The Very Best of Kansas

The Very Best of Kansas


When you picture Kansas The Wizard of Oz and tornado’s may be all that you can think of but there is much more to this midwestern state. From the vast plains to the rolling flint hills, Kansas has much to see and is a beautiful representation of the Midwest. I have done my best here to highlight the must see spots of Kansas that can be done on a round about road trip. If you hit all attractions on this road trip and spent a couple days in the major cities this would best be done in a couple of weeks. However, you could always split up eastern or western Kansas or major cities if looking for a less time consuming itinerary. Majority of the state is rural so a car is paramount for getting around. Also I will only talk about Kansas City briefly as I am sure this will also be covered in the Very Best of Missouri as most of KC is indeed in Missouri.


The cheapest way to get to Kansas and start your road trip through the state is probably to fly into Kansas City, Missouri then rent a car. Another option wound be to fly to Wichita however Kansas City is usually cheaper. Starting in Kansas City there is plenty to see and do some of which I will casually mention but again will likely be covered more in depth as part of Missouri.


Kansas City


One of the best things about Kansas City is there is literally something for everyone. It is easy to find something for the whole family, adults only, the museum or sports lover. If vacationing with kids don’t worry you will have plenty to keep kids of any age occupied. A few attractions for the whole family are the Kansas City zoo, Union station and union station science center, world of fun and oceans of fun. In contrast, if you are hoping to make this an adults only trip Kansas City is a wonderful place for a weekend or just a night out. Spend a night in power and light which has several bars, a central courtyard and during the summer a weekly concert series. Are you a fan of beer? Take a tour of the Boulevard Brewing Company on the Missouri side.


From Kansas City I would recommend heading next to Wichita. This is about a 2.5 hour drive on interstate. The drive will take you through part of the rolling flint hills which are perfectly lush green during the summer.




Wichita, while not the capital, is the largest city in Kansas. It is the perfect blend of small town and city with a lot to do and see.


Wichita is nothing if not family friendly. Spend a day at the Sedgwick County Zoo or if you are looking for a little different experience visit Tanganyika Wildlife park ( Tanganyika allows you to interact with the animals and even feed them. Next make a stop at the cowtown museum to take a step into the past with this old west town built on 23 acres. Make sure you also visit the exploration place with the kids for fun interactive learning. Lastly, make sure to witness the lighting of the keeper of the plains which occurs at 9pm.  Next, whether you are a young adult or an older couple looking to get away for some adult time ,Wichita is more than just a family friendly escape. With microbreweries popping up left and right you will not be disappointed with a stop to this Midwest city. Stop at River City brewing company then take a walk around old town to see the murals, unique shops and eateries. If you are a pizza lover Wichita Brewing Company is for you, with their unique wood-fire pizzas and hearty brews there is something for everyone.


If you still have time additional things to do include visiting the botanical gardens, catching a movie at the old Starlite Drive in theatre, try your hand at axe throwing at Blade and Timber or pickle ball at Chicken and Pickle. If sports aren’t your thing, you can always test your brain at one of the many breakout rooms.


From Wichita make your way northwest to Hutchinson, KS. About an hour from Wichita on the highway this is an easy drive to start your next day.




Hutchison is a moderately sized town with some of the top state attractions. Along the way make a stop in the old Amish town of Yoder to enjoy amazing home made Amish foods. In Hutchinson you should be sure to visit the Strataca salt mines ( as well as the Cosmosphere ( These are both family friendly activities. This town also hosts the state fair every year so if visiting in late August, September make sure to take in the concerts, animals and unique foods that can only be found at state fairs.


After leaving Hutchinson you will be heading more rurally and away from the more major cities of eastern Kansas.


Dodge City


If you are into old Western history or movies Dodge City should definitely be a stop on your Kansas road trip. Once a town frequented by Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp this town was an epicenter in the old west. See some of the old west figures in wax form at their wax museum before stopping a the Boot Hill Museum and Fort Dodge. Traveling without kids? Get in a little gambling at the small Boot Hill Casino. Lastly, if visiting in July be sure to check out Dodge City Days and one of the best PRCA rodeos.


From Dodge City make your way through Garden City then north toward Scott City. Now don’t let the names fool you while they have city in their name these are no large metropolises and are surrounded by vast rural plains.


Monument Rocks


Monument rocks are 80 million year old fossils out in the country between Scott City and Oakley ( These unique rock formations attract thousands of visitors to the western plains for their uniqueness. To get here you will have to venture off of the highway onto dirt roads so watch the weather as a small rental car and muddy roads don’t bode well. If you get a chance to see these at sunrise or sunset I would highly recommend this!


From Monument Rocks keep going north to stop in the small town of Oakley. You can stop here briefly to visit the Buffalo Bill statue or stay for the night if you end up here later at night.


While heading back eastward there are several places you can stop along the way if you are looking to see the quirkier side of Kansas. If you are getting short on time or just not into weird roadside attractions skip on to Manhattan, KS. Heading back eastward from Oakley you can stop in Hays and visit the Sternberg museum before heading to Lucas to see the Garden of Eden. This unique attraction has sculptures of religious and political figures and is definitely a quirky attraction. Looking to see some more unique Kansas attractions? Next you can make your way to Cawker City which hosts the largest ball of twine.




