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Why Mayfield Falls Is A Must Visit While In Jamaica. The Complete Guide.

Posted by on 8:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Why Mayfield Falls Is A Must Visit While In Jamaica. The Complete Guide.

By Kyle Morrow, Contributor for Sandals Blog

A visit to Mayfield Falls can have you feeling authentically (or almost) Jamaican as you get to immerse yourself completely into the surrounding natural environment. This is one of the most popular points of interest in Jamaica, and it is loved by many for its diverse offerings all in one place.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, the beauty of this experience does not begin when you get to the falls. The drive up to Mayfield Falls in Westmoreland Jamaica is part of the appeal of this encounter which though popular still manages not to feel as touristy as similar attractions in Jamaica. On the way to Mayfield Falls, you’re likely to be left spellbound by the thick, rich surrounding greenery, and almost giddy with excitement about what’s in store.

Photo credit: Four Oaks/

Mayfield Falls is relatively small, but one of the most breathtaking waterfalls of the Caribbean. It is located on the west of Jamaica, with Negril and Montego Bay about an hour’s drive away. Mayfield Falls is about 3 hours away from Ocho Rios in Jamaica.

In this article, we’ll talk about everything there is to love about Mayfield Falls including the waterfalls, rivers, and natural pools of this attraction, and what you’ll need to do to prepare for your visit!

Things to love about Mayfield Falls

  • There are multiple waterfalls and natural pools to explore and experience.
  • The river walk to get to the falls is scenic and exhilarating.
  • It is less crowded than some of the other popular waterfalls in Jamaica, like Dunn’s River Falls.
  • Mayfield Falls is the ideal attraction for a half-day tour. There’s enough to do here to be entertained for 3 – 4 hours.
  • The guides and knowledgeable, friendly, and fun.

Three amazing things you can do at Mayfield Falls

Mayfield Falls Jamaica 2
Photo credit: Four Oaks/

Mayfield Falls is a good tour option whether you’re looking for somewhere to spend part of your day or a place to relax for hours on end. There’s quite a lot to see at the Falls, and you can start here:

1. Have a refreshing swim in the natural pools!

A tour at Mayfield Falls is usually around 1 – 2 hours, and while there you’ll have plenty of time to jump into one of the natural pools which are perfect for beating the Caribbean sun. The pools are calm and most are deep enough that you’ll be able to jump in safely. Or, you can look around for a good spot where you’ll be able to feel the rush of the water as it cascades into the pool.

2. Hike to the most beautiful vantage points for some amazing pictures

Hiking will be a definite possibility at Mayfield Falls. You can even try rock scrambling, which is more or less climbing up or down the rocks in this area using your hands and feet. Scramble your way to the top of the falls for an incredible view or hike to any of the surrounding vistas.
If you take the short hike around the mountain, a stunning view of the falls awaits. Take lots of pictures from this vantage!

3. Explore the underwater caves and natural jacuzzis

With a guide you can experience some of the famous underwater caves of Mayfield Falls. You can swim through some of these during your tour, in particular, the cave that is about 5 feet long.

Even better? You don’t need to be a professional to navigate these caves; a tour guide will do just fine to direct your way.

In addition to underwater caves there are also a few natural pools near the waterfalls that will be something like a natural jacuzzi (without the heat) when you get in, including the one near the tallest fall known as “The Washing Machine”.

The Washing Machine is 9.8’ tall and you can splash around in the natural pool beneath as well as make your way behind the waterfall to explore!

Tour or going by yourself?

Mayfield Falls is on the west end of Jamaica just about midway between the north and south coasts. It is relatively easy to get to the falls from towns like Montego Bay, Negril, and Ocho Rios, which are among the more touristy parts of Jamaica.

You’ll have options of renting a car to get to the falls and around the island, calling a cab, or just signing up for a tour, which can even include round trip transportation from the resort and back.

One of the pluses of booking a Mayfield Falls tour is that guides often share cultural and historical tidbits and even show you various points of interest along the way. If you choose the taxi option, your resort should be able to help with the scheduling.

Booking a tour to the Falls

Planning on visiting Mayfield Falls as part of a tour? Excellent choice!

Once you get to Jamaica, it won’t be hard to book a tour to get to Mayfield Falls as there are many tour companies offering excursions to this area.

You’ll have the option of half day or full day tours including the 4×4 Jeep Safari to 4×4 Jeep adventure to Mayfield Falls which starts at Montego Bay, and the Mayfield Falls River Walk from Negril. When you get to Mayfield Falls you’ll be able to walk through the property with help from a tour guide.

Most tours to Mayfield Falls offer free cancellations up to 24 hours in advance. If you stay at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica you can often get good deals on tours through the resort which includes the cost of transportation to and from the attraction.

How to prepare for your visit to Mayfield Falls

Mayfield Falls Jamaica 3
Photo credit: Four Oaks/

Not only is Mayfield Falls one of the most beautiful attractions in Jamaica, but the falls also have a sort of magnetic appeal that’ll make it almost impossible to resist getting in the water when you get there. For that reason, it makes sense to plan and dress accordingly.

For starters, you’ll want to wear casual and comfortable clothing with a swimsuit underneath. When you get out of the natural pools surrounding the falls and dry off, you’ll be able to change at the venue as bathrooms and changing rooms are made available to guests.

For shoes as well, you’ll want to select the most comfortable, sturdy, and even water-resistant pair. This will come in handy because there’s also lots of room to hike around the falls and it is necessary to walk to get to the falls itself, a path that can take you through both water and land.

The river walk that precedes a waterfall bath can be more challenging or even dangerous if you don’t have the right shoes so pack a pair of water shoes or rent one when you get to the falls.

Rentals for water shoes cost about 6 – 8 USD at Mayfield Falls so you’ll be able to get a pair if you don’t have one of your own.

