Espanola Island, Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands are like no place on earth.  The animals know no fear!  They do not run away when you approach them.  Rather, they stand, sit, lay down, or even walk over to you!  They are as curious about you as you are about them.

We recently went on an expedition in the Galapagos with Quasar Expeditions on MY Grace.  We will publish an entire article on our voyage in August.  The entire experience was truly amazing, other-worldly.

Quasar Expeditions provided us with one of Galapagos’ best naturalist guides, Jorge Garcia.  In this video, Jorge Garcia talks about sea lions in Galapagos.  And then he shares his infamous sea lion imitations.

Find out more about the incredible Galapagos and how to have a trip of a lifetime while you are there here.


Best Concert Hall In Texas: Round Top Festival Institute

Round Top Festival Institute

If you are looking for a truly unforgettable weekend in Texas, we have a recommendation for you: visit Round Top, Texas.  Round Top is a quaint little town with a hearty character.  But its most prized attraction is the Round Top Festival Institute. (

We frequent this venue because it is one of the most special and unique places we have seen in Texas.  The Round Top Festival Institute’s main attraction is its concert hall and the world-class musicians who play there.

The Round Top Festival Institute has 18 additional buildings on the grounds.  The property makes one of the best places in Texas for events, conferences, retreats, and receptions.  We attended a party on the veranda.  It was one of our favorite travel experiences of all time.

What we love about Round Top Festival Institute is that it’s only 1 1/2 hours away from Houston or Austin.  You can make a day-trip or weekend-trip out of it.  We recommend spending the night.  The accommodations are comfortable.  An on-side bed and breakfast, the Menke House, makes succulent meals.

The Round Top Festival Institute truly is the best concert hall in Texas.  And it’s an incredible place for a weekend getaway, too.  In addition to a first-rate performance venue, the grounds and gardens are lovely.  It’s just a great place to visit for any occasion.

Find out more at

Rating: 5 Stars!  Best!

Best Weekend Getaways: Glen Rose, TX

Best Weekend Getaways: Glen Rose, Texas

Best Rated Reviews

Inn On The River

Inn On The River :  Southern Luxury At Its Best

The world is full of amazing places, but some of them are hidden treasures off the beaten path.  The Inn On The River in Glen Rose, TX is one of those treasures.  Nestled in a quaint town square along the banks of the Paluxy river, the Inn On The River is a  hidden gem that sparkles with the uncompromising charm of southern hospitality at its best.

Paluxy River, Inn On The River

The Banks of The Paluxy River, Inn On The River

The  Inn On The River is nestled on the quiet banks of the Paluxy River.  For many years now, travelers and busy professionals have been drawn to the rest and relaxation offered on this beautiful property.  In 1915, George Paul Snyder built a turn-of-the-century health spa called the Snyder Sanitarium, which was in operation until the 1970s.  Today, the Inn On The River carries on the longstanding tradition.

Reception Area Inn On The River

The Inn On The River is truly an oasis of southern luxury at its best.  The reception area is welcoming  The staff is friendly, genuinely hospitable, and attentive.  The décor made us feel as if we were going back in time.  The Inn provides fresh-baked cookies, coffee, and tea for an afternoon welcome.

Accommodations at Inn On The River


Accommodations at Inn On The River

Each room is uniquely decorated with simple Southern charm.  Our favorite part: the featherbeds.  If you have ever slept in a featherbed, you know what we mean.  The featherbeds created a gentle cocoon of luxury that gave us the deepest and most restful night of sleep imaginable.  Just as nothing is worse on vacation than a poor night’s sleep, nothing is better than a great night’s sleep.  You will definitely emerge from the Inn rested and rejuvenated.


Breakfast at Inn On The River

The Inn On The River surprised and delighted us with the high-quality cuisine they provided during our stay.  Although the Inn On The River is off the beaten path, the fare they offer is five-star quality.  Breakfast was palate-pleasing!  We also enjoyed a scrumptious dinner of gourmet salad,  filet mignon,  grilled salmon, and homemade desserts.

Dinner at Inn On The River


Recommendation:  Highly recommended!

Rating: 5-Stars!  Best!

Contact Information:

Inn On The River

205 S.W. Barnard Street
Glen Rose, TX 76043
(254) 897-2929

Nearby Attractions:

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Dinosaur Valley State Park offers a look into our Paleolithic past.  This land was once home to dinosaurs.  We enjoyed seeing their fossilized footprints in the riverbeds.  You can read more about this history of this park here.

