Have Yourself a Hygge Little Holiday

Photo by @itscolleenk at the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village
Photo by @itscolleenk at the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village

If you haven’t heard of hygge, you’re most likely not paying attention or don’t have a desire to feel comfy and cozy! Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).” Hygge has been gaining traction in the US for about the last four years and is yet another quest for Americans to add much-needed comfort and relaxation to their crazy lives. So, let’s find a way to hygge up your holidays, both in your gift-giving and in ways to deal with the holiday stress.

Gifts

  1. Candles are big in the hygge world. Consider World Market’s Natural Birch Bark Candles ($5.99) for instant cozy or their Tobacco Flower and Rosewood Filled Soy Candle ($14.99).
  2. A required item for cozy is of course a blanket, so consider the Cable Knit Reversable Sherpa Oversized Throw from amazon.com ($69.80) or Pottery Barn’s Cozy Pom Pom Throw ($49).
  3. A diffuser with essential oils can bring calming scents to the air. Try the Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser Helix ($29.99) available from Target.com. For essential oils, consider the Wellness Set from planttherapy.com ($39.95) which includes oils mixed for wellness.
  4. Don’t forget a book to explain all about Hygge – some of the more popular ones include The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking or The Art of Hygge by Elias Larsen and Jonny Jackson. Both are available on amazon.com.
Views for days at this Lake of the Springs Cabin in California.
Views for days at this Lake of the Springs Cabin in California.

Taking Care of You

  1. Drink more tea! Proven health benefits include soothing the digestive system and decreasing risk of heart attacks as well as calming your mind.
  2. Practice Mindfulness. Not everyone can spend an hour meditating, but you can take a few minutes to close your eyes, clear your mind, and do some deep breathing exercises.
  3. Host a Hygge Night. Have friends over where the only requirement is comfy clothes and blankets and pillows. Share stories of holidays past and reflect on all that you are grateful for.
  4. Get outside. It may be cold, but a short brisk walk can do a lot to relieve stress.
The perfect spot for a family movie night at Natchez Trace, near Nashville.
The perfect spot for a family movie night at Natchez Trace, near Nashville.

 

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!

Tropical Plans, Tropical Palms

Tropical Palms • Kissimmee, FL
Colorful cottages at Tropical Palms •  Kissimmee, FL

The holidays can be a stressful time – even if you are extremely organized, get along with every member of your family, and find endless rounds of holiday affairs super exciting! Whether this is the case with you, or you find yourself more aligned with Mr. Scrooge when it comes to all things holiday, there is nothing wrong with getting ready for the season with a little “me time.”

The best way to get in some quality “me time” is quick getaway to de-stress before the holiday rush begins. What can more de-stressing that a tropical getaway? Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Florida, fits that bill perfectly. Situated on 69 sun-kissed acres and perfected located to the area attractions, it’s the perfect home base for a quick Florida getaway minutes from the happiest place on Earth.

Tropical Palms • Kissimmee, FL

Spend your days relaxing poolside or playing shuffleboard, bocce, or a few rounds of mini-golf. Or, if you want to slowly ease into the holidays, check out some of these holiday-themed events nearby!

Festival of Trees

The Orlando Museum of Art transforms into a winter wonderland with displays of beautifully decorated trees, wreaths, gingerbread houses and holiday vignettes during the annual Festival of Trees. The event runs November 15 through November 24 at the museum. The festival will also feature live entertainment, family-focused fun, and holiday raffles. Visit www.omart.org for more details.

Tropical Palms • Kissimmee, FL

SeaWorld Christmas Celebration

Running November 23 through December 31, SeaWorld celebrates the season by lighting up the park with more than 3 million twinkling lights and bringing special guests like Rudolph and Santa to welcome the holidays! There will also be live entertainment and special holiday markets. For details, visit www.seaworld.com/orlando.

Holidays at Old Town

Visitors can enjoy the festive decorations that turn Old Town Kissimmee into a winter wonderland. Twinkling lights, strolling carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides and snow! Yes, somehow, they manage to bring “snow” to this tropical location, using a biodegradable, non-toxic product like they use in the movies. To round out the fun, there will be a tree lighting ceremony, live music events, a car show and an ice-skating rink. Event runs from November 23 to December 25 and is mere minutes away from Tropical Palms. To learn more, visit www.experiencekissimmee.com.

