Vacation Ideas: 5 Amazing National Parks to Visit This Spring

When most of us think about vacation, we dream about overseas destinations, envision exotic adventures or picture ourselves relaxing on a sun-drenched Caribbean beach. It’s so easy to forget that we have access to some of the most amazing destinations in the world right here in America. They’re all just a road trip away!  We’ve all heard of Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. They’re incredible destinations that most of us have on our travel to-do lists if we haven’t seen them already. But they aren’t the only National Parks in America worth visiting. Searching for a spring destination? Check out these 5 lesser-known National Parks.

The Narrow Trails in Zion National Park - National Parks to Visit in Spring

Zion National Park (Utah)

National Parks are some of the best places in the country to go camping. With three different campgrounds, Zion National Park has plenty of space to pull up your camper or set up your tent in the heart of nature. The 229 square miles offer countless trails that guide you into beautiful canyons and atop the highest plateaus.

Must See: Zion National Park is a hiker’s paradise. It’s most popular hiking trail is called The Narrows. This trail (pictured above) winds you through a gorge with walls over a thousand feet tall, and can even take you into the shallow Virgin River, which is no more than a stream in some parts and safe for supervised children.

Sequoia National Park - National Parks to Visit in Spring

Sequoia National Park (California)

Yellowstone may have been the first National Park in America, but as the second National Park in America, the Sequoia National Park in California was the first created specifically to protect living things. Today there are thousands of great Sequoia trees thriving in the park, many of them hundreds or thousands of years old.

Must See: The prize of the Sequoia National Park is the General Sherman Tree. It’s the largest living single stem tree on the entire planet. The massive tree is 275 feet tall and over 36 feet in diameter. A close second to General Sherman is the General Grant Tree, a sequoia located in nearby Kings Canyon National Park.

The Newfound Gap in the Smoky Mountains National Park - National Parks to Visit in Spring

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee & North Carolina)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to the highest diversity of animals and plants in America. It boasts thousands of unique plant species and well over a hundred different species of trees. Astonishingly, most of this land remains untouched by humans. It also has some of the most beautiful views in the country.

Must See: One of the easiest ways to experience Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in your vehicle. The Newfound Gap Road allows you to drive through over 30 miles of forest. Because the road’s elevation is so high, passengers get great views of the park, with plenty of scenic overlooks to stop and take it all in.

Carlsbad Cavern National Park in New Mexico - National Parks to Visit in Spring

Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)

Most of this National Park might be desert and grassland, but Carlsbad Cavern is known for its caves. With nearly 120 unique caves in the park, there’s enough territory to keep any cave fanatic busy and continually surprised. More so, these caves, like the main attraction at Carlsbad Caverns, are immaculately preserved.

Must See: The biggest attraction at Carlsbad Caverns is known as “The Big Room“. It’s the fifth largest cave chamber in North America, and one of the largest of these chambers in the world. This limestone chamber features excellent views of overhanging stalactite formations (pictured above) and huge, ancient columns.

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado - National Parks to Visit in Spring

Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado)

Great Sand Dunes National Park proves that Colorado isn’t just known for its snowy slopes. Over 30 square miles of mountainous sand rests within view of numerous Colorado peaks. A popular hiking destination, the dunes feature the refreshing Medano Creek, where you can splash around and enjoy the occasional wave.

Must See: Some of the dunes are over 700 feet tall. Hiking to the top is adventure in itself, but it’s even better if you can reward yourself by taking the easy way down. The dunes are known for sand-sledding and sand-boarding. You can even rent sleds and boards from the park that are specifically designed to surf the dunes.


Get ready for your spring vacation or summer getaway with a variety of helpful products from The Lakeside Collection. Discover useful camping gear, athletic apparel, as well as travel essentials to help you pack up.

4 Must-See Botanical Gardens in America

Summer is the season to get out in your garden and work your hands in the soil. While most of the dirty work is done in the spring, there’s plenty of maintenance to do throughout the summer to keep plants and veggies perfect, and flowers in bloom. Whether gardening is a pastime or your passion, it’s important to take a break from all your hard work and step into an expert oasis for leisure and inspiration. No matter what region of the country you call home, you’re never too far away from the fresh experience of world class botanical gardens.

