Happy Birthday, Florida!

The Sunshine State celebrates 177 years of statehood this March 3rd, so come celebrate the state that provides miles of coastline and sandy beaches, the subtropical wilderness known as the Everglades, and of course an abundance of sunshine.

With so many great places to stay with us in Florida, you can celebrate the whole state. Sunny getaways abound all around the state from cottages at Bulow, Sherwood Forest, Sunshine Holiday Daytona, Pioneer Village, and Fiesta Key; cabins at Miami Everglades and Peace River; and adorable tiny homes at the Sunshine Key Tiny House Village (to see all the great Florida locations visit petiteretreats.com and book now). Spend time on the Gulf Coast, drive over to the Atlantic coast, discover Central Florida, and explore the Keys – whatever you choose, celebrate the Sunshine State this March.

Florida Festivals: Thanks to the great weather, there’s always something being feted, and March has plenty of events! There’s the Strawberry Festival in Plant City (March 3-13); Daytona Bike Week (March 4-13); the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival (March 12-13); the Marathon Seafood Festival (March 12-13); and Carnaval Miami, which celebrates all things Miami, and runs from February 26 through March 13.

St. Augustine, FL Skyline
St. Augustine, FL Skyline

History Lessons: Why not visit Florida’s (and the nation’s) oldest city, St. Augustine, to learn the history of Florida and life way back in the 1500s? Castillo de San Marcos, Fort Mose Historic State Park, and perhaps the Pirate & Treasure Museum are a good place to start. The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum in Clewiston provides visitors insight into the history and culture of the Seminole, who are an integral part of Florida’s history. Other options for history trips can include the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West or the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee.

Funky Florida: Get a little off the beaten path of the typical tourist and celebrate Florida’s wild side. Up-close-and-personal experiences can include swimming with the manatees in Crystal River, learning all about sea sponges at Sponge-o-rama in Tarpon Springs or an iconic airboat ride through the Everglades. Spook Hill in Lake Wales supposedly defies gravity and is haunted while Robert the Doll, who can be found at Key West’s Fort East Martello Museum, is guaranteed to give you the willies. Funky underwater experiences can include Neptune Memorial Reef in Key Biscayne, the underwater statue of Christ, known as Christ of the Abyss, which can be found in the waters off Key Largo, or the one-of-a-kind swimming mermaids in Weeki Watchee Springs State Park.

Top Attractions: Florida’s long-standing highlights include Walt Disney World, the Kennedy Space Center, Busch Gardens Tampa, and the beautiful beaches. Top-rated beaches include South Beach, Cocoa Beach, St. Pete’s Beach and Fort Myers Beach.

Cottage at Peace River Camping Resort

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5 Things to do In…The Florida Panhandle

Florida’s Panhandle, that handle-type stretch of land in the far northwest portion of the state that runs roughly 200 miles, is home to some of the most beautiful white sand beaches, several of which are consistently named to the ranks of America’s best beaches by beach expert, Dr. Beach. If you plan on hitting some of these beaches or checking out the places we’ve named to our 5 Things to Do list, plan a stay at Live Oak Landing. Offering studio and one-bedroom resort cottages as well as RV sites, Live Oak Landing is just 30 minutes from scenic Highway 30A and all that silky sand. The resort sits adjacent to the Choctawhatchee River and has plenty of amenities including a pool, boat ramp, a floating dock, and opportunities for onsite fishing. Cottages are fully furnished with kitchens or kitchenettes (depending on cottage selection), linens and towels, outdoor picnic tables, and TVs. So, make your reservation, pack your sand toys and swimsuits, and get ready to explore the Panhandle.

