7 Reasons Your Kids Will Love Beautiful Lake Lure

Staying with Bluegreen Resorts means that you have access to some of the best vacation destinations in the United States, from mountainous Aspen to colorful New Orleans. You can also stay at one of Bluegreen’s locations in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, such as Foxrun Townhouses in Lake Lure, North Carolina. In Lake Lure, you won’t have to drag the family around a busy city or try to navigate an overcrowded beach.

Instead, you’ll discover a plethora of relaxing retreats and natural attractions that are perfect for the whole family. From natural waterfall slides to zipline tours, it won’t be hard to entertain the kids and get back to nature while staying at Foxrun Townhouses. Here are seven reasons why your kids will love visiting Lake Lure:

Lake Lure Beach and Water Park

lake lure

Image courtesy Donald Lee Pardue | Flickr

When the weather is warm, the 100-yard beach and inviting waters of Lake Lure are understandably some of the main attractions in the area. The whole family can swim and play in the cool lake, picnic on the clean beaches, and visit the Lake Lure water park. At the water park, kids will enjoy hours of fun with games and a water slide. While you soak up the sun at the lake, you can also savor the beauty of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

Canopy Ridge Farm

Spanning 120 acres on the east side of Lake Lure, Canopy Ridge Farm offers exciting zipline tours through Hickory Nut Gorge and kayak adventures on the lower Rocky Broad River. The 90-minute zipline tour takes you flying through lush forests, and each line delivers a unique experience for constant entertainment. For example, the Zip Zilla is designed for speed and soars through the trees for more than 1,000 feet.

Canopy Ridge Farm’s guided kayak tours are also great for adults and kids above the age of five. On the 90-minute tour, you’ll paddle through a gentle section of the river, with minimal class 1 and class 2 rapids and a few fast moving shoals. The scenic river tour is perfect for paddlers of all experience levels.

Pearson Falls

pearson falls

Image courtesy Kat Jenkinson | Flickr

To further discover North Carolina’s stunning water features, you can drive a short way to Pearson Falls, located between the towns of Saluda and Tyron. The cascading waterfall is part of a 268-acre bird and wildlife sanctuary that features spring-fed streams, thick green forests, and stunning rock formations.

While there is an entry fee, the park is a prime picnic destination, and most kids will be able to easily navigate the quarter-mile trail to the 90-foot waterfall. Climbing and swimming are prohibited to protect the terrain and sensitive ecosystems around the waterfall.

Green River Cove Tubing

While in the Saluda area, visit Green River Cove Tubing and take a trip down the Green River on an inner tube. Green River Cove Tubing supplies the tubes, transports you to the start site, and picks you up at the end of the trip.

At just $9.00 per person for three miles, or $14.00 each for six miles, floating down the gentle Green River is an ideal way for the whole family to cool off in the summer heat and relax for a few hours. The company only requires that kids be at least 42 inches tall or five years old.

Cedar Creek Stables

horse-837220_1280Open year round, Cedar Creek Stables is known for having gentle horses, seasoned guides, and 350 acres of picturesque trails around Lake Lure. Cedar Creek offers a number of different trail rides that are between one and two hours long, allowing you to ride through the forest and summit a mountain ridge for a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Although kids must be at least six years old for trail rides, Cedar Creek Stables does offer pony rides for kids under the age of nine.

Lake Lure Adventure Company

With Lake Lure Adventure Company, water lovers will be able to enjoy all the best water sports on Lake Lure, including wake boarding, water skiing, and paddle boarding. The company’s USA Water Ski-certified staff can teach the basics to beginners, or help experienced wakeboarders and water-skiers learn new skills.

For a more relaxing day on the water, try renting a pontoon boat or booking a guided fishing trip. An experienced fishing guide will show you the best fishing spots on the lake, which is stocked annually with bass, trout, catfish, and bluegill.

Sliding Rock

A 60-foot long natural water slide, Sliding Rock is located in Pisgah Forest and has become one of the most popular water destinations in North Carolina. Each minute 11,000 gallons of water rush over the waterfall into a cold, six-foot deep pool below, creating a truly unique and exciting way to cool off on a hot summer day.

Since the slide is part of a Forest Service recreation area, there are lifeguards on duty between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year. You can also visit the nearby Looking Glass Falls on your trip to Sliding Rock.

How to Experience Colonial and Pirate Life in Nassau

Bluegreen Resorts offers luxurious and unique vacation destinations across the United States, as well as in Aruba and the Bahamas. In the Bahamas’ capital of Nassau, Bluegreen Resorts will help you discover relaxation and adventure while staying at the Blue Water Resort at Cable Beach. You can relax surrounded by the sparkling blue waters and white sand beaches of Cable Beach, or venture away from the resort to explore the other delights Nassau has to offer, including food tasting tours and duty-free shopping.

