American Forests, the oldest conservation organization in the United States, is committed to creating healthy forests from coast to coast. And we plan on digging right in to assist the effort and are pleased to announce that through our agreement with the organization, and more specifically, their American ReLeaf program, we are committed to planting 100,000 trees in areas including the Sierra Mountains, the Northern Rockies, Laguna Atascosa and Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuges, and the Great Lakes region as well as the Southeast. These areas have been identified as those in need of reforesting.
With our business rooted in outdoor recreation and the fact that we pride ourselves on our locations that are near beautiful forests and woodlands, this partnership makes perfect sense.
Forests are not only a great way to help with our climate issues, they also provide habitats for so many species. In the Southeast, the reforesting focus on longleaf and slash pines will help restore habitats for gophers, red-cockaded woodpeckers, tortoises, and indigo snakes. In the Northern Rockies, Grizzly bears, red squirrels and golden-mantled ground squirrels will benefit from the reforesting efforts in this area as the Kirtland warbler did and will continue to do thanks to reforesting efforts in the Great Lakes region. These tiny songbirds have been delisted from the Endangered Species Act thanks to the continued reforesting of the jack pine.
As we roll up our collective sleeves and get to work on this busy, and important, task of committing to plant 100,000 trees, we will provide updates as we grow about our way!
Mother’s Day has been traditionally celebrated in the United States on the second Sunday of May since 1914 but the tradition to honor Mothers dates to Ancient Greece. Here are a few things to think about when considering what to gift Mom with this year – Mother’s Day is the busiest day for restaurants; it’s the third highest selling holiday for plants and flowers; and more phone calls are made on this day than any other in the year. So, if you want your celebration to be like everyone else, by all means buy the flowers, book the restaurant, and give Mom a call. But, if you think your honoree is extra special and want the celebration to be unique, just like her, check out these options. And remember, whether you celebrate on May 9, or choose another day – these are all still good ideas!
Take in a Farmer’s Market: Plan a stay in an oh, so tranquil yurt at Tall Chiefand head into Seattle to explore the iconic, and always entertaining, Pike Place Market. If you’re there during Mother’s Day Weekend, check out the Market’s 13th Annual Flower Festival that runs May 8-9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Whether you book a cabin at Pennsylvania’s Appalachian or Spring Gulch, you’re about an hour’s drive from Philadelphia’s Headhouse Farmer’s Market which is open on Sundays and features 50 rotating vendors. Taking in Santa Barbara for a Mother’s Day holiday? Book your stay at Rancho Oso and then consider a Sunday drive down the sunny California coast to Santa Monica to explore the city’s Downtown Farmer’s Market that runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Walk Through a Garden: Reserve a charming tiny house at Oregon’s Mt. Hood Tiny House Village and then spend the day in nearby Portland taking in the views at the city’s Japanese Garden. Spread over 5.5 acres, the garden is serene and tranquil with several different gardens including the Tea Garden and the Natural Garden. For information and reservations for timed visits, go to japanesegarden.org. The Wild Gardens of Acadia can be found in Maine’s Acadia National Park and feature over 400 species of flowers, shrubs, trees and other plants native to the area. For more details visit acadiamagic.com. For the perfect accommodation when visiting Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, book a colorful cottage at Narrows Too in nearby Trenton.
GetActive (sort of): Try an e-bike (pedal-assisted) and enjoy the scenery of Leavenworth, Washington. The Leavenworth Mountain Tour explores downtown Leavenworth as well as Icicle Creek Canyon and the historic Leavenworth Ski Hill. Visit bavarianebiketours.com for more details. Book one of the five tiny houses at Leavenworth Tiny House Village for your stay. Or try something a bit out of the ordinary, but very trendy, and take a goat yoga class. Check out Legacy Lane Farm in Stratham, New Hampshire, which offers goat yoga classes every Sunday, and also has a Country Home Store onsite that sells handmade lotions and soaps made from goat’s milk. To continue your Namaste kind of day, book a tiny house accommodation at Tuxbury Tiny House Village and relax after a day at the farm.
Whoever came up with the calendar that recognizes national days of celebration in May must be an oenophile – or what regular folks call a wine lover. May has two days dedicated to vino – National Moscato Day on May 9 and National Wine Day on May 25. So, let’s raise our glasses of whichever fermented grape is your favorite and toast to America’s Wine Trails.
Arizona’s Verde Valley Wine Trail (vvwinetrail.com) has at least 10 wineries (check the website for a downloadable map) set among the beautiful countryside that includes locations in Jerome, Cottonwood, and Sedona. Book a tiny home at Verde Valleyand you’ll find yourself in perfect proximity to explore Alcantara Vineyards, which is less than a 5-minute drive or a nice 1.4-mile hike from the resort. One unique way to see the vineyards is to do the Water to Wine Kayak Trip – check out sedonaadventuretours.com. Another option if you don’t want to go solo is to check out the tours offered through Sedona Vineyard tours (sedonavineyardtours.com).
If you’ve already done California’s northern wine country (Napa, Sonoma, etc.) consider the wineries of Paso Robles for a different perspective. Start your adventure with a glamping reservation at Marina Dunes and then take the day to head to Paso Robles to explore their grape offerings. For details, visit pasorobleswineries.net. There are plenty of options for tours, including group, private and even one where a non-drinking guide drives your car! And, if you want to taste something different than wine, consider an olive oil tasting at Pasolivo (pasolivo.com).
Did you know that Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley is home to two-thirds of all of Oregon’s wineries and vineyards? Start your trip off right by requesting a downloadable brochure from willamettewines.com and booking a tiny house at Mt. Hood’s Tiny House Village so at day’s end you have the best place to enjoy some of the wines you purchase along the way. All kinds of tours are available for Oregon Oenophiles, so check out agreatoregonwinetour.com for some options. Fun Fact: because of Oregon’s cooler climate, the state’s signature grape is the Pinot Noir, which is considered one of the oldest grapes in the world.
While not specifically devoted to wine alone, the Beverage Trails near Lake George, New York, do offer wine tasting along with spirits, cider, and beer. Book a rental cabin or cottage at Lake George Escapeand try a different libation every day! In addition to the Winery Production Facility, The Adirondack Winery has two additional tasting locations in the area as well. Check out visitlakegeorge.com/things-to-do/beverage-trails.
If you book a cozy cabin at Neshonoc Lakesideyou can explore parts, or all, of Wisconsin’s Great River Road Wine Trail which stretches from northern Iowa to southern Minnesota. In addition to the great wineries, your drive will serve as an attraction as well. The river part of the Great River Road refers to the Mighty Mississippi so the route includes valleys, bluffs, and views of the river, all among a perfect country setting. Visit greatriverroadwinetrail.org for more information.
Nashville, Tennessee, is known as Music City U.S.A. As home to the historic Ryman Auditorium, the iconic Grand Ole Opry and a stretch of honky tonks offering plenty of country music, the moniker is a no-brainer. And while many people visit Nashville to hear the music, visit these iconic places and learn about country music’s history with a visit to the city’s County Music Hall of Fame and Museum, we’ve found a few more reasons to visit this southern town that’s always humming with something to do.
Where the Wild Things Are: Nashville is home to all kinds of wild animals – but don’t be afraid of the ones we’re talking about. Polar Bear fan? Head over to the Edgehill neighborhood of Nashville to see two very large polar bears engaged in a snowball fight. At the corner of Edgehill Avenue and 12th Avenue South, the two polar bears, originally created as an advertisement for a frozen custard shop, each hold an armful of “snowballs” and appear ready for battle. More wild animals can be found in the Bellevue neighborhood and the menagerie here includes several dinosaurs, a lion, a tiger, and a bear. While the property on which the animals “reside” is private, the very large figures can be seen from a drive down Poplar Creek Road.
Civil Rights History: A portion of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail can be found in Nashville and it includes the Woolworth on 5th location (now closed) which was the site of a 1960s lunch counter sit-in. The city’s public library houses the Civil Rights Room (open to the public when the library is open) which details the history of the movement through exhibits and displays. Check out civilrightstrail.com for more Nashville sites on this trail.
Explore the Greenways: Nashville has roughly 100 miles of greenways that are great for walking, biking and taking in the scenery. There are short stretches and long stretches, parts that run along rivers and streams and parts that feature native flora, fauna and historic areas. For a downloadable map, visit greenwaysfornashville.org.
Foodie Adventures: Certainly, you can take one of the many organized food tours – check out nashvillefoodtours.com to see what’s cooking, or you can go solo and see what we have on the menu: Try a fried bologna sandwich at Robert’s Western World on Broadway; experience what Southerners call “meat and three” at Monell’s, a Nashville staple for great food; or enjoy the fried chicken and biscuits at the Loveless Café, which has been serving up this southern favorite for over 65 years. For desserts, consider a Unicorn Milkshake from the Legendairy Milkshake Bar or throw back to the 1950s and enjoy a dipped cone from Bobbie’s Dairy Dip, which has been serving ice cream and shakes (as well as burgers) in the same location since 1951.
Where the Wild Things Are: Part 2: Nashville isn’t even in the Top 10 of U.S. cities when it comes to population (it ranks 23rd) and yet, they do fall into the Top 10 when it come to largest zoos in the country (based on landmass)! Go figure! What the Nashville Zoo offers over its 188 acres, of which only 90 have been developed, is nearly 3,000 animals representing more than 350 different species. The unique Kangaroo Kickabout gives visitors the opportunity to interact with red kangaroos – yep, walk around in their habitat – with them! Another unique feature about this zoo is the historic Grassmere Home. Built in 1810, the home is the centerpiece of the Zoo and is open for guided tours. New at the Zoo this year is the Tiger Crossroads exhibit; Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear exhibit and several baby kangaroos and two caracals recently born. Visit nashvillezoo.org for hours of operation and ticket information.
While checking out music city, plan to stay in an adorably themed cozy cabin at Natchez Trace. Or, be one of the first to stay at the Natchez Trace Tiny House Village, coming soon!
Celebrating Earth Day can be as simple as loving every little bit of what makes up our great planet. The 71% of it that is made up of water – which includes lakes, rivers, streams and of course, the oceans; or the 21% that is made up of sand; or the 31% covered by forests. And, of course, the best way to love something is to spend time with it. This April 22, get outside and enjoy what this magical planet has offer. Swim in the ocean or kayak a lake, climb a mountain, stick your toes in the sand, or trek through a forest. And, whichever you choose, remember the mantra to leave it the way you found it, if not better!
Forest Focus: Book a tiny house stay at New Hampshire’s Tuxbury Tiny House Village and you’re about 90 miles from White Mountain National Forest, which offers all kinds of outdoor activities from hiking and climbing to fishing and rockhounding. Another great tiny house and another great forest can be found in Leavenworth, Washington. Book a stay at Leavenworth Tiny House Village and explore the four million acres of forestland in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest where you can mountain bike, horseback ride, and find plenty of hiking trails.
Water, Water Everywhere: Explore some of the waters that make up 71% of the Earth – start with the Pacific Ocean and plan a stay in one of the cabins at Santa Barbara’s Rancho Oso. Plenty of oceanfront beaches to choose from here. Looking for a brush with fame? Try Butterfly Beach and keep your eyes peeled for the occasional celebrity. Want to watch a great sunset? Try Hendry’s Beach where your four-legged friends are welcome to take in the show, too! Head to the Florida Keys and you’ll be surrounded by water. Snorkel, scuba dive, parasail, or fish these warm Florida waters. A tiny house accommodation at Sunshine Key Tiny House Village or a colorful cottage at Fiesta Key make the perfect Keys home base.
Mountains of Fun: While most people are familiar with Yosemite’s Half Dome and El Capitan, this magnificent national park is actually home to 20 mountains that exceed 10,000 feet in elevation – the adventurous can choose to climb while the aesthetics of these snow-capped beauties will please just about anyone! Make a reservation for a totally groovy yurt at Yosemite Lakes and then spend Earth Day amid the mountains of Yosemite. How about spending the day around mountains that have magic powers? Head to Sedona to experience the healing powers of the magnificent Red Rocks, specifically Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock. Book a tiny house at Verde Valley and soak up that magic.
And that sand we mentioned – rent a cabin or a cottage at Oregon’s Pacific City and you’re so close to Cannon Beach and the iconic Haystack Rock; you can spend Earth Day surrounded by soft sand and the sounds of the ocean. Check out the coastal dunes at the Marina Dunes Preserve and stay at in an ultra-cool Glamping Tent at Marina Dunes RV Park.
With April having two dates that recognize the importance of taking care of our Earth (Earth Day and Arbor Day), it makes sense to plan a trip to visit a Green City this month (or in the future).
According to treehugger.com, there are several things to take into consideration in determining how “green” a city is. Those include efficient public transportation, quality public space, plentiful parks, and the availability of bike lanes as well as composting and recycling programs. One other interesting item is whether a city offers “good green fun,” which means farmer’s markets, plenty of organic fare served up in the local eating and drinking establishments and music festivals and outdoor events that feature solar-powered stages and valet parking for bicycles. There are several more “green definers” and combined that’s a lot for a city to tackle, yet slowly but surely, more and more of our urban areas around the country are hitting the mark when it comes to being green. Additionally, there are many different groups providing different rankings for these cities, but some consistently make the grade across the board.
San Diego, California: San Diego’s nickname is “America’s Finest City”, but it can also boast being one of America’s greenest cities. San Diego is home to Balboa Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. Other green things about this southern California city include dozens of weekly farmer’s markets, a major “Farm to Fork” movement in the dining industry, a variety of public transportation including trolleys, shuttles, and pedi-cabs, and plenty of opportunities for green fun including kayaking, mountain biking, and surfing.
Portland, Oregon: With over 90,000 acres of green space and a top-notch biking/walking trail system, Portland is definitely eco-friendly. In fact, they have the highest rate of workers biking to the office than any other U.S. city. They were also one of the first cities to ban the use of plastic bags. For green space, visitors and residents alike need to look no further than the city’s Forest Park, a 5200-acre urban forest, featuring hiking and biking trails, waterfalls, and plenty of greenery!
Madison, Wisconsin: Did you know that the man behind Earth Day was from Wisconsin? Gaylord Nelson, who served as both governor and senator of the state was not only a politician, but also an avid environmentalist, calling upon the citizens of America to bring awareness to problems with the environment. So naturally, it makes sense that Madison would be a green city – it’s in the genes! Madison consistently ranks as a green city thanks to its abundance of green space – from plenty of city parks to acres of lakes and miles of biking and hiking trails. Madison is home to more bikes than cars and the city is very walkable. The city has more farmer’s markets than you can shake a cucumber at, and in fact, Saturday on the Square, an event that features more than 250 vendors, is a popular destination for visitors and Mad-Town residents like.
Book a cabin stay at Yukon Trails for a Madison Green Getaway.
Orlando, Florida: While green space is not as abundant as in some of the other green cities, Orlando makes the green grade thanks to its continued efforts and eye to the future when it comes to being, and staying, green. With goals like a 40% city-wide tree canopy coverage by 2040, the One Person One Tree initiative to help expand the urban forest, and a host of programs to protect the ecosystems found here, Orlando is definitely putting a green foot forward. And to clarify, they have plenty of green space to the tune of more than 100 parks, plus plenty of lakes and wetlands.
Book a colorful cottage stay at Tropical Palms for an Orlando Green Getaway.
The climate alone is reason enough to plan a getaway to San Diego. There’s plenty of sunshine and 80-degree days to be found here. There’s also the draw of the ocean and the miles of beaches as well as the history, the theme parks, a world-class zoo, and much more. We came up with five ways to experience this sunny southern California favorite:
Act Like a Local: Some say the best way to get to know a city is to do what the locals do. So, we checked in with a San Diegan and here’s what they suggest: Start the day with a walk/hike along Sunset Cliffs. Next, head over to Wonderland for mimosas and brunch and some great ocean views. After that, check out the pier at Ocean Beach, which is one of the longest piers on the West coast and has great sea lion sightings. Spend the afternoon strolling Newport Avenue with its cool shops – including surf shops and antiques. Enjoy an afternoon nosh at South Beach for local beers and great fish tacos. End the day with dinner at the OB Noodle House for great Asian fare.
Act Like a Kid: What’s more fun than a bunch of Legos (unless, of course, they’re on the floor and you’re barefoot)? Head to Carlsbad and visit LEGOLAND California which is a theme park, a water park, and an aquarium all rolled into one guaranteed fun time. The aquarium portion of LEGOLAND has 350 different species featuring over 6000 sea creatures. The water park has all kinds of wet fun from wave pools to waterslides. And, of course, the theme park has thrill rides, shows, and a Lego retail store. As for Legos, all attractions include a Lego miniland made from millions of genuine Legos. Watch where you step!
Act Like an Athlete: With 70 miles of coastline, water sports are the thing to do in San Diego. Wakeboarding, kitesurfing, kayaking, surfing, and bodysurfing are just a few of the water challenges to be attempted when visiting San Diego. The San Diego Surf School (sandiegosurfingschool.com) offers private, semi-private, and group lessons as well as surf camps and surf retreats for adults. If you’re gonna attempt hanging ten, consider that San Diego has some of the warmest waters and several of the best surfing breaks on the California coast.
Act Like a Foodie: A few years back, Thrillist.com said San Diego was a hotspot for fresh-sourced ingredients and world-class street food and a few years later, San Diego remains a foodie favorite. A good place to start to explore the food scene here is through one of the several food tours offered. Bite San Diego (bitesandiego.com) offers six different neighborhood tours that serve up a side of each neighborhood’s history, as well! Or try the Tequila, Tacos and Tombstones Tour offered through viator.com that takes you through a food and walking tour of the city’s historic Old Town.
Act Like a Glamper: We’ve got two great locations where you can get your glamping fix in while exploring all that San Diego has to offer. Pio Pico in nearby Jamul has great cottage and cabin options for your consideration. The resort has bike trails, pickleball courts, nature and hiking trails, a pool, hot tub, and a game room. Each rental cottage sleeps six, has heat and A/C, full-sized refrigerators, electric coffeemakers and microwaves and full-sized bathrooms/showers. Cabins at Pio Pico sleep 4-6, have full-sized bathrooms/showers and kitchens with microwaves and refrigerators. Oakzanita Springs is another option for glamping during a San Diego getaway. Each of the two cottage rentals sleeps 6 while the two cabin rentals sleep 4. All have full-size bathrooms/showers and a variety of kitchen amenities. The resort has bike trails, nature and hiking trails, a swimming pool, hot tub, and bocci and horseshoes.
Palm Springs is a great destination no matter the time of year. Indoor and outdoor attractions abound and the area enjoys a dry, desert climate. There’s history, nature, arts and culture, shopping, plenty to eat and drink and, of course, an abundance of sunshine. We decided to take an elemental approach to our visit. In keeping with the 5 Elements of Nature – earth, water, fire, air, and space, let’s see what Palms Springs has to offer (and please forgive our artistic license!):
Earth: The desert is the earth to explore here. Head to Joshua Tree National Park for a spiritual reset and explore the Mojave Desert. Make sure to see Giant Rock – a freestanding boulder (possibly the largest in the world) that is considered sacred by Native Americans. Hike some of the trails in the Coachella Valley Preserve – the McCallum Trail is an easy 1.8 mile option as is the Indian Palms Trail at 1.2 miles; the Hidden Palms Loop, with its beautiful wildflowers is a bit longer at 1.9 miles while the Pushawalla Palms Loop tracs at 4.4 miles.
Water: This one’s easy thanks to the several waterfalls found in and near Palm Springs. There’s the Tahquitz Falls, a 60-foot waterfall that can be viewed via a short hike; Seven Sisters Waterfall, another hike-worthy option; and West Fork Falls, which can be seen from December through March in Palm Canyon.
Air: Several options here. There’s the Palm Springs Air Museum, which is considered one of the top aviation museums in the world, and its display of combat aircraft ranging from World War II to the Vietnam era. Or, take to the air in the Palm Springs Aerial Tram that provides breathtaking views of Chino Canyon.
Fire: There are several ways to interpret this one when visiting Palm Springs, so indulge us, please. It can be the heat from the sunshine – of which Palm Springs experiences approximately 350 days of sun or it can be the heat found in the range of spicy foods including Thai, Peruvian, Indian as well as the spicy Bloody Mary offered at Cheeky’s.
Space: spacetourism.com lists 10 places in the Palm Springs area that are perfect for night sky viewing. Joshua Tree National park is one spot and others include the Coachella Valley Preserve and Mt. San Jacinto. Visit spacetourismguide.com/stargazing-palm-springs for more information.
While exploring this vibrant town, book a colorful cottage at our Palm Springs location to call your home base.
One good thing to come out of the crazy year of 2020 was the return of the road trip. Adulting means putting away our childish things and for many of us, that meant saying goodbye to the road trips of summer vacations long past. Too busy, not enough vacation time, and the list goes on. But with social bubbles and social distancing, the road trip has become the best way to get away, whether for a short jaunt or a long expedition. Take the ultimate road trip to the next level when it comes to “beyond” and considering renting an RV.
We’ve partnered with Outdoorsy.com, considered one of the most trusted RV rental marketplaces in the country, to highlight some of the coolest rentals around when it comes to RVs.
Camper Van! Anyone watch Nomadland? Camper vans played a major role in the movie where life on the road was the way to be. Consider the rental from PHX VAN LIFE and road trip from the pick-up point in Gilbert, Arizona, down to Sedona. Book a stay at Verde Valley RV Resort in Cottonwood and along the way enjoy Montezuma’s Castle National Monument, the splish-splash fun of Slide Rock State Park and of course, the beauty and tranquility of Sedona and the Red Rocks.
Check out Bambi, a towable camper with sleeping space, a kitchen, sink, and fridge! Hook up with Bambi in Austin, Texas, and enjoy a 239-mile road trip to our Bay Landing RV Resort. From Austin to Bridgeport, the road trip itinerary can include a stop along the way in Waco to see Magnolia Market, the Dr. Pepper Museum, and take a hike on the Cotton Belt Trail, an 11-mile paved route, accessible for all levels of hikers.
A VW Vanagon sounds like a great option for being a road trip vagabond while exploring Florida. This iconic wagon sleeps two and can be picked up in Gulfport located on, of course, the Gulf Coast. From there, why not drive leisurely down south to take the mother of all road trips tackling the Overseas Highways and the fabulous Florida Keys. Plan to stay at one of our great Keys locations, Sunshine Key or Fiesta Key and explore the Keys with its water sports, nature preserves and plenty of fun found in Key West.
How about a California Coast trip? Pick up the well-equipped Fleetwood Tioga Arrow just outside LA. Take a day or so and stay at the Palm Springs RV Resort to check out Palm Springs – think Joshua Tree and great desert hikes – and then hit the coast and head to Santa Barbara and plan a stay at Rancho Oso RV Resort. SB fun includes breathtaking sunsets, plenty of beach time, and all the SB attractions including architectural tours, winery visits, shopping, and great waterfront restaurants.
Heading to the Midwest? Get hip and rent this retro-style 2015 Shasta. Meet up with your new digs in Indianapolis and then settle in for an extended Midwestern road trip. Stops could include Indiana’s Amish Village of Shipshewana (and a stay at Twin Mills RV Resort), Michigan’s Harbor Country (and a stay at Bear Cave RV Resort in Buchanan), and a beautiful drive around Lake Michigan into Wisconsin. Make reservations at our Wisconsin RV resorts, including locations in the Wisconsin Dells, outside the capital city of Madison and in beautiful Door County. Wisconsin highlights could include Dells attractions like the Ishnala Supper Club, a magical dining establishment nestled among the pines with great views, or water tours of Lake Delton aboard the iconic Ducks; charming Door County with its kayaking, biking and hiking opportunities; and Madison and its fabulous Saturday Farmers Market, Olbrich Botanical Gardens and a trip to nearby Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s 800-acre estate that includes his home and studio.
Doesn’t it seem like the iconic Airstream and road trips go hand in hand? Consider renting the one that’s available in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and then exploring PA Dutch Country and staying at any of our locations sprinkled throughout the area. Amish culture, craft breweries and distilleries, rolling fields and serene landscapes, farmer’s markets, and more are part of this PA adventure. Or, trek into Philadelphia for some history lessons and a Philly Cheesesteak!
March is the month to celebrate the role of women in American history and their contributions. All around the country, there are heritage sites including monuments, homesteads, works of art, and more that represent these women and their efforts in all areas from nursing and politics to civil rights, women’s rights and in the arts. We’ve listed just a few here and whether you visit now or later, it’s never too late to honor the efforts of these women.
The Gettysburg Civil War Women’s Memorial: This seven-foot bronze sculpture of Elizabeth Thorn is located in Gettysburg’s Evergreen Cemetery. Thorn was six months pregnant at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg. Prior to the war, her husband was the caretaker of the cemetery but when he enlisted in the Union Army, the caretaking tasks fell to Elizabeth and her father. After the battle, the heavily pregnant Thorn buried 91 soldiers and 14 civilians killed in the siege. The memorial is a tribute to all women who served, and suffered, due to the war.
Stay with us in a cabin at Drummer Boy to explore Gettysburg and see the memorial.
Buildings by Julia Morgan: San Francisco native, Julia Morgan was the first woman to graduate UC Berkeley’s Civil Engineering program in 1894 and went on to become the first licensed woman architect in California. During her career, she designed more than 700 buildings throughout California, most notably Hearst Castle in San Simeon. For a listing of sites and locations of Morgan’s works, visit sf.curbed.com/maps/julia-morgan-buildings-best-sf.
Stay with us in a glamping tent at Marina Dunes and enjoy a ride up the California coast to see Morgan’s works in the San Francisco area or down the coast to tour Hearst’s Castle.
National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum: According to their website, the museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring the women of the West. Located in Fort Worth, Texas, the museum has archival footage as well as artifacts from these trailblazing women. Hall of Fame inductees include Sacagawea, Annie Oakley, Dale Evans, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. For information, visit cowgirl.net.