Tropical Palms • Kissimmee, FL

Holiday Home Tour and Winter wonderland

Get some decorating ideas and a peek inside some of the charming homes in Celebration, Florida, during this event that is scheduled for Saturday, December 1, and Sunday, December 2. This is a self-guided tour and each home is uniquely decorated for the holidays, both inside and out. Visit www.celebrationfoundation.org for more details.

And, if you don’t want to start your holiday celebrations just yet and are focusing only on relaxing, here a few things to consider:

Discovery Cove: Experience the tranquility of life underwater at Discovery Cove where you can interact with bottlenose dolphins and feed the tropical birds.

Inside a Colorful Cottage • Tropical Palms • Kissimmee, FL
Inside a Colorful Cottage • Tropical Palms • Kissimmee, FL

Disney Wilderness Preserve: Home to more than 1000 species of plant and animals, you can choose to hike, bird watch or simply enjoy the beauty of this preserve that is home to bald eagles, woodpeckers, squirrels, snakes, and bats!

Kissimmee Lakefront Park: The park has plenty of walking paths, a fishing pier, and picnic areas. Enjoy a simple day of rest and relaxation amid nature here.

Here’s the plan –pick your colorful cottage for your stay at Tropical Palms; decide what mix of holiday spirit and relaxation you want and then sit back, or get moving, and make this your best holiday season, yet!

Glamping Thanksgiving

Bragas Family • Red Rock State Park • Arizona
Red Rock State Park • Arizona

Thanksgiving is all about gathering friends and family near and being thankful for all your blessings. Why not put a twist on the tradition this year by gathering together to go glamping?

Since it’s the holidays, it makes sense to kick it up a notch by staying in accommodations that are a bit comfier, photogenic, and where you can cook up a great meal with ease. Consider group rentals for all of the adorable tiny homes available at our tiny house villages in Leavenworth (WA), Verde Valley (AZ), Sunshine Key (FL), or Mt. Hood (OR). Another option is adjacent cottages at Tropical Palms (FL) or Palm Springs (CA). Or, be thankful for all that nature has to offer and get adjacent tent or RV sites. Either way, everyone’s all together and, of course, the more the merrier.

@adventuresonwheels
IG: @adventuresonwheels

Once you’ve settled in, get outside and be thankful for the great outdoors. Take a hike – top fall hikes include Florida’s Seminole-Wekiva Trail outside Orlando, which is a 14-mile, well-marked trail; Araby Trail in Palm Springs is about a 2-hour hike with gorgeous desert views, including a glimpse of Bob Hope’s former home; or Lower Chimney Rock Trail in Sedona, which takes you to Chimney Rock through Arizona’s spectacular Red Rock State Park. Other outdoor activities can include the Sedona Turkey Trot, Orlando’s Turkey Trot in Avalon Park or Portland’s Turkey Trot at the Zoo, which are all set for Thursday, November 28.

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

After your hike or Turkey Trot, be thankful for the bountiful meal you can enjoy with these simple ideas. Instead of a full-blown turkey dinner with all the trimmings, make up a variety of food boards ranging from veggies and cheese, to meats and breads or delicious dessert offerings. Or, plan the perfect potluck in advance by having each guest pick from a hat and bring whatever food is marked on their pick. The options should include an appetizer, veggie dishes, simple main meal options which can include stuffed peppers or one-pan dinners, easy desserts, and, of course, a seasonal libation. Or, let someone else do the cooking and consider the Thanksgiving Day Dinner at Yosemite National Park, which offers several feast options in their dining rooms and helps keep your yurt guest-free, or enjoy a meal at the historic Timberline Lodge, just a few miles from the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village.

