Maui beachfront rental homes are often expensive and can be hard to come by, particularly during the busy seasons. But even those staying back from the coastline can plan their trips for easy beach access. All it takes is some smart planning and prior knowledge about how to get to the best beaches in Maui.
…Though Safety and Conservation Concerns May Limit Access
In theory, a person could try to reach prime beach locations by simply walking along the coastline. However, the fact that Maui’s beaches are public doesn’t mean they’re all completely open. Rocky cliffs and areas blocked for wildlife or plant conservation mean that lateral access isn’t always as easy as it may seem.
Public Property Can Block Access to Parking or Safe Pathways
Getting down to the beach can be a challenge too, since private property between roadways and the coast can mean that actually getting to the public coastline is impossible without trespassing. This means that sticking with well-known beaches, of which there are plenty on Maui, is the best bet. Visitors can try East Maui parks like Kahana Beach Park to beat crowds.
Resorts Often Charge for Parking
Oceanfront resort hotels offer easy beach access, and anyone can use their beaches. However, they often charge steep daily parking fees that affect their guests and outside visitors in equal measure. Visitors who are thinking about renting a car may prefer to rent a condo that allows free parking in the property’s no-fee lot or driveway.
Research the Area Before Booking
It’s best for visitors to carefully research the area their rental accommodations are in before booking. This is especially true for those who don’t plan to rent a car, since bus access to public beach parks may be difficult to reach or might take a very long time from certain parts of the island.
If Oceanfront Accommodations Aren’t Available, Focus on Public Parks
Maui visitors who don’t end up booking accommodations with direct beach access should plan to visit public beach parks instead of beaches blocked by resorts whenever possible. For example, Makena State Park has no entry or parking fee, making it a better choice in South Maui than the Wailea resorts. Strategizing like this can make beach access much easier.
Traffic Is a Concern in Some Areas
Planning a Maui trip focused on beach experiences doesn’t necessarily mean that a car rental is required, but it certainly is helpful. However, those who plan to drive all over the island should think about traffic to optimize where they stay. Lahaina and Kaanapali are two notorious areas for long traffic jams caused by high volumes of cars on the road.
Some Parts of Maui Are Rainier Than Others
Maui is a relatively small landmass, but its dramatically varied terrain and location in the Pacific means that some parts are more prone to rain than others. Southeastern Maui, particularly Wailea, is typically the driest area that’s least prone to protracted rainfall. When beach time and sun are the goals of the vacation, this is important information to consider.
Smaller Beaches Typically Don’t Have Lifeguards
Not every beach in Maui has lifeguards on duty, and this might be an important consideration for families with young children or those who don’t know how to swim very well but still want to experience the ocean. Larger beach parks like the Kamaole beaches in Kihei and Makena are good choices for those who feel safer with a lifeguard keeping watch.
West and South Maui Are Ideal for Beginner Surfers
Learning to surf is a great way to connect with Hawaiian culture and history, but some beaches are better for beginners than others. Surf shops in Kihei, Lahaina, and Kaanapali are likely to give good advice on local spots to hit the waves, and they also often offer surfing lessons for complete novices.
The pool area of the MGM Grand covers 6.6 acres and includes a lazy river and a waterfall. Tons of shopping, eating and activities are available right in the hotel. It’s located right on the Strip and features kid-friendly performances of David Copperfield and Cirque du Soleil.
New York New York Hotel and Casino
What’s not to love about a hotel with its own roller coaster and arcade inside? You and the kids will love the excitement going on inside this hotel. The restaurants are located inside “neighborhoods” that mimic different sections of New York City. Grab pizza, burgers, sandwiches and other cuisines that picky eaters are sure to love.
Despite being on the Strip in the middle of the Nevada desert, The Mirage feels like a tropical vacation — complete with volcanoes and waterfalls. Volcano eruptions take place every night and are free to watch. This hotel is also home to a 20,000-gallon saltwater aquarium filled with colorful fish and plants.
