PGA Golf Club at PGA Village Verano

With the perfect address for a golf club, PGA Golf Club, at 1916 Perfect Drive in Port St Lucie, is a golfer’s dream destination. Play three championship 18-hole golf courses, The Wanamaker, The Ryder and the Pete Dye, all owned and operated by The PGA of America.  And stay like a resident in a beautiful home on property at PGA Village Verano, minutes from the three golf courses in a resort-style golf community with a Stay & Play package.

Kolter Homes PGA Village Verano
Kolter Homes PGA Village Verano photo credit: Kolter Homes

The Wanamaker Course is one of two Tom Fazio designs on the property and does its namesake – PGA founder Rodman Wanamaker proud. Fazio designed both the Wanamaker and Ryder in 1999, but the twins are definitely fraternal and reveal different personalities.

Hole 18 on the Wanamaker Course PGA Village
Hole 18 on the Wanamaker Course PGA Village photo credit: John Cameron

Department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker helped establish the PGA of America, funded the first PGA Championship in 1916 and has his name attached to the champion’s prized trophy, The Wanamaker. Fazio’s Ryder Course honors Samuel Ryder, the namesake and founder of the Ryder Cup matches, which began in 1927. All 36 tees have plaques that unveil the storied lore of both the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.

On the Ryder Course, Fazio transports you to North Carolina, with his holes winding among majestic pines, rolling hills and elevation changes, and recurrent red-staked hazards.

 

Pete Dye Course PGA Village
Pete Dye Course PGA Village photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Pete Dye’s eponymous course at PGA Village opened for play in 2007. Highlighting the native environment, especially the wetlands, Dye fashioned a links-style course reminiscent of the British Isles, like playing in Scotland or Ireland without the airfare.

The three courses have their own driving range and putting and chipping areas as well as the “Short Course,” six holes between 35-60 yards where you can work on your finesse shots. However, the nearby 35-acre PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance is a golf instruction, practice, technology and fitness park all in one. Named a “2013 Golf Range Association of America Top 50 Range,” the center includes more than 100 hitting stations (many weather-protected), short-game practice areas, putting greens, three practice holes and nine separate bunkers that simulate play worldwide.

Grab lunch at the Taplow Pub in the clubhouse – the street tacos are delicious.  After your round, enjoy a drink and dinner with PGA members at the 19th hole and watch golfers approach the 18th green on the Wanamaker course.

Museum at PGA Village Golf Club
Museum at PGA Village Golf Club photo credit: John Cameron

While not a comprehensive museum on the history of golf ( for that check out the excellent World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine) PGA Village does have  the on-site PGA Museum of Golf. There’s plenty here to impress the golf fan if you love the game. Open to the public, it traces the history of the PGA of America through its major championship and the Ryder Cup. Check out the Wanamaker trophy. Golf fans can see more great golf memorabilia at Sam Snead’s Grill & Tavern at the nearby Holiday Garden Inn.

Kolter Homes PGA Village Verano
Kolter Homes PGA Village Verano photo credit: Kolter Homes

During a Kolter Homes Stay & Play, visitors have access to award-winning golf on the Ryder and Pete Dye courses in addition to the Wanamaker course. 

Pool at Club Talavera
Pool at Club Talavera photo credit: Sherel Purcell

A-three day, two-night stay includes access to the new 27,000 square ft. Club Talavera Social Center with full use of all amenities including the13,000 square ft. Fitness Center, with yoga, tennis, indoor/outdoor pools, bocce ball, basketball, Har-Tru tennis courts and one round of golf for two at the adjacent PGA Golf Club.

PGA Golf Club is just off I-95 at Exit 121, 45 minutes north of Palm Beach and a two-hour drive from both Orlando and Miami.

 

 

Visit Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

Early travellers were drawn to Colorado Springs for the high altitude, sunshine, mineral waters, and dry climate. Present-day travellers visit for many of the same reasons.  At 6,035 ft., Colorado Springs  even surpasses Denver, the mile high city. Most travellers fly into Denver International Airport and drive 75 miles (121km) south on Interstate Highway 25 to Colorado Springs, the second largest city in Colorado.

Where to stay

Terrace Garden of the Gods Resort
Terrace Garden of the Gods Resort photo credit: John Cameron

For unparalleled views of The Garden of the Gods Park and Pike’s Peak, stay at the luxurious Garden of the Gods Collection. We loved the over-sized, quiet, comfortable suite, the infinity pool, and the delicious breakfasts.

Things to Do

The poetically named Garden of the Gods, containing 300 million years of geologic history, was donated to Colorado Springs in 1909, with the proviso that it be operated permanently as a city park, open to the public.

Climbers in Garden of the Gods Park
Climbers in Garden of the Gods Park photo credit: John Cameron

Hiking, biking and horseback riding are popular activities in the 1334-acre park. If you only have time for one trail, the paved Central Garden Trail is the best introduction to the geology and plants of the Garden. Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center is a Trip Advisor traveller’s choice for #1 park in the US. Admission to the park and the state of the art visitor center is free.

