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The Keys in Three: Itinerary ideas for a three-day adventure in the Florida Keys

Sunshine Key

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, 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.

Sunshine Key
Sunshine Key

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.

Sunshine Key
Sunshine Key

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!

Featured

Can You Dig It? A short guide to fossil hunting sites in the US

Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon.

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!

Chesapeake Bay
Cozy cabins from Chesapeake Bay, about an hour from Westmoreland State Park.

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).

Pacific City • IG: @ofwildestheart
Yurt interior photo from Pacific City near Beverly Beach State Park. IG: @ofwildestheart
Featured

In and Around New Hampshire’s Tuxbury Pond

Tuxbury Tiny House Village
Tuxbury Tiny House Village

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!

Photo courtesy of @kerriemburke
Photo courtesy of @kerriemburke

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.

Tuxbury Tiny House Village • Interior Emerson
Tuxbury Tiny House Village • Interior Emerson

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.

Tuxbury Tiny House Village
Tuxbury Tiny House Village

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.

Tuxbury Tiny House Village
Tuxbury Tiny House Village
Featured

Cider Sippin’ Spots

Cider Sippin’ Spots

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.

Bay Landing • Bridgeport, TX
Bay Landing • Bridgeport, TX

(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.

Mt Hood • Welches, OR
Mt Hood • Welches, OR

 (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.

Rancho Oso • Santa Barbara, CA
Rancho Oso • Santa Barbara, CA

 (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)

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Give me a T for Texas, and for Tennessee!

Natchez Trace • Hohenwald, TN
Natchez Trace • Hohenwald, TN

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.

Lake Whitney • Whitney, TX
Lake Whitney • Whitney, TX

 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.

Lake Conroe • Willis, TX
Lake Conroe • Willis, TX

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.)

Medina Lake • Lakehills, TX
Medina Lake • Lakehills, TX
Featured

Why Go Outside?

La Conner • La Conner, WA

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!

Tiny House • Mt Hood Village • Welches, OR

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:

  1. Socialization
  2. Stress Reduction­­
  3. Physical Exercise
  4. Plenty of sunshine, thereby increasing your Vitamin D intake
  5. 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.

Alpine Lake RV Resort • Corinth, NY

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.

And by the way, go outside!

Bend-Sunriver • Bend, OR

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51 Days and Counting

Circle M • Lancaster, PA

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.

Bend-Sunriver • Bend, OR

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!)

  1. Go to a waterpark
  2. Read at least one book from your summer booklist
  3. Eat outdoors
  4. Go fishing
  5. Try to learn a new watersport, like stand-up paddling or wake surfing
  6. Go to a local pool and enjoy getting splashed
  7. Visit a lemonade stand
  8. Watch the sun rise
  9. Watch the sun set
  10. Camp out in your backyard
  11. Glamp at your favorite Petite Retreats location
  12. Enter a watermelon seed spitting contest
  13. Take in a theater production under the stars
  14. Spend one day off grid – no social media, no TV, no podcasts (best paired with #11!)
  15. Catch fireflies
  16. Bird watch
  17. Take a walk in the woods
  18. Visit a farmer’s market and create something delicious with seasonal produce
  19. Make s’mores and then make more
  20. Enjoy an outdoor musical event
  21. Build a sandcastle
  22. Go to a carnival
  23. Ride a rollercoaster and scream at the top of your lungs
  24. Run through a sprinkler, even if it’s someone else’s!
  25. Listen to the crickets
  26. Pick berries
  27. Go to a baseball game – local or professional
  28. Eat corn on the cob
  29. Take a road trip (for as long as you can)
  30. Visit a national park
  31. Visit a national monument
  32. Visit an old friend
  33. Spend a day volunteering
  34. Spend a day watching old movies
  35. Go to a drive-in movie
  36. Grab some chalk and make sidewalk masterpieces
  37. Have a water balloon fight
  38. Have a squirt gun fight
  39. Fly a kite
  40. Try Goat Yoga
  41. Spend a day being a tourist in your own city
  42. Catch a parade
  43. Go on a picnic
  44. Visit a planetarium and enjoy summer’s night skies
  45. Eat popsicles
  46. Grill the perfect hotdog/hamburger
  47. See this summer’s blockbuster movie at a midnight showing
  48. Carefully enjoy a slip ‘n slide
  49. Glamp in a unique accommodation – yurt, teepee, tiny house
  50. Make a to-do list for next summer!

Goat Yoga

Featured

Oregon Coast Summer Events

New Pacific City • Cloverdale, OR

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.

Olympic National Park

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.

Mt Hood Village • Welches, OR

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.

