ALL POSTS IN [Trends]

Photo: Castle Park

We love amusement parks as much as the next person. But sometimes a good day of fun can go horribly wrong, as we learned with last Friday’s tragic event at Six Flags Over Texas. This isn’t the time to turn alarmist — but it is time to brush up on amusement park safety tips, say industry experts.

First, keep things in perspective. A whole lot of people, well into the millions, take amusement park rides every year nationwide. And the number of serious injuries is minimal.

Chances of Injury Are Small

“Regardless of where we are on the spectrum, there’s always more we can do [in terms of amusement park safety],” says Dr. Gary Smith, who directs the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH.

It’s true, says Smith, there’s a global issue ahead to face — mainly, the current patchwork of oversight on amusement park safety, with differing standards by state and localities, and no umbrella government agency to oversee it all. Still, adds Smith, “The chances of a serious injury are small and that’s something parents can take comfort in.”

Know Before You Go

Already, states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania — home to a large number of amusement parks — have issued reminders to adventure seekers on how to enjoy rides responsibly. (Late June was Amusement Park Ride Safety Week in Pennsylvania, in fact.)

Check out tips from Pennsylvania authorities on amusement park ride safety here, and from the Ohio Department of Agriculture here. The main takeaway: Stay informed. Know before you go, it’s the best way for you and your family to have fun.
 
Top Ride Safety Tips

Ken Martin, an independent inspector and amusement park safety consultant with KRM Consulting in Richmond, VA, offers a great roundup of ride safety tips for parents. Also keep in mind the following:

    • Pay attention to the sizing device located by many rides and attractions — it’s put there for your safety. “Yes, trying to sit in one of these seats to see if you fit the ride may be a little embarrassing,” says Martin, “however, a little embarrassment may be better than the alternative.”
    • Do you take any medication? Consult your physician before you think of trying a ride, says Martin. “Pay attention to ride rules and patron warnings,” he says. “Should you take medication for medical conditions, it’s best to consult your physician before riding any amusement ride or attraction – as a precaution you want to make sure you have [medical information] on your person or have someone in your party who knows your medical history.”
    • Take note of your surroundings. “If you see behavior or something you don’t like, bring it to someone’s attention with the amusement park,” says Martin. “All employees should be wearing a uniform and a name tag. They are there to help and serve you.”
    • Avoid heavy foods or sugary beverages as much as possible. “Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water,” says Martin. “Also, lines to some attractions can be very long. Take a restroom break before you get in line.”
    • Trust your gut. As a parent, don’t just go by minimum height and age requirements — ask yourself if your child is developmentally ready for a ride, says Smith of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Finally, be sure the ride fits you and your child. “Restraint systems should fit as close to your body as possible, but not tight enough to hurt,” says Martin. “Then sit back and enjoy the thrill — remember we are taking you to the edge and bringing you back safety, if all the rules are followed.”

You May Also Like:

Check out Travel Channel’s Travel 911 web series.

Travel Channel’s picks for the most extreme water rides.

Get our guide to US amusement parks.

Chincoteague Pony Swim

Photo: Getty Images

Come early and bring your patience. That’s the word on the 88th annual Chincoteague Pony Swim. Every July, on the last Wednesday of the month, the small island of Chincoteague sees its population of 3,500 people swell to more than 40,000, as visitors from all over the country — and as far away as Canada and Europe — flock to the island off Virginia’s coast, to witness an event of epic pony proportions: more than 120 wild ponies swimming across the Assateague Channel, between Chincoteague and Assateague islands.

The actual swim takes all of 5 to 10 minutes. And it’s worth every minute of waiting to see the oldest continuous wild pony roundup east of the Colorado River.

“This is an event of historical proportions,” says Denise Bowden, spokesperson for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, which owns the ponies, often called the Chincoteague herd, on the Virginia side of Assateague Island.

Historical … or historic … one thing’s clear: This is the biggest event on Chincoteague Island’s annual calendar.

