Green City Getaways

With April having two dates that recognize the importance of taking care of our Earth (Earth Day and Arbor Day), it makes sense to plan a trip to visit a Green City this month (or in the future).

Cherry tree blossoms on the waterfront in Portland, OR.

According to treehugger.com, there are several things to take into consideration in determining how “green” a city is. Those include efficient public transportation, quality public space, plentiful parks, and the availability of bike lanes as well as composting and recycling programs. One other interesting item is whether a city offers “good green fun,” which means farmer’s markets, plenty of organic fare served up in the local eating and drinking establishments and music festivals and outdoor events that feature solar-powered stages and valet parking for bicycles. There are several more “green definers” and combined that’s a lot for a city to tackle, yet slowly but surely, more and more of our urban areas around the country are hitting the mark when it comes to being green. Additionally, there are many different groups providing different rankings for these cities, but some consistently make the grade across the board.

  1. San Diego, California: San Diego’s nickname is “America’s Finest City”, but it can also boast being one of America’s greenest cities. San Diego is home to Balboa Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. Other green things about this southern California city include dozens of weekly farmer’s markets, a major “Farm to Fork” movement in the dining industry, a variety of public transportation including trolleys, shuttles, and pedi-cabs, and plenty of opportunities for green fun including kayaking, mountain biking, and surfing.

Book a cabin or cottage stay at Pio Pico or Oakzanita Springs for a San Diego Green Getaway.

Tiny House Savannah at Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, OR.
  1. Portland, Oregon: With over 90,000 acres of green space and a top-notch biking/walking trail system, Portland is definitely eco-friendly. In fact, they have the highest rate of workers biking to the office than any other U.S. city. They were also one of the first cities to ban the use of plastic bags. For green space, visitors and residents alike need to look no further than the city’s Forest Park, a 5200-acre urban forest, featuring hiking and biking trails, waterfalls, and plenty of greenery!

Book a stay at the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village for a Portland Green Getaway.

Cozy cabin Yukon Trails in Lyndon Station, WI.
  1. Madison, Wisconsin: Did you know that the man behind Earth Day was from Wisconsin? Gaylord Nelson, who served as both governor and senator of the state was not only a politician, but also an avid environmentalist, calling upon the citizens of America to bring awareness to problems with the environment. So naturally, it makes sense that Madison would be a green city – it’s in the genes! Madison consistently ranks as a green city thanks to its abundance of green space – from plenty of city parks to acres of lakes and miles of biking and hiking trails. Madison is home to more bikes than cars and the city is very walkable. The city has more farmer’s markets than you can shake a cucumber at, and in fact, Saturday on the Square, an event that features more than 250 vendors, is a popular destination for visitors and Mad-Town residents like.

Book a cabin stay at Yukon Trails for a Madison Green Getaway.

Lake Eola Park in Orlando, FL.
  1. Orlando, Florida: While green space is not as abundant as in some of the other green cities, Orlando makes the green grade thanks to its continued efforts and eye to the future when it comes to being, and staying, green. With goals like a 40% city-wide tree canopy coverage by 2040, the One Person One Tree initiative to help expand the urban forest, and a host of programs to protect the ecosystems found here, Orlando is definitely putting a green foot forward. And to clarify, they have plenty of green space to the tune of more than 100 parks, plus plenty of lakes and wetlands.
Colorful cottage stay at Tropical Palms in Kissimmee, FL.

Book a colorful cottage stay at Tropical Palms for an Orlando Green Getaway.

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Black History Month

With the events of this past summer, now more than ever may be not only the time to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of Black Americans throughout our history, but perhaps to also honor their history by taking the time to learn more about the experiences of Black Americans. The month of February has officially been recognized as Black History Month since President Gerald Ford declared it so in 1976. Visit museums and heritage sites, support Black-owned businesses, and read a few books to learn more. And, with some of these locations temporarily closed or operating on shortened hours due to the pandemic, keep in mind our list is not a to-do list for February, but instead a to-do list for all time.

“File:Seattle – Northwest African American Museum from Mount Baker Ridge Viewpoint 01.jpg” by Joe Mabel is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Museums and Heritage Sights

The Northwest African American Museum, Seattle, Washington: If you’re planning a trip to Leavenworth Tiny House Village, a good field trip to consider would be a trip to the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle (about a two-hour drive). The mission of the museum includes presenting and preserving the connections between the Pacific Northwest and people of African descent and is accomplished though exhibits and educational programs. Currently closed due to COVID-19, check out their virtual exhibits at www.naanmw.org. If you plan to visit once the museum reopens, don’t miss the nearby Jimi Hendrix Park, named for the one of the greatest and most innovative African-American guitarists of all time.

California African American Museum (CAAM), Los Angeles, California: Highlighting the important role African Americans have played in the development of the American West through over 4000 pieces that include art, historic objects and printed materials, the Museum was one of the first African American museums fully supported by any US state. CAAM also offers lectures and workshops. (The museum is a little over 100 miles from our colorful cottages in Palm Springs.)