Hilton Grand Vacations on the Boulevard
This Hilton is a non-gaming hotel located on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. This is ideal if your family wants to get away from the gambling and craziness but still wants to enjoy all the excitement that the city has to offer. Pools, spray fountains and basketball hoops all add to the family-friendly surroundings of this hotel.
Excalibur Hotel and Casino
Staying at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino is a lot like entering a fairy tale. The design is like a castle straight out of a story book. The accommodations are fit for any prince or princess too, with the Fun Dungeon, arcade, swimming pools and a medieval tournament show.
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
The Shark Reef Aquarium — filled with more than 1.6 million gallons of saltwater and hundreds of different aquatic species — is one attraction that sets Mandalay Bay apart from the rest. Your kids can spend hours learning about sea turtles, sharks and crocodiles while on vacation. The hotel also has more than 20 different restaurants to choose from when your family gets hungry.
Shaped just like the Big Top, Circus Circus promises family-friendly entertainment from the moment you walk in the door. It has a theme park, circus acts and carnival games to keep kids entertained all day long. The Adventuredome is the largest indoor theme park in the country and houses the only indoor double-loop roller coaster.
Planet Hollywood features surfing, boogie boarding and two rooftop pools to cool off in. The hotel also has several stores so you can shop for new clothes or take home souvenirs from your vacation. Planet Hollywood features some of the hottest musical shows, with residencies from popular artists like Jennifer Lopez and the Backstreet Boys.
The Bellagio Hotel is home to one of the most popular Las Vegas attractions: the fountains. These put on lighted shows throughout the day and into the night. If you’re wondering where to stay in Vegas with a family, you should book a room with a view of these fountains for around-the-clock free entertainment. There are also botanical gardens on-site to explore.
Once named the best beach in America, Kaanapali Beach in Maui, also known as Black Rock due to the massive lava rock jutting out into the water, is a prime snorkeling spot. This is an easy-walk in spot for swimming and undersea sightseeing. Kaanapali visitors are lucky to be so close to one of the best beaches on the island.
Shopping at Whaler’s Village
Fashionistas looking to indulge in a little vacation shopping time can visit Whaler’s Village, a shopping center at the heart of Kaanapali. Shops include boutiques featuring wares from local clothing and jewelry designers, making this a great place to scoop some unique Hawaiian souvenirs and tropical clothing to enhance the Aloha spirit.
People Watching on Front Street
Lahaina is Maui’s most popular tourist town, and it’s just a short drive south from Kaanapali. Front Street is the major tourist destination within Lahaina, offering tons of souvenir shopping opportunities and some fantastic people watching among crowds of both quirky townie locals and international tourists alike. Traffic can be a headache during peak season, so plan accordingly.
Whale Watching from Lahaina
In addition to offering great people watching, Lahaina is also the port from which most of Maui’s whale watching and other boat tours depart. This puts Kaanapali visitors in an ideal location to board a morning cruise, walk around Lahaina and head back to their vacation home base before traffic gets too bad.
Golfing at Championship Courses
Golfers have lots of great course options on Maui, and two of them are located in the Kaanapali area: the Royal Kaanapali and the Kaanapali Kai. These championship courses each offer 18 holes with amazing views of the water and surrounding landscapes. Guests of participating resorts in the area may get a discount on their tee time at these courses.
Ziplining Over Kaanapali’s Tropical Forest
Perfectly situated at higher elevation above the forest and beyond the coast, Kaanapali Skyline Eco Adventures offers a must-see experience for those who want to zipline while on Maui. The scenery is spectacular, and the company offers several different stops and viewing platforms on its various tour packages so visitors can get a bird’s eye view from several different directions.
Visiting Lahaina Museums
Kaanapali’s neighboring tourist town of Lahaina isn’t just a place to indulge one’s inner tourist. It’s also an important part of Maui’s immigrant and whaling history. Options for curious history buffs include museums such as the Wing Ho Temple, which commemorates the island’s Chinese immigrant population, and the Lahaina Heritage Museum.
