5 Things to Do in… San Diego

The climate alone is reason enough to plan a getaway to San Diego. There’s plenty of sunshine and 80-degree days to be found here. There’s also the draw of the ocean and the miles of beaches as well as the history, the theme parks, a world-class zoo, and much more. We came up with five ways to experience this sunny southern California favorite:

Sunset on La Jolla Beach, CA.
  1. Act Like a Local: Some say the best way to get to know a city is to do what the locals do. So, we checked in with a San Diegan and here’s what they suggest: Start the day with a walk/hike along Sunset Cliffs. Next, head over to Wonderland for mimosas and brunch and some great ocean views. After that, check out the pier at Ocean Beach, which is one of the longest piers on the West coast and has great sea lion sightings. Spend the afternoon strolling Newport Avenue with its cool shops – including surf shops and antiques. Enjoy an afternoon nosh at South Beach for local beers and great fish tacos. End the day with dinner at the OB Noodle House for great Asian fare.
Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego.
  1. Act Like a Kid: What’s more fun than a bunch of Legos (unless, of course, they’re on the floor and you’re barefoot)? Head to Carlsbad and visit LEGOLAND California which is a theme park, a water park, and an aquarium all rolled into one guaranteed fun time. The aquarium portion of LEGOLAND has 350 different species featuring over 6000 sea creatures. The water park has all kinds of wet fun from wave pools to waterslides. And, of course, the theme park has thrill rides, shows, and a Lego retail store. As for Legos, all attractions include a Lego miniland made from millions of genuine Legos. Watch where you step!
  1. Act Like an Athlete: With 70 miles of coastline, water sports are the thing to do in San Diego. Wakeboarding, kitesurfing, kayaking, surfing, and bodysurfing are just a few of the water challenges to be attempted when visiting San Diego. The San Diego Surf School (sandiegosurfingschool.com) offers private, semi-private, and group lessons as well as surf camps and surf retreats for adults. If you’re gonna attempt hanging ten, consider that San Diego has some of the warmest waters and several of the best surfing breaks on the California coast.
  1. Act Like a Foodie: A few years back, Thrillist.com said San Diego was a hotspot for fresh-sourced ingredients and world-class street food and a few years later, San Diego remains a foodie favorite. A good place to start to explore the food scene here is through one of the several food tours offered. Bite San Diego (bitesandiego.com) offers six different neighborhood tours that serve up a side of each neighborhood’s history, as well! Or try the Tequila, Tacos and Tombstones Tour offered through viator.com that takes you through a food and walking tour of the city’s historic Old Town.
Getaway cabin at Pio Pico in Jamul, CA.
  1. Act Like a Glamper: We’ve got two great locations where you can get your glamping fix in while exploring all that San Diego has to offer. Pio Pico in nearby Jamul has great cottage and cabin options for your consideration. The resort has bike trails, pickleball courts, nature and hiking trails, a pool, hot tub, and a game room. Each rental cottage sleeps six, has heat and A/C, full-sized refrigerators, electric coffeemakers and microwaves and full-sized bathrooms/showers. Cabins at Pio Pico sleep 4-6, have full-sized bathrooms/showers and kitchens with microwaves and refrigerators. Oakzanita Springs is another option for glamping during a San Diego getaway. Each of the two cottage rentals sleeps 6 while the two cabin rentals sleep 4. All have full-size bathrooms/showers and a variety of kitchen amenities. The resort has bike trails, nature and hiking trails, a swimming pool, hot tub, and bocci and horseshoes.
Cozy cabin at Oakzanita Springs in Descanso, CA.

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5 Things to do in… Palm Springs!

Palm Springs is a great destination no matter the time of year. Indoor and outdoor attractions abound and the area enjoys a dry, desert climate. There’s history, nature, arts and culture, shopping, plenty to eat and drink and, of course, an abundance of sunshine. We decided to take an elemental approach to our visit. In keeping with the 5 Elements of Nature – earth, water, fire, air, and space, let’s see what Palms Springs has to offer (and please forgive our artistic license!):

