The Very Best of Mississippi

The Very Best of Mississippi

Mississippi Gulf Coast

First of all, you can fly into Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. I’d suggest renting a car, so you can drive down the coast and see all that it has to offer. It’s actually very easy to get up and down the coast by taking Highway 90 (also known as Beach Blvd.). It runs right along the coast, and you can see the beach and the beautiful houses, so it’s a very scenic route.

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Area Attractions and Points of Interest

There are several hurricane memorials, two of which are in Biloxi. One is devoted to Hurricane Camille victims and the other is devoted to Hurricane Katrina victims. In Pascagoula, MS, there is a Katrina Memorial and Walking Trail that actually shows some of the wave action that occurred during the hurricane.

I’ve also heard a lot about Ship Island, and it’s something I would strongly recommend that you see. From Gulfport, there is a ferry that takes passengers to Ship Island and Fort Massachusetts (1858). The ferry ride to the island takes about an hour one way, but once you get there, you can enjoy swimming, shelling, birding, and sunbathing. Once on the island, you are able to rent chairs and umbrellas, and there is food service. For more information, visit this website: https://www.gulfcoast.org/listings/ship-island-excursions-gulfport/2715/

In Biloxi, you can also find Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis’s old home. We toured it, and it was very interesting! Here’s the website for more information: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductDetail-g43686-d15098095-Beauvoir_General_Admission_Ticket-Biloxi_Mississippi.html

There is a waterpark in Gulfport, MS, and you can find more information at this website: https://www.gulfislandswaterpark.com/. There are also several places with splash pads for the kids. For example, there is one in Long Beach (https://www.gulfcoast.org/listings/long-beach-splash-pad/4710/) and Bay St. Louis (https://www.gulfcoast.org/listings/mcdonald-park-%26-splash-pad/4759/).

If you want to see casinos, there are lots! I would strongly recommend visiting the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi (https://www.hrhcbiloxi.com/). We have been there and have enjoyed it. Also, if you walk along one side of the casino, we were able to see the boats docked alongside it and some were selling fresh shrimp straight from the boat!

In terms of music and nightlife, there is plenty of it! Here’s a list of bars and breweries along the coast: https://www.gulfcoast.org/things-to-do/music-nightlife/. Also, there’s plenty of restaurants, and you can find a list of those here: https://www.gulfcoast.org/things-to-do/restaurants/.

Honestly, we spent more time at the beach rather than doing much of anything else. We most definitely enjoyed the beaches, and you can find more information about the beaches along the coast at this website: https://www.gulfcoast.org/things-to-do/beach-water-activities/beach-information/

Hattiesburg, MS

Hattiesburg is about 90 miles from the gulf coast. It’s definitely a college town, as the University of Southern Mississippi is here (Jimmy Buffett was a student here!). There are some interesting things to do and places to eat.

If you love Southern BBQ, then the place to go is Leatha’s BBQ Inn. It is the best! This restaurant has been featured on an episode of Man Food Fire on the Cooking Channel. The other place to visit is Coney Island Café. We always get their hotdogs and french fries, and it’s the best! They don’t have a website, but they do have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ConeyIslandCafe1923/).

One major attraction in Hattiesburg, MS is the Rails to Trails or Longleaf Trace. It is a running, biking, and equestrian trail that is 41 miles long. It extends from Hattiesburg, MS all the way to Prentiss, MS. Here’s the website for more information: http://www.longleaftrace.org/

In addition, the Hattiesburg zoo is an attraction here. Here’s the website: https://hattiesburgzoo.com/. They do have fun events throughout the year such as trick or treating at the zoo and the Sloth Experience. The Sloth Experience includes helping the zookeeper prepare the sloth diets for the day, as well as the opportunity to feed the sloth and be up close.

Tupelo, MS

Here, you can find Elvis Presley’s place of birth. You are able to tour his home, museum, and church. Here’s the website information: https://elvispresleybirthplace.com/

Baldwyn, MS

Here, you can find some of the last battlegrounds during the Civil War- The Battle of Brice’s Crossroads and the Battle of Tupelo/Harrisburg. The website for more information is here: https://www.finalstands.com/

Vicksburg, MS

If you are interested in the history of the Civil War, one must see is Vicksburg National Military Park. Vicksburg played a significant role in the war, and at the Military Park, you can find memorials, historic bridges, cannons, carriages, a visitor center, as well as 20 miles of trenches and earthwork.

The USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum is also in the Park. Here’s the website for the Park: https://www.nps.gov/vick/index.htm.

About the Author:

me

I am a mother of a 3 year old girl, and I am married to a football coach. I am a professor that teaches a lot of child development classes. Thus, I blog about parenting and how to enhance development. I hope to share my knowledge of child development in order to help parents along their journey!
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Thank you for sharing Mississippi with us! The Gulf is a beautiful place! I totally want to go to the sloth experience at the zoo!
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The Very Best of Kentucky

The Very Best of Kentucky

Before moving to Kentucky, I always assumed this was a very country state. I actually never even thought twice about ever traveling here.

 

However, life turns out to be a funny one, because I got married to the love of my life, which just so happened to live in Kentucky!

 

So Ha Ha! Well played life!

 

Anyways, when I moved here I decided to find the most amazing places to check out, or at least brag about to all my family in the big cities.

 

Below are the places I definitely recommend you stopping by and checking out, if you’re in the area!

 

Churchill Downs

 

I’m sure you’ve heard of the famous Kentucky Derby, where they race horses, guess where it’s at? Yup, at the Churchill Downs.

 

When the derby isn’t going on they have many festivities and activities going on.

 

Children 12 and under are complimentary (except on Derby days).

 

They have a venue for weddings and special occasions as well, and it’s simply beautiful!

 

If you would like more info about this you may visit their website directly

at http://www.churchilldowns.com

 

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

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As the name suggests this trail was made to promote the Bourbon whiskey industry here in Kentucky.

 

It is a self guided tour/journey to Kentucky’s many different bourbon distilleries. This is a must if you enjoy strong alcohol.

 

Children’s are allowed, however it is more of an adults activity.

 

There are many different tours that guide you around this trail, and make it an unforgettable experience.

 

Check time out at http://kybourbontrail.com

 

Louisville Slugger Museum

 

This is a museum crafted specially for baseball players. As they showcase the story of Louisville Slugger baseball bats in baseball and in American History .

 

From the moment you stand in front of it you will be greeted by their replica of Babe Ruth’s Own Louisville Slugger Bat.

 

This is an all day activity for the whole family! And for those that have little ones, children 5 and under go in for free!

 

You will actually get to see these bats in the making process, and can always buy your own customized bat, with your name and everything!

 

Https://www.sluggermuseum.com

 

Big Four Bridge

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The Big Four Bridge connects Louisville Waterfront Park to Jeffersonville Indiana, over the Ohio River.

 

You get to walk from one state to the other! It has certain parts of the bridge that has been customized with rainbow colors, enhancing the beauty of this bridge.

 

No pets are allowed unfortunately for all fur parents. However you can go biking with the family. It is definitely a must stop if you’re in the mood for a romantic date!

 

Definitely a must for pictures!

 

Http://louisvillewaterfront.com

 

Bernheim Arboretum And Research Forest

 

This is a personal favorite! It has trails, a fishing lake, public art, and even giants!

 

Yup, you read that right, Giants!

 

They constructed three giant sculptures throughout the arboretum using recycled wood. Mama Loumarie with her children, Little Nis and Little Elina, once you reach the first one, it’s up to you to find the other two, making this my all time favorite place in Louisville.

