Going “Abroad” Stateside

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 in Lyndon Station, 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.

Dog Days of August

Tiny house Riley at Tuxbury Tiny House Village in South Hampton, NH • IG: nishatnguyen

The Dog Days of Summer typically refer to the weather this time of year, but if you ask your furry companion (yes, they have opinions!), they’ll let you know that to them it sounds more like Dog’s Days of Summer, or, in other words, take me with you wherever it is you’re going!

If you’re planning a trip, and also listening to your dog, here are few spots that are super pet friendly.

Sedona, Arizona

Settle into a pet friendly cabin or cottage at Sedona’s Verde Valley RV Campground and then explore the area with Fido in tow. Several trails in the area, including the Bell Rock Pathway and the Boynton Canyon Trail, allow leashed pets along on a hike. Many of the restaurants welcome pets and Creekside even has a special pet menu featuring items like a cheddar omelet with chicken jerky or steak tartare. More attractions for the pup include Sedona Dog Park, which separates off-leash areas into big and small dog areas, and Whiskers Bakery, which sells a wide variety treats and toys if your dog is into shopping. 

Cabin at Verde Valley RV Campground in Cottonwood, AZ

Key West, Florida

If there’s a place called Island Dogs Bar, whereas the name implies dogs are welcome, this has to be a pet-friendly vacation spot. Another pet-friendly attraction on the island is the Key West Aquarium where your leashed pup can tag along and see all the marine life exhibits. Higgs Beach has a dog park were pets can run off-leash. Plan to stay at Sunshine Key RV Resort where two of the vacation trailer rental accommodations are pet friendly and the resort welcomes pets, as well.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Not only can your pup ride the bus in Bar Harbor, they are also welcome at several area restaurants, including the famous Stewman’s Lobster Pound. To work off that fabulous lobster dinner, take a hike around Acadia National Park which has more than 120 trails and all are dog friendly.

View from North Bubble, in Acadia National Park, Maine.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle has a lot to offer in terms of pets – bus rides are offered and the city allows well behaved dogs to ride the bus (accompanied by their owner, of course!). Seattle also has over 10 off-leash dog parks and plenty of hiking trails that are friendly to pets. Check out Snow Lake Trail to get a short (6.4 miles) hike in with your leashed dog. Dogs are also welcome at the Washington Park Arboretum, a beautiful 230-acre public park (think free admission). Tall Chief RV Campground has a pet friendly cottage accommodation and the campground welcomes pets, as well.

Door County, Wisconsin

Fish Creek and its marina, along with Peninsula State Park in Door County, Wisconsin

Everything that Door County is known for – hiking, beaches, and water sports are available to tourists of the four-legged variety, to some degree, as well. Plus, several restaurants allow your dogs, too. There’s even a list of doggy daycare facilities in case you want some time without your furry friend. Whitefish Dunes allows dogs on the beach and Peninsula State Park has pet friendly hiking trails. Finally, the Skyway Drive-In Movie Theater allows pets to take in a movie, provided they are in the car or on a leash. Tranquil Timbers RV Campground in nearby Sturgeon Bay has two pet friendly cabin accommodations and the campground welcomes pets.

600Cabin at Tranquil Timbers RV Campground in Sturgeon Bay, WI 

5 Things to Do In… Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Area

Maymont Gardens in Richmond, VA

There’s a reason Virginia tourism still uses “Virginia is For Lovers” to entice visitors to the state. The slogan, which was first introduced in 1969, remains true today. What’s not to love about Virginia? It’s full of history, has produced more US presidents than any other state (eight, in fact), is known for its oysters, and other culinary delights such as blue crabs and Virginia ham, and offers all kinds of outdoor adventures from hiking to water sports. And one spot you will absolutely love is the Chesapeake Bay area.

Cottage at Bethpage Camp-Resort in Urbanna, VA

The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary between Maryland and Virginia. And the point where the Bay meets the Rappahannock River is known as the Virginia River Realm, a magical mix of shoreline, charming towns and one-of-a-kind experiences. Lucky for you, we have three great locations where you can settle in while exploring here. Bethpage Camp-Resort, in Urbanna, Greys Point Camp in Topping, and Chesapeake Bay RV Campground in Gloucester. Each of these locations has a number of cottages and cabins for you to make your home base while you explore the area. The towns of Topping and Urbanna are part of the River Realm and Gloucester is a charming town with roots dating back to Colonial Virginia.