Kissing Camels Golf Course
Kissing Camels Golf Course photo credit: John Cameron

Golf at Kissing Camels Golf Club at Garden of the Gods Collection.   J. Press Maxwell and Mark Rathert designed this challenging, well-routed and well maintained 27-hole championship track.   Five sets of tee boxes (look for the colourful camel markers) make this an enjoyable course for every level of golfer.

Cheyenne Mountain Golf Course
Cheyenne Mountain Golf Course photo credit John Cameron

Cheyenne Mountain Resort features an immaculately groomed 18-hole Pete Dye championship track designed to challenge golfers at all skill levels.

Cheyenne Mountain Resort boasts tour-quality greens and broad fairways on a course set beside a private, 35-acre lake. Hole nine is a short par four. Keep your tee ball left for a short approach in and a good opportunity for birdie.

Manitou Springs Stagecoach
Manitou Springs Stagecoach photo credit: John Cameron

Colorado Springs was named for the natural mineral springs in nearby Manitou Springs. This historic, quirky town is known for its mineral water. Manitou Springs’ visitor center can supply you with a map to the springs and a cup. The eight springs (or fountains) are easily found walking along Manitou Avenue. Each spring has a distinctive taste due to the difference in mineral content. Our favorite is the Shoshone Spring, which has the highest lithium content.

Colorado is teeming with natural hot springs but unfortunately, there are no local options for residents and visitors of Colorado Springs. The nearest hot springs are 2 hours drive, depending on the traffic.

 

Explore Canada’s Rideau Waterway on Le Boat

Explore Canada’s scenic and historically significant Rideau Waterway with Le Boat,  the largest operator of self-drive boating holidays in Europe. As the captain of your own boat, you  cruise in your own time and stop at your leisure. 

Le Boat docked at twilight
Le Boat docked at twilight photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Depending upon the model, Le Boat accommodates between two and 12 passengers. All regular berths come with ensuite baths making Le Boat the perfect economic option for families and small groups traveling together.

Le Boat Interior cabin
Le Boat Interior cabin photo credit: Sherel Purcell

These custom contemporary styled craft offer a natural, light-filled kitchen/dining area and a spacious top deck for maximum cruising and viewing pleasure.

From Canada’s capital, Ottawa to her former capital, Kingston, the 125-mile (202 kilometers) route traverses forests, wetlands, the rocky Canadian Shield and the famous locks system – a technology dating from the 1830s earning the waterway a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.

The cities and towns abutting the Rideau Waterway where boaters dock at marinas and lock sites are well worth a visit. Ottawa, the largest city on the watery route, offers docking near the downtown area. Highlights include the National Gallery of Canada, the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Museum of Nature, the parliament buildings and the selfie – worthy Ottawa sign-sculpture on the edge of the Byward Market.

Smith Falls Golf and Country Club
Smith Falls Golf and Country Club photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Heading west on the Rideau, the happening town of Smith Falls is served by Via Rail and is home to Canadian golf sensation, Brooke Henderson and her sister-caddy, Brittany. Their home course, The Smith Falls Golf and Country Club allows visitors to play at reasonable rates for a pretty course in excellent condition.

Tweed, a new cannabis operation occupying 1,000,000 square feet offers tours of this highly scientific venture focusing on recreational and medicinal products that seeks to provide beverages to rival the alcohol market with a new emphasis on flavor. In homage to the former Hershey factory’s roots they’ve started producing chocolate and post tour samples are available as is their excellent coffee.

Eastern Canada’s only railway museum and a heritage museum that focuses on the old and the new are worth a visit. A good dining option, the Axe and Arrow offers tasty fish, seafood and local specials along with products from the excellent Perth Brewery.

A few hours sail away – Le Boat caps the speed at 10 kilometers an hour (6 miles) – sits the town of Perth, famous for its sizeable collection of limestone buildings and a main street built over the waterway. Quality local goods, new restaurants, cafes, a cheese shop and an English garden complete the pretty picture. The Rocky River cafe offers high-end pub food and healthier options in an attractive indoor/outdoor setting with excellent local brews.

Town of Westport Ontario
Town of Westport Ontario photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Another worthwhile stop, Westport, is home to the Scheuermann Winery whose folks will transport boaters to the scenic, six-acre vineyard and cafe above the water amidst rolling hills. Oven-fired pizza, inventive salads and tasty varietals top off a perfect day of boating.

The Westport Brewing Company occupies an intimate, contemporary-styled pub with a patio overlooking the waterway and serves tasting flights of their pale and darker brews.

Chaffey’s Lock, along with the usual waterside picnic and barbeque sites and friendly, helpful Parks Canada Lockmasters, offers good access to the 104-kilometer Cataraqui recreational trail – perfect for the folding bikes that can be rented from Le Boat to accompany your trip.The Lockmaster’s House Museum, an art gallery and the excellent cuisine of the Opinicon Resort all warrant a visit.

Previously published on USA Today 10Best.com

Vacation in Canada – Where Should You Travel Now?