colorful cottage at Palm Springs in Palm Desert, CA.
  1. Earth: The desert is the earth to explore here. Head to Joshua Tree National Park for a spiritual reset and explore the Mojave Desert. Make sure to see Giant Rock – a freestanding boulder (possibly the largest in the world) that is considered sacred by Native Americans. Hike some of the trails in the Coachella Valley Preserve – the McCallum Trail is an easy 1.8 mile option as is the Indian Palms Trail at 1.2 miles; the Hidden Palms Loop, with its beautiful wildflowers is a bit longer at 1.9 miles while the Pushawalla Palms Loop tracs at 4.4 miles.
Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park illuminated by sunset, Mojave Desert, California
  1. Water: This one’s easy thanks to the several waterfalls found in and near Palm Springs. There’s the Tahquitz Falls, a 60-foot waterfall that can be viewed via a short hike; Seven Sisters Waterfall, another hike-worthy option; and West Fork Falls, which can be seen from December through March in Palm Canyon.
  1. Air: Several options here. There’s the Palm Springs Air Museum, which is considered one of the top aviation museums in the world, and its display of combat aircraft ranging from World War II to the Vietnam era. Or, take to the air in the Palm Springs Aerial Tram that provides breathtaking views of Chino Canyon.
  1. Fire: There are several ways to interpret this one when visiting Palm Springs, so indulge us, please. It can be the heat from the sunshine – of which Palm Springs experiences approximately 350 days of sun or it can be the heat found in the range of spicy foods including Thai, Peruvian, Indian as well as the spicy Bloody Mary offered at Cheeky’s.
View of the mountain landscape at Mount San Jacinto State Park near Palm Springs, California.
  1. Space: spacetourism.com lists 10 places in the Palm Springs area that are perfect for night sky viewing. Joshua Tree National park is one spot and others include the Coachella Valley Preserve and Mt. San Jacinto. Visit spacetourismguide.com/stargazing-palm-springs for more information.

While exploring this vibrant town, book a colorful cottage at our Palm Springs location to call your home base.

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5 Things to Do In… Dallas Fort-Worth

Dallas skyline

Heading to Texas? The Dallas-Fort Worth area to be more specific? If a trip to the Lone Star State is in your future, we’ve found some great places in and around Dallas you might find of interest. We’ve got four great locations in the area, so we’ve found something fun near each and added the bonus of a Fort Worth highlight, to boot!

  1. Lake Whitney: Located in West Texas Hill Country, Lake Whitney is a great place to stay while you get the chance to “be a Pepper, too!” For those of you who don’t drink soda pop or are a bit younger than the catchy Dr. Pepper commercials from a few decades ago, you can get in the know with a visit to the Dr. Pepper Museum, located in nearby Waco. Not only do you get a free soda with paid admission, but you can also make your own pop. As our country’s oldest soft drink (it was invented in 1885, one year before Coca-Cola!), there’s lot of history to learn here. After the museum, be sure to check out Magnolia Market at the Silos, from Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame.
Cabin at Lake Texoma in Gordonville, TX
  1. Lake Texoma: The lake is known for its excellent striper fishing so if you’re angling for bass, this is the place. If you’re angling for a great place to glamp that’s close to all the fishing, then Lake Texoma will lure you right in! Rental cabins are available on this 300-acre resort in Gordonsville that is close to the lake. Enjoy the fishing or just enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor at the multitude of good seafood restaurants in the area. 
  1. Lake Tawakoni: Like Lake Texoma, Lake Tawakoni is another great place for fishing, but it is also a fantastic area for antique and treasure hunting. Whether you’re looking for something specific or just browsing, don’t miss First Monday Trade Days, in Canton, which is about 30 miles from camp. This extraordinary flea market dates to the 1850s when the circuit judge arrived in town on the first Monday of every month to hear cases. People came to watch the proceedings and naturally brought goods to sell and trade. Nowadays, visitors can find everything from antiques and collectibles to crafts, jewelry, home goods, and decor.
Aframe Cabin at Bay Landing in Bridgeport, TX
  1. Bay Landing: Located in the town of Bridgeport, Bay Landing works as a great home base while you explore the great Texas outdoors in the area. Canoeing, paddling, hiking and even archery are just a few of the ways you can spend your days outdoors when visiting Texas. Bridgeport Falls offers a 5.8 looped paddling trail in the West Fork of the Trinity River while the Chupacabra Paddling Trail is another option complete with glimpses of local wildlife. Cinnamon Creek Ranch, in Roanoke, has indoor and outdoor archery as well as a field challenge course. Chisholm Trail Memorial Park, which is located on the site of the old cattle drive route, has a paved hiking trail that runs a little over nine miles and you can choose to do all or a part of this picturesque trail.
  1. Dallas/Ft. Worth: There are plenty of things to draw you to the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth including the art museums, botanical gardens, and various historic sites but to get to know Texas, you should get to know the industry that it is most associated with: livestock. Head over to the Fort Worth Stockyards and learn the history, see real cowboys and cattle, catch an Old West “gunfight,” shop, eat and just enjoy this Texas-sized historic district of Fort Worth.

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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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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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Cheers to National Lager Day

Friends toasting with beer glasses in the brewery.

Did you know the third most widely consumed beverage in the world is beer? With water and tea being number one and two, respectively, beer comes in at number three most likely due to the fact that cultures around the world have their own version of their favorite brew. December 10 is National Lager Day so why not raise a glass of lager and toast this popular drink? If you’re planning to continue to celebrate National Lager Day well past the December date, consider these popular lagers when you’re on the road to your next outdoor adventure.