Dinosaur Tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park


This park is fun for the whole family.  This park contains hiking trails, a small swimming area along the river, and campgrounds.

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Dinosaur Valley State Park

1629 Park Road 59
Glen Rose, Texas 76043
(254) 897-4588

Open daily 8am-10pm


The Mystery Spot


Great family value!

Tourist trap, step aside! Your comes the mystery spot! If you were looking for fun for the whole family, we highly recommend the mystery spot. Nestled in a towering redwood forest, this is a place you don’t want to miss.

Mystery Spot is a natural and enigmatic wonder nestled in the side of a beautiful redwood forest in California. People come here from all over the world to experience gravity deifying mysteries.

Water flows uphill, balls roll up not down, and even the towering trees grow toward the gravitational pull of the mystery spot.

Did aliens land here? Many Californians think so. But the rest of us think it has to do with gravitational pull in all its wonders. Or was it caused by a meteor?  Who knows. But one thing we know for sure is that the experience is real and really fascinating.

Before we arrived, we Spoke with local Californians who told us they weren’t sure if it was just an optical illusion. But once we saw the trees pointing in the direction of The Mystery Spot, it became more convincing than ever.

In addition to experiencing the mind-defying gravitational pull and standing on walls like you could never do anywhere else, it’s fun to see other people experiencing the mystery spot.

We highly recommend that you make reservations in advance. Sometimes the wait can be several hours if you don’t have them.

Find out more about this “best of the best” attraction at

Best of The Best: Caribbean 2016

By: Mandy Seymour, Managing Editor,  Best Rated Reviews

In today’s world of travel, vacations have often become synonymous with a whirlwind tour that leaves you feeling invigorated and exhausted at the same time like you actually need a vacation from your vacation when you return home.

But we believe the” best of the best” vacation is one in which you have scintillating experiences that achieves a perfect balance between invigoration and relaxation.

Achieving a best of the best Caribbean vacation for a reasonable price can be challenging. But it can be done.

When we envision the Caribbean, we imagine a beautiful idyllic beach setting that’s tranquil, tropical, hardly populated and remote.  However, if you are neither extremely rich or famous, then a remote island is hard to come by.  So what’s the best option for someone looking for luxury on a reasonable budget?

If you are looking to find paradise on earth close to home, we recommend cruising  the Caribbean.  The Caribbean is a lush, tropical paradise surrounded by brilliant turquoise and azure waters.  When you see them, they immediately transport you to a place of indomitable relaxation.

This year, we sought out a trip that gave the “best of the best on a budget”.  We used Vacations To Go ( to plan our cruise.  For as little as $400-$600/pp., you can find a relaxing cruise that visits several ports of call.  Once we decided where we wanted to go, we booked flights through American Airlines. (They had the lowest fare at that time.  However, neither company meet our “best of the best” standard due to repeatedly poor customer service.)

We chose a cruise that disembarked from San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Although many cruises disembark from the continental U.S., if you want to maximize your time on the islands, we recommend taking a flight that gets you closer to the places you desire to visit.


The first night, we flew into San Juan, Puerto Rico.  We arranged a transfer to our hotel through Fine Line Tours (  Fine Line Tours specializes in airport and hotel transfers and related tours.  We were very pleased with their services.  Our driver was hospitable, friendly, and a safe driver.  He picked us up at the San Juan International Airport and took us to our lodging located 45 minutes away at the edge of El Yunque.

We spent the night at Hacienda Siesta Alegre (www.haciendasiestaalegre).  We enjoyed a great stay there and highly recommend it as the “best of the best” lodging in Puerto Rico.   It is a romantic, Spanish-style inn with open verandas and lovely tropical settings.  Nestled in the rainforest, it provides a welcome respite of solitude, tranquility and beauty.  Hacienda Siesta Alegre has a longstanding reputation as a wedding venue. Yet in recent years, they have added accommodations.  Rates are $155 per night and include breakfast.  Our accommodations were clean, welcoming and looked out onto a beautiful view of Puerto Rican tropical paradise.


We booked a 7-night cruise with Celebrity cruise lines.  Celebrity is a sleekly modern cruise line with luxury amenities and attentive, accommodating hospitality.

If you are looking for classy and not stuffy, invigorating yet relaxing cruise, we recommend Celebrity cruises.  We chose to review Celebrity Summit based on its widely-recognized commitment to quality and guest satisfaction.  We found our experience to be consistent with the acclaimed praise for which Celebrity Cruises is known.