Verde Valley • Cottonwood, AZ
Verde Valley • Cottonwood, AZ

Be thankful for local attractions and explore your surroundings. Check out the schedule for Cannon Beach, Oregon’s Haystack Holidays which include Mimosa Madness, a Holiday Wreath Making Class, Christmas concerts, and holiday light displays. Visit www.cannonbeach.org to see all the fun that’s planned. Tampa’s Busch Gardens will have a Christmas Town from early November to early January that features thousands of twinkling lights, holiday decorations, a sing-along train and a variety of holiday shows (www.buschgardens.com/tampa has all the details).

Inside a Tiny House
Inside of Zoe, a tiny house at the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village

Visit www.PetiteRetreats.com to book your glamping accommodations and make this a unique Thanksgiving celebration you’ll remember for years to come!

Kick off the Holidays in Leavenworth

Leavenworth RV Campground • Leavenworth, WA
Leavenworth Tiny House Village • Leavenworth, WA

Kick off the holiday season by getting in the spirit with a visit to one of the most charming little holiday towns in the U.S. – Leavenworth, Washington. Leavenworth is often mentioned when it comes to the best holiday towns in America and was most recently named in County Living magazine’s list for 2019.

Make your stay extra special and choose from one of the adorable tiny homes at the Leavenworth Tiny House Village. Cozy tiny house + cozy holiday town = exponential holiday spirit!

Leavenworth RV Campground • Leavenworth, WA
Leavenworth Tiny House Village • Leavenworth, WA

Once you’re settled into your cozy tiny house, you’re ready to find out what makes Leavenworth so great during the holidays. Here are just a few things that come to mind:

The Christkindlmarkt is a holiday favorite in Leavenworth and visitors can shop for handmade arts and crafts, sample authentic Bavarian foods, and enjoy a lantern parade. The Christkindlmarkt opens Friday, November 29, and closes Sunday, December 1. The Lantern Parade, which will be held on both Friday and Saturday evenings beginning at 5 p.m., is a delightful event with children and their parents following behind holiday VIPs Santa and Mrs. Claus carrying hand-crafted, glowing lanterns. It’s truly magical.

What is the holiday season without gingerbread? Take time from your outdoor winter fun and stop in at the Gingerbread Factory to enjoy not only their delicious gingerbread creations, but also cinnamon rolls, scones, sandwiches, and locally roasted coffee. This sweet little bakery is located right on Front Street in Leavenworth.

Get your fill of nutcrackers with a visit to the Nutcracker Museum, which is home to more than 7,000 nutcrackers on display, some dating back thousand of years. If you can imagine something to crack a nut with, you’ll probably find it here.  A fun way to explore the museum is through the Nutcracker Hunt that has “hunters” going through the museum and checking off which ones they can find from a specialized list. For details on the museum and the Nutcracker Hunts, visit www.nutcrackermuseum.com.

Leavenworth, WA
Leavenworth, WA

See firsthand what makes a reindeer so special and visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. Learn all about reindeer through not only a video presentation but an up-close, hands-on educational tour that includes reindeer food for feeding them. Santa and his sled will be there during all tours in November and December and photo ops are available. For more information, visit www.leavenworthreindeer.com.

Leavenworth Tiny House Village • Leavenworth, WA

Outdoor fun in the Leavenworth area can be found in abundance. From ice climbing, sledding and tubing, plus skiing, snowboarding, and even dog sledding, there are all kinds of outdoor experiences to be had here come winter. Visit www.leavenworth.org and see what they offer.

The tiny homes are waiting and so is a healthy dose of holiday spirit – visit www.leavenworthtinyhouse.com and plan your holiday kickoff getaway.

Belle • Tiny House
Belle • Tiny House

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

Sunshine Key

A quick trip to the Florida Keys can be relaxing or adventurous, or a bit of both depending on what floats your boat! Toss in a tiny house accommodation and you’ve got a memorable trip in the making.

Let’s start with accommodations. Sunshine Key, on Ohio Key, recently welcomed five tiny homes, each with its own unique personality and each perfectly appointed with everything you need for a great vacation accommodation. The tiny homes at the Tiny House Village at Sunshine Key are Pearl, Isla, Hemingway, Lucy, and Kai.