Here are five ways to get to know the area:

  1. Day Trip to Richmond: About an hour west is Virginia’s capital city of Richmond, which offers a little bit of fun for everyone. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is 50 acres of amazing outdoor gardens (opens to the public July 16). Themed gardens include a Children’s Garden, Cherry Tree Walk, and the Rose Garden. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offers free admission and exhibits from around the world. Another option for an outdoor experience is Maymont, a Victorian estate with public parklands. While some of the exhibits are currently closed, the 100-acre estate offers plenty of outdoor parkland and gardens to explore. 
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Richmond, VA
  1. Belle Isle State Park: Open from dawn to dusk, Belle Isle offers all kinds of outdoor activity from bird and wildlife viewing to hiking, biking, kayaking, and canoeing. The great thing is they offer rentals for canoes, kayaks, and bikes so you can travel lightly there and back.
  1. Virginia Oyster Trail: You absolutely cannot visit this part of Virginia without getting up close and personal with the bivalve that Virginia is famous for! The Virginia Oyster Trail (virginiaoystertrail.com) is a mix of oyster-focused sites that provides insight to the world of Virginia oysters.
Cottages at Greys Point Camp in Topping, VA
  1. Presidential Birthplaces: George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, in 1732. The George Washington Birthplace National Monument is a national park where visitors can see a replica of Washington’s childhood home as well as a living colonial farm with historians to explain life as it was during Washington’s childhood. The James Monroe Birthplace Park and Museum honors our fifth president, James Monroe, who was born in Westmoreland County on April 28, 1758. Visitors can see the area where Monroe lived from birth until he left for college (College of William and Mary). A replica of the home is currently under construction, but the Visitors Center is open on Saturdays and Sundays and offers some history and artifacts.
Cabins at Chesapeake Bay RV Campground Gloucester, VA
  1. Deltaville: Known as the “Boating Capital of the Chesapeake Bay”, Deltaville is a delightful coastal town with shops, a maritime museum, and great places to eat crab cakes and oysters along the water. Consider booking a day sail, sunset cruise, or a fishing charter out of Deltaville.

June is Great Outdoors Month

Cabins at Yosemite Lakes Campground in Groveland, CA

In 1998, President Bill Clinton declared that seven days in the month of June should be set aside to “celebrate our relationship with nature.” That concept resonated so soundly with Americans that successive administrations morphed those seven days into a whole month of celebrating and communing with nature.

June is upon us again and we probably all feel the need to get outside and commune! So, whether you hike, bike, fish, boat or just plain sit in it, get outside, breath the air, and become one with nature.

June in the great outdoors can include:

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, OR

Hiking: Hiking doesn’t really require much equipment or any particular level of skill – just some strong legs and lungs, and you’ve got it. Trails abound around the country and we’ve found a few you places you might like to hike. Yosemite National Park has 800 miles of trails to choose from and the scenery is unparalleled! Enjoy the alpine hikes of Mt. Hood, Oregon’s 11,240-foot volcano – two popular hikes are the Tamanawas Falls Trail and the Old Salmon River Trail. Then, relax after a long day on the trails in one of our yurt accommodations at Yosemite Lakes Campground (CA) or Mt. Hood Village (OR).

Cottages in Palm Springs RV Resort in Palm Desert, CA

Biking: Take a seat and use pedal power to enjoy the great outdoors on a bike ride. Some great rides could include the 13-mile city-wide tour of Palm Springs, California, which gives you an idea what the town is all about. Or, pedal around Maine’s Acadia National Park on the 45 miles of carriage roads or the 27-mile Park Loop Road. Add to the fun of your great outdoors experience with a stay in a cute cottage at Narrows Too (ME) or Palm Springs RV Resort (CA).

Cabins at Tranquil Timbers in Sturgeon Bay, WI

Fishing: Reel in the big one during Great Outdoors Month.  Try your luck with some deep-sea fishing in the Florida Keys or see what’s biting in the waters of Wisconsin’s Door County. Our cozy cabins at Tranquil Timbers (WI) or a colorful cottage or tiny house in the Keys can serve as your “fishing lodge” while you write your big fish story!