What else to pack for a trip to Mayfield Falls…

When planning a trip to Mayfield Falls it’s important to dress comfortably and also to bring along the things you’ll need for the day. Since we’ve already covered what to wear (emphasis on the right clothing and shoes for water play and walking), other important things you’ll want to bring are snacks, water, towels, and swimwear.

Sunscreen can be included in the list of things to pack for a trip to Mayfield Falls, but this may not be necessary as the falls are shady. A good pair of sunshades might come in handy as well, particularly if you’ll be checking out more than one location on the day.

Once you get to Mayfield Falls you can place your belongings in a locker on site until you’re ready to go. Locker rentals cost 6 USD.

What to expect when you arrive

Mayfield Falls Jamaica 4
Photo credit: Four Oaks/

At the top of the hill at Mayfield Falls you’ll sometimes see coconut vendors selling refreshing coconut water which can be the perfect start for this nature excursion. Drink up your coconut water, scoop out some jelly to eat if you have the time, and then get set for your Mayfield waterfall adventure.

The first stop once you get into Mayfield Falls will be to the welcome center, and then off to the start off point of the river walk. Before starting off, in addition to details on the tour, sometimes guides share information on the various trees and plants found in the area, like turmeric, cocoa and even the mimosa pudica plant with leaves that close once you touch them.

Overall, at Mayfield Falls visitors can expect to find a place where they can let go of everyday obligation (not that you’ll have many when on vacation in Jamaica!) and mellow out.

There are many waterfalls here as well as rivers, natural pools, and lots of room to relax.

Entrance fee

There is an entrance fee of 20 USD to get into Mayfield Falls which can be paid upon arrival. Most tours include the entrance fee as part of the overall price you’ll pay, but definitely ask about that before booking.


The welcome center is one of the first places you’ll see once you arrive at the falls and secure a spot in the onsite parking lot. At the welcome center you’ll be able to get information about the falls and also rent lockers (6 USD) if you want to put your bags down and really enjoy the experience.

There’s a restaurant and gift shop around the welcome center area as well that you can check out before or after your tour. Bathrooms are available in the welcome center.

Journey to the Falls

Once you’ve gone through the welcome center, next up will be the river walk which takes about one hour in total.

While this may sound extensive, there’s a lot to see along the way so the time will seem to fly by. The walk itself isn’t very challenging so you won’t need to be any kind of trained athlete to complete it.

The best part about the river walk aside from the amazing sightings along the way is that guides can tailor the trail according to the group they are with, so the walk tends to range from cool and easy, to a bit more rugged and exciting.

Though the river walk for the most part isn’t too difficult, it does get steeper in some places which means young children and people with mobility difficulties may have a harder time getting around it.

Other places to check out on your way to Mayfield Falls

Mayfield Falls is a good starting point if you want to visit some of the top attractions in Jamaica. Some of the tour stops near Mayfield Falls include the Blue Hole Mineral Spring and the popular YS Falls which we’ll detail more about below:

Blue Hole Mineral Spring

The Blue Hole Mineral Spring (not to be confused with the Ocho Rios Blue Hole) is about 20 minutes from Negril heading to Jamaica’s south coast.

You can get to this spring with about one hour of driving from Mayfield Falls. The Blue Hole attraction is well known in Jamaica, and features a natural spring around 24 feet underground inside a limestone cave.

The spring is about 35 feet deep, and you’ll be able to either jump right in, or use a ladder to plunge into the refreshing waters. Visitors to the Blue Hole Mineral Spring love that there’s also a bar on site and quite a bit of room to unwind around the spring.

To get the full experience this attraction offers, sign up for a reinvigorating mineral massage while there.

Originally posted here.

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Cruise Into Fall With Up To $4,000 In Savings! Book with Norwegian by 11/15/2021

Posted by on 7:00 am in Cruise Specials, Cruises, WFT Specials | 0 comments

Cruise Into Fall With Up To $4,000 In Savings! Book with Norwegian by 11/15/2021

November 3, 2021


Dreamy destinations. Even dreamier savings! Book your next cruise with Norwegian and enjoy 35% Off All Cruises + Take All Free Offers, including Free Open Bar, Free Specialty Dining, Free Excursions, Free Wifi and Free Extra Guests. Plus, your second guest flies FREE! That’s a value of up to $4,000! Book today and save thousands on your cruise to The Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe, Alaska and other amazing destinations. But hurry, this limited-time offer won’t last long.

For more information, contact your Wishes Family Travel Agent!

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Rise to the Vacation, Book with Royal Caribbean by 11/30/2021

Posted by on 3:09 pm in Cruise Specials, Cruises, WFT Specials | 0 comments

Rise to the Vacation, Book with Royal Caribbean by 11/30/2021

November 2, 2021

Look forward to never looking back. Because it’s time to vacay like a pro. Take a dip — or a dive — into the picturesque waters of Dominica. Make up for lost climbs at the summit of Saint Lucia’s Pitons. Or venture to Dunn’s River Falls to discover what beyond words actually feels like. Right now, you’ll score 30% off every guest. Plus save up to $150 off instantly when you sail in 2022. Don’t just take a vacation — rise to the vacation.

Contact us today for reservations and information on Cruise with Confidence and the Best Price Guarantee.
Hurry, offer valid November 2 – 30, 2021!

For more information, contact your Wishes Family Travel Agent!

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You’ll Never be Bored at Aulani in Hawaii!

Posted by on 11:02 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

You’ll Never be Bored at Aulani in Hawaii!

Rebecca Jones

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, is the perfect resort for the entire family. There are so many activities to take part in, both complimentary and fee-based, that everyone will find something to keep them entertained. In this blog, I’ll highlight some of my family’s favorites in both categories.

