sand Pageant at Folly River Park. Winners in various age groups will have the opportunity to wear their crowns and sashes during the Sea & Sand Festival Street Party, and may also volunteer to appear at all of Folly’s fun events throughout the year including Follypalooza, Folly Beach Christmas Parade, Taste of Folly and FollyGras.

Saturday, April 11
The festival continues on Saturday, April 11 with the 5th Annual Coffin Island 5k Run/Walk/Skate at 8:30 a.m. As always, participants in the 5k are encouraged to dress in their best pirate costumes! Folly Beach’s main street, Center Street, will be closed to vehicle traffic beginning around 8 a.m. as event-goers turn out by the thousands to enjoy the Street Party. The festival will feature over 75 local food and art vendors, a text-to-bid silent auction, jump castles, face painting, carnival games, and live music by several artists including Dangermuffin, Cary Hudson & Guilt Ridden Troubadour, Kevin West Band, the Shakin’ Martinis, the Folly Beach Bluegrass Society, and Bringers of the Dawn.

The 25th Annual Sea & Sand Festival is a Folly Association of Business (FAB) event. A portion of the proceeds will benefit various Folly Beach community projects chosen by FAB. For more information, go to VisitFolly.com, download the free Visit Folly app, find us on Facebook at Visit Folly, or contact festival director Ben Bounds at 843-408-6439, follybeachseaandsand@gmail.com or FollyBeachFestivals.com.

Southeast Travel Show – 3-7-15

If you listened to The Travel Voice by Becky today locally on APH Radio FM99.9 (click here for iHeart Radio http://www.iheart.com/show/27000431/), here are the linkups you’ll be looking for! Hey, thanks for listening!!!

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Take a Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses 800 square miles in the states of Tennessee and North Carolina and is the showcase for some of the most inspiring natural and cultural treasures that the Southern Appalachians have to offer. The Park’s abundant plant and animal life and historical significance, coupled with its accessibility, makes this park the most visited in the nation with over nine million visitors annually. GSMNP lies within 550 miles of one-third of the American population.

The Park boasts more than 1,100 front country campsites, 100 backcountry campsites, 800 miles of trails, 700 miles of streams, 11 picnic grounds, three visitor centers and numerous scenic overlooks. American black bears, deer, turkeys, flowers and other wildlife are popular with nature photographers in the Smokies. The Park’s intricate trail system provides access to view the diversity of life in the Smokies. Many salamander and plant species are found nowhere else in the world, and the forests contain more tree species than any national park.

Your safety depends on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention. Backcountry hikers should be in good physical condition and be able to survive on their own. Proper equipment and the knowledge of how to use it are essential for a safe trip. Your safety is your responsibility.

Here are a few basics to help you get started:
Let a responsible person know your route and return time. Have them contact the park at (865) 436-1230 if you do not return within a reasonable time.

Always hike with another person. Keep your hiking party together and stay on officially maintained trails. Always keep children in your sight when hiking—do not allow them to get ahead of you or fall behind.

Carry a current park trail map and know how to read it.

Carry 2 small flashlights or headlamps—even on a dayhike. If you have trouble on the trail, darkness may fall before you can finish your hike.

Take adequate water—minimum 2 quarts per person per day. All water obtained from the backcountry should be treated either by filtering or boiling.

Carry a small first aid kit.

Check the current weather forecast and be prepared for quickly changing conditions.

Wear shoes or boots that provide good ankle support.

Avoid hypothermia (the dangerous lowering of body temperature) by keeping dry. Avoid cotton clothing. Dress in layers that can be easily removed or added as you heat up or cool down. Always carry a wind-resistant jacket and rain gear—even on sunny days!

Don’t attempt to cross rain-swollen streams; they will recede rapidly after precipitation stops and the wait may save your life! When crossing any stream more than ankle-deep: unbuckle the waist strap of your pack, wear shoes, and use a staff to steady yourself.

Park maps, guidebooks, handbooks and videos are available at the Park bookstores within each visitor center. More information can be found online at http://www.nps.gov/grsm and by calling 865/436-1200.

Charleston, South Carolina – The South Preserved
For many folks, Charleston is more than a seaport town with antebellum homes and cobblestone walkways. This charming, picturesque city caters to tourists, walking them through history and satisfying Southern culinary needs. No matter if Charleston is your weeklong vacation spot, a stay-over or stay-after when cruising from the Port of Charleston, or just a stopover when traveling through South Carolina, it is a special place where the south remains preserved for all.

Rainbow Row

Charleston beaches – savor the sweet life…
Five distinctly different beaches are within the boundaries of Charleston, offering various amenities and unique character…something for everyone! Kiawah Island is an unspoiled beachside community some 20 miles from downtown Charleston. Hospitality is king in award-winning Kiawah Island as vacationers flock there for its beauty, championship golf, biking, tennis, and relaxation.

Folly Beach is aptly named for its personality lending a sense of fun and adventure to guests and locals alike. Slow down and enjoy wider beaches, surfing, and amazing coastal cuisine. Put Morris Island Lighthouse on your “must see” list and spend some time meandering around without an agenda. It’s Folly Beach…so relax!

Twelve miles from the downtown area, the Isle of Palms’ is situated on almost 3,000 acres offering beautiful sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean. Guests here enjoy not only the recreation that comes with beach communities, but also golf, tennis, great restaurants and lively entertainment.