Stay with us in a cabin at Bay Landing in nearby Bridgeport while you explore the Cowgirl Museum.
Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island, Maine: Why is a national park on the list of women’s history heritage sites? Because Beatrix Farrand, a noted landscape gardener, designed the carriage roads in this beautiful national treasure. Also, Farrand created the rock-walled reflections rooms at the garden at the College of the Atlantic in nearby Bar Harbor in 1928. Born in New York in 1872, Farrand preferred to be called a landscape architect. She also designed First Lady Gardens at the White House during the Wilson Administration.
Heading to Texas? The Dallas-Fort Worth area to be more specific? If a trip to the Lone Star State is in your future, we’ve found some great places in and around Dallas you might find of interest. We’ve got four great locations in the area, so we’ve found something fun near each and added the bonus of a Fort Worth highlight, to boot!
Lake Whitney: Located in West Texas Hill Country, Lake Whitney is a great place to stay while you get the chance to “be a Pepper, too!” For those of you who don’t drink soda pop or are a bit younger than the catchy Dr. Pepper commercials from a few decades ago, you can get in the know with a visit to the Dr. Pepper Museum, located in nearby Waco. Not only do you get a free soda with paid admission, but you can also make your own pop. As our country’s oldest soft drink (it was invented in 1885, one year before Coca-Cola!), there’s lot of history to learn here. After the museum, be sure to check out Magnolia Market at the Silos, from Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame.
Lake Texoma: The lake is known for its excellent striper fishing so if you’re angling for bass, this is the place. If you’re angling for a great place to glamp that’s close to all the fishing, then Lake Texoma will lure you right in! Rental cabins are available on this 300-acre resort in Gordonsville that is close to the lake. Enjoy the fishing or just enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor at the multitude of good seafood restaurants in the area.
Lake Tawakoni: Like Lake Texoma, Lake Tawakoni is another great place for fishing, but it is also a fantastic area for antique and treasure hunting. Whether you’re looking for something specific or just browsing, don’t miss First Monday Trade Days, in Canton, which is about 30 miles from camp. This extraordinary flea market dates to the 1850s when the circuit judge arrived in town on the first Monday of every month to hear cases. People came to watch the proceedings and naturally brought goods to sell and trade. Nowadays, visitors can find everything from antiques and collectibles to crafts, jewelry, home goods, and decor.
Bay Landing: Located in the town of Bridgeport, Bay Landing works as a great home base while you explore the great Texas outdoors in the area. Canoeing, paddling, hiking and even archery are just a few of the ways you can spend your days outdoors when visiting Texas. Bridgeport Falls offers a 5.8 looped paddling trail in the West Fork of the Trinity River while the Chupacabra Paddling Trail is another option complete with glimpses of local wildlife. Cinnamon Creek Ranch, in Roanoke, has indoor and outdoor archery as well as a field challenge course. Chisholm Trail Memorial Park, which is located on the site of the old cattle drive route, has a paved hiking trail that runs a little over nine miles and you can choose to do all or a part of this picturesque trail.
Dallas/Ft. Worth: There are plenty of things to draw you to the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth including the art museums, botanical gardens, and various historic sites but to get to know Texas, you should get to know the industry that it is most associated with: livestock. Head over to the Fort Worth Stockyards and learn the history, see real cowboys and cattle, catch an Old West “gunfight,” shop, eat and just enjoy this Texas-sized historic district of Fort Worth.
With the events of this past summer, now more than ever may be not only the time to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of Black Americans throughout our history, but perhaps to also honor their history by taking the time to learn more about the experiences of Black Americans. The month of February has officially been recognized as Black History Month since President Gerald Ford declared it so in 1976. Visit museums and heritage sites, support Black-owned businesses, and read a few books to learn more. And, with some of these locations temporarily closed or operating on shortened hours due to the pandemic, keep in mind our list is not a to-do list for February, but instead a to-do list for all time.
Museums and Heritage Sights
The Northwest African American Museum, Seattle, Washington: If you’re planning a trip to Leavenworth Tiny House Village, a good field trip to consider would be a trip to the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle (about a two-hour drive). The mission of the museum includes presenting and preserving the connections between the Pacific Northwest and people of African descent and is accomplished though exhibits and educational programs. Currently closed due to COVID-19, check out their virtual exhibits at www.naanmw.org. If you plan to visit once the museum reopens, don’t miss the nearby Jimi Hendrix Park, named for the one of the greatest and most innovative African-American guitarists of all time.
California African American Museum (CAAM), Los Angeles, California: Highlighting the important role African Americans have played in the development of the American West through over 4000 pieces that include art, historic objects and printed materials, the Museum was one of the first African American museums fully supported by any US state. CAAM also offers lectures and workshops. (The museum is a little over 100 miles from our colorful cottages in Palm Springs.)
Abyssinian Meeting House, Portland, Maine: Located about 72 miles from the Tuxbury Tiny House Village, the Abyssinian Meeting House is Maine’s oldest African-American church building and the third oldest in the country. Construction began in 1828 and was completed in 1831 and all construction was done by free African Americans. The Abyssinian Meeting House served not only as a house of worship, but also as the center of social and political life for Portland’s African American community. The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Milton House, Milton, Wisconsin: Milton House served as a stop on the Underground Railroad in part due to its location to the Rock River, a tributary to the Mississippi, which may have served as a route to Canada for escaping slaves. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1998 and visitors can take a guided tour of the building, the nearby cabin and the original tunnel used by the freedom seekers. Milton is about 84 miles from the cabins at Arrowhead.
National Civil Rights Museum: The museum, located in Memphis, Tennessee, explores the history of the Civil Rights Movement and houses more than 260 artifacts. Through these artifacts, films, and other multi-media exhibits, visitors can trace the history of the movement beginning with the 17th century. The museum is built around the Lorraine Motel, which was the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memphis is approximately 68 miles from Cherokee Landing.
Books to Read
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson: The stories of the Great Migration of Black citizens fleeing the South for northern and western American cities.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: A New York Times bestseller, this book is written as a letter to the author’s son to explain what it is to be Black in America.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: This historical fiction story details the story of the fight for freedom by two Southern slaves.
So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo: An examination of race in America with each chapter addressing an issue about race in our contemporary society.
Black-Owned Outdoor Gear Shop:
Lastly, if you’re looking for some camping and outdoor gear, check out slimpickensoutfitters.com. Recognized as the first Black-owned outdoor gear shop in the country, the business is owned by Jahmicah Dawes, who said in an article with Men’s Journal that his initial experiences with outdoor life through the Boy Scouts was “terrible” but that later in college he learned to love the outdoors. Dawes has said outdoor activities brings people together and believes “change happens around a campfire.” Shop from the website, or if you’re visiting Lake Whitney, the brick-and-mortar store is located in Stephenville, which is about 70 miles from the campground.
In the last several years, the Danish word hygge has gained popularity in cultures outside of Denmark and people have embraced the concept behind the word’s meaning to make their lives cozier and more content. On the heels of hygge, a few more words have crept up that can be applied to life in general, and definitely when it comes to the best way to glamp.
Niksen: In short, the Dutch concept of niksen translates to doing absolutely nothing, and without purpose. So, for those of you who schedule every minute of your vacation time, this might be a difficult one to swallow, but we think the idea of lounging around a tiny home, with nothing to do but enjoy the solitude and scenery sounds pretty good coming off of a year like 2020. It’s a bit different than practicing mindfulness because what niksen wants you to do is feel the joy of just being – not focusing on how or where, but just being! We think a perfect setting to get all into the niksen way is to head to the Leavenworth Tiny House Village, set up a comfortable chair outside your favorite tiny, and just sit there. Yes, there are trees surrounding you and the sounds of wildlife as a white noise soundtrack, but in reality, it’s just you, being you, in this perfect setting.
Friluftsliv: This Norwegian term is just perfect for any lover of the great outdoors because it translates to “open-air living.” How about that for a perfect match for any upcoming glamping trips you’ve got planned. First, before we embrace it, let’s learn to pronounce it – so let’s all say it together – “free-loofts-liv.” Now that you can say it, let’s figure out where to practice the concept. The point here is to get out into nature and appreciate what it can bring to us – happiness, tranquility, a clear mind. Norwegians practice it all year round so don’t let weather stop you. If you want to glamp in the winter climate, go ahead, but we’re gonna find our friluftsliv in sunny Florida. The Keys are the perfect location and the Sunshine Key Tiny House Village is a great place to start living life the friluftsliv way. Hike, bike, scuba dive, snorkel, beachcomb, frolic with dolphins, and visit the tiny Key deer. Take on all the outdoor experiences that can be found in the Keys and you’re on your way.
Koselig: Another one from the convivial Norwegians, but this one wants you to bring the gang. Similar to hygge, koselig (“koosh-lee”) is all about being comfortable and cozy but tosses in the social aspect by adding in friends and family when it’s time for comfy and cozy. Studies have shown there is a clear link ] between social connections and well-being, so it’s important to get the friends and family involved when practicing koselig. “Kos” requires the same things as hygge, such as warm lighting, softer music, cozy fires, and a low-stress environment. And all that is to be enjoyed surrounded by the people who make you laugh, bring joy to your life and check the box when it comes to perfect traveling companions. Of course, there is nothing cozier than a cabin, so check out our cabins when you plan your next koselig-inspired glamping trip. Options include locations in California, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Rent several cabins, bring the whole gang and koselig like it’s 1999!
History tells us that New Year’s resolutions started with the ancient Babylonians who made promises of change to the gods in return for a favorable year ahead. Those promises for change continued through the days of Julius Caesar, who provided us the date of January 1 as the New Year with his new calendar that honored Janus (who btw was the Roman king of beginnings and endings), and remain with us to this day.
One of the most popular resolutions made each January 1 is “to get in shape.” Interestingly though, that resolution did not become a top fiver until the 1960s, in part due to the advent of President Kennedy’s “Presidential Council on Physical Fitness,” which emphasized fitness goals for all ages. Here are a few destinations that are resolution-ready if you’re planning a new year getaway and want to stick to your resolution (at least for a while).
Skiing: Based on individual effort, a day on the slopes can burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories per hour. The physiological benefits are phenomenal as skiing provides a boost to the cardio and circulatory systems and well as the muscles, mainly the large muscles of the legs. Plus, the fresh air and sunshine are added benefits to this wonderful winter sport. Consider booking a stay at the Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Washington or the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Oregon to enjoy the nearby skiing. Stevens Pass is an option for a Leavenworth ski vacation and has more than 1100 acres of skiable terrain with options for all levels from beginner to expert. Lessons and rentals are available so there’s no excuse to not make an effort here. They also offer a Nordic Center for snowshoeing and Nordic ski options. Oregon’s Mt. Hood Skibowl dates back to 1928 and has been a top ski destination ever since. Less than 15 miles from the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village, this is the place for all things ski in the area where snow lovers can ski, snowboard, snowtube, and snow mobile. Lessons and rentals are available here, as well.
Biking: While it may be a bit less exhilarating than schussing snow down a black diamond run, biking provides plenty of body benefits. The release of endorphins, the use of all major muscle groups, and the low impact status makes biking a top choice for all types of fitness-focused people. Plan a trip to Orlando, Florida, and trade out the thrill rides for plenty of bike rides. Book a stay at one of the colorful cottages at Tropical Palms in nearby Kissimmee and bike your way to a fit 2021. The Orlando area has more than 30 multi-use bike trails and over 250 miles of safe-riding terrain. Consider the Kissimmee Lakefront Park trail that runs along Lake Tohopekaliga, providing scenic lake views and glimpses of wildlife or the Little Econ Greenway Trail in Orlando that runs 8 miles along the Little Econ River. Scenery here includes the lake, of course, as well as deer, osprey, and a butterfly garden.
Hiking: A simple enough exercise – you just put one foot in front of the other and you’re off. The benefits are good for the mind, body, and spirit, and whether you do short daily hikes or tackle some longer ones as part of a travel itinerary, adding hiking to your 2021 to-do list is a good idea. The great thing about hiking is that it can be done anywhere – along the coast, in the mountains, on a paved trail, in the woods – the options are endless. We prefer a good desert hike in part due to the benefits of the dry air as well as the views! Hiking in Sedona is one option. Choose a cabin, cottage, or tiny home at Verde Valley to serve as base camp while you hike and explore the desert terrain of the magical Sedona surroundings. Palm Springs, California, is another great place for desert hikes, which includes the range of hikes available in nearby Joshua Tree National Park. Options include everything from short walks to challenging multi-terrain 7+-mile trails. Indian Canyons provides more hiking opportunities, again with ranges from easy 1.5 mile to strenuous 12+-mile treks. Make a reservation for a colorful cottage stay at Palm Springs and enjoy the equally colorful desert views.
The new year may not yet be ready for the big trips abroad or group tours to exotic locales, but there are several travel trends emerging and we think they fit in just fine with Petite Retreats and all we have to offer in the way of ideal travel.
Winter getaways: According to a November 2020 survey by forbes.com, over 40% of Americans have a winter getaway already planned with beach destinations heading the list, followed by skiing locations. With roughly 10 weeks or so left until spring arrives, you can choose one of each. Beach-wise and Petite Retreats-wise, sandy destinations to consider include Rancho Oso in Santa Barbara, Fiesta Key and Sunshine Key in the Florida Keys, Miami Everglades near the fabulous beaches of Miami and several Gulf and Atlantic coast choices in Florida.
Road Trips: No surprise here! As social distancing remains one of the more popular activities these days, road trips provide the ultimate when it comes to keeping to yourself, or within your social bubble. Drive your own car or RV, or consider renting one from Outdoorsy.com, considered one of the most trusted RV rental marketplaces in the country. Take a leisurely trip and head far from home or plan a quick weekend getaway to see if road-tripping is your thing. You can do big city and stay with us near Boston, Nashville, Orlando, or Philadelphia or try a coastal road trip from Washington down through California, staying at Petite Retreats all along the way. Looking for mountains? Consider Yosemite Lakes, which is just down the road from Yosemite National Park, or Mt. Desert Narrows, which is near Maine’s Acadia National Park. Looking for water? We’ve got locations near both the Atlantic and Pacific with plenty of lake locations in between. Near, far, wherever you are, Petite Retreats has the perfect respite for the weary road-trip warrior.
Cabins: The cabin is where it’s at. At least that’s what popsugar.com, one of the biggest go-to sites for what’s trending, says. Cabin rentals were a popular choice for travel accommodations in 2020 as evidenced by the huge increase in Instagram posts of this super cozy retreat (as well as the rise in cabin rentals) and remains on track to maintain popularity in 2021. Maybe it’s the social distancing, maybe it’s the cool cabin vibe – whatever it is, plan your 2021 cabin stay and check out some of our cabins in these popular locations: Tuxbury Pond in New Hampshire – a perfect New England location near the beach and a short drive from Boston; Upstate New York in the heart of the Adirondacks (Lake George Escape and Alpine Lake); Maine has two cabin-ready resorts (Mt. Desert Narrows and Narrows Too) near Acadia National Park and the charming seaside town of Bar Harbor, plus we’ve got cabin options in the Midwest (Wisconsin), the sunny south just outside Dallas and Nashville; and in the charming Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
Small Towns: With all the craziness that 2020 brought, it makes sense that people are seeking simplicity in 2021 and that means small towns are trending as getaway go-tos. The afore-mentioned Bar Harbor is a perfect example where strolling the main street and taking in live music in the town square are as crazy as it gets. Leavenworth, Washington is another perfect charmer where most everything to see and do can be found right in town. Florence, Oregon gets a nod when it comes to small-town appeal thanks to its historic Old Town while the California’s Solvang, just outside Santa Barbara, gives a European twist to small-town charm. Visit PetiteRetreats.com to find the perfect location near your small-town getaway.
We could easily say visit a different island every day and you’ll find five things to do in the Florida Keys. But if we’re being serious, The Florida Keys have a million different ways to spend any time in this tropical paradise. We’ve got the short list below:
Screen Connections: The island known as Key Largo has many connections to Hollywood. First off, it’s the name of the iconic Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall film as well as the setting for the film. It is also home to the African Queen, the steamboat featured in another Bogart film (you can guess the name) and is now a tourist attraction that runs dinner cruises. The island’s Caribbean Club bar was also featured in the film, Key Largo, and has the distinction of being the oldest bar in the Upper Keys. If the Fast and the Furious movie franchise is your favorite, then the Seven Mile Bridge should look familiar. Also, Bloodline (Netflix series) was filmed in and around The Keys, with plenty of filming done on Islamorada so a visit might turn up a few familiar sights. Check out these locations for a little brush with fame.
The Dry Tortugas: The name is derived from the Spanish word for “turtle” which is what Ponce De Leon found in plenty when he discovered the area in 1513, thus naming it Las Tortugas. However, because of something that wasn’t found in abundance originally – fresh water – the island’s name was changed to Dry Tortugas. Comprised of seven islands, the Dry Tortugas have a lot to offer visitors from history to wildlife to wonderful beaches. It is the only regular U.S. nesting site for the sooty tern – look for them on Bush Key from March through September. It is home to Fort Jefferson, one of the largest 19th century forts in the US, which visitors can tour, and it is home to five different types of turtles – you can glimpse them floating in the sea. Plus, it’s also a snorkeler’s paradise with large coral heads as the underwater show!
Theater of the Sea: Consider it the vaudeville of the seas – a place where you can enjoy variety and be in awe of the show unfolding before you. The Theater of the Sea, located on Islamorada, is a marine mammal park with lagoons hosting sea lions, turtles, stingrays, alligators, and sea birds. This is the place to swim with dolphins, sea lions and even sharks and get up close and personal with the turtles, alligators, and parrots. Looking for a unique souvenir from your visit? Consider having a dolphin create some art just for you – check out the Paint with the Dolphins package offered here. Your friends will be jealous!
Shipwreck Museum: What’s a group of islands in the sea without a nod to shipwrecks? Of course, the Keys has a shipwreck museum, and it can be found on Key West. The Key West Shipwreck Museum tells the history of 400 years of shipwrecks in the area, which on average, happened once a week! Through the use of actors, artifacts, and film, you can experience this interesting maritime heritage of the area.
Nurture Nature: There are all kinds of nature-type experiences you can enjoy when visiting the Keys, including the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key, the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary on Tavernier Key, and the Dolphin Research Center and the Turtle Hospital, both on Marathon Key. FYI, the Key Deer can only be found in the Lower Keys and Marathon’s Turtle Hospital has successfully treated and released over 1500 sea turtles since it was founded in 1986.
For the ultimate in Keys accommodations, consider booking a colorful cottage at Fiesta Key or a perfectly appointed tiny home at Sunshine Key. Either option is right on the water and feels like your own private slice of paradise. Both resorts are the perfect location for all things Keys as well as a great place to call “home” while you enjoy America’s answer to a tropical vacation.
Fort Myers, Florida, and the towns surrounding it have plenty to do no matter what your trip’s “must-do” list includes. There are beaches and fishing and shopping and museums and history tours and so much more. The list is as endless as the miles of sandy beaches available for doing nothing more than simply relaxing in the sun. So, when you’re done with the beach, consider these things to do. And before you go, make sure to book your Florida cottage stay at Riversideor Rambler’s Rest so you can be close to all the action.
Estate Plans: We’re not talking about financial planning here, but instead making plans to visit the winter homes of both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. These “winter estates” provide a glimpse into how these inventors spent their days off. Visitors can view the homes and gardens of these forward-thinking men as well as see memorabilia and historic artifacts of both Ford and Edison. For more information, visit edisonfordwinterestates.org.
Take Refuge: That is, take a trip to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on nearby Sanibel Island. This is a 6,400-acre refuge that is home to more than 270 bird species, 35 mammal species, and 60 different reptiles. There are opportunities for hiking as well as a 4-mile Wildlife Drive where you can catch glimpses of the wildlife that inhabit the refuge. For hours and information, visit fws.gov/refuge/JN_Ding_Darling.
Seek Shell-ter: If you know anything about shelling, then you know that both nearby Sanibel and Captiva Islands are considered some of the best shelling beaches in North America. Located on Sanibel Island, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is the only accredited museum in the US devoted to shells and mollusks. It began in 1984 with a bequest from a local shell collector and grew from there. The museum’s newest exhibit is an aquarium gallery filled with living mollusks. Other exhibits include shells from around the world and an exhibit that details shells have influenced art and architecture across cultures. For details, visit shellmuseum.org.
Meet up in Matlacha: Matlacha is an island in the Gulf about 15 miles from Fort Myers. Matlacha is a colorful, quaint old fishing village now home to shops, art galleries, and opportunities for crabbing, clamming, shrimping, and just enjoying the laid-back vibe of this historic town. As you cross the bridge to the island, watch for all the anglers trying their luck at catching the tarpon, red fish, and snook that run in the tidal current beneath the bridge. The Matlacha Bridge is also known as the “Fishingest Bridge in the World” thanks to its abundance of fisher-people.
See Stars: The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium is a great mix of indoor and outdoor activities. The planetarium offers daily shows and the nature center portion includes a butterfly house and a raptor aviary. There are also two hiking trails that meander through several different eco-systems. For hours of operation, show times, and details on what you can expect when you go, visit calusanature.org.
‘Tis the season….to seek out the sun. Why not give yourself the gift of sunshine this season and head toward the warm weather where the skies are sunny and coats are not required! Here are a few places to consider where you can let the sunshine in.
Palm Springs, California: Palm Springsis the perfect place to soak up some of that warm California sun thanks to its great location to all the nearby hotspots including Joshua Tree National Park, the hiking trails in Indian Canyons, and the Living Desert Zoo and Garden. Rental accommodations at Palm Springs include three cottages that have plenty of the comforts of home including TVs, microwaves, and plenty of space to relax in. Downtown Palm Springs has a celebrity Walk of Fame, shops, galleries, and restaurants.
Santa Barbara, California: Enjoy beautiful Santa Barbara and plan a stay in some the coolest, and most unique accommodations you’ll find at Rancho Oso. In addition to its fabulous location, the resort offers cabins, cottages, covered wagons, and a tipi. You can’t beat that when it comes to something different. If you ride horses, or maybe that activity is on your bucket list, then Rancho Oso is the place to be. They have horses and guided horseback rides for groups. Visit nearby Solvang, a charming Danish-style town with plenty of shops and eateries as well as opportunities for wine and craft beer tastings. Of course, there is also beautiful Santa Barbara that offers beaches, architecture, wineries, and more.
Florida Keys: Sunshine Key Tiny House Village has five brightly colored tiny homes that are yours to choose from at this resort located on the 75-acre Ohio Key in the Florida Keys. Take the holidays to the tropics and spend some time exploring The Keys. The resort itself is quite the playground with opportunities for pickleball, fishing, and tennis. Plus, Key Boat Tours, a Blue Star Operator, is onsite for rentals of kayaks, stand up paddle boards and bikes, and also to arrange fishing charters and snorkeling tours. If snorkeling floats your boat, then a Keys vacation is the perfect trip since the first underwater state park in the US, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, is located on Key Largo and has some of the best snorkeling around the area.
Sedona: Head for the sun and take the mountains as the added bonus when you plan a trip to Sedona, Arizona. Book your cozy cabin or tiny house at Verde Valley and set off to explore the very walkable downtown Sedona, the beauty and vortexes of Red Rock State Park, the abandoned mining town turned artist colony of Jerome, and some of the prettiest desert landscape you’ll find. There’s also a Verde Valley Wine Trail where you can toast the new year or ride the rails on the Verde Valley Canyon Railroad Adventure. All aboard for fun in the Arizona sun!
Did you know the third most widely consumed beverage in the world is beer? With water and tea being number one and two, respectively, beer comes in at number three most likely due to the fact that cultures around the world have their own version of their favorite brew. December 10 is National Lager Day so why not raise a glass of lager and toast this popular drink? If you’re planning to continue to celebrate National Lager Day well past the December date, consider these popular lagers when you’re on the road to your next outdoor adventure.
BTW – what makes a lager different from other beers, you ask? Becoming a lager is all about the bottom-fermenting technique and using younger hops, a main ingredient in beer. Also, lager yeast can withstand lower temperatures, unlike ale yeasts, and that is where it gets its name. Lager comes from the German word “lagern” which means to store and lager is in cold storage while it ages. Some examples of lagers include Corona, Budweiser, and Miller Lite. We came up with a round of lagers from some of the smaller U.S. brewers conveniently located near our great Petite Retreat accommodations.
New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, Wisconsin: Check out the Two Women lager at this Wisconsin brewery in the Swiss-style village of New Glarus. This lager is aptly named because it is the result of a collaboration between two craft breweries both run by women. Book a cozy cabin or a cottage at Yukon Trailsand visit New Glarus to sample Two Women as well as the other brews made here, including the pretty popular Spotted Cow. Forget about the beer that “made Milwaukee famous” – New Glarus and Yukon Trails is where it’s at!
Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Oregon: The perfect tasting trip could combine a tiny home accommodation at Mt. Hood Tiny House Village and a visit to Deschutes Brewery in nearby Bend. Deschutes has been craft brewing since 1988 and has two really great lagers in their repertoire of beer – Pacific Wonderland and Rip City Lager, whose interesting name has ties to the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team. Want to be even closer to the brewery? Try staying in a yurt or snug cabin at Bend-Sunriver.
D.G. Yuengling & Son, Pottsville, Pennsylvania: Reputed to be America’s Oldest Brewery, Yuengling (pronounced ying-ling) offers a traditional amber lager that comes in in a “light” version as well for those watching their waists! Plan a stay at Appalachian RV Campground in a cozy cabin or cottage and head to Pottsville to explore Yuengling’s brewing facilities, which features hand dug caves for fermenting. It’s just about a 25-minute drive through the lovely Pennsylvania Dutch countryside from the campground.
