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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5 Things to do in… Orlando, Florida

Colorful cottages at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL.

When someone says they’re traveling to Orlando, the most likely assumption would be that the trip is to visit the theme-park laden city in Central Florida to enjoy all those attractions. And, that may well be the case, especially now that Disney World has reopened after COVID-19 restrictions temporarily closed the popular Florida attraction. But for those who want to experience a theme-park free, and socially distanced, trip to sunny Orlando, we’ve got five things to check out. To plan your adventure, visit wildfloridaairboats.com.

  1. If you want to feel like you’re on safari in the wilds of Africa, consider a trip through the Wild Florida Drive-Thru Safari Park in nearby Kenansville. Enjoy the show from the comfort of your own car as you drive a two-mile path through the 85-acre park that is home to exotic animals like zebra, giraffes, oryx, and Watusi cattle.
  1. What better way to enjoy the outdoors than surrounded by beautiful blooms of roses, camelias, azaleas, and a crazy variety of tropical plants? Set over 50 acres, the Harry P. Leu Gardens has over 10 individual gardens including a Butterfly Garden, a Rose Garden, a Tropical Stream Garden, and the Idea Garden, which contains 10 different garden designs within the garden. Don’t miss the Garden’s collection of camellias which is the largest documented camellia collection in Eastern North America. Visit leugardens.org for more information.
Orlando is home to many floral and butterfly varieties within the Harry P. Leu Gardens.
  1. If your trips are all about Instagram, you might like the slightly quirky, yet super trendy attraction called the Wall Crawl.  It’s not a museum or a historic site, but your photos may go down in history. Basically, it’s an installation of 20 walls with a variety of backdrops and vignettes that change seasonally and are there for the pure purpose of taking Instagram shots. There are holiday settings, beachy scenes, pop art, and other whimsical backdrops. And while it is an indoor shoot, COVID-19 protocols are in place and reservations are required. Check out wallcrawl.com for all the deets.
  1. Bike the West Orange Trail, a 22-mile paved rail-trail that runs through several towns, The Oakland Nature Preserve, and the Tilden Outpost, which includes a lovely butterfly garden. There are promises of wildlife glimpses, historic buildings, and plenty of Florida sunshine and fresh air. For specifics about the trail, visit bikeorlando.net/west-orange-trail.
An Airboat ride down Shingle Creek in Kissimmee, FL.
  1. You don’t need the theme parks to find thrill rides in the Orlando area. We’ve got a few unique, and certainly thrilling, ways to discover Orlando. Consider an off-road adventure aboard an ATV or an amphibious Mucky Duck as you explore acres and acres of countryside (revolutionoffroad.com) or take to the skies in a hot air balloon ride and view Florida from above on an approximate 45-60 minute ride (orlandoballoonrides.com). Tour the swamps and see the gators on an airboat ride (spiritoftheswamp.com) or get up close and personal with the trees in a soaring day of fun at the Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park in Kissimmee (orlandotreetrek.com). 
Cottage at Orlando RV Resort in Clermont, FL

Consider a colorful cottage rental at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee for your home base. The roomy cottages have kitchens with amenities that include refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, and coffee makers. Orlando RV Resort in Clermont also has cottage rentals which make great accommodations for your Orlando adventures.

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National Beautiful Day

Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA.

Beauty is subjective, thus the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What one person sees as beauty may well not be what another person sees in the very same thing. Whatever your idea of beauty may be, make sure you celebrate November 20, which is National Beautiful Day, any way you see fit!

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

Beautiful Leavenworth: Without doing much, Leavenworth, Washington, is considered a beautiful town. With its Bavarian-style architecture, mountain backdrop, and quaint downtown it’s quite pretty. Toss in the thousands and thousands of twinkling lights during the holidays and one word comes to mind: beautiful! Plan a stay at the equally beautiful Leavenworth Tiny House Village to enjoy beautiful Leavenworth.

Yurt at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort in Groveland, CA.

Beautiful Yosemite: In a recent poll of its followers, roughguides.com asked them to name the most beautiful locations in the USA. California’s Yosemite National Park topped the list, which also included the Grand Canyon and the entire state of Alaska. Take a trip and see what makes Yosemite a list-maker. For beautiful views, check out El Capitan, Vernal Fall, and Mirror Lake. Stay in a serenely beautiful yurt or cozy cabin at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort while exploring the natural beauty of Yosemite.