 

They have a canopy tree walk which is 75 feet above the forest floor! Do you dare take on this adventure walk?

 

They also have an Edible Garden, and a children’s play garden, making this the number one stop for families with children of all ages, as you will all definitely be entertained and amazed!

 

If you have to choose one place to stop by, let this be the place!

 

Http://bernheim.org

 

I know when yóu think of Kentucky, chances are you are like me, and automatically connect it being all country, however Kentucky has many things to offer, if given the opportunity!

 

Let me know if you check out any of these places and what you think of them!

 

Author Bio:

Dayma Garcia
My name is Dayma Garcia, born in Cuba, raised everywhere! I lived in Miami, then Georgia, and now I’m in Kentucky. When I am not writing,reading, working out, or researching, I’m a mom to a beautiful little girl, and a fur baby, along of course with being a wife to my handsome husband. Growing up I didn’t have the best childhood, went through a few experiences, which then led to anxiety and depression as an adult. This negative experience inspired me to create my blog in which I help you regain confidence in yourself, gain motivation to fulfill all your dreams and achieve your aspirations, and become best version of yourself possible! 
These are my links-
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Kentucky sounds like so much fun! I am sure my son and nephews would love to visit with Slugger Museum! Oh My Gosh, that bridge looks amazing! I would love to check that out! So many colors! Thank you for sharing Kentucky with it and I can’t wait to visit some day!
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The Very Best of Tennessee

joshua-ness-109309-unsplash-1440x960Photo by Joshua Ness

If you’re looking to plan a trip to the Nashville area, I’ve got you covered with some cool stuff you can do.

Just a quick note, I won’t be talking about any of the country music stuff because that’s what most people associate Nashville with and there’s way more to it than that. Also, I’m trying to talk about locations that people from out of state or across the state may not know about, or maybe have heard but have never experienced. I will, for the most part, avoid talking about tourist destinations.

I will also be showing you around my hometown, Murfreesboro! It is about 35 minutes south of Nashville, and is growing rapidly. It has a lot of its own fun places but with a more suburban feel.

All information is current as of March 2019. All times listed are in Central Time. All photos were taken by Jackie of The Vibrant Dreamer unless otherwise stated.

Getting Here!

Nashville only has one airport, BNA. It is located between all three major interstates in Tennessee. I would recommend renting a car or taking your own car.

Both Nashville and Murfreesboro have a bus transit system, but I’d still recommend driving yourself. The public transit system is… basically, not great unless you’re just going around downtown Nashville, in which case you can utilize the free Music City Circuit.

There are several lots in downtown Nashville that you can choose from; if you’re planning on visiting several different spots in a day I’d recommend figuring out which lot is best for you based on proximity to your hotel/AirBNB. Or, it may be cheaper for you to take an Uber. It’s really going to depend on what works for you. I am the type of person who prefers to just park once and be done with it, but I am also able-bodied and don’t have children.

Murfreesboro is a more suburban area, so most of the places that aren’t in the heart of downtown will have their own lots. If you are visiting the public square, most of the parking is free for 1-2 hours only. You can park for free all day in the public library parking garage located on Sevier Street, and there is also a parking garage at the Judicial Center located at 225 N. Maple Street.

Fun Activities in Nashville & Murfreesboro

Adventure Science Center – Nashville

(Open every day from 10am-5pm, except for some events)

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The Adventure Science Center is a multi-level, interactive science and technology museum. They feature various science/technology exhibits and also several activities for all ages. Some events are adult-only but most of them are for all age groups.

They also feature a planetarium with a variety of its own events and showings. The planetarium has a separate event list that can be viewed here. Also, on Monday mornings before they officially open, they have an Early Explorers event geared towards children 6 and under! For more information and the event schedule, click here.

You can plan on spending a long time there, as there’s a lot to do and see! It’s possible to spend several hours there and still not see everything, so this is definitely not something you’d want to rush. They do have a Subway restaurant inside, and you are permitted to leave the center and come back, as long as you keep your ticket receipt for re-entry.

Nashville Zoo at Grassmere – Nashville

(Open 9am-6pm: March 8, 2019 – October 10, 2019

Open 9am-4pm: October 11, 2019 – March 2020)

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Photo by Jacob Brogdon

I know zoos are not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you and your family enjoy them the Nashville one is a good experience.

The food at the zoo is tasty, but it’s expensive. If you are on a budget, I recommend bringing your own food– there are plenty of tables/benches to sit at to eat. Save your money for something from the gift shop if you are looking to spend money at the zoo.

A must-see exhibit is the Kangaroo Kickabout! It’s a quite popular exhibit, but absolutely worth it. You can go through the exhibit on a path where the kangaroos are just out, so you get to be closer to them than you normally would (but you still have to stay on the path). There are usually crowds, and last time I went there was a line… but it’s worth the wait.

They recently added a cool thing called the Veterinary Center… that I haven’t even been to yet, that’s how new it is! You can see how the animals are taken care of at the zoo, and learn about animal conservation and care as well.

It usually takes around 2-3 hours to see everything, but possibly longer with children.

Mewsic Kitty Cafe – Nashville

(Open Thursday-Sunday from 11am-6pm)

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Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev

Nashville’s first cat cafe!!! If you aren’t familiar with cat cafes, basically they are a place where you can get some coffee/tea/pastries and play with some cute cats who are available for adoption. You can get some much-needed cat therapy!

They will only accept walk-ins if there is space, so if you need a specific time slot a reservation is your best bet. You can book online up to three months in advance. The cafe does recommend that you arrive approximately ten minutes before your appointment.

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens – Nashville

(open Tuesday-Sunday from 9am-5pm; hours may vary by event and season)

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Photo by Joshua Ness

A gorgeous 1930s estate that now serves Nashville as a botanical garden and art museum.

They feature 55 acres of gardens for your viewing pleasure. Cheekwood also hosts several events throughout the year; their calendar is here in case you want to see if any of them coincide with your visit!

Honestly my favorite thing to do here is just… walk around and be in nature. This might be a good chance for you and your family / significant other to just unplug from technology and be outside.

Go USA Fun Park – Murfreesboro

(Open Sunday-Thursday 10am-10pm; Friday 10am-1am; Saturday 9am-1am)

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There’s something here for everyone– Go karts, mini golf, driving range, batting cages, and a pretty big arcade. You can easily spend hourshere, and if you have kids they probably won’t want to leave… that’s how I was when I was a kid, anyway.

Insider Tip: Take the entrance from Robert Rose Drive to avoid a traffic nightmare!

Stones River Battlefield – Murfreesboro

(open 8am-5pm)

One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War occurred here in 1862. Today, it showcases several walking trails, guided tours (May-October) and a visitor’s center. They do also offer self-guided audio tours year round. Across the street from the visitor’s center is the Stones River National Cemetery, where over 6,000 soldiers rest.

You can also visit the remnants of Fortress Rosecrans, which was the largest fortification built during the Civil War. There are walking trails there that are also connected to Murfreesboro’s public walkway system, called the Greenway. The Battlefield itself also has some trails you can walk.

Cannonsburgh Village – Murfreesboro

(official hours vary by season; typically 9am-4pm Tuesday-Saturday)

Cannonsburgh is a historic village that represents what life was like in Tennessee in the 19th and early 20th Century. You can go on a self-guided tour for free and purchase souvenirs for your trip (such as post cards and t-shirts) in the on-site gift shop.

