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