  1. National Naval Aviation Museum: Of course, you can find this in Pensacola, which is home to Naval Air Station Pensacola, considered the Cradle of Naval Aviation. The Museum will provide thrills for everyone, whether you’re a Navy buff or an aviation buff. MaxFlight 360 Simulators allow visitors to experience air-to-air combat as well as stunt flying missions while the Naval Aviation Memorial Theater provides an unparalleled “am I really flying” kind of screen event. There are also virtual flight deck and cockpit training experiences to be enjoyed. Exhibits include several aircraft galleries as well as a one-quarter scale replica of the USS Nimitz. For information, visit navalaviationmuseum.org.
  2. Shell Island: Shell Island is truly an example of undeveloped space when it comes to things that mar our beautiful beaches. This 7-mile barrier island has no hotels, no restaurants, no buildings, not even a trash can it is said – just sand, water, and natural flora and fauna. It’s a great place to see bottlenose dolphins; in fact, a resident pod is there all year long so as long as the sun is shining, you just might see a dolphin whenever you visit. Snorkeling and shelling are two more activities that make Shell Island a great place to visit.
  3. The Destin History and Fishing Museum: It’s not all about the history of fishing here, there’s also a science exhibit that explains why the sands of Destin are white and several Native American history displays. But yes, there’s fishing history here shown through artifacts, fishing equipment and of course, mounted fish upon fish, all caught locally. Visit destinhistoryandfishingmuseum.org for more details.
Downtown Tallahassee, Florida
Downtown Tallahassee, Florida
  1. Day Trip to Tallahassee: Florida’s capital, Tallahassee is about 130 miles east of Live Oak Landing and is worth a day trip. The Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park bills itself as a “masterpiece of floral architecture” with gardens upon gardens, a reflection pool and plenty of walking trails as well as opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. Peak blooming season runs through April. Other Tallahassee highlights include Railroad Square Art Park, Goodwood Museum and Gardens, the Tallahassee Automobile Museum with its more than 150 vehicles on display, and the Lewis Spring House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
  2. Sculpture with a twist: Who doesn’t love a sculpture park? Florida has a good one located in the Panhandle, except there’s a twist here – it’s underwater! Located about a mile off the sandy shores of Grayton Beach State Park, the Underwater Museum of Art was opened in 2018 with just 7 sculptures. There are now 19 sculptures residing some 50 feet below the surface that have become living reefs for fish and other sea life. To dive to see the sculptures up close you must be certified, but snorkelers can view the “museum” from above the installations. For details visit umafl.org.
Live Oak Landing Cottage Interior
Cottage at Live Oak Landing in Choctawhatchee Bay, FL

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5 Things to Do in Florida’s Peace River

In Wauchula, Florida, you will find Peace River, the perfect Petite Retreat choice when it comes to enjoying the beauty of nature while kicking back and relaxing. And yet, this delightful destination also offers the option to explore some of Florida’s big and little towns via some scenic drives. Rent a cottage here or one of our new cabins and make the best of both worlds on your next sunny Florida getaway.

Here are five ways to go both city and country in one spectacular trip:

  1. The River: The Peace River, which runs adjacent to the resort, offers all kinds of adventures from canoeing and kayaking to fossil hunting. Consider one of the many options offered through Peace River Charters (peacerivercharters.com) that can include an airboat ride, a swamp buggy trip, and even a horseback ride along the banks of the river. As for the fossils, you never know what you’ll uncover. Fossil hunters here have found everything from mastodon bones (think a shorter, stockier version of a mammoth) to shark teeth (most common). Paddle the river, look for the gravelly areas, and see what you what treasures you can find.
  2. Solomon’s Castle: This oddity is a 12,000 square foot castle built entirely from discarded metal newspaper printing plates. Featured on HGTV’s Most Extreme Homes in America, Solomon’s Castle was built by sculptor Howard Solomon, who was also known as the DaVinci of Debris for his ability to make treasure out of discarded items. In addition to the castle, Mr. Solomon’s workshop and galleries are also open to the public (solomonscastle.com).
  3. City Fun: In just about an hour, you can be in the Tampa/St. Pete metro area and enjoy shopping, theater, restaurants, museums, and sporting events. St. Pete’s Dali Museum boasts the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s works outside of Spain. Tampa’s Busch Gardens is fun for all ages or walk on the wild side and visit the Tampa Zoo at Lowry Park and feed an Indian Rhinoceros.
  4. Circus-Time: If you’ve always wanted to join the circus, a visit to both the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and Ca’ d’Zan may be as close as you get. Ca’ d’Zan was the winter home of John Ringling, one of the seven brothers of Ringling Brothers circus fame. Located in Sarasota, the design of the home, which was built in 1925, was inspired by the palaces of Venice. The lush grounds of the estate contain several gardens and a reflecting pool. The museum contains collections of Old Masters, sculpture, and antiquities as well as circus memorabilia.
  5. Murals and More: The town of Lake Placid is about 40 minutes south of Wauchula and is home to 47 larger-than-life outdoor murals that can be viewed on a self-guided tour or a group bus tour (muralsoflakeplacid.com). The quaint town also has more than 27 clown cut-outs, a nod to the American Clown Museum & School located here. Lake Placid is also known as the Caladium Capital of the World as 95 percent of the world’s caladiums are grown here so of course, it makes sense the Caladium Festival is held here each July (caladiumfestival.org.) There’s even a local winery – Henscratch Farms Vineyard and Winery offers tours and tastings (henscratchfarms.com). So much to see and do in this tiny town – it’s no wonder Reader’s Digest named Lake Placid “America’s Most Interesting Town” in 2013.
Cabin at Peace River Camping Resort
Cabin at Peace River RV & Camping Resort

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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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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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5 Things to Do in… Fort Myers

The Times Square area of Ft. Myers Beach.

Fort Myers, Florida, and the towns surrounding it have plenty to do no matter what your trip’s “must-do” list includes. There are beaches and fishing and shopping and museums and history tours and so much more. The list is as endless as the miles of sandy beaches available for doing nothing more than simply relaxing in the sun. So, when you’re done with the beach, consider these things to do. And before you go, make sure to book your Florida cottage stay at Riverside or Rambler’s Rest so you can be close to all the action.

Cottages at Rambler’s Rest in Venice, FL.
  1. Estate Plans: We’re not talking about financial planning here, but instead making plans to visit the winter homes of both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. These “winter estates” provide a glimpse into how these inventors spent their days off.  Visitors can view the homes and gardens of these forward-thinking men as well as see memorabilia and historic artifacts of both Ford and Edison. For more information, visit edisonfordwinterestates.org.
Moonlight Garden at Thomas Edison and Henry Ford’s Winter Estate.
  1. Take Refuge: That is, take a trip to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on nearby Sanibel Island. This is a 6,400-acre refuge that is home to more than 270 bird species, 35 mammal species, and 60 different reptiles. There are opportunities for hiking as well as a 4-mile Wildlife Drive where you can catch glimpses of the wildlife that inhabit the refuge. For hours and information, visit fws.gov/refuge/JN_Ding_Darling.
  1. Seek Shell-ter: If you know anything about shelling, then you know that both nearby Sanibel and Captiva Islands are considered some of the best shelling beaches in North America. Located on Sanibel Island, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is the only accredited museum in the US devoted to shells and mollusks. It began in 1984 with a bequest from a local shell collector and grew from there. The museum’s newest exhibit is an aquarium gallery filled with living mollusks. Other exhibits include shells from around the world and an exhibit that details shells have influenced art and architecture across cultures. For details, visit shellmuseum.org.
Ft Myers & Caloosahatchee River, FL.
  1. Meet up in Matlacha: Matlacha is an island in the Gulf about 15 miles from Fort Myers. Matlacha is a colorful, quaint old fishing village now home to shops, art galleries, and opportunities for crabbing, clamming, shrimping, and just enjoying the laid-back vibe of this historic town. As you cross the bridge to the island, watch for all the anglers trying their luck at catching the tarpon, red fish, and snook that run in the tidal current beneath the bridge. The Matlacha Bridge is also known as the “Fishingest Bridge in the World” thanks to its abundance of fisher-people.
  1. See Stars: The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium is a great mix of indoor and outdoor activities. The planetarium offers daily shows and the nature center portion includes a butterfly house and a raptor aviary. There are also two hiking trails that meander through several different eco-systems. For hours of operation, show times, and details on what you can expect when you go, visit calusanature.org.