The official season is May-November; you can still visit the grounds in the off season but some of the buildings aren’t open. The grounds are occasionally rented out for private events, so if you’re concerned about that you may want to call ahead to be sure it’s available.

The Best Shopping & Entertainment Destinations in Nashville & Murfreesboro

Printer’s Alley – Nashville

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Historic Printer’s Alley is one of Nashville’s smaller entertainment districts with a more relaxed nightlife/bar vibe. The nightlife isn’t as “bustling” as the more touristy areas; it’s more of an area where the city is trying to preserve history, but you still get a slice of the old-school Nashville culture.

If you prefer a more energetic vibe, head a few blocks over to Broadway!

12South – Nashville

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Home to some trendy places and some iconic Nashville Murals. This is probably one of my favorite parts of Nashville. Plenty of great places to grab a meal (honestly… there’s enough options here for all three meals!), amazing coffee, cookies, and take pictures. It’s also the home of Reese Witherspoon’s clothing boutique, Draper James.

The Gulch – Nashville

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Super trendy neighborhood with a more urban feel. Home of the infamous “What Lifts You” mural… which, by the way, people wait in line to take pictures with! There is A LOT to see and do in The Gulch; from breweries to shopping… there’s something for everyone!

McKay Media – Nashville West

(Open Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm; Friday-Saturday 9am-10pm; Sunday 11am-7pm)

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Photo by Jonas Jacobsson

You can literally spend HOURS in here. They sell all kinds of used media and entertainment ranging from books to comics to video games to CDs to instruments to games to… basically anything of that nature you can think of. It’s two levels and there is SO much to see. If you’re a lover of books and entertainment, you should absolutely check it out.

Public Square – Murfreesboro

Murfreesboro’s public square and the surrounding streets have quite a few fun little shops, boutiques, bakeries, and restaurants. You could probably spend a couple hours looking around here. If you like theatre, check out what’s showing at the Centre for the Arts; they also have a gallery featuring local artists that changes each month.

Quinn’s Mercantile – Murfreesboro

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The best place to shop for unique gifts to take home to your friends and family, so they can have a slice of your trip as well! It’s near the public square, but slightly away from it so if you don’t know it’s there you might miss it! Don’t forget to pick something up for yourself, too.

Social Links

twitter: @1vibrantdreamer

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pinterest: @thevibrantdreamer

blog: thevibrantdreamer.com

Author Bio:

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Jackie is a mental health and lifestyle blogger who wants to inspire others and help break the stigma around mental health. She currently lives in Murfreesboro, TN with her boyfriend and two cats.

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Jackie Tennessee sounds like an amazing place to visit! I like that you put so much in here that does not have much to do with country! While I do like country you are right everyone knows that there is country there. I totally want to go to the Kangaroo kickabout and cat café!

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The Very Best of Utah

The Best of Utah

 

I have lived in Utah my whole life and there is nowhere else I would rather live.  Though the weather can be confusing/frustrating (it can snow, rain, and be 75 degrees in the same week), there are so many things to do and places to go in the Beehive State.

Outdoors

Utah is full of famous National Parks and areas for hiking, camping, boating, skiing, etc.  Let’s start with National Parks.

Zion’s National Park

Zion’s National Park is probably my favorite national park in Utah.  If you have never seen red rock cliffs, be sure to bring a camera.  The landscapes are amazing and the possibilities are endless.  The hikes range from easy to experienced so a hike can be found for someone of any age.  Angel’s Landing is one of the most famous hikes from here.  If you are afraid of heights, do not attempt this one!  The final half-mile ascent you are holding onto a chain bolted to the rocks.  So Angel’s Landing is not for the faint of heart but the view is breathtaking!

Zion’s has two visitor’s centers with shuttles to the different trailheads.  There are weekly or annual passes and the cost is $35/vehicle for seven consecutive days or an annual pass is $50.  Check out Zion National Park’s website for discounts, open times, camping details, and places to eat.  My favorite place we ate at was family friendly, Oscar’s Cafe.

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Bryce Canyon National Park

Wind, water, and time have turned Bryce Canyon National Park into the spectacular place it is today.  Bryce Canyon is located in southern Utah, just 72 miles from Zion’s National Park.  Once you get to the park, you can take the free shuttle to all the must-see viewpoints and trails or drive yourself.  If you choose to stay for a while, you can camp or stay in the rustic lodge at the center of the park.  During your stay, you can hike, camp, ATV ride, go horseback riding, take tours, backpacking, and mountain biking.  Hotels, restaurants, and other accommodations are located in nearby towns, Tropic or Cannonville.

Weekly passes for Bryce Canyon National Park cost $30/vehicle or an annual pass for $35/vehicle.  Be sure to check out Bryce Canyon National Park’s website for further information on discounts, prices, and the best time of year to go.

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Arches National Park

Arches National Park is located in Moab, Utah.  The best way to get there is to fly into the Salt Lake International Airport and then drive 3.5 hours to the park.  At Arches, you will see natural rock structures as you’ve never seen before.  This is a very busy park with many popular trailheads.  Rather than try to find a parking spot, it is easier to use a taxi service or commercial touring company that drops you off and picks you up again.  The most popular hike you’ve got to do on is to the Delicate Arch.  If you’ve seen a Utah license plate with an orange rock on it, that’s Delicate Arch!

There are hotels and campgrounds near the park, not in the actual park.  During your stay you can do river rafting, camping, hiking, ATV riding, climbing, mountain biking, and visit the nearby Dinosaur park.  A weekly pass costs $30/vehicle or you can get a Southeast Utah annual pass for $50/vehicle.  The Arches National Park website has more information on discounts and prices.

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Other Noteworthy Mountains to Hike in Utah

Since Utah is part of the Rocky Mountain range, you better believe there are some noteworthy mountains to hike.  Mt. Timpanogos in Provo, Utah is a tough one, but one you won’t forget.  Two trailheads are used to reach the summit: the Aspen Grove trail and the Timpooneke trail.  The Timpooneke trail is the more popular one.  You pay a small fee to enter the canyon and park at the trailhead.  This hike is 15-16 miles round trip and can be done in one long day or can be an overnighter hike.

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My husband has hiked this mountain 11 times, I’ve hiked it twice.  One of the things we like to do is after you summit, continue hiking south along the ridge to the top of the snowfield or “the glacier.”  We take snow gear and slide down the mile-long glacier to get to Emerald Lake.  Visit Mt. Timpanogos’ website to see a map and further information.

 

King’s Peak, located in northern Utah, is Utah’s tallest mountain at 13,528 ft.  This is a strenuous, 23-mile hike and should be done over at least two days.  It is a LOOOOOONG and steep hike to the top but the views from up there are amazing.  There are different paths you can take to the summit and it is best to figure out your route and decide on camping spots on King’s Peak’s website.

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The hike up Mt. Olympus in the east part of Salt Lake City is strenuous because it is so steep.  The trail is easy to see and anyone can do it as long as you take it slow and steady.  The hike is 7.5 miles up and back and is well worth the trip if you make it to the top.  The summit is federally protected wilderness and is one of the prettiest areas you will see during your visit to Utah.

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Skiing

If you are a skier, you will love the many ski resorts Utah has to offer.  Since there are over ten ski resorts in the state, it is a good idea to compare the resorts based on what you’re looking for.  This website, allows you to compare prices, levels of experience, free skiing for kids, elevation, snowfall measurements, etc.  Be sure to check it out if you are coming to Utah to ski.

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Water Play

Even though Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah, the Great Salt Lake is NOT a good spot for water activities.  It does not smell good, it is swarming with bugs, and it’s just not pleasant.  But, Utah does have two very popular water areas, Bear Lake and Lake Powell.