Driving the Road to Hana
Hana is essentially on the other side of the island from Kaanapali, so it’s not exactly a walkable attraction. However, adventurous visitors with a car at their disposal should consider making the drive. There’s no better way to see the island than to traverse it, and Hana itself is a beautiful gem tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Kaanapali and Lahaina.
Walking the Kaanapali Trail
This free, self-guided coastal walking tour takes visitors through some important Hawaiian historical sites and beautiful ocean vistas, with the westward-facing view making for a perfect sunset stroll. The trail can get quite crowded due to its beauty and location in the heart of Maui’s most crowded tourist district, so those who want to beat crowds should plan to go early.
Visiting the Iao Valley State Monument
Kaanapali’s northwest Maui location puts it right at the base of the island’s northernmost high point, the Iao Valley State Monument. This gorgeously lush area is a well-preserved tropical paradise that visitors can either hike or drive to for a photo op. Plan to stay awhile either way to make the drive worth it.
When visiting Nola for Mardi Gras, it’s important to make your lodging reservations early – places book up fast so we recommend reserving as early as the summer before if you hope to get a balcony or location near the French Quarter. If a hotel is not your speed, there are numerous vacation rentals throughout the districts to accommodate you, your significant other, and anyone else along for the Carnival.
The Cornstalk Hotel
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, the Cornstalk Hotel is right in the center of it all. The Victorian hotel has 14 private rooms all decorated with luxurious antiquities and historic charm. Because of its small size, the hotel offers privacy and quiet for when you tire of all of the Mardi Gras excitement.
International House Hotel
The Central Business District might not be as lively as the French Quarter, but it’s one of the best places to stay during Mardi Gras. The International House Hotel in particular is a boutique hotel just two blocks from all of the festivities. It’s also close to many of the city’s top attractions, including the aquarium and World War II museum.
This posh hotel represents the third incarnation of business in this Beaux-Arts style building, which was constructed as a bank in 1906. The present-day name reflects the second institution to thrive in the building, an international business center that promoted international cooperation during World War II. Today, the International House hotel balances its historic architecture with on-trend modern details.
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Bed & Breakfast in the Garden District
The Garden District is pretty far from the Mardi Gras festivities, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your vacation preferences. It’s the historic part of town with beautiful scenery. Find tons of bed and breakfasts and quaint inns in historic homes that allow you to get a feel for true Southern hospitality.
From the moment you walk into the Hotel Monteleone, you feel the history of New Orleans all around you. Opened in 1886, the hotel is a landmark in the city. The hotel offers elegance and luxury. It’s also home to the Carousel Bar, which is the city’s only revolving bar. It’s a fun spot at which to get the party started.
Family owned and operated for four generations, the Hotel Monteleone dates back to 1886, and it maintains its original feel and character thanks to consistent management. Opulent and unique, this historic New Orleans hotel has kept original details like its revolving carousel bar intact, giving you easy access to Mardi Gras events with a side of old-world elegance.
The Royal Sonesta Hotel
The Royal Sonesta Hotel is frequently touted as one of the best places to stay during Mardi Gras. It’s located on the ever-popular Bourbon Street and has balconies that allow you to survey all of the action from above. Watch the parades and the people, and listen to live jazz without having to travel far from your room.
Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel
Also located on Bourbon Street, the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel offers stunning views of lights and festivals down below. Step outside and experience culinary delights, unique cultural attractions and new people. The hotel underwent renovations to add a beautiful swimming pool, state-of-the-art business center and fully equipped fitness center, too.
Queen Anne Hotel
The historic Queen Anne Hotel is an 1890s Victorian mansion located in the Garden District. It’s situated close to the streetcar line, offering a fun and quick way to get to the French Quarter and experience all of the festivities. The quiet, spacious rooms offer respite from the hustle and bustle of the city outside.
Best Western Plus St. Christopher Hotel
Located on Magazine St., the St. Christopher Hotel is located in the Warehouse District and on the edge of the French Quarter. It’s a quick walk to the festivities nearby but is also situated in a part of town that is a lot less hectic. The St. Charles line runs straight through for a quick ride to other parts of the city.
