ALL POSTS IN [Outdoors and Adventure]

Jordan: Mark? What the hell are you doing here?

Mark: Buying some toys. What are you doing?

Jordan: I’m buying some toys.

Mark: Snooze, you lose, sucker! (maniacal laugh)

Jordan is in for the fight of his life as he travels to Florida and California looking for amazing, vintage toy gold to sell at Comic Con in the Emerald City of Seattle. With Jordan already falling behind his nemesis, Mark, it’s clear that he has some ground to make up — and he plans to do just that.

With a goal of selling his inventory of toys for at least $15,000, will Jordan be able to pull off this amazing feat or will he be stuck with his toys, defeated by his nemesis? Find out on an all-new episode of Toy Hunter, tonight @ 9|8c.

Plus, don’t forget to check out these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from Jordan’s Battle for Seattle.

Move over Men At Workthere’s a new group singing a tune about the Land Down Under, and they go by the name of Tom and Robin. Trip Flip host Bert Kreischer was dancing up and down the streets of Los Angeles when he came across the very lucky, adventurous couple. Little did they know, they would be given an amazing, all-expenses-paid trip to Sydney.

After taking to the sky in style (first class on a double-decker, Qantas A380 with 5-star cuisine, endless champagne and top-of-the-line amenities) Bert and our 2 lucky vacationers hit the road, heading west towards the Blue Mountains to go canyoning through waterfalls. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

To find out more about Tom and Robin’s amazing adventure to the Land Down Under, tune in for an all-new episode, tonight at 8|7c.

And if that’s not enough, check out these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from Trip Flip: Sydney.

With spring in the air, are you feeling a little romantic? Here’s an idea: Think of someone you’d like to get to know a little better and plan an outdoor spring fling – this week you’ll have plenty of options for exploring a national park near you, and at no cost for admission.

Today through Friday, April 26, admission is free to all 401 national parks from coast to coast in celebration of National Park Week. With so many parks to choose from, and with at least 1 national park in every state, chances are good you’re 100 miles or fewer from an outdoor wonderland.

Your spring fling will have (almost) limitless possibilities: America’s national parks comprise 84 million acres of land; along with 43,000 miles of shoreline, 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures, 12,000 campsites, 100 million museum items and countless natural wonders such as Utah’s Delicate Arch (pictured). The tough part will be deciding which national park to see first.

Start by checking out this directory to Find a Park.

Also be sure to check out the National Park Service’s Download Center – yes, you will be prompted to enter your name and email address … but it will be worth it. In return, you’ll get ideas for crafting a national park adventure uniquely your own, courtesy of downloadable guides to 25 unforgettable national hikes; 35 national park adventures for kids of all ages and more.

Plus, check out this Event Calendar – it will keep you informed of national park events taking place throughout the week, from Junior Ranger days to bicycle tours of national battlefields. Just imagine, you and someone special taking a bike tour along a wide open green field — the setting for a memorable spring fling, right?

And with Earth Day today, combine your love of the outdoors with protecting America’s natural and historical legacy. Consider a donation to the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks — donations go to support projects such as park ranger-led nature walks and preservation of history-rich acreage and monuments at places like national Civil War battlefields.

You May Also Like:

Get active – discover these Top 10 National Park Activities.

Test your knowledge — take our US National Parks Quiz.

Enjoy a family outing at one of these Top 5 National Park Family Programs.

When most couples begin to have children, the adventures go from cliff diving and bungee jumping to cleaning up messes and driving the kids to their soccer games. Austin locals Sara and Jake are 2 athletic parents who have had to give up a jet-setting lifestyle for a quiet home life. Lucky for them, though, Trip Flip host Bert Kreischer arrives to offer them a reprieve in the form of an all-expenses-paid trip to Bob Marley’s homeland, Jamaica.

Speaking of Bob Marley, how would you like to record a song in the legendary reggae artist’s very own Tuff Gong Recording Studio in Kingston? Or if you’re more of the adventurous type, how about plunging into the Irie Blue Hole or discovering a flaming fountain of youth at the Windsor Mineral Spring Spa?