Beautiful Crater Lake: Again, a list-maker when it comes to the most beautiful lakes in the US, Oregon’s Crater Lake is known for the beautiful blue color of the lake. The surrounding mountains and towering pines make the views here real stunners! Spend a beautiful day driving the 33-mile Rim Drive which offers breathtaking views of meadows, forests, and the lake.  Book a tranquilly beautiful yurt and stay at Bend-Sunriver RV Campground.

Crater Lake is in Klamath County, OR.

Beautiful Drive: The 17-Mile Drive, which runs along California’s Monterey Peninsula, is a short, but oh so sweet drive of the beautiful kind. With the coast of the Pacific as your companion, the highlights of this drive include Bird Rock (what do you think they are buzzing about?); the Lone Cypress (one of Cali’s most famous landmarks); and Pescadero Point with its fab views of Point Lobos. Check out the unique accommodations at Morgan Hill RV Resort and choose from a cottage, cabin, or safari tent.

Beautiful Sunsets: The Travel Magazine calls them gorgeous sunsets and we all know gorgeous is another word for…beautiful!  Here’s one place to catch the beauty in California, according to the magazine’s list of the 10 best sunsets in the state.  Arroyo Burro Beach in Santa Barbara, also called Hendry’s Beach by the locals, offers one beautiful sunset, over and over and over again. On the other side of the country, the sunsets are just as beautiful and some of the most beautiful can be found in Key West, Florida. And Key Westers tend to make it a regular celebration – check out the fun at the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration and catch one of Key West’s spectacular sunsets. For the east coast sunset, consider at stay in a colorful tiny house at Sunshine Key Tiny House Village or colorful cottages at Fiesta Key RV Resort, and for Cali-style sunsets, Rancho Oso has great cabins for rent.

Colorful cottages at Fiesta Key RV Resort in Long Key, FL.

Beautiful S’Mores: True, they are nothing more than some crackers, sugar, and chocolate but who doesn’t think a perfect s’more is a thing of beauty? Some fun ideas to mix it up could include substituting the chocolate for almond butter and banana, switching out the graham crackers for snickerdoodle cookies; or the truly beautiful s’more made with chocolate graham crackers, sliced strawberries, and dark chocolate. Check out some of our favorite gourmet s’mores 1927smores.com.

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Smile for the Holidays

This may be the year that you see an influx of holiday cards, specifically the photo kind, because the friends and family you may see regularly throughout the year, may not have seen you in at least six months! #2020 Those cards will bring a smile to many faces, so make sure that your photo is spectacular. Check out these photo-worthy spots for Holiday 2020 cards!

Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth, Washington: While just about everywhere in Leavenworth is worthy of a photo, the opportunity to pose with a real live reindeer just may be the key here. Head to the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm for a holiday pic that will let your friends and family see who the holiday VIPS are! For details check out leavenworthreindeer.com. Another option is to have a traditional holiday character front and center in your photo – Karl, the mascot of Leavenworth’s Nutcracker Museum, stands ready and waiting for any and all photo ops (nutcrackermuseum.com). And sadly, while the annual Christmas Lighting Festival has been cancelled for this year, Leavenworth will still shine. The plans for the installation of more than 50,000 sparkling lights are still a go and what a backdrop for any holiday photo they will make!

Book a tiny house at the Leavenworth Tiny House Village while you create your 2020 holiday masterpiece.

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

Santa Barbara, California: Let the Chromatic Gate provide the perfect frame for your holiday photo. Take a trip to the city’s Cabrillo Park and this multi-colored art installation by famed artist Herbert Bayer sets up the shot perfectly. Or, wish everyone luck in the new year with a photo of the gang (or just a selfie!) outside the Lucky Penny restaurant – the exterior wall is literally thousands of pennies! While you’re here, enjoy a slice of pizza! One last option that may bring on the figgy pudding comments – check out what is believed to be the largest fig tree in the U.S. The Moreton Bay Fig Tree, located at Chapala and Montecito Streets, has a circumference of 486 inches and is believed to have been planted over 140 years ago.

Prep for your photo ops while staying in one of our unique rentals at Rancho Oso.