Chincoteague Island’s fire department has held the event nearly every year since 1924, culminating in the Salt Water Cowboys — about 145 cowboys from Virginia and neighboring states including Maryland and North Carolina — rounding up the feral fellas and females for a parade down Main Street, to the carnival grounds, where an auction of the ponies takes place Thursday morning. (Some ponies are bought under “buy back” terms; the bidder donates the money to the fire department and allows the pony to be released back onto Assateague Island.)

Now the patience part: Chincoteague Island will be packed. And while the pony swim will be held sometime between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., crowds will start gathering well in advance. “Come early,” says Bowden. It’s not uncommon, she adds, for visitors to gather at the heart of the action — the Pony Swim Lane and Memorial Park — as early as 5 or 6 a.m.

The long wait time — plus the actual event’s start time, dependent on inclement weather conditions — spells greater exposure to the elements — lots of sun, maybe rain. “Make yourself as comfortable as possible,” says Bowden. Bring your sunscreen, hat and umbrella. Plus, a pair of old tennis shoes (no flip-flops or high-heels) — you’ll need them while standing in the marshy, muddy field. But the pay-off will be something to behold: Just beyond a fence, a herd of wild ponies — only 20 to 30 feet away.

For parking, Bowden advises heading to Chincoteague High School’s parking lot: A shuttle on the grounds takes visitors to the Pony Swim Lane. Find shuttle information here.

You May Also Like:

All skill levels can enjoy horseback riding trips.

Enjoy America’s best national park beaches.

Caribbean-bound? Explore the island of Vieques by horseback.

Can you hear that sigh from around the world? HE is finally here! That’s right — the royal baby is a boy!

All over London, people are toasting and cheering in celebration of the new lil’ monarch’s arrival!  The baby boy was born at 4:24 p.m., weighing in at  8 pounds, 6 ounces. The child will be third in line to the throne, behind his father, Prince William, and his grandfather, Prince Charles.

What will the royal baby’s name be? We’ll have to wait and see, but we do know that the newest member of the royal family will carry an impressive title: His Royal Highness, Prince of Cambridge.

Welcome to the world, little prince!

Check out photos of the world celebrating the royal baby’s arrival:

Reuters: A notice formally announcing the birth of a son to Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is placed in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

Reuters: Members of the public celebrate the announcement of the birth of a baby boy to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge outside St Mary’s Hospital in London, England.

Reuters: Employees hang a sign celebrating the news that Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has given birth to a son, in the window of the British themed restaurant Tea & Sympathy in New York.

 

Reuters: Nikki Warren pours champagne to celebrate the announcement of the royal baby at Ye Olde King’s Head English pub’s gift shop in Santa Monica, CA.

Reuters: The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fire a 41 Gun Royal Salute to mark the birth of the royal baby, in Green Park in central London.

Reuters: The Peace Tower on Parliament Hill is lit blue to celebrate the birth of a baby boy to Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in Ottawa.

Reuters: A congratulatory sign for the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge, celebrating the birth of their son is seen outside the ‘Cottage Inn’ pub in the Duchess of Cambridge’s hometown of Bucklebury, England.

Reuters: A member of the public arrives to deliver a gift outside St Mary’s Hospital following the announcement of the birth of a baby boy to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

More for the Royal-Obsessed:

Royal Spotting

Royal Couple Tour: Trace Will & Kate’s Steps

Why We Love the Brits

 

The Bachelorette in Antigua

“It’s absolutely breathtaking…”

“Like, this place is gorgeous…”

“This is built for love…”

“Everything about it really sets the tone for romance…”

Or heartbreak? Hot-tub makeout sessions? A proposal? We’ve heard this all before. It’s the 9th season of the Bachelorette, and they have the formula down pat: 25 potential suitors + beautiful backdrops = recipe for true love, or at least guilty-pleasure TV. Desiree didn’t have quite the globetrotting season that Emily Maynard did, but she still swept away her bachelors on some pretty amazing vacations.