 

Bear Lake is located in northern Utah on the Utah/Idaho border.  It is known as the Caribbean of the Rockies for its intense, turquoise-blue water.  It is the ideal place for boating, fishing, water skiing, swimming, and sailing.  You can camp at the lake or rent a condo during your stay.

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Entrance fees are $8/day/vehicle or $75 annual day-use pass.  Look at their website for discounts, further pricing on campgrounds and additional activities.

 

Lake Powell is actually a reservoir, not a lake.  But it is still a great place for water entertainment in addition to camping and hiking.  Check out Lake Powell’s website for more information on prices and activities to do.

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Other Iconic Places, Not Particularly Outdoors

Oh my goodness that is a lot of outdoor places and things to do.  I felt like I had to mention it though because Utah is known for its beautiful landscapes and mountains.  If hiking, camping, and those types of outdoor activities aren’t your thing, don’t worry!  There are still lots of other cool places you can visit while you’re here.

Nightmare on 13th

Nightmare on 13th, located in downtown Salt Lake City, is perhaps Utah’s most famous haunted house.  If you come to Utah around Halloween time, be sure to go here and get your scare on.  Ticket prices vary from $25-$45 but there are discounts for groups so check out their website for that.  You can still visit this place any other time of year because they turn the haunted house aspects into an Escape Room game.  You, and whoever you come with, have an hour to figure out puzzles, use your intuition, and escape to win the game.  Nightmare on 13th’s website has all the information you need to know about either activity.

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Lagoon

If you and your family aren’t used to large amusement parks like Disneyland or Six-Flags, you will have so much fun at Lagoon.  This fun amusement park has rides younger kids will enjoy like the Tea Cups, and rides that will really get your heart-pumping like Cannibal.  Gift shops and places to eat are located throughout the park.

Be warned, there is no stroller parking at each ride and you cannot take any bags, sunglasses, water, or anything on the rides with you.  All possessions must be stored in a locker at the entrance of the park or left with someone in your party while you ride the ride.  Season passports are $62/person.  An adult day passport is $64.95 and for kids older than two it’s $46.95.  Lagoon’s website has more information on discounts, ride requirements, and parking costs.

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Thanksgiving Point

Thanksgiving Point, located in Lehi, Utah, has a couple of campuses that consist of the Museum of Natural Curiosity, Farm Country, Ashton Gardens, Museum of Ancient Life, and the Butterfly Biosphere.  There are activities and fascinating things to see at each place, every day.  Thanksgiving Point’s website has calendars and detailed information about each place along with ticket prices for all of the activities.  This is a great place for kids to learn about history, animals, and science.  Adults will learn something too!

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Living Planet Aquarium

The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, located in Draper, Utah, is home to over 4,000 creatures from around the world.  One of it’s coolest features is the 300,000-gallon shark tank with a tunnel where patrons can get an underwater view of the sharks, turtles, stingrays, and other water life.  I know this aquarium isn’t as big as some others you may see in other states, but it is pretty impressive for Utah.  Adult ticket prices are $19.95, teens and student ticket prices are $16.95, children tickets are $14.95, and under age two is free.  Their website has more information about discounts.

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Temple Square

You can’t come to northern Utah without visiting Temple Square.  If you are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you probably know Utah as the “Mormon state.”  You can learn about the early pioneers and church history right at Temple Square.  While only worthy members of the Church are allowed to go inside the Salt Lake temple, the temple grounds are open for anyone to walk around, take pictures, and learn.  The visitor’s center has exhibits, tours, informational videos, and just a bunch of neat things to see.  You can also tour the Conference Center which seats 21,000 people.  Going to these places is free, it is just asked that you be respectful of the grounds and the other people there at the time.

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Near Temple Square is the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  You could spend a day there too but I wanted to mention there is a restaurant at the top of the building called The Roof Restaurant.  It has gourmet dining buffet food with views that overlook Temple Square.  It’s definitely a special experience.

Utah has Something for Everyone

Utah is a family oriented state with activities for everyone.  There are numerous things you can do outdoors or inside.  This beautiful state has a rich history and is full of great people.  As long as the weather holds up for what you want to do, I feel confident in saying you will not be disappointed with your visit.

About the Author: 

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Hi! Elizabeth here, thank you so much for taking the time to read what I have to say.  I am a stay-at-home mom to two rowdy boys.  My goal with my blog is to give you tips on things that I have realized or learned in my 28 years of life.  The topics I discuss will range from adult experiences to kids, to cooking, finances, and everything in between!

https://elizabethsepiphanies.com

https://www.pinterest.com/elizabethsepiphanies/

https://www.facebook.com/EEpiphanies/

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Elizabeth there is so much to do in Utah! I want to come visit soon! I enjoy hiking, but sounds like I would need to get in much better shape for some of them. HaHa! The photos are just beautiful so I could only image it is better in “real life!” I know just who I am going to tell about the Nightmare on 13th. I have a friend that is obsessed with Halloween! Thanks for writing!

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The Very Best of Arkansas

Touring Arkansas – the Natural State

I would like to take you on a tour of our great state of Arkansas. We will be traveling by car. because one of the greatest aspects of our state is that each place we visit, can be a day trip. First we would start in my hometown, Vilonia. It is located in the central part of the state, about 45 miles from our capital city, Little Rock. Vilonia is a close knit community which has endured two devastating tornadoes, one in 2011 and another in 2014. But through it all, the people of our small town stand together and help each other in every way possible.

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We would leave Vilonia and go to our closest town, Conway, which is the home of Toad Suck Park. I know that’s a strange name for a park but it’s based on the following legend:
“Long ago, steamboats traveled the Arkansas River when the water was at the right depth. When it wasn’t, the captains and their crew tied up to wait where the Toad Suck Lock and Dam now spans the river. While they waited, they refreshed themselves at the local tavern there, to the dismay of the folks living nearby, who said: “They suck on the bottle ’til they swell up like toads.” Hence, the name Toad Suck. The tavern is long gone, but the legend and fun live on at Toad Suck Daze.” * Each year on the first weekend in May, an event called Toad Suck Daze is held in downtown to raise money for local scholarships. Live music, food and craft vendors, carnival rides and yes, toad races fill up the fun-filled weekend.

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Our next stop on our tour would be Petit Jean State Park. It’s one of the 52 state parks in Arkansas. Petit Jean mountain is a wonderful place to hike and enjoy some of Arkansas’ natural beauty. You can hike to the majestic Cedar Falls or follow the Seven Hollows Trail to see natural bridges and caves. The legend of Petit Jean is:
“In the 1700s, a young French girl named Adrienne disguised herself as a cabin boy named Jean in order to follow her beloved to the New World. Because of her small size, the other sailors nicknamed her “Petit Jean,” French for “Little John.” At some point after arriving in Arkansas, Petit Jean became ill. Her identity was revealed. Unfortunately, she succumbed to the illness, died, and was subsequently buried atop the mountain now called Petit Jean. ”

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Petit Jean Mountain – Cedar Falls *www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net

Now let’s travel to the beautiful Historic town of Hot Springs. It is known for its natural hot springs. People travel from far away to experience the therapeutic healings from the natural springs and tubs. My favorite place to stay in Hot Springs is the Arlington Hotel. It was originally built in 1875 but was destroyed by fire in 1923. It was rebuilt in 1924. Many famous people have stayed there including Al Capone, whose favorite room was 443. He had the whole floor for his staff and bodyguards. He could look across the street from his window and see the activities at the Southern Club, now the Wax Museum. *

The Arlington Hotel – Hot Springs
*www.arlingtonhotel.comimg_8915

Now on to Northwest Arkansas, a favorite part of the state for many people. We will travel via “The Pig Trail”. It’s called this because it is the scenic highway leading to Razorback Stadium at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. We will head there first to enjoy a Razorback football game. Arkansas is famous for calling the hogs to cheer on their favorite team. From then, we would go to my favorite place to stay in the Northwest part of the state, The Lodge at Elm Springs. This Bed and Breakfast is amazing! It’s a beautiful place to stay, the owners are wonderful. You will be served a homemade afternoon dessert and wake up in the morning with a delicious hot home-cooked breakfast. Just right down the street is a fantastic eclectic-styled antique/flea market shop, The Mercantile at Elm Springs. Also, a great place to eat is Mama Z’s which serves the best Italian food around.

