I was born and raised in Maine. Though I have had the pleasure to visit other states over my life time, Maine will always feel like home to me. Maine is nicknamed vacationland because it offers such a variety of options when planning a vacation.
Maine is a beautiful state made up of 16 counties each offering something special. They don’t call it Maine Vacationland for nothing. With such a variety of offerings there is always something for everyone. There are a variety of scenic options including beautiful spots for activities in all seasons. Water to swim or boat in in the summer, Mountains to climb, trails to hike and snowshoe or Ski slopes and snow mobile trails for the winter.
Image: Bethel, Main
When you look at the already existing lists on the internet there are several places that are repeatedly mentioned in every list. The top places mentioned are Portland, Kennebunkport, Rockland, Camden, Acadia National Baxter State Park, Mt Desert Island, Bar Harbor, Boothbay Harbor, OldPark, Orchard Beach, Castine and Ogunquit.
The Best way to take in the bulk of these top towns is by traveling on the Eastern part of the state along the coast on U.S. Route 1. Starting in the Southern part of the state If you like window shopping check out Kittery Trading Post and the Kittery shopping outlets. Heading over to Kennebunkport take in the view at Walkers Point and Ocean Avenue or Saint Anne’s Church. Then stop for a bite at The Clam Shack or go on the Rugosa Lobster Tours. If you want to stay a few days than Kennebunk has plenty of inns or even opt to stay in nature at Sandy Pines Campground.
Continue your travel along to the Nubble Lighthouse in York. Be sure to take the kids to York’s Wild Animal Kingdom. Continuing along the coastal beach tour stop in to explore Ogunquit. Along the coast there are so many beautiful ocean beaches to explore. Stop in at Wells, Kennebunk or Old Orchard Beach.
Photo @ Wells Beach Maine
Old Orchard Beach is very family friendly. When visiting Old Orchard Beach parking can be difficult and we have had the experience of seagulls stealing our food.
Though that was quite entertaining for us not everyone will think so. It is very much worth the stop in our opinion. Continuing a beach tour stop in to visit the beaches in Saco, or if you prefer an amusement or water park check out Fun Town Splash Town.
Then when you get back on the road travel to Scarborough, South Portland and Portland there are endless sights to see in the Portland area. Depending on your interests check out Peaks Island, Portland Museum of Art, Victoria Mansion, Portland headlight. Allagash Brewery, the Old Port. If you are looking for a kid friendly stop check out the Children’s Museum. Along the lines of historic places visit the home of poet and author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
There is also Casco Bay and Casco Bay Islands. I explored the Fort Allen Park one winter day in 2015. It was beautiful and worth a stop if you are in the area.
Fort Allen Park, Portland Maine
When in Portland Bam Bam Bakery is a must stop if you have a family member with a food allergy. Continuing up the coast there are more spots to mention than I have time for in one blog post.
I want to tell you about our Favorite spot in the state. My husband and I like to head to the Northwestern section of Maine. We often stay in Greenville on the Moosehead lake area. I had my first trip up there as a teenager in the early 80’s. My oldest daughter has made this an almost annual trip with her children. We used to routinely camp at Casey’s Spencer Bay Camps and were saddened when they stopped operating. Lily Bay State Park, is a place I have visited and is a great family friendly campground. Seboomac Wilderness Campground is another great option. We stayed there for the first-time last year. They have many family friendly events and the campground was a relaxing and fun place to visit.
Photo Moosehead Lake @ Seboomac Wilderness Campground
Ironically in looking back through memories we discovered that this campground was the first one I ever camped at though it was under different ownership in the 80s. This will be our new favorite campground on our annual camping vacation.
About the author:
Laurie Harmon. Laurie is a stay at home mom and Grammy of many. Blogger at Seekingserenityandharmony.com I love to share posts about simplifying life, saving money, spending more time with family.
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Colorado is a tourist hot spot, especially during the winter months when travelers from across the country flock to our mountain towns to hit the ski slopes. However, a summer trip to Colorado to bask in the mountain sunshine is what I would recommend. One week is not enough time to explore and take in all the beauty and excitement that this outdoorsy state has to offer, so I have done my best to compile an itinerary that I believe would help you maximize a Colorado vacation. The state does lack an efficient public transportation system outside of its metro areas, so you will need a rental car, preferably with four-wheel drive, to complete this 916-mile road trip.
Day 1: Arrive at Denver International Airport (DIA) Denver Metro
Denver is the bustling metropolitan state capital of Colorado with endless excitement and entertainment options. Home to the Denver Broncos, the Colorado Rockies, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Denver Nuggets, sports fans can always find an event to attend while visiting. If you are more of a music lover, check out the concert schedule a the Red Rock’s Amphitheater. Just outside of Denver in Morrison, CO, Red Rocks is a world-renowned open-air event venue carved into the Red Rocks State Park. You can take your rental car to the venue where there is usually plenty of parking or, for those 21 years of age and over, you can cut back on emissions and board an adult beverage and 420 friendly party bus that will drop you off at your concert and pick you up when it ends.
For the entire family, be sure to find out if your vacation will land during any of the 2019 Colorado Free Days. The Zoo, the botanic gardens, and various museums in the surrounding areas frequently allow the public to visit their facilities completely free of charge!
Denver is also home to Elitch Gardens and Lakeside Amusement Park, both of which can offer hours of fun for people of all ages, but especially teens and thrill seekers.
Day 2: Manitou Springs
Approximately 76 miles south of Denver on I25, you will come into Colorado Springs, CO. There is a lot to stop and see in Colorado Springs, including the Garden of the Gods and Cave of the Winds, but I recommend that you make your way just outside of town to Manitou Springs. This quaint destination is a must see for people of all ages. Finding parking in the area can be tough, but once you have a spot you can take the free shuttle anywhere in town. The free shuttle will even take you and your family to the base of the Incline Trail. This trail is no leisurely mountain hike. It is an intense fitness challenge with an elevation gain of just under 2000 feet. While this is a great way to wear out antsy teens, the steep climb is probably not safe for young children.
In the town’s center, children and all family members can soak up the nostalgia of the Manitou Springs Penny Arcade. Be sure to bring plenty of coins (pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters) so you can enjoy classic arcade games such as Pac Man, Ski Ball, Donkey Kong, etc., to your heart’s content. Manitou springs is also a great place to do some souvenir shopping. Their picturesque downtown shops offer a little something for everyone. Be sure to stop by one of their most popular shops, Christmas in Manitou, serving up the Christmas spirit any time of year.
Day 3: Alamosa
South on I25 and then west on highway 160, Alamosa, CO, rests in the heart of the San Luis Valley. Home to the Great Sand Dunes, Alamosa area has a lot to offer visitors.
Often, guests get so caught up in the majesty of the dunes sidled on the Mountain’s edge, that they miss out on other great tourist destinations in the area, including the Zapata Falls. The Zapata Falls is a hidden gem whose parking lot sits so near the Great Sand Dunes that many stop there to take in the views of the dunes. The falls are only a half a mile from the parking lot, but the short hike is still very adventurous and will keep the entire family entertained. When you are nearing the falls, you must wade through the icy water to enter a cave where the actual falls are housed. This is much less intimidating than it sounds. The rocks are slick, and you do have to be careful, but this is a hike that I have completed at every age level of my life, and I do not fancy myself a great outdoorsman. In other words, if I can handle it, most anyone can!
Also, in the area is the Colorado Gators Reptile Park. In areas where natural hot springs bring geothermic waters bubbling to the earth’s surface, many business men decide to open soaker pools and spas. In the 1970’s Erwin Young decided that he would purchase alligators instead. Locals are glad he made this decision as the gator park is now a thriving educational tourist destination where people of all ages can visit the “largest alligators in the west”. However, speaking of hot springs pools, a relaxing way to end you day of hiking and gator viewing is to take the whole family to the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool. This naturally heated pool is open until 10PM with swimming for people of all ages and an adults only section where cocktails are served while you soak.
Day 4: Antonito
A short 28 miles south of Alamosa, Antonito, CO, is home to the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad. This railroad offers full or half day trips through beautiful southern Colorado, all the way into New Mexico. Trips include meals and offer education on the railroad system that once ruled the west. A half day trip will leave you with enough time to visit other attractions in the area. A local favorite is Cano’s Castle. This structure really does stand as a testament to the statement that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. While erecting an entire building of beer cans and other trash may seem odd, it is certainly a feat of architecture that one must see to believe.
A final spot of interest in the area that I recommend you visit is The Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church, also known as Colorado’s Oldest Church. While adults may appreciate the history more than their younger counterparts, this beautiful parish gives all guests a look into Colorado’s history.
Day 5: Grand Junction
The stretch of road between Antonito, CO, and Grand Junction will be your longest. The 272-mile drive will take you a little under 5 hours to make. I recommend an early start on this day so that you can arrive in Grand Junction around 12PM for an afternoon on the water.
White water rafting is an experience that you will find across Colorado, but Grand Junction is a premiere location for this adrenaline pumping sport. It is a great, heart pounding adventure for teens and thrill seekers of all ages. If paddling through river rapids is not your idea of a good time, maybe a restful, scenic innertube float from Grand Junction to neighboring Fruita, CO, will be more your pace.
