Wednesday, June 3, 2015
We hadn’t been to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in years. Caught up in traveling all around the world, we had almost forgotten this charming town tucked away at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most visited national parks in the United States.
We were in town to check out Wilderness Wildlife Week, an annual event that brings together fans of nature with an astonishing variety of presenters, hikes, and bus tours of the area. What really amazed us about this event is that every single activity from the decorated entrance to the gorgeous displays in the beautiful LeConte Center to every single presentation, hike, and tour is totally free to anyone who would like to attend. Professional writers, park rangers, musicians, storytellers, wildlife experts, and others all provide their expertise for free in rooms full of fascinated spectators.
The beautiful LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
St. Anthony Falls, at left, on the Mississippi River as seen from the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis.
The Mississippi River. The blues and jazz and paddle wheelers, poker-faced riverboat gamblers, Tom Sawyer and the Big Mo, and music meccas New Orleans, Memphis and St. Louis.
Not here. Not in Minnesota, especially north-central Minnesota. The mighty Mississippi isn’t so mighty in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Up north, it’s pretty humble.
One can walk across the Headwaters of the Mississippi, where Lake Itasca morphs into the nascent river. It’s not exactly a trickle at its source, as some may have heard. But it is hardly the big, fat, muddy behemoth most of us are so familiar with. It’s about the size of your basic state park brook, alongside which one might unfold a tent and settle in for a night of cooking hot dogs and roasting marshmallows. And it is ankle deep.…
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Mother’s Day will be here before we know it and I can guarantee that most mothers would adore a getaway with you more than any other present you can imagine. Hotels and resorts are perfectly lovely, but there is nothing as comfortable, charming, and unique as a stay at a quality Bed and Breakfast location. Fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, comfy beds, and a full gourmet breakfast make them the perfect choice for that special trip. Here are some of my favorite choices – now make your own reservation!
1. Villa D’Citta in Chicago, Illinois:
Welcome to the Villa D’Citta!
You will have plenty of choices for places to stay in the Windy City, but this gorgeous Chicago Greystone in the middle of the luxurious Lincoln Park neighborhood should be your first choice. Park in the garage (a former carriage house), then walk through the outside grotto and climb up the winding metal staircase up to a large, outside hot tub.…
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Falls on U.S. side. Photo by Michael Schuman.
The worst thing one can do at Niagara Falls is to simply stop and look at the falls.
Niagara Falls might be an iconic North American destination, but there is so much to do here than stand and watch. The best way to experience Niagara Falls is to explore the scenery, to become part of it, to meet nature head on. If you don’t get wet here, you haven’t gotten your time or money’s worth out of your trip.
For those who don’t know their way around this world wonder, here is a Niagara Falls primer.
Where exactly is Niagara Falls?
There is a two-part answer to this question since there are the cities of Niagara Falls and the Niagara Falls water spectacles.
First, the cities. Niagara Falls, New York sits across the Niagara River from Niagara Falls, Ontario. They are separate cities with identical names in neighboring nations and are located about twenty miles north of Buffalo, New York.…
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
The purists howled over a decade ago when New York City was accused of Disneyfying Times Square. The funk and grit were replaced by family fare, but with the changes came a friendlier New York. Cab drivers volunteered to be less abrasive. Visitors are less likely to encounter muggers. Signs warn of $350 fines for unnecessary car horn blowing.
For those of you who have never been to New York City, or who have not visited in recent years, following is our list of ten venues that make New York New York.
1. The must-see
Close up of Waterford crystal ball at Times Square.
Just as any visitor to France would be remiss to skip the Eiffel Tower, every city has a site that must not be missed, no matter how frequently it is touristed. In New York, this place is Times Square. The neon jungle dazzles the eyes of visitors like a visual sonic boom.…
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
As spring break time approaches, families considering vacations are faced with a dilemma — should we head to a resort in the Caribbean or stay close to home? Don’t rush to get that passport. The answer shouldn’t be that cut and dry, as there are some wonderful resorts with lots of activities right in the United States.
You can ski through April at Boyne Highlands Resort
You may be sick of shoveling snow at home, but how about a place you can enjoy the snow in? At Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs, Michigan, you can ski, snowboard, tube, zip line and dog sled through the end of April.
Accommodations at Boyne Highlands vary from standard hotel rooms to four bedroom house rentals so you’ll have enough room for the whole family. You’ll also be able to satisfy everyone’s food needs with an enormous breakfast buffet, a cafeteria that includes a macaroni & cheese bar, salad bar, and smoothie bar, and Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner experience.…
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Traveling today can take all kinds of twists and turns from unexpected delays to problems with airfares. Wouldn’t it be great if you had your own travel assistant who would advise you of the best way to resolve the issue and seek out helpful information for you? Well, that’s exactly what a travel app can do. Once you start looking for travel apps you will find there are dozens upon dozens to look through in order to decide which one is best for you. Here’s a few that are sure to help you out:
Wi-Fi Finder - Available FREE on iPhone, iPad and Android
We all know the pain of data roaming charges and I have even found myself sitting in fast food restaurants just to get free access. Let’s face it – when you are traveling, finding free Wi-Fi is a difficult thing to do, especially if you are unaware that free Wi-Fi is often much closer than you think.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Thursday, February 19, 2015
In 1876, author Frances Tiernan wrote a book called “The Land of the Sky.” Located between the soaring Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains, this moniker was adopted as Asheville, North Carolina’s nickname and is still used today.
