8 Great Trails for National Bike Month

Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, National Bike Month was established in 1956 to highlight the benefits of bicycling and to get Americans outdoors and riding high on two wheels. Some of the benefits of bicycling include increased cardiovascular fitness, strengthened bones, improved posture and coordination, and decreased stress levels.

So, while a bike ride is great anytime, May is the designated month to roll out your bicycle and see where it will take you. If you’re lucky enough to be camping anytime this month, check out these trails. Or anytime you’re out and about atop two wheels.

Sedona (AZ)
Ride among the beautiful red rocks of Sedona on the Bell Rock Pathway, an easy 3.7-mile hard dirt trail. The grand prize on this ride is the view of Bell Rock, one of the most photographed spots in the country and also one of Sedona’s natural healing vortexes. Book a stay in a cabin or tiny house at beautiful Verde Valley and bike the Bell Rock Pathway as well as several others in this gorgeous valley.

Santa Barbara (CA)
The Atascadero Creek Trail is a 3.5-mile asphalt trail that begins in Goleta State Beach Park and takes riders to the center of beautiful Santa Barbara. Rent one of the unique accommodations (cabin, cottage, or tipi) at Rancho Oso and enjoy this lovely ride.

Rancho Oso Cabin
Rancho Oso Cabin

Orlando (FL)
The bike ride at Shingle Creek Regional Trail is just as magical as a day spent at the Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Glimpse some of Florida’s wildlife, including river otters, egrets, and Great Blue herons as you ride along this 8-plus-mile nature trail set amid cypress trees. Plan a colorful cottage stay at Tropical Palms and hit this beautiful trail.

Exeter (NH)
Just under 20 miles from the Tuxbury Tiny House Village is Henderson-Swasey Town Forest which offers several mountain-biking trails, with almost all of them designated as “easy” and highly rated by users. Glimpses of wildlife and scenic forest views provide for a beautiful, natural ride! Book a tiny house and enjoy the ride.

Tuxbury Tiny House Village
Tuxbury Tiny House Village

Lake George (NY)
The Warren County Bikeway makes for a lovely paved 9-mile ride through this lovely upstate New York location. Ride among the towering trees and foliage and learn about the history of the area from the historical markers along the way. Plan a stay at Lake George Escape and tool your way around the historic Lake George area.

Bend (OR)
Book a stay in a relaxing yurt at Bend-Sunriver and enjoy one of the trails offered at nearby Shevlin Park. One trail runs along the waters of Tumalo Creek while another 6-mile Loop Trail runs through old growth Ponderosa pine, has a few hills and crosses Tumalo Creek several times.

Leavenworth (WA)
There are plenty of bike trails in and around the Leavenworth area if you’re planning a stay at the Leavenworth Tiny House Village. The Apple Capital Recreation Loop is a 10-mile round trip, paved loop along the both the Wenatchee and Columbia Rivers. Another fun way to explore Leavenworth atop a bike is to take one of the Bavarian E-Bike tours offered. For more info on this unique adventure, visit chm.ee2.myftpupload.com.

Cabins at Arrowhead RV Campground
Cabins at Arrowhead RV Campground

Mirror Lake State Park (WI)
This picturesque Wisconsin state park with sandstone bluffs offers five different bike trails including Pinecone Pass (0.4 miles); the Turtleville Trail (2.5 miles); and the three-mile Fern Dell Trail. Mirror Lake State Park is just 20 miles from great cabin, cottage, and vacation rentals at Arrowhead RV Campground.

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Top 5 Galentine’s Getaways

If you’re a fan of TV’s Parks & Recreation, you know that we have the character Leslie Knope to thank for making Galentine’s Day a thing. Celebrated on February 13, the day is designated for “ladies recognizing ladies.” Show your gal pals all the love you feel for them this year and enjoy a Galentine’s Getaway to these top spots.