Coined the “little apple” Manhattan is the home to Kansas State University (K-State) and is a fun and proud college town. Get outdoors at the Tuttle Creek State Park or Konza Prairie or learn more about the flint hills at the new Flint Hill Discovery Center ( For the adults there is plenty of night life to be found in Aggieville with a several block stretch of bars and eateries. You can also stop in at Tallgrass tap house for a fresh brew. Grab a bite at Coco Bolos, The Chef or Little Apple Brewing Company for local eats. If you are looking for a fancier dining experience make a stop a Harry’s.


On your way to Topeka, my next recommended stop, you can choose to stop at the small town of Wamego which is home to the Wizard of Oz museum.




The capital city of Kansas may not be the biggest but it does have its charms. Topeka is rich with history and is trying more and more to build up its downtown and things to do. The capital building has a beautiful dome and can be toured for free. Make sure you also take in the history of the Brown vs Board museum where segregation was challenged in schools. If you are looking for a little more fun with the kids or by yourself check out Gage park for its zoo, train rides or beautiful green spaces. Lastly, take in the Topeka art scene with a visit to the quirky NOTO arts district ( This is a few block stretch in North Topeka of shops, eateries and art galleries. Here you will also find great wall murals for photos and the monthly first Friday art walk which attracts thousands.


Some of my favorite places to eat include Blind Tiger Brewery, The Iron Rail, The Wheel Barrel and the Burger Stand.


Lastly on your way back to Kansas City to head home I recommend stopping in Lawrence.




Lawrence is home to KU and the nationally known Jayhawks. This town is one of my absolute favorites in Kansas because it is so quirky and relaxed. I would consider this to the be most eclectic town the state has as it has a little something for everyone. Take a walk down Massachusettes (Mass) Street to take in some of the best food, entertainment and shopping. There are so many amazing food and drink options here you can’t go wrong. If visiting in September make a fun trip out to Grinter Farms ( to take in the free sunflower fields.


So there it is…some of the best things to see on your Kansas road trip. Now, if I didn’t live here I probably wouldn’t pick it as my top destination either but there are some amazing things to be witnessed by visiting Kansas. If you are from a city and haven’t been rurally much you will be amazed at the clear starry nights of perfect sunsets you can witness on the plains. The people are usually very friendly and the history of the old west and the days of the first settlers can still be found.

A little about the author


Morgan Martin mostly grew up in rural western Kansas on a 17,000 acre nature preserve and later moved to eastern Kansas for schooling. Now located in the capital city of Topeka she works full time as a physician assistant but has a passion for traveling. Recently starting a travel blog she shares her tips, tricks and destinations to inspire wanderlust in others. While Kansas is where she resides she considers the world her home and loves any chance to see more of it.


Morgan thank you for sharing about Kansas! I should visit there more since I am not too far away! Hopefully we can make a long weekend trip someday soon!

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The Very Best of Minnesota

The Very Best of Minnesota

Minnesota – the land of 10,000+ lakes and more


I’ve called Minnesota home for 25 years, and here are a few must-see-and-do experiences from a local’s perspective. All destinations are appropriate for most ages except where noted, and all accessible by vehicles.

Mall of America offers more than shopping

MOA Escalators

If you‘re a first-timer, the Mall of America (or MOA as we locals call it) can be daunting and overwhelming as the 5.6 million-square-foot mall features more than 500 stores. Located in Bloomington, Minn., it’s only a few miles from the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

Nickelodean Universe Dora Ferris Wheel


Then there’s this seven-acre amusement park in the center – Nickelodean Universe – the largest indoor theme park in the U.S. In all, the Mall of America features 27 rides and attractions, including the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium.

How to get there: It’s drivable and offers plenty of parking. Or you can take the blue line on the light rail from Minneapolis or the MSP Airport.


Go jump into one of the 10,000+ lakes

Lake Marion Geese


With 11,842 lakes, you’ll never be at a loss on water activities from fishing to boating to paddleboarding to tubing to swimming. Here are few popular lake destinations.

Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park – Located right in Minneapolis; this park includes Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Bde Maka Ska, and Lake Harriet, with trails connecting them.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area – Looking for a place to completely unplug? This is the place. Located in the northern part of Minnesota, this wilderness area covers more than one million acres and features 1,200 miles of canoe routes and 12 hiking trails. This is a fairly rugged area so probably not suitable for younger children.

Lake Minnetonka – At more than 14,000 square feet, this is the largest lake in the Twin Cities metropolitan area that boasts fun activities for the entire family.

Lake Mille Lacs – a popular family vacation destination, it’s one of the state’s largest lakes where you can enjoy activities year-round


Miles and miles of bike and hiking trails



Minnesota offers 4,000 miles of paved bike trails with many created from former railroad beds in scenic areas. Check this rails-to-trails site for locations, trail terrain, length and reviews. Hiking trails are also quite abundant with various degrees of difficulty – from paved paths to steep rocky climbs. Check this site for details on everything from easy daytrips to multi-day backpacking adventures. These resources are also good in determining age-appropriateness.


