Few spots in Europe feel as timeless as the Irish countryside. The craggy, untouched coastline and rolling, startlingly green meadows dotted with herds of sheep and the occasional crumbling castle seem to belong to a faraway past, as though the Industrial Revolution never managed to jump the Irish Sea. It's the perfect place to cobble together a romantic country idyll, with days given over to exploring rustic byways and nights to sipping frothy pints in cozy pubs. Authentic Ireland Travel's seven-day, six-night Romantic Ireland Escape Tour provides a taste of all that the Emerald Isle has to offer, as guests follow a flexible itinerary with pre-arranged transportation and accommodations. Click here to see a detailed itinerary of the trip. Days 1–2: Visitors arrive at the Dublin, Cork, or Shannon airport, pick up a rental a car, and escort themselves to Ballyseede Castle in Tralee, a turreted, 16th-century stone castle later converted into a hotel. Later, travelers can explore the Dingle Peninsula by rental car. The circular Slea Head Drive supplies sweeping views of the coast, and the twisting, turning Conor Pass cuts through the highest grouping of mountains in the country. A pint in one of Dingle's brightly painted pubs, many of which feature live music, brings the day to a tasty, tuneful close. Days 3–4: The Fairview Guesthouse in Killarney provides a centrally located home base for visitors to explore the brick footpaths of downtown, with its clustering of quaint pubs and shops located within walking distance of the hotel. A horse-and-carriage ride, included with this tour, supplies a leisurely trip around Killarney's historical sights, including the soaring St. Mary's Cathedral and the 15th-century Ross Castle. A drive along the 110-mile Ring of Kerry passes through sleepy villages and cool forest glades, and travelers to nearby Blarney in County Cork can receive the gift of gab by kissing the Blarney Stone after treating it to a romantic candlelit dinner. Days 5–7: The final leg of the journey includes lodgings at the friendly, family-run Bunratty Manor Hotel in western Ireland's County Clare. Close by, the majestic Bunratty Castle broods over the River Shannon and popular Bunratty Folk Park, a reconstructed village that depicts life in rural Ireland as it was lived 100 years ago. A short drive to Cashel presents the arresting sight of medieval buildings perched dramatically on cliffs overlooking the town. As evening falls back in Bunratty, a medieval four-course banquet dinner is served, complete with wine, mead, and costumed singers. The next day, an included Ancient Paths of Ireland Walking Tour takes hikers on a relaxed, guided trek through the rocky Burren near the coast. Later, a visit to Ailwee Cave lets travelers explore 210 passages, bridged chasms, and giant open caverns. The tour ends on day 7, when travelers depart for home from Shannon Airport in County Clare.
Sebastopol Center for the Arts entertains the right half of visitors' brains with art galleries, films, workshops, performances, and classes. A Sebastopol Center for the Arts membership grants an individual or a family of up to four people a variety of reduced fees for select performances, exhibits, classes, and events, plus a complimentary QuARTerly newsletter subscription. Last year the center showcased 18 gallery exhibitions featuring works from 550 different artists. Current art-galley offerings include a juried exhibition on the art of the book, which runs through July 23 and features the artwork of homemade books. Musicians playing at the center’s Summer Performance Series on Thursday evenings July 7–August 18 delight sound receptors with locally flavored tunes. The annual documentary film festival will be held in March 2012, highlighting intrepid short-form and feature-length storytelling. Standout selections from the 2011 festival will be screened throughout the summer beginning July 22 and provide a welcome change of pace from the usual evening ritual of being serenaded by nieces and nephews doing the rodent-bones lawn-fire dance.
Through the multimedia resources and informative exhibits that earned executive director Nicole Myers-Lim a 2010 Native American 40 Under 40 award, the California Indian Museum educates visitors on the diverse history and culture. Museum members can bring a guest or their children free of charge to explore various topics of California Indian history, such as the Gold Rush, native languages, military history, and anthropology. The museum's principal exhibit, Ishi: A Story of Dignity, Hope and Courage, uses cultural artifacts to tell the story of the Indian who was studied for five years by the anthropologists at the University of California. Members of the museum will also receive the educational bi-annual newsletter and timely notifications about The Tillie Hardwick Lecture Series, which features a collection of hands-on basket making, dancing and music making, and storytelling while highlighting the history of the landmark Tillie Hardwick v. United States case.
Intrepid's trips span 17 different countries and regions throughout Latin America, with an eye toward checking out both the key landmarks and immersing travelers in vibrant hidden neighborhoods. The pulsating rhythms, the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, and the majestic Iguazu Falls highlight the Rio to Buenos Aires trip. Tulum's dramatic cliff-side ruins and Chichen Itza's pyramids characterize the Mayan Discovery trip. For adventurers who want to hike gorgeous scenery or to carve phone numbers into a boulder, there are trips that wind through the jungles of Brazil and Belize to the rugged mountains of Chile and Argentina. After getting a taste of traditional Quechua culture on an Amazon journey that crisscrosses multiple countries, travelers can bask in the lively modern scenes located in flourishing metropolises such as Mexico City and Buenos Aires
Almost everyone dreams of flying. In those dreams, landscapes unravel below like patchwork quilts, and high, soft breezes brush past your face while mountains and hills jut out of the earth to form peaks and valleys. They're gentle dreams, and ones that Calistoga Balloon Co can make real with high-soaring balloon rides.
During sunrise launches, their rainbow-hued balloons flit above the north end of Napa Valley, gliding passengers along scenic grapevine corridors and mountain vistas unique to the region. The area is also home to landmarks the likes of Mount Saint Helena, the Palisades Cliffs, and the Napa Valley Castle?all sights to be savored from the basket of a hot air balloon. To celebrate collecting such lifelong memories, passengers can enjoy a champagne breakfast after touchdown followed by activities such as leisurely picnics or bike tours through the wine country.
The Charles M. Schulz Museum pays loving homage to the life and career of the legendary creator of the Peanuts comics. For 50 years, Schulz illustrated the adventures of Charlie Brown and his friends Snoopy, Linus, Pigpen, and Lucy in hundreds of U.S. newspapers. The museum maintains six permanent exhibitions, including a re-creation of Schultz’s studio, a morphing Snoopy timeline, the Peanuts–themed wall of his daughter’s nursery, and a flying Red Baron who constantly pelts customers with pepperoni slices. Rotating exhibitions last for about six months, featuring such curiosities as a 13-foot-tall Charlie Brown sweater and an examination of Schulz’s evolving pen line. Museum memberships give patrons a discount on all museum stores, complimentary admission, and invitations to members-only events.