Nashville, Tennessee: Book a glamping stay at Natchez Trace Tiny House Village and get ready to experience Nashville and the surrounding neighborhoods with some of your best gal pals! Head into Nashville to experience the one-of-a-kind honky tonks that line the city’s world famous “Lower Broadway.” More musical fun can be found at the Ryman Auditorium whether you’re taking in a concert or just a guided tour of this historic music venue. What’s a girl’s trip without a few Instagram shots so make sure you check out the murals around town that provide the perfect backdrop for these photo opps (visitmusiccity.com/trip-ideas/nashville-murals). Nashville’s neighborhoods provide another option for interesting things to do – check out The Gulch, SoBro and Capital View for all kinds of fun. Need more space than a tiny house affords? Natchez Trace also features a gorgeous lodge which sleeps up to 15 and a number of cozy cabins!

Miami Everglades RV Resort Cabin
Miami Everglades RV Resort Cabin

Miami, Florida: There’s more than the beaches to enjoy when the gals gather for Galentine’s Day in Miami. Of course, if you’re looking for prime beach time, the best beaches in Miami include Lummus Park (said to have postcard worthy views), the iconic South Beach (SoBe to the locals), and Crandon Park, when you’re really there for the beach. Then there’s Coconut Grove (mark your February calendars for the 19-21 which is the annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival) – an historic Miami neighborhood with dining, shopping, and the occasional live peacock strutting your way. Located in Coconut Grove, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a National Historic Landmark that offers 34 rooms on view at the estate as well as 10 acres of formal gardens, is another must-see when taking in Miami.

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village - Scarlett Tiny House
Scarlett Tiny House at Mt. Hood Tiny House Village

Portland, Oregon: Portland is for Pittock Mansion, Powell’s City of Books, and plenty of Instagram worthy pics. It’s also a great destination for pals – as in gal pals this Galentine’s Day. The aforementioned Pittock Mansion is a French Renaissance-style chateau built in 1914 as the home of publisher Henry Pittock. Visitors can choose from guided or self-guided tours of the mansion, the Gate Lodge, and the grounds (pittockmansion.org).  A Portland landmark, Powell’s City of Books is billed as the world’s largest new and used bookstore. Plenty of choices for that book group discussion can be found here! As for the photo opps – check out the marquee at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for a very large “Portland” backdrop, the Old Town Portland sign (another historic landmark), and underneath the St. John’s Bridge at Cathedral Park. A great place to stay is in an adorable tiny house at Mt. Hood Tiny House Village, which is about 45 minutes from the city.  

Santa Barbara, California: Pick from cabins, cottages, or the unique tipi or western cabins at Santa Barbara’s Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort to get your sunny Cali Galentine’s Getaway off to a great start. Without even leaving the resort, the fun begins with horseback rides and a look-see at the resort’s Western Village complete with stables, Conestoga wagons and a welcoming stone lodge. Off-site excursions can include a trip into the Danish-style city of Solvang where you can enjoy a trolley ride around town, visit the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, and try some tasty Danish baked goods. Another option is Montecito where must-sees include Butterfly Beach and Casa del Herrero, a 1925 Spanish Colonial Revival estate open for tours. Keep your eyes open when you’re out and about in Montecito as a few well-knowns call Montecito home including Oprah and Harry and Meghan. There are also opportunities for wine tours in Santa Barbara, a visit to the Santa Barbara Zoo, and plenty of shopping, dining, and sunsets to be experienced.

Cabin at Medina Lake RV Campground
Cabin at Medina Lake RV Campground

San Antonio, Texas: A girl’s trip to San Antonio is a perfect trip if you’re looking to combine history, culture, great food, and some fun on the river. Book a cozy cabin at Medina Lake and you’re less than an hour’s drive to San Antonio. For history, there’s the Alamo – there is no admission fee, and you can choose to take a self-guided or guided tour at this historic location where you can learn about the Texas Revolution. The famed River Walk offers all kinds of fun including eating, shopping, and getting your steps in on this 15-mile scenic walk along the San Antonio River. There’s also nightlife options and river cruises here. Viator offers a San Antonio Food Tour as well as a Ghost Walking tour (viator.com).