Doghaus Brewery, Leavenworth, Washington: Proving you don’t have to be big to be good, Doghaus Brewery bills itself as a nano-craft brewery with a micro-sized taproom, but nevertheless offers the German Pointer Lager (get the dog reference?). Based on an original blue-ribbon recipe, this one is described as a helles lager, helles being German for “pale in color.” That’s it for this small brewery when it comes to lagers, but they also offer IPAs, stouts, and ales. This is a good place to visit because the Leavenworth Tiny House Village is just 30 minutes away and who wouldn’t want to enjoy some beer in this beautiful spot in the Pacific Northwest?
If you are looking for a craft brewery near your favorite Petite Retreat, visit www.craftbeer.com for a listing of breweries across the country. Cheers!
When someone says they’re traveling to Orlando, the most likely assumption would be that the trip is to visit the theme-park laden city in Central Florida to enjoy all those attractions. And, that may well be the case, especially now that Disney World has reopened after COVID-19 restrictions temporarily closed the popular Florida attraction. But for those who want to experience a theme-park free, and socially distanced, trip to sunny Orlando, we’ve got five things to check out. To plan your adventure, visit wildfloridaairboats.com.
If you want to feel like you’re on safari in the wilds of Africa, consider a trip through the Wild Florida Drive-Thru Safari Park in nearby Kenansville. Enjoy the show from the comfort of your own car as you drive a two-mile path through the 85-acre park that is home to exotic animals like zebra, giraffes, oryx, and Watusi cattle.
What better way to enjoy the outdoors than surrounded by beautiful blooms of roses, camelias, azaleas, and a crazy variety of tropical plants? Set over 50 acres, the Harry P. Leu Gardens has over 10 individual gardens including a Butterfly Garden, a Rose Garden, a Tropical Stream Garden, and the Idea Garden, which contains 10 different garden designs within the garden. Don’t miss the Garden’s collection of camellias which is the largest documented camellia collection in Eastern North America. Visit leugardens.org for more information.
If your trips are all about Instagram, you might like the slightly quirky, yet super trendy attraction called the Wall Crawl. It’s not a museum or a historic site, but your photos may go down in history. Basically, it’s an installation of 20 walls with a variety of backdrops and vignettes that change seasonally and are there for the pure purpose of taking Instagram shots. There are holiday settings, beachy scenes, pop art, and other whimsical backdrops. And while it is an indoor shoot, COVID-19 protocols are in place and reservations are required. Check out wallcrawl.com for all the deets.
Bike the West Orange Trail, a 22-mile paved rail-trail that runs through several towns, The Oakland Nature Preserve, and the Tilden Outpost, which includes a lovely butterfly garden. There are promises of wildlife glimpses, historic buildings, and plenty of Florida sunshine and fresh air. For specifics about the trail, visit bikeorlando.net/west-orange-trail.
You don’t need the theme parks to find thrill rides in the Orlando area. We’ve got a few unique, and certainly thrilling, ways to discover Orlando. Consider an off-road adventure aboard an ATV or an amphibious Mucky Duck as you explore acres and acres of countryside (revolutionoffroad.com) or take to the skies in a hot air balloon ride and view Florida from above on an approximate 45-60 minute ride (orlandoballoonrides.com). Tour the swamps and see the gators on an airboat ride (spiritoftheswamp.com) or get up close and personal with the trees in a soaring day of fun at the Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park in Kissimmee (orlandotreetrek.com).
Consider a colorful cottage rental at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee for your home base. The roomy cottages have kitchens with amenities that include refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, and coffee makers. Orlando RV Resort in Clermont also has cottage rentals which make great accommodations for your Orlando adventures.
Beauty is subjective, thus the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What one person sees as beauty may well not be what another person sees in the very same thing. Whatever your idea of beauty may be, make sure you celebrate November 20, which is National Beautiful Day, any way you see fit!
Beautiful Leavenworth: Without doing much, Leavenworth, Washington, is considered a beautiful town. With its Bavarian-style architecture, mountain backdrop, and quaint downtown it’s quite pretty. Toss in the thousands and thousands of twinkling lights during the holidays and one word comes to mind: beautiful! Plan a stay at the equally beautiful Leavenworth Tiny House Village to enjoy beautiful Leavenworth.
Beautiful Yosemite: In a recent poll of its followers, roughguides.com asked them to name the most beautiful locations in the USA. California’s Yosemite National Park topped the list, which also included the Grand Canyon and the entire state of Alaska. Take a trip and see what makes Yosemite a list-maker. For beautiful views, check out El Capitan, Vernal Fall, and Mirror Lake. Stay in a serenely beautiful yurt or cozy cabin at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort while exploring the natural beauty of Yosemite.
Beautiful Crater Lake: Again, a list-maker when it comes to the most beautiful lakes in the US, Oregon’s Crater Lake is known for the beautiful blue color of the lake. The surrounding mountains and towering pines make the views here real stunners! Spend a beautiful day driving the 33-mile Rim Drive which offers breathtaking views of meadows, forests, and the lake. Book a tranquilly beautiful yurt and stay at Bend-Sunriver RV Campground.
Beautiful Drive: The 17-Mile Drive, which runs along California’s Monterey Peninsula, is a short, but oh so sweet drive of the beautiful kind. With the coast of the Pacific as your companion, the highlights of this drive include Bird Rock (what do you think they are buzzing about?); the Lone Cypress (one of Cali’s most famous landmarks); and Pescadero Point with its fab views of Point Lobos. Check out the unique accommodations at Morgan Hill RV Resort and choose from a cottage, cabin, or safari tent.
Beautiful Sunsets: The Travel Magazine calls them gorgeous sunsets and we all know gorgeous is another word for…beautiful! Here’s one place to catch the beauty in California, according to the magazine’s list of the 10 best sunsets in the state. Arroyo Burro Beach in Santa Barbara, also called Hendry’s Beach by the locals, offers one beautiful sunset, over and over and over again. On the other side of the country, the sunsets are just as beautiful and some of the most beautiful can be found in Key West, Florida. And Key Westers tend to make it a regular celebration – check out the fun at the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration and catch one of Key West’s spectacular sunsets. For the east coast sunset, consider at stay in a colorful tiny house at Sunshine Key Tiny House Village or colorful cottages at Fiesta Key RV Resort, and for Cali-style sunsets, Rancho Oso has great cabins for rent.
Beautiful S’Mores: True, they are nothing more than some crackers, sugar, and chocolate but who doesn’t think a perfect s’more is a thing of beauty? Some fun ideas to mix it up could include substituting the chocolate for almond butter and banana, switching out the graham crackers for snickerdoodle cookies; or the truly beautiful s’more made with chocolate graham crackers, sliced strawberries, and dark chocolate. Check out some of our favorite gourmet s’mores 1927smores.com.
This may be the year that you see an influx of holiday cards, specifically the photo kind, because the friends and family you may see regularly throughout the year, may not have seen you in at least six months! #2020 Those cards will bring a smile to many faces, so make sure that your photo is spectacular. Check out these photo-worthy spots for Holiday 2020 cards!
Leavenworth, Washington: While just about everywhere in Leavenworth is worthy of a photo, the opportunity to pose with a real live reindeer just may be the key here. Head to the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm for a holiday pic that will let your friends and family see who the holiday VIPS are! For details check out leavenworthreindeer.com. Another option is to have a traditional holiday character front and center in your photo – Karl, the mascot of Leavenworth’s Nutcracker Museum, stands ready and waiting for any and all photo ops (nutcrackermuseum.com). And sadly, while the annual Christmas Lighting Festival has been cancelled for this year, Leavenworth will still shine. The plans for the installation of more than 50,000 sparkling lights are still a go and what a backdrop for any holiday photo they will make!
Santa Barbara, California: Let the Chromatic Gate provide the perfect frame for your holiday photo. Take a trip to the city’s Cabrillo Park and this multi-colored art installation by famed artist Herbert Bayer sets up the shot perfectly. Or, wish everyone luck in the new year with a photo of the gang (or just a selfie!) outside the Lucky Penny restaurant – the exterior wall is literally thousands of pennies! While you’re here, enjoy a slice of pizza! One last option that may bring on the figgy pudding comments – check out what is believed to be the largest fig tree in the U.S. The Moreton Bay Fig Tree, located at Chapala and Montecito Streets, has a circumference of 486 inches and is believed to have been planted over 140 years ago.
Prep for your photo ops while staying in one of our unique rentals at Rancho Oso.
Sedona, Arizona: After a crazy year like 2020, you may want to convey healing vibes to friends and family in your holiday message. Choose one of the spectacular rock formations like Bell Rock or Cathedral Rock in Sedona’s Red Rock State Park to send season’s greeting with a healthy dose of good vibrations from these vortexes. Have your pic taken while on horseback and sign up for one of the scenic rides from Wild Western Horseback Adventures (wildwesternhorseback.com) that takes you through the Verde Valley itself. How about an ancient pueblo in the background of your photo? Explore the ruins of a Sinagua pueblo at Tuzigoot National Monument which is part of the National Park Service.
Relax and recharge while staying in a cozy cabin or tiny house at Verde Valley.
Florida Keys: Send warm wishes of the Florida kind and take a pic with Key West’s iconic landmark, the Southernmost Point Buoy. Add a palm tree to the shot by heading to Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key or send your “deer-est” wishes by snapping some pics while visiting the National Key Deer Refuge National Center, also located on Big Pine Key. As always, the beaches of the Keys are great for building snowmen of the sand variety to appear in your shot and who can’t resist a beautiful sunset or brightly colored tiny house as a backdrop?
On many fall bucket lists you’ll find “Rent a Cabin” as one of the list-makers because a cabin in a wooded location with the trees changing color and the crispy fall air all around is about as autumn-y as you can get. So, let’s get to it! Here are a few cabin locations to consider:
Mount Hood Village (OR): Mid- to late-October is prime color time in the Mt. Hood area so choose from the deluxe or standard cabin rentals at Mt. Hood Village in Welches and bask in the fall colors. The Mt. Hood Scenic Loop is a great way to see the vibrant red, gold, and orange foliage, or a hike or bike ride in the Mt. Hood National Forest will do the trick. Try fly fishing in the autumn air – plenty of outfitters in the area can set you up or point you in the right direction. Visit www.mthoodterritory.com for more information.
Seaside RV Resort (OR): How about an Oregon Coast adventure this fall? Book a cabin at Seaside and enjoy the Oregon coast. Check out the wineries, coffee roasters, and craft breweries for a sample of these neat Oregon offerings (northcoastfoodtrail.com). Walk the beaches, which are just as beautiful, but less crowded now that fall has arrived. Check out Oswald West State Park for hiking and a beautiful beach, Short Sand Beach.
Appalachian RV Resort (PA): Berks County, Pennsylvania, is a great place come fall with the Blue Mountains ablaze with colors and all the wonderful outdoors to be explored. Book a cabin at Appalachian and then see what’s up here. Visit the Daniel Boone Homestead in nearby Birdsboro – the grounds are open from sunrise to sunset and visitors can see the house and farm where the legendary pioneer and outdoorsman lived. There’s also the Berks County Wine Trail (berkscountywinetrail.com) and Nolde Forest State Park with its hiking and walking trails.
Natchez Trace RV Resort (TN): With a large lake perfect for fishing and pontoon rides, and trees upon trees upon trees is what makes Natchez Trace in Hohenwald perfect for a fall cabin adventure. And there are eight cabins to choose from! Take a drive on the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway or enjoy the Natchez Trace Wine Trail. Hiking opportunities could include the Meriwether Lewis Loop Trail or the Falls Hollow Falls Trails which feature a waterfall. Take and drive and explore nearby Nashville or stay at camp and fish for bass.
Yukon Trails (WI): Rent one of our great log cabins at Yukon Trails and plan on plenty of fall-filled fun in the Wisconsin Dells. Visit Ski Hi Fruit Farm for some seasonal apples and a day on the farm, which dates back to 1907. Mirror Lake State Park is great for fall outdoor adventures including exploring the many hiking, biking, and nature trails in the park. The deluxe log cabins sleep 6 and include a compact refrigerator, microwave, stovetop, coffeemaker, and toaster, as well as a dining booth and a covered porch.
Cool weather walks and hikes, delicious apple and pumpkin treats, wildlife, different cultures and simple fall adventures can be found in and around Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Here are just five ideas for exploring this pretty part of Pennsylvania.
Explore Covered Bridges: A perfect way to enjoy the fall colors and stay socially distanced is to explore the more than 25 covered bridges in Lancaster County. There are so many to see from the oldest (Neff’s Mill Bridge, built in 1824 and reconstructed in 1875) to the newest (Willow Hill Covered Bridge built in 1962). Most photogenic? We’ll let you decide. Visit discoverlancaster.com/things-to-do/covered-bridges to download a list of the bridges and driving tour routes.
Fall Foliage Views: There are plenty of ways to experience the fall foliage in Lancaster County from hiking to biking and even aboard a train. The Strasburg Rail Road (strasburgrailroad.com), America’s oldest operating railroad, will take you on a 45-minute trip through the beautiful rolling countryside (Note: advance reservations and masks are required). Hikers and bikers should check out the Conewago Recreation Trail which has a 5-mile trail ideal for hiking and biking that runs along the old Cornwall-Lebanon railroad corridor. Another great outdoor experience is the Garden of Five Senses in Lancaster County’s Central Park. Designed to appeal to all five senses, you can smell the flowers, hear the birds, and see the beauty of autumn and this lovely garden.
Visit a Wolf Sanctuary: Learn about The Wolves of Speedwell at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA in Lititz, an 80-plus acre refuge for gray wolves and wolf-dogs. The wolves can be viewed in the natural wooded habitat during an outside tour on walking trails. During COVID-19, tours are available by reservation only so please visit the Sanctuary’s website to make reservations (wolfsanctuarypa.org).
Experience the Amish Culture: The Amish settlement in Lancaster County is the second largest in the U.S. While the Amish are “plain” (so named because they choose a modest lifestyle) and private people, their lifestyle can be glimpsed in many ways here. Take an Amish Buggy Ride through the countryside (amishbuggyrides.com), enjoy an Amish meal in the home of an Amish family (there are several but since they don’t have websites, google “Amish family meal in Lancaster” and you’ll get plenty of hits), or visit The Amish Village (amishvillage.com) for an up close look at the Amish culture.
Pumpkins, Mazes, and Haunted Happenings: Another great outdoor activity is to visit the many pumpkin patches and corn mazes in the area. Country Barn Farm hosts Fall Harvest Days through October with plenty of pumpkin fun including pig races and a pumpkin patch. Explore the corn maze at Oregon Dairy in Lititz along with other fall fun like tractor rides, a corn launcher and all kinds of food. How about a Haunted Hayride? Check out Jason’s Woods (jasonswoods.com) for some spooky fun.
https://www.rvonthego.com/pennsylvania/hershey-rv-camping-resort/To be in perfect proximity to all this autumn fun, book a reservation with us at the Circle M, Hershey, PA Dutch, or Spring Gulch resorts, and choose between a cozy cabin, cottage, or yurt. Visit petiteretreats.com for more details on the resorts or to make reservations.
What do you look for when you want to get away? A quick dive into what factors are considered when selecting a vacation destination include 1) lodging preference; 2) travel purpose; 3) crowds or solitude; 4) the weather; and 5) the side trips. If we apply these to our destination of choice this month – Oregon’s Mt. Hood Area, here’s what shakes out:
Lodging Preference: This is an easy one. What could be more enjoyable than a stay in a tiny home? The Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, Oregon, has seven tiny homes to choose from for your stay and each offers a little something different. Did you know tiny homes have personalities? That’s right, Anderson has a modern flair, enjoys a most-excellent cup of brewed coffee, and finds biking to be his raison d’etre. Savannah thinks being called “girly” is the ultimate compliment and her bright yellow exterior is an extension of her sunny personality. The tiny house gang at Mt. Hood has five more friends with five equally different personalities but one thing they have in common is that they are the right answer to “lodging preference.” Visit MtHoodTinyHouse.com to check them out and see which one suits your preference!
Travel Purpose: Well, how can there be a right answer here unless you’re traveling alone? Someone likes to hike, someone likes to do nothing, someone likes to shop and someone likes to learn something new on vacation. Don’t worry, with a trip to the Mt. Hood Area, this box is checked for all involved. Hikers will be happy to know the area has more than 150 hiking trails. From local artisan crafts to antiques and boutiques to the very unique chain saw carvings, the area is a shopper’s delight with variety being the spice of Oregon life here. If you’re looking to learn something, the educational opportunities abound. Learn a new sport – attend a snowboard camp or learn to fly fish. Learn about the history of the area – visit the Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum. As for the vacationer who wants to do nothing – that’s OK, too. Just sitting and soaking up the scenery here is a pretty cool thing to do, too!
Crowds vs. Solitude: Now more than ever this is a top of the list item with social-distancing being all the rage. Actually, pre-COVID-19, this meant do you like crowds or prefer to spend time alone with your thoughts. Do you want to be “scene,” or do you want to left alone to enjoy more solitary pursuits? So think about it – “no people” activities can include hiking, fly fishing, or skiing while the more social traveler will enjoy the many craft breweries, the annual festivals like the Salmon, Mushroom, and Bigfoot Festival (held in October but sadly cancelled this year) or the Timberline Mountain Music Festival held in late summer annually.
The Weather: Being a four-season vacation destination, weather conditions factor into a trip to Mt. Hood, well…never really. There is always something to do here. The area has one of the longest ski seasons around. The winter ski season at historic Timberline Lodge begins in early November and runs through Memorial Day. Springtime is great for waterfall hikes and salmon fishing season begins in May. Summer brings amazing wildflowers, festivals, and mountain biking opportunities and the tail end of salmon fishing season (it typically winds down in September). Plus, there’s huckleberry season which straddles late summer and early fall and brings with it the annual Huckleberry Festival (late August). Fall hikes and drives are the best among the changing colors – drive the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway or tackle the Mirror Lake Trail on a day hike.
Side Trips: This is important because it allows travelers to feel like they are getting more bang for their travel dollars! Consider that the Mt. Hood Area is just an hour from Portland. This means you can have all the pleasure of the fantastic outdoors that the Mt. Hood Area affords you, but also have the opportunity to be a city tourist in no time at all. If you’ve always wanted a wine country vacation, you can do that, too. The nearby Willamette Valley is considered Oregon’s Wine Country and there are options for both guided and self-guided tours of the wineries.
National Read A Book Day is observed annually on September 6. We’re feeling a little bookish this month and are ready for an adventure that’s one for the books!
Take a page from our Book Tour travel guide, and head to these cities that were either the setting for a famous book or the hometown and/or inspiration for some of the most famous authors in the US.
One of the most prolific writers of horror and supernatural fiction, Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine. Plan a trip to Maine and stay with us in a cozy cabin at our Bar Harbor resorts, Mt. Desert Narrows and Narrows Too, and then head about an hour northwest and explore the town of Bangor. In addition to seeing King’s current residence, you can check out some sites related to King’s novels in Bangor that include the Paul Bunyan Statue located in Bass Park that was featured in It, and Mount Hope Cemetery which was featured in Pet Sematary.
John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, and the area became the inspiration for so many of his classic novels. Book a stay in a cabin, cottage, or ultra-unique safari tent at Morgan Hill RV Resort and you’re less than 50 miles from Steinbeck’s California. Visit Monterey, the setting for his acclaimed Depression-era novel Cannery Row, which depicted life in the town known as the Sardine Capital of the World. Don’t miss the Cannery Row tour. The town was also the setting for Tortilla Flat, the novel that earned both commercial and critical success for the author. Steinbeck’s home and the National Steinbeck Center can be found in Salinas.
John Irving, author of many novels including The World According to Garp and Hotel New Hampshire, is a native of New Hampshire and attended the University of New Hampshire. If you’re considering a stay with us at the Tuxbury Tiny House Village in South Hampton, you’ll be less than 10 miles from Exeter, which is not only Irving’s birthplace, but also the model for the town of Gravesend, featured in the bestseller, A Prayer for Owen Meany. Fans of the movie Cider House Rules, which was based on Irving’s novel of the same name, will be interested to know that three scenes from the movie were filmed at the Northfield Drive-In in Hinsdale, which is still in operation and is about 100 miles from the Tuxbury Tiny House Village.
Ernest Hemingway and Key West, Florida, pretty much go hand in hand. Not only did he write about Key West in his novel To Have and Have Not, but he also spent many years living on the island. Undoubtably one of Key West’s most famous residents, the town honors Hemingway every July during Hemingway Days. Book a stay with us at the Sunshine Key Tiny House Village (where we have a tiny house named after him!) and head down to explore Hemingway’s Key West. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, which is located in the house in which Hemingway lived for over 10 years, offers tours of the home and garden. The Blue Heaven saloon was a favorite of the authors and visitors today can enjoy breakfast or lunch here. Another favorite Hemingway haunt was Sloppy Joe’s. Famous for its sandwich of the same name, the bar pays tribute to Papa with an annual look-alike contest.
This fall, make it your goal to be an active leaf peeper. Yes, you heard that right. Leaf peeper – which by definition is someone who visits wooded areas in autumn to check out the changing colors of the foliage. Most everyone is a leaf peeper in some form or another. Maybe you don’t check websites for peak color dates or plan an annual trip around the changing colors but you most likely revel in the beautiful color show put on by Mother Nature and her children of the leafy kind come fall.
Now, we’re asking you to be an active leaf peeper, but we don’t mean just checking out the leaves. We think tossing in a hike – mild, moderate, strenuous, whatever a good hike means to you – while taking in this free, socially-distanced show is a great idea. These hikes are both good for your body and for your psyche. We did some research and found some of the most popular fall foliage hikes around.
Silver Falls State Park (Silverton, Oregon): A moderate hike at almost 9 miles is well worth the effort as Silver Falls State Park offers hikers the opportunity to see waterfalls in addition to the gorgeous fall foliage. Ten waterfalls in fact, thus the name of the trail, Trail of Ten Falls, can be seen on this great fall hike.
(Plan a stay at one of the cozy cabins at nearby Pacific City while hiking Silver Falls.)
Washington Park Arboretum (Seattle, Washington): The Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle is possibly one of the best color shows contained in one location that you may find. In fact, according to the Arboretum’s website, fall in the Arboretum’s Woodland Garden section may possibly offer the most stunning display of fall colors in the region thanks to having one of the largest collection of Japanese maples in North America. All this beauty can be experienced on nearly one mile of winding stone pathways. How’s that for one-stop peeping?
(A great idea is to book a tiny home at Leavenworth Tiny House Village and drive into Seattle. This is a two-fer since fall in Leavenworth is another spectacular show.)
Franconia Ridge Trail (Lincoln, New Hampshire): Waterfalls, a running stream, fantastic views, and plenty of fall foliage can be found on this New Hampshire trail. At just about eight miles and definitely a “hike,” the scenic rewards are plentiful. It’s no wonder this loop was named one of the 10 best hiking trails by National Geographic in 2017.
Potawatomi State Park (Door County, Wisconsin): Driving into Potawatomi State Park in the fall is almost a color show in itself. The contrast between the deep black of the roadway and the yellows and golds of the branches overhead is pretty cool, but wait there’s more! The trails are a carpet of beautifully colored fallen leaves and the views are some of fall’s best. Check out the portion of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail that runs through the Park.
Ocean Path Trail, Acadia National Park (Bar Harbor, Maine): This trail, which stretches along the rugged Maine coastline, is postcard perfect in fall. With the rocky shores of the Atlantic on one side and the Acadia’s beautiful foliage on the other, it’s the perfect mix. Check out the fall leaves at Thunder Hole. Ocean Path is approximately 4.5 miles round trip.
(Book a cozy cabin at Mt. Desert Narrows or choose from a cozy cottage or colorful cabin at Narrows Too for your fall foliage experience.)
Big summer vacations are looking a little different this year. Summer has typically been the time when big trips to Europe and other countries are planned, thanks in part to long school vacations and cooperating weather. Graduates head off for one last trip before starting the 9-5 grind and many honeymooners make plans for a trip abroad after a June wedding, which is a popular month for marriages.
However, for most of us, trips abroad are definitely off the table this summer but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the different cultures offered in a trip to a foreign country. We found a few places right here in the US that will provide you the opportunity to enjoy a bit of Europe while never leaving the country!
The solvangusa.com website describes this California town as “A little slice of Denmark in Southern California.” Solvang, which means “sunny field” in Danish, was founded by three Danish immigrants in 1911, after purchasing 9000 acres of land in the Santa Ynez Valley. The town features Danish-style architecture, four wooden windmills and even has a replica of Copenhagen’s famed The Little Mermaid statue. The Elverhoj Museum of History and Art is a great place to learn the history of the town. Visit one of the authentic Danish bakeries and sample some aebleskiver, a sweet Danish pastry akin to a doughnut hole. Plan to stay at Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort, which is about 45 minutes from Solvang, and book one of our unique accomodations choosing from cabins, cottages, a tipi, or covered wagon.
St. Augustine, Florida:
Not only is historic St. Augustine the oldest city in America, dating to the mid-1500s, but it might also give you the feeling that you’re in Spain. Founded by a Spanish expedition, the Spanish influence on the town remains with the town’s grand plaza, the narrow streets and the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the US. Don’t miss Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, a 15-acre waterfront park on the site where it is said the city was orignally founded. Make sure you sample some Minorcan Clam Chowder while here – it’s a specialty of St. Augustine featuring the datil chile pepper said to have been brought over from Minorca, an island off Spain. Book a stay at a colorful cottage at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee and you’re just 2 hours from historic St. Augustine.