Dauphine Orleans Hotel
Offering an elegant ambience that’s a bit spookier than what you’ll find at the average New Orleans vacation rental, the Dauphine Orleans Hotel is just steps from Bourbon Street. It’s the ideal place to stay if you’re hoping to communicate with some ghosts during your trip. It’s the former site of a brothel — be on the lookout for ghosts of working girls and their Civil War-soldier clientele.
Located on Decatur Street in the French Quarter, Bienvielle House is a carefully maintained historic property that’s been saved from destruction multiple times. With a boutique feel and a beautiful pool, this is a cushy place to stay during the Mardi Gras festivities. Thanks to its central location on Decatur Street, you can watch the action from your wrought-iron balcony.
The Frenchmen Hotel
The Frenchmen Hotel is located in the hip and artsy Faubourg Marigny section of New Orleans. It’s a bit farther away from the main attractions but is a must-see for any Mardi Gras vacation. You have access to some of the city’s best music and affordable drinks and cuisine. Private balconies overlook the quaint district for a personalized experience.
The French Quarter is the place to be for tourists during Mardi Gras, and Chateau LeMoyne offers a covetable historic hotel experience in this neighborhood. Thanks to management from the Holiday Inn, the interior of the hotel feels fresh and new while also maintaining some original details, such as the rustic brick walls.
Bourbon Orleans Hotel
The elegant Bourbon Orleans Hotel is centrally located off of Jackson Square in the French Quarter, placing you in an ideal location to pick your experience. The debauchery of Bourbon Street isn’t too far away, but more low-key, family-friendly Mardi Gras events are also on offer closer to the riverfront.
The Whitney Hotel
The Whitney Hotel is located in the city’s Central Business District, so it isn’t exactly in the thick of things for Mardi Gras. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, you’ll likely see this as a plus, though, and the historic decor commemorating the hotel’s history as a bank adds extra charm.
Le Pavilion Hotel
Le Pavilion Hotel is also located in the Central Business District, but it has something few other New Orleans hotels have: a rooftop pool. You can give beating the crowds a whole new meaning by gazing out over the Mardi Gras action from the comfort of this opulent early 19th-century hotel.
Place D’Armes Hotel
Another haunted option, the Place D’Armes hotel occupies several buildings that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Located just steps away from the action of Bourbon Street, this mid-range hotel is an ideal Mardi Gras lodging option that comes with a side of historic ambience, including resident ghosts.
The Roosevelt New Orleans
Mardi Gras travelers looking for a luxury hotel experience may want to consider the Roosevelt New Orleans, a hotel with more than 100 years of history that’s now owned and operated by the Waldorf Astoria hotel group. The Roosevelt is so close to the heart of the action that staff puts special security measures in place during Mardi Gras.
For some people, a hotel doesn’t offer the experience they’re looking for while in Louisiana. New Orleans rental houses might offer privacy, full kitchens and a host of other amenities. Many are located in the French Quarter so that you’ll be close to everything. Mardi Gras vacation rentals offer a certain amount of freedom and comfort not available in as many hotels.
The Christmas holiday season is the best time to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando. There are plenty of festivities going on, such as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party; Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! and more. You may even catch the filming of a Christmas special or two with your favorite celebs. Book early because vacation villas near Disney World go fast in December.
Halloween with a Disney twist
Christmas may be the most fun holiday at Disney, but Halloween’s not far behind. Throughout October, there are all sorts of exciting fall festivities going on, but a favorite is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, which includes trick-or-treating, costumes, fireworks, parades and much more. Just be aware that it’s hurricane season, and the weather, while generally nice this time of year, is subject to change.
Easter – Egg hunting around the park
For many people, the Easter holiday marks the start or end of spring break, which means the park is pretty crowded through the month of April. However, if you and your children want to brave those crowds, the weather is gorgeous. Kids can meet Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny, take part in egg hunts and enjoy special meals.