As a town that dates back to the 1600s, Nassau also boasts a number of historical landmarks and attractions that illustrate the city’s past as a colonial settlement and haven for pirates. Here are some of the top historical and pirate-related sites to visit in Nassau:

Pirates of Nassau Museum

sailboatIf you’re fascinated by pirate history, the Pirates of Nassau Museum is the perfect place to learn more about the pirates who gathered in Nassau during the so-called “Golden Age of Piracy” between 1690 and 1720. Nassau was a prime operating base for pirates because the waters were too shallow for large war vessels, giving the pirates a tactical advantage in their speedy and shallow draft vessels. Pirates in Nassau also enjoyed easy access to the merchant ships using nearby trade routes. As such, Nassau assembled the largest concentration of pirates of any site in the New World and supported a thriving community that grew up around the market for pirated goods.

At the Pirates of Nassau Museum in downtown Nassau, you will embark on an interactive pirate experience that starts with the sounds of the ocean, a moonlit dock, and pirates reveling in a tavern. You’ll also get to climb aboard a replica pirate ship to discover the life of a Nassau pirate.

Fort Fincastle

Named after the British captain who commissioned the structure, Fort Fincastle was built in 1793 to defend Nassau Harbor from pirates and Spanish and French forces interested in controlling the Caribbean. The fort was constructed on New Providence Island’s highest point, Bennet’s Hill, to provide expansive views of Paradise Island, the city of Nassau, and the open seas. With its strategic location, the fort primarily served as a watch tower, and its cannons were never fired. Fort Fincastle is open seven days a week for tours so you can further discover its role in Nassau history.

Queen’s Staircase

queen's staircase

Image courtesy Henk van Kampen | Flickr

To reach Fort Fincastle, you need to climb the 102-foot Queen’s Staircase, which is one of Nassau’s most popular attractions. The staircase was hand-carved by hundreds of slaves over the course of 16 years. Using hand tools and pick axes, they dug out the solid limestone and used the excavated stone for Fort Fincastle.

The staircase was named the Queen’s Staircase decades later in honor of Queen Victoria. It continues to serve as the shorter route to Bennet’s Hill and as the pathway to Fort Fincastle.

Fort Charlotte

As the most sizeable of the three forts built in Nassau, Fort Charlotte features a drawbridge, waterless moat, dungeons, and ramparts. The fort was built by the commanding British captain, Lord Dunmore, in 1789 and named after the wife of King George III. Just a short walk from downtown Nassau, Fort Charlotte offers beautiful views of the harbor and daily tours that highlight the fort’s historical context.

Parliament Square

Located in the heart of downtown Nassau, Parliament Square is a collection of distinctive pink-painted buildings where the government of the Bahamas conducts matters of state. Parliament Square exemplifies Nassau’s colonial history, as the buildings were originally constructed by Loyalists from North Carolina in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

In Parliament Square, you’ll find the Senate Building, the House of Assembly, and the Supreme Court of the Bahamas. You can watch lawmakers at work in the House of Assembly, or check out the marble statue of Queen Victoria that was erected in 1905 outside the Senate Building. At the rear of the Senate Building, Bahamian judges and lawyers with the Supreme Court wear traditional British robes and wigs in a nod to the country’s colonial past.

Blackbeard’s Tower

Blackbeard's Tower

Image courtesy Bard Heird | Flickr

On an island renowned for its pirate lore, Blackbeard’s Tower is one of the more legendary—albeit disputed—pirate sites. Local lore says that the crumbling stone tower was the lookout point for the infamous Edward Teach, who became known as the pirate Blackbeard while stealing goods and gold in the early 1700s. However, historians point out that the tower was most likely built long after Blackbeard’s death in 1718 during a failed conquest. Either way, it’s worth visiting the site that has become a symbol of piracy in Nassau.

Balcony House

Believed to be one of the oldest residential structures in Nassau, Balcony House was built around 1788 and restored in 1994 for public tours. The historic house features a detached stone kitchen, a front balcony partially braced by wooden knee brackets, and a mahogany staircase that may have been recovered from a ship. Located on Market Street, the house is open to the public between Monday and Friday each week.