Atlantic City, NJ: Early in the season, the bachelors checked into the penthouse suite at REVEL in Atlantic City, where they enjoyed AC’s finest saltwater taffy, the Steel Pier amusement park and, of course, beachfront sunsets with Desiree.

Munich, Germany: First stop abroad was Munich. Think: sausage, lederhosen and sledding down the highest point in Germany. The crew spent a night in igloos, but the rest of their stay was at the 5-star Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten.

Barcelona, Spain: In Barcelona, Desiree’s entourage checked into the top floor of the beautiful Melia hotel. The guys even got a chance to try to score on Desiree when they took the field at the RCD Espanyol for a game of futbol.

Madeira, Portugal: On the beautiful island of Madeira, they made themselves at home at the Quinta de Lorde resort. What’s more romantic than taking a toboggan ride down a narrow street and kissing on “Cloud Nine”?

And if you want the Bachelorette treatment (while avoiding the casting couch) enter ABC’s sweepstakes for a romantic trip for 2 to Antigua, the Caribbean escape where the final episodes will take place. This winner will receive a 7-day of all-inclusive accommodations and luxury spa treatments at Galley Bay, St. James Club, or the Verandah.

(Don’t ask us why the final rose ceremony isn’t rumored to take place at St. Anne’s Point. But who are we to complain about Antigua?)

For more vacation highlights, check out “As Featured on The Bachelorette.”

US Open of Surfing (Photo: Getty Images)

The countdown begins to the largest surfing event on the planet. On Saturday, July 20, the US Open of Surfing kicks off in the morning, with rounds 1 and 2 of the Junior Men’s championship. If you’re one of the thousands of surfing fans en route to the event or are already stretching out on the sands of Huntington Beach, check out highlights of the 9-day surfing competition, which runs through July 28.

In all, this year’s event is slated to see more than 20 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) surfers compete against the best new surfing talent from around the globe at Huntington Beach Pier. Beyond surf, skateboarding is also in store. This year’s event sees the debut of the Van Doren Invitational, an invite-only skateboarding event set to attract pro and amateur riders.

Another big draw will be music. Billed as one of America’s largest free concert stages of the summer, this year’s musical lineup includes indie rocker Modest Mouse, the dance-punk band The Faint and alternative pop artist Twin Shadow.

Can’t make it to the Vans US Open of Surfing? Check out the live webcast.

And if you’re looking for more places to ride out the heat wave, check out the world’s best surf destinations. Plus, explore the world’s best stand-up paddleboarding spots, extreme beach adventures and some pretty cool extreme adventure sports – all sure to provide great summer memories.

Photography by Bruce Rowles

Bravo’s Real Housewives of Orange County heads to even colder territory tonight with a visit to the legendary snow-covered ski town of Whistler, British Columbia. Newbie Lydia, the sweet Canadian girl, wants the ladies to see her beautiful country in the hopes that the mountain air (and neutral vibe of Canada) will do the hot-tempered gals some good.

The snow bunnies don’t just drink wine in the lodge fireside all weekend. On this girls getaway, the Real Housewives get physical … with mountain sports, that is (their arguments continue to remain verbal slams). The ladies brace themselves for the freezing Canadian temps and hit the slopes on Whistler Blackcomb, two of the biggest vertical drops in North America, where Lydia snowboards and Vicki brags about her days on a ski team.

In the episode that airs tonight, the decked-out-in-fur housewives channel James Bond girls with a high-speed snowmobile tour. And it wouldn’t be a Real Housewives vacation without a few fights, like the one between Vicki and Lauri on the ski slopes.

Learning to ski can cause some epic meltdowns, even if you aren’t a reality star. Whistler PR supervisor Lauren Everest says the Whistler ski team enjoyed teaching the Real Housewives how to ski, even with the drama.

