6 top tiny home vacation rentals that won’t cost you your mortgage

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 2:57 PM

Here are six tiny home vacation rentals that offer lots of fun per square foot Four-season cottage near Awenda provincial park Tiny House on the Bay Sand Pebble Cottage Victorian cottage Laurel Escape Serenity Now

Need a vacation that isn't followed by a barrage of credit card bills?

Tiny home vacation rentals are a wallet-friendly option, with beach, mountain and ranch locations available. Renting a small space for a weekend getaway or weeklong adventure is also a great way to test drive the tiny home concept. 

»RELATED: Here's what a $1 million house looks like in 7 major US cities

»Here are six tiny home vacation rentals that offer lots of fun per square foot:

(Via VRBO)

Four-season cottage near Awenda provincial park

Ontario, Canada

$119 average per night

Right across from Farlain Lake with its sandy beach and shallow waters, this tiny vacation rental is also close to many ski and snow mobile trails, parks and lakes.

(AirBnB)

Tiny House on the Bay

Olympia, Washington

Around $89 per night

Set on a hill by Puget Sound, this extra tiny 160-square-foot vacation rental comes with a window seat, full-size sleeping loft under a skylight and mini gas fireplace. Oh, yes, and trail access to a private beach.

(AirBnb)

Sand Pebble Cottage

Dennis Port, Massachusetts

Around $70 per night

Just 300 square feet, this Cape Cod cottage is just a short walk from the ocean beach and near restaurants (including Sundae School Ice-Cream). 

Victorian cottage

Canyon Lake, Texas

Around $202 average per night

Perfect for a romantic lake getaway, this Victorian cottage is made from reclaimed building materials and features vintage stained glass windows.

(Via Mountain Laurel Cabin Rentals)

Laurel Escape 

Mineral Bluff, Georgia

Prices start at $99 per night

Ah, the mountains! This is a perfect - and perfectly affordable - way to enjoy the North Georgia mountain air. The 480-square-foot cabin boasts amenities like a king-size bed, fire pit, hot tub and stainless appliances and granite countertops.

Serenity Now

Alpharetta, Georgia

Average $83 per night 

Yes, you can have a ranch vacation at tiny house rental prices. This custom-built tiny house rests on a 4-acre mini horse farm. It features two lofts and complimentary continental breakfast with biscuits.

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5 often-overlooked mountains in Georgia

Published: Wednesday, November 02, 2016 @ 10:10 AM
Updated: Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 9:04 AM

Smithgall Woods provides a beautiful escape that is perfect for large groups.
Clint Williams / AJC
Smithgall Woods provides a beautiful escape that is perfect for large groups.(Clint Williams / AJC)

Many of the mountain parks near Atlanta have become popular destinations for metro residents to escape for fresh air and beautiful views. But when those well-known destinations get crowded in the cooler months, Georgia holds plenty of less famous destinations for aspiring mountaineers. Check out these five often-overlooked mountain destinations in Georgia.

»RELATED: Get outside and enjoy Atlanta's best natural views

Emery Creek Trail to Bald Mountain 
Near Ellijay.

Bald Mountain may be a well-known destination for Georgia outdoorsmen, but nearby path Emery Creek Trail has remained largely secluded, seeing light foot traffic even on weekends. A 13-mile hike complete with secluded waterfalls, refreshing (and, at times, difficult to navigate) waterlogged paths and relative peace in the deep woods leads to the popular mountain, but don't forget to waterproof any phones, camera equipment or other electronics, and wear clothes that can get wet.

Smithgall Woods State Park
61 Tsalaki Trail, Helen. 706-878-3087.

This Helen property was donated to the state by Charles A. Smithgall, a well-known philanthropist and conservationist whose legacy continues in multiple arenas, including a Humane Society nearby. Smithgall Woods State Park holds many options for big groups looking to make a weekend of it, offering six cabins and multiple picnic areas for down time. Take a trip to this mountainous state park and enjoy miles of trails as well as bird watching, archery and catch-and-release trout fishing.

Pine Mountain 
101 E Broad St., Pine Mountain. 800-441-3502.

Touted as one of Georgia's more unusual mountains, Pine Mountain is the southernmost mountain in the eastern United States and has more than 40 miles of trails. That includes the 23 mile Pine Mountain trail in nearby F. D. Roosevelt State Park. One of the most distinctive characteristics about this park is the diverse array of wildlife and botany that comes with such varied terrain and habitats. Nearby, history buffs can check out Franklin D. Roosevelt's Little White House, one of Georgia's most popular historic destinations.

Coosa Bald
Accessible via Vogel State Park. 
405 Vogel State Park Road, Blairsville. 706-745-2628.