Among the complimentary activities, of course our favorite is the pool area. The smallest of guests love the Menehune Bridge, an interactive water play area with bridges, slides, and fountains to splash around in. The Waikolohe Pool is the place for everyone. At 8200 square feet, it’s a large pool with zero entry and a waterslide. My personal favorite is Waikolohe Stream, though. This lazy river allows you to float through rock formations and natural foliage on a complimentary tube float. The Wailana Pool is separate from the main area and features an infinity design that allows you to sit and enjoy looking at the beach and ocean from a distance. If the beach is more your thing, Aulani has that too! Their amazing beach has several chairs and umbrellas available, and you can check out boogie boards and sand toys from Makiki Joe’s on the beach.

There are plenty of things that are included in your stay, which the children in your family will love. First, there is Aunty’s Beach House. This supervised center allows kids ages 3-12 to have time away from their parents, while enjoying games, arts and crafts, storytelling, and general outside fun. You will want to pre-register your child for Aunty’s Beach House before you arrive at Aulani. Kids will also enjoy the Menehune Adventure Trail, a scavenger hunt where guests work together to solve puzzles and clues to find statues and other surprises of these little mischievous people of Hawaii.

The entire family will enjoy storytelling at the fire pit in the evenings, where Uncle talks about the legends of Hawaii. Adults and kids alike might enjoy guided tours of the artwork, nature, and wildlife of the Aulani Resort. Pau Hana Room is a community area where everyone can play games, do arts and crafts, and generally spend time together.

Moving on to some of the premium activities that require an additional fee, I have to mention the stand up paddle boards, available at Makiki Joe’s for $45 an hour. My son loved gliding through the lagoon when we rented one for him. You can also rent snorkeling equipment for $25 a day, which gives you access to the Rainbow Reef. I’ve detailed the Rainbow Reef in a separate blog, which you can find linked here.

A highlight for most of my vacation is the spa, and Laniwai Spa is no exception. They offer a variety of services, from your traditional massages and pedicures to family and couples spa experiences. There is also a kids spa, called Painted Sky: HI Style Studio where children ages 3-12 can receive a “fun fashion transformation.” With any spa service, you have access to the Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden with private vitality pools and six waterfall rain showers, each with increasing intensity.

In the Pau Hana Room, there are several activities you can take part in for a separate fee. They include t-shirt stamping, making your own Mickey ears, learning to play the ‘ukelele, and painting an Aulani-inspired canvas. Some of these activities require reservations prior to your arrival at Aulani.

All of these activities, whether free or for a fee, can be found in your Daily I’wa. This schedule is available on Aulani’s website, or in their app, so be sure to download that before your visit.

My family loved our time at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. I’d love to tell you more, and help you plan your own Hawaiian vacation. Please call me at (325) 733-8399 or email me at to start planning! I hope to hear from you soon.

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November Savings Sale, Book with Carnival by 11/30/2021

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November Savings Sale, Book with Carnival by 11/30/2021

November 1, 2021

Get great rates on sailings through April 2024.

Cruise rates are in US dollars, per person and based on double occupancy. Offer is capacity controlled and is not combinable with any other discount or promotional offer. Rates may vary by ship, stateroom type and sail date. Change fees are not assessed outside of the final payment window. Category restrictions and exclusions apply. Carnival reserves the right to withdraw and/or change offer at any time without prior notice. Offer is for the cruise fare only and does not include Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses. Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses range from $63.14 to $427.64, and are assessed on a per guest basis for all guests according to the itinerary. Offer is applicable in cabin assignment categories only. Refundable deposit subject to cancellation penalties. Offer bookings made as part of a group will include amenities. Offer is applicable on sailings through April 2024. Offer is applicable on new bookings made between November 1, 2021 – November 30, 2021. Please request rate code PB4. Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas, Panama & Malta.

For more information, contact your Wishes Family Travel Agent!

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25 Festive Christmas Towns to Visit for the Holidays

Posted by on 7:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

25 Festive Christmas Towns to Visit for the Holidays

November 1, 2021
By Katrina Brown Hunt and Maya Kachroo-Levine

Nothing quite compares to the joy of holiday decorations. The sight of a town decked out with boughs of holly, among other Christmas décor, can send warmth all the way down to your toes — even in the midst of a blizzard. Whether you’re returning home to see family and find yourself eagerly awaiting the 25-foot tree illuminated in your town square, or you’re taking a solo trip to a seasonal destination this year and are ready to be met with holiday cheer, there’s always a reason to visit one of the best holiday towns in America. So, with that in mind, we’ve gathered 25 of the best Christmas towns in the U.S.A for you to travel to in December.

Aspen, Colorado

America’s Best Towns for the Holidays: Aspen, CO

A combination of luxe living and quaint charm helped this Rocky Mountain town become one of the merriest in the country. Wandering along Cooper Avenue, you may chance upon cookie exchanges, public s’mores roasts, or elf meet-and-greets. The 12 Days of Aspen celebration happens from Dec. 20 to 31 this year — for a full list of activities, visit the Aspen Chamber calendar. And don’t miss the three most famous hotels in town while you’re here for the holidays. The lobby of the Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection often hosts carolers, while the Ajax Tavern and Element 47 at the Little Nell both serve fabulous holiday meals. Looking for a bird’s-eye view of the decorations? You can take in the holiday splendor from on-high at W Aspen’s sky residences.

Vail, Colorado

America’s Best Towns for the Holidays: Vail, CO

Ski season kicks into high gear during the holidays in this Colorado wonderland. December brings fresh powder, the village tree lighting, and New Year’s Eve festivities. Vail is known for both good coffee and good cocktails — compare local favorites Yeti’s Grind and Loaded Joe’s in the morning, and tuck into cocktails at Root & Flower in the evening. You might ring in the New Year at Flame — the fine dining restaurant within Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail, before innovative cocktails at The Sebastian – Vail, a Timbers Resort. Finally, lay your head to rest at the ever-charming, alpine-chic The Lodge at Vail, a Rock Resort, which boasts a heated outdoor pool flanked with gorgeous fire pits.