7 of the Top Vineyards in the Shenandoah Valley

For a vacation that combines small-town charm and outdoor adventure, stay at Bluegreen Resorts’ Shenandoah Crossing, located in Gordonsville, Virginia, on the outskirts of the Shenandoah Valley. You can enjoy Gordonsville’s quaint Main Street, which offers unique shops and acclaimed restaurants, or explore the countryside on skis in the winter and by bike in the summer. While visiting Shenandoah Crossing, you can also get back to nature by staying in a cozy cabin, or even a yurt, surrounded by rolling hills and the clear waters of Lake Izac.

No visit to the area is complete without enjoying the fruits of the verdant Shenandoah Valley. Take time to visit one or more of its many vineyards, where you can savor a wine tasting and relax on a patio as the sun sets. Here are just seven of the many vineyards in the Shenandoah Valley:

Barren Ridge Vineyard

Barren Ridge Vineyard

Image courtesy Scott Dexter | Flickr

On what was once an apple orchard in Fishersville, Barren Ridge Vineyards planted a number of grape varieties that are responsible for award-winning wines. The owners of the vineyard preserved the property’s original 1890s apple barn and transformed the building into a cutting-edge winery that produces red, white, blush, blended, and dessert wines.

When you visit Barren Ridge Vineyard, you can sip handcrafted wines in the tasting room and explore the winery on complimentary tours. Conclude your day with a picnic on the winery’s outdoor patio overlooking the vineyard and distant hills.

Veramar Vineyard

With grape vines spanning 26 acres in Berryville, Veramar Vineyard produces a wide range of varietals, including the popular Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Seyval Blanc. Veramar’s wines are the product of grapes planted on east-facing hillsides that shield the vines from the hot afternoon sun. This helps the plants retain aromatic compounds for a more complex flavor.

At Veramar, you can choose between a number of different tastings and tours, such as the 30-minute classic wine tasting, which allows you to sample featured red and white wines from recent vintages. You can also schedule a picnic pairing between April and November to savor locally sourced food paired with Veramar’s handcrafted wines, served on a patio with stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For a more in-depth tour of the vineyard, book a “Meet the Winemaker” tasting and hear the winemaker explain how the vineyard creates distinctive vintages as you sip on four different wines.

Bluestone Vineyard

Named after a type of limestone common in Shenandoah Valley soil, Bluestone Vineyard crafts Bordeaux-style, small-batch wines aged in climate-controlled conditions and bottled on site. According to Bluestone, the vineyard’s gentle hills and rocky soil are perfect for growing grapes, especially Cabernet varietals.

You can tour the state-of-the-art winery, or settle on the heated patio to enjoy a white, red, sweet, or reserve tasting. Bluestone also expanded its vineyards in 2015 to start producing a number of additional varietals, including Petit Verdot, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

Ox-Eye Vineyards

In Staunton, the owners of Ox-Eye Vineyards have been cultivating grapes for more than 15 years, aided by the Shenandoah Valley’s cool climate, relatively low rainfall, and deep limestone soil. The vineyard is named after the ox-eye daisies that grow wild on the property, but the tasting room is located off-site in the Historic Wharf District in downtown Staunton.

Ox-Eye provides suggestions on wine and food pairings to help you fully enjoy the varietals. For example, its Chardonnay 2014 is best with seafood and pasta, while its Traminette 2014 pairs perfectly with spicy foods. You can sample Ox-Eye’s food-friendly wines and tour the tasting room’s historic building, which was originally built in 1904 for a lumber and coal business.

Wolf Gap Vineyard

wine glassesSpecializing in small-batch wines, Wolf Gap Vineyard offers a diverse inventory, ranging from a Bordeaux-style Chambourcin blend to a semi-sweet rosé. Wolf Gap also produces a popular semi-sweet blueberry wine made completely from wild blueberries.

The vineyard hosts tastings on a large outdoor deck situated on a ridge with stunning views of the Great North Mountains. With a reservation, you can also experience private tastings and tours that provide a behind-the-scenes look at the vineyard and winery.

Hunt’s Vineyard

Founded in 2009, Hunt’s Vineyard currently produces three types of wine: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a red blend. The small, family-owned vineyard is also cultivating heartier Chambourcin and Traminette grape varietals, which are better at coping with Virginia’s chilly winters.

Along with bottles of high quality wine, Hunt’s Vineyard offers a flavorful sangria made from its 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard invites visitors to bring a picnic and unwind amidst the relaxing grape vines and gardens.

Muse Vineyards

A farming site since the 1700s, Muse Vineyards is located on the banks of Shenandoah River’s North Fork, and its owners favor the artisanal wine-making principles developed by wineries in Italy and France. Every aspect of the production process is handled on site, from growing the grapes to fermenting to bottling, in order to create hand-crafted, classically styled wines.