“Our expert snow school instructor Nadio made sure the ladies felt as comfortable as possible while learning a new sport,” says Everest. “The lesson got cut a bit short due to some drama while the cameras were rolling, but that’s what the show is all about … and why we love it when the Real Housewives come to town!”

After some heated discussions slopeside, the ladies whine and dine après-ski at The Bearfoot Bistro, one of Whistler’s hottest foodie scenes. The restaurant focuses on local in-season ingredients and features one of the world’s coldest ice bars, The Belvedere Ice Room, in which more than 50 vodkas are chilled in minus-25 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s almost as cold as one of Tamra’s “evil eyes.”

The second part of the Real Housewives’ ski trip airs tonight. We wonder: Will there be a massive snowball fight between Vicki and Lauri? Will Alexis run out of fur outfits to wear? Will Vicki’s maddening screams cause an avalanche? As Bravo says, we’ll have to watch what happens.

You May Also Like:

Year-Round Adventures in Whistler

Whistler Foodie Guide

Destination Wedding: Whistler

Yellowstone’s busiest season is now in full swing, and if you’re among the thousands of travelers who plan to visit America’s first national park this July, first thing’s first: Bring a jacket. Yes, really, a jacket — in July. You’ll be grateful you did when winds up to 15 mph nip at your face and temperatures drop into the 40s at night. You may even see snow. (Keep current on Yellowstone’s weather here.)

Hard to believe, as scorching temperatures cripple other regions of the west, but Yellowstone is one place you do not want to explore without a jacket this month. I found out first-hand on a visit to the national park just a few weeks ago. From a chilly morning rain to a late-evening snowstorm, I experienced Yellowstone’s dramatic temperature drops all within the span of a few hours.

Once you’ve brought a coat (and a good pair of boots and sunscreen, too), you’ll be well on your way to exploring the park — here’s a taste of Yellowstone’s beauty in summer.

Roosevelt Arch: An elk rests by Yellowstone’s famous Roosevelt Arch — Teddy Roosevelt himself laid the cornerstone of the arch, located at the park’s north entrance. “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” reads its inscription. (All Photos: Lisa Singh) 

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone: Geysers … bears … but just why is Yellowstone called “Yellowstone”? The park’s abundant yellow-colored rhyolite lavas provide the answer. You’ll see these rich colors at Yellowstone’s massive gorge, roughly 20 miles long.

Yellowstone Norris Geyser Basin: Remember your jacket? These smart folks certainly did as they make their way down a walkway to view some of Yellowstone’s breathtaking geysers. Did you know Yellowstone is home to the largest concentration geysers in the world?

Rocky Mountain Fauna: It’s not just bears or American bison you may see at Yellowstone. Look up! This mountain goat, with some winter fur still left to shed, may be peering down at you from a mountain cliff. Just beware of Yellowstone’s deadly bears.

Fishing in Yellowstone: Don’t forget to get in some fishing. Pick up a Yellowstone fishing permit, and enjoy angling and fly-fishing in this massive 2 million-plus-acre wonderland, home to 13 native fish species … and plenty of trout.


You May Also Like:

Learn about Yellowstone’s volcano threat.

Listen for mysterious sounds at Yellowstone’s whispering lake.

Keep in mind these national park safety tips.

The world eagerly awaits the arrival of the royal baby and the news of whether the newest successor to the British throne will be a Prince or Princess of Cambridge. With the Duchess of Cambridge’s due date believed to be July 11, the champagne is chilling and the cigars are ready to be lit for the royal baby’s arrival any minute now.

Once again royal watchers have all eyes on London and the royal couple. Royal baby watch reaches a fever pitch with worldwide outlets camping out in tents outside St. Mary’s Hospital in London’s Paddington neighborhood, the expected delivery location for the royal baby; it’s also the hospital where Prince William was born.