What’s their secret?  We believe it is their heart for what they do.  We asked the key staff, “What is the best part of your job?”  The answers they gave all conveyed a sincere love for cruising as a lifestyle, attentive commitment and conscientiousness to detail, and an underlying desire to share their happiness at sea with their guests.

During a “getting to know you” meeting with the staff, a cruise critic blogger asked them to tell us a  story about the “pasenenger from Hell.”  The staff handled it diplomtically, saying, “We have excellent passengers”.  Yet what I found myself is thinking is, “Why do people look for what’s wrong?  There is so much that is right and praiseworthy – especially here – and everywhere in the world, why spend a moment looking for what’s not?  If more people looked for the good, there would be so many more happy people in the world!  We felt the entire time that Celebrity truly values its customers and focuses on the “best of the best”.  The staff handled this moment with great class and we respect them for it.

{That’s why I like writing for Best Rated Reviews – because we are on a mission to find what is good, noble, praiseworthy and true in the world and make it known. Those are qualities that eminate from the travel, leisure and related products that we review.  Those qualities effervesce from that which is the “best of the best”.  The desire in our hearts to find what is good and praisworthy and to enjoy it and celebrate it attracts people, companies, and experiences that have the same values.  It’s the good ol prinicipal of “like attracts like”.)

First impressions are often lasting ones.  We have found Celebrity to be elegant, classy, relaxing, fresh and clean but not stuffy.   It is energized but not rambunctious.  Staffmembers were consistently attentive, courteous, and sincere in their devotion to guest happiness.  Yet again, we believe it’s because they truly enjoy what they do.  It’s not a mere job to them.  It’s a vocation and a lifestyle.

Yet they do not take their high standards and acheivemet for granted.  Celebrity Summit’s entertainment host said, “We feel we are the best ship in the fleet.  But we want to prove that to you.”

We stayed in a suite.  We found the red and gold color scheme to be romantic yet modernly luxurious.  The rooms were impeccably clean and well-maintained by housekeeping.

Room service is also available and included with your stay on the ship.  This is an extra luxury that is somehow even more enjoyable since it is complimentary.  However, tipping for this service is important, so we advise you keep this in mind.

We enjoyed Celebrity dining.  Highlights included Sunday brunch at sea and elegant, scrumptious dinners in the main restaurant.


We visited several ports of call on our 7-night cruise.  However, to keep within our budget, we pre-arranged our own excursions.  While cruise lines offer some great excursions, the magnitude of passengers participating sometimes reduce the experience to impersonal travel and leave very little quality time to truly discover and enjoy the place you’ve come so far to enjoy!

Sometimes participating in excursions through the cruise lines can double the cost of your trip – and be half the fun for the reasons mentioned above – when you are traveling on a budget.  So pre-planning will serve you well, save you money, and give you a better chance at experiencing the adventure you are seeking.


Ports of Call we visited included:

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas


“Best of the Best” Highlights included:

Swimming with the Turtles and Shipwreck  in Barbados, Antigua Island Tour, and St. Thomas Island Tour

Barbados Best Excursion: Swimming with the Turtles

We booked a Swimming with the Turtles (3 hr.) catamaran cruise with Action Charters. ( Action Charters took us out into the azure waters for a relaxing sail and snorkel with sea turtles.  We also snorkeled above a ship wreck.

On our last full day, we disembarked in St. Thomas.  We took a full-day island tour.  We visited one of the island’s most pristine beaches.  It was truly paradise on earth.  The waters were bathwater-warm, as clear as glass, and quite tranquil.  We didn’t want to leave!

Each day contained adventures which made for lasting memories.  Since we were seeking luxury on a budget, we booked our own excursions when we arrived to the island.  We traveled around St. Maarten on a mophead.  We ate delicious French pastries there on the French side.  We visited beautiful beaches on every island.

All in all, a trip to the Caribbean is a vacation of a lifetime.  We highly recommend it as “best of the best.”

TGR Exotics Wildlife Zoo

TGR Exotics Wildlife Zoo – Spring, Texas

If you are looking to experience a Safari in your own backyard and you live in Houston, Texas or surrounding vicinities, we have a recommendation for you. TGR Exotics Wildlife Zoo is a family-owned and operated collection of some of the friendliest exotic animals around. The zoo houses over 100 types of animals.

On the day we went, there were 3 private tours taking place. The up-close and personal interaction with the animals made for an unforgettable experience. We met Chaco the Camel, Buffy the Water Buffalo, an ant eater, fast-moving sloths, and an ancient armadillo as well as a bearcat.