There’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy leisurely outdoor fun throughout Canada, from the east coast to the west coast, on these great vacation options for the Great White North.

Fox Harb’r Golf Resort and Spa | Nova Scotia

Fox Harb'r Golf Course fairway
Fox Harb’r Golf Course fairway Photo Credit: Sherel Purcell

Fox Harb’r, Nova Scotia’s only five-star property and gated community, once hosted Tiger Woods. While you could arrive in style via the private airstrip or marina, the drive is a scenic two hours from the Halifax International Airport. Owner Ron Joyce, of Tim Hortons coffee fame, provides his highly addictive substance in all the suites and the otherwise high-end dining room.

The back nine holes hugging the Atlantic Ocean offer true links-style golf while the front nine feature super fast greens on odd-shaped holes carved out of the forest. A nine-hole par 3 course – perfect for the kids – is free with all reservations.

Eastern Townships | Quebec

Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey, Eastern Townships, Quebec
Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Just north of Vermont and an hour south of Montreal, Quebec’s Eastern Townships offer a good selection of top quality inns, resorts, hotels and spas for all budgets. Scenic cycling and hiking trails, mountains and lakes and championship golf courses all provide ample opportunity to work off the extra calories of this popular foodie destination and add to your vacation enjoyment.

If you time it right, you can listen to monks performing Gregorian chants at the Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey before stopping into their boutique for top-quality chocolate and cheese – all made on-site.

Mont-Tremblant | Quebec

Le Maitre 18th green
Le Maitre 18th green photo credit: John Cameron

Mont-Tremblant is a 1.5-hour drive from Montreal, serving as a playground for those who want to get out of the city. During winter, it’s a prime ski destination. The rest of the year finds the mountains and forests transformed into excellent golf tracks.

Thanks to the topography of the Canadian Shield, golfers can enjoy championship golf experiences with dramatic elevation changes.

CTMA Cruises | Montreal

Montreal from the deck of CTMA Vacancier
Montreal from the deck of CTMA Vacancier photo credit: Sherel Purcell

CTMA Cruises depart from the Bickerdike Basin Pier near the Old Port of Montreal and provide visitors a glimpse of the city and life along the St. Lawrence River, views that others rarely see. This departure point is a favorite of filmmakers for its unparalleled views of Montreal en route down the St. Lawrence River, all the way to the Magdalen Islands where another ferry continues on to Prince Edward Island.

Canada’s capital city | Ottawa

Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum, Ottawa
Diefenbunker photo credit: John Cameron

Ottawa’s favorite festival, Winterlude, encourages participants to traverse the frozen canals of this capital city on skates. In the other three seasons, visitors can hike the Gatineau Park trails and cycle the Rideau Canal.

Head underground to the Diefenbunker Museum for a look into Canada’s secret cold war past. Be sure to tour the Parliament buildings and grounds, as well as the sculpture garden of the National Art Gallery nearby.

Kingston, Ont.

St. James Anglican Church, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
St. James Anglican Church photo credit: John Cameron

Kingston, named the first capital of Canada in 1841, sits at the junction of Lake Ontario, Rideau Canal and St. Lawrence River.  You’ll find ample award-winning museums to explore and excellent dining to satisfy any foodie’s desires in this pretty limestone city.

It’s easy to get out of town, via Highway 15, for an afternoon stopover at the Jones Falls Lock station on the Rideau Canal. You can learn all about water management systems that accommodate boats, and paddlers can camp here with the option of using the locks or portaging their vessels.

Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course | Huntsville, Ont.

Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course
Deerhurst Highlands Photo credit: John Cameron

“A great golf course starts with a great piece of land,” says Thomas McBroom, co-designer of Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course in Ontario’s cottage country.

Utilizing Muskoka’s granite rock faces, tree-topped hills, lakes and ponds, McBroom and his mentor, Bob Cupp, created a beautiful – and playable – course. Watch out for deer crossing the cart path as it meanders through maple, white birch and pine trees. Across a narrow wooden bridge, spanning two pink and grey granite cliffs, sits an undulating practice green.

Canmore, Alberta

Sunrise over the Rockies in Canmore Alberta
Canmore Alberta photo credit: John Cameron

With endless ways to enjoy the outdoors, any winter getaway to the Canadian Rockies and Banff National Park should begin in Canmore. The countless peaks and vast wilderness offer snow enthusiasts ample opportunities for leisurely cross-country and downhill skiing, dog sledding, backcountry hiking and snowshoeing.

Dude ranch experience | British Columbia

Dude Ranch riders
Dude Ranch riders photo credit: John Cameron

If you’re heading to British Columbia, your Canadian outdoor adventure should include a visit to a dude or guest ranch. Similar to their U.S. counterparts, these week-long vacations receive high marks for the value of the leisure dollar. Excellent food, top-notch horseback riding instruction, beautiful trails to suit all abilities, a convivial social atmosphere and a range of outdoor activities keep the dudes coming back year after year.

Previously Published on USA Today 10Best.com

Your Guide to an Active Vacation