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Next we will travel to Murfreesboro to the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Arkansas if the only natural diamond producing state. In 1906 a farmer discovered diamonds in his field. Years after, diamonds are still being found there. Anyone can go to the 44 acre diamond mound and try your luck at finding that great diamond. Some have been very lucky. There’s also a cafe, water park and gift shop. I went last summer with my grandsons. We had fun digging in the dirt but we weren’t able to find any precious gems. Maybe next time!

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Crater of Diamonds State Park craterofdiamonds.com

Our last stop on this tour of the Natural State is the Buffalo National River. This natural river is a main attraction for spring and summer canoeing. There are many places along the river that offer canoe rental. We love to grab a group of family and friends and make a day of enjoying this beautiful river. There’s always something different around every bend. Beautiful landscape, large rock formations, wildlife and even places to stop and swim and enjoy the lunch you packed for the trip.

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I hope you enjoyed your tour of some of my favorite places in Arkansas. There are so many places to see and things to do for all ages in our beautiful state. It’s easy to see how it got the name of the Natural State.

About the author:

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I have lived in the great state of Arkansas my whole life. I have been married to my wonderful husband for 33 years. We have three daughters and now four grandkids. I have recently retired from teaching first grade for 29 years. My hobbies include: sewing, quilting and blogging. I have a part-time job at a local fabric shop where I enjoy meeting and being around other quilters. I am very grateful for my life and know that is only by the Grace of God that I have the life that I have now.

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Paula, thank you so much for sharing with us Arkansas! I visited Hot Springs one year with my family and had a wonderful time there! I would love to go visit all the places you listed, but that Diamond spot looks pretty interesting to me!

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The Very Best of Arizona

The Best Of Arizona by Melissa Temple http://www.disableddisney.com

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When you are out exploring the country don’t forget to explore Arizona! Arizona has many beautiful and unique experiences to offer. We have a thriving metropolitan area in Downtown Phoenix with art, dinning and museums and there are many activities in Southern Arizona to explore and have fun. This article is going to focus on all the beauty and fun of Northern Arizona.

If you have a week to vacation in Arizona, you should definitely check out this vacation! For this vacation you are going to need a vehicle! If you are close enough to drive, I suggest driving. I use an app called Gas Buddy to check fuel prices. If you fly into Sky Harbor International Airport, you can rent a vehicle at the Airport. I like to use Enterprise. They are have very good customer service and I get a discount through my cell phone service.

For booking hotels I use Booking.com because I can pay at the hotel and get kicks through an app called Shopkick! You save the kicks and earn gift cards. So in my book it’s a win-win. There are a lot of great hotels in Flagstaff, Arizona, which is where you need to base yourself! I do recommend the La Quinta Inn and Suites! It’s easy to find where I-17 and I-40 meet!

Day 1 of this vacation starts by arriving in Flagstaff or flying into the airport, renting a vehicle and driving to Flagstaff. It’s about 2-3 hours North of Phoenix. It is really easy to get to. You just take I-10 West to I-17 North and that takes you to Flagstaff! So get to Flag as we locals call it, check into your hotel, and get something for dinner! Get a good night’s sleep tomorrow will be a busy day!

Day 2 I want to suggest you book a trip on the Grand Canyon Railroad! Go to TheTrain.com, that’s the website where you book passage to the Grand Canyon. It is a 65 mile daily train ride from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon. You have about 30-45 minute drive to get to Williams in the morning. The train departs at different times during the year but a typical trip could leave at 9:30am and gets to the Grand Canyon at approximately 11:45am. It departs back to Williams at 3:30pm and then you drive back to Flagstaff.

The Train operates 364 days per year closed on December 25. The trip on the railway includes a Wild West Shootout at the Williams depot before your train departs. Then during your journey there is entertainment and live action onboard! You will also be able to get a copy of Territorial Times, the Grand Canyon Railroads very own news publication.

While you are at the Grand Canyon, take lots of pictures! It is one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the World! While you are there you can take a 1.5 hour guided tour that is only open to the patrons of The Train. You can have lunch, check out the Grand Canyon Village, the Museum, and the hotels! This is an amazing site you should definitely check out and the taking the train is a beautiful and relaxing way to go! You can even have a seat in the panoramic dome and see the Kaibab National Forest.

(Photos Courtesy of Yourtravelhandbook.com)

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(Photo Courtesy of Lowell Observatory)

Day 3 of this Arizona adventure keeps you in Flagstaff. I suggest visiting the Lowell Observatory. It is 125 year old telescope.  They have programs for everyone to enjoy. They have daytime tours, evening activities and a special Jr. Astronomer Program for kids!

The daytime tours consist of three different topics. The first called the Lowell Tour takes you around the campus and discusses the history of the observatory. You also get to see the 24” Clark Refracting Telescope still in use today! It’s a little slice of history. On The Story of Pluto Tour you learn about the Pluto Discovery Telescope. And on the Lunar Legacy Tour you learn the history of the telescopes part in the Apollo Moon missions.

At night they have several programs. The Wonders Of The Solar System, The Lives Of The Stars, The Flyby, Galaxies And The Expanding Universe, Constellation Tour and evening viewing of the Telescope. You can also participate in 45 minute science demonstrations which are hands-on!

They have a museum called the Rotunda Museum and it is open during certain hours. It houses artifacts relating to the history of the Observatory. They also have a cute gift shop, called My Astronomy Shop. You can get souvenirs, telescopes and other space themed items!

The Jr. Astronomer Program is similar to the Jr. Ranger Program at the National Parks. Kids ages 5 and older can complete activities while visiting the Observatory and earn a badge. It costs $3 and is approximately 3 hours. It is designed for kids ages 5-13 but “kids” of any age can complete the program! So if you have ever wanted to be an astronomer you should check out this program!

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(Photo Courtesy of the Lowell Observatory Jr. Astronomer Program)

So after your day of hanging out at the Lowell Observatory you are going to want to eat. Flagstaff is no different then most cities and have plenty of chain restaurants or fast food restaurants if that is what you like. However if you want to try something new try the Flagstaff Brewing Company. You can pare craft beer or they have specialty whiskey also with your burger or sandwhich!  If you want a quaint diner experience try Downtown Diner 7 E Aspen Ave (they don’t have a website!). If you want a cool Route 66 experience check out The Crown Railroad Cafe.

Speaking of Route 66…it’s a historic roadway steeped in tradition and history. So check out the Historic Route 66 Walking Tour. They also have a Historic District Walking Tour and Haunted Flagstaff Walking Tour. I don’t know about you but I love to do these behind the scenes kind of tours!

