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.

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.

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 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.

Cozy Cabin at Tranquil Timbers RV Campground in Door County, Wisconsin.

Family Reunion, Tiny Style

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, OR

July is National Family Reunion month. Our tiny home villages offer the perfect opportunity to get the extended family together and still maintain safe distances this summer. Or, start planning now for Family Reunion 2021 and do a little recon on your own this summer to find the perfect location in advance. Each of our tiny homes are full of amenities and bursting with charm. The locations can’t be beat either – plenty of outdoor fun like hiking, biking, and fishing and nearby attractions round out the experience.

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village (Welches, OR): There are seven tiny homes to book here so the family can gather and enjoy the beauty of the Mt. Hood area. Each home has its own unique personality and the homes vary in size in terms of the number of people each can accommodate, but combined, the seven tiny houses at Mt. Hood Village can accommodate 31 people. Layouts are different but each home has a kitchen and full bath!

Things to do in the area include day hikes on the nearly 1000 miles of trails, visiting the historic Timberline Lodge, kayaking and whitewater rafting, and fishing. Don’t miss a trek to Multnomah Falls to view this spectacular 600+-foot tall roaring waterfall.

Leavenworth Tiny House Village (Leavenworth, WA): There are five tiny homes to book here and this is a great spot for a family reunion of 15 people or less. Like the Mt. Hood tiny homes, each home varies in size, but all have a kitchen and full bath.

The town of Leavenworth is a beautiful Bavarian-styled village with quaint shops and eateries, and the unique Nutcracker Museum. The area is also great for outdoor lovers and offers the options of picnics and paddle boats at Lake Wenatchee State Park, hiking the easy 4-mile loop of Icicle Gorge or the more difficult 4-mile round trip of Icicle Ridge, and trying your luck at fly-fishing for which the area has plenty of creeks, rivers, and lakes.

Tuxbury Tiny House Village in South Hampton, NH

Tuxbury Tiny House Village (South Hampton, NH): This is the perfect spot for a family reunion of 20 on the East Coast. Less than an hour to Boston and just thirty minutes from the Salisbury-Hampton beaches on the shores of the Atlantic, this tiny house village, with its five tiny homes, is a prime spot for all kinds of fun.

In Boston, take a history lesson while walking the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail around the city or drop your kayak in the Charles River and paddle around to view Beantown from the water. Get some friendly family competition going with challenges at the horseshoe pits or volleyball court back at Tuxbury or head to the nearby beaches and see how creative each team can get with sandcastle building!

Sunshine Key Tiny House Village in Big Pine Key, FL

Sunshine Key Tiny House Village (Big Pine Key, FL): Five great homes, all unique in layout and personality, come together to provide family reunion accommodations for a group of 20. That’s 20 of your nearest and dearest gathered in in the beautiful Florida Keys to enjoy a family reunion with a taste of the tropics.

Family fun can include deep-sea fishing charters, exploring nearby Bahia State Park or a drive down the Overseas Highway with visits to the other Keys, including Key West and all its Hemingway lore. A great thing about a stay at Sunshine Key is that they have partnered with Key Boat Tours, which has a location onsite and guests can rent bicycles, kayaks, and paddle boards, as well as schedule fishing charters and snorkeling tours. Let our tiny homes welcome you and your family to create the perfect combination for a memorable gathering!

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