BTW – what makes a lager different from other beers, you ask? Becoming a lager is all about the bottom-fermenting technique and using younger hops, a main ingredient in beer. Also, lager yeast can withstand lower temperatures, unlike ale yeasts, and that is where it gets its name. Lager comes from the German word “lagern” which means to store and lager is in cold storage while it ages. Some examples of lagers include Corona, Budweiser, and Miller Lite. We came up with a round of lagers from some of the smaller U.S. brewers conveniently located near our great Petite Retreat accommodations.

New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, WI.

New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, Wisconsin: Check out the Two Women lager at this Wisconsin brewery in the Swiss-style village of New Glarus. This lager is aptly named because it is the result of a collaboration between two craft breweries both run by women. Book a cozy cabin or a cottage at Yukon Trails and visit New Glarus to sample Two Women as well as the other brews made here, including the pretty popular Spotted Cow. Forget about the beer that “made Milwaukee famous” – New Glarus and Yukon Trails is where it’s at!

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, OR.

Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Oregon: The perfect tasting trip could combine a tiny home accommodation at Mt. Hood Tiny House Village and a visit to Deschutes Brewery in nearby Bend. Deschutes has been craft brewing since 1988 and has two really great lagers in their repertoire of beer – Pacific Wonderland and Rip City Lager, whose interesting name has ties to the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team. Want to be even closer to the brewery? Try staying in a yurt or snug cabin at Bend-Sunriver.

D.G. Yuengling & Son, Pottsville, PA.

D.G. Yuengling & Son, Pottsville, Pennsylvania: Reputed to be America’s Oldest Brewery, Yuengling (pronounced ying-ling) offers a traditional amber lager that comes in in a “light” version as well for those watching their waists! Plan a stay at Appalachian RV Campground in a cozy cabin or cottage and head to Pottsville to explore Yuengling’s brewing facilities, which features hand dug caves for fermenting. It’s just about a 25-minute drive through the lovely Pennsylvania Dutch countryside from the campground.

Doghaus Brewery, Leavenworth, Washington: Proving you don’t have to be big to be good, Doghaus Brewery bills itself as a nano-craft brewery with a micro-sized taproom, but nevertheless offers the German Pointer Lager (get the dog reference?). Based on an original blue-ribbon recipe, this one is described as a helles lager, helles being German for “pale in color.” That’s it for this small brewery when it comes to lagers, but they also offer IPAs, stouts, and ales. This is a good place to visit because the Leavenworth Tiny House Village is just 30 minutes away and who wouldn’t want to enjoy some beer in this beautiful spot in the Pacific Northwest?

Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA.

If you are looking for a craft brewery near your favorite Petite Retreat, visit www.craftbeer.com for a listing of breweries across the country. Cheers!

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5 Things to do in… Orlando, Florida

Colorful cottages at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL.

When someone says they’re traveling to Orlando, the most likely assumption would be that the trip is to visit the theme-park laden city in Central Florida to enjoy all those attractions. And, that may well be the case, especially now that Disney World has reopened after COVID-19 restrictions temporarily closed the popular Florida attraction. But for those who want to experience a theme-park free, and socially distanced, trip to sunny Orlando, we’ve got five things to check out. To plan your adventure, visit wildfloridaairboats.com.

  1. If you want to feel like you’re on safari in the wilds of Africa, consider a trip through the Wild Florida Drive-Thru Safari Park in nearby Kenansville. Enjoy the show from the comfort of your own car as you drive a two-mile path through the 85-acre park that is home to exotic animals like zebra, giraffes, oryx, and Watusi cattle.
  1. What better way to enjoy the outdoors than surrounded by beautiful blooms of roses, camelias, azaleas, and a crazy variety of tropical plants? Set over 50 acres, the Harry P. Leu Gardens has over 10 individual gardens including a Butterfly Garden, a Rose Garden, a Tropical Stream Garden, and the Idea Garden, which contains 10 different garden designs within the garden. Don’t miss the Garden’s collection of camellias which is the largest documented camellia collection in Eastern North America. Visit leugardens.org for more information.
Orlando is home to many floral and butterfly varieties within the Harry P. Leu Gardens.
  1. If your trips are all about Instagram, you might like the slightly quirky, yet super trendy attraction called the Wall Crawl.  It’s not a museum or a historic site, but your photos may go down in history. Basically, it’s an installation of 20 walls with a variety of backdrops and vignettes that change seasonally and are there for the pure purpose of taking Instagram shots. There are holiday settings, beachy scenes, pop art, and other whimsical backdrops. And while it is an indoor shoot, COVID-19 protocols are in place and reservations are required. Check out wallcrawl.com for all the deets.
  1. Bike the West Orange Trail, a 22-mile paved rail-trail that runs through several towns, The Oakland Nature Preserve, and the Tilden Outpost, which includes a lovely butterfly garden. There are promises of wildlife glimpses, historic buildings, and plenty of Florida sunshine and fresh air. For specifics about the trail, visit bikeorlando.net/west-orange-trail.
An Airboat ride down Shingle Creek in Kissimmee, FL.
  1. You don’t need the theme parks to find thrill rides in the Orlando area. We’ve got a few unique, and certainly thrilling, ways to discover Orlando. Consider an off-road adventure aboard an ATV or an amphibious Mucky Duck as you explore acres and acres of countryside (revolutionoffroad.com) or take to the skies in a hot air balloon ride and view Florida from above on an approximate 45-60 minute ride (orlandoballoonrides.com). Tour the swamps and see the gators on an airboat ride (spiritoftheswamp.com) or get up close and personal with the trees in a soaring day of fun at the Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park in Kissimmee (orlandotreetrek.com). 
Cottage at Orlando RV Resort in Clermont, FL