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United States Botanic Garden, Washington D.C.
George Washington is cited as the inspiration for the botanical garden in our nation’s capital. Established by Congress in 1820, it is officially recognized as a museum. With a focus on educating the public about plants and fostering botanical knowledge, it’s a must-see for gardening enthusiasts and environmentalists.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Dallas
If you’re looking to surround yourself with the beauty of nature while enjoying an entertaining event, Dallas might be the garden destination for you. One of the top arboretums in the world, it’s dedicated to getting the community involved with events and family activities. It’s newer than most top gardens, but always growing.

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Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago
Though it’s only been around since the 1970s, the Chicago Botanical Garden is already one of the world’s leading horticultural museums and conservation centers. The garden is born of the city’s rich horticultural history, dating back to the 1893 World’s Fair, and has one of the largest memberships of any U.S. garden.

New York Botanic Garden, New York City
This diverse landscape in bustling New York city is spread over 250 acres and boasts over a million plants. Located right next to the Bronx Zoo, it’s one of the most popular botanical gardens in the country, hosting a healthy 300,000 people every year. It’s also home to one of the world’s largest plant conservation programs.

Stylish Summer Ensembles for Soaking Up Sunshine

For many of us, the best time to get out and enjoy the summer sun is limited to a few short months. Summer is the season to take a dive in the pool, put the windows down driving on the open road and take advantage of nice weather for your favorite outdoor activities. Summer is the season for fashionable beachwear, stylish accessories and getting a perfect tan. Soak up sunshine while you can with our stylish summer ensembles.

For the Beach or the Boardwalk

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Go from the beach to the boardwalk in style with the Women’s Crossover Cover-Up Dress. An easy-to-wear dress that features fun tie-dye detailing on the sides, it has a high/low hemline that crosses over in the front. Save your bare feet from the summer heat with Women’s Memory Foam Comfort Sandals. Their thong-style design features memory foam insoles that offer amazing comfort no matter where your summer adventures take you. Rubber soles provide resistance on slippery surfaces, so they’re perfect for wearing poolside. The large Cell Phone Organizer Wallet helps you stay organized in the summer without a streamlined design. It has a fun print and convenient pockets to hold your smartphone, cash, credit cards and more. It keeps your valuables safely secured in the zippered main compartment. Removable strap lets you wear it as a wristlet.

For Tanning or Taking It Easy

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Dry off after a refreshing swim with the Summertime Beach Towel. the high-quality cotton towel features a vibrant image with a summer theme. Its fiber-reactive print won’t fade from exposure to the sun or washing. Once you’re out of the water, make sure your poolside chair or beach lounger is extra comfortable with the Brightly Colored Chair Cover. Made of durable cotton terry cloth and polyester, it fits on all kinds of lounge and deck chairs. Hanging from one side is a 3-section pocket for your sunglasses, lotion, smartphone and more. It converts to a handled tote for carrying beach necessities. Always have the ideal cup holder during your beach tanning session with the Set of 2 Beach Buddy Drink Holders. Each sassy holder has a vibrant design with a humorous phrase. The sturdy design makes them easy to stick in the ground or carry around.

7 Expenses to Make Any Vacation More Relaxing

VacationEveryone likes to save money when they travel; though the expense is often necessary and always worth it, if you can save money and cut expenses you might as well—usually. Some things are actually worth shelling out the cash for, simply because they nip stress in the bud and allow you to enjoy your hard-earned vacation all the more.

Here are seven expenditures worth the expense, for the sake of your peace of mind:

Good Locks

There’s nothing to ruin the relaxation of a vacation quite like the worry that your home will be burgled while you’re gone. Even if you are the meticulous type, checking the locks at least twice before you leave, it’s all too easy for toxic thoughts of “I did lock up, didn’t I?” to pop up uninvited while relaxing by the pool. And even if you aren’t plagued by those thoughts, there’s always a chance that the locks could be broken or disassembled by a particularly determined thief.

If you’re thorough in your pre-departure lock checks but still anxious about the structural integrity of your locks, you may want to get them inspected by a locksmith. Edmonton or any other city should have professionals who can schedule a consultation and inspection.

A Suitcase of Distinction

That beat-up duffel bag was fine for college, but now you deserve a suitcase that is more durable and professional. But that doesn’t just mean basic black! The more distinctive your luggage is, the less likely it is to be stolen or lost.

Choose luggage in a color that suits you—even lime green or baby pink can work on luggage as a solid color choice! Make sure the luggage is well-made; hard cases should be constructed of quality materials and structurally sound, and softer suitcases should be well-stitched.

A Reliable Guide

The best way to know you’ll get the most out of your vacation? Get the best tour guide you can!