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Winter Plans?

Just as surely as the sun rises, you can guarantee winter comes knocking each year in late-December. And for some who are fortunate to live year-round in areas that don’t really experience winter, it’s just another date on the calendar. But for others, it’s time to head towards the sunshine. And, even if you are lucky enough to live where the sun always shines warmly, a change of scenery is always good to chase away the winter doldrums. Here are a few ideas for fun in the sun winter escapes.

Arizona: If Sedona is your home base, day trips to the Grand Canyon (about a 2-hour drive north), the Phoenix/Scottsdale area (about a 2-hour drive south) and the Petrified Forest National Park (about a 2-hour drive east) are all possibilities. Of course, the Grand Canyon is the Grand Canyon, but there are other things to do here. There is the 22-mile Desert View scenic drive, wildlife to glimpse, and the Grand Canyon Railway Adventure which is a scenic train ride to the Grand Canyon that originates in Sedona. If you’re a baseball fan, then you’ll be happy come winter when Major League Baseball’s Cactus League begins their games in stadiums in the Phoenix metro area. If you’re not a baseball fan, Scottsdale has plenty of hiking opportunities including Camelback and Pinnacle Peak. Plus, there’s shopping, arts and entertainment, and plenty of good eating to be had here. The Petrified Forest, named for the large amounts of petrified wood found here, is home to the Rainbow Forest Museum and the petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock and may also seem familiar to Clint Eastwood fans as parts of his famous film, “The Outlaw Josey Wales” were shot here. Verde Valley is the place to reserve your winter accommodation where you can choose to day trip or just enjoy the local scene.

California: Rarely, if ever, do California beaches post “Closed for the Season” signs. The ocean water may be colder than most prefer, but the warm California sun is pretty plentiful and of course, anything but mountain snow is rare. Yosemite National Park is less crowded but still just as breathtaking in the winter months, so consider a stay in an ultra-cool yurt at Yosemite Lakes. The Park’s Badger Pass Ski Area offers winter skiing opportunities. Cross off your bucket list item to “stay in a tipi or covered wagon” this winter with reservations for these unique accommodations at Rancho Oso and then explore winter in Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara Zoo, a mission tour, a visit to the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, or a tour of the local wineries can all add up to winter fun.

Tropical Palms RV Resort
Tropical Palms RV Resort

Florida: Warm days and cool nights give the Florida-bound winter vacationer the best of both worlds. Days are sunny with temps averaging around 70 degrees while nights are sweater-weather worthy with average lows in the ‘50s. The only shovels required during a Florida getaway are those used to build sandcastles on the fabulous beaches around the state that include Daytona, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, and St. Pete Beach. Consider a trip to the Keys and a stay at the Sunshine Key Tiny House Village or a colorful cottage right on the water at Fiesta Key. On the Atlantic side, visit historic Flagler Beach or enjoy the sights and sounds of Miami. Accommodations at Bulow Village RV Resort and Miami Everglades are great locations for these. Wanna do Disney? Book a stay at Tropical Palms, Lake Magic, or Orlando RV for all things Disney and beyond. Check out petiteretreats.com to find your ideal Florida location.

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Day Trippin’

Book at stay at one of our fabulous Petite Retreats and get ready to day trip around these areas where we offer our unique accommodations.

If you’re planning a stay at a cozy cabin at New York’s Lake George Escape or Alpine Lake, day trips can include a visit to Cooperstown or a trip to the state capital, Albany. Cooperstown, which is just about 2 hours from either location, is home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Fenimore Art Museum and spectacular Glimmerglass State Park which overlooks beautiful Lake Otsego. Albany, which is less than an hour from either location, offers the grandeur that is the State Capitol building – which was completed in 1899 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Another historic location is the Schuyler Mansion, a Georgian mansion built for Philip Schuyler, a general in the Revolutionary War and a state senator. The home was also the site of the wedding of Schuyler’s daughter Eliza to Alexander Hamilton. Albany is also home to the Irish American Heritage Museum and the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail.