Day 4 of your perfect Arizona trip is a drive out to Meteor Crater! It’s about a 45 minute drive from Flagstaff. This is another really big hole in the ground! But it’s beautiful and very picturesque. A definite must do in your Arizona itinerary. This crater was made long ago when a meteor hit the desert landscape. They have educational programs and you can learn all about how the crater was formed. They also have a cool exhibit about astronauts and a gift shop.

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(Photo Courtesy of Meteor Crater)

A guided tour is available and included with admission.  Admission information is available online. They do offer Military Discounts for active duty and retired. They have complementary RV Parking and Big Rig Parking if you want to do this trip in an RV which would be an amazing way to do this trip also.

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Day 5 is a trip to the Petrified Forest. It is about an hour and a half drive from Flagstaff but it is worth the trip! It is part of the National Parks system. They have a Jr. Ranger program for kids to participate in as well.  They also have guided tours if that is your thing. But if you are a little more adventurous they have backpacking, camping and horseback riding.

To backpack or camp you have to get a permit which is free. You can get this permit at either of the Visitor Centers. The area is very fragile and delicate so groups are limited to 8 people. There are a lot of regulations you must follow and abide by pack in and pack out rules. But it is an amazing experience.

They also have geocaching which you can find out more by clicking on the link. There is so much history and culture to learn about and take in, be prepared for this to be a whole day experience. Also do not take any plants, rocks or petrified wood!!! It is illegal and disturbs the land.

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(Photos courtesy of National Park Service)
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(Photos courtesy of National Park Service)
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(Photos courtesy of National Park Service)

Day 6 your trip is almost done! This day takes you to Sedona, AZ. It’s about an hour drive South of Flagstaff. This is a must for any Arizona trip. It’s where the famed Red Rocks are located. There is a thriving art culture in Sedona. If you like fine art, abstracts, bronze, kinetic sculpture, jewelry, Native American art, photography, ceramics or woodcarvings, you will find something to love! Please utilize the Sedona Visitor Center Information website to research and plan your day! I will of course be telling you about my favorite Sedona things to do!

I personally love Oak Creek Canyon. Which has hiking, camping and fishing. They also have a scenic driving route and if you love mountainous and curvy roads I highly suggest you drive the Canyon. They have a really great place during the summer called Slide Rock and it is a natural water slide. We used to go as kids with friends and it is such a fun family friendly activity! If you are going to be there just for one day there is day use area but if you would like to camp there for your Arizona trip they have tent and RV sites available.  The other activity I really enjoy in Sedona is Pink Jeep Tours.

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(Photo courtesy of VisitSedona.com)

With a Pink Jeep Tour they have full day adventures or even just a few hours. They take you to some amazing sights and you get to have a fun off-road adventure! There is also some tours that include hiking, lunch and shopping if that is what you like to do. They have tours for all physical ability levels from easy to adventurous. So no matter what you would like to experience they can accommodate your family.

Day 7 is always the saddest of the trip. This is your pack up and head home day. If you decide you want to stay and play for a while in Flagstaff, you can check out the downtown area or anything in the day 3 suggestions you didn’t get to experience yet. You can also utilize the Flagstaff Visitor information website to find out more of this beautiful Arizona destination.

After reading this, I hope Arizona is on your list of States or Areas of the country to visit. We really have an eclectic and picturesque State with all of our scenery, culture and history to learn and explore!

About the Author:

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Melissa Temple is a disabled wife and mother. She has worked in the medical and mental health fields. She loves to help people and volunteer in her community. She loves reading, crafts, Disney movies, and music. She blogs about disability travel and lifestyle with a very heavy emphasis on Disney related travel. She started Disabled Disney with her husband of 19 years, David. Disabled Disney has a website, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook and Patreon https://linktr.ee/disableddisney.

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Melissa thank you so much for sharing! Arizona looks beautiful and like there is a lot to do outside! I enjoy being outside! A jeep tour I would love that! We keep on going back and forth on if we want to purchase a jeep on not. I have never had one nor have I driven one. I am kind of afraid to go test drive one and fall in love and make a HAVE TO purchase. Haha! Hopefully someday soon my family and I can visit!

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The Very Best of New Jersey

 

The Very Best of New Jersey

Yes, you read that title correct.  This post is all about the very best of New Jersey.  I know many of you will scoff at that. New Jersey has long been the butt of jokes in this country.  Those yahoos on “Jersey Shore” didn’t help matters. I’m here to tell you that New Jersey is more than loud Italtians in wife beaters and big hair.

I have lived in New Jersey all of my life. I grew up in the shadow of the capitol, Trenton and currently live near the Pine Barrens. I love my state and really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.  But, I’m aware that New Jersey isn’t your first thought when planning a vacation.

I get it, really. All you ever hear about are the bad parts of this state.  But, New Jersey has so much to offer. Let me show you.

  • The Shore

The Shore. The Beach. Whatever you call it, New Jersey has 141 miles of it.  I’m going to tell you my favorite beach in the state. But, first, there are some things you need to know when visiting the Shore.

  1. Most towns require you to purchase a beach tag to use their beaches. These range in price, but usually are around $5-$10/day per adult. Children are usually free, but I advise you to check before you go.  The tags can be purchased at the entrance to the beach or on the boardwalk. If you are caught without a tag, there is a fine of a few hundred dollars. So, just get a beach tag. It helps keep our beaches clean. Beach tags are not needed in the off season (before Memorial Day or after Labor Day).
  2. Parking is hard to find.  If you are going for the day, you will either have to hunt for a metered parking spot or pay a premium to park in a lot.  If I know I’m going to be there for more than a couple hours, I will splurge for the parking lot. FYI, off season (before Memorial Day or after Labor Day) you can usually find free street parking.
  3. The seagulls are quite aggressive and will steal food from your hands.  You’ve been warned.

Ocean City is my absolute favorite beach town.  It is perfect for families with small children. There is a large Boardwalk with rides, mini golf, and arcades. There are lots of great restaurants.  The beach is beautiful and clean, and beach tags aren’t too expensive.

One caveat, Ocean City is a dry town.  You can not purchase alcohol anywhere in town. But, don’t worry there are liquor stores strategically located on either end of the island, just over the town line. However, because it is a dry town, you don’t have the loud, obnoxious tourists like you do in other beach towns. Ocean City is not a party town.  It is a family destination.

So, grab some Jilly Fries, a Kohr’s ice cream cone, and settle down for a relaxing day at the beach.

  • Amusement Parks

For a small state, NJ has a lot of great Amusement Parks.  Not only does every boardwalk have rides and attractions, but we also have theme parks for every age group.

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By Storybook Land – Storybookland.com, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14772243

Storybook Land is the best place to take toddlers and preschoolers for a day of fun. The park is celebrating its 60th year and it easy to see why it has been in business for so long.  The park is clean and never too crowded (except during holidays and special events). There is plenty of shade and cool down areas.  And, the theming is charming and nostalgic. The park looks very much like it did when it opened back 60 years ago.

I’ve been taking my son here since he was a little over a year old. Even at that young age, he could go on just about every ride.  There aren’t any big rollercoasters or thrill rides here. The scariest ride they have is the little caterpillar kiddie coaster. Everything else is perfect for the littlest rider.  

Parking is free and you can bring your own food and drinks if you don’t want to eat the park food.  Like all amusement parks in NJ, they are open from Spring to Fall, though hours are limited to weekends during non-summer months.

If you have a truck lover between the ages for 3 and 10, Diggerland USA is a must.  My 4yo and I visited fort he first time recently and he loved it. I’m glad I got a membership because we are going to be there a lot.