Cathedral Rock near Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona: After a crazy year like 2020, you may want to convey healing vibes to friends and family in your holiday message. Choose one of the spectacular rock formations like Bell Rock or Cathedral Rock in Sedona’s Red Rock State Park to send season’s greeting with a healthy dose of good vibrations from these vortexes. Have your pic taken while on horseback and sign up for one of the scenic rides from Wild Western Horseback Adventures (wildwesternhorseback.com) that takes you through the Verde Valley itself. How about an ancient pueblo in the background of your photo? Explore the ruins of a Sinagua pueblo at Tuzigoot National Monument which is part of the National Park Service.

Tuzigoot National Monument near Verde Valley in Cottonwood, AZ.

Relax and recharge while staying in a cozy cabin or tiny house at Verde Valley.

Florida Keys: Send warm wishes of the Florida kind and take a pic with Key West’s iconic landmark, the Southernmost Point Buoy. Add a palm tree to the shot by heading to Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key or send your “deer-est” wishes by snapping some pics while visiting the National Key Deer Refuge National Center, also located on Big Pine Key. As always, the beaches of the Keys are great for building snowmen of the sand variety to appear in your shot and who can’t resist a beautiful sunset or brightly colored tiny house as a backdrop?

Rent a colorful tiny home from Sunshine Key Tiny House Village or a colorful cottage at Fiesta Key while you explore the Keys for the best holiday photo shoot!

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Rent a Cabin

On many fall bucket lists you’ll find “Rent a Cabin” as one of the list-makers because a cabin in a wooded location with the trees changing color and the crispy fall air all around is about as autumn-y as you can get. So, let’s get to it! Here are a few cabin locations to consider:

Mt. Hood Village in Welches, OR.

Mount Hood Village (OR): Mid- to late-October is prime color time in the Mt. Hood area so choose from the deluxe or standard cabin rentals at Mt. Hood Village in Welches and bask in the fall colors. The Mt. Hood Scenic Loop is a great way to see the vibrant red, gold, and orange foliage, or a hike or bike ride in the Mt. Hood National Forest will do the trick. Try fly fishing in the autumn air – plenty of outfitters in the area can set you up or point you in the right direction. Visit www.mthoodterritory.com for more information.

Seaside RV Resort (OR): How about an Oregon Coast adventure this fall? Book a cabin at Seaside and enjoy the Oregon coast. Check out the wineries, coffee roasters, and craft breweries for a sample of these neat Oregon offerings (northcoastfoodtrail.com). Walk the beaches, which are just as beautiful, but less crowded now that fall has arrived. Check out Oswald West State Park for hiking and a beautiful beach, Short Sand Beach.

Appalachian RV Resort in Shartlesville, PA.

Appalachian RV Resort (PA): Berks County, Pennsylvania, is a great place come fall with the Blue Mountains ablaze with colors and all the wonderful outdoors to be explored. Book a cabin at Appalachian and then see what’s up here. Visit the Daniel Boone Homestead in nearby Birdsboro – the grounds are open from sunrise to sunset and visitors can see the house and farm where the legendary pioneer and outdoorsman lived. There’s also the Berks County Wine Trail (berkscountywinetrail.com) and Nolde Forest State Park with its hiking and walking trails.

Natchez Trace RV Resort in Hohenwald, TN.

Natchez Trace RV Resort (TN): With a large lake perfect for fishing and pontoon rides, and trees upon trees upon trees is what makes Natchez Trace in Hohenwald perfect for a fall cabin adventure. And there are eight cabins to choose from! Take a drive on the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway or enjoy the Natchez Trace Wine Trail. Hiking opportunities could include the Meriwether Lewis Loop Trail or the Falls Hollow Falls Trails which feature a waterfall. Take and drive and explore nearby Nashville or stay at camp and fish for bass.

Yukon Trails (WI): Rent one of our great log cabins at Yukon Trails and plan on plenty of fall-filled fun in the Wisconsin Dells. Visit Ski Hi Fruit Farm for some seasonal apples and a day on the farm, which dates back to 1907.  Mirror Lake State Park is great for fall outdoor adventures including exploring the many hiking, biking, and nature trails in the park.  The deluxe log cabins sleep 6 and include a compact refrigerator, microwave, stovetop, coffeemaker, and toaster, as well as a dining booth and a covered porch.

