5 Things to Do In… Dallas Fort-Worth

Dallas skyline

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!

  1. 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.
Cabin at Lake Texoma in Gordonville, TX
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.
Aframe Cabin at Bay Landing in Bridgeport, TX
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

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Black History Month

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.

“File:Seattle – Northwest African American Museum from Mount Baker Ridge Viewpoint 01.jpg” by Joe Mabel is licensed under CC BY 4.0

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 in Milton Wisconsin” by royal_broil is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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.

“The Lorraine Motel in Memphis” by Kees Wielemaker (pedaal) is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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

“Between the World and Me” by CCAC North Library is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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.

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Glamping with Good Intentions

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.

Tiny House Otto at Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA

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.

Tiny House at Sunshine Key Tiny House Village in Big Pine Key, FL

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.

Cozy yurt at Pacific City Cloverdale, OR

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!

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Resolution-Ready

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.

Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA

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.

Colorful cottages at Tropical Palms in Kissimmee, FL

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.

Cabins and tiny houses at Verde Valley in Cottonwood, AZ

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.

Cottage at Palm Springs in Palm Desert, CA

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2021 Travel Trends

Cabins at Miami Everglades in Miami, FL

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.

Ski trips destinations can include California’s Yosemite Lakes, Washington’s Leavenworth Tiny House Village and Oregon’s Mt. Hood Tiny House Village – all within perfect proximity to the powder. 

Take the scenic route! Road trips are perfect for a 2021 getaway.

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 at Yosemite Lakes in Groveland, CA

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.

Cabins at Narrows Too in Trenton, ME

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.

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5 Things to Do In…The Florida Keys

Sunshine Key Tiny House Village in Big Pine Key, FL

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:

  1. 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.
Florida Keys Aerial View
  1. 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!
Dry Tortugas National Park, FL
  1. 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!
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
Colorful Cottage at Fiesta Key in Long Key, FL

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.   

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5 Things to Do in… Fort Myers

The Times Square area of Ft. Myers Beach.

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 Riverside or Rambler’s Rest so you can be close to all the action.

Cottages at Rambler’s Rest in Venice, FL.
  1. 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.
Moonlight Garden at Thomas Edison and Henry Ford’s Winter Estate.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
Ft Myers & Caloosahatchee River, FL.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

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Warmest Wishes

Hiking at sunset in Sedona, AZ

‘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 Springs is 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.

Cottages at Palm Springs in Palm Desert, CA.

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.

Tiny House Lucy at Sunshine Key Tiny House Village in Big Pine Key, FL.

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!

Cabin under a starry night at Verde Valley in Cottonwood, AZ.

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Cheers to National Lager Day

Friends toasting with beer glasses in the brewery.

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, WI.

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 Trails and 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!

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, OR.

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, PA.

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?

Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA.

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!

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Gift Guide

It’s almost December and while that means that thankfully 2020 is almost over, it also means holiday gift time is right around the corner! We’ve got some ideas that will give you a jump on that holiday gift list.

  1. Who didn’t toss their 2020 planner somewhere around early May? Hopefully 2021 planners will be filled with fun things to do and be in use until New Year’s Eve 2021. Check out the 2021 National Parks Planner with its cool cover of vintage park signs or Marjolein Bastin’s Nature’s Inspiration Planner with its beautiful painting of flora and fauna. Both are under $15 and available at amazon.com.
Binoculars for the bird and nature-watching.
  1. Put together a beautiful basket for your favorite birder which can include a great set of binoculars (Nikon Aculon A211 from dicks.com at $60), Peterson’s Field Guide to Birds of Western North America ($18.99 at amazon.com), and the Bird Watching Log Book ($6.99 at amazon.com).
Cabela’s Seasoning Sampler ($9.99 at basspro.com)
  1. Whip up a gift for the glamping chef and fill a Dutch Oven (Lodge has a great 6-quart one available at target.com for $70) with all kinds of cooking goodies like Cabela’s Seasoning Sampler ($9.99 at basspro.com), a few pan scrapers for the cast iron cookware ($4 and under at REI.com), and a good pair of heat resistant gloves for glamp cooking (check out Grill Armor Gloves at grommet.com for $30).
Campfire Dutch Oven ($79 at target.com)
  1. For glampers who love their pets, give a gift that’s good for the furry ones. The Mobile Dog Gear Week Away Pet Tote Travel Bag ($39.99 at chewy.com) is great for the traveling pooch. The pack contains foldable silicone bowls and a placemat, plus it’s lightweight. Toss in a NiteHowl LED Safety Necklace ($10 at amazon.com) for good measure. For the cat who loves to take in the views, check out the EZ Mount Window Sill Kitty Bed which affixes to the window and allows kitty to soak up the sun and have a nap space up and away from everyone ($25 at amazon.com.)
Mobile Dog Gear Pet Tote ($39.99 at chewy.com)
  1. Keep it cool and fill a cooler (try the Igloo Chest Cooler, $72 at grainger.com) with everything you need to stay hydrated and keep your beverages icy cold. Fill the cooler with a matching set of Hydroflask bottles (prices vary based on size, hydroflask.com), a few coozies from frostbuddy.com, and some cooler packs (check out Walmart.com for the variety available from Artic Ice).
  1. Light up someone’s glamping life with a variety of lights – from small to large. Start with the Biolite Power Mini ($30 on amazon.com), add a few personal headlamps (check out the Petzl Tikkina Headlamp from REI, $19 each), and finish off this enlightened gift bag with the L.L. Bean Trailblazer 300 Rechargeable Lantern ($49.95 from llbean.com). Be super creative and wrap some string lights (amazon.com has plenty of options) around the gift bag, which can be used to adorn a porch or loft on a future trip!

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