Plan a cozy cabin stay at at Bay Landing RV Campground in Bridgeport, Texas, and then plan a day to drive the “Kolache Trail.” The what, you say? The Kolache Trail is actually quite long, stretching from West, Texas, which is about an hour and a half from the campground to Shulenberg, which is a good four and a half hours away. The trail hits some of the best Czech bakeries that serve up these tasty pastries with all kinds of fillings – poppyseed, apricot, prune, and more. If you don’t want to make the whole drive, definitely plan a day trip to West, Texas, which is recognized as the Czech Heritage Capital of Texas. There are plenty of bakeries, restaurants, and shops that pay homage to the Czech heritage here.
New Glarus, Wisconsin:
In 1845, representatives of the Emigration Society of Canton Glarus, Switzerland, were to sent to find land in America’s midwest. The result of their efforts was an establishment on more than 1200 acres of land in Wisconsin’s Green County, which became “New Glarus.” More Swiss settlers followed and the communtiy remains today true to its Swiss heritage. Swiss-style architecture set among the rolling hills of the area will have you feeling you’re really in the Alps. Specialty shops, a brewery, and eateries serving authentic Swiss cuisine add to the charm of this little town. Nearby New Glarus Woods State Park is great for biking and hiking. Spend the day in New Glarus and then spend the night at Yukon Trails RV & Camping Resort, in Lyndon Station, which is approximately 75 miles away.
The Dog Days of Summer typically refer to the weather this time of year, but if you ask your furry companion (yes, they have opinions!), they’ll let you know that to them it sounds more like Dog’s Days of Summer, or, in other words, take me with you wherever it is you’re going!
If you’re planning a trip, and also listening to your dog, here are few spots that are super pet friendly.
Settle into a pet friendly cabin or cottage at Sedona’s Verde Valley RV Campground and then explore the area with Fido in tow. Several trails in the area, including the Bell Rock Pathway and the Boynton Canyon Trail, allow leashed pets along on a hike. Many of the restaurants welcome pets and Creekside even has a special pet menu featuring items like a cheddar omelet with chicken jerky or steak tartare. More attractions for the pup include Sedona Dog Park, which separates off-leash areas into big and small dog areas, and Whiskers Bakery, which sells a wide variety treats and toys if your dog is into shopping.
Key West, Florida
If there’s a place called Island Dogs Bar, whereas the name implies dogs are welcome, this has to be a pet-friendly vacation spot. Another pet-friendly attraction on the island is the Key West Aquarium where your leashed pup can tag along and see all the marine life exhibits. Higgs Beach has a dog park were pets can run off-leash. Plan to stay at Sunshine Key RV Resort where two of the vacation trailer rental accommodations are pet friendly and the resort welcomes pets, as well.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Not only can your pup ride the bus in Bar Harbor, they are also welcome at several area restaurants, including the famous Stewman’s Lobster Pound. To work off that fabulous lobster dinner, take a hike around Acadia National Park which has more than 120 trails and all are dog friendly.
Seattle has a lot to offer in terms of pets – bus rides are offered and the city allows well behaved dogs to ride the bus (accompanied by their owner, of course!). Seattle also has over 10 off-leash dog parks and plenty of hiking trails that are friendly to pets. Check out Snow Lake Trail to get a short (6.4 miles) hike in with your leashed dog. Dogs are also welcome at the Washington Park Arboretum, a beautiful 230-acre public park (think free admission). Tall Chief RV Campground has a pet friendly cottage accommodation and the campground welcomes pets, as well.
Door County, Wisconsin
Everything that Door County is known for – hiking, beaches, and water sports are available to tourists of the four-legged variety, to some degree, as well. Plus, several restaurants allow your dogs, too. There’s even a list of doggy daycare facilities in case you want some time without your furry friend. Whitefish Dunes allows dogs on the beach and Peninsula State Park has pet friendly hiking trails. Finally, the Skyway Drive-In Movie Theater allows pets to take in a movie, provided they are in the car or on a leash. Tranquil Timbers RV Campground in nearby Sturgeon Bay has two pet friendly cabin accommodations and the campground welcomes pets.
Even if you choose to do nothing in this quaint little Bavarian-styled village in western Washington, you would still have an enjoyable time. The scenery, with the snowcapped mountains as the backdrop, highlighted by the Bavarian architecture is a visual vacation in itself. However, there are plenty of fun, exciting, and unique things to do here.
Golfing with Goats: Watch out for Snowball and Hansi, the resident goats at the Enzian Falls Golf Course. This gorgeous 18-hole course, which features beautiful mountain views, a waterfall, and the aforementioned friendly mountain goats, is fun for the whole family.
Eat: OK, so we realize everyone’s gotta get their three squares a day, but we’re talking about experiencing Leavenworth’s unique offerings one little bite at a time. Stop by the Gingerbread Factory for some delicious gingerbread cookies, plus all the other great cookies made here like gingersnaps and snickerdoodles. A visit to the Leavenworth Sausage Garten will be the wurst experience in a good way when you try the bockwurst, currywurst, bratwurst, and kielbasa, and don’t forget to toss in a side of German potato salad. If you still have room, try a Bavarian pretzel from Munchen Haus.
Stroll an Organic Garden: The Organic Garden at Sleeping Lady is a two-acre garden planted with herbs, produce, and flowers. Visitors can glimpse wildlife, including hummingbirds and finches, and enjoy the scenery from the beautiful gazebo.
Walk the Wine Trail: Leavenworth’s local wine trail is unique in the fact that you don’t have to worry about driving while sampling since they are all conveniently located in town and walkable! More than 20 tasting rooms can be found in downtown Leavenworth.
Enjoy the Outdoors: Leavenworth as a vacation destination really appeals to the outdoor lover. There is hiking, biking, mountain biking, white water rafting, and fishing, to start. Waterfront Park has a beautiful trail that runs along the Wenatchee River, which is a great spot for rafting. You can zipline, river tube, horseback ride, climb, and paddleboard in the great outdoors of Leavenworth.
While exploring all that Leavenworth has to offer, don’t miss your chance to stay at the Leavenworth Tiny House Village. With five adorably named and decorated tiny homes, your Leavenworth experience is sure to feel complete with an accommodation like this.
Are you a thrill-seeker? Are you always challenging yourself to try something new? Do you love the adrenaline rush and the sense of accomplishment after you’ve done something your friends or family say you were crazy to try?
Well you’re not crazy – and, according to some studies, you’re possibly managing life better than your more sedate friends. Tackling your fear of these thrilling sports can provide you with coping mechanisms that you can use in other parts of your life. Another benefit is the boost to your self-confidence. You did it! Hooray for you! Who doesn’t feel good about themselves after accomplishing these feats?
If you’re ready to get your thrill on, consider these sports:
Whitewater Rafting: Book a stay at one of the cool yurts at Yosemite Lakes RV Campgroundin Groveland and ride the whitewaters of the Tuolumne River, which is considered one of the best rivers for such an adventure. Plenty of outfitters are waiting to help you tackle the Class III rapids of the Wenatchee River in Leavenworth, Washington. Visit www.leavenworth.org to find the one that fits your idea of thrills. Plan to stay with us at Leavenworth Tiny House Villagein your own tiny house where you can relax after a thrilling day on the water!
Rock Climbing: If you’re heading to Maine, check out rock climbing at Maine’s Acadia National Park which offers all kinds of climbing options through the Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School. Solo efforts can range from four to seven-hour jaunts, plus there are family climbs and evening climbs. Make a reservation at our nearby locations, Narrows Too (cabin and cottage options) or Mt. Desert Narrows (cabin accommodations) to be where the climbing action is.
Zip-lining: Want to soar across the treetops of the amazing Adirondack forest? Book a comfy cabin at Lake George Escape and then find the zip-line adventure for you. There are plenty here including Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course or the Adirondack Adventure Center. Crazy views of Wisconsin’s Door County Peninsula as you fly over towering pine trees are what’s in store when you zip-line in this Wisconsin wonderland. Book a cabin at Tranquil Timbers and plan your adventure. Check out Door County Adventure Center or Lakeshore Adventures for their zip-lining courses.
Snorkeling: No better place to dive deep than the Florida Keys. Reserve a colorful cottage at Fiesta Key or a super cool tiny home at Sunshine Key and explore the underwater kingdom of The Keys. The warm shallow waters off the Dry Tortugas are said to be best for snorkelers of all ages while John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first undersea park in the US, is great for viewing the various coral species, plus turtles, parrot fish and butterfly fish.
Ultimate Hiking: While hiking is a great activity for both body and spirit, the thrill on these hikes is the view. These are ultimate when it comes to the unparalleled beauty of nature (not to mention majorly Instagram-worthy photo ops).
Fay Canyon, Arizona: An easy 2.4-mile trail in the scenic Fay Canyon of Sedona’s Red Rock State Park. Rent a tiny home at Verde Valley and hike the park everyday for a different point of view.
Joshua Tree National Park, California: All levels of hiking trails are available here and most come with views of the Park’s namesake, the Joshua Tree. Find Heart Rock within the Park and you’re guaranteed an insta-shot you will love! A cottage accommodation at Palm Springs is the perfect companion to this hiking trek.
Mirror Lake Loop Trail, Oregon: The Mt. Hood area of Oregon is full of opportunities for great hikes and great pics. One of the most popular, and amazing, is the view of Mt. Hood from the Mirror Lake Trail, a 3.7-mile loop. A tiny house at the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village is perfect for the after-trail relax.
There’s a reason Virginia tourism still uses “Virginia is For Lovers” to entice visitors to the state. The slogan, which was first introduced in 1969, remains true today. What’s not to love about Virginia? It’s full of history, has produced more US presidents than any other state (eight, in fact), is known for its oysters, and other culinary delights such as blue crabs and Virginia ham, and offers all kinds of outdoor adventures from hiking to water sports. And one spot you will absolutely love is the Chesapeake Bay area.
The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary between Maryland and Virginia. And the point where the Bay meets the Rappahannock River is known as the Virginia River Realm, a magical mix of shoreline, charming towns and one-of-a-kind experiences. Lucky for you, we have three great locations where you can settle in while exploring here. Bethpage Camp-Resort, in Urbanna, Greys Point Camp in Topping, and Chesapeake Bay RV Campground in Gloucester. Each of these locations has a number of cottages and cabins for you to make your home base while you explore the area. The towns of Topping and Urbanna are part of the River Realm and Gloucester is a charming town with roots dating back to Colonial Virginia.
Here are five ways to get to know the area:
Day Trip to Richmond: About an hour west is Virginia’s capital city of Richmond, which offers a little bit of fun for everyone. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is 50 acres of amazing outdoor gardens (opens to the public July 16). Themed gardens include a Children’s Garden, Cherry Tree Walk, and the Rose Garden. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offers free admission and exhibits from around the world. Another option for an outdoor experience is Maymont, a Victorian estate with public parklands. While some of the exhibits are currently closed, the 100-acre estate offers plenty of outdoor parkland and gardens to explore.
Belle Isle State Park: Open from dawn to dusk, Belle Isle offers all kinds of outdoor activity from bird and wildlife viewing to hiking, biking, kayaking, and canoeing. The great thing is they offer rentals for canoes, kayaks, and bikes so you can travel lightly there and back.
Virginia Oyster Trail: You absolutely cannot visit this part of Virginia without getting up close and personal with the bivalve that Virginia is famous for! The Virginia Oyster Trail (virginiaoystertrail.com) is a mix of oyster-focused sites that provides insight to the world of Virginia oysters.
Presidential Birthplaces: George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, in 1732. The George Washington Birthplace National Monument is a national park where visitors can see a replica of Washington’s childhood home as well as a living colonial farm with historians to explain life as it was during Washington’s childhood. The James Monroe Birthplace Park and Museum honors our fifth president, James Monroe, who was born in Westmoreland County on April 28, 1758. Visitors can see the area where Monroe lived from birth until he left for college (College of William and Mary). A replica of the home is currently under construction, but the Visitors Center is open on Saturdays and Sundays and offers some history and artifacts.
Deltaville: Known as the “Boating Capital of the Chesapeake Bay”, Deltaville is a delightful coastal town with shops, a maritime museum, and great places to eat crab cakes and oysters along the water. Consider booking a day sail, sunset cruise, or a fishing charter out of Deltaville.
July is National Family Reunion month. Our tiny home villages offer the perfect opportunity to get the extended family together and still maintain safe distances this summer. Or, start planning now for Family Reunion 2021 and do a little recon on your own this summer to find the perfect location in advance. Each of our tiny homes are full of amenities and bursting with charm. The locations can’t be beat either – plenty of outdoor fun like hiking, biking, and fishing and nearby attractions round out the experience.
Mt. Hood Tiny House Village (Welches, OR): There are seven tiny homes to book here so the family can gather and enjoy the beauty of the Mt. Hood area. Each home has its own unique personality and the homes vary in size in terms of the number of people each can accommodate, but combined, the seven tiny houses at Mt. Hood Village can accommodate 31 people. Layouts are different but each home has a kitchen and full bath!
Things to do in the area include day hikes on the nearly 1000 miles of trails, visiting the historic Timberline Lodge, kayaking and whitewater rafting, and fishing. Don’t miss a trek to Multnomah Falls to view this spectacular 600+-foot tall roaring waterfall.
Leavenworth Tiny House Village (Leavenworth, WA): There are five tiny homes to book here and this is a great spot for a family reunion of 15 people or less. Like the Mt. Hood tiny homes, each home varies in size, but all have a kitchen and full bath.
The town of Leavenworth is a beautiful Bavarian-styled village with quaint shops and eateries, and the unique Nutcracker Museum. The area is also great for outdoor lovers and offers the options of picnics and paddle boats at Lake Wenatchee State Park, hiking the easy 4-mile loop of Icicle Gorge or the more difficult 4-mile round trip of Icicle Ridge, and trying your luck at fly-fishing for which the area has plenty of creeks, rivers, and lakes.
Tuxbury Tiny House Village (South Hampton, NH): This is the perfect spot for a family reunion of 20 on the East Coast. Less than an hour to Boston and just thirty minutes from the Salisbury-Hampton beaches on the shores of the Atlantic, this tiny house village, with its five tiny homes, is a prime spot for all kinds of fun.
In Boston, take a history lesson while walking the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail around the city or drop your kayak in the Charles River and paddle around to view Beantown from the water. Get some friendly family competition going with challenges at the horseshoe pits or volleyball court back at Tuxbury or head to the nearby beaches and see how creative each team can get with sandcastle building!
Sunshine Key Tiny House Village (Big Pine Key, FL): Five great homes, all unique in layout and personality, come together to provide family reunion accommodations for a group of 20. That’s 20 of your nearest and dearest gathered in in the beautiful Florida Keys to enjoy a family reunion with a taste of the tropics.
Family fun can include deep-sea fishing charters, exploring nearby Bahia State Park or a drive down the Overseas Highway with visits to the other Keys, including Key West and all its Hemingway lore. A great thing about a stay at Sunshine Key is that they have partnered with Key Boat Tours, which has a location onsite and guests can rent bicycles, kayaks, and paddle boards, as well as schedule fishing charters and snorkeling tours. Let our tiny homes welcome you and your family to create the perfect combination for a memorable gathering!
In 1998, President Bill Clinton declared that seven days in the month of June should be set aside to “celebrate our relationship with nature.” That concept resonated so soundly with Americans that successive administrations morphed those seven days into a whole month of celebrating and communing with nature.
June is upon us again and we probably all feel the need to get outside and commune! So, whether you hike, bike, fish, boat or just plain sit in it, get outside, breath the air, and become one with nature.
June in the great outdoors can include:
Hiking: Hiking doesn’t really require much equipment or any particular level of skill – just some strong legs and lungs, and you’ve got it. Trails abound around the country and we’ve found a few you places you might like to hike. Yosemite National Park has 800 miles of trails to choose from and the scenery is unparalleled! Enjoy the alpine hikes of Mt. Hood, Oregon’s 11,240-foot volcano – two popular hikes are the Tamanawas Falls Trail and the Old Salmon River Trail. Then, relax after a long day on the trails in one of our yurt accommodations at Yosemite Lakes Campground (CA) or Mt. Hood Village (OR).
Biking: Take a seat and use pedal power to enjoy the great outdoors on a bike ride. Some great rides could include the 13-mile city-wide tour of Palm Springs, California, which gives you an idea what the town is all about. Or, pedal around Maine’s Acadia National Park on the 45 miles of carriage roads or the 27-mile Park Loop Road. Add to the fun of your great outdoors experience with a stay in a cute cottage at Narrows Too (ME) or Palm Springs RV Resort (CA).
Fishing: Reel in the big one during Great Outdoors Month. Try your luck with some deep-sea fishing in the Florida Keys or see what’s biting in the waters of Wisconsin’s Door County. Our cozy cabins at Tranquil Timbers (WI) or a colorful cottage or tiny house in the Keys can serve as your “fishing lodge” while you write your big fish story!
Taking in the View: Sometimes it’s enough to just be outdoors to enjoy the view, the fresh air, and the magic of nature. Take in the sunsets from Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf; feel the effects of the healing vortexes in Sedona’s Red Rock State Park; enjoy the charm of Leavenworth, Washington, a quaint-as-can-be Bavarian-styled village or marvel at Haystack Rock, nature’s sea stack creation that rises 235 from the Pacific Ocean at Cannon Beach, Oregon. You can also enjoy the view from our cozy cabins in Santa Barbara (Rancho Oso) or Oregon (Pacific City), or from our adorable tiny homes in Leavenworth, Washington, or Sedona’s Verde Valley Resort.
Camping: Of course, there is no better way to enjoy the great outdoors than with a good camping trip. Writer Alice Walker said, “In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.” Find your perfection and stay with us in one of our Petite Retreats. If you want mountains, we’ve got you covered with locations near Seattle, Maine’s Acadia National Park, beautiful Mt. Hood, and the Adirondacks. If you want seashore, we’ve got you covered with locations in Santa Barbara, the Oregon coast, New Hampshire, and Florida. And if your “perfect” is just gathering friends and family in the great outdoors, we’ve definitely got you covered there!
What does every Dad want on Father’s Day? Most likely, the opportunity to spend time with family, get a pass on chores, and enjoy some grilling time (he’ll probably want to take control with that activity). We’ve got a few more ideas to help celebrate Dad – whether it be on Father’s Day or plans for an upcoming trip that may take him back to the days when his responsibilities were few and his free time was all about fun!
Amusement Parks: Bring back the thrills and chills Dad felt as a child and take him to an iconic amusement park. California’s Disneyland (disneyland.disney.go.com) is the granddaddy of the big theme parks. Opened in 1951, original rides still in operation include the Disneyland Railroad, the Jungle Cruise and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. With the success of Disneyland, Walt Disney turned to Florida to open Walt Disney World (disneyworld.disney.go.com) near Orlando in 1965. Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World, two of the most popular original rides, are still in operation here. While Disney was busy building magical kingdoms on both coasts, Six Flags was busy opening their Texas-sized amusement park near the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961 and remains in operation today. Six Flags expanded and now has parks in California (outside Los Angeles), Illinois (outside Chicago), Massachusetts (near Sturbridge, MA), New Jersey (and hour from Cape May) and New York (near Lake George). Each park offers something a little bit different. Before heading out, make sure to check if the closest park to you is open for the season, as many are delaying openings this summer.
Good Guys and Bad Guys: If your Dad was into gangster lore and legend, he may enjoy the Mob Museum (themobmuseum.org) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Showcasing the beginnings of the mob through current day, exhibits include The Underground, which replicates a Prohibition-era world as well as a Crime Lab that details how forensic evidence is studied and used to build cases against crime bosses.
If anything to do with the Old West is your Dad’s favorite pastime, consider a trip to the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, or the Scottsdale Museum of the West in Arizona. The Autry (theautry.org) is dedicated to “exploring an inclusive history of the Old West” and was co-founded by Gene Autry, Hollywood’s Singing Cowboy. The Scottsdale Museum of the West has 1,400 pieces of old cowboy gear, Hopi pottery dating back thousands of years, and a large collection of paintings, sculpture, and other artifacts representing the Old West (scottsdalemuseumwest.org).
Music, Music, Music: Of course, you may not agree with your Dad’s musical taste, but a visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (rockhall.com) in Cleveland, Ohio should be a trip that everyone can enjoy as it showcases the history of rock and roll from Chuck Berry to Green Day. If country music is his thing, Dad will enjoy a Nashville trip that could include a tour of the Ryman Auditorium that has featured artists from Johnny Cash to Kings of Leon and a visit to the Grand Ole Opry. Travel further in Tennessee to Memphis, which is a mecca for anybody who enjoyed the music and films of Elvis Presley and tour his home, Graceland (graceland.com). See the Jungle Room, the Lisa Marie, Elvis’ private jet, and his collection of cars.
Settled in the late 1860s, La Conner, Washington, was originally known by the name Swinomish, as the area was home to the Swinomish Indians. In 1869, the town was deeded to John Conner for a whopping $500. Conner went on to name the town in honor of his wife, Louisa Ann Conner, which then became LA Conner, and finally, La Conner.
Other notable things to know about La Conner include that it consistently makes the Top 10 of travel lists when it comes to small, quaint and charming towns; it is located on the edge of the largest tulip-growing region in the world, which means come spring, the tulip explosion in the valley outside La Conner is a sight to behold. And, it is considered a four-season attraction, meaning no matter when you visit, there’s always something going on! From beautiful fall hikes to skiing in winter and the burst of spring flowers and summers on the waterfront, La Conner is a year-round destination.
In short, if you’re looking for a charming, waterfront town, complete with boardwalk, art galleries, restaurants, boutiques, museums, and even a gastropub, plus a vibe that will calm even the most hyper of travelers, then La Conner should be put on your destination list!
Here are five things to do when visiting this Pacific-Northwest charmer.
Museum of Northwest Art: With a mission to collect, preserve and interpret art created in the Pacific Northwest, MoNa, as it is called, has contemporary art exhibits from artists hailing from Alaska, British Columbia, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. MoNa displays both permanent and traveling exhibits and admission is free. For information and hours of operation, visit monamuseum.org.
Drive or Bike the Valley: As mentioned above, the Skagit Valley is not only home to the beautiful blooms of spring’s tulips, daffodils and more, but it is also a charming countryside dotted with farms, fields, wildlife and charming towns to explore via bike or on the road. Check out visitskagitvalley.com for a bike map.
Visit the Islands: If you’re up to it, a three-mile kayak or canoe paddle across the Swinomish Channel will get you to Goat Island, where you can explore the remains of century-old Fort Whitman. A quick drive across the iconic Rainbow Bridge brings you to Fidalgo Island, home to Washington Park which has a beach and hiking trails. Kiket Island, which is another short drive from La Conner, offers hiking, pebble beaches, and amazing views.
Photo Ops Galore: With Mt. Baker as a backdrop, most likely anywhere you take a picture in La Conner will prove a worthy photo op but we’ve found some other worthy backdrops as well in the area. Set your sights on Magnus Anderson’s hand-split log cabin, dating back to 1869 (near the Town Hall); the Swinomish totem pole, which is a replica of the original built in 1939 as a Works Project Administration project (across from the ball fields); La Conner Rainbow Bridge, a deck arch bridge built in 1957 that connects La Conner to Fidalgo island.
Skagit County Historical Museum: Learn all about the history of Skagit County in this unique museum whose exhibits range from Native American artifacts to Shirley Temple dolls. Current exhibits include Hometown Teams, which explores how hometown sports teams play a role in American society.
Right now, it’s important to continue to stay at home and practice social distancing. We hope you’re using this time to daydream a bit about your next trip. Our goal is to provide some ideas you may find inspiring or useful for a future trip.
Bar Harbor is at once an outdoor lover’s paradise and a picture-perfect seaside town. From the amazing Acadia National Park to the charming streets of downtown Bar Harbor, there is something for everyone to see and do. Hike, climb, stroll, and shop to your heart’s content in this charming New England gem.
We’ve highlighted just five of the hundreds of things to do when you visit Bar Harbor, Maine.
Love the Lobster: Whether it’s learning all about the crustacean at the Oceanarium, taking a lobster boat ride on the Lulu Lobster Boat, or enjoying a traditional Maine Lobster Bake, this town is all about the lobster. The Oceanarium offers a two-part, hour-long program on lobsters that includes little known lobster facts while the Lulu provides an in-depth look at the life of a lobsterman and the lobster, as well – the coastal scenery while cruising is a plus! As for the lobster eating part, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the lobster – try a traditional lobster roll or a visit to Stewman’s Lobster Pound, which is about as authentic as you can get.
See the Stars: As one of the biggest dark sky locations in the East, Acadia National Park is a great place to see the stars in the night sky. Top spots in the Park include Sand Beach, which has a convenient parking lot; Jordan Pond House, which offers the added bonus of the stars reflecting on the pond and the piece de resistance – Cadillac Mountain. During the summer months, the mountain stays open until midnight so stargazers can drive up and catch the sky show!
Cross Over to Bar Island: If you want to see the reason it’s called Bar Harbor, wait until low tide and you’ll see the land bridge, which is actually a gravelly sandbar, that will take you across to Bar Island. Once on the island, you can hike and walk the trails and enjoy the surrounding views. Check the tide schedule, plan about an hour or so on Bar Island and head back across the land bridge before the tide rolls in!
Explore Acadia: From sunrise to sunset, Acadia is an all-day playground. If you are adventurous, hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain and watch the sunrise. Then it’s your choice for the day – bike the 45 miles of carriage roads, drive the 27-mile Park Loop Road, hike the myriad of trails (from easy to not so easy, there’s about 100 to tackle), or relax at Sand Beach. As we mentioned earlier, the stargazing here is amazing. Things not to miss here are the rush of Thunder Hole and the view of Otter Cliff.