Our first visit to The Land of the Sky was actually a happy accident. On our drive from Lexington, Kentucky to Savannah, Georgia, we found a place about halfway in between to stop at a small city in North Carolina, and that just so happened to be Asheville. It was a serendipitous event that introduced us to this lovely, kitschy, fascinating little town that often draws visitors back for return visits. It quickly became obvious that this was a place we too would return to again and again.
Where to stay in Asheville?
After our initial visit, we have returned to Asheville two more times so let me tell you about the three equally wonderful but totally diverse locations where we have stayed.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
If you are in the mood for a little country music along with great food, fabulous hotels and truly friendly people, there is no better place for a little getaway than Nashville, Tennessee.
The expansive Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center was our first stop in Nashville and it is the perfect place to stay, right by the Grand ole Opry, close to downtown and all the music venues. We have stayed in hotels all over the world, but I have truly never seen a hotel quite like this one. Sprawling over nine acres and covered with waterfalls, foliage, a winding river, and a variety of restaurants and shops – all under a soaring glass atrium – you might not want to ever leave once you check in. Try to get a Premium Garden View room with a balcony overlooking the scenery and you can fall asleep to the gentle roar of the many waterfalls.
View from our room at the Opryland Hotel.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
South Dakota often gets overlooked when it comes to planning a family vacation. This Midwest state is actually an ideal place to explore history and have fun, regardless of your age. Between Mount Rushmore, The Badlands, Rapid City, Crazy Horse, and Custer State Park, it will turn into the trip of a lifetime.
1. Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore is perhaps one of the most amazing sites your family will see on vacation. Three million people a year come to see the four former presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln –carved into the granite of a mountain.
As if the sculpture itself isn’t enough to enthrall, there’s plenty more to do at Mount Rushmore National Park. Check out the film about Gutzon Borglum and his carving of the mountain and then see the Sculptor’s Studio where he worked. You can also walk the Presidential Trail to get closer to the actual mountain.…
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Christmas Tree image courtesy Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
There’s something about festive Christmas lights twinkling and blinking in the night that enhances entire cities at once. Thousands of decorations, led light displays, over-sized ornaments suspended high above busy shopping areas, and magical state-of-the-art lighting that transforms everyday streets into an extravaganza. Some destinations around the world are well known for their festive lighting displays that attract visitors from near and far to stand in awe of inspiring themes.
Close to home for American readers is New York, where the festive lights magically bedazzle the city. In the heart of the metropolis is perhaps the most famous Christmas tree in the USA: the 85-foot Rockerfeller Christmas Tree. It is wrapped in 5-miles of Christmas lights and features a Swarovski crystal star which weighs in at about 550lbs. Then there are the Park Avenue Memorial Trees, found between 54th and 96th Street.
New York Times image courtesy of Antoine Henrich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Thursday, November 20, 2014
A bridge and secluded home.
If you have never visited New England, as we hadn’t, a cruise of the area is the best way to visit and really enjoy your trip. And the Islands of New England cruise on the Grande Caribe from Blount Small Ship Adventures is the best cruise to take. One of the most wonderful things about cruising is that you can take your cozy, comfortable cabin along with you on your travels! Unpack once, then spend your week relaxing on board as you drift along visiting some of the most well-known locations in New England.
The Grande Caribe is not an overwhelmingly huge cruise ship; instead, it has space for about eighty passengers in small but comfortable staterooms and is just the right size to be homey. The lounge area on the main deck is furnished with plenty of comfortable upholstered furniture and tables for playing games, reading, or simply enjoying the passing scenery.…
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Brrr, it’s getting cold outside! The temperatures are dropping, the days are getting shorter, and keeping warm inside the house has become a top priority. But fortunately for travelers who are seeking a winter vacation, January is the cheapest month to fly away. At that point, the annual big rush to get home for Christmas is over and the must-visit destinations to stay for New Years have already come and gone, so airlines have no choice but to lower their prices to lure you to that winter sun break.
So, where can you go? Well, there are five continents to choose from that can easily fulfill the two essential components of a good winter getaway: sun and beautiful beaches. Here are a few of the very best places to lay out while winter’s cold passes by.
Winter Sun Getaway by Nadia Ali
With Christmas and New Years out of the way, along with a bevy of expenses from presents and partying, finding somewhere affordable closer to home may take your fancy.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
View of the beach.
If your family is lucky enough to be one of those which has kids starting school after Labor Day, you still have time to plan a trip to the gorgeous Emerald Coast of Florida. And you should immediately do so. The pure sugar white sand and amazing Gulf of Mexico simply can’t be missed. If your kids also have a fall break, plan your getaway for then as the area is still warm and beautiful and the prices will be even lower.
The first time we took our four year old son to the Emerald Coast years ago, he took one look at the white sand and asked eagerly if he could please, please play in the snow? True story. The soft white sand and the astonishing colors of the water which vary from the darkest aquamarine to the palest peridot will have you taking photograph after photograph.…