Want to see more of how Jake and Sara’s Caribbean adventure played out? Tune in for an all-new episode of Trip Flip, tonight at 8|7c.

Plus, check out exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from tonight’s episode.

Photo by Reuters/Mike Segar

Finally! In a victory that previous Aussie golfers Jim Ferrier, Bruce Crampton, Jack Newton and 3-time runner-up Greg Norman could only dream of, Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters Tournament this past Sunday and cast a renewed spotlight on golf Down Under.

For travelers looking to combine their love of faraway places with their love of the sport, Australia offers enticing options: golf courses spread across inland settings, some at really affordable prices. Among them is the recently opened Barnbougle Dunes resort. Located on Tasmania’s shores, the 200-acre resort offers all-day unlimited to its 36-hole course for around $130.

For a world-class golf experience, head to Royal Melbourne Golf Club, a 36-hole course near Melbourne that routinely makes US Golf Digest’s list of the world’s top golf courses. Since its founding in 1891, Royal Melbourne has gone on to become the oldest continually operating golf club in Australia — and if the media buzz is correct, Adam Scott will play at the club from Nov. 14-17 to defend the title he won last November at Kingston Heath.

This other premier golf club, located in Melbourne’s southeast suburbs, is the No. 2 course in Australia, and has hosted the Australian Golf Open 7 times. Several years ago, Kingston Heath also hosted the Australian Masters tournament. Looking to hit the green? Visiting golfers must be members of interstate or overseas golf clubs in order to arrange a booking.

For more memorable golf moments Down Under, head to Australia’s Dent Island. There you’ll find Hamilton Island Golf Club, home to the country’s only 18-hole championship course on an island. Designed by British Open championship golfer Peter Thompson, the par-71 course of broad fairways and steep valleys offers 360-degree views of the Coral Sea off Australia’s northeast coast.

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Can’t afford the private clubs? Head to the Best Public Golf Courses in the US.

For the golf-loving family, discover the Best Family Golf Courses.

Take a swing at these Luxury Golf Resorts.

Tonight at 8|7c, Bert scours Denver on a search for the perfect couple to take on an all-expenses-paid trip to Austin, TX. Bert comes across Maxim and Rebecca, an adventurous, fun–loving couple in desperate need of a getaway. They quickly (and excitedly) agree to a Trip Flip … and boy, are they in for a surprise.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the patrons wait for a chicken to poop in order to win a prize? Probably not.  Unless you live in Texas!

After finishing their game of chicken bingo, Maxim and Rebecca are in for a treat: Bert introduces them to country music stars Martie and Emily of the Court Yard Hounds and Dixie Chicks. Not only do our vacationers get to sit in on a special studio session, they also get to kick back and relax with the stars while enjoying a tequila tasting. Not bad for a free trip, right? And that’s just the half of it.

Want to know more about Maxim and Rebecca’s amazing, Texas-sized adventure? Tune in for an all-new episode of Trip Flip, tonight at 8|7c.

And don’t miss these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from tonight’s Trip Flip.

Everglades

Photo By Valerie Conners

While the hordes of Spring Breakers flock — understandably — to South Florida’s golden shores, consider a trip down the not-so-beaten path, to Everglades National Park, the heart of which lies just an hour’s drive west of Miami, along the Tamiami Trail. A drive into the heart of the Everglades grants visitors glimpses of the diverse wildlife roaming the region, including loads of alligator sightings (stand back, and keep you hands to yourself!), great blue herons, colorful roseate spoonbills and ever-present white herons and ibises. If you weren’t a bird watcher, much less bird lover, before entering the Everglades, you will be when you depart.