Diggerland USA has a very simple theme, trucks.  Construction trucks to be exact. And, lots of them.  Every ride features some sort of truck or moving vehicle. There are trucks that you child can drive (they may have to sit in your lap to do it, but it doesn’t hinder the fun).  There are trucks they can dig with (diggers, duh). They even have a truck themed carousel.

We spent 4 hours there and my son was planning his next visit before we even left the parking lot.  Confession, this place is really just for the truck lovers. It is definitely not someplace I would choose to go if I didn’t have a little boy.

Parking is free, but you can’t bring outside food into the park.  There also is no shade anywhere in this park. And, since most of the rides require kids under 48” to be lap riders, single parents of multiple children will want to bring a friend or family member to help out.

The king of the theme parks in NJ is Great Adventure. Perfect for older kids, teens, and adults, GA (as we locals call it.  Or maybe is was just my friends) has lots of thrills and entertainment. Not only does Six Flags have some of the best rides in the world, it also features a Safari and water park.

I must confess that I have not been to Great Adventure in years. I’m not a fan of big coasters and thrill rides in general.  Plus, my son really isn’t old enough for those types of rides, yet. However, I spent a lot of time in this park as a kid and I know a lot of people who still love it.  It needs to be on the list of anyone who loves amusement parks.

Park is not free and cost about $25 at the time this post was written. Food is available throughout the park but you may not bring in outside food.

Great Adventure is a little like Disney, you want to do some research before you visit so you can get the most out of your day.

These are just a few things that New Jersey has to offer.  For more info, check out VisitNJ.

About the Author:

Pamela Thompson
I am a Stay-at-home Boymom and blogger at Mommyneedscookies.com. I love to share activities, crafts, recipes, reviews, as well as, my personal experiences as a mom.
You can find me at
Mommyneedscookies.com
Twitter.com/MomNeedsCookies

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Pamela thank you for sharing New Jersey with us! I really want to visit The Shore sometime and Six Flags! I bet my two nephews would love that Diggerland! Super excited to share it with my sister!

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The Very Best of Massachusetts

A Vacation In Massachusetts

Having lived in MA my entire life, I know a few places that you should see if you ever make the trip out here.  Depending on what you like, we have something for everyone! We have all four seasons, although it feels as though we just have a short summer and long winter, so depending on what your tastes are make sure to travel during the right season!  I personally live for the summer! I love being outside and enjoying the sun.

Ok so if you are like me and love the summer you want to head out this way during June, July, or August.  The city of Boston is beautiful in the summer. Be careful when booking your hotel as you get what you pay for in the city (which usually means if the price seems cheap, the place is too).  We have used Groupon a couple of times in order to save money on hotels and it really does get you some great deals. We stayed at the Constitution Inn, which is down by the Wharf.  Parking is in a garage down the street.  The area is beautiful to walk around. You will be close to the harbor walk and the freedom trail.  

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The harbor walk is relatively new and follows around the water throughout the wharf and all of the wonderful buildings.  There are benches along the way so you can sit and have lunch or just relax. There are a few parks for the kids too. There is also a really good spot to sit and watch the planes landing at Logan.

One of our favorite places to walk around is Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.  There are street vendors and entertainers around on the nice days so there is always a crowd.  There are so many different foods to try in the market and plenty restaurants nearby if the market seems to crowded.  There is also shopping. The subway is nearby as well so it is easy to get to. Keep in mind that Boston is definitely a walk-able city with a great public transit system.  You won’t need that rental car until you are ready to head out of the city.

If you are into beer, we have the Sam Adams Brewery.  They show you how the brew the many different beers they offer and walk you through the entire process.  I personally have never been but I feel like I have since EVERYONE goes and talks about it! It is definitely on my to-do list.  We also have Boston Beer Works, which I have been to, and this place is great!  I love getting flights because I can try all the different beers.

Make sure you check out what shows are in town when you are because the Orpheum Theatre and the Wang Theatre are great places to see a wonderful performance.  The theatre district can be very pretty at night so make sure you walk around and check out the scenery too.  Make sure you take a trip to Fenway Park when you are here.  Catch a game or even just a tour as it is one of the oldest baseball stadiums still standing.  This park has been there since opening day April 20,1912. Once you have had your fill of the city, go get that rental car because now you are off!

Your next stop should be down on Cape Cod.  They have the best seafood! The beaches are awesome and you can see so much wildlife.  We have stayed down the cape a couple of different times and the place we would go back to is Hyannis.  We stayed at the Heritage House Hotel.  This place was close to everything!  The hotel is affordable, so not the Ritz, but was clean, the staff was friendly, and we enjoyed the indoor pool and Jacuzzi a lot!  It is also in downtown Hyannis so you are close to the beach, mini-golf, restaurants, and a lot of history.

Make sure you walk around and check out the scenery.  There are museums close by like the John F Kennedy Museum.   This walks you through his life with over 80 photos.  There is also a multimedia exhibit that shows you how JFK spent his time down the cape.  There is the harbor where you can look at the boats or take a cruise. The spot we love to eat is by the water is Spanky’s Clam Shack. There is a great area to sit outside and enjoy the great weather and seafood.

Once you have enjoyed the weather and water down the Cape you should head north to go and check out the suburbs.  The county I live in has some great things to offer. Check out the Radisson in Chelmsford as it is just north of Burlington (shopping and restaurants) and just south of Nashua NH which has tax free shopping.  It is clean and affordable and has a great pool. It is also not too far from our favorite hiking spot, Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle.  The trails are all clearly marked so you know where you are on the map at all times.  The park allows dogs and horses so pay attention to where you step!

There are many loops of trail with all different distances.  We know the ones that we travel by heart.  We like the trails that loop off of the main trail of Pine Point Loop.   There is a pond in the middle and there are many different bridges and walks that go over the water.  If you are in it for the long hall, take Trophet loop and Heartbreak Ridge, which ends up close to 5 miles by the time you are done.  

Once you are back near the parking lot, go have some ice cream to cool down at their farm.  The cows are all there and the ice cream is to die for! The kids can feed the animals too.  My son loves that!  

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Also if you come this way in the winter they have paths marked for skiing and snowshoeing.  We go hiking almost every weekend once the weather is good. Our other spot is Ward Reservation in Andover MA.  This is also not too far from Chelmsford.  The big hike up to Boston Hill is so worth it!  At the top you can see the skyline of the city and it is amazing.  

If you like the beach and the outdoors another place to go check out is Salsbury Beach State Reservation.  You can go for just the day to the beach or go camping at the family campground there.  The water is cold just to warn you! Even on the hottest day that water is freezing! But the beach air is amazing and the kids will have a blast playing.  It is a great way to kick back and relax. We spend a week at the beach every year.

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There is also a great park to go hiking and look at the river boats, Maudslay State Park.  The trails here are not as clearly marked as they are in Carlisle but we still enjoyed the scenery.  There is also the Ghost Trail that is in Salisbury, which is a cool walk.  This trail got its name for the “Ghost” trains that transported wooden carriages that were covered with white canvas shrouds, from Amesbury through Salisbury.  There are plenty of signs that explain the history and tell the story of a great train robbery in Salisbury. There is also the Eastern Marsh Trail that offers views of the Merrimack river and a great nature walk.