Fourth of July with Disney
Summer is an exciting time at Disney. With kids out of school, there are no limits on how long or late to stay in Orlando. It’s hot, but many hotels and vacation rentals near Disney World have pools for a little afternoon cool-down. Best of all, if you go on the 4th of July, you can witness one of the park’s spectacular fireworks displays.
You may think of New Orleans when you think of Mardi Gras, but Disney has its own fun Fat Tuesday scene. Head to Port Orleans Resort for a Mardi Gras parade you won’t soon forget, with floats and golf carts decorated by cast members. A few of your favorite characters may even show up. Best of all, Disney trips are cheaper this time of year.
New Year’s Eve
No one wraps up a year like Disney. While the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a busy time at the theme park, it’s worth braving the crowds. Enjoy an upscale meal, fireworks at various parks and a dance party or two. If you have young kids, keep in mind that it can be loud and rowdy.
Walt Disney World Marathon
The annual Walt Disney World marathon is a big event that takes place every year in January. The race runs through the Magic Kingdom, as well as the Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. If you’re not up for a marathon, try the 5k and some of the other healthy events that take place through the park at this time.
Atlanta Braves Spring Training
Spring may be a great time for kids who are on break, but it’s also a good time for sports fans. The Atlanta Braves hold spring training at Disney, so book a family-friendly rental near Disney World in advance to enjoy a week of baseball under the beautiful spring sky.
Earth Day may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Disney adventure, but it’s actually a fun time to stay in a rental home in Orlando. Both Epcot and the Animal Kingdom offer special events that give guests an up-close-and-personal look at some of the animals. It’s also a great way to learn about conservation.
For a spring event that’s 100 percent Disney, a trip to the park on Dapper Day is a must. Generally held in late April, guests forego their usually shorts and sneakers and visit the park in their Sunday best and elegant outfits inspired by original illustrations of the park. While the event is not Disney-sponsored, many people do take part.
Orlando is one of the top family vacation spots in the world, but knowing when to go can make the difference between a great time and wishing you’d never headed down to Florida. At first glance, summer and spring break seem like the ideal times to visit, but as it turns out January through March are better options.
When it comes to the weather, fall and winter are the best times of year to visit Orlando, no matter what you plan to do. While summers and even spring can be hot and humid with daily rainstorms, winters are milder with average highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. It’s also much drier.
Less Crowded in the winter
The second reason why many people opt to go toOrlando between January and March is the fact that it’s far less crowded. For the most part, kids across the country are in school, which means fewer families waiting in line to ride the rides at theme parks and less waiting at the area’s restaurants.
January in Disney World is cheaper
In general, prices for everything from lodging to theme park tickets are cheaper during the winter once kids are back in school after their holiday break. You’ll pay much less for hotels and vacation homes close to Universal Studios and Disney World, and you may even pay less for other attractions.
Easier to Make Reservations
Making reservations for dinner and events at the theme park and beyond is often done months in advance by people who plan to travel during the spring and summer. However, you can do things a little more last minute if you go during the wintertime. This can be a big deal for special attractions like a meal with the Disney Princesses at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
Better Lodging Options
It’s easier to find a place to stay, too. Vacation-home management companies, condominiums and hotels have more readily available options for families, including Disney World-area vacation rentals. It’s easier to find on-campus Disney World rentals or places to stay near the park that aren’t booked up and have the features your family needs.
Some people assume the January through March period is a slow time for big events in Orlando, but there’s actually plenty do beyond the theme parks. There’s the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, the Downtown Food and Wine Fest, the Disney Marathon and the Seven Seas Food Festival at SeaWorld Orlando.
Holidays tend to be busy in Orlando, especially if you’re going to Disney World. Christmas, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Spring Break, Easter, Thanksgiving, the 4th of July — these are the days when special events take place through the city and the parks. People often book their trips for the weeks before and after to participate, but there’s no need to worry about that.