Pearl, Isla, Hemingway, Lucy, and Kai

Pearl is pretty in pink and features a sleeper sofa on the first floor and a queen bed in the lofted sleeping area (accessible by stairs), as well as a full bathroom with standing shower, and a kitchen complete with refrigerator, stovetop, coffeemaker, toaster, and dinnerware and cookware.

Isla shines in her tropical green exterior with a fully appointed interior that includes a first-floor sleeper sofa and a lofted sleeping area with a two queen sized beds, and a twin bed. The full bathroom has a tub and shower and the kitchen is complete with stovetop, refrigerator, coffeemaker, toaster and dinnerware and cookware.

Lucy is friendly with a sunny personality and an exterior color to match! Life with Lucy includes a first-floor sleeper sofa and two lofted queen beds as well as a lofted twin bed! The kitchen matches those of her counterparts and the full bathroom features both a shower and tub.

Sunshine Key
Sunshine Key

Kai gives off a water loving vibe thanks to the aqua exterior that mimics the waters of the Keys. Inside, Kai is just as easy-going with a first-floor sleeper sofa and a lofted queen bed. Kai’s kitchen has all the amenities including a refrigerator, stovetop, coffeemaker, toaster and cookware and dinnerware.

Hemingway and the Keys are pretty much synonymous, so to have an authentic Keys trip, consider a stay in Hemingway, the tiny home! The first level/basement features a full bed and the loft area, accessible by ladder, has a queen bed. The kitchen has the same features as the other tiny homes and the full bath features a standing shower.

All the tiny homes have AC/heat, TV with basic cable, linens and an outdoor picnic table.

The resort itself offers on-site fishing opportunities, a marina and dock, is near the beach and has wonderful amenities including a swimming pool, fitness center, tennis and pickleball courts, and laundry facilities. The resort is also pet friendly.

As for the Keys, you can snorkel, fish, explore Hemingway’s Key West, see wildlife, take fabulous photos and enjoy life in the tropics without leaving the US! Thanks to the 113-mile Overseas Highway, all the Keys are accessible by car, from Key Largo in the north on south to Key West, at the southernmost tip of Florida.

Sunshine Key
Sunshine Key

If you’re looking to do the Keys in three days, here are a few must-sees:

Dolphin Cove on Key Largo provides the opportunity to make some dreams come true if your dreams involve swimming with dolphins.  Visit www.floridakeysswimwithdolphins.com to learn how to swim with these gentle creatures in a natural salt lagoon. Another Key Largo highlight is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park where you can snorkel, explore the reef on a glass bottom boat tour, or explore the mangrove swamps.

On Islamorada, visitors can learn all about the history of diving at the History of Diving Museum, which offers exhibits, lectures, special events, and contains one of the world’s largest collections of diving paraphernalia including diving helmets, suits, books, films and other memorabilia.

Marathon Key is home to the famous Seven Mile Bridge and Big Pine Key is home to Bahia State Park and the National Key Deer Refuge Center, which was established to protect the Key deer as well as other wildlife in the Keys. The Seven Mile Bridge was once one of the longest bridges in the world and can be explored by bicycle. Visitors can learn some interesting history of why the bridge was built. Sunset views from the bridge are spectacular!

Key West is, of course, known for the being the place where Hemingway lived for several years in the 1930s and wrote some of his best-known works, including For Whom the Bell Tolls. Visitors can tour the Hemingway House and also take a trolley tour which visits all the major attractions in the town. Snap a selfie at the Southernmost Point Buoy which marks the southernmost point in the continental United States. Stroll along Duval Street, the town’s main street, and enjoy the historic homes, restaurants, and shops.

Plan your Florida Keys getaway and reserve the tiny home that suits you best!

Spirits in the Night, or Day if you prefer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon.

October 16 is National Fossil Day, which was established to promote the scientific and educational value of fossils. According to the National Geographic Society, a fossil is the preserved remains, or traces of remains, of ancient animals or plants. They are important in helping us discover the evolution of life and how life was lived thousands and thousands of years ago. Most fossils are formed when a plant or animal dies in a watery location and becomes buried in silt or mud. Celebrate National Fossil Day this year and see what treasures you can unearth. We’ve listed a few well-known fossil hunting sites here.