This doesn’t always mean the pricier tour buses advertised by brochures at your hotel desk (though some of the tours advertised there are fine). One of the best ways to see the best of a foreign city and its surroundings is to hire a local taxi cab driver to show you the best the town has to offer from the local perspective. Why pay to see just one aspect of the Genoa-Portofino area when you can zip along faster than the local speed limits (like a local) and see the best of this part of the world from a true expert?

A Camera up to Your Par

This will mean different things to different people. For most of us, it will mean our smartphones. It could mean a basic digital camera with extra batteries and SD cards. Or, it could mean a professional-grade camera with three different lenses.

Why is this so important? Because your enjoyment of this trip and the memories you’ll make on it will be significantly curtailed if you don’t have photographs you’re satisfied with, both in quantity (which is why you always bring extra batteries and memory cards) and in quality (which is why no photography aficionado should try to get by on their iPhone).

Authentic Local Cuisine

Yes, food is expensive and you can still survive on basic bread or fast food, but you could do that at home. Only in Italy can you have locally prepared squid ink pasta, only in Alaska can you eat red, native sockeye caught that very day.

It’s worth it to your wallet and your waistline to have locally prepared food when abroad; most cuisine and portion sizes, especially in Europe, are less processed and more reasonable than those in America. So indulge in baklava and pots de crème while you can—stressing over finding the cheapest food you can the entire trip will make you gain more weight than if you just eat and and enjoy!

The Souvenir You Really Want

Let me save you the debating over the price of what you really want versus the price of something cheaper or more practical. Yes, the thing you want seems terribly expensive now, but you clearly want it more than superficially if you keep going back to it, despite the cheaper price of some other items. If a souvenir is in a price range you can afford and you will use and/or treasure it, then it’s better to buy the one thing that will remind you of this trip in the best way, than multiple cheaper items you won’t care about in a month.

Airport Transportation

Getting from the airport to your hotel and back again can be stressful if you don’t know the area. Arrange in advance for transportation such as an airport taxi. Toronto, Salt Lake City, or any other city with an international airport should have multiple companies specializing in getting you too and from the airport on schedule, eliminating the stress of missing check-in or a flight.

Follow these tips for a vacation without stress or unnecessary corner-cutting!

Lucy Markham is an avid blogger and researches with companies such as Airflight Services. As a recent homeowner, Lucy considers herself a bit of an expert on all things home improvement, gardening, and home decoration.

Tips to Secure Your Home While on Vacation

Protect-your-homeMany people go on vacations to relax and have a good time. While enjoying your vacation and it’s important to take precautionary measures to protect your home while you are away. You don’t want to come from your vacation to find that something has gone wrong at home.

Ways to keep your home secure while on vacation:

Cancel normal services and deliveries
Cancel the normal deliveries and services such as newspaper, grocery among others. If you are planning to be away for a while, you might also want to have your mail held by the post office or have it collected by a friend. Uncollected newspaper and piles of mail will send signals that you are out of town.

Ask your neighbor or friend for help
A simple but effective way to have peace of mind while on vacation is to ask a trusted neighbor or friend to keep an eye on your house while you are away. Ask them nicely to empty your trash for you, feed your pet, bring in your mail, rake your leaves etc. Ask them to contact you in case of anything. Give them something for their trouble if you feel it’s necessary.

Avoid advertising your departure
The only people who should know of your holiday plans should be your loved ones or people you trust. Don’t say you aren’t home in your phone answering machine and be careful the information you share on social media sites

Keep your valuables safe
Secure your Jewelry, car keys, and other valuable items in a hidden safe or leave them with a trusted friend.

Home security system
Install a reliable alarm system to alert the authorities in case of attempted break-ins to your property.

Make your house look as if you are home
Have automatic lights or timers come off at certain periods during the day. Having different lights come on in different rooms will give the impression that you are home. You can also leave blinds and curtains in some rooms drawn to make it appear as if you are at home. Just make sure to remove any valuables from sight.

Ensure all the doors and windows are locked
Make sure all the doors in your house are locked including the door to the shed or garden. Shut all the windows making sure not to leave the small windows at the back of your house or bathroom. Make sure all of your spare keys are safe and secure.

Insurance policy
Update your insurance policy for cover in case anything happens. If you don’t have a home insurance policy this is the best time to get one.