You can wrap your day on the river up with a nice stroll through the Down Town Grand Junction Creative District. Grand Junction is known for their vibrant art scene. Home to the Western Colorado Center for the Arts, Grand Junction boasts numerous local art studios and shops as well as the year round, outdoor sculpture exhibit, Art on the Corner.
Day 6: Steamboat Springs
As your Colorado vacation winds down, day 6 is a great opportunity for some rest and relaxation. Steamboat springs is 192 miles north east of Grand Junction and will take a little over 3 hours in your vehicle. Once you have arrived you can take in the views from the top of Mt. Werner. No, I am not sending you on another physically demanding hike. All you must do to enjoy these views, is kick your feet up as you and your entire family sway up the side of the mountain in your spacious gondola. Scenic Gondola Rides are an amazing way to enjoy the mountaintop sights, with none of the hassle. Sad news, though: Steamboat’s scenic gondola rides will be closed during the 2019 summer season for renovations, so next summer may be a better time to plan a trip in this area. They also offer Sunset Happy Hour gondola rides for those who want an up close and personal view of the skies turning pink and purple as the sun dips below the surrounding mountain peaks.
You can then further wind down from your Colorado road trip with a dip in the Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs. Like the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool, these pools are naturally heated with geothermal waters; however, the pools at strawberry park are more rustic, having kept more of their natural features intact. Their facility includes three large pools, all naturally occurring with earth floors, but with each being a different temperature. The cooler pool and medium temperature pool are great for children to swim and horse around in while the hottest pool is better suited for adults to soak aches and stress away. If the sun is up, people of all ages are welcome in the pools, but be aware that as the sun sets the pools become clothing optional and most opt to leave with their children before the adults start shedding their swim ware in the fading light.
Day 7: Return to DIA for Flight Home
You will have a 156-mile drive from Steamboat Springs back to where you started at DIA. While the airport is not usually anyone’s favorite part of their vacation, I recommend that you take a free tour of the Denver International Airport if you are able to before your flight. DIA is shrouded in mystery and rumors and will offer family members of all ages one last educational experience before your board your plane.
We hope you’ll come back and see us again. This travel guide barely scratches the surface of what Colorful Colorado can offer as a vacation destination!
About the Author:
Sage Parsons is a Colorado native. Born and raised in the San Luis Valley, she has lived with her husband and their fur-children in the Denver Metro area since 2013. She works full time as Probation Officer and manages her blog Be Well, Lovely, on a part time basis. Developed from her experience in a helping profession, her blog is made up of stories, recipes, and tips to increase wellness in herself and her readers.
Best Places That You Must See When in Washington State
Washington State is an amazingly beautiful state to visit and live in. It is like the unknown gem of the United States. Whenever anyone thinks of Washington State, they only think of Seattle. Although Seattle is definitely the main tourist attraction in the state, there are a few more must-see places to visit throughout the rest of the state.
To start, Seattle is a really great place to visit in Washington State. There are a ton of things for you to do there. The main attractions in Seattle are Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, The Seattle Aquarium, the Seattle Zoo, the Seattle Kids Museum, and the Great Wheel. Picking a hotel in the downtown area is a good idea as well because driving in Seattle is not too fun, especially if you are staying out of town.
It is important to know that the downtown area at night is not all that safe, so just be cautious about how you spend your time downtown. It is a great area during the day, but make sure you are in a group before you decide to walk anywhere at night. You can also take some great day trips from Seattle to Portland, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Saint Helens and Port Angeles (where Twilight is filmed). There are tons things to do in this area, so make sure you plan it before coming so you can get to everything. Another great trip would be visit Vancouver or Amazon Go! If you have never been to an Amazon Go, this would be a fun way to experience it! Lastly, when visiting in Pike Place Market, make sure to wait around for the throwing of the fish! Don’t know what that means? Here is a YouTube video to help get an idea. It is a Seattle tradition.
The weather in Seattle can be iffy, but if you get a good day, it is beautiful!
Another great gem tucked away in the middle of the state is Leavenworth. Leavenworth is a Bavarian town in the middle of Washington State in the mountains. It is great to visit this town at any time of the year. If you are visiting in the summer, you have great weather to go hiking, swimming or catch a festival in the town. In the winter, they decorate the whole town in Christmas lights and it’s quite a spectacular event.
Leavenworth gets all types of weather. With it being in the middle of the state, rain is not an often occurrence during the summer and it also snows a ton. With no humidity, it makes for a great location to go camping too. You can also go off the beaten path and take a trip to The Gorge for summer music festivals and camping. Do you love yoga? They have some great choices for yoga retreats in the area too!
Another amazing gem in the state is Spokane. Spokane is on the east side of the state and usually gets forgotten because it is 5-hour drive from Seattle. The best way to visit Spokane from Seattle is to take a flight over. It’s a 50-minute flight at the most and you fly low enough to see the views of the state. Once you get to Spokane, there are a few things that you can do. Hiking, boating, floating the Spokane River, visiting the carousel downtown, are all great things to start with.
If you want to pick a certain time to come, in May they have Bloomsday, a community walk/run that many participate in. Make sure to check it out. Also, you can come in June for Hoop Fest, the biggest 3 on 3 basketball tournaments in the area. Speaking of basketball, Spokane is home to the famous March Madness team, Gonzaga. Check out their campus and get yourself a Gonzaga Bulldogs shirt!
The weather in Spokane is extremely different from Seattle. There is a ton of snow and in the summer, it is hot and dry. There is no humidity and it only rains in the spring and fall. Mostly the rest of the days through the summer are sunshine. Because of it, there tends to be more forest fires on this side of the state, so you might want to avoid coming around Labor Day, as that is the height of fire season.
Overall, no matter where you go in Washington, the whole state is beautiful. Make sure to get to both sides of the state though, as they are totally different. From Spokane, you can drive 20 minutes to Idaho. From Seattle, you can drive 30-40 minutes to Oregon. Both are worth visiting. Spend about one whole week in the state driving across. It will be worth your time. Keep in mind though, nothing is close! So, you will be driving quite a bit. Make it a worthwhile road trip and enjoy the views.
Jennifer is the owner of TWL – a Blogging Community for Working Moms. This is a community with a passion for writing and being a working mom. Along with blogging + freelance writing, she is a mom, army wife and full-time teacher. Jennifer lives in Washington State and is a born + raised New Yorker. In her spare time, she loves traveling, yoga, the beach, writing, listening to books and drinking coffee.
West Virginia is a misunderstood and misrepresented state with so much natural beauty. There are so many things to do and see when you visit. From eating good ol’e fashioned home cooking to white water rafting you will be able to find something for anyone in your family. Below are some of the best and lesser known places to visit when you come to West Virginia. I have already visited many of the places, including all locations mentioned. My goal is to make it to every destination- get my kayak out, camp, fish and hit the rapids. My husband and I try to take a trip in state every year for our anniversary. We stayed at the sweetheart log cabins (I’m actually working on a full review of that on my website). I was asked to plan a 1 week vacation. These wouldn’t be in order but these are my top five weekend or day trip locations for the whole family.
I would suggest either driving or using a rental to get from point A to B to C and so on. Some of these places do provide transportation but if you need to get out of the area to pick something up or do some shopping, a car is needed. A lot of the places also have other fun activities located outside of the area so once again, a car is a plus. A few areas in WV have public transportation, but most only have greyhound access. If you don’t have a license, you may want to call the greyhound to find out the times and how often they go.
There are restaurants- both fast food and sit down near all these attractions, bars, cheaper hotels and stores to buy your supplies. The first on my list is Cass Scenic Railroad. It’s an old style train ride and tour, Blackwater Falls is a great location to visit for a picnic and walk while traveling. The waterfall is absolutely beautiful and it’s a great day trip with the kids, Blennerhassett Island is another great day trip. You can tour the mansion, take the riverboat across the Ohio River and ride in a horse drawn carriage, spend the weekend touring the Smoke Hole Cavern, grilling out and taking the kids fishing. The end of the trip will be wrapping up with laying on a fishing boat or riding a kayak across Charles Fork lake and ending the trip camping on the on ground camping site.
Cass Scenic Railroad
1 Cass Scenic Railroad. The primary attraction is, of course, the train ride. Hikers, bikers and fishers can also find plenty of entertainment, from the youngest fishers and hikers to seniors. Geocaching is also fun for kids of all ages, as well as adults or teens. There are also historical museums in the park, so you can take your children and learn about the history of the railroads. If you enjoy hunting or golf, there are places nearby where both are welcome and there are also places nearby to take your boat out.
Activities for toddlers and young kids
1 Biking trails
4 Historical museum
Activities for Older children
1 Same as toddlers and young kids
2 Outdoor “adventures” (as they say on the website). Outdoor adventures are outdoor games like volleyball, basketball, tennis, obstacle courses and other types of activities.
Blackwater Falls State Park
2 Blackwater Falls State Park. Blackwater Falls is an absolutely beautiful waterfall located in the Allegany Mountains in Tucker County, WV. Besides picnics and letting your kids play, this is great for family reunions, weddings, school events and much more. This is a popular destination for kids, schools and field trips for camps.