Abyssinian Meeting House, Portland, Maine: Located about 72 miles from the Tuxbury Tiny House Village, the Abyssinian Meeting House is Maine’s oldest African-American church building and the third oldest in the country. Construction began in 1828 and was completed in 1831 and all construction was done by free African Americans. The Abyssinian Meeting House served not only as a house of worship, but also as the center of social and political life for Portland’s African American community. The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Milton House in Milton Wisconsin” by royal_broil is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Milton House, Milton, Wisconsin: Milton House served as a stop on the Underground Railroad in part due to its location to the Rock River, a tributary to the Mississippi, which may have served as a route to Canada for escaping slaves. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1998 and visitors can take a guided tour of the building, the nearby cabin and the original tunnel used by the freedom seekers. Milton is about 84 miles from the cabins at Arrowhead.

“The Lorraine Motel in Memphis” by Kees Wielemaker (pedaal) is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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 Cherokee Landing.

Books to Read

“Between the World and Me” by CCAC North Library is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson: The stories of the Great Migration of Black citizens fleeing the South for northern and western American cities.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: A New York Times bestseller, this book is written as a letter to the author’s son to explain what it is to be Black in America.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: This historical fiction story details the story of the fight for freedom by two Southern slaves.

So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo: An examination of race in America with each chapter addressing an issue about race in our contemporary society.

Black-Owned Outdoor Gear Shop:

Lastly, if you’re looking for some camping and outdoor gear, check out slimpickensoutfitters.com. Recognized as the first Black-owned outdoor gear shop in the country, the business is owned by Jahmicah Dawes, who said in an article with Men’s Journal that his initial experiences with outdoor life through the Boy Scouts was “terrible” but that later in college he learned to love the outdoors. Dawes has said outdoor activities brings people together and believes “change happens around a campfire.” Shop from the website, or if you’re visiting Lake Whitney, the brick-and-mortar store is located in Stephenville, which is about 70 miles from the campground.

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5 things to do in… Mt. Hood, Oregon

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, OR

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

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

Book Tour

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

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

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

Cozy cabins at Narrows Too in Bar Harbor, Maine.

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

Fisherman’s wharf in Monterey, California.

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

The town of Exeter, New Hampshire.

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

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

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

Respect the Vinyl: National Record Store Day

National Record Store Day is June 20, 2020, celebrate by paying homage to the vinyl that brings music to your ears.

When it first hit the airwaves, the idea of National Record Store Day was to spend a specifically designated date visiting your local record store to support the business. The first National Record Store Day was held on April 19, 2008. Skip forward to present day, and Record Store Day is celebrated on every continent. The concept was definitely “number one with a bullet.”

And, little known fact, Record Store Day should be called Record Store Days, because typically there are two designated days to celebrate, one in April and the other being Black Friday, which falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year National Record Store Day will be recognized on June 20. We’ve done the tour and rounded up a few stores near your favorite locations to visit, whether on National Record Store Day, or any other day you want to pay homage to the vinyl that brings music to your ears!

Seattle, Washington: Neptune Music Company, 4344 Brooklyn Avenue NE

Visitors say that although a small space, Neptune Music has everything you could imagine from a music standpoint which includes a knowledgeable owner, tons of records, and a unique selection. Another plus, it’s located in the basement of the Neptune Theater, a still-functioning music venue opened in 1921 in the hip and historic University District of Seattle.

Portland, Oregon: Mississippi Records, 5202 N. Albina

Complete with listening stations, this record store also features a large supply of the good old 45 in its vast collection that includes everything from rock and blues to international music. They also have a selection of vintage electronics. Please note the store’s policy is CASH ONLY.

St. Petersburg, Florida: Bananas Vinyl Warehouse, 2222 16th Avenue N.

This is one big record collection! Bananas two-story warehouse holds more than three million LPs and records and receives more than 1000 new additions to the collection weekly. Plus, there is the nearby retail store (2887 22nd Avenue N). One visitor remarked “if Bananas doesn’t have it, it doesn’t exist.” Note to visitors, the warehouse is vinyl only while the retail store has CDS, DVDs, and more.

Boston, Massachusetts: Cheapo Records, 538 Mass Avenue, Cambridge

Cheapo Records has been around since 1954, so they must be doing something right. Located in the Central Square area of Cambridge (just a quick T-ride from Boston), the shop is said to have more than 100,000 vinyl albums as well as 100,000 45s. Consistently rated five stars by visitors, you can most likely find just what you’ve been searching for at Cheapo.

Cheapo Records in Boston, Massachusetts

Cincinnati, Ohio: Shake It Records, 4156 Hamilton Avenue

Located in Cincinnati’s eclectic Northside neighborhood, the Shake It Records experience begins with the store’s colorful façade and continues inside the 1,000 square foot store that is chock full of music from the 25,000-piece vinyl collection to the 15,000+ CDs available. Independent labels are the main act here, but mainstream selections can be found as well from rock and roll to country classics. 

Chicago, Illinois: Dave’s Records, 2604 N. Clark Street

Dave’s is a true record store – meaning it sells records only. You won’t find CDs or vintage 8-tracks, just vinyl, vinyl, and more vinyl in the store’s 40,000-plus collection. A small space but the perfect spot to find the rarest gems to the newest releases from the world of vinyl. Head to Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood and look for the sign in the window that reads “No CDS. Never had ‘em!! Never Will!!” and you’ll find the treasure trove known as Dave’s Records.

Visit www.recordstore.com for a listing of record stores near you across the US

That’s just a quick list of the hits – but if you find yourself looking for a record store, visit www.recordstore.com for a listing of record stores across the US. And, if you’re spending time at home like so many of us are, don’t forget to check out if your favorite record store has an online store, as well.

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)