Once you have taken the above measures to protect your home, you can have peace of mind that your home is secure while away. Drive carefully to your destination. If you have a new driver in your home, don’t forget their provisional license before you hit the road. Make sure you have everything safe and secure including the items that need to travel with you.

Melody Cleo is a passionate blogger from Manchester, UK. In her free time, she writes articles on various topics such as technology, gadgets, travel…etc. As of now she is focusing on Driving licence UK, which provides driving licence services for UK people.

Image Credit: desertvalleysecurity.com

Top Ten Tricks for Traveling with Kids

Road-Trip-Planning-With-KidsMany people plan to travel during winter vacation to some fascinating destinations. Kids are thrilled to spend their vacations with other family members. However, they soon get irritated and bored during long drives. It’s not just makes them angry, but can also spoil your mood and travelling pleasure. You need to make some small efforts to keep them busy, happy, and cheerful. Therefore, you can take a sigh of relief and can enjoy the whole ride in good spirits.

1. Printed paper

Get some paper with different characters, pictures, and games such as pictures of family members to draw funny faces on them, kid’s favorite comic figures to fill with colors, tic-tac-toe, or hangman to have continuous fun.

2. Use home utensils

Bring a cookie sheet and felt magnets to help your make drawing easy by placing cookie sheet in their lap and magnets will help to keep things attached to the cookie tray.

3. Small treasures

Tiny treasure boxes with lots of tiny stones, gems and sticking letters, and shapes to let children decorate a sheet with.

4.Stick on

Grab some colorful stickers of various kinds and scotch tape along with vivid paper cards and paper scissors to keep kids busy in making scrap art on car windows.

5. Readable

Pick some comic books, kid’s storybooks, magazines, or else take Sudoku and word search activity stuff for kids with reading habits.

6. Cheap gifts

Before going on your journey, visit nearby toy stores and buy some cheap but colorful items that can be handy for travelling. Wrap them with trendy gift papers or tote bags to let your kids open them on the way.

7. Healthy and hydrated

While packing stuff like foods and drinks for travelling, select healthy food items that should also be delicious for your kids. You can take fresh fruits, dry fruits, homemade cookies, juices, and water to take care of your kids.

8. Sing with your heart

Kids and teenagers love to sing songs while going on vacation. You can also entertain them to sing funny songs or make your own song to make your kids laugh. Cracking jokes can also do the job.

9. Tiny snacks

For toddlers, its best to pack tiny snacks with in printed paper bags. In this way, you can handle their time-to-time popping hunger without getting irritated.

10. Get Photos

Another best option that can maintain the happy mood of your kids during the long journey is to take photos on every interesting spot along the way. All these pictures can make an interesting story of your journey, if you make holiday Christmas printed canvas to hold the memories on your wall a nostalgic source for your whole family after the event.

AtiqUr Rehman, devoted expert for Just4Canvas, is proficient web designer and a passionate writer. He gives his skilled view on home decor, travelling, shopping, and photography.

Image Credit: motherstlc.com

Vacation ideas- how about the windy city?

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Chicago Skyline reflection in the BEAN, Picture by mikeyexists

If you are looking for vacation ideas or just realizing you need a break, I think I have the perfect place for you to go- Chicago.  Of course this is biased since I live in Chicago but this midwestern large city offers down to earth friendly people, tons of stuff to do, art, music, culture and so much more at an affordable price.  Which brings me to all the things you can do here for free, that’s right free!  Here’s my list and enjoy sweet home Chicago:

  1. Lincoln Park Zoo (one of the nation’s oldest zoos housing 1200 animals, children’s zoo, carousel and paddle boats)
  2. Lincoln Park Conservatory (beautiful botanical gardens where you will find ferns and tropical palms)
  3. Navy Pier (3,300 foot pier on Chicago’s shoreline including shopping, entertainment, cruises and events)
  4. Strolling down Magnificent mile
  5. Millenium Park, view the amazing architecture including the prominent Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the Bean
  6. Free Museums:
    Chicago Architecture Foundation, Jane Adams’ Hull House, Arts Club of Chicago, Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Terra Museum of American Art, Oriental Institute Museum, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Museum of Broadcast Communications, National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum, American Bar Association Museum of Law
  7. I have two more suggestions that are not free but are a bargain.  Boat ride- utilize the Chicago Water Taxi, it charges $2 ride between Chinatown and Magnificent mile.  My last suggestion is going to The Signature Room on the 95th floor of the Hancock building for a fancy cocktail and an amazing view of the entire city.