Lake George Escape in Lake George, NY.

Take your pick from cottages and cabins to an ultra-cool tipi or covered wagon accommodation at Rancho Oso and get set to explore beautiful Santa Barbara and the nearby areas. One option for a day trip is Ojai, a lovely laid-back California small town. Less than 40 miles from Santa Barbara, Ojai is a great destination for a little bit of everything. Shopping, dining, mountain trails, and wine tasting are all options for the day. And come sunset – do not miss this experience in Ojai, which is known for its pink sunsets, or as the locals call it, the Pink Moment. A bit further afield, about 2 hours away, is Anaheim. Of course, Anaheim is home to Disneyland Park, the original Disney theme park that opened in 1955, but there’s more than flying elephants and spinning teacups to be found here. The Center Street Promenade is the place to be – if you’re looking to shop, eat, sample craft beer, and browse a farmer’s market. Speaking of eating, the hip Anaheim Packing House Food Hall, located in a former citrus packing facility, has plenty to eat. The Packing District also has merchants and live music events. 

Tuxbury Tiny House Village in South Hampton, New Hampshire puts you in the perfect location for two very different road trips. Rent a tiny house at Tuxbury and go city or go country with a day trip to Boston or the Canterbury Shaker Village, respectively. Boston is about a 50-minute drive from Tuxbury and provides all the excitement a big city day trip should. Walk the historic Freedom Trail, shop the markets at Faneuil Hall, or enjoy some Italian fare and delicious cannolis in the city’s North End. Stroll through the beauty of the Boston Public Gardens, America’s first botanical garden, or walk through the Boston Common, America’s oldest public park. Canterbury Shaker Village, a National Historic Landmark, has restored Shaker buildings, gardens, ponds, and plenty of history. Stroll the grounds, learn about Shaker life, and immerse yourself in this bit of past. There is also a picnic area and hiking trail here. Canterbury is about an hour’s drive from Tuxbury.

George Washington statue (c. 1859) in the public gardens in Boston, MA

Here’s an interesting way to get a few shots in front of the Eiffel Tower without going all the way to Paris, France. Why not go to Paris, Texas instead? If you’re planning a stay in one of the great cabins at Bay Landing, a day trip to Paris, Texas can definitely happen! In just under two hours, you can be taking plenty of Insta-worthy shots standing in front of the Texas version of the famed tower – except this one is topped with a cowboy hat. Only in Texas, right! And of course, when in Paris, wine should be on the menu. While Paris Vineyards is located outside of town, there is a quaint tasting room on the Paris Square offering several wines, including Chardonnay, Vin Blanc, and Tex Red. The Trail de Paris, a three-mile paved trail, is a great place to bike or walk and features a unique hummingbird/butterfly garden.

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2021 Travel Trends

Cabins at Miami Everglades in Miami, FL

The new year may not yet be ready for the big trips abroad or group tours to exotic locales, but there are several travel trends emerging and we think they fit in just fine with Petite Retreats and all we have to offer in the way of ideal travel.

Winter getaways: According to a November 2020 survey by forbes.com, over 40% of Americans have a winter getaway already planned with beach destinations heading the list, followed by skiing locations. With roughly 10 weeks or so left until spring arrives, you can choose one of each. Beach-wise and Petite Retreats-wise, sandy destinations to consider include Rancho Oso in Santa Barbara, Fiesta Key and Sunshine Key in the Florida Keys, Miami Everglades near the fabulous beaches of Miami and several Gulf and Atlantic coast choices in Florida.

Ski trips destinations can include California’s Yosemite Lakes, Washington’s Leavenworth Tiny House Village and Oregon’s Mt. Hood Tiny House Village – all within perfect proximity to the powder. 