Maybe some of Georgia's overlooked mountains aren't so much neglected as they are intentionally skipped over. After all, not everyone is up for a hardy hike just to catch the best view. Coosa Bald, Georgia's tenth-highest peak, walks that line with a 12.9-mile out and back trek to the top with several elevation changes along the way, making for a great hike for moderate hikers looking to up their skills. Unless you’re camping, (permit required) you’ll need to start early in the morning to make this a day hike. Dress warmly: Even when the valleys below are clear and dry, this peak has been known to see its share of snowfall.

»RELATED: 8 places to have outdoor adventures around Atlanta

Grassy Mountain Tower Trail 
Near Chatsworth. 

Cast out into the Cohutta wilderness and take a hike up Grassy Mountain for panoramic views and a beautiful mountaintop lake. Hikers will traipse across wooden bridges and beside beaver dams for 2.6 miles to the summit, where they will find a fire tower that provides a unique picture of the surrounding mountains. This view comes with a price, though, so remember to prepare for rocky roads and an off-the-grid experience before setting out into this wilderness unprepared.

More places to visit in and near Atlanta

RECOMMENDED VIDEO: 5 beginner-friendly waterfall trails in North Georgia

Hike these 5 beginner-friendly waterfall trails in North Georgia. Video produced by Fiza Pirani/AJC.(www.accessatlanta.com)

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Disney raises ticket prices again in Florida, California

Published: Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 9:21 AM

The History of Disney

If you have plans to go to the Happiest Place on Earth, be prepared to pay more for the privilege. 

Disney officials have announced that both American parks have increased ticket prices. The increase went into effect Sunday at the theme parks at both Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida, The Associated Press reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Take a look at the breakdown in pricing.

Walt Disney World:

Magic Kingdom

Value - one-day tickets: $109 (adults), $103 (children)

Regular - one-day tickets: $119 (adults), $113 (children)

Peak - one-day tickets: $129 (adults) $123 (children)

EPCOT 

Value - one-day tickets: $102 (adults), $96 (children)

Regular - one-day tickets: $114 (adults), $108 (children)

Peak - one-day tickets: $122 (adults) $116 (children)

Hollywood Studios

Value - one-day tickets: $102 (adults), $96 (children)

Regular - one-day tickets: one day $114 (adults), $108 (children)

Peak - one-day tickets: $122 (adults) $116 (children)

Animal Kingdom

Value - one-day tickets: $102 (adults), $96 (children)

Regular - one-day tickets: $114 (adults), $108 (children)

Peak - one-day tickets: $122 (adults) $116 (children)

Annual passes have also increased, as well as Florida resident and Disney Vacation Club ticket pricing has changed. Discounts are available depending on how the tickets are purchases and for how long. 

Disneyland:

Prices are the same for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks.

Value - one-day tickets: $ 97 (adults), $ (children)

Regular - one-day tickets: $117 (adults), $108 (children)

Peak - one-day tickets: $135 (adults) $116 (children)

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U.S. issues ‘do not travel’ advisory for 5 states in Mexico

Published: Thursday, January 11, 2018 @ 12:32 PM

‘Do Not Travel Advisory’ To Five Mexico States Issued By U.S.

The U.S. Department of State has issued a travel advisory urging citizens to use increased caution when traveling to five states in Mexico.

USA Today reported that the new warning from the government has increased the Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas states to a level 4, the highest level of potential danger. 

The warning for the states, issued Thursday, was raised due to crime.

>> Read more trending news 

The State Department already recommends that travelers use “increased caution” when in Mexico because of widespread crime, such as kidnapping, homicide, carjacking and robbery, USA Today reported.

The department recommends that those who decide to travel to Mexico to use toll roads, avoid night driving, be extra vigilant when visiting banks and ATMs, use caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs and casinos, and to avoid displaying signs of wealth. Travelers are also urged to enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to make locating easier in an emergency and to have an emergency contingency plan. Travelers should also review crime and safety reports for Mexico.

More information on the travel advisory can be found at travel.state.gov.

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Try your luck: 10 tips on beating the odds on your first casino trip

Published: Monday, January 08, 2018 @ 10:50 AM

Man Wins Over $1 Million At Texas Casino On Christmas

There's just something appealing about a casino vacation, whether you're dreaming of the luxury of the world's most extravagant casino resorts or playing roulette at one of Yahoo's top-ranked casinos outside of Vegas. Or maybe you're just longing for a day playing the slots at a smaller place like the Mardis Gras Casino and Resort in West Virginia.

»RELATED: Feeling lucky? Travel to these four casinos closest to Atlanta

While the Las Vegas strip topped the list as "the king of gaming, boasting the most revenue from casinos in the world," according to The Richest, Atlantic City, Chicago and Detroit weren't far behind.