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Glamping – It’s all the Rage!

Yurt • Circle M RV & Camping Resort

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.

Yurt Yosemite Lakes Groveland, CA

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.

Horses RanchoOso Photo By JulieVader

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!

Sunset • Mt Desert Narrows Camping Resort

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!

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Wonderful Wisconsin Part II: Madison and The Dells

Lake Monona • Madison, WI

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.

Thai Pavilion • Olbrich Botanical Gardens • Madison, WI

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.

Cozy Cabin • Yukon Trails RV & Camping Resort

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.

Reserve your Wisconsin getaway today at www.RVontheGo.com.

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Go Big in Bend

Kayaking • Bend-Sunriver RV Campground

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.

Fishing • Deschutes River

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.

Cabin • Bend-Sunriver RV Campground

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.

Sunset • Bend-Sunriver RV Campground

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!

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It’s a Dad Thing

Fishing • Father and Son

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:

  1. 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.Leavenworth RV Campground • Leavenworth, WA
     
     
  2. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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Wonderful Wisconsin: Door County

Sunset • Wisconsin’s Door County

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.

Yurt • Tranquil Timbers Camping Resort • Sturgeon Bay, WI

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.

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National Selfie Day

National Selfie Day

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.

  1. The Hollywood Sign: Located in Los Angeles (and just an hour from Soledad 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!

    Soledad Canyon • Acton, CA

  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

    Tropical Palms Resort • Kissimmee, FL

  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 at Natchez Trace are about an hour from downtown Nashville.

    Natchez Trace • Hohenwald, TN

  10.  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 from Moody Beach) and you’ll find him standing tall along Route 1. He is also known as the Big F Indian.
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Yosemite Yurts – A Natural Place to Stay and Play

Yurt Yosemite Lakes Groveland, CA

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.

Yurt Yosemite Lakes Groveland, CA

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.

Reserve your yurt today!

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Leavenworth’s Insta-worthy Hikes

Leavenworth’s Insta-worthy Hikes

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.

Chiwaukum Creek

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.

Enchantments Traverse

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.

Mountain Views Leavenworth Leavenworth, WA

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.

Hidden Lake

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.

Colchuck Lake

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.

Dragontail Peak and Colchuck Lake Leavenworth, WA

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!

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Five Great Ideas for a Girls Getaway

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.

Five Great Ideas for a Girls Getaway

  1. 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.

Tiny House Verde Valley Cottonwood, AZ

  1. 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!

  1. 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.

Tuxbury Tiny House Village - South Hampton, NH

  1. 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.

Two great spots to stay during your Keys with the Girls trip are Fiesta Key and Sunshine Key.

Cottages, Fiesta Key, Long Key, FL

  1. 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!

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Best of Bar Harbor

Best of Bar Harbor

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.

If you’re Bar Harbor bound, stay at any one of our three great Bar Harbor locations, which feature colorful cottages and unique cabins, at Narrows Too, Mt Desert Narrows, and Patten Pond.

Spirits in the Night, or Day if you prefer!

If you’re looking for a spirited adventure this fall but haunted houses and ghost tours aren’t really your thing, consider seeking spirits of a different kind. We’re talking about the kind of spirits you can drink, and you don’t need complicated equipment to find them. Simply check out these distilleries below to find the kinds of spirits that will keep you in good spirits!

Trinity River Distillery, Fort Worth TX:  Housed in an historic landmark dating back to 1913, this distillery uses natural rainwater in their distilling process. Tours are just $10 per person and include samples of the distillery’s products which include Silver Star Vodka, Silver Star Whiskey and Silver Star Texas Honey Liquor. After the tour, enjoy some specialty drinks at the bar like the Silver Stargarita, the Texas Honey Mule, or the Toxic Whiskey. www.trinityriverdistillery.com

(Cozy cabins at Bay Landing are less than 50 miles from the distillery)

Cannon Beach Distillery, Cannon Beach, OR:  The spirits produced here are about as homegrown as you can get. Every liquor produced is done so on site – from fermentation to bottling. Considered an artisanal distillery, the batches are small and not mass produced so a trip to the tasting room is the only way you are likely to taste what they have to offer. Sadly, they are closing up shop within the year, but they are still open and plan to release four whiskeys before year-end. www.cannonbeachdistillery.com

(Cabins and yurts at Pacific City are about an hour from Cannon Beach)

Sound Spirits Distillery, Seattle, WA: Located under the Ballard Bridge in Seattle, Sound Spirits offers tours of the distillery which produces some unique liquor varieties including aquavit and herbal liqueurs, as well as gin and whiskey. www.drinksoundspirits.com

(Cabins and yurts at Tall Chief is about 35 minutes from the distillery)

Lost Spirits Distillery, Los Angeles, CA:  According to reviews, this is more than just a tour and tasting, and is instead akin to an adult version of the tour portrayed in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Tours are $37 per person and reservations are required, but the experience is well worth it. A mix of science and spirits with a special “ride” to reach the tour are all part of the fun, not to mention the whiskey and rum tastings. www.lostspirits.net

Palm Springs Oasis
Colorful cottages at Palm Springs, less than two hours from Lost Spirits Distillery.