Ogunquit, Maine

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Ogunquit, ME

Travelers may be drawn to this former artists’ colony in Maine as a beach getaway, but the holiday season brings the perks of winter on the sand: lower prices and overall calm, with just enough festivity to keep things humming. Mid-December’s Christmas by the Sea festival typically includes a bonfire on the beach and visits with Santa. From Ogunquit, you can also easily reach two shopping areas for getting through your list: the Kittery Outlets and, an hour away, Freeport. For distinctive local shopping, browse the Harbor Candy Shop, where the gift boxes pack in holiday charm.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Nantucket, MA

The banner event during the holidays in this island town started in the 1970s, because too many locals left to shop in Cape Cod. Today, during the annual Christmas Stroll — typically the first weekend in December — you can shop downtown amid dozens of seven-foot, decorated Christmas trees, and take part in wine tastings, ghost walks, and home tours. Pick up some gifts at Murray’s Toggery Shop (the mother ship for holiday-ready Nantucket reds) and Jessica Hicks, the boutique of a local jewelry designer. For more tree-gazing, go to the Whaling Museum, which houses 80 trees decorated by local artists, merchants, and kids.

Naples, Florida

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Naples, FL

This Florida town lacks snowman-building material, but the snowbird-style winter wonderland still lures holiday revelers with its luxury stores, cool boutiques, and festive ambience. Third Street South is the headquarters for the official tree, evening “snow” showers, and gorgeous window displays, like those at department store Marissa Collections in the Old Naples Historic District. Continue shopping along Fifth Avenue South, and check out whimsical clothing and gift shop Wind in the Willows. 

Breckenridge, Colorado

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Breckenridge, CO

Breckenridge gets revved up during the holidays, as ski season swings into high gear. Indeed, this resort town skates the fine line between thrills and low stress. During the month of December, festivities abound, from the tree lighting to the Race of the Santas. Travelers will also fall for the charming après-ski options in Breck, from the house-made brews at Breckenridge Brewing to the martinis and flights of Colorado beers at Base 9 Bar.

Lewisburg, West Virginia

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Lewisburg, WV

Grande dame hotel The Greenbrier is the epicenter of the holidays in the Lewisburg area. The 18th-century resort trims the lobby with opulent decorations. Beyond the hotel, the town is peaceful and quietly lit with seasonal lights and low-key attractions.

Beaufort, North Carolina

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Beaufort, NC

Winter weather doesn’t really kick in until January in this Outer Banks town, so the holiday season is typically still a good time to paddle a kayak or take a boat tour along Taylor’s Creek. The Christmas lights take to the water, too: one of the biggest holiday events is the Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla, a twinkling-lights-strewn boat parade held on the first weekend in December.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

This California town with a rocky coastline doesn’t experience much in the way of winter, but the chilly air makes the crashing waves and neighboring wine country seem all the more enticing. Carmel has its own tree lighting — a huge resident tree at the corner of Junipero and Ocean avenues — and the quiet days of early December also make it a little easier to get a table at nearby restaurants like La Bicyclette and Flying Fish Grill. 

Park City, Utah

America’s Best Towns for the Holidays: Park City, UT

The holiday season ushers in serious wattage — star-powered and otherwise — in this Utah mountain town. In late November, Park City lights their iconic tree and celebrates with the annual Electric Parade. During the holidays, kids and sweet enthusiasts of all ages will love the gingerbread display at Montage Deer Valley.

Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Santa Rosa Beach, FL

The holiday season coincides with the kickoff of high season in this northwest Florida town. So it’s a good place to browse for gifts for everyone on your list. While browsing Santa Rosa, be sure to shop heirloom-quality porcelain at Santa Rosa Pottery and perfect-for-display cookbooks at Kitchen Garden Books & Antiques. 

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Myrtle Beach, SC

Late fall and early winter are a good time to score lower rates in this family-friendly town, but that doesn’t mean that the place has gone totally quiet. Showstoppers around Myrtle Beach include the twinkling Christmas trees and 2,800 hand-lit candles at Brookgreen Gardens as well as the Festival of Trees— with themed trees for all 50 states — at Ripley’s Aquarium. 

Williamsburg, Virginia

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Williamsburg, VA

History-rich Williamsburg is tricornered hats count as timeless fashion and wreaths hang in every window during December. This time of year also offers plenty of events that let you experience a holiday season like the colonists would: in Jamestown you can watch as wild turkeys are roasted and puddings are prepared, and see how settlers may have observed Christmas.

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport Rhode Island

If a flashing-neon-colored holiday makes you cringe, head to this gorgeous town in Rhode Island, where only white lights are encouraged on homes and restaurants, to conjure an old-fashioned candlelit vibe. Touching on its upscale history, the Mansions of Newport Tour takes you on a stroll through Gilded Age architectural icons like The Breakers, the Elms, and the Marbles, all decked out in sumptuous trees, fine china, and decorations. Since crowds are lighter, it’s a good time to try Newport’s high-ranking restaurants like the locally sourced Tallulah on Thames.

Annapolis, Maryland

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Annapolis, MD

This military town along the Chesapeake Bay does plenty of pomp, circumstance, and tailgating during the holiday season. Annapolis boasts a plethora of Christmas lights, notably strewn on boats and along the water’s edge. Downtown Annapolis also keeps its shops lit and open until midnight on a few Thursdays during December, which is called Midnight Madness.