Capitola Beach, in Capitola, California, is a great spot to hunt for fossils during low tide. This little beach town can offer the motherlode of fossils thanks to the Purisima Formation, a geologic formation which preserves fossils from the Late Miocene and Early Pleistocene Era. Bones of whales and seals, as well as sea urchins and bivalves, and been unearthed here along with the rare shark tooth.

The fossilized bones of a mastodon, a camel, and a mammoth have turned up in Florida’s Peace River which has also revealed plenty of shark teeth, some as large as seven inches. Collecting shark teeth does not require a permit but if you’re digging for anything bigger, you need both a boat and a permit. There are plenty of guided tours available or you can go it alone, wading into the river from any of the public landings – but be aware of all the living flora and fauna!

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

Beverly Beach State Park in Newport, Oregon, is a beautiful beach with rock formations dating back millions of years that are filled with fossils. Winter is the best time for fossil hunting here thanks to the storms that dislodge several layers of sandstone unearthing new (old!) fossils. Petrified wood, dating back some 15-20 million years, and agate stones can also be found here.

Mineral Wells Fossil Park, in Mineral Wells, Texas, has an abundance of “Pennsylvanian Period” fossils, which date back some 318 million years! Thanks in part due to the erosion of the city’s borrow pit (which is a spot where material has been dug out for use at another location), fossils of ancient sea species have been found here which have included primitive sharks, brachiopods (marine animals in hard shells), crinoids (sea lilies), and pelecypods (clams and oysters).

Westmoreland State Park in Montross, Virginia, is a well-known location for fossil hunting and has been known to turn up shark teeth, whale teeth, and fish bones and vertebrae dating to the Miocene Age. There is a portion of the park known as Fossil Beach and it’s a great place to find shark teeth, including those of the megalodon. Situated between two towering bluffs, the beach is a short walk from the Visitors Center, and here you can sift through the sand using a colander or sand sifter (no major equipment allowed).

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

In and Around New Hampshire’s Tuxbury Pond

Tuxbury Tiny House Village
Tuxbury Tiny House Village

The month of September not only includes fall foliage in the Northeast but also commemorates National New Hampshire Day, which recognizes the 9th state to join the Union. So, if you want to celebrate New Hampshire or are planning a fall getaway to The Granite State, consider a stay at the Tuxbury Tiny House Village in South Hampton and check out some of these fun events scheduled in and around the area. The Tuxbury Tiny House Village is the perfect place to make your home base as you explore New England in autumn. Five tiny houses, Emerson, Henry, Clara, Riley, and Murphy, are available for you to choose from. Cozy sleeping lofts, full bathrooms, and kitchens are part of the tiny house charm here. Visit www.tuxburytinyhouse.com to see which one is best for you!

Photo courtesy of @kerriemburke
Photo courtesy of @kerriemburke

Alnoba Arts Park Tours (September and October, various dates): Tour the amazing collection of art that you can touch, lean on, and climb on! An amazing sculpture garden experience awaits! Visit www.alnoba.org for details.

 Cider Hills Farms (throughout September and October): Enjoy a day of fall fun at this 145-acre farm in Amesbury, Massachusetts. It’s harvest time for peaches and raspberries (September) as well as apples and pumpkins (October). Take a tour of the farm or sample some cider (Saturday and Sundays only). There is a lot going on here! Visit www.ciderhill.com for more information.

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

Jazz Along the Charles (September 23): Head into Boston for the day and enjoy more than 25 jazz ensembles playing along Boston’s Esplanade between 2 and 4 p.m. Enjoy the crisp fall air and some lively jazz tunes with Boston-related themes. For information, visit www.jazzalongthecharles.org.

Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival (September 28): The 20th annual event brings music of the sea to the streets of Portsmouth. Folk performers are showcased at more than a dozen venues throughout the town. The event will culminate with a “public sing” on Sunday. For information, visit www.pmffest.org.

