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Monday, February 24, 2014

A Few of Our Favorite Places
Sharon McKarns and Kendra Thornton

With all the great options available for travel these days it can be difficult to choose where to go and what to do when you get there. Some of the best places I have visited were recommendations from friends, fellow bloggers, and travel experts who have been through the trenches looking for that perfect trip or outing. Travel expert Kendra Thornton and I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite places with you.

Family Fun on the Strip by Kendra Thornton
Las Vegas is both a great place to live and a spectacular destination for a family vacation. There is literally so much to do here that you might find yourself feeling a little torn about what to experience next. Don't waste a single minute of your trip trying to decide.

Learn to Golf Like Tiger Woods
When my husband and his buddies tried this, they had a great time! Tiger’s swing coach, Butch Harmon himself, teaches the Butch Harmon School of Golf in the Rio Secco Golf Club. While his expert staff heads most classes, Mr. Harmon teaches in person once per year in three-day stretches. This activity can be purchased along with a stay at Caesar's Palace, and transportation is included. It's an ideal surprise for the man in your life, and it gives you an excuse to hit the spa!

Unique and Interesting Museums
Despite the plethora of casinos and bars, Las Vegas isn't lacking in the finer things. With a variety of unique and interesting museums to visit, you'll find it easy to get your culture fix. My kids really enjoyed the Discovery Children's Museum. I particularly enjoyed the Neon Museum downtown, which is an outdoor attraction designed like an artistic junkyard. It features walkways, ramps and stairways that do a great job of highlighting the city's neon tradition. Another great place to visit is the National Atomic Testing Museum, only 65 miles from the Nevada nuclear test site.

Rock Star Mini Golf
My children are huge fans of miniature golf, and I love taking them to new and interesting courses. Although Myrtle Beach features pirates and dinosaurs, Las Vegas is home to Monster Mini Golf's KISS course, a tribute to one of America's greatest rock bands. Here, you'll find 18 holes of KISS-themed glow-in-the-dark indoor mini golf. The course consists of monstrous electric guitars, an animated imitation of the group and a 12-foot Gene Simmons head to putt the ball into.

Family Vs. Food
Las Vegas affords ample opportunity to engage in your own version of Man vs. Food, so be sure to come very, very hungry. In the BRAND Steakhouse at the Monte Carlo, you can choose to take on a whopping 7.5 pounds of steak, which comes with two special sauces and a side dish. At a staggering $250, you have every incentive to finish it all, because it's free if you do. The Monte Carlo also offers another challenge: an 8-pound burger. It's so much fun to watch people test their mastication mettle with these delicious challenges!

Las Vegas is truly a unique place with one of a kind attractions and restaurants. Even the hotels are unique and new ones are being built seemingly everyday. With so many options of places to stay, sites like Gogobot make it easy to read user reviews so you can find the perfect hotel for you and your family.

Beauty and Adventure in the Red Rocks
by Sharon McKarns

As one of my favorite places to visit, Sedona, Arizona has something to offer everyone.  There is plenty to do to keep you amazed, entertained and challenged during your visit to this unique, world class destination. You can bask in the glory of a beautiful sunset as it reflects off the majestic red rocks of Sedona, or you can enjoy one of these great activities:

The Verde Valley Wine Trail
Sedona is a great starting point to indulge your passion for wine in Northern Arizona. You can visit one of several exceptional wineries in the region including Alcantara Vineyards, Page Springs Cellars, Oak Creek Vineyards, and Javelina Leap Vineyard and Winery.  All four stops offer a unique variety of wines to satisfy any taste.  Consider taking a tour with your girlfriends, or quench your palate with that special someone in your life.  The Verde Valley Wine Trail makes for a great day or weekend!

The Verde Canyon Railroad
Verde Canyon Railroad
Verde Canyon Railroad
Travel back in time as you and your family enjoy the beauty of the Verde Canyon on what some call Arizona’s longest running nature show.  Young and old alike will enjoy this twenty mile train ride as it winds through the most pristine part of Verde Canyon.  Sip champagne, grab a snack, relax in your vintage locomotive, or spend time on the open air car listening to a narrator share the remarkable history, geology and wildlife of the canyon.  Keep your eyes peeled.  You might spot a bald eagle, a great blue heron or some fascinating rock formations on the Verde Canyon Railroad.

Slide Rock State Park
Beat the heat as you experience the exhilaration of cool mountain water thrusting you down the natural rock water slide at Slide Rock State Park, in Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona.  Just a short drive from Sedona, Slide Rock is a thrilling way to spend the day with family and friends.  Pack a picnic and enjoy the picturesque surroundings of northern Arizona.  Don’t forget to take your bathing suit and a pair of water shoes. You’ll be glad you did.  If you go, plan to arrive early as the park often fills to capacity.
Sedona is a scenic, extraordinary destination with noteworthy resorts, restaurants and activities.  Visitors from all over the world savour the beauty of the red rocks and all that northern Arizona has to offer.

Now that we have shared a few of our favorite places, feel free to comment and share some of your favorite places.  We would love to hear from you.

Contributing writer, Kendra Thornton, appears as a travel expert on television stations across the country to offer travel tips and deals to millions of people every year. She makes regular appearances on ABC, NBC and CW stations in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. She has also made special guest appearances on The Nate Show, Fine Living Network and The Tyra Banks Show. Her firm, Thornton Public Relations LLC, is an independent, boutique public relations firm providing personal service and proven results. The agency’s distinguished work ethic and deep industry knowledge have earned it credibility with the media and respect from industry leaders.  Contact Kendra Thornton

Sharon McKarns is a travel writer eager to explore the world and share her travel experiences. Her goal is to pack her blog with interesting stories, beautiful pictures and useful travel information. Guest bloggers/contributing writers are encouraged to contact Sharon at  She is also on twitter: @travelpacked1.

Butch Harmon School of Golf