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5 Things to Do in… Lancaster County and Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Cool weather walks and hikes, delicious apple and pumpkin treats, wildlife, different cultures and simple fall adventures can be found in and around Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Here are just five ideas for exploring this pretty part of Pennsylvania.

The Pinetown Covered Bridge spans Conestoga Creek in Lancaster County, PA.
  1. Explore Covered Bridges: A perfect way to enjoy the fall colors and stay socially distanced is to explore the more than 25 covered bridges in Lancaster County. There are so many to see from the oldest (Neff’s Mill Bridge, built in 1824 and reconstructed in 1875) to the newest (Willow Hill Covered Bridge built in 1962). Most photogenic? We’ll let you decide. Visit discoverlancaster.com/things-to-do/covered-bridges to download a list of the bridges and driving tour routes.
The Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge over the Susquehanna River in Lancaster, PA.
  1. Fall Foliage Views: There are plenty of ways to experience the fall foliage in Lancaster County from hiking to biking and even aboard a train. The Strasburg Rail Road (strasburgrailroad.com), America’s oldest operating railroad, will take you on a 45-minute trip through the beautiful rolling countryside (Note: advance reservations and masks are required). Hikers and bikers should check out the Conewago Recreation Trail which has a 5-mile trail ideal for hiking and biking that runs along the old Cornwall-Lebanon railroad corridor. Another great outdoor experience is the Garden of Five Senses in Lancaster County’s Central Park. Designed to appeal to all five senses, you can smell the flowers, hear the birds, and see the beauty of autumn and this lovely garden.
  1. Visit a Wolf Sanctuary: Learn about The Wolves of Speedwell at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA in Lititz, an 80-plus acre refuge for gray wolves and wolf-dogs. The wolves can be viewed in the natural wooded habitat during an outside tour on walking trails. During COVID-19, tours are available by reservation only so please visit the Sanctuary’s website to make reservations (wolfsanctuarypa.org).
  1. Experience the Amish Culture: The Amish settlement in Lancaster County is the second largest in the U.S. While the Amish are “plain” (so named because they choose a modest lifestyle) and private people, their lifestyle can be glimpsed in many ways here. Take an Amish Buggy Ride through the countryside (amishbuggyrides.com), enjoy an Amish meal in the home of an Amish family (there are several but since they don’t have websites, google “Amish family meal in Lancaster” and you’ll get plenty of hits), or visit The Amish Village (amishvillage.com) for an up close look at the Amish culture.
Pumpkin wagon in Lancaster, PA.
  1. Pumpkins, Mazes, and Haunted Happenings: Another great outdoor activity is to visit the many pumpkin patches and corn mazes in the area. Country Barn Farm hosts Fall Harvest Days through October with plenty of pumpkin fun including pig races and a pumpkin patch. Explore the corn maze at Oregon Dairy in Lititz along with other fall fun like tractor rides, a corn launcher and all kinds of food. How about a Haunted Hayride? Check out Jason’s Woods (jasonswoods.com) for some spooky fun.
Cabins and yurts at Circle M in Lancaster, PA.

https://www.rvonthego.com/pennsylvania/hershey-rv-camping-resort/To be in perfect proximity to all this autumn fun, book a reservation with us at the Circle M, Hershey, PA Dutch, or Spring Gulch resorts, and choose between a cozy cabin, cottage, or yurt. Visit petiteretreats.com for more details on the resorts or to make reservations.

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5 things to do in… Mt. Hood, Oregon

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, OR

What do you look for when you want to get away? A quick dive into what factors are considered when selecting a vacation destination include 1) lodging preference; 2) travel purpose; 3) crowds or solitude; 4) the weather; and 5) the side trips. If we apply these to our destination of choice this month – Oregon’s Mt. Hood Area, here’s what shakes out:

  1. Lodging Preference: This is an easy one. What could be more enjoyable than a stay in a tiny home? The Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, Oregon, has seven tiny homes to choose from for your stay and each offers a little something different. Did you know tiny homes have personalities? That’s right, Anderson has a modern flair, enjoys a most-excellent cup of brewed coffee, and finds biking to be his raison d’etre. Savannah thinks being called “girly” is the ultimate compliment and her bright yellow exterior is an extension of her sunny personality. The tiny house gang at Mt. Hood has five more friends with five equally different personalities but one thing they have in common is that they are the right answer to “lodging preference.” Visit MtHoodTinyHouse.com to check them out and see which one suits your preference!
  1. Travel Purpose: Well, how can there be a right answer here unless you’re traveling alone? Someone likes to hike, someone likes to do nothing, someone likes to shop and someone likes to learn something new on vacation. Don’t worry, with a trip to the Mt. Hood Area, this box is checked for all involved. Hikers will be happy to know the area has more than 150 hiking trails. From local artisan crafts to antiques and boutiques to the very unique chain saw carvings, the area is a shopper’s delight with variety being the spice of Oregon life here. If you’re looking to learn something, the educational opportunities abound. Learn a new sport – attend a snowboard camp or learn to fly fish. Learn about the history of the area – visit the Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum. As for the vacationer who wants to do nothing – that’s OK, too. Just sitting and soaking up the scenery here is a pretty cool thing to do, too!  
View of Mt Hood from downtown Portland, Oregon.
  1. Crowds vs. Solitude: Now more than ever this is a top of the list item with social-distancing being all the rage. Actually, pre-COVID-19, this meant do you like crowds or prefer to spend time alone with your thoughts. Do you want to be “scene,” or do you want to left alone to enjoy more solitary pursuits? So think about it – “no people” activities can include hiking, fly fishing, or skiing while the more social traveler will enjoy the many craft breweries, the annual festivals like the Salmon, Mushroom, and Bigfoot Festival (held in October but sadly cancelled this year) or the Timberline Mountain Music Festival held in late summer annually.
Fall hikes in Mt. Hood National Forest, OR
  1. The Weather: Being a four-season vacation destination, weather conditions factor into a trip to Mt. Hood, well…never really. There is always something to do here. The area has one of the longest ski seasons around. The winter ski season at historic Timberline Lodge begins in early November and runs through Memorial Day. Springtime is great for waterfall hikes and salmon fishing season begins in May. Summer brings amazing wildflowers, festivals, and mountain biking opportunities and the tail end of salmon fishing season (it typically winds down in September). Plus, there’s huckleberry season which straddles late summer and early fall and brings with it the annual Huckleberry Festival (late August). Fall hikes and drives are the best among the changing colors – drive the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway or tackle the Mirror Lake Trail on a day hike.
The vineyards of Willamette Valley, about 90 minutes from Mt Hood, OR.
  1. Side Trips: This is important because it allows travelers to feel like they are getting more bang for their travel dollars! Consider that the Mt. Hood Area is just an hour from Portland. This means you can have all the pleasure of the fantastic outdoors that the Mt. Hood Area affords you, but also have the opportunity to be a city tourist in no time at all. If you’ve always wanted a wine country vacation, you can do that, too. The nearby Willamette Valley is considered Oregon’s Wine Country and there are options for both guided and self-guided tours of the wineries.

Book Tour

Exeter, New Hampshire, birthplace of John Irving, the novelist.

National Read A Book Day is observed annually on September 6. We’re feeling a little bookish this month and are ready for an adventure that’s one for the books!

Take a page from our Book Tour travel guide, and head to these cities that were either the setting for a famous book or the hometown and/or inspiration for some of the most famous authors in the US.

Cozy cabins at Narrows Too in Bar Harbor, Maine.

One of the most prolific writers of horror and supernatural fiction, Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine. Plan a trip to Maine and stay with us in a cozy cabin at our Bar Harbor resorts, Mt. Desert Narrows and Narrows Too, and then head about an hour northwest and explore the town of Bangor. In addition to seeing King’s current residence, you can check out some sites related to King’s novels in Bangor that include the Paul Bunyan Statue located in Bass Park that was featured in It, and Mount Hope Cemetery which was featured in Pet Sematary.

Fisherman’s wharf in Monterey, California.

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, and the area became the inspiration for so many of his classic novels. Book a stay in a cabin, cottage, or ultra-unique safari tent at Morgan Hill RV Resort and you’re less than 50 miles from Steinbeck’s California. Visit Monterey, the setting for his acclaimed Depression-era novel Cannery Row, which depicted life in the town known as the Sardine Capital of the World. Don’t miss the Cannery Row tour. The town was also the setting for Tortilla Flat, the novel that earned both commercial and critical success for the author. Steinbeck’s home and the National Steinbeck Center can be found in Salinas.