 

Now if you want to travel this way in the winter, I suggest heading out to the Berkshires.   Aside from traveling further north to NH and Maine, this is the place for skiing.   If you come before the snow flies the foliage out that way is gorgeous. If you come once the snow is here, get ready to hit the trails.  Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort or The Ponds at Foxhollow are the places you will want to stay.  You may pay a bit more at these resorts but the amenities make it worth it.  If you are a member of a vacation club or have a timeshare somewhere, they do have those resorts in the Berkshires as well so you may be able to trade your week and get a really good deal.

If you are a football fan, make sure you take a trip to Foxborough before you head home so you can check out Patriot Place and maybe catch a game!  During the summer there are concerts and in the winter FOOTBALL!!!!  The games are a lot of fun. If you don’t want to see a game or we don’t have one happening when you are here don’t worry, going to Patriot place will be a ton of fun too.

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Another beautiful thing about coming to Mass is that you are so close to NH, VT, and ME.  Make sure you check out the other posts about those states as you can probably take an extended vacation and see everything that New England has to offer!

Quick Bio

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Hey guys!  I’m Joanie.  I am happily married with one son of my own and 3 wonderful stepchildren.  We also have a dog and a cat, which makes for one crazy household! I love traveling and seeing the world!  My husband was never big on traveling until we got together and now he comes along with me for the ride!

We have been blessed to have family who will take the young one so we can travel as a couple and we also take family vacations.  We currently still live in the house I grew up in in Billerica MA. We are in the process of relocating to the west coast in San Diego!  We went there, I fell in love, we took the boy and he fell in love too so another great adventure here we come!

I recently started blogging and so far loving every minute of it!  I have met some wonderful people, like Jess who put this thing together, and have become a part of a wonderful community.  My blog can be found over at www.momjugglingitall.com and as you can guess from the name, it’s all about being a mom and juggling everything in life.  Please check it out and follow me on social media. My links are below. Thanks for checking this out and hope you check out MA soon!

https://www.instagram.com/jd862011

https://www.facebook.com/momjugglingitall

https://www.twitter.com/joanie69804528

https://www.pinterest.com/jd862011

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Joanie thank you so much for writing about Massachusetts! I hope to visit someday! It will have to be in the Summer time though! I love the summer too!

Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

 

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The Very Best of Florida

Why I Became an Instant Floridian

(after relocating from the Midwest)

Oooo, another exciting assignment from Jessica. This time, I get to share about the state I currently reside in- Florida.  

I’m not from here.  I grew up in the New England state of Connecticut. And then, after college, I lived in the Midwestern state of Ohio for some time.  Ohio, also known as the Buckeye State, is where a lot of my extended family live. It’s where I still have a lot of friends, where I met and married my husband, and where my son was born.

But Florida is where I am now, and hopefully where I will stay. I love it here.

Having been here for four years, or most of my son’s elementary school career, I pretty much consider myself a local now.  So, why do I love this state so much?

Vacation Destination

Let’s face it- I live where pretty much everyone else wants to go for vacation.

Florida is the number one vacation destination in the world, and Families flock here from all over the globe.  This is in part thanks to Universal and Walt Disney World. But we are also the home to the Kennedy Space Center, Lego Land, South Beach, Busch Gardens, and Key West.

Oh, and did you by chance hear about our beaches? Clearwater Beach is continuously rated as one of the top ten in the World, and that’s just one of them. There’s also St Pete Beach, Longboat Key, Siesta Key, Amelia Island, Panama City, and because it’s more than just a hot spot for nightlife, South Beach.

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Tampa has Bayshore Boulevard. It’s the longest connected sidewalk in the world (4 & 1/2 miles) and has its own Wikepedia page.

Sporting Events

With no less than three major tv markets (Miami, Tampa and Orlando), and one decent midsize one (Jacksonville), we have no shortage of professional sports here.  

In Tampa alone, we have the Lightning (NHL), the Buccaneers (NFL), and the Rays (MLB). An hour’s drive to Orlando, and you’ve got the Magic (NBA). We’re also home to spring training to many other major league baseball teams (Yankees, Pirates, Phillies, Blue Jays), and several minor league teams.

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Tampa is also host to two College Football Bowl games a year (Gasparilla and Outback), and frequently hosts the College Football Championship game. We’re also getting ready to host the Super Bowl again in 2021.

Is Auto racing your thing? Tampa hosts the St. Petersburg Grand Prix every year, and we are only a few hours away from the Daytona 500 and Sebring.

Regular Family Life

I’m a working Mom, so my life involves a lot more than beaches and sporting events. Actually, one of the main reasons we moved down here to Florida was because of a job opportunity. Tampa, Orlando, and Miami are all bustling metros, with lots of different industries.  Finance, Construction, Medical, Education are just some of the areas you can find lots of open positions in, on top of all the work available in hospitality.

Florida is also a good place to raise a family. One of the reasons I specifically like Tampa is that it feels a lot like the Midwest to me (not weather-wise of course). It probably has a little to do with the fact that there’s a lot of transplants from the Midwest here, but it’s just a friendly place to live.

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And we have a lot of the family-oriented things that you would want in your city, such as Scouts, a vibrant YMCA, great parent-teacher organizations, and lots of parks.

The Downsides

If you ever want to move to Florida, there are some things you should probably know. First, it’s hot and humid during the extra-long summer, and the Mosquitos are relentless year-round.   

Traffic is insane no matter which one of our major cities that you live close to.  There are never any shortcuts, and everything is a toll road. If you’re lucky enough to live near water, like we are, your rush hour commute may have the extra bonus of needing to cross the only bridge that can get you and everyone else to where you’re going.  

There are no income taxes in Florida, yay!  So, they make up for it in everything else, Nooo!

License plate renewal fees, sales taxes, property taxes, they get you everywhere. Which is probably part of the reason why the cost of living is a little higher here than in the Midwest.   

Oh, and we also have hurricanes and alligators.  And did I mention the &%#@ mosquitos.

I love it here

Yes, we have bugs, but here are some things we don’t have- snow, ice, sleet, slush, polar vortexes, short summers, freezing winters.

We have jobs, sports, beaches, amusement parks.

And we have water.  As I get stuck on the bridge in rush hour traffic, I stare off into the big, beautiful Tampa Bay waters, and all of my troubles just seem to float away.

I realize how lucky I am to live here. I may be from New England, and maybe turned into a little bit of a midwestern girl during my time in Ohio. But I’m in Florida now, and I love it here.

About the Author:

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Candace is a working Mom. She’s learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work. Sometimes the hard way. Both she and her husband work full time, while raising a relatively normal, if not rambunctious young boy.  It’s tough being a working Mom, but she gets it done

https://workingmomx.com

https://www.facebook.com/WorkingMomX

https://www.pinterest.com/workingmomx/

https://www.instagram.com/workingmomx

https://twitter.com/WorkingMomX

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Thank you so much for telling us about Florida! I hope to someday live there as well!

Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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The Very Best Of The US

Hello everyone! Starting tomorrow night we start my guest post series of “The Very Best of the US.” Each day I will have a guest blogger posting about a different state. You will learn what they feel like is the best of their state and what they would recommend you to do in their state. Each post will go live every day at 7pm CST.

All of my guest bloggers and myself are looking forward to this series and we hope that you will want to visit the states soon! Please share with us which state you are looking foward to hearing about?

I do still have some states that I do not have bloggers for and would greatly appreciate a re-blog, tweet, share anything you can do to help me find someone to blog from the states that I do not have someone for.

STILL NEED LIST:

Alaska

Delaware

Illinois

Kansas

Louisiana

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Mexico

South Carolina

South Dakota

Wisconsin

Wyoming

Thank you for reading and leave a comment below with which state you are looking forward to hearing about!

Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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