“Everglades” literally translates to “river of grass,” and that’s exactly what you’ll find here: a subtropical wetland that begins in Central Florida at Lake Okeechobee as water leaves the lake and flows south, forming a slow moving river. The so-called river of grass is an astonishing 50 miles wide and 100 miles long, running all the way to the tip of South Florida and into the sea. Of that vast expanse, 1.5 million acres have been designated a National Park, protecting 20 percent of the Everglades and the extraordinary wildlife contained within.

Everglades National Park is split into 2 main entrances, Shark Valley in the north central section of the park and the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in the West. Start your foray into the Everglades in Shark Valley. This entrance has the most amenities for visitors, including a museum, bike rentals and tram tours, as well as an observation tower in the thick of the glades that affords striking views of the grassland. A 15-mile loop road winds through Shark Valley, and is popular for bikers and a few apparently cold-blooded walkers undaunted by the region’s high temperatures. If you’re not prone to exert yourself for the duration of a 15-mile bike ride, hop aboard a tram tour, where knowledgeable guides point out and explain in detail the Everglades’ flora and fauna — with frequent stops for photos.

From Shark Valley, make your way toward the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. This entrance lies tucked into the far western reaches of the park, where you’ll see a much different topography, chiefly mangrove islands and winding waterways. As you make drive west, you’ll have the choice to continue along the well-trodden Tamiami Trail, or pop off onto a Scenic Loop Road, and as I highly recommend, and great poets will agree, always — always — take the road less traveled.

The loop road is partially unpaved, though easily driveable, and winds through what may well be the region’s most spectacular and wildest scenery: a cypress forest, part of the Big Cypress National Preserve. These monstrous trees drip with Spanish Moss, and you’ll pass by alligators lounging at their bases, as well as countless birds — herons, ibises, purple gallinules and pelicans galore. The best part? In what turned into an hour and a half foray along the road (I stopped for lots of pictures), I passed a mere 4 other cars. This is as remote a space as you’ll find anywhere in Florida.

Everglades

Photo By Valerie Conners

You’ll leave the Preserve and arrive in Everglades City late-afternoon or early evening. To get the most out of an Everglades National Park road trip from South Florida’s east coast, spend an overnight in Everglades City, just south of Naples, on the western edge of the park. The town is incredibly small, just a few hundred residents, and lies amidst winding waterways. Book a room at the Everglades City Motel, where the old-fashioned exterior belies the beautifully remodeled rooms inside. Grab a sunset cocktail and a platter of smoked fish dip at the iconic Rod and Gun Club, which sits along a scenic curve of the river. For dinner, meander a mile or so down the road to Camellia Street Grill, a true local’s hangout along the river. You’ll find kitschy decor, a welcoming outdoor deck, twinkling lights strung from trees, and if you’re lucky — live music and dancing.

The following day, head into the park’s western entrance, and book yourself on a boat tour of either the mangrove isles or Ten Thousand Islands. You can choose from a larger boat that winds through the islands or a smaller, 6-person tour that heads into the depths of the mangroves. After your boat tour, pay a visit to Chokoloskee Island, just a few minutes down the road. Here you’ll find the Smallwood Store and Ole Indian Trading Post, a former general store established in 1906 that’s now on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been turned into a museum featuring artifacts from the era, including newspaper clippings, medicine bottles, and furnishings.

Before you head back toward the 2-hour drive to Miami, refuel with lunch at the Havana Cafe, a Chokoloskee restaurant dishing up tasty Cuban food. Try the pork plate, traditional-style Cuban pork shoulder, serve with black beans, rice and a small salad. Ask to try the homemade hot sauce — you’ll thank me later.

Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go?

Off the Florida Keys, there’s a place called Kokomo.

That’s where you wanna go … to get away from it all!

Two lucky vacationers will experience what the Beach Boys proclaimed as they throw caution to the wind and let Bert take charge on an all-expense-paid trip to the Florida Keys.

Aside from nursing sick sea turtles back to health, reeling in exotic fish from the waters of the sport fishing capital of the world, and dining at Ernest Hemingway’s favorite watering hole, our vacationers will also enjoy getting their feet wet with a deep-sea snorkeling trip off their own private, chartered catamaran. And that’s just the half of it.