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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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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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Book Tour

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

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

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

Cozy cabins at Narrows Too in Bar Harbor, Maine.

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

Fisherman’s wharf in Monterey, California.

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

The town of Exeter, New Hampshire.

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

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

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

Going “Abroad” Stateside

The charming Danish-themed city of Solvang, CA

Big summer vacations are looking a little different this year. Summer has typically been the time when big trips to Europe and other countries are planned, thanks in part to long school vacations and cooperating weather. Graduates head off for one last trip before starting the 9-5 grind and many honeymooners make plans for a trip abroad after a June wedding, which is a popular month for marriages.

However, for most of us, trips abroad are definitely off the table this summer but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the different cultures offered in a trip to a foreign country. We found a few places right here in the US that will provide you the opportunity to enjoy a bit of Europe while never leaving the country!

Solvang, California:

The solvangusa.com website describes this California town as “A little slice of Denmark in Southern California.” Solvang, which means “sunny field” in Danish, was founded by three Danish immigrants in 1911, after purchasing 9000 acres of land in the Santa Ynez Valley. The town features Danish-style architecture, four wooden windmills and even has a replica of Copenhagen’s famed The Little Mermaid statue. The Elverhoj Museum of History and Art is a great place to learn the history of the town. Visit one of the authentic Danish bakeries and sample some aebleskiver, a sweet Danish pastry akin to a doughnut hole. Plan to stay at Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort, which is about 45 minutes from Solvang, and book one of our unique accomodations choosing from cabins, cottages, a tipi, or covered wagon.

St. Augustine, Florida:

St. Augustine, Florida at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

Not only is historic St. Augustine the oldest city in America, dating to the mid-1500s, but it might also give you the feeling that you’re in Spain. Founded by a Spanish expedition, the Spanish influence on the town remains with the town’s grand plaza, the narrow streets and the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the US. Don’t miss Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, a 15-acre waterfront park on the site where it is said the city was orignally founded. Make sure you sample some Minorcan Clam Chowder while here – it’s a specialty of St. Augustine featuring the datil chile pepper said to have been brought over from Minorca, an island off Spain. Book a stay at a colorful cottage at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee and you’re just 2 hours from historic St. Augustine.

Cottages at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL 

West, Texas:

Plan a cozy cabin stay at at Bay Landing RV Campground in Bridgeport, Texas, and then plan a day to drive the “Kolache Trail.” The what, you say? The Kolache Trail is actually quite long, stretching from West, Texas, which is about an hour and a half from the campground to Shulenberg, which is a good four and a half hours away. The trail hits some of the best Czech bakeries that serve up these tasty pastries with all kinds of fillings – poppyseed, apricot, prune, and more. If you don’t want to make the whole drive, definitely plan a day trip to West, Texas, which is recognized as the Czech Heritage Capital of Texas. There are plenty of bakeries, restaurants, and shops that pay homage to the Czech heritage here.

New Glarus, Wisconsin:

Cabin at Yukon Trails RV & Camping Resort just 90 minutes from New Glarus, WI.

In 1845, representatives of the Emigration Society of Canton Glarus, Switzerland, were to sent to find land in America’s midwest. The result of their efforts was an  establishment on more than 1200 acres of land in Wisconsin’s Green County, which became “New Glarus.” More Swiss settlers followed and the communtiy remains today true to its Swiss heritage.  Swiss-style architecture set among the rolling hills of the area will have you feeling you’re really in the Alps. Specialty shops, a brewery, and eateries serving authentic Swiss cuisine add to the charm of this little town. Nearby New Glarus Woods State Park is great for biking and hiking. Spend the day in New Glarus and then spend the night at Yukon Trails RV & Camping Resort, in Lyndon Station, which is approximately 75 miles away.