Activities for infants and toddlers
Activities for elementary school kids
Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park
3 Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. Located in an island right outside of Parkersburg, WV this is a day trip that must be taken if you’re traveling to WV. You can reach the island by sternwheeler. On the island, you can take tours of the museum and mansion and they offer horse drawn carriage rides. The rides and tours last from late May to late October.
Activities for babies and toddlers
1 Tours of the mansion
2 Visit to local businesses- including the glass factory
4 Horse drawn buggy rides
Activities for older kids, teens and adults
2 Tours of the mansion
4 Horse drawn buggy rides
If you’re wanting to take the Sternwheeler, it costs 10 for an adult(13 and up) and 8 for a child. (3-12)
The island is open from Tuesday- Sunday, including holidays on Mondays.
Smoke Hole Caverns and Log Cabin Resort
4 Smoke Hole Caverns and Resorts. If you need a place to get away from it all, a cabin to spend your honeymoon or a fun spot to take your whole family, this is your place. The smokehole caverns will give you a fun tour of the caverns or you can go mining for gold outside the cavern. While you’re waiting for your tour group to start, you can take the kids to play Putt Putt.
If you’re not at the gift shop, the cabins are absolutely beautiful. The sweetheart (honeymoon/anniversary) cabins have one bed, a heart shaped hot tub and only the couple is allowed inside (you can’t have guests). It is absolutely perfect for new couples or couples celebrating anniversaries. They give you an extra option to order wine with your stay and you can spend a few extra dollars for a Smoke Hole mug.
They also have a resort and separate family cabins. You can take your pick of staying in the family cabin that fits
If you’re interested, you are able to reserve online on their website. There are grills throughout the grounds as well as a fishing pond that you can let kids (or adults) fish in and a small shop for your fishing needs. There is a restaurant located in the gift shop but the cabins come with a fridge, oven and what you need to bring your own food.
They have tours every 30 minutes of the caverns where you walk through and they teach the history of the caverns and the people who used them. The tour is good for all ages, I would
Charles Fork Lake
5 Charles Fork Lake. Charles Fork Lake is a smaller, more private lake in the Spencer, WV area (Jackson County). It’s a great place to camp out or take a kayak/boat out and get some fishing and hiking in. They have a camp ground on site as well as a small shop where you can buy small things for your camping trip and the fishing items you have forgotten.
Activities for infants and toddlers
Activities for older kids and adults
About the Author:
Bethany Boggs is a 30 something married mother of two girls, an angel and a cat. She is an aspiring fantasy author and has a few projects published on Lulu. She studies dreams and dream interpretation, tarot and astrology, works as a writer and has had work published on sites such as Babygaga, PregnantChicken and Yoga Digest (to name a few.)
She is currently working on designing and creating a home décor and home accessories line and is hoping to get into the decorations and sustainability markets. She also reads Tarot and Astrological Natal charts professionally (https://www.etsy.com/shop/newagedreamchick
In her free time, when she is not writing, you can find her sewing, reading the cards, making candles, cooking, baking or bowing down to the coffee gods.
She can be found at the local Starbucks, falling asleep standing up or chasing her energetic kids around.
If you’ve never been to the Midwest or the great state of Ohio, then are you in for a treat! From the outside, Ohio may not look like there would be much going on, but if you blink you could miss several of its hidden gems. For the conscious spender Ohio is a great state to drive through, most importantly because the gas prices compared to almost anywhere else are unbeatable. You can never beat finding cheap gas while driving!
Drive time between the major cities are very reasonable based on the following information from Google Maps:
Cincinnati to Columbus – 1 hour, 40 minutes
Columbus to Cleveland – 2 hours, 10 minutes
Cincinnati to Cleveland – 3 hours, 50 minutes
Whether you’re looking for fun with the family or a night out on the town with some friends, Ohio has a little bit of something for everyone of all ages. So grab your suitcase and let’s go!
Photo Credit: David Mark from Pixabay
I lived in this city for two years and there really was never a dull moment. Hyde Park, Oakley, and Mount Adams are a few great places to check out if you’re looking to stay in the area for a few days. The city and surrounding area have a lot to offer for visitors. No matter the season, Cincinnati always has festivities going on downtown to check out. In the summer and fall seasons there are a lot of local festivals and live music that come in and out of the city. The best way to stay on top of everything that’s passing through would be to check out the city’s two most popular event websites – https://www.downtowncincinnati.com/ and https://www.citybeat.com/. These resources will be most helpful for planning ahead for a day or weekend events.
Cruising around downtown can be time consuming if you’re looking for a place to park your car. If you’re on the go as a pair of two or with some friends, it’s easier and more convenient to take an Uber almost anywhere you need to go. Since Cincinnati doesn’t have a Metro through downtown, another alternative would be to take the Cincinnati Bell Connector Streetcar. It’s only 3.6 miles long but it is a cheap and quick way to get from one end of the city to the other. Here’s more information to help you place your route should you decide to use the streetcar – https://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/streetcar/design-route/.
If you’re brave enough to drive and feel more comfortable parking downtown (completely safe to do so) there are plenty of parking garages around to choose from. It’s a lot easier to Google parking garage’s around the area you’re going to, so you know where best to park. There are other options around the city to pay and park for timed events or with a car permit. Whichever you feel most comfortable with, make sure you choose the option that works best for you.
When it comes to food, Cincinnati has some of the best foodie places to eat. Whether you’re looking for some southern fried food, good ole fashion BBQ, or something simple for your taste buds, there are plenty of options to choose from. No matter if you’re looking for a bite to eat with family or friends, the following places are your high hitters for fantastic NOMS around the city. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
*Note: A lot of these places are great for both Lunch & Dinner. But fair warning, on the weekends these places start to get busy around 5pm, so make sure if you’re hungry you plan ahead, as wait times could leave you hanging around for 45 mins – 1 hour if you’re not careful. Great weather brings out the foodies in all of us!
One of my favorite things to do when checking out a new city is to check out the breakfast scene. You never know what you’ll find or who might have the best foods. If breakfast foods and BRUNCH are one of your favorite meals, make sure to check out these places as well for some unforgettable moments.
One last piece of advice would be to make sure to check out all the locations for where these places are located. Most of them have other locations around the area, so you don’t have to go all the way downtown for some great food. Keep your options open and the city will surprise you!
Things to Do One of the major things I found that was nice about Cincinnati is that most everything is family friendly. Except for the Music Festivals listed below, the city is very family oriented and makes sure there are plenty of things to keep the kiddos busy. Whether you’re looking to check out the Cincinnati Red’s or go to a Bengals game, the border between Ohio and Kentucky has a lot too offer.
If you’re looking to explore the downtown area, one really cool place I would recommend checking out would be Smale Riverfront Park. It’s a small amusement world of its own that lines the edge of the Ohio River. The park itself has two levels and spans the distance between the Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ball Park stadium. It has a Riverwalk view, Rosenburg Swings (adult size swings that fit 2-3 people), a water play area for kids, an adventure playground, and a few other really unique and creative areas. As you walk through the park, you’ll stumble across a carousel and Ferris Wheel meant for people of all ages. The cost is reasonable to participate and worth the excitement that it brings.
Amusement theme parks are also a popular trend in America. If you’ve ever been to Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania (make sure you check out the Pennsylvania link!), Kings Island Amusement & Waterpark is also another fun place for the family! It’s located in Mason, Ohio which is about a 30-minute drive from downtown Cincinnati. The tickets are mildly reasonable per person and parking is decently cheap. In the summer the park does get busy, so be prepared to spend the entire day having a blast perusing through both sides of the park.
If there’s one thing that I LOVED most about Cincinnati, it was the variety in its night life scene. When looking for a night out on the town Over-The-Rhine was a popular spot for folks of all ages. Depending on your interests with grabbing drinks with friends, you could either play endless video games at 16 Bit Bar Arcade, enjoy a relaxing and chill vibe at Taft Ale House and Queen City radio, or dance your socks off at Jefferson Social over at The Banks. No matter where you choose to go the city beautifully comes to life!
Another item to consider when exploring the city night life are the brewery’s that are nearby. While there are several around the area, the two that are the best are MadTree Brewery and Rhinegeist Brewery. MadTree Brewery is located in Oakley, while Rhinegiest Brewery is located right in the city and provides the option of a rooftop bar. One amazing component of MadTree Brewery’s outside patio is the luxury to meet new people while celebrating it with the friendly faces of man’s best friend. You can never go wrong with a dog friendly atmosphere. In a world all of its own, craft beer, seems to be a talent that the city has successfully cultivated.
Photo Credit: David Mark from Pixabay
Compared to Cincinnati, Columbus is a bit more relaxed than its sister’s city. The downtown area of Columbus is smaller and does not have the same pace of fast living as Cincinnati. While the downtown area stays busy and offers a variety of jobs for the locals, the city itself does not have a big city life like Cincinnati. Unless you’re staying in downtown Columbus, there might be more driving involved if traveling around the area. Consider the rule of thumb that anywhere you drive it should take you about 15-20 minutes to get there.