Take in the Town: Lots to do here from foodie tours to museums and live music. Take a three-hour culinary walking tour that not only offers plenty of food but history and lore of the town, as well (mainefoodietours.com/bar-harbor). There’s also a Bar Harbor Happy Hour Tour with a focus on appetizers and Maine craft beer. Or, visit the Abbe Museum and learn all about the people and culture of the Wabanaki, Maine’s Native people. Other museum options include the Bar Harbor Historical Society and the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History. There’s plenty of shopping and eateries and the nightlife hops here, as well. There’s plenty of bars with live music and some laughs can be had at ImprovAcadia. On Monday and Thursday evenings, the Bar Harbor Band offers free outdoor concerts on the Village Green.
June blooms are all around, so we thought we’d highlight some of the indigenous floras around our country (some are always in bloom and some are seasonal, so plan accordingly).
Texas Bluebonnets: This pretty, little blue flower, so named because its petals resemble a sunbonnet, can be found in full bloom across Texas in the spring. In fact, the town of Burnet (outside Austin) is considered the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas and celebrates each year with a festival. Fredericksburg is also a great spot to see the bluebonnets and other Texas wildflowers in their full spring glory via the Willow City Loop trail.
Best time to see: March through mid-April.
Where to stay: Spend the night in a cozy cabin at Medina Lake to round out your Bluebonnet trip.
California Poppies: The state’s official flower since 1903, the California Poppy, or Golden Poppy, is native to California. The Native Americans who lived in the area found the flower a great source for both food and cooking oil. While poppies can be found throughout the state, the best place to see them is the Antelope Valley California Poppy State Natural Reserve near Lancaster. The Reserve has the most consistent blooms of the poppy. P.S. – Harry and Meghan fans may find it interesting that the Duchess of Sussex honored her California roots and had the poppy embroidered into her wedding veil, as well as made a part of her official coat of arms.
Florida Mangroves: This Florida native does so much for so many – from providing shelter to Florida’s animal kingdom to playing an important role in the overall health of the coastal ecosystem. Four types of mangroves can be found in southern Florida and those are the red mangrove, black mangrove, white mangrove, and the buttonwood. Guided tours through mangrove tunnels are available in the Everglades as well as the Keys and several hiking opportunities are available too. For hiking options, check out floridahikes.com/mangroves.
South Carolina Spanish Moss: When you picture the South, don’t most of those visions include trees draped with Spanish Moss? Which then begs the question, just what is Spanish Moss? It is not a tree or moss at all, but instead a plant from the bromeliad family that uses the trees they drape for support but not at all for nutrients. Those come instead from the moisture in the air and rainwater running down the tree’s bark, among other things. The Low Country of South Carolina is a great place to see an abundance of Spanish Moss.
Sedona’s Prickly Pear: One of the most famous cacti native to the southwest is the saguaro, but when it comes to Sedona, Arizona, the popular cacti here is the prickly pear (fun fact: Red Rock country’s elevation is too high for the saguaro). Squat and low to the ground, unlike the taller saguaro, the prickly pear cactus can be identified by its flat pads. And, the fruit of the prickly pear can be eaten raw but is most delicious when made into a wine or syrup.
Where to stay: Check into a cozy cabin or tiny house at Verde Valley, and while you’re there, head to Alcantara Winery, which is conveniently located right next to Verde Valley.
Looking for a way to show your appreciation for your favorite Mom on Mother’s Day? Check out these great ideas to make her next glamping trip one she will never forget.
Treat Her to Breakfast: Whip up some avocado toast using Coughlan’s Camp Stove Toaster ($4.99/cabelas.com) and serve it up with a spicy, virgin Bloody Mary. Check out Harry and David’s Bloody Mary Mix set which comes complete with garnishes ($49.99/harryanddavid.com).
Have Her Hikin’ in Style: From top to bottom, make sure Mom is well suited for any hike. REI’s Co-op Vented Explorer Hat is made of organic cotton and provides USP 50+ sun protection ($40/rei.com). L.L. Bean’s Darn Tough CoolMax Micro Cushion Socks ($21/llbean.com) are moisture wicking and quick drying and the performance fit helps eliminate bunching and blisters.
Comfort Beside the Campfire: While it might not be possible to give Mom a relaxing spa treatment while glamping, you can make sure her campfire chair provides all the right support. Consider gifting her with STRONGBACK’s Heavy Duty Camp Chair with Lumbar Support ($100/amazon.com).
Play Her Favorite Games: Is she a whiz at cards, or maybe rolling the old bones is her favorite pastime? Orvis offers the perfect compromise with their Campfire Games Set ($30/orvis.com), which includes 52 waterproof playing cards, six dice, and instructions for three different campfire-friendly games.
Sweets for the Sweetest: After a delightful dinner prepared by her crew, give Mom the perfect sweet treat the whole family can enjoy. Cuisinart’s Love 6 S’more Maker can prepare six s’mores at once on a camping grill ($14/homedepot.com). Gooey fun for the whole family!
Gourmet Greatness: Looking to give mom a little bit s’more? Try amping up her s’mores game for the occasion with a s’mores kit from 1927 S’mores ($18.00). Each component is made from scratch, and the attention comes through in taste. Appropriately named for the year the s’more was invented, this company is making flavor a priority, with offerings such as cocoa espresso, triple chocolate, and peppermint.
Guarantee the Memories: Make sure the trip and every detail of the experience is remembered for years to come. Check out the selection of camping journals at amazon.com. We like the Family Camping Journal ($8.99), which has more than 100 pages to record all the deets!
Give Her A Cozy Night’s Sleep: Ensure a perfect end to a perfect day by making light’s out is as cozy as possible for Mom. Start with L.L. Bean’s Flannel Camp Pillow ($30/llbean.com) that is lined with soft flannel on one side and is machine washable. Then toss in the L.L. Bean Mountain Classic Camp Blanket ($70/llbean.com) for the perfect lightweight blanket. And, since Mom’s got the day (and night) off, guarantee her an uninterrupted sleep with the REI’s Louis N Clark Comfort Eye Mask and Ear Plug Set ($13/rei.com).
Add a little dose of tiny to your next Zoom session with friends and family. These Zoom backgrounds will make you feel like you’re in a tiny house while practicing social distancing. Simply download a photo, open Zoom, and select ‘Choose a Virtual Background’ to upload your photo. Happy Zooming!
Santa Barbara, California, is rich in history – from the Chumash Indians who inhabited this coastal area more than 6,000 years ago, to the Spanish soldiers and missionaries who came in the 1700s, to the silent film industry that made Santa Barbara the hot spot for film production in the early 1900s. (Humble brag: many silent film stars frequented Rancho Oso, including Charlie Chaplin! Rancho Oso features teepees, safari tents, covered wagons, and cozy cabins.)
Today, Santa Barbara remains a hot spot – but now its about the beautiful landscape, the magnificent sunsets and all the great things to do here in the “American Riviera!” Here are just five don’t miss things to do in SB:
Visit Chumash Painted Cave Historic Park: At this small park outside of Santa Barbara, visitors can view actual cave paintings created by the Chumash Indians thousands of years ago using a palette created from earth pigments including charcoal and limonite. Located inside a cave in the Santa Ynez Mountains, the drawings are protected by a grate so viewing may be during daylight hours.
The Old Mission in Santa Barbara was founded in 1786 and is one of the longest, continuously operating missions in California. The church that currently stands is actually the fourth built here and was constructed between 1815 to 1820. Its classic Greco-Roman design is said to be taken from the style of the architect Vitruvius, whose Roman structures date to 27 BC. Several different tours of the Mission can be taken that include both self-guided and docent-guided – check out santabarbaramission.org for details.
Bask in the beauty of the gardens of Lotusland – a 37-acre estate of the late opera singer Madame Ganna Walska that contains 25 distinct gardens open to the public. The gardens were designed to always have something in bloom year-round, but if you’re specifically interested in the lotuses, visit in July and August. LotusFest! 2020 is currently planned for June 28.
Does anyone remember the 2004 Oscar-nominated film Sideways about a guys’ road trip to Santa Barbara wine country? If you’re a fan of the film, or a just a fan of the wine, you can follow the itinerary of the film’s main characters by downloading “Sideways-The Map” from santabarbara.com. Or, you can just choose to take one of many wine tours offered in Santa Barbara that include a Cupcake and Wine tour (our favorite!), a Wine and Bike Tour, or the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Tour. Visit www.winetours-santabarbara.com for all the fun details.
Get Out and Hike: the weather is almost always accommodating for a lovely day hike in Santa Barbara and planetware.com has very nicely put together a quick list of 10 Top-Rated hikes (www.planetware.com/california/santa-barbara-hiking-trails-us-ca-72.htm) for some ideas. Inspiration Point, while rocky and steep, is considered a moderate hike, and hikers say is worth the view. If you want a glimpse of the harbor seals at the Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary, consider hiking the flat trail at the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve. A pup-friendly trail would be Rattlesnake Trail. Shaded, thanks to the oaks and sycamore trees, the trail provides great views and is also popular with birders!
While working your way through this list of things to do in Santa Barbara, be sure to double up on fun by staying in a teepee, covered wagon, safari tent, or cozy cabin at Rancho Oso! You’ll also have the opportunity to do some horseback riding, right onsite.
Just like you would ensure the safety of your human traveling companions, it’s important to stay on top of the best advice when it comes to traveling with your pets. It’s never a bad idea to acquaint, or re-acquaint, yourself when it comes to pet safety when traveling. Here are a few to keep in mind –
You may think your pet loves a car ride, but a quick trip around the neighborhood is very different from a long road trip. The tip here is to see how they do on longer trips by taking a drive and increasing the time each drive. Do this several times and you’ll quickly find out when the timer should be set for a quick pit stop that includes a short walk to stretch the old legs, all six of them!
Pack their bag! Besides food and water, there are a few things your pet shouldn’t leave home without and those include: a few of their favorite toys, comfortable bedding or blankets to remind them of home, and a complete listing of their vaccinations, medical history and any medications (including a vet-prescribed or approved anti-nausea and/or anti-anxiety if your pet suffers from nervous stomach or is just plain nervous). Make sure you have their tags and chip information as well as an extra leash or two. And, for your fellow travelers, the necessary supplies for cleaning up after your pet.
Make sure your pet has his own space in the vehicle and while it may not be too spacious, focus on making it comfortable and safe. Pet carriers or specially made pet car seats are best for small dogs and, of course, experts recommend that pet restraints, or pet seatbelts, provide the safest way for car travel with pets.
Aside from your pet’s regular items, be prepared for emergencies. A pet first-aid kit should include activated charcoal or milk of magnesia for accidental ingestions, non-stick bandages, antimicrobial spray (like Vetericyn which is good for dogs and cats), Pedialyte, scissors, and swabs. Or, check out chewy.com and let them take the guesswork out of it with prepacked first-aid kits for pets. Another good idea is to check with your vet – they may have a pre-printed list of items to include in a pet first-aid kit. A final note – make sure that you have printed a few pics of your pet in the unfortunate event they roam away from your glamping accommodation and you need people to help find him/her.
Schedule Pet Expeditions. Sure, it’s your vacation, but you brought along your best friend so make sure that some time during the trip is focused on something they would like. Google pet-friendly places in your destination and see what pet-friendly restaurants, parks, and trails are available. Plus, think of all those cool Instagram posts of your trip together!
When it first hit the airwaves, the idea of National Record Store Day was to spend a specifically designated date visiting your local record store to support the business. The first National Record Store Day was held on April 19, 2008. Skip forward to present day, and Record Store Day is celebrated on every continent. The concept was definitely “number one with a bullet.”
And, little known fact, Record Store Day should be called Record Store Days, because typically there are two designated days to celebrate, one in April and the other being Black Friday, which falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year National Record Store Day will be recognized on June 20. We’ve done the tour and rounded up a few stores near your favorite locations to visit, whether on National Record Store Day, or any other day you want to pay homage to the vinyl that brings music to your ears!
Seattle, Washington: Neptune Music Company, 4344 Brooklyn Avenue NE
Visitors say that although a small space, Neptune Music has everything you could imagine from a music standpoint which includes a knowledgeable owner, tons of records, and a unique selection. Another plus, it’s located in the basement of the Neptune Theater, a still-functioning music venue opened in 1921 in the hip and historic University District of Seattle.
Portland, Oregon: Mississippi Records, 5202 N. Albina
Complete with listening stations, this record store also features a large supply of the good old 45 in its vast collection that includes everything from rock and blues to international music. They also have a selection of vintage electronics. Please note the store’s policy is CASH ONLY.
St. Petersburg, Florida: Bananas Vinyl Warehouse, 2222 16th Avenue N.
This is one big record collection! Bananas two-story warehouse holds more than three million LPs and records and receives more than 1000 new additions to the collection weekly. Plus, there is the nearby retail store (2887 22nd Avenue N). One visitor remarked “if Bananas doesn’t have it, it doesn’t exist.” Note to visitors, the warehouse is vinyl only while the retail store has CDS, DVDs, and more.
Boston, Massachusetts: Cheapo Records, 538 Mass Avenue, Cambridge
Cheapo Records has been around since 1954, so they must be doing something right. Located in the Central Square area of Cambridge (just a quick T-ride from Boston), the shop is said to have more than 100,000 vinyl albums as well as 100,000 45s. Consistently rated five stars by visitors, you can most likely find just what you’ve been searching for at Cheapo.
Cincinnati, Ohio: Shake It Records, 4156 Hamilton Avenue
Located in Cincinnati’s eclectic Northside neighborhood, the Shake It Records experience begins with the store’s colorful façade and continues inside the 1,000 square foot store that is chock full of music from the 25,000-piece vinyl collection to the 15,000+ CDs available. Independent labels are the main act here, but mainstream selections can be found as well from rock and roll to country classics.
Chicago, Illinois: Dave’s Records, 2604 N. Clark Street
Dave’s is a true record store – meaning it sells records only. You won’t find CDs or vintage 8-tracks, just vinyl, vinyl, and more vinyl in the store’s 40,000-plus collection. A small space but the perfect spot to find the rarest gems to the newest releases from the world of vinyl. Head to Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood and look for the sign in the window that reads “No CDS. Never had ‘em!! Never Will!!” and you’ll find the treasure trove known as Dave’s Records.
That’s just a quick list of the hits – but if you find yourself looking for a record store, visit www.recordstore.com for a listing of record stores across the US. And, if you’re spending time at home like so many of us are, don’t forget to check out if your favorite record store has an online store, as well.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was a boom in technology that plunged the average, everyday person into the digital world, resulting in what could be called screen-time addiction. During that time, the use of home computers, hand-held video games, and portable pocket-sized devices for our viewing and listening pleasures became the norm rather than the exception.
So, it’s no wonder that in the early 1980s, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries began to promote the practice of shinrin-yoku to encourage people to spend time in nature. Shinrin-yoku translates to “forest bathing,” which is fast becoming a popular way to go off grid and absorb the benefits of nature.
Studies have shown plenty of positive health benefits of forest bathing. It reduces levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. It also has been proven to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, boost energy levels, and provide more sound sleep. Plus, you don’t necessarily need to do anything strenuous – simply bathe in the natural surroundings and be present in the very moment!
Come stay with us and enjoy the nearby forests and take the plunge (no bathtub necessary) to see why forest bathing is making such a big splash these days.
The Deschutes National Forest is just minutes from the yurts and cabins at Bend-Sunriver. Bask in the beauty of the soaring trees, which include Douglas firs, Ponderosa pines, Western larch, and White pines. There are roughly 76 moderate trails in the 1.8 million acres that comprise the forest. Waterfalls, wildlife, and mountain views add to your bathing pleasure!
If you’re planning a trip to Santa Barbara to stay in a teepee, tent, covered wagon, or cabin at Rancho Oso, you’ll be happy to know California’s Los Padres National Forest is conveniently less than 10 miles away and provides the perfect forest bathing venue. Coming in at approximately 1.9 million acres, Los Padres has over 1000 miles of trails and is home to magnificent coastal redwoods, pine and fir trees as well a variety of oak tree species, including Blue Oak and California Black Oak. Oh, and Pfeiffer Beach is also located within the forest so you can actually get wet while forest bathing here!
The Tuxbury Tiny House Village in South Hampton, New Hampshire, has two nearby options for forest bathing: Cowden State Forest and Powwow River State Forest. While a short drive away, about an hour and a half to be exact, this puts you smack dab in the middle of the White Mountain Forest with plenty of hemlock, pines, and spruce trees to bathe in. Fun fact, the state of New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the US with roughly 81 percent of forest land, so everywhere you look, there’s an option to forest bathe!
Take a trip to Wisconsin’s Door County and you’ll find yourself surrounded by forest lands, including Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest and Wetlands. A stay at Tranquil Timbers is a great way to get your daily dose of forest bathing. Baileys is home to spruce, cedar, birch, and hemlock trees as well as a bevy of birds including warblers and merlins who can add the soundtrack to bath time.
Just like the old burger chain slogan, you can choose to do spring break “your way” and you’ll find you’ll have a whopper of a good time! Here are some ideas to customize your spring break so you and your travel companions, whether it’s family, friends, or your significant other, will find your travel appetites completely satisfied.
Family Fun: We know you’ve heard it before, but Disney World really does offer something magical for everyone, from the young to the young at heart. You may hear “when are we going to get there” as you embark on this spring break journey, but once you’re there, most likely no one will be complaining one bit. Plan a stay at one of the colorful cottages at Tropical Palms Resort Kissimmee and explore all Disney has to offer. Plus, Orlando’s got some new things to keep you smiling including Magic Happens, a daytime parade with characters from Moana and Frozen, which debuted in February, and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, a new thrill ride that will delight Harry Potter fans, which debuted last summer.
Girls’ Getaway: Shop, eat, repeat – sounds like a great agenda for a girls getaway. Toss in plenty of sunshine, desert hikes, and colorful cottage accommodations and you’ve got yourself an all-star girls trip. All of these things and more can be found in Palm Springs, California. Get the fun started by reserving your cottage accommodation at Palm Springs and then let Palm Springs do its thing. Hike the Andreas Canyon Trail or take a drive to hike in Joshua Tree National Park. Shop ‘til you drop in downtown Palm Springs or the trendy Uptown Design District. From a foodie standpoint, there’s everything you can imagine from steakhouses, sushi joints, and farm to table. There are also several foodie tours so you can sample and see what you’ll be back for later! Enjoy VillageFest which happens every Thursday night in downtown Palm Springs and features arts, crafts, food, and live entertainment.
Guys’ Getaway: What’s better than a group of guys swapping stories about the one that got away? How about being together when one of you, or maybe all of you, reel in the Big One? And, let’s be clear, we’re talking about fish here. If fishing floats your collective boats, head down to the Florida Keys, book a stay in the new tiny homes at Sunshine Key and fish, fish, fish. The resort has teamed up with Keys Boat Tours so you can conveniently book your fishing adventures right at the resort as well as depart direct from the resort on your quest to add to your fish tales! P.S. – you can also choose to fish onsite at the resort!
Romantic Respite: Not sure, but is there such a thing as a quiet spring break for two? Whether you’re looking to connect or reconnect, consider experiencing the beauty and oft-transformative Sedona, Arizona. First on the list would be cozy accommodations so book a tiny home stay at Verde Valley. Then, take a hike and explore the healing powers of the vortexes found in Red Rock State Park, namely Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock. Toast to love and happiness with wine tastings along the Verde Valley Wine Trail (verdevalleywine.org). End your perfect days with some premium stargazing as Sedona is one of only 20 certified Dark Sky Communities in the world! Check out spacetourismguide.com to find the best spots to see the stars of Sedona.
According to an article in The Oregonian, Bend ranked 4th in the US as a vacation rental hotspot, based on a 2019 survey. The top three spots went to Florida locations. So, what makes Bend, a small city in Central Oregon, rank fourth on a list headed by some real hot spots? We’ve come up with just five reasons, but there are plenty more to be there now when it comes to Bend.
Spelunking and Caving: First off, spelunking is just a fancy word for exploring caves, of which the area has plenty. There are said to be 400 lava tubes in the area and Wanderlust Tours (wanderlusttours.com) offers a great way to see the ones that are accessible. You can also choose to explore on your own – check out Hidden Forest Cave, Boyd Cave, or Redmond Caves, which has five different lava tubes to explore.
Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint: For more lava fun, head to Pilot Butte, which is actually the lava dome of an extinct volcano, rising 500 feet above the surrounding plains. A nice little trail provides access to the dome, which offers an amazing panoramic view of the snow-capped Cascades.
Tumalo Falls: From June to October, the 90+-foot waterfall is the star of the show in Deschutes National Forest. Hike a seven mile loop trail and you’ll find the viewing platform, which provides the perfect spot for great photo ops. (Do it for the ‘gram.) Further up the trail, Middle Tumalo Falls, a two-tiered cascade is pretty spectacular, as well.
Floating on the Deschutes River: The Deschutes River can easily be considered the biggest playground in Bend from May to September. On any given day, you’ll find kayakers, tubers, paddlers and floaters enjoying the scenery along the river. Floating is just one way to explore and enjoy the Deschutes. Check out visitbend.com to see how you can all float on!
Bend Ale Trail: Is the Pacific Northwest really the birthplace of craft breweries? Maybe, maybe not, but one way to find out the history and enjoy the results of the craft beer craze is the Bend Ale Trail. There are several ways to explore the trail including by bike, trolley and tour bus. Choose one, drink responsibly, and say cheers to the innovation of Bend’s craft brewers. You’ll soon discover why Bend has been referred to as “Beer Town USA” and “Beervana.”
While exploring the natural beauty of Bend and eating or drinking your way through their exciting culinary and craft brewery scene, relax a bit in one of our yurts or cabins at Bend-Sunriver. It’ll make your visit even more photoworthy!
A winter getaway to Texas will provide much in the way of cultural diversity, rich history, great food and music and, of course, moderate weather (average daytime highs are around 65 degrees in winter). There’s also plenty of great fishing and hiking in the area. We’ve highlighted five great things to do if find yourself Texas-bound!
Space Center Houston: Housing more than 400 space artifacts, Space Center Houston is one of the city’s top attractions, welcoming close to 1 million visitors annually. It has the world’s largest collection of moon rocks and lunar samples, as well as space capsules, lunar modules and robonauts, which are humanoid robots, one of which currently serves aboard the International Space Station.
Cockerell Butterfly Center: With more than 100 species of exotic butterflies and insects making their home here, this is a must-do for nature lovers. Also, the Center houses the Rainforest Conservatory, a three-story glass structure that acts as a simulated rainforest and has plenty of butterflies alighting on the exotic plants here. Don’t miss the 50-foot waterfall!
Lone Star Monument & Historical Flag Park: Displaying 13 flags that flew during the history of the great state of Texas, this beautiful 3.5-acre park is worth the trip. Located in Conroe, visitors can also see The Texian, a 14-foot bronze sculpture by Conroe artist Craig Campobella, that depicts a soldier of the Texas Revolution.
Distilleries, vineyards, and breweries: Starting with distilleries, you can find more than 10 dotting the countryside between Conroe and Houston where can sip spirits including vodka, whiskey, and rum. Check out distillerytrail.com to see locations in the area, as well as all across Texas. Blue Epiphany Vineyards (blue-ephiphany.com) in Conroe has a tasting room as well as a schedule of special events while Wild Stallion Vineyards (wildstallionvineyards.com) in nearby Spring offers a tasting room and an upcoming spring concert series. Beer lovers will appreciate the craft brewers in the area which include B52 Brewing, set on seven wooded acres complete with a tap room and beer garden, and Southern Star Brewing Company, which offers tours and has plenty of events including Trivia and Tacos Thursdays and live music and food trucks on Fridays.
Fernland Historical Park and Museum and Memory Garden: Located in Montgomery, Texas, Fernland has several historic homes that have been relocated to provide a hands-on educational opportunity for visitors. The homes depict life in early Texas and are examples of early Texas architecture. All the homes date to the 1800s and range from rustic cabins to a Greek-revival home build in 1845.
While exploring all the Houston and Lake Conroe areas have to offer, make a cozy cabin at Lake Conroe your homebase, where you can also relax by the pool and take in views of the lake from your deck.
February is Black History Month. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized the month of February as a time to “recognize the accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” However, the original concept to recognize black history dates to the early 1900s and is attributed to Carter G. Woodson, who is considered the “father of black history.” There are many historic sites throughout the US significant to black history, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016 in Washington DC. The museum is the largest destination dedicated to the African-American experience. A few more sites are listed here.
Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument: Part of the National Park System, this location in Wilberforce, Ohio, preserves and interprets the legacy of the Buffalo Soldier of the U.S. Army. Through photos and other multi-media exhibits, visitors can learn about these soldiers who served in America’s wars, beginning with the Civil War.
Wilberforce is approximately 30 miles from the cabins and cottages at Wilmington.
National Civil Rights Museum: The museum, located in Memphis, Tennessee, explores the history of the Civil Rights Movement and houses more than 260 artifacts. Through these artifacts, films and other multi-media exhibits, visitors can trace the history of the movement beginning with the 17th century. The museum is built around the Lorraine Motel, which was the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site: Visitors to this national park in Washington, D.C., can tour Cedar Hill, where Frederick Douglass lived from 1877 until his death in 1895, through a guided tour with a Park Ranger. There is also a film, Fighter for Freedom: The Frederick Douglass Story, as well as other historical exhibits.
Freedmen’sTown National Historic District: This neighborhood in Houston was one of several areas established by freed slaves after the Civil War. Roughly 1000 freed slaves settled the community after leaving the cotton plantations of Texas. The history of the area can be explored at the Rutherford B.H. Yates Museum and the African American Library at the Gregory School.
Houston is about 50 miles from Lake Conroe, where you can stay in a cozy cabin.