January Holiday Options
That said, much of the holiday fun continues through January, even after most people have returned home and gone back to work and school. So, if you still want to partake in some Christmas and winter holiday fun, you can do so without worrying about big crowds.
Extra Magic Hours
If you’re planning to visit Disney, you’ll be happy to know that January through March can be one of the best times to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. This is when guests are allowed to enter the park early or late for a little while. You’ll practically have the place to yourself.
The Lodge is “the cream of the crop” if you want to experience the great outdoors while still enjoying luxury amenities during your Big Bear vacation. This Holiday Inn resort boasts a gorgeous pool, incredible food, occasional nightly events and picture-perfect rooms with crisp white linens. Best of all, it’s open all season long.
Noon Lodge is snuggled into nearby Mallard Bay. Although it’s smaller than The Lodge, it’s also cozier, making it the perfect Big Bear vacation rental for sweethearts — or if you just want to get away from it all for a bit. The fire pit down by the water and the barbecue stay accessible to guests, ensuring plenty of outdoor fun.
Eagles Nest B&B and Cottage Suites
The Eagle’s Nest is known for great service, fantastically beautiful rustic surroundings and one of the best breakfasts in Big Bear Lake (at least according to visitors). The owners are present and friendly to attend to your needs, even going out of their way to provide a door-to-door coffee service each morning. Guests say it feels like a “home away from home.”
Pine Knot Guest Ranch
Pine Knot Guest Ranch sits tucked away in a shady grove of trees, surrounded by the forest and sounds of nature. Unlike other destinations, it doesn’t offer hotel rooms; instead, the property provides access to one or more of seven individual chalets. Great views of Big Bear’s lakefront and the ability to book group events make this location truly special.
The name Cozy Hollow Lodge conjures images of fairy tale lands full of adventure and magic. When you see it in person for the first time, you just might believe that’s true. Finely crafted cabins capped with snow, outbuildings covered in green ivy from the ground to the roof and gorgeous winding stone pathways make Cozy Hollow magical.
Big Bear Frontier looks out over the lake, keeping a watchful eye over the water. The view is incredible. This spot is located just steps away from the village, and the rustic decor adds incredible ambience and warmth. Stay in a suite or select a studio cabin for more privacy instead.
The Marina Resort in Big Bear is a stunning destination during the summer, but you shouldn’t overlook this incredible location during the winter. Crisp and cool weather produces its own stunning views of the lake while you’re tucked safe and warm inside. A piping hot Jacuzzi and kid-friendly staff make this one a winner for families with young children.
Travelodge Big Bear Lake CA
The second of the “big chain” hotels present in Big Bear Lake, California, the Travelodge is simple but provides outstanding service to guests. It’s conveniently located near skiing, most amenities and several perfectly picturesque photo-taking opportunities, making it a dream if you’re on a budget. What the Travelodge lacks in fanciness, it makes up for in friendly staff and top-notch service.
Shore Acres Lodge is situated right on the beach with beautiful views of the lake. It’s a strangely fitting winter destination; you’ll love peaceful walks along the water during gentle snowfalls. This is the kind of place you visit when you just need a mid-winter reset: peaceful, relaxed and free from the throngs of people present at most ski hills. It’s simply sublime.
Grey Squirrel Resort
Booking at Grey Squirrel Resort can be a struggle, but not for the reasons you might expect. This stunning high-end resort has a lengthy list of available properties ranging from simple suites to incredibly luxurious mansion chalets with space to stretch out. Best of all, they allow pets, too, so there’s no need to send Fido to the kennel when you come.
Sugarloaf is a small unincorporated community that has a real mountain feel to it. Though it’s developed quite a bit over the past decade or so, it still has a small-town atmosphere, and there’s not a whole lot going on compared to other areas of Big Bear. Vacationers looking for a true escape will love the alpine feel.
Big Bear vacation rentals and homes can be expensive, but in Sugarloaf, prices are still relatively low. This makes Sugarloaf appealing for budget travelers as well. The isolated feel may help contribute to the fact that prices are lower here because there aren’t many walkable resources like restaurants and shops.