Paso Robles, California

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Paso Robles, CA

Forget green: the prime holiday color in this Central Coast town is red, as in pinot noirs, cabernets, and syrahs. During the holidays, wineries offer low-key tastings, music performances, and great gift opportunities; check out Parrish Family Vineyard, whose tasting room is a short walk from downtown’s City Park. For some seasonal house envy, go to Hearst Castle, about an hour away, which will be adorned much as it might have been for former resident William Randolph Hearst.

Healdsburg, California

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Healdsburg, CA

Healdsburg, California is a charming Sonoma County town known for great restaurants and even better — if possible — wineries. Visit Flowers Vineyards & Winery, Faust Wines, and Aperture Cellars for some warming reds. Don’t miss the Flowers’ pinot noir, grab some bottles to gift from Faust (they just debuted a new artist partnership and the bottles now feature sublime artistry), and take in the view at Aperture Cellars, which is magical in any season. Stay the night at Montage Healdsburg, whose charming decor, light-illuminated trees, and roaring fireplaces will put you in the holiday mood.

Telluride, Colorado

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Telluride, CO

Telluride is a pleasantly quirky town and their flair comes through clearly this time of year. The town’s big tree lighting happens on the Ski Tree, made of old skis, and accompanies a bonfire comprising more old-and-broken skis. Travelers will love the nightlife in any season. Go barhopping from the cozy lounges of Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection to New Sheridan Hotel’s Historic Bar, which has kept the same mahogany-paneled look since 1895.

La Jolla, California

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: La Jolla, CA

Bundling up for the holidays in this San Diego enclave means wearing a wetsuit when you surf or stand-up paddleboard — or, on land, perhaps adding a scarf to your ensemble. Indeed, the locals are attractive and stylish, and the area offers both high-end and beachy shopping options. The best dining comes with plenty of cheer at the ever-classy Lodge at Torrey Pines, known for their seasonal, farm-to-table dining.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Portsmouth, NH

This waterfront New England town is steeped in history, with settlements dating back to the 1600s. Winter’s a festive time to explore its 10-acre time capsule, the Strawberry Banke Museum: during December, you can skate on its open-air Puddle Dock Pond, or walk the candle-box-lined paths to see decorated homes from centuries past. Portsmouth offers one big 21st-century draw, too: tax-free shopping statewide. Load up on classic toys and kids’ books in town.

Cape May, New Jersey

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Cape May, NJ

This Jersey Shore town has a strong Victorian streak — its easily recognized by its quaint architecture — and the holiday season pushes it a little further on the Dickensian scale. The walkable Washington Street Mall gets draped in greenery and festive lights. To sweeten the season, drop by the Original Fudge Kitchen, which also offers great fudge-and-saltwater-taffy gift boxes. If you have kids, check in to Congress Hall, where the Grand Lawn across from the beach turns into a seaside winter wonderland complete with festive activities.

Charlottesville, Virginia

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Charlottesville, VA

During the holiday season, Charlottesville quiets down, as college students cram for finals and then head home. Any visitors get the perk of experiencing the holiday tours of Jefferson’s Monticello. Charlottesville scores points for its cool, gift-friendly bookstores like downtown’s New Dominion Bookshop.

Atlantic City, New Jersey

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Atlantic City, NJ

A casino and boardwalk don’t exactly conjure images of plum puddings and carolers, yet travelers appreciate Atlantic City’s wild weekend spirit and vivid people-watching around the holidays. Festivities can include the Running of the Santas pub run and come to a peak at New Year’s Eve; the biggest party may be at the Crystal Room in the sleek Chelsea hotel, the town’s first non-casino hotel to open in decades.

Sonoma, California

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Sonoma, CA

If holiday stress takes much of the joy out of your world, this quaint wine-country town offers the ultimate antidote: vino and spa remedies. Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, for instance, does seasonal treatments worth indulging in. While you’re shopping around the town’s plaza for relatives back home, you can admire the holiday window displays, then check out the civilized bottles of olive oil and rare artisanal cheeses at gourmet food market Epicurean Connection.

Laguna Beach, California

America's Best Towns for the Holidays: Laguna Beach, CA

There’s no chance of a white Christmas in this mild-weathered Orange County beach town. Instead of watching the sky for snowflakes, you can scan the waves for migrating whales — or focus your attention on the holiday Champagne, spirits, and pastries at the Montage Laguna Beach. The gallery-lined town hosts the Sawdust Winter Fantasy, an arts and crafts festival that spans five weekends in November and December, to get visitors into the holiday spirit.

Originally posted (updated version) by Travel + Leisure on October 20, 2021

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Delightful Holiday Entertainment Will Enchant Guests Across Walt Disney World Resort This Holiday Season

Posted by on 8:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Delightful Holiday Entertainment Will Enchant Guests Across Walt Disney World Resort This Holiday Season
Mickey & Minnie’s Very Merry Memories performance with the Three Caballeros

by Jeremy Schoolfield, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Resort Public Relations

There is no better place to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year than The Most Magical Place on Earth – especially during The World’s Most Magical Celebration for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort! ‘Tis almost the season of enchanting holiday entertainment and yuletide-themed décor, so read on for more jolly details.

Even More Magic at Disney Very Merriest After Hours in Magic Kingdom Park

Disney Very Merriest After Hours just got even merrier, with “Mickey & Minnie’s Very Merry Memories” joining the lineup of event-exclusive entertainment. Guests attending Disney Very Merriest After Hours, a separately ticketed event at Magic Kingdom Park taking place on 24 select nights Nov. 8 – Dec. 21, 2021, are invited to join Mickey and his pals for a celebration filled with music, dancing and nostalgic yuletide fun. Presented on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage, the show features nods to classic Magic Kingdom holiday stage shows, including “Mickey’s Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “Celebrate the Season” and “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration.”