Take the scenic route! Road trips are perfect for a 2021 getaway.

Road Trips: No surprise here! As social distancing remains one of the more popular activities these days, road trips provide the ultimate when it comes to keeping to yourself, or within your social bubble. Drive your own car or RV, or consider renting one from Outdoorsy.com, considered one of the most trusted RV rental marketplaces in the country. Take a leisurely trip and head far from home or plan a quick weekend getaway to see if road-tripping is your thing. You can do big city and stay with us near Boston, Nashville, Orlando, or Philadelphia or try a coastal road trip from Washington down through California, staying at Petite Retreats all along the way. Looking for mountains? Consider Yosemite Lakes, which is just down the road from Yosemite National Park, or Mt. Desert Narrows, which is near Maine’s Acadia National Park. Looking for water? We’ve got locations near both the Atlantic and Pacific with plenty of lake locations in between. Near, far, wherever you are, Petite Retreats has the perfect respite for the weary road-trip warrior.

Cabins at Yosemite Lakes in Groveland, CA

Cabins: The cabin is where it’s at. At least that’s what popsugar.com, one of the biggest go-to sites for what’s trending, says. Cabin rentals were a popular choice for travel accommodations in 2020 as evidenced by the huge increase in Instagram posts of this super cozy retreat (as well as the rise in cabin rentals) and remains on track to maintain popularity in 2021. Maybe it’s the social distancing, maybe it’s the cool cabin vibe – whatever it is, plan your 2021 cabin stay and check out some of our cabins in these popular locations: Tuxbury Pond in New Hampshire – a perfect New England location near the beach and a short drive from Boston; Upstate New York in the heart of the Adirondacks (Lake George Escape and Alpine Lake); Maine has two cabin-ready resorts (Mt. Desert Narrows and Narrows Too) near Acadia National Park and the charming seaside town of Bar Harbor, plus we’ve got cabin options in the Midwest (Wisconsin), the sunny south just outside Dallas and Nashville; and in the charming Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

Cabins at Narrows Too in Trenton, ME

Small Towns: With all the craziness that 2020 brought, it makes sense that people are seeking simplicity in 2021 and that means small towns are trending as getaway go-tos.  The afore-mentioned Bar Harbor is a perfect example where strolling the main street and taking in live music in the town square are as crazy as it gets. Leavenworth, Washington is another perfect charmer where most everything to see and do can be found right in town. Florence, Oregon gets a nod when it comes to small-town appeal thanks to its historic Old Town while the California’s Solvang, just outside Santa Barbara, gives a European twist to small-town charm.  Visit PetiteRetreats.com to find the perfect location near your small-town getaway.

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Warmest Wishes

Hiking at sunset in Sedona, AZ

‘Tis the season….to seek out the sun. Why not give yourself the gift of sunshine this season and head toward the warm weather where the skies are sunny and coats are not required! Here are a few places to consider where you can let the sunshine in.

Palm Springs, California: Palm Springs is the perfect place to soak up some of that warm California sun thanks to its great location to all the nearby hotspots including Joshua Tree National Park, the hiking trails in Indian Canyons, and the Living Desert Zoo and Garden. Rental accommodations at Palm Springs include three cottages that have plenty of the comforts of home including TVs, microwaves, and plenty of space to relax in. Downtown Palm Springs has a celebrity Walk of Fame, shops, galleries, and restaurants.

Cottages at Palm Springs in Palm Desert, CA.

Santa Barbara, California: Enjoy beautiful Santa Barbara and plan a stay in some the coolest, and most unique accommodations you’ll find at Rancho Oso. In addition to its fabulous location, the resort offers cabins, cottages, covered wagons, and a tipi. You can’t beat that when it comes to something different. If you ride horses, or maybe that activity is on your bucket list, then Rancho Oso is the place to be. They have horses and guided horseback rides for groups. Visit nearby Solvang, a charming Danish-style town with plenty of shops and eateries as well as opportunities for wine and craft beer tastings. Of course, there is also beautiful Santa Barbara that offers beaches, architecture, wineries, and more.