Stroll through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Spoon and Cherry


The iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture is just one of the many works of arts you’ll find at the Minneapolis Sculpture GardenDownload the interactive self-guided tour experience.


Take a nature break at Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls


One of Minneapolis’ oldest parks features the 53-foot Minnehaha Falls waterfall right in the heart of the Twin Cities. And if visiting late spring to early fall, be sure to stop at the nearby Sea Salt Eatery, one of my favorite al fresco restaurants.


Take the scenic drive along the North Shore to Gooseberry Falls

Gooseberry Falls

If you love waterfalls, take a three-hour drive north of the cities along Lake Superior and visit the beautiful Gooseberry Falls. The whole family can enjoy an easy hike on a paved trail around the falls top to bottom.


Tour the historic Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse


Drive seven miles north of Gooseberry Falls to tour the beautiful and historical Split Rock Lighthouse that sits above Lake Superior in Two Harbors, Minn. If you don’t mind stairs (there’s a lot of them), you can check out the lighthouse from the shores of Lake Superior. Take caution especially with small children as it is very rocky and can become dangerous during inclement weather.


Lutsen Mountains offers year-round activities

Lutsen Gondola


Take a scenic road trip another 45 miles north on the North Shore and visit Lutsen Mountains. This area offers year-round activities including hiking trails, a gondola ride, alpine slide and skiing. The gondola ride is especially incredible during leaf-peeping season.


Duluth – the gateway to Lake Superior

Aerial Lift Bridge Night


I could write an entire blog series on all the great things to experience in Duluth, one of my favorite places in Minnesota. My son attends the University of Minnesota-Duluth (Go Bulldogs!) so we visit often (about a 2.5-hour drive from the Twin Cities – depending on weather and construction, of course).

Here’s an abbreviated list of things to do in Duluth.

  • Lake Superior Lakewalk and Boardwalk – a paved 7.5-mile trail where you can enjoy lake views, shopping and restaurants; and can walk up to the harbor lighthouse during the summer
  • Aerial lift bridge – Duluth’s most famous landmark – stay long enough to watch it rise to let boats and even ships through (here’s a ship schedule)
  • Glensheen Mansion tour – this historic two-acre estate overlooks Lake Superior and features gardens, bridges, and a 39-room mansion
  • Great Lakes Aquarium – features animals and habitats found within the Great Lakes Basin as well as animals from other freshwater ecosystems such as the Amazon River
  • Scenic drives – Duluth offers several beautiful drives in the area
  • Brewery tours (21+) – if you’re a fan of craft beer, check out one or more of their local brewery tours
  • Bentleyville Tour of Lights – America’s largest free walk-through lighting display during the winter holiday season


Take a family day at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Science Museum Girls


The Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul is one of our favorite places to visit especially when my two young nieces visit (elementary school), but we adults also love it.


Minnesota Zoo – from tigers to exotic fish to butterflies

Butterfly Garden


Open 365 days a year, the Minnesota Zoo is a fun family destination. And while the zoo features many animals, birds and sealife from around the world, my favorite is the Butterfly Garden. Another endearing exhibit is Farm Babies, open March 22 through April 30 – so much cuteness! The Minnesota Zoo is also a great way to eliminate cabin fever during the winter months.
These are just a few of my favorite things to experience in Minnesota, and is not an exhaustive list. For more amazing destinations, refer to Explore Minnesota – a great resource to discover Minnesota.




Bio: Karen Mellott-Foshier (aka kmf)


A former hockey mom midway through my third year as an emptynester, I recently resigned from corporate life after 25+ years as a journalist, corporate communications manager, writer, and editor. I’m excited to focus my energy on two of my passions – writing and traveling – and sharing travel tips and destination inspirations for emptynester, family, solo, and girlfriend getaways.

Would love to connect with you on social. Here’s where you can find me


Karen Minnesota looks BEAUTIFUL! I would love to visit when the leaves are changing! Thank you for sharing with us!

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The Very Best of Colorado

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
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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

Twitter: @BeWellLovely1
Insta: @bewelllovely


Sage! We are going to go to Colorado this summer, I hope! Thank you for the great suggestions!

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The Very Best of Washington

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!

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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!

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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.

Final thoughts

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.

Author Bio:

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.


Jennifer thank you for sharing Washington with us! I would have to visit sometime when there is NO snow! I do not do well in the old. haha.

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The Very Best of North Dakota

Does North Dakota exist?image5


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.

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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!

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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.

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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.


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.

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(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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.

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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.

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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!

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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.


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:

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:

There is a waterpark in Gulfport, MS, and you can find more information at this website: There are also several places with splash pads for the kids. For example, there is one in Long Beach ( and Bay St. Louis (

If you want to see casinos, there are lots! I would strongly recommend visiting the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi ( 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: Also, there’s plenty of restaurants, and you can find a list of those here:

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:

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 (

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:

In addition, the Hattiesburg zoo is an attraction here. Here’s the website: 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:

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:

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:

About the Author:


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!
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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