Fishing at Pacific City in Cloverdale, OR

Taking in the View: Sometimes it’s enough to just be outdoors to enjoy the view, the fresh air, and the magic of nature. Take in the sunsets from Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf; feel the effects of the healing vortexes in Sedona’s Red Rock State Park; enjoy the charm of Leavenworth, Washington, a quaint-as-can-be Bavarian-styled village or marvel at Haystack Rock, nature’s sea stack creation that rises 235 from the Pacific Ocean at Cannon Beach, Oregon. You can also enjoy the view from our cozy cabins in Santa Barbara (Rancho Oso) or Oregon (Pacific City), or from our adorable tiny homes in Leavenworth, Washington, or Sedona’s Verde Valley Resort.

Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA

Camping: Of course, there is no better way to enjoy the great outdoors than with a good camping trip. Writer Alice Walker said, “In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.” Find your perfection and stay with us in one of our Petite Retreats. If you want mountains, we’ve got you covered with locations near Seattle, Maine’s Acadia National Park, beautiful Mt. Hood, and the Adirondacks. If you want seashore, we’ve got you covered with locations in Santa Barbara, the Oregon coast, New Hampshire, and Florida. And if your “perfect” is just gathering friends and family in the great outdoors, we’ve definitely got you covered there!

Dad Fun

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio • Guitars

What does every Dad want on Father’s Day? Most likely, the opportunity to spend time with family, get a pass on chores, and enjoy some grilling time (he’ll probably want to take control with that activity). We’ve got a few more ideas to help celebrate Dad – whether it be on Father’s Day or plans for an upcoming trip that may take him back to the days when his responsibilities were few and his free time was all about fun!

Amusement Parks: Bring back the thrills and chills Dad felt as a child and take him to an iconic amusement park. California’s Disneyland (disneyland.disney.go.com) is the granddaddy of the big theme parks. Opened in 1951, original rides still in operation include the Disneyland Railroad, the Jungle Cruise and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. With the success of Disneyland, Walt Disney turned to Florida to open Walt Disney World (disneyworld.disney.go.com) near Orlando in 1965. Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World, two of the most popular original rides, are still in operation here. While Disney was busy building magical kingdoms on both coasts, Six Flags was busy opening their Texas-sized amusement park near the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961 and remains in operation today. Six Flags expanded and now has parks in California (outside Los Angeles), Illinois (outside Chicago), Massachusetts (near Sturbridge, MA), New Jersey (and hour from Cape May) and New York (near Lake George). Each park offers something a little bit different. Before heading out, make sure to check if the closest park to you is open for the season, as many are delaying openings this summer.

Good Guys and Bad Guys: If your Dad was into gangster lore and legend, he may enjoy the Mob Museum (themobmuseum.org) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Showcasing the beginnings of the mob through current day, exhibits include The Underground, which replicates a Prohibition-era world as well as a Crime Lab that details how forensic evidence is studied and used to build cases against crime bosses.

The Mob Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada

If anything to do with the Old West is your Dad’s favorite pastime, consider a trip to the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, or the Scottsdale Museum of the West in Arizona. The Autry (theautry.org) is dedicated to “exploring an inclusive history of the Old West” and was co-founded by Gene Autry, Hollywood’s Singing Cowboy. The Scottsdale Museum of the West has 1,400 pieces of old cowboy gear, Hopi pottery dating back thousands of years, and a large collection of paintings, sculpture, and other artifacts representing the Old West (scottsdalemuseumwest.org).

Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles

Music, Music, Music: Of course, you may not agree with your Dad’s musical taste, but a visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (rockhall.com) in Cleveland, Ohio should be a trip that everyone can enjoy as it showcases the history of rock and roll from Chuck Berry to Green Day. If country music is his thing, Dad will enjoy a Nashville trip that could include a tour of the Ryman Auditorium that has featured artists from Johnny Cash to Kings of Leon and a visit to the Grand Ole Opry. Travel further in Tennessee to Memphis, which is a mecca for anybody who enjoyed the music and films of Elvis Presley and tour his home, Graceland (graceland.com). See the Jungle Room, the Lisa Marie, Elvis’ private jet, and his collection of cars.

Forest Bathing – No Water Required!

Forest Bathing is the latest way to go off grid and absorb the benefits of nature.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was a boom in technology that plunged the average, everyday person into the digital world, resulting in what could be called screen-time addiction. During that time, the use of home computers, hand-held video games, and portable pocket-sized devices for our viewing and listening pleasures became the norm rather than the exception.