How will the world find out if the little prince or princess has arrived? With a little pomp and circumstance, which is only fitting for a royal birth. The palace will announce when Kate is in labor, and then when the baby arrives, the announcement will be signed by medical staff and rushed to Buckingham Palace with a police escort. Royal sources say the official announcement will be displayed on an easel, the same easel used when Prince William was born, inside the Buckingham Palace gates. After the royal family receives the news, royal watchers all over the globe will finally find out if it is a little royal prince or princess. Then the world will go into official baby-mania for the foreseeable future.

The royal baby will not only boost collective “awws” around the world but will also boost the British economy with royal baby merchandise and royal baby celebrations all over London (who couldn’t resist this Born to Rule onesie?) The biggest celebration is expected to be at Green Park, a 40-acre royal park right outside of Buckingham Palace, where the official birth announcement will be displayed for the public.

Pubs all over London are gearing up to toast the little monarch’s arrival. Royal fans who would rather escape the rowdy revelers than join them can head to the Museum of London’s new exhibit, The Royal Arrival, showcasing items worn by Queen Victoria’s children; the show runs through Oct. 13. Also, for a perfectly posh British-style celebration, get the royal treatment at hotels offering Royal Baby Shower Teas, like St. James Hotel and the London Marriott Hotel County Hall.

For couples who are patiently awaiting their own baby’s arrival, we’ve selected the best babymoon destinations to get away before your buddle of joy arrives. Yes, if you are expecting your own little prince or princess soon, we suggest taking a romantic and relaxing trip while you can, before it’s you and your partner plus one.  For the moms ready to pop any moment, if your baby arrives the same day as the royal baby, you will be honored with a commerative coin from the Royal Mint.

The downside if your child shares a birthday with the royal baby? Just think of the pressure to top the royal birthday parties every year!

 

You May Also Like:

Royal Spotting

Royal Couple Tour

Best Babymoon Destinations

 

Plains Indian Museum Powwow

Plains Indian Powwow (Photo: L. Singh)

We love Wyoming. On July 10, 1890, the Cowboy State entered the Union, and with it a million travelers’ dreams were made. Including this one’s. Standing on Mirror Lake Highway, under the massive “Forever West” sign, puts it all in perspective: This is a place where you can roam free. And you’ll do a lot of roaming here. With just over 500,000 people — in a state roughly the size of the United Kingdom — Wyoming is the least populous of all the states.

Your first stop in this great expanse of the American Wild West is Cody, WY. Granted, this is a tourist hub, as the western-wear-and-trinket shops along Sheridan Avenue attest. But you sort of expect that: The town’s namesake, after all, was the late-great western showman Buffalo Bill Cody, who helped found this rugged stretch of northern Wyoming in 1895. See his apparition at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, a complex of 5 museums that tells the story of the American west through western art, firearms exhibits and stories of the Plains Indians.

The world of Native American culture comes to life every summer, just beyond the museum’s doors. For more than 30 years, the Plains Indian Museum Powwow has showcased dancers and drum groups from Northern Plains tribes. Members of Native American tribes come from neighboring states, such as Idaho and Nevada, and in addition to performing, they sell Indian jewelry, bead and quillwork, clothing and more. Try the fry bread, hand-made by Arizona native Mary Sounding Sides. She’s been making fry bread at the powwow for the past 10 decades. What’s her cooking secret? “No secret,” she says, “just something I learned as a girl.” Make sure you stay for the grand finale: Flanked by American and Native American flags, dancers march away; they may wave to you and invite you to join the march as well.

Hotel Irma’s Gunfight (Photo: L. Singh)

More western lore comes to life at the town’s landmark, Hotel Irma. Buffalo Bill built this hotel in 1902, and named it after his daughter. The afternoon I swung by, I pulled a seat up to the cherry-wood bar that was given to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria — complete with an antique cash register from the early 1900s. You never know who you’ll meet as you sip a beer or lemonade; my bar buddy for the afternoon was a local Native American man named Oliver who told me about an upcoming powwow at nearby Wind River Reservation.