Neighboring Sullivan’s Island packs a lot of punch within its small space. It offers lots of water recreation plus history lessons and great food! Fort Moultrie is the place to learn about the history of the Revolutionary War and other local entities will entertain guests using age-old folklore.

If you are searching for a retreat, then look no more! Seabrook Island is just the ticket with soothing expanses of coastal beaches, protected sand dunes and marshes, as well as a natural habitat for sea turtles. Other amenities on Seabrook Island include shopping, certified children’s clubs, and an equestrian center. Definitely different, this is a great place for families to spend together time!

Other attractions not to miss…
One of the most photographed places in Charleston is the popular tourist attraction referred to as Rainbow Row, named for the pastel-colored historic houses present in this area. Post Civil War, this area declined and became an unwelcoming slum. After the turn of the century, Dorothy Porcher Legge invested in a few of the houses, renovating them and giving them fresh coats of pink paint resonating with Caribbean hues. Subsequent owners continued the trend of painting the houses in pastel colors, which not only brought about the naming of Rainbow Row, but also helped keep the houses cooler.

Visitors also find Charleston City Market to be a destination within itself. It’s open year round and invites guests and locals to shop with vendors selling their wares. Find treasures to take home as souvenirs amidst the four blocks of open-air buildings or just stroll through enjoying the tastes of Charleston. The most popular item for sale is typical Charleston’s famous sweetgrass baskets…so that is something to look for!

Summary…
Charleston is one of South Carolina’s biggest gems known for architecture and antebellum homes bursting with their very own character! Take a walking tour or a carriage ride, preferably one with a guide to gain all the benefits of the local knowledge. This is a place for beach lovers, history fanatics, and those searching for a slower pace. Enjoy Charleston as a couple, as a family or for a gal pal getaway!

If you go…
Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau
http://www.CharlestonCVB.com

Panama City Beach’s Edgewater is an oldie but goodie!
Florida’s panhandle communities, such as Panama City Beach (PCB), have provided Spring Break memories for Alabamians for as long as I can remember. One of the mainstays as far as accommodations in this coastal town is Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort known for its affordability, countless amenities, and location. My family has stayed there often and has never been disappointed. Current day Edgewater has kept up with the times very nicely: renovations, additions and fabulous upkeep continues to invite guests to make new memories in the heart of PCB!

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The Resort…
Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort is found in the redeveloped Panama City Beach area. Once known for lower-end hotels and college-type bars, this beach community has been transformed, replacing these venues with beautiful high-rises and more upscale dining opportunities.

Edgewater has created an inviting atmosphere for vacationers and residents alike offering hotel, condo and villa accommodations—something for even the most discriminating taste. My three-bedroom condo had the most unbelievable view from the balcony overlooking the tower pool area. The landscaping created a more private, surreal feeling of safety and security. It’s hard to imagine a better view!

Units have fully-equipped kitchens, washer/dryer units, and wireless Internet service. Condos are roomy and perfect for families who need to spread out and not be under each other’s feet. It’s a big convenience to be able to stock the condo with groceries (especially when staying an extended amount of time) and not run out for every meal.

Eating and more…
Edgewater has a surplus of amenities…plenty to keep everyone active: 11 pools, four Jacuzzis, shuffleboard, six tennis courts, a 9-hole executive golf course and privileges at a nearby full-service golf course, Hombre Golf Club. Looking for adventure? Parasailing just might be the ticket…or jet skiing! Continue your fitness routine with weight lifting or beach yoga. You can even splurge for a body wrap.

Firefly Restaurant, located in the Shoppes at Edgewater and managed by The Resort Collection of Panama City Beach, has expanded to include a brand new sushi bar opening this month (March 2013). This hip new scene will create a great hangout option for when the main dining room is closed.

The music played in the sushi bar will be more youthful and current with a combination of country (Zac Brown and Kenny Chesney) and classic rock (the Rolling Stones and Van Halen). And, of course, the sushi will be fresh and scrumptious!

Edgewater Beach Resort runs the full gamut when it comes to amenities on a beach front property offering golf, tennis, and a spa nestled along a half-mile stretch among the “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches.” It’s perfect for Spring Break or summer family vacations.

If you go…
Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort
11212 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach, FL 32407
855-874-8686
http://www.edgewaterbeachresort.com

The Firefly Restaurant
The Shoppes of Edgewater
850-249-3359
http://www.FireflyPCB.com

Hombre Golf Club
850-234-3673
http://www.hombregolfclub.com

Albany, Georgia – Southwest Georgia Fishing Hole
The small town of Albany (pronounced by locals as Aw beeny) is probably best known today for the filming of Christian-based movies such as Fireproof and Courageous. If you are looking for a quaint weekend getaway for fishing and reminiscing, then this southwest Georgia destination is just for you!

Albany’s first folks to call it home were Creek Indians who lived by the riverbank “Thronateeska” which means “the place where flint is picked up.” It seems very fitting that the river flowing through this southern place is called the Flint.

The Flint River resource…
Current day Albany thrives through a private-public partnership that is redeveloping the downtown area by playing up the area’s prime natural resource – the Flint River. The centerpiece of the redevelopment is the Flint RiverQuarium, a 175,000 gallon, 22-foot deep Blue Hole aquarium filled with the plants, fish and reptiles – including Albany’s celebrated river turtle – found in the Flint River’s ecosystem, and the Imagination Theater with its three-story IWERKS screen and digital surround sound. Riverfront Park, with its expansive views of the river, Turtle Grove Play Park, water features and riverside trails, gives families the opportunity to play and learn together. The RiverFront Trail now travels north three miles to Cleve Cox Landing on Philema Road. Eventually the trail will connect to Chehaw – “Nature’s Playground” and south to Radium Springs Garden, one of Georgia’s Seven Natural Wonders.