Another thing that’s easily recognizable about Columbus is that there’s more country out that way than being in a big city. Even though it’s the midway point between Cincinnati and Cleveland, there are a lot of amenities in Columbus which are also found in the other areas of the state. Similar to Cincinnati, there are a lot of local festivals and popup events that happen around the area throughout the year. One great way to stay on top of the events and festivals around the city would be to check out the city’s website – https://www.experiencecolumbus.com/events/. This will help you when you’re planning your day or weekend timeline!
As mentioned before, cruising around downtown can be time consuming if you’re looking for a place to park your car. If you’re on the go as a pair of two or with some friends, it’s still easier and more convenient to take an Uber almost anywhere you need to go downtown. However, if you’re brave enough to drive and feel more comfortable parking downtown (completely safe to do so) there are plenty of parking garages and areas around to choose from. Surprisingly, there’s also a lot of street parking in the city which always seems to be easy to find. There are other options around the city to pay and park for timed events or with a car permit. Whichever you feel most comfortable with, make sure you choose the option that works best for you.
Much like Cincinnati, Columbus is a foodie city with a wide variety of options to choose from. While The Eagle and Bakersfield are both native to Cincinnati, there are dining locations in Columbus located in the Short North area to relive the experience. Condado’s Tacos is a gem that’s located at Easton Town Center, which also offers a laundry list worth of shopping in addition to some good noms. There’s such a diversity of food in the area that it really makes it hard to choose between them all!
Columbus really isn’t fully explored unless you check out some of the Brunch and Breakfast places it offers. If you didn’t know, Bob Evans is local to the state of Ohio. It first originated out of a small diner in Gallipolis, Ohio. Today its headquarters are in New Albany, Ohio right outside of Columbus. No matter where you are throughout the state, you’re sure to find a Bob Evans Restaurant around every corner.
As you can see the food list for Columbus is very comparable to Cincinnati’s. You can never go wrong with trying different types of food. Some of the restaurants have other locations around the area, so make sure you check out all of the dining locations around the area. This will keep you from having to go too far for some great food.
Things to Do
When it comes to exploring the area, Columbus has its own unique flare for festivities. The Scioto Mile and Cultural Arts Center downtown offer a lot in terms of free gallery exhibits, lectures and special events. Open to the public, there are a lot of opportunities for visitors to take classes to help cultivate new skills or refresh existing ones in the visual and performance arts. On the banks of the Scioto River, The Promenade connects Battelle Riverfront Park and Bicentennial Park along Civic Center Drive. The area features a stone colonnade with shaded Rosenburg swings, park benches, beautiful gardens and tables designed for card games, chess, and other similar games. Throughout the summer a lot of the festivals and events are held along here next to the Scioto River.
Out of all of the festivals that travel through Columbus, there are two in particular that have left their mark and I find are worth going back to year after year. Columbus is known for it’s welcoming and active LGBTQ community, which makes the annual Stonewall Columbus Pride worth attending. As one of the better Pride’s I’ve personally attended, volunteering has been a personal joy for me to be around and connect with so many diverse and energetic individuals. Between the parade, live music, 5k run, food and fun there’s a lot of effort that goes into putting the events together. Stonewall Columbus Pride is an experience that’s very suitable for family and friends to attend.
The other festival that I really enjoyed was the Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, Ohio. Wow, talk about enjoying an Irish experience! This festival left me feeling like it was a possibility that leprechauns existed! There’s so much food, beer, and fun to be had at this event. From the live music, games, Irish and Celtic Dancers, to the display of bag pipes and drums, everyone is sure to have a good time. It’s a memorable experience for everyone, no matter what background you come from!
The night life in Columbus is very diverse and does cater to a younger crowd. There are three major parts around the city that are popular and worth checking out for some fun. The Short North area is located in the northern part of Columbus around the arts district. The majority of the local college kids from Ohio State University frequent this area on the weekends. While there’s quite a bit to do and see if you’re local in the area, make sure you’re careful when driving, as the availability of parking spaces can be limited. It might be easier to use an Uber when drifting through this district. If you’re comfortable with a younger crowd, then this area is for you.
The Brewery District is located just south of the central business district near German Village. This area of Columbus is an older and fluent part of the city that caters to several local breweries. If you have time and are look for something new to try, check out the breweries in this district to enhance your personal experience with craft beer. Similar to Cincinnati, you just can’t go wrong with this choice, and Ohio seems to know what it’s doing with its beer.
In the Arena District you are sure to experience the vibrant fast paced part of the downtown area. It is a large walkable neighborhood. Once you are here, you can easily get to event venues, office buildings, and restaurants from multiple covered parking garages nearby. It’s easy to attend a Columbus Blue Jackets game and hangout around after the game to get a feel for the city’s vibe. There’s a mixed age group that frequents with district so you’re sure to experience a variety of excitement.
If you’ve never been to Cleveland it reminds me a lot of being in Pennsylvania (must be a sign to check out that state link!) because of the local steel mills nearby. If you didn’t know, Pennsylvania has a few steel mills and was a popular trend around the Pittsburgh area. While it’s not too far from the Western Pennsylvania border, the hustle and bustle of Cleveland revolves around the beautiful view of Lake Erie and the local steel mills downtown. There are quite a few things to see and do while in the city, which will keep you and your family on your toes.
While it’s not really a place I would recommend you freely go visit, unless you’re missing a limb, the area is widely known for the Cleveland Clinic. It is one of the most sought-after nursing schools in the country with 5,895 patient beds available system wide. This land mark for the city continues to be a remarkable and inspirational asset to the world of medicine. I personally think it deserves all the recognition it receives in addition to its quality of patient care.
Cleveland is similar to Cincinnati in that there’s more of a city life and vibrancy to it. Less like Columbus there’s not a lot of country around the area. One thing I noticed when driving around this state was that the scenery between all the major cities is more farmland and country. This made it a perfect opportunity to rock out and jam to my favorite songs!
As mentioned before, cruising around downtown can be time consuming if you’re looking for a place to park your car. If you’re on the go as a pair of two or with some friends, it’s still easier and more convenient to take an Uber almost anywhere you need to go downtown. However, if you’re brave enough to drive and feel more comfortable parking downtown (being mindful of the area as it could change quickly) there are plenty of parking garages and areas around to choose from. There are other options around the city to pay and park for timed events or with a car permit. I did not find that Cleveland offered as much street parking as Columbus did around the city. This might be more to do with the fact that it has a vibrant downtown city life in comparison. Whichever you feel most comfortable with, make sure you choose the option that works best for you.
When it comes to food in Cleveland, I’m not sure where to begin. There are so many GOOD options that it really just depends on what you’re in the mood for at the given moment. The Flying Fig was really a fantastic place to eat and had a really warm and friendly atmosphere. One of the things that I think made this place so cool to eat at was due largely to the fact that the restaurant’s meals are locally sourced from farms and organizations within the area. It’s a fantastic way to give back to the community while building some roots of their own!
Before exploring Cleveland, I reveled in the foodie places Cincinnati offered for brunch. It was the best next morning adventure after a night out on the town with friends. While all the places listed below were really good, Fat Cats was truly comparable to my high-ranking brunch places.
I’ve always personally liked the Farmer’s Market/Café Market style locale when it comes to checking out unique food places. The West Side Market Café is no different. When I first heard about this restaurant, I was told that it was a Cleveland tradition amongst the locals. Although slightly skeptical of the rave reviews, I attempted to give this place a try. Even though there’s limited seating in the small but cheerful place, it’s worth the ambience and price for the meals. If you’re looking to go as a group or family, make sure you get there early. This place fills up fast!
Things to Do
Compared to other places I’ve been Cleveland is actually a pretty cool place. The city has really put in the effort and money to revitalize downtown, along with having a beautiful lakefront park, and a food and drink scene that has been receiving an increasing amount of national recognition. Cleveland really has a unique persona about it that differs from its sister cities. Independent and sustainable, Cleveland is the city that paves its own way.
Playhouse Square was is such a MUST for visiting Cleveland. Outside of New York city, it is one of the largest performance art theaters in the United States. While I’ve only ever been to one show here, it was worth the price for the tickets and the memorable experience. Playhouse Square fully restored five of its oldest theaters and has been one of the largest theater restoration projects in the world. If you’ve never been to a theater before, or even if you have, this place will have you and your family falling in love with the arts.
In the few times I visited Cleveland, I mostly frequented the area down town called The Flats. It is an area that was redeveloped on the banks of the Cuyahoga River, where the city’s nightlife, bar and clubs with live music, comedy and drag shows were held. The party vibe in this area catered to folks of all ages. This area has a popular walkway that lines the edge of the Cuyahoga River, which gives way to a beautiful view of the waterfront. There are local water taxis that take people from one side of the river to the other.
If there’s one top place I’d recommend for you to check out while you’re in The Flats, it would be to check out Punch Bowl Social. Man, was that a good time! This bar has multiple levels that cater to a sports bar, mini bowling alley, roof top bar, and several other creative features. It’s definitely a place you could spend an entire evening exploring and meeting new people. Another thing that was really cool about this place was that there were a lot of folks from Cincinnati and Columbus who ended up making the drive to check this place out. Punch Bowl Social is a franchise that’s being built all over in some of the major cities all over the country. So, if you’re in Cleveland make sure you stop by for a night of fun!