African American National Historic Site/Black Heritage Trail: The Black Heritage Trail runs through the city of Boston, Massachusetts, and highlights 15 pre-Civil War structures and historic sites important to black history. The African Meeting House, which is the oldest surviving black church in the United States, dating to 1806, is on the trail. The trail also includes the home of John Coburn, an African-American abolitionist who aided the efforts of the Underground Railroad.
Right on the heels of the holiday season comes Awards Season. This is the time of year, from roughly early January until mid-February, when the Hollywood stars shine their brightest doing the circuit of award shows to see who takes home the coveted statuette – from the Golden Globe to the SAG Actor to the big daddy of them all, the Oscar. Take a trip to LaLa Land and vacation Hollywood-style.
Go full-on tourist and hit the LA scene that highlights all things Hollywood.
Walk of Fame: Stroll on over to Hollywood Boulevard and check out the more than 2000 stars on the Walk of Fame. The dedications here include luminaries from television, radio, movies, live theater, and the music industry, To have a star here, the criterion includes “being famous for at least 5 years.” The first star dedicated belonged to actress Joanne Woodward and the most recent was to Snoop Dogg.
Graumann’s Chinese Theater: Opened in 1927 to debut the film King of Kings, Graumann’s Chinese Theater was so named because of the style of the architecture. For years it was the venue for the Academy Awards, and is noted because of the more than 200 handprints and footprints of the Hollywood hotshots that you can still step into in the forecourt of the theater. FYI, those prints include the hoofprint of Trigger, Roy Rogers’ faithful horse and the tire marks of Herbie the Love Bug.
Hollywood Sign: If you want a good view or a selfie backdrop of the Hollywood sign, take a trip to Griffith Park. There are trails that lead up to as close as you can legally get to the sign. The outdoor patio at the Griffith Observatory also provides an ideal spot to get a good shot of this landmark sign that was built in 1923. The letters stand 45 feet high and span 350 feet across the entire sign.
Go on location and visit iconic settings that have had their fair share of close-ups during some of most the popular movies and television shows.
The Last Book Store: Located at 453 S. Spring in Los Angeles, the bookstore itself is worth the visit as it houses plenty of books, including vintage volumes, at great prices. From a fan perspective, you will recognize the place from the 2014 movie, Gone Girl.
Cunningham House: While the Cunningham family of Happy Days fame resided in Milwaukee, the exterior shots of their happy home was actually those of a house located in LA. Cruise on over to 565 N. Cahuenga Boulevard in LA and you’ll be transported to happier days! Can you hear Fonzie’s bike coming to visit?
Leo Carrillo State Beach: Plenty of filming has gone on at this popular beach in Malibu. Walk the beach and imagine you see Danny and Sandy enjoying those summer nights or Keanu and Patrick Swayze catching a wave while filming Point Break. The iconic beach movies of the early 1960s were also filmed here including Gidget and Beach Blanket Bingo. Named for actor Leo G. Carrillo, best known for his television series, The Cisco Kid, the beach is located at 35000 W. Pacific Coast Highway, in Malibu.
Get up close and personal with the Academy Awards and the stars who shine.
The Annenberg Space for Photography has a current exhibit entitled “Vanity Fair: Hollywood Calling,” scheduled to run through July 26. The exhibit features more than 100 photographs of film and television industry stars over the last 40 years taken by famous photographers such as Annie Leibovitz and Herb Ritts. Visit annebergphotospace.org for hours and more details.
Coming soon! The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is definitely coming soon. The museum, which was slated to open in 2019, is expected to open this year on the site of the former May Co. department store, located at 6067 Wilshire Blvd. Film related objects, including Dorothy’s ruby slippers and the typewriter on which the screenwriter wrote Psycho, are slated to be on display here. Watch the website at academymuseum.org for updates on the opening date and details.
If you’re looking to add a bit more star power to your LA visit, try staying in a cabin, cottage, teepee, or covered wagon at Rancho Oso in Santa Barbara. Rancho Oso is a working ranch and also served as a retreat from Hollywood life for silent film stars, including the famed Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.
Get a new perspective in 2020 and check out these amazing views around the country.
If you’re visiting Sedona, Arizona, Red Rock State Park provides some of the most breathtaking scenery you may ever see. Simply strolling through this rugged valley with its startling sandstone formations is a sight for the eyes, but if you choose to visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross, you’ll add to the magnificent spectacle. Built into the buttes of the Red Rocks, the Chapel of the Holy Cross is considered an architectural wonder.
Plan a stay at Verde Valley when exploring Red Rock State Park.
Any way you slice it, Yosemite National Park is one of the most scenic spots on Earth. To get a spectacular view of the Park’s highlights, including Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, take in the scenery from Glacier Point. With a commanding elevation of 7,214 feet, this popular overlook is a great way to see all the beauty of the Yosemite Valley.
Yosemite Lakes provides a perfect base camp while visiting the Yosemite Valley and the National Park.
Thunder Hole, in Acadia National Park, is named due to the thundering sound that occurs when the waves of the Atlantic roll into the cavern on this inlet at Acadia. The water can splash as high as 40 feet! Thunder Hole also offers fabulous views of Otter Cliff and the Great Head from the safety of an observation deck.
Narrows Too in Trenton is a great place to stay for a visit to Acadia, as well as the charming town of Bar Harbor.
Pick your favorite vista when you visit Odiorne State Park, in Rye. There are beautiful views of the woodlands, the rocky coastline and the Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day you can see the Isles of Shoals, a small group of six islands, located about six miles off the coast. In addition to the views, there is also the Seacoast Science Center and the remains of Fort Dearborn, established during World War II to help protect the Portsmouth Harbor.
One of the most scenic spots in Lancaster County is Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve. Lake and river views, as well as streams, creeks, and waterfalls are just a few of the scenic details here. The rugged terrain of the woodlands provides possible glimpses of the preserve’s wildlife inhabitants, including coyotes, fox, and deer. Several well-marked trails lead the way as you explore the amazing scenery here.
Circle M is about 22 minutes from Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve.
Kerry Park, in Seattle, is the perfect spot to grab a panoramic view of the Emerald City. If you’ve seen such a shot in a magazine or movie, it was most likely taken from Kerry Park. There are so many pluses to visiting this location. Not only is the view of the city skyline spectacular, two bonus views include Mt. Rainier and Elliot Bay. Also, the charming neighborhood of Queen Anne provides views of 19th century homes in Upper Queen Anne, and another one of Seattle’s best locations for amazing views, the Space Needle, in Lower Queen Anne.
Do you plan to blaze a new trail in 2020? You might want to consider trekking these trails around the country.
Joshua Tree National Park (CA) – Check out the trees the park is named for while hiking the more than 65 moderate trails in this rugged terrain. The Joshua Tree is characterized by its twisty, bristly limbs and these distinctive trees are just part of the scenery to be seen here. The Arch Rock Trail hike brings you to the namesake of the trail, Arch Rock, which runs 30 feet wide. Get up close and personal (well, maybe not too close or too personal) with the Park’s Cholla Cactus on the relatively easy Cholla Cactus Garden trail.
Lake Kissimmee State Park (FL) – Live oak hammocks provide the perfect cover as you explore the two loop trails in this Florida hiking destination. The Buster Island Trail takes roughly 3 ½ hours to walk this 6.9-mile loop on an island that is surrounded by three lakes. The North Loop Trail is another option that includes Gobbler Ridge, a spur trail that leads to the edge of Lake Kissimmee.
Prospect Mountain (NY) – Imagine 100 miles views of the Adirondacks! This somewhat difficult hike (not suggested for youngsters) is one of the
more popular hikes in the region thanks to the rewarding scenery. The goal is the summit at 2,030 feet, where hikers can experience those magnificent views but also see the remains of the Prospect Mountain Cable Incline Railway. The trailhead begins in the town of Lake George.
Fall Hollow Falls (TN) – The waterfalls are the draw on this trail, not to mention the creeks and wooden bridges. Cross over the two bridges and you’ll find yourself at the observation deck for the falls. The trail to the observation deck is less than a quarter mile. The trailhead for this hike is just off the historic Natchez Trace Parkway.
If yurt camping has been on your travel bucket list for a while, why not make 2020 the Year of the Yurt? Luckily, Petite Retreats has more than enough yurt locations so you can choose a different spot to yurt every month of the year!
If you’re not familiar with yurts, there are a few things to keep in mind. Our yurts typically feature either two double futons and one set of bunk beds or one double futon and two sets of bunk beds. Some also have a functional kitchenette with a stovetop and microwave (no oven), upright refrigerator with small freezer, and a dining table. Kitchen amenities include an electric coffeepot, a toaster, pots and pans, as well as dishes, glasses, and utensils. Oh, and also a private restroom with shower! They also feature satellite television, a propane fireplace and gas barbeque on the outdoor deck. If you’re looking to rough it a bit more, we do also feature a few yurts that are much more rustic, without a restroom or kitchen, at Snowflower, Mt. Hood, Long Beach, Paradise, Tall Chief, Grandy Creek, and Tranquil Timbers.
California yurt options include Lake of the Springs, in Oregon House; Snowflower in Emigrant Gap and Yosemite Lakes in Groveland. Lake of the Springs is nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains and nearby attractions include the New Leaf Llama Farm, home to 30 friendly llamas. Snowflower puts you near Tahoe National Forest and all its activities, including hiking, fishing, swimming, climbing and bicycling. Yosemite Lakes is of course the perfect spot to stay when exploring Yosemite National Park as the entrance to the Park is just five miles down the road. The campground itself offers fishing, swimming and panning for gold thanks to the Tuolumne River that runs right through Yosemite Lakes.
Heading north from California to Oregon, there are four yurt opportunities – two along the Oregon coast, one in beautiful Bend and one in Mt. Hood Territory in Welches. South Jetty (Florence) and Pacific City (Cloverdale) provide great locations for coastal excursions that could include Florence’s Heceta Head Lighthouse with its beautiful coastal views or wine tours of Cloverdale’s many vineyards. Bend-Sunriver is great year-round and Bend is always full of activity, indoors and out. Bend’s Oregon Winter Fest is set for February 16, 2020, and summer brings the Bend Summer Festival, set for July. Mt. Hood in Welches is a great place to stay when catching the area’s most famous festivals, including the Mount Hood Huckleberry Festival in August and the Mount Hood Salmon and Mushroom Festival in September. Worth noting, the yurts at Mt. Hood are rustic and don’t have a restroom or a kitchen. That said, they’re conveniently located near a bathhouse. Both Bend and Welches offers skiing and sledding fun in winter and plenty of hiking, biking and fishing come summer.
On to Washington State, where five locations offers yurt accommodations. Starting in southern Washington, there is Long Beach, located on the scenic peninsula with its boardwalk and beaches, and the world Kite Museum (because kite flying is excellent here), which features our more rustic yurt offering. Paradise is in Silver Creek and is surrounded by the mountains, including Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. The campground has two stocked fishing lakes, too! The yurts at Paradise are rustic, and located near a restroom facility. Tall Chief is just outside Seattle and is the perfect spot to explore Seattle’s offerings, including the towering Space Needle, the lively, and historic, Pike Place Market and the offbeat Museum of Pop Culture. (The yurts at Tall Chief are also rustic.) Mt. Vernon and Grandy Creek, both located in northern Washington, complete the yurt options in Washington and each offer different opportunities. Mt. Vernon, located in Washington’s picturesque Skagit Valley, is a wooded wonderland with activities like hiking and fishing topping the list. The San Juan Islands are just a ferry ride away. Grandy Creek is in Concrete, in Mt. Baker territory, making the North Cascades National Park your playground. Plus, Baker Lake is great for fishing and swimming.
Tranquil Timbers is located on the beautiful Door County Peninsula of Wisconsin in Sturgeon Bay, which was voted one of the Top 10 Happiest Seaside Towns in the U.S. by Coastal Living magazine. Summer is the best time to enjoy yurt camping here as well as the world-famous bass fishing for which the bay is known. The charming towns dotting Door County are another plus to summer in Wisconsin.
Finally, the rolling hills of Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County are home to Circle M and their yurt accommodations. Lancaster County offers plenty of Pennsylvania Dutch hospitality from authentic Amish dining experiences and buggy rides to interesting museums (check out the York Barbell Weightlifting Museum and Hall of Fame or the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania). All kinds of family fun, including loads of chocolate, are available at nearby Hershey Park.
If you haven’t heard of hygge, you’re most likely not paying attention or don’t have a desire to feel comfy and cozy! Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).” Hygge has been gaining traction in the US for about the last four years and is yet another quest for Americans to add much-needed comfort and relaxation to their crazy lives. So, let’s find a way to hygge up your holidays, both in your gift-giving and in ways to deal with the holiday stress.
Candles are big in the hygge world. Consider World Market’s Natural Birch Bark Candles ($5.99) for instant cozy or their Tobacco Flower and Rosewood Filled Soy Candle ($14.99).
A required item for cozy is of course a blanket, so consider the Cable Knit Reversable Sherpa Oversized Throw from amazon.com ($69.80) or Pottery Barn’s Cozy Pom Pom Throw ($49).
A diffuser with essential oils can bring calming scents to the air. Try the Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser Helix ($29.99) available from Target.com. For essential oils, consider the Wellness Set from planttherapy.com ($39.95) which includes oils mixed for wellness.
Don’t forget a book to explain all about Hygge – some of the more popular ones include The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking or The Art of Hygge by Elias Larsen and Jonny Jackson. Both are available on amazon.com.
Taking Care of You
Drink more tea! Proven health benefits include soothing the digestive system and decreasing risk of heart attacks as well as calming your mind.
Practice Mindfulness. Not everyone can spend an hour meditating, but you can take a few minutes to close your eyes, clear your mind, and do some deep breathing exercises.
Host a Hygge Night. Have friends over where the only requirement is comfy clothes and blankets and pillows. Share stories of holidays past and reflect on all that you are grateful for.
Get outside. It may be cold, but a short brisk walk can do a lot to relieve stress.
Make your winter months as sunny as possible and head to southern California to explore the area. Daytime temperatures tend to hover around 68 degrees and the sun is out more than it’s not! There are places to make a home base while you visit the known and lesser known attractions in the Golden State.
Los Angeles: First, book a stay in a cozy cabin at Soledad Canyon and then get ready to check out the area that draws more than 48 million visitors each year.
Of course, many people flock to LA to see the stars of the human variety rather than the celestial kind. You may want to combine a hike in Runyon Canyon with your star-search efforts as this a is favorite spot for the exercise-minded celebrity. Another spot to see stars in their everyday life is The Grove, an LA shopping mecca and the adjacent Original Farmers Market. Whether you see the stars or not, these are all worthy expeditions while in Tinseltown.
Other LA attractions include the Griffith Observatory for celestial stargazing, the Santa Monica Pier, and Huntingon Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. And, if you want to feel like it’s winter in all the sunshine, visit Pershing Square’s Holiday Ice Rink, located in the Financial District of the city. The Square will also host a Winter Holiday Festival on December 7, complete with LA’s version of snow!
San Diego: Start by making a reservation to stay in a cabin or cottage at Pio Pico, which is a perfect location thanks to its proximity to San Diego proper. San Diego has beaches, the Pacific Ocean, museums, galleries, a world-class zoo, lots of history, and a boatload of outdoor fun to be had.
The San Diego Zoo consistently ranks as one of the top zoos in the world. With more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals, including gorillas, polar bears, and koala bears, this is definitely not your basic zoo. Visitors can enjoy a guided bus tour through the zoo or see it from above on the zoo’s Skyfari Aerial Tram.
Make a stop at the zoo as part of your San Diego Hop-on Hop-off Trolley tour which also makes stops at Old Town State Historic Park, which is considered the Jamestown of the Pacific; the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter and Balboa Park.
Santa Barbara: Choose from a cozy cabin, teepee, or covered wagon at Rancho Oso and then head out to explore this charming California town known for its architecture and history.
One of the neat things about Santa Barbara is its proximity to the Channel Islands National Park, an archipelago of five islands. A great way to explore the Park and the islands is through the Santa Barbara Adventure Company (www.sbadventureco.com). There are all kinds of adventures waiting on the Channel Islands including snorkeling, sea cave exploration, hiking and whale watching.
A great way to get to see the beautiful architecture of the city is to take one of the weekend walking tours, offered Saturday and Sunday, through the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara (afsb.org) Tours begin at 10 a.m. and last approximately two hours.
And again, if you want to experience a bit more of a winter feeling in this sunny climate, don’t miss the “snow” events at the town’s Paseo Nuevo outdoor shopping center where “snow” fills the evening skies through December 31. There is also holiday entertainment including carolers, choirs, and Santa himself!
We are so excited to reveal that the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village has grown with the addition of two new tinies. Joining the existing five tiny houses, Zoe, Lincoln, Scarlett, Atticus, and Savannah are Anderson and Ingrid. The perfect complement to the existing gang, Anderson and Ingrid bring their own stories to the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village and provide two more marvelous opportunities to vacation tiny at Mt. Hood.
Anderson is all about the modern design and is a bike enthusiast to boot! For him, it’s all about the bike – mountain bikes, comfort bikes, road bikes, new bikes, old bikes. Find him a trail and he’ll gladly pedal it! When he’s not atop a two-wheeled machine, he’s most likely perusing a design blog, with a freshly brewed coffee in hand from his AeroPress. Green and minimalist are two more adjectives to describe this guy and the Pacific Northwest and its vast expanse of greenery and biking trails is Anderson’s happy place.
Ingrid can best be described as a book lover but turn back a few pages and you’ll find she’s so much more than that. A lover of podcasts, craft beer and breweries she’s equally at home in a library as well as the great outdoors. She’s hard working, curious, and makes it a daily goal to learn something new or see things from a new perspective. An innovator, a reader, and a burgeoning social butterfly, Ingrid is a great addition to the tiny home collection at Mt. Hood.
At a robust 332 square feet, Anderson has room to sleep 7. Cedar plank siding with, of course, a modern design, the tiny home houses a full bathroom, kitchen, and a large living space. Anderson’s sleeping situation is two large queen beds in the loft, one queen bed on the first floor and a pullout couch that folds down to a twin bed, also on the first floor. No pets, please.
Ingrid, of course, boasts a Scandinavian design with sleek modern lines. At 385 square feet, five can sleep comfortably selecting from two queen/full beds in the loft, and a pullout couch that folds down to a twin bed on the first floor. A full bathroom, large living space, and kitchen add to the charm that is Ingrid. No pets, please. (Lincoln is our pet friendly tiny house!)
Mt. Hood is one of those destinations that is an all-star any time of year. In winter, the draw of the ski hills, snow-laden trails and snow-capped mountain views are the reason to visit while summer brings opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and swimming. And again, trails upon trails for hiking, biking and walking in the great Pacific Northwest are a major reason to add Mt. Hood to your to-do list.
The Mt. Hood area must-dos include hiking the Timberline trail, driving the Mt. Hood Scenic Loop, a visit to the historic Timberline Lodge and exploring the beauty of Trillium Lake.
Don’t miss an opportunity to visit this breathtaking location in the Pacific Northwest and to make one of Mt. Hood Village’s tiny homes your place to stay when you’re here! Visit www.mthoodtinyhouse.com for information on making reservations!
The holidays can be a stressful time – even if you are extremely organized, get along with every member of your family, and find endless rounds of holiday affairs super exciting! Whether this is the case with you, or you find yourself more aligned with Mr. Scrooge when it comes to all things holiday, there is nothing wrong with getting ready for the season with a little “me time.”
The best way to get in some quality “me time” is quick getaway to de-stress before the holiday rush begins. What can more de-stressing that a tropical getaway? Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Florida, fits that bill perfectly. Situated on 69 sun-kissed acres and perfected located to the area attractions, it’s the perfect home base for a quick Florida getaway minutes from the happiest place on Earth.
Spend your days relaxing poolside or playing shuffleboard, bocce, or a few rounds of mini-golf. Or, if you want to slowly ease into the holidays, check out some of these holiday-themed events nearby!
Festival of Trees
The Orlando Museum of Art transforms into a winter wonderland with displays of beautifully decorated trees, wreaths, gingerbread houses and holiday vignettes during the annual Festival of Trees. The event runs November 15 through November 24 at the museum. The festival will also feature live entertainment, family-focused fun, and holiday raffles. Visit www.omart.org for more details.
SeaWorld Christmas Celebration
Running November 23 through December 31, SeaWorld celebrates the season by lighting up the park with more than 3 million twinkling lights and bringing special guests like Rudolph and Santa to welcome the holidays! There will also be live entertainment and special holiday markets. For details, visit www.seaworld.com/orlando.
Holidays at Old Town
Visitors can enjoy the festive decorations that turn Old Town Kissimmee into a winter wonderland. Twinkling lights, strolling carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides and snow! Yes, somehow, they manage to bring “snow” to this tropical location, using a biodegradable, non-toxic product like they use in the movies. To round out the fun, there will be a tree lighting ceremony, live music events, a car show and an ice-skating rink. Event runs from November 23 to December 25 and is mere minutes away from Tropical Palms. To learn more, visit www.experiencekissimmee.com.
Holiday Home Tour and Winter wonderland
Get some decorating ideas and a peek inside some of the charming homes in Celebration, Florida, during this event that is scheduled for Saturday, December 1, and Sunday, December 2. This is a self-guided tour and each home is uniquely decorated for the holidays, both inside and out. Visit www.celebrationfoundation.org for more details.
And, if you don’t want to start your holiday celebrations just yet and are focusing only on relaxing, here a few things to consider:
Discovery Cove: Experience the tranquility of life underwater at Discovery Cove where you can interact with bottlenose dolphins and feed the tropical birds.
Disney Wilderness Preserve: Home to more than 1000 species of plant and animals, you can choose to hike, bird watch or simply enjoy the beauty of this preserve that is home to bald eagles, woodpeckers, squirrels, snakes, and bats!
Kissimmee Lakefront Park: The park has plenty of walking paths, a fishing pier, and picnic areas. Enjoy a simple day of rest and relaxation amid nature here.
Here’s the plan –pick your colorful cottage for your stay at Tropical Palms; decide what mix of holiday spirit and relaxation you want and then sit back, or get moving, and make this your best holiday season, yet!
Thanksgiving is all about gathering friends and family near and being thankful for all your blessings. Why not put a twist on the tradition this year by gathering together to go glamping?
Since it’s the holidays, it makes sense to kick it up a notch by staying in accommodations that are a bit comfier, photogenic, and where you can cook up a great meal with ease. Consider group rentals for all of the adorable tiny homes available at our tiny house villages in Leavenworth (WA), Verde Valley (AZ), Sunshine Key (FL), or Mt. Hood (OR). Another option is adjacent cottages at Tropical Palms (FL) or Palm Springs (CA). Or, be thankful for all that nature has to offer and get adjacent tent or RV sites. Either way, everyone’s all together and, of course, the more the merrier.
Once you’ve settled in, get outside and be thankful for the great outdoors. Take a hike – top fall hikes include Florida’s Seminole-Wekiva Trail outside Orlando, which is a 14-mile, well-marked trail; Araby Trail in Palm Springs is about a 2-hour hike with gorgeous desert views, including a glimpse of Bob Hope’s former home; or Lower Chimney Rock Trail in Sedona, which takes you to Chimney Rock through Arizona’s spectacular Red Rock State Park. Other outdoor activities can include the Sedona Turkey Trot, Orlando’s Turkey Trot in Avalon Park or Portland’s Turkey Trot at the Zoo, which are all set for Thursday, November 28.
After your hike or Turkey Trot, be thankful for the bountiful meal you can enjoy with these simple ideas. Instead of a full-blown turkey dinner with all the trimmings, make up a variety of food boards ranging from veggies and cheese, to meats and breads or delicious dessert offerings. Or, plan the perfect potluck in advance by having each guest pick from a hat and bring whatever food is marked on their pick. The options should include an appetizer, veggie dishes, simple main meal options which can include stuffed peppers or one-pan dinners, easy desserts, and, of course, a seasonal libation. Or, let someone else do the cooking and consider the Thanksgiving Day Dinner at Yosemite National Park, which offers several feast options in their dining rooms and helps keep your yurt guest-free, or enjoy a meal at the historic Timberline Lodge, just a few miles from the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village.
Be thankful for local attractions and explore your surroundings. Check out the schedule for Cannon Beach, Oregon’s Haystack Holidays which include Mimosa Madness, a Holiday Wreath Making Class, Christmas concerts, and holiday light displays. Visit www.cannonbeach.org to see all the fun that’s planned. Tampa’s Busch Gardens will have a Christmas Town from early November to early January that features thousands of twinkling lights, holiday decorations, a sing-along train and a variety of holiday shows (www.buschgardens.com/tampa has all the details).
Visit www.PetiteRetreats.com to book your glamping accommodations and make this a unique Thanksgiving celebration you’ll remember for years to come!
Kick off the holiday season by getting in the spirit with a visit to one of the most charming little holiday towns in the U.S. – Leavenworth, Washington. Leavenworth is often mentioned when it comes to the best holiday towns in America and was most recently named in County Living magazine’s list for 2019.
Make your stay extra special and choose from one of the adorable tiny homes at the Leavenworth Tiny House Village. Cozy tiny house + cozy holiday town = exponential holiday spirit!
Once you’re settled into your cozy tiny house, you’re ready to find out what makes Leavenworth so great during the holidays. Here are just a few things that come to mind:
The Christkindlmarkt is a holiday favorite in Leavenworth and visitors can shop for handmade arts and crafts, sample authentic Bavarian foods, and enjoy a lantern parade. The Christkindlmarkt opens Friday, November 29, and closes Sunday, December 1. The Lantern Parade, which will be held on both Friday and Saturday evenings beginning at 5 p.m., is a delightful event with children and their parents following behind holiday VIPs Santa and Mrs. Claus carrying hand-crafted, glowing lanterns. It’s truly magical.