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Take time to listen to Ray Charles’ music while sitting on piano keys in the new Ray Charles Plaza. This plaza features a life-sized bronze statue of “The Genius of Soul” seated at his piano. Spend the day at the newly expanded and renovated Thronateeska Heritage Center, encompassing the Wetherbee Planetarium, Science Discovery Center and Museum of History, as well as a model train layout.

Tour the Civil Rights Institute, the repository for Albany’s African American civil and human rights legacy, in its beautiful glass-enclosed, state-of-the-art museum adjacent to the 1906 Mt. Zion Baptist Church – one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s main speaking locations. And if you visit on the second Saturday of the month, you’ll hear the authentic songs of the Civil Rights era performed by the SNCC Freedom Singers, a group formed in 1962 to share the freedom songs – and leave their mark, and tracks, in Albany.

Take time to fish…
The Flint River, stretching throughout southwest Georgia, is one of only 40 rivers than flows unimpeded for more than 200 river miles in the continental US. Along this meandering river, you can see the unique ecosystem – the highly prized shoal bass and Halloween darter – up close. Looking for a good spot to cast that line to catch one of these fish? Bring your gear down to Riverfront Park and try your cast off the banks of the Flint River.

If you go…
Visit Albany Georgia
http://www.visitalbanyga.com.

Radio Linkups for 2-28-15

If you listened to today’s broadcast about Memphis, North Myrtle Beach and Spring Break accommodations on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, here are all the linkups you’ll need to find out more information specifically about each destination. And if you didn’t have time to catch the show, it’s on iHeart Radio at http://www.iheart.com/show/53-The-Travel-Voice-by-Becky/.

Courtesy of the Memphis Zoo.

Courtesy of the Memphis Zoo.

Memphis, Tennessee:
The Memphis Zoo – the perfect venue for families and one of my favorite zoos of all time. Find out more at http://www.memphiszoo.org.

Graceland – the home of Elvis Presley is a popular tourist stop in Memphis right on Elvis Presley Blvd. For a more authentic Elvis-related trip, check out accommodations at the Heartbreak Hotel right across the street from Graceland. Information on both of these venues can be found at http://www.graceland.com.

Don’t miss the world-famous Peabody Ducks marching daily at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information on this luxury hotel, for reservations and to verify daily march times, visit http://www.peabodymemphis.com.

Barbecue restaurants in Memphis:
• Pig on Beale, 167 Beale Street, http://www.pigonbeale.com.
• Blues City Café, 138 Beale Street, http://www.bluescitycafe.com.
• B.B. King’s Blues Club, 143 Beale Street, http://www.bbkingclubs.com/memphis/.
• Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, 52 South Second Street, http://www.hogsfly.com.

Memphis in May is a wonderful celebration of culture, customs and heritage. Find out more at http://www.memphisinmay.org.

For help planning travel and updates on the opening of the Blues Hall of Fame and Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid, visit http://www.memphistravel.com.

Barefoot Resort and Golf – North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Barefoot Resort and Golf offers top notch accommodations and your choice of four championship golf courses. More information can be found at http://www.barefootgolf.com.

For dining, shopping and entertainment, don’t miss Barefoot Landing and my favorite restaurants:
• House of Blues (www.houseofblues.com) is an award-winning entity offering the best in live music, regional and international culinary dishes, along with a fun collection of folk art. The food is a combination of American and International inspired cuisine with something for everyone on the menu. Experience happy hour and live music on The Deck Friday and Saturday nights (check web site for times).
• Greg Norman’s Australian Grille (www.gregnormansaustraliangrille.com) offers amazing Mediterranean food featuring wood-grilled classics and Australian dishes complimented by an expansive Wine Spectator Award Winning wine list. The ambiance is as spectacular as the meal itself and there is a pub on property (yet separate from the dining area) that features live nightly entertainment.

If you are looking for Spring Break accommodations on Alabama’s beautiful gulf coast, please check out my guest blog at http://www.gulfshores.com/blog/2015/02/27/count-lodging-options-gulf-shores-orange-beach/.

As always, thanks for listening today and I hope this helps you book a fabulous vacation!

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Lodging Options

Check out the blog post I wrote for one of my favorite places on Earth – Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama! Sure I’m a little biased being born and bred in Sweet Home Alabama, but if you’ve visited Coastal Alabama, you’ll agree the beaches are gorgeous with amazing sugar-white sand juxtaposing beautiful blue waters.

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Find out about different lodging options from moderate to luxury hotels, condos and houses right on the beach. And, when you’ve read your fill, please share this with others that might also enjoy. Safe travels!

Click here for The Beach is Calling Blog.

Throwback to Old Florida and Coastal Paradise

Most folks think of travel to Florida as hectic and crowded with long waits for dinner and high rise condos lining the beachfront highways. If you long for the old Florida style where beach houses and low rises scatter along the coast, highways are still two lanes, and red lights are far and few between, then this section of the panhandle is just for you! Welcome to “real” coastal vacationing: Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, Cape San Blas and Black’s Island!