Consider a colorful cottage rental at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee for your home base. The roomy cottages have kitchens with amenities that include refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, and coffee makers. Orlando RV Resort in Clermont also has cottage rentals which make great accommodations for your Orlando adventures.

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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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5 Things to Do in… Lancaster County and Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Cool weather walks and hikes, delicious apple and pumpkin treats, wildlife, different cultures and simple fall adventures can be found in and around Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Here are just five ideas for exploring this pretty part of Pennsylvania.

The Pinetown Covered Bridge spans Conestoga Creek in Lancaster County, PA.
  1. Explore Covered Bridges: A perfect way to enjoy the fall colors and stay socially distanced is to explore the more than 25 covered bridges in Lancaster County. There are so many to see from the oldest (Neff’s Mill Bridge, built in 1824 and reconstructed in 1875) to the newest (Willow Hill Covered Bridge built in 1962). Most photogenic? We’ll let you decide. Visit discoverlancaster.com/things-to-do/covered-bridges to download a list of the bridges and driving tour routes.
The Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge over the Susquehanna River in Lancaster, PA.
  1. Fall Foliage Views: There are plenty of ways to experience the fall foliage in Lancaster County from hiking to biking and even aboard a train. The Strasburg Rail Road (strasburgrailroad.com), America’s oldest operating railroad, will take you on a 45-minute trip through the beautiful rolling countryside (Note: advance reservations and masks are required). Hikers and bikers should check out the Conewago Recreation Trail which has a 5-mile trail ideal for hiking and biking that runs along the old Cornwall-Lebanon railroad corridor. Another great outdoor experience is the Garden of Five Senses in Lancaster County’s Central Park. Designed to appeal to all five senses, you can smell the flowers, hear the birds, and see the beauty of autumn and this lovely garden.
  1. Visit a Wolf Sanctuary: Learn about The Wolves of Speedwell at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA in Lititz, an 80-plus acre refuge for gray wolves and wolf-dogs. The wolves can be viewed in the natural wooded habitat during an outside tour on walking trails. During COVID-19, tours are available by reservation only so please visit the Sanctuary’s website to make reservations (wolfsanctuarypa.org).
  1. Experience the Amish Culture: The Amish settlement in Lancaster County is the second largest in the U.S. While the Amish are “plain” (so named because they choose a modest lifestyle) and private people, their lifestyle can be glimpsed in many ways here. Take an Amish Buggy Ride through the countryside (amishbuggyrides.com), enjoy an Amish meal in the home of an Amish family (there are several but since they don’t have websites, google “Amish family meal in Lancaster” and you’ll get plenty of hits), or visit The Amish Village (amishvillage.com) for an up close look at the Amish culture.
Pumpkin wagon in Lancaster, PA.
  1. Pumpkins, Mazes, and Haunted Happenings: Another great outdoor activity is to visit the many pumpkin patches and corn mazes in the area. Country Barn Farm hosts Fall Harvest Days through October with plenty of pumpkin fun including pig races and a pumpkin patch. Explore the corn maze at Oregon Dairy in Lititz along with other fall fun like tractor rides, a corn launcher and all kinds of food. How about a Haunted Hayride? Check out Jason’s Woods (jasonswoods.com) for some spooky fun.
Cabins and yurts at Circle M in Lancaster, PA.

https://www.rvonthego.com/pennsylvania/hershey-rv-camping-resort/To be in perfect proximity to all this autumn fun, book a reservation with us at the Circle M, Hershey, PA Dutch, or Spring Gulch resorts, and choose between a cozy cabin, cottage, or yurt. Visit petiteretreats.com for more details on the resorts or to make reservations.

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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.