Connecting to Alpine History
Sugarloaf nestles up against the San Bernardino National Forest, and the area was initially developed as a camping enclave before permanent houses started cropping up. As a result, the Sugarloaf area is compact but private thanks to an abundance of trees scattered throughout the small cabins and houses in the area.
Steep but Navigable Terrain
As you’re researching Big Bear vacations, you may look at a map and get the impression that Sugarloaf is located on a completely flat stretch of land. The streets here are laid out in a neat grid, but its mountainside location does mean that some get quite steep. Much of Sugarloaf is on a plateau, but not all is flat.
Close to the Action
A ski house rental near Big Bear Mountain Resort offers easy access to both Snow Summit and Bear Mountain recreation areas. This is also a good place to look for a vacation home to rent, as Sugarloaf is about 15 minutes away from most points of interest in the area, including the lake.
The proximity to the mountain, lakes and forest makes Sugarloaf a great launch point for recreation in all seasons. There are actually suitable hiking and biking trails in the San Bernardino National Forest just adjacent to Sugarloaf, and you could theoretically bike to a trail from your Sugarloaf rental house if you wanted to.
Not Completely Isolated
Though Sugarloaf isn’t as developed as the village, it does have some conveniences, including a general store and laundromat. If you don’t mind cooking for yourself, you could easily set up shop in a rental cabin in Sugarloaf without even having to venture into the more crowded areas of Big Bear.
Those familiar with the area may be aware that this part of the Big Bear area shares its name with a mountain. Sugarloaf’s summit sits at an elevation of 9,952 feet, and it shares its name with a number of other mountains across the USA. The name actually comes from the fact that sugar used to come in mountain-shaped loaves rather than loose granules.
The Most Challenging Trail
It’s possible to hike to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain via a rather difficult hiking trail that sees a total elevation gain of more than 3,000 feet from start to finish. Spanning 10 miles, the Sugarloaf National Recreation Trail is best experienced by those who are up for a backcountry challenge.
Stargazing in Sugarloaf
A less-rigorous option that comes with staying in Sugarloaf is stargazing. Though all of Big Bear is well placed for naked-eye views of a wondrously starry sky, Sugarloaf’s elevation several hundred feet above most other residential areas means that the view here is even clearer. The lack of heavy development further facilitates incredible views of the stars.
Hawaii is a great place for a family vacation, and one of the most family-friendly activities to do in the Aloha State is to go snorkeling. It doesn’t cost much, you never know what you’ll see and you may even learn a little something. Before booking your next trip, take a look at some of the best beaches for snorkeling while planning your itinerary.
Hanauma Bay, Oahu
Snorkelers who visit Hanauma Bay off the shores of Oahu will find thousands of colorful fish swimming in and out of the coral reef that sits just off the beach. There are just a few things to be aware of. First, it’s the most popular beach in Hawaii, and it’s closed on Tuesdays. Also, it’s a known spot for drownings, so be careful when snorkeling.
You’ll have to take a boat ride to Molokini Crater, but once you make your way inside its walls, the water is perfectly clear. You’ll see manta rays, barracudas and hundreds of other beautiful fish swimming the reefs. The Crater is located a few miles off the coast, so it’s the perfect outing for anyone staying on the island.
Turtle Town, Maui
This spot is great place for all ages, from its family-friendly rental homes to its luaus, surf lessons and aquarium. There are so many reasons to make it your family vacation destination. Turtle Town, a little snorkeling spot off Maluaka Beach, should also be on your list. It’s a great place for your family to see sea turtles, octopi and eels.
Shark’s Cove, Oahu
If sharks are more your thing, head to Oahu to a little area known as Shark’s Cove. Part of the area is enclosed by rocks, which means fewer waves and calmer waters. However, during the winter months, the water here can get a little choppy and dangerous, so stick to summer snorkeling.