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Geographically speaking, Mexico Beach is situated in the southernmost part of the Florida Panhandle about 30 minutes or so to the east of Panama City. After passing through the five-mile town, you will then enter the quaint seaside community of Port St. Joe where Black’s Island guests are greeted for boat transport over to the island. Cape San Blas is only a few miles further down from Port St. Joe. It reminds me of the way that the Smoky Mountains are situated as you enter Sevierville, drive through the town and enter Pigeon Forge, and then continue driving on the same highway until you get into Gatlinburg…all are connected by the same thoroughfare and are similar, yet each offers a personality of its own!

Mexico Beach…
Mexico Beach is such a wonderful seaside sanctuary where the pace is slower and the hospitality is as warm as the climate. Seashells are plentiful, fishing off the pier or on the beach is common, and navigation on foot or bicycle is fairly easy.

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Finding a place to stay is easy with Forgotten Coast Property Management. Call and tell them the size of your party and length of stay, and they will match you with the perfect accommodations. My favorite (and yours too if you have a really large party) is Starr Dust 2 located directly on the beach only steps from the water. This incredible unit has every available modern amenity, a fully-appointed kitchen and sleeps 16! If you party is a little smaller, I recommend The Club at Mexico Beach which is right across the street from Starr Dust 2. It is part of a small complex so you have a pool in addition to modern amenities and a full-size kitchen. Unit 2L is a particularly beautiful unit, professionally decorated and convenient to the pool area.

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Area restaurants are good (Toucan’s, Fish House and Mango Marley’s are just a few), but my favorites were actually a small seafood diner called Killer Seafood – the name says it all and they have amazing fish tacos.

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Mexico Beach is a place to stroll along the coast; duck in and out of unique, one-of-a-kind shops; enjoy water activities; or do nothing at all! Hints for a good time include getting an ice cream at Tommy T’s (it’s Blue Bell) and walking the pier; taking a boating excursion (shelling, fishing or tour of the area) with FloriDaze Adventures and Captain Mitch; and having after dinner drinks with live karaoke at Lookout Lounge.

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Port St. Joe and Black’s Island…
Port St. Joe is only minutes from Mexico Beach and is where folks leave their vehicles and meet the boat that takes them to Black’s Island in St. Joe’s Bay (truly the best kept secret in all of Florida). Port St. Joe also has a great upscale dining venue, Sunset Coastal Grill, where the atmosphere and service is as good as the food.

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Black’s Island is family owned and operated by Jeff Bowman and his longtime companion Wanda Bright. These two hands-on personalities are spectacular in offering just the right level of personal service without intruding on your vacation experience. Their small island (only seven and a half acres) has the most gorgeous views, sunsets and natural beauty of any place you can get to without a passport. The island offers 26 bungalows all connected with a boardwalk leading to the club house/dining room. Each bungalow features a fully-appointed kitchen, dining area, living area and two bedrooms (some have an extra small room with bunk beds as well). Bring groceries and dine in or eat in the dining room (all inclusives are available at a slightly higher rate, but well worth it).

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This private island is your own piece of paradise with beach chairs, a beautiful pool and a hot tub. I will tell you that one of the best experiences in the world is sitting in a hot tub that overlooks azure blue waters with palm trees swaying gently in the breeze. The island dog, Riley, occasionally checks on guests to make sure they are having a good time in her private playground…talk about the life of Riley!

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Included with your room is the use of the beach chairs, hammocks and all water toys! That’s a deal! Most places charge $25/day or more to rent chairs, and kayaks, canoes, fishing poles, paddle boards, etc. are usually rented by the hour. These charges can really add up for a family. The island is closed from early December to early March, but is open in time for spring breakers and offers an incredible opportunity to create lifetime memories with special folks in an ambiance that is unparalleled.

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Cape San Blas…
The perfect off-the-beaten-path getaway for those who want peace and quiet in a secluded beachside location is Cape San Blas. Family-friendly, pet-friendly accommodations are available through Sunset Reflections. I highly recommend a new house on the beach called Tranquil Bliss…it is spacious, decorated nicely, has its own hot tub, amazing kitchen and living room, lots of deck space and a neighborhood pool. This is the ideal place to bring groceries, dine in and enjoy the beach atmosphere.

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Happy Ours Kayak & Bike Outpost is the place to rent kayaks and canoes, take a guided eco-tour on St. Joe’s Bay or rent bikes. The owners, Dan and Debbie, are super friendly and do their own tours and guides. Safety is always first with Happy Ours and they are amazing with kids!

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This is also a great destination for excursions on the water. Scalloping, fishing and customized water activities are all available through Captain Mark at Forgotten Coast Adventures. He knows all the best fishing holes and has great stories to entertain you!

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Summary…
Choosing this area of old Florida for vacation says something about you and your personality. It is a place where the sand beckons sun worshippers while the juxtaposing water calls to the fishermen and the outdoor enthusiasts. It is designed for the person who loves the quaintness of no stop lights and the eclectic character of multi-colored beach houses. It is for those who desire to please their palates with fabulous beach cuisine in quirky little restaurants. It is for those who enjoy an ice cream in one hand and a fishing pole in the other. But mostly, it is for those searching for the unique unforgettable piece of Florida gulf coast.

IF YOU GO…
Black’s Island Vacation Resort
850-258-4581
http://www.BlacksIslandVacationResort.com

FloriDaze Adventures
850-896-4930
http://www.floridazeadventures.com

Forgotten Coast Adventures
850-258-4067
http://www.forgottencoastadventures.com

Forgotten Coast Property Management
888-648-1012
http://www.forgottencoastrental.com

Happy Ours Kayak & Bike Outpost
850-229-1991
http://www.happyourskayak.com

Sunset Reflections
877-265-4252
http://www.SunsetReflections.com

You may have seen this article by Becky (and others) in River Region Magazine.