The animals have special scratching posts that look like they tumbled out of the Wild West. We were surprised to learn that these “scratching posts” were actually recycled Christmas trees. Each year, people donate their Christmas trees to the zoo. Chaco the Camel sat on his, using it as a cushion. The goats ate the greenery and then used theirs as back scratchers. And most amusingly, Walter the Warthog jubilantly tossed his Christmas tree 9 feet up in the air and played with it for many days before making it into a personalized scratching post as well.

To our surprise and delight, large pigs came charging toward us – and once we started petting them, they fell over on the ground and went straight to sleep, laying there for several minutes. And when we went to see the sloths, one of them was crawling around his cage as fast as a relaxed monkey. We have never seen such a happy or fast sloth.

They really take care of their animals and care about them. It is very apparent the animals are well-loved. They have very amazing creatures who are very responsive to humans. Everything is clean and well-maintained.

The zoo is spacious and each tour is highly personalized. The animals are well-loved and cared for, yet they are not pets. Rather, they are sold to zoos across the country.

Tours last 1 1/2-2 hours. Strollers are welcome. You must wear closed – toed shoes.

During summer and during the year, the camp has the zoo has a camps, programs for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and all kinds of other activities. However, you must register in advance because this is a privately and facility. 6:30 PM is the best tour time for summers.

We highly recommend TGR Exotics Wildlife Zoo as a “best of the best” family outing for summer and year-round fun. It is an animal adventure you don’t want to miss.


The wildlife park is located 10 miles east of Tomball, TX in Spring, TX.

Guanajuato, Mexico

Life is a journey. The best moments in life are the inspired ones, the moments when beauty and magnificence captivate us.  When we travel, we see the world with new eyes. And when we do so, we enrich our souls with an inspired journey.

The greatest joy of any traveler is to experience new lands, their cultures and their people. And the second greatest joy is to inspire others in their own journey.  A life well lived is, ultimately, an inspired journey.  We are made to be inspired and to inspire.

Life is a journey to be embraced.  When you seek beauty, you will find it.  In fact, anything you seek, you will find.  If you seek happiness, you will find it. If you seek goodness, you will find it.  If you seek love, you will find it.

“One of the keys to happiness is striving to live a radiant life, a life of love, joy, peace and the possible impossible,” says Mandy Seymour, Managing editor of Best Rated Reviews.

What is your inspired journey?

The Mansion at Turtle Creek – Best Rated Weekend

Ahhhhh…..Princess For A Day At The Mansion

The Mansion

Enshrouded in luxury, at The Mansion dreaming is reality.  At Best Rated, a Best Rated Weekend is a weekend that consists of luxurious accommodations, must-see attractions, unforgettable places, and delicious cuisine.  And no matter how much or how little money you spend, you always receive value for your money.

A Best Rated weekend is not just an event; it’s an experience.  It is an experience that lives on long after the weekend has passed.

Occasionally we find an accommodation, an  attraction, a restaurant, or a place that epitomizes the Best Rated weekend standard.  The Mansion At Turtle Creek in Dallas, TX is a hotel which epitomizes Best Rated.

The Mansion On Turtle Creek

The Mansion Welcome

When you stay at The Mansion, you will be greeted by genuinely attentive porters and staff who cater to your travel and leisure needs with impeccable service and extravagant attention to detail.  The accommodations are cheery yet regal, plush yet welcoming, and the food is exquisite.  The Mansion welcome includes a wifi coffee maker and homemade cookies in the lobby upon your afternoon arrival.  Shortly after you settle into your room, an attendant brings gourmet iced tea and a homemade pastry from the pastry chef.


Luxury bedding and customized soaps and bath salts from Ms. Hunt’s self-created brand, Lady Primrose, add grandeur in little things to this majestic accommodation.  Rooms contain a small balcony that overlooks the Turtle Creek area of Dallas.  The Mansion is located in a quiet, peaceful setting, which makes for great rest and relaxation in the midst of a bustling city.

Accommodations at The Mansion

The Pool

The outdoor pool is reminiscent of an intimate courtyard with a lion fountain spilling into a Jacuzzi adjacent to a relaxing pool in a quaint setting.  The Mansion’s premiere restaurant, The Mansion Restaurant, is a truly memorable occasion on its own.  The restaurant contains both patio and indoor seating.  We recommend dining in the enclosed, air-conditioned veranda which contains great windows to enjoy a view of the patio without perspiring during the hottest times of year.  The historic bar hosts first-rate entertainment in an intimate setting.