About the Author:
Hi, Everyone! My name is Heather Hansen and it’s nice to meet you! I’m an East Coast girl by heart and grew up mostly in North Carolina & Pennsylvania. I lived in Ohio for three years, both in the Cincinnati & Columbus area. The Midwest kindly surprised me in many ways (especially the kindness of many people), and sometimes I find myself wishing the East Coast had as much excitement as I found while I was there. I hope the article was enlightening for you and that you now have several takeaways as to why you should go check out Ohio sometime! I promise you won’t be disappointed. The blog I write mostly surrounds poems, short stories, and health & wellness related topics. I love looking at all of life’s little moments and finding ways to write about them. It’s all apart of the human experience, so we might as well enjoy the ride! Feel free to check out my blog at – www.mysticspiritwalker.com
If you’re looking for a state with southern charm, beaches, and fun, then you will love South Carolina. I moved to the state when I was in elementary school, and I haven’t looked back since. Considering I grew up near the beach, all of my recommendations are of coastal cities to visit. When you’re looking for a seaside getaway, here are my favorite coastal towns to visit in SC:
Did you think I would make a list without including my hometown? Myrtle Beach is a major tourist town, and people come from all over the U.S. to visit. The city is famous for its beaches and golf courses, so it’s a staple tourist location for many East Coasters. When you’re heading to Myrtle Beach, the first thing I recommend to do is to visit the beach.
Depending on where you’re staying, it’s best to park your car where you see a public beach parking lot. Myrtle Beach used to offer free parking near the beach, but now beachfront access parking lots feature meters that cost around $2/hr for parking. Once you purchase your parking, head to the ocean and take in the sun.
After the beach, walk down the boardwalk to view a variety of tourist shops. You can tell Myrtle Beach is a beachside tourist town, but it’s fun to explore if you’ve never been. Afterwards, make sure to go to the Sky Wheel. The Sky Wheel is a giant ferris wheel facing the beach that has panoramic views of the ocean. This is a great family friendly attraction to see. Tickets are $14 for adults and $9 for children.
Next on the list is Murrells Inlet, which is about 30 to 40 minutes outside of Myrtle Beach. The town is known for its marshes and seafood. The first thing I recommend doing in Murrells Inlet is walking down the Marsh Walk. There are many restaurants along the Marsh Walk, so you can easily find parking nearby for free. Once you’ve parked, take in the views of the walk, and maybe even stop by a waterfront dining restaurant for some freshly caught seafood.
Next on the list is South Carolina’s Huntington Beach State Park located in Murrells Inlet. The park is a great family activity. I suggest parking at the park, and then walking around to explore the outdoors. Admission is only $5 for adults and $3 for children, so it’s very affordable. While you’re at the park, there are many activities to take part in such as walking and hiking trails, swimming at the beach, fishing, and bird watching.
Photo of Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park taken from SeasideMB.com.
However, one of the best features of the park is Atalaya Castle. Atalaya features the ruins of Archer M. Huntington and his wife’s winter home that had over 30 rooms. Even though none of the rooms are furnished or decorated, the ruins are still so it’s worth checking out if you plan on visiting the park, especially since admission into the castle is only $2!
A little bit outside of Murrells Inlet is the beautiful town of Pawleys Island. Even though I’m from Myrtle Beach, I actually prefer Pawleys Island because it has beautiful mossy trees and less crowded beaches. As you’re driving down SC’s coast, stop make sure to stop by Pawley’s Hammock Shop Village. The Village has a bunch of one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants to scope out, including Pawley’s original Hammock Shop, which was opened in the 1800s.
About an hour and a half away is Charleston, SC. I may be a little biased, but Charleston is hands down my favorite city in the state, maybe even in the entire U.S. I went to College of Charleston, which is in the middle of historic downtown, and it’s consistently ranked among the most beautiful colleges in the U.S. If you love mossy trees, southern food, and history, then Charleston is the city for you. When visiting the city, here is my go-to list of places to check out:
When you think of Charleston, images of historic homes from the 1700 and 1800’s probably come to mind. If this is the type of Charleston you want to explore, then you need to start your trip South of Broad and head to the Battery. You can easily drive through the area, however I suggest parking your car for free near the Battery. Part of the experience of being in Charleston is walking down the cobblestone roads while taking in the views of the water and historic mansions.
Rainbow Row photo by Presley Leopard
As you walk through the Battery, make sure to stop by Charleston’s Rainbow Row. Rainbow Row is on East Bay Street and is comprised of 13 brightly colored homes that were first built in 1740. It wasn’t until 1931 that all of the homes were purchased and painted the assortment of colors that you see today. You can’t tour the insides of any of the homes, but they’re the perfect setting for a photo.
After checking out Rainbow Row, you should head toward Tradd Street. Tradd Street features a variety of historic homes, which makes it ideal for a walking tour. It’s hard to have a favorite when each home is unique. Tradd Street has that quintessential southern charm, and it was even featured in scenes from the movie “The Patriot.”
Once you’ve taken in the South of Broad area, you should make your way to Charleston’s French Quarter and Market. You can access the area by car, but I suggest walking again. Charleston is a very walking friendly city, and it’s often difficult to find parking for free, so if you don’t mind, explore the area by foot. The French Quarter is where you may have the most trouble walking through the cobblestone streets, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes. (Side note: If you trip, don’t worry, we’ve all been there before!) As you walk through the French Quarter, make sure you’re heading north to Market Street.
Once you’re at Market Street, go into Charleston’s City Market. The Market is typically open from 9:30am-6pm everyday and features a variety of local vendors. If you’re looking to take home a handcrafted souvenir like a sweetgrass basket, then this is the place to find it. Charleston’s City Market has been around since the 1790’s, so it’s a well known part of the city. The Market also features Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, which is a Charlestonian favorite. Even if you’re not hungry, make sure to grab a box for later. I recommend ordering Callie’s 3 biscuit box with a blackberry, cinnamon, and cheese and chive biscuit.
Charleston is also nearby many incredible beaches. It’s hard to pick one to recommend since each one is special in its own way. If you want a more laid back, bohemian beach vibe, then I suggest going to Folly Beach. Folly is a popular place for surfers and locals because it’s more casual compared to the other beaches.
Picture of Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan’s Island from the blog Magnolia & Main.
Another great nearby beach is Sullivan’s Island. Sullivan’s is perfect for paddleboarding, and if you’re an Edgar Allan Poe fan, then you must dine at Poe’s Tavern on the island. The restaurant has themed burgers based on Poe’s popular stories, such as the Raven, Tell-Tale Heart, Pit and the Pendulum, and Annabel Lee.
When you’re looking for an island with gorgeous scenic mossy tree views, I suggest heading to Wadmalaw or John’s Island. John’s Island is the home of the Angel Oak Tree. According to the Angel Oak website, the tree is over “400-500 years old, stands 66.5 ft tall, measures 28 ft in circumference, and produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet.” It’s a must see for nature lovers.
Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island, as seen on Thrillist.
Wadmalaw Island is perfect for individuals that want to tour a SC plantation. The island offers tours of its Charleston Tea Plantation, which produces Bigelow Tea. I recommend the trolley tour because it takes you all over the plantation and only it takes about 40 minutes. During the spring and summer, this is the best option because Charleston can get very hot. The tours are $14 for adults and $6 for kids.
After you’ve visited the plantation, drive over to Deep Water Vineyard and Firefly Distillery to try some of SC’s homegrown wine and spirits. At Deep Water, self-guided tours are $7 and come with a complimentary wine tasting and wine glass. You can’t go wrong taking in the sunshine while sipping on a drink!
Farther down the SC coast is Hilton Head Island, home to the Harbour Town Lighthouse in Sea Pines Resort’s Harbour Town Marina. When you head to Hilton Head, I suggest parking by the Marina, then walking around the area so you can take in the shops and restaurants. Next, go to the Harbour Town Lighthouse and walk to the top. There are over 100 steps to the top, but along the way you can view pictures of the lighthouse’s history. For only $4.50, the views of Hilton Head from the top of the lighthouse are well worth it.
Once you’re finished touring Hilton Head Island, head over to Daufuskie Island. At the foot of the Hilton Head bridge is Buckingham Landing where the ferry to Daufuskie leaves. Tickets are $17.50 each way. While visiting Daufuskie, you’ll need to rent some form of land transportation such as a bike or golf cart. The island doesn’t have sidewalks, so it’s not walking friendly, but you can easily find rentals on the island through the Daufuskie Island Ferry website. You may be concerned since no cars are on the island, however it actually makes your trip more peaceful and quiet. Also, when you’re on the island, make sure you tour the historic lighthouse, peruse the unique shops, and swim at the beach. Daufuskie is a beautiful island you won’t want to miss!
After reading this list, I hope you’ll be inspired to visit SC’s coastal towns. Whether you’re looking to travel solo, with a family, or on a girls trip, SC has something to offer everybody. It’s a great state, and I have no doubt that you will be overwhelmed by the southern hospitality and beautiful beaches! If you have any questions about any of the information I included, or about traveling in SC, feel free to contact me via the links below. I look forward to seeing what you all think of SC’s attractions in the comments 🙂
Bio: Presley is a lifestyle blogger for the website Adulting Queen, which is focused on empowering women all over the world as they struggle with the pressures of adulthood. She currently resides in Myrtle Beach, SC with her family and two cats.