Aqua Resort – classy resort in Panama City Beach

Aqua Resort, developed by prestigious Montgomery, Alabama-based Aronov, integrates water (as the name would suggest) throughout the premises beginning with the colossal cascading waterfall at the property’s entrance. Moving inside, water gardens create various focal points across the grand lobby and reception area. A few steps outside reveals more water — pools and the ocean in hues of blue and green. Guests get the feeling that the water is calling!

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What to expect…
One-, two-, and three-bedroom condos at Aqua Resort provide more than adequate sleeping arrangements for couples or large families. Spacious units offer room to move about and enjoy indoor amenities on a luxury level…from state-of-the-art kitchens with granite countertops to bathrooms fit for a king. Whirlpool tubs allow weary sun worshippers to end the day in a relaxing, pampering way, while little extras like super comfy linens and a gulf front view are just the norm at Aqua.

For vacationers who cannot give up their daily workout, there is a fully-equipped fitness center, complete with gulf views. Other treats to enjoy include aromatherapy steam and treatment rooms and the tropical pool deck. Additionally, this well-appointed, 22-story high rise is situated on a beautiful section of white sandy beach with emerald waters just steps away. What more is there?

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Well, the location is perfect for starters. Aqua Resort is within walking distance (only one mile) of Pier Park, the 93-acre shopping/dining/entertaining mecca of Panama City Beach, and it is within close proximity to fabulous dining, water sports, and other attractions. Never a dull moment!

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Don’t miss…
In addition to the succulent culinary delights available at Pier Park (Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Back Porch, and Reggae J’s Island Grill, to name a few), don’t miss Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant and Tiki Bar for beachside dining (less than a mile from Aqua) at its best! Sharky’s is the ultimate in ambiance with live entertainment, a Tiki Bar (of course), and amazing food! Known for fresh seafood, this lively food establishment also makes a killer Jamaican Jerked Chicken, and great appetizers such as Shark Bites and a Smoked Tuna Dip to die for.

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Want to know a secret? Panama City Beach has a fabulous little café and bakery that will soon be on your favorites list. It’s a little off the beaten path, but worth seeking out. Andy’s Flour Power Bakery & Café is a quaint nook on Thomas Drive with a huge following! Eclectically decorated, Andy’s is a warm and inviting atmosphere serving breakfast and lunch only, and offering daily specials (omelets, waffles, pastries, muffins, and more) using fresh ingredients. It’s a great mid-morning beach treat!

Across the street from Andy’s, a haven of watersports awaits at Adventures at Sea. Water recreation is plentiful and ranges from wave runner tours to parasailing and everything in between (pontoon boats to Shell Island are popular). They are pros when it comes to dealing with first-time parasailers…soaring through the clouds and dipping your toes in the water is their specialty! Check the web site for coupons.

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Another attraction well worth noting is PCB’s only waterpark, Shipwreck Island. This park has something for everyone: lazy river, wave pool, tadpole hole (for kids), and thrilling rides for those wanting to walk a little on the wild side (Raging Rapids and Pirate’s Plunge)! Shipwreck Island offers plenty of lounge chairs and a clean, family environment. Tickets are available online for quicker entrance.

IF YOU GO…
Aqua Resort
15625 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach
(855) 858-6954
http://www.aqua-gulf.com

Pier Park
600 Pier Park Drive
Panama City Beach
(850) 236-9974

Sharky’s Beachfront
Restaurant and Tiki Bar
15201 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach
(850) 235-2420
http://www.sharkysbeach.com

Andy’s Flour Power Bakery
& Café
3123 Thomas Drive
Panama City Beach
(850) 230-0014

Adventures at Sea
5711 North Lagoon Drive
Panama City Beach
(850) 235-0009
http://www.watersportspc.com

Shipwreck Island
Waterpark
12201 Middle Beach Road
Panama City Beach
(850) 234-3333
http://www.shipwreckisland.com

Rosemary Beach – a little piece of paradise!

Florida’s northwest gulf coast is home to a unique community – Rosemary Beach, nestled in the quiet calmness between Panama City and Destin on upscale Highway 30A. A fairly new creation, established in 1995, Rosemary Beach encompasses the qualities of classic beach towns designed to promote family and community. This 107-acre development on prime, gulf-front real estate, is ideal for vacationing, retiring or simply the best in coastal living. Leave grid lock and fast food behind, and enjoy the true joys of life on Florida’s gulf coast.

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It’s a neighborhood…
Rosemary Beach is unique in several ways: it has its own zip code and Town Hall; it has work/live space with retail on the bottom and beautiful, spacious lofts above; it offers lots of green space to enjoy; and the amenities are endless including a fabulous spa, tennis courts and state-of-the-art fitness center. Let’s start with the lay of the land.

This property full of aesthetically-pleasing architecture, centers around a quaint town center with a Town Hall, Post Office, rental office, multiple retail shops and palette-pleasing restaurants. The design is such to encourage parking the car and getting around by foot or bicycle. There are paths that meander throughout the property leading to green spaces, pools and the beach, of course. It’s so relaxing just to wander around feeling the sea breezes on your face and the sun kissing your skin.