What is the holiday season without gingerbread? Take time from your outdoor winter fun and stop in at the Gingerbread Factory to enjoy not only their delicious gingerbread creations, but also cinnamon rolls, scones, sandwiches, and locally roasted coffee. This sweet little bakery is located right on Front Street in Leavenworth.
Get your fill of nutcrackers with a visit to the Nutcracker Museum, which is home to more than 7,000 nutcrackers on display, some dating back thousand of years. If you can imagine something to crack a nut with, you’ll probably find it here. A fun way to explore the museum is through the Nutcracker Hunt that has “hunters” going through the museum and checking off which ones they can find from a specialized list. For details on the museum and the Nutcracker Hunts, visit www.nutcrackermuseum.com.
See firsthand what makes a reindeer so special and visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. Learn all about reindeer through not only a video presentation but an up-close, hands-on educational tour that includes reindeer food for feeding them. Santa and his sled will be there during all tours in November and December and photo ops are available. For more information, visit www.leavenworthreindeer.com.
Outdoor fun in the Leavenworth area can be found in abundance. From ice climbing, sledding and tubing, plus skiing, snowboarding, and even dog sledding, there are all kinds of outdoor experiences to be had here come winter. Visit www.leavenworth.org and see what they offer.
The tiny homes are waiting and so is a healthy dose of holiday spirit – visit www.leavenworthtinyhouse.com and plan your holiday kickoff getaway.
A quick trip to the Florida Keys can be relaxing or adventurous, or a bit of both depending on what floats your boat! Toss in a tiny house accommodation and you’ve got a memorable trip in the making.
Let’s start with accommodations. Sunshine Key, on Ohio Key, recently welcomed five tiny homes, each with its own unique personality and each perfectly appointed with everything you need for a great vacation accommodation. The tiny homes at the Tiny House Village at Sunshine Key are Pearl, Isla, Hemingway, Lucy, and Kai.
Pearl is pretty in pink and features a sleeper sofa on the first floor and a queen bed in the lofted sleeping area (accessible by stairs), as well as a full bathroom with standing shower, and a kitchen complete with refrigerator, stovetop, coffeemaker, toaster, and dinnerware and cookware.
Isla shines in her tropical green exterior with a fully appointed interior that includes a first-floor sleeper sofa and a lofted sleeping area with a two queen sized beds, and a twin bed. The full bathroom has a tub and shower and the kitchen is complete with stovetop, refrigerator, coffeemaker, toaster and dinnerware and cookware.
Lucy is friendly with a sunny personality and an exterior color to match! Life with Lucy includes a first-floor sleeper sofa and two lofted queen beds as well as a lofted twin bed! The kitchen matches those of her counterparts and the full bathroom features both a shower and tub.
Kai gives off a water loving vibe thanks to the aqua exterior that mimics the waters of the Keys. Inside, Kai is just as easy-going with a first-floor sleeper sofa and a lofted queen bed. Kai’s kitchen has all the amenities including a refrigerator, stovetop, coffeemaker, toaster and cookware and dinnerware.
Hemingway and the Keys are pretty much synonymous, so to have an authentic Keys trip, consider a stay in Hemingway, the tiny home! The first level/basement features a full bed and the loft area, accessible by ladder, has a queen bed. The kitchen has the same features as the other tiny homes and the full bath features a standing shower.
All the tiny homes have AC/heat, TV with basic cable, linens and an outdoor picnic table.
The resort itself offers on-site fishing opportunities, a marina and dock, is near the beach and has wonderful amenities including a swimming pool, fitness center, tennis and pickleball courts, and laundry facilities. The resort is also pet friendly.
As for the Keys, you can snorkel, fish, explore Hemingway’s Key West, see wildlife, take fabulous photos and enjoy life in the tropics without leaving the US! Thanks to the 113-mile Overseas Highway, all the Keys are accessible by car, from Key Largo in the north on south to Key West, at the southernmost tip of Florida.
If you’re looking to do the Keys in three days, here are a few must-sees:
Dolphin Cove on Key Largo provides the opportunity to make some dreams come true if your dreams involve swimming with dolphins. Visit www.floridakeysswimwithdolphins.com to learn how to swim with these gentle creatures in a natural salt lagoon. Another Key Largo highlight is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park where you can snorkel, explore the reef on a glass bottom boat tour, or explore the mangrove swamps.
On Islamorada, visitors can learn all about the history of diving at the History of Diving Museum, which offers exhibits, lectures, special events, and contains one of the world’s largest collections of diving paraphernalia including diving helmets, suits, books, films and other memorabilia.
Marathon Key is home to the famous Seven Mile Bridge and Big Pine Key is home to Bahia State Park and the National Key Deer Refuge Center, which was established to protect the Key deer as well as other wildlife in the Keys. The Seven Mile Bridge was once one of the longest bridges in the world and can be explored by bicycle. Visitors can learn some interesting history of why the bridge was built. Sunset views from the bridge are spectacular!
Key West is, of course, known for the being the place where Hemingway lived for several years in the 1930s and wrote some of his best-known works, including For Whom the Bell Tolls. Visitors can tour the Hemingway House and also take a trolley tour which visits all the major attractions in the town. Snap a selfie at the Southernmost Point Buoy which marks the southernmost point in the continental United States. Stroll along Duval Street, the town’s main street, and enjoy the historic homes, restaurants, and shops.
Plan your Florida Keys getaway and reserve the tiny home that suits you best!
October 16 is National Fossil Day, which was established to promote the scientific and educational value of fossils. According to the National Geographic Society, a fossil is the preserved remains, or traces of remains, of ancient animals or plants. They are important in helping us discover the evolution of life and how life was lived thousands and thousands of years ago. Most fossils are formed when a plant or animal dies in a watery location and becomes buried in silt or mud. Celebrate National Fossil Day this year and see what treasures you can unearth. We’ve listed a few well-known fossil hunting sites here.
Capitola Beach, in Capitola, California, is a great spot to hunt for fossils during low tide. This little beach town can offer the motherlode of fossils thanks to the Purisima Formation, a geologic formation which preserves fossils from the Late Miocene and Early Pleistocene Era. Bones of whales and seals, as well as sea urchins and bivalves, and been unearthed here along with the rare shark tooth.
The fossilized bones of a mastodon, a camel, and a mammoth have turned up in Florida’s Peace River which has also revealed plenty of shark teeth, some as large as seven inches. Collecting shark teeth does not require a permit but if you’re digging for anything bigger, you need both a boat and a permit. There are plenty of guided tours available or you can go it alone, wading into the river from any of the public landings – but be aware of all the living flora and fauna!
Beverly Beach State Park in Newport, Oregon, is a beautiful beach with rock formations dating back millions of years that are filled with fossils. Winter is the best time for fossil hunting here thanks to the storms that dislodge several layers of sandstone unearthing new (old!) fossils. Petrified wood, dating back some 15-20 million years, and agate stones can also be found here.
Mineral Wells Fossil Park, in Mineral Wells, Texas, has an abundance of “Pennsylvanian Period” fossils, which date back some 318 million years! Thanks in part due to the erosion of the city’s borrow pit (which is a spot where material has been dug out for use at another location), fossils of ancient sea species have been found here which have included primitive sharks, brachiopods (marine animals in hard shells), crinoids (sea lilies), and pelecypods (clams and oysters).
Westmoreland State Park in Montross, Virginia, is a well-known location for fossil hunting and has been known to turn up shark teeth, whale teeth, and fish bones and vertebrae dating to the Miocene Age. There is a portion of the park known as Fossil Beach and it’s a great place to find shark teeth, including those of the megalodon. Situated between two towering bluffs, the beach is a short walk from the Visitors Center, and here you can sift through the sand using a colander or sand sifter (no major equipment allowed).
The month of September not only includes fall foliage in the Northeast but also commemorates National New Hampshire Day, which recognizes the 9th state to join the Union. So, if you want to celebrate New Hampshire or are planning a fall getaway to The Granite State, consider a stay at the Tuxbury Tiny House Village in South Hampton and check out some of these fun events scheduled in and around the area. The Tuxbury Tiny House Village is the perfect place to make your home base as you explore New England in autumn. Five tiny houses, Emerson, Henry, Clara, Riley, and Murphy, are available for you to choose from. Cozy sleeping lofts, full bathrooms, and kitchens are part of the tiny house charm here. Visit www.tuxburytinyhouse.com to see which one is best for you!
Alnoba Arts Park Tours (September and October, various dates): Tour the amazing collection of art that you can touch, lean on, and climb on! An amazing sculpture garden experience awaits! Visit www.alnoba.org for details.
Cider Hills Farms (throughout September and October): Enjoy a day of fall fun at this 145-acre farm in Amesbury, Massachusetts. It’s harvest time for peaches and raspberries (September) as well as apples and pumpkins (October). Take a tour of the farm or sample some cider (Saturday and Sundays only). There is a lot going on here! Visit www.ciderhill.com for more information.
Jazz Along the Charles (September 23): Head into Boston for the day and enjoy more than 25 jazz ensembles playing along Boston’s Esplanade between 2 and 4 p.m. Enjoy the crisp fall air and some lively jazz tunes with Boston-related themes. For information, visit www.jazzalongthecharles.org.
Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival (September 28): The 20th annual event brings music of the sea to the streets of Portsmouth. Folk performers are showcased at more than a dozen venues throughout the town. The event will culminate with a “public sing” on Sunday. For information, visit www.pmffest.org.
South Hampton Fall Festival (October 5): All kinds of fall fun including a car show, live music, vendors, games, food, drinks and a chili and soup cook-off! Event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in South Hampton (on Hilldale Avenue).
NH Pumpkin Festival (October 18-19): Held in Laconia, this two-day festival is all about the pumpkin with jack-o-lantern carving, food, craft vendors, live music, kids’ activities, hayrides and a beer garden. For information, visit www.nhpumpkinfestival.com
Halloween Pumpkin Festival (October 19): Festival goers can wear Halloween costumes and float their own hollowed-out pumpkin on Frog Pond at Boston Commons to celebrate the holiday. This free event also includes music, refreshments, a haunted maze and lots of children’s activities. Check out www.bostonfrogpond.com for more details. Don’t miss a minute of fall fun in and around South Hampton! Visit TuxburyTinyHouse.com to reserve your very own tiny house surrounded by fall colors.
When they say everything old is new again, they may very well be talking about cider. Did you know cider was America’s beverage of choice during Colonial times? In fact, the Mayflower possibly carried the first cider press to be used in America aboard the ship that also brought the Pilgrims to our shores. Of course, they couldn’t do anything with it until the apples were harvested from the first apple trees planted here after they first landed. Fast forward some 500 years, and cider is again very popular. To clarify, that’s hard cider versus soft cider. The difference here being that hard cider has an alcohol content while soft cider can be enjoyed by all ages! And, while Americans may not be drinking the 35 gallons of hard cider they apparently averaged annually during Colonial days, they are certainly taking it up once again, as evidenced by the popularity of cideries sprouting up across the country. To produce cider, according to ciderscene.com, there are four steps. Pick, press, punish, and produce. Again, a differentiation is required. The apples used for cider are typically not the same apples that you would eat or cook with. Cider apples tend to be dryer and less sweet. The four-step result is a crisp, refreshing alternative to other spirits, including beer and wine. Here are some cideries to check out this fall season:
Bishop Cider (Dallas, Texas): Gluten-free and vegan friendly, the people behind Bishop Cider began making their own cider at home because they felt the commercially available cider in Texas was “trash” because it was too sweet. Started in 2014, Bishop Cider Co. now offers a variety of ciders and has a tasting room that typically offers six different ciders on tap. For more information, and to check out the unique Cidercade, visit www.bishopcider.com.
(Nearest Petite Retreat option is Bay Landing in Bridgeport, about 80 miles away)
Cider Bite (Portland, Oregon): Another cidery that grew from the idea that there was just no place to get good cider, the Cider Bite bills itself as a Cider House and focuses not only on making exceptional cider, but also on the history and production of cider. In fact, founder Jeff Hanneson’s great-grandfather was a cider-maker. Offering 32 ciders on tap, cider flights, and nibbles, the Cider Bite is the place to get your cider cravings satisfied. Visit www.ciderbite.com for more information.
(Nearest Petite Retreat option is Mt. Hood in Welches, about 36 miles away)
Santa Barbara Cider Company (Santa Barbara, California): Come visit and see what’s on tap for the day as they offer 12 rotating taps of their delicious cider varieties which may include a coffee-based cider, a tea-infused cider, or one of several fruit ciders. All ciders are gluten-free and the cider makers say the majority of the ingredients they use can be found in your own kitchen cabinets, like cinnamon and brown sugar. They do have a tasting room and food trucks and other food providers are on hand during the weekends for nourishment while enjoying the cider offerings. For more information, visit www.sbcider.com.
(Nearest Petite Retreat option is Rancho Oso, about 30 miles away)
Island Orchard Cider (Ellison Bay, Wisconsin): Visit the Tasting Room and Cider Pub in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin, where you can see the cider making process as well as enjoy the flavors of Island Orchard. Visit www.islandorchardcider.com for more information.
(Nearest Petite Retreat option is Tranquil Timbers in Sturgeon Bay, about 36 miles away)
The only states that start with T in the list of fifty, nifty United States, both Tennessee and Texas have a variety of reasons to visit them. Tennessee comes first in terms of being admitted to the Union, which happened on June 1, 1796, making it the 16th state (it was also the last state to leave the Union during the Civil War, as well as the first state readmitted toward the end of the war). Texas was the 28th state admitted in 1845, however, Texas comes first in size. As the second biggest state, Texas measures in at a whopping 268,581 square miles while Tennessee comes in 34th at 41,220 square miles (Texas can fit about six Tennessees in it!). But, when it comes to things to do and see, they are pretty equal!
Music: In terms of music destinations, Texas has Austin while Tennessee can boast both Nashville and Memphis. Nashville has the Ryman Auditorium, which was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, a space that helped launch many music careers including Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Loretta Lynn. There is also the new location of the Grand Ole Opry at Opryland, which is just a few miles outside the city. The city is also home to countless honky tonks where singer-songwriters play in hopes of achieving their dreams. The District is where you can listen to music to your heart’s content with its lively nightlife scene.
Memphis is home to Beale Street, a major tourist attraction that has been designated as a national historic landmark and is lined with blues clubs and BBQ joints. Memphis is also where Elvis got his break at Sun Studio, which is still standing and offers tours of the place where he was first recorded. Of course, there is also Graceland, Elvis’ mansion, another major tourist attraction chock full of Elvis paraphernalia. Austin, Texas, is known for its two major annual music festivals: South by Southwest, held in March, and Austin City Limits, held in October. The city also has a vibrant music any day of the week. There are more than 250 live music venues offering everything from classical and jazz to rock, blues, and country.
History Both states are rich in history – Texas history can be traced back to the early 1500s with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors while British traders came upon a Cherokee town called “Tanasi” in the early 1700s. In terms of famous battles, Texas has the Alamo while Tennessee has the infamous Civil War event, the Battle of Shiloh. Visitors can see the site of the Alamo which is located in the heart of San Antonio. The 300-year-old Spanish Mission is open to the public and battlefield tours are available. Shiloh National Military Park, operated by the National Park Service, can be toured through both ranger-guided and self-guided options. It is considered one of the best preserved and most pristine of the Civil War Battlefields. Dallas has the unfortunate history of being the city where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Visitors can tour The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza which chronicles the events of that fateful day in November through exhibits and historic displays.
Must-Sees Don’t miss the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas Hill Country, and Big Bend National Park in Texas. In Tennessee, must-sees include the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, and Nashville’s Centennial Park with its replica of the original Parthenon in Greece. (Petite Retreats can be found at Bay Landing in Bridgeport, Texas, which is outside of Dallas, and Natchez Trace in Hohenwald, Tennessee, which is an hour and a half outside of Nashville and three hours outside of Memphis. Colorado River and Medina Lake are near Austin and San Antonio.)
When you were young, were your parents constantly telling you to “go outside and play” anytime you were sulking, acting up, acting bored, wandering aimlessly around the house, or rummaging through the kitchen cabinets?
Well, they were onto something there! Studies have shown time and again the benefits of being outside are countless. According to Mental Floss magazine, there are scientific reasons why being outside is great for you. It can give you an energy and immune system boost, enhance creativity, and restore your focus. It can even make you a better person. According to Mental Floss, psychologists say that exposure to nature helps us shrug off societal pressures, allowing us to remember and value more important things like relationships, sharing, and community.
Here’s another interesting factoid about the benefits of being outdoors, specifically in the forest or wooded areas. A Japanese study shows that “shinrin-yoku” or “forest- bathing” is considered a form of preventative medicine. Forest-bathing can be accomplished by taking a short walk through a densely wooded area, such as your local woods or a wooded park area. But think about glamping in a forest setting! Boom – you just got a double dose of that preventative medicine!
Getting out of doors can be as simple as taking a walk around the block. But we know that glamping, thanks to the requirement of being outdoors to do it, is a wonderful way to reap the benefits of being outside.
Some of the specific benefits of glamping and camping include:
Plenty of sunshine, thereby increasing your Vitamin D intake
Connecting with nature
Here are few ideas to make sure you reap those benefits when you glamp.
Go Hiking: you’ve already taken care of Numbers 3 and 5, and Number 2, as well, as the activity will naturally decrease your stress level.
Experience Campfire Camaraderie: Next time you glamp, make sure that campfire time includes the opportunity for sharing with your glamping buddies. Whether it’s recipes, stories or a just a recount of the day’s highlights – listen and connect. Doing this takes care of Number 1 on the list. Another great way to socialize while glamping is to take part in the locally scheduled activities. You’re sure to meet some locals, too!
Another benefit of glamping is that it very possibly gets your circadian rhythm in sync. The circadian clock is a natural internal cycle that regulates your sleep-wake time. Studies have shown that just a few days of glamping can reset your clock allowing you to get more sleep. And, it’s no secret that lack of sleep can lead to all kinds of health problems including diabetes and heart disease.
The reset has to do with trading out artificial light for natural light which is typical when glamping and the fact that your body produces melatonin, which is integral to a good night’s sleep, when it’s dark. Think of how dark your room was last time you glamped!
Lots of melatonin being produced, we’re sure.
So, let’s give a pat on the back to parents everywhere who are telling their kids right now to go outside. They know what they’re talking about.
As of August 1, there are only 51 days left of summer, according to the calendar. For some, summer ends when school starts, but the official calendar date is September 21, which is the first day of autumn. Time flies, especially summertime, whether you’re having fun or not.
We’ve put together 50 fun things to do before we say farewell to summer. (We’re giving you one day to read this list and create an action plan!)
Go to a waterpark
Read at least one book from your summer booklist
Try to learn a new watersport, like stand-up paddling or wake surfing
Go to a local pool and enjoy getting splashed
Visit a lemonade stand
Watch the sun rise
Watch the sun set
Camp out in your backyard
Glamp at your favorite Petite Retreats location
Enter a watermelon seed spitting contest
Take in a theater production under the stars
Spend one day off grid – no social media, no TV, no podcasts (best paired with #11!)
Take a walk in the woods
Visit a farmer’s market and create something delicious with seasonal produce
Make s’mores and then make more
Enjoy an outdoor musical event
Build a sandcastle
Go to a carnival
Ride a rollercoaster and scream at the top of your lungs
Run through a sprinkler, even if it’s someone else’s!
Listen to the crickets
Go to a baseball game – local or professional
Eat corn on the cob
Take a road trip (for as long as you can)
Visit a national park
Visit a national monument
Visit an old friend
Spend a day volunteering
Spend a day watching old movies
Go to a drive-in movie
Grab some chalk and make sidewalk masterpieces
Have a water balloon fight
Have a squirt gun fight
Fly a kite
Try Goat Yoga
Spend a day being a tourist in your own city
Catch a parade
Go on a picnic
Visit a planetarium and enjoy summer’s night skies
Grill the perfect hotdog/hamburger
See this summer’s blockbuster movie at a midnight showing
Carefully enjoy a slip ‘n slide
Glamp in a unique accommodation – yurt, teepee, tiny house
The Oregon Coast stretches 363 miles from Astoria in the north to the California border in the south. It can easily be navigated via U.S. Route 101 that meanders through big towns, little towns, beach towns, and historic towns. If you’re planning a road trip along the Oregon Coast in the next month or so, here are few events you’ll want to check out.
Every Saturday in August, Newport Farmer’s Market Fresh flowers, fruit, plants, honey, coffee, and more, plus live music. Over 60 vendors bring their summer offerings. Held at the Newport City Hall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
August 7-10, Tillamook County Fair What’s more fun than a county fair with its carnival rides, livestock events, silly contests such as the Ugliest Cake, and serious ones like Tillamook’s Got Talent, and, of course, all that yummy fair food. For details, visit www.tillamookfair.com.
August 10, Lincoln City Sandcastle Contest at Siletz Bay An amateur contest with a focus on fun, this event has contestants using only sand and other materials found on the beach such as shells and other natural materials. There will also be live music. Come join in the fun or just watch the “artists” at work from the pier.
August 17-19, Eugene Food Truck Fest Music, live entertainment, a tasting competition, and kids activities are all part of this event featuring food trucks with a variety of fare including cupcakes, BBQ, vegan dishes, Latin, Cuban food, as well as Hawaiian, Mexican, and Vietnamese. Family friendly fun can be found at this event, as well, and its held in PK Park in Eugene. For information, visit www.eugenefoodtruckfest.com.
August 18, Pirate Treasure Hunt – Depoe Bay This annual charity event has young and old dressing like pirates, gathering clues, and searching for the treasure hidden somewhere in Depoe Bay. A day full of fun followed by a silent and live auction. For more information, visit www.treasuredepoebay.org.
August 24, Hayday 2019 – Beer Festival Beautiful Cannon Beach plays host to this festival that features 40 Oregon craft beers for sampling along with live music and good food. Visit www.publiccoastbrewing.com for details.
August 25, Free Entrance to National Parks Help the National Park Service celebrate its 103rd birthday and come visit the National Park of your choice! To recognize the big event, NPS is hosting a fee-free day. No entry fee? That’s better than cake! To find an Oregon National Park, visit www.nps.gov/state/or.
September 13-15, Cannon Beach Cottage & Garden Tour Tour historic cottages and beach homes during this annual event in Cannon Beach. There is also live music, historic and garden lectures, wine tasting, and other fun during this weekend-long event. An English-style garden tea will be held on Sunday. For information, visit www.cannonbeach.org.
September 13-15, Rods ‘N Rhodies Invitational Car Show The City of Florence plays host to the 12th Annual Invitational Rods ‘N Rhodies Car Show which will showcase hot rods and cruisers dating pre-1976. Held in Old Town Florence, there will also be food, music, a city-wide garage sale, and a book festival. For more information, visit www.florencechamber.com.
It may have become official when the word was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2018, but “glamping” has quietly become quite trendy over the past several years. The word itself it’s a combination, or portmanteau, if you will, of glamour and camping. The concept is simple, combine luxury amenities and accommodations with the outdoor activity of camping, and voila, you’re glamping.
But why has it become such a big thing in the last few years? Simply put, American’s are looking to combine two of their favorite things – relaxing, and being outdoors with the caveat of making it less stressful when it comes to the accommodations part. No more making sure you arrive before dark so you can see all the tent poles, or waking up with an aching back which may wreak havoc on daytime activities like hiking and canoeing. According to a market research study done by Arizton, the glamping market will reach roughly $1 billion by 2024 in the U.S. Glamping is here to stay!
Glamping certainly amps up an outdoor experience in many ways. Accommodations for glamping are designed to give you the maximum amount of luxury, while staying true to the concept of communing with nature. What today’s glamper is looking for is camping amenities that include unique and quality sleeping options, onsite private kitchens and bathrooms, and a location that is near major attractions but still provides that “off the beaten path” feeling, while not sacrificing resort amenities and facilities.
Of course, whether your camp or glamp, the benefits are still the same. The reduction in stress levels when you go off grid and spend time outside is tremendous.
So, how do you glamp?
First off, unique accommodations such as yurts, cabins, teepees and tiny houses are considered glamping accommodations. Yurts are spacious, and typically can accommodate queen-sized beds, bathroom suites with showers and kitchenettes. Similarly, cabins provide ample space for more luxurious amenities and plenty of space to relax and enjoy your camping company. Teepees are unique, and well, just plain cool. As for the tiny houses, these little darlings are so well-appointed they feel just like home.
Location is also a factor for your outdoor foray to be considered glamping. To be glamping-worthy, your campground should have clean, accessible bathrooms (if your accommodations do not provide private bathrooms), electric hook-ups, onsite amenities like pools and laundry rooms and should be pet-friendly (after all, if you’re a pet-lover, you wouldn’t consider adventuring without your four-legged bestie along for the ride.) Access to recreation should also be available, whether at the location or nearby.
Some Petite Retreats glamping locations to consider would include:
Yosemite Lakes (Groveland, CA) – Check off access to recreation with Yosemite National Park just up the road, and the campground is pet friendly. As for accommodations, check out the yurts here.
Rancho Oso – The scenery surrounding the campground, which includes Los Padres National Forest and the Santa Ynez River, provides relaxing vibes, while the teepees are ultra-cool for bedding down after a day spent horseback riding or hiking. And yes, pets are welcome.
Mt. Desert Narrows (Bar Harbor, ME) – The rugged east coast location, proximity to Acadia National Park, the cozy cabin accommodations, and the pet friendly attitude make this campground a glamping possibility.
Other items that can make you a glamper include interesting menu items other than traditional camping fare that can be created over your campfire or camp kitchen, fun cocktails, or mocktails, to relax after the day’s events, cozy blankets and chairs to relax in, and aromatics or incense to keep things smelling fresh!
Check out other Petite Retreat locations and get your first glamping experience under your belt. You don’t want to be left out in the cold on this trend!