So, it’s no wonder that in the early 1980s, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries began to promote the practice of shinrin-yoku to encourage people to spend time in nature. Shinrin-yoku translates to “forest bathing,” which is fast becoming a popular way to go off grid and absorb the benefits of nature.  ­

Studies have shown plenty of positive health benefits of forest bathing. It reduces levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. It also has been proven to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, boost energy levels, and provide more sound sleep.  Plus, you don’t necessarily need to do anything strenuous – simply bathe in the natural surroundings and be present in the very moment!

Come stay with us and enjoy the nearby forests and take the plunge (no bathtub necessary) to see why forest bathing is making such a big splash these days.

The Deschutes National Forest is just minutes from the yurts and cabins at Bend-Sunriver. Bask in the beauty of the soaring trees, which include Douglas firs, Ponderosa pines, Western larch, and White pines. There are roughly 76 moderate trails in the 1.8 million acres that comprise the forest. Waterfalls, wildlife, and mountain views add to your bathing pleasure!

Safari Tents at Rancho Oso in Santa Barbara, CA.

If you’re planning a trip to Santa Barbara to stay in a teepee, tent, covered wagon, or cabin at Rancho Oso, you’ll be happy to know California’s Los Padres National Forest is conveniently less than 10 miles away and provides the perfect forest bathing venue. Coming in at approximately 1.9 million acres, Los Padres has over 1000 miles of trails and is home to magnificent coastal redwoods, pine and fir trees as well a variety of oak tree species, including Blue Oak and California Black Oak. Oh, and Pfeiffer Beach is also located within the forest so you can actually get wet while forest bathing here!

The Tuxbury Tiny House Village

The Tuxbury Tiny House Village in South Hampton, New Hampshire, has two nearby options for forest bathing: Cowden State Forest and Powwow River State Forest. While a short drive away, about an hour and a half to be exact, this puts you smack dab in the middle of the White Mountain Forest with plenty of hemlock, pines, and spruce trees to bathe in. Fun fact, the state of New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the US with roughly 81 percent of forest land, so everywhere you look, there’s an option to forest bathe!

Cabins at Tranquil Timbers in Sturgeon Bay, WI.

Take a trip to Wisconsin’s Door County and you’ll find yourself surrounded by forest lands, including Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest and Wetlands. A stay at Tranquil Timbers is a great way to get your daily dose of forest bathing. Baileys is home to spruce, cedar, birch, and hemlock trees as well as a bevy of birds including warblers and merlins who can add the soundtrack to bath time.

Black History Sites

The historic and famous Acorn Street in Boston

February is Black History Month. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized the month of February as a time to “recognize the accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” However, the original concept to recognize black history dates to the early 1900s and is attributed to Carter G. Woodson, who is considered the “father of black history.” There are many historic sites throughout the US significant to black history, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016 in Washington DC. The museum is the largest destination dedicated to the African-American experience. A few more sites are listed here.

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument: Part of the National Park System, this location in Wilberforce, Ohio, preserves and interprets the legacy of the Buffalo Soldier of the U.S. Army. Through photos and other multi-media exhibits, visitors can learn about these soldiers who served in America’s wars, beginning with the Civil War.

Wilberforce is approximately 30 miles from the cabins and cottages at Wilmington.

National Civil Rights Museum:  The museum, located in Memphis, Tennessee, explores the history of the Civil Rights Movement and houses more than 260 artifacts. Through these artifacts, films and other multi-media exhibits, visitors can trace the history of the movement beginning with the 17th century. The museum is built around the Lorraine Motel, which was the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Memphis is approximately 68 miles from the cozy cabins at Cherokee Landing.

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site: Visitors to this national park in Washington, D.C., can tour Cedar Hill, where Frederick Douglass lived from 1877 until his death in 1895, through a guided tour with a Park Ranger. There is also a film, Fighter for Freedom: The Frederick Douglass Story, as well as other historical exhibits.

Freedmen’s Town National Historic District: This neighborhood in Houston was one of several areas established by freed slaves after the Civil War. Roughly 1000 freed slaves settled the community after leaving the cotton plantations of Texas. The history of the area can be explored at the Rutherford B.H. Yates Museum and the African American Library at the Gregory School.

Houston is about 50 miles from Lake Conroe, where you can stay in a cozy cabin.