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The lofts are an awesome choice for accommodations being at the center of everything. But there are also amazing cottages, carriage houses and flats with up to six bedrooms. While each unit is built and decorated within the guidelines of the property codes to maintain a prestigious harmony, they do not have the appearance of cookie cutter houses…each unit is different with its own personality and characteristics. Many hues dot the canvas of Rosemary, splattering its topography with matchless style, color and architectural delights.

There are four pools scattered throughout Rosemary, each with a different design. The Coquina pool is on the beach-side and is unique in that it is all one depth and has no edges. The overflow water slinks into small drains which are flush with the ground surrounding the pool. The focal point is a gorgeous triangular stucco structure framed by palm trees. Next, meet the Sky pool, the year-round indoor pool that features a metal roof with motorized panels that are opened in warm weather. This pool is perfect for those who want to swim for exercise in one of the three swim lanes. The Cabana pool is park-side (as is the Sky pool) and offers family-friendly pool options (like the children’s pool) in a Mediterranean design. And, lastly, the Barbados pool with its dramatic entrance enhanced with a copper roof and vestibule fountain. There is a shaded area that is great for sleeping babies or adults who have had too much sun, but still want to be by the pool.

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A day in the life…
As far as food, let’s eat our way through a day in the life of culinary Rosemary. A good start to any day includes Amavida Coffee, where the name says it all. Amavida is the joining of two Spanish words which mean love (amar) and life (vida)…which is very fitting for this place. It is a family-owned business where their coffee (or tea) hits the spot, and paired with a delicious pastry or breakfast biscuit, you’ll be off and running, fueled for a day of fun in the sun!

Lunch is served at several on-property restaurants and judging by the daily crowd, Summer Kitchen is a favorite with a menu of salads, sandwiches and roll-ups. This eatery is transformed by night into a gourmet dining experience serving fresh gulf seafood. Another favorite lunch spot is Wild Olives with their tasty gourmet pizzas – yum!

Afternoons bring on cravings for something cool or something sweet. Satisfy both at Sno-Balls, home of New Orleans-style snow cones! Also, Sugar Shak is an oasis of sweet treats for young and old alike!

Evenings are deliciously inviting at Rosemary with a reservation at Restaurant Paradis, an award-winning lounge and restaurant where the difference is fresh ingredients. The menu is full of wonderful entrees including fresh gulf seafood and prime steaks…and fine wine. (Note: Check out the early bird dining for a discount.)

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Paradise at a glance…
Rosemary Beach is a carefully blended community, utilizing nature itself as a backdrop and as an appointed amenity. The unspoiled beaches are breathtaking with white sand and dunes all around. Indigenous plants line pathways and boardwalks throughout the property. The natural elegance of water begins with the gulf, carries into the pools and flows through fabulous waterfalls. And, off the beaten path, you won’t be scared away by crowds of people lying towel to towel across the beach.

Families can’t go wrong watching the sun set from the balcony or right on the water’s edge. Rosemary Beach is one of the best kept secrets on the gulf coast…a small piece of paradise.

IF YOU GO…
Rosemary Beach
Highway 30-A
Rosemary Beach, FL 32461
(866) 348-8952
http://www.rosemarybeach.com

You may have seen Becky’s article in River Region Magazine.

The Fairways of Alabama

Alabama’s warm climate sets the perfect stage for some beautiful fairways and golf lovers from all across the southeast come here to play scenic, challenging courses. Golf destinations in Alabama span from the northern end of the state to the Gulf Coast, and there’s some pretty spectacular stuff all in between!

The Kiva Dunes Golf Course
The Kiva Dunes Golf Course should be on every golfers “must play” list as it is ranked the number one course in the state. Located in popular Gulf Shores, the course is full of natural beauty and difficult holes. Designer Jerry Pate said, “I tried to make Kiva Dunes a golf course that not only gave you a lot of options, but one that tested all the shots.” He succeeded.

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Golfers love playing Kiva Dunes for many reasons, but two are distinct: the pristine beachfront atmosphere and its world-wide reputation for a unique and challenging course. Golf lessons are available and it is set among a fabulous West Indian-influenced resort property. Resort amenities are plentiful with pools, a spa, and tennis courts being at the top of the list.

AWARDS
Golf Digest
Voted #2 – Best New Public Courses in U.S. – Dec. 1995
Voted – Alabama’s BEST Place to Play – Jan. 1995
Ranked #24 – America’s Top 75 Upscale Courses – May 1996
Ranked #68 in America’s Top 75 Golf Resorts – Mar. 2002
Ranked #58 in America’s Top 100 Public Courses – May 2003

Golf Magazine
Appeared in Top 10 You Can Play – Feb. 1996

LINKS The Best of Golf
Featured as Modern Classics Course – Jan./Feb. 2000

Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa
This four-diamond award-winning hotel is more than a place to lay your head. It is known for its elegance and luxury amenities such as a European spa and Mediterranean-influenced restaurant Brocks. Hoover is proud to be the home of this sophisticated resort property. A stay here is sheer pampering.

Ross Bridge Golf Course, part of the Robert Trent Jones Trail, meanders through the landscape of the resort property and is one of the longest courses in the world, offering multiple tees for golfers. This 18-hole course, designed by Roger Rulewich, ASGCA/Bobby Vaughan, offers 8,191 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72. Ten holes of the course play along the banks of two substantial lakes connected by a stunning waterfall that drops some 80 feet between the ninth and eighteenth greens. The combination of elevation changes and natural obstacles create this challenging course, not to mention, testing the skills of even the best golfer.