Goleta Red Distilling Company, Goleta, CA:  Rum is the spirit of choice here with three different varieties as well as a rum liqueur, but they also have gin and a “Fiesta” Agave Spirit, too! The tasting room is open Wednesdays through Sundays and you can also enjoy cocktails on the patio at this very welcome addition to the fun found in Santa Barbara. www.goletared.com

Rancho Oso
Cozy cabins, teepees, and covered wagons at Rancho Oso are less than 30 miles from Goleta Red Distilling Company.

Florida Distillery Trail, Various Locations:  Follow the Florida Distillery Trail which runs across and around the state offering roughly 15 distilleries to visit. These distilleries offer everything from rum to whiskey to moonshine. Florida Cane Distillery, in Tampa, offers not only tours, but also a Distillery After Dark option where you can mix your own signature cocktail or a 3-day Whiskey Workshop that offers insight to whiskey making (www.floridacane.com). In Sarasota, award-winning Siesta Key rum flows at the Drum Circle Distillery where tours are free and the tasting room is open seven days a week (www.siestakeyrum.com). Down in the Keys, enjoy a free tour at Key West First Legal Rum Distillery (keywestlegalrum.com) or visit (by appointment only) Key West Distilling which offers craft distilled rum, vodka, gin, and whiskey (www.keywestdistilling.com).

Tropical Palms
Colorful cottages from Tropical Palms, about one hour from Loggerhead Distillery along the Florida Distillery Trail near Orlando.

(Petite Retreats locations near the Tampa and Sarasota distilleries include Tropical Palms, Orlando, and Peace River while Sunshine Key is near the Key West locations)

Tiny House, Big Hype

The Tiny House Movement is taking the glamping community by storm. Bigger is definitely not better in this case, because these unique accommodations are even being bought and used as family homes. These tiny home owners and glampers are living in about 200 square feet, and they are lavishing in the miniminimalistic lifestyle. Skeptics may wonder why and how people would choose to be confined in that small of a space all the time. As interesting as the concept may sound to those “bigger is better” believers, inhabitants of the homes fall in love with the experience. The hype for tiny homes is real and verifiable not only for how cute they are, but for benefits they have not only for your health but also the environment. 

Henry, a tiny house at the Tuxbury Tiny House Village.

Size isn’t everything 

Surprisingly, some of these tiny houses can easily sleep 5 people. Fully equipped with a kitchen and full bathroom, many tiny houses also have an upstairs loft area. So, if you think you and your glamping companions will be constantly stepping on each other toes, think again. You and your four favorite friends will be housed quite comfortably, and you’ll have entertaining photos to prove it 

They push you to spend more time outdoors 

Although the sleeping and general living accommodations are available in a small footprint, spending all of your days inside is no way to live, regardless of square footage. Nonetheless, tiny home living pushes guests to want to be outside more, ultimately expanding their living space. More time being spent outside is related to better mental health, which might be why tiny house residents enjoy the experience so much! You are truly living with the environment in a tiny house. 

A friend to the environment –

Tiny homes are environmentally beneficial. For one, they’re typically made from wood and mostly recycled material, and use much less energy and building material compared to a normal sized house. Additionally, the average house uses approximately 30,000 pounds of CO2 a year, while tiny homes use an average of 2,000. Less electricity use and less land space, the environmental impact, or lack thereof, is just one of many reasons vacationing tiny is an attractive choiceA smaller house ultimately brings a smaller carbon footprint, and we’re talking tiny. 

Staying put is so last year –

Tiny homes can also act like RVs! If you have a vehicle that can pull and RV, it can tow a road ready tiny home, and some builders (such as Tumbleweed Tiny House Company) ensure their tinies are RVIA certified. The camping world is surely your oyster as you can still be a nomad family on the go, even though you are still technically living in a house. There’s no way to feel confined in a tiny home if you can live in it literally anywhere you choose. Tired of the warm southern weather? Just move north! You will never exhaust a location living the tiny life.  

Adeline, a tiny house at the Leavenworth Tiny House Village.

 You can give the tiny house life a try by visiting any of our tiny house villages!