Lanai is a little quieter and a little less inhabited than the rest of the island, which means you have more chances to see critters that humans don’t scare away. At Hulopoe Bay, there are plenty of calm, shallow tide pools where snorkelers of all ages can spot favorite sea creatures, including dolphins and sea turtles.</p>
If you ask anyone where the most beautiful place to go snorkeling on Kauai is, they’ll tell you it’s Tunnels Beach. The water is so perfectly blue, and it’s surrounded by the stunning Nā Pali Coast State Park. You may want to leave the little ones at home for this excursion, as the currents can be strong and sometimes dangerous.
This is one of the calmest snorkeling spots in Hawaii, which makes it fun for the whole family. Even better is that you’ll see a little bit of everything when it comes to wildlife. Dolphins, sharks, turtles, eels, rays and others call the area home. It’s also a great spot for kayaking or having a picnic on the shore.
Snorkeling at Oahu’s North Shore is another trip all shark lovers must take. You’ll likely see a variety of the ocean’s most feared predator, including hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and sandbar sharks. You can even snorkel with a shark conservation research team and learn a little something new.
This spot is clear, calm and suitable for snorkelers of all ages. It’s also a treasure trove for spotting wildlife. From the infamous monk seals to the humuhumunukunukuapua’a, otherwise known as the red reef fish (it’s the state fish), you’ll see a little bit of everything. During certain seasons, you may even spot a few humpback whales.
The best Mardi Gras vacation rentals serve up a slice of history to go along with the convenience and Bourbon Street access they offer. New Orleans has a rich history that’s visible in many different ways. Notably, the city’s architecture is often delightfully antique, and visitors who want to get the full immersive experience should look out for certain features as they look for rentals.
Scrolled ironwork, Victorian balcony trim and other lovely little touches dominate classic New Orleans architecture. Scan listings for properties that include these exterior features to set the right tone for your vacation in Crescent City. Many homes with older facades are updated indoors, so you likely won’t be turned off by this old-school charm.
The shotgun house is the dominant single-family dwelling style of classic New Orleans architecture. These small cottages are ideal if you want to stay in a detached building that’s in the heart of the action and isn’t overwhelmingly large. Couples, single travelers and small families can all find comfortable lodgings in shotgun houses.
Most New Orleans houses feature front porches with an awning or roof overhead. Though February is generally a cool time of year, it’s still nice to look for a porch during Mardi Gras. Rentals with a porch provide an ideal semi-private place to people watch; this is great when you want to feel like a part of the action without actually being in a crowd.
Mardi Gras is one of the most colorful public celebrations in the world, and there’s plenty of color in the buildings around New Orleans as well. The French Quarter actually tends to be a bit more subdued, with more brick buildings than painted wood, but there are some smaller houses off of main roads that can fit the rainbow bill.
Visitors who want to be as close to the action as possible should try to secure a Creole Townhouse rental in the French Quarter. Creole townhouses are the iconic building in this part of town, with businesses on the bottom and dwellings, complete with ironwork porches, on top. There’s no more authentic vantage point for a Mardi Gras parade.
Proximity to Bourbon Street
Before booking a rental, look at the location of the property on a map and see how close it is to Bourbon Street. Families with children may want to make sure they’re at least a few blocks away from this landmark street — it’s not exactly a kid-friendly or quiet place to be, especially during Mardi Gras.
Bourbon Street isn’t the only part of the French Quarter or New Orleans as a whole that offers plenty of things to see and do during Mardi Gras. You may find areas farther away more affordable and easier to book during Mardi Gras season. Neighborhoods such as Marigny and Treme are close to the French Quarter but less of a focal point.
As a general rule of thumb, New Orleans as a whole takes on a party atmosphere during Mardi Gras, and the area surrounding Bourbon Street in particular is quite active. New Orleans Police recommend generally exercising common sense to a high degree at this time, and that means staying somewhere with a secured front door and other basic safety features.
Those who are lucky enough to stay in the French Quarter are likely to find themselves lodged in a very old building for their Mardi Gras stay. Some rental listings will include historical details about the property, which can enhance the vacation and add a feeling of connection to the Big Easy’s storied past.