Tuxbury Tiny House Village
Tuxbury Tiny House Village

South Hampton Fall Festival (October 5): All kinds of fall fun including a car show, live music, vendors, games, food, drinks and a chili and soup cook-off! Event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in South Hampton (on Hilldale Avenue).

NH Pumpkin Festival (October 18-19): Held in Laconia, this two-day festival is all about the pumpkin with jack-o-lantern carving, food, craft vendors, live music, kids’ activities, hayrides and a beer garden. For information, visit www.nhpumpkinfestival.com

Halloween Pumpkin Festival (October 19): Festival goers can wear Halloween costumes and float their own hollowed-out pumpkin on Frog Pond at Boston Commons to celebrate the holiday. This free event also includes music, refreshments, a haunted maze and lots of children’s activities. Check out www.bostonfrogpond.com for more details. Don’t miss a minute of fall fun in and around South Hampton! Visit TuxburyTinyHouse.com to reserve your very own tiny house surrounded by fall colors.

Tuxbury Tiny House Village
Tuxbury Tiny House Village

Cider Sippin’ Spots

Cider Sippin’ Spots

When they say everything old is new again, they may very well be talking about cider. Did you know cider was America’s beverage of choice during Colonial times? In fact, the Mayflower possibly carried the first cider press to be used in America aboard the ship that also brought the Pilgrims to our shores. Of course, they couldn’t do anything with it until the apples were harvested from the first apple trees planted here after they first landed. Fast forward some 500 years, and cider is again very popular. To clarify, that’s hard cider versus soft cider. The difference here being that hard cider has an alcohol content while soft cider can be enjoyed by all ages! And, while Americans may not be drinking the 35 gallons of hard cider they apparently averaged annually during Colonial days, they are certainly taking it up once again, as evidenced by the popularity of cideries sprouting up across the country. To produce cider, according to ciderscene.com, there are four steps. Pick, press, punish, and produce. Again, a differentiation is required. The apples used for cider are typically not the same apples that you would eat or cook with. Cider apples tend to be dryer and less sweet. The four-step result is a crisp, refreshing alternative to other spirits, including beer and wine. Here are some cideries to check out this fall season:

Bishop Cider (Dallas, Texas):  Gluten-free and vegan friendly, the people behind Bishop Cider began making their own cider at home because they felt the commercially available cider in Texas was “trash” because it was too sweet. Started in 2014, Bishop Cider Co. now offers a variety of ciders and has a tasting room that typically offers six different ciders on tap. For more information, and to check out the unique Cidercade, visit www.bishopcider.com.

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

(Nearest Petite Retreat option is Bay Landing in Bridgeport, about 80 miles away)

Cider Bite (Portland, Oregon): Another cidery that grew from the idea that there was just no place to get good cider, the Cider Bite bills itself as a Cider House and focuses not only on making exceptional cider, but also on the history and production of cider. In fact, founder Jeff Hanneson’s great-grandfather was a cider-maker. Offering 32 ciders on tap, cider flights, and nibbles, the Cider Bite is the place to get your cider cravings satisfied. Visit www.ciderbite.com for more information.

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

 (Nearest Petite Retreat option is Mt. Hood in Welches, about 36 miles away)

Santa Barbara Cider Company (Santa Barbara, California): Come visit and see what’s on tap for the day as they offer 12 rotating taps of their delicious cider varieties which may include a coffee-based cider, a tea-infused cider, or one of several fruit ciders. All ciders are gluten-free and the cider makers say the majority of the ingredients they use can be found in your own kitchen cabinets, like cinnamon and brown sugar. They do have a tasting room and food trucks and other food providers are on hand during the weekends for nourishment while enjoying the cider offerings. For more information, visit www.sbcider.com.

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

 (Nearest Petite Retreat option is Rancho Oso, about 30 miles away)

Island Orchard Cider (Ellison Bay, Wisconsin): Visit the Tasting Room and Cider Pub in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin, where you can see the cider making process as well as enjoy the flavors of Island Orchard. Visit www.islandorchardcider.com for more information.

(Nearest Petite Retreat option is Tranquil Timbers in Sturgeon Bay, about 36 miles away)