Join Bert tonight at 8|7c for all-new adventure to the Florida Keys with Denver residents Tom and Crystle, as they spend 3 days drenched in the sun and seeing the Keys as few have before.

Plus, check out these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from Tom and Crystal’s journey through sunny Florida.

San Francisco is a huge tourist destination, with Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge all drawing crowds. Sure, on my trip out west, I had to see the sights, but right across the famous red bridge was the best part of my getaway: The often-overlooked Mill Valley, located 14 miles north of San Francisco in the beautiful, mountainous Marin County.

What feels like a combination of beach town and Swiss mountain hamlet, Mill Valley offers a quiet taste of NorCal life, with boutique shops, eco-conscious restaurants and enough outdoor space to fill days and days with hiking. When I escaped to warmer climes for a week, stumbling upon Mill Valley was a happy accident.

My Top Picks in Marin County:

Mill Valley Inn
Imagine an upscale beachside hotel. But at the foot of a mountain. Surrounded by woods. With free breakfast, a free wine and cheese reception, a fireplace in the room and a balcony overlooking redwoods, this is my new favorite hotel. They’ll also offer you a bike, if you’d like to explore that way. But beware: there are a lot of hills.

El Paseo

Tucked away in a stone-covered alleyway, El Paseo is Tyler Florence and Sammy Hagar’s take on a traditional chophouse, serving up finely aged steaks and local, sustainable ingredients. The pair worked together to restore this historic restaurant, which was originally opened in 1948. El Paseo retains its rustic feel with exposed brick, reclaimed wood and plenty of candlelight. Also, you have to order a steak. And perhaps the crispy duck wings.

Bungalow 44
A stylish bar with large, cushy booths, Bungalow 44 prides itself on its California cuisine, as well as its creative cocktails. It doesn’t get much fresher than their cucumber margarita and perfectly cooked ahi tuna. Even though I ate here before the live Jazz started, I still felt like I was dining in a 1940s supper club.

Super Duper Burger
This place may claim to serve fast food, but it is anything but typical. There are 5 locations throughout San Francisco, and luckily there is one right down the street from the Mill Valley Inn. The beef is delivered from San Fran’s own Niman Ranch and ground fresh daily. The pickles are homemade and the buns are toasted. Top it all off with fries finished with fresh garlic and 6-month aged cheddar. I mean, come on.

Stinson Beach

Even on a foggy day, Stinson Beach is a beautiful place for a walk. Climb over rocks and watch the waves crash below you, or sit along the shore and watch the surfers take their chances. Hidden on the other side of Mount Tamalpais, (if you’re prone to car sickness, watch out – the road is CURVY) this beach feels worlds away from Mill Valley. On the drive back, pull over wherever you can find a parking spot, because sure enough, there will be a trailhead with spectacular views of the water.

Marin Headlands

If you pull off the road right before getting on the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll come across the Marin Headlands. Drive up the road a little and you’ll find overlooks that’ll take your breath away. After grabbing pics of the San Francisco skyline, hike a little further. Not only will the Golden Gate look so close you could touch it, but there you’ll also find the historic Fort Barry and Fort Cronkhite. Or what’s left of them.

Denver residents Ventana and Jamian had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they agreed to let Bert arrange an all-expenses-paid, 3-day dream vacation to Los Angeles, but I doubt they’ll be regretting their decision anytime soon.

Think you’d enjoy living life like a Hollywood celebrity? Wondering what it would be like to fly in the Goodyear blimp over Los Angeles, taking in some of the city’s most iconic fixtures? Ever wanted to stay in the home of a celebrity or bowl with one, for that matter? How about getting a complete movie-style makeover and appearing in a zombie flick?

Tune in tonight at 8|7c to see how our vacationers partook in activities they could never in their wildest dreams have imagined doing and see all the fun that went along with it.

Plus, check out exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from Ventana and Jamian’s trip to Tinseltown.

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