Presley I think I have fallen in love with South Carolina! Oh my gosh, the beautiful tree’s and beaches! What more could you ask for!
Funny story about tree’s when my husband and I first started dating we were on our way to our son’s baseball game and I noticed a really pretty tree and was like HEY LOOK we should come back here and take some photo’s by this pretty tree. So we sit down and started watching the baseball game and then my husband said something about how the clouds looked puffy and good for photo’s so we always joke that he is the cloud finder and I am the tree finder.
While most people think of South Carolina as a gold mine for pristine beaches, there is so much that my home state has to offer from the midlands of the Columbia area to the Blue Ridge Mountains of the upstate. I have lived in both these areas for quite some time, so here are my bucket list things to do in both the midlands and the upstate.
The midlands region of South Carolina is home to Columbia – the capital city. Columbia has an exceptionally vibrant history and still has many historical attractions to visit for all ages. One of my personal favorites is the South Carolina State Museum.
What I like most about the state museum is the fact that there are so many interesting parts of history everywhere you go inside this museum. Some of these exhibits go way back to when dinosaurs ruled the world, and some are much newer, like the very first iPhone and some of the old flip phones that were popular when I was in high school. There is a plethora of South Carolina history wrapped throughout your visit there, including some colonial paintings and lots of information about what life was like back during early years in South Carolina.
Outside of the museum, one of the of the most popular tourist attractions in the entire state of South Carolina (and especially the midlands) is the Riverbanks Zoo. Located in the heart of Columbia, it’s one of the top zoos in the entire southeastern United States.
Every time I visit the zoo, there’s always something new to see. During my last visit at Riverbanks, there were lion cubs. I had no idea that one of the lions had even had babies until this visit!
Aside from the lions, other typical animals, and the many ongoing activities, the Riverbanks Zoo has just about everything I can think of while catering to every age group. But don’t worry if you don’t have kids – there is a “Brew in the Zoo” event every year at the zoo, obviously catered toward adults. I have yet to attend this, but it’s definitely on my list of things to do in Columbia!
Although I’ve already discussed my two favorite tourist attractions in Columbia, the University of South Carolina and the SC State House are also great places to visit if you like to see those kinds of things. Both of these places have been around since the 1800s and have been through a tremendous amount of historical events – one being General Sherman’s March To The Sea during the Civil War. Again, if you’re into history, you’ll definitely want to give these runner-ups a shot!
Another great thing that I should mention while discussing Columbia and the surrounding area is the South Carolina State Fair. If you’re in South Carolina in the month of October, it’s a fun place to spend a day. I’m not much of a fair person, but the SC State Fair made an appearance on Carnival Eats, a popular TV show that focuses on wild carnival foods. Upon checking it out, I was thoroughly pleased with my experience and all the food choices there. The fair is known for its wacky food, like this donut burger. (I didn’t like it but there are HUNDREDS of food choices aside from this burger, so it’s well worth it if you like carnival-style foods!)
As you travel further north and away from Columbia and the midlands, you’ll eventually run into the upstate. The upstate is home to Greenville, which is one of the most up-and-coming tourist locations in America. Greenville has an estimated five million visitors each year, according to Greenville’s tourism office. The city has also been recognized over recent years by many different popular magazines and companies (including TripAdvisor, Travel + Leisure, and National Geographic Traveler) for being one of the best places to visit in the entire US.
As a Greenville native, I can definitely vouch for the downtown area. If someone would’ve told me as a child that Greenville would be a tourist hot spot, I wouldn’t have believed them in a million years. I don’t know the exact cost of renovations that the city has put into the downtown area, but now there is so much life in Greenville that was never there before the last ten to fifteen years came and passed.
Downtown Greenville, again, is a must if you choose to visit the upstate. There is a nearly endless amount of delectable restaurants within walking distance from everything. These restaurants range from Ruth’s Chris and other upscale, five-star dining to a grits/brunch bar at Nose Dive and cultural foods to please every palate.
If you’re more into nature, the upstate is the perfect place to satisfy all your outdoor needs. In under an hour, you can easily reach many different waterfalls and mountain hiking trails, like Caesar’s Head State Park or Table Rock State Park. However, the most popular waterfall in the upstate doesn’t actually involve a hike at all. It’s located at Falls Park on the Reedy in downtown Greenville. This is hands down the best and most popular tourist attraction in Greenville, and it’s very clear as to why.
Greenville is the perfect location, whether you’re young, old, or anything in between. The food is seriously top-notch and the atmosphere of the downtown streets is like no other place in the South. It is a must-visit location, even if I am biased since Greenville is my hometown.
South Carolina is a wonderful state to visit and learn about, from the history of the midlands to the mountain views in the upstate. I hope you find this guide helpful when it comes to traveling throughout my home state. Thanks, y’all – enjoy!
Hey y’all! My name is Megan and the creator of my lifestyle blog, Megan Cecilia, where I talk about motivation tips and living your best life through the power of positvity. See you there!
Thank you Gabrielle for the tag! Please go check out her questions and answers, here.
RULES OF THE CHALLENGE
1. Accept the challenge.
2. Go to https://www.tagquestions.net/get-to-know-me-tag/ 3. Ask your virtual assistant (Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa) to choose a number one to 371.
4. Answer 22 questions.
5. Tag 3 people to do this challenge after you!I’m sure someone’s done something similar to this, but this particular one is my creation! If you wouldn’t mind tagging me in all of your posts so I can read them to, that would be great!
1. What is your biggest fear?
Dying. Sad, but true. I don’t want to not be alive and live everyday with my family.
2. What is your best physical feature?
3. What is your favorite color?
4. What is your favorite ice-cream flavor?
Vanilla with mini chocolate chips! Yummy!!
5. What is your favorite physical activity?
6. What was your favorite TV show when you were a child?
Full House or Saved by the Bell!
7. Are you more likely to avoid conflict or engage it head-on?
I hate conflict! I don’t like not getting along with people and it makes me frustrated when other engage or do it for fun!
8. What is good about how you are living your life right now?
Everything is good. I am living life right now. I know who I am. I will not change for anyone. My family is my world and I am happy and looking forward to whatever the future might hold for us.
9. Who is the first person you call when something exciting happens?
10. What is at the top of your bucket list?
11. How difficult is it for you to forgive someone who refuses to apologize?
I don’t forgive easily. I actually HATE the saying forgive and forget because you never forget.
11. Where would you want to retire to?
On a beach!
12. What is the first thing you do when you get home?
Take off my shoes!! BYYYEEEEEE
13. What is the first app you check when you wake up in the morning?
14. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
15. What is the hardest part of your job?
Generally it’s not hard, but sometimes people get frustrated and angry at you for no reasons when you are only trying to help them. In those cases I have to remind myself that not everyone has the knowledge to know what they need to do. That person just doesn’t know why they need to do whatever it is they need to do.
16. What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was in first grade I wanted to be a waitress. Then wanted to be a grade school teacher.
17. If you had 1 year left to live, what would you do for you?
Travel the world with my family.
18.If you inherited $100,000 right now, how would you spend it?
I would pay of my debt and then go on a vacation.
19. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
20. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation where would you go?
21. When was the last time you got in a fist fight?
I have never gotten into a fist fight, but one time I hit someone on top of the head and scratched right below their eye because they were picking on my sister. I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. They called my sister a name and I wasn’t takin it!
22. Would you rather have a live-in massage therapist or a live-in chef?
I think I will take the chef because my husband can massage pretty good! 😉
This is a top Google question when searching for information about North Dakota. Despite what maps and traditional education have to say on the matter, it seems some people aren’t sure if the state even really exists.
I grew up in North Dakota and spent the majority of my life within a couple hours drive from my hometown before moving to Iowa. (Though, most of us from the Midwest would agree that 6-8 hours is still pretty close and definitely drivable.)
Now that I have moved away and have a family, I have the genuine pleasure of taking my kids and my husband to great places from my childhood. I get to share experiences with them that not only spark nostalgia and old memories for me, but create new memories for my entire family.
I love so many things about North Dakota and the list of places I would recommend visiting could go on and on, but l promise to distill it down to my top spots, including a little fun for everyone. I would recommend visiting these spots like the locals do, by driving. This way you will get a chance to really soak up that huge prairie sky and maybe get a little tired of the wide open horizon.
Fargo (All Ages)
For someone who is visiting North Dakota for the first time, Fargo is a great destination. It is the most populated city in the state and offers a wide variety of outings and experiences.