Disney Very Merriest After Hours attendees can also expect lower wait times for favorite attractions! Plus, there are special attraction holiday overlays to enjoy. Holiday hilarity ensues at Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor exclusively during the event, while the popular Jingle Cruise sails throughout the holiday season for all guests to enjoy. Remember to check out additional entertainment returning during Disney Very Merriest After Hours this season: 

  • It’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride down Main Street, U.S.A. in “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.” Santa Claus, elves, reindeer and other friends from the North Pole join Mickey Mouse and his pals for the happiest holiday parade.    
  • The skies above Magic Kingdom Park will sparkle to life with the return of “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks,” where Minnie Mouse invites everyone to come together in a celebration of the magic of Christmas. The show features fireworks, projections and beloved holiday songs. 
  • Club Tinsel, located at Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland, becomes the coolest place to get down when denizens of the North Pole drop by for the holiday cheeriest dance party in the whole Magic Kingdom!  
  • The Reindeer Wranglers bring their holiday hoedown to the streets of Frontierland, performing seasonal songs with a distinctive country flair.  

Guests visiting Magic Kingdom Park during regular operating hours can still join in on the holiday fun! On evenings when Disney Very Merriest After Hours is not being held, Cinderella Castle takes on a festive appearance with special projection effects, providing a colorful backdrop for our Guests’ photos. Throughout the evening, bursts of holiday magic will transform Cinderella Castle with a rotating series of designs, followed by a stunning transition in which the iconic Magic Kingdom Park landmark will shine as a Beacon of Magic, illuminating the night with an EARidescent glow.  

Santa Claus is Coming to Town at Walt Disney World Resort

Guests will encounter Jolly Old St. Nick during special appearances across Walt Disney World Resort through Dec. 24 of this year. Catch sight of Santa cruising down Hollywood Blvd. in his candy-apple red convertible at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the Santa Claus Merry Motorcade or venture over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, to spot Santa voyaging across the Discovery River, spreading the joyous spirit of the season from a festive flotilla. Santa Claus will also pay visits to Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT and Disney Springs, where guests will have individualized time to wave hello and share their Christmas wishes.

Experience Disney-Themed Trees and Much More at Disney Springs

At Disney Springs, Christmas and holiday cheer can be found around every corner. The Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll presented by AdventHealth brings elaborately decorated Disney Christmas trees to the neighborhoods throughout Disney Springs. Each of the twinkling trees will be themed to personify beloved Disney characters, stories and celebrations.

Special festive décor and live holiday performances will add an extra touch of wonder to holiday shopping. And in the evening, guests visiting Town Center will experience a magical snowfall, bringing the spirit of the North Pole to Central Florida. For the perfect wrap-up to a holiday visit to Disney Springs, visit Jock Lindsay’s Holiday Bar; back by popular demand, this seasonal favorite has returned with yuletide touches alongside festive food and craft cocktails – there’s something on the menu for everyone!

Encounter The Merry Menagerie at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

During the holiday season and beyond, nature holds the truest magic at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. As a part of this year’s yuletide entertainment, Discovery Island will spring to life with a Merry Menagerie of winter animals, realized in the form of life-size, artisan-sculpted puppets. Reindeer, foxes, polar bears, penguins and more interact with guests, accompanied by serenading musicians as they create a whimsical display and playful atmosphere for guests of all ages to enjoy.

As guests explore the park, they may spot Goofy, Chip ‘n’ Dale and other Disney character friends bringing their own style of festive flair to the Discovery River, as they jingle through the jungle to the rhythm of the holidays.

And on nights when the park is open after dark, the Tree of Life awakens as a series of wintry tales emerge from within, complemented by a familiar and heartwarming holiday-inspired musical score. Between awakening moments, the Tree of Life joins the Beacons of Magic in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort, as magical fireflies gather to produce a warm and glorious light, calling forth the EARidescent magic of nature. 

Celebrate With Sunset Seasons Greetings and More at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Sunset Seasons Greetings returns to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where each evening holiday magic transforms the famous Hollywood Tower Hotel into a Muppets gingerbread masterpiece, a “Toy Story” toy hotel, a snowy corner of Arendelle and a Dickensian village from “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.” As a part of the 50th anniversary celebration at Walt Disney World Resort, the festive fun continues when Hollywood Tower Hotel becomes a Beacon of Magic at night, awash in an EARidescence evoking all the glimmer and shimmer of the golden age of imagination and adventure.

Just in time for the holidays, “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” adds a festive finale, featuring everyone’s favorite snowman, Olaf, and celebratory songs of the season. 

Unlock Traditions from Around the World at EPCOT

Guests are invited to share in the sights and sounds of some of the world’s greatest holiday festivities during the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth, where time-honored traditions come alive through music, dance, and the storytelling heritage of the countries of World Showcase. Beginning on Nov. 26 through Dec. 30, you can celebrate with a spirited array of seasonal entertainment. Keep reading the Disney Parks Blog for new updates about this year’s offerings.

Stay tuned on the Disney Parks Blog and visit our dedicated holidays page to learn more about how we’re celebrating the upcoming holiday festivities at Walt Disney World Resort.

Originally posted here.

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Hogsmeade (Part 1)

Posted by on 10:54 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Hogsmeade (Part 1)

Lisa Perna

Hogsmeade is a wonderful place to explore. There are lots of places to shop, three amazing rides, yummy places to eat, and plenty of can’t miss movie details. When you arrive in Hogsmeade the first thing you will probably notice is the beautiful white snowy rooftops that all the shops have. This gives Hogsmeade the atmosphere of a quaint little town you are visiting during winter.

 In the distance you can catch a glimpse of the iconic castle home to Hogwarts. Inside of the castle is the ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This is a thrilling ride that can be intense so you might not want to ride it if you struggle with motion sickness. For those not riding this, it will give you more time to explore Hogsmeade. However, this is a fun and immersive experience for those who do enjoy more thrilling rides. You start off by walking through Hogwarts Castle and get to see some of the talking portraits and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Soon after, you will board the ride, but I will not give any spoilers.