Florida Keys: Sunshine Key Tiny House Village has five brightly colored tiny homes that are yours to choose from at this resort located on the 75-acre Ohio Key in the Florida Keys. Take the holidays to the tropics and spend some time exploring The Keys. The resort itself is quite the playground with opportunities for pickleball, fishing, and tennis. Plus, Key Boat Tours, a Blue Star Operator, is onsite for rentals of kayaks, stand up paddle boards and bikes, and also to arrange fishing charters and snorkeling tours. If snorkeling floats your boat, then a Keys vacation is the perfect trip since the first underwater state park in the US, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, is located on Key Largo and has some of the best snorkeling around the area.

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

Sedona: Head for the sun and take the mountains as the added bonus when you plan a trip to Sedona, Arizona. Book your cozy cabin or tiny house at Verde Valley and set off to explore the very walkable downtown Sedona, the beauty and vortexes of Red Rock State Park, the abandoned mining town turned artist colony of Jerome, and some of the prettiest desert landscape you’ll find. There’s also a Verde Valley Wine Trail where you can toast the new year or ride the rails on the Verde Valley Canyon Railroad Adventure. All aboard for fun in the Arizona sun!

Cabin under a starry night at Verde Valley in Cottonwood, AZ.

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National Beautiful Day

Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA.

Beauty is subjective, thus the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What one person sees as beauty may well not be what another person sees in the very same thing. Whatever your idea of beauty may be, make sure you celebrate November 20, which is National Beautiful Day, any way you see fit!

Tiny House Otto at Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA.

Beautiful Leavenworth: Without doing much, Leavenworth, Washington, is considered a beautiful town. With its Bavarian-style architecture, mountain backdrop, and quaint downtown it’s quite pretty. Toss in the thousands and thousands of twinkling lights during the holidays and one word comes to mind: beautiful! Plan a stay at the equally beautiful Leavenworth Tiny House Village to enjoy beautiful Leavenworth.

Yurt at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort in Groveland, CA.

Beautiful Yosemite: In a recent poll of its followers, roughguides.com asked them to name the most beautiful locations in the USA. California’s Yosemite National Park topped the list, which also included the Grand Canyon and the entire state of Alaska. Take a trip and see what makes Yosemite a list-maker. For beautiful views, check out El Capitan, Vernal Fall, and Mirror Lake. Stay in a serenely beautiful yurt or cozy cabin at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort while exploring the natural beauty of Yosemite.

Beautiful Crater Lake: Again, a list-maker when it comes to the most beautiful lakes in the US, Oregon’s Crater Lake is known for the beautiful blue color of the lake. The surrounding mountains and towering pines make the views here real stunners! Spend a beautiful day driving the 33-mile Rim Drive which offers breathtaking views of meadows, forests, and the lake.  Book a tranquilly beautiful yurt and stay at Bend-Sunriver RV Campground.

Crater Lake is in Klamath County, OR.

Beautiful Drive: The 17-Mile Drive, which runs along California’s Monterey Peninsula, is a short, but oh so sweet drive of the beautiful kind. With the coast of the Pacific as your companion, the highlights of this drive include Bird Rock (what do you think they are buzzing about?); the Lone Cypress (one of Cali’s most famous landmarks); and Pescadero Point with its fab views of Point Lobos. Check out the unique accommodations at Morgan Hill RV Resort and choose from a cottage, cabin, or safari tent.