Plan a trip to Wisconsin and take in the state’s capital, and the state’s capital of water fun in one fell swoop. This can be accomplished by visiting Madison and the nearby Wisconsin Dells, which are a little less than 50 miles apart.
Let’s start with the state’s capital city – Madison. The town Madison is an isthmus, as it sits on the land between two lakes, Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. In addition to being the state capital, Madison is routinely ranked as one of the best college towns in the US, as it is home to the University of Wisconsin, which gives it a cool vibe as well.
One of Madison’s main draws in the summer is the Saturday Farmer’s Market, which is set up in Capitol Square (located outside the domed capitol building) and runs from mid-April until November. Meats, flowers, plants, hand-crafted soaps, produce, and of course, Wisconsin cheeses, are all on display and available for purchase.
A unique Madison attraction (it’s in Middleton, just about 6 miles from downtown Madison) is the National Mustard Museum which houses a collection of more than 6,000 mustards from the US and 70 other countries. Free admission adds spice to a visit to this museum which also houses mustard pots, other antique mustard jars, holders, as well as vintage mustard-related advertising. For hours of operation and more information, visit www.mustardmuseum.com.
Both Lake Monona and Lake Mendota provide an outlet for water sports including canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddling, and lakeside walks and jogs. Ranked by Livability.com as one of the healthiest cities thanks to its wealth of outdoor activities, another great way to see Madison is by bike. There’s the UW-Madison Arboretum Trail, or a two-hour ride around Lake Monona that will take you past the Olbrich Botanical Gardens.
Speaking of water, less than an hour from Madison, you will find the Wisconsin Dells, often called “The Waterpark Capital of the World,” thanks to the multitude of locations dedicated to water fun that include Noah’s Ark Waterpark, which is America’s largest waterpark at 70 acres, and The Wilderness, which with its combined indoor and outdoor waterparks, is considered the largest combined waterpark in the country. There are more than just waterparks here, though. There is the downtown Dells, with its sometime kitschy, sometimes quaint array of shop along Main Street. There’s also the Dells Boat Tours, which takes you by water to explore the amazing rock formations, or dells, which gave the area its name and first attraction before the waterparks took over.
There are two wineries to check out – the Baraboo Bluff Winery, the Broken Bottle Winery, and the Big Sky Twin Drive-In Theater provides a bit of nostalgia while you take in one of today’s popular movies on one of two big screens. Adventure seekers will be happy to note there is zip-lining, a ropes course, axe-throwing, go-carts, and escape rooms in the Dells, and serenity seekers should be happy with the miles of scenic trails for hiking, birding, and taking some great pictures.
Yukon Trails RV Campground is your best choice to make camp while exploring both Madison, and the Dells area. Onsite fun at this wooded Wisconsin retreat includes disc golf, horseshows, a free movie theater, and cornhole.
Bend, Oregon is one big playground regardless of the season. But come summer, Bend is bursting with things to do under the sunny skies of the Pacific Northwest. There are all kinds of adventures to be had from rustic to urban, and from relaxing to exhilarating. There is music, art, a rodeo, theater, fishing, hiking, and the list goes on and on. No matter what your fancy, you’ll find something to tickle it when you visit Bend.
Fishing opportunities in Bend are about as abundant as the fish you can catch when you cast your line here. Consider fly fishing, and if you’re new to this sport, River Borne Outfitters offers a 2.5-hour class that covers the basics regarding terminology, casting, and knot tying. If you feel like you’re beyond beginner but still need some fishing tips, they also offer a 6-hour course that has you fishing the Crooked River. Check out www.riverborneoutfitters.com for more information.
Of course, if you’re a seasoned fisherman, just head down to the Lower Deschutes River which is one of the most popular and prolific places to fish in Oregon. Statistics show that more than 3,500 trout run per mile of water in this area. Make sure to obey all the state rules and regulations, and that you have a license to fish. For licensing information, visit www.odfw.com.
If you prefer dry land to water, and art to fishing, then the Roundabout Art Route might be of interest to you. The Roundabout Art Route is a collection of 20 pieces of art that are on display throughout the city. Stop by the Bend Visitor Center to pick up a map, then get rolling on your art adventure. The name of the route should give you a hint as to where the art installations are located, but we are going to give away the secret. Just head into downtown Bend and get ready to glimpse a bronze logger, a bronze grizzly, the Sunrise Spirit Column, and the High Desert Spiral, which at 39 feet is the tallest public art sculpture in Bend, to name a few.
Take a hike up Pilot Butte and you’re guaranteed a breathtaking vista no matter which of the three trails you choose. Pilot Butte is visible from downtown Bend and is a 500-foot high lava dome created from an extinct volcano. Visit www.oregonstateparks.org for information about the state park and the trails.
Tour-wise, there’s plenty of ways to see Bend while eating and drinking some of the city’s offerings. There is the Bend Ale Trail, which offers a do-it-yourself way to visit Bend’s 18 breweries at your leisure. If you want someone else to do the heavy lifting when it comes to touring the breweries, check out the offerings of The Bend Tour Company, which not only offers a craft beer, wine and spirit tasting tour, but also other adventure tours such as an arts and cultural tour of Bend, and a stunning Cascade Sunset tour. Check out what they offer at www.thebendtourcompany.com.
Special summer events in Bend include the Bend Summer Festival, July 12th-14th that will feature food, music, an art fair, and plenty of family fun. July 26th-28th brings Balloons Over Bend to the city as hot air balloon fun takes center stage. Help celebrate a milestone at the 100th Deschutes County Fair and Rodeo scheduled for July 31st-August 4th. This year’s theme is “100 Years of Fun Since Day One.” Bend Brewfest is scheduled for August 15th-17th and features craft brewers, wineries, and cideries set on the banks of the Deschutes River.
Of course, when the day’s fun is done, you’ll need a place to bunk in until the next adventure, so consider adding to the experience by staying in a yurt, cabin, or cottage at Bend-Sunriver RV Campground. Situated on the banks of the Little Deschutes River, this 283-acre campground has plenty of onsite fun including fishing opportunities, swimming, pickleball, tennis, and mini-golf.
Plan your time to Go Big in Bend, visit www.RVontheGo.com and reserve your stay today!
An official “Father’s Day” has been celebrated in the US since the early 1900s but it wasn’t until 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson issued a presidential proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. In 1972, it became a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed the proclamation into law.
This year, Father’s Day falls on Sunday, June 16, and Dads around the country will receive plenty of ties, golf balls, and pasta artwork to honor them. They will then most likely spend the day with family, partaking in some of their favorite pastimes, which include the following Dad-oriented activities:
Fishing: Whether it’s a deep-sea adventure off our coastlines or taking a rod and reel to a local lake, plenty of dads will spend Father’s Day trying to catch the big one. Top fishing spots in the US include the Florida Keys (tarpon, marlin, swordfish), North Carolina’s Outer Banks (striped bass), Door County’s Sturgeon Bay (bass), pier fishing at California’s Santa Monica Pier (halibut and surfperch), and Fish Lake in Leavenworth, Washington (trout). Looking for a fishing spot near you? Visit www.takemefishing.org.
Beer: Yes, for some reason dads and beer seem to go together. Whether it’s a refreshment after yard work or a side dish while watching sporting events, beer = Dad’s drink of choice many times. Consider spending the day touring a craft brewery.
Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, has both a brewery tour option as well as a tasting room. Founded in 1988, Deschutes favorites include Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale. For info, visit www.deschutesbrewery.com.
First brewed in 1984, the Boston Beer Company’s Samuel Adams Boston Lager might well be the brew that kicked off the modern craft brewing trend. Tours of the company’s Boston brewery are available Monday through Saturday but you can bring Dad back on Sunday to enjoy the Tap Room. For tour info and hours, visit www.samueladams.com.
Baseball: On Father’s Day, Major League Baseball teams around the country will wear specially-designed uniforms accented with light blue to honor Dads. Additionally, a symbolic blue ribbon will be worn on all uniforms to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer. The MLB has partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation since 1996. Match-ups this Father’s Day include California Angels vs. the Tampa Bay Rays in Tampa, Texas Rangers vs Cincinnati in Cincinnati, and the Arizona Diamondback vs. the Washington Nationals in Washington.
Cars: From building model cars to tinkering under the hood of a real car, the male species has always had a fascination with the automobile since they first arrived on the American scene in the late 1800s. Take a drive and visit an automobile museum.
The Antique Automobile Club of America Museum (Hershey, Pennsylvania) is open daily and has a collection of cars, buses, and motorcycles dating from the 1890s to the 1980s. It has 3 of the only 50 Tucker automobiles produced in 1948. Museum information can be found at www.aacamusuem.org. The Henry Ford Museum (Dearborn, Michigan) offers a Ford Rouge Tour which details the history of the automotive industry and gives visitors an inside look at how the Ford F150 truck is built. Visit www.thehenryford.org for details on the museum’s other exhibits as well as admission prices and hours of operation. On the West coast, check out the Peterson Automotive Museum, in Los Angeles, California. The museum has more than 300 vehicles on display and a current exhibit, Hollywood Dream Machines, which features vehicles from Hollywood’s science fiction and fantasy productions. Visit www.peterson.org for more information.
Wisconsin’s Door County has five state parks and over 250 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan. It is also home to iconic Wisconsin fish boils, a restaurant with goats on the roof, and 11 quaint towns with cute names like Fish Creek, Egg Harbor, and Sturgeon Bay.
Come discover this 75-mile long peninsula and stay with us at Tranquil Timbers and choose one of the unique accommodations offered here, including cabins, cottages, and yurts! It’s a true glamper’s paradise.
Regular summer events in Door County include the Egg Harbor Farmer’s Market which is held in Harbor View Market every Friday (May 24-October 25) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (weather permitting). Fish boils are regular events at least five of Door County’s restaurants. If you haven’t experienced a fish boil, please make this a must-do – it’s a local tradition not to be missed. And, with more than 250 miles of shoreline, there’s always a beach calling your name. In fact, there are 53 public beaches in Door County. The beach in Egg Harbor is arguably the most popular on the peninsula and Schoolhouse Beach was recently named “most romantic.”
June is jam-packed with fun as the Door hosts several events including Goat Fest, the Steel Bridge Songfest, the Door County Beer Festival, and the Fyr Bal Festival (not to be confused with Fyre Festival).
On Saturday, June 8, it’s all about the aforementioned goats. The fun kicks off with the Roofing of the Goats, as the goats are led to Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant where they will take up residence for the summer season on the restaurant’s roof. Yes, you read that right. The festivities will also include live music, children’s events, food and beverages, and a Swedish Pancake eating contest.
A songwriting and performance festival that benefits the preservation of historic Sturgeon Bay, the Steel Bridge Songfest is an annual favorite and a one-of-a-kind experience. In fact, it all began to raise funds to save the Michigan Street Steel Bridge, a Veteran’s Memorial in Door County. The bridge is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The fest itself brings together singers and songwriters to the Holiday Motel, Door’s County first ever motel, where they occupy the rooms and collaborate to create music. It all culminates with live performances. The Holiday Motel is now the world’s only fully operational motel featuring live music, collaborative songwriting retreats, and a radio station that broadcasts from the hotel. This year’s event is scheduled for June 14-15. For information, visit www.steelbridgesongfest.org.
The Door County Beer Fest on Saturday, June 15, celebrates craft beer. The event will also include local foods, live music, and culinary artisans all gathered to say cheers to Wisconsin’s more than 150 craft beers.
The Fyr Bal, also set for June 15, celebrates the Scandinavian heritage of the town of Eprhaim, as well as the arrival of summer. The event will include a bonfire to burn the “Winter Witch” as well as fireworks over the harbor. There will also be food booths, live music, and artisans.
July brings fireworks displays throughout the towns to celebrate Independence Day as well as the Door County Folk Festival July 12-16 and the Plein Air Festival, July 24-29. Presented by the Peninsula School of Art, this festival gives attendees an inside look at the galleries and artists who make painting the landscape of Door County a beautiful experience.
June 21 is National Selfie Day. Established in 2014, this day, according to NationalCalendar.com, was designed to “encourage people to take creative (appropriate) selfies and share them on social media.” Of course, this may be something you do on a daily basis, so maybe on National Selfie Day you should go all out and make sure your post is amazing! One way to do that is to make sure wherever you’re snapping the perfect pic of yourself offers outstanding scenery. We’ve listed a few of the more iconic locations to provide the perfect selfie backdrop. Also, if you choose to participate, you should post your pic on social media with the tag #NationalSelfieDay. For more information, visit www.nationalselfieday.net.
The Hollywood Sign: Located in Los Angeles (and just an hour fromSoledad Canyon), this American landmark is 352 feet long and spells out the word HOLLYWOOD in 45-foot tall letters. A star is born, for sure!
The Washington Monument: While the monument itself is closed for repairs until August, you can still stand in the forefront and get a great shot with this 555-obelisk built to commemorate George Washington. Conveniently, Harbor View is about 65 miles from Washington D.C.
The Golden Gate Bridge: San Francisco’s iconic suspension bridge is a great backdrop for a selfie. Hike up Hawk Hill, located in the Golden Gate Recreation Area, for a perfect shot.
Disneyworld: A perfect selfie would include Cinderella’s Castle in the background as you smile broadly with Mickey and/or Minnie to complete the shot. The colorful cottages at Tropical Palms are just 10 miles away from the Magic Kingdom.
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign: A Vegas landmark since 1959, this 25-foot tall neon masterpiece marks the entry to the famous Las Vegas strip. Stay in a cabin at Las Vegas to prep for the perfect pic.
The Bean: Chicago’s Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as The Bean, is a popular selfie backdrop. Located in the city’s Millennium Park, selfie snappers have been known to get very creative when taking pics with this mirrored landmark.
Cheers Bar: Go where everybody knows your name, or at least your social media handle after you post a pic of yourself with the famous Cheers sign in the background. Head to Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood to find this iconic sign. It is located across from Boston’s Public Garden, which provides some great selfie shots, too! The Tuxbury Tiny House Village is located just an hour from downtown Boston.
Hersheypark: Visit Hersheypark and keep your eyes peeled for an opportunity to take a pic with life-sized candy characters, including a Hershey Kiss, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or a Hershey Bar. The cabins at Hershey are less than 30 miles from Hersheypark. These are guaranteed to be some sweet shots.
The Parthenon: You don’t have to travel all the way to Greece to get this shot. Instead, head to Centennial Park in Nashville and snap a shot in front of this full scale replica of the original in Athens. The adorably themed cabins atNatchez Traceare about an hour from downtown Nashville.
Chief Passamaquoddy: Take a picture with a 40-foot Indian chief in the background. To do so, head to Freeport, Maine (which is about 60 miles fromMoody Beach) and you’ll find him standing tall along Route 1. He is also known as the Big F Indian.
Most people visit our national parks to get closer to nature and see nature at its best – meaning unspoiled and pretty much in its pure and original form. So, if you’re planning a trip to Yosemite National Park, which showcases ancient Sequoia trees, waterfalls, granite cliffs and 400 species of wildlife over its 1,200 square miles, the co-existence with nature shouldn’t stop when you leave the Park.
Continue your nature-quest with a stay at Yosemite Lakes. Located just five miles from Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Lakes sits on 400 acres of natural wonderland and has the South Fork of the Tuolumne River running right through it! But what makes it even better when it comes to communing with nature are the unique yurt accommodations available there. There are meadow yurts, hillside yurts, and river yurts – and you can guess by the name where they are located. The plus to any yurt accommodation – regardless of where it’s located – is the spaciousness. Thanks to the circular design of a yurt, there is plenty of space to sleep, eat, relax, and recount the day’s adventures.
The Hillside Yurts sleep four people and sit among towering trees. The kitchenette features a refrigerator, gas stove and dining table. Sleeping options include a queen-sized and double-sized futon while the bathroom suite includes a shower. Outdoor fun continues with a gas grill and nearby picnic table and fire ring.
In the Meadow Yurts, five guests will sleep comfortably (bedding included) and can enjoy private shower within the yurt. Outdoors, the gas grill, picnic table, and fire ring keeps you right in the natural swing of things. Pets are also welcome (for an additional fee) in the Meadow Yurts. Meadow Yurts are near the river.
River Yurts have spectacular views of the Tuolumne River. The River Yurts sleeps five with a queen-sized futon and bunk beds. A private indoor bathroom with shower and outdoor accommodations featuring a deck, gas grill, fire ring, and picnic tables round out the fun.
Sometimes, you gotta do it for the ‘gram, and these hikes in Leavenworth, Washington, are absolutely Instagram worthy! The town itself is the perfect selfie backdrop with Bavarian-inspired buildings and snow-capped mountains. A trip here must include visits to the shops and eateries, leisurely strolls through the town and some wine tastings, but the real adventure, and Instagram postings, start with the 800 miles of hiking trails in the area. We’ve highlighted just a few of the most scenic spots that will guarantee you’ll be well-liked when it comes your Instagram posts. Get that phone camera ready!
Stuart Lake Trail
This trail might be one-stop shopping when it comes to amazing views and vistas – it has meadows awash with wildflowers, soaring granite peaks, an alpine lake, and is popular for birding.
Hike along the creek through groves of cedar, fir, cottonwood and towering pines and in spring and summer, wildflowers in all kinds of variety. This trail also promises a spectacular color show come fall.
As the saying goes, nothing worth doing is easy (or something to that affect) so if you want to experience the Alpine wilderness that is Washington’s Enchantments, you have to take a hike, and a pretty strenuous and long one, at that. But the payoff is worth it – numerous alpine lakes, granite peaks, mountain streams, and possibly, the occasional mountain goat.
Icicle Ridge Trail
This trail provides views of the town of Leavenworth as well as the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers. Towering Ponderosa pines and an abundance of wildflowers add to the charm of this trail.
Apple Capital Loop
This trail provides an interesting landmark – the spot where the Wenatchee River dumps into the Columbia River. The trail is paved and runs along the riverfront so bird and waterfowl sightings are another plus to this hike.
Find the cave trees along this trail for an Insta-worthy picture. The cave trees are old cedar trees whose bases have been struck by lightning, creating the “cave.” There are also spectacular views of Glacier Peak and old log bridges that make for some pretty cool “look where I am” shots.
Hikers have been said to be awestruck at the sights of both the lake itself and the granite peaks found on this hike. Other photo worthy opportunities could be the log bridges along the trail.
Leavenworth is the perfect spot to stay while hiking and exploring Leavenworth and surrounding woodlands, and offers plenty of picture perfect opportunities. Make your reservations today!
Girls trips are all the rage, and we totally get it. Who doesn’t want a memorable trip with their best friends? Check out these five great locations for your next girls getaway and get planning! Your friendships will thank you.
Sedona, Arizona: This hip spot in one of the most picturesque spots in the US offers all kinds of fun, from rafting trips to hiking, new age therapies and indulgent spa treatments. The Arts scene here is hopping, too – the Tlaquepaque Arts & Craft Village is a unique experience with galleries and shops with one-of-a-kind handcrafted jewelry. The Sedona Arts Center has exhibits in all mediums in their Fine Art Gallery and also offers classes and workshops. Fridays in May, visit the Oak Creek Arts and Crafts Show which features 40 local artisans and craftsmen.
Another Sedona must is hiking among the Red Rocks and experiencing the “earth energy” vortexes of Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock. These centers of energy are said to promote healing, spirituality, and enlightenment. Verde Valley is a great spot for this unique girl’s trip and a Tiny House accommodation will make it that much sweeter. Plus, Alcantara Vineyard (www.alcantaravineyard.com) is just steps away and is the perfect spot for a happy hour with your favorites.
Santa Barbara, California: An agenda here for a girls trip could include wine tasting, shopping, beach time and amazing sunsets. Start with a winery tour with Rooted Vine Tours (www.rootedvinetours.com), a group that focuses on family-owned, boutique wineries. The per person cost includes door-to-door service, a picnic lunch and tasting fees for up to four vineyards. It’s a great way to (safely) see and sample the nearby wineries. Watch the sun set on a great day at the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach, which is considered one of the best places to watch the sunset in SB.
Shopping in Santa Barbara can range from open-air malls to boutique-lined thoroughfares. Paseo Nuevo is an open-air mall with major retailers including The Gap, Nordstrom and Sephora while the historic La Arcada Courtyard offers smaller boutiques, chocolate shops and galleries. If you’re longing for the beach scene, consider spending the day at Butterfly Beach and stay until sunset, as it’s another one of the noted spots to watch the sun go down thanks to its west-facing location.
Rancho Oso, and its unique accommodations, is the perfect place to book a stay for an SB-style Girls Getaway!
Amesbury, MA: A true hidden gem, Amesbury is located just an hour outside of Boston and will transport you to the charming, east coast town of your dreams. Spend some time downtown and sample brews at not one but two breweries located within walking distance from each other. Another gem in the adorable town of Amesbury is Cider Hill Farm (www.ciderhill.com), where you and your friends can learn the history of the farm, pick whatever is in season, and sample some of their mouthwatering seasonally themed hard ciders. Did we mention the store and cider doughnuts? We dare you to try and leave without sampling one (or two) doughnuts or purchasing some adorable home decor.
For the icing on an already perfect cake, plan a stay in one of the tiny houses at the Tuxbury Tiny House Village for cute photo ops and plenty of oohs and ahhs.
Florida Keys: Island hop among the Florida Keys and enjoy everything from water sports, like parasailing and scuba diving, to more land-bound adventures like a Hop-On/Hop-Off trolley tour of fabled Key West. Dolphin-watch, visit a turtle hospital, tour the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and see the endangered Key Deer at the National Key Deer Refuge.
Nashville, Tennessee: A girl’s trip to Music City holds more than just music in terms of things to do. Number one – eat. Number two – shop. Number 3 – take a country music history lesson. Number four – try something out of the ordinary.
Number one – Nashville has some great eating. The Loveless Café has been serving up southern fare for more than 65 years, so they must be doing something right. Try their chicken and dumplings with a side of their world famous biscuits and homemade jams and preserves. Another Nashville staple is Monell’s, which serves up southern favorites, like fried chicken and fried catfish, family-style with plenty of southern sides!
Number two – Nashville has plenty of places to shop but you might be interested in two shops that have famous faces behind them. Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James offers women’s clothing, while Uncommon James is the concept of reality TV personality, Kristen Cavallari. The store sells jewelry and other accessories, as well as some home goods. You never know which of their famous friends may pop in to shop!
Number 3 – Get to know the history behind some of the country greats who got their start here, including Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. Museums dedicated to both are located in the same building, with the Cash exhibit on the first floor and the Cline memorabilia on the second floor. Self-guided tours of Nashville’s music mecca, the Grand Old Opry, are available as well as tours of the Ryman Auditorium, which served as the Opry’s original home.
Number 4 – You can’t get more out of the ordinary than trying a sensory deprivation tank. Float Nashville provides the opportunity to allow gravity to do all the heavy lifting, thereby relieving stress on your body with the goal of profound relaxation. Let’s all float on!
Natchez Trace is a great place to stay while exploring Nashville and the surrounding area – it’s located about 80 miles from Nashville’s downtown and features perfectly themed cabins and a beautifully renovated lodge that sleeps up to 16. Talk about the perfect spot for a sleepover!
Rugged, rustic, scenic, quaint, charming, historic – the list goes on when you look for words to describe a visit to Maine’s Bar Harbor. The town dates back to the mid-1700s and its charms can be found on land and sea. Dare we say, it lives up to its original name of Eden by offering an idyllic getaway for everyone? If you’re heading to Maine over the next month or so, here are just a few things you might find interesting.
Wanna See Something Really Scary?
Get to know Bar Harbor from the spooky side and take one of the many ghost tours offered. The Red Cloak Haunted History Tour (www.redcloaktours.com) offers a 90 minute walking tour through the town and Old Burying Ground while a knowledgeable guide discusses history, superstitions and more. This is a family-friendly, pet-friendly and wheelchair-friendly tour. Another interesting option for haunted tours would be the Bar Harbor Ghost Tours (www.barharborghosttours.com), which are offered nightly from May through October. The tours provided through this group tell the history of the area through the perspective of both the indigenous Wabanaki Indians as well as that of the Euro-American settlers. They offer both walking and van options that include tours such as the Wabanaki Spirit Walk or the Island of the Dead tour.
Calling All Art Lovers!
Over the next few months, Bar Harbor will host two amazing, open-air art shows. First up is the Island Arts Association’s Annual Memorial Day Weekend Craft Fair, scheduled for May 25 and 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Come and see what the local artisans and crafters have on display (and for sale). Later in June, enjoy the 69th Annual Art in the Park, which exhibits the works of artists in several mediums, including photography, panting and print. This event is scheduled for June 15 and 16. Both events are free, open to the public and will be held at the Village Green in the center of town.
Eat, Repeat and Enjoy
Maine is known for its lobster! So, why not get up close and personal with this delicious crustacean as well as other mainly Maine foods. The Ambrosia Cooking School (www.ambrosiacookingschool.com) offers several cooking classes that include Historic Maine Cooking, Chowder and Popovers, Please! and Maine Historic Desserts. Another option to nosh on is the foodie tour offered by Maine Food Tours (www.mainefoodietours.com) which offers tastes of the iconic Maine lobster roll as well as Maine Peekytoe Crab Cakes. Do we hear a resounding yum, err, we mean yes?
Don’t Miss the Mountain
A trip to Bar Harbor is never complete without a visit to Acadia National Park, which is hard to miss since the park’s 49,000 acres cover more than half of Mt. Desert Island. Things to do at Acadia that are available every day include hiking Cadillac Mountain, touring the park by foot, bike or car via the 57 miles of carriage roads, or enjoying the park’s Sand Beach with its amazing views. The Acadia Birding Festival is scheduled for May 30-June 2, and is designed for seasoned and amateur birders alike. For information on this event, visit www.acadiabirdingfestival.com.