Ross Bridge Golf Course is home to a PGA Champions Tour tournament annually with a clubhouse recognized by Golf Digest as one of the Favorite 19th holes in 2008.

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at The Shoals
The Shoals is unique in that it offers two championship 18-hole golf courses: The Fighting Joe and The Schoolmaster, situated between Wheeler and Wilson Dams on the Tennessee River. Fighting Joe captured one of Travel & Leisure Golf’s coveted awards for Top New Courses in 2004 giving golfers over 8,000 feet of competitive golfing pleasure. The 17th and 18th holes are both known as signature holes, but the 18th wins out for most spectacular view overlooking Wilson Lake.

The Schoolmaster offers very traditional golf with its rolling topography and wooded landscape. It, too, has a signature 18th hole situated on high bluffs overlooking the river.

Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa is the closeby accommodation venue for both of these fine courses and offers Alabama’s only revolving restaurant. Like its sister property Ross Bridge, Marriott Shoals has a great deal of meeting space and gives guests an upscale property with amenities that are highly sought after: a European spa and salon, on-site restaurant, pools, and a high-scoring guest satisfaction rating.

The Lakewood Golf Club
Part of the service- and luxury-oriented Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear, The Lakewood Golf Club with its two Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail courses, is situated beautifully along Mobile Bay’s eastern shore. The resort itself is home to a 20,000-square-foot European-style spa, palette-pleasing dining options, tennis courts, a pool complex, and a gorgeous marina dotted with sailboats, yachts, and other sea vessels.

The courses of Lakewood Golf Club are shaded by ancient oaks that lend a quiet feeling of belonging…and relaxation. Perry Maxwell designed both the Dogwood and Azalea courses with rolling fairways, tight greens, spring-fed lakes, and mature trees…southern qualities appreciated by golfers from all over. Maxwell used Mother Nature as his “assistant” in this Deep South design.

Amenities of Lakewood include:
* 419 Bermuda grass tees, fairways & roughs
* Classic Tifdwarf putting surfaces
* Full Golf Cart service
* Men’s & Women’s locker rooms featuring high wooden lockers
* Full-service, fully stocked golf shop featuring classic names including Titleist, Fairway & Green, FootJoy, Vineyard Vines and Page & Tuttle.
* Bag storage and club cleaning service

Golf is a game of patience and perseverance where practice makes perfect. Enjoy a round today at one of Alabama’s beautiful public courses or book a weekend getaway to one of these spectacular golf destinations. Enjoy!

SIDEBAR
Limestone Springs Golf Club
One of Alabama’s hidden gems is Limestone Springs Golf Club located about 25 minutes north of Birmingham in Oneonta. This public access championship course is set among 225 acres of the Appalachian Mountains amidst some of the state’s most picturesque views. Golfers agree that the views are magnificent but the course doesn’t depend on that alone for popularity…it offers an exceptional challenge just as designer Jerry Pate intended.

Some of the tees are set on elevations creating breathtaking views of twisting fairways and free-flowing streams…in other words, hazards! These 18 holes represent almost 7,000 yards of impressive golf course challenges as well as delightful views including local wildlife. Limestone Springs consistently receives a 4 ½ star rating by Golf Digest’s Places to Play and is ranked in the top five public courses in Alabama by GolfWeek.

Capstone Club
Tuscaloosa’s (really Brookwood’s) best kept secret is the Capstone Club, a public golf facility, referred to as “one of the most interesting and unique golf courses in Alabama” by Golfweek Magazine.

This award-winning course is really summed up in the words of its designer. “This will be a course that reveres and respects the traditions of the game, while producing a great experience for the golfer. It will be traditional in all its trappings – a clear reflection of the proud heritage of tradition,” stated Course Architect Gil Hanse.

Golf Magazine has ranked the Capstone Club #15 in the United States for courses you can play for under $50. That’s a bargain and allows for many folks to play in this uncertain economy.

The finishing hole at Capstone is rounded out with a blind, uphill tee shot and a green that is set in a natural amphitheater. When you’re finished, have lunch at Bear’s Den and enjoy a wonderful clubhouse with tons of amenities.

IF YOU GO…
Kiva Dunes Resort & Golf Course
815 Plantation Drive
Gulf Shores, Alabama 36542
1-888-833-5482
http://www.kivadunes.com

Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa
4000 Grand Avenue
Hoover, Alabama 35226
1-800-593-6419
http://www.rtjgolf.com/resorts/rossbridge/

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at The Shoals
990 SunBelt Parkway
Muscle Shoals, Alabama 35661
256-446-4111
http://www.rtjgolf.com/theshoals/

Lakewood Golf Club
5910 Lakewood Drive
Fairhope, Alabama 36532
251-990-6312
http://www.lakewoodatthegrand.com/golf.asp

Limestone Springs Golf Club
3000 Colonial Drive
Oneonta, AL 35121
205-274-4653
http://www.limestonesprings.com

The Capstone Club of Alabama
16000 Capstone Boulevard
Brookwood, AL 35444
205-462-0590
http://www.capstoneclub.com

You may have seen this article by Becky in River Region Magazine.

Grayton Beach – a well-worn beach community!

Are you looking for a beachside cottage in an off-the-beaten path location to quietly enjoy Mother Nature’s beauty? Grayton Beach, with its funky charm and unofficial tagline of “nice dogs strange people,” may be just the place for you! And, in case you are wondering where the tagline came from? Once upon a time it was common for there to be more dogs in the town than people!