Beautiful Sunsets: The Travel Magazine calls them gorgeous sunsets and we all know gorgeous is another word for…beautiful!  Here’s one place to catch the beauty in California, according to the magazine’s list of the 10 best sunsets in the state.  Arroyo Burro Beach in Santa Barbara, also called Hendry’s Beach by the locals, offers one beautiful sunset, over and over and over again. On the other side of the country, the sunsets are just as beautiful and some of the most beautiful can be found in Key West, Florida. And Key Westers tend to make it a regular celebration – check out the fun at the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration and catch one of Key West’s spectacular sunsets. For the east coast sunset, consider at stay in a colorful tiny house at Sunshine Key Tiny House Village or colorful cottages at Fiesta Key RV Resort, and for Cali-style sunsets, Rancho Oso has great cabins for rent.

Colorful cottages at Fiesta Key RV Resort in Long Key, FL.

Beautiful S’Mores: True, they are nothing more than some crackers, sugar, and chocolate but who doesn’t think a perfect s’more is a thing of beauty? Some fun ideas to mix it up could include substituting the chocolate for almond butter and banana, switching out the graham crackers for snickerdoodle cookies; or the truly beautiful s’more made with chocolate graham crackers, sliced strawberries, and dark chocolate. Check out some of our favorite gourmet s’mores 1927smores.com.

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Smile for the Holidays

This may be the year that you see an influx of holiday cards, specifically the photo kind, because the friends and family you may see regularly throughout the year, may not have seen you in at least six months! #2020 Those cards will bring a smile to many faces, so make sure that your photo is spectacular. Check out these photo-worthy spots for Holiday 2020 cards!

Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth, Washington: While just about everywhere in Leavenworth is worthy of a photo, the opportunity to pose with a real live reindeer just may be the key here. Head to the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm for a holiday pic that will let your friends and family see who the holiday VIPS are! For details check out leavenworthreindeer.com. Another option is to have a traditional holiday character front and center in your photo – Karl, the mascot of Leavenworth’s Nutcracker Museum, stands ready and waiting for any and all photo ops (nutcrackermuseum.com). And sadly, while the annual Christmas Lighting Festival has been cancelled for this year, Leavenworth will still shine. The plans for the installation of more than 50,000 sparkling lights are still a go and what a backdrop for any holiday photo they will make!

Book a tiny house at the Leavenworth Tiny House Village while you create your 2020 holiday masterpiece.

Tiny House Otto at Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA

Santa Barbara, California: Let the Chromatic Gate provide the perfect frame for your holiday photo. Take a trip to the city’s Cabrillo Park and this multi-colored art installation by famed artist Herbert Bayer sets up the shot perfectly. Or, wish everyone luck in the new year with a photo of the gang (or just a selfie!) outside the Lucky Penny restaurant – the exterior wall is literally thousands of pennies! While you’re here, enjoy a slice of pizza! One last option that may bring on the figgy pudding comments – check out what is believed to be the largest fig tree in the U.S. The Moreton Bay Fig Tree, located at Chapala and Montecito Streets, has a circumference of 486 inches and is believed to have been planted over 140 years ago.

Prep for your photo ops while staying in one of our unique rentals at Rancho Oso.

Cathedral Rock near Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona: After a crazy year like 2020, you may want to convey healing vibes to friends and family in your holiday message. Choose one of the spectacular rock formations like Bell Rock or Cathedral Rock in Sedona’s Red Rock State Park to send season’s greeting with a healthy dose of good vibrations from these vortexes. Have your pic taken while on horseback and sign up for one of the scenic rides from Wild Western Horseback Adventures (wildwesternhorseback.com) that takes you through the Verde Valley itself. How about an ancient pueblo in the background of your photo? Explore the ruins of a Sinagua pueblo at Tuzigoot National Monument which is part of the National Park Service.

Tuzigoot National Monument near Verde Valley in Cottonwood, AZ.

Relax and recharge while staying in a cozy cabin or tiny house at Verde Valley.

Florida Keys: Send warm wishes of the Florida kind and take a pic with Key West’s iconic landmark, the Southernmost Point Buoy. Add a palm tree to the shot by heading to Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key or send your “deer-est” wishes by snapping some pics while visiting the National Key Deer Refuge National Center, also located on Big Pine Key. As always, the beaches of the Keys are great for building snowmen of the sand variety to appear in your shot and who can’t resist a beautiful sunset or brightly colored tiny house as a backdrop?