Now this next detail from the books is kind of creepy. Above the restrooms in Hogsmeade you might hear a girl crying. Turns out Moaning Myrtle has haunted the toilets. So fair warning: you might hear crying if you are outside of the restrooms or washing your hands.

Personally, my favorite ride in Hogsmeade is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motor Bike Adventure. On this roller coaster, you will journey through the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid during his care of Magical Creatures Class. The queue is beautifully decorated making it hard to believe that you really are not at Hogwarts. For the ride you can either sit in the motorcycle or the side car but be prepared for a few surprises near the end of the ride!

For more information on Universal Studios Orlando contact me at or follow me on at Facebook .

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The New Way to Pin Trade in Walt Disney World 2021

Posted by on 10:48 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

The New Way to Pin Trade in Walt Disney World 2021

Missy Ryan

Right now, things are still adjusting in Walt Disney World as we work towards our “new normal’. If there is one thing Disney has done, it has been keeping things as familiar and as comfortable as possible to all guests.

One immensely popular and fun hobby that several Disney fans love and have loved through the years, is Pin Trading.

If you are not familiar with Pin Trading/collectors, I encourage you to start. The great thing about it is, this is a hobby you can start at 1 years old, 21 years old, 51 years old…age does not matter in the world of pins trading/collecting.

You will find that each park, along with Disney Springs will have stores that offer pins of all shapes and sizes. There are character pins, resort pins, ride pins, sayings, Christmas party pins, Halloween, the year of your visit, first visit, anniversary, birthday, you name it, they have it!!!

Each one of my children own a lanyard. My oldest son actually has 2 lanyards due to his age and number of visits. These lanyards reflect a display of trips, fun, and memories. They are their own little collection.

The fun and unique thing is you do not only have the option to display on your lanyard. They have back packs, purses, boards, ears…all for a fun way to display your pins!!

In the past guests would bring their pins to the parks and they would look for cast members who had displayed pins on a lanyard (around their neck). Guests would then approach a cast member and ask if they would be willing to trade a pin with them after seeing one of interest.

A quick switch and within no time you were the owner of a brand new (to you) pin.

Fast forward to today.

New times.

New procedures.

New rules.

Pin trading is still alive and well and still so much fun!!!

Now let me take a minute and mention to you something a little different that I do.

I have a hard time getting rid of any pin that holds a special meaning to me. I buy them and like to reflect on that moment, that year, that time in my travel memories.

With that said, I purchase pins that are solely for trading.

When I see a pin I like, I grab my stash and start trading away!!

Disney now has select locations throughout the park with Pin Boards.

They may be displayed behind a cash register, on the counter or sometimes you may need to ask them to pull out the board.

Cast Members will then ask you which pin you would like. They will ask you to remove the backing to your pin. Place it in a jar and then will proceed with cleaning your pin of choice.

The fun thing is there is no restrictions as to what pin you may pick. You can have the smallest pin and still be able to pick the biggest on the board.

Last month I traded a pin for each of my children.

It was so fun, and I was even surprised one night while shopping at Saratoga Springs to see a board at their gift shop!!

I took my pins out and traded for some of the sweetest pins!!

Pin trading is here to stay whether it is directly with a cast member or on a board. If you are looking for a fun way to document your trips, a hobby that your children can carry on and then pass down to their own children, I would highly suggest adding a pin or two to your trip.

They tell a story, they share a memory, they create a bit of magic, make someone smile, and above all help you be immersive in your experience.

If you would like to know more about pin trading or other fun activities at WDW, please email me at

Also, you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram

Make some magic, create your happily ever after, and pin your memories!!

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How To Spend One Day in Universal Studios Florida

Posted by on 8:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

How To Spend One Day in Universal Studios Florida

Written by Rob Bloom, Creative Director of Discover Universal Blog

It’s 1990. I’m standing with my family (and my glorious mullet) in the middle of Universal Studios Florida. For a kid growing up on a steady diet of movies and TV, there was no place else in the world I’d rather be. 

The backlot sets. Nickelodeon Studios. All of it.

Photo Credit: Rob Bloom

If I could go back in time and tell little Robbie Bloom one thing, it’d be, “lose the mullet.” Oh, I’d also tell him, “One day, you’re going to be working here.” 

Working here has been a dream come true. Not only do I get to film in the theme parks but I get to play there too. As a fan. Just like I’ve been since 1990. OK, enough with the sappy stuff, let’s do this.

[clears throat, taps on mic]

He-lloooooo there! I’m Rob and I’ll be your o-fficial Universal Studios Florida tour guide for the next, say, three to five minutes. Now, [chuckles], I’m a bit of an expert when it comes to this theme park so, today, I’m going to be taking you on a little tour, dropping some knowledge and even a few pro tips. So please, place your personal belongings in one of our lockers, take small children by the hand, and let’s explore Universal Studios Florida!


I like to get in early and stay late. So when those gates open, friends, I’m walking with a purpose.

PRO TIP: When you stay at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel, you have Early Park Admission. For free. Enjoy the parks up to a full hour before regular day guests with this incredible perk. 

All right, so the first place I head is Revenge of the Mummy— hands down my favorite ride in the park. I’m taking my time going through the queue because:

a)    The queue is awesome.

b)    See a.

To me,Revenge of the Mummy is as close to a classic theme park attraction as you can get. The ride combines great storytelling, animatronics, pyro, and a pretty great indoor coaster — all while immersing you in the film. 

With that attraction under my belt, it’s time for a breakfast stop. It’s a quick walk over to the TODAY Cafe where I grab a breakfast sandwich and cup of coffee. I spend a few minutes at a table outside, enjoying the food and the view of Hollywood Blvd.