The town of Exeter, New Hampshire.

John Irving, author of many novels including The World According to Garp and Hotel New Hampshire, is a native of New Hampshire and attended the University of New Hampshire. If you’re considering a stay with us at the Tuxbury Tiny House Village in South Hampton, you’ll be less than 10 miles from Exeter, which is not only Irving’s birthplace, but also the model for the town of Gravesend, featured in the bestseller, A Prayer for Owen Meany. Fans of the movie Cider House Rules, which was based on Irving’s novel of the same name, will be interested to know that three scenes from the movie were filmed at the Northfield Drive-In in Hinsdale, which is still in operation and is about 100 miles from the Tuxbury Tiny House Village.

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

Ernest Hemingway and Key West, Florida, pretty much go hand in hand. Not only did he write about Key West in his novel To Have and Have Not, but he also spent many years living on the island. Undoubtably one of Key West’s most famous residents, the town honors Hemingway every July during Hemingway Days. Book a stay with us at the Sunshine Key Tiny House Village (where we have a tiny house named after him!) and head down to explore Hemingway’s Key West. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, which is located in the house in which Hemingway lived for over 10 years, offers tours of the home and garden. The Blue Heaven saloon was a favorite of the authors and visitors today can enjoy breakfast or lunch here. Another favorite Hemingway haunt was Sloppy Joe’s. Famous for its sandwich of the same name, the bar pays tribute to Papa with an annual look-alike contest.

Fall Foliage Hikes

North Falls at Silver Falls State Park near Silverton, Oregon.

This fall, make it your goal to be an active leaf peeper. Yes, you heard that right. Leaf peeper – which by definition is someone who visits wooded areas in autumn to check out the changing colors of the foliage. Most everyone is a leaf peeper in some form or another. Maybe you don’t check websites for peak color dates or plan an annual trip around the changing colors but you most likely revel in the beautiful color show put on by Mother Nature and her children of the leafy kind come fall.

Now, we’re asking you to be an active leaf peeper, but we don’t mean just checking out the leaves. We think tossing in a hike – mild, moderate, strenuous, whatever a good hike means to you – while taking in this free, socially-distanced show is a great idea. These hikes are both good for your body and for your psyche.  We did some research and found some of the most popular fall foliage hikes around.

Silver Falls State Park (Silverton, Oregon): A moderate hike at almost 9 miles is well worth the effort as Silver Falls State Park offers hikers the opportunity to see waterfalls in addition to the gorgeous fall foliage. Ten waterfalls in fact, thus the name of the trail, Trail of Ten Falls, can be seen on this great fall hike.

(Plan a stay at one of the cozy cabins at nearby Pacific City while hiking Silver Falls.)

Washington Park Arboretum (Seattle, Washington): The Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle is possibly one of the best color shows contained in one location that you may find. In fact, according to the Arboretum’s website, fall in the Arboretum’s Woodland Garden section may possibly offer the most stunning display of fall colors in the region thanks to having one of the largest collection of Japanese maples in North America. All this beauty can be experienced on nearly one mile of winding stone pathways. How’s that for one-stop peeping? 

Japanese Garden at Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, Washington.

(A great idea is to book a tiny home at Leavenworth Tiny House Village and drive into Seattle. This is a two-fer since fall in Leavenworth is another spectacular show.)

Franconia Ridge Trail (Lincoln, New Hampshire): Waterfalls, a running stream, fantastic views, and plenty of fall foliage can be found on this New Hampshire trail. At just about eight miles and definitely a “hike,” the scenic rewards are plentiful. It’s no wonder this loop was named one of the 10 best hiking trails by National Geographic in 2017.

Tiny House Murphy at Tuxbury Tiny House Village

(Book a tiny home at nearby Tuxbury Tiny House Village for the perfect complement to your fall getaway.)

Potawatomi State Park (Door County, Wisconsin): Driving into Potawatomi State Park in the fall is almost a color show in itself. The contrast between the deep black of the roadway and the yellows and golds of the branches overhead is pretty cool, but wait there’s more! The trails are a carpet of beautifully colored fallen leaves and the views are some of fall’s best. Check out the portion of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail that runs through the Park.