If this is the year you'd like to join in on the action, great! Just take it slow and do your research if you want maximum enjoyment from your first visit to a casino. 

Whether you're mesmerized by the televised World Series of Poker, intrigued by the high-stakes poker in the 2017 movie Molly's Game, or obsessed with playing slots or blackjack online, understand one thing: when you get out of the entertainment world and step into a real-life casino, everything's different.

Here are 10 tips for anyone making a first-time trip to a casino, drawing from the combined knowledge of gambling and travel experts:

•Learn the games

"You wouldn't offer to play Kobe Bryant a little one-on-one basketball for $1,000, would you?" ThoughtCo. asked. "Well, your odds of beating him are probably about the same as winning at a casino game you've never played or read about, and while reading about Kobe won't help you beat him, learning about a new game first will really help!"

You can pick up the game basics at a site like WhereTraveler

•Try free lessons when you get there

Many casinos offer free, live instruction in blackjack, craps, roulette, pai gow, pai gow poker, mini-baccarat and poker in an effort to entice you to play more. Not only do the lessons teach you the rules of the game, they can boost your confidence with lessons on the etiquette and jargon associated with each game. Check directly with the casino to find out what gaming lessons are offered and at what time.

Vegas Hotel Special also has a list of the Vegas casinos that offer free gaming lessons.

•Take your time deciding what to play

This advice from the Party Poker blog applies to all the casino rooms. "If you can't work out what is being played, ask a dealer or the floor manager, as they'll be more than happy to talk you through it."

•Don't be embarrassed if you can only afford a minimum buy-in

"Remember, you are paying to play in a recreational activity for your own enjoyment," noted Party Poker. "The establishment wants you to come back, so they should be very helpful and accommodating. If all of the games being played are too expensive, the floor manager can suggest more affordable games at alternate times."

(CMG)

•Know the odds

It's simple and complicated at the same time. Simple in that odds merely determine the chances that a player will win over other players (in games like Texas Hold 'Em) or the house (in games like Blackjack.) But complicated in that odds are a huge business, and vary wildly per game, according to Wise Geek. "Some games have relatively low gambling odds for the house, ranging from less than 1 percent in their favor for games like blackjack, to more than 20 percent for games like Big Six or keno."

Dummies.com recommended certain games and tactics for newbie players, including:

  • Jacks or Better video poker (the 9/6 version): "The 9/6 version of Jacks or Better is considered full pay because you get a payout of 9 for 1 for a full house and 6 for 1 for a flush." Make sure you're playing 9/6 by looking at the Full House/Flush payouts for one coin. Also never keep a kicker (a high card along with a pair) and throw away a small pair (tens or lower) if you have four cards to a flush or three cards to a royal flush.
  • Blackjack: Increase the already (relatively) good odds by playing the table with the least amount of decks, staying away from gimmick games like 6-5 blackjack, Spanish 21, or Super Fun blackjack and never take insurance.
  • Craps: The smartest strategy is to stick to the following bets in craps: Pass line bet with odds bet, come bet with odds, don't pass bet with odds, don't come bet with odds.

•Skip the bonus bets

Keep in mind that main bets (such as pass line at craps, banker bet at baccarat, ante bet at Three Card Poker) have the smallest house edge, according to ThoughtCo. Avoid the extra (or bonus) bets, since the house edge might be as much as five times higher.

•Know your limit

"Money management is a really boring subject and many people have trouble keeping track of what they have spent after a few hours of casino action," ThoughtCo. noted. "Make things easy on yourself by deciding on what you can afford to lose before you start playing. If you actually win, great, and don't be afraid to go home with the bucks. The casino will be open tomorrow, too!"

•Check out the hospitality standards before you go

If you're heading to Las Vegas, odds are good that you'll be able to hit a casino that offers free alcohol. Many will also have discounted rooms. Outside of Vegas, many of the tiny casinos or ones with little competition or state prohibitions (like Harrah's Cherokee in North Carolina) don't have free drinks.

•Play the free liquor game like a champ

According to WhereTraveler, it's a good idea to wait until the cocktail waitress approaches you at places with free liquor, instead of hitting a bar on the way in. "And if you're hitting the clubs later, start your drinking on the casino floor so there's less you have to spend - for any type of performance, even a DJ spinning, you'll get hit with an additional live entertainment tax. Better to start early!"

Avoid peak dinner times

To really enjoy your day of gambling, avoid the huge lines at peak dinner time. Instead, opt to eat between 5 p.m.-5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.-9 p.m. to avoid hours of waiting.

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