African American National Historic Site/Black Heritage Trail: The Black Heritage Trail runs through the city of Boston, Massachusetts, and highlights 15 pre-Civil War structures and historic sites important to black history. The African Meeting House, which is the oldest surviving black church in the United States, dating to 1806, is on the trail. The trail also includes the home of John Coburn, an African-American abolitionist who aided the efforts of the Underground Railroad.

Boston is 45 miles from the Tuxbury Tiny House Village.

2020 Views

Photo from Devils Bridge Trail 40 minutes from the tiny houses at Verde Valley in AZ.

Get a new perspective in 2020 and check out these amazing views around the country.

Arizona

If you’re visiting Sedona, Arizona, Red Rock State Park provides some of the most breathtaking scenery you may ever see. Simply strolling through this rugged valley with its startling sandstone formations is a sight for the eyes, but if you choose to visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross, you’ll add to the magnificent spectacle. Built into the buttes of the Red Rocks, the Chapel of the Holy Cross is considered an architectural wonder.

Plan a stay at Verde Valley when exploring Red Rock State Park.

Verde Valley
Tiny house photo by @adventuresonwheels from Verde Valley in AZ.

California

Any way you slice it, Yosemite National Park is one of the most scenic spots on Earth. To get a spectacular view of the Park’s highlights, including Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, take in the scenery from Glacier Point. With a commanding elevation of 7,214 feet, this popular overlook is a great way to see all the beauty of the Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite Lakes provides a perfect base camp while visiting the Yosemite Valley and the National Park.

Maine

Thunder Hole, in Acadia National Park, is named due to the thundering sound that occurs when the waves of the Atlantic roll into the cavern on this inlet at Acadia. The water can splash as high as 40 feet! Thunder Hole also offers fabulous views of Otter Cliff and the Great Head from the safety of an observation deck.

Narrows Too in Trenton is a great place to stay for a visit to Acadia, as well as the charming town of Bar Harbor.

Narrows Too
Colorful cottages from Narrows Too in ME.

New Hampshire

Pick your favorite vista when you visit Odiorne State Park, in Rye. There are beautiful views of the woodlands, the rocky coastline and the Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day you can see the Isles of Shoals, a small group of six islands, located about six miles off the coast. In addition to the views, there is also the Seacoast Science Center and the remains of Fort Dearborn, established during World War II to help protect the Portsmouth Harbor.

Tuxbury Pond Tiny House Village is a little over a half hour drive from Rye.

Pennsylvania

One of the most scenic spots in Lancaster County is Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve. Lake and river views, as well as streams, creeks, and waterfalls are just a few of the scenic details here.  The rugged terrain of the woodlands provides possible glimpses of the preserve’s wildlife inhabitants, including coyotes, fox, and deer. Several well-marked trails lead the way as you explore the amazing scenery here.

Circle M is about 22 minutes from Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve. 

Washington

Kerry Park, in Seattle, is the perfect spot to grab a panoramic view of the Emerald City. If you’ve seen such a shot in a magazine or movie, it was most likely taken from Kerry Park. There are so many pluses to visiting this location. Not only is the view of the city skyline spectacular, two bonus views include Mt. Rainier and Elliot Bay. Also, the charming neighborhood of Queen Anne provides views of 19th century homes in Upper Queen Anne, and another one of Seattle’s best locations for amazing views, the Space Needle, in Lower Queen Anne.

Seattle is a perfect day trip when you stay at Leavenworth Tiny House Village or a quick trip from Tall Chief, in Fall City.

Leavenworth Tiny House Village • Otto
Otto, the tiny house, from Leavenworth Tiny House Village

New Year, New Trails

Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park, 30 minutes from Palm Springs in CA.

Do you plan to blaze a new trail in 2020? You might want to consider trekking these trails around the country.

Joshua Tree National Park (CA) – Check out the trees the park is named for while hiking the more than 65 moderate trails in this rugged terrain.  The Joshua Tree is characterized by its twisty, bristly limbs and these distinctive trees are just part of the scenery to be seen here. The Arch Rock Trail hike brings you to the namesake of the trail, Arch Rock, which runs 30 feet wide. Get up close and personal (well, maybe not too close or too personal) with the Park’s Cholla Cactus on the relatively easy Cholla Cactus Garden trail.

Reserve a stay in a cottage at Palm Springs in Palm Desert to hike Joshua Tree National Park.