Unlike many vineyards, Muse Vineyards has cultivated 15 grape varieties over the years to see which grapes thrive best in the Virginia climate. The vineyard currently produces a rosé from Gamay grapes, a red wine made from four Bordeaux varietals, a Grenache-based red wine, a Roussanne, and a Chardonnay. In addition to experimenting with grape varieties, Muse Vineyards supports a more natural production process with minimal chemical use and no mechanical pruning or harvesting.

5 of the Best Art and Design Museums in Chicago

As one of the most popular cities to visit in the United States, Chicago offers an array of attractions, ranging from exclusive shopping to fine dining. Staying at Bluegreen Resorts’ Hotel Blake in historic Printers Row perfectly positions you to explore the city’s unique destinations, such as the Shedd Aquarium in nearby Grant Park, Navy Pier, and the Magnificent Mile.

On top of these attractions, Chicago is renowned for its diverse art and design scene, which can be appreciated at the many museums scattered throughout the city. You can savor fine art at the Art Institute of Chicago, discover local artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and study Gilded Age design at The Richard H. Driehaus Museum. Here is more information about five of the best art and design museums in Chicago:

The Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago

Image courtesy JanetandPhil | Flickr

Founded in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Avenue has been deemed one of the top fine arts institutions in the country, and it currently features around 300,000 pieces of art. Both the knowledgeable art lover and the casual museum-goer can find something to enjoy among the museum’s many collections.

At the Art Institute of Chicago, you can examine Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” if you favor impressionism, explore works by René Magritte if you like surrealism, or investigate architectural drawings by William Ferguson. The museum is especially well-known for its collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works by famous artists like van Gogh and Monet.

After exploring the African wing or immersing yourself in the European Painting and Sculpture collection, you can take a break at the on-site Italian restaurant, Terzo Piano, for lunch or dinner. You can also commemorate your visual journey by buying wall art or decorative pieces from the museum’s gift shop.

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art

Located in a 12,000-square-foot facility on North Milwaukee Avenue, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art is dedicated exclusively to displaying outsider art, or art created by self-taught artists and people uninfluenced by the mainstream art scene. Intuit highlights how artists and collectors in Chicago have played an integral role in encouraging interest in outsider art.

The center includes two galleries, a gift shop with unique outsider art, and a performance space. Additionally, Intuit offers a non-circulating collection at the Robert A. Roth Study Center and a permanent collection with more than 100,000 pieces in its Henry Darger Room Collection. Here you can explore a replica of the apartment of Henry Darger, an artist and hospital custodian in Chicago who became famous posthumously for his drawings, paintings, and manuscripts.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

contemporary art museum chicago

Image courtesy Gosia Malochleb | Flickr

Showcasing new and experimental artists, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA Chicago) displays visual, stage, music, and film artwork at a center located between the Magnificent Mile and Lake Michigan. MCA Chicago is among the largest contemporary art museums in the United States, and it contains some of the most impressive works created since 1945.

The museum works to preserve contemporary art for generations to come with a carefully curated permanent collection comprising more than 2,000 pieces, as well as special exhibits featuring local artists and well-known names. In the permanent collection, you can discover art by celebrated contemporary artists, such as Kerry James Marshall and Roy Lichtenstein.

Along with the permanent collection and special exhibits, you can relax at MCA Chicago’s bookstore, restaurant, and terraced sculpture garden with views of Lake Michigan.

National Veterans Art Museum

In 1981, several veterans of the Vietnam War founded a touring art exhibit that elicited a strong emotional reaction around the country and led to the creation of the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in 1996. The museum later became the National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM), which is now committed to preserving and displaying art by all United States veterans.

Situated in Portage Park’s Six Corners Business district, the NVAM maintains a permanent collection with more than 2,500 pieces by over 250 veterans, whose work provides insight on the impact of war on survivors and the psyche of veterans. NVAM artists examine and share their experiences through sculpture, paintings, music, photography, and poetry.

The museum’s permanent exhibit is based on Tim O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried, and it explores the notion of storytelling in relation to communicating veterans’ Vietnam War experiences. A visual complement to the novel, the exhibit includes photography and fine art pieces by Vietnam veterans.

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum

To learn more about design in Chicago’s Gilded Age, visit the Richard H. Driehaus Museum on East Erie Street for an immersive experience. The museum allows visitors to explore one of Chicago’s finest 19th century residential buildings, which was once home to entrepreneur Samuel M. Nickerson.

In 2003, Richard H. Driehaus established the museum and launched a five-year restoration project to preserve the historic home and its unique interiors. The museum captures the design philosophies and styles of the late 19th century with original furnishings, restored woodwork, and exhibits featuring historically relevant pieces.