The Fargo-Moorhead Visitors Center is a great stop for information on anything going on in the Fargo area, including activities and places of interest. You can also tell your friends you went to North Dakota, toured a grain elevator and took a picture with the famous Fargo woodchipper. (You know, from the movie.) The visitors center is a great starting point for a family Fargo adventure. www.fargomoorhead.org
If you’ve seen photos of Fargo, you most likely have seen the Fargo theater sign, beautifully lighting the street and brick buildings surrounding it. This historic theater is only part of the appeal of downtown Fargo. On or near Broadway, you can find local restaurants (I would recommend rooftop pizza eating at Rhombus Guys), eclectic local shops, art museums, live music, a beloved comic book shop, and historical buildings. For an adults only experience, visit one of the amazing local breweries like Drekker Brewing Company. Parking is free and walking is the best way to explore, so get out there! www.downtownfargo.com
The Chahinkapa Zoo – Wahpeton, ND (All ages)
I admit to some bias, but I think this cozy, riverside zoo is the best zoo in North Dakota. They have 70 species of animals, from bison to kangaroos, and they offer inside looks at training and classes for all ages. If you are visiting with kids, check out The Prairie Rose Carousel, featuring 20 unique horses. There is a campsite available as well as some cabins available by reservation for those who would like to stay close to the zoo. For information on prices and exhibits, check out their website. www.chahinkapazoo.org/plan-your-visit
Fort Ransom State Park (Older kids, teens, adults)
For travelers who love the outdoors, I recommend Fort Ransom State Park in the beautiful, wooded Sheyenne River Valley, Southwest of Fargo. This remote expanse of campgrounds, hiking and equestrian trails, and natural waterways is perfect for those who want to get away from the rush of the city. The park offers both modern campsites, primitive campsites, and cabins, making it perfect for even those who don’t really like camping.
While you’re in the area, stop by the picturesque town of Fort Ransom and eat at a local favorite, The Lunchbox Eatery, or trek up what looks like a hill but feels like a mountain and take a picture with a 25 foot tall Hilltop Viking Statue. www.parkrec.nd.gov/fort-ransom-state-park
National Buffalo Museum – Jamestown, North Dakota (All ages)
While the main attraction of this stop is visible from the Interstate, if you see a 26 foot tall buffalo statue, it might give you cause to stop and see it. The World’s Largest Buffalo Monument is not all the Jamestown has to offer. In the National Buffalo Museum, you can learn about the history of buffalo in the plains and see buffalo remains, Plains Indian artifacts, and see the live buffalo herd. You may even get a glimpse of Dakota Miracle, the herd’s treasured white buffalo. www.buffalomuseum.com
(As a side note, if you are like me and love giant statues of animals, you should also visit Salem Sue, the World’s Largest Holstein Cow, near New Salem, ND.)
Bismarck (All ages)
The capitol city of North Dakota offers visitors a chance to learn about the state’s rich history. Visit the State Capitol grounds and tour the 19 story capitol building which was built in 1933. Relax in the Legislative Hall alcoves, stand in the state Senate and House of Representatives Chambers, and visit “The Monkey Room” to see faces in the grain of yellow California walnut wood that lines the space.
Also located on the Capitol grounds, visitors can enjoy the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum to learn more about the state and the land and people that lived there long before it was a state. www.nd.gov/omb/public/state-capitol-information
Badlands Dinosaur Museum – Dickinson, North Dakota (Older kids, teens, adults)
For dino lovers of all ages, visit this museum to see fossils, casts and real dinosaur bones, including a Triceratops skull. You can see the laboratory at work and learn about the process in the field and how fossil research is conducted. www.dickinsonmuseumcenter.com
Medora (All ages)
If North Dakota makes you think of cowboys and the Old West, Medora might be for you. This historic town is set against the stunning backdrop of the Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. A vacation in Medora has something for everyone. Shop and dine in historic Medora, camp or find a cozy bed and breakfast, golf at the rugged Bully Pulpit Golf Course, and enjoy the Medora Musical throughout the summer. www.medora.com
I would also recommend visiting the Chateau De Mores, a 26 room hunting lodge built by the French Marquis De Mores in 1883. It’s a great stop for those who love historic sites. www.history.nd.gov/historicsites/chateau/
International Peace Garden (All ages)
To celebrate the peace and friendship of The United States and Canada, the International Peace Garden was established between the two countries at North Dakota’s Northern border in 1932 and remains an enduring place of amity and reflection. Located in the heart of The Turtle Mountains, the Garden provides space for picnickers, bicyclists, hikers, and nature lovers alike. Visiting the International Peace Garden doesn’t require a passport, even though it is shared by both countries and you can technically stand in both places at once. This scenic, serene destination is well worth the trip. www.peacegarden.com/
Thank you for sticking with me on this brief tour of vacation spots in North Dakota. While this isn’t a comprehensive list of what North Dakota has to offer, I feel like all of the places listed here are worth visiting. I hope you’ll go visit some day, if for no other reason than to prove to yourself that it does, in fact, exist.
About the Author:
Leslie Karns grew up in rural North Dakota and now lives in Iowa with her husband and three children. She works free time and in her free time (what free time?) she writes poetry, fiction, and occasional blog contributions. Find her on twitter @Karns_LM
Leslie some day I will have to visit North Dakota and check out those dino bones! It looks like a super neat place. All of the places you listed does. I totally think its neat that you can be in two countries at once at the Peace Garden!
Oregon is my all time favorite state. Although it’s not as famous as its neighbor to the south, there are no shortage of gems to discover in this nature-rich state. Oregon caters to a variety of tourists; nature lovers, beach goers, beer enthusiasts, theater fans, and that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what Oregon can offer.
Over the next 7 days I will take you on my ideal vacation through the state and suggest activities and tips that I hope you find useful.
(This article may contain some affiliate links).
(Otter Crest Beach, courtesy of @oysterdork)
The first stop on my ideal vacation would be Portland, Oregon, which is the largest city in Oregon. It’s known for its greenery, quirky citizens, amazing eats and inspiring the Emmy award-winning series, Portlandia. One thing I love about the downtown area of Portland is the compactness and how walkable it is (seriously, check out the downtown walkability score!)
Even though I’m someone who generally loves major cities (New York City, Los Angeles, Seoul, etc.) one thing that you won’t find in those places is a sense of calmness amongst locals and their warm demeanor. That’s not to say that any of the places I mentioned aren’t capable of those qualities, but rather the locals in Portland seem to take more time to enjoy their surroundings and shun corporate culture. The “rat race” culture is nowhere to be found, which could be attributed to the nature-focused peaceful lifestyle many citizens have.
(The iconic Portland Oregon sign courtesy of Deposit Photos).
If you love books, you MUST hit up Powell’s City of Books. As the world’s largest independent bookstore, Powell’s prides itself on remaining a success despite competition from mega companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This four-story shop is so large it literally covers an entire block and houses approximately 1 million books. I already own way too many books for my own good, but as far as addictions go I figure owning books isn’t too bad of a habit to have. Personally, my favorite genres are travel and autobiographies.
(Image courtesy of Powell’s Books)
An undeniable fact about Portland is that it is foodie heaven. Vegans, carnivores, omnivores and everyone in between can easily find something that will not only suit their palate but leave them craving for more.
A few reasons could be attributed to why the food is so dang good. The proximity to the ocean allows people to eat the freshest caught seafood. In some towns fish is caught and prepared that same day. Additionally, the state is fortunate enough to have fertile, moist soil that makes an ideal environment for growing produce that can thrive.
One restaurant that stands out is Pok Pok. Pok Pok was founded by Andy Ricker, a chef who trained in Northern Thailand and brought the cuisine to the Pacific Northwest. This isn’t your run of the mill Pad Thai or green curry joint. As someone with Northern Thai ancestry it makes me overjoyed to see dishes I grew up with on a menu be made accessible to Americans. Items like som tum and khao soi rarely get the attention they deserve, which is a shame because these foods were staples when I was growing up and I wish everyone could try them. If his name sounds familiar chances are you watched him and Anthony Bourdain on Parts Unknown, trying out local cuisine in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
(Khao soi noodles, photo courtesy of @pokpokpdx)
A trip to Portland wouldn’t be complete without spending time in nature. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest has left me spoiled for beautiful scenery and lush forests. There are endless opportunities to explore the outdoors in Oregon but for the sake of this article I would recommend you spend your time in Forest Park, which has over 80 miles of trails. While entrance to the park is free, you must adhere to the park rules and be mindful of your surroundings. This means not staying past the 10pm closing time and keeping your dog on a leash at all times.
If you’re more of a garden person, I recommend visiting the Portland Japanese Garden. My favorite time of year is spring when cherry blossoms are in full bloom. In fall you can enjoy lovely views of red, yellow and orange foliage.
Here are the admission fees straight from the site:
Family friendly- For families with young children, Playdate PDX is the perfect option for indoor fun. It’s a giant indoor playground for kids that also allows parents to relax and socialize while their kids have fun. One really nice thing about Playdate PDX is that after 5pm on Mondays admission is FREE, which is great for families on a budget. Adult admission is always free, on weekdays children ages 3 and under only pay $4 and children 4 years and older have a fee of $8. You can check up to date prices here.
Teen friendly- What teen doesn’t love an amusement park? For the adventurous types I’d suggest going to Oaks Amusement Park, located south of downtown Portland. Activities you can enjoy at the park include roller skating, mini golf, rides, and a variety of games. The park is only open for a limited time (spring to late summer-with the exception of the roller rink, which is open year-round). Activities range from .25 cents up to $41. You can check prices here.