Lake Kissimmee State Park (FL) – Live oak hammocks provide the perfect cover as you explore the two loop trails in this Florida hiking destination. The Buster Island Trail takes roughly 3 ½ hours to walk this 6.9-mile loop on an island that is surrounded by three lakes. The North Loop Trail is another option that includes Gobbler Ridge, a spur trail that leads to the edge of Lake Kissimmee.

Rest your head in a colorful cottage at Tropical Palms in Kissimmee to hike Lake Kissimmee State Park.

Prospect Mountain (NY) – Imagine 100 miles views of the Adirondacks! This somewhat difficult hike (not suggested for youngsters) is one of the

more popular hikes in the region thanks to the rewarding scenery. The goal is the summit at 2,030 feet, where hikers can experience those magnificent views but also see the remains of the Prospect Mountain Cable Incline Railway. The trailhead begins in the town of Lake George.

Cozy up in a cabin at Lake George Escape to tackle Prospect Mountain.

Fall Hollow Falls (TN) – The waterfalls are the draw on this trail, not to mention the creeks and wooden bridges. Cross over the two bridges and you’ll find yourself at the observation deck for the falls. The trail to the observation deck is less than a quarter mile. The trailhead for this hike is just off the historic Natchez Trace Parkway.

Natchez Trace
Choose your favorite themed cabin at Natchez Trace to trek Fall Hollow Falls.

A Sunny Southern Cali Kind of Stay

A cozy cabin at Pio Pico, near San Diego.
A cozy cabin at Pio Pico, near San Diego.

Make your winter months as sunny as possible and head to southern California to explore the area. Daytime temperatures tend to hover around 68 degrees and the sun is out more than it’s not! There are places to make a home base while you visit the known and lesser known attractions in the Golden State.

Los Angeles: First, book a stay in a cozy cabin at Soledad Canyon and then get ready to check out the area that draws more than 48 million visitors each year.

Of course, many people flock to LA to see the stars of the human variety rather than the celestial kind. You may want to combine a hike in Runyon Canyon with your star-search efforts as this a is favorite spot for the exercise-minded celebrity. Another spot to see stars in their everyday life is The Grove, an LA shopping mecca and the adjacent Original Farmers Market. Whether you see the stars or not, these are all worthy expeditions while in Tinseltown.

Cabin interior at Soledad Canyon, near Los Angeles.
Cabin interior at Soledad Canyon, near Los Angeles.

Other LA attractions include the Griffith Observatory for celestial stargazing, the Santa Monica Pier, and Huntingon Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. And, if you want to feel like it’s winter in all the sunshine, visit Pershing Square’s Holiday Ice Rink, located in the Financial District of the city. The Square will also host a Winter Holiday Festival on December 7, complete with LA’s version of snow!

San Diego: Start by making a reservation to stay in a cabin or cottage at Pio Pico, which is a perfect location thanks to its proximity to San Diego proper. San Diego has beaches, the Pacific Ocean, museums, galleries, a world-class zoo, lots of history, and a boatload of outdoor fun to be had.

The San Diego Zoo consistently ranks as one of the top zoos in the world. With more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals, including gorillas, polar bears, and koala bears, this is definitely not your basic zoo. Visitors can enjoy a guided bus tour through the zoo or see it from above on the zoo’s Skyfari Aerial Tram.

Make a stop at the zoo as part of your San Diego Hop-on Hop-off Trolley tour which also makes stops at Old Town State Historic Park, which is considered the Jamestown of the Pacific; the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter and Balboa Park.

Santa Barbara: Choose from a cozy cabin, teepee, or covered wagon at Rancho Oso and then head out to explore this charming California town known for its architecture and history.

A safari tent at Rancho Oso, near Santa Barbara.
A safari tent at Rancho Oso, near Santa Barbara.

One of the neat things about Santa Barbara is its proximity to the Channel Islands National Park, an archipelago of five islands. A great way to explore the Park and the islands is through the Santa Barbara Adventure Company (www.sbadventureco.com). There are all kinds of adventures waiting on the Channel Islands including snorkeling, sea cave exploration, hiking and whale watching.

A great way to get to see the beautiful architecture of the city is to take one of the weekend walking tours, offered Saturday and Sunday, through the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara (afsb.org) Tours begin at 10 a.m. and last approximately two hours.

And again, if you want to experience a bit more of a winter feeling in this sunny climate, don’t miss the “snow” events at the town’s Paseo Nuevo outdoor shopping center where “snow” fills the evening skies through December 31. There is also holiday entertainment including carolers, choirs, and Santa himself!