How to Enjoy Arizona in Every Season

When people think of a desert vacation in Arizona, they often picture rounds of golf and poolside relaxation in the middle of the winter when temperatures are mild. It may be surprising to find out that there are plenty of ways you can enjoy Arizona in every season, especially when you stay with Bluegreen Resorts at the Cibola Vista Resort and Spa in Peoria.

Located just 10 minutes from Phoenix, the resort is the perfect starting point for a variety of unique Arizona adventures that you can undertake based on the season, such as a trip to Lake Pleasant on a scorching hot day or a visit to Native American ruins in the refreshing winter air. The following describes some of the activities that will help you enjoy a desert vacation in Arizona at any time of the year:

Summer

It’s possible to enjoy Arizona’s desert landscape during the summer because it’s just a short drive from the Cibola Vista Resort and Spa to Lake Pleasant, where you can cool off while boating, skiing, and fishing. You can also splash around on jet skis or explore the lake’s many coves in a kayak. An ideal destination for the experienced angler, Lake Pleasant offers the best bass fishing of all the lakes surrounding Phoenix and it contains a variety of other sport fish, including tilapia and channel catfish. Anglers also report that a warm summer night is the best time to catch fish in Lake Pleasant.

cardinal desert

On a hot summer day in Arizona, one of the best ways to escape the heat is to book a spa day, which is particularly easy when the spa is located at your resort like it is at Cibola Vista. The spa offers a wide range of treatments in a tranquil environment to help refresh the mind, body, and spirit. When you visit the spa, you can savor treatments like the 50-minute Swedish massage, the anti-aging corrective facial, and the 80-minute hydrating body wrap. The rejuvenating effects of a day at the spa at Cibola Vista will give you a whole new appreciation for this oasis in the Sonoran Desert.                                        

Fall

bisbee az

Image courtesy Mr.TinDC | Flickr

When the air starts to cool in the fall, you can more easily immerse yourself in the beautiful desert scenery around Arizona, including the Lavender Pit in Bisbee. The 950-foot deep pit is an abandoned mine with rugged tiers that stretch across 300 acres, an impressive sight that can be observed from rim viewing platforms. After the pit was abandoned in 1975, the town of Bisbee transformed into a historical tourist destination and artist community that draws visitors from around Arizona and the country.

Closer to the Cibola Vista Resort and Spa, you can appreciate Arizona’s arid landscapes at the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, a desert oasis surrounded by city views. The preserve offers miles of serene trails through the Sonoran Desert, as well as a number of peaks to climb. From the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, hikers can reach Camelback Mountain, the highest summit and one of the most popular hikes in the preserve.

Winter

Amid Arizona’s mild winter air, you can enjoy some of the state’s most unique sites. One such destination is the Pueblo Grande Ruin, located just 40 minutes from Cibola Vista. A National Historic Landmark, the ruin is an expansive prehistoric Hohokam Indian village that was inhabited from 100 to 1450 A.D. The Hohokam constructed caliche-brick dwellings, a ball court in the Central American style, and a 20-foot high masonry platform that covers more than 3 acres. When you visit the park, you can take a self-guided trail to the ruins and visit displays on the Hohokam people at the Pueblo Grande Museum. Visit on a Sunday for free admission to the park.

To enjoy more of Arizona’s cultural heritage, visit Taliesin West at the base of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale. The national historic landmark currently houses the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, and it was once the winter home of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Founded in 1937, Taliesin West was hand-built and maintained primarily by Wright and his apprentices. The architecture was inspired by the desert landscape, and the simple design fosters a connection to nature. Over the years, the campus has expanded to include performance spaces, studios, a dining hall, and living quarters.

Spring

Peoria Sports Complex

Image courtesy Clintus | Flickr

Springtime in Arizona is best known for spring training or the preseason series of professional baseball games between February and March, when players gather at complexes around the Phoenix area to practice and earn positions. While teams play around Phoenix, Peoria has its own sports complex that is shared with the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. After watching a game, you can easily access the nearby shopping and entertainment options in Peoria.

For additional springtime entertainment outside of the baseball diamond, you can visit the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, located an hour east of Phoenix. The park is Arizona’s largest and oldest botanical garden, featuring a streamside forest, specialty gardens, and a desert lake. Managed in part by the University of Arizona, the arboretum was established by mining magnate Colonel William Boyce Thompson in the 1920s. The park currently strives to offer recreation, conservation, and research opportunities related to arid-land plants. At the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, you can stroll beneath the shade of towering trees, including Eucalyptus and Palo Verde.