Sugar-white sands and emerald green waters in Beaches of South Walton

The Beaches of South Walton (Florida) are home to many seaside communities up and down upscale Highway 30A, but Grayton Beach is special in that it stakes claim to being the first community established in this area over 110 years ago. A stroll down one of its oyster-shell roads reminds guests that things change at a much slower pace around Grayton Beach…if at all!

Aged magnolia, oak, and pine trees are quaint reminders of yesteryear as they surround many of the older houses in this Santa Rosa Beach community, as well as lining the narrow streets. Folks are friendly here and eager to show off their eclectic little town flowing with charming art galleries, a general store, and collection of specialty retail and antique shops. Red Bar is a favorite hangout/restaurant for locals and visitors alike with a unique décor, live jazz music, good food and drinks!

Beach access in South Walton

Accommodations on Grayton Beach are pretty simple: cottages and beach homes. Both offer the same great views and promote sunset strolls. It’s impossible to go wrong with either choice! They have every size accommodation you can imagine from a small cottage for two to a beach house big enough for a family reunion (20+ people).

Grayton Beach State Park
Grayton Beach is particularly popular for its State Park which spans the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and almost all of Western Lake. RV owners can park and stay here, as can campers…pitch a tent or rent a cabin…either is acceptable! The hiking trail is among the most scenic in the area with lots of sand dunes and the gorgeous lake to view. The lake offers many water recreation opportunities like kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you will enjoy spending a day, a weekend, or a week on the winding trails of Grayton Beach State Park, seeing the wildlife, and soaking in all the area has to offer. The park is located south of US98 about half way between Panama City Beach & Destin.

IF YOU GO…
Grayton Beach
3812 Scenic 30A West
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
http://www.graytonbeach.com.

The Red Bar
70 Hotz Avenue
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
850-231-1008
http://www.theredbar.com

SIDEBAR:
Grayton Beach State Park
357 Main Park Road
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
850-267-8300
http://www.floridastateparks.org/graytonbeach
Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset
Admission: $5/vehicle
Pedestrians & Cyclists: $2
Camping fee: $19 + tax
Cabin fee: $110 + tax

You may have seen this article by Becky in River Region Magazine.

Radio Linkups for 1-31-15 – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

If you are listening LIVE to the show on Saturday, January 31, 2015 on APH Radio 99.9 FM in the Shelby County, AL area and looking for the linkups to the show, well here you are! If you missed it, no worries, you can catch it on the APH Radio app (FREE download at your app store) and hear it in the archives…or find it on iHeart Radio! Search SHOWS for The Travel Voice by Becky and choose an episode.

Wilderness Wildlife Week™
One of the most popular events in Pigeon Forge each year is Wilderness Wildlife Week™. This weeklong event has been happening in Pigeon Forge for more than two decades. It’s open to the public and completely FREE!

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Wilderness Wildlife Week™ is made up of exhibits, performances, workshops, classes, walks and talks that are both informative and entertaining. These programs celebrate the features, creatures and cultures of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding region. Wilderness Wildlife Week™ offers activities for all ages and brings thousands of nature lovers to Pigeon Forge each year. The International Festivals & Events Association has recognized the event for its environmental and educational efforts.

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For music lovers there are different musical presentations each day which will highlight the Appalachian region. Attendees can listen to old-time mountain ballads, hymns, bluegrass, and traditional mountain instruments.

Children will also be able to enjoy Wilderness Wildlife Week™ through the KIDS’ TRACK! program which consists of a series of informative and activity-filled workshops where they will have the opportunity to learn more about nature in unique and fun ways. Hikers will find several opportunities for hiking presentations and outdoor events.

Programs typically start each day at 8:00 AM and run until around 7:30 PM when the day’s keynote program starts. Participants are encouraged to come and go as they please between the exhibits and programs. One could argue the only bad part of Wilderness Wildlife Week™ is that it’s impossible to see every program because there are so many wonderful selections to choose from!

For more information, please visit http://www.mypigeonforge.com/events/wilderness-wildlife-week/.

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The Old Mill Square
The Old Mill Square is the cornerstone to historical preservation in Pigeon Forge offering an authentic look at the Tennessee town of yesteryear. Eat in their two award-winning restaurants, tour the old mill and shop at one of the unique retail shops including the General Store. The Old Mill is a must-visit on your trip to the Smoky Mountains.

For a little history, visit http://www.old-mill.com/info/our-history.

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The Inn at Christmas Place
Right off the parkway in Pigeon Forge, you will find the beautiful Bavarian architecture of The Inn at Christmas Place. This 145-room four-star hotel celebrates Christmas 365 days a year with remarkable décor, unique experiences and plain ole southern hospitality. With a charm all its own, The Inn at Christmas Place invites guests to Sleep in Heavenly Peace…and believe me, you will on their amazing mattresses and bedding.

Hear Santa sing, enjoy cookies in the evening and feast on a breakfast fit for a king! There is no place like The Inn at Christmas Place in the Smoky Mountains! For more info, visit http://www.innatchristmasplace.com/.

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The Island in Pigeon Forge
Located just off the Pigeon Forge Parkway, The Island in Pigeon Forge is packed with things to do! Come see The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel – it is 200 feet tall and offers amazing views of The Great Smoky Mountains! Pull up a rocking chair and enjoy the beautiful Island Show Fountain or check out the unique retail shops, restaurants and eateries, rides and games, live music, attractions and much more! Open 10 a.m. daily year round.

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For more information, please visit http://islandinpigeonforge.com/.