Pool at The Mansion

Restaurant and Bar

We enjoyed our stay at The Mansion so much that it felt like being a prince and princess for a day.  And when it was time to leave, I felt like Cinderella when the clock strikes twelve.  The Mansion truly reflects the heart and mind of the very special woman made it what it is: Caroline Rose Hunt.  Caroline Rose Hunt bought the property several years ago at a time when it was futureless.  With her good taste and desire to renovate the Mansion into a premiere accommodation in Dallas, she invested millions of dollars to renovate it.  Thanks to Ms. Hunt, The Mansion is the place to stay in Dallas.

Restaurant At The Mansion

Contact Information:

The Mansion on Turtle Creek

2821 Turtle Creek Blvd., Dallas, TX 75219

T 214.559.2100

The Lasker Inn

The Lasker Inn

If you are looking for one of Galveston’s best-kept secrets, you will be delighted to know about the Lasker Inn.  The Lasker Inn is an elegant mansion from the 1800s which has been lavishly restored.  Each room is beautifully decorated.  The inn serves a delicious breakfast.  And it is the perfect place to retreat and rejuvenate after a day of enjoying Galveston.  Best of all, we enjoyed the warm hospitality given by the inn’s owners and staff.  Inn Director Richard Conner gave us a warm welcome and saw to it we had every amenity we could possibly enjoy.

The Lasker inn survived the 1900 Hurricane. In the wake of the storm’s devastation, it became a Home for Homeless Children until 1990. In recent years, Linda and Richard Denson purchased Lasker and renovated it into Galveston’s most elegant bed and breakfast inn and Galveston’s most romantic venue for weddings.

We enjoyed our stay here tremendously.  We can understand why the Lasker Inn is the primary choice in Galveston for some of life’s most special moments.  It truly is the “best of the best”.  To learn more, visit

Best Rated Galveston Weekend Getaway

Pleasure Pier Galvestion TX

Galveston Weekend Getaway

If you are looking for a great getaway near Houston, Galveston is your
answer. Best known for fun in the sun, Galveston beaches, fishing and
other water activities abound. Yet Galveston is gaining a much-sought-after reputation in tourism for some lesser-known attractions which make it a great weekend getaway, rain or shine.

La Kings Confectionary

What To Do

Many of Galveston’s most popular attractions are located on The Strand and The Seawall.  The Strand offers fine dining, shopping and tours. La King’s Confectionary is Galveston’s historic candy and ice cream shop.  Pier 21 tells the story of the 1900 Hurricane in the wake of Galveston’s glory days.  Harbor Tours offer an educational glimpse into Galveston’s historic harbor and marine life. Find out more here:

The Seawall is a great place to enjoy Galveston’s sun and sand. Galveston beaches are easily accessible along the seawall.  In addition to the beach, Pleasure Pier ( offers fun for the whole family.  Thrill seekers will be drawn to its array of exciting rides, including the Cyclone roller coaster.   If you are looking for souvenirs, Murdochs Bath House has a little bit of everything Galveston kitch. (

The most economical way to enjoy many of Galveston’s  attractions is by purchasing a Galveston Island Pass. The Galveston Island Pass offers discounts on pre-paid attractions.  Find out more here:

The Lasker Inn Galveston, TX

Where To Stay: The Lasker Inn

To enjoy Galveston’s most elegant accommodations, we recommend the
Lasker inn ( This six room mansion dates back to 1870. Surrounded by
classic elegance, you enjoy luxurious accommodations With historic
flare. Lasker inn survived the 1900 Hurricane. In the wake of the
storm’s devastation, it became a Home for Homeless Children until
1990. In recent years, Linda and Richard Denson purchased Lasker and
renovated it into Galveston’s most elegant bed and breakfast inn and Galveston’s most romantic venue for weddings.

Our stay there was delightful. We can certainly understand why Lasker
Inn is rated #1 on Trip Advisor. Inn Director Richard Conner truly
made our stay the “best of the best”. The staff takes great joy in giving
you the most memorable experience, including a delectable breakfast and relaxing respite from Galveston’s sun.

Galveston is also a great getaway for nature lovers. Birding
enthusiasts flock to Galveston during April for Featherfest,
Galveston’s annual birding festival. (
Galveston is well-known for great birding. The Sea Turtle Hatchery
gives weekly tours and they regularly release turtles into the wild.
Find out more about the Galveston Nature Tourism Council  here:

Galveston makes a great weekend getaway, especially for Houstonians.
It is just 1 hour outside of Houston.  To find out more about all Galveston has to offer, visit