After breakfast it’s time to join Gru and the gang on Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. This ride is a blast for all family members and a must-do for anybody who loves a little mischief. 

OK, let’s keep moving. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, here we come!

Photo Credit: @coonmatic

The entrance to Diagon Alley is truly magical. As many times as I’ve stood here, the experience of walking in and seeing that view still gives me goosebumps. With the Leaky Cauldron on the left, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes on the right, and a fire-breathing dragon perched on top of Gringotts just ahead — there is so much to explore in Diagon Alley.

We’ll explore plenty in a few moments though. First, and I’m going to say this as dramatically as possible, first, we ride.

Time for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, also known as one of the best queues of any attraction anywhere. You’re literally walking through Gringotts, past goblin bank tellers, and right through the inner workings of the bank itself before you go underground to begin the adventure.

From a ride perspective, this one’s pretty spectacular. Lots of action, speed, and I don’t want to throw in any spoilers here but let’s just say that you might encounter a certain someone who must not be named along the journey. 

OK, all this escaping has made me thirsty. Butterbeer time! Today, I’m having cold Butterbeer but you can also try hot and frozen. Not to mention Butterbeer ice cream, fudge, and potted cream. If the opportunity to try each of these isn’t a great enough reason to spend more than one day at Universal Studios Florida, I don’t know what is.  

Photo Credit: @janeinlando

PRO TIP: Enjoy your Butterbeer on the move and do some exploring. Be sure to go to Ollivanders and watch the wand choose the wizard, check out a performance from Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, and explore the dark corners of Knockturn Alley


Right outside of Diagon Alley is an unsung culinary hero at Universal Studios Florida: the London Taxi Cart. This is a perfect spot to fuel up before you hit more attractions; I recommend the Shepherd’s Pie Jacket Potato and grabbing a nice spot to eat right there along the waterway. 

Next up is MEN IN BLACK Alien Attacka must-do for any day spent in Universal Studios Florida. I won’t post my score from the ride because, honestly, I don’t want to be trolled in the comments below. Look, I know I’m bad at this, OK? Let’s drop it. Anyway, this is another classic attraction with animatronics, awesome sets, and a fun storyline. 

PRO TIP: Be sure to ask a Team Member to tour the space. It’s fun, free, and you’ll experience this attraction in a whole new way. *This experience is not always available. Saving the galaxy can be quite time-consuming.*

Picture Credit: Left @ingridvanylle, Right @tekaballuthy

After defending the galaxy, I love making my way over to Springfield, U.S.A. With all of the unique details, it really feels like the home of The Simpsons!

While there, I check out The Simpsons Ride, joining Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie on a fun-filled adventure.

My day continues as I make my way to the Duff Brewery Beer Garden where I like to stop in for an ice-cold Duff Beer.


I always make it a point to stop by the Animal Actors on Location!show. In a world of high-tech “how’d they do that?” attractions, I love the charm of this classic show. Hey, it’s cute animals doing cool tricks. Win, win.

And while you’re in this area, check out DreamWorks Destination. This all-new interactive experience features the chance to interact with multiple characters from DreamWorks Animation’s hit film franchises Trolls, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and more. If you’ve got kids (or not), this is a fun stop. 

Now, of course, no visit to Universal Studios Florida is complete without a trip to the Green Planet. You can read my detailed thoughts on this classic attraction here so I’ll keep things moving. Basically, E.T. Adventure is a classic dark ride, it’s the only opening day attraction still operating, and it’s every bit as delightful now as it was when it opened in 1990. 

Photo Credit: @superenthused

After experiencing the oldest Universal Studios attraction, head on over to one of its newest: The Bourne Stuntacular!This live-action stunt show thrills guests on a daily basis and, for my money, it’s the best stunt show in Florida. 

And now for one of the biggest thrills in the park: Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit or, as I affectionately refer to it, “I can do this…I can do this.”

Photo Credit: @polimoon9

I love the experience of being on Hollywood Rip Ride RockitAnd by “on” I mean “being at a 90 degree angle while rocking out to disco.” This ride is awesome and a must-see for any coaster fans. 

PRO TIP: There’s actually a hidden menu of songs you can unlock.  When you board the vehicle, check out the touch screen in front of you. Press and hold the attraction logo for ten seconds, let go, and, well, you can take it from there… 


Time for a quick dinner at the Universal Studios’ Classic Monsters Café. The food’s great (try the ribs) and the restaurant itself is like stepping on the set of a classic Universal Monsters film. 

After dinner, it’s time for the Superstar Parade (be sure to check the official Universal Orlando Resort app to check its availability!).. Nothing gets me and my family hyped quite like a dance party with some of our favorite characters. Be sure to prioritize the parade for a chance to see SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora and Diego, the Minions crew, and even some friends from The Secret Life of the Pets. All on the streets of Universal Studios, this is a boost of energy and fun as we hit the home stretch of our day.

And now we’re off to Transformers: The Ride-3D! You’ve been recruited to save Earth from Megatron and those Decepticons. C’mon, where else can you do this but at Universal?

I like to save Transformers: The Ride 3-D as one of my last rides for the day because, after riding, I can quickly make my way over to the waterfront for Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration

Universal's Cinematic Celebration

The sights and sounds of your favorite movies — against the backdrop of the theme park — is the perfect way to end the day. Standing here, watching this show, in the theme park I’ve loved for more than three decades, I feel the same awe I felt when I visited in 1990. And it’s even better now without the mullet. 

Photo Credit: @Tampa Bay Photography

[taps mic again]

OK, folks. Please stay seated while this blog comes to a complete stop. Once again, my name’s Rob and I hope you’ll come back again soon. After all, we didn’t even ride the Hogwarts Express over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.

But hey, that’s what tomorrow’s for.

Originally posted here.

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