Stay ‘till the evening. It’s a little cheesy, but you’ll want to stay for Hotel Irma’s free gunfight show. Be patient with the sound system — this is live theater, folks, and sometimes the mics cut in and out. But you’ll get the basic gist, especially once you see “Wyatt Earp” shoot up outlaw cowboys Billy Clayton, and Tom and Frank McLaury.

Your next step: breathtaking Yellowstone. But you’ll need a full day for that. Check back later this week; we’ll give you the lowdown.

It’s time to get real — really, really real.

Nude Recreation Week kicks off this week, and with it so should your clothes. Just imagine letting it all go, and embracing your true, natural self. You’ll be living out loud Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” like never before … and joining a revered American tradition while you’re at it.

Bear with us …

Turns out, for the past 82 years, nude recreation has been celebrated nationwide by the premier, uh, outfit of its kind — the American Association for Nude Recreation, whose annual membership costs less than the price of a bathing suit. Thank AANR’s advocacy and its 35,000 members: The US is now home to more than 250 campgrounds, beaches and resorts nationwide for nude recreation, says AANR president Susan Weaver.

Goodbye, Tan Lines!

If all of this is a little new to you, relax: We’ve got you, um, covered, with a little advice from AANR prez Weaver herself. Her first tip: Check out AANR’s Nude Resort Locator — it lists all the nude recreation venues nationwide where you, in all your natural best, are welcome. Also be sure to check out TravelChannel’s roundup of best nude beaches. Plus, our scoop on Jamaica’s nude beaches and where to go au naturel in the Caribbean.

And once you show up, don’t be afraid to tell people you’re new.

“If you say it’s your first time, people are overwhelmingly cordial and put you at ease,” says Weaver, speaking to us from her home in Annandale, VA. Weaver, personally, loves all the resorts she’s been to – including her home club, Avalon Resort in West Virginia, as well as recent visits to Star Ranch Nudist Club in McDade, TX; Squaw Mountain Ranch, a family nudist campground in Estacada, OR; and DeAnza Springs Resort in Jacumba, CA.

“There are no end to places to visit and wonderful people to meet,” says Weaver.

Since the mid-1980s, Weaver has embraced the nude recreational lifestyle herself. “It’s such a joyous and freeing experience,” says Weaver. “You feel more one with nature … you don’t have to worry if your tan lines will be even … you can simply enjoy the sun, wind and water … and you won’t get sand in your bathing suit, which is most uncomfortable, we’d all agree.”

Americans Want to Get Naked

Turns out, some 53 million Americans agree. That was the finding of a recent survey conducted by MMGY Global, a travel and hospitality marketing firm: Roughly 15% of the American population would spend their recreational dollars on nude leisurely fun like skinny dipping (an activity Weaver calls the “wave of the future”).

Doing the math here: That means that in an office of 100 people, about 15 of your coworkers would be game for a nude recreational outing. And lucky for you guys, the big one is coming up next Saturday.

World Record Skinny-Dip: Make History Next Saturday!

In 2009, history was made, when more than 13,500 nudists skinny dipped simultaneously at the same time – a feat captured by Guinness World Records. This year, AANR, and North America’s other premier association of its kind, the Naturist Society, will gather members to make history once again.

On Saturday, July 13, at 1 p.m. LNT (Local Nudist Time) nudists throughout North America will take the plunge in lakes, rivers, resorts and waters off beaches from coast to coast. Get all the World Record Skinny Dip details, then plan ahead.

Wherever you take the plunge, keep in mind these tips, says Weaver: Leave cameras at home, bring sunscreen (“we take skin safety very seriously,” she says), and be open to meeting new people.

And once you do: We want to hear from you – tell us your story below!

Latest Pins on Pinterest

  • Chincoteague Island, VA

  • floridas finest wineries lakeride

  • New Paltz, NY

  • St. Lucia, Caribbean