Tranquil Timbers in nearby Sturgeon Bay has the perfect cabin accommodations for your visit to Door County’s color-fall wonderland.

Ocean Path Trail, Acadia National Park (Bar Harbor, Maine): This trail, which stretches along the rugged Maine coastline, is postcard perfect in fall. With the rocky shores of the Atlantic on one side and the Acadia’s beautiful foliage on the other, it’s the perfect mix. Check out the fall leaves at Thunder Hole. Ocean Path is approximately 4.5 miles round trip.

Hiking in Acadia National Park

(Book a cozy cabin at Mt. Desert Narrows or choose from a cozy cottage or colorful cabin at Narrows Too for your fall foliage experience.)

Going “Abroad” Stateside

The charming Danish-themed city of Solvang, CA

Big summer vacations are looking a little different this year. Summer has typically been the time when big trips to Europe and other countries are planned, thanks in part to long school vacations and cooperating weather. Graduates head off for one last trip before starting the 9-5 grind and many honeymooners make plans for a trip abroad after a June wedding, which is a popular month for marriages.

However, for most of us, trips abroad are definitely off the table this summer but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the different cultures offered in a trip to a foreign country. We found a few places right here in the US that will provide you the opportunity to enjoy a bit of Europe while never leaving the country!

Solvang, California:

The solvangusa.com website describes this California town as “A little slice of Denmark in Southern California.” Solvang, which means “sunny field” in Danish, was founded by three Danish immigrants in 1911, after purchasing 9000 acres of land in the Santa Ynez Valley. The town features Danish-style architecture, four wooden windmills and even has a replica of Copenhagen’s famed The Little Mermaid statue. The Elverhoj Museum of History and Art is a great place to learn the history of the town. Visit one of the authentic Danish bakeries and sample some aebleskiver, a sweet Danish pastry akin to a doughnut hole. Plan to stay at Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort, which is about 45 minutes from Solvang, and book one of our unique accomodations choosing from cabins, cottages, a tipi, or covered wagon.

St. Augustine, Florida:

St. Augustine, Florida at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

Not only is historic St. Augustine the oldest city in America, dating to the mid-1500s, but it might also give you the feeling that you’re in Spain. Founded by a Spanish expedition, the Spanish influence on the town remains with the town’s grand plaza, the narrow streets and the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the US. Don’t miss Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, a 15-acre waterfront park on the site where it is said the city was orignally founded. Make sure you sample some Minorcan Clam Chowder while here – it’s a specialty of St. Augustine featuring the datil chile pepper said to have been brought over from Minorca, an island off Spain. Book a stay at a colorful cottage at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee and you’re just 2 hours from historic St. Augustine.

Cottages at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL 

West, Texas:

Plan a cozy cabin stay at at Bay Landing RV Campground in Bridgeport, Texas, and then plan a day to drive the “Kolache Trail.” The what, you say? The Kolache Trail is actually quite long, stretching from West, Texas, which is about an hour and a half from the campground to Shulenberg, which is a good four and a half hours away. The trail hits some of the best Czech bakeries that serve up these tasty pastries with all kinds of fillings – poppyseed, apricot, prune, and more. If you don’t want to make the whole drive, definitely plan a day trip to West, Texas, which is recognized as the Czech Heritage Capital of Texas. There are plenty of bakeries, restaurants, and shops that pay homage to the Czech heritage here.

New Glarus, Wisconsin:

Cabin at Yukon Trails RV & Camping Resort just 90 minutes from New Glarus, WI.

In 1845, representatives of the Emigration Society of Canton Glarus, Switzerland, were to sent to find land in America’s midwest. The result of their efforts was an  establishment on more than 1200 acres of land in Wisconsin’s Green County, which became “New Glarus.” More Swiss settlers followed and the communtiy remains today true to its Swiss heritage.  Swiss-style architecture set among the rolling hills of the area will have you feeling you’re really in the Alps. Specialty shops, a brewery, and eateries serving authentic Swiss cuisine add to the charm of this little town. Nearby New Glarus Woods State Park is great for biking and hiking. Spend the day in New Glarus and then spend the night at Yukon Trails RV & Camping Resort, in Lyndon Station, which is approximately 75 miles away.