Adult only- A must do activity for adults in Portland is Pedalounge. What is Pedalounge? Basically it’s a pub crawl on a large, collective bicycle. You pedal together with a group to go from bar to bar. No drinking is allowed on the actual bicycle (although this rule is exempt in some other cities). This highly-rated activity is great for bachelorette parties, birthdays or even just to sight see around Portland. At time of writing it cost $26 per person. You can book a session here.
The next destination on the list is Bend, Oregon, located about 3.5 hours southeast of Portland. Bend is an adventurous town that packs a lot of punch. Many of my friends go to Bend to snowboard and ski at Mount Bachelor.
(Mount Bachelor in winter, courtesy of Deposit Photos)
I prefer outdoor activities in spring and summer. If I had a free day I’d hike South Sister. It’s a challenging hike and at 9.5 hours you know you’re going to be absolutely exhausted afterwards. As the third highest mountain in Oregon you can’t expect it to be easy, right? If you want to read a first hand account on conquering this summit, here is a blog post detailing one hiker’s experience.
(Three Sisters Mountain, courtesy of Deposit Photos)
I’m not gonna lie, after a day of strenuous activity there’s nothing more that I want than a cold pint of beer. The only issue is choosing an establishment when there are about 22 breweries. That’s why I would want to book a tour with Beer Me Bend Brewery Tours.
Activities in Bend:
Family friendly- If your family loves to golf then Widgi Creek is up your alley! Amenities include a 18 hole championship course,13,000+ square feet of putting green and 5,000+ square feet of chipping green.
Rates start at $29, more info here.
If museums are more your thing then check out High Desert Museum. High Desert Museum offers interactive exhibits that explore the nature and cultural history of Central Oregon. Two exhibits that will guarantee to intrigue your family are the Autzen Otter Exhibit and Donald M Kerr Birds of Prey Center (in this center you can see a golden eagle, horned owl and other fascinating species).
Rates vary, depending on season: General admission starts at
$17, with Senior rates at $14. Additional rate information here.
Teen friendly- If your teen is a water baby they’ll love SHARC (Sun River Aquatics & Recreation Center). They have tubing, water slides, hot tub and disc golf (not water-related but still fun).
General admission starts at $16. More rates here.
Adult only- Do you love good beer? If so, chances are you’ve heard of Deschutes Brewery. Their beers are sold across the globe and taste delicious as well. If you want to know how this brew is made, I would recommend booking a tour with them here
(link is for 21+ only).
From Bend, Oregon I’d drive 2 hours south to Crater Lake. I’ve been to Crater Lake three times but I keep coming back because its beauty is unparalleled. Not only does the beauty make it enjoyable to look at, there’s also other interesting reasons as to what makes this lake unique. Enjoy my mini list!
It is the deepest lake in the U.S.
It’s Oregon’s ONLY national park.
The island in the middle of the lake is called Wizard Island and you can actually hike it!
There is no inlet or outlet to the lake.
There is a famous stump in the lake known as “The Old Man of the Lake”.
Activities in Crater Lake:
The main attraction in Crater Lake is, well, Crater Lake. It’s an attraction suitable for all ages but if you have young children please be mindful of them being near any ledges close to the lake and viewpoints.
While the lake is technically open year round, some entry points are closed due to heavy snowfall (because of the elevation there is always at least some snow at Crater Lake). The best time to visit is between July-September, when all the roads and facilities are open. If you visit Crater Lake I recommend bringing lunch as the lunch at the Crater Lake Village is pricey and honestly not too appetizing. Costs at time of writing range from $20-$55, depending on the type vehicle and pass you want to get. More info on Crater Lake can be found here.
(You won’t regret traveling to see this view, promise. Image courtesy of Deposit Photos)
The last stop on my ideal Oregon vacation is Ashland, Oregon. Ashland is home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Lithia Park, and Southern Oregon University. I first discovered this charming town in high school, when I went on annual theater trips. I quickly fell in love with the shops and general vibe of the town (I also just really love banners).
Not to mention, the town has cute establishments such as the Tudor Guild Gift Shop (complete with Shakespeare head lollipops!) and Oberon’s Restaurant & Bar (an excellent place to grab a pint!)
(Image of downtown Ashland, courtesy of Deposit Photos)
When I go to Ashland, a free activity I enjoy is taking a stroll through Lithia Park. The trails are easy and the scenery is peaceful (especially if babbling brooks are your thing).
After going to the park I like to window shop at local establishments. Ashland has a large variety of shops to satisfy everyone’s shopping needs. Here’s a directory of current shops around town. My favorites are The Music Coop and Renaissance Rose.
On my last day in Ashland I would definitely go see a play. The actors chosen for OSF are always top notch and trained at reputable academies. My favorite play I saw at OSF was “Vietgone”, a story about the play director’s parents and their story about falling in love at a refugee camp in Arkansas. It sounds like a sappy love story but I was laughing through most of the play as it was not set up as a tragedy, but as a tribute to the director’s parents’ journey. If it happens to be performing near you I would recommend it 100%.
Activities in Ashland:
In terms of activities, I always recommend going to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which takes place between March to October. Two things I love about the OSF: The intimacy of the theaters and the diversity, not only in terms of play genres but with the actors involved. At the time of writing this post, there is a show being put on about a Cambodian rock band
Some shows may have a limited runtime, so I’d recommend checking dates and booking early to secure a spot.
Other activities in Ashland:
Family-friendly- Scienceworks is a hands on museum that is enjoyed by family members of all ages. They have year round and temporary exhibits to keep things fresh and interesting at the museum. Kids have the chance to learn about painting, music, anatomy and a variety of other fascinating topics.
Hours of operation: Tuesday – Sunday, 10AM-5PM.
Admission cost direct from the site
$10.00 for kids ages 2-12
$12.00 for teens and adults
$10.00 for seniors 65+
Free for children under 2
Teen friendly- Teens can get their hearts racing by participating in exciting activities through figuring out clues at Escape Ashland. There are a few scenarios you can choose from, including a saloon or an audition theme. Games can accommodate 2-8 players. Larger groups should contact the company directly to discuss special arrangements.
Prices directly quoted from the site, “The Audition – Groups of 2: $40 adults, $35 students; groups of 3-5 $30 adults, $25 students; groups of 6-8 $28 adults, $23 students. We offer military discount the same as student discount.
The Ramblin’ Rogue – Groups of 2: $45 adults, $40 students; groups of 3: $35 adults, $30 students; groups of 4-5: $30 adults, 2 $28 students; groups of 6-8 $28 adults, $25 students. Military discount the same as student.” (https://escapeashland.com/faqs/, 2019). Complimentary cold drinks are included in the price.
Adult only- Head to Jackson Wellsprings to satisfy your sauna and spa cravings. This getaway located just outside Ashland is the perfect location to get some TLC.
Facilities include natural hot springs, private tubs, sauna, camping and even a Ladies Night. Some evenings are even clothing optional (please check here for more info). Cost is $10 for adults/$8 for seniors. Seasonal passes are available. More info here.
The best way to see Oregon is via car. Larger cities such as Portland and Eugene do have some public transportation options like trams and buses, but just like the majority of the U.S. the most reliable method of transportation is having a private car. You can rent them at establishments such as Enterprise, Avis, or Budget.
To Pump or Not to Pump
If you drive a car in the U.S. you’ve probably heard about Oregon’s unique law that forbid drivers from filling up their own cars with gas. As of writing this piece in 2019, this is the latest information I can find regarding the most recent pumping laws (disclaimer-I’m not a legal representative, laws regarding pumping are ongoing).
According to KGW8, citizens are exempt from this law if their vehicle only accepts diesel. Additionally if you have a motorized scooter you are allowed to pump your own gas. Lastly, populations of >40,000 are typically allowed to pump their own gas but in major towns such as Portland and Eugene you are still likely to encounter an attendant who will pump your gas for you.
In Oregon there are accommodation opportunities for every budget. From camping to staying in luxury hotels, the choice is yours. My preferred booking website is Booking.com, where I’ve not only booked hotel rooms but even cruise ship vacations as well.
-Oregon is stunning year round but the ideal time to visit is between June-September, when the weather is most pleasant. Check with weather.com to plan your trip accordingly.
-Oregon has countless festivals and fairs throughout the year. My personal favorite is the Oregon Country Fair near Eugene that takes place every July. The only way I could describe it is part Renaissance Fair, part circus and part Burning Man. Easily the best part of the fair is the people-watching, as many fair attendees love to ham it up for the camera.
-Yes, Oregon has a reputation for being rainy. While Portlanders may shun raingear that doesn’t mean you should come unprepared. My preferred rainproof wear comes from Columbia but other brands should be fine as long as there’s a strong outer shell.
-One major attraction of Oregon I didn’t get to cover is the Oregon coast, which is an absolute must see on a trip to Oregon. I’ve been fortunate enough to go on a road trip all the way from Brookings to Astoria via the 101 coastal route, which is home to some of the most pristine beaches in the U.S. If you’d like to ask further questions about traveling along the Oregon coast, please contact me here.
Laura K. Sayles works as a virtual assistant online and travel planner. Her travels have taken her through 17 states, 37 countries (and counting). She has also lived overseas in New Zealand, Thailand and South Korea. When she’s not working or traveling, she is most likely on a search for the best cup of espresso.