Rent a colorful tiny home from Sunshine Key Tiny House Village or a colorful cottage at Fiesta Key while you explore the Keys for the best holiday photo shoot!

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Five Things To Do In…Santa Barbara

Scenic Santa Barbara offers beautiful landscapes, magnificent sunsets and many great things to do while visiting the “American Riviera.”

Santa Barbara, California, is rich in history – from the Chumash Indians who inhabited this coastal area more than 6,000 years ago, to the Spanish soldiers and missionaries who came in the 1700s, to the silent film industry that made Santa Barbara the hot spot for film production in the early 1900s. (Humble brag: many silent film stars frequented Rancho Oso, including Charlie Chaplin! Rancho Oso features teepees, safari tents, covered wagons, and cozy cabins.)

Today, Santa Barbara remains a hot spot – but now its about the beautiful landscape, the magnificent sunsets and all the great things to do here in the “American Riviera!” Here are just five don’t miss things to do in SB:

  1. Visit Chumash Painted Cave Historic Park: At this small park outside of Santa Barbara, visitors can view actual cave paintings created by the Chumash Indians thousands of years ago using a palette created from earth pigments including charcoal and limonite. Located inside a cave in the Santa Ynez Mountains, the drawings are protected by a grate so viewing may be during daylight hours.

    Chumash_PaintedCave
    Chumash Painted Cave Historic Park outside of Santa Barbara.
  2. The Old Mission in Santa Barbara was founded in 1786 and is one of the longest, continuously operating missions in California. The church that currently stands is actually the fourth built here and was constructed between 1815 to 1820. Its classic Greco-Roman design is said to be taken from the style of the architect Vitruvius, whose Roman structures date to 27 BC. Several different tours of the Mission can be taken that include both self-guided and docent-guided – check out santabarbaramission.org for details.
  3. Bask in the beauty of the gardens of Lotusland – a 37-acre estate of the late opera singer Madame Ganna Walska that contains 25 distinct gardens open to the public. The gardens were designed to always have something in bloom year-round, but if you’re specifically interested in the lotuses, visit in July and August. LotusFest! 2020 is currently planned for June 28.

    Water Garden at Lotusland
  4. Does anyone remember the 2004 Oscar-nominated film Sideways about a guys’ road trip to Santa Barbara wine country? If you’re a fan of the film, or a just a fan of the wine, you can follow the itinerary of the film’s main characters by downloading “Sideways-The Map” from santabarbara.com. Or, you can just choose to take one of many wine tours offered in Santa Barbara that include a Cupcake and Wine tour (our favorite!), a Wine and Bike Tour, or the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Tour. Visit www.winetours-santabarbara.com for all the fun details.

    Wine tours are a popular choice across Santa Barbara vineyards, along with hiking trails along the Santa Ynez mountains.
  5. Get Out and Hike: the weather is almost always accommodating for a lovely day hike in Santa Barbara and planetware.com has very nicely put together a quick list of 10 Top-Rated hikes (www.planetware.com/california/santa-barbara-hiking-trails-us-ca-72.htm) for some ideas. Inspiration Point, while rocky and steep, is considered a moderate hike, and hikers say is worth the view. If you want a glimpse of the harbor seals at the Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary, consider hiking the flat trail at the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve. A pup-friendly trail would be Rattlesnake Trail. Shaded, thanks to the oaks and sycamore trees, the trail provides great views and is also popular with birders!

Western cabins at Rancho Oso in Santa Barbara, CA.

While working your way through this list of things to do in Santa Barbara, be sure to double up on fun by staying in a teepee, covered wagon, safari tent, or cozy cabin at Rancho Oso! You’ll also have the opportunity to do some horseback riding, right onsite.

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.